Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Good Song

"Much Afraid" by Jars of Clay

Empty again
Sunken down so far
So scared to fall
I might not get up again
So I lay at your feet
All my brokenness
I carry all of my burdens to you

Chorus:
All of these things
I've held up in vain
No reason nor rhyme
Just the scars that remain
Of all of these things
I'm so much afraid
Scared out of my mind
By the demons I've made
Sweet Jesus, you never ever let me go
Oh, sweet Jesus, never ever let me go

So happy to love
Yet so far to go
You lead me on to where I've never been before

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Surrender

I have recently been thinking a lot about the idea of surrendering all to God. It's the kind of thing that's actually easier said than done. It's one thing to say that one surrenders everything to God, but if surrender entails giving God permission to take from us that which we may love or desire more than anything, then we will find out just how willing we are to truly surrender. Surrendering all our wants, desires, and loves to God is simply surrendering them as possible idols that we can worship instead of Christ. Only with the prospect of the loss of such things, however, can we really know what it means to surrender them to God. In thinking about these things recently, I was reminded of a song I heard growing up by Clay Crosse called "I Surrender All." Below are the lyrics to this great song on surrendering all to God.

I have wrestled in the darkness of this lonely pilgrim land
Raising strong and mighty fortresses that I alone command
But these castles I've constructed by the strength of my own hand
Are just temporary kingdoms on foundations made of sand
In the middle of the battle I believe I've finally found
I'll never know the thrill of victory 'til I'm willing to lay down
All my weapons of defense and earthly strategies of war
So I'm laying down my arms and running helplessly to Yours

Chorus:I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires
That all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

If the source of my ambition is the treasure I obtain
If I measure my successes on a scale of earthly gain
If the focus of my vision is the status I attain
My accomplishments are worthless and my efforts are in vain
So I lay aside these trophies to pursue a higher crown
And should You choose somehow to use the life I willingly laydown
I surrender all the triumph for it's only by Your grace
I relinquish all the glory, I surrender all the praise

Bridge:Everything I am, all I've done, and all I've knownNow belongs to You, the life I live is not my own
Just as Abraham laid Isaac on the sacrificial fireIf all I have is all that You desireI surrender all

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mission in John's Gospel

John’s Gospel is about mission—God’s mission. John’s Gospel is about the Father’s mission, focused on and carried out by his sent Son, to bring glory to himself by saving sinners through the death and resurrection of the Son, after which the Son’s disciples would likewise be sent, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to carry forth the message and work of the Son. There are many intertwining themes throughout John’s Gospel which pertain to his theme of mission. In this essay, I will seek to show these themes in John’s Gospel and how they relate to his theology of mission.
John presents Jesus as the one “sent” by his Father. God sent his Son, not to condemn the world, but “in order that the world might be saved through him (3:17). “He whom God has sent utters the words of God” (3:34). “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (5:23). “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (5:30). “For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me” (5:36-37). These are just a small sample of the many verses in John’s Gospel where Jesus speaks of being “sent” by his Father in heaven. In John’s Gospel, then, the Father is the missionary sender, the source from which all mission derives. The Son is the focus of the Gospel, however; for he is the Sent One, the missionary, if you will, come to perform the mission his Father.
It is at this point that the divinity of Jesus in John’s Gospel should be noted. In John’s Gospel, although Jesus’ divinity is pronounced, it still functions for the sake of the mission. In other words, Jesus’ unique identity enables him to do the special mission the Father has for him. So, Jesus’ identity in John’s prologue highlights his being “with God” in the beginning. Yet, John says he also “was God,” himself (1:1). Jesus uniquely communicates all that God is. “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (1:18). Jesus, therefore, is able to do his mission, because he is fully God in his own right. Only one who is fully equal with God could this sentence really be true of: “For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (5:19).
Because Jesus is completely one with his Father he is able to perform a mission that only one who is both human and divine could do. What, therefore, is this mission? In part it is simply the revealing of God, as seen in John 1:18 above. Specifically, though, it is the revealing of the glory of God as seen in the Son’s own humiliation and subsequent exaltation. God sent the Son, John 3:16 says, that the world may be saved. The salvation of the world was the Son’s mission. Yet, the way this salvation would be accomplished would be by the Son being “lifted up”, as was the serpent in the wilderness (3:14). Throughout John’s Gospel, John continually likes to use words or phrases that contain double meanings. The “lifting up” of the Son is one of these phrases. In John 8:28 we read, “So Jesus said to them, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.” There is a “lifting up” which Jesus indicated would finally reveal his identity. Again later, in John 12:28, Jesus prays to the Father, “Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’” A few verses later, Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die (12:32, 33).” Jesus’ mission was ultimately to be lifted up, exalted, and glorified, by the ignominious death he was to die on the cross. For on the cross, at the very bottom of John’s “V-Christology”, is where the glory of God is seen most clearly. The “grace and truth” realized in Jesus could not be seen more clearly than in his substitutionary death on behalf of a sinful world (1:17). It is on the cross that Jesus’ prayer to his Father is ultimately fulfilled, when he prayed, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (17:1). Jesus, because he was fully man and also fully God, was able to be the true eschatological shepherd of the people of God (John 10), and the true “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29). This is the mission which John presents as being fulfilled in Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is a mission to save the world (3:16-17), to save his sheep, both of Israel and those from outside the fold (10:11-16). It is a mission which ultimately will bring glory to the Father, as the Son discloses his character in his own death.
Finally, the mission theme John presents in his Gospel is shown to be carried on through the Church. In John 17:18-19, Jesus prays to the Father, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” The Church is now to emulate Jesus’ own relationship to his Father. The Church’s mission is grounded upon, and modeled after, Jesus’ mission. Because Jesus did what only he could do, because of his unique identity as the God-man, we are able to join God in his mission to bring him glory. As the Father sent the Son, so now the Son sends his disciples into the world, not to do what only the Son could do, but to carry forth the message of what the Son did. We are able to do this by the Spirit, who the Son promised to send. Jesus was going back “to him who sent me,” he said, but he would now “send” the Helper to us (16:5-11). The Spirit will continue the work of glorifying the Son, and will help the Church carry out the mission of God, grounded upon the Son’s finished work (16:14-15). “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (20:21-22). The Church’s mission, in John’s Gospel, is grounded upon and modeled after the Son’s unique mission he was sent to accomplish by his Father. The Gospel of John itself assists in this, as its purpose is that the readers by believing “may have life in his name” (20:31).
The theme of mission in John’s Gospel is centered upon the person and work of Jesus, as the unique Son of the Father, doing all that the Father does. Having been sent from the Father, and having done all that he required, ultimately dying for the sins of the world, the Son now sends his own disciples, empowered the Spirit whom he sends to us, to continue the mission of God.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Boomer in the Pew

There's a new blog I just discovered, called, "A Boomer in the Pew: A Baby Boomer's Faith Journey." It looks like a good blog. Check it out!

Boomer in the Pew

Friday, January 23, 2009

Christmas 2008











Long Overdue

Well, once again it's been months since my last update. In the light of all the busyness, I've been posting more things on my facebook account and have neglected my blog. For those who do not have facebook, however, I would like to post a few pictures of my Christmas break back home in Minnesota. It was a great break and now I'm back at school in Illinois. Hopefully I will be able to make some more posts throughout this semester.

Sunday, October 19, 2008