Friday, December 25, 2009

baby Jesus

it's christmas eve (well it's technically christmas, but since i haven't gone to bed and woken up, it's still christmas eve to me). anyway, this is totally irrelevant.

i was at church tonight at the christmas eve service, and one of the songs speculated regarding why Jesus came to earth as a baby. i don't remember the precise words of the song, but the reasoning put forth was something resembling the thought that Jesus came as a baby so that perhaps we could relate to him better. while this is an interesting thought, it seems lacking to me. i sat in the pew for a while pondering why i didn't like the message of the song. and here's what i've come up with...

it's not so much about our needing to relate to helpless baby Jesus, but more about His need (or perhaps desire is a better word) to exhibit total and complete humility. i mean, if you're God, what is more humiliating than coming to a marred, depraved planet and putting yourself in the position of having two marred, depraved humans responsible for providing for your EVERY need? seriously, from the beginning mary and joseph didn't do such a hot job...a feeding trough for a bed? ;-) and then to come not only as a human, but a helpless human who pretty much eats, sleeps, cries, and poops.

so of course, in a way there is a message here for people. Jesus can relate to us because he has been where we are, even the helpless baby state.

but it's more than that - i think Jesus' paying for the seriousness of our depravity required His being totally humiliated. our sin nature is SO BAD that not only did Jesus have to die, he had to be willing to humble himself. philippians 2:8 states, "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross." SO Jesus' status as a human (especially a baby human) naturally entailed His humbling Himself. Jesus' humbling Himself seems to be of great importance in the way He lived and the way He died, and subsequently His ability to offer a sacrifice sufficient for human salvation.

so why BABY Jesus? because BABY Jesus was completely humble and humiliated. and SAVIOR Jesus was completely humble and humiliated. and because of that, i am forgiven.

what a merry christmas indeed! IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US is here, alive, once humiliated, now exalted, an acceptable substitution for my guilt.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

God's glory vs. worldly advice

as many of you already know, i got engaged last week! i still don't think this news has totally sunk in, but i'm sure it will become more normal with each passing day.

anyway, i was talking to someone at work last week telling her the good news. she then proceeded to give me advice. she said i should beware of the bridesmaids, because they are usually in it for themselves and don't care what the bride wants. she then told me that the day is all about me, and i shouldn't care what the bridesmaids think and i should be prepared to stand up to them in order to get my way...because after all it's my day. i didn't know exactly how to respond, so i just nodded my head and mumbled some type of response and then tried to exit as quickly as possible.

there are several things i was thinking as i left her office. my first thought was "you have no idea how wonderful my friends are." i immediately felt blessed that God has placed wonderful people in my life who are not always thinking about themselves, and who understand that Jesus calls us to all lay down our own desires out of love for others.

my second thought was "you have no idea who my Jesus is!" it makes me sad that this coworker was basing her advice on several personal experiences in which the worldly norm was selfishness. it was obvious based on this short conversation that the parties involved in her wedding experiences were not allowing the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and to let His glory shine through them in the ways they treated one another.

and my third thought was "IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!" it has always bugged me when people tell brides "it's your day, you should get whatever you want." (for this reason, i DETEST shows like "bridezilla"). i can't think of an example of a day that belongs to God more fully than a wedding day. first, God has ordained that the two parties become one, and HE did the work of bringing them together in the first place. second, the whole purpose of marriage is to set forth a picture of Jesus (the groom) uniting with the Church (His bride). so basically weddings (and marriages) are God's method of using people to project Jesus and to give us the closet analogy possible of Christ's love for the church. so yeah, it's not about me. i get to play an amazing part in the play, but i'm not the playwright. without the author, there is no story to act out. it's kinda like on "so you think you can dance." often times the choreographers get more props from the judges than the dancers, because without the choreographers there would be no dance for the dancers to execute.

