I’ve always been a bit fascinated with fear. When I was little, when the mildest frights could send me running, I still looked forward to October and to Halloween, the decorations, the costumes, and the spooky movies on the Disney channel each captivating my interest. In literature, I loved reading Edgar Allan Poe with his mastery of the macabre. Even in Batman cartoons and video games, I found myself enjoying the stories with Scarecrow more than the stories with many of the other villains. Fear, in a way, has been a lifelong interest. Continue reading
Deepen my convictions, Lord of heaven and of hell.
Quench my thirst with living water from the one, true well.
Let not my devotion be a mere religious act.
Let me learn to love you as a person, more than fact.
Tether me, O Trinity, to truth as unto air.
Marry truth to holiness and make my dwelling there.
Purge me of impurity, from all unrighteousness.
Privatize my worship. Let me work to serve, to bless.
Capture my imagination, my creator God.
Cultivate a true commitment kept by law and rod.
Let my life, in ev’ry aspect, be as unto thee
As I learn to walk with you for all eternity.
Make me more like you and less like me.
Or rather, make me more the me
That you created me to be.
Help me, when I look at me, to see
The image of your son whose blood
Was shed to set this captive free.
He, the perfect paragon, oh he
Has overcome the curse of death,
Has brought to man a saving breath.
No one else can satisfy but thee.
You call to us with holy roar.
We worship you forevermore.
In high school and college, I saw a number of people set boundaries on their lives for the sake of holiness and purity. Friends of mine would declare a “Facebook fast” and would deactivate their accounts for months at a time, citing their need to strengthen a relationship with God as the motivation to abstain. Other friends would declare a year of singleness, determining not to date for twelve months in order to refocus on the Lord. Others set boundaries on existing relationships (“we will not be alone in a bedroom together”; “we will not hang out past 11:00 pm unless others are present”; “we will not kiss until marriage”). At the outset, hopes were high for the excited individuals, each one intent on drawing nearer to God. But not every promise produced the desired result, and not every pledge proved effective.
Sometimes, we don’t realize how much God has worked in our lives until we reflect over a period of time. Last night, I pulled out my journals and looked at my journey through the notes I kept. Between that and some general reflection, here are some lessons I learned in 2016. Continue reading
I wonder whether I am growing here,
Or whether I am day by day the same.
I bow before his Spirit showing fear
While sin is showing me the way to shame.
Surrendering to sanctifying love,
I seek to know you by your book of truth.
Appearing as a heart defying dove,
You help my heart ‘scape ev’ry hook of youth.
Yet still I wonder, God of glory bright,
How can I know that you are here to stay
When messages of gospel music fight
To work their way in to my ear of clay?
Might I gain access to your kingdom then?
To find the ev’dence, I must look within.
God, guide your Word like a sword for my reckoning,
Wrecking all hopes in my heart for this waste.
Cut to the quick for the purpose of quickening
Works of your Spirit to sever the sickening
Sludge that I sought in my haste.
Clauses like claws are accustomed to scratch away
Any remainder of wretchedness here.
Tear away sin and, in so doing, tear a way
Through the commotion that coaxes my heart astray
Till I have learned how to fear.
Let ev’ry phrase of your holy book break my heart
For ev’ry way I dishonor your name.
Never relent; pierce my soul from the very start
Till I reflect your resplendence with ev’ry part,
Living as proof of your claim.
O Father, I shudder with ev’ry affliction.
The day seems far dimmer than ever before.
Man is corrupted by sin’s contradiction.
The depths of depravity darken my door.
I know of no road to escape this great testing.
The cries and the chaos do threaten demise.
Sickness and sorrow are my heart arresting,
But within this furnace is found a great prize.
The treasures of tragedy truly perplex me:
I sought not a one, yet I value them all.
Verily does this perplexity vex me,
But ne’er would I waste e’en a drop of this gall.
I wish to be rid of this cup so revolting.
God, with ev’ry draught, I am drinking in death.
Yet you have suffered a far worse assaulting,
And yet you are with me with every breath.
You sanctify me through the seasons of suff’ring.
When all else around me gives way, you remain.
God, ‘gainst the enemy, you are my buff’ring,
And you will redeem ev’ry moment of pain.
Frodo could not have made it to Mount Doom without the help of the fellowship. Sure, he wasn’t completely helpless on his own; he showed surprising resilience and courage throughout the journey. In fact, the strength of hobbits continually surprised the peoples of Middle Earth throughout the story of The Lord of the Rings. But the truth remains that the fellowship, that band of nine commissioned to carry the ring of power to its destruction, were crucial to Frodo’s success. The fellowship challenged Frodo to grow beyond what he had once thought possible for himself, and, because of their influence, he was able to complete his mission. Continue reading
Why do we find such follies fun
And magnify the madness?
The filth from which we ought to run
Fills us with giddy gladness.
So should we not expect to find
That love for God is lacking?
And in the church we are not kind
But are ourselves attacking?
Oh can we not reject the dross
And seek sanctification?
Do not, for “fun,” reject the cross
Nor bask in your damnation.
For Christ has saved our souls from sin
That we might sin no longer.
Embrace his grace, his nail pierced skin,
And in his love grow stronger.