Poetry Saturday—O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shalt tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee,
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be. —George Matheson

Bryan Duncan has beautifully set this poem to music—

Poetry Saturday—If All My Days Were Sunny

If all my days were sunny, could I say,
“In His fair land He wipes all tears away”?

If I were never weary, could I keep
This blessed truth, “He gives His loved ones sleep”?

If no grave were mine, I might come to deem
The Life Eternal but a baseless dream.

My winter, and my tears, and weariness,
Even my grave, may be His way to bless.

I called them ills; yet that can surely be
Nothing but love that shows my Lord to me!

—Anonymous

Take Your Life Back (book review)

take-your-life-backStephen Arterburn and David Stoop say it’s quite simple—you are either living a reactive life or a responsive life. One keeps us trapped by our past or other people, and one sets us free to live life to the fullest. Arterburn and Stoop want you to Take Your Life Back.

Arterburn and Stoop vividly describe the childhood wounds and experiences that can lead to so many of us burying our real selves and living out of a reactive, false self that we believe others want to see. Then, using the imagery from the story of the Prodigal Son, they talk about how the younger son came home to address his concerns, and how the elder brother who never left home also had to come to grips with his woundedness.

To some extent or another, we all carry some sort of woundedness in our hearts—someone abused us, or let us down, or led us to believe that we weren’t valuable. The question now is: “Do I know my wound? Am I willing to admit to my wound? Am I willing to take the necessary steps toward healing and freedom?” Far too many people hide their wound and end up living restricted, reactive lives. But Arterburn and Stoop want to help lead you to confront your wound and take the necessary steps to live a free, responsive life.

Whether you have a wound in your life that you need to address, or you know someone close to you struggling with their woundedness, Take Your Life Back will be an invaluable resource. Stop letting your past or other people control and limit you, take your life back to live the abundant life God wants you to live!

I am a Tyndale book reviewer.

Poetry Saturday—Is It Raining?

FullSizeRender 12Is it raining, little flower?
     Be glad of rain;
Too much sun would wither one;
     It will shine again.
The clouds are very dark, it’s true;
But just behind them shines the blue.

Are you weary, tender heart?
     Be glad of pain:
In sorrow, sweetest virtues grow,
     As flowers in rain.
God watches, and you will have sun,
When clouds their perfect work have done. —Lucy Larcom

9 Quotes From “Your Joy Will Turn To Sorrow”

Your Sorrow Will Turn To JoyAlthough Your Joy Will Turn To Sorrow is intended to be read each morning and evening of Holy Week (check out my book review here), the content is so good that it will benefit you anytime you decide to read it! Here are some quotes that especially caught my attention.

“The only Savior who truly saves, only saves through suffering. The Cross was the only means of making us sinners right before a holy God. Our salvation was purchased with suffering, and it will be sealed and preserved with suffering (James 1:2-4), not comfort. We are promised comfort in the Christian life (2 Corinthians 1:4), but not the cheap, temporal imitation we’ve grown accustomed to in our modern world.” —Marshall Segal

“Jesus did not come to purchase the approval of others. No, He ‘was despised and rejected by men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as One from whom men hide their faces He was despised’ (Isaiah 53:3). Why? Because it is God’s approval we desperately need. And God’s approval doesn’t come by popular opinion, but by divine intervention—the substitution of His own Son in our place.” —Marshall Segal

“The irony of Mark 14 is that Judas could see the value of the ointment rolling down Jesus’ head, but he couldn’t see the value of Jesus. He was a pawnbroker with cataracts. That’s why he took such offense at the woman. The woman, on the other hand, could see both the value of the ointment and the value of Jesus. That’s why she broke the flask.” —Jonathan Bowers

“No one understands better than God how difficult it can be for a human to embrace the will of God. And no human has suffered more in embracing the will of God the Father than God the Son. When Jesus calls us to follow Him, whatever the cost, He is not calling us to do something He is either unwilling to do or is never done Himself.” —Jon Bloom

