Tag Archives: Redemption

Son of a Poor Widow

I was born on a fateful day,
Filled with pain and sorrow,
My mother bore me in searing pain,
And birthed me on the wrong side of the tracks,
My poor father past before my birth,
Destining me to a hard life.

One day this pain is going to be too much,
And I’ll leave this world behind,
No one is made to live like this,
The voices of pain rage in my head,
And eventually I’ll give in,
Standing on the edge of the river,
Eventually I’ll jump in.

Mother did her best to care for me,
Her only wretched son,
But times were tough and jobs were scarce,
And a young widow didn’t have a chance,
So I spent my childhood in rags,
Skin and bones with shallow cheeks,
Mother fought just to keep me alive

And as the time goes on,
The darkness grew within my mind,
The pain overwhelms my senses,
And takes root in my tormented imagination,
Even sleep is no release,
My dreams are fear and evil,
And eventually I’ll give in.

Day by day I walk passed this stream,
It looms larger month by month,
The pain wells up within my heart,
But I’ll allow no tears in my dark eyes,
No one sees my pain,
So no one will see me weak,
To make it in this life you must show strength.

I watch my mother waste away,
As I grow old enough to notice,
Her young face ages much too fast,
As she begs and toils on the street,
And the time will turn this troubled boy,
Into an even more troubled young man,
Every day the river bank is calling,
One day I’ll have to answer.

So mother dear,
Set your heart like steel,
‘Cause each day your beggar son dies a little bit,
Don’t weep for me when I depart,
This life is worse than death,
I’ll seek my comfort in the waters,
And finally get some rest.

I know I’ll break my sweet mothers heart,
As I stand here on the edge,
But the damage has been done to both our lives,
Two hearts shattered by a painful life,
And I can’t live that life any longer,
In death I see no hope,
But at least the pain will stop.

See me jump from off this rock,
Into the swirling stream below,
I won’t fight as the waters close over my head,
My body sinks,
Carried ever faster downward,
By the weight of my despair,
Here I am underneath the waters,
And the pain in my lungs at last drowns out,
The sorrow in my heart.

As the life seeps from my bones,
I know what will happen next,
The men down by the shore,
Will find my broken body tossed upon the shore,
And they will fetch my mother,
And how she’ll scream and moan.
There may be no life in my heart,
But I brought light to hers.

Then the pitying souls of those dear men,
Will bear me on their arms,
They’ll carry me out of town,
To lay by body to rest.
And they’ll be whispering to themselves,
About how my mom had done her best.
Then they’ll see how cruel life is,
And finally I’ll have said my peace.

My mother won’t hear them through her tears,
Pouring down in a torrent,
And watering this dry and barren land,
Even as I close my eyes,
Her screams are echoing in my ears,
But it is too late for me,
As I choose to breath in this water,
Replacing searing pain with searing pain,
I die.

Yet what is this I find,
As I sit upright in the midst of my own funeral,
As my eyes snap open,
I hear screams of pain turn into tears of joy,
Confusion and wonder rack my brain,
I am certain that I was dead,
No doubt remains about that,
Yet what can make a dead man live,
And a hopeless young man hope?

As I turn first to my mother and then to the rest,
I see only wonder in each face,
Clearly this was an unexpected reversal,
Of my fate thought to be inescapable,
Then my eyes rest upon the man,
Standing at my side,
As his eyes meet my mine,
Something strange happens in my mind.

My heart explodes with hope and wonder,
At the love behind those eyes,
Had I only known such love existed,
But it matters not for I live again,
Then in a voice that convicts and heals,
He says “I am the living waters”
“Come, dive in”

As my head reals in confusion,
My heart is sure and calm,
I must have living water,
And find this hope in a world of pain,
I dive off the ledge of pain and unbelief,
And sink in this immortal hope,
I will follow Him,
The one who turns death to life,
And pain to hope.

So I sink beneath these waters,
Of love and grace and peace,
Hope covers over all my pain,
And I am born anew.

