Sunday, August 30, 2009

Live the Life, pt. 2 - “I came” (or Jesus is More Brave than Leonidas and More Beautiful than Balder)

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

There are a great many stories and legends about noble kings and commanders. Stories of men who displayed courage, heroism, and sacrifice as they laid down their lives alongside their troops. Prince Jonathan felt the cool merciless Philistine blade. King Leonidas is dead. Prince Hector’s body was dragged behind the chariot of Achilles.

There are also a number of stories of dying gods. Marduk has killed Tiamat. Osiris has died. The tears of creation could not resurrect Balder.

Jesus beats them all. The heroism, courage, tragedy, and awe found in those stories point to the God who would come and die in order to redeem. As G.K. Chesterton summed it up in The Everlasting Man, “No mysterious monarch, hidden in his starry pavilion at the base of the cosmic campaign, is in the least like that celestial chivalry of the Captain who carries his five wounds in the front of battle.”

Jesus said, “I came.” Whoa. Let that hit you.

If the significance of those two words is not hitting you, then take it apart. Let it divide asunder your joints and marrow word by word.

“I” - that is Jesus. The Christ. The Savior of the world. That “I” represents the greatest of men. That “I” represents the second person of the triune Godhead.

He is fully God (Colossians 2:9).

He is one with, yet distinct from, the other persons of the Godhead (Psalm 2:7; John 10:30; 14:7; 17:11, 22).

He was not made, rather, by Him all things were made (John 1:3).

“came” – He left the glories of heaven to come to a world containing the people who had rejected His offer of life, peace, harmony, and dominion over the created order. He came with a purpose. He came to bring redemption to His creation.

As St. Athanasius noted in his De Incarnatione, “It was our sorry case that caused the Word to come down, our transgressions that called out His love for us, so that He made haste to help us and to appear among us.”

Jesus came.

“And the Word became flesh.” (John 1:14)

“We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and

also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth.” (John 1:45)

“Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6-7)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Jesus Must be an Awesome Musician (or Carter Beauford Appears to Really Like Playing the Drums)

“Who will take pity on me and give me drink from this stream which with its intoxication brings sobriety?” – Paulinus of Nola in Poem 27

Last night I recorded a Dave Matthews Band show that came on tv. I am watching it now. There is so much talent and artistic ability on display before me. The sights, sounds, and energy are delighting my senses. As I listen the music refuses to be simply analyzed. It insists on piercing through my mind to my soul. It is as though I cannot keep myself from marveling as I take it in anymore than I can will my heart to stop beating.

It would seem that the thousands of jumping and screaming and arm-waving people who were at the show would agree with me.

Carter Beauford has not stopped smiling.

There are some musicians who possess such an amazing talent and ability to create things of beauty. A couple really strike home with me. Dave Matthews Band is there. Coldplay hits me again and again. Go get in a car and sit under the stars, look up, and listen to the last three minutes of Coldplay’s “Death and all His Friends.” It might change your life. Or try the Parachutes album next time you take a drive through the country on a cool fall day. Music can capture you.

As the program plays, the lyrics of the songs I hear are not intended to be Christ-exalting (though they do offer amazing commentary on man’s longings and desires). However, while the music is not directed upwards towards Christ, it clearly flows downward from Him. Skill, creativity, and beauty all flow from Christ. The reason I just had a rush of adrenaline when “Ants Marching” began is because God has created within me a desire for beauty and a recognition of that which is good. As the man with the dreads jabs the bow across the fiddle strings and jumps up and down I want to jump with him. It is energizing to experience such an awesome gift. Even those who do not recognize it to be a gift from God recognize it as something that stirs up a sense of wonder.

When I watch I really do experience some awe. It is awesome.

Beauty testifies to its own goodness. That goodness and that beauty point us to the One who is everything that is true.

“O God, the good and the beautiful, in whom and through whom all those things are good and beautiful which are good and beautiful.”

Augustine in Soliloquies

“The senses of man have been given the mastery over all God’s creation that by them we might understand, inhabit, dispose of, and enjoy His goodness.”

Tertullian in On the Soul

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Live the Life, pt. 1 (or Why I Care about the CWR Summer Theme)

Hanging up in the main meeting room of Camp Willow Run is a summer theme banner. The banner is black with flat gold text. On the left side it says “Live the Life.” On the right side is a paint-brushed cross. In the middle is the theme verse from Jesus found in John 10:10. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Choosing the summer theme is one of my responsibilities and the process was not as easy as I had hoped. I wanted the theme to be significant in meaning, short in its expression, and without tawdriness. I knew that I wanted the theme to point to Christ and His Gospel.

As a follower of Christ, I believe that true life, meaning, and significance is found in Jesus. As a believer in the Word, I see that things in the world are not the way that they are supposed to be, but that Christ has brought, is bringing, and will bring redemption. I also believe that everything that is good, and everything that is true, and everything that is beautiful finds its source in the One that is the Good, and the True, and the Beautiful.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” - James 1:17

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” – John 14:6

“In him we live and move and have our being.” – Acts 17:28

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

If it is understood that rejection of Christ is rejection of goodness, truth, and beauty. And if it is understood that rejection of Christ is rejection of life. And if it is understood that Christ offers to redeem the person that repents of that rejection, then the phrase “Live the Life” is a call to find redemption. It is a call to find, know, and live in Jesus. It is a call to live the life that is offered in Christ.

“Live the Life” is about grace, mercy, and forgiveness. It is about joy and happiness. It is about pleasure and daily delight. It is about Christ.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And Done

Well, it’s done.

Summer camp 2009 is over. When I walked into my house last night at 7:30 I had to sit down because I felt overwhelmed by the experiences of the past three months.

The Lord is good. Even as I sought to give to Him this summer He has given to me in an amazing way.

I think that the next post, or maybe next few posts, will be about the Camp Willow Run summer theme: Live the Life. It comes from John 10:10 where Jesus said “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” That verse, and the ideas connected to the summer theme, mean a lot to me. There are truths there that have changed my life and I was reminded of that each day this summer.

A summer at CWR: a glimpse of glory…