Tag Archives: religion

Crying Wolf

Sinner:

“I can smell the death on the sheets
Covering me
I can’t believe this is the end

But this is my deathbed
I lie here alone
If I close my eyes tonight
I know I’ll be home

The year was nineteen forty one
I was eight years old and
Far, far too young
To know that the stories
Of battles and glory
Was a tale a kind mother
Made up for her son
You see
Dad was a traveling preacher
Teaching the words of the Teacher
My mother had sworn he
Went off to the war
And died there with honor
Somewhere on a beach there
But he left once to never return
Which taught me that I should unlearn
Whatever I thought a father should be
I abandoned that thought
Like he abandoned me

By forty seven I was fourteen
I’d acquired a taste for liquor and nicotine
I smoked until I threw up
Yet I still lit ’em up
For thirty more years
Like a machine

So right there you have it
That one filthy habit
Is what got me where I am today

I can smell the death on the sheets
Covering me
I can’t believe this is the end
I can hear those sad memories
Still haunting me
So many things
I’d do again

But this is my deathbed
I lie here alone
If I close my eyes tonight
I know I’ll be home

I got married on my twenty first
Eight months before my wife would give birth
It’s easier to be sure you love someone
When her father inquires with the barrel of a gun
The union was far from harmonious
No two people could have been more alone than us
The years would go by and she’d love someone else
And I realized I hadn’t been loved yet myself

From there it’s your typical spiel
Yeah if life was a highway
I was drunk at the wheel
I was seeing the loose ends
All fall apart
Yeah I swear I was destined to fail
And fail from the start

I bowled about six times a week
The bottle of Beam kept the memories from me
The marriage had taken a seven-ten split
And along with my pride the ex-wife took the kids

I can smell the death on the sheets
Covering me
I can’t believe this is the end
I can hear those sad memories
Still haunting me
So many things
I’d do again

But this is my deathbed
I lie here alone
If I close my eyes tonight
I know I’ll be home

I was so scared of Jesus
But He sought me out
Like the cancer in my lungs
That’s killing me now
And I’ve given up hope
On the days I have left
But I cling to the hope
Of my life in the next
Then Jesus showed up
Said, “Before we go up
I thought that we might reminisce
See one night in your life
When you turned out the light
You asked for and prayed for my forgiveness”

You cried wolf
The tears they soaked your fur
The blood dripped from your fangs
You said, “What have I done?”
You loved that Lamb
With every sinful bone
And there you wept alone
Your heart was so contrite

You said, “Jesus, please forgive me of my crimes
Sanctify this withered heart of mine
Stay with me until my life is through
And on that day please take me home with you”

I can smell the death on the sheets
Covering me
I can’t believe this is the end
I can hear You whisper to me,
“It’s time to leave
You’ll never be lonely again”

But this was my deathbed
I died there alone
When I closed my eyes tonight
You carried me home”

Jesus:
“I am the Way
Follow Me
And take My hand
And I am the Truth
Embrace Me and you’ll understand
And I am the Light
And for Me you’ll live again
For I am Love
I am Love
I, I am Love”

 

The song is “Deathbed” and I believe it’s an album-only song on iTunes.  It’s 10 minutes long and it tells the story of a man’s life.

What I love about this song is that it displays the glory of the Gospel.  Isn’t one of the most glorious things about the gospel the fact that it is so exceedingly simple?

I think we as Christians catch ourselves in a trap sometimes.  I know in my case, sometimes I focus so much on the idea of sanctification that I completely miss the doctrine of justification, and how truly awesome it is.  Sanctification, of course, is awesome as well.  There are few things quite as wonderful as seeing someone’s heart and life completely change in the direction of Christ.  But sometimes sanctification and justification become the same thing in our minds, and we miss out on the beauty that lies in the utterly (and instant) transformative power of Christ.  Christ does not only gradually conform us to His likeness, he also instantly makes us “positionally righteous” before God.

We’re all wolves, saved by a lamb.  Christ’s blood is on our fangs, in our fur, and yet the Lamb is who makes us clean.

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Soap and Lye Don’t Cut it, Mister.

Of all the innumerable superlatives that can be said of Scripture, I think I treasure most the inexhaustible nature of God’s Word. It never returns void.

I’m reminded of that again today. I taught from Luke 1:26-35; 2:1-7 and Hebrews 2:5-10 today. I challenged the students at Chapel Hill Academy to recognize the miraculous fact that Jesus Christ carried the one attribute that no human being before or since has ever had. Holiness.

