Saturday, March 24, 2012

He Was Never Angry With Us

I like this controversial title, so I think I'll stick with it. Before I tell you how I came to the above mentioned conclusion, I wanted to take an opportunity to rave about the unending goodness of God towards myself and all humanity.

This past week I feel as though I have received an intravenous shot of truth that has devoured any remaining traces of religiosity and futile striving in my life. I have been like a giddy, love-sick teenager, drunk with adoration and brim-full with joy unspeakable. The good news tends to have this effect on all victims that it grabs a hold of. I am fully convinced that the Gospel has a life of it's own and that it is daily getting better and better. Every time I hear it, it feels like the first time. Born again, again. First love jitters. 

The theme song of my life this week has been "He is so good. He is better than I could imagine." As I have been drinking the Gospel, straight up, with no additives, I realize all the more that this is the best of news. This is not news that you want to keep a secret. No way am I sweeping this one under the rug. This news belongs on the busy street-corners. It deserves to be yelled from the rooftops. 
A preacher I love once said "when I get to heaven, if there is anything I want to be accused of, it would be that I made God out to be better than he actually was." I love this. And if raving about his goodness is a crime, then I am guilty as charged. 

Recognizing truth has been a lesson I've been schooled on lately. With thousands of streams and branches of Christianity intertwined everywhere, I'd say that knowing how to separate truth from non-truth or 'half-truth' is a vital tool to have on your Charismatic belt. Good thing truth is a person and spending time with Him, makes seeing Him everywhere second nature to us. Whenever the truth is proclaimed, I feel as though Jesus himself has stepped into the building, probably because he has. His spirit rides on the words of truth for the substance of truth is Jesus. After all, he did call himself "the way, the truth and the life." 

One truth that has knocked me off my horse this week is that He has never been angry with us. 
When I heard this spoken, my brain jumped into action recalling stories of wrath laced throughout the Old Testament, while my heart sat comfortably in it's arm chair, not batting an eye-lid, knowing that truth himself had just been breathed into the room.

"If he was never angry with us, even while we were sinners" my brain protested "then please explain the countless scriptures of wrath in the Old Testament."
Am I saying that God had no wrath? Of course not. His wrath was as real as his love. But that's just it, his wrath was an extension of his love. We were not the object of His wrath, but the sinful nature that once occupied us was the worthy recipient of all the fury of God, and rightfully so. In his intense love for us, He saw how sin abused and molested his beloved children and he burned hot with rage against it. He hated sin so much, that he stopped at nothing, not even his own death, to abolish it forever. 
Jesus clothed himself in humanity, succumbed to torture, humiliation and even death in order for him that knew no sin, to become sin for us, therefore satisfying God's wrath.

As Jesus hung on the cross, he was not merely an example of humanity, but our substitute. In every way, he became like us, in order for us to become like him. It was a divine exchange, one for another. He allowed himself to be tempted, he knew human limitations, he got tired, his body needed food, in every way, he was just like us. In the same way, upon the cross as he cried out "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus had climbed into the emotional state of a human being in order to witness with us in every way. Had God forsaken Jesus upon the cross? Not according to Psalm 22:24 "For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but was heard when he cried to him."
In fact, in 2 Corinthians 5:19 it says "For God was IN Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting man's sins against them."Where was God when nails were being driven into the tender flesh of Jesus? He was INSIDE him. As Jesus cried out to God upon the cross, it was as if he had stepped fully into the state of a human being who was alienated from God in their mind. As he hung on that tree, the sins of the world weightily piled upon him, he was able to witness with the mind of a man who knows he is sinful. 

The key to unlocking this is the truth that sin never separated God from us, but it did separate us from God. Rewind back to Eden. Our forefathers, now conscious of their fallen state, run, hide, from the God that is everywhere. Does God fear nearness to them as if their state will contaminate His? No. We see a loving father come and find his hiding children. You see, their sin didn't keep God away from them, but it prevented their conscience from allowing them confidence before His Holiness.
In Colossians 1:21, Paul says "Once you were all alienate in your MINDS because of your evil behavior." God's wrath didn't alienate us, our sin-conscience did.
The good news is, Jesus skillfully through his broken body and shed blood sprinkled clean our conscience  and gave the boldness before the Father that was lost in the garden. No longer do we hide in the bushes covered in the blood of bulls and goats (our own attempts at holiness that could never justify) but we stand in the wide open spaces of his saving grace, knowing that he never was, nor ever will be angry with us. God is love, and all his affections are for us. Our shame and hostility of mind before the throne was what he murdered upon the cross. Who we once saw as a punisher, we now see as a loving father, empty of wrath towards his children as our eyes and minds have been cleansed by the spilt blood of His son. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Celebrate Immanuel's Name

