What Do You See?

Sorrow and Love

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
 Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
 Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
By: Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

Listen as you read.  This is a beautiful piano version by Norm Hastings.

Having considered our initial responses to surveying the cross, we now look more closely.  We have the powerful heart words of love and sorrow which set a context for our Tuning today and the rhetorical question which we will probe a bit in our Thoughts Thursday.  So let’s take a closer look to our Savior hung on that wondrous cross.

Head

Head, Hands, Feet

For years I have said that in order to experience the joy of Easter morning, it is imperative to consider the sorrow of Good Friday.  In order to appreciate the victory of the Resurrection, we must contemplate the apparent defeat of Christ’s sacrificial death. I do believe our celebration of His triumph over sin, death and the grave are inextricably linked to our remembrance of His suffering.  I know it is difficult to ponder the dark side of these realities, but it is worthwhile because of the implications.

Hands

So we look at His head, hands, and feet.  A rereading of the different gospel accounts juxtaposed with mental images from The Passion of the Christ reminded me of objections at its release that it too graphically depicted the torture aspect of the crucifixion.  I can appreciate those objections, but I am remembering them against this backdrop.  

Those who yelled “Hosanna!” were some of the same ones yelling “Crucify him!” just days later. Why?  Because they imagined a different kind of King than Jesus actually was.  I wonder in our retelling and imagining the story if we have cleaned it up too much, and in so doing lost some of the ghastliness of Jesus’ last hours.  Though the entirety of Isaiah 53 allows us to fill in some of the details of the Gospel accounts, as an example, consider this verse from the end of the preceding chapter.  

As many were astonished at you—
    his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
    and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
 so shall he sprinkle many nations.  Isaiah 52:14-15a ESV

Feet

Semblance means the outward appearance.  So, His outward appearance barely resembled a human, and many were astonished.  It seems to me this is a very graphic in nature.  But my point is not to argue the veracity of the interpretation in that movie, but rather to cause
us to look at His sacrifice and see something we may have never seen before, or at least to a new extent.

When you “see” or visualize His crucifixion does it resemble the above depiction by Isaiah?  Have you sterilized His sacrifice and maybe lost at least a bit of the emotions of sorrow and love demonstrated?  To see the sorrow and love requires me to look at His head, hands and feet, even though I might rather not do so.

Will you take just a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the sacrifice of our Savior rightly?

Sorrow and Love Flow Mingled Down

The Wondrous…Flow

Though this stanza begins by telling us to “see”, then advises us to focus on head hands and feet, what we are supposed to see is sorrow and love.  It is beautiful poetry, but may be more clearly rendered “See, sorrow and love flow mingled down from His head, His hands, His feet.”  Though I have taken the time to challenge your mental imagery of these events, what I really hope to accomplish is the development of a clearer and more accurate understanding of how His going to the cross vividly demonstrates His sorrow over sin and His love for us.  We will think about this a little more deeply in our Thursday Thoughts, The Richest Crown.

For now, allow your heart to be stirred by these two considerations.  Jesus taught the following truth then modeled it on the wondrous cross.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13 ESV

His blood flowed down out of love.  He asked the Father to forgive those crucifying Him because “they know not what they do”. (Luke 23:34)  He died for those who do not even understand why, friends and foes alike.

His blood flowed down out of sorrow as well.  He had sorrow over our sin, our living for our selves and our misunderstanding the events of our lives.  One example of this was again on Palm Sunday when Jesus wept coming into Jerusalem, even as the crowds shouted His praise.  Luke 19:41 tells how he longed for us to know what was bringing peace, His sacrifice, but they could not see that any better than they could see the love and sorrow mingled in His blood shed just a few days later.

We unfortunately are similar in our inability to see things clearly, whether on the cross, or against the backdrop of it.  Whether His sorrow or love.  Watts is pleading with us to see.  As you go through this week remembering His Passion, ask Him to stir in you a new passion for Him, which more accurately reflects His for you.

Happy Tuning!

Jesus, I see Your head, Your hands, Your feet.  Help me to see the way they demonstrate Your sorrow and love for me.  Give me eyes to see the way these truths mingle together beautifully, even in the pain.   In Jesus name.  Amen.

