Showing posts with label Lyrics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lyrics. Show all posts

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dancing in the Minefields

Andrew Peterson is one of my favorite newly discovered artists. He has a penchant for thought-provoking lyrics, a gift for honesty, and a good ear for melody. He reminds me of Rich Mullins, and that can only be a good thing.

One of the songs off his new album (which is on my Christmas wish list) speaks as truly and powerfully about marriage as any I have ever heard. Listen to the song, read the lyrics, and watch the video, then join me for some thoughts on the far side of the lyrics.

Dancing in the Minefields
I was nineteen, you were twenty-one
The year we got engaged
Everyone said we were much too young
But we did it anyway

We bought our rings for forty each
From a pawn shop down the road
We made our vows and took the leap
Now fifteen years ago

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that's what the promise is for

"I do" are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I've heard
Is a good place to begin

'Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it's an easy price
For the life that we have found

And we're dancing in the minefields
We're sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that's what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I loose love's chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me

'Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
So there's nothing left to fear
So I'll walk with you in the shadowlands
Till the shadows disappear

'Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby,
I can dance with you

Why does this speak so strongly to me? I suspect there are a number of reasons, but most of all that I identify very strongly with many of the sentiments expressed. The details are a little different, but in many ways these lyrics could have been written about my marriage. I was 21 and Jaimie was 19 when we got engaged, and we paid a bit more for our rings, and we've been married a little over 1 year instead of 15. But we have been dancing in the minefields. We have sailed, already, into the teeth of a frightening storm.

Marriage is both harder and better than I ever could have dreamt. We have not struggled as much as many couples do with basic marriage issues—communication, squabbles over where to squeeze the toothpaste, etc.—but we have faced trials darker and harder than either of us ever expected to. Depression is a fearful thing, and to walk through it, or to watch your beloved as walk through it, is more difficult than I can express.

At times in the last year, Jaimie has struggled to pull out just one tremulous smile in an evening.

I fell in love with the most joyous, life-loving woman I had ever met. That's still who she is; circumstances can't revoke God's creative decision. But how hard has it been for this most joyous of women to walk through days when she can hardly smile? My heart has broken for her.

At times, I have been selfish. I have struggled to love her with the self-sacrificial love of Christ. I have let her down, put my own interests first, been unwilling to see our circumstances through her eyes. The long and short of it is: I am a sinner, through and through, saved each day only by the superlative grace of God.

The song speaks to me because it captures the bittersweet glory of marriage. We go dancing in the minefields, daring to have joy when any moment everything could come crashing down. We delight in the thrill of sailing though the storm could sweep us away at any moment. We live our lives with passion for God because, whatever the risk, we know that the reward he has given us in each other is worth the pains that come. It is harder than we could have imagined when we began—and that is why, as I wrote a few months ago, marriage is about commitment, not excitement. Yes, marriage can be fun, and yes it is a source of great excitement. At times. Often, we remember the promise we made and remain with each other because, whatever the travails of the moment, keeping that promise is better than anything we could ever find in breaking it.

And when we hold fast that commitment, we gain a view that we could never have if we fled when the shadows came. Storms are fearsome, terrible things—but there is beauty in them: the crash of thunder in all its majesty, the lightning that turns the black of night into the brightness of day itself, the crashing power of the waves and wind: the majesty of God made known in part.

We walk in Christ, and so when the shadowlands come, we can walk on, holding each other's hand all the more tightly perhaps, confident that whatever comes to pass, we shall walk out the other side still in his grace, still faithful to each other, still loving each other with everything we can give of our still-sinful selves. We come out the other side loving each other more, not less, because the trial sharpens us and pushes us to rely on God who loved us first.

I hate the storm, sometimes—but I am grateful for it. I plan to just keep dancing in minefields with the most beautiful woman I know. God willing, we'll dance another 60 years or more.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Real Worship Songs: You Alone Can Rescue

My favorite worship songs are those that focus on God. There are plenty of good, worshipful songs that include many references to us and our love of God, and indeed many of the Psalms are structured just that way. Nonetheless, my favorites are those that are wholly devoted to proclaiming God's greatness. The best of these are those that are directed toward God himself. While many songs declare God's goodness, most of those are statements about God rather than statements to God.

Songs that combine theological depth, a Godward orientation, and are directed in praise directly to God, are rare enough that I delight to find them. Add in musical excellence, and the result is a recipe for giddiness in me.

In the past few years, Matt Redman has had a penchant for penning these songs—more than perhaps any other modern songwriter. His consistent attention to theological details and his persistent work at improving his musicality has brought him a long way from "The Happy Song" or "Better is One Day." (I'm not bashing on either—but he's come a long way since then, especially musically. Obviously it's hard to beat Better is One Day for lyrical content, since it's pulled from one of the Psalms!)

One of his newest is "You Alone Can Rescue." Many of you may have already heard it, as it was featured on this year's Passion album. It's worth listening to again. The song is a simple, sweet meditation on God's salvation in our lives in the face of all our futility. Enjoy.

Lyrics:

Verse 1
Who, oh Lord, could save themselves,
Their own soul could heal?
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your grace is deeper still

repeat Verse 1

Chorus 1
You alone can rescue, You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us, led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise

Verse 2
You, oh Lord, have made a way
The great divide You heal
For when our hearts were far away
Your love went further still
Yes, your love goes further still

Chorus 2
You alone can rescue, You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us, led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise
To You alone belongs the highest praise
To You alone belongs the highest praise
You alone

Bridge
We lift up our eyes, lift up our eyes
You’re the Giver of Life

repeat 8x

repeat Chorus 2

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Holy, Holy Holy / Awesome in Power

This is a draft. I very much want your feedback. I think it is going to be set to music as a hymn of sorts, so think of it that way—it has to be singable. That makes for a good, helpful, challenging constraint on poetic language. Help me make it better.

