Wednesday, 29 September 2010

life is a lot like music

Just like music, life's got rhythm. Sometimes it's steady; other times it's syncopated. Just like music, life's got its major, and minor notes too. There is dissonance and harmony, played just a few notes apart. Just like music, life's got times for a solo, and other times for a duet. And just like music, life's got different tempos. Some measures are adagio, others presto.

Everybody talks about life being bittersweet. Bitter and sweet. Sweet and bitter. The older I get, the more real this reality becomes, the more personal it gets. There certainly are major and minor notes 'played in the same measures' of life that sober me up and bring me to His throne of grace, where there is always a song to sing.

These words from the Valley of Vision are perfect. They speak of that which causes the sad heart to sing, and the happy heart to sing some more, and that is His grace.

"O Lord, forever will Thy free forgiveness live
that was gained on the mount of blood;
In the midst of a world of pain
it is a subject for praise in every place,
a song on earth, an anthem in heaven,

its love and virtue knowing no end.

I have a longing for the world above
where multitudes sing the great song,
for my soul was never created to love
the dust of earth.

Though here my spiritual state is frail and poor,
I shall go on singing Calvary's anthem.
May I always know
that a clean heart full of goodness
is more beautiful than the lily,
that only a clean heart can sing by night
and by day,
that such a heart is mine when I abide
at Calvary.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

adopted for life, forever

Meet the Smith family. They once described themselves to me as the three flavours of Neapolitan ice cream. Isn't that sweet? It's Mr. Vanilla (TJ), Mrs. Strawberry (Karen), and Miss Chocolate (Chaya). Just like the ice cream, they are each great on their own, but even better together.

Beautiful little Chaya is from India, and just recently became an official part of the Smith trio. After many long months of court-dates and confusion, prayers and paperwork, Chaya's adoption has finally been finalized. Love never gave up, and perseverance has paid off! Chaya was once an orphan, but is now a child... the daughter, of two wonderful parents, who will provide for her, love her, and lead her well in this life.

I have come to love this photo below because of what it represents. See the trust that Chaya has, because her father's hands are ready for her. See the gladness of her soul, all over her face. See how carefree she is. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what it looks like to be a beloved child.

All of this is but a depiction of the most glorious adoption of all... into God's international family, for eternal life.

How marvelous to know that because of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, I have God as my Father today and every tomorrow to come... straight into eternity. Today, I am happy at the thought of so secure an adoption. Today, I am humble at the thought of so undeserved an adoption. And every day my Father reminds me that this adoption ought to change how I live every day. Little old rebellious me, adopted by big, kind, exalted He.
Thank You, Jesus.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

the best 'but' in the Bible

To my great delight, I have discovered that my old friend, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, had a wife, Susannah Spurgeon. And she wrote beautifully, just like he did. And she prayed fervently, just like he did. And she made much of her Saviour, just like he did. (They are hands-down my favourite couple in history.)

This prayer of her's dates back to the 1800's. Yet, all these centuries later, it is my up-to-date plea. And I am comforted, because He heard her then, and He hears me now.

"Not that we loved God, BUT that He loved us."
- 1 John 4:10
"As precious balm, so came these blessed words into my dull and aching heart. Dear Lord, I thank You for them; You have taken them from Your own Book, and spoken them to me with Your living, loving voice, and they have quickened me.

I have brought to You, with shame and sorrow, a hard and insensible heart; I could only groan out before You my utter lack of both faith and feeling. The very desire to love you seemed to lie fettered ad powerless within me, only an occasional struggle revealing its bare existence. Then, Lord, while I knelt in Your presence, with bowed head and troubled spirit - tears and sighs my only prayers - You whispered those sweet words in my ear and they brought light and liberty to my captive soul. Blessed be Your dear Name for this glorious deliverance! It is not my poor, cold, half-hearted love that is to satisfy and comfort me; but Your love great and full, and free, and eternal as Yourself! Surely, I had known this before, Lord; but I had shut myself up in unbelief till, in Your sweet mercy, You spoke the word that released me from my chains, opened my prison doors, and let me out into the sunshine of true peace in believing.

