(Don’t) Tell Me That You Love Me

Don’t tell me that you love me

Unless you are prepared, by God’s grace

To never, ever leave me                                  

To stand forever in this place

 

Don’t tell me that you need me

Until you have discovered God’s enough

Then covenant yourself to me

For the easy and the tough

 

It’s not just the words that you say

With your lips

Be careful what you say with your life

 

Don’t tell me that you want me

Unless you give all of yourself to me

Don’t tell me I’m your only

If your actions speak differently.

 

I’m not asking for perfection

Even wedding bands have some dross

All I ask is that you seek redemption

On your knees at Jesus’ Cross.

 

It’s not just the words that you say

With your lips

Be careful what you say with your life.

 

My love, if you are ready to stand

And seal your promise with His grace

Then I will gladly give you my hand

And we’ll walk in a covenant embrace.

 

But until then,

Don’t tell me that you love me.

Don’t tell me that you need me

Don’t tell me that you want me.

In word or deed, until you’re ready.

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Published in: on May 31, 2010 at 7:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

brokenness

Brokenness.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not too sure that I like that word. It sounds painful. It sounds like something to be fixed right away. It sounds like an unexpected screeching halt.

It’s very popular in the modern church to hear about success, popularity, comfort, and warm and fuzzy feelings.  Brokenness doesn’t really fit the mold of “good choices for a book that will make you quoted in greeting cards at the Christian Bookstore.”

But what does the word of God say about brokenness?

 Psalm 51 is a classic reference on being broken by the sight of your sin. King David has been brought to utter emptiness and helplessness as God deals with his tangle of sins with Bathsheba. Noah Webster defines it as “being made weak or infirm, being subdued completely, crushed, sorrowful.” And the Lord brought David to this very place. Look at David’s response as he sees the poverty and impurity of his soul compared the greatness and spotlessness of the Holy One of Israel. 

“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness.” He knows his only hope is the ever-enduring steadfast love of His God. David knows that there is no hope for deliverance in himself—he has to cast himself on the grace and compassion of Christ.

I can speak from my own life here—it takes a lot of humility to even get to that point,  because I know in my heart of hearts that I most certainly do NOT deserve God’s grace in this area. I have nothing positive to bring to the table, I can’t say, “Hey God, I’m did this Your way, so won’t you bless me?”

It’s more like, “I completely ignored You in this area, I deserve nothing but punishment. Not only do I have nothing positive to bring, I’ve got negative actions that could plainly condemn me. But somehow…can You find it in Your mercy to take me back?”

 Sounds a lot like the prodigal son. Which is really good, when you remember his father’s response. (Luke 15:11-32) Even when the son was a long ways off, the father ran to meet his son when he first saw him, and embraced him heartily and lavished loving gifts on him. And this father knew the rebellion of his son, and yet he received him with great joy and complete forgiveness. The grace of our God is just mind-blowing—I love this stuff!

Jesus, I just want to thank you right now for your grace! You saw me in my total poverty of soul, gave of your immeasurable riches, that I might through your poverty become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

 Nothing I bring can fix the breach caused by my sin. David says it this way, “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” The only choice I have is to ignore God and stumble in my darkness, or to humbly lay down my soul at Jesus’ feet, to be in total, absolute brokenness. And to think—He WILL NOT despise a broken and contrite heart. His compassion is astounding!

In this brokenness over sin, David cries out to His God for cleansing, for renewal, for restoration. True brokenness over sin has these two results: hunger to be washed from the impurity, and praise unto God. If our Redeemer is our focus, then we cannot but praise Him in the midst of our brokenness. The more we see of the death that is ourselves, the more we will hunger for the LIFE that Jesus brings. The more we see of the LIFE that Jesus brings, the more we will hunger to be freed from the death that we are.

