March Madness is a upon us again.  Every basketball fan knows what this means.  We watch televised games of young college athletes playing their best to keep on winning and reach the Final Four.  Men lose focus at work and even at home, as they watch their favorite teams either advance or lose.  A lot of money is bet on who is going to win.  64 teams begin with high hopes, but only one is crowned champ three weeks later.  That is why it is indeed madness.  I continue to marvel at how un-glued men can be in sports venues during March Madness.

Compare that to the men in my church as we sang together one recent Sunday.  Men are not accustomed to cheering or singing before groups of people.  They fit in much more comfortably going crazy in front of a television for their favorite team.  But this was not madness, just the united hearts of men singing in unison as they led the congregation in worship songs often sung at Promise Keepers events.  

The songs we sang were an inspiration to us all, including those in the pews.  I want to comment on two of the songs and the impact on my journey with Jesus.

The first was “Purify My Heart.”  In my recent journey, the lyrics to this song spoke deeply to my soul.  I have intentionally been waiting on the Lord, wanting to become more of a soulful man.  “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord, more than the watchmen wait for the morning” (Ps. 130:5-6).  I am realizing that my deepest desires and yearnings are for God.  There are depths in me that God wants to fill as I learn to wait on him and allow him to do his work in me. 

The words to the song express what I have been experiencing: “Purify my heart/ Touch me with Your cleansing fire/ Take me to the cross/ Your holiness is my desire/ Breathe Your life in me/  Kindle a love/ That flows from Your throne/ Oh purify my heart/ Purify my heart.” 

The second song was “Knowing You” – this is the chorus: “Knowing you, Jesus/ Knowing you, there is no greater thing/ You’re my all, you’re the best/ You’re my joy, my righteousness/ And I love you, Lord.”  As we sang this song, a video showed men at a large Promise Keepers rally freely singing with all their hearts to the Lord.  I, for one, am paying more heed to the words of Jesus, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).  Jesus means everything to me – I am not ashamed.

The first stanza goes like this: “All I once held dear, built my life upon/ All this world reveres, and wars to own / All I once thought gain, I have counted loss/ Spent and worthless now, compared to this.”  I have a long ways to go in becoming like Jesus.  “But,” in the words of the Phillip’s translation, “I keep going on, trying to grasp that purpose for which Christ Jesus grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have grasped it fully even now” (Phil. 3:12-13 – Phillips).  The word “grasp” for me implies the realization of all of what God has done for me in Christ.  I am still in the process of trying to “grasp”; take hold of what he is already given for me.