Tag Archives: love

Light into Darkness

I find myself needing the sacred seasons and holy days of our Church more each year. As the storm clouds seem to be gathering on the horizon, it is more important than ever to set aside these special times to reflect on that which God has done throughout history and will do at the end of all things. What follows is a poetic meditation on the advent.

In this world of rock and dust,
As time moves on in relentless procession,
The sensation is often inescapable,
That the days are darkening and the water rising.

Often we are forced to watch unfold around us,
Events of deep despair,
When children starve and violence spreads,
And hate appears the victor.

All around we look and see,
Undeserved pain,
Unforeseen trials,
And our own inability to stand in the face of the flood.

Despair creeps in,
The tears run down,
Our hearts are slowly breaking,
And we weep for our broken world.

Is there are hope for love in a loveless world?
Or for joy in a world of despair?
When great evil seems to reign,
Is there any hope for good?

Yet my soul remember,
As the sacred season comes,
Through ritual and sacred ceremony force your mind to this,
The reign of evil is but a farce and good has conquered yet.

For when the darkness of sin seemed at its peak,
And our world was a swirling vortex of misery and despair,
The light struck the darkness like a lighting bolt,
In the form of a sacred infant.

Seemingly helpless,
Seemingly weak,
But Lord of all the earth,
Darkness trembled at His birth.

Born to die,
That we might live,
To be like Him in our lives and deeds,
Our lives remade by nail scarred hands.

Light in darkness,
God in flesh,
Hope stronger than despair,
The author of all created things has come to dwell among us.

He has come and He is coming,
The work is begun and will be finished,
Evil is already defeated,
And will soon be no more than a memory.

So strengthen trembling hands,
And still shaking knees,
Fear not the darkness,
For in your faith it fears you.

Rise up in broken victory,
And be a bolt of bright light,
In a world of deadly darkness,
In the pattern of the Master.

Take heart this sacred season,
Remember the hope you have,
Ours is not only the Creator God,
But also the Savior.

This is a time to reflect on that which is real,
In a world of illusion and farce,
For truth and justice do reign ,
In Jesus Christ the babe of Bethlehem and Savior of the world.

We need this time of sacred remembrance,
In dark days more than ever,
But the light has overcome the darkness,
So let us remember and rejoice!

Marriage as a Sacrament

These thoughts are the results of over 5 years married to the most gracious, wonderful, and beautiful woman I have ever known.

The Roman Catholics maintain seven sacraments; most Protestants have only two, which they don’t really take very seriously. While I’m not prepared to embrace the full Roman Catholic understanding, I definitely believe we need to go back to viewing marriage more sacramentally.

In the most classical Christian understanding, the sacraments are means of grace for mankind. It is faith in Christ Jesus our Lord which ultimately saves, but the sacraments empower and enrich the sanctification part of our salvation. Thus Baptism and Eucharist are not simply symbolic rituals but actually have real power for the believer who par takes of them, and according to St Paul real danger to those who partake apart from faith and righteousness before a Holy God.

While marriage may not be an ordained sacrament in Scripture, it is certainly an ordained action for our well being. All of the use of marriage as metaphor in the Word illustrates just how highly marriage ought to be viewed by those who follow Christ. That marriage is an important aspect of our sanctification and growth in the knowledge of God can be easily illustrated. This doesn’t mean marriage is ordained for everyone, but it does mean that to those who. It is given it should be taken very seriously. In a society that under values marriage, as a the Church of Jesus Christ we need to restore a proper understanding of its sacred significance. What follows is a list of the ways that marriage has been sacramental in my life, 5 years from now and no doubt I will have even more thoughts on the subject.

Marriage reveals how self-centered and petty we are. In premarital counseling, the difficulty of the first year of marriage is often a subject of discussion. Many married couples can look back to the first year and the trials they overcame together. The reason behind this is our own self-centeredness. Living together in a covenant relationship draws out our selfish tendencies so the Holy Spirit can purge us of them. This becomes painfully clear when we are quick to anger over the smallest of household operations. What it really boils down to is that we just want our own way that bad. The marriage relationship draws this selfishness to our attention in areas we couldn’t even see it before.