Inspired by Luke 7:11-17

Can the Old Testament be Trusted?

In the ongoing debate over the morality of the homosexual lifestyle this question is becoming more and more relevant, and yet the focus has been entirely on the issue at hand with most people quietly refusing to ask the hard questions that should be at the center. Can we accept the Gospel apart from the Old Testament? Is the Old Testament reliable, and is it compatible with the message of the Gospels?

Over the past few weeks, I have repeatedly seen info-graphics, pictures of facebook discussions, short “stories”, etc. that take an aggressive posture against the teaching of the Old Testament, particularly when it comes to basic definitions of morality. The argument is that the Old Testament Law is separate from the New Testament teaching of grace and forgiveness. The idea is that when Christ introduced the Gospel of grace all obligation to the Old Testament law was lost. For Christians, according to this line of thinking, the Old Testament is outdated and shouldn’t be relied upon for sound moral teaching.

Those who teach this seem to have forgotten to read the Gospels in all of their haste to separated them from the Old Testament.

Jesus said “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” Matt 5:17-20

We should note that this passage comes right after the ever popular beatitudes, in the middle of the sermon on the mount, and just before all of the “love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek” teaching that no one wants to dispute.

Is it possible that Jesus could really have meant to uphold the teaching of the Old Testament law? Look at the teachings on murder (5:21-22), adultery (5:27-30), and divorce (5:31-32) that follow right after this teaching. In most of these cases, true to what He said in 5:20 Jesus’ moral teaching either affirms the strictest Pharisaic interpretation of the law or goes beyond it. From this it is safe to gather, that just as He said, Jesus fully intends for Christians to adhere to the Old Testament’s moral teaching.

All the confusion comes from what we see happening in verse 17 “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them”. The key to understanding what is going on in this passage is to have a correct view of the unity of Scripture.

The Bible is divided into to two testaments, or covenants, but it stands as a unified whole. The key is to understanding this unity is to properly recognize the purpose of the Bible itself. The purpose of Scripture is to tell the history of God’s redemptive working for mankind after our fall into sin, and to ultimately tell how God stepped down to redeem us from our sin and show us the way back to Him through grace.

This purpose is clear from the message itself. Genesis 3 tells the story of mankind’s deception and fall into sin. Yet look what God promises from the first moments of man’s sinful condition, in speaking to the deceiver:

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
Genesis 3:15

Even from the beginning God had promised to send One who would crush the head of the Serpent, but since a testament is a covenant, we should recognize that everything that proceeds the giving of the covenant to Abraham in Genesis 12 is the prequel, the back story that explains why the story is necessary. Look at the covenant itself and God’s plan is perfectly clear:

Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 12:1-3 (emphasis mine)

From the very institution of the covenant, God is working to see the redemption and blessing of all the peoples of the earth, in fact, those who read the Old Testament well will find that the “Great Commission” is simply a restating of what God has been getting at all along.

When we recognize this unifying theme in Scripture, then we can ask ourselves what the point of all those dreaded books of the Law is. The New Testament writers as well as the early church fathers all agree, the purpose of the Law is to demonstrate to mankind our own sinful condition, the insufficiency of animal sacrifice as well as our own works, and our ultimate need for redemption. This means that the moral requirements of God do not simply go away because we cannot meet them, they are tied directly to God’s divine nature and cannot change. What does change is the means by which mankind ACCESS God.

God gave us the full weight of His moral law, and a sacrifice system for when we failed to live up to it, to demonstrate in fullness that we are unable to live up to His just requirements. As shown above Jesus reiterated and reinforced these just requirements, but then chose to introduce the power of grace. Christ bore the punishment of our moral failure on the cross, once for all time, and freed those who place their faith in Him from the just recompense of their sinful ways. In so doing He put an end to the need for the sacrifice system, by His one perfect sacrifice.

