Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Resurrection, a Puritan’s Prayer

O God of my Exodus, Great was the joy of Israel’s sons, when Egypt died upon the shore, Far greater the joy when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed in the dust.
Jesus strides forth as the victor, conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death, tramples the powers of darkness down, and lives forever.
He, my gracious surety, apprehended for payment of my debt, comes forth from the house of the grave free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.
Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering is accepted, that the claims of justice are satisfied, the the devil’s scepter is shivered, that his wrongful throne is levelled
Give me the assurance that in Christ I died, in him I rose, in his life I live, in his victory I triumph, in his ascension I shall be glorified.
Adorable Redeemer, thou who wast lifted upon a cross art ascended to highest heaven.
Thou, who as Man of Sorrows was crowned with thorns, art now Lord of life wreathed with glory.
Once, no shame more deep than thine, no agony more bitter, no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high, no life more glorious, no advocate more effective.
Thou art in the triumph car leading captive thine enemies behind thee.
What more could be done than thou hast done!
Thy death is my life, thy resurrection my peace, thy ascension my hope, thy prayers my comfort.

Resurrection, a prayer from the Puritan Valley of Vision

Thursday, March 22, 2012


So... I turned 54 this past week - kind of a weird number/age. 50 is significant and brought all sorts of thoughts about what's next, what have I accomplished etc.. 60 is big - I think. Even next year - 55 has a ring to it like "I can't drive 55!" or the lure of being able to order off the Denny's 55+ menu - can't wait!

   But 54 ... it sounds so routine, nondescript, insignificant ... bland. Now that's a word I would not want to describe myself with! The dictionary says it means "pleasantly agreeable, nonirritating, indifferent - all passive words. To me it points to just passing time, lacking any impact, without a definable purpose - lacking in life, color and passion.

I hate to say it but that could often describe me  - perhaps 54 is not only my age but is a fitting description of what I have allowed my life to become!

On Sunday we will be unpacking Ephesians 2:4-6  "even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ..." Romans 6 says that we were raised to "walk in newness of life!" To have been made alive is to be freed from sin, it is to have purpose and focus in His kingdom, it is to be brought in to share in His work and His life, it is to be brought from the dead so that color, passion, creativity and a fresh vision for the day can be generated by the Lord through my life! Why would I ever embrace blandness? I am not altogether sure but I think it slowly creeps into our days, sapping them of vitality, dulling our minds and creating the deception that this is what life is.

It isn't! As Ephesians 2:10 reminds us - "we are His workmanship (masterpieces) created in Christ Jesus for good works ..." Created for purpose, focus, wonder, mystery - to be pulled into the eternal working of our creator as He continues it in  the midst of our everyday activities. His calling to me at 54 is "I have made you alive - live!" "I have prepared you - step forward!" ""I am in all your days ahead - embrace them with gratitude, expectation and delight."

So - Lord, a year from now when I am eating breakfast at  Denny's - may I have learned to see Your Life anew - press me to keep me alive to the moments You give and do whatever You need to do to rescue me from my own blandness. amen

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Our passage for Sunday appears to be some really bad news! Ephesians 2:1-3 starts out;

"And you were dead..."

What a contrast to the wonders of what we have in Christ as declared in chapter One. I think the Holy Spirit wants us to fully understand the desperate condition we were in because grasping that we were really dead opens the door for a life fully alive to Him. At least two troubles assail us when we fail to grasp that before Christ we were dead.

1) As a little kid I knew I needed Jesus but I didn't really get that I was dead. As a result I think I harbored the notion that my efforts and abilities helped Jesus redeem my soul. That sort of beginning leads to what Tozer calls a "Jesus and ..." approach to the Christian walk. I hold the idea that I can reform my own life, if I just try harder I can overcome sin ... I depend on Jesus - sort of, but it is mostly up to me. It leads to a christian life marked by struggle and defeat - the Lord didn't intend that for us.

2) The second problem is that because I didn't realize I was really dead - I don't think the world is really dead either - it just needs a bit of Jesus and a bit of moral reformation and all will be well - or at least better. Our country had periods when it was very "religious" and had a moral veneer - God had to bring a Great Awakening to bring real redemption - real life. During that event people suddenly saw how dead they were and that is what led to great stories of redemption. I am afraid that too many in the church just want to morally reform the world and actually think it is possible - God wants people to see that they are dead - there is NO LIFE outside of Him .... then and only then can people be alive and awake to the Lord.I am not sure that our purpose is to help people be better - rather, through the Spirit  - to enable them to see that they are dead.

So, we will consider in our service that we WERE dead, enslaved and condemned. Then we will reflect that through Jesus it is not our present condition - we are NOW alive, redeemed, His portion, His beloved.!!

06 You Have Redeemed My Soul

You Have Redeemed My Soul
Written by Don & Lori Chaffer
You Have Redeemed My Soul
from The Pit Of Emptiness
you Have Redeemed My Soul
from Death

i Was A Hungry Child
a Dried Up River
i Was A Burned Out Forest
and No One Could Do Anything For Me

but You Put Food In My Body
water In My Dry Bed
and To My Blackened Branches You Brought The
springtime Rain Of New Life
and Nothing Is Impossible For You

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I was recently teaching at a Christian gathering over at the University of Arizona and in my message I referred to the children's book, "Harold and the Purple Crayon." I was shocked to discover that the vast majority of these students had never heard of the story. (Now I know what is wrong with our world.) Next to "The Pilgrim's Progress" it is my favorite not to mention being a literary classic! Now I could write a post about the parallels between Harold and Christian from "Pilgrim's Progress" or how the Image of God is demonstrated through the story, or how there is a tree with an apple and a scary dragon (think serpent) in the tree - but I won't. I could actually show that there are also many significant differences between Harold's story and the Gospel. At it's heart - Harold's adventure is about a little boy who loses his way and eventually ends up back at home - in truth, he never left.

The reality of our lives is quite a different story, although the ending - getting home, is the same. In Harold's story he decides to draw a forest, but because he doesn't want to get lost, "he made a very small forest, with just one tree in it." In truth, sin is a big forest and we are desperately lost! In the story Harold finally remembers some things about his home and bedroom and simply, and on his own, makes his window, colors his bed and "drew" up the covers and "dropped off to sleep." In reality, Jesus came into the forest, died on a tree and in destroying the power of the forest - brings us home again - a place of genuine rest!

I have been struck with the wonder of what we have as our church has been working through Ephesians 1. I have been amazed at how we have been described - His portion/inheritance, to the praise of His glory, His own possession, the fullness of Christ ... Considering how lost we were - considering how much we now have - it is incredible! In a couple weeks we launch into chapter 2 as we prepare for remembering His work on the cross and His resurrection. It is here that we discover that we can't just "draw" our way back home but that it took the "riches of grace" and the sacrifice on the cross to obtain for us all these wondrous things. So, be amazed, be worshipping, be thankful and be at rest today - the work of bringing us home is already done.