“Come to Me”

I often lose sight of what it means to take on the yoke of Jesus. He promises an easy yoke and a light burden. He says I will find rest for my soul if I am weary and burdened. But I find that following Him is incredibly difficult at times. It can be exhausting and seemingly unbearable at times. And lonely. Incredibly lonely. Sometimes doing the smallest things that I know to be right requires my entire inner self to be tortured and put to death once again. The death in my life, the sin, it simply won’t die. It seems to be incredibly resilient. And I can grow bitter and cynical to the call of Jesus. He says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It feels like anything but rest.

But as I think more about His call to rest in Him, I realize something.

So much of my life is aimed at pacifying my soul, and my pursuits are in vain. In heaven, when my faith shall be sight, when Christ returns and restores all things, only then will I have lasting peace, lasting satisfaction. Only then will I be free from fear and have ultimate security. I vainly pursue sin, those things that bring a temporary security, which isn’t security at all. Or I want Scripture to somehow morph and twist to say something it doesn’t say, so I can be at peace with God. How arrogant for me to think that the reason there is a rift in my relationship with my Creator is because of what His Word says instead of seeing that something within me has rebelled against Him. It’s all a vain pursuit to find peace, perfect happiness, a life where all my dreams are realized. In short, I want heaven right here and right now. This isn’t bad, but what is bad is that I want it on my terms, my own selfish, broken, and arrogant terms. The problem is that heaven cannot exist where there is selfishness, brokeness and arrogance.

That is what I mean when I say all my ways are vain. My own pursuits of fulfillment are in vain. The heaven I seek will always be just around the corner. The bait is always just out of reach. That is what is truly exhausting. It is a vain attempt, a never-ending chase after something that my fingers will never grasp.

But then Jesus comes. He comes as a gentle, humble, and lowly servant. The fact that my Creator, the one I have transgressed, would come to me gently and approach me humbly, with a “lowly heart” so He wouldn’t frighten me, is nearly, if not completely, incomprehensible. He calls to me, shows me the dead end of my pursuits, shows me that I am running with no end in sight, he calls to me and tells me that bringing heaven is His job. He does the work.

He dies,

He is tortured,

He absorbs the wrath of God,

He will restore,

He will cover me,

He will hold my soul in his hand,

He will.

It is Him, and only Him. His life, His death, His truth; it is all ultimate. It is all Him. I cannot protect my own soul. I no longer have a heavy burden or a yoke of slavery. The weight of finding heaven, peace, and satisfaction is no longer on my shoulders; it is on Jesus.

I only have to fall into Him. Trust Him, give him my all, hide myself under His wing.

When I remember this, that is when I remember what it means to go to Jesus and find my rest in Him. Perfect peace, joy, and satisfaction are in Him, and He will restore all things. I can truly sing, “‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word!” He is the living water; I will drink from Him and rest by His stream. I will joyfully take on his easy yoke and his light burden and simply trust. I will stop chasing the lie and rest in the Truth.

“Come Heavy Laden”

(by Red Mountain Music)

Come heavy laden, come and rest,
Your souls from fear and pain;
Jesus the God was crucified,
And died and rose again.

Sweet are His words, sweet is His voice
His smiles are heaven below;
Of all the pleasures in this world,
Tis Jesus I would know.

His holy yoke’s easy and smooth,
His burdens all are light;
In His commandments, though severe,
Is infinite delight.

O! would He raise my feeble soul,
To a celestial flame;
I would, for Jesus, either do,
Or suffer all the same.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Happy First Sunday of Advent!

AdventMy particular church does not observe Advent. However, growing up, my family had an advent wreath, and every Sunday of Advent leading up to Christmas, my family and I would sit around the table at night and my dad would read Bible readings lighting one more candle every week. This focused our hearts in anticipation on the coming Messiah instead of anticipation of getting many toys that, to be honest, I don’t even remember ever owning now. This developed in me an understanding of the centrality of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, in the story of Scripture and the history of humanity. These verses remind me of two things:

AdventArt11) We remember the longing of the Israelites for the Messiah. There was a time before Jesus had come to earth. We can put ourselves in the place of Israel and think on what it would be like anticipating the coming of the Messiah who would bring peace. We are celebrating the coming of Christ, so it makes sense to do this in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.

