I am grateful for the writer of Psalm 36, one of my favorite bands- Third Day, and Daniel Bonnell for his powerful work The Baptism of the Christ, for helping me home to Christ today.
Psalm 36:5-7 (NRSV) Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
Your judgments are like the great deep;
You save humans and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Your Love, oh Lord by Third Day
Your love, oh Lord, reaches to the heavens
Your faithfulness stretches to the sky
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains
Your justice flows like the ocean’s tide
I will lift my voice to worship You, my King
I will find my strength in the shadow of your wings
Baptism of the Christ by Daniel Bonnell
In Bonnell’s piece, Christ’s arms are extended in an explosion of color and welcome. One is raised in victory over sin and death. One is lowered in suffering, the price of our salvation. Christ’s body mirrors the shape of the Holy Spirit Dove, for he is the very image of God, the grace and truth of God made flesh. Christ’s body mirrors the shape of his crucifixion. His arms take the shape of wings because it is only within Christ’s embrace that we can find lasting shelter and safety.
What do you see in the painting? Leave a comment below.
Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light.
Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.
-Gregory of Nazianzus
Psalm 33:11 (NRSV)
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this resource in other settings, please leave a comment.
Your covenant is steadfast
Your promises are true
You fulfill, even when we fail
Forgive us and renew a right spirit within
We hear you offering relationship again
How great is your heart
Your desire for the everlasting to be made real in us
We bow in awe
We stand to proclaim and welcome
Fulfill your desires in our Yes
Fulfill your desires in our obedience
Like the sand, so many brothers
Like the stars, so many sisters
Together heirs of your grace and generosity
Together heirs and family
Our home is in you
Based on Genesis 17:3-9
God’s covenant with Abraham, Sarah, and their descendants (physical and spiritual)
Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter:
Whoever finds one has found a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price;
No amount can balance their worth.
Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
and those who fear the Lord will find them.
Those who fear the Lord direct their friendship aright,
for as they are, so are their neighbors also.
Holy One, come
Help me to be this kind of friend
A Treasure Beyond Price
Life-saving Blessing and Balm
Let people find this in me
Because you are within me
Because you are this for me
Let me find this in others
For you are with and within them as well
You are this for us all
Horton makes a courageous commitment. He remains faithful to that commitment even when doing so leads to
Threat of death
Sold into slavery
What breaks my heart is the return of Lazy Mayzie and her reclaiming the egg she abandoned. The story has a happy ending (Elephant Bird!) Even so, Horton would have remained true even without reward. He’s courageously committed.
“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent!”
Does anyone do this anymore? Have you ever made a Horton level commitment? What prevents you?
What if I commit to the wrong thing?
What if I miss out on something better? I’ll be trapped!
I’ve got plenty of time to make a commitment later
What if the commitment impacts the way I want to live my life like it did Horton?
AsLazy Mayzie says, “It’s work, how I hate it, I’d much rather play!”
Commitment is easy to come by when it is superficial, doesn’t cost us anything, temporary, or new. (How are those New Year’s resolutions going?) Commitment takes work. The work is to keep at it- day after day, year after year after year.
1)Define “The Why”, the deep reason for the commitment. I am committed to my sobriety because… I am committed to my marriage because… I am committed to starting this business because… I am a committed follower of Jesus Christ because…
2)Remember “The Why.” Keep it in front of you, especially when the commitment becomes hard work and sacrifice.
3)Live the commitment moment to moment. I’m going to eat healthy for the rest of my life. No! I’m going to make the best next faithful choice. Little choices add up to a big and lasting commitment.
4)Expect some failure. It will happen. Choose to fail forward: practice forgiveness, learn from the failure, keep showing up.
5)Don’t go it alone. We need the gift of each other and we need God.
Who can you think of who’s made a Horton level commitment? Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We think of the super saints. Ordinary people can make a Horton level commitment as well.
Have you made a Horton level commitment to Jesus?
When we decide to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Him, we become nothing more than fans.- Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan
Reading of 1 Peter 1:3-7. “The Why” of making a Horton level commitment to Jesus.
His great mercy
A living hope
Jesus already made a Horton level commitment to us in his coming, homelessness, ridicule, torture, death, and resurrection
an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. No situation or evil can touch it.
Salvation and Heaven
This is why we rejoice and keep to a courageous commitment in the midst of suffering and trials for the sake of Christ.
Have you made a Horton level commitment to Jesus? You can. Anyone can.
Not a nominal Christian- in name only
Not a CEO (Christmas Easter only)
Not a commitment of convenience
Not a fair-weather Christian
Not a fan
For Courage to do Justice by Alan Paton O Lord, open my eyes that I may see the needs of others; open my ears that I may hear their cries; open my heart so that they need not be without succor; let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong, nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich. Show me where love and hope and faith are needed, and use me to bring them to those places. And so open my eyes and my ears that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for thee. Amen.
Save me from hardheartedness
From evil and deceit
From mutiny and unbelief
Turn and return me
From wandering away
From petrifying slowly
Make my heart pure
Open to you
Wanting what you want
Make my heart true
Confident in you
Make my heart noble
Quick to listen
Rejoicing in your direction
Heart of my heart
Keep me soft and steadfast in your nail scarred hands
Extended quote by John R. Wimmer, Blessed Endurance
The words joyrejoice as they appear in James and First Peter do not mean what they seem at first glance. The rejoicing we find here is not a shallow, syrupy, or optimistic refusal to admit that problems exist; instead, it is the realistic recognition of struggle bolstered by the decision to rejoice in knowing that God is working to bring us through strife to greater spiritual depth. Yes, it may be tough if not impossible to rejoice when suffering, but such joy will not take the form of emotional jubilance or elation.
James proclaims that suffering may be considered as joy when the encounter produces the spiritual virtue of steadfastness. And steadfastness, when allowed to flower into fullness, produces the most attractive bloom of all qualities: Christian maturity.
Authentic Christian maturity, then, is a steadfastness that we attain not by denial. It is a quality that, like any other kind of maturity, accrues with age, hard work, and a lot of bruising experience. It is the ability to redirect our thoughts beyond immediate woes in order to realize the spiritual growth that results from tests of faith.