Marriage demonstrates the importance of covenant and unconditional love. Only in a firm commitment to love one another until death does marriages true teaching about unconditional love and covenant relationship hit home. When we find it easy to love, or to accept love this lesson is lost. When, ontheotherhand, love is painfully difficult or we find ourself feeling completely unworthy of love, the message of God’s love begins to dawn on us. When for the first time you receive love from your husband or wife while still behaving in a way you know is completely unworthy of that love, the cross stands in the background with new meaning. When we come to the full realization that no matter how bad things get, our love for each other isn’t going anywhere, God’s unchanging love becomes more real than ever before.

Marriage is an important part of our sanctification. As I mentioned above marriage often puts a spot light on issues we didn’t realize we had. This becomes a key part of the process of sanctification in our lives. A godly spouse becomes our primary source of accountability, and because they see us at our worst our spouses cannot be tricked by the pious show we often put on for others. When we allow our marriage to bring sin in our lives to mind, and then walk through repentance together, we overcome issues we likely would have missed on our own.

Marriage points out areas of unforgiveness and unhealed hurt in our lives . It is always interesting how previous pain and heartache can impact a marriage. Often actual arguments ensue simply because something was said that touched a sore spot. After some reflection and personal growth, it becomes clear that the marriage isn’t the problem. Instead previously unhealed areas or areas where hurt someone else did is still unforgiven must be addressed for the happiness of the home. This healing and forgiveness process is not always pleasant and that is why, when given the choice, we shy away from it. In marriage we quickly realize how much harm we are doing to ourselves and others by hanging on to the past and are forced to confront our own heartache, God is then able to step and heal our broken hearts.

There is a great deal more that could be said on all the different ways that marriage is sanctifying and sacramental, but the point remains the same. God has established marriage for our well being and help, we should treat it with reverence and allow it to do its good and healing work in our lives.

Of Lambs and Lions

When we were deceived and paradise lost,
When chains of sin encircled our hands and feet,
When generation after generation we could not escape,
The power of sin and death that held us tight,
When in our foolishness we pursued false gods,
Making idols of ourselves and of material things,
Pursuing as gods those things which are not gods,
And binding tighter the shackles of our sin,
A rebel race we were,
Completely estranged from God,

Then You were the Lamb,
Offering freely on the alter,
Your blood to set us free,
Your sacrifice tore the veil of separation,
From top to bottom,
And opened before us the throne of grace,
Our chains were broken,
In the moment of your sacrifice,
Your blood purchased for all our race,
Redemption before the Father.

When in Egypt your people were oppressed by the cruel King,
When Goliath spat out his contempt for you,
When the three Hebrew children were thrown into the fiery furnace,
When Nehemiah rebuilt the wall,
When oppressors surrounded us on every side,
In the moments when there was nowhere else to turn,
In times of fear and darkness,
When evil seems to reign upon the earth,
As the Kings of the earth gathered together against us,
And lay siege to your holy people,

Then you were the Lion,
Your roar shaking the earth,
With your arm outstretched to redeem and save,
You struck the oppressors,
They will never rise back up,
Your arm is might to save,
None can withstand the power of your coming,
In righteousness and justice,
You have removed the cruel oppressors,
And reign in truth and love,

To the unreached child who has never heard your name,
Wrapped in fear and sin,
Worshipping with trembling the evil spirits of the earth,
To the orphan child,
Raised upon the garbage heap,
Ignored by a world that has passed her by,
And that could care less for her needs,
To all those in deep despair,
Hurtling into a future apart from you,
Having never heard your name,

I want to be a lamb,
And sacrifice my life that they may live,
Give up the choice things,
To pursue those on your heart,
To tear down from before their eyes,
The veil that separates them from the Father,
And if necessary bleed and sweat,
To make your sacrifice real to them,
I want to walk in their midst,
In such a way that Jesus walks among them

To the unborn child,
Slain in her mothers womb,
To the child starving to death,
Because cruel war consumes his land,
To the woman tricked into a life of shame,
Bound with oppressive chains and lies,
To the generation for whom liberty ought to be a birthright,
But have instead had it taken away,
And traded for cruel tyranny,
And oppressive destruction

