12:35 AM

Sovereign Grace, O'er Sin Abounding

sovereign grace o'er sin abounding.
ransomed souls, the tidings swell;
'tis a deep that knows no sounding;
who its breadth or length can tell?
on its glories,
let my soul forever dwell.

what from Christ that soul can sever,
bound by everlasting bands?
once in Him, in Him forever;
thus th'eternal covenant stands.
none shall take thee
from the Strength of israel's hands.

heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus,
long ere time its race begun;
to His Name eternal praises;
o what wonders love has done!
one with Jesus,
by eternal union one.

on such love, my soul, still ponder,
love so great, so rich, so free;
say, while lost in holy wonder,
why o Lord, such love to me?
grace shall reign
grace shall reign
grace shall reign eternally.
tonight, kevin's sermon was about galatians 3:1-7. how do we grow in grace? the same way we started in it: the gospel.

my day had a crappy ending, and i wanted to blog on this song because of that. i need to do that necessary thing: "on such love, my soul, still ponder." there is grace enough for my crap. i need to quit focusing on the crap and focus on the Giver of the grace.

hallelujah! grace shall reign eternally.

12:38 AM

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

praise my soul the King of heaven,
to His feet thy tribute bring.
ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven -
who like me His praise should sing?
praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
praise the everlasting King.
praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
praise the everlasting King.

praise Him for His grace and favor
to our fathers in distress.
praise Him, still the same forever:
slow to chide and swift to bless.
praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
glorious in His faithfulness.
praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
glorious in His faithfulness.

frail as summer's flower we flourish,
blows the wind and it is gone.
but while mortals rise and perish,
God endures unchanging on.
praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
praise the high, eternal One.
praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
praise the high, eternal One.

fatherlike, He tends and spares us -
well our feeble frame He knows.
in His hands He gently bears us,
rescues us from all our foes.
praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
widely as His mercy goes.
praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
widely as His mercy goes.

angels help us to adore Him,
ye behold Him face to face.
sun and moon bow down before Him,
dwellers all in time and space.
praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
praise with us the God of grace.
praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
praise with us the God of grace.
i love this song. love love love it. i feel like it covers pretty much everything. yum.
favorite lines: a) "ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven"
b) "glorious in His faithfulness"
c) "fatherlike He tends and spares us, well our feeble frame He knows"
d) "widely as His mercy goes"
favorite ideas: 1) the combination of elements - my lowliness and the King of heaven; stuff as weak and fleeting as "summer's flower" and stuff as strong and permanent as the sun and moon all worshipping this King of heaven; the idea that God is both the King and our Father.
2) the phrase "widely as His mercy goes" is beautiful. i just love it. God's grace is like a monsoon of blessing, blowing through our lives and drenching everything.

1:18 AM

Great God of Wonders

great God of wonders, all Thy ways
are matchless, godlike, and divine,
but the fair glories of Thy grace
more godlike and unrivaled shine.

who is a pard'ning God like Thee,
or who has grace so rich and free?
or who has grace so rich and free?

in wonder lost, with trembling joy,
we take the pardon of our God,
pardon for crimes of deepest dye,
a pardon bought with Jesus' blood.

who is a pard'ning God like Thee,
or who has grace so rich and free?
or who has grace so rich and free?

oh may this strange, this matchless grace,
this godlike miracle of love
fill the whole earth with grateful praise
and all th'angelic choirs above.

who is a pard'ning God like Thee,
or who has grace so rich and free?
or who has grace so rich and free?
this hymn, a john newton original (although messed with a little bit for the sake of a new tune), is gorgeous. i love the way it refocuses perspective on the Gospel, forcing me to think about the pure shock-value the gospel has.
1) the most amazing fact about God is that, given His autonomy, self-sufficiency, and zillions of other characteristics, He would choose to love and pursue us - He would choose to have a gracious disposition toward us. while this is totally in line with His character, it is also mindblowing.
2) the resounding theme of the song, obviously, is "who does this?"
3) i feel like so much of this song is self-explanatory that to break it down would detract from it.
4) we should be in awe of this grace, because it is shocking.
5) we should be overflowing with praise on account of this grace, because it is such a precious gift.

