Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The Best Way to Read the Scriptures

The best way to understand the Scriptures is in the context of what has been handed down in the Church from the beginning. The whole Church has been given the Holy Spirit, to teach us and lead us into all truth (John 14:26, John 16:13). This does not mean that each individual may come up with his own private interpretation with which to judge everyone else. It means precisely the opposite; we must learn to read and understand the Scriptures together, as one body, the body of Christ, the Church, being of one heart and mind.

The Church is not above the Scriptures, but the Church interprets the Scriptures. Without interpretation, the Scriptures yield no meaning to us. Even if we should say, “The Holy Spirit showed me this meaning,” it is an interpretation nonetheless. The Holy Spirit certainly reveals the meaning of Scripture to the Church, but to the whole Church, and not with contradictory interpretations to contradictory people. The Scriptures are multivalent, capable of many interpretations, but not mutually incongruous ones.

There are many new and varied interpretations that have arisen over the years, and they abound today. But where they are out of sync with how the Church has consistently understood Scripture from the beginning, they should be left to the side. They are independent voices that do not reflect the mind of the Church, the mind of the Holy Spirit who guides the Church. It is important, then, to pay careful attention to how the early Church understood the Scriptures. It is the safest and best way to proceed, and will help keep us from error.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Sin is the Soul Rejecting Itself

Sin is often thought of as the infraction of a law, the breaking of a commandment. But it is really the brokenness of a relationship. When Adam turned away from God to his own way, he turned away from the very source of his life and being — he turned away from his true self, toward non-being.

From the beginning, we are created in the image of God, to be like God. That is our true self, yet we continually resist it. Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, in whom all the fullness of divinity dwells in bodily form, and in whom we are made complete and become partakers of the divine nature. This is the Incarnation, and it includes us all, for Jesus Christ is the image of God we were created to be. The good news of the gospel is that God is transforming us, conforming us to the image of Christ. In turning to Christ, through repentance and faith, we become reoriented to our true self, what God intended for us from the beginning.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

The Gospel of Deliverance

Christ did not come to save us from God
but to deliver us from the power of death
and the darkness of sin.

“Therefore, since the children share in blood and flesh, Christ also in like manner shared in these same things , in order that through death he could destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and could set free these who through fear of death were subject to slavery throughout all their lives.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

“For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17) 

Monday, July 1, 2024

Divine Being and Human Being

There is Divine Being
and there is Human Being.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is both,
and in Him we are all united,
with God and with each other.
This is the Incarnation
and this is the Gospel.

Christ Crucified and Risen is the Incarnate One.
The Incarnate One is Crucified and Risen.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Who Can Forever Resist the Love of God?

If there were a being who was eternally impervious to God, forever able to resist the Love of God, would not such a being be greater than God? Indeed, would not that being then be God? But we are created by God to be the image of God, which is to say, the image of Love, for God is Love. We were made by Love and for Love, to be loved and to love. It is inherent to our true nature, what it means to be human. The evil that has invaded the human heart cannot change that but can only obscure it.

Yet, our Lord Jesus Christ has come to deliver us from this darkness of heart, this depravity of mind, this enmity of the will against Love, which is to say, against God. This is the truth of the Incarnation, in which Christ has united divinity with humanity, God with humankind, Love with the human heart. And it is the truth of the Cross and Resurrection, by which Christ has defeated death and the devil (who held the power of death), and all of the powers that blind us and pull us away from Love. 

In self-giving, other-centered, cross-shaped love, our Lord Jesus submitted himself to shameful death by the wickedness of our own darkened hearts. And by that one death defeated death for all, for Love is stronger than death. Who, then, could forever resist the love of God?

There is no heart so hard
that the Love of Christ
cannot soften it,
No mind so darkened
that the Light of Christ
cannot enlighten it,
No will so bound
that the Truth of Christ
cannot set it free.
And so shall God
be All in All.

Monday, May 13, 2024

The Fullness of Him Who Fills All in All

And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and gave him to the Church as head over all things. Now the Church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23 NET).

This passage is packed with stunning revelation. Not only that God has placed all things under the feet of Christ crucified, risen and ascended to the right hand of the Father. Not only that God has given Christ as head of the Church, and that the Church is, consequently, the body of Christ. Not only that Christ fills everything in every way. But this: The Church is the fullness of Christ.

Earlier in Ephesians 1, Paul tells us what God’s mysterious will and good pleasure is, which he purposed in himself and which is perfectly accomplished in Jesus Christ:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace  which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him. (Ephesians 1:7-10)

Christ has not merely come at the end of time, he is himself the end of time, the fullness of time, the meaning and purpose of time. In him, God gathers together all in heaven and on earth — everyone and everything — bringing all into union, with Christ as head (anakephalaiomai). At the end of the chapter, we see Christ placed far above every rule, authority, power and dominion, far above every name that could ever be invoked. This is the Ascension. 

God has given Christ to the Church as the head (kephale) over all things. Paul specifically has in mind the relationship of head and body. He speaks of Christ as the head of the church, and of the Church as the body of Christ. Likewise, since Christ is the head of all things, what does that say about all things in heaven and on earth but that all is, in this way, the body of Christ.

