The Pain and the Promise of “Further up and further in”

image“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”

―C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

A while back I had a close friend tell me that she missed the joys of her youth. She missed the joys of “care free” days and wished she could go back. She said flatly, “Now, the world just stinks.”

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“Benediction”

Benediction (Tim Melton, May 2011)

I will Bless you, I will
We can do this easy,
Or we can do this hard
Either way, I will Bless you, and Keep you, and I will make my face to shine upon you

If you come unto me,
I will wash you and dress you,
I will hug you and kiss you,
I will put a ring on your finger
and I will wrap you in a fine, white Robe of linen,
For I will bless you. I will
I will Bless you, and Keep you, and I will make my face to shine upon you

If you should leave me, I will come after you
and If you try to run from me, I will tackle you
and I will break your legs, so that you are unable to walk

For, I will Bless you, and Keep you, and I will make my face to shine upon you
and If you should try to crawl away from me,
I will break your arms and I’ll wrap my arms around you
And throw you around my neck, and carry you where you have no wish to go
For, I will Bless you, and Keep you, and I will make my face to shine upon you

And if you struggle against my grip of loving grace
I will break your stiff-necked pride and lift your chin to see my face
For I will Bless you
And If you curse me and revile me,
I will overwhelm you with singing
and I will Bless you

If your heart should despise me
I will melt that heart of stone with the Cross, with my grace, with my heavenly tears
I will Bless you, and Keep you, and I will make my face to shine upon you and give you peace

Hear me.  Listen to me.
We can do this easy,
or we can do this hard
But know this truly –

I will Bless you
I will Bless you
I will Bless you, and Keep you, and I will make my face to shine upon you
For you are mine
So,

“May the LORD bless you and keep you,
May He make His face to shine radiantly upon you and be gracious to you
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26

Valley of Vision – “God: The Everything in everything”

God: The Everything in everything
The Valley of Vision, “God The All” – Pg. 4 (my paraphrase)

Listen to the audio by clicking the play button below:
Christ You are My Everything – Valley of Vision, p.4

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An Easter Meditation – John 2:13-19

You Will Tear It Down, But I Will Raise it Up Again
(I wrote this meditation on John 2:13-19 for Surfside PCA’s
Maundy Thursday Service this past week)

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
You will tear it down, but I will raise it up again.


When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here!
How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
…Then the Jews demanded of him,
“What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

How do we understand these words of Jesus?  What does He mean,
“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

You will tear it down, but I will raise it up again.”

 To understand, we have go back to that ancient Garden, the Garden of Paradise, the very home of God, where the Lord dwelt together with Adam and Eve in peace and harmony.  This is the setting of our original design. This was our home.  Our Temple and God’s Temple. God dwelling with man.  Indeed, all the world was a temple of the Holy Spirit.  All the world was the Holy Place.  All the world was where man reclined himself in the arms of God.  And so we rested safe in Him, delighting in His Love, resting in His Grace, until that fate filled moment.  That moment when the Serpent of old cast doubt in our hearts…and we ate of that forbidden knowledge.  We swallowed darkness.  We kissed the mouth of shame.  And thus we were cast from the bosom of our God, cast away from the Garden, cast away from the Temple, the dwelling place of God. But in Genesis 3:15 is the whisper…”

“You will tear it down, but I will raise it up again.”

And all men after dwelt on the face of the earth in pain, in darkness, and in death.  But then, the Lord appeared to Abraham and a promise came.  A promise of the Garden, A Land, A People.  God would dwell with man once more.  God would not leave us forsaken.  He would not leave us without hope.  Then with the Prophet Moses, the promise grew.  A people specially chosen to dwell with Christ.  A nation of blessed ones received the Garden once more.  And so, coming down from Holy Mountain Sinai, inside these people, inside their mobile city, inside their makeshift camp, inside a tent, deep inside…the Word of God rested within a tiny box.  Here was a tiny swatch of the Garden, a footprint of paradise, here was the Tabernacle. God dwelt with men once more.

