Friday, February 26, 2010

Holy and Pleasing...

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God...this is your spiritual act of worship." 
Romans 12:1
He is ever present...
We don't have to go look for Him.
We don't have to go meet Him.
He is here with us.
We have access to HIm
Only the high priest could enter
The Holy of Holies...
Behind the veil...
The place where God dwelt...
The holiest of Holy places...
Common man was not holy
He could not enter in.
But then...Jesus.
God became a man...Jesus.
Man rejected God...Jesus
The sacrifice was made...Jesus
Darkness fell...
The earth shook...
The veil was torn...
Death lost....
Justice met grace.
Because of grace
I am forgiven
Because of grace
I can forgive
Because of grace
I have a future
Because of grace
I have ... 
The veil is gone
The ultimate sacrifice made
The sin that separated
God from man
Has been covered
By the Blood..
The blood of Jesus.
As He is holy,
I am called to be holy.
Because without holiness
No one will see God.
The challenge...
In a sinful world
How to be holy.
Trade my will...
For His will.
Sacrifice my pride...
For His humility.
Only those with...
Clean hands
Pure heart
May stand
In the Holy Place.
The Hope
We are not alone.
He is ever present.
His Spirit dwells in us
Love, Joy, Peace
Patience, Kindness
Goodness, Gentleness,
Holiness, what I long for.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Unfair Exchange...

"...and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head."
Matthew 27:29
As I have mentioned speaks to me. Sometimes I can hear a brand new song and it will instantly resonate in my spirit. Other times I can hear a song over and over without really listening to it. Then one day, I will "hear" the words and it will bless me. Then there are occasions like old hymn, written almost 150 years ago, and one that I have sang probably hundreds of times in my lifetime. But tonight, it spoke to me anew in a deep and moving way. 
This song was written in 1864 by a sixteen year old boy, William Ralph Featherston. I grew up in an Assembly of God church, we sang this song often. The words are embedded in my brain...
Tonight... they are in my heart.
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
We sang through the first verse, and then the second verse. We omitted the third verse and went straight to the fourth. That's when it hit me! Look at this line from the second verse.
 I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow
Having been raised in the church, I have heard the Easter story time and time again. Matthew, Mark and John all record the same statement..."they twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head". The picture above is a recreation of what this crown of thorns could look. Is this a crown fitting a king...the King of Kings? They didn't just lay it on His understanding is that it was pressed upon His head. Adding to the pain and agony He had already endured.

Then we sang the final verse of this song... 

I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow 
I Peter 54 says, " will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 4 that we will receive a crown of righteousness and James says God will give us a crown of life. What will this crown look like? Will it be a crown of gold or silver, glittering with diamonds or emeralds or rubies like the crown in this picture? I don't know what it will look like, or even if it is a physical crown. But what struck me so deep in my heart tonight was...
This is an unfair exchange!
Jesus, the King of Kings received the crown of thorns...the crown I deserved. And I will receive a "glittering crown"...the one I don't deserve.  At that moment of revelation, all I could say was, "God, this is not a fair trade". But because of His immeasurable love for me, and His Grace and His Mercy...Jesus has exchanged His crown of Glory for my crown of thorns. And while it is not a fair trade, it is a most precious gift.

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus...'tis now!

link to Avalon singing "My Jesus, I Love Thee"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pressing On Toward the Goal...

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life..."
John 5:24
Today a precious woman of God was laid to rest. Joyce Banning was the mother of one of my dearest childhood friends and wife of Earl Banning, the pastor of the church I attended growing up in Texas. She was my Missionette teacher, too. I will never forget the night we were sitting in the floor in our classroom going over Bible verses and this HUGE cockroach flew, yes...flew down from the corner of the room and dive bombed us. The screeching that came from this room full of 11 year old girls. But she handled it was such grace.

Though I haven't seen her in more than twenty years, I remember her to be a sweet woman who loved God with all her heart. She had a beautiful smile and a servant heart. Lori told me that she couldn't wait to see Jesus.

Paul tells us in Philippians 3 to "press on toward the goal.." and in Hebrews 12 to "run the race" and "fix our eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of our faith". Last Sunday morning, as I stood worshiping in church, I realized Sister Banning, who had spent her life pressing on toward the goal and running the race with her eyes firmly fix on Jesus, had finished her race and was worshiping in the Throne Room. Isn't that an amazing thought? 

Last night in choir practice, we began singing a song called THAT NAME (full lyrics). (I believe I have mentioned before that music speaks to did again.) When we got to the final verse, I thought of Joyce Banning, and began to cry. The words so beautifully described this moment in time for her.

Someday I'll leave this earthly dwelling,
Through time and space, my soul will soar.
And finally see the face of Jesus.
And praise his name, forevermore!
That name is Jesus, oh how I love him!
The one who gave his life for me!
Because of love so unconditional,
I will have life eternally.

 Lori, to you and your family, I dedicate this song...your mom has left this earthly dwelling, soared through time and space and has seen the face of Jesus! Can you picture it? She's finished the race! And in the process has given all who knew her a great example of how to press on toward the goal, with grace and perseverance...til we, too, see the face of Jesus.
I love you!

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Can Carry You...

"Carry each others burdens ..." 
Galatians 6:2
My boys are HUGE fans of The Lord of the Rings.They have all three movies,(extended versions),own all the soundtracks, have read the book multiple times, and can be heard quoting from it often and at random times. Truth be told, there are indeed several inspiring moments from this classic.

Just the other day, the family was together and during the course of our conversation...out came a line from the movie. I have no recollection of what we were talking about, but I do remember this scene...

Frodo Baggins has been on this epic journey to destroy the ring. Samwise Gamgee is his faithful friend, his protector...his encourager. They are exhausted and close to their destination...the fires of Mordor. (I hope I have this boys will be so disappointed in me if I get it wrong.) Sam has asked Frodo if he remembers home...the Shire. Frodo says, "No, Sam. I can't recall the taste of food... nor the sound of water... nor the touch of grass. I'm... naked in the dark, with nothing...". Then Sam says...
"I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!" 
And he picks up his friend.......and begins to carry him up the mountain. Isn't that what we are called to do? Galatians 6:2 says, "Carry each other's burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ". What is the law of Christ? When the disciples asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, His answer was to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Then He went on to say "and love your neighbor as yourself". I believe the law of Christ is rooted in love. Caring for one another and carrying one another.

Who do you know that is carrying a heavy burden? Perhaps they have a physical need, a medical diagnosis that has rocked their world. Perhaps the loss of a job has put them in financial crisis. Or maybe a loved one has disappointed them in a way that has broken their heart. Or maybe that dear loved one has finished their journey here on earth and has gone home. 
Sometimes there is so little we feel we can do. While we may be unable to heal their physical needs or repair their broken hearts; if we are unable to give them employment or pay that light bill for them, and we certainly can't bring that dear one back to life...we can carry them through this difficult time. Encourage them, love them, lift them up in prayer. And there are physical things we can do such as take them a meal, clean their house, or just take them out for coffee. 
"God, please help me to see with Your eyes, those who are broken and hurting; those who are carrying heavy burdens; burdens I can't carry for them...but I can carry them!"
Find that friend or loved one who is walking beneath a heavy load. Come along side them and say...
"I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!"
Scene from the movie