Christ fills all things, in every way, with himself, and Paul declares that the Church, the Body of Christ, is that fullness which fills all in all. Being filled with Christ in every way, everything in creation is finally revealed to be the body of Christ, which is to say, the Church. This is what the end of time looks like. Fr. John Behr puts it very well for me:

I can no longer see the Church as a select group of people called out from unbelievers. Rather, the Church is the whole of Creation seen eschatologically; from which we already see islands in the present, called out from “the world” (in the negative sense).

Friday, May 10, 2024

Christ Has Ascended — And We With Him

Forty days after our Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and in the fullness of his humanity and his divinity, he ascended into heaven. Paul speaks of this in the wonderful prayer he makes for the Church in Ephesians 1: that we may know the wonderful anticipation to which God has called us, that we may know the riches of the glorious inheritance God has in us, and that we may know the unfathomable greatness of his power for us. He tells, here and elsewhere, about that great power, and we see the glory of our Ascended Lord Jesus:

That Same Power,
The Mighty Strength
God exercised when He
Raised Christ from the dead
And seated him at the
Right hand of the Father
In the heavenly realms,
Far above all rule,
Far above all authority,
Far above all power,
Far above all dominion,
Far above every name—
The Name above All Names.

God has placed
All Things under his feet
And given him to the Church
To be head over All Things
In Heaven and on Earth,
To the Church,
Which is His Body,
The Fullness of Him
Who Fills All Things
Everywhere.

Through the Incarnation, Christ united divinity with humanity, God with humankind, and became Human Being, of which we all partake and by which we are all now defined. Because of the Incarnation, the death of Christ has become our death, too. The resurrection of Christ has become our resurrection, too. And the ascension of Christ has become our ascension, too, the ascension of All Humankind. 

Only a few verses later, in Ephesians 2:6, Paul declares, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” Christ has ascended into heaven, and we have ascended with him. This is not future promise but accomplished act and present reality. It is the good news of the gospel.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Unconditional Love, Justice and Mercy

Unless we understand the
unconditional love of God,
we understand neither the
justice nor mercy of God,
for God is One.

God is Love. (1 John 4:8)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Let us first understand this: God is love. Love is not merely something God does; love is what God is. God loves because it is God’s nature to love. For God to ever do otherwise would be to cease to be God.

We must also understand that God is not a being of parts, each of which must be balanced out by the others. No, God is one. God’s attributes are one, not many. They are not held in tension, in competition with each other. With God, love, justice and mercy are not three different things but three different ways of speaking of the same thing. If we do not understand the divine simplicity, the oneness of God, we will fail to properly understand the divine love, justice and mercy.

God is love, so the justice of God is not retributive, because love is not retributive. Rather, the justice of God is redemptive, restorative. It is not opposite to mercy but is the very manifestation of mercy, and mercy is the manifestation of justice. The divine justice puts things right, which is exactly what love does. The Love/Justice/Mercy of God releases what has been bound, redeems what has been lost, restores what has been broken, heals what has been wounded.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

The Pattern of All Creation

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Word, the Logos of God. Which is to say, Christ is the Logic, the Reason, the Purpose, the Plan of God. He is the Will and the Way of God, the meaning and pattern of all that is. All things are made through him, by him, for him and in him, and in him all things consist, cohere and hold together (Colossians 1:16-17). Everything that exists receives its being from him and in him.

The good news of the gospel is that he who is the Logos of God became human being (John 1:14), in whom all humankind participates. Jesus Christ defines human being, what it is to be human. He is at once the full revelation of humanity and the full revelation and glory of divinity.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth ... No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:14,18)

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

The Cross and Resurrection is the full revelation of God and the divine glory. There we see not only what it means to be human but also what it means to be God. We understand what it means that God is love (1 John 4:8), that love is self-giving, other-centered and cross-shaped.

Christ Crucified and Risen is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. Indeed, through the Cross and Resurrection, he is the foundation of the world. For he who is the firstborn from the dead is the firstborn of creation (Colossians 1). In this way, he is the paradigm of the whole universe; in his self-giving, other-centered, cross-shaped love, all things find their reason and meaning. And so he is the fractal reality of all Creation, the recurring pattern, at every layer and level of everything that is.

Monday, April 29, 2024

The Fall and Transfiguration of Time

The Biblical Fall
is not an event in time.
Time itself is a fallen state,
in which everything tends
toward decay and death.
But in the Incarnation,
divinity is united with humanity,
God with humankind,
and eternity is united with time,
so that time itself is transfigured
and the world is healed.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” as the book Revelation tells us. He is at once the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last (Revelation 1). He who is the firstborn from the dead is the firstborn of creation (Colossians 1). Indeed, Christ Crucified and Risen is the foundation of the world, the beginning and completion of all creation. Lord Jesus, seated on the Throne of Heaven and Earth, declares, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). And that includes us.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The transfiguration of time takes place within time, from the inside out, through the mutual indwelling of time in eternity and eternity in time. John the Elder tells us, “The darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8). 

