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Hymnaltheology

Whenever we sing hymns or worship songs through corporate worship to our Lord. I often find myself examining the lyrics for gospel content or not-gospel content. Does that make me a

hymnal lyrics curmudgeon? Maybe, or maybe not.I have provided a bit of a contrast in lyrics here. Let’s examine the lyrics to the old hymn “Jesus Paid It All” in reference to the gospel of scripture, and what the gospel is not, “Jesus Paid It Some“, even though we tend to live the way of the former, it is not the gospel.

In John 4:23-24, Jesus is engaging a woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria, and she references the worship her fathers had done on the mountain where they were, and Jesus says to her:

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

I’d like to emphasize the word truth in the context for this posting. You see, we sing many songs of, so called worship, but are they really songs expressing the truth as we know it to be through scripture? Some might think of you as a “curmudgeon” but just remember John 4:24 and go worship in the truth as well as the spirit.

I’ll leave this post with one more real example. What is the object of our affection here?

(Acknowledgements go to Stephen Altrogge for his “not gospel” lyrics.)

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2016 in gospel, hymns, John 4:24

 

Bravo Zulu

This week I had the privilege of being interviewed for an article section in our company newsletter. The section entitled “Bravo Zulu” is a section of the newsletter that profiles employees who have bravo zulu flagsaccomplished something. The author of the article had approached me based on her observation of my participation in the company “step challenge”, recent weight loss, and my frequent trips outside to do some walking. The interview went well. We spoke of my health concerns as I get older (now 56), my family health history (dad had diabetes), some of the ways I stay active, what my exercise regime looks like, and my goals for fitness.

After the interview I got to thinking about the term “Bravo Zulu”. Wikipedia defines it:

Bravo Zulu, also referred to as “BZ,” which is a naval signal, typically conveyed by flaghoist or voice radio, meaning “Well Done”

I’ve heard this phrase used in Christian circles many times. “Well done” refers to the scripture from Matthew chapter 25 and the Parable of the Talents which is also accompanied by “good and faithful servant”. It has become a phrase professing Christians desire to hear after they have passed from this life or as the verse states in the parable “enter into the joy of your Master” (ESV).

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’

Most might take the meaning of this parable as the method for getting your Heaven’s ticket punched. They may work and strive under a perceived oppression from their master yet begrudgingly, adopt a “suck it up little camper” attitude, and dutifully do the task to the letter. But, they may be missing the most important factor behind the servant’s performance for his master, which would be the servant’s love for his master. If there was no love for his master, then no matter what the task is set before him, the task would seem too great, too cumbersome, or unfairly given. But when the servant loves his master and desires to see him glorified through his efforts, no task will seem to difficult.

So as I revel in my newfound fame, not really, I am humbly reminded of the “Bravo Zulu” given to Jesus Christ for his obedience to God the Father. So “well done” that:

He raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:20-23 HCB)

Ultimately the “Bravo Zulu” belongs to Christ, because anything deserving a “well done” is accomplished by and through him.

Soli Deo Gloria, Bravo Zulu!

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2016 in bravo zulu, Ephesians 1

 

Soldiers of Christ, Arise

The title alone might cause someone to pause and wonder if this might be a call to arms in the physical sense. Nothing could be further from the intention here. The call is to spiritual arms. The full-armor-of-Godbattle belongs to the Lord, but He has also given us everything we need to do battle.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12)

This morning’s daily devotion from Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” devotional is about the battle believer’s of Christ face everyday. Some days are more intense than others. This reminds me of times I’ve put on the armor of God and walked right into battle and in the very second I’ve presumed to have all the armor on, been cut down. I think we’ve all been smacked down right out of the gate. and to make the matter worse, we might think of this as a failure. But we do learn from it. We do battle every minute of every day. We have the Almighty Creator and Sustainer already engaged, and there with us. Fight On!

I really liked the one verse of the hymn mentioned in Spurgeon’s devotional so I had to look it up for the additional verses. The hymn “Soldiers of Christ, Arise” was written by Charles Wesley (1707 – 1788).

1. Soldiers of Christ arise,
and put your armor on,
strong in the strength which God supplies
thru his eternal Son;
strong in the Lord of Hosts,
and in his mighty power,
who in the strength of Jesus trusts
is more than conqueror.

