Challenging Words of Wisdom

newton

I have been reading in the fascinating book (that my wife gifted me with) and it has been a tremendously challenging read. There are hymns of Newtons that I never knew existed, full of deep and meaningful lyrics. There are excerpts from many of his pastoral letters that resonate with compassion and grace. Above all, there is the ringing theme that we must look to Christ and Christ alone for all that we need.

This is a practical book. It is full of statements and insights that require deep thinking on and much pondering to grasp all that Newton says, but it is practical in application. I would recommend this book to anyone who desires to know more of Christ and His grace. This is a book that I will come back to time and time again to mine more of its depths.

As you read Newton’s letters, hymns and sermons, you will come to a greater appreciation of how sufficient Jesus is for every need and how truly amazing His grace is.

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Re-educating the Church

Back in the early ’80’s when I attended high school,  one of our required classes was “AVC”, otherwise known as Americanism vs. Communism. Far more than just a class on governments, the course outlined the philosophical differences between the two ideologies.  One of the stark differences I remember was that in countries like North Korea, Soviet Russia and others, political and religious dissidents and advocates were routinely sent to re-education (through labor) camps. These were a highly effective way of ensuring group think and keeping the powers that be in control.

Fast forward 30 years to present day America.  More and more of our citizens are being sentenced to re-education classes, facing fines and/or jail time for not “evolving” on social issues such as abortion, gay rights, marriage equality and other issues. We have seen heavy handed government enforced re-education philosophies at work in Houston, Idaho and Minnesota recently. Private organizations, churches, even football teams are being pressured to adhere to the new social norm. Anyone who resists must be a Neanderthal in need of re-education to get with the program.

Christians have two choices in froont of them: acquiesce and lose all resemblance to Christ we profess to be like or push back, stand for our beliefs and take any and all punishment meted out by the state as Christ and the Apostles did. America is no longer a safe haven for Christiandom. Declare your allegiance because now it is Americanism vs. Christianity. Teach your children now how to stand in the faith so they can rise up in your place and carry the legacy of the cross forward. Stand and be counted. Now is the time to choose who you will serve.

Quit moaning and wringing your hands wondering what you can do. Live your life according to Biblical principles, engage the culture, vote for moral values – not for party or union dogma and pray for those in power over you that the Holy Spirit would transform their lives. Please, stop lying to yourself that you can just “live your witness” and that will be enough. You must speak, must verbally proclaim the life changing gospel while backing it up with your lifestyle. It isn’t one or the other but both in harmony that provides an effective witness.

When I was young I heard over and over, “When we get together we can talk about anything but religion or politics.” We have reaped what we have sown; masses that cannot think critically about the long term implications of policies and a muddled, confused and impotent church that is irrelevant to mainstream America. Now is the time to declare your true intentions – are you ready to stand up for Jesus no matter the personal cost or are you going to shrink away and continue to compromise? Stand up for Jesus. Stand with your brothers and sisters facing persecution. Get involved and be a force for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

Security, not Possibility

One of the most reassuring facets of our Lord  Jesus Christ is, to me, His ability to secure our salvation. We serve a God who not only can save, but who actually does so. The gospels abound with such wonderful statements such as Mt. 1:21, ” And you (Mary) shall bring forth a son and younshall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins” and Mt. 18:4 “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.” How wonderful is the phrase He shall save” – not just He will make salvation possible, but that He is actively going to save His people.

The fact that He not only loved us first, when we did not love Him, coupled with the truth that He saves us precisely because we cannot save ourselves is staggering. Left to ourselves, we would not come to Christ even if we could. Thankfully, He came to seek and save us. He calls us and bids us to come, follow Him just as He called the disciples. He draws us to Himself, saving us from this corrupt generation.

It is not just that He died to secure the possibility of salvation for those who would believe,  but that He died to save those to whom He gives the faith to believe on Him. My eternal destiny is secure because He chose me and for that I thank Him. On my own, I could not have and would not have chosen Him. Truly, our Lord is the God of salvation.

