Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech and Spring Break

At seminary, we do not have spring break. Technically speaking, it is called "Reading Days." We get a week off, giving us an opportunity to do the reading we've undoubtedly gotten behind on. Mine was a spring break as I got to spend a wonderful week with my family and didn't do as much reading as I should have done. I also was able to be at the burial service for a close friend who passed away recently. I did not make it for the funeral service that was the day before Easter, but I was extremely thankful for the opportunity to make it to the burial and to visit with many of our mutual friends, church members, and her family. I am thinking about doing a series of 4 or 5 posts about the ways that this blessed saint helped me grow and learn more about Jesus Christ (It's hard to call her a saint without tearing up even now). But that is for some other time. My point is to explain where I've been for over a week after boldly proclaiming that "I'm Back!"

I've been thinking a lot about my friend Karen's death and find myself remembering odd things at odd times. I can only imagine what the friends and family of those murdered at Virginia Tech must be thinking. It will be months of remembering the little oddities and idiosyncrasies about their classmates for some. For others it will be a wound deep in the heart of a mother, father, sister, or brother, best friend...a wound that will never be healed.

I don't want to say much more about the hard days ahead for these folks who will be forever changed this evil act, mainly because no words seem right in my mind. I hear people discussing this for the purposes of pushing their own ideologies and political agendas and I hear many, in the media at least, sensationalizing the story. But I know there is an answer to why this happened. There is a solution to the problem that caused it. It's just not going to be found in punditry or from politicians or from the anti-gun lobby.

Sin is the reason.
There is only one solution to it.

I want to refer you to a post at Tim Challie's Blog. He is acquainted with a couple of pastors in Blacksburg. He posted some emails and correspondence he's kept for the last two days. One email gives some prayer requests and details about the prayer service that was held last night and he quotes one of the speakers who referenced (i know it's confusing) an email from his Archbishop Emannuel Koliny of Rawanda. He quoted a Benediction that was dear to the hearts of many African believers, one that has been spoken in response to many atrocities on that continent. Here is the link to the entire post. The benediction is below.

Let us all pray earnestly that God will work and heal and pour out His Spirit so that this evil act will be used to unite strong families and churches, to rally the hopeless, and awaken the sleeping for the Glory of the Almighty God who is the only soothing balm for the pain of this life through his Son Jesus and the Spirit that is within those who love him. Our hope is not in the quick response of a police precinct, or in the wisdom and judgment of a university president. It is in Jesus Christ, who died for our sin, arose from the grave according to scriptures ascended to God's right hand and intercedes now for us, leaving us his Holy Spirit to help us till the day he comes again to judge sin and evil and to reign forevermore where we will have every tear wiped and every eye dry. God speed the day of your appearing.

Minister: All our problems . . .

People: We send them to the cross of Christ!

Minister: All our difficulties . . .

People: We send them to the cross of Christ!

Minister: All the devil's work . . .

People: We send them to the cross of Christ!

Minister: All our hopes . . .

People: We set on the risen Christ!

Minister: Christ, the Son of Righteousness, shine upon you and scatter the darkness from before your path: and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you, forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Christ has RISEN! He has Risen Indeed!

Easter people, raise your voices. Christ has conquered the grave! What a blessed morning. I won't make a long post this morning, but I wanted to direct you to a song by Andrew Peterson. It is Called High Noon from the album "Love and Thunder." I've been singing it for a week and a friend of mine did an excellent post on this song just yesterday. I told him I was going to save my words and use his! You can read his wonderful post HERE.

His name is Stephen Caveness and his blog is thought provoking and always interesting. It's called the lower case because he types with %60 of his fingers and can't hit the shift key, but I don't hold that against him!

Go check it out and enjoy the beauty of our risen Christ.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Good Friday

What a good Friday! Christ bore our sins on the cross. Ephesians 1:7b says that in him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. I'm so thankful to be free from the guilt of my sin and reconciled to my God through Jesus Christ but I can never get through this day without being completely humbled. I pray that we all will realize that our freedom was bought with a price: nails in perfect hands.

I'll leave you with a new-ish (2005)hymn by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. They are the wonderful writers of many wonderful new hymns for the church. Their hymn In Christ Alone is now the #1 song in Britain according to CCLI. That is a blessing. It's great that British churches are singing these glorious truths about our wonderful savior. Maybe we will soon be singing God honoring and Christ exalting NEW songs that will help build our churches and ground them in the orthodoxy of scripture. You can see many of their other songs and learn about them HERE and HERE

"The Power of the Cross"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.


Today is Maundy Thursday. This is the day in the holy week in which Christ served his disciples the cup and bread after observing the Passover meal. He broke it and served it and proclaimed that it was his body, given for his disciples. He took a cup and proclaimed that it was his blood poured out for the forgiveness of the sins of many. John's gospel tells us that, after they had eaten, he also washed their feet in a gesture of humility. He stooped with his shirt around his waist and served them...he touched their feet, a very lowly act to their near-eastern sensibilities and customs. He commanded them to do this also and gives them a new commandment that his followers love one another in the same way that he loved his followers. He continued teaching that night and journeyed with them to a garden to pray, knowing exactly what the night would hold. What makes these events amazing is that Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He was sinless and perfect. He was before all things and ...well, just let the Holy Spirit through Paul make it clear:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation;
16 because by Him everything was created,
in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.
18 He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have first place in everything.
19 For God was pleased [to have] all His fullness dwell in Him,
20 and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself
by making peace through the blood of His cross—
whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Col. 1:15-20 HCSB

It is this amazing man, who occupies the first place in EVERYTHING who condescended to serve others. This is utterly amazing. This majestic God-man washed the feet of people. He healed people. He smiled at children. He had compassion on the crowds of people. He hung on a tree to reconcile people to God. He poured out his blood for people. While I marvel in astonishment at this truth, I would have to admit that I don't think about it enough. I don't dwell on the implications of Christ's humility. The picture of the strong showing his strength in weakness doesn’t enter into my self-seeking attitudes very often. We see this “great reversal” throughout scripture from the exodus to Hannah’s Song in 1 Samuel, to David and Goliath, all the way to the song of Mary in Luke’s Gospel. Paul spoke about God using foolish things to confound the wise so that they will be shown to be the true fools by their unbelief. God will exalt the humble, but the proud will be made low. Paul understood humility and this great reversal and with that understanding and he also wrote to some other Christians and said:

5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,

6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.

7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave,taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form,

8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—even to death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 HCSB

This humility is so important. We are exhorted to follow Christ’s lead and wash the feet of our brothers and sisters.
Many wonder why marriages between Christians fail. I know that I am a stronger head of my house when I display humility and service.
As a member of a church staff, I often wonder about how dissension crops up in the church body and I can’t help believe that a failure to have this understanding of Christ-likeness is the culprit every time.
Many Christians wonder why the world doesn’t come rushing to the spring of living water and flood the doors of churches all across our nation and world because of the infinite value of our savior. Many Christians think, how can people just throw their lives away, and repeat things like, "It takes more faith to believe there is no god than to believe in God!" The real reason is that they don’t see real humility in us. They see no advantage in Christianity and hey, why should they? The bible tells us that they don't discern or understand spiritual things, so how are they to truly know that they are wasting their life and missing out on the bread of life and the well that flows with living water? Humility is important because Jesus taught us that the world would recognize us by how we care for each other. Humility can be explained as beautiful evangelistic selflessness.

If you are interested in following Christ’s example of humility, there is a great little book by C.J. Mahaney that uses scripture to help transform our minds into the likeness of Christ. It is called Humility: True Greatness. I highly recommend it.