Friday, September 28, 2012

Greater Than All My Doubts and Fears

O My Distrustful Heart
William Hammond, 1719-1783

O my distrustful heart,
How small thy faith appears!
But greater, Lord, Thou art,
Than all my doubts and fears:
Did Jesus once upon me shine?
Then Jesus is for ever mine.

Unchangeable His will,
Whatever be my frame;
His loving heart is still
Eternally the same:
My soul through many changes goes,
His love no variation knows.

Thou, Lord, wilt carry on,
And perfectly perform
The work Thou hast begun
In me a sinful worm:
'Midst all my fears, and sin, and woe,
Thy Spirit will not let me go.

The bowels of Thy grace
At first did freely move;
I still shall see Thy face,
And feel that God is love:
My soul into Thy arms I cast,
I know I shall be saved at last!   

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Is "No Creed but the Bible" Actually Unbiblical?

Carl Trueman, who I always find enjoyable and challenging (even when I don't agree with him), has just written a new book aimed primarily at his evangelical friends in non-confessional or non-creedal traditions, attempting to help them see the need for creeds and confessions.  In this new book, The Creedal Imperative, he writes:
Christians are not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who do not; rather, they are divided between those who have public creeds and confessions which are written down and exist as public documents, subject to public scrutiny, evaluation, and critique; and those who have private creeds and confessions which are often improvised, unwritten, and thus not open to public scrutiny, not susceptible to evaluation and, crucially and ironically, not subject to testing by scripture to see whether they are true or not.
He concludes the first chapter with a gentle challenge to anti-confessional and anti-creedal evangelicals:
I conclude this chapter by posing a challenge to those who, in  their earnest desire to be faithful to Scripture as the supreme authority of faith and life, claim that they have no creed but the Bible. Reflect critically on the cultural forces that are certainly consonant with holding such a position and ask yourself whether they have perhaps reinforced your antipathy to creeds and confessions in a way that is not directly related to the Bible’s own teaching at all. Then, setting aside for just a moment your sincere convictions on this matter, read the rest of this book and see whether creeds and confessions might not actually provide you with a better way of preserving precisely those aspects of biblical, Christian faith which are most valuable to you and which you passionately wish to communicate to your church.
For those evangelicals who are not particularly confessional in their thinking, this book may be a helpful and challenging read. 


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Poetry and Melody

The following quote is from a book about music recently given to me by a church member who is an avid reader and fellow poetry lover.  While the author doesn't seem to completely share our biblical worldview (especially as it relates to creation and evolution), he does make some fascinating observations and insights. 

In the opening chapter, he draws a connection between poetry and music, arguing that poetry is rhythmic, melodious, and serves as a form of music.  I couldn't agree more.  Here's the way he states it:  
[W]hatever its form, written poetry is characterized by a kind of music.  Accent structures in words naturally make a sort of melody.  In the word melody itself the first syllable is stressed, which makes it louder than the others, and most native English speakers will give it a higher pitch than other syllables.  The word melody has a melody!  Good poetry plays with speech sounds to create a pleasing set of pitch patterns, and good poetry contains rhythmic groupings that are songlike.  When a poem succeeds, it is a sensual experience - the way the words feel in the mouth of the speaker and the way they sound in the ears of the hearer are part of the encounter.  Unlike prose, most poems ask to be read aloud.  This is why poetry lovers usually do so.  Just reading the poem is not enough.  The reader needs to feel the rhythms.

--Daniel J. Levitin, The World in Six Songs

Friday, September 21, 2012

Give Me Christ, Or Else I Die

Christ, Or Else I Die
William Hammond, 1719-1783

Gracious Lord, incline Thy ear;
My request vouchsafe to hear;
Hear my never-ceasing cry:
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Wealth and honor I disdain,
Earthly comforts, Lord, are vain;
These can never satisfy;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Lord, deny me what Thou wilt,
Only ease me of my guilt.
Suppliant at Thy feet I lie;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

All unholy and unclean,
I am nothing but sin;
On Thy mercy I rely;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Thou dost freely save the lost;
In Thy grace alone I trust.
With my earnest suit comply;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Thou dost promise to forgive
All who in Thy Son believe;
Lord, I know Thou canst not lie;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Music and Memory

Music and Memory
M. Justin Wainscott, Copyright 2012

The relationship between music
and memory is a mystery,
but a mystery common to all men.
Who among us hasn't heard a song
and instantly remembered a person
or a place or a season of life?
Even if that particular person or place
or that time of life was, in our minds,
a distant, even forgotten, memory,
music has a mysterious way
of making it feel like only yesterday.
It's as if music is a melodious key
that unlocks men's memories.
Of course, some of those memories
we'd rather remain hidden and locked away,
but music and memory, it seems,
have minds of their own.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pastoral Reminders Amidst Political Unrest

I recently provided our congregation with an article that I hope will provide a balanced and biblical perspective on the upcoming presidential election.   If you would like to read the article, titled Keeping Perspective: Pastoral Reminders amidst Political Unrest, you can click here to view it on our church blog.  Or if you want to download the print version as a PDF, click on that same page and scroll down to the very bottom.

