Monday, August 30, 2010

A New Hymn about Jesus Calming the Storm

When Evening Came Then Jesus Said

Mark 4:35-41:  35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." 36And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" 39And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" 41And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

To the tune: To the tune: FOREST GREEN (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/709). Based on Mark 4:35-41. Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
When evening came then Jesus said,
Let’s go across the sea.
They left the crowd, went in the boat
to sail the Galilee.
A great and violent storm arose,
the men grew much afraid.
The waves were breaking in the boat,
while Jesus sleeping laid.

v. 2
The Lord’s disciples came to Him
to wake Him from His sleep.
They said to Jesus, Don’t you care
that we are perishing?
The Lord awoke, rebuked the wind
and spoke unto the waves.
The Lord said to them, “Peace, be still,”
the wind and waves obeyed.

v. 3
The Lord then turned unto His own,
a small rebuke He gave.
He asked, Why are you so afraid?
Why do you have no faith?
Now, His disciples were afraid,
but not now of the storm.
They were afraid of who this was,
whose word could calm a storm!

v. 4
We praise You, Lord, for who You are,
the holy Son of God.
You took our nature, came to earth,
to walk this earthly sod.
You speak with great authority,
Your words are ever true.
So help us, Lord, to trust Your Word,
as children who know You.

v. 5
We praise You, Lord, for You are good,
You care about Your own.
You lead us where we ought to go,
until we reach our home.
Though winds and waves do threaten us
in this dark, stormy scene,
You will protect and guide our steps
to Your side now unseen.

v. 6
We trust You, Jesus, our dear Christ,
You died upon the tree.
Your goodness answered once for all,
You gave Your life for me.
Your Word will never pass away,
on it we can depend.
We’re often weak and faltering,
so be our strong defense.


Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A New Communion Hymn

Renew Your Covenant, O Lord

To the tune: FOREST GREEN (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/709). Based on Q&A 80 of the Heidelberg Catechism. Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
We praise the Father and His Son
for the new covenant.
The covenant that Jesus won,
with His own precious blood.
His death a perfect sacrifice,
the payment of our sins.
He once for all laid down His life,
that we might live with Him.

v. 2
The bread and wine are signs and seals
of the new covenant.
The broken bread and poured out wine,
a picture of his death.
The bread and wine declare to us
forgiveness of our debts.
Declares also that we are one
with Jesus Christ in heav’n.

v. 3
We worship Jesus up above,
the resurrected King.
By faith we gather ’round His throne,
His glories do we sing.
For no one else could pay our debt,
but Jesus God’s own Son.
The perfect man who never sinned
is with the Father One.

v. 4
The covenant of Jesus Christ
brings sinners brand new life;
forgiveness, union with our Lord,
who lives in paradise.
For though we walk by faith below,
as pilgrims in the way,
already we dwell up above,
awaiting Christ’s new day.

v. 5
We thank You for this bless-ed meal
we’re priv’leged to partake,
of Jesus’ body and His blood,
through our most precious faith.
How great Your grace is on display
in this Your holy meal.
You welcome sinners who believe,
to eat, believe, be healed.

v. 6
Renew Your covenant, O Lord,
as we receive Your meal.
Your grace and pardon give to us,
Your love to us reveal.
In view of mercies we receive,
in You our cov’nant Lord.
We pledge to follow You, our Lord,
our rule will be Your Word.




Q &A 80

Q. How does the Lord's Supper
differ from the Roman Catholic Mass?

A. The Lord's Supper declares to us
that our sins have been completely forgiven
through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ
which he himself finished on the cross once for all.^1

It also declares to us
that the Holy Spirit grafts us into Christ,^2
who with his very body
is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father^3
where he wants us to worship him.^4

[But the Mass teaches
that the living and the dead
do not have their sins forgiven
through the suffering of Christ
unless Christ is still offered for them daily by the priests.

It also teaches
that Christ is bodily present
in the form of bread and wine
where Christ is therefore to be worshiped.

Thus the Mass is basically
nothing but a denial
of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ
and a condemnable idolatry.]

^1 John 19:30; Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 25-26; 10:10-18
^2 1 Cor. 6:17; 10:16-17
^3 Acts 7:55-56; Heb. 1:3; 8:1
^4 Matt. 6:20-21; John 4:21-24; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1-3

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck and American Politics

Glenn Beck is in the news this weekend, so I thought I would give my Christian "take" on Mr. Beck.

I began watching Glenn Beck about a year and a half ago. I'm not sure if I knew he was a Mormon, but I wasn't watching him to learn theology, but to get a better understanding of American politics. He certainly has helped me with that, and also has recommended some excellent books about American history.

Politically, the thing I like about Beck is that he has shown us who Obama and the left really are. In other words, he has explained to us what Obama and the Dems believe and the historical antecedents of the political agenda they hold. In order to do this, Beck has had to venture into theology, because it is impossible to understand Obama and the progressive movement apart from theology (for example, the liberation theology of Obama's pastor or the liberalism that spawned the Presbyterian, Woodrow Wilson).

I believe that Jesus Christ's kingdom transcends all political views. His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36-38). But his kingdom is also a kingdom of truth (see John 18:36-38), and he speaks to us as the One who judges all individuals and nations in the present, and, ultimately will judge everyone at his return. Therefore, to believe that Jesus and the Word of God have nothing to say to our nation is simply ludicrous, in my opinion.

What does the King, who is the truth, have to say to us? First, Jesus speaks to us in Scripture, and Scripture speaks to our nation and all nations about truth as it is found in God's Son. What have individuals done with Jesus Christ and his saving work? Have individuals repented and believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord who rules their lives through the Word? Here is one place where Beck and Mormonism have not heeded the truth, but nor has most of our nation, as a quick survey of most mainline denominations, co-opted by liberal theology, politics and a social agenda, will show.

Second, in terms of truth, there are moral issues that Christ's truth in Scripture speak to, things like abortion (you shall not murder), greed and the redistribution of wealth (you shall not steal), lying (you shall not bear false witness), sexual immorality (you shall not commit adultery), disrespect for authority (honor father and mother), and corruption (you shall not covet). These commandments of God speak to individuals, political leaders, and societies.

Beck, in my opinion, is a guy who is very similar to our founding fathers. He believes in constitutionalism and limited government, but is unorthodox, and even heretical, in his theology, just as most of the founders were. He sees that the progressive movement has sought to get out from under the Constitution for about 100 years now. He understands that in order to change from a constitutional republic to a new form of government requires deception, and he exposes that deception and its utopianism. Part of the reason for the utopianism of the left is that if you reject Christ's salvation and future kingdom, then a new political salvation and a new political utopia must take its place. That is what the left is about, and Beck has seen and articulated their position.

The danger for Beck and all conservatives is not to trust in political ideologies to the point that they themselves become idolatrous. One of the beauties of the U.S. Constitution is that it did not trust men, thus, the balance of powers. Human sinfulness has rendered any sort of hope for a political utopia untenable, and one of the reasons for this is that God judges human pride in human history (how can we not see the Civil War and two World Wars as anything but a judgment of God?). While the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were not perfect documents, especially as they falsely exalt human reason and independence, they still seem better than the utopian dreams of modern day Democrats.

