A New Song

Silence filled the universe. Earth rotated slowly, flying around the sun with the moon; the stars whirled through space, shining brilliantly; and the asteroids dodged here and there: but all was silent.

Even Heaven was silent. The usual shouts of joy and praise for the Almighty that could be heard coming from the dwelling place of God were not heard at the moment.

All eyes were transfixed on the earth. Something was happening.

Earth. So much had happened upon its surfaces since God created the place. God remembered the lovely Garden, where He had perfect relationship with Adam and with Eve. Those were wonderful times; even the Almighty, who was far above His creations, cherished the memory.

But the good time was short. Man rebelled and brought the curse upon all of creation. Generation after generation turned their faces against the Almighty and wandered after their own thoughts and desires. God remembered the frustration that He felt when the Israelites—His chosen people—began worshiping fake gods of wood, silver, and gold. He knew that what they truly longed for could only be found in Himself. He sent prophet after prophet to tell them this, but they only murdered one after the other, and plugged their ears. They did not even attempt to see if what the Almighty said was true.

The humans deserved to die as a penalty for their crimes against God, but He wanted to save them from their penalty of death. So the Almighty had a plan. From the very beginning of the curse, God knew what He would do. The humans did not understand when He sent a flood, but saved them; or when they were slaves, but He freed them. They did not understand the countless times that nations and armies rose up to destroy the People of God, and He defended them by His own might. After all of this, even the people whom the Almighty had specifically chosen to lead the world in righteousness had spurned the loving God. They were blind, very blind. But God wanted the humans to know Him–He wanted them to have peace, which truly only comes from Him. Therefore, the Almighty went to them Himself. He took on the form of their own sinful flesh and demonstrated to them what it meant to commune perfectly with the Father-God. He, the Almighy-in-Flesh, dwelt among them and lived perfectly. He showed them that He was the only Way to peace and the only Truth of Life. And then, since the humans were fallen and completely helpless to save themselves from their own filth, He—the Almighty-in-Flesh—died for them.

And silence filled the universe.

The Almighty-in-Flesh had died. Wicked man had brutally murdered Him and spilled His blood all over their hands.

The earth rotated once.

God’s followers ran and hid from the evil humans: it seemed Evil had triumphed.

The earth rotated twice.

Creation groaned under the curse: its only Hope for restoration had died.

But on the third day a breeze shook space as if Heaven had gasped and a light came forth upon the earth. Everything stopped: the earth, the moon, the stars, the asteroids—even the sun stopped rotating for a moment. But then…

All of creation burst into full song, praising the Almighty with everything they had inside them! The stars whirled through space as fast as they could, letting forth brilliant light and rhythmic sounds because the Almighty had risen! He was alive! Asteroids pounded the planets, and dogs barked; fish swam and birds flew. Evil had not won, but had been conquered! The mountains shook with wonder, and the forests trembled with praise. The oceans roared and the whales turned and splashed and made noises to their Creator. Heaven resumed its music with even greater shouts of joy and louder praises of God’s holiness! Sin would never have to reign over man again; the Almighty had conquered it for all humanity, for He had become human and He had won. Man could worship Him again. God could commune with Adam and with Eve once more. And nobody heard the distant scream of Hell’s defeat because new praises of God resounded from the earth, and the heavens were filled with new songs to the Almighty.

And some day, everything will come together with a clap. The curse will reverse. The generations will sing with adoration. Loved ones will be united. Joy–unadulterated joy–will be restored. And God will dwell with men.

“O sing to the Lord a new song,
For He has done wonderful things,
His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.
The Lord has made known His salvation;
He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His loving kindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.

Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
With the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
Shout joyfully before the King, the Lord.

Let the sea roar and all it contains,
The world and those who dwell in it.

Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy

Before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth;
He will judge the world with righteousness
And the peoples with equity.”

– Psalm 98

C.D.

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Failure or Success?

“I think our entire culture suffers to hear, ‘I love you whether you succeed or not. Whether you’re productive or not. I just love you.’”

– Donald Miller

Success. We all want to be successful, right? Our brains are trained to think that unless we measure up to such-and-such a standard, we will not make it—we will have no value in the world. When a business man invests in a company, he expects good dividends in return. Why would it be any different for a human? When teachers invest time and energy, isn’t it expected that the pupil will grow up and give back to the teacher by benefiting society? If not, either the teacher or the student has failed. If what we invest in does not return benefits to us in any way, it is a failure and not worth our attention. We are Westerners we are born and bred to think this way.

So if Christians do not bear so-called “fruit” (whatever that may be), they are failures right?

Wrong!

“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father” (John 15:8). This is a promise, not a command. If we are Christ’s disciples we WILL bear fruit.

We have a mindset that says if something is a “failure” [that which does not fulfill our human-defined measure of success] it is worthless. This mindset causes us to look for success in others and try to copy it and we are rarely able to do so. We work and work to try to “measure up” to the talents, abilities, or success of others but we can never do good enough. We constantly fail our expectations. Why? Because our standard is falsely based on other individuals’ success, instead of God’s truth.

God created each of us individually and set us on separate paths toward success. Yes, He desires and plans for us to be successful. But what is success? Success is doing what we are expected to do, fulfilling our purposes. If someone is a mail man and he carries mail from place to place, than he is fulfilling his purpose. He is successful.

God made us with a purpose. He originally planned and still plans for us to individually worship and commune with Him. That is what we see with Adam and Eve.

So we have a function—a purpose: God created us to individually worship and commune with Him. This is our goal. This is what we fix our lives on, to fulfill that purpose. Knowing this we no longer need to measure up to the external doings of other people. When we focus on worshiping God we no longer pursue being noticed, or having such-and-such grades, talents, or status. We only pursue Jesus.