'Not that we loved God.' No, and that is the sad wonder and mystery of the unrenewed life, Dearest Master. Not to have loved you, is our greatest guilt and shame. It is even worse than this with us, for we were enemies, by wicked works, to Him who claimed the most ardent and grateful love of our souls; we had put ourselves in an attitude of defiance against our Best Friend; or if not openly defiant, we were totally forgetful of Him to whom our heart's allegiance was justly due. "Not that we loved God." Ah, dearest Lord, you know how deeply, sadly true this was of me, and how I mourn over the years spent without love to You, and at a distance from You. O hard heart, O blind eyes, O poor dull sluggish soul, that could be unmindful of the strivings of God's Spirit, could deliberately neglect the pleadings of a Saviour's love, and see no beauty in One who is 'altogether lovely'!

'But that He loved us.'
Here is a blessed contrast, here is the antidote for sin's sting, here is light after darkness, hope after despair, life after death! Lord, my soul flings itself on this glorious fact, this saving truth as a drowning man seizes upon a life-belt thrown to him in the surging sea. If You do not love me and lift me, I must perish forever. But there is no question of sinking when Jesus saves, no fear of losing life when He loves.

O my Lord, how I thank You for this precious word upon which You have caused me to hope! Now all the day long, my heart shall sing over the safety and blessedness of being freely loved, instead of fretting about the sad lack of my poor love to You. 'Not that we loved God' is darkness and bitterness, 'but that He loved us' is light and pardon, peace and everlasting life."
Amen, in Jesus' name.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

how many times can you say 'sun' in one sentence?

some 'food for thought' that i've been chewing since the sunday sermon feast in the book of ecclesiastes...

you can't live 'under the sun' without knowing the God 'above the sun' through Jesus who came 'under the sun' to make this necessary relationship possible.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

when you just don't feel like it

... do it, anyways.

let's be honest, my generation, myself included, suffers from a serious epidemic of laziness. it's a dangerous little devil, disguising itself as procrastination, and showing up inconveniently at home, school, and work. his partner in crime is poor work ethic. they go everywhere together. but they always have an excuse, the most popular being: "i just don't feel like it/or i just don't feel up to it." does that get them off the hook? are they excused? i don't thinks so!

frankly, 'how we feel' doesn't matter all the time. we're not always going to want do what we have to do or ought to do. for that reason, we can't live based on our feelings.

it doesn't take a rocket-scientist to figure out that responsibility doesn't always equal pleasure. but it always does equal privilege. think about it. having a family, having a job, having an education, having... anything for that matter, is a privilege. things given to us. things we don't deserve.

granted, responsibility isn't always the most exciting thing in the world. the average person doesn't exclaim, "yippeeeee! it's time to do my homework. i've been craving some textbook reading since the moment i woke up." or "man, i just can't wait to pay my bills!" or "phew, just home from a long day at work, but i can hardly wait to get started on my household chores."

so, what are we to do when doing the dishes and finishing our homework don't give us the thrills? or when serving our families, helping our friends, and ministering to people takes time and energy, both of which are in scarce supply? here's what we are to do - do the dishes, finish our homework, serve our families, help our friends, and minister, anyways!

frankly, all of these things don't require your emotional cooperation to be done. it's called obedience to God. it's called good old-fashioned perseverance. it's called "all things are possible through Christ".

now before you think, i'm advocating a joyless, dutiful, forget-your-dreams, grin-and-bear-it sort of living, i am not. (far from it!) life is a wonderful gift from God, and in Christ, we live it as a beautiful act of sweet surrender and joyful service to Him, Who makes even the mundane meaningful and the impossible, possible. but what i am saying, is that life, these post-fall days, is bound to be monotonous at points. sorry to break it to you, but the alarm clock will not be our most favourite noise, nor the commute to work our favourite ride, nor the ministry easy. some days, you'll feel up to it; other days you won't.

