Making much of Christ

Quote

Here is the question I have been pondering this evening:

Do we feel more loved because God makes much of us? Or do we feel loved because, at great expense to himself, God has freed us to make much of him?
(adapted from John Piper)

I think that the answer to that question reveals our deepest treasure and desire, and the heart of the gospel.

“Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 3:16)

May I only glory in Christ alone. Now and always.

This made me think of an amazing song by Stephen Curtis Chapman that articulates the truth of this so beautifully. I pray these lyrics encourage you, like they have encouraged me tonight…

How could I stand here
And watch the sun rise
Follow the mountains
Where they touch the sky
Ponder the vastness
And the depths of the sea
And think for a moment
The point of it all was to make much of me
Cause I’m just a whisper
And You are the thunder and

I want to make much of You, Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today to give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used
To make much of You

And how can I kneel here
And think of the cross
The thorns and the whip and the nails and the spear
The infinite cost
To purchase my pardon
And bear all my shame
To think I have anything worth boasting in except for Your name
Cause I am a sinner
And You are the Savior

This is Your love, oh God
Not to make much of me
But to send Your own son
So that we could make much of You
For all eternity
~ Stephen Curtis Chapman ~

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Living slowly in the busyness – and seeing Christ

A Pastor (Mark Buchanan) was once asked what his most profound regret in life was. His response?

“Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing … Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.”

As I read this, it reminds me of my propensity to speed through life, rapidly checking off items on my “to-do lists” in a flurry of “productivity.”

But what if that really isn’t the most “productive” way to live? Sometimes it seems like all my haste is just what the writer in Ecclesiastes was speaking of when he said, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (Ecc. 1:14)

As a teacher, it’s so easy for me to RUSH …hurrying to get to school early, rushing to get materials handed out so we can start the day’s activities, and flying to get through my lessons before the learning process is interrupted by the unavoidable bell. I rush through other things too … cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, even time with people … always on a mission and so rarely present in the moment.

But on Friday I discovered in a lived-out, practical way, a different way to deal with the busyness of this life. Yes, I’m busy and there are only so many hours in a day. There’s a lot to be done … a lot that must be done. I can’t change that. But there is a way to “slow the torrent” … a way to live more slowly in the midst of the busyness.

“Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one. And this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. I can slow the torrent by being all here.” (Ann Voskamp in “One Thousand Gifts”)

It was during a lunchtime chat with one of my students that I discovered the truth of these words. Although we meet to talk almost every Friday, I so often feel distracted while she shares her heart with me, my mind racing past her words to the homework assignments I have to write up on the board and the upcoming Art lesson that I feel only partially ready for.

Not this Friday. Void of my usual sense of urgency, I sat with my spoon and my yogurt and truly listened with my heart. I focused all of my attention on **Anita and simply enjoyed those moments with her.

I was amazed at what I found there in those moments … the presence of Jesus, strong and sweet … His love for this little girl flowing through me … His joy as tangible as the chair I was sitting on. Maybe this is what Jacob experienced when he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (Gen. 28:16)?

I feel such a sense of urgency most of the time…like I have to speed along in order to get through everything.

In Mark 16:15-16, Jesus says, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Now THAT is urgent.

Anita needs to know how much Jesus loves her. She needs to know all that He has accomplished for her, and that He cares about the details of her young life. That’s so important.

That is urgent.

So, in the midst of realizing what truly is urgent in this life, I discover that “Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow.“(Ann Voskamp).

I have to savor these moments and be present where God has placed me if I am going to truly share His love with others…if I am going to truly bring Him the honor and glory that is due to His name.

So today I pray that God would help me to live more slowly in the busyness…to savor Him in each moment and be present right where He has placed me. May He truly be my EVERYTHING, in every part of every day.

** Name changed to protect privacy

Is it really enough that Jesus died for me?

“I need no other argument,
  I need no other plea;
  It is enough that Jesus died,
  And that He died for me.”  
—Lidie H. Edmunds, 19th Century

Is that really enough for me on this Good Friday?

Today, of all days, I’ve made so many mistakes. I have failed, both in my conscious choices to sin, and in my responses to my sin – responses of pride, unrepentant attitudes, fear and self-pity.

I have wanted to run away from the truth of the cross today…from His grace. I have wanted some other argument or justification for my actions…some other plea of righteousness…something more than the righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to me through faith in His finished work.

I found myself wanting to WORK…to strive, to study, to cook, to help, to plan, to clean…ANYTHING to make the guilt go away…to make me feel worthy again…to make me feel like a “good Christian.”

I did not want to accept the simple, beautiful truth that Jesus’ death was enough to cover all my sins – including the sins I committed today.

I didn’t want Jesus to have payed for the sinful, ugly attitudes and actions I displayed today.
It seemed so wrong…so unjust that the Holy One, sweet Jesus Christ, should be “poured out like water” (Ps. 22:14) with His “strength dried up” and His tongue sticking to His jaws (vs. 15)… “despised and rejected by men” (Is. 53:3), “smitten by God and afflicted” (vs. 4), “cut off from the land of the living” (vs. 8) … all for my foolish rebellion, my ungodliness, my lack of love, my sinfulness.

Yet I am reminded of an analogy by John Piper where he says that a fountain is not honored by people dumping in their own buckets of brown, dirty water. Rather, a fountain is honored by those who drink deeply from it with satisfied sighs and contented words of praise, having had their thirst quenched. In the same way, Christ is not honored by the “buckets” of my own efforts and my striving to “make it up to him” or repay my debts. How prideful and futile to even think that would be possible! Instead, Christ is honored when I sit at the foot of His cross and drink deeply of His love and grace, freely poured out for me.

So tonight I sit before the Everlasting Fountain of glorious living water, and I drink.

As I do, I hear Him say, ” I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” (John 10:11, 18).

So this little, striving sheep puts down her “buckets” and rests, comforted by the authority of the Good Shepherd and grateful that His suffering did not end with regret and death.

It’s Friday (one when I’m more aware of my failings than ever), but SUNDAY IS COMING!

♪ ♫  I see His love // Jesus, heaven’s light // no longer despised // but glorious in our eyes. // Unto death He was stricken // a silent grave with the wicked // but raised to life and seated glorious // our God victorious // never more to die // He LIVES!  ♪ ♫ ~Sovereign Grace Music~

If I don’t want Jesus to be despised any longer…if I want Him to receive the glory He’s due…then I will place all my trust in Him (rather than myself) and praise Him for the willing death He died and the victorious life He lives!

Thankfulness and praise is the only appropriate response of an empty vessel to her Faithful Fountain…of a grateful sheep to her Saving Shepherd.

And tonight I see that it truly IS enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me.