monday miscellany

cottonA few links I’ve collected here and there:

~ One of my favorite John Newton hymns

~ Don’t mess with Tama Starr: The Ugly art of Trump’s deals

~ Tim Challies’ 2016 Reading Challenge update

~ A Plea to the Mission Minded

~ Deep-frying vegetables make them more nutritious.

~ The most important ingredient to improve your marriage

Happy Monday, y’all!

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“One little word shall fell him.”

My pastor included the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns in his sermon on Ephesians 6:17 this morning:

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 Sabaoth, 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.

“Streams of mercy, never ceasing…”

We were created to sing!   Here are some lines our congregation sang that ministered to my soul in worship this morning:

For His perfect love will never change,
And His mercies never cease.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems offs so strong, God is the ruler yet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night
Jesus, I come; Jesus, I come.
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
Jesus, I come to thee.

“But a lowly heart that leans on Thee Is happy anywhere.”

A couple of weeks ago, my church’s congregation recited together the words of a hymn that was new to me. The words won’t leave me, so I’m sharing them here:

Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see;
But I ask Thee for a present mind
Intent on pleasing Thee.

I ask Thee for a thoughtful love,
Through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles,
And to wipe the weeping eyes;
And a heart at leisure from itself,
To soothe and sympathize.

I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child,
And guided where I go.

Wherever in the world I am,
In whatsoe’er estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts
To keep and cultivate;
And a work of lowly love to do
For the Lord on Whom I wait.

So I ask Thee for daily strength,
To none that ask denied,
And a mind to blend with outward life
While keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space,
If Thou be glorified.

And if some things I do not ask
In my cup of blessing be,
I would have my spirit filled the more
With grateful love to Thee,
More careful, not to serve Thee much,
But to please Thee perfectly.

There are briers besetting every path
That call for patient care;
There is a cross in every lot,
And an earnest need for prayer;
But a lowly heart that leans on Thee
Is happy anywhere.

In a service which Thy will appoints
There are no bonds for me;
For my inmost heart is taught “the truth”
That makes Thy children “free.”
And a life of self renouncing love
Is a life of liberty.

Amen.

“You sing this hymn by listening.”

Tim Challies recently wrote on one of my favorite hymns, How Firm a Foundation. Here are the lyrics:

How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
What more can he say than to you he has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed;
for I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

“When through the deep waters I call you to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
for I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
and sanctify to you your deepest distress.

“When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
my grace, all-sufficient, shall be your supply;
the flame shall not hurt you;
I only design your dross to consume and your gold to refine.

“E’en down to old age all my people shall prove
my sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
and when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.

“The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

sufferingThis reminded me of David Powlison’s excellent chapter in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God where he goes through the hymn line by line. His words and the hymn were my companions during a very dark time. Here’s how he introduces it:

First, one of the subtle charms of this hymn is that it is anonymous. Only God and the author know who wrote it. In a world obsessed with taking credit and receiving payment for achievements, this hymn is only an unknown person’s honest offering to God. What significant sufferings had that person faced? We don’t know. But every stanza breathes firsthand experience with God’s hand in life’s hardships. Was the author male or female? Young or old? Married or single? Black, brown, or white? Rich, poor, or middling? Baptist, Presbyterian, or Anglican? We have no idea. Whoever the person, whatever the affliction, we hear timely words from the God of intervening grace. What is written will speak into your significant suffering. The anonymity adds appropriateness to the invitation to make this hymn your very own as a means of grace.

Second, though we might not notice this, every hymn adopts a point of view, a “voice” identifying a listener and a speaker. Most often we sing to God, making requests or expressing praise: “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.” Often we sing about God and what he has done, bearing witness to others and reminding ourselves: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” Sometimes we sing to each other, exhorting and encouraging: “O come, all ye faithful.” Occasionally, just like Psalm 103, we sing to ourselves: “Be still, my soul,he Lord is on thy side.” Each of these voices expresses our faith in a dif- ferent way.

Most of “How Firm a Foundation” operates in an unusual voice. Only in the first stanza do we express our faith by exhorting each other to listen to what God has said. Notice what’s different about the last five stanzas. Each begins with a quotation mark. Why is this? God is doing the talking. Though we sing the words, we are placed in the role of listeners. God is talking to you. You sing this hymn by listening. What does he talk about? Interestingly, he speaks directly into significant suffering. He tells you who he is and what he is like—pointedly with respect to what you are going through. He tells you his purposes. He promises the very things you most need. Most hymns express our faith to God, to each other, and to ourselves. This hymn is more elemental. God’s voice invites faith. He’s calling to you.

This is particularly appropriate when it comes to suffering.

Amen.