I want to be the Lion,
Let my words be like the roar of justice,
Let roar of righteous truth overwhelm the noise of the crowd,
And cut the through the lies of the destroyer,
I want to take my stand in your strength,
To stop oppression,
And rescue those who are being lead away unto death,
Bringing them safe and sound before your throne,
I want to draw them out from slavery,
And strike the oppressors with the arm of your power

To the countless masses,
Who know not of Jesus Christ,
To the men, women, and children,
Still bound in the darkness by lies,
To those who know not His truth,
Nor the comfort of His voice,
There are over six thousand peoples,
Yet unreached and untouched by this Good News,
The cross is of no effect to them,
Because they have not heard of it

Won’t you come and be a lamb?
Trade in your life of ease and comfort,
And sacrifice your selfish desires,
To bring Christ alive in the midst of them,
Through your own bloody hands and feet,
Will you be the incarnate God among them?
Walking and talking in their streets,
And in so doing tearing down the veil,
Be a lamb revealing Christ’s love to thousands,
Let redemption flow from your hands and feet

To the children starving to the point of death,
Despite an abundance on the earth,
To the earth abused and cruelly treated,
To the point of infertility,
To our nation,
Staggering on the brink of collapse,
To your children ensnared by the cruel lies of our times,
To all of the abused and outcasts of this earth,
In times of deep darkness and oppression,
When all the lights in their universe have gone out,

Will you come and be a lion?
A bright light in a world of deep darkness,
Will you shake to pieces the chains of oppression,
With the might of the Spirit that is in you?
Demonstrate the righteous wrath of God against injustice,
And trample the oppressors under your feet,
In you will the arm of The Lord be revealed,
Become again a city of light,
Fight against oppression with a Holy vengeance,
And set free the oppressed to know the love of their Father.

We are, each and everyone,
Called to be lambs and lions,
In a world of hurt and pain,
In a world of oppression and evil,
The righteous light must shine forth,
Full of hope for the hurting,
And strength for the captive,
To redeem and rescue a world in need,
Christ calls out to you and me,
Won’t you come and be a lamb?
Won’t you come and be a lion?

The Coming of the Lamb

A Passion Week Meditation on the Incarnation

This week, those who follow after Christ Jesus, celebrate the most significant event to ever take place on this broken and hurting planet. However, in order to understand the significant events we will celebrate this week, we must be clear of the identity of this man from Galilee.

In His own words:
*All passages are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
– John 14:6

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
– Matt 18:11

Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?” So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.”
-Luke 22:70

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
– John 8:58

Notice especially the last passage, Jesus claims for Himself the covenant name of God by which He revealed Himself to the Children of Israel. This is the name by which God demonstrated Himself not only sovereign over all the God’s of Egypt, but also by which He revealed Himself as the God who reaches out and saves His people.

In His disciples words:

Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
– Matt 16:16

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
– Acts 2:36

In the words of Angels:

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
– Luke 1:35

In the words of Demons:

And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.”
– Mark 3:11

In the words of the centurion who stood beside the cross:

And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.”
– Mark 15:39

In the words of the Ancient church:

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
The third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
– The Apostles Creed

Obviously I have put forward a great deal of testimony about the person of Jesus, for this I have a good reason. If we don’t understand fully who Jesus is, then nothing that He said or did will carry the full weight that it ought with us. We cannot merely dismiss Jesus as an excellent moral teacher, because He refused to be dismissed as such. Had Jesus contended Himself to be a moral teacher He would have never faced the cross, instead He refused to relinquish the scandalous claim that He was the Son of God most high!

When we actually embrace the doctrine of the incarnation, though it is too much for us to understand fully, all of the rest of the Gospels becomes clear. The virgin birth, the miracles, even the resurrection are natural extensions of the presence and power of God Himself walking this earth beside us.

God chose to come down, in person, as Jesus Christ. He came fully human and yet also fully God, with the full authority and might of the creator coming into His creation. He alone had the power to live a life victorious over sin and death and to break the power of sin and death in our lives. The very hand that shaped man from the dust, willingly was pierced by a wicked nail and driven onto the cross for us. The very Word which spoke the stars into space said of your sin and mine “It is finished!”.

