My God, I love Thee;

Not because I hope for heaven thereby,

Nor yet because who love Thee not must die eternally.

Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me up on the cross embrace;

For me didst bear the nails and spear, and manifold disgrace.

Why, then why, O blessed Jesus Christ, should I not love Thee well?

Not for the hope of winning heaven or of escaping hell;

Not with the hope of gaining aught; not seeking a reward;

But as thyself hast loved me, O ever-loving Lord!

E’en so I love Thee, and will love, and in Thy praise will sing;

Solely because Thou art my God, and my Eternal King.

 

Anonymous seventeenth-century Latin poem

Translated by Rev. Edward Caswall

 

I’ve been getting lazy on posting here, but I thought this one bit from a Relevant Magazine article would be helpful for those of us who are yet again attempting resolutions for the new year.

 

6. Turn your resolution into a question. Sometimes Christians are afraid to ask questions. We assume that a relationship with God should insulate us from uncertainty and doubt, and that developing a Christian apologetic means having all the right answers. But asking good questions nurtures a spirit of curiosity about the world that is essential to living an examined, purposeful life. So consider focusing your energy on one pressing question this year: What do I really need? What makes me happy? What does it mean to follow Jesus? Which church tradition is best for me? Can I learn from people of other faiths? Is evolution true? Is Christianity true? What is most essential to the Christian faith? Where do my passions lie? What kind of person do I want to become? You might not find an answer to your question, but you will learn so much more than if you hadn’t had the courage to ask.

 

Asking these sorts of questions is no doubt hard work. But hard work, as it usually does, pays off down the road.

I hope to ask myself questions like these today.

In any case… WELCOME 2011!

crash1

A “luxury crystal Benz” encrusted with 300,000 Swarovski crystals is displayed at a Tokyo auto show in Japan.

May God save us from throwing our lives away on such pursuits.

O God let us be / a generation that seeks / that seeks your face / O God of Jacob.

Check out: http://dontwasteyourlife.com/

We’re all born into spiritual poverty until God intervenes in our lives and saves us from it. He brings us into prosperity, but not the kind that the world seeks after.

To live apart from God is to stay in poverty, but to live under God is to live in ineffable wealth.

The proof: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph.

A mediation on Matt. 27:24-26 and the meaning of Good Friday.

They had it all wrong.

The chief priests and elders had gathered a crowd to condemn Jesus. Their plan was finally coming together. They were now closer than ever to getting rid of this insurrectionist – Jesus of Nazareth. He was a trouble maker and he was making the religious institution look bad. He had accused them and condemned them in public of the fact that they had their religion all wrong. They needed to get rid of him – for good. They had no idea what good they were doing.

They brought Jesus before Pilate. As governor, Pilate, could do away with Jesus. Pilate was reluctant to do what the crowd wanted him to do with Jesus. They shouted, “Let him crucified!” But when it seemed like the crowd was getting out of control, Pilate gave up his attempts at justice. After all, he had to watch his own back. “Crucify him!”, the crowd shouted. Pilate, standing over the crowd, took water and washed his hands in front of them, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.” He thought that by washing his hands with water in front of the crowd, he was shifting any wrong-doing of the situation onto the crowd, saying to them, “Fine, we’ll do what you want with this Jesus. But it’s only because that’s what you want. I’m not a part of this.” Pilate’s decision was at best indifference, but ultimately he was looking out for Number One, namely, himself. He had it all wrong.

Having heard what the governor had just said, the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” They didn’t mind taking the blame for any wrong-doing of the situation. After all, Jesus was a fake, and he deserved to die. Oh, but how they had it all wrong.

That very day, Jesus was scourged by Roman soldiers. It was a horrifically cruel punishment. Jesus was tied to a post and beaten with a leather whip that was interwoven with pieces of bone and metal, which tore through his skin and tissue. Then, he was mocked, spat on, and crucified at Golgotha. Those who cared about Jesus, looked on helplessly as their teacher and friend slowly died hanging on that cross. All they could think was, “This is all wrong.”

Jesus did die on that cross that night. The chief priests and elders, the people, Pilate, Jesus’ friends – none of them knew that this had to happen. Jesus had to die. He was doing the will of the One who sent him. He was following orders from above – from his Father. God had sent his Son into the world so that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life. Jesus’ blood was shed for the salvation of sinners.

Pilate thought he was innocent of Jesus’ blood when in fact it was Jesus who was the innocent one. He was the Son of God – holy, perfect, and without blemish. After all, he was God himself. Jesus was innocent. Yes, Pilate had it wrong.

