Monday, January 8, 2007
Wounded and forsaken
I was shattered by the fall
Broken and forgotten
Feeling lost and allalone
Summoned by the King
Into the Master's courts
Lifted by the Savior
And cradled in His arms
I was carried to the table
Seated where I don't belong
Carried to the table
Swept away by His love
And I don't see my brokenness anymore
When I'm seated at the table of the Lord
I'm carried to the table
The table of the Lord
Fighting thoughts of fear
And wondering why He called my name
Am I good enough to share this cup
This world has left me lame
Even in my weakness
The Savior called my name
In His holy presence
I'm healed and unashamed
You carried me, my God
You carried me
Sunday, January 7, 2007
"Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with Him.'"-- John 11:16
"Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came & stood in the midst, & said to them, 'Peace be with you'... Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, 'We have seen the Lord.' So he said to them, 'Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, & put my finger in to the print of the nails, & put my hand into His side, I will not believe.' And after eight days His disciples were again inside, & Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, & stood in the midst, & said, 'Peace to you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Reach your finger here, & look at my hands; & reach your hand here, & put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.' And Thomas answered & said to Him, 'My Lord & my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen & yet have believed.'" -- John 20:19,24-29
Oh, the power of Thomas' story. I am always amazed at how this plays out. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles hand-picked by Jesus Himself is on fire for the Lord. So much so that he is willing to die with Christ.
Thomas must have thought, from the time Christ picked him until Christ's death that he understood God & this Messiah. Perhaps he, like many, thought Christ was the political savior they'd been praying for. Maybe he thought Christ was going to bring justice to the earth and equality to the earth so that all could live in harmony together. Whatever he thought about Christ's purpose, I'll bet he was certain in his belief. He probably thought his knowledge of Jesus was both correct and unshakable.
And then, Christ died.Thomas may have thought, like many, that Christ was a political Messiah. Seemingly, His death left many unresolved issues. He died without bringing justice to the political world. He died without physically freeing the slaves. He died, seemingly, without fulfilling His purpose. Perhaps the same Thomas who wanted to die with Christ was now floundering, wondering, "Whom have I been following?" He was so out of touch that, when Christ, after rising from the dead, appeared to the disciples, Thomas wasn't even in attendance. He wasn't even there. He heard about it second-hand from the other disciples.
And then, Thomas asked for physical proof.Though he had walked with Jesus personally and seen Him perform so many signs and wonders that "even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" concerning these wonderful deeds, Thomas demanded physical proof for his belief to be realized.I am Thomas. I am the one who has been walking for several years with Christ and, every time there is a bump in the road or a wave in the sea, I want proof. I want to see Him. I want to know Him. I want to hold fast and believe. But, I can't see Him and I am discouraged. What is a Thomas in this world supposed to do?There is one way to see Christ clearly for who He is. The only way to form a correct view of the Lord is the Bible. That's it. Late last year I had my foundation rocked. I realized that, as I grew up in Sunday School & went to college student-led worship services & as I went to seminary & learned systematic theology, I have been taught incorrectly. I have had my view of Jesus shaped by people and it was done so woefully inaccurately.
When I realized that everything I had ever thought Jesus to be was wrong, I was shaken to the core. So much so that I demanded proof for me to believe. How can this be, I thought. How could everything I ever guessed about Jesus be wrong?
Therein lies the problem. I had been relying on people to tell me who He is and how He works. Even worse, I had been relying on my ability to guess what Jesus would think or what He would do. What I should have done is cling to the Bible and read it cover to cover. I should have been studying the Word daily to see just what Jesus teaches. But, I didn't and I had my faith shaken.
Once I gathered myself, I began reading the Bible again. I began reading theology again. I have come to see that I can't be in control of my life. I can't. The goal of the Christian is to totally abdicate the throne and allow One who is infinitely more qualified to lead take reign.
Now that I see where I've come from, my prayer for this year is to be able to say, without any reservation or dishonesty, "My Lord and my God!"
Thursday, December 21, 2006
"Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me." (Psalm 51:5).
"The wicked go astray from the womb; liars err from birth." (Psalm 58:3)
I thought of these verses while sitting in my parents' church at Christmas. As the preacher spoke I thought of these verses and about man. I can't help but contrast these verses and the Bible's description of man with the picture of Jesus presented in Revelation 5.
In Revelation 5, John sees a scroll with writing on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals (5:1). He soon finds out that no one can open the scroll or break its seals b/c no one is worthy. Upon realizing this he wept (5:2-4). No one was able, no one was worthy to open the scroll. There's not a person on earth nor a person in heaven who is worthy to open the scroll. As I read these words in church, I remembered the verses above and man's state. I remembered how he is wicked, how he is a liar from birth, and how his every inclination from his youth is evil. Of course no man can open the scroll. Who, then, can?
