Archive for April, 2013

David Wilcox’s “Deeper Still” and the Gospel

April 25, 2013

David Wilcox, a folk singer/songwriter from Asheville, NC, is one of my favorite artists. Though I don’t know his personal spiritual commitments, many of his songs have redemptive themes. This is one of them.
“Deeper Still” (written with Beth Nielsen-Chapman)
In the tears you gave to me, I found a river to an ocean
A concrete sky, and a stone-cold sea; I came to where the emptiness cracked open.
And all my fears came crashing through, and met the fire of my sorrow;
But I found my strength in forgiving you; I never even dreamed how far my heart could go.
To give my life beyond each death from this deeper well of trust; to know that when there’s nothing left,
You will always have what you gave to love.
In this life, the love you give becomes your only lasting treasure.
And what you lose will be what you win, a well that echoes down too deep to measure.
A silver coin rings down that well; you could never spend too much.
A diamond echoes deeper still; and you’ll always have what you gave to love.

What is significant to me about this song is that it affirms what author Timothy Keller has said about forgiveness–it is a loss. There is no way to forgive except by taking that loss. Forgiveness is dying to the right to hold that wrong that you’ve suffered over the person who wronged you. That’s what makes it so hard, and what is so counter-intuitive about it. But the most significant statement in the song is the phrase, “what you lose will be what you win…you’ll always have what you gave to love.” Even when we love and are hurt, though we might think we have lost, we actually win. We win because we have loved. And the love that we give to others, though it may be abused and even rejected, is always ours because we have been changed by that love. When we love, we reflect God because God is love. And even when the love (from him) that we share is spurned, we are held by his love that enables us to love in the first place. Don’t fall into the trap that withholds love because of past hurts. It’s the lie of the Evil One. Love as Christ, who gave his life in love for a most unloving and selfish people, did not only as our example but as our enabling Lover. It will all make sense in the end (Rev. 21).
sdg

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Thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombing

April 24, 2013

Last week the city of Boston, and really the entire country indirectly, experienced for the first time since 9/11 what for much of the rest of the world is a common occurrence. Terrorists plotted and carried out an attack designed to kill or maim large numbers of innocent people. They succeeded in that goal to a certain degree. There are families who will never see their loved ones again in this life. There are people whose lives will never be the same. The terrorists also intended to spread fear and panic amongst the people of Boston. Terrorists of all kinds want to disrupt “life as usual” and cause people to live in fear. The marathon bombers, in my view, failed miserably in that second goal. The people of Boston came together immediately and, amidst acts of cowardice, demonstrated self-sacrifice, heroism and an understanding of human dignity. The most striking image was that of a man with a cowboy hat who, having already lost one son to combat in Iraq and a second son to suicide as a result of depression over his brother’s death, was at the marathon when the bomb went off. He jumped two fences and, coming across a man whose legs had been blown off, picked him up and found him a wheelchair. As he wheeled the victim to safety, the rescuer, found a major artery that had been severed and literally pinched it off between his fingers, saving the man’s life. That was just one example among dozens or maybe hundreds of other stories. Other cities and countries showed their support. The crowd at a Bruins hockey game sang the national anthem with a passion that would not have happened without this tragedy. (Yankee fans even sang “Sweet Caroline”–you know they’ve always wanted a good excuse to do that). In other words, many of the evil intentions of the terrorists were not fulfilled. In fact, their actions had the opposite effect. Evil actions always do, because evil is at its root stupid. I’m not saying that those who carry out evil are sub-intelligent. I’m saying that evil is rooted in deception, and evildoers become deceived by their own twisted minds. The apostle Paul tells us that in 2 Timothy 3:13 when he says that people will “go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Though it sounds like a depressing prognosis for our world, paradoxically it is in that truth that our hope amidst all of the tragedy of this past week is found. Ultimately, the Biblical principle of the image of God in man and, even more so, the Christian gospel of Christ’s sacrifice for sinful people is the basis of the heroic actions of last week. These truths tell us that, though people’s nature is corrupted by sin, there is hope of redemption. And even in a sin-distorted world, the image of God is still reflected in the people he created. No terrorist can change that.
sdg

Midweek Meditation

April 3, 2013

As I mentioned the book in my sermon on Sunday, I thought I would share a quote from Rosaria Butterfield’s memoir here as well as a review I wrote for the Granite State Reformed Ministers’ Fellowship last week. If you weren’t able to join us for our book discussion last month, it might prompt you to want to read the book or encourage you in some way. On pp. 124-5, speaking out of she and her husband’s joyful and painful experiences in foster care and adoption, Rosaria writes:
“When we read in the book of Romans, ‘And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are
the called according to his purpose’ (8:28), we are not to be Pollyanna about this. Many of the “things” we will face come with the razor edges of a
fallen and broken world. You can’t play poker with God’s mercy–if you want the sweet mercy then you must also swallow the bitter mercy. And what is
the difference between sweet and bitter? Only this: your critical perspective, your worldview. One of God’s greatest gifts is the ability to see and
appreciate the world from points of view foreign to your own, points of view that exceed your personal experience. That is what it means to me to
grow in Christ–to exceed myself as I stretch to him.”
Know that the stretching that you are currently experiencing is God’s powerful and painful call to rest in him and cast your cares on him, for he cares for you.

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