We presently find ourselves in that curious transition of what is coming to pass into what is eternally so, and all of creation waits in eager anticipation together with us.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:18-22)

Saturday, April 27, 2024

The Light Who Makes Us Divine


You are the Light of the World,
O Christ, in Whom we become
Partakers of the Divine Nature.

In the Gospel of John, the Logos, the Word who has always been with God and is God, is “the True Light which gives light to everyone coming into the world” (John 1:1,9). And it is of him that the psalm writer sings, “With You is the fountain of life; in Your Light we see light” (Psalm 36:9).

Paul exclaims and exhorts, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8-10). And, “When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him” (Colossians 3:4). Other New Testament letters speak similarly:

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the True Light who gives Light to everyone who comes into the world. In His Light, we see light and become light, participating in his Glory, and in him we become partakers of his divine nature.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

God is Both Willing and Able

Christian universalism
is the belief that God
is both willing and able,
that God can and will save
all in heaven and on earth,
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Jesus Christ, God has shown both the willingness and the ability to save all in heaven and on earth. This does not require that God in any way ignore or override the will of anyone — that is contrary to the way of Love. But it does require that the human will be set free from ignorance, deceit, darkness, and bondage to sin — all of which render human will defective, and anything but free.

Freedom of will is the ability to live according to one’s true and inherent nature. The true and inherent nature of human being is to be like God, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), in whom all the fullness of divinity of dwells in bodily form, and in whom we are made complete (Colossians 2:9-10). 

By the Incarnation, Jesus Christ has become human being, the humanity of which we all now partake. He defines what it means to be human. It means that all who once were headed up in Adam are now headed up in Jesus Christ. It means that Christ is not only God’s faithfulness toward all humankind, but he is also our faithfulness toward God. It means that we are inextricably united with the One who is the Image of God. Through this union, we become transformed, conformed to the image of God (Romans 8:29). And in Christ, we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

Just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). And so, whatever happens in the meantime, in the end, God will be “All in All” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Monday, April 22, 2024

Salvation is an Ontological Reality

Salvation is not
a juridical determination
but an ontological reality,
through the faithfulness of
Christ in the Incarnation
and the Cross.

Salvation is not a proposition but a Person, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ, from whom and in whom we receive life, being and personhood. Faith is not a contractual agreement concerning propositions about Christ but a dynamic relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ himself.

Eternal life is not only in Jesus Christ, but he himself is eternal life. And it is in him that we live and move and have our being, both by the Creation and the Incarnation. It cannot finally be lost because the Incarnation cannot finally be undone.

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Only God the Gospel Knows

The only God
the Gospel knows
is the One revealed
in the Incarnation,
the Cross and the Creation,
as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2:9-10)

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Continuity of All Things

Though the world be in chaos, Jesus Christ is the continuity of all things. For in Him all things consist and hold together — in Him who is the same yesterday, today and forever. And He is making all things new.

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:5)

Monday, April 15, 2024

They Speak of Him

If we find something in the Scriptures but we do not find it in Jesus Christ, then we are not reading them correctly, for they speak of Him. Lord Jesus taught that the Scriptures are about him. If we read them as being about anything other than Christ, we are not reading them as Scripture.

One thing this means is that any interpretation of Scripture that is contrary to what Lord Jesus did and taught is an interpretation we should reject. Likewise, any interpretation of Scripture that portrays God in any way contradictory to how he is revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ is an interpretation we should reject. For Jesus Christ is the full and perfect revelation of God, the image of the invisible God.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Where We Encounter Christ

Christ is clothed with the Scriptures,
embodied in them and truly present in them,
that there we may encounter him.

So he said to them, “You foolish people – how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.”

So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:27-32)

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus encountered the Risen Lord not only by his physical presence with them but also as he opened up the Scriptures to them. Their hearts burned within them, though it was only later that they realized why, when the Lord opened their eyes and they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. Notice that there was a double action of unveiling. 

First, there was the opening of all the Scriptures, of what Moses and all the Prophets said, revealing that they are about him and the things it was necessary for him to suffer as he entered into his glory. The Greek word for “opened” here is dianoigo and means to open up thoroughly. Christ opened up the Scriptures to them, thoroughly expounding and explaining their meaning — which is Christ himself, his suffering and his glory. This unveiling of Christ in the Scriptures was so stunning and unexpected, and yet so thoroughly coherent, the hearts of the two disciples were ignited by it.

Second, there was the opening of their own eyes. Again, the Greek word is dianoigo. It happened when Jesus took the bread, blessed the bread and broke the bread before their eyes. And suddenly they recognized Jesus in their midst.

When they recognized him, his physical form disappeared from before their physical eyes, for they had encountered him and learned to recognize him in the opening of the Scriptures and in the Breaking of the Bread. We in the Church today are no less advantaged than the Emmaus disciples, for Christ is always with us, and we always have the opportunity to encounter him in the Word and in the Sacrament.