There is so much glory on certain old Christian Hymns. Many of them are long forgotten or considered out-dated and boring, but this one I came across today, is anything but that. 
I have been brim-full with joy this week as I have been getting back to the basics of Christ crucified and all the bliss contained in the knowledge of the cross. This beautiful, glorious hymn made my day.

Celebrate Immanuel's Name:
(By: Charles Wesley 1707-1788)

Celebrate Immanuel’s Name, the Prince of life and peace.
God with us, our lips proclaim, our faithful hearts confess.
God is in our flesh revealed; heav’n and earth in Jesus join.
Mortal with Immortal filled, and human with Divine.
Fullness of the Deity in Jesus’ body dwells,
Dwells in all His saints and me when God His Son reveals.
Father, manifest Thy Son; breathe the true incarnate Word.
In our inmost souls make known the presence of the Lord.
Let the Spirit of our Head through every member flow;
By our Lord inhabited, we then Immanuel know.
Then He doth His Name express; God in us we truly prove,
Find with all the life of grace and all the power of love.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A letter from my love

A letter from Him, to me and you, and those still to come...

Beloved. Beautiful. Child of Glory,

I love you. I don't just love you with my whole heart, but my entire being pulsates with the consuming flame of love. You are the target of all my affections. The apple of my eye; my creation in which I take pride and delight. I want to put you on display so that all the world will know me and see my beauty as you so effortlessly reflect it.
When I created you, I had my pleasure in mind. I intricately fashioned every facet of your being so that it would bring intoxicating delight to me and leave me captivated at each glance. I formed your inner being as the castle in which I would delight in dwelling, and now that you have opened the door to my knocking I get to rest and abide within you for eternity, a place that is beautifully fit for a King.
Just as you opened your door to me, so I first opened mine unto you. I became the doorway through which you walked, a new and living way. My flesh the torn curtain unveiling your heavenly father and his courts. Do come and join us in celebrating life eternal. We've sent out the invitations; the Gospel, the Word and even the song of creation. Don't get dressed up, and with the invitation in hand, think you've arrived at the party. Come my love, come up here. Feast with us. We've prepared always a table before you, a spread of heaven's delicacies, with the body and blood being the main course. All it requires to find the way is faith. Faith in truth beyond facts. In transcendent realities beyond temporal ones.
Do you trust me? Do you? Believe and trust. Rest and abide, and I will take you where you could never access alone. I will show you a whole new world and open your eyes to perspectives that will alter the way you see even the most ordinary things. The mundane will become the glorious if you'll only allow me to take you there. Quit trying. I tried on your behalf, and do you know the best part? I succeeded for you, already. Through me you are already a conquerer. You've already won and have the trophy of salvation in your arms yet you haven't finished the race. Oh, don't try and figure out my kingdom using earthly ways and knowledge, over here in this country, we do things a little differently.
Cheerfully come before the throne with no projections and you will start to really see the true order of life. It is yours for the taking. I have stored up an eternal supply of joy, bliss, peace, rest, presence, encounters and wisdom for you, and there is nothing that can be done to stop me from pouring these out upon you. They have your name on them, they've been reserved just for you!
The joy it brings me to do life with you is beyond what words on a page could hold. Everything you do is laced with glory. I gave you the gift of me, and it's as if you give this gift back to me every time I see myself in you. We can't keep our eyes from you. Even the angels can't help but gather in your presence for it astounds them how alike we look. It barely matters what you do, it's all beautiful to me. You carry just as much of me when you are sleeping or daydreaming as when you are praying or preaching. It's immaterial what you do; being you is your greatest gift to me. It doesn't matter where you go, just as long as we are together. Oh, if only you knew the way you look through my eyes. The way you make me feel when you wake up in the morning and the way my heart burns within me you you look my way. Don't take your eyes off of me, gaze upon me, see into my heart. See my will for you and the world. I have not hidden it away in a locked chamber, but openly display it that you may know this love of mine like you know the world is round.
Don't let them tell you you're just a dreamer. Don't let them pull you down to earth. It is not too good to be true. If your mind can fathom my goodness and the richness of my love, then you have not yet known it fully. It goes beyond mental comprehension, so throw your analysis to the wind and set your spirit free to soar in the thermals of me. I won't let you down. Disappointment is not in heaven's vocabulary. There is no hope too great for me, no dream that I am below. So get busy dreaming, I can't wait for you to see all the places I've planned for us to go.
Run into me. These wings were made to cover you. Sit beneath my shade, let my countenance quicken you. Revive you. Keep always the let-downs of the world in your rear-view mirror and continue to accelerate into the wide open spaces of my dreams for you. If ever the fog of condemnation clouds your view of me, just open the nearest window of my finished work, and you will see me again in the place I've always been. Right before you. Eye to eye. Nose to nose. I cancelled every definition of distance as I breathed my last breath upon that tree, and do you know what, I'd do it again if that's what was required to bring you close to me. As my spirit clung to my weakened body, all that could occupy my mind were flashes of our future union together. I endured it all for intimacy. Death was better than a life apart from you.

