Sunday, March 22, 2015

Casting Sad Songs

Casting Crowns always baffles me.  They have such theologically rich songs and good tunes, but the radio plays their more depressing songs over and over again.  They are from Atlanta area so our stations play them all the time.  Sometimes I hear them and think "yay!"  Sometimes I think "Casting Crowns again?" and turn on a Skillet CD.

I still think they are great people and when I heard that Mark Hall had surgery for kidney cancer it was like I was praying for a friend.  He at least goes to church with women I do Bible study with.

We did a song in church today by Mark Hall called "Love Them Like Jesus."  Some people complain that praise and worship songs in church are too happy and don't deal with the real world like the Psalms do.  This song is for you guys.  It has one verse about a man leaving his wife and kid behind and another about a baby being stillborn.  Those parents have already painted the room and have the shower gifts.  It tells people who know them to "love them like Jesus."  It's heartwrenching and comfort at the same time.  It's like, yeah, God is wonderful and has a plan, but it's still alright to grieve even hopelessly at times.  Our hope is in Jesus, the high priest who experienced everything we had but never sinned.

Psalm 13 and 88 were not afraid to honestly express anger and frustration.  Psalm 73 is also a good one that points the the big picture of God in his temple.

I'm thinking, what are other good Christian songs that deal with grief?

It's been on the radio a while, but the Afters have a song called "Light up the Sky."  Apparently they wrote that album when a friend of theirs died.  The song is not very interesting to play, but the video will break your heart.  It shows a woman weakened by chemo and facing terminal cancer, another woman abandoned by her husband, and a man who lost his job.

It's like I've discovered this song that's been around for 5 years now for the first time.

There is also a terrible joke about a photon, or light particle that checked in at a hotel.  When asked if he needed help with his bags he said, "No, I'm traveling light."  With that, here is an excellent duet from Joel Hanson and Sara Groves called "Traveling light."

I can just find myself heeding the advice of Hebrews 12 to throw off everything that hinders and run the race marked out for my by God.

And speaking of Joel Hanson, he has plenty of amazing songs that are just right for hurting people.

Jeremy Camp has helped me in grief.  Switchfoot has helped me in disappointment.  And whenever I think that I'm one step away from everything falling apart, I have to remind myself that I don't hold it all together anyway.  Jesus holds it together and there is no hope apart from him.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Two Rocks and God's Will

I keep thinking about a Charles Spurgeon sermon about the two rocks that gave Moses water in the wilderness.

On the first one, God told Moses to strike the rock with his staff.  He did and it gave water.  To Spurgeon, this first rock was Jesus.  We nailed him to a cross and he suffered God's wrath.  Because of that, his blood cleanses us and makes us part of his family.

On the second rock, God told Moses to only speak to the rock.  There was no need to beat it.  The first one was beaten once and for all.  Still Moses was so angry at the Israelites that he beat the rock anyway.  He disobeyed God, but God mercifully gave him water.  Then he banned Moses and Aaron from the earthly Promised Land.

To Spurgeon, that second rock is us.  Christ suffered and died for our sins.  His blood flows through his saved people and people only need to come to us in the Church to be revived by it.  Sadly, although God tells people to leave Christ's people alone, they still receive scars and martyrdom in Christ's name.  Even so, Christ's blood flows even faster in a land where people die for the Faith.  Onlookers notice that people would rather die than give up the richness they have in Christ and they come to know Jesus too.

I think of last Sunday's sermon about God's gift of free will to his people.  I had to really think of this, because although I'm a Calvinist, I do believe in free will.  God really did give it to us.  Nobody is going to be forced into the eternity that they come to when Christ returns.  People will either gladly live in God's presence forever, or they will suffer God's wrath forever but never be ashamed that they never gave their lives exclusively to Jesus.  God forces no one's hand even though he has to save us in order for us to willingly come to Christ.

There was a quote from CS Lewis about how God does not always get what he wants.  I love CS Lewis, and I see why he says that, but it's not right.  We know what God wants.  He wants people to live forever, free from sin, happy in Christ, obeying his rules.  We know this does not happen.  But we also know that God is almighty and could stop this.

But in his love and wisdom, God has a secret decree that will come to pass and in the end he will receive all the glory as the God who sent God the Son to take God's wrath on our behalf.  Either way, whatever God plans does come to pass and in Christ's completed kingdom, all people will obey him.  By then we will see the beauty of the journey God created for us and praise him for doing it just right.