Beck's call for a return to God is right in principle, but the problem is, the God he is calling us to return to is like the "God" of the U.S. Constitution---very nebulous and vague, and not the triune God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ.

But, for all his faults theologically, Beck is at least showing us who Obama and the progressives really are (something the cheerleading mainstream press refuse to do), and he is right in showing us the need to turn to God by repentance and faith. Now, if he could just see that the "God" whom he calls us to return to is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who bore the sin and judgment that we deserve on the cross, then Beck would really be on to something! But just imagine how hated he would be then!

Edmund Clowney on Scripture, and Biblical and Political Salvation

I am reading a lengthy article by Edmund Clowney that at times deals with Presbyterian history. Here are a couple paragraphs worth considering (the Confession of 1967 is the Presbyterian document that was quite liberal and denied a number of essential biblical doctrines):

"The Confession of 1967 has precisely the effect of denominational ratification of the Auburn Affirmation. The Auburn Affirmation was a response to the Declarative Statement of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. issued in 1923. In the Declarative Statement the church reaffirmed its faith in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, in his atonement as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, in his bodily resurrection, and in his mighty miracles, as essential doctrines of the Word of God and the Westminster standards. The Auburn Affirmation, issued in December, 1923, and, eventually signed by over 1300 ministers, protested this statement on the ground that these doctrines were no longer essential, since they were not the only theories allowed by the Scriptures and the standards."
The key issue, of course, in all of the churches for the last 150+ years has been the doctrine of Scripture. Just as the devil first attacked God's Word in the garden with his words, "Did God really say?" so he continues the attack in each generation. Is the Bible God's inspired Word, or is it merely the words of men? This is the watershed issue that is the difference between biblical Christianity and a return to idolatry, for idolatry is based on whatever we think is right, but Christianity on what God reveals to us as truth, and his Word is truth. Here is a paragraph from Clowney on this issue, which also shows that when you abandon Scripture and its salvation from sin and judgment, a new political or social salvation must be invented (fyi: the Southern Presbyterian confession was the proposed confession of the southern Presbyterians who merged with the northerners to form the Presbyterian Church USA):

"Not only does the whole Westminster Confession rest upon the doctrine of Scripture with which it begins; the whole Protestant Reformation rested upon it as well. We are not surprised, then, to find the proposed new Southern Presbyterian confession observing, 'We have made of past reformations idols that obstruct the changes we need to make now.' When we reflect that the Reformation principle of sola scriptura is one of the creedal "idols" the new confessions are at pains to remove, we can begin to appreciate what changes are in store. The new creeds do not furnish a full blueprint; their function is to break the bands of infallible Scripture and confessional obedience to a system of scriptural doctrine. But these creeds do provide both open signposts and dscreet suggestions about the direction to be followed. Churches guided by these confessions can expect an accelerating rate of change that will sweep away the gospel message and restructure the church. The rejection of inspired Scripture is a triumph not only of the old humanism expressed in liberal theology, but of the new humanism expressed in secular theology. The signposts of the new confessions point the church toward solidarity with the world in working for a social and political salvation."
Mainline churches, and even many Evangelical, Lutheran, and Reformed churches have abandoned the doctrine of Scripture's inspiration and authority for faith and practice.  This abandonment leads to an abandonment of biblical salvation.  These days it is hard to actually find a minister that still believes that God became flesh in the person of His Son, after many proofs of his divinity in terms of miracles, Jesus then went willingly to the cross to take the judgment of hell that we deserve because of our sins. That message increasingly brings ministers who preach it much mistreatment and persecution from people who are tired of Scripture, its teaching, and the authority of the Head of the church who rules us by His Word.

If we abandon God's Word as our rule for faith and practice, then we also abandon biblical salvation and replace it with a political or social salvation. This is what is happening in America, and we have no one to blame but ourselves if we too have abandoned God's Word, which has been happening in denomination after denomination in our nation.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Communion Hymn Based on Q&A 81 of the Heidelberg Catechism

Come Gladly to the Supper

To the tune: ANGEL’S STORY (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/TT/932). Based on Q&A 81 of Lord’s Day 31 of the Heidelberg Catechism. Words: Bill Weber 2010.

v. 1
Come gladly to the supper
of Jesus Christ your Lord,
for He receives poor sinners,
who over sin do mourn;
who trust that they are pardoned,
for Jesus is God’s Lamb.
His suff’ring earned forgiveness,
fulfilled the Father’s plan.

v. 2
Come gladly, Christ invites you
to dine, commune with Him.
His death earned our forgiveness,
covers remaining sin.
So give Him thanks and offer,
yourself a sacrifice,
in view of God’s great mercy
and gift of Jesus Christ.

v. 3
Our Lord will welcome sinners,
whose sin displeases them.
Their sin is no light matter,
the cross the cost to Him.
For Jesus died in our place,
the Righteous One made sin.
The Lord died for His creatures,
to bring us back to Him.

v. 4
O come unto the table,
to strengthen your weak faith.
The bread is given to you
to feed you with Christ’s grace.
Without the Lord we’re helpless,
we can do no good thing.
But with the Lord almighty,
may please Him in all things.

v. 5
O come unto the table
to gladden saddened hearts.
The wine is given to you,
forgiveness to impart.
The gospel brings us comfort,
refreshes with good news.
It joins our hearts to Jesus,
whose presence life imbues (or renews, if you find that better).

Q & A 81

Q. Who are to come
to the Lord's table?

A. Those who are displeased with themselves
because of their sins,
but who nevertheless trust
that their sins are pardoned
and that their continuing weakness is covered
by the suffering and death of Christ,
and who also desire more and more
to strengthen their faith
and to lead a better life.
Hypocrites and those who are unrepentant, however,
eat and drink judgment on themselves.^1

^1 1 Cor. 10:19-22; 11:26-32


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Communion Hymn Conveying Our Need and His Supply

I Come Unto Your Table, Lord

From the RUF Hymnbook: Music by Alexander Reinagle, arr. Bill Moore (How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds http://www.igracemusic.com/hymnbook/hymns.html). Based on Lord’s Day 28-30 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 96). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
I come unto Your table, Lord,
for mercy and for grace,
confessing that my sin is great,
O do not hide Your face.

v. 2
Your favor, Lord, is life to me,
without it I will die.
Assure this sinner of your grace,
forgive and justify.

v. 3
I take the bread and drink the wine,
that teach, assure, remind
that Jesus died a sacrifice,
by faith I make Him mine.

v. 4
As surely as the bread and wine
from him who serves, I take.
So surely Jesus’ death is mine
as I by faith partake.

v. 5
In union with my Lord and Christ,
the Father is well pleased.
For Jesus’ righteousness and death
is reckoned unto me.

v. 6
O Father from this day forward,
I pledge to walk with You,
to follow Christ where’re He leads
until I wake with You.



A Meditation on Psalm 103:1

A large percentage of the Old Testament (OT) is poetry. The key feature of English poetry is meter, but the key feature of Hebrew poetry is parallelism. In parallelism a key word or phrase is repeated, with the second word or phrase usually advancing the thought. Here is a simple example from Psalm 73:1:

1Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.