Can you see it? Can you see my love more clearly now? Oh, my dear, this is only the sweet beginning.
Come up here. Come away. I've got so much more to tell you than any words could say.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hebrews 10 - Barnes

Barnes Commentary on Hebrews 10:1
For the law having a shadow - That is, the whole of the Mosaic economy was a shadow; for
so the word “Law” is often used. The word “shadow” here refers to a rough outline of
anything, a mere sketch, such as a carpenter draws with a piece of chalk, or such as an artist
delineates when he is about to make a picture. He sketches an outline of the object which he
designs to draw, which has “some” resemblance to it, but is not the “very image;” for it is not
yet complete. The words rendered “the very image” refer to a painting or statue which is
finished, where every part is an exact representation of the original. The “good things to
come” here refer to the future blessings which would be conferred on man by the gospel. The
idea is, that under the ancient sacrifices there was an imperfect representation; a dim outline
of the blessings which the gospel would impart to people. They were a typical
representation; they were not such that it could be pretended that they would answer the
purpose of the things themselves which they were to represent, and would make those who
offered them perfect. Such a rude outline; such a mere sketch, or imperfect delineation, could
no more answer the purpose of saving the soul than the rough sketch which an architect
makes would answer the purpose of a house, or than the first outline which a painter draws
would answer the purpose of a perfect and finished portrait. All that could be done by either
would be to convey some distant and obscure idea of what the house or the picture might be,
and this was all that was done by the Law of Moses.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Jesus, The Answer To Creation's Question

He is the Father of all things. Everything exists for Him and because of Him. The Great Conductor of creation's symphony, He is the harmony of life and the one in whom everything discovers it's true significance.  
Like the elaborate centre piece on a banqueting table and the focal point in a fine-art painting, Jesus is the answer to the question of creation. Like the golden thread woven into the tapestry of time and the crescendo of eternity's song, Jesus is all and in all. 

The space between every atom in existence is occupied by vibrations; the word of God. He uttered the words that bore in them the substance of creation. By the sounds of His lips the heavens and the earth were fashioned, and by these words all things are continuously upheld. 
Where is Jesus? The question is, where is he not.

I exist not because my father and mother do, but because He does. Apart from Him, I am not. I can not. I do not. He is the substance of me. We died together at Calvary, where he clothed me in himself. It is no longer I who live, but he that lives through me. Apart from Him I can do no thing. 

From the galaxies distant and unexplored, to parts of my being unchartered and unseen, there he dwells. He lives in the chorus of creation's silence and makes his home in the melody of a heartbeat. Life means adventuring in the wide open spaces of his plans for me. It's a field of flowers, which are his dreams for me, thought up before the foundation of time. 

"If I rise up on the wings of dawn
Or settle on the far side of the sea
Even there your hand will guide me
Your right hand will hold me."
-Psalm 139:9