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Subscribers, please enjoy this video log!  And everyone else the transcript below.

Video 4.3 Transcript

Welcome to Tuesday Tunings at Resonant 7, where we reflect on the reality of God and resolve to let it resound in our lives, repeatedly. Let’s tune our hearts.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
 Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
 Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Christ became sin for us and allowed his body to be broken to pay the penalty for our sins. Ask God to help you see the sacrifice of His son with new eyes today.

And He allowed His blood to be shed, portraying as never before or since a unique blending of sorrow for and love overcoming sin. Ask Jesus to lead you to a similar place of sorrow over your sin.

The answer to the rhetorical question in these last two lines is an emphatic “no”! It is interesting to note the change in the sequence with love leading the way in this line. Thank Jesus that his love led the way to Calvary.

His crown confirmed His willingness to become the suffering servant from Isaiah 53, wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. Give praise to Jesus for His willingness to take the punishment for your sins.

Take a few moments to talk to Jesus about what has surfaced in your heart, or just listen to what He is saying to you, then we will sing once more.

Sing

Take the awareness of God’s presence cultivated in these last few minutes into the next ones and beyond.  Until next time, be Resonant.

Exchanging Worthless For Worthy

His blood

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
 Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
 I sacrifice them to His blood.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
By: Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

Listen as you read.  This is a nice instrumental version.

Boasting seems to be a more emotional response while sacrificing is much more deliberate and thoughtful.  We did some adjusting with regard to boasting in the last Tunings.  So for these Thoughts we will press into the latter portion of this stanza.

Worthless

Ultimately this final section on the second stanza is a continued response to what Christ has done.  We began by surveying the cross and making choices about our gains and pride, before moving on to other things we might boast about other than Christ.  Now we conclude these considerations with a look at the vanity of things that sometimes attract our affections.

So many things that we can invest our time, energy and resources into are useless, meaningless, worthless.  Watts here qualifies these things as vain.  One way to think of these things, things that are vain, is that they produce no result.  Think, “My efforts to find my lost keys were in vain.”  They produced no results.  Make a mental note of that for we shall return to it.

Useful, But At Times Used for the Useless

The interesting thing about these vain things is that they still charm us, giving us pleasure or enjoyment, even though they are useless.  Can you think of some things in your life you could describe that like?  Maybe there is a struggle you are having with a sin that seems charming, but is vain.  It promises pleasure, but just leaves you feeling guilty.  Maybe there are addictions which promise enjoyment but just leave you unfulfilled,  convicted, or both.  Maybe they are more innocuous, like something that just innocently eats away at your discretionary time or energy, with little or no benefit.

Like our mobile phones at times.  Now before you think this is a tirade on the device you may be using to read this spiritual tool, let me be clear, it is not.  I only wish to use them as an example of something that is very useful, which can be used for very useless purposes.  I thought about sharing a title of one of several games I have downloaded and played on my phone, but I did not want to add to your list of vain things, so I refrained.

Worthless.  We are all guilty of engaging in pursuits that are vain.  Instead we should consider laying them down, or sacrificing them in exchange for something that is worthy, and useful.  What is more worthy or useful than the blood of Christ?

Worthy

The contrast of the vain things I pursue and the effective blood of Jesus is very ingenious.  First because it is simply a great illustration of two extremes. Second because it causes us to see each of those things and make a decision about them.

We do not need to offer any sacrifices.  Christ did this once for all.

Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.  Hebrews 7:27

Asking for help to identify vanity

I can make the deliberate choice to sacrifice things that produce no results to the most productive thing in human history.  This is a remarkable thought, a beautiful invitation, a powerful declaration.  But it is also a choice.

The only way we can effectively do that is if we also make it an honest prayer.  Start by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal any vain things that are charming you. Then ask Him to help you give them up, sacrificing them to, or in response to His sacrifice, His blood.

Then do it again tomorrow.

