Tag Archives: cross

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: A Hymn For The Weary and Discouraged

One of the reasons I love this hymn, written in 1882 by George Matthison, is for its rich poetic content. If you like, here is the story surrounding the hymn. The lyrics deserve to be read slowly, and you will find Chris Rice’s version of the song below.

“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.”

A verse that comes to my mind is Psalm 119:25 “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word.” The composer is a weary soul, a flickering torch, in pain, in rain, laying down in the dust, feeling as though this life’s glory is dead. But he knows what he needs. And he knows that what he needs will not be found within himself. He knows there is another source. Continue reading

Abide With Me: A Hymn For the Dying

When I search my mind for a favorite hymn “Abide With Me” rises quickly to the surface. CyberHymnal.org gives us this information about the circumstances surrounding the writing of this hymn by Henry Lyte in 1847:

Lyte was inspired to write this hymn as he was dying of tuberculosis; he finished it the Sunday he gave his farewell sermon in the parish he served so many years. The next day, he left for Italy to regain his health. He didn’t make it though—he died in Nice, France, three weeks after writing these words. Here is an excerpt from his farewell sermon:

“O brethren, I stand here among you today, as alive from the dead, if I may hope to impress it upon you, and induce you to prepare for that solemn hour which must come to all, by a timely acquaintance with the death of Christ.”

I know of no greater hymn which so honestly puts into words the experience and struggle of those dying under the curse of disease, a thing I have not experienced but have seen. The lyrics in full may be read here, and below is my favorite rendition of this song. Please take time to listen and to read the words.

You might wonder why I would love this hymn so much, when its’ topic is dying. But it is not just about dying- it is about dying in and dying for the Lord. “If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Romans 14:8).”

Jesus can “deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Hebrews 2:15).” He did this “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:14).” “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law (1Corinthians 15:56);” He has removed that bitter sting and broke that power which stood against us, condemning us, and He gives and will give us victory over these things. The bible testifies that a day will come when death will be destroyed, and resurrection life will be ours. For the Christian, death needs not be a topic of dread, but of anticipation.

Yet for all the good death will bring to us, anyone who has witnessed death knows- it is usually not as glorious as Hollywood makes it out to be. Disease has no pity; It has no respect for human dignity. It is a cruel tormentor, ugly and stealing from its victims, wasting them, and crippling with pain. Not always, but surely this is often the case. It is not so much the death, but the dying that can surely cast a Christian low, even in agony. Continue reading

Praise that Kills the Gospel

I’ve noticed a trend in some of today’s popular Christian music that disturbs me. There’s a song that’s been playing on our local “praise” station, where the artist sings his prayer to God: “Yeah, I want to believe, Jesus help me believe, that I am someone worth dying for.” In the end the artist turns to the listener and exhorts them “You gotta believe, ya you gotta believe, that you are someone worth dying for.” Continue reading

A Soul Satisfying Endeavour

Evangelism doesn’t always make me feel happy- but it usually does. There have been times when the seemingly impenetrable condition of someone’s heart has left me deeply grieved. The most vulgar individual I ever met was a Pastor’s daughter. I turned around after witnessing to her and immediately burst into tears, feeling shocked, mortified, and spiritually drained. But most often, my experiences haven’t been too difficult. Continue reading

Part 4: How Does Jesus Make Entrance Into His Kingdom Possible?

Matthew 19:23-26 “And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”  But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.””

It is common for Christians to make “all things” mean “whatever I want God to do for me.”  What many people miss out on here is a much greater and stunning truth.  With man salvation itself is impossible, and can only be granted as a gift from God. Continue reading

Love Manifested In Dying

“Oh the Deep, Deep Love Of Jesus!  Vast, Unmeasured, Boundless, Free!”

 To look at the love of God poured out through His Son dying on a cross, is an experience beyond human words.  I concur with hymn writer Frederick Lehman who wrote:

“Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.”

The magnificence of God’s love for His own revealed in Christ’s soul-purchasing death, is beyond what our finite minds can even grasp.  I wait for the day when this perishable body will be raised imperishable, “sown in dishonour” and “raised in glory,” sown “a natural body…raised a spiritual body (1Corinthians 15:42-44).”  Then may this dull and tired mind be awakened, and these eyes that see now only “in a mirror dimly” finally see him “face to face (1Corinthians 13:12).” I feel in myself, in my comprehension and in my expression of who I know Christ to be, such a weakness to adequately express how great He is.  In fact, I know that I will fall far short of expressing it, and of knowing it.  This is why I eagerly wait until he appears and “we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is (1John 3:2).”  In light of who he is, and what He has done, I want to express that I fear my affections for Him are not near what they should be!  Maybe you can relate to this part of a poem I wrote one night titled “My Pursuits So Frail, His So Furious.”