The image above is Supper at Emmaus (1601) by Caravaggio.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Creation, Incarnation and Inclusion

Inclusion is not something we can create but something we can only discover. What we discover in the gospel is that all are included in Christ from the very beginning and to the very end.

We are included in Christ by the Creation. In Colossians 1:15-17, St. Paul tells us that all are created by Christ, through Christ, for Christ and in Christ, and in Christ all Creation consists and holds together.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

We are included in Christ through the Incarnation, in which Christ became human being. There are many human persons, but there is only one human being, of which we all partake. In the Incarnation, Christ became human being; he defines what it means to be human, and showed us at the Cross exactly what being human, and being divine, looks like — it looks like self-giving, other-centered love.

We are included in Christ at the Cross. For in the death of Christ, we all died. This is a necessary consequence of the Incarnation, by which Christ united divinity with humankind, joining himself with all humankind. Paul said, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

We are included in Christ in the Resurrection and the Ascension. In Ephesians 2, Paul says,

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

In the Resurrection, Human Being, which Christ has become and of which we all partake, was raised from the dead. And by that resurrection, human being has been born again. St. Peter said, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

In the Ascension, Human Being, of which we all partake, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and so all humankind is seated there with Christ, in Christ, forever and ever.

The purpose of this inclusion is deliverance from death, from the power of the death (who held the power of death), from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14), and so from the power of sin. That we may live unto God (Romans 6:11). That, through Christ, we may become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), and enjoy divine union with God, experiencing forever the relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit that Lord Jesus knows and experiences.

If, as the gospel shows, all are included in Christ, partaking of the one Human Being, who is Jesus Christ, then we cannot ignore anyone, for we are all part of each other. Apart from each other, we cannot finally know the fullness of our humanity, nor can we finally know the fullness of humanity’s union with God, which is revealed in Jesus Christ. 

The Good News of the Gospel is that
All are in Christ by the Creation and
Christ is in All by the Incarnation.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Deeply Connected With One Another


The Incarnation Means That
We are Deeply and Inextricably
Connected to One Another,
for Christ is Deeply and
Inextricably United with
All Humankind.

Though there are many human persons, there is only one human being, only one way of being human, of which we all partake. Christ, who is the Creator of all and from all derive their being, is being itself. By the Incarnation, he has united with all humankind by becoming Human Being.

This means that humankind, which was once defined by and headed up in Adam, is now defined by and headed up in Christ. And this is why St. Paul can speak so inclusively concerning Adam and Christ.

For if, by the trespass of the one man [Adam], death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. (Romans 5:17-18)

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

This deep and inseparable connection of Christ with all humankind, and of all humans persons with each other, means that, if there are any who are not finally restored, then none of us will ever fully be restored. There will always be something missing. Humankind — Human Being — will be eternally diminished.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The Way of the World is Undone

The way
of the world
is violence. 

The way of Christ,
the way of the Cross,
is the undoing of violence.

If we do not understand
the solution, it is because
we have not sufficiently
understood the problem.

The Cross of Christ turns the way of the world on its head. Jesus of Nazareth, who by wicked hands was put to the violence of crucifixion, by that same Cross put death itself to death. Peter preached about this at Pentecost, in Acts 2.

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:22-24)

“God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”  (Acts 2:32-36)
In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul speaks of this same upending of the way the world thinks, putting everything right side up. What is thought by the world to be foolishness turns out to be the very wisdom of God. The wisdom by which God created the heavens and the earth is the same wisdom by which God finally puts the world right, the wisdom of the Cross.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength ... It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25, 30)

Monday, March 25, 2024

The Fullness of Time

The coming of Christ into the world is the end of time. He is the fulfillment, the fullness of time. His Incarnation is the union of eternity with time in such a way that time is transfigured. Past, present and future become one in our Lord Jesus Christ.

But when the fullness [pleroma] of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5 NKJV)

In Ephesians 1:9-10, Paul speaks of God’s eternal plan and pleasure: “He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment [pleroma] — to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” 

The pleroma or fullness of time is the completion of time, its purpose being fulfilled, or filled full. Christ Crucified and Risen is not only the fulfillment of time but he is also the completion of all things. He is at once both the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, who was and is and is to come (Revelation 1:8). In Christ, it is all one.
 

Friday, March 22, 2024

Paul’s Surprising Conclusion in Romans

Many evangelicals know how Paul begins his long argument in Romans 1. But I wonder how many know the surprising conclusion he comes to at the very end of his argument, one that we would not have expected by the way he begins. The argument stretches from chapter 1 all the way through chapter 11, after which Paul breaks into wondrous doxology.

Paul’s point in this long argument, even at the beginning, is not to establish blame, though there is certainly plenty of blame to be had. And, clearly, God’s interest was not in establishing blame but, quite the opposite, in revealing salvation.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 1:18-23)

What we see in Romans 1 is that the wicked had rejected God because their thinking was futile and their foolish hearts that were darkened. In verse 24-28, we see that God “gave them over” (Paul repeats this three times): to their sinful desires, their shameful lusts, their depraved minds.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:24-28)

Had not their minds been depraved, and had not their hearts been foolish and darkened, perhaps the revelation of God in nature (which is created by Christ) might have been enough to keep them from wickedness, for the human will would then have been able to function properly. But the will was manifestly not free but in bondage to sin and darkness and depravity of mind, and so the will was defective, not able to function freely.

