Listen: Song For Rachel

Listen: Song For Rachel

Having had a pretty long week, I ran some errands tonight in the evening summer heat and soaked in this song from Sandra McCracken. Her last couple of albums have been the soundtrack of 2017 thus far, and this one has been near the top: Song for Rachel.

Here’s McCracken’s description from her website:

This song was inspired by Jeremiah 31 and a sermon by Timothy Keller. In the scripture passage, Rachel is broken-hearted and lamenting over the places of loss that were not yet brought to restoration.  Like her, we wait in eager expectation, and sing ourselves forward into the day when the trumpet sounds and earth and heaven will be made one.  God gives comfort to us as we bring our honest cry to him.  This song also echoes the refrain from the last album, “We will feast, and weep no more.” 

You can listen here, and read the lyrics below. I’d give it a good couple listens. It sows seeds of hope.

 

We leave behind
All the pain of alienation,
We bring the lies we believed
Out into the light,
The love we were made to feel,
Oh Rachel dry your tears,
Your hope it will rise

Until the trumpet sounds,
Until our home comes down,
Children of Zion raise up the sound,
Until our home comes down

I turn away from the springs
That cannot hold water
I will be sustained
By the true river of life
You make my eyes to see
You are upholding me
All through the night

CHORUS

Set up a sign or a post
To give us direction,
Lead us by good, clear paths,
Show us the way
Our tired and restless ways
Help and defend us, please
Stay by my side

CHORUS

Your deliverance is coming
For us while we wait,
In the wilderness You walk before us,
Give us grace

© 2016 Drink Your Tea Music [ASCAP] All rights reserved.  Used by permission. Admin. by Music Services.)

All your streams will fail you. Christ will not.

All your streams will fail you. Christ will not.

 

We’re preaching through Psalms this summer, starting with Psalm 1 yesterday. Edwards preached this short sermon on Psalm 1:3, and it is worth the 5 minutes it takes to read. Here are two excerpts, and go read the whole thing!

 

 A tree planted [by a river] is never [dry]: so Christ is never [exhausted].

The soul [of the saint] is joined to Christ and they are made one.

As the water enters into the roots [of the tree], so Christ enters the heart and soul of a godly man and dwells there.

The Spirit of Christ comes into the very heart of a saint as water to the roots of a tree.

[Water] refreshes; so [Christ] refreshes and satisfies [the heart], and makes it rejoice.

Water gives life and keeps it alive; so [Christ enlivens the heart and] makes it grow: makes it grow beautiful [and] fruitful.

A tree planted [by a river] is green in time of great drought, when other trees wither.

If you are a saint, then Christ is sweet and refreshing to you, as the water of a river to a man when he is very thirsty.

Is Christ sweeter and better than the sweetest food, better than all the things of the world?

Has your mind been enlightened to see that there is enough in Christ?

Does your religion continue like a tree planted {by a river}, or don’t your religion come to nothing, like a tree planted in a dry, barren ground?

The religion of a [worldly man is like] puddles after a rain [that soon] dry up.

But [the] religion of a truly good man [is] like a river.

Do you bring forth fruit?

Sinner,  seek an interest in Jesus Christ. If you are not in Christ, though you may be like green trees, yet by and by you will wither.

All your streams will fail you.

 

 

Edwards, J. (2006). Christ Is to the Heart like a River to a Tree Planted by It. In W. H. Kimnach & H. S. Stout (Eds.), Sermons and Discourses, 1743–1758 (Vol. 25, p. 604). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.

Deliver me, O God.

Deliver me, O God.

Today during a staff worship service we sang Audrey Assad’s song, I shall not want:

 

Been thinking on the lyrics since then, and the prayer below has been on my lips today.

 

From the need of affirmation,
From the fear of humility,
From the need to feel special,
From the want of every talent,
Deliver me, O God.

(When I taste your goodness, I shall not want.)

called into weakness.

called into weakness.

Because of sin, we are all drawn to autonomy–we are all oriented to independence rather than dependence upon God. Because of this, we will always be tempted to use our strengths (whether they are talents, abilities, or even spiritual gifts) in our own power rather than in reliance upon Christ. Even in our strengths, therefore, where we are most tempted, we need to rely upon God and abide in his love. It is in the areas of our lives where we are most able, the places we think we are strong, where we are most often called into weakness. It is in our strengths we we think we can avoid abiding in Christ, where we sow to the flesh rather than abide by the Spirit. It is in our strengths where we trust our own personal savvy rather than the calling of God. As those called, not in our power but in God’s power, we are called to know our weakness amid our strengths, so that when we try to thrive in sinful autonomy, we turn instead to abiding in Christ and proclaiming to him, “Without you, we can do nothing,” (John 15:5). Power in the Christian life is found in one place and one place alone. In the words of Paul, “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col 1:29). It is God’s energy at work within that we must come to embrace; but his energy is not the power to achieve, but the power of dependence and love.

The Way of the Dragon orThe Way of the Lamb, Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel (p.33)

sermon: of laws and love

sermon: of laws and love

We just finished 9 months of preaching through Exodus at the church. A few months ago I preached one of our local weekends, and had great joy thinking through Exodus 21-24 and the covenant of God with his people.

Here’s the audio.