The words Israel and those who are pure in heart are parallel terms. They are nearly synonymous except for the fact that there is a progression in the phrase those who are pure in heart. If we ask, Who is Israel? the answer given is not an ethnic one, but a moral and spiritual one. A true Israelite is one who is pure in heart. An honest heart that receives God’s Word, and is cleansed through faith in Jesus Christ, to put it in New Testament (NT) terms, is the kind of heart God’s people are to possess.

Parallelism is a great help in enabling us to meditate on God’s Word. It helps us to think about, consider, mull over, and pray about God’s Word, which is what we do when we meditate on God’s Word. There are a number of places where we are commanded to meditate on the Word of God, and understanding parallelism is a help in doing just that.

One of the things that amazes me about the universe the Lord created is the fact that in the tiniest cell there is a universe of complexity. When even the simplest cell contains more information than the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, how amazing is that! There is a vastness in the smallest cell, which we can barely see with powerful microscopes!

Something similar takes place in Scripture, it seems to me. Many times, even in a single verse of God’s Word, there is a vastness of theology contained within it. This vastness reflects the vastness of the entire theology of God’s revealed Word! Taking time to meditate on a single verse of Scripture sometimes takes us through great realms of theology, and today I’d like to focus on just a single verse and bring out just some of great things a single verse can teach us, especially as we utilize our knowledge of parallelism. The verse we will look at is Psalm 103:1, and then in a few days, the rest of Psalm 103.

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!

There are three things parallel in this verse. I will diagram the parallelism below:
A Bless
B the LORD
C my soul
C’ all that is within me
B’ his holy name
A’ bless
Let’s begin with the LORD which is paralleled by his holy name. The LORD, when put in caps in our English Bibles, is a reference to God’s covenant name Yahweh. God revealed his personal name, LORD or Yahweh to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3. Yahweh means I am or I am who I am. When Jesus claimed to be I Am in John 8, the Jews knew exactly what he was claiming, and so they picked up stones in order to kill him. Similarly, when Jesus referred to himself with the words I AM in John 18, those who came to arrest him fell to the ground before his majesty in terror.

The name, Yahweh or LORD (from now on I will just use Lord instead) shows us that the Lord is the self-existent One. He is I Am, without beginning or end. He alone is independent of all things. All else in the universe is entirely dependent on him.

The name Yahweh or Lord is also a revelation of his holiness. We learn this from the parallel phrase his holy name, but we also learn it when Moses was commanded in Exodus 3 to take off his sandals for he was on holy ground---ground made holy by the special presence of the Lord himself.

So far, we see that the covenant name, Yahweh or Lord, speaks of God’s transcendence. He is holy or other than us. He is creator and sustainer of all that exists. No one is like him. But the covenant name is also associated with his great compassion and salvation. The exodus event --- that great OT accomplishment of salvation is the context for God revealing his name as Yahweh. The transcendent God is the God who draws near to his people to save them in his compassion. In the OT he did this through the exodus, and in the NT Jesus, who is the LORD incarnate, accomplishes an even greater exodus from our true enemies of sin, Satan, and death.

How similar the truth of God’s transcendence and immanence is to the prayer Jesus taught us to pray that opens with the words, our Father in heaven. Both the transcendence and immanence of God are seen in these words. God is in heaven, high above us, but his transcendence does not keep him from being a father to us who are his children through faith in the Son, whom he sent for our salvation.

When we move to the next terms that are parallel: soul and all that is within me, we have a better idea of what the word soul means. It refers to my mind, emotions, desires, and will. Every part of my inward being is to be devoted to the Lord. He alone I am to bless and praise. Nothing is to be excluded. My mind is meant to praise the Lord through learning God’s Word. My emotions are to praise God by loving what he loves and hating what he hates. My desires are to be focused on bringing him praise. My will is to be pliable and willing to do his holy will as it is found in his Word.

There is also a chiasm in verse 1. If we relate the inward and outward parts of the chiasm, an obvious point emerges. The inward part of the chiasm C and C' with its emphasis on all of my inward being, and the outward part of the chiasm, A and A' and the word bless, have a connection. The connection teaches that true worship is about self-offering, that is, offering ourselves completely to the Lord.

All of this brings us, of course, to repentance. God’s holiness and the requirement that my whole being be devoted to his praise makes perfect sense. I owe him my physical life. He created me and sustains me each moment. How could I not owe him my wholehearted praise? But I have not done this. I realize how far I am from a learning mind, holy emotions, loving desires, and a devoted will toward him. I must confess to the Lord how far I am from what I should be. I must confess my inadequate worship. I must cry out to the Lord like the publican, “Have mercy on me a sinner!”

The law shows us our sin and its misery, but the gospel shows us Jesus Christ and his grace. In verse 2 of Psalm 103, the psalmist begins to remember the Lord’s gospel benefits. Chief among these benefits is the forgiveness of sins. By faith we take hold of the forgiveness the Father offers us in his Son. Yes, we are great sinners, but the grace Jesus earned for us at the cross is more than enough for sinners like us.

It is interesting that in Psalm 103 the psalmist is talking to his soul! Have you learned to talk to yourself like this? Have you learned to preach the gospel to yourself like this?

This is very similar to remembering our baptism. Baptism does not automatically save anyone, but it is God’s promise (and warning) given to us personally by name. In our baptism the Father promises to be our God, to forgive us, to be with us, to lead and guide us, to give us spiritual life, to take care of us and treat us as his dear children. But we must receive this promise by faith, placing our trust in Jesus Christ his Son as our Lord and God.

Throughout the day we must learn to talk to our souls! We must preach to our own hearts. We must also pray, asking the Holy Spirit for this assistance. We are created in Christ Jesus to bring him glory and praise. Such a life is a life of both trust and obedience --- a soul that is totally devoted to the Lord our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior in response to his mercy.

How easy it is to forget these things during the course of a day! How little we meditate on God’s Word! How few of us preach the gospel to ourselves and remember our baptism into the holy and compassionate name of Jesus, and the promises and blessings offered to us in our baptism by name each day and each hour of our lives. We need to ask the Father for a greater supply of the Spirit to help us to imitate the psalmist as he reminds his soul of who the Lord is, what the Lord has done for him, and how he should live a life of praise in response to the Lord and his works of creation, providence, and salvation. How wonderful that the God who reveals his personal name to us as Jahweh, and then Jesus, has invited us personally by name into this wonderful communion with himself! Won’t you respond to the invitation and live out your baptism, sharing in the triune life and love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Christ in Psalm 102

In looking at Psalm 102, we will look at the main sections, and I will make a few comments after each.

Psalm 102

Do Not Hide Your Face from Me

A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD.

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD;let my cry come to you! 2 Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call!

3For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
4My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;
I forget to eat my bread.
5Because of my loud groaning
my bones cling to my flesh.
6I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl of the waste places;
7I lie awake;
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
8All the day my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
9For I eat ashes like bread
and mingle tears with my drink,
10because of your indignation and anger;
for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
11My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.

In this section the psalmist describes his suffering, asking for the Lord to intervene. His suffering is compared to illness in verses 3-5. His suffering consisted of isolation in verses 6-7. His suffering involved hostility in verse 8. And, worst of all, his suffering involved the wrath of God in verse 10. The judgment of God in his life is also seen in the spectre of death that hangs over him and the transitoriness of life in the images of smoke (v. 3), shadows (v. 11), and grass (v. 11). Death is a general judgment of God. It is not natural or a part of the cycle of life. It is the result of Adam's sin and has been passed on to his posterity.

