Sunday, August 27, 2006

Across the Street or Around the World

It was the late 1980s and Steve Green, one of my favorite vocal singer's/songwriter's, penned the following:

There's a call going out across the land in every nation
A call to all who swear allegiance to the cross of Christ
A call to true humility, to live our lives responsibly
To deepen our devotion to the cross at any price
Let us then be sober moving only in the spirit
As aliens and strangers in a hostile foreign land
The message we're proclaiming is repentance and forgiveness
The offer of salvation to the dying race of man

CHORUS: To love the Lord our God is the heartbeat of our mission
The spring from which our service overflows
Across the street or around the world
The mission's still the same
Proclaim and live the truth in Jesus's name

As a candle is consumed by the passion of the flame
Spilling light unsparingly throughout a darkened room
Let us burn to know him deeper then
Our service flaming bright
Will radiate His passions and blaze with holy light

This song is "playing" over and over in my mind as I type this and reflect on our class today. Today we examined creation, but we cannot do justice in forty-five minutes to a creative act by God, coming into being by the spoken act of His voice, in seven days (or eras or generations, depending on your view of creation). As I alluded to in class today, I am not concerned so much with how as with what, and I am not so concerned with what as with Who.

Many generations have passed since the creation of Adam and Eve, and from two people came nearly two hundred nations spanning seven continents. This equates to 6,643,632,481 people as of 2:59 p.m. Sunday, August 27. (To see what this number has escalated to since the time I wrote this, check out It's pretty staggering). And each one of those 6,643,632,481 people is unique. And according to Genesis, each one is made in the image of God and has infinite value and worth, whether or not he or she is aware of it.

Today in Come Thirsty we had a handful of countries represented, thanks to Estela inviting her friends to join us. The more I reflect on that, and as I hear Steve Green's song on continuous repeat in my mind, the more I am in awe of God. It all began with God using a bit of creativity. "In the beginning, God created." He didn't hold a meeting, write a doctrinal statement, or inaugurate the first potluck. God spoke, and so it was. And it was good. Indeed, very good.

And so we can all sit in a room today, representing many different countries, cultures, languages, nationalities, tastes, interests, hopes, and fears, but we all represent one God--one God who created. So as the "call goes out across the land in every nation--a call to all who swear allegiance to the cross of Christ," may we stand up and proudly answer it. May we gather together as we did today, many nations and peoples and tongues, knowing that we are all "aliens and strangers in a hostile and foreign land." May the heartbeat of our mission be "to love the Lord our God," and may the message we proclaim be "repentance and forgiveness: the offer of salvation to the dying race of man." For isn't that what creation is all about? Let's proclaim the glory of God!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Broken and Spilled Out

Not all of you may know that I have only been attending First Baptist for six years. The first eighteen years of my life I was raised at another solid, Bible-believing church in Saint Charles. I have many memories: from attending potlucks and pig roasts, to acting in church drama productions, to releasing balloons to celebrate breaking ground for an addition to our church, but one of the memories that is etched most carefully and precisely in my mind is that of the music. I was in awe of the phenomenal talent at our church--our music pastor and his wife had sung with the Metropolitan Opera prior to taking the pastorate position--but I was even more in awe of the musicians' heart for God. Though I heard many songs over those eighteen years that are just a fading memory now, there is one that if I close my eyes, I can still hear being sung by my music minister and his wife: Broken and Spilled Out.

When Bryan Harden, my new music director, called and asked me to choose a song to sing as a solo at our East Campus, it did not take long for this song to resurrect in my mind. I remember being impacted by it in my childhood, and I wanted others to be as moved as I had been. The words are so powerful--connecting a woman in antiquity who poured out her perfume at the feet of Jesus, to remembering Jesus Himself--God's perfect treasure--being poured out for us, and finally to our plea that we might be broken, spilled out, and used up for Him. What an amazing cry of our hearts for our lives to be poured out at Jesus feet as a sweet offering to Him!

Here are the words to the song. The cry of my heart is that you might be ushered to the foot of the cross once more as you reflect on the One who was broken and spilled out for love of you:

One day a plain village woman
Driven by love for her Lord
Recklessly poured out a valuable essence
Disregarding the scorn
And once it was broken and spilled out
A fragrance filled all the room
Like a pris'ner released from his shackles
Like a spirit set free from the tomb

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of you Jesus
My most precious treasure
Lavished on Thee
Broken and spilled out
And poured at Your feet
In sweet abandon
Let me be spilled out
And used up for Thee
Lord You were God's precious treasure
His loved and His own perfect Son
Sent here to show me
The love of the Father
Just for love it was done
And though You were perfect and holy
You gave up Yourself willingly
You spared no expense for my pardon
You were used up and wasted for me

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of me Jesus
God's most precious treasure
Lavished on me
Broken and spilled out
And poured at my feet
In sweet abandon
Lord, You were spilled out and used up for Me

In sweet abandon, let me be spilled out
And used up for Thee