Remember now the darkness of those three long days before
The dawning of the day of resurrection,
For few have felt the fear of thinking God had lost the war.
The shadow of his people’s insurrection
Now loomed across the future. Now our hope seemed spent and slain.
The light of life appeared to be extinguished.
The ones who sang his praises now in shock sang no refrain.
His life, howe’er, was willingly relinquished.
What seemed to be a sure defeat was fixed before the fall.
The devil’s darkest scheme was his undoing.
As Christ was lifted up, he drew all men to heed his call.
He drained the cup of wrath our sin was brewing.
The bitter silence of that Sabbath day must have been great.
Unheard, Satan’s presumpt’ous celebration.
When was it Satan realized the cross had sealed his fate?
The slaughtered lamb became our faith’s foundation.
We now look back in wonder at this work in history
And sing with joy to God who reigns eternal.
The cornerstone came forth again in holy victory
O’er ev’ry sin, the mean and the infernal.
The resurrection of the Son secured our joy and peace.
No enemy can sabotage or sever
Us from the Father’s love. In him, sin’s slavery must cease.
Sing praise, his people, now and to forever.
Photo by Ricky Turner on Unsplash
I watched The Exorcist in high school. While I watched movies often in those days, especially action/adventure movies and comedies, I hadn’t yet explored much in the realm of horror. The movie left an impression on me that remains to this day, though not because the movie itself scared me. No, I remember The Exorcist because, around the viewing of the film, I was told stories of real life events that inspired parts of the story. The story of The Exorcist forced me to recognize the reality of spiritual warfare, the existence of actual demons. The film reminded me that we face a very real, very evil enemy.
I wonder what went through John’s mind as he sat in prison. He’d answered the call of the Lord in the wilderness, proclaiming the kingdom of God and baptizing the repentant (Luke 3:1-22). He’d prepared the way for the Messiah, introducing the Christ at the beginning of Jesus’s earthly ministry (John 1:29-36). He’d faithfully stood for righteousness in the face of Herod’s immorality (Matthew 14:4). And yet he found himself imprisoned. The crowds he once taught left him to follow Jesus (John 3:26). While John found joy in humbly playing his role in the bridegroom’s story (John 3:27-30), he seems to have struggled with doubt while in prison, for he sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask an important question.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Presence can make the act of sitting through a terrifying movie more bearable. Presence can make a nervous child more courageous. Presence can strengthen and encourage in powerful ways.
Presence can also cause a tempted eye to avoid the glance. Presence can make a child who’s considering disobedience choose to obey. Presence can remind and convict in powerful ways.
I don’t have it all together.
People enjoy fighting. Continue reading
I gave more thought to Easter this year than I have in previous years, and I believe that art played a major role in helping me to focus and to feel.
Father, let me ne’er forget the story
Of the cross, the tomb, the third day’s glory.
For after those four hundred years so long,
Elijah’s call was heard throughout the land.
“The kingdom comes! Repent! Make straight the way!”
And with his words, John pointed to the Word,
The spotless lamb of God, the virgin’s son,
The heir to David’s throne, the promised one.
He brought us peace yet also brought a sword;
The people were divided in that day.
They cried. He died. They did not understand.
He rose, and this is evermore our song:
The king has won the war we could not fight;
The darkness has not overcome the light.
Photo by Laura Vinck on Unsplash
Some seasons of life bring immense spiritual growth. Your heart burns within you as you learn new things about the Lord, about yourself, and about your place in his kingdom, and you likely will remember the lessons for years afterward. But other seasons of life bring feelings of stagnation and coldness. You desire growth, but you can’t seem to detect any progress in your journey with the Lord. I think I’m currently in the latter season. Continue reading
A friend of mine recently asked me how we ought to address the issue of spiritual immaturity among young believers. He noticed that many our age have shallow understandings of theology and possess little maturity in the things of God, and he wondered how we can help people to grow when adolescence appears to have such a firm hold on our generation. His question grows more pressing when I consider my own heart and find the same tendencies and deficiencies in myself. So how do we grow in godliness? How do we ourselves grow more mature in the faith and more biblically and theologically grounded? And how do we lead others to follow our example? Below are a few thoughts that I pray will help us along that road.