The Names: The Beginning

Writers from Wiser Lake Chapel will consider the Names of God during this Lenten Season, choosing one each day from the many provided to us in Scripture.  This study will assist our preparation for Holy Week, the sacrifice of Good Friday on our behalf and the renewed hope of Resurrection Sunday.

Today we start with “The Beginning”

 

Jesus “The Beginning”
by Pastor Bert Hitchcock

 

When the Apostle John wrote about Jesus, he spoke of him in connection with the
beginning of the creation.

In John 1:1, he wrote,
“In the beginning was the Word…”
And in I John 1:1 he wrote,
“That which was from the beginning . . .
This we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”

Clearly Christ Jesus, God the Son, the Eternal Word, accounts for the beginning of all
things – the whole creation, and mankind made in His image. But sin entered that perfect world. And as a result, God pronounced a curse on it; and death reigned. But throughout the ages, people still longed for renewal.

In Psalm 51, David cried out,
“Create in me a new heart, O God . . .”
In Lamentation 5, Jeremiah prayed that God would
Renew our days as of old”
And in Isaiah 40, God promised renewal for those who wait upon Him.

But real renewal – a new beginning – could only come one way: Christ Jesus came into
the world and suffered the curse of sin and the wrath of God all the way to death! But
when God raised him from the dead, he showed himself to be the New Beginning – the
True Beginning

That’s what we read in Colossians 1:18.
“He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in everything he might be preeminent.”

And so, those who are joined to Him, also have a new beginning.

That’s what the Bible says,
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone and new has come.”

Every broken person longs for a new beginning – a new start in life. But that is only
possible when we receive new life from the One called “The Beginning.” And that new
life, is only a taste of the new beginning of the whole creation which is coming when
Jesus returns.

Michael Card unpacked some of this truth in one of his songs, called The Beginning:

In the beginning was the Beginning, the minute it all began
All that they had was God and the garden, the woman and the man
Before creation learned to groan, the stars would dance and sing
Each moment was new, every feeling was fresh, for the creature, king and queen.

But deep in the heart of that beautiful garden, forbidden truth was found
They were deceived, disobeyed, and were driven from that holy ground
But beside the tree of disobedience, the tree of life did grow
The gift of its fruit, an eternal beginning, but they would never know

Chorus:
The beginning will make all things new,
New life belongs to Him
He hands us each new moment, saying,
My child begin again
My child begin again
You’re free to start again

This very moment is filled with His power, that we might start anew
To break us away from the past and the future, He does what He must do
And so the Alpha brings to us, this moment to commence
To live in the freedom of total forgiveness, with reckless confidence

Listening Through Lent: Be Our Vision

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art—
Thou my best thought, by day or by night;
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father; thine own may I be,
thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always;
thou and thou only first in my heart,
high King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

This past semester I took a Marketing class. I was particularly struck by how often the conversation revolved around “getting into people’s ears and eyes and mouths and minds.” Companies want us to see their logos everywhere, to have their jingles stuck in our heads, to gravitate towards their brands when we go looking for a product. These companies are actively competing for our attention and trying to direct our desires, and more often than not, it works.

I think that God equally desires to get into people’s ears and eyes and mouths and minds, but God doesn’t use the tactics of flashy billboards or neon signs or pithy taglines. He’s not in the business of using skywriting to capture our attention, but rather quietly knocks at the door of our hearts and waits for us to open ourselves to Him. In all of the ways that American marketing is manipulative and intrusive, God’s truth is simple and patient. God persistently pursues us and is never far off, but we cannot see Him or hear Him until we choose to see and listen. The fact that God goes about pursuing us in a completely different way doesn’t mean that God desires our attention any less. God wants us to see his fingerprints in every detail of our lives, he wants us to have the psalms stuck in our minds, he wants us to gravitate towards prayer with every decision.

May the Lord be our vision. May we choose to turn towards Him, may we choose to desire Him above all, and may everything else fade into the background of His goodness and glory.
~Hilary Gibson

 

 

Listening through Lent: Victory, Victory

During my time at Wheaton, I was blessed with a wonderful temporary church home, Jericho Road Church. One of the things I loved about Jericho Road was we would regularly sing songs in other languages. Amrit Vani was one of them. Amrit Vani is in Hindi, and the words are as follows:

Amrita vani teri, amrita vani teri
Your Immortal word, your immortal word
Jai jai Yeshu jai jai ho
Victory, victory be to Jesus, victory, victory 
Jai jai Pita jai jai ho
Victory, victory be to the Father, victory, victory 
Jai jai Putra jai jai ho
Victory, victory be to the Son, victory, victory 
Paawana Aatma jai jai ho
To the Holy Spirit be victory, victory 
Jeewana data jai jai ho
To the Life-giver be victory, victory
 
I love singing in other languages as it is a tangible reminder that we are a part of the global church, something I am apt to forget. During this Lenten season, we reflect upon Christ’s sacrifice for us. What a way to celebrate-to cry “victory, victory” to our Lord and Savior, and to be able to do in unison with brothers and sisters across the world.
~Lea Gibson

Listening Through Lent: At the Cross

My worth is not in what I own
Not in the strength of flesh and bone
But in the costly wounds of love
At the cross

My worth is not in skill or name
In win or lose, in pride or shame
But in the blood of Christ that flowed
At the cross

Refrain:
I rejoice in my Redeemer
Greatest Treasure,
Wellspring of my soul
I will trust in Him, no other.
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.