in this wedding process, i am just a dancer following the steps of the LORD Of The Dance, hoping that my steps will bring glory to the One who created the dance and cast me in it. i hope that others who would be tempted to say "it's your day" will see that this is my heart, and will choose God's glory over worldly advice. it's His day, and i just want to make Him proud.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


hello friends. i apologize that it has taken me so long to post another song - no good excuses other than crazy business. anyway, i hope this latest installment will help you in your worship experience. the song i picked to meditate upon today is "Hosanna" by hillsong united. i am not going to go through every phrase, but instead give a little background as to why the word "Hosanna" is so important and revealing. as many of you know, "Hosanna" is the word that the people shouted as Jesus entered jerusalem. this triumphal entry signified the beginning of Jesus' passion - or Jesus' path the the cross. matthew 21:9 states "The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!'" according to wikipedia (i know, not scholarly, but often helpful), the greek word for "Hosanna" is "the cry of praise or adoration shouted in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus." so when the people shouted "Hosanna" they were screaming out for all to hear that they believed Jesus to be the Messiah (which was a dangerous thing to be yelling in jerusalem, with all of the religious leaders looking for any excuse to squelch any claims of deity regarding Jesus). and yet there is another meaning for "Hosanna" that we also need to identify! the hebrew word for "Hosanna" (actually translated "Hoshana") means "please save" or "save now" ( so in this one little word, the people are shouting "YOU ARE MESSIAH...PLEASE SAVE ME NOW!" the people recognized who Jesus was, and at the same knew who they were before Him, and they saw their intense NEED for a Savior. so the next time you sing this song, think about what you are singing, and YELL TO JESUS who He is and who you are, and fall on your face (figuratively and/or literally) that who HE is is exactly what YOU NEED!


by Hillsong United

I see the king of glory 

Coming on the clouds with fire

The whole earth shakes

The whole earth shakes

I see his love and mercy 

Washing over all our sin

The people sing

The people sing



Hosanna in the highest 

I see a generation 

Rising up to take their place

With selfless faith

With selfless faith

I see a near revival 

Stirring as we pray and seek

We're on our knees

We're on our knees



Hosanna in the highest

Heal my heart and make it clean 

Open up my eyes to the things unseen

Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart from what breaks yours

Everything I am for your kingdom’s cause

As I walk from earth into eternity



Hosanna in the highest

Sunday, May 24, 2009

breathe on me

Breathe On Me

by Todd Fields, Christy Nockels, Nathan Nockels

Find me here, in this place - Son of God, Saving Grace

At this hour, all my days - breathe on me, breathe on me

Morning Star, shine Your light – as I walk through this life

God of power, God of might – breathe on me, breathe on me

Forever, You are my reason for living – Merciful Savior unending –

Breathe on me

When I'm weak, You are strong - Your breath in me will be my song

In You my King I belong – breathe on me, breathe on me

Forever, You are my reason for living – Merciful Savior unending –

Breathe on me

Forever, You are the God of my story - Write every line for Your glory -

Breathe on me

Breathe on me, Breathe on me

When I’m weak, You are strong – Your breath in me will be my song

When I’m weak, You are strong, You are strong

Genesis 2:7 states: "then the LORD God formed the man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." And them Psalm 150:6 says, "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!" So God created mankind, and breathed into us the breath of life, SO THAT we could turn around and praise Him! Isn't it amazing that our sole purpose in this life is to bring God glory, and yet we can't even do that unless He provides us the breath necessary to do so. He calls us to glorify Himself, and He enables us to glorify Himself!

I love all of the words of this song, but I especially love the line that states "Forever, You are the God of my story. Write every line for Your glory. Breathe on me." I want every singe line of my story to glorify God - and that will ONLY happen if He is the one writing the story. Lord, give me the breath I need in order to praise You. "When I'm weak, You are strong. Your breath in me will be my song." To God be the glory!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

how He loves

How He Loves

By John Mark McMillan

He is jealous for me

Love's like a hurricane, I am a tree

Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.

When all of a sudden,

I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,

And I realize just how beautiful You are,

And how great Your affections are for me.

Oh, how he loves us so

Oh, how he loves us,

How he loves us so.

Yeah he loves us, oh how he loves us

Oh, how he loves us

Oh how he loves

So he is our portion and we are his prize

Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes,

If grace is an ocean we're all sinking.

So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,

And my heart turns violently inside of my chest.

I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way...