“You will tear it down, but I will raise it up again.”

Yet, the Garden had no home.  No permanent place to rest.  So King Solomon, son of David, gave a stationary home to the Garden.  Still a swatch.  Still a patch.  Only a fingerprint of Eden. Only a fingernail of Glory. Yet, this tabernacle of wood and cloth came to rest upon a land of promise, and a cornerstone was laid in Zion, upon the Holy Hill of God.  Glory.  Glory.  Glory.  Bedecked with jewels and gold, this Holy structure blazed in the noon-day sun.  God dwelled among men.  The Temple was established.  The City set on a Hill.  The City of God.  The Garden now stood still and men poured forth from all four corners of the world to get a glimpse of the Holy Wall, around the City, around the Holy Place, around the Holy of Holies, the Word of God kept safe within a tiny box, the Ark of the Covenant, where a tiny patch of Eden housed the Glory of God.

“You will tear it down, but I will raise it up again.”

But just like before, the garden could not last.  The Kings of Israel and Judah sinned against God just like their Grandparents before them.  They bit the fruit of forbidden knowledge.  They swallowed darkness.  They kissed the mouth of shame.  In 786 B.C. the glory of God departed.  Walls: burned.  The Temple: torched.  The tiny box containing the Word of God was torn from the fingers of men.  And just like Adam and Eve before them, the people were cast out of the Garden in Shame, led away in tears.  Led away in chains.

“You have torn it down, but I will raise it up again.”

70 years later a second temple was built again by Zerubbabel.  This time.  No beauty.  No glory.  Just a shell really.  The tiny box of Eden was gone.  Without the Word of God inside the Ark of the Covenant, the temple was as hollow as old woman’s womb.  Like a barren wife, the people of God laid down and wept.  They wept for the Garden.  They wept for the Glory.  The wept for the Word.  They wept, longing to be held once again in the bosom of their God. But a promise came through the Prophet Haggai.  “Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? It seems like nothing to you. But now be strong.  Be strong, for I am with you. I will keep my promise.  My Spirit remains among you.  I will take care of you.  I am with you. Do not fear.  The Desired One of all nations will come to you I will fill this house with His Glory. The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the one before it.”

“You have torn it down, but I will raise it up again.”

Then one night, underneath a Shepherd’s Star, the garden of Eden returned.  Inside a cursed city.  Inside a stable.  Inside a barn.  Lying in a manger.  Wrapped in swaddling clothes.  The Word of God, not in a box, but made one with a little boy.  The Word made flesh dwelt among us.  The tabernacle of God inside a baby’s chest.  The Garden of the Lord resting in a young girls’ arms.  And so He grew, the Word of God, and fulfilled Haggai’s promise.  As the very Glory of God, breezed into the temple and said “This is my Father’s House.  This house belongs to me.” And further he went.  Into the Holy Place, and behind the curtain, into the Holy of Holies.
The Word of God made Flesh said this is my Home.
And so the religious leaders demanded of him,
“What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.”

And they did. They tore the temple down.

They ripped him down.  Down.  Down.  Down. They reviled him.  They dismantled him.
They insulted him. They cursed Him.
They tore that Temple of Flesh and Blood down to the ground.
They Spit on the House of God.
They mocked and jeered the Word of God made flesh.
They stripped Him down in Shame.
They Defiled the Holy Garden.
In Bloody Sorrow, they ripped that Temple down.
And like an angry barren wife, the people of God laid down and wept.
They wept for the Garden.
They wept for the Glory.
The wept for the Word.
They wept…
But not for long.  Not long at all.

Because they did what He said they would do.
But He also did what He said He would do.

For three days later, never more to fall,
Glory came back to the World,
The Garden raised up from the ground,
Sin and Death and Shame were Slain.
The Stone rolled away.  The Curse was Cursed.
All the world became The Holy Place.
And all God’s People became an everlasting Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Because, now and forevermore, yes – Jesus tore it down.

But praise and glory to the living God, Jesus raised it up again.