Holy Spirit, hear my prayer.  Reveal to me any and all vain things in my life that are charming me and drawing off energy and resources I could use for Christ and His glory.  Help me to lay them down, that I may grow in my appreciation for the sacrifice of my Savior.  Teach me how to identify vanity in my daily living.   In Jesus name.   Amen.

Joyful Thinking!

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Subscribers AND Free Members enjoy this podcast! Everyone else, the transcript below.

Podcast 4.2 Transcript

Welcome to Thursday Thoughts at Resonant 7, where we reflect on the reality of God and resolve to let it resound in our lives, repeatedly. Let’s think about this.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

And yet there are too many times when we do, boast that is.  I know this verse is speaking specifically of taking any credit for our salvation, but we must be careful to maintain a humble view of ourselves which makes grace all the more needful and valuable in our minds.  Ask God to help you maintain that.

Save in the death of Christ my God!

Galatians 6:14 ESV

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Watts was asking for the empowering to boast in Christ, to the exclusion of all other things.  He phrased this exclusivity as being forbidden to boast in anything but Christ. Ask the Spirit to help you practice that discipline.  

All the vain things that charm me most,

Psalm 119:37 ESV

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Vain is an uncommon word today, but the prospect of being allured by worthless things is not.  The Psalmist is asking for help in turning his eyes from worthless things, like the hymn writer asked for help in refraining from boasting.  Echo that prayer.

 I sacrifice them to His blood.

Hebrews 9:22 ESV

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

His blood covers our vain pursuits, our ridiculous boasts.  Those useless things are covered by His efficacious, useful blood.  No sacrifice from us is needful to accomplish salvation, but in response to His, ask Him to help you lay down these empty things.

Take a few moments to talk to Jesus about what has come to your mind, or just listen to what He is saying to you, then I will read our text once more.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
 Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
 I sacrifice them to His blood.

Take the mindfulness of God’s presence cultivated in these last few minutes into the next ones and beyond.  Until next time, be Resonant.

Forbidden to Boast? Well, Not Exactly.

The Death of Christ

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
 Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
 I sacrifice them to His blood.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
By: Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

Listen as you read.  This is a beautiful piano version by Norm Hastings.

We begin this stanza by picking up where we left off in the first.  Having counted our gains as losses, and poured contempt on our pride, Watts now invites us to ask our Lord to forbid us to boast of anything except the death of Christ our God.  So there are really two elements in play in the first part of the stanza which we will focus on in today’s Tuning.

Boasting in Christ

It is a very clever turn of phrases used here.  The first idea proposed is this notion that God would forbid us to boast, except about Jesus’ sacrifice.  I want to approach this instead by looking at that which he is actually implying we will boast.

Though this stanza seems to start off with this idea of desiring to be forbidden to boast, it is really a prayer that we will boast in something: the incredible sacrifice of Christ on the cross, His Death.  To someone who knows nothing of the efficacy of His sacrifice, this would seem like a remarkably macabre and morbid request.  Why would someone want to boast in the death of someone else?

Ah, but we do know of the impact of His laying down His life.  Or better yet, have begun to know it.  Though there are many Scriptures which speak of what Christ accomplished on the cross, consider this one.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…1 Peter 3:18 ESV

What do we see in this one verse?

  1. He suffered once for sins
  2. He, the righteous One, did this for us, the unrighteous
  3. He brought us to God
  4. He was put to death
  5. But made alive in the spirit

He took care of sin, brought us to God, died but was made alive.  If that is not something to boast in, then there never has been.

So it begs the question.  Why don’t we do it more often?  Sure, when we are gathered together singing His praises, boasting of Him comes easy.  But often outside of that gathering, not so much.

While I think the immediate defense of our actions more often stems from the opposition we might face, or the lack of interest people seem to have had in the past, I wonder if there might be a simpler explanation.  Do we really grasp the magnitude of what Jesus has already accomplished?

The answer is yes, and no.  Yes we have begun to grasp it, as only eyes of faith can, but do we really understand just how remarkable this all is?  That’s the no.

Boasting

I believe if we did have a better grasp of it we would be more quick to boast.  And what makes me so sure?  Consider the things about which you easily boast.  I actually want you to allow a few to come to the surface of your heart before you read the second idea, but let me help.