AdventArt2

 

2) We are reminded of our own need for a Messiah. We can also believe that Jesus is coming again because He came the first time as God had promised. Advent reminds us that Christ is coming again, and we are waiting for the final restoration. This is also a reminder to not grow weary in doing good, but joyfully anticipate the coming of Jesus in the way we live.

These are the Advent reading for the first Sunday of Advent:

Isaiah 1:1-5

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

Psalm 122:1-9

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem built as a city that is bound firmly together.
To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.”
For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.

Romans 13:11-14

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Matthew 24:36-44

“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Value of Friendship

“Friendship is unnecssary, like philosophy, like art…It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival” -C.S. Lewis

Friendship is valuable. It is not valuable as a means to an end. God, who loves relationships, created human relationships; and because of that, our relationships are valuable. Friendships are not discipleship, and friendships are not evangelism. Friendships are friendships. Discipleship may happen in a friendship and evangelism may happen in a friendship. But the purpose of a friendship is not merely discipleship or merely evangelism. Friendship should be pursued as friendship.

We don’t seem to have much of a concept of friendship in our world. We throw the word around on social networking sites where we have hundreds of “friends”, and we introduce people by saying, “This is my friend, so-and-so” when all we really mean when we use the word “friend” in this context is that we’ve known them for more than a few days, and we don’t hate them.

In the modern world, the phrase “making friends” is synonymous with things like, “business networking”. In church, when the phrase “making friends” is used in conjuction with with talk of people who are not Christians, it is synonymous with “evangelism”. When it is used in conjuction with talk of other Christians, it is synonymous with “finding accountability” or “discipleship”. You see, the word “friend” becomes a friendly word that simply means other things. Friendship for most is only a means to an end. And even though we treat it this way and live this way, my guess is that most of us cannot in good conscience say that friendship is only a means to an end. The problem is that we do not know how to find value in useless things. We know friendship is valuable; it’s how we were built. But in order to make it valuable in our minds we have to make it useful for something. The problem with this is that this makes friendship a means to an end and nothing else. Then the concept of friendship simply evaporates because it is not frienship, it becomes the thing that it is serving. You are not pursuing friendships if you are pursuing frienships for the purpose of business networking, you are simply business networking.

So, my question is: Can we find value in something simply because God created it and values it, or do we need to have some use for it? Newborns are not valuable to us because they are useful. They are not valuable to us because of their potential to be productive members of society. Parents who mourn the loss of a child are not mourning because society lost a valuable asset. They are mourning because their child had value simply because he was a child.

The reason I am bringing this up is because we seem to spend more time looking into the blue light of a screen than the face of a friend. Our lives are so busy that we would rather not mess with frivolous things like spending time with friends. The existence we find ourselves in becomes flat and mechanical, lacking any depth because we only value the things that are useful.

One of the problems with thinking that everything must be useful to be important is that this leads to an endless cycle of discontentment. Everything is used for the next thing so we can get to the next thing and on and on it goes as the busyness piles on. I believe the church has followed the example of the world in its view of friendships. Instead of shaping the culture by upholding the value of friendships in a world that is becoming increasingly self-serving and devoid of any meaningful understanding of frienship, the church has followed suit and has become increasingly busy and overly preoccupied with useful, dry, and mechanical facts and figures. Our churches have become large convert-making machines where everything that is not useful to the purpose of convert-making has been stripped away and discarded. We have entered into the endless cycle of busyness. We make converts so they can make converts. If this is all our faith is about, then we need to stop all this talk about shaping culture because we have a very flat faith that simply mimics the surrounding culture and is unable to interact with the rest of the world in any meaninful way.

If we claim to represent the God who created and values frienships, then should we not do the same? Should we not create and value frienships simply because they are valuable?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Death of Death

Originally posted on Andrew Thomasson:

I have a fear that my life is meaningless. In college I went through a period where I realized I was going to die. I wanted to continue thinking and seeing things through an immortal lens, but it was like I had woken up from a sweet dream. No matter how much I tried to close my eyes and imagine things as the way they were in my dream, I knew it was not real. Being a Christian, it made me wonder if I really believed what I said I believed.