As summer flowers we fade and die
Fame, youth and beauty hurry by
But life eternal calls to us
At the cross

I will not boast in wealth or might
Or human wisdom’s fleeting light
But I will boast in knowing Christ
At the cross

Two wonders here that I confess
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed – my ransom paid
At the cross
By Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Graham Kendrick

 

‘Our self is a complex entity of good and evil, glory and shame, of creation and fall…we are created, fallen and redeemed, then re-created in God’s image’ ….. ‘Standing before the cross we see simultaneously our worth and unworthiness, since we perceive both the greatness of his love in dying, and the greatness of our sin in causing him to die’ [The Cross p. 285]
~John Stott

‘My worth is what I am worth to God, and that is a marvellous great deal, for Christ died for me’
~William Temple

 

Listening Through Lent: The Power of the Blood

“The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power”

Outside of medical references, our sophisticated culture finds the talk of blood to be rather crude and primitive.  We leave it to the British to speak of “bloody things”, using their sometimes profane expletive.  Indeed, even the language of our Christian faith has largely been “cleaned up”.  We may speak often of Jesus’ death, but descriptions of  the bloody carnage of the cross, are considered unnecessarily graphic – a play on people’s emotions.

But we do not really understand the work of Jesus on the cross, apart from the bloody background of the Old Testament, wherein nothing could be made holy except by the shedding of innocent blood.  So, Jesus’ death was the final, once-for-all, blood atonement which continues to cleanse us from sin.  If we listen, the New Testament often talks that way:
“Jesus suffered outside the gate 
in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.”
“You were not redeemed with silver or gold
but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish.”
“Jesus loves us 
and has freed us form our sins by his blood.”
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, 
we have fellowship with one another, 
and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Speaking of the blood of Jesus is just a shortcut way of speaking of his atonement.  And that atonement has far-reaching implications for our lives:
it is enough for all our sin;
it never wears out;
we never stray so far from God that we cannot be washed and reclaimed;
and the knowledge of that powerful redemption speaks peace to our troubled souls.

A little over 50 years ago, a 14 year old boy, in his first attempt to write a song, put those simple gospel truths to some music he had written; and so, Andrae Crouch’s song “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” was born.  It would be followed by over 300 more songs, but none would provide greater comfort and assurance to troubled souls than this one.

~Pastor Bert Hitchcock

The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power
Andraé Crouch

Verse 1:
The blood that Jesus shed for me, 
Way back on Calvary; 
The blood that gives me strength
From day to day, 
It will never lose it’s power.

Chorus:
It reaches to the highest mountain, 
It flows to the lowest valley; 
The blood that gives me strength
From day to day, 
It will never lose it’s power.Verse 2:
It soothes my doubts and calms my fears, 
And it dries all my tears; 
The blood that gives me strength
From day to day, 
It will never lose it’s power.
Or a more authentic and wonderful Black Gospel version, set in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

Listening Through Lent: Nearer to Thee

So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it…”
Genesis 28:11-12

 

LATIN TEXT:
In articulo mortis
Caelitus mihi vires
Deo adjuvante non timendum
In perpetuum
Dirige nos domine
Ad augusta per angusta
Sic itur ad astra
Excelsior

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:
At the moment of death
My strength is from heaven
God helping, nothing should be feared
For ever
Direct us, O Lord
To high places by narrow roads
Such is the path to the stars
Ever upward

 

1. Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
still all my song shall be,
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee! 2. Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
yet in my dreams I’d be
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

3. There let the way appear, steps unto heaven;
all that thou sendest me, in mercy given;
angels to beckon me
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

4. Then, with my waking thoughts bright with thy praise,
out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
so by my woes to be
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!

5. Or if, on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I fly,
still all my song shall be,
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!
~Lowell Mason

 

Listening Through Lent: Surely He Died

Calvary, Calvary,
Calvary, Calvary,
Calvary, Calvary,
surely he died on Calvary.

Every time I think about Jesus,
every time I think about Jesus,
every time I think about Jesus,
surely he died on Calvary.

Don’t you hear the hammering?
Don’t you hear the hammering?
Don’t you hear the hammering?
Surely he died on Calvary.

Don’t you hear him calling Father?
Don’t you hear him calling Father?
Don’t you hear him calling Father?
Surely he died on Calvary.

Don’t you hear him say “It is finished?”
Don’t you hear him say “It is finished?”
Don’t you hear him say “It is finished?”
Surely he died on Calvary.

Make me trouble thinking ’bout dying,
make me trouble thinking ’bout dying,
make me trouble thinking ’bout dying,
surely he died on Calvary.

Jesus furnished my salvation.
Jesus furnished my salvation.
Jesus furnished my salvation.
Surely he died on Calvary.

Sinner, do you love my Jesus?
Sinner, do you love my Jesus?
Sinner, do you love my Jesus?
Surely he died on Calvary.
~African-American Spiritual

 

“It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth
And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms…”
~Maya Angelou

 

Christ released us
to unclench our fingers,
stop making fists,
to trust His way of making peace
through sacrifice.