Love

I’ve Been to the Mountaintop

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., From the Speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” delivered the night before he was assassinated.

Run, Love, Run. Repeat.

I have heard people talk about their Christian lives and walk of faith as a ‘chasing after Jesus’.  I admit, I love the way this sounds. I love the imagery it evokes in my mind. Yesterday though, as I pondered; I wondered how accurate a statement this really is.

Is Jesus running away from us? Is he hiding from us, so that we must continue searching?

I must admit this has not been my experience with Jesus.

If I had to describe my own spiritual journey, and if I were to attempt to describe it accurately…which I suppose I should probably do. I would say that my Christian life has not so much been one of ‘chasing after Jesus’ but one in which I alternate between jumping up into his loving arms…then pushing him away…only to long for the love and affection he gives, then running back into his arms. Repeat.

I read in the Scriptures of a God who pursues his children. I also read about a people who seems for the most part to turn away from this pursuing love. Finally, some realize this love, this affection, is what we’ve always wanted. We realize it is the most precious thing in all the world. We run to him, jump into his arms, embrace him, he embraces us…It’s a beautiful picture!

After a while, or a short time in many instances, we grow bored…or our relationship doesn’t seem to have the same spark. We see something out of the corner of our eyes that looks shiny. We push away from this love, and see what this shiny object looks like. We tell Jesus we’ll be back, or maybe we just run off without a word at all. Usually I think we probably imagine he isn’t paying attention and we’re just sneaking off…Only to find that this shiny object, while it may be fun for a time…there really isn’t that much to it. While it may be fun, or even a good time…It doesn’t offer us what Jesus does. It doesn’t offer us the love, affection, tenderness, and acceptance that Christ does. We long for what we we are missing. We run back to him, we jump back into his arms…he embraces us. Sometimes, we walk back slowly with our heads down and our hands in our pockets, ashamed at what we’ve done. Ashamed at our foolishness. Only to find that Jesus is running towards us with arms extended wide. We can’t believe that he still desires us, still longs for us. But he does. We finally realize this is where we belong.

Then we repeat this scenario again.

I think a huge part of the Christian life is our discovering that really, truly, honest to God, in the arms of Jesus is where we belong, and where he wants us. No matter how many times we screw up, and believe me, we screw up a lot, he still wants us. (If you think you don’t screw up, then please stop reading now and find another blog to read…this one isn’t for you. You are probably pretty ticked off at me already.) Even when we push him away, he still wants us. No matter how many times we push him away, he will still be waiting with arms wide open. We don’t chase after him, he pursues us.

Eventually we will understand this fully. Eventually we will rest completely content in his arms, and have no desire ever again to push away like an easily distracted child. Until then, there will be a lot of times of discontent, a lot of times of pushing away(many times we are pushing away even when we don’t realize it). There will also be a lot of times of running to him. Being embraced by him. Basking in his love, tenderness, and affection. These times are sweet. I wish all of us would stay here, in that place. But in my experience we seldom do. Maybe you do, maybe you can…Maybe you are more spiritual than me…

But that has not been my experience. I certainly rest in him more now than ever…I think. But I am not foolish enough to think I will always stay in this place. I know myself, and my tendency to sneak off and try to do something while I think he isn’t looking.

How foolish you say!

I agree. But I know me.

But even better, I am still getting to know the one whom always seems to have his loving arms extended.

“Oh, the depth…”

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

~Hebrews 11:1

Hope is essential in the life of the believer. Hope is crucial to a life of faith. There are a couple of things though, that I think we need to ask ourselves:

What are we hoping in?

What do we base our hope on?

Are we hoping in God, or are we hoping on our perception of God? Are we hoping in the God of the Scriptures, or are we hoping on the God we’ve created in our minds; the God who looks a lot like us? So many times I hear people say things like, “I would never do that so God would never do that either.” Or, “I’m a mother and I could never imagine a loving father doing that to His children.”

First, you aren’t God. You can’t even fathom what it is to be God. Sure, being created in God’s image, there are things about us that are ‘like’ God, but that is a far cry from saying that God is ‘like’ us. God is so far above us, His ways are so far above us, His holiness is so far above us, that we can’t even wrap our minds around it. Why would you want a God that does everything exactly like you would do it? I look around at my life, and the mess I’ve made of a lot of things, and I am ever so grateful that God does not do things the way that I do things.

