Sunday, January 26, 2014
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I've been thinking recently of how much hymns have helped form my faith and continue to sustain me. Many of them seem to be almost unknown in today's world of "contemporary worship (sic)". While I do indeed get a subjective thrill ("goose bumps") from a variety of musical styles, I find that lyric substance is much more important to my spiritual well-being than seeking a high from "three words + three chords + three minutes x 10". Over the next days/weeks, I'll post the lyrics to some of the hymns that have formed me…. and sustain me.
The following was first introduced to me by the British revivalist, Leonard Ravenhill, when he held meetings at my childhood church. This hymn takes us to the heart of reverence for a holy God, and the reality that we cannot bear the Consuming Fire apart from his gracious choice to forgive and cleanse us…. (forgiveness is only part of "salvation").
How pure the soul must be
When, placed within Thy searching sight,
It shrinks not, but with calm delight
Can live and look on Thee.
May bear the burning bliss;
But that is surely theirs alone,
Since they have never, never known
A fallen world like this.
Is dark, whose mind is dim,
Before th’ Ineffable appear,
And on my natural spirit bear
The uncreated beam?
To Thee, sublime Abode;
An Offering and a Sacrifice,
A Holy Spirit’s energies,
An Advocate with God.
Of holiness above;
The sons of ignorance and night
May dwell in the eternal Light,
Through the eternal Love.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
From a letter to the Corinthians by Saint Clement I, pope
From the first, faith has been God's means of justifying men
God’s blessing must be our objective, and the way to win it our study. Search the records of ancient times. Why was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not because his upright and straightforward conduct was inspired by faith? As for Isaac’s faith, it was so strong that, assured of the outcome, he willingly allowed himself to be offered in sacrifice. Jacob had the humility to leave his native land on account of his brother, and go and serve Laban. He was given the twelve tribes of Israel.
Honest reflection upon each of these examples will make us realise the magnitude of God’s gifts. All the priests and levites who served the altar of God were descended from Jacob. The manhood of the Lord Jesus derived from him. Through the tribe of Judah, kings, princes and rulers sprang from him. Nor are his other tribes without their honour, for God promised Abraham: “Your descendants shall be as the stars of heaven.”
It is obvious, therefore, that none of these owed their honour and exaltation to themselves, or to their own labours, or to their deeds of virtue. No; they owed everything to God’s will. So likewise with us, who by his will are called in Christ Jesus. We are not justified by our wisdom, intelligence, piety, or by any action of ours, however holy, but by faith, the one means by which God has justified men from the beginning. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
What must we do then, brothers? Give up good works? Stop practising Christian love? God forbid! We must be ready and eager for every opportunity to do good, and put our whole heart into it. Even the Creator and Lord of the universe rejoices in his works. By his supreme power he set the heavens in their place; by his infinite wisdom he gave them their order. He separated the land from the waters surrounding it and made his own will its firm foundation. By his command he brought to life the beasts that roam the earth. He created the sea and all its living creatures, and then by his power set bounds to it. Finally, with his own holy and undefiled hands, he formed man, the highest and most intelligent of his creatures, the copy of his own image. “Let us make man,” God said, “in our image and likeness. And God made man, male and female he made them.” Then, when he had finished making all his creatures, God gave them his approval and blessing: “Increase and multiply,” he charged them.
We must recognise, therefore, that all upright men have been graced by good works, and that even the Lord himself took delight in the glory his works gave him. This should inspire us with a resolute determination to do his will and make us put our whole strength into the work of living a Christian life.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.