2. Stand then in his great might,
with all his strength endued,
but take to arm you for the fight
the panoply of God;
that having all things done,
and all your conflicts passed,
ye may o’ercome thru Christ alone
and stand entire at last.

3. Pray without ceasing, pray,
(your Captain gives the word)
his summons cheerfully obey
and call upon the Lord;
to God your every want
in instant prayer display,
pray always, pray and never faint,
pray, without ceasing pray.

4. From strength to strength go on,
wrestle and fight and pray,
tread all the powers of darkness down
and win the well-fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry
in all his soldiers, “Come!”
till Christ the Lord, descends from high
and takes the conquerors home.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Image used from dannysinquefield.com

 

 

John Milton: On His Blindness

I just began reading a book called “The Letters of Samuel Rutherford” which was recommended by Alex on the podcast The Rugged Marriage. In the Rutherford book I came across a poem writtenhealing-of-the-blind-man by the English poet John Milton, who is best known for his epic poem “Paradise Lost“. The poem I found in the book was written about Milton’s own blindness.

After reading the poem a few times, I was reminded of my father’s own blindness. He lost his sight to diabetes when I was seven years old. His disability had quite an impact on him and our family. My father was a believer, and I am prompted to think if he had ever heard this poem. Although my father had some down times due to his frustrations with his handicap, his outlook on life was mostly upbeat. My father has been gone for over 40 years (diabetes complications of the past), but right now I long to discuss this jewel of a poem with him. Maybe someday we can discuss it with the original author, in Paradise, in the presence of the Creator. Here is the poem:

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Heart Corruptions

In the news today I read something very sad. It seems that Tullian Tchvidjian, grandson of Billy Graham, has again been fired from a church. This time from his new church, Willow my_dark_heart_by_rasmusir-d35al1uCreek in Winter Springs, Florida. The firing stems from another unconfessed act of adultery against God. Please read the article here. Please be in prayer for Tullian, his family and the members of the two churches now involved in this sorrowful mess of sin.

After reading the article details it reminds me of a Puritan devotion from “The Valley Vision” book of Puritan prayers and devotions. IT helps to explain what the bible refers to as our “deceitful heart” (Jeremiah 17:9). I would recommend reading this and praying it each morning.

Heart Corruptions

O God, may Thy Spirit speak in me that I may speak to thee. I have no merit, let the merit of Jesus stand for me. I am undeserving, but I look to Thy tender mercy. I am full of infirmities, wants, sin; Thou art full of grace.

I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my wilful sin; all my powers of body and soul are defiled: a fountain of pollution is deep within my nature. There are chambers of foul images within my being; I have gone from one odious room to another, walked in a no-man’s-land of dangerous imaginations, pried into the secrets of my fallen nature.

I am utterly ashamed that I am what I am in myself; I have no green shoot in me nor fruit, but thorns and thistles; I am a fading leaf that the wind drives away; I live bare and barren as a winter tree, unprofitable, fit to be hewn down and burnt. Lord, dost Thou have mercy on me?

Thou hast struck a heavy blow at my pride, at the false god of self, and I lie in pieces before Thee. But Thou hast given me another master and lord, Thy Son, Jesus, and now my heart is turned towards holiness, my life speeds as an arrow from a bow towards complete obedience to Thee. Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride. Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life, from everything that is natural to fallen man, and let Christ’s nature be seen in me day by day. Grant me grace to bear Thy will without repining, and delight to be not only chiselled, squared, or fashioned, but separated from the old rock where I have been embedded so long, and lifted from the quarry to the upper air, where I may be built in Christ for ever.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

 

A Devotion of Praise and Thanksgiving

O MY GOD, prayer on rock silhouette

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,

my heart admires, adores, loves thee,

for my little vessel is as full as it can be,

and I would pour out all that fullness before thee

in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee

ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,

ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,

ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,

crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,

for adorning it, sanctifying it,

though it is fixed in barren soil;

for the body thou hast given me,

for preserving its strength and vigour,

for providing senses to enjoy delights,

for the ease and freedom of my limbs,

for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;

for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,

for a full table and overflowing cup,

for appetite, taste, sweetness,

for social joys of relatives and friends,

for ability to serve others,

for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,

for a mind to care for my fellow-men,

for opportunities of spreading happiness around,

for loved ones in the joys of heaven,

for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language

to express,

for what thou art to thy creatures.

