Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jesus Christ My Savior Died

Jesus Christ My Savior Died
© 2013, Phillip Gaeddert

Jesus Christ my savior died
yet I’m so oft unsatisfied
this sin is nothing more than pride
which kills my soul and blinds my eye
and grieves the One who sits on high
who calls me now to come and die
repenting of my sin

My sin that drove Him to the cross
the grave, the tomb with priceless cost
to satisfy the wrath of God
and save my soul both dead and lost
the price He paid exchanged for dross
yet somehow didn’t count it loss
for me to live with Him

This Christ the Lord he took on flesh
redeemed me from my rottenness
and clothed me in His righteousness
how can I spurn this loveliness?
in humble state of brokenness
just let these dry bones now confess
an empty hand I bring

So praise His glorious name above
who sent His only Son in love
with Spirit descending like a dove
on Him who sacrificed His blood
absorbed the wrath of God enough
and plunged me ‘neath the ‘whelming flood
what can I offer Him?

To live by grace and walk aright
to walk by faith and not by sight
to love His word the only light
Jesus the way, the truth, the life
to sing of Him with all my might
to praise Him only day and night
while fighting off my sin

Well done my servant enter in
I heard Him speak at my life’s end
but not one word about my sins
I asked, He said Christ rid of them
o’erwhelmed as I have ever been
I knew my crowns belonged to Him
I lay them at His feet

So praise His name forevermore
ascribe all glory to the Lord
and spread this word from shore to shore
across the sea and around the world
that cancelled sin hath power no more
believe in Him and trust Him for
He's risen from the dead

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Hymn, 2012

Christ Jesus, Son of Man
© 2012, Phillip Gaeddert

Christ Jesus, Son of Man, He is the Prince of Peace
The Lion and the Lamb, seated as our High Priest
King of kings, Lord of lords, oh praise His glorious name
King of kings, Lord of lords, now and ever the same

Creator of all things, took wrath in our own stead
Lift up your head and sing, He rose just as He said
King of kings, Lord of lords, give praise to Him above
King of kings, Lord of lords, what wondrous act of love

How can we doubt His word, this Prophet, Priest, and King?
Give praise unto the LORD, and to the cross but cling
King of kings, Lord of lords, now let His praises ring
King of kings, Lord of lords, nothing to Him we bring

Only begotten Son, the truth, the life, the way
The ever faithful One, the grave was not His stay
King of kings, Lord of lords, all praise in glorious day
King of kings, Lord of lords, believe on Him today

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Open Letter to an Identity Thief

Dear "Thief":

I want you to know most of all that I am writing to you today out of genuine concern for you. Allow me the opportunity to further explain, but before I do that since I know that one sin only leads to another it seems fit to warn you first that you will be tempted next to suppress those feelings of guilt which you are now experiencing. In a word - don't. They were placed there for your benefit by the One who made both you and everything in existence beyond the farthest reaches of what any mortal will ever see. He is the Creator and Giver of life and the One who loved all of creation enough to die for lawbreakers like you and me. You know, the very same One who wrote the law - thou shalt not steal. (Exodus 20:15)

I happen to know a little something about this law because I've broken it too. By way of example, when I was a little boy of about seven I secretly pocketed a nickel off of another kid's towel over at the city swimming pool. To this day I wish that I could go and give that boy back his little nickel, but it’s too late. I don't know who he is and the deed is long since done. Guilty as charged. (Romans 3:23)

Perhaps though your conscience is no longer tender enough to notice the gravity of what you've done and is already hardened to the natural remorse due from your specific crime which involved me. This would be to your shame and I pray it isn't so.

So rest assured, either way, that I'm contacting all of the appropriate authorities to look into this matter. For me to turn a blind eye to the unlawful deed that you've committed would not only be irresponsible, but would be just as bad of me as it was for you to commit this crime to begin with. (Proverbs 16:30)

You only thought you had acted in secret. (Proverbs 15:3) You also thought that you only stole from a random nobody, however in that point you were at least half right. While it is true that I am a random nobody, the party that your offense is ultimately lodged against is none other than God himself. After all, He is the one who gave us the law to begin with and is also worthy of our obedience to it. (Revelation 4:11)

So you see then, it’s not just that you've taken something that belongs to me and used it for your own nefarious purpose that’s caused me to write to you. I am writing to remind you of whom you're ultimately accountable.

