Thursday, May 31, 2012

Three Words at the Heart of the Gospel

"The utter uniqueness of the Christian message — the heart of the gospel — is found in the three words of Christ from the cross, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). The message of every other religious system, without exception, is predicated on some variation of another three words, which stand starkly opposed to the gospel’s three words. Religion’s three words are: ‘Get to work.’ And this is the heart of the bad news behind every approach to spirituality, enlightenment, or salvation that is not Christian."

--Jared Wilson, Gospel Wakefulness

HT: Of First Importance 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Patient Curiosity of Artists

Justin Wainscott, Copyright 2012

Good artists,
whether they be
poets or painters,
musicians or novelists,
see the same things
all of us see.
Only, the artists look longer,
and from different angles.
They stop and stare;
they linger and ponder,
refusing to be bored
or unaffected.
Then they tell us
what they've seen.
And it turns out to be exactly
what we should have seen,
if only we had taken the time.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Precious Blood of Christ

'Tis Jesus Precious Blood
William Irons, 1812-1883

What sacred fountain yonder springs
Up from the throne of God,
And all new cov'nant blessings brings?
'Tis Jesus' precious blood.

What mighty sum paid all my debt
When I a bondman stood,
And has my soul at freedom set?
'Tis Jesus' precious blood.

What stream is that which sweeps away
My sins just like a flood,
Nor lets one guilty blemish stay?
'Tis Jesus' precious blood.

What voice is that which speaks for me
In heav'n's high court for good,
And from the curse has set me free?
'Tis Jesus' precious blood.

What theme, my soul, shall best employ
Thy harp before thy God,
And make all heav'n to ring with joy?
'Tis Jesus' precious blood.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Unity, But Not at the Expense of Truth

"Christian unity is absolutely crucial to being a Christian, but that unity is only Christian if it is founded on the apostolic gospel of Christ and him crucified."

--Frank Thielman, Philippians: The NIV Application Commentary

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's the Patience of God that Deafens and Blinds

From Peter Leithart in the "Quodlibet" section of the May/June 2012 issue of Touchstone:
Isaiah is told to prophesy in order to make deaf and blind Israel more deaf and blind.  How does that happen?

Perhaps it works like this: Prophets speak in extremes.  Prophets shout.  Prophets "draw large and startling figures" (Flannery O'Connor).  Yet nothing happens.  They keep shouting and drawing.  Still nothing happens.  They shout louder, their colors get bolder.  Years, then decades, pass.  Nothing happens.

Eventually, the prophetic shouts blend into the background, the white noise of traffic that we no longer hear.  Their startling figures begin to look normal, and we might even hang a few in museums.  It's the patience of God that deafens and blinds, that leaves the numb ever number.

Beware the knowing smile at the crazy wearing a "The End Is Near!" sandwich board.  Yours may be the smile of the deaf and blind.  For there is a God who judges in the earth.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Write Thy Name Upon My Heart

O for a Heart to Praise My God
Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

O for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free,
A heart that always feels Thy blood
So freely shed for me.

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer’s throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.

A humble, lowly, contrite, heart,
Believing, true and clean,
Which neither life nor death can part
From Christ who dwells within.

A heart in every thought renewed
And full of love divine,
Perfect and right and pure and good,
A copy, Lord, of Thine.

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart;
Come quickly from above;
Write Thy new name upon my heart,
Thy new, best name of Love.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A New Journal from Union University

Union University has recently published the first issue of a brand new journal, Renewing Minds: A Journal of Christian Thought. Proud to have four of our church members serving on the editorial board: Ben Mitchell is one of the senior editors; Mike Garrett is the reviews editor; and both Cynthia Jayne and Carla Sanderson are advisory editors.

To read more about the journal, click here.

To see the contents of the first issue and/or to subscribe, click here.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Poem

Motherhood Briefly Summarized
Justin Wainscott, Copyright 2012

For my wife, Anna, on Mother's Day


Friday, May 11, 2012

No Blood But Thou Has Spilt

Prostrate, Dear Jesus, At Thy Feet
Samuel Stennett, 1727-1795

Prostrate, dear Jesus, at Thy feet,
A guilty rebel lies;
And upwards to Thy mercy seat,
Presumes to lift his eyes.

If tears of sorrow would suffice
To pay the debt I owe,
Tears should from both my weeping eyes
In ceaseless torrents flow.

But no such sacrifice I plead
To expiate my guilt;
No tears but those which Thou hast shed
No blood, but Thou hast spilt.

Think of Thy sorrows, dearest Lord,
And all my sins forgive:
Justice will well approve the word
That bids the sinner live.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Great Quote on Reading

I had a church member bring this quote to my attention, and it's just too good not to share here.
"A good book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading." --William Styron

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of Heav’n to earth come down;
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling;
All Thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in Heav’n we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Parents Are Theologians

If you're a parent (or a grandparent), you're a theologian.  You may not realize it, but you are.  When your child (or grandchild) asks you questions like, "Who made that bug?" or "Who made God?" or "Where is God?" or "Why can't we see God?" or "Where do people go when they die?", you are dealing with theology.  Your answers to those kinds of questions are always theological answers.  In that moment, you are a theologian; and your child is looking to you as a theologian.

So the question for us parents is not, "Are we theologians?" but "What kind of theologians will we be - good or bad?"  What kind of theology will we teach our children - good or bad?  You see, we parents are all theologians, but it matters greatly (to us and to our children) what kind of theologians we prove to be. 

Christian parents, be good theologians! Know God. Know His Word. Read good theological books. And don't shy away from your role as a theologian in the life of your child.    

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

From Minister to Atheist

I heard a sad, sad story earlier this week on NPR about a Methodist minister who says she has lost her faith in God and is now an atheist.  While I can appreciate her honesty with herself, it is sad that she kept this news from her church for so long.  I don't pretend to understand the struggle she was going through, so I am willing to grant her patience as she wrestled with doubts.  But to continue preaching and pastoring during this season of doubt was unwise at best and dishonest at worst.  To continue doing so after her faith was completely gone, however, was just plain wrong.  And to make matters worse, it doesn't sound like she was treated very Christianly by church members and church officials once the news finally broke, which makes this story sad for other reasons.  Saddest of all, of course, is that this is a story of a woman who no longer believes in the saving grace of Jesus Christ revealed in the gospel that she once proclaimed.       

Here are a few excerpts:
Teresa MacBain has a secret, one she's terrified to reveal.

"I'm currently an active pastor and I'm also an atheist," she says. "I live a double life. I feel pretty good on Monday, but by Thursday — when Sunday's right around the corner — I start having stomachaches, headaches, just knowing that I got to stand up and say things that I no longer believe in and portray myself in a way that's totally false."
. . . . . . . . . .
On March 26, at the American Atheists' convention in Bethesda, MacBain seems almost giddy. The day before, she decided she would go before the conference's 1,500 or so nonbelievers and announce that she is officially an atheist.

"My name is Teresa," she begins. "I'm a pastor currently serving a Methodist church — at least up to this point" — the audience laughs — "and I am an atheist."

Hundreds of people jump to their feet. They hoot and clap for more than a minute. MacBain then apologizes to them for being, as she put it, "a hater."

"I was the one on the right track, and you were the ones that were going to burn in hell," she says. "And I'm happy to say as I stand before you right now, I'm going to burn with you."
To read the entire story, click here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ron Boud in Concert

This Sunday at 5:00PM, First Baptist Church Jackson (TN) will be hosting an organ concert featuring Dr. Ron Boud, a renowned musician and composer.  The concert is a part of our church's yearlong 175th Anniversary Celebration.  It is free and open to the public.