Friday, September 27, 2013

A Conversion Hymn

I Once Was Dead in Sin and Strife
M. Justin Wainscott, 2008

I was once was dead in sin and strife,
And knew no will but mine;
But God has quickened me to life
By sovereign grace divine!

To base desires I was a slave,
And under their control;
But Jesus Christ is strong to save;
He freed my shackled soul!

Although my heart was hard as stone,
And vile with ev’ry beat;
For all my sins Christ has atoned.
In Him I stand complete!

My blinded eyes were shut by sin,
The dark my only sight;
But God, in mercy, opened them,
And flooded me with light!

My lifeless tongue was resting lame,
No words my mouth could bring;
Till on my lips God put His name,
And loosed my tongue to sing!

And sing I shall to Christ my King,
My Savior and my God;
Loud praises I will ever bring.
I’ll glory in His blood!

And when from earth I shall depart,
And when it’s time to die;
I’ll join the saints and sing my part
In songs of praise on high!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Precious Treasure of the Bible

"What a precious treasure God has committed into our hands in that he has given us the Bible. How little do most persons consider how much they enjoy in that they have the possession of that holy book....What an excellent book is this, and how far exceeding all human writings....He that has a Bible, and doesn't observe what is contained [in] it, is like a man that has a box full of silver and gold, and doesn't know it."

--Jonathan Edwards, quoted in Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word, Douglas Sweeney

Friday, September 20, 2013

In Honor of the Late Great Rich Mullins

It was on September 19, 1997, that Rich Mullins was killed in a car accident. The Church lost a great poet and songwriter when he died. Therefore, in an effort to honor his memory and mark the anniversary of his death, I am posting one of my favorite Rich Mullins' songs today, "Hold Me Jesus."

Here's a video of "Hold Me Jesus" being performed live in a concert not long before Mullins' death.

Hold Me Jesus (from A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band)
Rich Mullins, 1955-1997

Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace
Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

I'm singing hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bryan Loritts on "The Greatest Challenge Facing Churches in the South"

Bryan Loritts, lead pastor of Fellowship Memphis, was asked what he thought the greatest challenge facing churches in the American South was today. Read his answer here.

Loritts will be part of a one-day conference in Birmingham next Tuesday called Engage the South, which will be advocating for the kind of churches needed in today's American South.

Monday, September 16, 2013

50th Anniversary of the Bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church

Yesterday marked the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four young girls and graphically revealed the horrors of racism. Two recent articles about this event are worth reading as a reflection on that dark day in our nation's history.
Timothy George's First Things article, While the World Watched: Carolyn Maul McKinstry and the Birmingham Bombings

Betsy Child's article for The Gospel Coalition blog, 9 Things You Should Know About the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pleading What My Lord Has Done

No More, My God
Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

No more, my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done;
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of Thy Son.

Now, for the love I bear His name,
What was my gain I count my loss;
My former pride I call my shame,
And nail my glory to His cross.

Yes, and I must and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus’ sake:
O may my soul be found in Him,
And of His righteousness partake!

The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before Thy throne;
But faith can answer Thy demands
By pleading what my Lord has done.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Paul Clark on "Deference Over Preference"

I'm grateful for the very kind personal remarks from my friend, Paul Clark, in his most recent blog post, Deference Over Preference.  But I'm even more grateful for the clear and faithful way he goes on to unpack and apply this concept of deference over preference in our worship. 

It was wonderful to have Dr. Clark with us at First Baptist Church on Sunday, and he did an excellent job preaching and teaching God's Word.  Click here for the audio of his morning sermon, "Can You Sing in Tune?"  And click here for the audio of his evening session, "Worship Renewal and Music Ministry."

Friday, September 6, 2013

I Saw One Hanging on a Tree

In Evil Long I Took Delight
John Newton, 1725-1807

In evil long I took delight,
Unaw'd by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp'd my wild career.

I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood,
Who fix'd His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood.

Sure, never till my latest breath
Can I forget that look;
It seem'd to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.

My conscience felt, and own'd the guilt,
And plung'd me in despair;
I saw my sins His blood had spilt,
And help'd to nail Him there.

Alas! I knew not what I did;
But now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain.

A second look He gave, which said,
"I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid,
I die that thou mayst live."

Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
(Such is the mystery of grace,)
It seals my pardon too.

With pleasing grief and mournful joy
My spirit now is fill'd.
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I kill'd.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

When Prose Is Poetic

Some writers just have a way with words, and N.D. Wilson seems to be one of those writers.  Even his prose is often poetic.  This was certainly the case in his 2009 book, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, and it comes out again in his most recent book, Death by Living.  To give you an example, I've taken the liberty of arranging a few paragraphs of prose from Death by Living into poetic form below so you can see what I mean.
If life is a story,
how shall we then live?
It isn't complicated
(just hard).
Take up your life
and follow Him.
Face trouble.
Pursue it.
Climb it.
Smile at its roar
like a tree planted
by cool water
even when your branches groan,
when your golden leaves are stripped
and the frost bites deep,
even when your grip
on this earth is torn loose
and you fall among mourning saplings.
Or consider the following:
This world is all incarnation.
Words made flesh.
God has seen and God has said.
His imagination is bone-shaking
and soul-shivering,
and He has never groped
for words to capture
(and be) those things.
He imagined galaxies and clogged drains
and sharks and harmonies
and emotions and running
and villains and foes and fungus
and that heavy marriage of airs
that we call water
that can skip rocks
and light and wind,
that can quench and freeze and baptize.
He imagined and felt
the ache of a mother's love
and the mortal yearning
caused by the thrust of time
and the speed of the falcon
and the fear of a hare
and minor chords
and the smell of carpet glue.
And none of these things
were any good as ideas.
They became words.
Sounds mouthed by the Infinite.
Rhythms, verbally enfleshed
and shaped by the divine.
They were spoken.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Christ Crucified

A poetic reminder from B.B. Warfield that it's not merely Christ that we proclaim, but Christ our Redeemer, Christ our Savior, and thus Christ crucified:
A Christless cross no refuge for me;
A Crossless Christ my Savior not be;
But, O Christ crucified! I rest in Thee!

--B.B. Warfield