It gets even better though! Rather than excuse us from the demands of God’s just law, the power of Christ allows us to receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirt who makes us able to meet God’s righteous requirements. The moral demands of God cannot go away because to do so would make God not God, but being God He has chosen to not only pardon our past sins but also to empower us to walk a life free from entangling sin. The message of Christ is not that holiness will be redefined so we can reach it, but rather that we will be transformed so that we can attain true holiness.

Where does that leave this discussion? What is it we are actually doing when we try to reject the moral nature of God and His just requirements? There are two ultimate issues with choosing to ignore the Old Testament because we don’t like what it has to say.

First and foremost, those who reject the moral teaching of the Old Testament are closing the door to God’s grace. The Old Testament is necessary to demonstrate to mankind that we are sinners in need of grace, without the knowledge of sin, there is no room for grace. When we try to redefine sin to make ourselves or others more comfortable, ultimately we are blocking God’s ability to forgive us of that sin and to empower us to overcome that sin. God had to give the Old Testament first, before we would have any ability to comprehend what the New Testament meant. Apart from the knowledge of sin, there can be no forgiveness of sin. The reason for this is obvious, I won’t repent of sin that I don’t acknowledge is there. Our goal ought to be to recognize and repent of ALL sin in our lives, and as followers of Christ we are under command to help others recognize and repent of their sin as well.

Second, those who fail to study the Old Testament will fail to see the working out of God’s constant faithful dealings with those who follow Him. The New Testament doesn’t attempt to cover any ground that the Old Testament has already thoroughly addressed, for this reason it dwells on the Gospel itself, the establishment of the Church, and the teaching necessary to establish the Gospel in men’s hearts. Most of the great stories of God’s faithfulness to those who trust Him are in the Old, not the New Testament. Christians would have a much better grasp on how to handle suffering and walk faithfully through difficult times if they would just read the first 2/3 of their Bibles.

Ultimately, Scripture is a unity. It is all written for man’s redemption. If we choose to ignore part of it, we damage the means of our own redemption.

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 Reward of the Lamb

“May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”

– The final words of two of the early Moravian missionaries as they sailed intentionally
into a life of slavery for the sake of the Gospel.

And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign[b] on the earth.”

-Revelation 5:9-10

The Father has ordained that Jesus should be glorified and worshiped by members of every tribe, tongue, and nation as a consequence of His purchasing them with His blood upon the cross.

The events of the cross should not be taken out of their place in history, rather the entire Bible is the story of God’s redemptive plan to rescue mankind from our own sinful condition. The cross and the resurrection represent the most crucial event in this ongoing plan of God to redeem people to Himself. Therefore, we should recognize that God’s ongoing plan to reach all nations as originally laid before Abraham in Genesis 12, is an ongoing work.

While Jesus’ death ultimately made the way to God free for all who would call upon the name of Jesus, the veil before God’s presence being torn asunder, ultimately we the church have now been entrusted with carrying the task to completion. We have been charged with the task of, through the power of the Holy Spirit, preaching the Gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation that some would turn to Christ Jesus and give Him all of their worship.

This should be a joyous task for us. So often we make out as though it were a burden, or a great sacrifice to maintain active involvement in the mission of God’s people. Yet we are seeking to give the righteous reward to Him who suffered, died, and rose again to purchase our freedom and place before God. Instead of acting as though this were a great sacrifice, we should recognize that we have been purchased and adopted through a far greater sacrifice and that any action we take is for the love of our savior.

Have you advanced the Kingdom of the Lamb today?

The Suffering of the Lamb

What was on Jesus’ heart and mind as He suffered and died on the cross?

We have heard over and over again that it was His love for us, but I would suggest that answer is somewhat incomplete.

We’ve embraced a dangerous tendency as a church to wrap everything around ourselves, even much of our “worship” focuses more on ourselves and how we feel than it does on the character and nature of God. This me-centric theology is just an outshoot of our very self centered culture into our churches, it represents an area where the culture has been allowed to transform the gospel we teach, rather than the other way around. The consequences of this dangerous reversal are being felt throughout American society today.

