Hearing the Music

He Ascended Into Heaven

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When we speak of things we believe, we think of the Apostles’ Creed: "I believe in God the Father Almighty. I believe in Jesus Christ his only begotten son…", and so it goes until we come to these important truths,  "…(I believe Jesus) ascended into heaven and is seated on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from there he will come to judge the living and the dead". One of the most under appreciated days of the Christian calendar occurs 40 days after Easter (which was yesterday), namely the day of ascension of Jesus to heaven.

Of course, Good Friday, Easter and even Pentecost get the headlines. And while every “Day” is important in its own way, I would posit that as far as the day-to-day of our lives go, Ascension Day, and the truths it represents, should be held in our high esteem. It is on Ascension Day that we recognize the supreme Lordship of Jesus. We remember that as the king now ascended to his throne, he is defeating all his (and our) enemies. We do not need to cower at our newsfeed or at interacting with our neighbors who are so different from us. We remember that his is a kingdom of restoration and renewal. We recall that even now he is making all manner of things new. What an encouragement as we deal with wreck and ruin in our lives; wreck within and ruin without. We remember that not a hair can fall from our head without his will. He knows our weaknesses and our frailties, he remembers that we are dust. We look to him as the source of justice in a world that still sorely lacks. We know that one day our king will return and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father!  

So journey on. Wherever your road is taking you. Journey in confidence that you serve a risen and ASCENDED king who even now has taken the throne.


Photo by Tony Wallström on Unsplash

Sweet Surrender

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It has been a while, but I still remember the days of holding our infants while they fight sleep. Often sleep is the very thing they need, but embracing it, surrendering to it will not come. But then the moment does come when they can fight no longer and sleep overtakes them. Such sweet surrender; very few things are as peaceful as a child at rest. David captures this picture in Psalm 131, talking about the surrender of the believer, "But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me."

Throughout our series on Exodus we have been talking about belief and belonging. If you are looking for a single word that captures the idea of what it means for an individual to believe and belong, surrender comes as close as any word. Believing is not merely an intellectual activity, but it is a giving up of counter-arguments, a lowering of defenses and an active trusting in the truths of the Gospel story. Through this surrender we find that we are held by a loving Father, and we belong to him.   

Milton Vincent, in a helpful little book called The Gospel Primer, describes the life of the Jesus follower this way: "I am called by God to daily surrender the members of my being…it could be said that 'sanctification' is merely the lifelong process wherein I joyfully surrender myself to God's imputed righteousness and then do whatever this righteousness directs me to do. Indeed, God has clothed me with His righteousness. Now he wants this righteousness to master me…[that I may] experience the full breadth of eternal life that God has given to me in Christ."

I realize that the above quote has some technical language, so feel free to mull it over or ask questions if you need to. However, despite the technicality the picture is clear. Like a little baby, when we stop fighting sleep, stop exercising our stubborn will, we experience a graciousness beyond anything we can imagine as we rest in the provision of the Father.

As we pick up Exodus 4 on Sunday we see Moses fighting sleep. God is asking for his surrender and Moses will not go down without a fight. What a window into our own souls… But take heart, YHWH will not give up!

 

Photo by Pankaj Karnewar on Unsplash

in trials

Wilderness

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And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” … Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

(Exodus 2:21,22 & 3:1)


On my mind this week is the wilderness; the barren, empty places of life where people have a very good chance to meet their God. Perhaps I am thinking about this because I have taken a little “staycation” this week, helping to run the household while Lisa is out of the country. It has been good to have different rhythms and routines, to have space where there is frequently busyness. It has allowed for unhurried conversations with kids and neighbors. It has encouraged reflection and refreshment.  

In my case this wilderness time was sought and welcomed. Like with Moses above, that isn’t always the case. Often the wilderness is unsought and unwelcome. A couple of years ago our daughter Sophia faced the wilderness after blowing out her ACL. Folks at Christ Church have walked the wilderness of job loss. Others have agonized in the wilderness that comes after losing a loved one. The wilderness comes in different shapes and sizes, sometimes a welcome journey and other times an unwanted destination thrust upon unwitting sojourners.

The question to consider is when we find ourselves sojourning in an unwanted place, will we be open to a meeting with our God? So often it is in the wilderness that we find ourselves more available, more vulnerable, more open to hearing from the Lord than when we are in the regular rhythms of life. It is in the wilderness, stripped of comforts and distractions, that we are able to hear the still small voice of the Spirit; maybe convicting, maybe comforting, but always wooing us to a closer walk with our Shepherd.    

When those wilderness times come, may we learn to embrace them and sing with the hymn writer:

Pass me not, O gentle Savior
Hear my humble cry
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by

(Chorus)
Savior, Savior
Hear my humble cry
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by

Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief
Kneeling there in deep contrition
Help my unbelief

Trusting only in Thy merit
Would I seek Thy face
Heal my wounded, broken spirit
Save me by Thy grace

Thou the spring of all my comfort
More than life to me
Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
Whom in Heav’n but Thee?

 

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

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