Revelation tells us:
Then one of the elders said to me, 'Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals. Then I saw one like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders....He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the One seated on the throne. When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb...And they sang a new
You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals;
and You redeemed people for God
from every tribe and launguage
and people and nation.
them a kingdom
and priests to our God,
and they will reign on the
The Lamb who was slaughtered
to receive power
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and
Blessing and honor and glory
to the One
seated on the
and to the Lamb, forever and ever!
said, 'Amen,' and the elders fell down and worshipped (Rev
I am in awe of the difference between Jesus Christ and me. Could there be a bigger difference? Probably not. I am the liar. I am the cheater. I am the sinner from birth. But He is the Lamb who is worthy to take the scroll. He is the One slain from the foundation of the earth to take my place in death. He is the Most Holy Son who gave up His life for me so that I may live. He is everything. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation (Col 1:15). He is the beginning (Col 1:18), He is the Word, He was the Word, and He was and is with God (John 1:1,2), He is the agent of creation (John 1:3) and He carried life in Him so that man might live (John 1:4). He is the radiance of God's glory, the exact espression of God's nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word (Hebrews 1:4).
As I thought of these things at Christmas, I quickly realized that no present waiting under a tree could touch this. No thing I'd placed on a Christmas list could come close to this. As I sat in a dimly lit church warm with candle light & I thought, truly thought, about the difference between Christ and myself, I was overwhelmed. The resounding thought in my mind was, "Who is man that you are mindful of him? Who am I that you are mindful of me?" The greatness and the goodness of Christ is found in the answer to this question. He is mindful of me because I am His. I have truly never been so thankful for my salvation and for my relationship with Jesus as I was this Christmas.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Also, this Fall is the 5th anniversary of 9/11. Can you believe it's been 5 years? Where were you that day? I was in my dorm at SEBTS skipping chapel (as usual) to try to finish some homework. My friend came running down the hall saying the first tower had been hit. We thought she was kidding. We turned on the tv & (I don't remember if I saw it live or not) saw the demise of the second tower. I left & went to class where we prayed for 1.5 hours for the survivors, those lost, their families, & our country. I remember the scary feel of the day. I also remember the overwhelming desire to go to NYC. I just had to go. Turns out, so did about 10 other students.
We loaded up that Friday & drove to the City. We got there late at night & stayed with some family of one of our fellow students. I don't think we even got to thank them b/c we were up and gone so early the next day. Anyway, we went to Union Square Park to prayer walk & to share the gospel. I have never in my life felt such a wall in a place. That's the only way to describe it. This huge wall that people had built up around themselves to keep the gospel out. I was astonished. We left that night (that's right -- it was a quick trip) & stayed in NJ. Then we drove back the next day. I can still see the people we spoke to, the memorials set up all over the city in futile hope of finding people from the top floors of the buildings or firefighters who ran in at the last minute. I can still see the wax from the candles dripping all over the concrete in various colors. The sun dripped through the leaves in the park, there was a cool crisp breeze, people were everywhere but nowhere at the same time.
So, what did I take away from my trip? I was literally petrified & overly emotional for weeks. Finally it all came to a head one day in the car. I was driving along wondering why people were so hard-hearted & what it meant to truly give your life to Christ. I was angry b/c I felt like I'd never actually been given a chance to do that (I grew up in a Southern Baptist church & was baptized @ 13 b/c I was afraid of the end of the world). I felt cheated & like I never even knew what I was getting myself into. One night in October I sat down with my roommate & told her all these things. She said to me, "I must ask, have you ever decided on your own, for yourself, to give your life and your heart to Christ?" I hadn't. I had tried to grandfather my way into heaven. I'd tried to work my way there &, quite honestly, to cheat my way there. What I learned through 9/11 is that none of my works, none of my deeds, none of my hopes were enough to get me to heaven. Isaiah tells us that all our deeds (even our best) are filthy rags before the Lord & Ephesians tells us that no one is saved by works but by grace alone. I was astonished to come to the realization that the reason I had felt so empty, the reason I'd mistreated so many people, the reason I'd been so afraid and so at war with myself is because I'd never known Christ. I'd lived so many days completely sinful & thinking I could save myself -- I'd had head knowledge of him but I'd never turned over my life to Him. So, in October 2001, I gave my life to Him & haven't looked back. That's not to say there hasn't been times of struggle, times of doubt, or times of wonder but He is faithful to me even when I am not to Him.
To all my friends who knew me before 2001, I apologize to you. I know I showed you a hypocritical "Christian". I know I showed you the stereotypical Bible-belt Baptist who is going to church on Sunday morning & living how ever she wants to the rest of the week. My prayer is to never be that way again! Who I was in high school & college was who I thought I should be. I thought I should act that way to present a Christian facade so that everyone would think I was living right. What I learned is that there's no such thing. Either you're for Christ or your against Him. That's what He says. There's no middle road, there's no thinking He's a good teacher. Either you believe & trust Him or you don't. I've also learned that, once you're saved, your days aren't filled with pleasure and devoid of worries. Paul described it best when he said it's a marathon. We're not devoid of the trials of life. Instead, we walk forward with the knowledge of a Savior greater than any problem or any task ahead of us. And we keep walking. Even when we become disenchanted with life. Even when we are tired. Even when we don't want to do it anymore. Even when we're running away from Christ. He stays with us.
I learned in fall 2001 who I was & who Christ is. I've learned that there's more to following Christ than just going to church & singing some songs. It's not a sprint. It's not a casual thing. It's a life-long marathon. Since then, I've learned that He's amazing and that He's passionate and that He's real. I think I've grown since then & look forward to continued growth. So, thanks for reading this long blog -- this time of year, this season, is always a reminder for me that the phoenix really can rise from the ashes.