Let’s first be clear about what boasting is.  To boast is to talk with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s achievements, possessions, or abilities.  Did that help clarify things, and maybe remind you of the last time you did that?  Most of us are probably more guilty of the old, “That’s nice, but I think my ______ is a little better than yours.”  We do this boasting without even noticing.

Boasting in Nothing Else

So let’s think about it this way.  Have you ever caught yourself sharing a litany of accomplishments and suddenly felt like you had gone a little too far?  Maybe it was not even about yourself, but someone of whom you are proud, or in whom have a vested interest?

Maybe you are thinking, “Far be it from me” to boast in what I have or can do, but this is something most of us struggle with on some level, even if the boasting is internal.  All a vain attempt to feel a little better about ourselves, compared to the person to whom we are boasting.

What we really long for is a place of rest where we do not need to boast.  That place of rest is found at the foot of the cross.  Looking up to behold what our Savior has accomplished, puts everything else into perspective.

I want to encourage you to take a few minutes with the video log below which will guide you through an experience of reorienting yourself to Jesus and His cross.   These are available every week to our Subscribers, less often to our Free Members, and only occasionally to everyone, like this one.  I pray it will help you boast in the work of Christ today, and keep you from boasting in anything else.

Happy Tuning!

Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross.  I want to boast in it everyday so please show me the wonder of Your redeeming love again today.   May that awareness limit my willingness to boast in my accomplishments, until it disappears entirely.   In Jesus name.  Amen.

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Please comment below and share if you have found this helpful in your journey of being more resonant.

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Please enjoy this video log!  And the transcript below.

Video 4.2 Transcript

Welcome to Tuesday Tunings at Resonant 7, where we reflect on the reality of God and resolve to let it resound in our lives, repeatedly. Let’s tune our hearts.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
 Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
 I sacrifice them to His blood.

We continue the same theme from the end of the first stanza of disdain for our accomplishments.  As the prayer continues here it actually intensifies. Echo it by asking God to keep you from reveling in what you’ve done.

Now we fill the vacuum created by our unwillingness to speak of our accomplishments by making the deliberate choice to boast instead in what Christ has accomplished by His death. Ask Him to help you in this noble pursuit.

It is a good practice to routinely assess things in our lives which compete with our affection for Christ.  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what those things might be for you today.

Armed with this fresh awareness, bring that brief inventory to God and denounce each item.  This will help you be unencumbered in your efforts to esteem His eternal achievements.

Take a few moments to talk to Jesus about what has surfaced in your heart, or just listen to what He is saying to you, then we will sing once more.

Sing

Take the awareness of God’s presence cultivated in these last few minutes into the next ones and beyond.  Until next time, be Resonant.

Paradox: Seeing Gains as Losses

When I survey the wondrous cross
  On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
  And pour contempt on all my pride.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
By: Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

Listen as you read.  This is a nice instrumental version.

Having surveyed the cross a bit in Tuesday’s Tuning, inviting our heart to come back to a place of wonder, now turn your mind to the discipline of embracing the implications of the cross for your daily living in these Thursday Thoughts.

The Prince of Glory

A quick search of several different translations turned up zero occurrences of this name for Jesus.  While the King James refers to God as the “Lord of glory” in I Corinthians 2:8, nowhere is the phrase “Prince of glory” found in Scripture.  I find that interesting because it is such an apt name for Christ.

When you think of Jesus, what is your first thought of Him?  Healing the sick?  Feeding the thousands?  Walking on water?  Maybe even suffering on the cross?  Is it something like this image?  I must confess, it is not my first thought, yet what a powerful default mental image to conjure.  I suppose there are times in exuberant worship I have thought of Jesus like this, but not often enough.

What a beautiful image to create with his words to contrast the treatment He deserved with the treatment He received.  I want to come back to this image in my mind so as to cultivate a loftier view of Jesus in the days ahead.  I am thankful to Watts for using it, and maybe even creating it, but am far more thankful to Jesus for being it, yet humbling Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Though I want to imagine Jesus like this more often, I do not want to lose another way of viewing Him that I often return to, which allows me to rightly see so many other things.

