I have failed all around me
In manners only I know
But all my ways are before You
Yet I find Your love more so
Why did You make that happen?
Who are You, most kind?
To give me new mercy today
To give me Your hand to find
Your firm and loving grip
From a lover so securely faithful
Reminding me who holds me
Is great, mighty, and graceful
And He’s leading me away
From the condemnation of I
He’s bringing me near to stay
In His embrace, the apple of His eye
So teach me to hallow Your name
I adore Your beautiful name
The name I call early in the morning
The name that saved when it came
I have failed all around me
You who placed this dream
Led me to rest by Your stream
You who fanned this fire
Sustain it that I never tire
Of burning brightly in love
To reflect Your glory above
Yet Your beautiful fire
Was my furnace of desire
Both glorious to behold
And so painful in ways untold
As it refined the selfish out
As it reminds of what life’s about
That we may thrive without doubt
As we walk the pleasure of this route
Jakarta, Indonesia + Singapore
Open the Eyes of My Heart
I’ve been asked many times, “Where do you get your thoughts? How do you see things so differently?” I was thinking about that question, in my usual place, the bathroom, I remembered an old song we used to sing in church written by Paul Baloche that went:
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You
To see You high and lifted up
Shinin’ in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy
I don’t know why it’s the first thing that popped into my head. I can’t remember the last time I heard that song, but it’s a good example of where my thoughts come, and where all our thoughts come from: from the abundance of our hearts. This is why daily devotions, which means to study and meditate on God’s word and to pray is critical. It opens your heart for Him to not just touch in a superficial way but to fill so that if overflows.
Are actions are all overflows of our hearts. I have a lot of terrible things in my heart that I need God to constantly overwhelm with His power and love.
Power and love. That’s a line from the song. Who knew I would meditating on the words of a song from so long ago? In fact, this song is perfect for this generation that is caught between two types of conformity: materialistic, pleasure-seeking conformity and religious, formulaic, security-seeking conformity, either way they’re both conforming to the patterns of this world instead of being transformed to know God’s will. It doesn’t ask God what the rich young ruler asked Jesus in Matthew 19, which was “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” instead it is David’s request in Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” The rich young ruler asked, “Tell me how to achieve my agenda the right way.” The psalmist asked, “Help me fall in love with Your agenda.”
In a generation that’s so scared to be rejected, that kills itself over social status, that has an incredibly low adversity quotient, that has grown disenchanted with the formulas to success that don’t work, that is caught between conforming to things that don’t satisfy and don’t mean anything years later when they look back, I find this song to be incredibly helpful. It’s a prayer and a framework for finding God and discovering His will, which is your purpose, and it’s simply this:
Desire to seek God and constantly ask of Him.
See Him for how great He truly is through worship.
As you worship, let Him fill your heart with His power and love.
And out of that overflow, attack your day.
Don’t worry if your overflow doesn’t look too much like that of others. That could mean you’re developing your own voice. I like how Timothy Keller put it:
“When you listen and read one thinker, you become a clone… two thinkers, you become confused… ten thinkers, you’ll begin developing your own voice… two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise and develop your voice.”
More important than living off other people’s convictions is standing on your own and making sure that you stand on truth.
I need to get ready for a meeting. Will continue this later…
I was talking about overflowing. If we’re filled by God’s power and love daily, what will the overflow of our lives be? Power and love of course. As I scrutinize my life, especially my private thoughts and actions, I can clearly see, mixed-in with the overflows of good, are a lot of things that reveal a very selfish heart. As I was repenting (which is incredibly often) I remembered a piece I had been writing for a while that was inspired by an article Yasmin wrote. It’s an encouraging thought for people like me, people who have failed quite a bit, and people who continually risk failure living outside of a security bubble. Her post was on the the adulteress that Jesus saved. After reading what she wrote, I had these words in my head: Cast the First Love.
And that’s the title of what I really want to share.
Cast the First Love
“I should have listened. I should not have broken the law. What a fool I have been. Someone, anyone, please save me.” She could hear the crowd screaming at her. She could feel the rough handling. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry…” she repeated in her head, as fear and regret ravaged her soul. The intensity of the moment grew as everything started turning into a blur. She felt herself pushed to the center of a large fearsome crowd. She knew what was coming next: death by stoning. She knew the rules and had known the risks but her empty heart made her fall. She weeped before them, imagining the systematic proving of her guilt, the highlighting of her shame, and finally, the physical pain of the first blow.
But none came.
Instead, she watched as the most righteous, the most credible, the most powerful of her accusers, one by one, walking away. Until only one person was left: Jesus, still stooped down after writing on the stone floor. “What is he going to do to me?” she wondered, still afraid of the cost of her sin. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
– from John 8:1-11
This story always moves me. It moves me because I know I’m that adulterous woman. It moves me because I know that like her, Jesus does not condemn me. It moves me because I know that my purpose is to be like Jesus and to cast the first love.
Those who wanted her punished realized they actually had no real moral authority, and Jesus who had the moral authority, who could have triggered her stoning by others by claiming His right to cast the first stone, instead showed her forgiveness.
This story is incredible because Jesus, as He does over and over in the Gospels, puts the human soul above man’s traditions. Instead of responding in righteous indignation, that convenient term for justifying impatience, harshness, and even violence, He responds in divine reconciliation. Even during the time when Jesus did get angry, it wasn’t out of “righteous indignation”, it wasn’t from a standpoint of “I’m right and good and you’re wrong so you deserve this punishment”. When we take the story of the cleaning out of the temple for example, Jesus gives us His reason, He says, “the purpose of this place is for prayer, the activity of man meeting with the divine, yet you’ve gotten in the way of that.” In other words, Jesus was not righteously indignant. He was relationally indignant. He was angry not because people were making mistakes – He was a friend of sinners after all. He was angry because there were practices that were keeping people from Him.
Even in His anger, Jesus was cleaning out the barriers that were keeping us from Him. Even in His anger He was casting the first love.
When people tried to test Him, to get Him to break the traditions, He went along and broke them if it meant casting the first love.
When the sinners, the poor, and the sick came to Him, He moved among them, casting the first love for those who were disqualified.
The encouragement of this post is this:
Cast the first love.
When you’re worried, fight your anxiety by praying for someone else. Cast the first love.
When you’re angry, fight your bitterness by being a blessing to them. Cast the first love.
When you’ve failed, fight your hopelessness by rejoicing in someone else’s success. Cast the first love.
When you’re in doubt about what you believe, go pray for someone else’s dream, someone else’s hope. Go cast the first love.
When you’re feeling lazy or complacent, go step out and help someone upgrade their skills and solve their problems. Cast the first love.
When you’re in lack, when you have nothing, pray for the poor around you, ask them for specific things you can pray for, and pray for them. Cast the first love.
The fishermen have nets and the fishers of men have love. We know from scripture when we cast our nets the way Jesus tells us, we end up with a haul so big we can’t contain.
Now let’s put this article together:
1. Daily fill your life with God’s power and love until you overflow
2. With that overflow, attack life
3. A Christian attacks life by casting the first love
Maybe we would have more impact on society if we paid less attention to conforming to worldly and religious societies and more on making sure we are overflowing and casting the first love.