So, God handed them over to that darkness and depravity. But we must ask for what purpose? Was it so they would finally be destroyed? No! Quite the opposite — and that is the surprising thing. The dark hearts and confused minds of men call for retribution and revenge. But God is Love (1 John 4:8), so everything God does is a manifestation of who God is. Love is not retributive, nor does it seek revenge — that is simply not the way of God.

Paul’s long argument continues, ranging over hill and dale through eight chapters, with many insightful points along the way. Then in the final section, Romans 9-11, he takes up a completely hypothetical proposition and thoroughly examines it.

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath — prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:22-24)

The hypothetical here is the notion that some people are destined for destruction and others are destined for mercy. Paul works through this proposition in the balance of Romans 9-11. And what is his conclusion? That this is exactly what God is doing, with the destiny of some being destruction while others receive mercy? No, not at all! Quite the opposite, and many have not seen this coming. Paul concludes: 

For God has bound all over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on all. (Romans 11:32)

All are blameworthy, and God has handed all over to disobedience, not that they be finally destroyed but precisely in order to have mercy on all in the end. Who would have anticipated this from the way Paul opens his argument in Romans 1? But this is the good news of the gospel. Not that some are going to eternal damnation while others will be the object of God’s mercy but, rather, that God will have mercy on all.

So, evangelism is not about brokering some deal, getting people to complete some transaction, fulfill some condition, do some quid quo pro or “this” for “that” with God. The gospel is not a transaction but an announcement, a proclamation, that God is having mercy on all. That God is in Christ reconciling all the world to himself, not counting our sins against us (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Praise the Lord

Having begun in repentance, turning from the twisted ways of the world which do nothing but drain us dry, and deepening in remembrance and recognition of the Lord who has ever been with us from the beginning, revealing himself to us in unexpected ways, we come finally to that for which we have always been longing: The Holy City of God, the New Jerusalem, where Christ the Lamb is the Light, and whose gates are never shut. We have come home, our true home. It is joyful reunion, and we are glad.

Friends, the true journey we are on finally moves beyond our time bound experiences into dimensions that are eternal and limitless. Let not our thoughts remain constrained by the days and months and years. Let our eyes behold journey’s end, where all are gathered together from every time and place, saints and angels, joining the eternal song of praise, the Alleluia being sung by all creation. Blessed be God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — and blessed be His kingdom, now and forever. Amen.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
lead us all into the eternal bliss
of Your divine fellowship.
Amen.

Praise the Lord
(Psalm 134)

Praise the Lord,
All you servants of the Lord
Who serve Him in the night
Lift your hands
In the house of the Lord
And praise with all your might

May the Lord
Maker of heaven
Maker of earth
Bless you from Zion
© 2001 by Jeff Doles

The Pilgrim Psalms project is now streaming at Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, and wherever you enjoy music. It is also available for download at Amazon and iTunes. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Did the Events Described in the Old Testament Actually Happen?

For several years now, I have understood the Scriptures (what we know as the Old Testament) as being about Jesus Christ. I have done so because Lord Jesus himself taught us they are about him, and because that is how the New Testament authors understood them, and how the early Church Fathers understood them. 

Of course, when the Old Testament Scriptures are taken literally, they do not often show us Lord Jesus. Yet, they are nonetheless about Christ and about the things he would suffer before he entered into his glory (Luke 24:25-27). In other words, they are about the gospel. Inasmuch as Christ is not seen in literal readings of the Old Testament, the New Testament authors and the early Church Fathers read them in non-literal ways; as symbol, as allegory, as type, as figurative (these all mean pretty much the same thing).

Because I have been teaching and writing about this for several years now, someone recently asked me whether I though the events described in the Old Testament actually happened. Here is my answer:

Yes, the events described in the Old Testament did actually happen — but not necessarily as literally interpreted. There is a spiritual depth to them that is symbolically compressed in the language. Even the words themselves are, by the nature of words, symbolic.

Lord Jesus taught that the Scriptures are about him (see John 5 and Luke 24), and Paul teaches that it is only in Christ that the “veil is removed,” so that we can understand the Scriptures properly.

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we behave with great boldness, and not like Moses who used to put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from staring at the result of the glory that was made ineffective. But their minds were closed. For to this very day, the same veil remains when they hear the old covenant read. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away. But until this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds, but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. (2 Corinthians 3:12-16)

The Scriptures being all about Christ, if we read them as being about anything other than Christ, then we are not reading them as Scripture, and they are veiled to us. It is only in Christ that the veil is taken away, and only then can we see Christ and encounter Christ in them. It is only then that we are reading them as Scripture.

Below is a helpful little video clip from an interview with Jonathan Pageau on this question.

