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Quotes

February 07, 2010

Every now and again I like to post a song we’ve sung at church that may not be widely-known. Here is one we sing quite frequently. Titled “Wide Open Are Your Hands,” it was written by Bernard of Clairvaux back in the 10th century and translated from Latin in the 1800’s. The chorus was added by my friend Julian and the music (for which, unfortunately, I do not have a recording) was composed by the guys who lead us in worship.

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Wide open are your hands, paying with more than gold
The awful debt of guilty men, forever and of old.
Ah, let me grasp these hands, that we may never part,
And let the power of their blood sustain my fainting heart.

To you I lift my hands in heartfelt song and praise
For steadfast love which won my heart, for never-ceasing grace.

Wide open are your arms, you welcome all who come;
To take to love and endless rest each of your chosen ones.
Lord, I am sad and poor, but boundless is your grace;
Give me the soul-transforming joy for which I seek your face.

To you I lift my hands in heartfelt song and praise
For steadfast love which won my heart, for never-ceasing grace.

Draw all my mind and heart up to your throne on high,
And let your sacred cross exalt, my spirit to the sky.
To these, your mighty hands, my spirit I resign;
For me to love is Christ alone, to die is only gain.

To you I lift my hands in heartfelt song and praise
For steadfast love which won my heart, for never-ceasing grace.

January 31, 2010

Today at church we sang a new song, “Behold the Lamb (Communion Hymn).” It is another joint effort between Stuart Townend and Keith & Kristyn Getty. Written specifically for reflection before partaking in the Lord’s Supper, it focuses beautifully on the purpose and importance of Communion.

Here it is:

Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away,
Slain for us: and we remember
The promise made that all who come in faith
Find forgiveness at the cross.
So we share in this Bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice,
As a sign of our bonds of peace
Around the table of the King.

The body of our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
Torn for you: eat and remember
The wounds that heal, the death that brings us life,
Paid the price to make us one.
So we share in this Bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice,
As a sign of our bonds of love
Around the table of the King.

January 24, 2010

Yesterday I began reading Michael Emlet’s CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet. Just eight pages in I had to stop and reflect on this quote. Though targeted primarily at those who are in vocational ministry, I immediately saw its application even to my task as a father.

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A temptation in ministry is to think that just because we prepared a Bible study, a sermon, or a discipleship appointment (or wrote a book like this!), we are deeply engaging with the God of the universe. But that’s not necessarily true. It’s easy in ministry to live more as a ‘pipe’ than a ‘reservoir.’ That is, it’s easy to live merely as a conduit to others of the transforming truths of God’s Word, rather than as a changed and transformed reservoir who overflows with lived-out gospel truth. You wouldn’t imagine cooking meal after meal for your family without sitting down to enjoy that nourishment, would you? To paraphrase James 1:22, let’s not merely be hearers or speakers or counselors of the Word, but doers, first and foremost.

January 17, 2010

I believe I may have posted this little poem once before. But today, for some reason, I found myself thinking of it and thought it would be fun to post once more. It was written years ago by my great grandfather (a man I never knew) who pastored an Anglican congregation in the Eastern part of Quebec. The poem is called “O Little Child of Salem.” If I recall correctly, my mother found this in some of her grandfather’s things left behind when he died. What draws me to it as poetry is the way the first three stanzas are so perfectly completed in the last. What draws me to it as theology is the great hope of the resurrection.

O little child of Salem
Why weep ye so today?
I weep the gentle master
Who wiped my tears away.
Last night in Joseph’s garden
All cold and white he lay,
And now my heart is breaking
While other children play.

O little maid of Jairus,
Why weep ye so today?
Your dusky lashes trailing
The cheeks of ashen grey.
I weep the mighty master
Who waked me from my sleep,
But now in Joseph’s garden,
He slumbers, still and deep.

O Mary, timid Mary,
Why weep ye so today?
I weep the gentle Saviour,
Who took my sins away.
My spices all are gathered
To grace the rocky bed,
For now in Joseph’s garden,
My Lord is lying dead,

O child, O maid, O Mary,
Lift up your eyes and see,
The lilies all a-rocking,
In winds of Araby.
The turtle-dove is calling,
The birds are singing gay,
And there in Joseph’s garden,
The stone is rolled away.

January 16, 2010

Here is some food for thought as we prepare to hear the Word preached this Lord’s Day. These quotes are drawn from a book I just read (that will be released some time in the spring) titled Expository Listening. Do you know not only what a privilege there is in hearing the Word, but also what a responsibility? Here is what three Puritan pastors had to say in that regard:

Richard Baxter:
Remember that all these…sermons must be reviewed, and you must answer for all that you have heard, whether you heard it…with diligent attention or with carelessness; and the word which you hear shall judge you at the last day. Hear therefore as those that are going to judgment to give account of their hearing and obeying.