The real marvel to us, ought not to be that He who was fully God should rise from the dead or work miracles; but rather that the great I AM, the maker of heaven and earth should demonstrate His glory and love by willingly dying an excruciating death on a cross. Have you marveled today at the significance of the one who died for you? Nothing but His own will could take Him to the cross, and yet He went.

*Note: I owe a tremendous debt to J.I. Packer and his wonderful book Knowing God in influencing my thoughts on the significance of the incarnation.

Patrick’s Rune

From A Swiftly Tilting Planet By Madeleine L’Engle

At Tara in this fateful hour

I place all Heaven with its power

And the sun with its brightness,

And the snow with its whiteness,

And the fire with all the strength it hath,

And the lightning with its rapid wrath,

And the winds with their swiftness along their path,

And the sea with its deepness,

And the rocks with their steepness,

And the earth with its starkness:

All these I place

By God’s almighty help and grace

Between myself and the powers of darkness!

Other than his general connection with all things Irish, most people don’t know too much about St. Patrick. Interestingly, despite being a “Saint” Patrick was not connected with the Roman Catholic church but rather with the preexisting Celtic church in England. He was taken captive by Irish raiders as a child, eventually escaped back to England, and then after coming to a vibrant faith in Jesus Christ returned back to England to reach out to the very people who had taken him captive. I should also note that St. Patrick is one of the tonedeafbard’s very favorite examples of the Christian bard!

For an interesting fictional read on the conversion of Patrick, as well as some though provoking concepts regarding mission contextualization see

Patrick: Son of Ireland by Stephen R Lawhead

May we all be inspired by the incredible example of love and passion put for by St. Patrick this St. Patrick’s day!

Almost Love

Why is it that I want to do the right thing,
Yet seem always drawn to do the wrong?
Why is it I know to say words that will heal,
But curses always come off my tongue?
I know how to do the things that are loving,
Yet I find myself consumed with selfish blackness,
And self-righteous judgment,
Here I am in the place of almost love,
I can almost work to heal your broken heart,
And almost say the words you long to hear,
I can almost trade my life for yours,
And shed my blood to show you the love,
That you so desperately need to see,
But almost is never actually real,
And halfway still isn’t there,
In the end my good intentions don’t matter at all,
You need true love,
But all I have to offer is almost.

Abba take me to the fountain,
Where love drips down,
From the bloody man on the cross,
Where love to the uttermost burst forth,
Into this sad planet of almost love,
Wash away my selfishness with that bloody love,
Teach me the way of sacrifice,
Jesus teach me how to love!

The church stands before the world,
And tries to hold out the hope,
For a new way filled with life,
But it seems like for all our efforts,
All of our good ideas,
Our well planned training,
Our organizations and small groups and out reaches,
Something lacks among us,
Why are we so quick to attack and devour each other?
Why can we not maintain the purity of the word,
Must we always twist it to our own gain?
Will we always seek to be more righteous than one another?
As if our righteousness even counted for something?
We are filled with almost love,
Almost reaching out to heal and save,
Almost interceding for the hopeless and defenseless,
Almost laying down our lives for something bigger,
But almost doesn’t really count for anything,
Because almost still never happened,
Halfway still isn’t there,
The world needs true love,
But all we offer is almost love.

Abba take us to the fountain,
Where love drips down,
From the bloody man on the cross,
Where love to the uttermost burst forth,
Into this sad church of almost love,
Wash away our selfishness and pride with that bloody love,
Teach us the way of sacrifice,
Jesus teach us how to love!

In the end only one stands,
With true love in His hands,
Jesus alone is the healer,
He alone can save and offer truest love,
From His hands on Calvary,
Dripped the only sacrificial love,
That history will ever know,
We may never fully overcome,
Our selfishness and almost love,
But Christ our King proved once for all,
That His love was enough!
We have nothing to offer but almost love,
But if His blood fills up our veins,
Then we will have the healing love of His,
Which alone can transform the nations!

Abba take us to the fountain,
Where love drips down,
From the bloody man on the cross,
Where love to the uttermost burst forth,
Into this sad church of almost love,
Wash away our selfishness and pride with that bloody love,
Teach us the way of sacrifice,
Jesus teach us how to love!