Special notice should be given to the sentence, "Do not hide your face from me," in verse 2. The most important thing in life is to have God's favor---the life and blessing that comes from his favorable countenance. Below, we will discuss how to have that favor of God that brings life.

12But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever;
you are remembered throughout all generations.
13You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her;
the appointed time has come.
14For your servants hold her stones dear
and have pity on her dust.
15Nations will fear the name of the LORD,
and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
16For the LORD builds up Zion;
he appears in his glory;
17he regards the prayer of the destitute
and does not despise their prayer.

A transition takes place in verse 12. The psalmist changes his focus and looks to the Lord. He considers the promises of God made to the nation of Israel. Verse 13 is important:

13You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her;
the appointed time has come.

It seems that the psalmist wrote at the time of the exile, when Israel was in Babylon because of her sins and the judgment of God. The troubles in verses 1-11 are individual, but the troubles and restoration in these verses are related to the nation as a whole. The nation's suffering is embodied by the psalmist.

Something similar happened in the life of Jesus Christ. Even though Jesus was the sinless, spotless Lamb of God, he endured the suffering of the entire Israelite nation, and even more, the entire human race. He was the true Israel and the second Adam. He bore the judgment we deserved, so that we might be freed from God's judgment forever. The Father did indeed have "pity on Zion" and "favor her" by sending His Son to his chosen people. But Jesus's salvation burst the boundaries of Israel and spread to the nations (v. 15).

Jesus ended the exile when He appeared in His grace and glory in our nature (v. 16, see John 1:14), and he also established a renewed Israel that all who are "destitute" or poor in spirit could enter, even the Gentiles. All who are truly poor in Spirit, who realize that their sin deserves only death and judgment from a holy God, are candidates for entrance into his kingdom. But those who make light of their sin or who think that they can enter the kingdom through their own righteousness, will never enter Jesus' kingdom. The kingdom belongs to the poor in spirit, who rely on what the Lord has done on their behalf without their adding a single cent.

18Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD:
19that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the LORD looked at the earth,
20to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die,
21that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD,
and in Jerusalem his praise,
22when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the LORD.

The "people yet to be created" in verse 18 are you and me, who are Gentiles but now belong to the Father and the Son. We are his new, created people, joined to Jesus in his death and resurrection for His praise (v. 18). We were "created" by God's Word and Spirit, and we are born from heaven for a purpose, namely, the praise of the Lord!

Our salvation is most certainly a rescue from divine judgment that we deserve because of our sin. Our salvation includes forgiveness of sins and justification. Our salvation includes adoption into the Father's family. But we should not forget that our salvation is freely given to us for a purpose, namely, that we would live for the praise of our triune LORD.

In verses 19-21 we have the same thought reiterated. God in his mercy and love saw the bondage and sorrow that sin brings to the human race. Sin imprisons and enslaves and brings death, and the second death of hell (v. 20). But in his great love the Father sent his beloved Son. God himself visited us in our sin and slavery, so that we might be set free. But, again, the result of this salvation is that we might "declare . . . his praise." Are you doing that? Are you living your life for the praise of the God who saved you and brought about your new birth? Or, are you still living for yourself and the idols of this world? Jesus' true people are gathered to the heavenly Zion "to worship the Lord" Jesus Christ.

23He has broken my strength in midcourse;
he has shortened my days.
24"O my God," I say, "take me not away
in the midst of my days—
you whose years endure
throughout all generations!"

In verses 23-24, the psalmist returns to his individual suffering that embodied the suffering of the nation. The psalmist was not old, but in the prime of his life as he offered this prayer that he might not die. Jesus offered similar prayer for deliverance from death, and his prayers were answered in his resurrection to everlasting life.

25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before you.

Jesus' resurrection is the firstfruits not only of our resurrection, but the firstfruits of a resurrected universe. The heavens and the earth, even though they look quite permanent, are going to be changed into a new heaven and earth. In that new heaven and earth, Jesus' people will "dwell secure" and "be established before" the Lord who has saved us through his suffering on our behalf. With such a God and Savior, should we not live for his praise in this world and in the world to come?




Saturday, August 21, 2010

1517: Where the battle rages...

1517: Where the battle rages...

Great point.

Persecution.com

Persecution.com

The gist of the story: Pastor Satish and evangelist Ravi were conducting a service in a believer’s home when about 30 people entered the home and started attacking them and accusing them of forcibly converting locals. Police arrested the 12 Christians after the attack, and at last report they were still in detention.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Hymn Based on the Parable of the Mustard Seed

The Kingdom Came through Jesus Christ

Mark 4:30-32:  And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."

To the tune: Ein Feste Berg --- A Mighty Fortress (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/110). Based on Mark 4:30-32---the parable of the mustard seed. Words: Bill Weber: 2010.

v. 1
The kingdom came through Jesus Christ,
the man of God's own choosing.
He offered up a sacrifice,
that was to God most pleasing.
For no one else could die,
nor ever qualify,
except the Lamb of God,
who saves us by His blood.
His kingdom won by dying.

v. 2
To God our King we owe a debt
of trust and love and honor.
This righteous debt we have not met;
before the Lord we're debtors.
In Adam's race not found,
no holy men renowned;
the greatest all did fail,
o'er sin did not avail.
How much we need a Savior!

v. 3
The kingdom comes, a single Seed,
the Seed from heaven, Jesus.
His dying met our greatest need
to enter God's own kingdom.
For sin had barred the way
to enter on that day.
But Christ the righteous Seed
did suffer, die and bleed.
By faith we enter freely.

v. 4
The kingdom starts so very small
through One, a holy remnant.
The holy Seed who died for all,
who on the cross was planted.
He died our substitute,
so that we might be fruit.
Our lives He set apart
to give to God our heart,
as members of His kingdom.

v. 5
How bless'd we are to know the King---
the kingdom's light and blessing.
By faith we take and hold and cling,
our Bridegroom gladly praising.
For He gave up His life,
a pleasing sacrifice.
He showed us His great love,
brings to His home above.
We praise Him for His kingdom.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A New Hymn to a New Tune




My friend, Justin Risma, put the words I wrote to a more contemporary tune.  I think it is beautiful.  Thank you, Justin.

Praise the God who Gives the Gospel


To the tune of RIPLEY (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/PsH/146). Based on Genesis 3:8-21 and Lord’s Day 5 and 6 of the Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 12-19a (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 85, 19-21). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1

Praise the Lord who gives the gospel.

Gives His grace to set us free.

Praise the Lord who came from heaven.

Born to end our misery.

From the law He came to save us,

from its threats to set us free.

In His life He fully kept it,

in His death paid it for me.



v. 2

Praise the Lord who gives the gospel.

Praise Him for amazing grace.

Praise the Lord who dealt in mercy,

in the garden, came for peace..

Adam’s sin led to his hiding,

for his sin made him afraid.

For the law of God is holy.

Its demands must all be paid.



v. 3

Praise the Lord who gives the gospel.

Gave His Son He loved so well.

Though His law condemns, accuses,

threatens us with death and hell.

But the gospel is God’s giving

of His Son to justify.