Holy, holy, holy are you Lord
Exalted one, the ancient of days
Glory, glory, glory to the King
Awesome in power and mighty to save

Torrent pours from the sky
Waves rising, cresting, tumbling
Tempest and shadow and storm
The heavens flash to white
The works of men's hands crumble

Night fills the midday sky
The earth trembles in its depths
The temple curtain rent and torn
And dead men walk alive
God the Man bought hope by death

Holy, holy, holy are you Lord
Exalted one, the ancient of days
Glory, glory, glory to the King
Awesome in power and mighty to save

Dawn coming splits the sky
The veil of night is sundered
The final curtain rent and torn
Horns shout aloud their cry
Ten thousand thousands thunder

Holy, holy, holy are you Lord
Exalted one, the ancient of days
Glory, glory, glory to the King
Awesome in power and mighty to save

No mourning, or sorrow, or tears
An unending offer of praise
No wars, no arguments, no fear
Hope and joy, gladness and love
And knowing God for all our days

Holy, holy, holy are you Lord
Exalted one, the ancient of days
Glory, glory, glory to the King
Awesome in power and mighty to save

Monday, November 3, 2008

The everlasting God

There are many times in this life when we find ourselves tired, weary, broken by the hurts and pains that surround us and by the storms that buffet us. We walk through a world that is sad and lonely, that is filled with lives bereft of hope or expectation of deliverance. Pressing in are the needs of the tedium that is too often our existence: work, or school, or various chores about the house, or some pressing social engagement. All of them good things, and all of them so everyday that they can become a source of boredom and frustration, and we can lose sight of the eternal value of our lives. Worse, we can lose sight of the eternal consequences of our actions as we become increasingly consumed with the mundane.

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord


Yet we do not have to be caught in this place; we need not forever leave our eyes on the things of this world. Make no mistake: this world is a good place, subjected though it is to frustration for our sins. But we look to a better place, to a city that has foundations and to a kingdom that cannot be shaken. As we walk through our days, it is not our own strength that sustains us, for if it is we will fail and we will fall. It is impossible for us to conquer the enemies and the travails that assail us every day in our own feeble strength. Praise be to God! We need not strive of ourselves, though every day we must press on in Christ. He who lives in us has already overcome the world. As we wait on him, we will receive strength, not for our own ends but for his. His purposes, his goals, his vision: when these are the defining elements of our lives, then we will have strength.

Our God, You reign forever
Our Hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary


He is not a small God, not a limited God, not a puny or helpless God. He does not change; he is the same through all eternity. He is the omniscient, omnipotent one. He defeated death - by dying, and living again. Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having made purification for our sins. Now we look to him who is crowned with glory and honor on account of the suffering of death and recognize his lordship and sovereignty. We behold his glory in part. We anxiously await the day when we shall see it in full. (Or we do not, but we ought! If we are not anxious about the coming of that day, then our faith is feeble indeed.)

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer


Jesus Christ delivered us. He stands ready to deliver many more, and he works tirelessly to achieve his ends. He will not be thwarted. His power is not small. His arm is not short. His hands are not weak. His wisdom is not limited. He is more than able to accomplish all of his purposes in this world - in the lives of every human being walking through their days, so many unaware of his touch. Even those who claim to follow him often miss his works, so caught up and distracted by the world as they are.

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary


And we are his ambassadors. He does not have need of you or me, but he delights in using us to accomplish his ends. Jesus sent his disciples into the world just as he had been sent by the Father. He prayed for them, and for us, to be made one just as he and the Father are one; he prayed for all who would follow him to be kept in the name of the Father so that many more might be sanctified by our work, just as we have been by his. As Christ is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, so we are to be his. The church of Jesus Christ - the body of Christ, his representation on the earth in this present age! Oh, that we might have a vision of who and what we are, of the magnitude of the honor we have been given: we bear in us the image of the invisible God, and are privileged to be a picture of him to a dead world!

You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles


This honor is not for our own sake, but so that his name might be made great. We daily choose our ends: to make much either of ourselves or of God. In the former choice is death; in the latter life everlasting. Eternal life is simple. Eternal life is knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ whom he sent - ushered into fellowship by the work of the Holy Spirit.

We have the words of life. We are alive, and there are so very many dead. We bear in us the image of God, and so are filled with hope and purpose and joy.

Let us go! Let us not be caught in the mundane or in the folly of this age. Let us run towards Christ with all we are and all we have so that in our every breath we might glorify him and make his name great! Let us live every day of work, every hour of study, every long moment of cleaning, to the glory of him who lives. Ours is a God who never dies, who never sleeps, who never fails; who ever lives, who ever loves, who ever stands victorious. Let his praise ever be on our lips; let our lives be a song to him.

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary

You're the Defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You life us up on wings like eagles




- Chris

Monday, September 8, 2008

The One (He'd Prayed For)

He spent the better part of twenty years alone
He spent the better part of twenty years waiting for her
But when she walked up that day
He had no way to know
That when she walked away
She'd be taking his heart

Though every day he doubted it could be
Though every day he doubted, still he dared to hope
When he asked her on a date
He was trembling inside
And as he wondered what she'd say
He knew deep in his heart

She was the girl of his dreams
She was the one he'd prayed for
And he fell to his knees
He got down on the floor
And he started to pray
With tears in his eyes
Could she be the one?
Lord help me tonight!

Many months went by and they started to date
Many months went by and he knew for true
That he wanted to spend
The rest of his days
To walk on to the end
With her by his side

Though there were many days they made mistakes
Still there were many days they got it right
And they quickly came to find
They were deeply in love
And when they kissed the first time
He knew with all of his heart

She was the girl of his dreams
She was the one he'd prayed for
And he fell to his knees
He got down on the floor
Every night he would pray
With hope in his heart
Let us be as one
Let us never part

The day finally came and he knew it was time
He'd ask her tonight to be his bride
All his waiting was done
So with tears in his eyes
He sang

You're the girl of my dreams
You're the one I've prayed for
And I fall to my knees
I get down on the floor
One question remains
One thing left to say
Will you stay with me,
To the end of our days?


---

She said yes.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Baba Yetu

Sometimes - rarely - a piece of art surpasses that which for it was created. Sometimes it elevates that for which it was created. Such moments are rare. They are beautiful. They are occasionally transcendent.

This one sent chills through my spine.

It's music composed for a videogame. A good game, by most accounts, though one I've not played - for lack of both time and inclination.

It's called "Baba Yetu" - a setting of the text of the "Lord's prayer" in Swahili, by a composer named Christopher Tin.

It's stunning.

And, whether he intended it thus or not, it glorifies God.

This is what art is for.