2:26 AM

Mary Picked the Roses

this is an andy song originally written by rich mullins before he died. i love the simplicity and profundity of the message. Jesus is the Source of everything - He is the Alpha, not just the Omega - and in Him all things hold together.

Mary Picked the Roses
mary picked the roses, early in the morn
mary picked the roses, as the day was being born
mary picked the roses to smell their sweet perfume
mary picked the roses; Jesus made them bloom.

joseph carved a table from a piece of wood
joseph carved a table, well it was his livelihood
joseph carved a table where kings could sit to eat
joseph carved a table; Jesus made the tree.

i write songs, these songs i sing.
and i'd have none if not for Him.
and i know whence came the tunes
because Jesus made the roses,
Jesus made the roses bloom.

i will soon be leaving, i will soon be gone.
i will soon be leaving, but i leave for you my song.
though this life is fleeting and time is no one's friend,
i will soon be leaving -
Jesus never ends.

i write songs, these songs i sing.
and i'd have none if not for Him.
and i know whence came the tunes
because Jesus made the roses,
Jesus made the roses,
Jesus made the roses bloom.

8:54 PM

John Piper Is Bad

y'all have got to see this.

and as well you should know, i love john piper.

11:15 PM

God Be Merciful to Me (Psalm 51)

this is technically branching out ~ a tried and true, staple RUF song. notably, it is based heavily on psalm 51 and was written by martin luther. (two in a row! can you believe it?) oh, and it's long.

God Be Merciful to Me (Psalm 51)
God, be merciful to me; on Thy grace i rest my plea.
plenteous in compassion Thou, blot out my transgressions now.
wash me, make me pure within; cleanse, o, cleanse me from my sin.

my transgressions i confess; grief and guilt my soul oppress.
i have sinned against Thy grace and provoked Thee to Thy face.
i confess Thy judgment just; speechless, i Thy mercy trust.

i am evil, born in sin; Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art - teach Thy wisdom to my heart.
make me pure, Thy grace bestow. wash me whiter than the snow.

broken, humbled to the dust by Thy wrath and judgment just,
let my contrite heart rejoice and in gladness hear Thy voice.
from my sins, o hide Thy face - blot them out in boundless grace.

gracious God, my heart renew; make my spirit right and true.
cast me not away from Thee; let Thy spirit dwell in me.
Thy salvation's joy impart; steadfast make my willing heart.

sinners, then, shall learn from me, and return, o God, to Thee.
Savior, all my guilt remove and my tongue shall sing Thy love.
touch my silent lips, o Lord, and my mouth shall praise accord.
1) the most beautiful thing about this song is the progression of confession - and the fact that bringing it all to the throne of grace, where safety and healing can be found, is the resounding theme. david (and luther... and we...) is (/are) are approaching God in supplication, begging for His mercy. acknowledgement of the guilt and internal suffering felt because of sin, as well as the general state of affairs within us (that doctrine of original sin thing). the climax of the song is about the restoration of relationship with God. and then, the conclusion is us talking up the mercy of God (which is, of course, never going to do it justice). forgiven people don't forget. and they don't shut up.
2) the wrong done has been done against God Himself, and only God can forgive and restore what wrong we have done. the point is this: we cannot make amends. there is no way we can placate the wrath of a righteous God, undo the damage we have done to others, or clean ourselves up. each of those tasks must be done by God, Who is the very one we have offended. the miracle is that He is not only willing, but pleased to do this. He delights in doing this for us.