“O LORD, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.”  Psalm 51:15

Published in: on May 26, 2010 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

“religion” vs. real freedom

Confession time to my blog reader(s): I have both a lake of rule-hugging legalism and raging river of free-spirited rebellion mixed together in my heart. Part of me wants rules, part of me wants no rules. Over the years, I’ve sort of boxed-off certain areas of my life and labeled them as either “sinful rebellion”, like rolling my eyes and sighing “Mo–om” if I disagree with my dear mother, or as just “my religion.”  It wasn’t until a few months ago when my co-worker and brother in Christ mentioned a quote by Martin Luther, paraphrased: “Man has two defaults. Sin and religion.” (“sin” meaning flat-out opposition to God’s righteousness, “religion” being our rules and self-born attempt at God’s perfection.)

The Holy Spirit has been just laying on His grace to show me that I need so much more of Him and so much less of myself.  All my “rightousnesses” are just rags (HE said that! Is. 64:6)and my grandest sacrifices are pointless without God-born love. (see 1 Corinthians 13)

There are now but two rules that should rule my life.  They are the two greatest commandments, according to Jesus Christ, and His commandment is all that matters. Here they are: 1.) love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and 2.) love my neighbor as myself.

O Jesus,  may I be so consumed with my love and devotion to You, that I disappear and YOU are all that is seen! And in my pouring out of my very soul unto You, my Beloved, may I also be a vessel of your mercy and a  channel of your love to all I meet, because self has been buried and I am set free to embrace my neighbor with the radical grace of heaven! You alone are worthy of the best I’ve got, and may nothing encumber my journey. No self-made religion, no sinful rebellion, no more nothing of self, O cleanse me, please, please! Make me like YOU! Deliver me from my bondage, purify me with Your holy blood, empower me to live this incredible life of victory and joy, rescue and rapture!

These lyrics by Derek Webb (formerly of Caedmon’s Call) really highlight this truth of freedom vs. legalism:

Don’t teach me about politics and government–just tell me who to vote for. Don’t teach me about truth and beauty–just label my music.

Don’t teach me how to live like a free man. Just give me a new law.

I don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy, so just bring it down from the mountain to me.

(chorus) I want a new law, I want a new law, gimme that new law.

Don’t teach me about moderation and liberty, I prefer a shot of grape juice.

Don’t teach me about loving my enemies, don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit–just give me a new law.

What’s the use in trading a law you can never keep, for one you can that cannot get you anything?

Do not be afraid, do not be afraid, do not be afraid.”

Yes, Spirit, teach Your truth to me! Wash me in the Word of Truth, emfold me in Your love, send me out with Your promises and presence.

Published in: on May 22, 2010 at 8:28 pm  Comments (2)  

Abandon

Oh, the pains that God has to take to bring us to this “abandon”—equally ready for silence or for saying, for stillness or for doing unhesitatingly the next thing He calls for, unfettered by surroundings or consequences.  How much reserve and self-consciousness have to give way with some of us before the absolute control passes into His hands and the responsibility with it.

Lillias Trotter

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 10:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Help Me

Laying my life on the altar

Never seemed this complex

I’m having a hard time trusting

Without knowing what comes next

 

There’s so much of my life that I don’t know

But there’s much that I know about You

And it’s enough that You are Who You say You are

You’re faithful and You’re true.

 

Help me

To trust You more

Help me

To love You more

And see

That You are truly all I need                                

Help me

 

Waiting can seem so eternal

But the glory far outweighs the pain

Help me set my eyes on the things not seen

And not on the blur of this life

 

You said without faith I can’t please You

For I’ve got to believe that You are

And I’ve got keep trusting Your promises

That You reward the seeking heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help me

To trust You more

Help me

To love You more

And see

That You are truly all I need

Help me

 

I know I’ve done lots of complaining

Forgive me for not relying on You

Help me to live just one breath at time

Adore You in all that I do

 

Master, whatever my future holds

Do whatever You desire

Whatever the cost, whatever the loss,

Just let me be filled with Your Holy fire

 

Help me

To trust You more

Help me

To love You more

And see

That You are truly all I need

Help me

 

Jesus, You are Wonderful

You are my Counselor

You are Almighty God

You are the Prince of Peace

 

Help me

Help me to trust You more

Help to love You more

Help me to know You more

Help me

Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Not I But Christ!