Baba Yetu
Lyrics:
Baba yetu yetu, uliye
Mbinguni yetu yetu, amina!
Baba yetu yetu, uliye
Jina lako litukuzwe.

Utupe leo chakula chetu
Tunachohitaji utusamehe
Makosa yetu, hey!
Kama nasi tunavyowasamehe
Waliotukosea usitutie
Katika majaribu, lakini
Utuokoe, na yule, milelea milele!

Ufalme wako ufike utakalo
Lifanyike duniani kama mbinguni. (Amina)

Utupe leo chakula chetu
Tunachohitaji utusamehe
Makosa yetu, hey!
Kama nasi tunavyowasamehe
Waliotukosea usitutie
Katika majaribu, lakini
Utuokoe, na yule, simama mwehu

Baba yetu yetu uliye
Jina lako litukuzwe.

English translation:
Our Father, who art
in Heaven. Amen!
Our Father,
Hallowed be thy name.

Give us this day our daily bread,
Forgive us of
our trespasses
As we forgive others
Who tresspass against us
Lead us not into temptation, but
deiver us from Evil, and you are forever and ever!

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven. (Amen)

Give us this day our daily bread,
Forgive us of
our trespasses
As we forgive others
Who tresspass against us
Lead us not into temptation, but
deiver us from Evil, and you wake the dead

Our Father, who art
Hallowed be thy name.


Source for lyrics and translation:
theologyweb.com

- Chris

Monday, February 18, 2008

If I stand

God has opened my eyes again, recently, to all He has done. It was not harsh, not fierce: a gentle touch, washing over me, swelling in my heart - gratitude born anew as the Spirit brought me to ponder all that He has done. He saved me.

He saved me.

Incredible. I remembered, the other night, the last years and all that God has done in them. I thought about where I am, and where I could be - would be - were it not for His grace. Lost. Alone. Hopeless. He saved me. I cannot get past that. I could have been in such a dark place - but He, in His infinite mercy, reached down and picked me up, rescued me from my own corruption and depravity, and deigned to make me like Him - to remake me in His image.

There's more that rises in the morning
Than the sun
And more that shines in the night
Than just the moon
It's more than just this fire here
That keeps me warm
In a shelter that is larger
Than this room

And there's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the giver
Of all good things

As I was drifting off to sleep, I nearly cried. I caught a picture of who I've been saved from being: a glimpse of the kind of pointless existence I could be living. But I'm not: He saved me. He destroyed my arrogance, continues to do so. He humbled me, does so more every day. He strips down my ego and turns me to live for His glory in increasing measure moment by moment.

He is the God of glory. He is the God whose name is Jealous. He is a consuming fire. He is God with us. He is Almighty. He is I Am That I Am. He is incomparable. He is my friend.

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't, let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

I was lonely, the other night - and at the oddest time. I'd had an incredible day: time with friends, time with Jaimie, time where some women honored many of us young men around the BSU: all of it wonderful and filled with fellowship. Yet I was lonely. And the world was too noisy for me. My heart ached to be with God, no longer separated. I hungered for true silence, so that I could contemplate, meditate, resuscitate my soul. And the world was noisy.

Oh how my soul longs for that day, that glorious day, when every sin is stripped away, when I am who I am meant to be: a clear and pure reflection of Christ, all that I have foolishly layered on top of that gone at last so that His glory truly will be my one true end.

It is grace that has carried me this far and grace that will carry me home. Praise be to the God and Father of all, whose grace is enough for our every need.

There's more that dances on the prairies
Than the wind
More that pulses in the ocean
Than the tide
There's a love that is fiercer
Than the love between friends
More gentle than a mother's
When her baby's at her side

And there's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the Giver
Of all good things

Sometimes I taste it: I take a breath and then have it catch in my throat - a taste of life as it might be, could be, should be! I have no words to truly describe it: like the first gleam of morning over a high mountain peak, like the scent of the air after a spring rain, like the smell of wildflowers in June, like the savor of snow falling in December, like the crisp colors of fall: when our hearts for a moment leap to the higher plane they were meant for and see this world as God sees it:

Broken, but being mended as His kingdom comes rushing in. Tragedy being remade into a glorious victory for God and His people. Tears slowly being wiped away. That which is torn being repaired, that which is old being made new, that which is dead being made alive.

The incarnation was not just for the sake of the cross. With the birth of Christ, all creation began being redeemed: for God had become simultaneously Creator and created, encompassed in human form but uncontained and unconstrained and all-encompassing in a single moment. And in that moment the old world started rushing out and the new one flooding in, and so it does still today: through you and me and every Christ-follower in all the world.

I want to see the world that way all the time. I want to see my fellow believers see the world that way all the time.

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't, let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

How great, how glorious, this task we have been given. We are His ambassadors in this present age! God reconciled us to Christ - and then (oh incomparable weight, a weight of responsibility, of glory divine!) He bestowed on us the ministry of reconciliation. On you. On me.

Tears fill my eyes as I write. He gave this task to us. He trusts us with this greatest of tasks, and the weight of its glory is too much. I cannot comprehend it. It is only His grace that I am His, only His grace that I walk with Him, only His grace that I can share Him. And He trusts me - trusts you - trusts all of us - with being His ambassadors: gives us the ministry of reconciliation.

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't, let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

I am anxious for heaven - but I am not ready to go Home yet. I have work to accomplish in this land where I sojourn for a time. There are souls to be won, hearts to be enkindled and rekindled, passions to be stirred, communities to renew, a church to serve, and the glory of God to be shown - writ large across every page of my life. Sometimes I shall weep with longing for my home; and sometimes I shall weep with longing that others may join me there; and sometimes I will weep (and shout) for joy that others have come to the glorious path we walk in fellowship with God Himself.

And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we might walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)

(If I Stand, Rich Mullins)

- Chris

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quiet thoughts

Sometimes I want to scream and pull my hair out.

Tonight is not one of those times.

Tonight is, instead, one of the times when I sigh quietly, glance a little wearily toward heaven and wonder why God has ordained this season as He has.

It is not a bad season; indeed in many regards it is a very good season. But it has its difficulties, and at the moment they tire me.

"Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various kinds of trials and temptations, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. And let patience have its perfect work in you, that you may be whole and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:4-5)

Sometimes it's the little trials that are the hardest to walk through. The subtle ones that aren't really that big of a deal - but they don't go away, and thus slowly wear on you. We have a tendency to remember James' words when we're in massive trials that strain our faith in terrible ways. But I think they're at least as applicable in these smaller ones that simply go on. I do not think it was for nothing that James wrote of the trials' producing patience (some translations say "perseverance" or "steadfastness"), rather than simply courage or faith. We must endure.

It is in the endurance of the "little" trials that simply go on, in the faithfulness in the little things, in the continuing during the rote events of our day-to-day existence that God draws us truly close to Him.

We gain glimpses of His splendor and His holiness and His glory in brilliant flashes of inspiration: those moments where the clouds are torn away for an instant and we see with clarity the depth and breadth of His nature, before they are swiftly veiled again. But it is in the walking through the cloudy days, when we cannot see, that His character becomes real in our lives: not merely a vision but a transformation.

And so...

And so I carry on, praying that the testing of my faith will produce patience. Praying that this season will be no longer than it has to be. Praying that God will bring it to a close in a way that brings Him glory, that fills my heart with worship. Resting confident in the knowledge that He will do precisely that.

And so I softly sing as I head towards bed:
In Christ alone, my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand...

- Chris

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Heavens Declare

I got this in the midst of some prayer and consideration while on the trip to Yellowstone. It's not finished, not by a long shot. Perhaps I'll post a link to a demo-style recording when I come up with one. In the meantime, I pray you are blessed by the words and the idea.

Piano intro

Verse 1:
As the world turns round
lost and lonely in the dark and cold
With no idea what road they'[re even on
They hunger for something greater than themselves
Something or one to live for
But still the rocks cry out

Chorus:
The heavens declare the glory of the Lord
The earth proclaims His name in majesty
Praise and honor to Him who made all
And for whom and by whom all was made
The angels shout strength and power to
The King of kings and Lord of lords and God of gods
And with creation let all humanity cry out
Cry out "Glory!" in the temple of the Lord

Verse 2:
As I walk down this road
Wand'ring forward with a goal in mind
But unsure of the path that will take me there
i hunger for something greater than myself
Something or one to live for
I lift my voice to say

Chorus:
The heavens declare the glory of the Lord
The earth proclaims His name in majesty
Praise and honor to Him who made all
And for whom and by whom all was made
The angels shout strength and power to
The King of kings and Lord of lords and God of gods
And with creation let all humanity cry out
Cry out "Glory!" in the temple of the Lord

Bridge 1:
And what is there in history
But Your will and Your glory
And what is all creation
But the revelation of Your majesty

Interlude (piano, guitar)

Bridge 2:
our lives were made for You
our every moment every breath
Every sweet, sweet breath
Exists to bring You glory
Life not with You in view in mind in goal
Is no life at all

Chorus:
The heavens declare the glory of the Lord
The earth proclaims His name in majesty
Praise and honor to Him who made all
And for whom and by whom all was made
The angels shout strength and power to
The King of kings and Lord of lords and God of gods
And with creation let all humanity cry out
Cry out "Glory!" in the temple of the Lord

God bless you all; may you rest in His peace as you seek His face tonight.

- Chris

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

God of Glory

God of Glory
Vanguard (Chris Krycho and Jamin Jeffers)
July 31-August 1, 2007 A.D.

Basis texts:
Psalm 29
Isaiah 6:1-7
Ezekiel 1 (esp. v. 28b), 3:12-15, 22-23, 43:1-3, 44:4
Revelation 21:9-27 (esp. vv. 22-26), 22:1-5

After you've read the texts, I pray you are blessed by the words of the song that God gave us after much prayer and as we pursued Him and meditated on His word:

Holy, holy God
You are King
You are holy

You are the God of glory
Your voice full of majesty and power
How holy are You, Adonai, Redeemer of teh nations
All creations cries out "Glory! Glory! (Glory! Glory!)"
You sent the Lamb, the Light of the world
King over the waters
The Lord who reigns on high

We sought our pleasures not Your face
Running after lies instead of truth
We have grown accustomed to the darkness
Fearful of Your holy light
Oh Father forgive us and break our hearts
Teach us to hunger for You

Holy, holy God
You are King
You are holy

Let us gaze upon Your face
And boldly approach Your throne
Falling on our knees as we behold
The truth of who You are
Transform us make us new
Sanctified and holy
One purpose for our lives
Bringing glory to Your name

You are the God of glory
your voice full of majesty and power
How holy are You, Adonai, Redeemer of the nations
All creation cries out "Glory! Glory! (Glory! Glory!)"
You sent the Lamb, the Light of the world
King over the waters
The Lord who reigns on high
you reign on high
You reign on high

May His glory shine in your hearts; may He give you strength and peace. I pray you will be transformed as you are led to a fuller knowledge of His glory - of the fullness of His nature and the brightness of who He is.

- Chris

Monday, June 18, 2007

Secret Ambition

This song has grabbed me recently; I've been working on learning it on guitar. Can we make our life goal to follow Christ in this? - to make our life's ambition the same as His?

Secret Ambition - Michael W. Smith
Young man up on the hillside
Teaching new ways
Each word winning them over
Each heart a kindled flame
Old men watch from the outside
Guarding their prey
Threatened by the voice of the paragon
Leading their lambs away
Leading them far away

Chorus:
Nobody knew His secret ambition
Nobody knew His claim to fame
He broke the old rules steeped in tradition
He tore the Holy Veil away
Questioning those in powerful position
Running to those who called His name
(But) Nobody knew His secret ambition
Was to give His life away

His rage shaking the temple
His word to the wise
His hand healing on the seventh day
His love wearing no disguise
Some say Death to the radical
He's way out of line
Some say Praise be the miracle
God sends a blessed sign
A blessed sign for troubled times

Chorus:
Nobody knew His secret ambition
Nobody knew His claim to fame
He broke the old rules steeped in tradition
He tore the Holy Veil away
Questioning those in powerful position
Running to those who called His name
(But) Nobody knew His secret ambition
Was to give His life away

no, no
no, no
i tell you nobody knew,
until he gave his life away

Can we make our highest priority giving our lives away? We are called to lay down our lives - to daily pick up our crosses and follow Him; to die to ourselves, to proclaim the Gospel at whatever cost in whatever environment He has put us in.