12:36 AM

Day Thirty-Nine of Lent

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
a mighty Fortress is our God,
a Bulwark never failing.
our Helper, He, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
for still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe.
his craft and power are great
and armed with cruel hate -
on earth is not his equal.

did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God's own choosing.
dost ask Who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He.
Lord, sabbaoth His Name
from age to age the same,
and He must win the battle.

and though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
the prince of darkness grim,
we tremble not for him
his rage we can endure
for, lo, his doom is sure
one little Word shall fell him

that Word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth
the Spirit and the gifts are ours
through Him Who with us sideth
let goods and kindred go
this mortal life also
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still
His kingdom is forever.
ok, this is a honkin' one. it's gonna require some serious breakdown.

stanza 1: "Rock of ages" comes to mind ~ the fact that we can hide from God's condemnation through God's mercy (union with Christ, to be technical) is the beauty of the gospel. as a refuge, He is completely suited to the task, and He is perfectly reliable. though the song seems to highlight worldly, external dangers, we must remember that our "ancient foe" often tries to "work us woe" by means of condemnation and other attacks on our belief in the gospel. and the foe is definitely packing serious heat - he could best any man. any man without God Almighty protecting them, that is.
stanza 2: the fact of the matter is, if we aren't hidden in God, then there is no way we stand a chance. if we fight alone, we fight in vain. but the fact is not merely that we have a Champion to fight for us, but that He has been chosen to do that for us by God Himself. He has chosen our Advocate - the only Advocate that can successfully rescue us. that Hero protects us from and fights for us against the evils of the world, against the power of darkness, but also against the just punishment hell would be. union with Christ makes us victors against any opponent, from satan to the law. (oh, and "sabbaoth" means "set apart as holy" i think, which would make sense. kinda like what we're supposed to do with the sabbath.)
stanza 3: this verse is about our victory in the world. the will of God is to use us in His triumph, and God's will is nonnegotiable. it is that, and the fact that He is acting as our fortress that enables us to look the goliath that satan is in the face and "tremble not." he's here for a time, but he will lose. we will win. and we will win because of Christ.
stanza 4: Christ is, of course, the Word in verses 3-4. His greatness is "above all earthly powers" and owes nothing to those powers. this is especially important to place in historical context - during the reformation, several holy roman empire dukes jumped on the reformation bandwagon. their influence and role in the reformation taking off was significant. but luther is here clearly establishing that God does not need the "help" of those earthly powers to be powerful - His decision to use them is His mercy, not His weakness. "no thanks to them" indeed. moving on... we have the Holy Spirit in us and the gifts due to heirs of our Father, both of which we receive through Christ, our Mediator. these gifts essentially render the rest of "goods and kindred" and even "this mortal life" inconsequential in comparison. i think of what paul says in philippians 3:8 about this: "indeed, i count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. for His sake i have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that i may gain Christ." with paul, luther is proclaiming that Christ is enough; that we can lose the rest of what we have and still be ok. and not only us, but the world is ok. God's character is intact, even if God's people lose everything we have but Him. Him we cannot lose - He has promised. "God's truth abideth still." and "His kingdom is forever."

case closed.

10:58 PM

Ash Wednesday (Day Forty of Lent)

hard to believe it's been a year since the famed (i know; i flatter myself) hymn series during lent 2006, but here we are again, embarking on a similar endeavor. kinda thrilling, eh?

i thought it would be good to recap what we did last year, particularly for you newbies, who may wonder why in the blue blazes i would skip a hymn like "and can it be." there's a good reason - i'm shooting for no repeats. if you're that curious, you can always check the archives.

Lent Last Year:
All Authority and Power
Rock of Ages (When the Day Seems Long)
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
All Praise to Christ
Lift High the Cross
Thou Lovely Source of True Delight
It Is Well
Thine Is the Glory (wrongly titled "Thine Be the Glory" in the archives)
We Have Heard the Joyful Sound
O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
Just As I Am
In Christ Alone
Approach My Soul
Before the Throne of God Above
Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners!
What Wondrous Love Is This?
When All Thy Mercies
When I Survey
Alas and Did My Savior Bleed?
Nothing But the Blood
There Is Power in the Blood
Awake My Soul
Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?
There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood
At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing
The Love of Christ Is Rich and Free
She Must and Shall Go Free
A Debtor to Mercy Alone
O Come and Mourn
O Love Incomprehensible
Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder
Not What My Hands Have Done
Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
Man of Sorrows, What a Name!
How Deep the Father's Love For Us
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Thou, Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendor
Joy to the World
Greensleeves/What Child Is This?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Other Hymns From Random Times:
For All the Saints
No More, My God
Beautiful, Scandalous Night
O Christ, Our King, Creator, Lord
Let All Things Now Living
His Love Can Never Fail
Grace Upon Grace
Crown Him with Many Crowns

