‘It is finished’

You are encouraged to find a few quiet moments
to meditate today, Good Friday,
on the death of Christ as visited by the song “Tetelastai,”
graciously donated to us by our good friend Paul Clark.
Click on the picture to listen to the song.
Headphones will greatly enhance the quality of the experience.Jesus asked us to remember His death until He returns,
and surely today is an important day to do that. 
cross1

Tetelastai
(“It is finished”)

By Paul Clark

I was sold and betrayed in Gethsemane
Not for gold, but prepaid by the enemies deal
For the Potter’s field
I was silent and drug in a hurry to a midnight trial
where the judge and the jury all screamed, “He blasphemes.”
Hear them cry, “Crucify Him.”
I was spat on and mocked by their words of scorn,
Wooden bats cracked my skull,
Then, my head was adorned with a crown of thorns
I was scourged, I was bruised, I was beaten
And, now they’ve nailed both my hands, and my feet
To a cross here on Golgotha
Hear them cry, “Crucify Him.”
Father forgive them they know not what they do”
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani”
(“My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?”)
Now the darkness has fallen, the time has come
Not My will Father, but, let Thy will be done
“Woman, here is your son”
“I thirst”
“Tetelastai”

 Minstrel’s Voyage Music / ASCAP 2007

cross2

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 8 Comments

Getting into the winners’ circle

He walked aboard ship he was runnin’ awayth
A storm hit the harbor and they started to pray
And Jonah said “Please throw me into the spray”
But he came out a winner

Losin’ is winnin’ if it turns you around
It all looks clearer when you’re close to the ground
If you know you’re lost then you can be found
And you walk out a winner

She walked in the room and she looked out of place
Anointing his feet from an alabaster vase
Salted with bitter tears that fell from her face \
And He called her a winner

He fell up the hill with the cross on His back
“The King of the Jews” was the name on the plaque
They drove the nails and the sky turned black
But He walked out a winner

This is not just a song for the bad times – something to cheer you up when things get rough. Nor is it a song for those people who have had a particularly bad lot in life – born into poverty or abuse. Nor is it a song for those who have tried and failed, gambled and lost. Nor is it a song just about Jesus – what He has done for us that we don’t have to do. It is a song about a spiritual reality that is true for every single one of us, and if it is not, then we have not gotten very far on our spiritual journey into Christ.

In his book, Maximum Faith, George Barna has uncovered, through researching the Bible and people’s experience of God, ten stops on a spiritual journey to a truly transformed life that are common to us all. They are not steps achieved, as much as they are stops on our journey, where we can mark certain realities in our experience of faith and our enjoyment of fulfillment and the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In his research, Barna discovered that the vast majority of Christians in America’s churches have not ventured much beyond stop five, and most are languishing around stops three and four. The one stop that was common to all who were experiencing God and being used by Him on a regular basis was stop seven, and only a relatively small percentage of church goers knew anything about it.

Step seven is “Brokenness.”

In his own words, Barna says: “As an important albeit difficult stop on the journey, brokenness enables us to get beyond ourselves and recognize our need for God’s complete, continuing and uninterrupted intervention in our life. For us to become the people God intends us to be, brokenness is not an optional possibility; it is a necessity.”

Brokenness is having our eyes opened to the truth about ourselves that we tend to want to avoid. That truth is the fact that we are all losers, all sinners, all needy, all broken. The difference being those who embrace this and those who fight it, deny it or cover it up.

Jesus had to go to the cross. If He hadn’t, no one would have been saved. In a point of human weakness and struggle, He prayed that He might get out of going to the cross – that there might be another way to save humanity – but there was not.

We can pray and ask God if there might be another way to a transformed life other than by way of our own cross of brokenness, but in the end, there is not. As one of my spiritual mentors, Ray Stedman, used to say, “Resurrection power only works in graveyards.”

As we celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection this Easter weekend, let’s be aware of our own losses, our own lostness, our own brokenness, and the wonderful path to God’s love and provision that it supplies. Easter is for losers who know about the path Jesus took – the same path they take, over and over again, to find their place in the winners’ circle.

Losin’ is winnin’ if it turns you around
It all looks clearer when you’re close to the ground
If you know you’re lost, then you can be found
And you walk out a winner

Click here to listen to listen to George Barna talk about brokenness.

Click here to listen to and/or download Losin’ is Winnin’.

 
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

The dance goes on

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life-only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. (John 10:17-18)

Lord of the Dance
Words by Sydney Carter

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun
I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth

Dance dance wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the dance said He
And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be
And I’ll lead you all in the dance said He

I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee
But they would not dance and they wouldn’t follow me
I danced for the fishermen for James and John
They came with me and the dance went on

I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame
They whipped and they stripped and they hung me high
They left me there on a cross to die

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back

It’s hard to dance with the sins of the whole world pressing in on you. It’s hard to dance when you’ve been abandoned by everyone, including your own Father with whom you dreamed up this crazy world and created it out of nothing. It’s hard to dance when all evil is laughing and spitting in your face. It’s hard to dance with disbelief all around you. It’s hard to dance when the people who placed all their hope in you are looking up at you with such hopelessness. It’s hard to dance when you’re hanging on a cross.

