Saturday, January 30, 2010

What is love?

I recently received these children's quote from a good friend. (Thanks, Holly.:) Many of them are funny, but all are quite perceptive — a good reminder for me to walk the talk (1 Cor 13).

'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.'
Nikka - age 6

'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.'
Danny - age 7

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.'
Noelle - age 7

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.'
Tommy - age 6

'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.'
Cindy - age 8

'My mommy loves me more than anybody; you don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.'
Clare - age 6

'Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.'
Elaine - age 5

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.’
Chris - age 7

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.’
Mary Ann - age 4

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.’ :)
Lauren - age 4

'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' (Ha!)
Karen - age 7

'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.'
Jessica - age 8

But the best one is from a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor the little boy replied,

'Nothing, I just helped him cry.'

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Immortal Beloved

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was born in Bonn, Germany. His father, a court musician named Johann, wanted to turn Beethoven into a famous child prodigy. He was hard man, though, and beat his son whenever he felt prodigy-hood was too slow in coming. Despite this harsh treatment, Ludwig became an excellent pianist.

As a young man he was taught by Mozart and Haydn and his virtuoso performances on the piano attracted aristocratic patrons in Vienna, the musical center of Europe. Both Beethoven and his music were fiery, impulsive, and impetuous; people loved to watch and listen as he played his passionate piano compositions. Offstage, however, his fiery personality got him into fights with his landlords and girlfriends. Beethoven wasn’t a long-term kind of guy, either in apartments or relationships.

When he was 31, however, something happened that changed Beethoven forever. He began to realize that he was losing his hearing. Of course this is one of the worst things that can happen to a musician, especially for someone like Beethoven who felt everything so deeply. Consequently, deafness had a deeply disturbing effect on him. The music Beethoven composed during this period (middle years of his life) bears the mark of a man desperate to be the master of his own fate. But it was in expressing his pain, that he single-handedly took music from the Classical style into the Romantic period, where the most important element in music was the expression of feelings.

Ludwig van Beethoven never married. Any thoughts he had of marrying always came to nothing. After his death in 1827, however, a letter written in three sections was found in a drawer. It was addressed to "Immortal Beloved" but appears to have never been sent. Though scholars generally agree it was probably written in either 1811 or 1812, nobody really knows who "Immortal Beloved" was. It is such a moving letter and yet all rather sad because it was never sent; I wonder why it wasn't.

The third part of this letter is written below:

Good morning, on July 7th

Even when I am in bed my thoughts rush to you, my eternally beloved, now and then joyfully, then again sadly, waiting to know whether Fate will hear our prayer--To face life I must live altogether with you or never see you. Yes, I am resolved to be a wanderer abroad until I can fly to your arms and say that I have found my true home with you and enfolded in your arms can let my soul be wafted to the realm of blessed spirits--alas, unfortunately it must be so--You will become composed, the more so you know that I am faithful to you; no other woman can ever possess my heart--never--never--Oh God, why must one be separated from her who is so dear. Yet my life in V[ienna] at present is a miserable life--Your love has made me both the happiest and the unhappiest of mortals--At my age I now need stability and regularity in my life--can this coexist with our relationship?--Angel, I have just heard that the post goes every day--and therefore I must close, so that you may receive the letter immediately--Be calm; for only by calmly considering our lives can we achieve our purpose to live together--Be calm--love me--Today--yesterday--what tearful longing for you--for you--you--my life--my all--all good wishes to you--Oh, do continue to love me--never misjudge your lover's most faithful heart.
ever yours

ever mine

ever ours.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fight the good fight

I've been wondering lately, just how important are the things we fight for? If we could change everybody's views to match our own on whatever subject we discuss, would it make a difference 100 years from now? Or for eternity?

The Apostle Paul speaks of fighting the good fight. Toward the end of his life he reflects that he's fought the good fight, he's finished the course, and he’s kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7). So what is he referring to? Did he attain world peace, the world's respect, or even peace within the Church? What exactly is he referring to?

In 2 Tim 4:3-4, a description is given of people who are no longer content to hear the sound teaching of Paul ,but who are impelled to turn to many different teachers of novelty and untruth. It does seem that more and more of us go to church these days to be entertained rather than to serve, worship, and to learn what is the will of God (Rom 12:2). Are we no longer able to endure sound doctrine? Do we merely want our "ears tickled”?

It’s so easy to get distracted from fighting the good fight, and often times for seemingly good causes. For example, many of us appear to be fighting for world peace. Ironically, we picket, preach at, and even publicly scorn others in our efforts for world peace — as if it's really attainable (Eph 2:2).