“So, now, we say with an entirely different meaning, let His blood be on us, not defiantly as the crowds that crucified Him, but desperately—with gratitude and hope and adoration—as those who depend wholly on His sacrifice. Jesus, let Your blood be on us. Let it cover us. Let the blood that flows from Your head, Your hands, Your feet wash over us and cleanse us from all our iniquity. We proclaim Jesus’ death. We rejoice in his death, not because we believe He was a fraud or a lunatic, but because it is by His death, by His wounds, by His blood that we are healed.” —Marshall Segal

“Jesus spoke of this joy as He faced the torture of Good Friday. He faced denial, faced betrayal, faced beatings, faced splinters and nails and spears—He could not stop talking about joy! Only joy would keep Him going. Joy was on His mind, joy was on His tongue, and joy was drawing Him, not away from suffering, but into it (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus went to the Cross for joy: to buy joy, create joy, and offer joy. As the world celebrated the savage killing of God, out of this sea of foaming rebel hostility emerged a blood-bought, inextinguishable joy.

“If the killing of the Author of life could not extinguish this joy Jesus speaks about, nothing can—and nothing ever will. No opposition from the world, no opposition to the gospel, and no cultural despising of Christ will overcome the resurrection joy of Jesus.” —Tony Reinke

“If Christ is still dead, death reigns, and all our joys our vain. So hoard every plastic Easter egg you find, because whatever you find inside is all the joy you have to grab. Or, as Paul says, ‘If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’ (1 Corinthians 15:32). But if death is dead, and if the dead are raised—if Christ is risen from the dead!—brothers and sisters, let us feast and celebrate, for the daunting light of our inextinguishable and inexhaustible eternal pleasures have broken into the darkness, offering us a life of joy in Christ that cannot fade or rust or be stolen away!” —Tony Reinke

“Easter has now become our annual dress rehearsal for that great coming Day. When our perishable bodies will put on the imperishable. When the mortal finally puts on immortality. When we join in the triumph song with the prophets and the apostles, ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ (Hosea 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:55).” —David Mathis

“Indeed, even agony will turn to glory, but Easter doesn’t suppress our pain. It doesn’t minimize our loss. It bids our burdens stand as they are, in all their weight, with all their threats. And this risen Christ, with the brilliance of the indestructible life in His eyes, says, ‘These too I will claim in the victory. These too will serve your joy. These too, even these, I can make an occasion for rejoicing. I have overcome, and you will more than conquer.’ 

“Easter is not an occasion to repress whatever ails you and put on a happy face. Rather, the joy of Easter speaks tenderly to the pains that plague you. Whatever loss you lament, whatever burden weighs you down, Easter says, ‘It will not always be this way for you. The new age has begun. Jesus has risen, and the Kingdom of the Messiah is here. He has conquered death and sin and hell. He is alive and on His throne. And He is putting your enemies, all your enemies, under His feet.’” —David Mathis

I Wish My Pastor Knew…

I wish my pastor knewOur youth pastor passed out cards to the youth group, and told them they could anonymously finish this sentence: “I wish my pastor knew…

  • … that I regret a lot of my past
  • … I don’t know if I believe in my religion fully
  • … I need to talk to God more
  • … I am nervous about school
  • … even though I act happy I’m the total opposite
  • … I’m really scared to go back to school. I’m scared that I’m going to get really depressed again. I am already struggling with self-harm and being so emotionally tired. I’m scared it’s going to get worse. I just want to be okay. I want to be better.
  • … I have a hard time trying not to hate myself
  • … sometimes I’m very selfish and not Christ-like … a lot of the time actually
  • … that I’m troubled with life
  • … I was losing my mind, feel like I’m not where I need to be, I don’t know where I belong
  • … that I have very little faith, and I am trying to get closer to God. And that I live a sin
  • … about the situation with my brother and how we haven’t spoken in six years

Wow!

