Sunday, February 27, 2011

A New Song

I sat down, intending to write a somewhat melodramatic blog. It seems those are the easiest to write late at night when I’m kind of beaten down and exhausted. But then God showed me something that completely blew my mind.

I have this question that lurks at the back of my mind. Maybe you’ve heard it before, too. It seems to come out when I’m particularly worn out and beat up.

Is this really worth it?

Is He really worth it?

And my head knows the answer without a doubt. My heart testifies to the truth as well. But sometimes even that seems shallow, a quick fix, Sunday school answer. Of course Jesus is worth it – whatever it may mean.

And then the Spirit directed my attention to Revelation 5:

9 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.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”

And it struck me. All throughout the Psalms, we’re commanded to sing a new song to the Lord. THIS is the new song.

U2 has this awesome song simply called “40,” based off of Psalm 40. My senior year of high school I taught a chapel service based off the two. This is Bono’s version:

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He lifted me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long? How long? How long?
How long? To sing this song?

The chorus of “How long?” doesn’t come from Psalm 40, but it’s something David asked God 22 times in the Psalms. How long? How long til I know Your plan? How long will this be screwed up? How long until You show up?

How long?

But if Revelation 5 is the “New Song,” then I know the answer to “How long?”

I will sing this song every day of my life, caught in the middle of the Now and the Not Yet.

Jesus has been slain and resurrected, and He has purchased men for God from every tribe and nation and tongue! But they don’t know it yet. And we are not yet a kingdom of priests reigning on the earth. But this is our hope! God will fulfill His word.

There are times when the tension of the Now and the Not Yet threatens to overwhelm me, when the only song my heart wants to sing is “How long?”

But then I am reminded that it is God who puts
“a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him.”

So I will sing this song til the day I die or Christ returns.

He is worthy. Jesus is worth it. He has purchased men from every tribe and nation and language with His blood, and He will make us into a kingdom of priests reigning on the earth.

Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Be Ye Glad

In these days of confused situations,
In these nights of a restless remorse,
When the heart and the soul of the nation,
lay wounded and cold as a corpse.

From the grave of the innocent Adam,
comes a song bringing joy to the sad.
Oh your cry has been heard and the ransom,
has been paid up in full, Be Ye Glad.

Oh, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad,
Every debt that you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord,
Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad.

From the dungeon a rumor is stirring.
You have heard it again and again.
But this time the cell keys are turning,
and outside there are faces of friends.

And though your body lay weary from wasting,
and your eyes show the sorrow they've had.
Oh the love that your heart is now tasting
has opened the gate, Be Ye Glad.

So be like lights on the rim of the water,
giving hope in a storm of the night.
Be a refuge amidst the slaughter,
for these fugitives in their flight.

For you are timeless and part of a puzzle.
You are winsome and young as a lad.
And there is no disease or no struggle,
that can pull you from God, Be Ye Glad.

Oh, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad,
Every debt that you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord,
Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad.

Words and Music by M.K.Blanchard
© Gotz Music/Benson

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Holy Rest

I think God has been trying to get my attention about this rest thing.

Of the Ten Commandments, I think I break 1 and 4 the most. Perhaps it is precisely because I do not take the time to rest that I forget to remember the LORD and keep Him at the center of my life. It's so much easier for me to stay in charge of my life when I don't slow down for anything.

Often it is a bout of sickness that slows me down and forces me to rest. This time, God in His sovereign grace, sent an ice storm.

A crazy ice storm has hit North Texas, and schools have been closed four days this week. Facebook tells me many of my friends are bored and stir crazy, but I'm not. This week has been a much needed time to catch up on life, on just being instead of constantly doing.

One of the issues I've been grappling with recently is this idea of rest, ceasing work, giving up everything. It's so foreign to me as an American - not doing anything so that God can do everything.

And then tonight, I was listening to Phil Vischer's talk at the Children's Pastors Conference last month. He is one of my heroes, for many reasons. Part of what he said resonated with me deeply.

I was reading Paul’s letter to Galatians – “but the fruit of the Spirit it is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”

And for the first time it appeared to me what Paul meant. I mean, I was familiar with the fruit of the Spirit, but I had always kind of looked at it as an obligation, a duty, something else I had to do while I was saving the world. If you’re a Christian, you have to act loving, you have to act joyful, you have to be kind and patient and self-controlled. I looked at it sort of like homework – oh great, something else I have to do.

But now I saw what Paul really meant. If you’re filled with the Spirit, these attributes will flow out of you whether you want them to or not. For an apple tree, producing apples is not an obligation – it can’t be helped. No apple tree accidentally produces grapes and then says “Oh darn it, I messed up again.” An apple tree produces apples for the simple reason that it is an apple tree. And the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer for the simple reason that He is the Holy Spirit. If someone is filled with the Spirit, these attributes will fall out of him naturally and effortlessly. It can’t be avoided.

At last week's service, something struck me. There is this great line in the first verse of "In Christ Alone."
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
It struck me that the two are related. My fears are stilled when I cease striving, and surrender everything I am to Jesus. It is by surrendering and trusting Him that I "work out my salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in me to will and to act according to His good purpose."

And so I hear His voice: Stop kicking against the goads. Trust Me. Let go.