Hunch-backed by your iniquity is the only way you bow–
Hell-bent to stagger ahead, alone and stupid.
Herders have more success taming beasts;
Heads of cattle respond faster and more reliably.
How long will you continue to be stubborn?
Help is ready and willing–I, Yahweh your God am reading and willing–
Heave your burden upon Me, and I will give you rest.
The muscled thug
Trusting he can cause fear
To always get his way.
Until the bully meets his Match,
Facing down One stronger than he.
“Yet forty days,” He warns,
“And your wickedness ends.”
” ‘Tis but a scratch!”
I name a severed limb
Like the infamous
Knight who opposed King
Arthur at the bridge.
Unlike the poet-king David who reeled,
Crushed beneath the weight of his once-dear sin.
” ‘Tis but a scratch!”
I would never say of
The wounds of my Lord,
And yet affirm that
Very thing in my
Utter absence of tears and lack of grief.
Spirit-Steel alone breaks the stone within.
Return to Me
When we walked in our own ways
Your anger burned against our sin
We ignored Your holy word
And closed our hearts time and again
“Return to Me,” You would say;
“Return to Me, I’ll make you new;
Return to Me,” You would say,
“And I will return to you.”
Now in You we’re born again
And through Your Son we can draw near
But we still stumble and fall
And our weak hearts rejoice to hear
“Return to Me,” You still say;
“Return to Me, I’ve made you new;
Return to Me,” You would say,
“My Spirit lives in you.”
Continue reading “Return to Me”
The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people–greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me–a sinner!’ ” Luke 18:11-13 HCSB
Reading through Matthew 20, I was struck anew by the soul-haunting question at the end of Jesus’ parable: “Are you jealous because I’m generous?” I am thankful for the times when I am struck by how much like the full-day workers I am (“let the righteous one strike me, it is an act of faithful love,” Psalm 141:5). The Holy Spirit shows me in these times how unlike He is I am, and I am always thankful. We sinners make terrible, terrifying gods; He alone is God and He alone is worthy.
Gratitude for not being like another reminded me of the publican’s prayer in Luke 18. There, Jesus contrasts the arrogant self-assuredness of the damned Pharisee with the humble, penitent contrition of the justified publican. What if the Pharisee’s prayer was righteous? What would it have sounded like?
The Pharisee closed the door in his house and fell on his face, praying like this: “God, I thank You that You’re not like me–greedy, unrighteous, lustful, and especially not hateful and arrogant like the black stains of my hypocritical heart. I thank You that You give grace to all–even to that tax collector I saw today.
“You don’t need my fasts or tithes; You own the cattle on the thousand hills, so I can’t pretend to give a gift to You as though You would owe me. You desire mercy, not the empty, heartless ritual of man-pleasing religion.
“I couldn’t help but see the tears of that tax collector and overhear his prayer to You. I can’t think of a better way to come before You. I am such a sinner–much worse than anyone I know! I know I deserve wrath, but please give me mercy instead!”
Whoever lives with integrity fears Yahweh,
but the one who is devious in his ways despises Him. Proverbs 14:2 HCSB
One of the ways we play with my daughter is to “hide! hide! hide!” with her under a blanket, while the other one of us “sneaks up” on who is “hiding.” The absurdity of hiding under a blanket is the precise grounds of its cuteness (especially since the blanket can’t suppress the giggles underneath).
Continue reading “Fig Leaf Couture”
It’s not often that Music Monday will come with free albums, but the extremely generous gents from Beautiful Eulogy have made the entire album Instruments of Mercy for download at Noisetrade. (Their debut album, Satellite Kite, is also available at Noisetrade.)
Both the song and the video (above) masterfully present the plea of the repentant believer. Verse 1 begins with Psalm 32:5 ESV, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity.” The verse then discusses the reality that God already sees and knows all things; hiding from Him is as foolish as it is impossible.
The twin extremes of repentance are flippancy and wallowing. Beautiful Eulogy expertly navigate between these dangers by taking sin seriously, but by finding hope in Jesus’ cleansing and forgiveness.
Give me the faith to believe what You say
And to trust in Your word when I’m tempted to stray
And to patiently wait for the day You return
I hate my sin; it burns
Oh God, my sin is great–there’s no escaping it
I hate my sin but I still partake in it
I begin to better understand confession
When I understand the weight of my sin and its effect
How it’s a direct revelation of my selfishness
And recognize God’s correct assessment
I don’t have to hide behind my own pride
Tear myself up from the guilt inside
Because I’ve been given everything I’ve ever needed
To stand clean and forgiven when I received Jesus
Please, please take advantage of an album that is food and medicine for your soul. These men passionately love Jesus and are world-class wordsmiths.
The poor and the oppressor have this in common:
Yahweh gives light to the eyes of both.
Proverbs 29:13 HCSB
Once again, Solomon masterfully uses comparison and contrast to condense so much wisdom into a single two-line proverb. Reading Proverbs helps renew the sense of wonder at God’s immense wisdom, but also at His immense artistry. What incredible skill it is to say so much in such a pithy little statement! Continue reading “What Polar Opposites Have in Common”