Tuesday, January 29, 2013

You're Covered!

I need thee every hour, in joy or pain;  
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.   
I need Thee, oh, I need thee, every hour I need thee.
- Annie Hawks, I Need Thee Every Hour, 1872

Any normal trip to the market for my family's necessary sundries can take a whimsical and joyous turn with my two daughters in tow.   Recently, as we checked out at a local pharmacy, Maggie and Blythe noticed "Barbie" Umbrellas for sale.  An early-January freezing rain fell from the sky and their mother and I couldn't resist.  Two exuberant squeals and six dollars later the two splashed in their rain boots under the cover of their new umbrellas all the way to the car (a mere 30 feet away).

A few days later the rainclouds dispersed and we enjoyed sunny skies and glorious 70 degree temperatures.    That afternoon Blythe (2 & 1/2) grabbed her new umbrella and ran outside shouting, “look daddy! It’s raining, it’s raining!”  

I laughed at her curious imagination but in the weeks since it's caused me to consider the way I tend to use the grace of God like an umbrella.   When the rains of suffering, disappointment or failure come falling down I run for cover in the all-sufficiency of the Cross of Christ.   As well I should!   

It is suffering through which God's presence is often times most palpable once we discover we've exhausted every effort to remain self-reliant.   Jesus calls those who experience such helplessness, those that are "poor in spirit" (Matt 5:3) or "those that mourn" (Matt 5:4), blessed.

Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace.   
And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace. 
- Jerry Bridges

But am I blessed when I don't recognize I need him?   I confess days do go by when I feel that God's grace was for yesterday or that I will most likely depend upon it tomorrow.    I forget that His grace is raining down on me even when I don't think I need it!

Though we have the benefit of objectivity it's easy to see that, even in the midst of their skepticism when Jesus stood among the self-righteous Pharisees, they were being showered with God's grace.

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, 
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  
 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” - Matt hew 9:11-13

God's grace in Jesus Christ is not dependent upon my need for it.   It does not ebb and flow like the water hose I turn off and on in my backyard.  It is THE constant in the universe.  It is unchanging, it is unyielding and it will have its way.   Paul writes of the preeminence of Christ this way...

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. - Colossians 1:15-17

The grace of God has been made perfectly known to man in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who indeed holds all things together; it is evidence of God's grace and love for his created that the earth does not spin of its axis right now hurling believer and unbeliever alike into nothingness.   It is God's grace that I breath my next breath.   It is God's grace that anyone ever recognizes his/her need for salvation and it is evidence of God's grace that His Spirit within quickens my senses to perceive his abiding presence when I am crushed by the weight of the world or when I am lifted to new heights by a Beethoven concerto (or Led Zeppelin's Rain Song, as the case may be).

What a constant comfort it is to read of Paul's reminder to the Corinthians (and us!) that the Grace of God has poured down on believers forever and always (we walk in it and never don't walk in it!) once and for all in Christ Jesus....

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. - 1st Cor. 6:11

Here I'm reminded that I am forgiven and thus, possess the free gift of eternal life (John 3:14-15),  I am sanctified as The Holy Spirit makes real to me my new identity as a slave to righteousness (Rom. 6:19) and I am justified receiving communion with a Holy God because Christ's righteousness has been imputed to me (2nd Cor. 5:21).

Our position as believers is like this...

Whether we know it or not, whether we think we need it or not, whether we appreciate it or not - we are under the umbrella of God's grace.  All Christians everywhere and always need to be reminded of that every day no matter how long they've been in the faith or how little or great they are suffering.   

Knowing I'm safe, sanctified and justified eternally brings peace presently.     I inevitably get "caught out in the rain" of the broken world but God's grace is his promise that he will never leave us and never forsake us and that in Jesus, He has identified with our every suffering and loves us...even (and sometimes especially) if our circumstances seem to imply otherwise.

I found this painting (if it can be called that - more like a cheap, 70's print!)  the other day at a garage sale.   I hang it my studio as a reminder that I am covered.   I like how the girls clings to the umbrella with both hands.   May we always cling to God's grace in the same way.....rain or shine!


Here's a recent demo I put together that puts music to some of the themes above.....


Rain falling down, falling down on me
Ain’t nothing new as far as I can see
I could hear it coming, there was thunder crashing down
Now lightning bolts be ripping through this Texas town

I want to stand, I got to stand, take my stand underneath your umbrella
Only a fool could blame a man for taking shelter

If you see me coming and my head is hanging low
My boots are filled with water, my heart filled with woe
You will see me reaching, reaching out for you
Save me from this flood that I been walking through

Feels like there's a curse upon me; like I done lost a bet
Drowning in a river of my guilt and regret
Meet me my Jesus, open up the door
Dry my every tear, settle the score

- Matt Magill

Check out the new single "Umbrella" HERE
Check out the new record of scripture songs, "Wallpaper" HERE

This Week
* Wednesday - Mens AM Book Study -   Chapter 6, Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian at 7am - Centrepoint Ministries Building - 418 S. Broadway, 2nd Floor.  (Men, pick up Chaos and Grace NOW...it's our next book!)

* Friday - Mens Lunch - Weekly Devotional - Dakota's Steakhouse - 12pm  - (Men, pick up Chaos and Grace NOW...it's our next book!)

* Saturday - 12-4pm - Harvey Hall in Tyler, TX - East Texas Women's Crisis Center Auto and Cycle Show.   The Magills w/ Special Guests Ronnie "The Mouse" Weiss, Emily Williams and Smitty perform to raise money for Crisis Center - come join us!

* Sunday - The Magills w/ The Downtowners at Bethel Bible North Campus - The Broadway Building - 10am service

Please pray as we continue to meet with couples who by
The Spirit seek to display Christ's covenant-keeping love to the world around them.


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