9 quotes from “The Gift of Being Yourself”

9 quotes from “The Gift of Being Yourself”

The last few weeks I’ve been circling back through David Benner’s work, The Gift of Being Yourself. I read it in February and it’s one of those little books that has left a lasting mark on me – because it’s sown some seeds in my life that I am wrestling with and am grateful for. Rather than trot out quotes over a long period of time, I thought I’d put some here to read and as an encouragement to get the book and read all 104 pages. Slowly.

Little book, big truths that seem simple to comprehend – which is why I keep re-reading and trying to remind myself that I don’t get them fully yet.

And I’m grateful Jesus is patient with me, and you. Enjoy. -MK

 

“Relationships develop when people spend time together. Spending time with God ought to be the essence of prayer. However, as it is usually practiced, prayer is more like a series of email or instant messages than hanging out together. Often it involves more talking than listening. It should not be a surprise that the result is a superficial relationship.The starting point for learning to simply spend time with God is learning to do this with Jesus. Spending time with Jesus allows us to ground our God-knowing in the concrete events of a concrete life. But how do we actually do this? We do it by means of Spirit-guided meditation on the Gospels.” (37)

“There is no substitute for meditation on the life of Jesus if we seek to ground our God-knowing in the Gospels. Listening to sermons and reading the Bible provide information about Jesus, but this is not the same as a personal meeting of him in the events of his life. Meditation ought to be a part of the prayer life of every Christian who seriously seeks to genuinely know God. The Gospels provide wonderfully rich opportunities to meet Jesus, once we learn how to use them in this manner.” (40)

(listen to this podcast for an example of meditation on the Gospels)

Many “learn to discern God’s presence by first looking for it in the rearview mirror. That is the value of a prayerful review of the day—something I have elsewhere described as the daily examen…The goal of a prayerful review of recent life experiences is not self-analysis. The point is not to peel back the layers of the onion and find some problem or meaning. Instead the goal is simply increased awareness of God in the events of life and the depths of my being. It is attending to the God who is present. In general, “what” questions (such as, What was I feeling? What disturbed me about that comment? What exactly made me anxious?) are better than “why” questions (Why did I feel threatened? Why did that bother me”). And avoid making demands of yourself or God. Just accept whatever comes from each experience, each day.” (43)

As you journal, do the daily examen (prayerful reflection), “Note your thoughts, reactions and feelings and then five them up to God. The point is not analysis but identification and release. Note them for what they are and then give them to God. Self-knowledge is God’s gift, not the result of your introspection. Remember, this is not self-therapy. It is spending time with God and allowing God to meet you and help you know yourself as you are known” (68)

“Christians affirm a foundation of identity that is absolutely unique in the marketplace of spiritualities. Whether we realize it or not, our being is grounded in God’s love. The generative love of God was our origin. The embracing love of God sustains our existence. The inextinguishable love of God is the only hope for our fulfillment. Love is our identity and our calling, for we are children of Love. Created from love, of love and for love, our existence makes no sense apart from Divine Love.” (46)

“In order for our knowing of God’s love to be truly transformational, it must become the basis of our identity. Our identity is who we experience ourselves to be—the I each of us carries within. An identity grounded in God would mean that when we think of who we are, the first thing that would come to mind is our status as someone who is deeply loved by God. With sadness, I confess how seldom this is true for me. Although I have always wanted to avoid being defined by my professional role, when asked to introduce myself, I am likely to resort to the common social practice of trotting out vocational designations. But, even more telling, if my self-esteem is threatened and I feel my identity to be a bit vulnerable, my almost automatic first response is to think of accomplishments or present and future projects. What this tells me is that much more than I usually care to acknowledge, my identity is based on what I do, not who I am.” (47)

“If God loves and accepts you as a sinner, how can you do less? You can never be other than who you are until you are willing to embrace the reality of who you are. Only then can you truly become who you are most deeply called to be.” (54)

“My longstanding investment in being respected has been an attempt to control my environment and guarantee the sense of specialness to which I have become addicted. The bondage in any false self is bondage of having to keep up the illusion. I am not simply an overachieving good boy. I am not my accomplishments. The things I can do or have done do not make me special. In fact, the attempt to define myself by my accomplishments is as boringly common as it gets! (79)

“My compulsive pursuit of accomplishments and the respect of people who are important to me suffocates the life of my true self. It binds and inhibits my growth and restricts my freedom. It is important for me to remember I am a human being, not a human doing. My worth lies in who I am, not what I can do or how I am seen by others. This is the truth of my existence.” (79)

 

 

 

listen: heard in the last few months

listen: heard in the last few months

No end to podcast selection – but here are a few episodes that I’ve enjoyed lately:

Unhurried Living
Alan and Gem Fadling host this podcast, which is named after Alan’s first book and their ministry. The podcast is in it’s first season, and as they get rolling they’ve put together a ramp up toward the release of Alan’s second book, the Unhurried Leader. I read his first work on sabbatical last year and really enjoyed it.

Influence and Expectations with Doug Fields (Doug targets youth workers as he sets this up – don’t let that fool you. Take a listen.)

Renovare 
Hosted by Nathan Foster (son of Richard Foster), this is a weekly interview podcast that I’ve come to really appreciate. Here are three that I’ve benefitted from particularly in the recent months:

ep. 68 Scripture Meditation: Nathan Foster and Jan Johnson
ep. 63  The Spiritual Legacy of Henri Nouwen: Nathan Foster and Dierdre LaNoue
ep. 49 Meeting God in Scripture: Nathan Foster and Jan Johnson

 

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