Mark me with intensity

That in despair I’d thirst for thee

As if this be my last minute of breath

May I desire Him as though His absence meant death. Continue reading

What Is So Valuable That Christ Would Die?

Part 2- To Be Glorified On The Cross By Magnifying God’s Attributes

Colossians 2:9 “For in Him (Jesus) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”

Hebrews 1:3 “He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of His power.”

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, exact in nature like God, and one in perfect unity with God.   The trinity is impossible for us to fully comprehend, but we can accept the vast testimony of scripture that God is one being, existing in three persons. 

When Jesus came, in all that He did, He pointed constantly to the Father.  He validated His own teaching by pointing to the Word of God and by constantly pointing to His being sent from the Father and speaking only that which the Father told Him to speak.  There are several examples of this in the book of John, which show us that Jesus lived His life with His eyes constantly fixed on His Father, God.  Here are only a few of the many scriptures found in the John chapter 8 alone.

John 8:14,16,18,28,42,& 54: “Jesus answered ‘Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going… Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me…I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me…When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me…If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here.  I came not of my own accord but He sent me… If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing.  It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’  But you have not known him.  I know Him.”  (See the whole chapter for the entire context).

So when we see Jesus Christ through the testimony of scripture, we can be sure that we are seeing God Himself.  Therefore in this life there is no experience outside of scripture and no greater vision of God the Father than that which has been displayed in the life and death of Jesus Christ.  Let us not be like Philip was when he said “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us (John 14:8),” but let us fully embrace what Jesus said of himself in response to Philip’s question: “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me (John 14:9-10)?”

So then in Jesus we can see God manifested in flesh.  We can hear His words, and see his emotions, and watch how he responds to the needy, the proud, the religious, to his enemies, and to his friends.  Jesus came to manifest God’s name and to glorify Him, and God through the cross upholds and glorifies His Son for the world to behold.  Father and Son share and work together in mutual glory, each exalting the other.  As Jesus prayed “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.”  Then the Holy Spirit comes and reveals these things to human hearts as stated in John 16:14 “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

Apart from us, and apart from the cross, Father, Son and Holy Spirit would possess all fullness of glory.  It is not as if Jesus needed to die in order to become glorious.  To be fully God is to be possessing fullness of glory through all of eternity.  Jesus, fully God and fully man, for his time on earth laid aside his glory.  That is, though he still possessed glory as being fully God, he did not receive recognition of it, nor demand his rights as God, but rather became a slave (see again Philippians 2:6-8).

Before Christ’s death he prayed for His own glory:  “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”  In John 12:27-28 He prayed that His Father would be glorified through His death:  “Now is my soul troubled.  And what shall I say?  ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  But for this purpose I have come to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.”

Now we have, in Jesus Christ upon the cross, the pinnacle of God’s glory on display.  Now we who have had “the eyes of our hearts enlightened (Ephesians 1:18),” can look upon the cross and see the glorious attributes of God, contradicting everything that is in the darkened heart of man, valiantly opposing the captor of our souls and pouring out love to a world of God haters.  In the cross, the Lord God is magnified beyond what we could possibly conceive, though for eternity we will seek to grasp this cataclysmic event.

In Randy Alcorn’s book “If God is Good, Why is There Suffering and Evil?” he states:  “Grace and forgiveness, both expressions of God’s eternal character, are moral goods, but without evil they wouldn’t have become clearly evident.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit don’t need compassion, mercy, grace, or forgiveness.  These qualities could only be fully expressed to finite and fallen creatures…Some of God’s virtues will forever capture the spotlight that, without evil and suffering’s temporary hold on us, never would have taken the stage.”    I would echo that, and add that at the cross, where Christ drank wrath on the behalf of criminals guilty of the highest treason, you will find the deepest act of mercy history will ever know.  Having set a foundation for this truth, I will go on to try and express the mighty attributes of God that Jesus Christ has magnified by having died in the place of sinners.

(check back to read what i am working on writing- about the love, mercy, and justice of God… and maybe some more attributes too.  I tend to be a bit long winded but there is so much foundational stuff that in my opinion needs to be said).

"Why Does This Generation Seek After A Sign?"

(preface- i wrote this a few years back so I think I was using a version of New King James).

Matthew 12:15-21 “Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there.  And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known.  This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:  “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.  I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.  He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” Continue reading