Some of us, however, are fighting for recognition and respect from the world itself, compromising what we believe in order to make it fit in with the world's wisdom. We're not getting the results we desire, though; the world merely smirks (Jn 15:19).

And still others of us seem to be moving toward giving up the fight altogether. We're weary and looking for peace, perhaps not with the world, but within the Church itself. We’ve somehow become convinced that the conflict-inducing confusion in the Church can be overcome only by all of us getting together, minimizing our differences and emphasizing those doctrines on which we all agree. Consequently, some of the most important doctrines of Scripture are neither denied nor affirmed; they are ignored. But this doesn’t seem to matter, for our objective now isn't to be true to the written Word of God, but to see to it that the Church is unified at all costs (2 Tim 4:3). Some big questions remain, however: If we continue down this path, how will we ever grow and mature in Christ, and, what influences are we leaving ourselves wide open to because we aren't growing (Eph 4:11-15)?

Paul, however, never wavered. He fought the good fight, finished the course, kept the faith, and he did so in two senses: he was obedient to it (2 Tim 3:10-12), and he passed it on to others just as he received it. Paul didn’t get side-tracked by the world (2 Tim 2:3-4), nor did he give people only what they wanted to hear. Instead, he always spoke the truth from the Word of God alone, accurately handling* it at all times (2 Tim 2:15). And he exhorted Timothy to do the same (2 Tim 3:16-4:2, 4:5).

May we too fight the only fight worth fighting, the only one that will truly make a difference 100 years from now, and, for eternity — keep the faith!

*"accurately handling" means to correctly handle the Word of God, both in analysis and presentation — this is in contrast to the inane interpretations of false teachers

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The fine art of debate

"Debate is wonderful when the love of God prevails in it. As Paul says in I Timothy 3:16, 'And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness!' When debate degenerates into controversy, the joy of discovery turns to anger. If we are to learn more of God's Word, debate must be encouraged and anger turned to diligent study. Debate seems, among many people, to be a long lost art. Christians cannot afford to let God's Truth remain undiscovered for fear of controversy. We must rediscover the fine art of debate so that we can prove 'what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God' (Rom. 12:2). Science has little problem with "Prove it!" Theology sometimes does."

- David A. Anderson

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Beautiful Saviour

We sang my favorite praise song — "Beautiful Saviour" — in church yesterday morning. It is one of the many songs that Stuart Townend of the UK has written.

Stuart Townend is known and respected by musicians and worship leaders throughout Britain and beyond. He is a songwriter, keyboard player, singer, worship leader, and record producer; he's also released several of his own solo albums. In addition to all this, he spends a good deal of his time training other church worship leaders and songwriters.

Stuart was born in 1963 and grew up as the youngest of four children in a Christian family in West Yorkshire where his father was a Church of England vicar. His family always enjoyed music, so it was only natural that Stuart began to play the piano at the age of 7 and taught himself to play the guitar as a teenager.

At 13 years of age, Stuart accepted Christ as his personal saviour. Years later while pursuing a degree in literature at the University of Sussex in Brighton, he met his future wife Caroline. They married in 1988 and now have three children; Joseph, Emma, and Eden. The Townends are members of the Church of Christ the King in Brighton where Stuart regularly leads worship.

There is a depth and theological content in his songs which have caused some to compare Stuart to great songwriters of previous generations, like Wesley and Watts. Songs of his you may recognize are, "Lord How Majestic You Are," "How Deep the Father's Love", "The Lord's My Shepherd" and “In Christ Alone”. They are usually simple, with sparse accompaniment, and sometimes with no accompaniment at all. In Stuart's words, "My prayer is that these songs…will be a useful tool in the simplicity and humility of your own personal worship".

All my days I will sing this song of gladness
Give my praise to the Fountain of delights
For in my helplessness You heard my cry
And waves of mercy poured down on my life

I will trust in the cross of my Redeemer
I will sing of the blood that never fails
Of sins forgiven of conscience cleansed
Of death defeated and life without end

Beautiful Saviour Wonderful Counsellor
Clothed in majesty Lord of history
You're the Risen One heaven's Champion
And You reign You reign over all

I long to be where the praise is never-ending
Yearn to dwell where the glory never fades
Where countless worshippers will share one song
And cries of "worthy" will honour the Lamb

Monday, January 11, 2010

Phil 4:19

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

What does this verse mean? Has God promised to supply the physical needs of every believer? Or has He perhaps promised to supply the physical needs of only every believer who is a generous giver (or maybe just walking right with Him)? Or, is this verse not referring to physical needs at all, but spiritual? How can that be, though? Verses 10-18 are all speaking about the physical needs of Paul being met by the generous believers of the Philippian church. So it stands to reason that verse 19 is then speaking of physical, not spiritual, needs as well, right? Not if we look back and read verses 11-13:

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

But, what exactly does "according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" mean? We tend to leave that part off when quoting this verse. What of "His riches in glory?" And "in Christ Jesus?" Is God going to supply all of our physical needs because we are in Christ Jesus? Does God supply every believer's physical needs because they are in Christ Jesus and walking right with Him? Of course we must agree this is not so; look at how many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are struggling at bare subsistence levels, even starving to death, in third world countries.