The people who shouted wanted Jesus dead and said, “His blood be on us,” didn’t realize that Jesus’ blood would indeed be on them. But not for their guilt. Jesus’ blood would be on them for their salvation if they would believe and repent. Yes, they had it wrong.

But I’ve passed over a small detail: “Then he released for them Barabbas.” Pilate, as governor, had a tradition of releasing one prisoner to the people at the same time every year. The crowd wanted the prisoner named, Barabbas. He was also an insurrectionist. The thing is, Barabbas, means “Son of the father.” Ironically, the people wanted Barabbas released rather than the true Son of the Father. Oh, how they had it all wrong.

The chief priests and elders wanted to get rid of Jesus, once and for all, for good. But they didn’t realize that Jesus’ death would actually be for good. His death was for good – for our good. It is good for us because by his wounds we are healed. The cross was hell for Jesus so that it would be salvation for us. Oh, how things went from wrong to right in just one night. Oh, how that can change us!

Let us not forget that it was our sin that put him there. But let us not just stop there in today’s solemn remembrance, but let us accept and believe that he went there to the cross because he considered us precious to him. Oh, how he loves us.

It’s Good Friday. Yes, truly, it is good.

I have a yearning – a yearning for something greater. I realize that the yearning in me only exists because what I do have is not enough. I’m not yet full; not yet content; not yet satisfied.

But how could this be? I think of the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and how so many are without food, water, and shelter – the most basic of needs. And here am I, never hungry or thirsty for more than 5 minutes and sleeping in a warm and comfortable bed every night – and having so much more than these things. Yet, I can’t shake this feeling of emptiness.

My stomach is a constant reminder and illustration of this longing in me. Everyday I eat – not a day goes by that my stomach is not filled with good, nutritious, delicious foods. But my stomach never fails at eventually wanting more. After hundreds and even thousands of meals, it still wants. It yearns. It longs. For more.

And so does my soul. My soul thirsts; even faints (Ps. 63). No matter how well my day goes – at the very end, when the sun is far and the stars are near, I’m yearning for something greater. No matter how stimulating my class or how intimate my time with friends or how sincere the family get-together or how exciting the movie or how successful my work  - I end up in the very same place – “in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps. 63).

I thirst and no amount of water from my Brita pitcher can quench it. I can practically feel it in a tangible, physical way that I am missing something. This discontentment; this dissatisfaction; this yearning sometimes comes in the form of boredom, loneliness, and even depression. Not being one to like things unsolved, I often ask myself, “What am I to make of all this?”

I don’t yet have an answer to that question as I usually fall asleep trying to answer it only to face it another day. But once in a while, I remember that I’m not alone. I recall that this is not just my problem. I remember that humanity shares this struggle with me. Indeed, it’s been on the minds of some friends who I must thank for sharing on their own blog.

Ecclesiastes says, “He has put eternity into man’s heart.” How does one fill a space of eternity? What does this mean? C.S. Lewis has a great observation in his book, Mere Christianity, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” So what can fill the void? What can satisfy the desire? It is eternity – that is, eternity in another world. Where? Well, not here. The yearning is real. It’s a yearning for another world.

I feel that if there’s anything I am learning as I grow older it is this fact: that no experience satisfies the desire which I find in myself. And that desire is for eternity. It is a void that can only be filled by the one who sits above eternity itself. The Ancient of Days. The Alpha and Omega. The Sovereign One.

O but how in the very moment I come to this realization, I’m struck with an innate and very familiar impulse to rebel. It’s in this place where instead of falling on my knees to lean on Him, I quickly tie my shoelaces to get back in the rat race (definition: an endless, self-defeating or pointless pursuit). I frantically search a barren wilderness (i.e., life on earth) for a spring of living water – the kind that would quench my thirst once and for all (John 4). But I end up settling for mere mirages – cheap imitations of the real thing. Foolishness. Stubbornness. Unbelief. All things I need to be purified from.

So what am I left with? Two choices.
1. Continue in the rat race and hope for the best
- or -
2. Surrender and lay it all down before the only One who can do anything about the void.

Tonight, I rebel against my rebellion as I pray, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul…” (Ps. 23).

Have you struggled with anything like this? What are some ways you’ve been dealing with the struggle?

For more on this topic, check out Matt Chandler’s sermon series on the book of Ecclesiastes here: The Village Church.

My 2010 New Year’s resolution: to make resolutions for next new year’s in 2011.

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