“Jonathan Pageau Answers the “Literal Question About the Bible”
(9 minutes)

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Travel Together

Traveling together, we discover a unity that is deeper and more ancient than we can comprehend. It is eternal. The journey is bigger than us. It draws us together and encompasses us — not just those of us who are presently on the way, but all who have ever been on it and all who are yet to come. Everyone and everything. For God makes known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, to bring all in heaven and on earth to unity, all summed up in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10). In this unity and this journey is found great blessing, the glory of God.

Travel Together
(Psalm 133)

Travel together
This journey makes us one
And the oil of blessing flows down
Fresh as the dew upon the ground

When we learn to recognize
We are pilgrims on the road
Through the mountains of Zion
To the city of our God
Where is His glory found?

Isn’t this heaven
Aren’t we the people of God
Hasn’t the Father made us one
Blessed with the Spirit and the Son?

May we learn to recognize
We are pilgrims on the road
Through the mountains of Zion
To the city of our God
Where is His glory found?

Travel together
This journey makes us one
And the oil of blessing flows down
Fresh as the dew upon the ground
© 2001 by Jeff Doles

The Pilgrim Psalms project is now streaming at Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, and wherever you enjoy music. It is also available for download at Amazon and iTunes.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Falling Into the Hands of the Living God

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31 NKJV)

Yes, it can be a very terrifying thing to fall into the hands of God. That is not because of God’s disposition toward us but is purely a matter of our perception of and disposition toward God.

When Adam turned away from God in the Garden, pulling away from the very life God offered, his perception of God became distorted. So, when God came calling in the Garden in the cool of the day, Adam hid in fear. He perceived God as being against him instead of for him. He was hostile against God in his own mind (Romans 8:7).

God is love (1 John 4:8), and those who are properly oriented toward God perceive him properly, as love. But those who are not properly oriented toward God perceive him in terror and dread.

God is Love, and God loves as God is, so all God’s actions are always loving toward all, even the most wicked. When Adam disobeyed, God did not love him one bit less. God’s love toward us never wavers toward us, never gives up on us but perseveres for our sake. It is steadfast.

First John 4:18 tells us that there is no fear in love but perfect love drives out fear. Where we are properly oriented toward God and his love, there is no fear, for we know God and his love for what they are, and that leaves no room for fear. But those who turn away from God misperceive even the love of God, and it seems a torment to them and that it comes to do them harm.

We are not, as Jonathan Edwards wrongly supposed, sinners in the hands of an angry God. We are sinners in the hands of a loving God, the God who put himself in the hands of angry sinners in order to deliver us from ourselves and our wrong perceptions of God.


Saturday, March 16, 2024

We Remember David

There is an ancient memory of the glory of the Lord, and that memory runs deep within us. Humility revives it, brings it to the fore. It is bracing, stabilizing. Drawing upon it helps us persevere, ever pressing on toward the Promise. King David remembered, and by humility saw the return of the Ark of the Covenant to the Holy City. And he rejoiced, dancing with wild abandon. Yet that was not enough. He longed for the Ark of the Glory to be fully established in the hearts and minds of his people — that the Lord might have his resting place forever among us. But as grand as David’s dream was, the Lord had something infinitely greater in mind. David wanted to build a house for God, but God would build a house for David, one that would endure forever. God would always be with us, in us, and our home would ever be in Him. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the promise fulfilled and our life is now hid with him in God (Colossians 3:3). And so we remember, and dance with David.

We Remember David
(Psalm 132)

David we remember yet
All the hardship he endure
His servant heart would not forget
But made a promise to the Lord
“I will not rest, I will not rest,
Nor will I find my peace
Until I make a place for Thee”

We have heard in Ephratah
And in the fields of Jaar
Of the glory of the Lord
And the blessing that was there
Let us worship at His feet,
Let us seek His face
May we find His dwelling place

We remember David
Made a promise to the Lord
He danced so hard,
He danced so high
So may the saints of God
Go singing in their joy
We remember David

David was your servant, Lord
And on the day he entered in
You heard the promise that he swore
You made a promise back to him
“If your children keep my ways,
I will be with them
They will have a king forever”

“You are the ones that I’ve desired
And the people of My choice
All your needs I’ll satisfy
And you will listen to my voice
When your enemies assail,
I will be with you
I’ll be the light upon your way”

Lord, remember David
Gained a promise from You, Lord
He danced so hard,
He danced so high
So may the saints of God
Go singing in their joy
We remember David
© 2001 by Jeff Doles

The Pilgrim Psalms project is now streaming at Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, and wherever you enjoy music. It is also available for download at Amazon and iTunes.

Friday, March 15, 2024

The Only Moment There Is

The Incarnation of Christ is not only the union of divinity with humanity, of God with humankind, it is also the union of eternity with time in such a way that time is transfigured. This is why Paul can speak of us as being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. And why John the Beloved, in the book of Revelation, can speak of Christ as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 

The Moment of the Creation
Is the Moment of the Fall,
The Moment of our participation
In its downward spiral
    By our own thoughts and deeds.

