know

I want to know you,
To know as I am known.
I want to find you,
To show what I’ve been shown.
I want to sense you,
Feel your caress against my face.
I want to recognize you,
And bless others with your grace.
I want to identify with you,
To join you in your death.
I want to feel you,
So I can be your Spirit’s breath.
I want to know you
In the power of your resurrection.
I want to be yours
And continue your insurrection.

walk in love

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 4.31-5.2 ESV).

search

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
   Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting!

(Psalm 139.23-24 ESV)

This is a great prayer. No matter what I’m going through, this is a fitting prayer. And isn’t it interesting that this appeal for God to search David follows his prayer against his enemies? In verses 19 through 22 read:

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
   O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
   your enemies take your name in vain!
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
   And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
   I count them my enemies.

It’s almost as if David, in praying a curse upon the enemies of God, who were then his enemies, stopped and asked the Lord to search out the motives of his heart for asking for such calamity to fall upon a fellow human being. Now I know that the Psalms and the rest of the Old Testament are full of similar verses and stories. I know these are not isolated verses. But part of me wonders if David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13.22) checked himself before he went off on his enemies. 

There is a vein of Christianity today that is more concerned about being right than it is about being Christlike. These religious people find it easy to separate themselves from “evil” men. And so they are able to label those who do not follow their way as enemies of God, and so therefore their enemies as well. So they use verbiage that is hateful and spiteful and even damning when they speak of these enemies.

But part of me wonders if they’ve ever followed David‘s train of thought in this Psalm. Have they ever, in their passionate and zealous prayers against their enemies, stopped and asked the Lord to search them and try them and show them the wickedness that is within them.

When I catch a glimpse of God’s boundless grace in my life, I must extend grace to you. When I see just a portion of the things for which my God is forgiving me, I must forgive you. When I realize just a hint of the ceaseless mercy that is pouring upon me from my Lord, I must be merciful to you.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Matt. 5.44-45 and Luke 6.27-28 ESV).

Lord help.

known

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
   and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
   behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
   and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
   it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
   Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
   If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
   and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
   and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
   and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
   the night is bright as the day,
   for darkness is as light with you.

(Psalm 139.1-12 ESV)

At first glance, and depending on where my heart is, this can be an intimidating Psalm. No matter what I do, no matter where I go, I cannot escape the watchful eye of God. I may be able to fool you, but God always sees the motives behind my actions. He is not fooled.

And yet, as I meditate on these truths, I find them strangely comforting. Sometimes playing the part of a Christian can be wearying. But with God, I don’t have to be a Christian. I am in Christ. So I’m His son. I’m His friend. I’m His beloved. So I don’t have to do; I can just be.

I love how David writes in verse 7 of this Psalm, “…where shall I flee from your presence?” There have been times, more times than I can count, where I have fled from the presence of my God. And then David points out that even in the very place of my wandering, God’s “hand will lead me, and [His] right hand shall hold me” (v.10).

This interaction with God then directly affects my interaction with you. If I’ve truly come to the place where nothing I do or think or say is hidden from my God, and He still loves me and leads me and holds me and keeps me and nurtures me, then I should not be hiding things from you. I have nothing to lose. My very soul is in safe-keeping with my Redeemer. So my reputation or status or character cannot be marred. In fact, my character before man is going to shine forth when I am as real with you as I am before my God who sees all and still loves.

I have nothing to lose.

So if you sense that I’m playing the part of a Christian and not being real with you, please ask me what I’m hiding. And don’t believe me when I reply, “Nothing.”

risen

Jesus the crucified one,
God’s only begotten Son,
Laid in a borrowed tomb,
Wrapped in inglorious gloom,
A ministry’s lifetime undone.

Until the third day’s morn,
Death’s strong grip was torn,
And He rose from the grave,
Living to seek and to save,
The forsaken and forlorn.

In His victory, we win,
So those trapped in shame and sin,
Find in resurrecting grace,
Dearth and death are replaced
By a lifetime of love in Him.

pierced

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

   “They divided my garments among them,
   and for my clothing they cast lots.”    

So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness— his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth— that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

(John 19.16-42 ESV)