When Jesus died on the cross, He was lovingly thinking of you; but His primary motivation was love for and the greater glory of His Father. We take a dangerous step if we believe that Christ’s care and concern for us exceeded His care and concern for His Father and His Father’s glory.

God recognized that redeeming sinful humanity, who deserved no such redemption being rebels all, would bring Him far greater glory than wiping evil from the face of the earth. He earnestly desires the worship of redeemed men and women from every tribe, tongue, and nation for Himself. For this reason, Christ Jesus our Lord temporarily put aside the glory that was rightfully His and embraced instead the cross.

He suffered and died the way that we ought to have, to redeem us for His worship. No other motivation could be more pure, nor could it be better and more loving for us. Let us reject the notion that all the actions of the Sovereign and Glorious Lord of creation revolve around us, and instead recognize His plan to redeem us for His own glory!

To get a more full understanding of the concept of God’s desire to glorify Himself and redeem the nations read Unveiled at Last, by Bob Sjogren.

Super Human

I’m no superman,
How frequently I fail,
In fact I’m super human,
Held back by seemingly super failings,
And a frequent inability to accomplish the task at hand,
I have so many responsibilities,
Resting on my shoulders,
Other lives depend on mine,
And the eyes that watch and voices that repeat my words,
Fill my heart with fright!
What can I do?
What if I give all and come up wanting?
What if the best I have,
Proves to simply be not enough?
I frequently fail in small things,
What if I fail in large things?

Then I hear your voice,
Child, you never had to be adequate on your own,
I have been adequate for you,
You were unable to redeem yourself,
So I took on flesh,
And paid the ultimate price to bring you back,
I am the only one Sovereign in the universe,
I alone never fail,
But I am upholding you by my right hand,
To prosper the work of your small, childlike hands,
Give me all that you have,
Put all of yourself into the life I’ve given you,
And I will supply the lack,
My grace will make up the difference,
As for you trust Me.

As I struggle through each day,
And pour my whole heart out,
I work harder and harder,
But my heart slowly gives out,
What am I really doing worth living for?
You’ve given me a call and a purpose,
But it feels so far away,
Like a future I’ll never reach,
The world is full of tragedy,
Crisis strikes nearly everyday,
Billions of people are hurting,
Each day countless number perish without you,
So much evil continues to progress,
And what can I do to hold it back?
I know you’ve called me to serve you,
To join your mission to redeem,
But I feel so powerless in a world spiraling out of control.

Your voice calls out yet again,
Who put you where you are child?
Did not I?
The balance is precarious in each and every life,
The smallest of kind words,
The most insignificant contribution,
In my hands can become,
A source of life for generations,
See the seed planted in the ground,
How for many days it appears lifeless and dead,
And then suddenly it springs forth,
And eventually brings forth food,
So is each and every action,
If committed to my plan,
You are on the path of becoming,
And I will use every action along the way,
For the redemption of My creation,
And the glory of My name.

Daily Scripture Meditation

2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”

When our Lord Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness and removal of your sins, they were as of yet all in the future. You hadn’t been born yet, you hadn’t committed a single sin and yet He knew, and made a path to salvation for you. When the Holy Spirit called you and you responded, you received through the cross for all of your sin, past and future. Nothing you had or would do remained a secret from God.

For this reason, you can walk out from under habitual and addictive sin. There is no need to feel the ongoing condemnation of sin your life. As Romans 8:33 says “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” Only God is lawfully able to prosecute our transgressions against Him, and when you accepted grace through the cross He chose to pardon you of His own sovereign will.

For this reason, the old you – the flesh, actually died at the moment of salvation. Instead you became a new creation in Christ Jesus, and that new creation is completely freed from the sin that used to entangle you. It may feel like you can’t shake something, but the scripture says you can. In fact it says you already have.

All you have to do is recognize that the only way you can be entangled in sin is by giving in to a lie. Sin only has an ongoing grip on you if you believe it does. Repent, not only for your sin but for believing its lie, turn back to God, and then forget. God has already forgiven you, repent and move on!