Jesus’ death on the cross means nothing if not for this perfect holiness. For me, Christmas is put in perspective only when I reflect on all of the sins I’ve committed in the past year. Countless.

I’m reminded of the fact that I so often throughout my life trust in ritualistic cleansings, much like Israel’s cleansing rituals depicted in Jeremiah 2.

“Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord God.” Jeremiah 2:22

It always strikes me how quickly I lapse into ritualistic cleansings. By that I mean, I often provide my token “I’m sorry for my sins, please forgive me God.” Prayer. The arrogance I show, genuinely believing that God doesn’t understand what I’m doing.

This is the God who has EVERYTHING under his control. Jesus Christ knew this kind of control. Everything was in subjection to him. We often don’t realize that. Hebrews 2:8 is a great reminder. We can’t hide our sin behind ritual, or behind veils.

This is why, this Christmas, I am humbled and utterly bereft of pride in myself, with God’s grace. Only by the grace of God can I understand just how useless all of my soap and lye is at the feet of a holy God. And only by the grace of God can I understand that my savior, my propitiation, my payment, my advocate, my redeemer, my hope, my salvation, my strong tower, my fortress, my deliverer, my shepherd…is holy.

He is holy. He was, is, and always will be. He didn’t start being holy. He is eternally holy. This is why his birth matters, and it’s why his life matters, and it’s why his death and resurrection matters. Let’s not forget it.

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Jesus: Righteous for a Reason

Today I spoke at the chapel service at Chapel Hill Academy in Chanhassen, Minnesota.  It’s a really cool school with a little over 300 students and a bevy of dedicated parent-volunteers that supplement the paid staff.  It truly is a humbling and inspiring experience every time I walk in the doors, because probably half of the people I run into are there on a volunteer basis.  I would encourage any parent to check it out here.

I spoke on Matthew 4:1-11 to the 6th-8th grade students, and the title of the talk was extremely clever: Jesus the Tempted.  Yes, that passage is about Jesus’ 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness being tempted.

One of the ideas that I wanted to really hammer home is the fact that we can relate to Jesus.  He sympathizes with us, as Hebrews 4:14-16 says.  But as I was up there talking, something else grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go.  I’ve read this a hundred times, but I’ve never tried to answer the question of why Jesus not giving in to temptation  was such a big deal.  I mean, really, is it that big of a deal?  I mean, he is Jesus, we all know he lived a sinless life, right?  Well here are a few portions of my talk that really got me reflecting, even in the midst of speaking, on our Savior.

 

Satan makes it clear what he truly desires here, and not only for Jesus, but for all people.  Satan desires worship.

Now Satan is referred to in many ways, but here are some that are particularly important when we look at this final temptation.

1. Ephesians 6:12 – Ruler of the darkness of the world.

2. Ephesians 2:2 – Prince of the power of the air.

3. John 14:30 – Prince of this world.

4. 2 Corinthians 4:4 – god of this world.

What these titles should tell us is that Satan works as if he has real power on the earth.  He doesn’t have any real power capable of defeating God’s purposes, but he will try to convince us he does, just like he tried to convince Jesus here.  He offers earthly dominion to Jesus.  But why is Jesus here at all?  And what is his future role?  His role is KING!  He comes to earth as the lamb of God, as John the Baptist describes him in John 1:29, dying for the sins of many, but when he returns to earth again?  He is described as the LION OF JUDAH, as it says in Revelation 5:5.

Jesus is powerful over ALL the earth.  He is God Himself come down to earth.  He does not need Satan’s permission to be Lord over it!  His mission on earth at this time though, was to die for the sins of many.  He was to be righteous for us who are unrighteous.  Jesus’ purpose was to direct God’s people toward God.  To direct our worship and submission to God in heaven, and his death on the cross, taking our sins, would accomplish our salvation.  That’s why Jesus responds the way he does in verse 10.

Jesus dismisses Satan’s last temptation so completely that there is nothing left for Satan to say.  Jesus shows that he can overpower Satan and force him out from his presence, just as he does throughout the gospels when he heals the demon-possessed.  In every response Jesus gives, he is quoting Scripture.  All of his responses can be found between Deuteronomy 6-8.  What is interesting about that, is that those chapters find the people of God, Israel, banished to the desert for 40 years for their unfaithfulness.

Jesus is doing, and has done, everything righteously that the people of God have done and will do unrighteously.

He is worthy.

Let us not gloss over the reason why Jesus must be righteous, as we praise him for the fact that he is.  We are unrighteous.  Praise God that we have a righteous advocate, who knows us and loves us as we inconsistently seek him.

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