Wednesday, May 24, 2006

 

What's playing?

On my CD player today are the following:

1. Stryper--To Hell with the Devil

2. U2--Greatest Hits 1980-1990

3. David Crowder Band--Illuminate

4. Foreigner--Greatest Hits

Yep, it's a rockin' kind of day.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 

And now a word from Fanny Crosby . . .

This afternoon as I took a walk, the words to the old hymn "Draw Me Nearer" kept running through my head. I thought I'd look them up and share them with you. Here they are:

I am thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Chorus:

Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To Thy precious bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.
(Chorus)

Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend!
(chorus)

There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.
(chorus)

I like the images here--clear and concise.

But there is a problem with this song, one that many of us don't notice right away.

When we think of communion with God, or drawing "nearer" to Jesus, we tend to think of some pastoral or sweet scene. You know what I mean, a place where little lambs romp and play, a scene of little children being helped across a bridge by the kind and gracious Jesus, the joyful scene of a type of lovers' rapture as beloved stares deeply into the eyes of the lover.

But that isn't the picture in Crosby's song . . . not even close.

The nearness she longs for is the nearness of Christ's suffering and death.

Yeah, you read that right--go back a reread the song if you don't believe me. Go on, I'll wait.

Done? Okay, did you see it? Crosby is more concerned with Colossians 1:24-26 or Philippians 3:8-11. The latter passage finds Paul longing for the knowledge of Christ in three areas--the power of Christ's resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, and being like him in death.

Doesn't that seem backwards to you? Don't we tend to present those events in the other direction? You know--first Jesus died, then he rose again, then he gave his church the Spirit of God.

Yet Paul actually lists them backwards, and Fanny Crosby follows his lead.

For Paul there is some kind of joy or great reward in working backwards in this event. We receive the wonderful gift of new life, the resurrection power of our God. Then we get to become like Jesus in our sufferings, to share his fellowship in that awful and yet joyful area (cf. Hebrews 12).

There is something to be said for suffering, for drawing close to the wounded Healer, to the slain Lamb, to the One who became poor so that we may be rich. We must not forget that intimacy with this crucified Jewish rabbi, with this martyred Messiah, involves the possibility of blood on our clothes. It is messy. In fact, friendship with this suffering Servant may well entail suffering for us.

Paul understood that, Fanny Crosby understood it. Do we?

Will we embrace it?

Do we really want to draw nearer to God by means of the bleeding side of his Son?

That's heavier than I expected. I'm going to leave it there.

Thanks for reading!

 

A quick quote . . .

In a tribute to Pastor Ralph Williams, Dr. William L. Lane makes the following comments:

Pastor Williams embodied the plaque that hung on the wall of his study:

"When the Lord looks me over
he will not judge me
by the degrees I have earned
or the awards I have won
but by the scars I have incurred."

May the battlewounds of your youth show your diligence to our Lord! Bill's did, and he had a larger impact on my life than he could have ever known. Bill passed away a little over seven years ago after a long battle with cancer. I pray that I can somehow live up to the example of discipleship and scholarship he so diligently displayed.

Thanks for reading!

 

How much is this blog worth?

I haven't checked the worth of this blog since I discovered a few months ago that it was worthless. Here is the new data:


My blog is worth $564.54.
How much is your blog worth?



Who would have thought that my blog would be worth something? Wow!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

 

40

U2 has a song by this title. The words to that song are pretty much taken from Psalm 40. Psalm 40 is written to encourage the readers to remain faithful in the midst of trials. For those of you taking exams or facing other hard times this week, here is Psalm 40 from the New King James Version. May God grant you the grace to remain faithful in your trial!

Ps 40

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. 2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. 3 He has put a new song in my mouth — Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD.

4 Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust, And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. 5 Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works Which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered.

6 Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. 7 Then I said, "Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart."

9 I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness In the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O LORD, You Yourself know. 10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth From the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O LORD; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me. 12 For innumerable evils have surrounded me; My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; They are more than the hairs of my head;Therefore my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; O LORD, make haste to help me! 14 Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion Who seek to destroy my life; Let them be driven backward and brought to dishonor Who wish me evil. 15 Let them be confounded because of their shame, Who say to me, "Aha, aha!"

16 Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let such as love Your salvation say continually, "The LORD be magnified!" 17 But I am poor and needy;Yet the LORD thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God.


Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 08, 2006

 

Have you no scar?

Here are a couple of poems that have often given me encouragement and motivation when in the midst of hard times. For those of you experiencing final exams or other hardships, these poems are for you.

"Hast Thou No Scar?" Amy Carmichael
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot or side or hand?
I hear thee sung as might in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers,
Spent and leaned me against a tree to die.
And rent by ravening beast that compassed me,
I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?

No wound, no scar.
But as the master must the servant be
And pierced are the feet that follow Me.
Yet thine are whole.
Can he have followed far who had not wound nor scar?

And finally, a little encouraging poem from Samuel Rutherford:

It cost Christ and all his followers sharp showers and hot sweats,
Ere they went to the top of the mountain.
But still our soft natures would have heaven coming to our bedsides while we are sleeping,
That we may go to heaven in warm clothes.

But all who came there found wet feet by the way,
And sharp storms, that did take the hide off thier faces.
And found tos and fros and ups and downs,
And many enemies along the way.

I like to read these poems to myself when I am tempted to complain. They seem kind of harsh to read, but they remind me of William Law's admonition "Whenever you find yourself disposed to uneasiness or murmuring at anything that is the effect of God’s providence, look upon yourself as denying either the wisdom or goodness of God." God's goodness is sometimes inscrutable, especially in the hard times. God has not asked us to suffer as much as we sometimes think, and that is why I like to remind myself with these poems. It reminds me to be thankful for the "easy" way that my Lord has led me.

Let me end this post with an anonymous encouragement--"Remember, after every winter is a spring. After every spring is a summer. After every summer is a fall."

Remember that even the life of a Christian contains cycles. You may be going through a hardship today, or you may (like me) have it relatively easy. Either way, let's remember that our ancestors in the faith faced even worse. Our way is not easy, but God is good. Hang in there!

Thanks for reading!

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