Second, our hope is to be based on the all knowing wisdom of God, not on our perception of God. We must base our hope on the God we read about in the Scriptures, not the God of our own making. It seems to me most people’s perception of God is dominated by their own emotions or sentimentality as opposed to the God my Bible talks about. Sure God is loving, sure God is gracious, sure God desires good things for His children…but none of these things are outside of his attribute of holiness. And by the way, who does the Bible say are actually children of God? See John 1:12-13, it may surprise you.

Search the Scriptures, learn the Scriptures, know the Scriptures. That is the God we are to serve and love and hope in. Some of us have formed a beautiful picture in our mind of a God that we love, and that loves us…but is a far cry, and far less beautiful than the God of the Bible. This God won’t always make you feel warm and fuzzy, sometimes he’ll shock you, but the most shocking thing of all is his love for his children(Again, see John 1:12-13) in spite of ourselves, and the lavishness of the Glory he promises them, all ultimately leading to his own glory.

The little god in your mind can’t save you. First of all he doesn’t exist. Even if he did, why would you want an eternity with a weak God who is bound by those whom he created. Why would you want a weak God who can’t, or doesn’t want to punish sin and just looks past it? Would you want your government or police force to act this way? If not, then why would you want God to?

Run to the Scriptures…Seek that God. That is the only God that can save you. He is the only God worth being saved by. He is the God that Jesus talked about and pointed us to. He is the only God worthy of our worship.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

~Romans 11:33-36

The Way Of Love

   Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
   Love doesn’t strut,
   Doesn’t have a swelled head,
   Doesn’t force itself on others,
   Isn’t always “me first,”
   Doesn’t fly off the handle,
   Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 MSG

Cruciform…Review

Rarely does a book of just over 100 pages hit you and challenge you as does ‘Cruciform’ by Jimmy Davis. This book may be small but it is weighty. There is a ton of theology packed in this small volume. Even more important than all of that, the Gospel, and the power of the Gospel to transform us into ‘Cross-Shaped’ disciples pours from every page.

What does a ‘Cross-Shaped’ disciple look like? Well Jesus of course. Jimmy Davis does an excellent job of unpacking for us the ways in which God is forming us into the image of His Son, and exhorting us to emulate Him both as ‘sons’-yes ladies, this includes you too-and as servants. Davis talks about suffering and discipline, and how they help us to see God, and to know God, and to hear Him say, “I love you”.

I could write much more, but ultimately all I say would be insufficient in summarizing what Mr. Davis has done here. All I can say is, buy it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. You will be challenged, and by God’s grace, transformed.

Come, you who are blessed by my Father

 “The LORD is high above all nations,
        and his glory above the heavens!
    Who is like the LORD our God,
        who is seated on high,
    who looks far down
        on the heavens and the earth?
    He raises the poor from the dust
        and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
    to make them sit with princes,
        with the princes of his people.
Psalm 113:4-8 ESV

This Psalm asks the question in verse 5, “Who is like the Lord our God?” The Psalm goes on to tell us that this God, is great, is majestic, and is reigning over all of creation, over both the heavens and the earth…it then tells us that this God, “looks FAR down on the heavens and the earth”. This God raises up the poor, lifts up the needy, and causes them to sit with princes…

Psalm 113 which begins and ends by telling us to, “Praise the Lord” tells us that this God who is so high above the nations, reigning from heaven, still looks down upon the earth to the poorest of the poor, the lowliest of the low…God cares for these folks that are often overlooked. When the Psalmist asks us, “Who is like the Lord our God?…” Shouldn’t we be able to say that we are? Aren’t we to reflect the image of God…Doesn’t Jesus exhort us to care for the ‘least of these’? Isn’t that the hallmark of Jesus’ ministry? Have we forgotten that we too were in fact the lowest of the low…yet God in his infinite mercy has looked down on us, showered us with grace, and has now in fact seated us with princes…the greatest of which is THE PRINCE, Jesus Christ.

When the Psalmist asks us, “Who is like the Lord our God…?” We understand that we are not God, but we also must understand that through the miracle of regeneration, we are being made into the image of Christ…we are to reflect Him. We too must care for the lowest of the low…we must love those whom society has forgotten, or even worse chooses to keep down and oppress. That is our calling as Children of God. We were the lowest of the low…we were in the ash heap…but this God infinite in steadfast love and mercy has raised us up and seated us with His Prince. Meditate on that often and let it color how you look at others…as a child of God, you cannot not be changed by that wondrous thought.

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:34-40 ESV

“O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”

“O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Amen.

George Matheson, 1882