Thursday, March 09, 2006

stand up straight, son!

in chapel today, we had the privelage of being led in worship by some members of the indelible grace band. i have written about indelible grace group before (there is a link to their website over to the left side of this page), and would strongly encourage you to get at least one, if not all four of their c.d.'s. from the "indelible grace" series. they have taken the texts from some wonderful old hymns and put them to newer musical settings.

now when i say "new" if you are thinking "rock music", you would be wrong. most of the settings are folk based melodies and are intentionally written so that they can be used in corporate worship. they are written in a new and fresh way, but not following any trends that will leave them outdated in 2 years. for corporate or individual worship, these hymns are so rich, and you would be doing yourself and your church a favor by being (re)introduced to these hymns.

[the community that makes up "indelible grace" includes such musicians and songwriters as present and formemer members of caedmon's call (andrew osenga, derek webb), jars of clay (dan haseltine, charlie lowell), the normals (andre osenga and cason cooley) and other lesser known but equally (if not more so) talented singer/songwriters sandra mccracken, matthew smith, jeremy casella, katy bowser, and others.]

one of the songs that they lead this morning was "arise my soul, arise" (words by charles wesley)
as i stood there in the back row looking at and singing those words, i was overcome.
now i have become very aware of how someone like myself, can get emotionally involved with good music. sometimes a song or even background music from christi and my's favorite t.v. show (buffy the vampire slayer...yeah yeah.. move on...) will make me tear up if it is timed particularly well and the stting and mood is just right.

this was *not* the case today. i didnt even want to go to chapel. i am so far behind in my reading, for my classes, not to mention all of my work to do in greek i had planned on getting some work done over a cup of coffee in a nice secluded place. but since i was unable to go to the 2 hr. "concert" (for lack of a better word) tonight that indelible grace was doing, i decided to go to chapel and hear them for a few songs.

but as i stood their singing.... these words ripped right through me... please dont skip over these.. read them carefully, and make yourself the subject of the "i"'s and "me"'s...

1. Arise, my soul, arise, shake off your guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice, in my behalf appears;
Before the throne my Surety stands,
Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

Arise, my soul, arise!
Shake off your guilty fears and rise!

2. He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead;
His blood atoned for every race,
His blood atoned for every race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Arise my soul arise!
Shake off your guilty fears and rise!

3. Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

Arise my sould arise!
Shake off your guilty fears and rise!

4. The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away the presence of His Son;
The Spirit answers to the blood,
The Spirit answers to the blood
And tells me I am born of God.

Arise, my soul, arise!
Shake off your guilty fears and rise!

5. My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear
With confidence I now draw nigh,
with confidence i now draw nigh
and "Father ! Abba Father!" cry!!

Arise my soul arise!
Shake off your guilty fears and rise!

i stood their, trying to sing, at times unable, as the magnitude of the truth of that song hit me.
jesus wounds cried out "forgive him!!!" christ intercedes for me, and it is because of his righteousness that i have any right standing before the father... it is because of christ, that i can call the god of the universe "father" i can approach him with confidence!!!

my sould couldnt help but arise and stand up straight!!! oh the liberation of breaking free of the slumped shouldered posture that had so weighed down my heart by dwelling on my insufficiencies...often neglecting to consider the glorious truth of my right standing before god because of christ!!

how often we go through our lives as christians with our heads down, dragging our heels because we can't seem to get our focus off of our own failures! we spend so much time contemplating what we dont do enough of, or what we aren't getting right, it is no wonder when we come to worship, we feel so burdened we can do no more than stand and sing familiar words with no emotion or conviction outside of frustration.

because of christ's death, every christian is righteous in the sight of god. not only if we have had a good day. not only if we are winning more than losing in our struggles with sin.
but everyday, we stand rightoeus in front of god, because his son died in our place, and now his rightoeusness is our own.

this does not free us to be disobedient or to live carelessly, but it does liberate us from the bondage of feeling so far away from a holy god that we can never mesure up to. we can approach the throne of grace with confidence!! not because we have been good enough, but because we have the perfect righteousness of christ!

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (rom. 8:31-39)

may your soul shake off any guilty fears and rise up in light of this glorious truth

Thursday, March 02, 2006

trash bags and god's faithfulness...

yes... thats right... two posts in two days.... with a broken arm no less!!

the end is near...

recently a friend was telling a group of friends of some financial struggles he and his wife were going through. as i listened, i couldnt help but remember when christi and i were in a tight place financially last summer when i was without a job.

while i was jobless, we were really low, and by low, i mean almost completely out,of cash.
we had run out of trashbags, so while we were getting groceries, we went to the aisle with the trashbags. when we saw the prices, we actually started calculating which would be the better deal-number of bags per dollar, to see how long we could make it with the least amount of bags. or how long we could go on a bigger box, and not have to buy more for a long time.
the box we got ended up being around$6.

when we got home, they were the wrong size.

christi just burst into tears that we had spent that much on trash bags that were too small and we werent even able to get all of the groceries we wanted. i remember standing there feeling helpless, that i had been trying to find a job with no luck, trying to force the trashbags that were too small into the can, and wondering if i was failing as a husband.

that was back during this past summer. we just recently made it to the end of that box of bags and it made me smile, because the lord has brought us this far, and something as simple as trashbags that were too small reminded me of how graciously he provides.

our world didnt end because the bags were too small. the ironic thing was, we still had things to throw away, so we were obviously better off than a lot of people in the world.

the lord isnt gracious simply because we dont have to calcuate cost per trashbag these days, he is gracious anyway. but in this instance, more than the job he eventually provided for me, and the wonderful job christi has, along with the blessings of having wonderful families and friends who help us along the way, is his faithfulness and graciousness in reminding me of the reality of how he provides when i look at an empty box of trashbags.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006


i am typing this post timidly due to a fractured elbow i sustained in my basketball league game sunday. the swelling and pain have reduced rapidly over the last day or so, and the orthopedic surgeon says everything should be just fine in about 6-8 weeks, with the normal range of motion returning in 7-10 days. it doesnt really hurt to type, its just kind of uncomfortable.

fortunately, i had already planned on posting the link to the website i mentioned a few posts back. it just launched today, and will come out with a new "issue" every 3 months, much like a quarterly newsletter. the address is

i havent personally read every entry, so i am not necessairily endorsing every view that may be presented, but i know some of the people behind the scenes and know that their intentions are honorable.

i hope you will check out the website . check back every three months for a new issue.

and if you are insanely bored, you can compare the initial essay i wrote (found below under "dr. phil") and what actually made it onto the website after the 'editing' process.

have a great week, and i plan on being back next week.

grace and peace,