But it is also the Moment of
The Incarnation and the Cross,
And of the Resurrection.
It is the Moment of Christ drawing
All Creation to Himself.

The Moment of Christ
Transforming All Creation,
Making All Things New,
Conforming All to the Image
Of the Divine.

The End is in the Beginning
And the Beginning is in the End,
In the One Eternal Moment.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

My Heart is Not Proud

The journey has been long, and there is yet more to go. We have been to the bottom, cried out from the depths, learned humility, and there experienced the mercy of God. It does not answer all — or perhaps any — of our questions but it changes us. We have begun to realize that answers are not really what we are longing for. And now we are ready to move forward, not in pride of soul but in humility of heart. For in humility, there is hope.

My Heart Is Not Proud
(Psalm 131)

My heart is not proud
And neither my eyes
And I do not seek
To understand why
But I have stilled
And quieted my heart
And so have I placed
My hope in my God
© 2001 by Jeff Doles

The Pilgrim Psalms project is now streaming at Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, and wherever you enjoy music. It is also available for download at Amazon and iTunes.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Baptism is a True Participation in Salvation

Baptism is not a work by which we merit salvation. It is a work of God in us, by Water and the Holy Spirit, and manifests our salvation in a very tangible way. It is a participation in salvation, in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. (Romans 6:3-5)

God really does something in baptism. We are really and truly baptized into the death of Christ. By baptism, we are really and truly buried with Christ. We are born again through the resurrection of Christ (1 Peter 1:3), and in baptism, we are really and truly united with Christ in his resurrection to walk in newness of life.

Baptism is symbol, but it is not empty symbol. A true symbol is a joining together; it is from the Greek symbolos, a compound of syn, together, and ballein, to cast or throw. Baptism truly casts us together with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Out of the Depths

Now we come to a turning point in the journey. We began from far away in a land with no peace, and awakened to the joyful prospect of coming again to our heart’s true home in God. We have remembered how the Lord has delivered us in the past, how He has protected and provided, how He surrounds us on our journey and gives us rest. We have rejoiced in the Lord, the Righteous One, for He has been faithful to us.

But as we draw ever closer, we become more and more aware of something that has been going on inside us from the beginning, a calling out from the depths of our being. It is a deepening awareness of our many faults and failures, in the light of God’s faithfulness. And we realize our helplessness in the face of it. We are like Isaiah who, in his vision of the unfathomable glory of the Lord, experienced the profound sense of his own “unclean lips,” his own lack of righteousness (see Isaiah 6). Yet the Lord was faithful to cleanse and heal him, and we cry out to God for that same cleansing and healing. It is Christ and the Cross that we need, and with that assurance we can move forward and meet our God in the Holy Place.

Out of the Depths
(Psalm 130)

Out of the depths I cry
To You, O Lord
Now let Your ears hear my voice

If you should count my faults
Lord, who could stand?
In awe, we find that You forgive

How my soul waits for You
I wait for You
More than the watchman waits for dawn

Now let us trust in His unfailing love
He will redeem us from our sins
Himself redeem us from our sins
© 2001 by Jeff Doles

The Pilgrim Psalms project is now streaming at Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, and wherever you enjoy music. It is also available for download at Amazon and iTunes.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Heal My Tangled Heart

Lord, you know everything
going on in my heart
better than I do.
I am a mix,
and I am a mess.

Come and heal my heart,
and put right everything
that is in me.
Amen.

How blessed it is when we come to our helplessness, for then we turn to the LORD, who loves us deeply and cares for us more than we can imagine, and He will gladly help and deliver us, even from the tangles or our heart. This is the judgment of God, the judgment of Love, for God is Love. It corrects us, sorts us out, and sets right the thoughts and intents of our heart. There is no hiding out from the Lord, and this, too, is blessedness, as the psalm writer understood very well:

You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalm 139:1-7, 23-24)

Saturday, March 9, 2024

The Righteous Lord

They had been greatly oppressed, harnessed to the plow and run over time and again. But the Lord cut the straps that held them, the cords that bound them, and set them free. The testimony of Israel is that the Lord brought them up out of the land of bondage and into the Land of Promise. That is our testimony, too, for it is the same Lord Jesus who sets us free, and the same Cross by which we are redeemed. The Lord had been faithful to keep the covenant he made with their ancestors, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and would continue that faithfulness to them. That assurance enabled their perseverance so that they, too, would arrive safely at journey’s end.

The Righteous Lord
(Psalm 129)

From the days of my youth
All my enemies assailed
From the days of my youth
But they never did prevail
And the plowman plowed my back
And they made the furrows long
And the plowman plowed my back
And they made the furrows long

But the righteous Lord
Has cut me free
And the righteous Lord
Is keeping me moving on

They were grass on the roof
Where the grass will not grow
They were grass on the roof
Where the grass will not grow
And they turn from the Lord
He will turn them away
And they turn from the Lord
He will turn them away

But the righteous Lord
Has cut me free
And the righteous Lord
Is keeping me moving on
© 2001 by Jeff Doles


The Pilgrim Psalms
project is now streaming at Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, and wherever you enjoy music. It is also available for download at Amazon and iTunes.

