Archive for February, 2008

The Wonderful Cross

It’s amazing how the same hymn lyrics that encourage and strengthen can also convict and emasculate. Tonight was USC/UCLA night for KCM. We sang “The Wonderful Cross.” As I sang the first verse, I felt so far from what the lyrics were saying.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Could I really say that I counted my richest gain but loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ? I have had struggles with pride, and though I do view my pride with contempt, as I sang that line, I was reminded of all the times I basked in it for my own self-confidence.

There is a third verse which is omitted in the popular Chris Tomlin/Matt Redman version that many churches sing. It was this verse that I sang instead of the fourth. I sang it as a prayer in response to my conviction from the first verse.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

It was nice seeing the room filled with so many believers. I felt happy and content, even the times when I sat alone or silent. I hope I was able to show kindness to those who may have felt lonely. I thank God for the times I feel lonely because then I don’t become full of myself when in large group settings. Because I know how nice it feels to have someone go out of their way to talk to me and spend time with me, I can go and do the same for others. I’m not exactly the type of person with a special talent at making people feel loved, but I do my best in what ways I can.

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Clear?

It seems like things are better. I wonder if my original concern was even correct to begin with, considering how quickly it seemed to turn around. Restoration is beautiful. Thank you.

Unclear conscience

So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. — Acts 24:16

It’s so strange. A person who was normally friendly to me, all of a sudden, last week, when I went to shake his hand at the end of the group meeting, didn’t make eye contact and looked away. It was troubling to me. I made no assumptions then, only noting the unsettling reversal. But today was much the same…the same coldness, the terse responses that bespoke a desire for me to go away. I took pain to search my conscience and see if there was any wrongdoing on my part. I couldn’t find anything. If there is anything I have done wrong, I wish to be reconciled. So much bad can happen when things are left unsaid.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. — 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us. –1 John 4:19

There is a hymn inspired by this one verse. It’s called My Jesus, I Love Thee. Have you heard of it? You may be familiar with the melody, perhaps as you’ve grown up hearing the “adults” sing it. I heard it as a child, but only as it was sung in the 1st-generation, Korean-language service, so I didn’t understand too much. A great many churches in Southern California no longer sing hymns, or if they do, they often sing the sentimental, sappy hymns (I Surrender All, In the Garden, Blessed Assurance, Fairest Lord Jesus) which have little theological depth. I’m not knocking every hymn that has emotion; but I find that hymns which so beautifully describe the love and hope of God as demonstrated through Christ and the cross stir up my own genuine emotions within me. We will sing this great hymn at church tomorrow.

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’m very surprised to read on the Cyber Hymnal website that the author of this hymn, William R. Featherston, was 16 years old when he wrote this hymn in 1864. Here was a teenager who knew what love was. He wasn’t wooed by popular cultural notions of love as many Americans are today through the media and consumer holidays like Valentine’s Day. The Christian knows what love is. We love because God first loved us.

Inebriating confidence

An interesting quote I jotted down on December 2, 2007. From John Calvin’s commentary on Romans 7:9.

We must ever remember that he speaks of that inebriating confidence in which hypocrites settle, while they flatter themselves, because they overlook their sins.

There is no time right now for me to write out my reflection and the recent events which remind me of this quote. I hope to have time soon.