Lament in Silence

lament rock

The church has entered the season of Lent. This is a focused period of humility, repentance and embracing our own mortality. As my pastor has recently reminded us, Lent is not about asking, “What am I going to give up?” Rather, Lent asks, “Where have I moved away from God and how might I move toward him?”

This may happen within the realm of giving something up, fasting from a particular item that has pulled our heart away from our Father. But giving up something isn’t a magical formula—and we don’t need to give up something just to give up something, to show our own strong will. We are desirous that our hearts be uncovered, which will hopefully push us toward God as we feel our desperation. Continue reading

C.S. Lewis on Poetry

reflections on the psalmsFor my birthday, I was given a gift card to Barnes & Noble. It’s great to know the people in my life know me so well – coffee, beer and books. I’m pretty easy to please!

So I stopped in to Barnes & Noble over the weekend to browse the shelves to see if I might find a candidate worth purchasing with my gift card. I did find something. My choice fell to C.S. Lewis’s Reflections on the Psalms. I decided on it because a) I’m teaching Old Testament Survey this semester, and we’ll take a whole 3-hour session to cover biblical poetry and the Psalms and b) knowing I teach at a creative-hub, such as Visible Music College, it seems appropriate to share C.S. Lewis’s thoughts on the Psalms. Here was a creative and imaginative giant. More a philosopher and story-writer, over and above being a poet. Yet still, I believe he’ll have some beautiful thoughts to offer on the Psalms.

Here’s something I came across in the Intro chapter on God’s desire to speak, or incarnate, through poetry: Continue reading

In The Day of Your Power

One of the most quoted psalms in all of the New Testament is Psalm 110. It’s a very important psalm, a messianic psalm at that. The text from the ESV says this:

1 The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

2 The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”

5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
7 He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

A few years ago, God really highlighted vs3, specifically after dipping into the late Arthur Wallis’ book, In The Day of Thy Power.

Again, vs3 reads: Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.

There are two interesting phrases at the beginning of this verse: 1) Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power and 2) Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power.

Pretty awesome things will take place in the day of God’s power, right? God’s people will offer themselves freely. Or, as the NASB states it, ‘Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power.’

You could literally translate this as God’s people being freewill offerings. No obligation, no duty. Just freely and wholly offering themselves unto God.

But, we are left asking one question: When is God’s day of power? For when it is such a day, we know what glorious act will take place.

The amazing thing is that I believe this psalm actually tells us when God’s day of power is. Where in the psalm? It’s in vs1: The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

This psalm, and specifically vs1, is all about the enthronement of the Son of God at the right hand of the Father, as emphasised in places like Matthew 22:41-46; Acts 2:22-36; Hebrews 1:13; etc. Thus, the day of God’s power began with the Son of God ascending back to the Father’s right hand, which was fully evidenced in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Read these words of Peter:

Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. (Acts 2:33)

One might question my train of thought so far and say that Psalm 110:3 speaks of God’s day of power, as if this, then, is focused into one specific day. But, though some might disagree, I don’t think it is out of bounds to see the word day as speaking of something longer than 24 hours, something like an age.

What makes me think such? In the passage about the armour of God (Ephesians 6), Paul speaks of standing against the work of the enemy and his forces in the ‘evil day’. I don’t think Paul is simply referring to one 24-hour period. He is rather speaking of the present evil age.

Thus, I see this day of God’s power as referring to the whole Messianic age in which the Messiah would reign over all of heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18) evidenced in the outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh (again, see Acts 2 and its major importance).

And ever since that specific day of Pentecost, we have continued to enjoy the blessings of God’s great ‘day’ of power. Consequently, this day of power has continued now for almost 2,000 years as the people of God have been empowered by the Spirit of God:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Back to Psalm 110:3 – Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power. While this verse could be used by many Pentecostals and charismatics (of which I consider myself one) to preach a powerful message about the power of God’s Spirit in the day of God’s power, I see an opportunity to take time to emphasise something else.

What is that? It’s the simple, yet amazing, fact that God’s people are called to offer themselves freely (ESV), volunteer freely (NASB) or literally offer themselves as freewill offerings during His day of power. Of course, none of this could ever be accomplished apart from the indwelling and empowering of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. But, while I believe in and have seen powerful and supernatural acts of healing and miracles, I believe it all starts with the foundation of a servant heart.

I mean, wasn’t that the way of the Son of God. Of course, He was used in great and powerful deeds – restoring sight to the blind, healing lepers, loosing the lame and even raising the dead. But, more than that, (yes, more than that), He was laying down His life by serving.

Thus, would it not make sense to follow in the servant footsteps of the One who initiated God’s day of power?

I have always loved these words concerning Jesus found in the Gospels:

3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:3-5)

This was the divine Son! He even knew that God had given all things into His hands! So, what does He do? He strips down to his underwear, gets a towel and basin, and begins to perform the act of the lowest of servants. For me, this is incredible, as it should be for the whole body. But, unfortunately, we don’t see this response from many Christians, especially those who have been ‘given all things’.

So, we read that in God’s day of power His people will volunteer freely, offer themselves completely, not out of obligation, but from a freely motivated heart.

I don’t know why we miss it so much. So many people get caught up in platforms, stages and microphones. For many, this is power. Way too many envision greatness as coming through fame and/or fortune (I’m talking about Christians here, not those of the world). Or we get caught up in asking what others can offer us rather than how we can serve.

But imagine this. What if the people of God started choosing a local church to be a part of not based upon what it could offer them, but based upon what we could offer by serving? I think we might just see some kind of radical movement in the church in the west. But, unfortunately, we can only ponder these things for now.

Jesus made it very clear about how one becomes great in the kingdom of God:

25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

It’s simple – serve and be great (though you probably won’t care if you are great or not). This actually means the whole of the body of Christ could step into true greatness, as defined by our King.

I am very much excited that we are in the day of God’s power. I hope such a reality encourages you greatly. But what does it say will happen in that day? God’s people will offer themselves freely.

It’s not really a novel idea, since the words of Psalm 110 were penned thousands of years ago. But it might just be novel for many Christians today.

Oh, that we might understand the heart of God to serve and offer ourselves freely, in the power of the Spirit, during this great day of God’s power. This is the heart of God for His people during the reign of God’s Messiah, the great servant. If only we would catch a glimpse of such truth. Then I believe we would begin to see a greater release of the power of God.

I also preached a message a few weeks back on this at Cornerstone. You can download it by clicking here.