Monday, December 30, 2013

My Last Poem of 2013

Strangely Familiar
M. Justin Wainscott, 2013

If I must die, and die I must,
son of Adam that I am,
and if my death is not
untimely or unexpected,
then, if it can be arranged,
and it's not too much trouble,
let it be in a familiar place,
surrounded by familiar people,
singing familiar hymns,
and reading familiar promises
from that most familiar of Books;
because, though I've never been there,
I believe I'll find the Celestial City
somehow strangely familiar.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Condescenion of the Christ

Sing Highest Praises to Our King
M. Justin Wainscott © 2009

Sing highest praises to our King,
Who left His throne above;
And clothed Himself in flesh to bring
The blessings of His love.

The glory He had long enjoyed,
He humbly set aside;
How great the means which Christ employed
To save a sinful Bride!

In Bethlehem by virgin birth,
As prophets did foretell;
Our God descended to the earth,
And didst among us dwell.

Yes, see Him in the manger lay,
But let us ne’er forget;
This precious Child was born to pay
Our cursed, sinful debt.

This perfect Lamb for sinners slain,
Who died and rose again,
Now sits on David’s throne and reigns
In vict’ry over sin.

So let our longing hearts all burn
With zeal for Christ our King,
And for the day of His return,
When He shall reign supreme!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Good News of Great Joy

"I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Spread Gospel Tidings All Around

Immortal God in Mortal Flesh
Advent 2008, M. Justin Wainscott

Immortal God in mortal flesh,
Our Lord has come to earth.
Incarnate God, He came to bring
The gift of second birth.

Spread gospel tidings all around;
Let sinners celebrate!
For Christ was born to save us all
From sin's condemning fate.

In mercy, God has sent His Son
To bear the curse of sin;
To hang condemned on Calv'ry's cross,
And pardon sinful men.

This precious Babe of Bethlehem
Will be forever blessed;
He ransomed us from hell's domain
To enter heaven's rest.

So to our great Immanuel,
Glad songs of praise we'll sing.
From now and through eternity,
He'll reign, our saving King.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Cradle and the Cross

"The crucial significance of the cradle at Bethlehem lies in its place in the sequence of steps that led the Son of God to the cross of Calvary, and we do not understand it till we see it in this context."

--J.I. Packer, Knowing God

HT: Of First Importance

Friday, December 20, 2013

Marvel in the Mystery

All People of the Coming King
© 2010, M. Justin Wainscott

All people of the coming King,
All servants of the Lord,
Come, lift your voices, let us sing
With hearts in one accord:
Alleluia! Alleluia!

In Bethlehem the angels praised
The birth of Christ our King;
So let us now with voices raised
Rejoice with them and sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Oh, marvel in the mystery
Of Jesus' virgin birth;
To God all praise and glory be,
And peace o'er all the earth.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

His first advent salvation wrought
By dying on the tree;
Yet He, through resurrection, bought
For us eternity.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

To Him who came and conquered sin,
Triumphant and supreme;
To Him who'll one day come again,
We sound this joyous theme:
Alleluia! Alleluia!

And when He comes, our King, to reign,
And earth and heav'n be new;
Then may the sound of this refrain
Our longing hearts renew:
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Handel and Humor

Check out these silent monks "singing" the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Where Thrones Shake and the Mighty Fall

"For the great and powerful powerful of this world, there are only two places in which their courage fails them, of which they are afraid deep down in their souls, from which they shy away. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ. No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied he sends away empty. Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged."

--From Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is In the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Surprise Rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus

Many of you have likely seen this before, but it is worth watching again.

On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation's "Random Acts of Culture" at Macy's in Center City Philadelphia. Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world's largest pipe organ - the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah" at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Rise, the Woman's Conqu'ring Seed!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Charles Wesley, 1707-1788; alt. George Whitefield, 1714-1770

Hark, the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Christ, by highest heavn adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord:
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail th'incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Hail, the heav'n born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris'n with healing in his wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home!
Rise, the Woman's conqu'ring Seed,
Bruise in us the Serpent's head!
Now display Thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Adam's likeness, Lord, efface;
Stamp Thine image in its place;
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love!
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the Heavenly Man:
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart!
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rethinking Our Holly-Jolly Christmas Songs

Russell Moore reminds us in this article why it's important to remember that "We have a rich and complicated and often appropriately dark Christmas hymnody."
Of course, some of the blame is on our sentimentalized Christmas of the American civil religion. Simeon the prophet never wished anyone a “holly-jolly Christmas” or envisioned anything about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. But there’s our songs too, the songs of the church. We ought to make sure that what we sing measures up with the, as this fellow would put it, “narrative tension” of the Christmas story.

The first Christmas carol, after all, was a war hymn. Mary of Nazareth sings of God’s defeat of his enemies, about how in Christ he had demonstrated his power and “has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Lk. 1:52). There are some villains in mind there.

Simeon’s song, likewise, speaks of the “fall and rising of many in Israel” and of a sword that would pierce the heart of Mary herself. Even the “light of the Gentiles” he speaks about is in the context of warfare. After all, the light, the Bible tells us, overcomes the darkness (Jn. 1:5), and frees us from the grip of the devil (2 Cor. 4).
Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tony Reinke on "The Allure of Middle-Earth"

Tony Reinke reminds us that the allure of J.R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth is that we are actually made for a King.
As much as we modern, king-rejecting, independents may reject the thought, we really do know we were made to be ruled, made to be governed by a perfectly righteous King, a king worthy of all our obedience and service, who will finally usher in perfect peace and unleash rivers of joyful abundance so great that piles of gold coins will fade to metaphor.

This is the allure of Middle-earth.

We are drawn to Middle-earth by this swelling, ungratified longing for the Day when the true King will return to evict the vile dragon and reclaim the land he has, in reality, always possessed (2 Timothy 4:8).
Read the entire article here

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Handel's Messiah at FBC Jackson

For those of you in and around West Tennessee, I wanted to make you aware that we at First Baptist Jackson will be presenting Handel's Messiah next Sunday, December 15, at 6:00 PM.  We'd love to have you join us!

For more information, click here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Five Things to Teach Your Children This Christmas

Christina Fox, in a recent Desiring God article, gives us five things to teach our children this Christmas. Here are those five things:
1.  The Story of Redemption

2.  The Humility of Christ

3.  God Works through Weakness

4.  God Keeps His Promises

5.  The Names of Christ
For further explanation and to read the entire article, click here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Timothy Paul Jones on "Why Celebrate Advent?"

Yesterday marked the beginning of the season of Advent, which means this article from Timothy Paul Jones on Why Celebrate Advent? comes just in time. 
In Advent, Christians embrace the groaning and recognize it not as hopeless whimpering over the paucity of the present moment but as expectant yearning for a divine banquet that Jesus is preparing for us even now. In Advent, the church admits, as poet R.S. Thomas has put it, that “the meaning is in the waiting.” And what we await is a final Advent that is yet to come. Just as the ancient Israelites waited for the coming of the Messiah in flesh, we await the consummation of the good news through the Messiah’s return in glory. In Advent, believers confess that the infant who drew his first ragged breath between a virgin’s knees has yet to speak his final word.
Read the entire article here