That said, in the long run the best thing for you to do right now is to simply admit guilt, turn yourself in, and face the music. I say this is the place to start because that's the easy part.  Ultimately the only way to truly be free is to throw yourself down at the unfailing mercy of the Righteous Judge of the universe who plainly sees everything that you do, this incident included.  And you need to not only do this, but to also desire to do it wholeheartedly and, yeah, that's a 180 degree change which can only be accomplished with Supernatural ability.  (Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 3:5-8; Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:3-7)

To ignore this warning is to pronounce your own ultimate doom. Face it; you know you were already doomed anyway before any of this ever happened, but to look the other way now only further seals your fate. That small worthless pile of ill gotten gain will forever stand as evidence against you. It is evidence that you yourself have labored to produce by selling your own soul in exchange for it. And that's a hefty price to pay, I might add, compared to a few hundred dollar "profit". (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25)

What I shared by comparison - to take even a single nickel from someone else while no one is looking - is really no different. As you can see, God didn't provide an exception clause. And it’s not that I shared this because it is either the worst or the only thing I have ever done wrong – far from it. Rather, it’s to help underscore the fact that God doesn't grant impunity by grading on a sliding scale. (Galatians 3:10; James 2:10)

So in closing, I want you to know that I'm praying for you. I’m praying that you'll find and read this while thoughtfully considering its contents. I’m praying that you'll see the light and not give in to further temptation. I’m praying that you'll do the right thing. Praying that God will so invade your space that you'll recognize the utter hopelessness of your eternal condition before its too late and you stand instead accused as a guilty, unrepentant law breaker before Him who created you. (Acts 10:42; Revelation 20:11-15)

By the way, there is one who has offered to pay your debt so you don't have to face that judgment. (Romans 3:21-26; Hebrews 2:14-18; I John 4:10) Perhaps you've heard of Him. His name is Jesus Christ, the friend of sinners. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He made both the lame to walk and the blind to see. He alone can forgive sins and not only was He alone able to fully and finally pay for them (Matthew 5:17-20; Hebrews 10:11-14), but He also chose to willingly do so (Philippians 2:5-8). (Because, you see, God cannot turn a blind eye to sin either.) He alone can make all things new (Revelation 21:5) and, in fact, it was He who was first raised from the dead. (Colossians 1:18) Best of all for you right now He is ready and willing to hear your repentant prayer. (Luke 18:9-14)

The interesting thing is that He will require your own life in exchange for this payment. (Matthew 16:24-28; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-27) For you see, by default, if God takes away your sin and guilt and makes you think and act like a new person then you just won't desire to go on making a habit of doing things like what you're currently doing. (Romans 6:1-4; 1 Peter 1:14-16) That's not to say that all of a sudden everything will be peachy or easy, but since He already owns your soul anyway it behooves you to act now before it’s too late.

So, I may not yet know exactly who you are, but I'm praying specifically for your soul. Today is the day of salvation. Heed His call. Don't delay.

In the name of Christ the Lord,

Your concerned "Victim"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Twisted Parable of Ephesians 6:4

In need of lessons about how to provoke your children to anger?  Don't miss the following news story:
Grocer drops sandwich charge that cost couple custody of daughter
While the story has more to do with customer service than it does with parenting it still reads like a twisted parable of Ephesians 6:4.  A quick run through of what not to do:
  1. The first time your child even unintentionally misbehaves come down on them as harshly as possible no matter if they knew the rules or not.
  2. Be unrelenting and refuse to reconcile with your child even if they are truly repentant.  Make sure that there is absolutely nothing they can do to satiate your anger until you personally feel vindicated.
  3. Don't give appropriate discipline. Instead, take away your child's most prized possession for an undetermined amount of time so that they are sure to know that you are a tyrant.
  4. Make sure your child knows that you are dedicated to protecting your own image to outsiders, but are too proud to seek forgiveness from them when you both know you've gone too far.
  5. Make amends with your child only after they've paid multiple times over for their "offense" and be sure to let them know all along the way that they are still at fault.
I'm sure there are probably additional lessons here that I have overlooked.  Also to be fair, we don't know exactly what the store in question has/hasn't done for this family after the fact, but this is the only information that we have to go on.  Still, a little grace would've gone a loooong way in this situation.