Not I, but Christ be honored, loved, exalted/Not I, but Christ be seen, be known and heard/ Not I, but Christ in every look and action/Not I, but Christ in every thought and word.

Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord! Oh, to be lost in Thee. Oh, that it may be no more I, but Christ that lives in me.

2.Not I, but Christ to gently soothe in sorrow/Not I, but Christ to wipe the falling tear/Not I, but Christ to lift the weary burden/Not I, but Christ to hush away all fear.

Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord! Oh, to be lost in Thee. Oh, that it may be no more I, but Christ that lives in me.

3.Christ, only Christ, no idle word e’er falling/ Christ, only Christ, no needless bustling sound/Christ, only Christ, no self-important bearing/ Christ, only Christ, no trace of I be found.

Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord! Oh, to be lost in Thee. Oh, that it may be no more I, but Christ that lives in me.

4.Not I, but Christ my every need supplying/Not I, but Christ my strength and health to be/Christ, only Christ, for spirit, soul, and body/Christ, only Christ, live then Thy life in me.

Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord! Oh, to be lost in Thee. Oh, that it may be no more I, but Christ that lives in me.

5.Christ, only Christ, ere long will fill my vision/Glory excelling soon, full soon I’ll see/Christ, only Christ, my every wish fulfilling, Christ, only Christ, my all in all to be.

Lyrics by Mrs. Ada A. Whiddington

Published in: on February 27, 2010 at 10:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Get Off the Ship!

Sorting through a few files recently, I came across this piece I wrote right back in 2008. I think it’s been touched up a time or two, but it’s been a long time since I’ve messed with it. Without further ado, I present: “Get Off the Ship!”

This is a desperate plea to the Christian youth of today, from the Christian youth who anguish for this wandering generation.

(*Note: for the duration of this post, ” ‘Christian’ youth” implies the mainstream church-going high school and college students who may have heard God’s Truth but have let it slide to the very bottom of priorities.)

We try so hard to be “cool”, to “fit in”, to be recognized as something that we are not…..why? To what end? How will those really spiffy $95 shoes or those designer low-slung jeans be affecting your life 15 years from now? How would studying God’s word intently and developing the character of Christ affect your life 15 years from now? Oh, my people! You could be my closest brothers and sisters…we could spur each other on to good works…we could work together to bring glory to Our Lord!

Instead…what has transpired? We have become, at best, civil. At other times, antipathy is a closer word for our relationship than brotherhood and sisterhood. You have strived to be like the world, seduced by lies. You say: “I will be more and more like the world and of the world so that people will want to be like Christ.”

You reason that, if you are around people and “just like them”, they will accept Christianity, right? And YOU get to keep a good reputation and popularity. Well, they might accept YOUR brand of Christianity, but a world-saturated, self-focused, God-minimizing religion is certainly not Christ’s brand of Christianity. My dear brethren, you have assimilated so far into the darkness that your candle sputters, and should the wind of the cold, dark world rise any stronger, you will snuff out.

“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

Your intimacy with the world and her wiles has blurred the differences between the Church and the world, so that those who are lost cannot see a reason to convert; after all, since Christians are “just like me” and the rest of the world, why would it matter if I started wearing a cross around my neck or went to a “youth group”?

Please understand that I do not wish to condemn; I myself have foolishly “exchanged the truth of God for a lie”. (Rom. 1:25) I have been on the same sinking ship on which you are on. I would have gone down to the very depths of the abyss (and deservedly so) had not The Captain taken me by the hand and helped me into the lifeboat to take me to the shore where His safehouse is. This Captain did not choose me to join the lifeboat because I merited it by my actions or words or attitudes. Rather, if such were the case, I would be among the last to be offered help. But He loves in a way beyond our comprehension.

He holds out His nail-scarred hands, inviting, begging, pleading you to step aboard the lifeboat and forsake the ship.

Surrender!

The ship is already half-submerged….you will not survive. You cannot jump and swim to shore on your own, for the way is too far, the water too cold, your own strength too inadequate. Please, I beseech you! See what is important! Do not worry about being accepted by the world and its foolish fads. Do not continue procrastinating God, saying, “After I make sure that I’ve gotten to do what I want to do, I’ll ‘get serious’ and seek Jesus.” Stop playing facades, rearranging chairs on a sinking ship.