I hope this article proves helpful, and I hope it reminds us of those things that are so easy to lose sight of during this election season.    

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jehovah Is the Sinner's Friend

Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace
D. Herbert

Come boldly to the throne of grace,
Ye wretched sinners come;
And lay your load at Jesus’ feet,
And plead what he has done.

“How can I come?” Some soul may say,
“I’m lame and cannot walk;
My guilt and sin have stopped my mouth;
I sigh, but dare not talk.”

Come boldly to the throne of grace,
Though lost, and blind, and lame;
Jehovah is the sinner’s Friend,
And ever was the same.

He makes the dead to hear his voice;
He makes the blind to see;
The sinner lost he came to save,
And set the prisoner free.

Come boldly to the throne of grace,
For Jesus fills the throne;
And those he kills he makes alive;
He hears the sigh or groan.

Poor bankrupt souls, who feel and know
The hell of sin within,
Come boldly to the throne of grace;
The Lord will take you in.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Humility in the Wrong Place

The ever quotable G.K. Chesterton:
What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place.  Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition . . . [and] settled upon the organ of conviction, where it was never meant to be.  A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.  We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.

--G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What American Christians Were Reminded of on 9/11

What a previous generation of American Christians were reminded of on December 7, 1941, another generation was reminded of on September 11, 2001.  May these words from Psalm 46 bring renewed comfort and hope to us on this anniversary of that day:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear
though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved
into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad
the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her;
she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

--Psalm 46:1-7

Friday, September 7, 2012

'Tis He, Instead of Me, Is Seen

One Glance of Thine, Eternal Lord
John Newton, 1725-1807

One glance of Thine, eternal Lord,
Pierces all nature through;
Nor heaven, nor earth, nor hell afford
A shelter from Thy view.

The mighty whole, each smaller part,
At once before Thee lies;
And every thought of every heart
Is open to Thine eyes.

Though greatly from myself concealed,
Thou seest my inward frame;
To Thee I always stand revealed,
Exactly as I am.

Since, therefore, I can hardly bear
What in myself I see;
How vile and black must I appear,
Most holy God, to Thee?

But since my Savior stands between,
In garments dyed in blood,
'Tis He, instead of me, is seen,
When I approach to God.

Thus, though a sinner, I am safe;
He pleads before the throne,
His life and death in my behalf,
And calls my sins His own.

What wondrous love, what mysteries,
In this appointment shine!
My breaches of the law are His,
And His obedience mine.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Robert Smith in Jackson This Weekend

For those of you in and around Jackson, Tennessee, I wanted to make you aware of a few events and opportunities to hear Robert Smith, Jr.  Dr. Smith will be preaching twice and leading a workshop for preachers here this weekend.   He will be preaching in chapel at Union University and in the morning worship at First Baptist Church, Jackson.   

I encourage you to go and hear one of the Church's most gifted preachers alive today.  Below are the dates, times, and places.      

Preaching in Chapel at Union University
Friday, September 7
10:00 AM
G.M. Savage Chapel

Preaching Workshop
Friday, September 7
2:00-4:30 PM
Grant Center at Union University
Free Event (please email to let them know you're going) 
  • 2:00 PM - Christ-Centered Preaching
  • 3:00 PM - Doctrinal Preaching
  • 4:00 PM - Q&A / Time of Prayer

Preaching at First Baptist Church, Jackson
Sunday, September 9
9:00 AM

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Music from Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson just released his new album, Light for the Lost Boy.  And while the music on this album is less acoustic and folksy as his previous work, the lyrical depth is classic Peterson.

I've only been able to give it a few listens thus far, but I think my favorite song at this point is "Carry the Fire."

Here is a video of Peterson explaining the story behind the song.

And here is a rough video shot on the tour bus of Peterson playing and singing an acoustic version of the song.

Andrew Peterson, "Carry the Fire" from The Rabbit Room on Vimeo.

Carry the Fire

I will hold your hand, love
As long as I can, love
Though the powers rise against us

Though your fears assail you
And your body may fail you
There’s a fire that burns within us

And we dream in the night
Of a city descending
With the sun in the center
And a peace unending

I will, I will carry the fire
I will, I will carry the fire
Carry the fire for you

And we kneel in the water
The sons and the daughters
And we hold our hearts before us

And we look to the distance
And raise our resistance
In the face of the forces
Gathered against us

And we dream in the night
Of a King and a kingdom
Where joy writes the songs
And the innocent sing them

I will carry the fire for you
Oh, sing on, sing on
(Light up the darkness)
When your hope is gone, sing on

And we dream in the night
Of a feast and a wedding
And the Groom in his glory
When the bride is made ready

I will carry the fire for you