As parents we need to remember that while disobedience in our children is sin, we are never the primary offended party.  That distinction belongs to God alone (Ps 51:4).  Our responsibility as parents, in both word and deed, is to communicate this truth to our children and to administer appropriate discipline when necessary in keeping with Biblical standards.  A little grace goes a long way. And that's really the entire point - lovingly communicating to our children in every circumstance their need of the Gospel of grace.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why I'm not excited about the Christian blockbuster genre

As I type this, the next installment in the Christian Hollywood blockbuster genre has recently been released and is most likely showing in a theater near you.  Like all of its prior cousins it seeks to send a message to the general public in line with the Christian worldview through the medium of the movie screen.  While I applaud its producers for attempting to redeem the genre of film with production values worthy of its secular counterparts, I just can't seem to get excited about these kinds of projects.

In no particular order, here are some reasons why I think these big screen attempts to reach the culture at large (and even the culture in the church) are ultimately doomed to failure.

  1. Nearly all of these films seem to focus on orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy.  Right belief will inevitably lead to right practice, but the opposite of this is not true (right practice will not lead to right belief).  In fact, this approach is much more closely related to legalism which is a charge that even secular reviewers bring against these films.  
  2. Movies are a form of entertainment and their primary objective is to entertain.  Anything else, including any message they may attempt to convey, is and only can be secondary.  As such these shows are purposely over dramatized to capture the viewer's attention complete with soundtracks to help heighten said drama.  Since nobody has such embellished dramatics or sound tracks playing along in real life they will inevitably discover that their own life is much more boring than what they witnessed on the movie screen.  Once this truth hits home the mountaintop euphoria they experienced from watching the movie goes away along with whatever motivation for change that came along with the experience.  
  3. Related to that above, unless I'm looking specifically for a piece of entertainment these films are largely a waste of time and money.  Look, if you're hungry is your first response going to be to flip on the TV and look for a cooking show or go find something to eat?  It is obvious that only one of those options is going to satisfy your hunger.  Even IF the message I need to hear is contained in these films I can guarantee that it will also be accessible in a multitude of other avenues which are not only more thorough but significantly more precise and accurate in their presentation.  No matter what the message, a two hour flick is going to contain a lot of fluff.  Two hours spent on studying a topic of weakness even if I have to solicit outside help will always be significantly more profitable.   
  4. No one likes a movie where the good guys don't eventually win which is why you rarely, if ever, find a movie where they don't end up doing just that.  This is the way it is and is what constitutes telling a good story.  While I'm not at all saying that this should change, the christian life comes with no guarantees.  We can't expect that everything will work out in the end in this life even if we do all the right things.  The christian is called to expect suffering, yet in the movies all you will likely see is ultimate triumph.
  5. As Francis Schaeffer reminds us in How Should We Then Live, every minute of television [including movie footage] has been edited (pg 240 in my copy).  The truth is not lost on the viewer that the makers of a film are crafting a specific message with a specific outcome.  Can you imagine stating something like the following to a friend or coworker:  "Go see the new movie __________ because it has a great message and story line which proves that my worldview is correct."?  This is preposterous.  An objector might state that we live in a culture that has been raised on TV and we need to use methods that will speak to them.  Fair enough, but what does the Bible say about how we are to bear witness about the truth that is within us?  I Peter 2:12 states that it is our right conduct that does this.  That's right, we're supposed to be living it out unscripted right in front of them
  6. We're already surrounded by more than enough entertainment.  Everywhere you look there are more and more ways to be entertained - so much so that you literally have to go out of your way to avoid it.  While I'm all for good, clean, family friendly choices, we're oversaturated with entertainment as it is, do we really need to generate more?
As the old adage goes - what you win them through is what you win them to.   It may be clean, have a good story line, be enjoyable and engaging, but its still entertainment and you can't escape the fact that the medium shapes the message.  If anyone does respond positively through these types of films I'm thankful for it, but the risk of false conversion seems pretty high to me.  Maybe these films provide opportunities for people to engage in real conversations with lost friends and truly get to matters of the heart, but I'm still more than a little skeptical.

As I said as I began this post, I do appreciate the attempts that have been made to redeem the genre of film.  It can be quite difficult to find good, quality, family entertainment that is clean and sends an acceptable message.  And I'm not so naive to think that God can't work through means that aren't necessarily perfect. 

But even though we live in a world with lots of frills, technology, and gadgetry, the natural condition of men's hearts remains exactly the same as they were directly after the fall and the way that men are saved and have their hearts oriented toward God also remains unchanged - by confronting them with their sin in the face of God's perfectly righteous requirement and then pointing them to the Savior who alone can forgive sins.  Such didacticism I am afraid is, at best, heavily veiled in the Christian blockbuster and we're fooling ourselves if we think that that doesn't matter.