What's your secret ambition? Mine is to be a voice of the gospel - one of the men who moves mountains for Christ, whose name is written down in the finished book of Acts as a man who never compromised, who dedicated his life to the glory of God and the furthering of His Kingdom. I fail, all the time - but that's my ambition: that every person would hear the gospel, and that I would be a tool in that process. I don't know what that looks like, but I know that God has a purpose for my life - and I believe that's what He has made me for: His Name's glory.

God bless you all. Numbers 6:22-27

- Chris

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Questions

Just some questions I've been mulling over (in no particular order, and expecting no particular answers):

Why I am here at the Institute? Not in a general sense (I know that God has called me here; even in this questioning I have absolute assurance of that) but in a specific sense. Why this place at this time? What purpose has He in this? What, precisely, is He doing in me in this season? How is He using this in the bigger scheme of things? What am I supposed to be getting in the midst of this? I'm not here for the reasons most others are; that much is clear. I'm not dealing with the same things; I'm not confronting the same struggles and issue. I'm certainly no better than the others here; but I am in a different place. So why am I here?




Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.




Why do guys not stand up and lead the way they ought to? Don't get me wrong; I see guys here and there doing it. But overall, the pattern I see is lethargy and laziness, a general malaise that has slipped into our culture and our way of life until at last we lounge about, doing little - and nothing of consequence. Where are the men who will rise up with passion and righteous anger to defend the family? Where are the courageous men who will valiantly fight for the Gospel and the redemption of a fallen culture? Where are the men who will come to their feet with a shout and stand firm over issues of right and wrong? Where are the men who will dare to lead in their relationship with the woman in their lives?




Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.




Why do we play these emotional games with each other? I see so many guys stringing girls along. They're "just friends" - but they talk for an hour and a half every night. If the guy is interested, get up and pursue! As my pastor in Colorado Springs has often said (about many things), there comes a time when we simply need to fish or cut bait. This dilly-dallying in the middle is folly; and it brings pain. Why do the girls put up with it? Why do they let guys string them along when there are other men waiting to pursue them - but who won't, because the girl is interested in the other guy. The one she's "just friends" with. Why do we use each other like that, to fulfill our emotional needs without the necessary commitment? [There is a place for guy-girl friendships, as I have written before - but we as guys in particular need to not be a hindrance to the girl we're friends with or to other guys. If I am keeping a guy from pursuing a girl I'm not romantically interested in by my friendship with her, I need to get out of the way, plain and simple.] Why do we keep toying with each other, instead of dealing with each other seriously, realizing the impact we can and often do have on each other's lives?




Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.




Why am I doing this - right now, at this time? Why am I sitting here blogging? Do people read this? Why did I get asked if I wanted to review books? My readership doesn't justify that. Not at all. I'm not influential; people don't pay attention to what I write overall. [Which is fine by me.] Why? [Side note: yes, I've been asked to do some book reviews beyond those I have done so far, possibly including some interviews with the authors. I'll let you know when those are coming.] Why am I doing this?




Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.




Why has God called me the way He has? Why am I the one that He has chosen for the things He has, for the calls He has laid on my heart? It is certainly nothing in me; of myself I'm a rather tragic figure - prideful, stubborn, obnoxious, and at times far too serious and intellectual. Why did He make me this way? For what purpose have I been formed as I am, and for what reason have I been set apart the way I have? And where are those who will walk alongside me this way, who share the passions and the vision that He has laid on my heart? How am I to walk forward, to carry out all that He has called me to? And where, precisely, is forward from here?




High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.




I don't know the answers to any of those questions. And that's okay with me.

I'm tired, right now.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day; indeed, this will be a long weekend to end a long week. Yet God's grace is sufficient - indeed, far more than sufficient - to meet my every need.




Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly host
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness!
- Psalm 29:1-2




God bless you all. May you be kept in His perfect peace - the peace that surpasses all understanding - this night. My prayers are with you.

- Chris

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sometimes the night was beautiful...

Sometimes by Step - Rich Mullins

Sometimes the night was beautiful
Sometimes the sky was so far away
Sometimes it seemed to stoop so close
You could touch it but your heart would break
Sometimes the morning came too soon
Sometimes the day could be so hot
There was so much work left to do
But so much You'd already done

Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

Sometimes I think of Abraham
How one star he saw had been lit for me
He was a stranger in this land
And I am that, no less than he
And on this road to righteousness
Sometimes the climb can be so steep
I may falter in my steps
But never beyond Your reach

Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

And I will follow You all of my days
And I will follow You all of my days
And step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days
And I will follow You all of my days
(Sometimes the night was beautiful)
And I will follow You all of my days
(Sometimes the night . . .)
(Sometimes the night was beautiful)
And I will follow You all of my days
(. . . Was beautiful)
(Sometimes the night was beautiful)
And I will follow You all of my days
(So beautiful)
And I will follow You all of my days
And I will follow You all of my days
(Oh God, you are my God)
And I will follow You all of my days
(Oh God, you are my God)
And I will follow You all of my days
And I will follow You all of my days
(Sometimes the night was beautiful)
And I will follow You all of my days
(Sometimes the night . . .)
And I will follow You all of my days


The night is beautiful. And no matter what, every star in the sky as we look up, gaze at its beauty and majesty - the glory of God revealed in a microcosm that is to us a macrocosm - every tiny white pinprick is a reminder of God's promises and His power to fulfill them. He always does.

He always does.

God bless you all, and good night.

- Chris

Friday, April 6, 2007

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone. What does that really mean? What does it mean to let Him alone be the center of our lives, to be our only source of comfort, joy, peace, satisfaction? To so fully fix our eyes on Him that everything else becomes as shadows and dust around us in the overwhelming knowledge of Him - of Who He is and what He has done? To live completely for Him, with reckless abandon for His glory and the honor due His name? I don't know honestly... but I'm starting to learn a little bit.