So what is failure? It is not failing a test, not getting last place in a competition, not lacking knowledge or experience, not failing in evangelism, not lacking money, or not lacking talent musically, physically, or mentally. Failure is lacking a relationship with Jesus Christ the King of Kings, the Creator, the Lover, the Savior. Jesus said “Remain in me and I will remain in you, for a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me“ (John 15:4). God does not measure our “success” by what we do, but rather by who we are.

Read this carefully:

God created you to worship and commune with Him. When you are a child of God, you are walking a path of worship and communion with God. Therefore if you are a child of God, you are a success in God’s eyes. And when you continue to pursue Him and walk with Him and open up your heart to Him, He finds you more and more successful. No amount of success is too little or too great in His mind, because He loves you and He LOVES when you are successful. It thrills His heart.

Success is not something you can emulate—copy. It is personal and individual and can only happen when you are in Christ.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Salvation is extremely simple, but it is the continued walk that can be hard. Do not worry about what you look like to other people. Focus on God. Discipleship cannot be faked, so don’t try to fake it. Just surrender EVERYTHING you have and are to Jesus—and He will do the rest. This is success.

C.D.

He Loves Me, Yes!

I have found it healthy to now and then go back and remember life: to recall one’s thoughts and actions a couple of days, weeks, months or years ago. This morning I took the time to look back in my journal nearly three months. I came to November 4, 2012 in which I wrote about some personal struggles I was having. About half way through I penned these words: “I just wish I could feel and touch, see and hear Jesus.”

On Monday November 5, 2012, I wrote about what I might say at my brother Asher’s wedding reception on the 10th (which I did not actually say, then). I also described some good experiences we were having in Colorado. Life was relatively normal—even good, I would say.

[Turn the page.]

November 12, 2012: “My life has forever changed.”

I cannot bring myself to read November 12th. I read the first paragraph and realized that every fiber of my being loathes this journal entry, but every fiber of my spirit says that reading it would be healthy. It is like pulling off a bandage for the first time.

My left elbow got all chopped up by glass in the accident and the first gauze bandage that was put on, “healed” itself into the wound. This meant that if I wanted to take the bandage off, the scab had to come off as well. It felt like all the healing had been “undone.” But if I wanted a wound free elbow again, it had to happen.

Or maybe it is better described like my back, which was severely put out-of-place. Apparently the vertebral column is so smart that if put out-of-place, over time it will align itself with gravity so that your head will be straight again, even if your back is still out-of-place. So over November and December my back “fixed” itself and quit hurting. Then I went to the chiropractor and had it adjusted, and the pain was renewed. It is not that the chiropractor gave me a bad adjustment, it is just that my back fixed itself wrong, and it may continually need to be put back in place until the muscles get used to the normal positioning.

So it is with my soul. Over time it has coped and settled with the new reality of the absence of Mom and the grief and pain that accompanies it. But God comes along and, sometimes gently sometimes not—but always perfectly, gives me an adjustment.

Great pain is not something one can just ignore and still remain healthy. If I lightly burn my finger, I can live through the pain and my body will heal itself properly; but if I break my leg, it would be wise to immediately seek medical attention and to continually do so until my leg is fully healed, not necessarily made “normal,” but healed.

God is the Great Physician. It is fun to watch Him “do His thing.” It is not always fun to have him “do His thing” on you, but it is always worth it.

Most of the healing is not done through a grand miracle or a great remedy, but through the slow process of therapy; the process of going back, again and again for adjustments, learning how to walk again, or talk—or love.

So here I am: learning to “walk” again and to trust God. It is easy for me to get lost in the world between the pages of November 5th and November 12th; to wish for life before November 6th happened and to fantasize about how life would be had it not. But I am learning that reality has me in a pool of grief flowing from November 6, 2012. And the amazing thing about reality is that God wants to swim with me in my grief. He does not want to take me outside of the pool and have lemonade. He wants to soak up my grief with me and be there to teach me to swim in the deep parts.

I cannot do this alone. I need God. I need His peace to get me through. I need His love.

His love.  What an amazing thing. If I could only grasp a fraction of it, I would be content. But wait, I do not need to grasp His love. He gives it to me freely, and pours it unrestrained into my heart, and from this truth every lie flees. Because if God—the Almighty, the Holy Judge, the Sovereign King over everything—has given me His love without condition, and has justified me and placed me in Christ who sits at God’s right hand: who is there to condemn me? Who is there to keep me from peace? Who can stop me from being healed? No one, I say, because nothing can separate me from the love of God.

On the morning of Tuesday, November 6, 2012, I again repeated to Jesus those words I had written two days before: “I just want to feel you and touch you, to see you and hear you, Jesus.” Three days later as people filed passed my family after attending my Mom’s funeral, I realized that every single day since the 6th I had felt and touched, seen and heard Jesus in an amazingly wonderful and terrible way; because I had felt, touched, seen, and heard the Body of Christ.

He listened to me! And in a weird way, He used tragedy as an answer to my prayer. Yes. Yes! YES! He loves me!

It is because of this love that I can keep pressing forward (although I need daily reminders). It is the assurance of Christ’s affection for me that gives me hope, because I know that all things work together for good to them that love God. Why? Because He loves us.

The Love of God

Frederick Martin Lehman
MercyMe: The Love of God [open in separate tap]

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell;

It goes beyond the highest star,

And reaches to the lowest hell;

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,

God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled,

And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,

And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,

When men, who here refuse to pray,

On rocks and hills and mountains call,

God’s love so sure, shall still endure,

All measureless and strong;

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race

The saints’ and angels’ song.

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints’ and angels’ song.

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.

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints’ and angels’ song.

C.D.