 

Increase my love, O my God, through time

and eternity.

 

Valley of Vision is copyrighted by Banner of Truth

 

 
 

My Two Minutes of Fame

About three weeks ago I reviewed a podcast I listen to with regularity called “The Happy Rant.” The podcast is co-hosted by Ted Kluck, Barnabas Piper, and Stephen Altrogge, the happy rantalthough Stephen is on some sort of sabbatical, his spot is filled in quite nicely by Ronnie Martin. To sum up the format of the podcast I give you their tag line:

The Happy Rant podcast is a podcast in which Stephen Altrogge, Barnabas Piper, and Ted Kluck, cheerfully rant about all the things that don’t matter all that much.

While listening to the latest podcast of “The Happy Rant” today (episode #62) I hear my name mentioned in a the reading of some of their iTunes podcast reviews. So now, like Ronnie Martin, I have to wear shades and duck out of the public places to avoid the clambering crowd. My review is provided below:

I have a minute commute, so I listen to podcasts and sermons quite a bit. I listen to everything from “Stuff You Should Know” to “Gut Check” podcasts and Matt Chandler sermons to John MacArthur sermons and I find myself looking for “The Happy Rant” updates more often than all. (please do episodes more frequently) Keep up the groovy sarcasm, and witty, lite nihilistic rants. BTW, BP, and TK, stop picking on SA. Homeschooling saves lives.

The trio went on to talk about how complex a person I must be, based on the mention of the things I listen to during my commute to and from work. They also requested that I respond by drawing some lines between the sermons of Matt Chandler, and Johnny Mac, podcast “Stuff You Should Know” and the likes of “The Happy Rant”. They also requested that I explain how “homeschooling saves lives” I’m using this platform to respond because, quite frankly, a bit complex.

Guys,

My diverse selection of listening choices stems from the traditional to the current curiosity, and from the entertaining to the intellectual. Many years ago while my bride and I were attending a United Methodist Church, which at the time seemed like a compromise between us. (she was raised RC and I was raised in an more evangelical church). We heard about John MacArthur on a local Christian radio station and signed up for his tape ministry. I used to listen to his sermons every chance I got because his proclaiming of scripture struck a deep chord in me. I hadn’t heard the truth proclaimed in such a way since my youth. I really came to a clearer understanding of the Doctrines of Grace through the teachings of MacArthur.  I still get jazzed about his sermons on occasion.

I started listening to Matt Chandler several months ago to see what all the popularity was with the guy and I still peruse his podcast selections sometimes to see if something interests me. I also listen to Tim Keller (very frequently) and Alistair Begg (who doesn’t love his Scottish accent).

My podcast choices are also diverse because I have several interests. I am a nerd by profession (I design software for an aviation company), and love many forms of music, a musician at heart, a sports fan, and I love to listen to and discuss theology.

How does homeschooling save lives? Personally it saved the lives of our five children by allowing us to teach them curriculum we believed mattered, such as critical thinking, writing, real reading, most of which are seldom taught in public schools anymore. Our children were not sheltered from anything but the “let’s fight first, and vandalize later” mentality of the kids in small town Nebraska. They were plugged into sports teams, debating teams, and drama, including audio / visual training for the stage setups. They were actually able to participate in plays in a local professional theater.

But most of all it saved the lives of the public school principal, and my wife, and I. Let me explain. The day two of our boys were picked up in the principal’s office for getting beat up by some other boys, and the principle suggested that our boys stick close to the teachers if they didn’t want to get into fights with other bullying students, was the day I saved his life from my wife. We asked “so basically, we should handicap our kids by making them hang with the teachers instead of making the trouble makers obey any rules?” His response was “That is the gist of it.” School administrators and principals no longer have a backbone.

BTW, Barnabas, I also saved your life today, You should’ve seen the hair on the back of my wife’s neck stand to attention when you said “sheltering” our kids in reference to homeschooling. She was on her way to Tennessee in her mind.

There you go guys. Hopefully you’ll read some of this on your podcast and give me more reasons to have to wear the shades and hat in public again.