For His death brings perfect pardon.

Faith in Him gives brand new life.



v. 4

Praise the Lord who gives the gospel.

Now we can return to Him.

Call the King our gracious Father,

not our all condemning Judge.

Through the Son we have forgiveness,

through the Son eternal life.

From the law and its dread sentence,

we are freed and justified.



v. 5

Praise the Lord who gives the gospel.

Praise to God, the three in One.

God in mercy clothed our parents,

when in faith they hid in Him.

For the gospel brings us safely

to the God of heaven above.

For His Son took our whole judgment,

died that we might live in love.




Monday, August 16, 2010

A Different Era and a Different Focus

These are the words to Bach's Cantata 27.  I was struck by the emphasis on death: being ready for death, weariness with the world, and looking forward to heaven---all notes seldom heard in the contemporary church here in America.

1 Chorale [S, A, T, B] and Recitative [Soprano, Alto, Tenor]


Corno, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo


Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende?
Who knows how near my end is to me?


Soprano:
Das weiß der liebe Gott allein,
It is known only by the dear God
Ob meine Wallfahrt auf der Erden
whether my pilgrimage on earth
Kurz oder länger möge sein.
may be short or longer.


Hin geht die Zeit, her kommt der Tod,
Time departs, death approaches.


Alto:
Und endlich kommt es doch so weit,
And in the end there comes a point
Daß sie zusammentreffen werden.
that they will meet together.


Ach, wie geschwinde und behende
Ah, with what speed and agility
Kann kommen meine Todesnot!
my death agony can come !


Tenor:
Wer weiß, ob heute nicht
Who knows whether it is not today
Mein Mund die letzten Worte spricht.
that my mouth may speak my last words.
Drum bet ich alle Zeit:
Therefore I pray at all times:


Mein Gott, ich bitt durch Christi Blut,
My God, I pray through Christ's blood,
Mach's nur mit meinem Ende gut!
make sure my end is good !




2
Recitative [Tenor]


Continuo


Mein Leben hat kein ander Ziel,
My life has no other goal
Als daß ich möge selig sterben
than that I may die a blessed death
Und meines Glaubens Anteil erben;
and inherit the portion of my faith;
Drum leb ich allezeit
therefore I live at all times
Zum Grabe fertig und bereit,
ready and prepared for the grave
Und was das Werk der Hände tut,
and the work that my hand does
Ist gleichsam, ob ich sicher wüßte,
is just as if I knew for certain
Daß ich noch heute sterben müßte:
that I must die this very day:
Denn Ende gut, macht alles gut!
for a good end makes everything turn out well!




3
Aria [Alto]


Oboe da caccia, Organo obligato, Continuo


Willkommen! will ich sagen,
"Welcome!" I want to say
Wenn der Tod ans Bette tritt.
when death steps up to my bed
Fröhlich will ich folgen, wenn er ruft,
Happily I want to follow ,when he calls,
In die Gruft,
to the grave,
Alle meine Plagen
all my troubles
Nehm ich mit.
I take with me.




4
Recitativo [Soprano]


Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo


Ach, wer doch schon im Himmel wär!
Ah, to be in heaven already !
Ich habe Lust zu scheiden
I have a desire to depart
Und mit dem Lamm,
and with the lamb,
Das aller Frommen Bräutigam,
the bridegroom for all who are devout,
Mich in der Seligkeit zu weiden.
enjoy blissful pasture.
Flügel her!
Give me wings!
Ach, wer doch schon im Himmel wär!
Ah, to be in heaven already!




5
Aria [Bass]


Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo


Gute Nacht, du Weltgetümmel!
Goodnight, world's turmoil!
Itzt mach ich mit dir Beschluß;
Now I have done with you;
Ich steh schon mit einem Fuß
I stand already with one foot
Bei dem lieben Gott im Himmel
next to my dear God in heaven.




6
Chorale [S, A, T, B]


Corno e Oboe col Soprano I, Violino I col Soprano II, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo


Welt, ade! ich bin dein müde,
World, farewell! I am weary of you,
Ich will nach dem Himmel zu,
I want to go to heaven,
Da wird sein der rechte Friede
iin that place there will be true peace
Und die ewge, stolze Ruh.
and evelasting , noble rest
Welt, bei dir ist Krieg und Streit,
World, with you there is war and strife,
Nichts denn lauter Eitelkeit,
nothing but pure vanity,
In dem Himmel allezeit
in heaven there are forever
Friede, Freud und Seligkeit
peace, joy and bliss.



Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bach Cantata BWV 80 Part 2 Harnoncourt



What beautiful words!  O, that they might be true of me.

4  Aria [Soprano]

Komm in mein Herzenshaus,

Come into my heart's house,

Herr Jesu, mein Verlangen!

Lord Jesus, my desire!

Treib Welt und Satan aus

Drive out the world and Satan

Und lass dein Bild in mir erneuert prangen!

and let you image renewed within me shine in splendour!

Weg, schnöder Sündengraus!

Away, loathsome horror of sin!


5  Choral [S, A, T, B]  Oboe d'amore I/II, Taille, Violino I/II, Viola,

Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär

And if the world were full of devils

Und wollten uns verschlingen,

and they wanted to devour as

So fürchten wir uns nicht so sehr,

then we would not be very afraid,

Es soll uns doch gelingen.

we would still be successful.

Der Fürst dieser Welt,

The Prince of this world,

Wie saur er sich stellt,

however grimly he presents himself

Tut er uns doch nicht,

can do nothing against us,

Das macht, er ist gericht',

since he is already condemned,

Ein Wörtlein kann ihn fällen.

a little word can fell him.



Bach~Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben



Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben


Heart and mouth and deed and life

Muss von Christo Zeugnis geben

must bear witness to Christ

Ohne Furcht und Heuchelei,

without fear or hypocrisy

Dass er Gott und Heiland sei.

that he is God and saviour.

Bach - Jesus bleibet meine Freude de la Cantata 147



Jesus bleibet meine Freude,


Jesus remains my joy,

Meines Herzens Trost und Saft,

the comfort and life's blood of my heart,

Jesus wehret allem Leide,

Jesus defends me against all sorrows,

Er ist meines Lebens Kraft,

he is my life's strength,

Meiner Augen Lust und Sonne,

the delight and sun of my eyes

Meiner Seele Schatz und Wonne;

my soul's treasure and joy;

Darum lass ich Jesum nicht

therefore I shall not let Jesus go

Aus dem Herzen und Gesicht.

from my heart and sight.

Bach - Cantata BWV 140 - Peter Schreier - Sleepers wake



Zion hört die Wächter singen,


Zion hears the watchmen sing,

Das Herz tut ihr vor Freuden springen,

her heart leaps for joy,

Sie wachet und steht eilend auf.

she awakes and gets up in haste.

Ihr Freund kommt vom Himmel prächtig,

Her friend comes from heaven in his splendour,

Von Gnaden stark, von Wahrheit mächtig,

strong in mercy, mighty in truth.

Ihr Licht wird hell, ihr Stern geht auf.

Her light becomes bright, her star rises.

Nun komm, du werte Kron,

Now come, you worthy crown,

Herr Jesu, Gottes Sohn!

Lord Jesus, God's son!

Hosianna!

Hosanna!

