The Impact of a Song

Many followers of our blog will have noticed that there are a lot of song lyrics that get posted here. There is good reason for that. Each song whose lyrics have been used are ones which have personally impacted my life. Today, there will be another song’s lyrics posted, this one written by Steve Green. When I first heard this song, many years ago, I was a young man. It impacted me then and has continued to impact me to this day. I have tried to live my life in such a way that God would not be ashamed of me (though I am positive I have shamed Him many times) and in a way that would not cause His name or reputation to be impugned (although I am positive I have sometimes failed in this also). At any rate, this song continues to challenge me to be faithful, and I hope it challenges you as well. Enjoy the lyrics, find a CD of Steve Green and buy it — he has many songs that are inspiring and that give glory to our God.

We’re pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who’ve gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

CHORUS:
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

REPEAT CHORUS

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

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 

Why God is a Monarch and not a President

It seems to me that too many Western Christians view God as a president and not a monarch. Perhaps we confuse how heaven is run with the muddled way we govern ourselves. A president is elected by the people and serves them at their whim. They can be deposed and a new one voted in as the people will. God is a monarch. People serve Him, as He elects and dictates. He serves forever as no one is powerful enough to depose Him. He does not have to share power with committees, congresses or groups of people. He alone determines what He will do and then He executes His plans and brings them to pass. He is not influenced by lobbyists, special interest groups or political opinion polls. It is at His feet everyone will one day kneel and confess that He is Lord.

As long as we have the view of God as a president or prime minister and not as a monarch, we will never view God correctly. Our relationship with Him will be immature at best and non-existent at most. This view has permeated many churches, also. We live in a day of a Laodicean “rule of the people” mindset. Until our view of God changes, we will continue to live lives of complacency and settling for second-best. Until the fear of God is instilled in both individuals and churches, understanding that God is Sovereign over the affairs of mankind, we will continue to see a world slipping further and further into spiritual darkness.

The Blessings of God

During the recent transition from Montana to Florida, we saw God’s blessings in many ways. We braved flooded highways, mechanical problems, stormy weather and the pressure of a time schedule, yet found wonderful people across the country willing to help. In South Dakota we needed to replace an axle. After limping into Sioux Falls late one Sunday evening, we faced the prospect of finding a good mechanic that could fit us in on short notice. The good folks at Graham Tires got us in, fixed the axle and had us back on the road before 10:00. Great customer care and good service, at a very reasonable cost.
All through Missouri and Arkansas we were either running just ahead or behind the storms that generated the deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma. We stopped early a couple times to allow the weather to pass and praised God for the earlier delays that kept us out of the storms. Leaving Memphis, we ran into torrential rains that forced us to stop for the night in Mississippi instead of making it to Alabama like we had planned for the night. The next day, we continued our journey and had suffered a blow out on the trailer we were pulling. Had we undergone this the night before instead of stopping it would have been very dangerous. A kind gentleman stopped to help us change the tire even though he was on his way to the hospital to see his wife and the new baby they had that was born the night before. How grateful we were for his help and the blessing of meeting him.
After a day’s delay finding new trailer tires we continued our journey. Because of leaving late, we could not make it into Jacksonville on schedule. We stopped for the night chafing at yet another delay. How foolish we were. Continuing the next day, we had just left the interstate when a tire blew on our vehicle. This was unexpected, as they were brand new and we had not run over anything on the road. We found out later it was a defective tire. After 3 hours we managed, with the help of a tow truck operator, to get the tire off and a spare on. We limped back to the nearest town for a new tire and then headed to Jacksonville, arriving about four in the afternoon.
Now we were really frustrated with it being late on a Friday Memorial Day weekend. We had missed meeting with our Realtor due to arriving three days later than scheduled and the holiday. I was really not looking forward to spending extended time in a hotel after a long, exhausting trip. On the way into town, we had seen a sign advertising a home for rent. We called the number, met with the owners (who had advertised just hours earlier) and moved in the next day. Only God could work out a place to stay within 24 hours of arriving in a city. While temporary, we are grateful to have a place to stay that is convenient and time to look for a permanent space for Ta Ethne to grow, as well as for our family to live. God has shown us His timing, His blessings and taught us a valuable lesson of trusting in Him.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