Get off! Surrender, admit that it’s over, and grasp the hand of Our Savior.

Let us join together, my brothers, my sisters.

Let us forsake the ruins of the ship and follow the Captain. His boat is the only one that is not going under.

Hear. Believe. Live.

To the leaders, the parents, the pastors; anyone who wants to make a difference: Hold high the standard of God’s Eternal Truth.

Don’t be namby-pamby and cater to the apathetic attitude of this culture. Teach this generation to see this world through God’s lens.

 Help them to understand what God says about life. Instruct them to strongly stand for His Truth, His Gospel, His Power, His Light. So many of today’s Christian young people are clueless over what they truly believe are thus highly gullible targets to the first greased and gilded tongue they encounter. (Think of the stats of church-raised kids who lose faith after one year in college) We must provide a firm grasp upon the Truth for our young people, for they cannot stand in the real world without a foundation. Daily, my brothers and sister in Christ fall, their faith crumbling like an Oreo under a stiletto. “B-b-but”, we sputter, “How can this be? We have the youth groups (can anybody say King’s Island?), we have the Christian-ized rock music, we have the cool, spiffy Bible covers…..we have it all, right?” This generation—my generation—has frequently and tragically placed entertainment, comfort, and maintaining popularity at a higher priority than a personal relationship and commitment (especially sacrificial commitment) to Christ. A crucial part of that commitment is knowing Who the Lamb is, who we are, and not mixing up the two. Young or old or somewhere in between, we need to stand up and rescue, by the power of Christ, this generation from its crisis. My people, let us understand our need for the solid Rock, let us truly see Who He is, and let us firmly fix our foundation upon Christ and Christ alone.

Published in: on January 31, 2010 at 8:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Haiti’s Orphan Survivor Cries Out

I have seen much suffering

More than words can ever tell

And all around me rings

The screams of a living hell.

 

When I try to run I fall

Because too much lines the street

Broken bodies, broken walls

Lay piled at my feet.

 

It’s been two days since I ate

I have no family, no friends

What will be my fate?

How can this nightmare end,

If no one even knows that I  live?

 

Rescue me

If you would take me into your heart

Restore me

Bind up my broken heart

 

I would never hunger

For food or for love

 

I would never thirst

For water or for life

 

If you would take me into your heart.

 

I know it’s a lot to ask

For any normal soul to give

And I know it’s no small task

But it determines whether I die or live

So you can keep your “perfect life” 

And let me go down to my death

 

Or you can let your “perfect dreams” all die

And help me live

 

Which will you choose,

Now that you know that I live?

 

PLEASE RESCUE ME

Published in: on January 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm  Comments (3)  

Humility

Each year, our church family puts on a Christmas pageant, composed of Scripture and a few poems and hymns. It’s not really Christmas until we start practicing for the pageant!

It’s always a time of warm fellowship and joyful, reverent recollection of the beginning of the earthly ministry of our Lord.

One of the texts is Philippians 2:6-8. This passage speaks of the humility of Christ, Who was equal with God, and yet laid aside His rightful reign and became a servant, obeying unto death on the cross.
Studying these verses got me thinking about humility. This lowliness, this lack of regard for self, is radically different than much of what masquerades as humility in my own life.
As new creatures in Christ, we are called to put on humbleness of mind. (see Col. 3:12, Eph. 4:2, Phil 2:3)

But what exactly is it?

I suppose you could define humility as not thinking about yourself. Problem is, you really don’t get anywhere by “thinking about not thinking about yourself.” Any attempt at humility that seeks to create a lack of focus on self, while relying upon the power of self, will go belly-side up. The true humility of a Christian is a focus on Jesus Christ that leads to lack of focus on self. Let me put it in a word picture.

Have you ever been so caught up in a project that you lost track of time?
It’s not that you were thinking, “I will lose track of time, I will lose track of time, I will lose track of time.”
You simply became so engrossed with the project that time was no longer important to you.