Wir folgen all

We all follow

Zum Freudensaal

to the hall of joy

Und halten mit das Abendmahl.

and share in the Lord's supper.

1517: A Christian response to the normalization of homosexuality

1517: A Christian response to the normalization of homosexuality

Excellent article.

1517: Carl Trueman on Gay Marriage

1517: Carl Trueman on Gay Marriage



1517: Are we fighting too much over doctrine?

1517: Are we fighting too much over doctrine?

Worth reading!

Seeing Jesus Christ in Psalm 101

Psalm 101

I Will Walk with Integrity
A Psalm of David.

1I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O LORD, I will make music.
2I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
3I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
4 A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.

5Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not endure.

6I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless
shall minister to me.

7No one who practices deceit
shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue before my eyes.

8 Morning by morning I will destroy
all the wicked in the land,
cutting off all the evildoers
from the city of the LORD.

-----------------------------------------


David was a godly king, who ruled over the Lord’s chosen people, the children of Israel. As the earthly ruler of God’s people, it was very important for him to live a life pleasing to God, and to have an administration that was just. The king in Israel represented the whole nation. In a sense, he embodied the nation. A wicked king in Israel led to wicked policies and practices among God’s chosen people. A righteous king in Israel led to righteous policies and practices among God’s chosen people.



In Psalm 101 we see David’s resolve to live in a way that was pleasing to his King, the Lord. But how did David learn what was pleasing to the Lord? The Lord revealed what was pleasing to David in the torah or law, i.e., the first five books of the Bible. Every Israelite king was charged with writing out the entire law, so that he could meditate on it and obey all of the Lord’s commands which reflected the God who is both loving and just (v. 1).



As American Christians, we might be tempted to apply all of this to our political leaders. But before we try to apply Psalm 101 to our political situation, or even to ourselves, we must first apply the Scriptures to Jesus Christ. Jesus said of the Old Testament Scriptures that these are the Scriptures that testify about Me (John 5:39-40), so this is where we must look first. David was the king of Israel, but Jesus is David’s descendent and Lord, the true king of Israel, and the Scriptures are about him.



Part of the good news of Psalm 101 is that if David was a godly representative for the children of Israel, how much more so is Jesus Christ! If David’s righteousness benefited the people of God, then how much more does Jesus’ perfect righteousness benefit us! The good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ’s righteousness is imputed to every person who believes and becomes a child of God! In Christ, God views believers as if we had never sinned nor been a sinner --- as if we ourselves had obeyed the law perfectly --- as if we ourselves had died on the cross to pay for our sins!



Psalm 101’s recital of God’s law becomes gospel to us who believe, because Jesus Christ fulfilled the law for us perfectly by keeping its requirements, and even its threats when he was exiled from the Father on the cross. Not to the person who works, but to the person who believes in God’s one and only Son, is righteousness imputed so that God views us as righteous in union with his Son.



Once we see Christ as the perfectly righteous king in Psalm 101, the psalm becomes precious to us. Whose way was blameless? (v. 2). Who always lived in closest communion with the Father? (v. 2). Whose life was always one of integrity? (v. 2). The answer to these questions is Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son, and in Him believers share in this righteousness of our Lord and King!



We could go through this whole psalm considering how Jesus is the One greater than David, whose righteousness exceeds David as the light of the sun exceeds the light of the moon. But after we have done that, we can then go back and learn how we too should strive to live to please our King. Having been cheered by the good news of the gospel, we can now learn the law out of gratitude and ask for Christ’s help in keeping that law. We don’t keep the law to earn our salvation, for that has been freely given to us in Jesus Christ. But now that we belong to Jesus by faith and have received his righteousness in the gospel, now we desire to live a life that pleases the One who is our righteousness and salvation. Now, we too should strive to live a life of integrity that pleases our perfect King and Representative.



Will we fail in living up to the high standard set in Psalm 101? Yes, I am afraid we will fall far short. In this life we mourn over our sin, grieved that we have hearts infected with original sin---hearts that stain even the good we do with our feet and hands, not to mention the evil we do in breaking God’s commandments! But the law and the gospel always are to be held together. Having been humbled by the law, in faith we turn once more to the gospel and the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We live our lives in regular repentance and faith --- repentance that mourns over our sin, but faith that takes hold of Christ’s righteousness and forgiveness in joy.



Finally, can we apply Psalm 101 to our American leadership once we have seen that it applies first of all to Jesus Christ? This is a complicated question! Certainly, all leaders are answerable to God! Fathers and mothers are responsible to God for their leadership in families. Husbands are responsible for their leadership in marriages. Employers are responsible for their leadership in the work place. In other words, every leader answers to the One who grants authority to men.



Second, God’s law reflects both love and justice. There is no reason that American political leaders should not rule in a loving and just way in accordance with God’s commandments.



Obviously, America is not a theocracy and we must allow freedom of religion. Israel in this sense is a picture of the church, not the state, for in the church we should not allow freedom of religion! Freedom of religion is for the state, not the church! Still, political leaders will answer to the Lord in terms of things like honesty, integrity, humility, and love that are themes in Psalm 101. And not only will our political leaders answer to the Lord, but so will all Americans. Every person will answer to the One who created them, who gave them a conscience and his Word to know right and wrong, and who will bring all of us to judgment for everything we have done in the body. With such a fearful judgment ahead of us, we would be wise to flee to the true King and Savior Psalm 101 speaks about!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Sola Panel | Why do we pray for others?

The Sola Panel Why do we pray for others?

I like the emphasis on love in this answer.

A Prayer from Stark's Prayer Book

I just bought a book from Concordia called Stark's Prayer Book.  Johann Stark was a Lutheran minister in the 17th century. This is his prayer I read last night. I thought it was quite good, and a good incentive to pray to the Lord myself.

"The Lord is on my side; I will not fear, for what can anyone do to me? Thus, O gracious and loving God, I may speak to You in this evening hour. I give you humble thanks that You have allowed me to complete this day under your fatherly protection, Your loving care, Your gracious guidance, and Your abundant blessings. Lord, Your goodness is great and Your mercy is without limit. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desires of all who fear Him. He will hear their cry and save them.

"But, my God, how swiftly the day has passed! Like an arrow shot from the bow, so swiftly do our years fly by. And so, make me to know my end and the measure of my days so that I may remember always how frail I am. Behold, You have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before You. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. And so I enter into judgment with myself and inquire: My soul, how have you spent this day? Have you thought about anything good? Has God remained united with you, or have you driven Him from you by deliberate and intentional sins? My mouth, what have you spoken today? Have you spoken what is honest, chaste, and good? Have you spread abroad God's praises? Or have you overflowed with lewdness and foolish talk? Where have you gone, my feet? What acts have you performed and committed, my hands? What have you listened to, my ears? What have you looked at, my eyes? What has been your desire, study, and aim today, my heart?

"O my God, if I am to answer all these questions, how shall I stand? O Lord, with the passing of this day remove my transgressions. O Jesus, blot out my sins with Your holy blood. O Holy Spirit, assure me of the forgiveness of all my sins before I fall asleep. When I am thus acquitted of my guilt, O Blessed Trinity, I shall calmly go to sleep, and tomorrow I shall be more careful to avoid all that may grieve You. My Father, let Your love cover me and all that is mine. My Jesus, in Your wounds I rest in peace and safety. O Holy Spirit, before I fall asleep, breathe in my heart the last sigh with which I commend my spirit into the hands of God."