They buried my body and they thought I’d gone

That was the darkest hour of all. Dead, buried and sealed up – even guarded – lest someone steal the body and start some cockamamie rumor about a resurrection.

But I am the Dance and I still go on

But the dance went on anyway. He danced through death. He danced into hell and back out of it. He danced on His own grave. He danced the devil right off His back! He is the dance, and the dance goes on!

Truth of the matter … the dance never stopped.

No one took Jesus’ life from Him; He gave it up of His own accord, and because He gave it up, He can pick it up again. Satan doesn’t even get that little triumph. Satan didn’t take His life; Jesus laid it down, and picked it back up again. He has authority to do both.

Jesus wasn’t hanging on the cross waiting for death to overtake Him. He was in charge the whole way. When He said “It is finished,” it’s because it was.

And as far as the dance goes, He didn’t skip a beat.

They cut me down but I leapt up high
I am the life that will never never die
I’ll live in you if you live in me
I am the Lord of the dance said He

Dance dance wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the dance, said He
And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be
And I’ll lead you all in the dance said He

He is the dance, and He still goes on!

Click here to listen to and download the song for free.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 13 Comments

Born to die

Dark clouds hide the sunlit sky
In the barn a baby cries
Does he know he’s born to die?
Rest now while your trials are few
Only your Father knows why

He was not a mighty kingth-7
He could make a hammer ring
Touch a heart and make it sing
His hands were the hands of strength
Hands that would pull men free

Bright sun tanned his weathered face
Dusty were the roads he traced
Spreading news of love and grace
Binding the broken heart
Soothing the sorrow-torn face

Dark clouds hide the sunlit sky
In the town a baby cries
On a hill a Savior dies
Dies of his own free will
He can tell you why
- from the song “Born to Die,” by John Fischer

As we begin Easter week, a word about Christmas. Of course there never would be Easter without it. There never would have been a cross without a manger. There never would have been a Savior without a baby. There never would have been a death without a birth … and what a birth it was.

Humble. In a town barely on the map. Laid in a feeding trough, serenaded by a cacophony of barnyard sounds. Uneventful, except for a handful of lowly shepherds who did witness a few hundred thousand angels, but who’s going to believe that? And the only royalty who attended were a few kings from the East, and we’re pretty sure they were a little late, by a couple of years, most likely.

Who but God would have done it like this? And I say that not because I know God that well, but because no human being would have conceived of a king born this way. Nor would any human conceive of a king living this way either, without a home, with little or no funding, where the only thing he owns is the shirt on his back.

And who were the people that got it — that heard his message and believed it? They were the poorest of the poor, the lepers and outcasts, the worst of sinners — the smelly, dirty band of ragamuffins who followed Jesus everywhere, except when he needed them the most. That’s when they all deserted him, and most of them were pretty bewildered about all the talk of a resurrection three days later.

These were simple folk — these were not theology students — and it was a simple plan.

The first man and woman sinned, and an animal had to be sacrificed to cover their shame. Now, if God would save the race, a human being had to die to cover the nakedness of the world — someone who could not only pay the sacrifice, but rise again and conquer death forever. That would be God’s only begotten Son, Jesus, born of a human virgin, whose seed came from God — a second Adam, first of a new strain of humanity with God as their real Father.

Now isn’t that simply brilliant? It’s the self-evident proof of the truth of the gospel story.  Who else but God could have thought of this?

lsbtr

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 6 Comments

Simply brilliant

Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone. – Albert Einstein

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. – Jesus (Matthew 19:14)

Plant physiology: brilliant

Plant physiology: brilliant

This statement by Albert Einstein applies to the gospel as well as to science. Indeed, all truth can be described this way. A scholar can dedicate her life to studying all the ramifications of what a child can fundamentally grasp. This is why Jesus always singled out the children who came to Him as having an inside track on what many of us as grownups may have forgotten. Woe to those who complicate the truth.

Knowledge is often thought of as intellectual property that makes you wiser the more you know, but real wisdom is truth embraced and applied, not information amassed. An adult has to prove what a child can believe; indeed, an adult may not be able to prove what a child can believe because it comes by faith, not by intellect. We need to pay more attention to children and to our own hearts.

We recently planted some new flowering plants in our garden. Now, you can study botany and understand plant physiology and all the components of photosynthesis, and you can also appreciate the color and beauty of a flower and understand it takes sun and water to grow.

Flower garden: simple

Flower garden: simple

The same is true for theology and knowing God. You can know so much about God that you don’t really know God at all. You can write volumes of books on God and not know how to simply hear Him or talk to Him.