The song woven throughout this post is one that has ministered powerfully to me in recent months (by which I mean about the last six to eight months, not just the last couple). There's a hope and a reassurance in knowing that our hope and our strength and our song are to be found in Christ alone; a peace and a security that defy description when we begin to truly rest in His leading instead of our understanding. But it's not just about us. Pay close attention: it's really about Him. It's about the cross, about the empty tomb, about His ultimate and complete victory over sin and death. We just get to be partakers of that. I hope it's as much a blessing to you as it has been to me.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

The last months have been interesting. Exactly a month ago - though it seems much longer - God began the process of dealing with me extremely seriously and severely about certain sins in my life. It has been an excruciatingly painful process at times. The process has been one of over and over again seeing the sin and blackness in my heart for what it really is. I walk in so much pride sometimes... and it has brought immense destruction. I can't think of a single day in the last 31 that haven't opened my eyes just a little bit more to the degree to which my pride and arrogance have caused me to respond to the people around me in a mean-spirited and hurtful way. Sin has this horrible tendency to infect every part of our lives: our thoughts and words not least. And sin is also insidious. It's as if a virus has gotten in and remapped your immune system so that your body no longer even recognizes it as being alien, foreign, and destructive: but it is. Jeremiah 17:9 nails it: the heart is more deceitful than anything else.

You see, I had myself convinced that I had dealt with these sins. I was doing okay. Not well - I still had work to do, a ways to go. But I was making progress! At least, that's what I told myself. But I was lying to myself. In so many ways, I was deceiving myself, because I didn't want to go down to the black depths of my heart and see the evil there for what it was. I didn't want to see that there is horrible wickedness in me; that there is horrible sin in me. I didn't want to deal with my own pride and arrogance, and I didn't want to deal with the source of them: my own fallen notion that I am self-sufficient. Indeed, even my response and attempt to deal with that sin was prideful and self-oriented: it was a self-motivated striving to overcome out of my own strength. I wasn't letting the Holy Spirit do His perfect work in my heart; I was trying to change myself to win the approval of God and man. That's a failing proposition in every case. We are not capable of winning God's approval, and seeking man's will lead us to destruction in every case.

I didn't just see this, either. Friends and mentors and parents had all tried to gently point it out to me before March 6. I sort of acknowledged it, but ultimately, I never dealt with my sin or the deep twisting of my heart. I am blessed because those around me care about me enough to confront me with my sin in a much sterner way. God has answered the prayers that were prayed over me before I left and gave me Proverbs 27:6 friends: friends that will faithfully wound when necessary. My friends went over my head to those in authority over me and had me confronted with my sin. By God's grace, they have had the wisdom to start walking me through the process of dealing with all the blackness in my heart.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Brought with the precious blood of Christ

Sin's curse has lost its grip on me... that thought sticks with me. I have been bought with a price - the price of the blood of Christ, of God Almighty become a man, of perfect divinity given in perfect sacrifice for... me. For you. For all of fallen, tortured, corrupted humanity. The sins in me are a nasty thing. In part they are simply the outworkings of my fallen nature: of my rebellion against God and all the evil that arises from that rebellion. In part they are the response of a fallen heart to wounds that have been taken over the years - but, to be sure, an inexcusable and sinful response. As my mentor here told me, "Hurt people hurt people." I let my own previous wounds and my still un-dealt with insecurities give rise to extremely hurtful ways of communicating with people; and to very destructive patterns of thought and behavior. It is only by the grace of God that I have the kinds of amazing friends that I do. I don't deserve them; that much is certain. When Beth was out here, she rightly commented that I have amazing friends - and I do, not least because they have stuck with me in spite of the sometimes terrible ways I have treated them.

Here's the amazing, inspiring, fall-on-your-face-before-God part, though. He doesn't leave us in our sin. He calls us out of it. More than that, though: He gives us power to walk out of it, and wisdom. He convicts us, and then He shows us how to walk. He has given us all that is necessary for life and godliness. He has made a way straight before us. His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path. He didn't simply condemn us and leave us in our trespasses, but came so that we could be free of them. He has done that in my life. I am not anywhere near where I need to be: but I am not condemned; nor am I in chains any longer. Rather, I am being set free, little bit by little bit, every day.

It's interesting: God has been dealing with me in every area of my life, and He has brought wisdom on this from every angle. Be it my own quiet time, my meetings with those discipling me, my conversations with friends, the teachings of my pastor, the teaching at Glorieta, conversations with my parents... every one has opened up my eyes to how much farther God wants to take me; how much more He has to do before I am just a clear pane of glass that He can shine through unobstructed by all my fallenness. Just yesterday, I was talking to my mom, and she said something that broke my heart: she pointed out how much I resist the things my parents have to share with me, because I have so fiercely fought for my independence and accused them of being overbearing and parental. Are they still making mistakes and learning and growing? Yes. Do they still have immensely more wisdom than me, and hearts that are burdened for me with much that I have dismissed because of my own arrogance? Yes. It is to my shame that I have so cavalierly dismissed them.

I've tended to do that a lot. Just dismiss people and the words they bring - to not be teachable. Why? Simple. I think, at some level, consciously or unconsciously, that I am better, smarter, wiser, you name it. I don't need them. They need me. Do you hear that? Do you see how sick and twisted the things that have so long inhabited my heart are? I wish I could excise it all at once, claw it all out. But I can't. My own strength is never enough. I am comforted, though, by an analogy that C.S. Lewis once drew. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one of the characters finds himself transformed by his greed and some ancient magic into a dragon. When his friends are about to sail on, having discovered no cure for his state, he begins to despair... and then Aslan appears, confronts him with the need to have that dragon skin torn off. He desperately claws at himself, scraping away as much as he possible can - but to no avail. His state is just the same. After a short while, Aslan stops him with the truth that only His claws can pierce deeply enough to tear off the false dragon flesh and restore him to what he ought to be. He eagerly embraces the cure... only to find it excruciatingly painful. And one deep and agonizing clawing from Aslan doesn't do it. It takes many painful strokes - relentless, driving, merciless (and yet so merciful), before he is finally restored to what he was originally meant to be. That is exactly what God does in our lives: He tears away at the false selves we have constructed and the sin that is layered so thickly over who He created us to be until we are at last restored to the imago dei we were created to be. But it is a process, and one that is both time-consuming and deeply painful. Yet there is hope for me: though I am having to walk through difficulty now for a season, I can look ahead with hope to the finish line, and then run with endurance the race set before me.

Interesting point about that passage... we can run with endurance because our eyes our fixed on Christ alone. Not because of our own strength, or even because of our supportive friends and family and church body... but because of Christ. We can step out of the boat into the crashing waves, and whether we sink or swim depends on whether we have our eyes on us or on Him.