Another New Lord's Supper Hymn

Praise the Father for the Gospel

To the tune: STUTTGART (Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/611). Based on Lord’s Day 28-29 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 96). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Praise the Father for the gospel,
teaching us about His Son,
what He did for us His people,
on the cross salvation won.

v. 2
Praise the Father for this Supper,
teaching us about His Son.
Bread a symbol of Christ’s body,
wine a symbol of His blood.

v. 3
Praise the Father for the gospel,
offers us a share in Christ,
all He did for us His people
when He died a sacrifice.

v. 4
Praise the Father for this Supper,
bread and wine our mouths receive.
All that Jesus Christ did suffer,
now is ours if we believe.

v. 5
Praise the Father for the gospel,
souls are nourished by Christ’s life.
Sin brought death to all earth’s people,
faith in Christ restores to life.

v. 6
Praise the Father for this Supper,
bread and wine we take and eat.
Jesus’ body, blood are offered,
we are nourished by belief.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reason for Joy and Worship in Spite of the Judgment of Death --- Psalm 100

Psalm 100 (English Standard Version)

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
A Psalm for giving thanks.

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

----------------------------------------------


There is great joy in knowing the Lord. Notice how verses 1 and 2 are filled with joy:
1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
 The basis for this joy is verse 5:5
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
The words love and faithfulness are seen in John 1:14:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The words grace and truth in John 1:14 correspond to the words love and faithfulness in Psalm 100 verse 5. The New Testament regularly translates the Hebrew word hesed or love as grace, and it regularly translates the Hebrew word emunah or faithfulness as truth. John 1:14 is teaching us that in Jesus Christ the grace and truth of God find their fulfillment. The Old Testament displayed the grace and truth of God, but the full display of this grace and truth awaited the coming of God’s Son into the world.

The reason for our joy and our worship is the love and truth of God. The love of God culminated in the cross, where God himself bore his own judgment of sin in our flesh. The truth of God culminated in Jesus Christ, who showed us what God is like, for He had always lived with the Father as the Son of His love from all eternity.

This world is filled with grief because of sin. As Steven Keillor rightly says, “Human mortality, the toil for survival, the transitory nature of human achievements and the threat of catastrophe from natural forces or human enemies---are all events in history that, as general categories, represent God’s judgment on human sin.” But into this world of sin and death, God sent His beloved Son so that we might be delivered from it and brought into “his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!”

Christ’s deliverance enables us to live with Him, above the fray, so to speak. Christ’s deliverance unites us with Christ in the heavenly courts, where we now worship the Father and Son by the Spirit. In Christ we are freed from condemnation. In Christ we enter into the Father’s presence for worship and fellowship.

Yes, this present age will continue to be plagued by the poisonous fruit of our sin, namely, God’s judgment of death and all that entails. While it is still the Lord’s will for his children to endure the judgments of this present age, He has delivered us through Christ from the judgment to come and the second death. This is reason for great joy and worship of our gracious and loving God and Father.

All the Scriptures point us to Christ, and Psalm 100 is no exception. How thankful we should be for the grace and truth that have come to us in Jesus Christ: grace that delivers us from the judgment to come and truth that frees us to worship and know the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, even in this present evil age.























Sunday, August 8, 2010

A New Hymn Based on Mark 4:26-29

Mark 4:26-29: And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

The Seed Begins to Grow

To the tune: DARWALL’S 148th (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/715). Based on Mark 4:26-29. Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Our Lord You’re very great,
by wisdom You gave birth
to all that has been made
in heaven and on earth.
Your works are great! You gave us life
to glorify You with our lives.

v. 2
We praise You God our King,
for providential pow’r,
by might You grow all things,
sustain the little flow’r.
Your works are great! You give us life
to glorify You with our lives.

v. 3
The gospel comes to us,
the message of God’s Son,
the Spirit works in us
so that our hearts are won.
Your works are great! You give us life,
receptive hearts through Jesus Christ.

v. 4
The seed begins to grow
and fruit is borne to God.
The growth comes not from us
but from the grace of God.
Your works are great! You give us life,
O give us fruit for Jesus Christ!

v. 5
The harvest will come soon
when Jesus will return.
Soft hearts accept Christ’s rule,
His word and ways do learn.
Your works are great! Our hearts prepare
for Christ will come, who can compare?

Friday, August 6, 2010

A New Hymn about the Lord's Supper, Humility, and Grace

Not by Goodness Am I Saved

To the tune: DIX. Based on Lord’s Day 28-29 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 96). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Not by goodness am I saved,
no one’s good but God alone.
Poor and needy is my state,
only Jesus’ cross atones.
Grace from God my only plea,
Jesus gave His life for me.

v. 2
In the gospel I receive,
precious promises to me.
Jesus died upon the tree,
so that God could pardon me.
Bread and wine are given free,
signs of God’s good will to me.

v. 3
Jesus is true food and drink
for my hungry, thirsty soul.
Sinful in thought, word and deed,
I need Christ to come and fill.
So by faith I eat and drink
Jesus who is life to me.

v. 4
Thank You, Father, for this meal,
giv’n for sinners who believe.
On Your Son You set Your seal,
Christ by faith we would receive.
And we eat the bread of life,
we believe in Jesus Christ.

v. 5
Without Jesus we are lost,
can do nothing without Him.
So we praise God for the cross,
where He took away our sin.
Praise for Jesus’ sacrifice;
praise to Christ who gives us life.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Another Communion Hymn

The Broken Bread Before Our Eyes

To the tune: ST. PETER. Based on Lord’s Day 28 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 96). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
The broken bread before our eyes,
it points to Jesus Christ;
His body given on the cross,
a perfect sacrifice.

v. 2
The wine is poured into the cup,
it points to God’s dear Son.
He poured His blood out on the cross,
and our salvation won.

v. 3
Accept with a believing heart
the death of Jesus Christ.
Receive forgiveness that He earned
when He laid down His life.

v. 4
We eat the bread and drink the wine,
a symbol of our faith.
Believe and you have eaten Christ,
forgiveness, life, partake.

v. 5
The Spirit lifts our hearts to Christ,
to Him who is above,
where we commune with Father, Son,
and in the triune love.

v. 6
In Christ we share God’s triune life,
we share in love divine.
We share His mission for the world
that sent His Son to die.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New Communion Hymn


We Feel Our Weakness in this Life

To the tune: DUNDEE (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/TT/159). Based on Lord’s Day 28 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 96). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
We feel our weakness in this life,
for sin remains in us.
The world allures away from Christ,
in whom is life and love.

v. 2
So come to us our Lord and Christ,
and breathe your life in us.
All good and perfect gifts come from
our Father in His love.

v. 3
This bread and wine are tokens of
the Father’s love for us.
He gives to us the matchless gift,
the Son from heav’n above.

v. 4
As surely as you take, receive,
the signs of bread and wine.
Believe that Jesus died for you
to cleanse and give you life.

v. 5
And pray for strength to walk with Him
until you reach your goal
of perfect life with God in heav’n,
the saving of your soul.

v. 6
O thank you Father and the Son
for giving us this meal.
Remind, assure and send to us
Your Spirit as our seal.


