Friday, April 28, 2017

How Lonely Lies the City

In the spirit of Luke 24:27, we turn our attention from the Gospels to search out Christ in all of the Scriptures. Our next stop is the Old Testament and in particular the book of Lamentations. Sunday we begin a five-week series, entitled "Peace in the Pieces." Historically, Lamentations is set around 587 B.C. and describes the fall of Jerusalem. It traditionally has been attributed to Jeremiah the prophet. Pastorally, Lamentations is a good place to look as we seek to make sense of life that seems to have moved away with increasing rapidity from God as the center. Author and scholar Christopher Wright says, "Lamentations is a book for today. In a world where the tide of human suffering threatens to overwhelm whatever dykes we put in place to contain it, is there any book of the bible more relevant than this book that gives voice to the most awful pain imaginable?" (The Message of Lamentations)

So join me in getting ready to dive in. It would be great if you could read through the Book of Lamentations prior to coming to worship. While the book is short (5 chapters), the chapters are lengthy and we probably won’t be able to read it all in our services. In the same vein, it would be great to bring a copy of the Scriptures with you as printing the entirety of the text may be difficult.

Friday, April 14, 2017

O Come and Mourn with Me

We have arrived at the apex of the holiest of weeks in the Christian calendar. My prayer for you today is that there may be some space to reflect on the perfect note struck by our Savior incorporating perfect love and perfect justice as he ascended his cruciform throne. I offer as an aid this hymn by Frederick William Faber redone musically by a good friend of mine, Eric Ashley and performed by Jars of Clay. Use it, words and/or music, as it best suits you.

Today the light is dim. But Easter is around the corner.

O come and mourn with me awhile,
O come ye to the Saviors side
O come, together let us mourn,
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

Seven times He spake seven words of love;
And all three hours His silence cried
For mercy on the souls of men;
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

Chorus: O love of God! O sin of man!
In this dread act Your strength is tried;
And victory remains with love;
Jesus our Lord is crucified!

O break, O break, hard heart of mine!
Thy weak self-love and guilty pride
His Pilate and His Judas were:
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

A broken heart, a fount of tears,
Ask, and they will not be denied;
A broken heart loves cradle is:
Jesus our Lord is crucified.(Repeat chorus)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Help! I'm Leaking!

She’s leaking CK. Technically speaking, the muscle breaks down leaking high levels of creatine kinase (CK) into the bloodstream. By now, many of you are aware that our daughter Lydia has been battling Rhabdomyolysis (RAB-DOE-MY-O-LIE-SIS) for over a week. Rhabdo is most often the product of extreme exercise. One way to think of the symptoms is that she feels she ran an ultra-marathon in intense heat. The most immediate danger has been to her kidneys, which have thankfully have been able to keep up and are showing no damage.

This is Lydia’s second bout with Rhabdo. Since it is recurrent, it has become necessary to dig beneath the symptoms associated with Rhabdo and seek for its cause (which in Lydia’s case is not extreme exercise). Don’t get me wrong. We are dealing with the pain and fatigue associated with Rhabdo, but we now know  there is something beneath the Rhabdo that needs to be uncovered if to truly deal with this problem in Lydia’s life.

In a similar way, we leak toxins in our experience of the Gospel, leading to various debilitating effects. In the Gospel, we are invited to a life of love, joy, and peace. But when we leak toxins, we debilitate the way we treat our family, effect our attitude towards the world’s politics, and torpedo our contentedness with our finances. Our Gospel muscle breaks down, but what is the cause? It looks like Lydia has a metabolic myopathy that is underlying her Rhabdo. For us as Christians, it is a myopathy known as unbelief.

In this season of Lent, as we make our final approach to Good Friday, let us remember that God has purposed in his being to do his people good (Zechariah 8:15). Let us experience afresh the love that has been lavished on us in Christ (Ephesians 1:7-9, I John 3:1). May our belief in these Gospel truths be the source of nourishment that drives away the toxins of unbelief and gives us the strength we need to truly experience love, joy and peace of the Gospel.