I was at the beach with several friends one Saturday during the time that I was coming to this realization, and while we were in the water, I had gotten separated from everyone else. It was very bright. I was squinting as I looked back at the sand. The sun was hot on my shoulders and I wondered if…

View original 595 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Death of Death

I have a fear that my life is meaningless. In college I went through a period where I realized I was going to die. I wanted to continue thinking and seeing things through an immortal lens, but it was like I had woken up from a sweet dream. No matter how much I tried to close my eyes and imagine things as the way they were in my dream, I knew it was not real. Being a Christian, it made me wonder if I really believed what I said I believed.

I was at the beach with several friends one Saturday during the time that I was coming to this realization, and while we were in the water, I had gotten separated from everyone else. It was very bright. I was squinting as I looked back at the sand. The sun was hot on my shoulders and I wondered if I was sunburned. Water trickled down my face from my hair, the salt burning my eyes and leaving its taste in my mouth. The water was cool and soothing with the current making me sway. Then the the same creeping feeling came over me sending goosebumps down my spine, that feeling that I was going to die.

When I would die, there would be no more warmth from the sun on my skin, or cool water trickling down my face. There would be no need to squint or wipe the salty water from my eyes. There would be no tears to wipe away because there would be no joy or sorrow. Not only would these no longer ever occur for me again, but their memory would die with me. I had never felt so detatched from my reality, whatever that was. I felt like I was merely an organism, a collection of nerves and impulses temporarily reacting and interacting with its environment. It all felt so meaningless. It was overwhelming thinking that my non-existence was more normal and more real than my existence. My existence was temporary, but my non-existence was permanent. The real never felt so surreal; everything was meaningless, utterly meaningless.

Am I supposed to spend my life trying to make my stay as comfortable as possible knowing my time is coming soon? It is like hospice, but on a larger scale. The idea that only the dying are on their deathbeds implies that humanity can be broken into two categories, the dying and the non-dying. This is a way we deceive ourselves and pretend that death is only for the artificially separate category of the “dying”. We are all dying. We are all on our own deathbeds. Every breath is a dying breath. For many people this seems wrong because it is morbid to contemplate this and they assume that morbidity is wrong to contemplate. This is especially true in a culture that idolizes youth and physical pleasure. Because there is nothing more than what our physical senses perceive, then the here and now is the ultimate, it is the god that we serve. Everything means everything, but ultimately this means nothing means anything.

The question then is no longer about the meaning of anything because meaning is found in how it makes us feel, so the questions is about how this or that makes us feel and whether or not it feels good or right for me. Good and bad, right and wrong become mere fabrications meant to hold society together so each individual can provide comfort and pleasure to himself or herself in his or her own way before the inevitable annihilation.

But I do not believe this way, though I have imagined it and toyed with it. Without God, life is unliveable if it is given any serious thought. I have come to realize that I did not wake from a sweet dream into a harsh reality of death. No, I woke from a nightmare of deception into the sweet reality that this life and this world will end. When I die, my body, my flesh, will die with all of its pain and suffering. I will be resurrected into a perfect state with a perfect body. This world, with all of its pain, frustration, and struggle will die one day, and God will make it new. If Christ Jesus is who He said He was, which I do believe, then this is my future. My future is not the death of life; it is the death of death.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Meaningful Life

This morning I remembered that life isn’t meaningless.  Life isn’t about work or play or hardship or pleasure. If so, then it becomes all about trying to do or enjoy or overcome as much as possible before I die or become too weak or sick to do or enjoy any of these things. My life would revolve around death and its unpredictabe timing, and these things would become meaningless. Thankfully, life isn’t about these things. Thankfully, life is about the Creator of work and play, and thankfully He has defeated death. I am thankful for the Gospel.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Moved In

This week was a crazy and busy one, but I am officially moved in to my new place!

image

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment