hymns


A wonderful discovery regarding worship resources. I find encouragement from many places in the blog world and yesterday was an outstanding example. It was on a blog that I had not visited before (believe it or not) called “Stay on the Rock“, that turns out to be the blog of Lifewayworship.com. I don’t feel bad singing their praises since I have spoken several times of my appreciation for the worship resources of other denominational sources such as that of the United Methodist.

The sacrament of communion

What caught my attention first was the theme of the post: Worship at the communion table. For those that don’t already know, Lifeway is the publication arm of the Southern Baptist Convention of churches and is the largest supplier of protestant material. Many churches that are not Baptist use it as for resources.

The Baptist tradition as well as the larger evangelical church, has come under fire from those of the liturgical churches for a weak theology of worship by men the likes of J.I.Packer and John Stott, Anglicans, just to name a few. So you can imagine my delight to find someone in the inside of Lifeway worship team who is reading something outside the Baptist tradition like Robert Webber’s “Ancient-Future Worship”. The post let me know that the guys producing worship resources for the churches understand that the theology of the church is important. Just another example of how rich the different traditions are and that by being willing to consider what those outside our own limited tradition have to say can only enrich everyone.

I made a short comment on the post but I wanted to publicly say to the blogger and his team- “congratulations”, for their important contributions to the churches. If you visit the post, you will note at the bottom a link to a long list of church music deemed appropriate for the communion service including both traditional hymns and contempory choruses. Here again, the rich theology of the Lord’s Supper should dictate what is best appropriate to make this one of the most blessed experiences of our corporate life together.

So thank you Lifewayworship team for your faithfulness and for including some of this bloggers favorites such as “I Love Thy Kingdom”, “In Christ there is no east or west”, “One Day”, “The Wonderful Cross”, and “Come to the table”.

See my own post last year related to Communion

This is a good question to consider all this week as we relive the original Passion week of Jesus, the Christ. Why did He love us so much that He would endure such rejection and abuse as the sinless, holy one of God? Such questions should not encourage our own speculations but send us to the Scriptures themselves for answers. I invite you to submit comments with the Biblical answers that you find.

Meanwhile, here is a hymn that is found in many of the hymnbooks from various faith traditions, “Why Should he love me so?”. This one happens to be in Brazilian Portuguese and comes from the Seventh Day Adventist in Brazil. This is just how we sang it for twelve years with the churches in our adopted nation.

Another take on the True Community that we all are created to long for is represented in this song written and sung by an old favorite, Squire Parsons. There is just one minor adjustment that I would call your attention to, but for me it is an extremely important one; the pictures that were chosen for this video. 

According to the Biblical narrative, one of the essential elements of Jesus Christ identity has to do with his radical reconstitution of major elements of the Old Covenant faith tradition. Such integral factors as the Temple, the Law, the Priesthood, were reinterpreted by Him in such a way to announce that what these elements foreshadowed in the past, He himself was their ultimate fulfillment. This is what caused his most heated conflict with the institutional religious leaders and ultimately led to his crucifixion “outside the camp”. (see Hebrews 13: 12-14)

So when Squire Parsons sings about Beulah land, is he thinking of the old city of Jerusalem in Israel or is he longing for the Jerusalem that is above? The heavenly Zion, the eternal city of God, which is that community that God has prepared to satisfy all our longings. For me, it is obviously the one the Apostle John saw and testified to us about in the penultimate chapter of the Bible.

What a way to welcome in the new year.

By far the most memorable new year’s eve celebration my wife and I ever participated in was in the 80’s in the interior of the State of Sao Paulo, Brasil. There is simply no better way to experience the first moments of the new year than to be on your knees in the presence of God and His people.

So here is my New Year’s eve prayer -for myself and all those I love in this world, and for all of you that stop by to read the e4Unity blog: sung by a congregation in Wales. May the Redeemer Himself guide your every step throughout 2010.

The Book of Revelation, chapter 21

” And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Alternate Christmas music series.

Here’s another of my favorite pieces associated with Christmas. It has a simple melody that tends to get into your head as it did mine when I heard it featured in the movie “Empire of the Sun“. My favorite version is from a Christmas album by the Irish Tenors. I don’t have the english words from that album which really carry the message I’m focusing on: The Cosmic event of this present age. (I’ll try to find the words- meanwhile enjoy the beautiful Welsh version by Katherine Jenkins)

Empire of The Sun version (Japanese-Umi Yukaba)

PSALM 9 from the Song Book of the BIBLE

New-york

9:1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before [3] your presence.
For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.

You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
their cities you rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.

But the Lord sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

11 Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

13 Be gracious to me, O Lord!
See my affliction from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises,
that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in your salvation.

15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. [4] Selah

17 The wicked shall return to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God.

18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

19 Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail;
let the nations be judged before you!
20 Put them in fear, O Lord!
Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah

The theme of vengeance is not an obscure part of the people of faith including the faith of the Psalmist, who is generally taken to be King David himself in this composition. If the Psalms is the “Song Book of the Bible” as Bonhoeffer and others have suggested, then this song touches the very heart of the ancient faith. The confidence of the righteous in the face of oppression and hate was a stedfast assurance that God Himself was to be looked to for vindication: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord! “The Lord will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”, wrote the author of the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament.

If you have a Bible you can confirm for yourself the presence of this theme in the entire Biblical narrative. Here are just a few chapters that will serve as “evidence that demands a verdict”.

The Song of Moses- Deuteronomy 32 and 33.

The Wrath of the Lamb- Revelation 6

The Song of the Lamb- Revelation 15

So you see, there is a lot of singing going on by the people living by faith in the God of the Scriptures. When we consider today the persecution, oppression, and even destruction by the wicked that right now going on in the world, we need to have this quiet assurance and confidence so that our soul may be at peace, knowing that the Most High God will judge righteously. Selah.

Be Still My Soul (video by Selah)

Meditating on the Prayer Book!                                                   

The Book of Psalms in the Hebrew Bible has been called by various names but the one that appeals most to me is, “The Prayer book of the Bible”. From one of the resources listed in E4Unity “toolbox” comes this very unique essay on what he calls the “gateway Psalms” of the entire book.  

 

 

Solus Christus in the Psalms  Book

It would be tempting to highlight “particularly Messianic” Psalms and say “There, see, Jesus is spoken of here and there in the psalter.” But I’m not sure that’s right. I once told a friend I was helping preach through an 8 week series called “Jesus in the Psalms”. He said “Right, so you’ll get through Psalms 1-8, when are you going to do the other 142??” I was chastened! That’s absolutely right. It’s not like Messianic Psalms form a sub-division of the psalter: like there’s imprecatory Psalms, Psalms of lament and messianic Psalms. You’d never think of having the ‘God Psalms’ as a sub-category! Christ is not a sub-category of Christian revelation or experience.

Think of the doctine of sola fide (faith alone) for instance. There are a number of passages that we can readily turn up to demonstrate its truth. And a paper on sola fide will spend time going through those specific passages, but not so as to prove that sola fide holds in those cases alone. We look to the specific passages to show that this pattern holds for all God’s dealings with man. And it holds even for those parts of the Scripture which opponents may erroneously claim refutes it. It’s like this with solus Christus (Christ alone). We look at the specifics to demonstrate a divine dynamic which holds for all Scripture.

So as we think about Christ in the Psalms we’re not going to pick out messianic mentions here and there. Instead we’re going to look at Psalms 1 and 2 and see how these model for us what to expect in the rest of the Psalter.

Psalms 1 and 2 are often called the gateway to the Psalms. They belong together for many reasons not least the “blessed”s at the beginning and end. Just as with the Sermon on the Mount, the “blessed”s tell us exactly who is in on what’s about to be discussed. In the Sermon on the Mount, the “blessed”s tell us who’s in the kingdom which Jesus describes. In the Psalter, Psalms 1 and 2 tell us who’s in on the worship of the living God. And who is the blessed man??

Well He is an ‘ish – a representative man. In fact He is the Man. This is an audacious claim. (I rarely even claim to be a man!) Verse 2 says He is a night-and-day Bible-meditator, which makes Him a king (cf Deut 17:18-20; Josh 1:8). Verse 3, He is also like a tree (think ‘Branch’ or ‘Root’ or ‘Vine’ – kings are described like this). Not only this but He can make others become prosperous (causative hiphil stem).

This one Man, this definitive Man, is contrasted in v4 to the many wicked. The Psalm does not begin by comparing righteous people to wicked people but rather The Righteous Man is contrasted with the wicked masses. Then (presumably through the Man/Tree-of-Life causing many others to prosper like Him) we hear about other righteous ones (v5-6).

When we turn to Psalm 2 we see the Man given more names. The LORD’s King (v6) is here called “Anointed One” (Messiah, v2), and “Son” (v7). Though He is raged against, He will be poured out on Zion (v6) and publicly vindicated by the Father (v7) before claiming universal rule. (v8-9) All must love and take refuge in Him – both Judge and Saviour. (v10-12)

Here is the gateway to the Psalms. We ought not to rush into the Psalter without stopping here and asking who is welcome in the Psalter. And the answer is: “Blessed is the Man… and Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” We must be rightly related to Christ to be welcome in the worship of the living God. He, supremely, is the Scripture-meditating, righteous, flourishing, tree-of-life-like Worshipper. But as Calvin comments on Psalm 22:22, He also is the heavenly choir-master who tunes our hearts to sing God’s praises.

Now what implications does this have for how we read the rest of the Psalter? Well one big help we have received in this, the gateway, is that we’ve been introduced to the four main characters in the Psalms. Here we have:

(1) the LORD;

(2) the Christ, the Blessed Man;

(3) The Righteous who take refuge in Him; and

(4) The Wicked who oppose Him.

All the Psalms are about the interaction of these four groups. In some, like Psalm 1, the Blessed Man is shown before the LORD and then the righteous and the wicked are contrasted. In some, like Psalm 2, the righteous complain to the LORD about the wicked and then He reminds them about the Blessed Man, Christ. In some we have simply the words of Christ. In others we have the words of the LORD to Christ. In some we simply have the words of sinners like us taking refuge in Him. But all of the Psalms are about the inter-relation of these four groups. And they all work together to speak to us of Christ. Let’s be alert to that as we read the Psalms, they are related to Christ.

From blog of Glen Scrivener, Church of England pastor in UK)

 

 

 

Kenneth Scott Latourette

Kenneth Scott Latourette

The Perspective from a 20th Century Historian

Kenneth Scott Latourette (1884-1968)

This is just one of many outstanding Christians waiting for me to introduce here on E4Unity blog- my wish list for the Saint’s Gallery. But I want to go ahead and introduce him so I can put up a quote from a little book published in 1948 on what I believe is now coming to pass in Christianity and what we’ve already introduced in several previous blogs: a radical re-evaluation (heart-searching) of how the people of the Christian Faith should function in today’s world.

Dr. Latourette was perhaps the most recognized historian of Christianity in the twentieth century. An expert on China and the Orient, author of volumes on the history of the Christian Faith down through the centuries. He taught at Yale University from 1921 to 1953, served as Department of Religion Chairman, and Director of Graduate Studies at the Divinity School. The man was an intellectual giant. We really should know something about men and women of the past like this if we hope to know what’s going on in our world today.

In his Presidential Address to the American Society of Church History in 1945, he spoke on “The Future of Christianity in the Light of it’s Past”, considering the mid-century following two world wars an urgent time for the Church to do an evaluation of where they had been and what the future may have in store. In the years 1946 and 1947 he spoke at more than a dozen Seminaries and Universities on the subject which was later published in a book which I am fortunate to have on my desk, “The Christian Outlook“.

I have already brought up the theme for some of my posts in the coming year, the 100th celebration of the great World Missionary Conference held at Edinburg in 1910 and the celebrations in various parts of Christendom scheduled to take place to commemorate this most significant date in the History of Christian missions.

I will begin with some quotes from the book above that I think you will find most timely some  sixty years later.

The word ‘Christianity’ never occurs in the New Testament. Gospel is there and it is the Gospel which gives rise to Christianity and which is the source of its vitality. So long as any branch or expression of Christianity is a channel of the Gospel it lives. When it ceases to be a channel for the Gospel it becomes sterile and withers.

Latourette spends a number of pages, reluctantly, describing for us his own convictions regarding the Gospel, for he was convinced that it was only from the vantage (perspective) of the Gospel as presented in Holy Scripture that ” we can presume to look into the future to the near and far outlook for Christianity and for humankind”.

At the outset we must remind ourselves of the meaning of the word ‘Gospel. It is simply the Anglo-Saxon, for Good News, or Joyful message. . .The New Testament rings the changes on that note. The stories of the birth are filled with it. It is the spirit of the Magnificant, of the Benedicdus, of the Nunc Dimittis, of the announcement to the shepherds, and of the angelic song.

Jesus compared himself and his disciples to a wedding party. There is joy over the sinner who repents; the feasting and the joy over the return of the lost son; the joy of one who, seemingly by chance, when not looking for it, discovers the treasure hidden in the field; the joy of the pearl mercahant who has made it his business to seek and then finds; the joy of which we hear on the eve of the crucifixion and which was left as legacy to the disciples. There is the joy of the resurrection, when the disciples were so full of it that they could scarcely believe what they had seen. After they could no longer meet their Lord in the flesh, the early disciples continued that same experience of joy. They rejoiced with “joy unspeakable.” One of the outstanding ‘fruits of the spirit’ which they found working in them was joy.

So, through the centuries since, men and women of many different races and cultures have found this same joy. Martin of Tours, who as a soldier gave himself wholly to the Christ of the Gospel and left his occupation to be a pioneer in the monastic way to which he believed that dedication called him, impressed by his joy those who were attracted to him. Bernard of Clairvaux sings of ‘ Jesus thou joy of loving hearts’. Francis of Assisi and his early band were troubadours of God, joyous in spite and in part because of their elf-assumed poverty. Luther is a herald of joy. . .

Moody is captured by the ‘Good News’ and in unlearned language tells it to the masses. In simple, unsophisticated ‘Gospel hymns’ his associates and thousands since have sung of the wonder which they have glimpsed. This joy is our privilege today. Through all the ages to come it will continue to be part of the Gospel.

READ Biography  at History of Missiology: ” Classic writings in the history of Protestant Mission thought.”

 

 

Meet My Beloved Mother-DAISY Born in the Methodist parsonage in the village of Pleasant Hill,LA, and into a family of boys, Daisy grew up in a loving and godly home of parents dedicated to the Christ of the Gospel. All her life she made friends everywhere she went and tried to share a little “sunshine” ever chance she got. fl04daisyirene At 99 (2014) and counting, she is legally blind which prevents her from doing some of her favorite things: reading her Bible, writing cards and letters to all her extended family, and seeing pictures of her cherished grand-children and great grand-children. Mother was able to go to College with hard work and the help of friends that recognized her talents and gifts of music. She attended Mary-Hardin Baylor and graduated in Voice. She dedicated her musical life to Christ and His Church serving for many years as pianist, choir director, soloist, as well as in private instruction. She served her community too, active in missionary groups, DAR, and civil clubs and organizations promoting social causes. dp68th But perhaps her greatest legacy she will leave to me is that of her role as faithful WIFE to her husband Paul of 68 years, til his death in 2005. Her loyal support through the good times and the not so good, made his life complete in so many ways. So here’s to you Mother Daisy on this Mother’s Day 2009. May the Good Lord continue to be your Good Shepherd through each new day, knowing that we all love you and thank you for being the best mother you could possibly be.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” – The Apostle Paul writing to Timothy

Your son, John Paul

Mother’s early ancestors in America

My Dad’s story of Todd Farm History

In A Word, WORSHIP! 

living-sacrifice

I hope you enjoyed the holiday. For some it’s already over; back to work. For others it will end perhaps on Sunday evening as you head back to the real world. Ah yes, the real world. May I say a little about that. After all the excitement, not much has changed, has it? Looking back on the “Advent” of Messiah long after His death and resurrection, long after Pentecost and the coming of the Comforter, the Apostle Peter said something that sounds remarkably like how we feel after celebrating Christmas: “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying- ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ ”

So in the real world it’s very natural to think as these “scoffers” did in Peter’s day; nothing really has changed. The world is still in a mess, corruptions, scandals, tragedies, and much more are still all too common. But according to the Biblical narrative, in a sense, everything has changed. In a word, the promised deliverance from man’s fallen condition has become reality and this is The heart of the Gospel. With the birth of God’s Son Jesus, a new creation was birthed in human flesh. We’ve celebrated Advent-the season of expectancy with the original cast who were alive to actually witness that birth. We have read the old stories not only of the historical place and event, but we have read other Scriptures-both from the Old Testament and the New to get a fuller view of the event: not only what happened, but why and for what purpose, with God’s own commentary on the work that He himself had accomplished in every detail.

Now it’s time for our response and if we have even faintly understood the Christmas message, the response of our entire being worthy of God’s great deliverance.  A response that begins with Hymns of praise as no doubt some enjoyed as part of our Christmas celebration, but a response that leads to an act of worship Saint Paul calls, presenting these bodies redeemed from the curse and bondage of sin, as living sacrifices. This he calls our “reasonable worship”. While the glow of Christmas is still there, before it dims and you go back to life as usual, join me in meditating on these incredible words from Romans 11:32-12:2, and responding as millions of others around the world have done and continue to do.

In the midst of the old creation that is passing away, is a new one just getting started-do you see it with the eyes of faith? If you see it, you will find yourself worshiping!

May you have a blessed new life in Christ in the new year.

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