It is more than enough that Christ should love us and call us friends. But it is absolutely astounding that he calls us his ‘beloved.’ He is not simply interested in salvaging our lives. His is determined to ‘glorify’ us…to perfect us in the image of Christ. So much so, that even our worst moments, our most hideous scars, even our most atrocious actions, will be redeemed and made into something beautiful. As His artist’s hammer chisels away at the hard wood of our sin and our flesh, he is designing something beautiful, not just of the stump, but also of the shavings. Nothing of our true selves will be lost. Nothing that is touched by his glorious fingers will pass away.
Last Wednesday night at Surfside PCA, our church enjoyed a very powerful communion service. Many of our people, including me, were impacted by the careful contemplation of Christ’s work on the Cross. The next morning one of our elders, shared his feelings with me in an e-mail. He said, “Last night was a very special night. I found myself waking up a lot last night, dwelling on the crucifixion.” Wow. What a powerful statement.
As Easter approached, I began thinking about what my elder had shared with me. I found myself longing to know Christ in a deeper way. I began to pray that Christ would help me to identify with him in his sufferings. I prayed several heartfelt prayers on Thursday and Friday, asking Jesus to help me to appreciate how much he sacrificed in order to provide me with the gift of himself. As I went to bed Friday night I decided that I would begin fasting on Saturday as one more way to reflect on Christ’s passion. I also felt that this fast would prepare my heart to preach the 8am service on Easter morning at Surfside Pres. On Saturday morning I began to work my plan. I woke up early to pray and think on the scriptures. That morning, I worked in the yard, then returned to the scriptures to read “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” At noon, I worked in the garage, then sat down to read in Matthew, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” Around 2pm, I went over to the church to shoot hoops by myself – praying and thinking. I jogged around the church building several times. Breathing hard and sweating, I sat down and considered Paul’s words from Philippians 3 – my central text for Easter morning’s sermon, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings“. Continue reading
Albert Benjamin Simpson (1843-1919) the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance was a leader of the church during his day. He wrote a beautiful hymn called “Himself” that is absolutely stunning in its clear emphasis upon dependence on Christ. In the sermon that preceded this hymn, Simpson writes…
“(I once thought) that the Lord would take me like the old run-down clock, wind me up, and set me going like a machine. It is not thus at all. I found it was Himself coming in instead and giving me what I needed at the moment. I wanted to have a great stock, so that I could feel rich; a great store laid up for many years, so that I would not be dependent upon Him the next day; but He never gave me such a store.