so today is day forty of lent (i like to count down to blastoff... Jesus rising from the dead certainly seems to qualify as "blastoff" in my mind...), and a TON of good hymns have been taken. by last year. so this could get interesting.

today we're doing one that seems appropriate not because of the season, but because it seems like we easily forget the season and get lost in this grey weirdness. in high school, my headmaster called this time of year the "third watch" - which is the toughest to slough through alot of times. this song i think speaks to such times well.

Begone Unbelief
begone unbelief, my Savior is near,
and for my relief will surely appear.
by faith let me wrestle with God in the storm
and help me, my Savior, the faith to adorn
and help me, my Savior, the faith to adorn

though dark be my way, since He is my Guide,
'tis mine to obey, and His to provide;
though cisterns be broken, and creatures all fail,
the Word He has spoken will surely prevail
the Word He has spoken will surely prevail

begone unbelief, the Savior is here
begone unbelief, the Savior is here
begone unbelief, the Savior is here
though cisterns be broken, and creatures all fail,
the Word He has spoken will surely prevail
the Word He has spoken will surely prevail

why should i complain of want or distress,
temptation or pain? - He told me no less.
the heirs of salvation, i know from His Word
through much tribulation must follow their Lord
through much tribulation must follow their Lord

begone unbelief, the Savior is here
begone unbelief, the Savior is here
begone unbelief, the Savior is here
though cisterns be broken, and creatures all fail,
the Word He has spoken will surely prevail
the Word He has spoken will surely prevail

since all that i meet will work for my good,
the bitter is sweet, the medicine food.
though painful at present, will cease before long,
and then, o how glorious, the conqueror's song!
and then, o how glorious, the conqueror's song!
1) i love that it's the presence of the Savior that has the power to banish unbelief and to adorn us with faith in this hymn, because it's certainly true that if Christ were no Savior to us, than this hope would be an utterly empty one. it is His saving work (death + life) that both binds us to Him and reassures us when we doubt the strength of the binding. it's like when you're 4 and you have a nightmare and you're scared out of your little mind, and daddy comes in and scoops you up and holds you next to his heart and prays for your peace, only wayyyyyyyyyyyyy cooler. and more potent.
2) i love the contrast in the end of the second verse and the chorus that is being made between the unreliability of broken cisterns (bad loci of trusts) and creatures (mostly, i think, other people) and the utter reliability of God's Word, particularly here His promises.
3) the last verse showcases a very interesting attitude toward the rough stuff of life based on romans 8:28 ~> that we would understand the "bitter" and "medicine" to be not only kindness, but even sustenance from God... i'm thinking this probably very much relates to having joy in suffering.

12:45 AM

Lent Is Coming...

whatever shall we do?

i'm thinking of a repeat of last year's task, limiting it (no re-doing hymns from last year) and expanding it (not just hymns). thoughts?

4:00 PM

Another Lovely Quote

this one from michael horton's putting amazing back into grace, which we are reading in our small group, is really exactly what i needed to read on this very day.

