Sunday, March 31, 2013

Alleluia! Christ Is Risen!

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Oh, To See My Name Written in the Wounds

The Power of the Cross
Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath-
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

Final Chorus:
This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God-slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2 New Books Related to Worship

Here are two new books related to worship that I look forward to reading:

Rhythms of Grace: How the Church's Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel, Mike Cosper

Is it singing? A church service? All of life? Helping Christians think more theologically about the nature of true worship, Rhythms of Grace shows how the gospel is all about worship and worship is all about the gospel. Mike Cosper ultimately answers the question: What is worship?

Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, James K. A. Smith

How does worship work? How exactly does liturgical formation shape us? What are the dynamics of such transformation? In the second of James K. A. Smith's three-volume theology of culture, the author expands and deepens the analysis of cultural liturgies and Christian worship he developed in his well-received Desiring the Kingdom. He helps us understand and appreciate the bodily basis of habit formation and how liturgical formation--both "secular" and Christian--affects our fundamental orientation to the world. Worship "works" by leveraging our bodies to transform our imagination, and it does this through stories we understand on a register that is closer to body than mind. This has critical implications for how we think about Christian formation.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

9 Things to Know about Holy Week

Holy Week (or Passion Week) began this past Sunday with Palm Sunday and will reach its climax with the celebration of Christ's resurrection on Easter Sunday.  The Gospel Coalition blog has an interesting article on 9 Things You Should Know about Holy Week, which was just sent to me by one of our church members. 

Check it out here.   

Monday, March 25, 2013

Poetry Is an X-Ray

A few weeks ago, I began teaching a Wednesday night Bible study at our church on the book of Lamentations.  In the introduction and overview lesson, I tried to make the point that Lamentations captures poetically the grief and sorrow experienced by the people of Jerusalem during and after the fall of their city.  I mentioned that 2 Kings 25 and Jeremiah 52 capture the bare facts (in prose), while Lamentations captures the raw emotions (in poetry).  And I reminded our congregation that poetry has the ability to capture emotions much better than does prose.

Then, a few days ago, one of our church members sent me a link to an interview he heard on NPR with an exiled Iraqi poet who had to flee her homeland because of war.  This interview, and her poetry, illustrates well what I was trying to communicate about Lamentations.  In particular, I appreciated her comment that "poetry is not medicine - it's an X-ray.  It helps you see the wound and understand it."  That's exactly what the poetry of Lamentations does - it provides an X-ray of the grief and sorrow of God's people due to the destruction of Jerusalem.

So, when you read through Lamentations, keep that quote in mind.  Remember that the poetry of that book is meant to provide you with an X-ray of the emotional wounds suffered by God's people.
To read the NPR interview with Iraqi-American poet, Dunya Mikhail (and to read some of her poetry), click here.        

Friday, March 22, 2013

An All Sufficient Ransom Paid

Enslaved by Sin and Bound in Chains
Anne Steele, 1716-1778

Enslaved by sin and bound in chains,
Beneath its dreadful tyrant sway,
And doomed to everlasting pains,
We wretched, guilty captives lay.

Nor gold nor gems could buy our peace,
Nor all the world’s collected store
Suffice to purchase our release;
A thousand worlds were all too poor.

Jesus, the Lord, the mighty God,
An all sufficient ransom paid.
O matchless price! His precious blood
For vile, rebellious traitors shed.

Jesus the sacrifice became
To rescue guilty souls from hell;
The spotless, bleeding, dying Lamb
Beneath avenging Justice fell.

Amazing goodness! Love divine!
Oh, may our grateful hearts adore
The matchless grace nor yield to sin
Nor wear its cruel fetters more!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Benefit of Biblical Theology

Graeme Goldsworthy, one of the foremost proponents of biblical theology in our day, discusses why biblical theology is so appealing and so important:
The immediate appeal of biblical theology to preachers, teachers and ordinary Christians is that it provides a "big picture" that makes sense out of the bewildering bulk and variety of the biblical literature. It seeks to view the whole scene of God's revelation from the heights - to mount up with eagles' wings and allow God to show us his one mighty plan from creation to new creation.  When the Bible ceases to be a mass of unconnected stories and other bits of writing, and begins to look like a unity that connects the narratives of Israel with those of the four Gospels, that shows up the progression from the creation to the new creation, and that highlights the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the prime focus of the whole Bible, people usually sit up and take notice. If the Bible is indeed the one word of the one God about the one way of salvation through the one Savior, Jesus Christ, it is biblical theology that will reveal this to us.
--Graeme Goldsworthy, Christ-Centered Biblical Theology