regardless, He calls us to a routine faithfulness, and will provide the ability for the calling. so, let's get going, and get to it in a spirit of prayer. and heed the wise c.s. lewis. "don't bother much about your feelings," or we'll not do much of anything.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

morning meditations

school has begun again. and we all know what that means. early mornings, busy days, late nights.

i love to think this though, that our God never sleeps a wink. never ever, ever. He is forever strong and tremendously tireless, always sitting up on His heavenly throne, watching our 'lying down' and 'getting up' and 'going out' on earth.

how about you meditate on that as you gulp down your cuppa caffeine! He is mighty and His well of strength is bottomless. draw from it early in the morning, and it will last you until you return to your pillow, however many hours later.

and the good news, this well of His never runs dry. it is always full up to the top. His brand-new mercies meet us the moment our alarm clock sounds.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

dying for a sweetie

I've been on a serious C.S. Lewis kick as of recent, and I predict that it won't be soon over. My nose has been buried in a book of his all week, and let me tell you, the pristine clarity, the profound insight, and the downright truth of the pages 'smell' so good. (No doubt because he derives it from God.)

Yesterday I suddenly wanted to watch Chronicles of Narnia again. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Yes, it was a Friday night. Yes, I am twenty-one. And no, I don't think that was a bad way to spend my one free night of the week. I pretended to be a child, seeing it for the very first time (...which isn't exactly hard to do, considering my degree in teacher education, and an afternoon spent in the children's section at Borders).

Now, I could go on about the Gospel truths so cleverly woven throughout the one hundred and thirty five minutes of sheer imaginative genius that is the world of Narnia; however, I will choose just one line that wedged itself into my memory.

..."for sweeties."

Picture it: The terribly wicked 'queen' has hungry wee Edmund trapped in her icy, dark palace. While he was expecting a room of Turkish delights, he finds himself in a dark, dismal prison with a stale piece of bread. Turns out, she had lied and he was stuck. Edmund was in brutal bondage, for sweeties. He had betrayed his family and all the good in Narnia, all for a box of temporary Turkish delights that weren't even real. Drawn to the dark side by greed; lust proved fatal. And the title of this blog becomes literal.

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, it does. Every day, people on earth are forfeiting life eternal in Christ, for silly, sinful trivialities. Gaining nothing, losing everything. They are 'dying' for a sweetie, when really - the sweetest thing is Christ.

Friday, 3 September 2010

every day this week, on my way to school, i've been listening to a wonderful mix of music. i tell ya, nothing to wake you up and get your day going like a few good songs!

this week i've made a morning tradition of listening to this old hymn, possessing poetry to stir your soul and truths to make you weep.

come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
full of pity, love and pow’r.

i will arise and go to Jesus,
in the arms of my dear Savior,
oh, there are ten thousand charms.

come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
true belief and true repentance,
every grace that brings you nigh.

come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
lost and ruined by the fall;
if you tarry till you’re better,
you will never come at all.

view Him prostrate in the garden;
on the ground your Maker lies;
on the bloody tree behold Him;
sinner, will this not suffice?

lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
pleads the merit of His blood:
venture on Him, venture wholly,
let no other trust intrude.

let not conscience make you linger,
not of fitness fondly dream;
all the fitness He requireth
is to feel your need of Him.

{written by joseph hart, 1759)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

sweet serendipity

Encouraged by a recent sermon, called Slow Down, You Move Too Fast, I've been wanting to take the advice to "smell the roses" seriously. My opportunity came today, at the perfect timing. On my walk, I decided to take a new route. Little did I know that clusters and clusters of delicate white roses were a few steps ahead of me, lining a part of the path. I happened upon them, smiled at the surprise, let my nose do its thing, and remembered something Jesus said.

"See how the flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Now, if that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"

Oh fellow pilgrim on His path, I pass on this to you... smell the roses, and know that He is God.