"another way of saying sanctification is 'taking the bull by the horns.' we do not wait for the Holy Spirit to perform some supernatural number on our lives: he has already done this for us! we actively pursue holiness and Christ-centeredness in our lives, recognizing that the same One who commands us to work, perservere, and obey gives us the supernatural ability to do so. just do it! you do the work; but recognize that, if the work is done, God has done it in and through you." (p. 207 in the old school edition)

what do y'all think about this? lately i've been really thinking alot about how our "working" as christians is different than the "working" of non-Christians - in the moment. do we simply trust God with and for the results of our work, which had better be miraculous gifts in my case, since everything i touch gets messed up pretty quickly? how do we treat our obligations - with rigor? and why?

i just hate trusting in myself, and it's so easy to do without realizing it.

galatians 4

12:28 AM

Praise the Source of Faith and Learning

this is a hymn that dr. francis collins, head of the human genome project and keynote speaker at the national prayer breakfast (which i attended this year), led us in singing. it was pretty sweet.

brave guy. last year, bono spoke - and didn't sing. but dr. collins did. he was a fantastic speaker, by the way.

Praise the Source of Faith and Learning
praise the Source of faith and learning Who has sparked and stoked the mind
with a passion for discerning how the world has been designed.
let the sense of wonder flowing from the wonders we survey
keep our faith forever growing and renew our need to pray.

God of wisdom, we acknowledge that our science and our art
and the breadth of human knowledge only partial truth impart.
far beyond our calculation lies a depth we cannot sound
where Your purpose for creation and the pulse of life are found.

as two currents in a river fight each other's undertow,
till, converging, they deliver one coherent steady flow,
may we blend our faith and learning till they carve a single course
and our seeking and our yearning join in praising You their source.

12:13 AM

Some Fantastic Quotes

these are some quotes my campus minister put on our outline for large group last night. they are fantastic.

"Before you can speak peace to your hearts, you must not only be sad for your sins, you must not only be troubled for the sins of your life, but likewise you must be troubled over your best duties and performances. When a poor soul is somewhat awakened by the terrors of the Lord, then that poor one, being born under a covenant of works, flies directly to a covenant of works again. As soon as he is awakened and he senses his need for God, he says, 'I will be mighty good now. I will reform. I will do everything I can, and then certainly Jesus Christ will have mercy upon me.' And, as Adam and Eve hid themselves in the trees of the Garden and sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness, so the poor sinner, when awakened, flies to his duties and to his performances to hide himself from God. But before you can be certain that jesus Christ is in your heart, you must be brought to see not only that your sins must be done away with, but your righteousness. You must see that all your duties, all your righteousness, all put together are so far from recommending God to you, so far from being any motive of inducement for God to have mercy on your poor soul, that He will see them to be filthy rags and that God hates them and God cannot but do away with them if you bring them to Him in order to recommend you to His favor." - George Whitfield

"With our mouths we say 'Christ alone' is what makes us acceptable, but in our hearts we add Christ AND financial freedom. Christ AND approval of my parents. Christ AND the respect or happiness of my children. Christ AND the acceptance of a peer group. Christ or something. But anything that you add to Jesus Christ as a requirement for being happy will become a slave master that will strangle you. It will drive you into the ground and will hang you by the neck until you are dead." - Becky Pipert

harsh? sure, but true. it hardly does us good to pretend that matters aren't serious. which is of course what makes it amazing that what DOES "recommend you to His favor" is the completed work of Christ. That's the beauty of the gospel: that which is demanded is supplied.

11:40 AM

I Know Y'all Probably Want Substance...

...but you're not getting it today. instead, here's some shameless plagiarism from a friend's away message:

"When I was quite young and quite small for my size, I met an old man in the Desert of Drize. And he sang me a song I will never forget. At least, well, I haven't forgotten it yet.

He sat in a terribly prickly place. But he sang with a sunny sweet smile on his face:
When you think things are bad, when you feel sour and blue, when you start to get mad… you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie, you're really quite lucky! Some people are much more…oh, ever so much more… oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!
Thank goodness for all the things you are not! Thank goodness you're not something someone forgot, and left all alone in some punkerish place like a rusty tin coat hanger hanging in space.
That's why I say, 'Duckie! Don't grumble! Don't stew! Some critters are much-much oh, ever so much-much, so muchly much-much more unlucky than you!"

doesn't that just say it all?