Monday, March 18, 2013

Having a Passion for Christ

Tim Keller, explaining what it means to have a passion for Christ:
When I talk about having a passion for Christ, it might make you afraid that I mean you need to be a fanatic. Maybe you think, I had an aunt like that. All she did was talk about religion and the Bible and made everybody sick of it.  That's not what we're talking about when we talk about a passion for Christ.

It's like my glasses. I don't spend all my time looking at and talking about my glasses. But I do spend all my time seeing everything through my glasses. And if my relationship between me and my glasses gets off, if they get too far down on my nose or get too dirty, it affects my perception of everything.

Likewise, a person with a passion for Christ is not necessarily always talking about Christ, but is looking at everything through Christ.
--Tim Keller, "Knowing the Power of His Resurrection," in Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, Nancy Guthrie, ed.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wake the Song of Adoration

Praise the Rock of Our Salvation
Fanny Crosby, 1820-1915

Praise the Rock of our salvation!
Praise the mighty God above!
Come before His sacred presence
With a grateful song of love.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
He is God, and He alone.
Wake the song of adoration—
Come with joy before His throne!

Praise the Rock of our salvation!
Praise the Father’s boundless love!
Praise the Lamb, our expiation!
Praise the Spirit from above!


Praise the Rock of our salvation!
Jesus’ blood avails for sin;
Jesus, at the door of mercy,
Waits to let the wandr’er in.


Praise the Rock of our salvation!
Catch from yonder radiant clime
Strains by everlasting ages,
Echoed back in tones sublime.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New 9Marks Journal on "Pastoring Christians for the Workplace"

The March-April issue of the 9Marks Journal is now available.  This edition of the journal focuses on pastoring Christians for the workplace and includes a host of helpful articles, examples of Sunday School curriculum, and audio from a recent conference on "The Gospel at Work."

Check it out here.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Disadvantage to Printed Sermons

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in an essay about George Whitefield, once commented on the disadvantage of printed sermons with the following words.  May they serve as a reminder to us of the value of hearing the Word preached (of actually hearing the "thunder" and seeing the "lightning"):
[Whitefield] was asked one day for a copy of the sermon he had preached in order that it might be published, and this was his reply. He said, "I have no objection, if you will print the lightning, thunder, and rainbow with it."
You cannot put preaching into cold print; it is impossible. You can put the contents of the sermon, but you cannot put the preaching; you cannot put the "lightning," you cannot put the "thunder" - the roar of the thunder, the flash of the lightning - you cannot capture the "rainbow." All that is in the spoken word, in the action, in everything about the preacher. You cannot put that in print....[T]o read a sermon and to listen to it being preached are not the same thing. Thank God the Spirit can use a written sermon, but it does not compare with a preached sermon.
--Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "Calvin and Whitefield," in Puritan Papers, Volume 3  

Friday, March 8, 2013

And That Love Be Much Admiring

Mourning Souls, By Sin Distressed
Richard Burnham, 1749-1810

Mourning souls, by sin distressed,
Lost and ruined, void of good,
You can never be released,
But by faith in Jesus’ blood.

Richly flowed the crimson river,
Down Immanuel’s lovely side;
And that blood will you deliver,
Whensoever ’tis applied.

Christ is ready to receive you;
See his bloody cross appear.
From your sins he will relieve you,
And dissolve your every fear.

O behold the Lord expiring;
See the suffering Lamb of God!
And that love be much admiring,
Which appears in streams of blood.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Paul Clark's Interview with Keith Getty

Paul Clark recently interviewed Keith Getty, asking him about things such as the musical influence of living in Nashville, the role of choirs, themes in hymn writing, and congregational singing. 

The interview can be read here

Friday, March 1, 2013

Other Refuge Have I None

Jesus, Lover of My Soul
Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.

Wilt Thou not regard my call?
Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—
Lo! on Thee I cast my care;
Reach me out Thy gracious hand!
While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand,
Dying, and behold, I live.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want,
More than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy name,
I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am;
Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart;
Rise to all eternity.