Saturday, May 30, 2009

Song 2

Do you see what I’ve done?
Who I am?
It was I who slew the Lamb

Against you have I sinned
To you alone
Are the depths of my heart shown

You are right, You are just
When you judge me
For sin is all that I see

But keep me near and do not cast
Me away
Oh God please hear me pray

Let your grace wash me clean
Make me new
That I might stand before you

I do not know how to come
But by the blood
And the body that is my food

Let all see you are righteous
Let us turn
From our sin and for you yearn

Restore the joy of your salvation
Let me sing
And give my heart as an offering

Song 1 (sorry the tunes are in my head)

Never have I met your law
For this I cannot do
My greatest efforts are but sin
Filthy I crawl before you
But I’m…

Covered with the blood of Christ
And dressed in His robes
By the love and the prayers that intercede
This is how I come
Before Your Holy throne
It is not my own righteousness I plead

No good is there in me O Lord
I can choose naught but sin
I must cling to Christ’s life and death
And the grace I’ve been washed in
For I’m…


Lord, you have justified me
And no longer see my stain
All you see is Christ in me
And His inheritance I gain
For I’m….


Friday, May 15, 2009

Just Keep Swimming

I relate a lot to Dory from Finding Nemo – the fish with the two second memory. Whenever I think of things I have to do, but am not able to access a pen and paper, I repeat them over and over and over again in my head, trying not to forget anything, but growing desperately frustrated with myself when I inevitably do. I wish the most important things I forgot were calling someone back, getting my laundry out of the dryer, or reading a chapter of homework. But my forgetfulness runs so much deeper; it seems I often do not remember the very truths that keep me alive.

Psalm 103 says, “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

It’s amazing how renewed we can feel one minute, how blessed and full of praise, and then how quickly our worries and daily tasks can drive these thoughts away. I think it’s more amazing how forgiven we can know we are, only to find ourselves plagued by guilt and burdened down by sin. We just…forget. We forget the truth ingrained upon our very hearts; we forget the God who has shown himself to be more glorious that anything else we can imagine; we forget the joy that should at all times be welled up in our souls, waiting to bubble over. We walk into church and we walk out. We pick up our Bibles and we put them down. We are cleansed and, once again, we sin. We find ourselves humming a happy little tune: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” and then all of the sudden we stop and ask, “What are we doing again?”

I think this is why these first few verses of Psalm 103 are so important. Because we do forget. Our minds go blank, and in our sin, we panic. But the psalmist paints an example for us: When you forget, don’t forget. In other words, when the truth seems the farthest from your memory and the words hold the smallest amount of meaning for you, preach to yourself.

For some reason, in our minds we reserve the job of preaching for the pastor. He’s the one who studies the Scripture, comes up with the points, and lays it all out there to convict us each Sunday. Terrific. But that’s where we run up against this wall. The wall I’ve been talking about here – short term memory loss. As vital as it is for our pastors to preach to us each week, it is just as vital that we, in turn, continually preach to ourselves. We have to make it a habit to tell ourselves what we don’t want to hear and to say it over and over and over again. We have to command our souls “Praise the LORD.” You don’t want to, but do it anyways. We have to shake ourselves good and hard and say, “Forget not all his benefits. He forgives you, and heals you, and redeems you, and loves you, and satisfies you. Do NOT forget. You have forgotten, but do NOT forget.”

The Israelites did forget. They forgot over and over and over again. That’s why there’s a whole chapter in Deuteronomy titled “Do Not Forget the LORD.” It tells God’s people to remember all He has done for them – the way he delivered them, humbled them, and provided for them. “Be careful,” it says, “that you do not forget the Lord your God” (8:11). It cautions that when the Israelites prosper, “then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God” (8:14). God only spoke about what He knew to be true. He wasn’t cautioning just for fun. He knew the conditions of the Israelites’ hearts, just as He knows the conditions of our hearts.

The Dory-syndrome is nothing new. But the remedy is still the same. Tell yourself the sweet story of the Gospel. Grab at each word separately until they mean something to you. Thunder in your own ears. Wrestle with the truth that you know but have forgotten. Wrestle until you have not forgotten. And do this each week, each day, each minute. Hopefully the frequency of our preaching will increase over time, until it becomes such a habit that no doubt crosses the threshold of our mind and no sin peeps its head out without being quickly and firmly told of the faithful God, the unchangeable I AM, who has shown and proven Himself to us time and time again.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Man's Best Friend

What is it about dogs? I grew up with a veterinarian for a mother, but I have honestly never understood the “man’s best friend” thing. There are times when I am so blown away by the fawning that takes place over these hairy bone-chompers that I begin to suspect some sort of fairy dust was sprinkled over them.

This morning I walked into the office of the company my dad works for, back for the summer and ready to hit the stacks of numbers that needed to be entered into the computer. As the door swung shut behind me, a tiny white mop flew at my legs. Then this fluffy hairball seemed to decide it should climb up my legs – madly scratching my knees and then flinging itself in a sort of a flurry against my shins. I finally realized this little explosion was a dog, so I shook it off as I headed to get my assignment and maybe inquire after the presence of a creature in an office.

“Isn’t she cute?” I was asked.

Ah yes, exactly the word I was looking for.

I examined the shaking, jumping mass at my feet and noticed it had a little ponytail on top of its head. A little lopsided perhaps, but it kept the hair out of its face and helped expose those pitiful eyes.


“Oh, yeah…whose dog is this?”

The boss’s son’s dog. Of course.

“But why do you have it in here?”

She has separation anxiety.

I laugh. “A needy dog.”

The laugh is returned. Then a more serious, “She’s afraid to be alone.”

I wouldn’t mind being left alone.

“Lily” is now licking my feet around my shoes as though they were melting rainbow popsicles in the middle of a hot August day. It tickles and I can’t really help but smile.
Just as I can’t help but smile an hour later when the boss’s adult son, who works in real estate next door, walks in carefully cupping a little paper with some sort of food in it. I watch him walk to the back room, eagerly looking for the furball.
Another hour later, and the woman who works in that back room is on the floor throwing toys around for “Lily” and at some other point in the day she goes next door to get “Lily” a bone.

“Isn’t it just so cute how she lies to chew her bone?” I am questioned.

What a weird question. Can a dog lie cutely?

I obligingly peek my head around the counter. I have work pretty hard not to laugh. If lying cutely involves flattening oneself to look like a rug, then Lily wins the award. I wonder how you can even tell she is eating her bone – Lily’s head is so hidden in a mass of hair and her entire body looks so devoid of any shape, I simply have to trust that someone with better vision than I would notice the chomping and avoid stepping on her.

As I contemplate this little Maltese later in the day, I find myself at the question I began with: What is it about dogs? So I turn to my ever trusty Google and soak in words of wisdom.

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too. ~Samuel Butler


Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful. ~Ann Landers


I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts. ~John Steinbeck