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

There is encouragement to be had in Jeremiah, as well. Just a few chapters after that condemnation of our hearts - of all the evil and rot that fills them so completely that they are deceptive above all else - is the following encouragement from God to His people in Israel: "Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord..." So long as our hearts are truly fixed on Him - so long as we stand only in the power of Christ - He will be found by us; He will heal us and mend us and make us anew in His image.

There is no power in hell and nothing even in our own hearts that can keep us from the overwhelming love of Christ, from the power of Almighty God. Jesus does command our destiny; we are held in the palm of our Father's hand; our lives are channels in the hands of our Lord; our guidance can be from the Holy Spirit alone.

I have been in terrible sin. But there is no guilt in life and there is absolutely no power in death. This is the power of Christ in me. To those of you I have wounded - and I'm sure that is many of you - I am deeply sorry. I ask your forgiveness. More, I hope that you see the power of Christ in my life, and that you let Him continue to transform yours.

2000 years ago, he died, and then He rose again - to set us free, because He loved us.

That's worth dying for, in every way.

May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts and minds; may you know the power of His love and His mighty salvation.

- Chris

Sunday, April 1, 2007

bring the rain

This is sort of what I'm singing right now. There's more, and less, than this, in my heart - in ways I can't fully explain. But this is close. Sorry it's been so long. And it's going to be a while yet, in all probability, before I get a real post in; which is sad, because I have much to write about. In the meantime, please do read through these words and really think about the thoughts behind them.

bring the rain - MercyMe
I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings you glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way fvor me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings you glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus bring the rain

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty

God bless, all, and good night!

- Chris

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Magnificent Obsession/More

Magnificent Obsession - Stephen Curtis Chapman

Lord You know how much
I want to know so much
In the way of answers and explanations
I have cried and prayed
And still I seem to stay
In the middle of life's complications
All this pursuing leaves me feeling like I'm chasing down the wind
But now it's brought me back to You
And I can see again


More, tonight. More questions, more answers, more sorrow in my heart at what I see there. More hope, and less understanding. Which is good. That's how it needs to be. I honestly don't feel like I know much of anything right now. I'm doubting my motivations for almost everything. I know that God is working; I can see and feel His hand, and I want this, oh so very much. But it hurts so very much.

This is everything I want
This is everything I need
I want this to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord I want it all to be for You, Jesus
Be my magnificent obsession


There are things inside my heart I had no idea were there. There are pains and wounds I didn't see, never knew existed until thirty minutes ago. There are whole ways of approaching the world that just aren't Godly. That hurt people. That cause pain and sorrow. My heart is so full of the black, the dark - but it also has God's light in it. This struggle? It's to make sure the light is more than the dark. It's to replace half-truths and partial-truths with the whole truth. It's to change what has been broken into something that is whole and complete, that functions the way it was meant to.

So capture my heart again
Take me to depths I've never been
Into the riches of Your grace and Your mercy
Return me to the cross
And let me be completely lost
In the wonder of the love
That You've shown me
Cut through these chains that tie me down to so many lesser things
Let all my dreams fall to the ground
Until this one remains


This cuts to the core of who I am - or who I thought I've been. It is my very person, my being at stake here, and in the battle between good and evil, it's my soul on the line. But like I've said before, we know that battle's won. I know Who my Hope is. Certainly it's not myself. It can't be. I can't accomplish this. My own strength is so utterly insufficient. But remember the one whose grace is sufficient, whose power is perfected in my weakness! Oh how I want to understand my weakness, how I want to know that I am nothing.

You are everything I want
And You are everything I need
Lord, You are all my heart desires
You are everything to me


These places in the dark recesses of my heart that I didn't know were there - I'm so grateful to God for exposing them, for bringing them to the light. The evil that is there, and the pains that are there, both. The former so that it can be eradicated; the latter so that they can be healed. So much to wrestle with. I am very overwhelmed by it all at the moment. I don't have time, right now, to sit and pray and read the Word for hours to wrestle through this, though I honestly want nothing more than to do precisely that. I have work that must get done. Homework. Studying. And so forth. I have responsibilities that must be met. I am looking forward to spring break, to time when I can go and be alone with God for long stretches at a time. When God can continue to probe down to the roots of this and root it out and change me and renew me and remake me and transform me more into His image. When God can kill my flesh and heal my heart and restore my soul.

You are everything I want
You are everything I need
I want You to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You
I want it all to be for You


I don't have much to offer right now. In fact, I honestly think I can say, for the first time in a long while, maybe ever, that I don't think I have anything to offer. But I don't know. I want to mean that. I think I do. But do I? I don't know. Which means the answer is probably no. Which just means God has farther to go in working that in me. I know it in my head. My heart isn't sure of it yet, and it needs to be.

Be my magnificent obsession
Be my magnificent obsession


Be comforted with His comfort, secure in His love, trusting in Him alone. Thank you for the support you've offered and the prayers you've prayed. I love you all, though not yet as I should. God's blessings be with you.

- Chris

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Echoes

Right now, I'm really tired, and I'm really frustrated, and honestly at an emotional level, I just want to find somewhere to go cry. Various things have contributed to that; some of it is simply an emotional low, and that's fine. I know my God, I know my Savior, I know the One who loves me like no other.

You alone
You alone are strong
You alone are safe
You alone never change
You alone love me with true love
You alone

When I'm tired and weary
When my heart is heavy in me
When my frustrations seem greater even than the mighty things I see you do
Then I remember that

You alone
You alone are strong
You alone are safe
You alone never change
You alone love me with true love
You alone

So I will love You too
And I will set my eyes on You
Not on these earthly things
Nor on these passing deeds
Nor indeed on anything I see
Because I know that

You alone
You alone are strong
You alone are safe
You alone never change
You alone love me with true love
You alone


I am choosing joy even in weariness, peace even in frustration. My God is great enough to supply my every need - and that means emotional needs, too. Thanks be to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, who has not left us alone, but grants us Himself as Comforter to walk with us and hold us all our days. Grace be with you all.

- Chris

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I don't really know...

I'm not really sure what I have to say tonight; and I'm going to try to keep this short since I have to be up early tomorrow. There are a couple things that have been bouncing around my heart and mind, but mostly I'm just tired. First, a song, by Aaron Shust, who really has a heart to glorify God immensely. Go check out the rest of his music!