The Christmas Carol that isn’t a Christmas Carol

It is written about a pious duke and doesn’t mention the nativity at all. St. Stephen’s feast day, December 26th is spoken of but not December 25th, Christmas. Yet this carol, set to a springtime dance tune, continues to gain devotees each year. Why is Good King Wenceslas sung at Christmas? One reason is because of the feast of Stephen and the other is because King Wenceslas portrays Christianity at its finest – helping the poor and downtrodden. Jesus came to set the captives free, give sight to the blind, lift up those who were bruised and broken and give them hope. Hope of salvation, hope of a life eternal and hope of a better life here and now. When Christ transforms a soul, they no longer think selfishly but think of others, sacrificing so that they can minister in Christ’s name. Isn’t that what Wenceslas did, in both the carol and real life?

While it is not a Christmas carol in the traditional sense, it does speak of a life that Christ has transformed and isn’t that why Jesus came? He came to transform people from death to life, from selfish to spiritual, from lost to found. Those whose lives have been transformed will seek to do good works so that God is glorified and people are brought to His Son. So sing this sort-of, almost a Christmas carol. Sing it the day after Christmas on the feast of Stephen. Sing it and think of what acts of kindness you can do to reflect the love of God that has transformed your life. Sing it and thank God that He does transform people like you and I, and Wensceslas, into saints.

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel

“Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know’st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather

“Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing 

WORLD | In defense of Richard Dawkins | Marvin Olasky | March 16, 2013

Another cowardly attempt to paint Christianity as evil and never address Islam. If we beheaded those who disparaged Christ would they stop their pathetic efforts to ridicule something they cannot possibly understand?
Why is it okay to slander Judaism and Christianity but not Islam? Dawkins is not only a fool (that’s what the Bible says about those who do not worship God) but an opportunistic coward. If he truly does not believe in a God, then it doesn’t matter what religion’s god is being talked about, Dawkins must show the same lack of belief in any of them to be consistent with his claim of being an atheist.
Of course, a true Muslim would be offended by his slander of the God of the Hebrews anyway – that is, if they read their Qur’an. So how about it Muslim world — any takers on defending God’s name?

WORLD | In defense of Richard Dawkins | Marvin Olasky | March 16, 2013.

Hymn Devotions Day 18 – When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

DAY 18 – WHEN I SURVEY THE WONDROUS CROSS

               Of all of Isaac Watts’ hymns, this one is probably my favorite. Great words of truth mixed with a fantastic melody, this hymn is well worth singing regularly.

I particularly love the second stanza. There is nothing any of us have to boast about except our Lord. Are we brilliant? God gave us our intellect. Are we strong? God fashioned our body. Are we successful? God has blessed us.

All we are we owe to our Creator, especially our salvation. In God’s plan, in God’s time, in God’s power, He redeemed us to Himself through His Son. Salvation, as Jonah stated, is from the Lord.

Everything this world has to charm us with is nothing compared to what awaits us in glory. Why should I take my eyes off eternal perfection for temporal things? Truly, no offering I can give is enough. If I had, as the fourth verse states, everything in the world, it still would not be too great an offering to give. But what I do have, my life, I give freely to the One who is worthy of worship, the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Lord, reading again of Your Son’s death on the cross to pay the price for my sins, brings me both great sorrow and gratitude. Sorrow that I, like all other humans, failed to live up to Your holy standards; gratitude that You took it upon Yourself to pay my penalty. I can never repay You. I can only say, “Thank You.” Take my life. You created me, You bought me, take what is rightfully Yours.

 WHEN I SURVEY THE WONDROUS CROSS – Isaac Watts

 

When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of Glory died

My richest gain I count but loss

And pour contempt on all my pride

 

Forbid it Lord, that I should boast

Save in the death of Christ my God

All the vain things that charm me most

I sacrifice them to His blood

 

See, from His head, His hands, His feet

Sorrow and love flow mingled down

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

 

Were the whole realm of nature mine

That were an offering far too small

Love so amazing, so divine

Demands my soul, my life, my all

 

 

Great Quotes From Ages Past #6

At the turn of the Nineteenth Century, one of America’s leading newspapers addressed the following question to many notable persons in Great Britain:

“What in your opinion is the chief danger, social or political, that confronts the coming century?”

General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, who was invited among others to reply to the question, sent the following:

“In answer to your enquiry, I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost; Christianity without Christ; forgiveness without repentance; salvation without regeneration; politics without God; and Heaven without Hell.” 

Very prophetic if you ask me…