wooed many times into love

I have been reading the Hymn Stories from Challies blog and (this will come as no surprise) the words are often deeper and richer and fuller than what we choose to sing throughout our days.

As I read the bit of history on the hymn, “How Firm A Foundation,” I thought of something I heard recently in a sermon. The pastor said, “…the Bible is aware of the complexity of sin.” It didn’t sit well with me and as I thought over these words I realized why. Is a foundation merely “aware” of all that’s built on its top or does it inform and support and uphold every piece in place?

The Bible is more than aware of sin’s complexity because the Bible is the Living Word of God and our only guide against sin, a firm foundation and as steady as 4/4 time.

We are wooed many times into love with Truth.

There is the first initial drawing and calling and wooing that opens our eyes to the Love that grace helps us receive in Christ. And then there is the falling in love – the delighting in being betrothed and chosen. And then there is the wooing that comes round after we’ve chased other loves and forgotten how to stand.

This wooing again into love with Truth comes through the firm foundation of the Word. We are reminded that, by grace, God keeps us secure in His promises. He has claimed us as His own and offers the inspired words of Scripture as a constant love song to draw us out of fear and into strength.

We forget, I do anyway, the deep love and affection of the resurrection. I forget my place “while still a sinner” when Christ reached into the depths and sang his love song to my dead bones. I forget what I once was (1 Corinthians 6:11) and what I would be, if not for Christ. I forget the first few redeeming notes of the salvation song.

But Truth has many pages and the salvation song plays when we open the Word! God’s promises are not shifting shadows. His faithful song remains unchanged and when we have ears to hear, we will be wooed once again by His melody.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

The Word reminds me what God called us out of – that we were once sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, practicing homosexuals, thieves and the greedy, the drunkards and revilers, and swindlers.

God graciously interrupts the barrage of sinful labels to remind us that we are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus and by the Spirit.

We are wooed many times into love and it is by the reading of the Word. God has given us the treasure of His divinely inspired words to uphold and inform and support everything else that is built in our lives. This is the kind of transformational building the resurrection empowers.

I am awake, today at least, to the way the Word woos me into greater love for the salvation song. Do you hear the melody or have you forgotten? Have you ever heard it?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

don’t you fold, gram and gramps

“Seems like kids don’t respect anyone these days… they don’t even respect themselves.” Gram was telling me stories of the kids on her afternoon bus route, “I just don’t know anymore.”

“Well, we’ve got to hold on to hope… because if we don’t have hope what do we have?” I kind of threw it out there hoping it wouldn’t sound as trite as it felt.

I told her to pass that on to Grandpa and that’s when I found out he was on the line too. I could see the whole scene unfold in my mind: Grandma picked up the phone by the computer and when she said, “Well, Caroline, hello!” she made a motion for Gramps to get on the other line and he went into the kitchen to listen in.

Anyway, so Grandpa was in the kitchen, Grandma was in the living room and I was on my way to make my lunch and walk the dog. Grandpa said, “I just wake up every morning and thank God for another day. I say, ‘God, help me not waste this day because it’s a gift.’ And I just got to keep thinking like that.”

I smiled and I hoped they heard it in my voice. Grace and thanks. Thanks and grace.

We can’t persuade ourselves into an attitude of thanks. We are predisposed to passivity when it comes to thanks, if it wasn’t for grace. Only by the grace of God can we look at the world (and at the children who lack respect for themselves or others) and see hope. But it is also only by the grace of God that we can look at the world and see how dark and dreadful it is without hope.

God gives us grace to see darkness and grace to see light and grace to recognize the difference, because we must know from where we came.

Paul writes to the church in Corinth,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

And such were some of you. Paul is clear about who will inherit the kingdom of God, but he is also clear that the Gospel is not about keeping people out. The Gospel is about bringing people in and, with the transforming power of God alone, making them new. When Paul writes to the church in Corinth, he doesn’t have them all stand by the windows so he can point out sinners walking down the street. No, Paul reminds them of their own lives before they were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.

After youth group tonight, I invited a student out to coffee and while I was in the bathroom she overheard a table of middle-aged men chatting about how one of them “scored” on a young blonde.

It’s true – people don’t respect others or even themselves anymore and it’s not just the children on my grandparents’ bus routes. It’s so true it makes me sick to my stomach. Sin has a way of smothering my heart and suffocating my lungs. It’s just so … dreadfully ugly.

But weren’t we once this dreadfully ugly?

God is gracious in allowing us to see sin and evil because only then will we see the weight of grace in our own deliverance.

Don’t fold, Gram and Gramps. Don’t you fold when you’re driving those precious children and they’re running the aisles with arms flailing and curses like sailors. Love because He first loved you.

There’s a lot a darkness out there, so don’t you fold.

Don’t you fold
When the mountain is high,
When the river is wide
Don’t you fold
When you’re out of your mind,
When you’re walking the line