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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.

 

Breaking Tradition

While searching for worship songs with sound theology, I came across this article with a wonderful idea for engaging corporate worship. If your church worship services are like most in North America, then you typically have a format for corporate worship. I am writing about the time during the service where the congregation is engaged in singing and lifting up their voices in song to the Lord. (side note) I believe the sermon portion of the service is also a form of engaging worship before the Lord. When you have a preacher in the pulpit proclaiming the truths found in God’s Word, I believe, that is worship as well. The subject of this post is for the congregational singing portion of the service. (end side note)

Most of the singing worship done in churches today is done through the typical formula of displaying the lyrics of the song on an overhead screen for all to sing along and a worship team or leaders who lead us into the song. I am not, <repeat>, not saying anything is wrong with this formula. But, what if once in a while, we combine scripture reading as a congregation or even from the worship leaders, with scripture from the Psalms, as an example, to magnify the content of the worship to God? This was the gist of the article mentioned above. What a wonderful, and engaging, opportunity to bring praise to our Creator. I like the idea of the leader and congregational response in the reading of Psalms 145:1-13 in the article example. Or even just having someone read the verses prior to the congregational singing.

I think the idea is to choose scriptures based in the worship song (as many of them are) or choosing scripture very close in context of the song.

Maybe it would go like this:

I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
 Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.
 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.

 One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.
 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

 The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
 The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.

 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your saints shall bless you!
 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
    and tell of your power,
 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

and then the song:

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

 

The Lion’s Den

This morning I was listening to some older Guardian during my Bowflex workout. Guardian is a Christian rock band who was very popular in Christian music circles in the 90’s. During the workout I came across the classic “Lion’s Den”. The story of Daniel and the lion’s den is a little more Daniel_lions_denengaging now, because we are studying Daniel in our Wednesday night Bible study.

The song by Guardian was written by Steve Taylor who is a masterful lyricist. The music is excellent, released in 1995, even now, it’s a pleasure to listen to. Especially while working triceps.

Here are the lyrics:

Once upon a time, in churches of old
The Velcro age had yet to unfold
Flannel was king and Sunday School knew
How to make those Bible heroes, stick like glue
How to make ’em stick with you

Flannel graph lions, mounted and mean
The Prophet Daniel in between
Head toward heaven, sturdy and true
A man of God who did not fear the gods of men
He didn’t fear the lion’s den

Every age at every stage
Lions rage
Pray, stand your ground
They’ll lie down

Dumb struck, I was shaken and stirred
He wouldn’t kowtow, he kept God’s word
Teacher said, “Son, this could be you
If you put your trust in God and not the praise of men
You won’t fear the lion’s den”

And if we play by lion’s rules
We start lionizing fools
God wrote the book, He’ll fortify
And like the eagles we will fly
We’re gonna fly

Late one night in a fever dream
The Prophet Daniel came to me
“Sir,” I said, “I’ve lost my nerve
I lip serve God and put my faith in Godless men
I fear the lion’s den”

Then he said, “Who says I’m not a feline-phobe?
Who says I wasn’t ready to wet my robe?
Faith is tough, boy, but God gives grace
So take deep breath, head up, set your face like flint
And stop being a wimp”

Songwriters
LIDDLE, PETER DUNCAN/TAYLOR, MATTHEW/MILLER, SCOTT/WARREN, JONATHAN/HARVEY, WILLIAM

Published by
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

Here is the a video with the music:

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2015 in Daniel, Guardian, Lion's Den

 

Morning Needs

I truly love the collection of Puritan prayers found in “The Valley of Vision” published by Banner of Truth. This morning my bride and I read this one in particular. It was so sweet tomorning fog me I had to share it with you. Whoever you are. Enjoy, and be blessed as I was.

Morning Needs

O God the author of all good, I come to Thee for the grace another day will require for its duties and events.

I step out into a wicked world;

I carry about with me an evil heart.

I know that without Thee I can do nothing, that everything with which I shall be concerned,

however harmless in itself,

may prove an occasion of sin or folly,

unless I am kept by Thy power.

Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe.

Preserve my understanding from subtilty of error,

my affections from love of idols,

my character from stain of vice,

my profession from every form of evil.

May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Thy blessing, and in which I cannot invite Thy inspection.

Prosper me in all lawful undertakings, or prepare me for disappointments.

Give me neither poverty nor riches.

Feed me with food convenient for me,

lest I be full and deny Thee and say, Who is the Lord?

or be poor, and steal, and take Thy name in vain.

May every creature be made good to me by prayer and Thy will.

Teach me how to use the world and not abuse it,

to improve my talents, to redeem my time,

to walk in wisdom toward those without,

and in kindness to those within,

to do good to all men, and especially to my fellow Christians.

And to Thee be the glory.