The simply brilliant truth is that the almighty God has made Himself known to us, His children. He has spoken and He moves in our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit. He prays for us in words we can’t even utter. He is knowable, and a small child will most likely know more about that than an adult.

The fundamental truth of the gospel is essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone. This is why we can take the Gospel of Welcome anywhere. Even if the spoken language and/or cultural language may be foreign, there is a language of the Spirit that is comprehensible to everyone, everywhere. The Gospel of Welcome is universal wherever there are human beings … and that’s simply brilliant.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 5 Comments

Simple; Brilliant

SIMPLE:th-3

It’s all about Jesus.

Love God and your neighbor.

Go and make disciples.

The Holy Spirit will give you words to say when it’s time.

God is love.

Love is of God.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Consider others as more important than yourself.

Choose the lesser place.

Confess your sins to each other.

Pray for each other.

We are Christ’s ambassadors.

We are the sheep of His pastures.

He is our Shepherd.

We are made in God’s image to glorify Him (and enjoy Him forever).

Seek and you will find.

Ask and it will be given to you.

Knock and the door will be opened.

Jesus died for all.

“Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.”

Put off the old; put on the new.

If you have no sin, you can judge; otherwise, don’t.

Walk in the Spirit.

BRILLIANT:th-2

It’s all about Jesus.

Love God and your neighbor.

Go and make disciples.

The Holy Spirit will give you words to say when it’s time.

God is love.

Love is of God.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Consider others as more important than yourself.

Choose the lesser place.

Confess your sins to each other.

Pray for each other.

We are Christ’s ambassadors.

We are the sheep of His pastures.

He is our Shepherd.

We are made in God’s image to glorify Him (and enjoy Him forever).

Seek and you will find.

Ask and it will be given to you.

Knock and the door will be opened.

Jesus died for all.

“Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.”

Put off the old; put on the new.

If you have no sin, you can judge; otherwise, don’t.

Walk in the Spirit.

lsbtr

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 5 Comments

Simple and brilliant

There may be many questionsth-1
That you’d like to answer somehow
All things will be shown someday
But you can’t know all things now

But if you drain yourself
Of all your little fears
You might restore yourself
By letting go the tears

Think about what Jesus said
Before you let your mind reject Him
Listen to your heart instead
And you will accept Him
- Love Song

Those of you who looked at the Jesus People video from 1972 I referred to yesterday for the scene at UC Berkeley’s “public square,” might have noticed this song at the beginning of the film, sung by the early Jesus music group, Love Song. In its gentle way, this song reached out to people with the gospel in a tender musical embodiment of 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect …”

There is a simplicity to the gospel that reaches people at a deep level — at the level of the Spirit. With songs like this one and “Welcome Back,” Love Song was able to reach into people’s hearts and pull them to Jesus. It wasn’t judgment, it wasn’t hellfire and brimstone, it wasn’t “turn or burn,” it was a reasonable request — an invitation to use your mind and your heart to consider the offer of salvation Jesus brings.

The opening lines of the chorus present an oxymoron: “Think about what Jesus said
before you let your mind reject Him.” Think about what Jesus said, but not too much. If you think about it too much, you might reject it. Listen with your heart instead of your head, and you will be more likely to hear the truth. It’s about hearing with your heart. Your heart can accept the simplicity of the truth; your head might complicate the issue.

Mind you, these guys were barely Christians themselves when they were writing songs like this. They were downloading this stuff from the Holy Spirit. I’m sorry, but I knew them then, and they were not all that smart about theology and the Bible. They were smart in the Spirit, and that’s why they kept it simple.

At the same time, there were people like Francis Schaeffer and Os Guinness who were traveling the deepest, darkest canyons of their minds in order to hold biblical truth up to the scrutiny of modern thought and philosophy. As Os shared in our interview this week, there was a widespread hunger for knowledge, truth and the meaning in life. “It’s impossible to capture the excitement of the whole scene — people hitchhiking, searching, reading, arguing, discussing, smoking pot, whatever. You could go to a crossroads in Europe and one person would be with a backpack reading Nietzsche, another C.S. Lewis, another Siddhartha — swapping books and recommending where they go next — and you had this incredibly stimulating discussion almost round the clock.” And, as Os went on to point out, many traveled to Switzerland because they had heard there was a man there who was linking modern philosophy, biblical truth, and the same Holy Spirit by which Love Song was warning people about thinking too much.

What do we have here if we don’t have a gospel and a Holy Spirit that can translate it to the simple-minded — past the mind and straight to the heart — but that speaks also to the brilliant minds of any age and the intellectually curious?

But at the same time, Os Guinness, with his brilliant mind and his sweeping understanding of history and the movements of God in the world, would also resonate totally with Love Song, and their admonition to…

Think about what Jesus said
Before you let your mind reject Him
Listen to your heart instead
And you will accept Him.

This is the gospel … simple, and brilliant, all at the same time. This is one of the reasons why I love God so much.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 7 Comments