Confession: I wish you would do my will, For I would rather not surrender all. I would prefer more say in what you call Me to within your kingdom. Only kill Those parts of me with which I wish to part. Pick from the list I curate, then begin To excise only my unwanted sin, But leave the rest lest you disturb my heart.
O weak desire, false freedom, foolish dream. Such service would be fiction, for the throne Would be yours in name only. Lord, remove Me from my central focus and redeem All places where my heart is still like stone. In grace and mercy, pardon and reprove.
Matthew tells us the rich young man “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22). When told to sell what he had and to give to the poor, he walked away, leaving the opportunity of eternity for his earthly kingdom. Perfection, it seems, cost too much.
I wonder what went through John’s mind as he sat in prison. He’d answered the call of the Lord in the wilderness, proclaiming the kingdom of God and baptizing the repentant (Luke 3:1-22). He’d prepared the way for the Messiah, introducing the Christ at the beginning of Jesus’s earthly ministry (John 1:29-36). He’d faithfully stood for righteousness in the face of Herod’s immorality (Matthew 14:4). And yet he found himself imprisoned. The crowds he once taught left him to follow Jesus (John 3:26). While John found joy in humbly playing his role in the bridegroom’s story (John 3:27-30), he seems to have struggled with doubt while in prison, for he sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask an important question.
Father, let me ne’er forget the story
Of the cross, the tomb, the third day’s glory.
For after those four hundred years so long,
Elijah’s call was heard throughout the land.
“The kingdom comes! Repent! Make straight the way!”
And with his words, John pointed to the Word,
The spotless lamb of God, the virgin’s son,
The heir to David’s throne, the promised one.
He brought us peace yet also brought a sword;
The people were divided in that day.
They cried. He died. They did not understand.
He rose, and this is evermore our song:
The king has won the war we could not fight;
The darkness has not overcome the light.
The dissonance resounds
As all attempt to sing
A song of their own making.
Disorder now abounds
For all forget the king
(A fatal undertaking).
We sing our dirge till death
Yet sing with all our might,
Our very voices breaking.
With ev’ry selfish breath,
We shrink away from light
To try to stop the aching.
But light shines in the dark,
And dark cannot resist.
The kingdom is advancing.
There is a holy ark.
With joy, we may subsist.
Salvation comes with dancing.
Amidst the rebel choir,
A melody is heard
That rings throughout creation.
The true composer’s ire
Fell full upon the word:
The ransomed sing his song
Now knowing it involves
The rescue of the dying.
Though so much now seems wrong,
The song at last resolves:
A friend of mine recently asked me how we ought to address the issue of spiritual immaturity among young believers. He noticed that many our age have shallow understandings of theology and possess little maturity in the things of God, and he wondered how we can help people to grow when adolescence appears to have such a firm hold on our generation. His question grows more pressing when I consider my own heart and find the same tendencies and deficiencies in myself. So how do we grow in godliness? How do we ourselves grow more mature in the faith and more biblically and theologically grounded? And how do we lead others to follow our example? Below are a few thoughts that I pray will help us along that road.
The gospel is the poetry of truth,
For in it love and beauty condescend
From heav’n above to take the form of youth:
A righteous life to cover those who sinned.
Redemption’s plan was fixed before the fall.
The father, through his prophets, has foretold
The coming of the king who sounds the call
To all who under sin and death are sold.
Twas at the proper time and proper place
The son himself engaged man’s greatest foe,
And by his death the dead were made alive.
Alive again, the word of love and grace
Inaugurates his kingdom here below,
And all who know him evermore shall thrive.
Marriage is a journey. I had the privilege of watching two dear friends begin that journey on Saturday, and I loved seeing their excitement for the road ahead. As they exchanged their vows and reflected on how God had so perfectly led them together, I saw yet another picture of God’s love for us. The simplicity and humility shown was beautiful, and it pointed to the pure example of Christ, who died for his enemies to make them adopted children of God.
As new marriages are beginning, others I know are marking the first of many anniversaries, allowing me to see couples in a various number of early stages. Not surprisingly, I’m learning a lot by watching those facing the challenges that time brings. Today, I wanted to continue adding to a post I wrote in June. I pray God will encourage and challenge you through these observations. Continue reading →