That’s how the Christ-follower’s humility comes about. We are to become so absorbed in Jesus Christ and the excelling glory that He is, that we “lose track” of self. Subconsciously, our own conditions and ambitions become no longer important to us.

If Jesus Christ, powerful and perfect, was lowly in heart, how much more ought we, weak and sinful, be humble?
And if Jesus Christ, the God of the Universe in human flesh, willingly made Himself of no reputation, how much more ought we, a vapor in the wind, be heedless of the opinion of other mortals, and willingly forgo our rank in the eyes of men?

In light of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we come to a creed of aspiration:

I desire not, neither do I toil, to construct a great name for myself.
Rather, I hunger and labor to secure a glorious reputation for my King Jesus, by His light and life cascading through my surrendered self, and by proclaiming His riches in my every word and deed.

Published in: on December 8, 2009 at 9:49 pm  Comments (1)  

Hands and Feet

Have you ever been to Chicago? Ever gone up into one of the skyscrapers and looked across the landscape? As far as the eye can see, there are rows of houses, clusters of buildings, and the general sense of massive population.

Well, it would take 17 cities the size of Chicago, counting the whole massive urban sprawl, with every single citizen being an orphan child, to hold the total number of orphan children in the world.

Orphans. We don’t see them very often in the United States.

We like to think of them as some sort of far-off story that pops up in the Bible and Oliver Twist.

Surely they aren’t in such need now, surely somebody else is taking care of them, surely it’s not that serious.

Do you know how many orphans there are in the world today?

a.) 14,800

b.) 140,800

c.) 140, 800, 000

d.) 148,000,000

Answer: D.) One hundred and forty eight million orphans are estimated to be in the world these days. Can you even comprehend such a number?

That’s what the Chicago picture is for, or try New York City. Enormous urban sprawl included, it would still take over 8 cities of that size, with every single citizen an orphan child, to hold the total number of orphan children in the world.

Can you imagine?

I can’t. But it’s real. It’s serious. There is not “someone taking care of it”. No one person can take care of it all. We are the hands and feet of Christ.

When on earth, Christ’s hands healed, restored, brought compassion and freedom. His feet took Him to the destitute, the outcast lepers that society hated, the self-deceived tax collectors, the funerals, the prostitutes, the places of need.

We, the church, are the hands and the feet of Christ today.

So why are His hands spending their time texting inanity? Why are His feet shuffling idly in a shopping mall?

What is this travesty? Why are we letting it happen?

“For He rescued us from the domain of darknes, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” (Colossians 1:13a)

Our Lord Himself is a rescuer. We must be rescuers, too. Watch this clip, and let Christ whisper to you His heart for each one of these precious ones. Hear the tears that choke His voice, and let them flow from the eyes of your soul.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o5d097Tfes

“Pray.  If you want to have God’s heart for the least, pray for it.  If you have His heart, but don’t know what to do next, pray!   If you know what He’s asking of you, but don’t know how it can be accomplished, pray.  He will answer all of these cries and unfold the most beautiful season of your life, being spent for the least! ” ~Annie Wesche~

God may not call you to personally adopt twenty children from Haiti. But don’t let that stop you from caring! When your eyes are awakened to the suffering that happens all over this sin-twisted world, you will not be able to stay silent. You will no longer be able to mindlessly waste the precious opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ. As you listen to your Lord and His gentle voice, waiting on and growing in His heart, your eyes will be opened to people right around you that you can help. Sorrow for orphans does not blind you to sorrow of others around you–rather, it increases your sensitivity to the lost and least, across the sea and down the street.

Pray with me for God’s heart. Let Him set you ablaze with incredible passion and compassion. Let Him make you a rescuer! Let Him use you as an extension of His hands and feet, doing His work, going where He wants to go. It is an adventure of a lifetime. Take it. You will not be disappointed!

Alex

PS Orphan Sunday is November 8th….consider an extra time of prayer and contemplation on these matters.

Published in: on November 3, 2009 at 10:08 pm  Comments (1)