Here’s what I learned—

  1. I need to pray more for our youth pastors a lot more than I have been!
  2. Lots of people are hurting. Not just youth, but adults too.
  3. Jesus loves hurting people.
  4. What a privilege—and responsibility—I have as a pastor to show the love of Jesus!

7 Quotes From “Abolishing Abortion” For The Church

Abolishing AbortionFather Frank Pavone writes persuasively and passionately about the role all of us can play in abolishing abortion throughout the world. One group that definitely needs to step to the forefront of this battle is the Church! Here are some quotes from Father Pavone specifically talking to Christians.

“People need to know that to oppose abortion does not mean to oppose those who have had one. … The Church has the perfect spiritual and psychological balance necessary for those who have been involved in an abortion. The last thing such a person needs to hear is, ‘What you did is no big deal.’ The nature of post-abortion grief is that the individual involved in the abortion has begun to realize precisely what a big deal it was. Now this person needs someone to tell her that she should not feel silly for feeling sad, that there is indeed reason for the grief in her heart, and that what her heart is telling her is true: her child was killed. A great disservice was done both to her and her child when someone convinced her that the abortion would be ‘no big deal.’ Accepting that line was a major act of denial. Healing can begin when she breaks out of denial and calls the evil what it is. … At the same time, the other line she does not need to here is, ‘You are rejected; there is no hope.’ As she realizes the evil that has occurred, she will be tempted to say this to herself. The Church, however, contradicts that despair with the clear message of forgiveness.” 

“Those in the pain of abortion are not helped by silence. Some pastors refrain from preaching about abortion out of the sincere desire to not hurt women who have had abortions. Yet that silence does not interpret itself. The person grieving over abortion can infer from our silence that we do not know her pain, or that we do not care, or that there is no hope. None of this is true. With clear and compassionate messages, pastors can break through the silence that led to a woman to this disastrous choice in the first place.”

“Those who attend church regularly are statistically the most likely to be pro-life and the most likely to be pro-life activists. Within America’s Christian churches there are people enough and resources enough to end abortion, armed as the pro-life movement is with the supernatural gifts of truth and grace. It is clear that the full activation of the Church is a critical step for ending abortion. This does not primarily mean creating new structures. It simply means infusing the existing structure with greater vigor and effectiveness.”

“The pro-life movement is not primarily a response to Roe v. Wade. It is a response to Jesus Christ. His teachings not only show us why we are to be pro-life but also show us how. They give us the virtues we need to have in doing this work.”

“The Church is the only institution that has a divine guarantee that it will prevail over the culture of death. ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against it,’ the Lord Himself said (Matthew 16:18 KJV). Now, gates do not run out on the battlefield to attack the enemy. Rather, they stand still and defend the city against the enemy attacking it. To say that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church is to say that it is the Church that takes the offense and storms the gates of hell to win ground for Jesus Christ. Gates of hell cannot withstand the power of heaven. The gates of death fall in the presence of eternal life. Sin melts in the presence of saving grace. Falsehood collapses in the presence of living truth. These are the tools with which Christ has equipped His Church.”

“Love is found on Calvary. Love’s best symbol is not the heart but the Cross. … What Christ revealed to the world through the Cross about the meaning of love, we must also reveal through our own sacrifice for those we love.”

“Abortion is the exact opposite of love. Loves says, ‘I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person.’ Abortion says, ‘I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself.’ And isn’t it amazing that the very same words used by the culture of death to justify abortion are the words used by our Lord to proclaim life and salvation and love: ‘This is My body!’ … ‘This is My body,’ Jesus said, ‘given for you’ (see Luke 22). He did not cling to His body so that we would die but rather gave it away so that we could live. These are the words that define our mission in the world: spouse saying to spouse, parents saying to children, clergy saying to their congregation, all of us saying to our brothers and sisters, ‘This is my body, my time, my efforts, my resources, my life—given for you, that you may live!’”

I have shared other quotes from Abolishing Abortion which you can read here and here.

And be sure to check out my book review of Abolishing Abortion here.

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