A Morning Run, the Gospel, and a Rooster- Irish Calvinist

A Morning Run, the Gospel, and a Rooster- Irish Calvinist

Great reminder of our dependence on Christ and need to remain consciously in His love.   I wrote the devotional below a couple years ago, based on the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 75.  It seems related to Eric's Raymond's words in his blog above.  --Bill

Remember, Believe, Commune

Reading:

1) Heidelberg Catechism

75 Q. How does the Lord's Supper remind you and assure you that you share in Christ's one sacrifice on the cross and in all his gifts?

A. In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup. With this command he gave this promise:

First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for
me and the cup given to me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross.

Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, given me as sure signs of Christ's body and blood, so surely he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life with his crucified body and poured-out blood.

2) Scripture

Hebrews 13:9b: it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them . . .

2 Timothy 2:1: You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 16:25a: Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ . . .

Comment

How should we use the sacrament to strengthen our faith and walk with Jesus Christ? Does Q&A 75 give us guidance as to how we should use the Lord’s Supper for our spiritual benefit?

Three words summarize how we are to use the Supper: remember, believe, and commune. These three words correspond to the three purposes of the Supper, outlined in Q&A 75: remind, assure, and nourish/refresh. Interestingly, these three words (remember, believe, and commune) also summarize the way we should live our lives each day!

First, we should remember Christ’s sacrifice and all his gifts. Whenever we participate in the Lord’s Supper we remember Christ’s death. We remember the gospel, which tells us how his body was offered and his blood poured out. In the Supper, the gospel facts of Christ’s death and resurrection are portrayed in front of our eyes (Gal. 3:1), and the meaning and blessing of these facts are also to be learned more and more and remembered.

Second, we should believe that Christ’s sacrifice and gifts are for us. There is no virtue in a false humility which refuses to believe what the gospel offers! Christ and his blessings are offered to us in the Supper and we are wrong to refuse to receive them by faith. The Father offers his Son and all the blessings his Son earned for us through the cross, and we should take hold of them by faith.

Third, we should commune with the Father and the Son as we partake of the Supper. Christ died in order to bring us into fellowship with himself and his Father. By his death he secured the blessing of the Spirit, who makes fellowship with the Father and the Son possible. There is no greater blessing of the new covenant than the presence and communion of the triune God.

When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, let us remember, believe, and commune. But even on those days when we don’t participate in the Supper, let us remember, believe, and commune, for the Supper’s use is to be the pattern of our lives as believers. Every day we are to remember the gospel and its offer of Christ and his blessings. Every day we are to take hold of Christ and his blessings afresh by faith. Every day we are to walk in continual communion with the Father and the Son through the working of Holy Sprit in our hearts.

Discussion: How should we use the Lord’s Supper to our blessing? How is the use of the Lord’s Supper a pattern for our daily lives?

Prayer Starter: Thank the Father for the gospel promise of Christ and his blessings. Receive those blessings by faith. Ask for the Spirit’s power to walk in communion with the Father and Son.


Koinonia: Anne Rice and Our Modern Sinby Michael Wittmer

Koinonia: Anne Rice and Our Modern Sinby Michael Wittmer

Great article analyzing Ann Rice's departure from the Roman Catholic church. Autonomous individualism is the thing we must turn from. Jesus Christ and His Word is the thing we must turn to, if we would be saved from the judgment to come. --Bill

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Communion Hymn

The First Disciples Heard and Saw

To the tune: WINCHESTER OLD. Based on Lord’s Day 28 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 96). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
The first disciples heard and saw
and touched the Word of life.
He came from heaven, God’s own Son,
His name is Jesus Christ.

v. 2
All things were made through God’s dear Son,
in Him was life and light.
But sinful man did not receive
the One who gives them life.

v. 3
But sinners who receive the Son
and trust in Jesus’ love,
are members of God’s family,
they’re born from God above.

v. 4
O Christian, God provides for you,
with signs that you can see.
O look and touch and taste and smell
what God has done for thee.

v. 5
In grace and mercy God gives signs
to strengthen your weak faith.
His favor, blessing, offers you,
believe and from Him take.

v. 6
We praise you Father, You are good
to us your children weak.
You give the bread of heav’n to us,
and by our faith we eat.


Lord's Day 28

Q & A 75

Q. How does the Lord's Supper
remind you and assure you
that you share in
Christ's one sacrifice on the cross
and in all his gifts?

A. In this way:

Christ has commanded me and all believers
to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup.
With this command he gave this promise:^1

First,
as surely as I see with my eyes
the bread of the Lord broken for me
and the cup given to me,
so surely
his body was offered and broken for me
and his blood poured out for me
on the cross.

Second,
as surely as
I receive from the hand of the one who serves,
and taste with my mouth
the bread and cup of the Lord,
given me as sure signs of Christ's body and blood,
so surely
he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life
with his crucified body and poured-out blood.

^1 Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25

Q & A 76

Q. What does it mean
to eat the crucified body of Christ
and to drink his poured-out blood?

A. It means
to accept with a believing heart
the entire suffering and death of Christ
and by believing
to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.^1

But it means more.

Through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us,
we are united more and more to Christ's blessed body.^2
And so, although he is in heaven^3 and we are on earth,
we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.^4
And we forever live on and are governed by one Spirit,
as members of our body are by one soul.^5

^1 John 6:35, 40, 50-54
^2 John 6:55-56; 1 Cor. 12:13
^3 Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 11:26; Col. 3:1
^4 1 Cor. 6:15-17; Eph. 5:29-30; 1 John 4:13
^5 John 6:56-58; 15:1-6; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 John 3:24

Q & A 77

Q. Where does Christ promise
to nourish and refresh believers
with his body and blood
as surely as
they eat this broken bread
and drink this cup?

A. In the institution of the Lord's Supper:

"The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed,
took bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it and said,
'This is my body, which is for you;
do this in remembrance of me.'
In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying,
'This cup is the new covenant in my blood;
do this, whenever you drink it,
in remembrance of me.'
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup,
you proclaim the Lord's death
until he comes."^1

This promise is repeated by Paul in these words:

"Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks
a participation in the blood of Christ?
And is not the bread that we break
a participation in the body of Christ?
Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body,
for we all partake of the one loaf."^2

^1 1 Cor. 11:23-26
^2 1 Cor. 10:16-17

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Hymn Based on Mark 4:21-25

The Message of our Lord and Christ

Mark 4:21-25 (English Standard Version)

21 And he said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." 24And he said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."
 
To the tune: WINCHESTER OLD. Based on Mark 4:21-25. Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
The message of our Lord and Christ
is shining in our midst.
Glad tidings of forgiven sin,
the hope of heav’n-ly bliss.

v. 2
Be careful how you hear the word
of Jesus Christ the King.
His gospel has authority,
though preached by vessels weak.

v. 3
The person who receives the word
of Jesus and His cross,
receives from God eternal life,
and never suffers loss.

v. 4
O sinner come to Jesus Christ,
your Lord, your Substitute.
By faith receive and follow Him,
in Him you will bear fruit.

v. 5
We worship You our triune God,
for you do all things well.
The Father planned, the Son achieved,
the Spirit gives us health.

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