Thomas Watson:
You must give an account for every sermon you hear….The judge to whom we must give an account is God…how should we observe every word preached, remembering the account! Let all this make us shake off distraction and drowsiness in hearing, and have our ears chained to the word.

David Clarkson:
At the day of judgment, an account of every sermon will be required, and of every truth in each sermon….The books will be opened, all the sermons mentioned which you have heard, and a particular account required, why you imprisoned such a truth revealed, why you committed such a sin threatened, why neglected such duties enjoined….Oh what a fearful account!

January 10, 2010

Every now and again I like to post a prayer here. This one is drawn from Pastor Scotty Smith. He titles it “A Prayer About Heart Care.” It seems an appropriate prayer for the beginning of a new year.

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Heavenly Father,

The YMCA’s, health clubs and fitness centers are presently burgeoning with post-holiday-feasting traffic. We’re ready to leave the sugar/butter/carbohydrate binge of the past six weeks for the purge of cardio-care and sweat. Indeed, the beginning of a new year usually brings all kinds of resolutions including ones related to getting into shape and taking care of our “ticker.” Certainly, this is a good thing, for stewardship of our hearts and health does bring you glory.

Yet I’ve never been more aware that spiritual formation based on the “binge and purge” cycle simply will not do. My heart needs to be strengthened by the grace of the gospel all year long. I cannot afford periods of “cruise control” when I leave the banquet of your love for the buffet of wanna-be “comfort foods”. Just like the physical heart you’ve given me, the muscle of my “spiritual” heart will atrophy if I do not steward it well.

Here’s my thanksgiving. I praise you for the “means of grace”—the good gifts you’ve freely given us to help us grow in grace. Thank you for the Bible, your very Word, through which you reveal yourself. Thank you for prayer, meditation and corporate worship, by which you meet with us and commune with us. Thank you for the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, these tangible expressions of your covenant love. I praise you that I do not need to take out any kind of membership or join a club to take advantage of these and other wonderful “means of grace.”

Here’s my prayer. Because you love me, let me feel like the moron I am when I avoid the means of grace—when I simply do not take advantage of the primary ways my heart can be strengthened by your grace. By the convicting work of your Holy Spirit, let me far be more concerned about a flabby graceless-heart than bigger love handles. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ name.

January 09, 2010

I was running back through some old notes on Jonathan Edwards’ The Religious Affections today and came across a couple of great quotes. I thought I’d share them with you as worthwhile reflections for a Saturday evening. May they stir your heart, your affections, as you prepare to dedicate a day to making much of God.

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The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love him, and the more uneasy is he at his want of love to him; the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remaining love to it; the more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to mourn for sin; the more his heart is broke, the more he desires it should be broke the more he thirsts and longs after God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe out his very soul in longings after God: the kindling and raising of gracious affections is like kindling a flame; the higher it is raised, the more ardent it is; and the more it burns, the more vehemently does it tend and seek to burn.

Spiritual good is of a satisfying nature; and for that very reason, the soul that tastes, and knows its nature, will thirst after it, and a fullness of it, that it may be satisfied. And the more he experiences, and the more he knows this excellent, unparalleled, exquisite, and satisfying sweetness, the more earnestly will he hunger and thirst for more, until he comes to perfection. And therefore this is the nature of spiritual affections, that the greater they be, the greater the appetite and longing is, after grace and holiness.

January 02, 2010

Today I encountered, “A Time To Talk,” a little poem by Robert Frost. I’d suggest that, unlike some poetry, it needs little explanation. A little reflection wouldn’t hurt, though.

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

December 20, 2009

Here is a hymn we’ve only begun to sing recently at our church. It’s an old one and, I assume, one that may not have had a great melody (since Josh, our lead worshiper, has composed his own melody for it—I wish I had a recording so you could hear it). We sang it today after meeting with Christ in Hebrews 1. It was the perfect ending to our service.

Face to face with Christ my Savior,
Face to face, what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ, who died for me?

Refrain
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory
I shall see Him by and by!

Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkening veil between,
But a blessed day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.

What rejoicing in His presence,
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straightened,
And the dark things shall be plain!

December 19, 2009

I read a great quote earlier this week on Timmy Brister’s blog and thought it was worth sharing. It comes from D.A. Carson (in his book The Cross and Christian Ministry). What struck me about these words was just how many of these ways of destroying a church I’ve witnessed either up-close or from afar. As soon as we remove the cross from the center of all the church is and does, something will inevitably rush in to replace it.

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