how he loves

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And O how He loves us, oh,
O how He loves us,
How He loves us all

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes.
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest.
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way

O how He loves us, oh,
O how He loves us,
How He loves us all.

Yeah He loves us,
O how He loves us,
O how He loves us,
O how He loves.

David Crowder

christmas bells

My favorite Christmas carol is “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” But a close second is this one based on a Longfellow poem. I was reminded of it recently by some fellow missionaries.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, 
A chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

                                            (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1863)

So may you rejoice in this season of remembering the first advent of our soon-returning King.

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).

boasting

Last night, at our weekly worship service, one of our worship leaders was praying for our pastor just before he got up to preach. In the prayer, he said that our pastor would boast about our God. I thought that was really cool. When we speak about God and His hand in our lives, we are actually boasting about Him. Maybe that’s why I love testimonies so much. People from the congregation with no public speaking skills get up and boast about what God is doing in their lives.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (I Corin. 1.26-31 NIV)

And when we do this, we are actually boasting about our own weakness. For we know that apart from the matchless grace of God, we would be less than nothing.

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (II Corin. 11.30)

honest doubt

“Perplext in faith, but pure in deeds,
     At last he beat his music out.
     There lives more faith in honest doubt,
Believe me, than in half the creeds.

He fought his doubt and gather’d strength,
     He would not make his judgment blind,
     He faced the spectres of the mind
And laid them; thus he came at length

To find a stronger faith his own.
     And Power was with him in the night,
     Which makes the darkness and the light,
And dwells not in the light alone.”

                                                         Alfred Tennyson
                                                         In Memoriam (from verse XCVI)

believe

This afternoon, we had a combined service at a nearby church. We sang some songs of worship and praise. And then we had an open mic for people to share what Christ is doing in their lives. These types of unscripted testimonies are some of my favorite things about following Christ.

One gentleman stood up. It was obvious that he was not a public-speaker. But he clearly spoke of the love of Christ in his life manifest through our church body. Just this past year, he surrendered his life to Christ. And he made a profound statement that bears repeating.

“I didn’t used to believe in Christ. Now He is all I believe in.”

That definitely falls into the category of good stuff.