Yeah he loves us, oh how he loves us

Oh, how he loves us

Oh how he loves

i'm not going to go into a lot of detail on this one, because the words are so powerful i think we all just need to spend some time sitting on them, meditating over them, and letting Jesus move our hearts through them. however, there are a few things i definitely want to cover.

i think the most important thing for us to identify here is the wording in the very first line, which states "He is jealous FOR me." i want to be very clear here that there is a MAJOR difference in God being jealous FOR us versus His being jealous OF us. sadly, it was a confusion of this difference that was the first domino in a string of experiences that led our dear friend oprah to ultimately deny Christ. (if you are interested in hearing oprah talk about this, go here. you can watch the whole clip, but the part about God's jealousy starts at 2 minutes, 50 seconds). God is NOT jealous OF us. God's supreme purpose in the world is to bring glory to himself - there is nothing about us that would make Him jealous. He is holy, and we are filthy...God is most definitely NOT jealous OF us. but praise God that He is jealous FOR us! God loves us SO MUCH that He passionately pursues us. He is jealous FOR our love, allegiance, obedience, faithfulness, worship, praise...the list could go on and on! Jesus is so jealous FOR us that He took on our sin so that we could be in relationship with Him! He is so jealous FOR us that He bought us with His very life! He is so jealous FOR our praise that He commands our worship, and He commands that we lay down our lives for Him as He laid down His life for us.

after the first line, the rest of the song just gives us amazingly vivid pictures of the intensity of His passionate love toward us. can't you just see His love as a hurricane, blowing at you so violently that you bend and sway and feel like you might break? that's the intensity of His love! and the thought of grace being such a deep, vast ocean that we are all sinking? and the image of heaven meeting earth like a sloppy wet kiss, a kiss so passionate that your heart beats violently inside your chest...

HE LOVES US, OH HOW HE LOVES US!!! Praise Jesus that He is jealous FOR me!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

God of justice

God of Justice

By Tim Hughes

God of Justice, Savior to all

Came to rescue the weak and the poor

Chose to serve and not be served

Jesus, You have called us

Freely we’ve received

Now freely we will give

To act justly everyday

Loving mercy in everyway

Walking humbly before You God

You have shown us, what You require

Now freely we will give

We must go live to feed the hungry

Stand beside the broken

We must go

Stepping forward keep us from just singing

Move us into action

We must go

Fill us up and send us out

Fill us up and send us out

Fill us up and send us out Lord

since i started these worship song posts with my favorite song, i figured i would follow with my second favorite song! "God of justice" could not be a more perfect anthem for the upcoming chrysalis weekend, being that our verse is micah 6:8, which reads "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (ESV).

my church is currently going through a series on the book of mark, and last sunday the sermon was from mark 2. the pastor summed up the first part of mark by stating "JESUS DID STUFF." and that's what this verse (and this song) is all about. Jesus came to rescue the weak and the poor. He came not looking to be served, but to be a servant. Jesus showed mercy and justice to those who were abused and abandoned by everyone else (including the religious people of the day).

my favorite part of the song is the chorus, which states "pressing forward, keep us from just singing, move us into action." this is a calling and a challenge to us all. JESUS DID STUFF...SO WE SHOULD TOO! all too often we think that worship is just singing songs. but worship is my life, and worship is your life! if we just sing a few songs and then do nothing, then we are not truly worshipping. speaking or singing words out of lazy, insincere hearts makes for a very out-of-tune chorus rising up toward heaven but instead smacking against the ceiling.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

revelation song

for the past month or so i've been collecting songs for the upcoming chrysalis retreat at which i am heading up the music team. i have already spent numerous hours sifting songs, making cds for the team, finding lyrics and chords, assembling notebooks, etc. as i was searching for lyrics and chords last night and playing through songs, i realized that it would be an awful shame if i spent countless hours with these songs, but didn't let the lyrics truly speak to me. there is so much truth packed into these songs, and i would be doing myself, the chrysalis team, the students on the retreat, and ultimately my Savior a disservice if i lead these songs without putting thought into every word and aligning my heart with the heart of worship presented in them. so, i figure it is appropriate to begin with what is currently my very favorite song. i will first include the lyrics to the song, and then i will write a little about how they speak to me.

revelation song

by gateway worship


Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. Holy, holy is He.

Sing a new song to Him who sits on Heaven's Mercy Seat

Clothed in rainbows, of living color.

Flashes of lightening, rolls of thunder.

Blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be,

To You, the only wise King.

Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder,

At the mention of Your Name.

Jesus, Your Name is power, breath and living water.

Such a marvelous mystery.

Holy, Holy, Holy is The Lord, God Almighty.

Who was and is and is to come.

With all creation I sing, "Praise to The King of Kings,"

You are my everything. And I will adore You

there is NO WAY i can say here everything this song means to me, so i'll go for a few highlights. the first verse begins by proclaiming that the Lamb is worthy and holy. it proclaims God's holiness, but then also declares that the Lamb is sitting on "heaven's mercy seat." what a beautiful picture this is for us! the Lamb is holy. because God is holy He cannot be in the presence of sin. however, this song depicts Christ as sitting on "heaven's mercy seat," and not "heaven's judgement seat." this is the beauty of the gospel. Jesus died so that the "judgement seat" can be satisfied and the "mercy seat" can be utilized.

the second verse beautifully depicts the splendor of the Lamb. He is clothed in rainbows, and He has lightning bolts at His fingertips! as one who has been forgiven through the mercy of the Lamb, i need to never forget his power, might, and splendor. seriously - clothed in rainbows? how can i even imagine that!?!?!

the third verse tells of my right response to the mercy of the Lamb, as well as his holiness, honor, splendor, and power. the correct response is for me to be filled with "awestruck wonder" at the very mention of His name! His name is power, breath, living water, and the most marvelous mystery ever imagined! i am ashamed of the numerous times His name is mentioned, and my first response is not to be filled with awestruck wonder. praise Jesus that He is still sitting on the mercy seat!

and finally the chorus - there isn't much i can add that isn't already there. Jesus is the Holy One, who was, and is, and is yet to come. with all creation i sing praises to the King of Kings, who is my EVERYTHING. i want my life to proclaim my adoration to the perfect Lamb as i eagerly await for my Savior, who is clothed in rainbows of living color, to appear with flashes of lightning and rolls of thunder! praise Jesus! AMEN!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


so i’ve been reading through the Bible chronologically since last august. some parts have been amazing, as I have been journeying through with a group of incredible friends. toward the beginning of the study we were posting comments and questions, and really digging in together and going deeper. and then there was more old testament, and more old testament, and minor prophet after minor prophet…and i know i speak for more than just myself when i say it was draining! a month or two ago i made a comment to benjamin saying something resembling, “man, i can’t wait to be in the new testament!” and he made a wonderful connection. he pointed out that we get weary and bogged down when we are “stuck” in the old testament for 8 or 9 months. and yet if we feel that way in a "post-Jesus" world, imagine what it was like for those “pre-Jesus” people to be waiting, and hoping, and praying, and believing that someday Messiah would come and bring life and hope and freedom! the anticipation has built for me over the past week, as i could see on my schedule that the new testament (and more importantly Jesus) was coming soon. and then something john calvin said made this hit me even harder. in his commentaries on mark 1, he stated “In order to inflame the minds of his people with a stronger desire of the promised salvation, the Lord had determined to leave them, for a time, without new prophecies. We know that the last of the true and lawful prophets was Malachi.”

i read the book of malachi in a day, and then a day later i read about Jesus. the israelites read malachi, and then experienced silence for 400 years. imagine the anticipation…the longing…the hoping…the praying…the seeking…the doubting…the deafening silence. if i can long for Jesus (who i already have living in me), how much more did they long for him, and how much more astounding the anthem when all of a sudden, he burst onto the scene? and sadly many of them missed Messiah altogether. i pray that as i dig into the life of the Messiah, the long awaited One, that i will tap into that glimpse of longing that has tugged at me, and i will be perpetually grateful for the coming Messiah, WHO IS ALREADY HERE!!! the yearning and groaning for redemption is satisfied, the wait is over, and JESUS is HERE!!!

This blog is a testimony to the work that God is perpetually acting in my life. I am learning that when I think I've given enough of myself, I've barely begun. My prayer is that as God continues to grab hold of my life, not only will He become greater and I become less, but He will become ultimately supreme and I will vanish. This Holy Disappearance will be a lifelong journey in which, by the grace of God, I will become so wrapped up in Him that all of me will disappear and all of Him will SHINE