Friday, March 8, 2024

God Reconciling Us to Himself

What does “separation from God” mean? Inasmuch as all are created through Christ, by Christ, for Christ and in Christ (Colossians 1:16-17), it is therefore actually impossible to be separated from God, for Christ is God, and everything exists in him, or else does not exist at all.

God has never separated himself from us. Though we turned away from God, God did not turn away from us. When Paul speaks about the reconciliation brought about by Christ and the blood of the cross, it is not about God reconciling himself to us but about God reconciling us to himself (Colossians 1:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:19). 

Whatever sense of separation there may have been was only in our own minds, not in the mind of God. It is the enmity of the fleshly mind (not controlled by the Spirit/spirit) that Paul speaks about in Romans 8:7, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.” The Cross did not change God’s mind about us but it changes our minds about God.

This enmity that was in our own minds was not any kind of punishment from God, nor does Scripture speak of it as such, but it is part of what we needed to be delivered from.

Inasmuch as “separation from God” is not any punishment imposed upon us by God, the Cross and the Atonement was not about Christ taking any such punishment upon himself in our place.

The Incarnation demonstrates that God did not separate himself from us. Quite the opposite, by the Incarnation, Christ, who is God, united himself with all humankind, joining God with all humanity.

It is simply not possible for Christ to be separated from God, because Christ is God. To speak of any separation within the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is to speak incoherently. Any theory of atonement that posits such a separation fails to understand the historic Christian faith and the doctrine of the Trinity.

So, the Cross was not about Christ being punished in our place. Nor was it about Christ being separated from God. It was not about reconciling God to us but about reconciling us to God. At the Cross, Christ was not drawing God to us but, rather, drawing all to himself (John 12:30-33; see The Cast Net).

When we make the Cross about Christ appeasing God, or changing God’s mind about us, or turning God back toward us, we have gotten the whole directionality of it exactly wrong. Penal theories of the atonement get it all backwards.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

You Shall Be Happy

In the middle of the journey, the psalm writer speaks quite unabashedly about the blessing, the joy the happiness that attends those who honor the Lord and walk in His ways. Yes, there are dangers and difficulties encountered along the way, but there is also the protection and provision of God, the fellowship of friends and family, and the warmth of hearth and home. And in all things, the Lord reveals Himself to us in unexpected ways. Glory to God for all things.

You Shall Be Happy
(Psalm 128)

Blessed are you
Who worship the Lord
And all those who honor His name
Blessed are you
Who listen to His voice
And all those who walk in His ways
You shall be happy
It shall be well with you

Blessed be your household
It shall multiply
Many the ones at your table
Joy for your sorrow
Comfort for your tears
All that you need from your labors
You shall be happy
It shall be well with you

For so are the ones who are blessed by the Lord
So may the peace of the Lord be with you
© 2001 by Jeff Doles

The Pilgrim Psalms project is now streaming at Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, and wherever you enjoy music. It is also available for download at Amazon and iTunes.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

When I Hide and When I Confess

When I hide
In shame or pride,
I crumble inside.

When I confess
My mess,
I come to my rest.

Pride and shame are but two sides of the same coin. Both sides are false, teaching us lies about who we are. They create distance between us and others, and lead us to hide behind our false self, in denial, lest anyone discover what frauds we are.

But Lord Jesus sets us free from all that. For he is neither proud nor ashamed. He is humble. Yet he carried our pride and shame to the crossed and was crucified by them. He teaches us humility — and that is where we find our rest and become our true self.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Lord’s Gonna Give You Rest

This pilgrim journey is one of giving up the vain notion that everything — or anything — depends upon us, and coming to the place of humility, realizing how great is our helplessness. It is a joyful realization, for it means that we can cast all our cares, all our distracting thoughts, over onto the Lord, who loves us deeply and will take care of us always. Lord Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The Lord’s Gonna Give You Rest
(Psalm 127)

Build a house, build a wall, build a city
That’s a mighty fine work,
But ain’t it a pity
It’s all gonna fail the test
Take some time, take some thought, take a minute
Did you ever ask yourself
If the Lord was in it?
As humble men will confess
Only the Lord’s gonna give you rest

You get up early and you’re staying up late
And you work like a mule to put food on your plate
You know, you settle for less
You keep depending on what you can do
And you’re forgetting all the love He has for you
He wants to give your His best
Only the Lord’s gonna give you rest

You don’t have to be afraid to grow older
I know they told you but it’s just not true
You don’t have to take the world on your shoulders
Just be faithful to the way He works in you

The road we’re traveling is straight and its narrow
But He’ll direct you like the bow directs the arrow
And He will give you success
And if you doubt that the Lord is a giver
Just remember all the children in your quiver
Then you will know you’ve been blessed
Only the Lord’s gonna give you rest
Only the Lord’s gonna give you rest
Only the Lord’s gonna give you rest
© 2001 by Jeff Doles

The Pilgrim Psalms project is now streaming at Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, and wherever you enjoy music. It is also available for download at Amazon and iTunes.