Backdrop of the Cross

Though the wonder and grandeur of the person of Jesus Christ and His unparalleled work on the cross  are remarkable in and of themselves, I think it is imperative that we also learn to see all of life through another lens.

“I always view my circumstances against the backdrop of the cross, where God demonstrated once and for all His deep love for me.”  Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God

For years I have returned to this practice to help contextualize things I have faced.  What Blackaby is encouraging here is the development of the ability or discipline to see everything, or better yet, interpret everything in light of the reality of the cross of Jesus Christ.  The cross changed the course of human history so it certainly has implications on the circumstances of my life.

Gains as Losses

The Christian Life is full of paradoxes.

  • die to live
  • give to receive
  • love your enemies
  • gains as losses

When I see the cross accurately for what it represents, the love of God on full display, I am left with little choice but to consider my “richest gains” as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.  But how do I do that practically?

When something is valuable to you, you treat it as such.  You protect it.  Defend it.  Spend time just thinking about it.  When we esteem to0 highly any of our gains, things we have earned or maybe simply been given, things can get out of balance.  It is not long before other things of value in our lives suffer from our inability to maintain a healthy perspective.

Ridiculous example.  Netflix and sleep.  Many of us have shows we like to watch.  Sometimes we stay up later than we should to enjoy another episode.  We let our desire to be entertained outweigh other things of value, namely in our example, sleep.  Yes, I have been guilty of this in case you are wondering.  I know it is a silly example, but hopefully it illustrates the danger, and the opportunity.

What gains, or things of value, might it profit you to consider as loss?  Maybe it’s another Netflix episode.  Maybe is something far more valuable.  Nothing compares with what you will actually gain by considering those things rightly.  Oh for the ability to survey the cross like that. Holy Spirit, help us.

Jesus, thank You laying down Your life on the cross.  It is wonderful indeed, and I know that full well.  But I long to know it more.  Help me to think rightly of the gains in my life, and to even consider them as losses, if that means I will now You more. In Jesus name.   Amen.

Joyful Thinking!

Are these thoughts helping you to develop greater spiritual awareness?  Sign-up in the form to the right above to get updates of new tools to help you be Resonant.

Below is content available only to Subscribers.  Want to learn more about accessing all the additional material in the Subscriber Content Library, click here.  Or check out some samples at our Free Member Content Library.  We have lots of tools and lots of options designed to help you be Resonant!  Check them out today!!

Subscribers enjoy this podcast! Everyone else, the transcript below.

Podcast 4.1 Transcript

Welcome to Thursday Thoughts at Resonant 7, where we reflect on the reality of God and resolve to let it resound in our lives, repeatedly. Let’s think about this.

When I survey the wondrous cross

1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

How wondrous to see the cross of Jesus Christ for what it truly is, a symbol of His love for us.  Once it was folly to you, but now the power of God. Thank Jesus for giving you eyes of faith to not only see, but rightly appraise the value of His cross.

 On which the Prince of glory died,

Philippians 2:6-8 ESV

though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus had to condescend so far just to become like us, because He was after all the Prince of glory.  But His humbling did not stop there. The Ever-Living God died for us. Our minds can barely conceive the wonder of His love.  Thank Him for dying for you.

My richest gain I count but loss,

Philippians 3:8 ESV

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

So whatever was to my profit or gain I consider as loss that I may know Christ.  Ask Him to help you rightly value your accomplishments, and His.

 And pour contempt on all my pride.

Proverbs 11:2 ESV

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Oh that we would routinely see our pride with scorn, as opposed to defending it.  Pride is disgraceful, but never more clearly than when juxtaposed with the humility of Christ.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you acknowledge and deal with your pride.

Take a few moments to talk to Jesus about what has come to your mind, or listen to what He is saying to you, then I will read our text once more.

When I survey the wondrous cross
  On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
  And pour contempt on all my pride.

Take the mindfulness of God’s presence cultivated in these last few minutes into the next ones and beyond.  Until next time, be Resonant.