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at his right hand
Stands one who is my savior

I take him at his word and deed
Christ died to save me this I read
And in my heart I find a need
For him to be my savior

That he would leave his place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my savior

My savior loves, my savior lives
My savior's always there for me
My God he was, my God he is
My God he's always gonna be

Yes, living, dying; let me bring
My strength, my solace from this spring
That he who lives to be my king
Once died to be my savior

That he would leave his place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my savior

My savior loves, my savior lives
My savior's always there for me
My God he was, My God he is
My God he's always gonna be

I pray we all come to understand the depth of those words. Our God does love and live, and He is always there; He is eternal and unchanging. That's a sure rock we can cling to, when we're weary and worn, when the waves come crashing in against us and we don't know what to do. I've been blessed to have relatively few waves this semester - indeed to see God restoring things I didn't know if I'd ever see come right this side of eternity; to see Him changing my heart in ways I could never have foreseen; to see Him fulfilling promises I didn't expect to see fulfilled for far longer. I am blessed beyond belief, beyond any curse that could ever be. And that is more than enough. Yes, there are trying moments - but He is teaching me to smile and even laugh in the midst of them, because it is His moment, not mine, whether it be good or ill. To be able to laugh when one's heart is breaking, because one has that joy inexpressible... that is a blessing beyond measure; and it comes from Christ alone. I'm not very good at that, yet, but I'm learning. I love you all. Grace and peace guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Oh... and please go read Romans 10:13-15 and Philippians 1:27-2:11. And then be encouraged! I could write a lot about both, but instead I'm going to sleep!

- Chris

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rising

From the rising of the sun 'til the sun goes down
Let the Name of the Lord be praised

We're gathered to worship
becoming a choir to sing Your praise
Lifting our voices,
joining our hearts in this house today
People of God, in the power of God
for the Kingdom of God, we sing

From the rising of the sun 'til the sun goes down
Let the Name of the Lord be praised
From the rising of the sun 'til the sun goes down
Let the Name of the Lord be praised
From the sky to the depths, from the east to the west
We give You praise
We give You praise

We've gathered to go out
to cities and towns we'll take Your name
Into the nations,
shining Your light in the darkest place
People of God, in the power of God
for the Kingdom of God, we live

From the rising of the sun 'til the sun goes down
Let the Name of the Lord be praised
From the rising of the sun 'til the sun goes down
Let the Name of the Lord be praised
From the sky to the depths, from the east to the west
We give You praise, we give You praise
From the rising of the sun 'til the sun goes down
Let the Name of the Lord be praised
- Matt Redman, Paul Baloche

I want that song to be my anthem. Let the name of the Lord be praised. If we have even the slightest glimpse of His greatness, of His awesomeness, of His wondrous power, then how can we do anything but praise Him? I've been so in awe of His character over these last weeks and months, so incredible amazed at who He is and how mighty His hand is and how incredible and vast and deep His love and compassion are. God is beyond description, beyond even evocation, but I will strive for all of my days to evoke His incomparable glory. It makes me want to leap and dance and shout and sing and write a million symphonies for a million instruments to somehow, maybe, give Him just a fraction of the praise He's due. When was the last time you let yourself be awed by Him? To be swept away by the sheer incomprehensibility of His terrible greatness? If we did indeed sing from the rising of the sun until its going down every day for the rest of eternity, we still couldn't praise Him enough. I hope and pray that each of us will come to understand His immensity, His splendor, His passionate love, more and more every day. I pray we will be more humbled, more emboldened, more joy-filled, and more holy as we pursue a deeper knowledge of the transcendent and truly remarkable God we serve.

May the Spirit guide you and keep you. Walk in the power that Christ has given for us. Rest in the Father's arms. Be blessed, all of you!

- Chris

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Word

Let us trembling come
With hearts undone
To the throne of
God Almighty
King of Heaven and Earth

Let us fall on our faces
let us kneel before the throne of grace
Let us give away ourselves
In absolute submission
Surrendering our all
To Christ

I've been reading through the Old Testament for the last couple months, though not so quickly as I'd like. I've let myself get distracted and "have too little time to read much tonight" more times than I care to admit, to be perfectly honest. I've found that, while I value starting my day with Scripture, I can truly dig in much better at night, so I try to start with a short devotional in the morning, and do my main study at night. That requires a good deal of discipline, though, especially when it's 3 am that you're getting done with homework. Which suggests that one should be disciplining oneself to use one's time better in the first place. Which is another thing I've been learning.

As I've been reading through the first half of numbers in the last week, I've noticed a couple things. The main themes that have really stood out to me have been about the Father's character. He's sovereign. He cares immensely for His people - so much so that He gives incredibly detailed instructions for their well-being. Going back to the laws in Exodus and Leviticus, there are moral laws for their spiritual and moral well-being, and physical laws for their physical well-being. The accuracy of the treatments prescribed for various ailments and so forth is astounding for a document of this age... unless it's from God. (It certainly excels comparable documents even from far later, like the Qur'an, which prescribes as medicine various processes and chemicals that are far from beneficial.) As well as all of that, though, Numbers brings home God's care for His people, and the reality and immediacy of His presence in His people's lives. He actively participates in judgment, correction, instruction, and protection of His own. He never leaves them alone. Even when He's punishing them and teaching them by sending them into 40 years of exile in the desert, He doesn't leave them. Though they were unfaithful to and untrusting of Him, He remains true and unchanging. There's such a glimpse into His character - into His unyielding, jealous love for His people - in these passages. There is an awe that He has been growing in me - and awe of who He really is. I never understood before in more than an abstract, intellectual sense why these books were here. Now, they're meaningful and real. I see His grace and my sin shown into sharp contrast by the light of His word - His law, His work in history. These books - books I've never really gotten before - have become a huge blessing and encouragement.

As I've mentioned before, I'm increasingly convinced that peace is really nothing more than knowing God. If we know who He is, we will trust Him, and if we trust Him - really, truly trust Him - then we will know peace; because nothing can ever surprise Him or shake us if we're in His hands. So while there are difficult things in my life right now, I can honestly say that they mostly don't bother me. Why? Because I'm learning to know my King.

Grace and peace to all of you.

- Chris