The Irresistibleness of Grace

Many objections have been voiced to me over my belief of irresistible grace. As I listen to the objections, I now realize that there is a complete misunderstanding on the part of my readers who object. Their arguments seem to go along the lines of “so, you believe God will drag some people kicking and screaming into heaven?” What they fail to see is the foolishness of their understanding of grace.
Grace is given to those who do not deserve it, in fact it is given to those who deserve the opposite. The Bible describes mankind as spiritually dead, blind to His glory and light. When God brings salvation to a human soul they are enlightened and see God in His glory for the first time. Their natural response is to gravitate to His glorious light. They are drawn as irresistibly to it as a moth is drawn to a light or a dog to bacon.
It isn’t that they are trying to resist and failing against their will – it is that they are so attracted to the holy pureness and love of God that they run to Him in response to His bringing of new life.
Perhaps it is because of a faulty understanding of salvation that people get confused. Humans do not decide to become “saved”. They are dead, spiritually. Dead people cannot respond to anything. I worked for some years at a funeral home. I took care of many dead people. None of them responded to any stimulus. They showed no initiative. In fact, they just laid there, staring unblinkingly at nothing. That is how the Bible describes people spiritually. Unresponsive, uncaring, unfeeling people who cannot come to God for salvation. So God comes to them and gives them a new heart. He “quickens” or makes the soul come alive. As this new life is imparted, the soul sees its Creator and responds in faith to the One who has just resurrected it. We respond just as Lazarus did. Laying in the tomb, cold, unfeeling, dead, Lazarus heard His Lord call him to life and the response was instantaneous. This is irresistible grace. This is why Scripture says we are saved by grace, through faith — not by faith through grace. Grace come first.

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.

Wednesday Book Review

Each Wednesday I will try to review a Christian book or two. They may be fiction or non-fiction. I am eclectic in my tastes so the books will run a wide gamut. If you are an author and would like a review of your book posted here, contact me. Today, I have two books to review. The first is The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish. This review has also been posted on Goodreads. The Air We BreatheThe Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book to review from Bethany House. Since this isn't my normal genre to read, I wanted other eyes to look at it also, so my wife was elected. This way, I wouldn't let my biases get in the way. Chrita Parrish writes a book that is full of rich detail, interweaving the stories of three individuals masterfully. The plot line was well thought out and the story kept our attention. The book elucidated many Christian values. Personally, I would have liked a clear gospel presentation given but since the goal of the book wasn't to use it as a witnessing tool, I can't quibble. It is easy to see why this author has won the ECPA Christian Book Award for Fiction more than once. I recommend it as a good read.

View all my reviews

The second book is called God on the Streets of Gotham: What the Big-Screen Batman Can Teach Us About God and Ourselves by Paul Asay
God on the Streets of Gotham: What the Big Screen Batman Can Teach Us about God and OurselvesGod on the Streets of Gotham: What the Big Screen Batman Can Teach Us about God and Ourselves by Paul Asay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well written and thought provoking. I went into the book a bit skeptical, even though I am both a minister and a comic book collector. With Batman being my favorite hero, I was apprehensive about him being forced into some Christian role model/hero. No worries. An extremely engaging book well worth your time to read - it will even give you a lot to think about

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Disturbing Trends

Here at Ta Ethne we are very bothered by recent trends in our country. In the past week alone, we have had rulings in different states that undermine basic biblical and moral values. Sadly, these decisions are being applauded. One such ruling is that by Massachusetts on allowing students at school to pick whatever gender they want to be identified as and catering to their every whim. You can read more here: http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/students-who-refuse-to-affirm-transgender-classmates-face-punishment.html
Another is the ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court who refused to allow prosecution of a mother who abused cocaine while pregnant and gave birth to an addicted child. Here at Ta Ethne, we have adopted such a child, one born in California hooked on so many drugs at birth a tox screen only turned up 3 NOT in her system. Such a ruling is absurdity at its highest point.
Even more upsetting, the fact that the current presidential administration is even considering helping overturn a California law describing marriage as between a man and a woman is beyond comprehension.
Our country is so far post-Christian that I believe God is going to judge her soon. The Church fell asleep decades ago and now has compromised to the point that the majority of her members are lost. Her influence has waned to the point where most Americans think of both the Church and her God as completely irrelevant. They are not atheists in the sense that they do not believe in a God, they simply have never even considered seriously whether there is or isn’t one.
The time has come for the remaining disciples of Jesus Christ to stand up, speak up and seek to overcome darkness with the light of truth. When we begin to fear God and His holiness more than the ridicule and persecution of unbelievers we might start to have an impact on our society. When we stop coddling fence straddlers and confront people with the need for repentance and holy living we might have a church Jesus is not ashamed to call His own. That is Ta Ethne’s stance — what’s yours?

Ponderables

The religions that man creates are actually attempts to escape having to face the true God. We invent religion – not because we are seeking God but because we are running away from Him. — James Montgomery Boice
The Apostle Paul wrote what is perhaps the most perceptive critique of human nature ever written and it is recorded in the Letter to the Romans, chapter 1 verses 18-32:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed [q]forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.