Perhaps the answer is to be found in "His riches in glory." Rather reminds me of Matt 6:20-21, "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (See also Matt 19:21; Mk 10:21; Lk 12:31, 18:22)

But, all these verses are found in the gospels — before Christ's death and resurrection. Does this make a difference to us? Well it certainly means the disciples, whom Jesus was addressing in all these verses, were not in Christ Jesus...yet. But in the book of Philippians the believers being addressed there ARE in Christ because by that time Christ had died, risen, ascended, and the Holy Spirit was living within them (Rom 9:22-24). Therefore, Phil 4:19 speaks of "His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Col 1:27).

It also says that our needs will be supplied "according to" His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. The word "according" followed by the word "to" can have three different connotations/meanings: 1) "as claimed by" or "in the opinion of"; 2) "in keeping with" or "in conformity with" or "as stated by"; and 3) "in relation to" or "proportional to" or "commensurate with". It certainly can't be the first meaning. The last connotation deals more with comparison with a payment involved, so it can't be that one either. It makes the the most sense to say, "in keeping with" or in agreement with" or "in conformity with" His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Okay, so what are "His riches in glory in Christ" by which all our needs will be met?

We are complete in Him (Col 2:9-10)
Possess every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3) – (“One could say that he will live for the Lord in order to be blessed, but since we have already been blessed with all spiritual blessings, no amount of good works can add to that fact.” – Charles C. Ryrie in The Grace of God)
Heirs of heaven (1 Pet 1:4)
Adopted as full grown sons (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:1-7)
Chosen in Christ or set aside before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4; 2 Thes 2:13)
Born of God (Jn 1:12-13; 3:6-7; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 1:23; 1 Jn 5:1)
Saved by grace, through faith, entirely apart from works (Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5)
Made acceptable in the Beloved One (Eph 1:6-7)
Forgiven our sins (Eph 1:7-8; Heb 1:3; I Jn. 1:9)
Justified by the finished work of Christ (Acts 13:38-39; Rom 3:24; 5:8-9; 8:33-34; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Cor 5:21) – (Justification is more than the forgiveness of sins. It is to be in Jesus Christ, clothed in His righteousness; standing before God as though one had never sinned.)
Kept by the power of God (Rom 8:29-31; 1 Pet 1:5; Jude 1, 24)
Never can be separated from the love of Christ and of God (Jn 13:1; Rom 8:31-39)
Have received everlasting life (Jn 3:36; 6:47; Rom 6:23; Rom 11:29)
Will never perish (Jn 3:16; 6:37; 10:28)
Have a standing before God in grace (Rom 5:1-2; 6:14)
Have a standing before God in Christ (2 Cor 5:16-17; Eph 1:6; 2:10)
“Perfected forever” by “one offering” (Heb 10:10, 14; 13:12)
Already seated in the heavenlies in Christ (Eph 1:3; 2:6; Col 3:1-2)
A member of the Body of Christ (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:12, 27; Eph 1:22-23; 5:30-32; Col 1:18)
Built into the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16; Eph 2:19-22)
Taken out of the realm where Satan holds sway and placed in the realm of the Son of God (Col 1:13; Jn 17:11, 14)
Reconciled to God (Rom 5:10; Eph 2:12)
Made nigh to God (Eph 2:13)
Heirs of God (Gal 4:7; Col 1:12; Eph 1:18)
Given the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of this inheritance unto the day of redemption (Eph 1:6, 13; 4:30; 2 Cor 1:20-22)
Objects of God’s unfailing care (Rom 5:8-10)
Objects of His never failing love (Rom 8:38-39)

Grace. God's grace toward us through His Son has and will continue to supply our every need.

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:9-10).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

O Wind, Why Do You Never Rest

We're been getting quite a bit of snow lately. When we left for Arkansas a few days before Christmas it was snowing; when we returned the week after Christmas it was snowing; and since then we've received almost another foot of snow. We probably have about 14-16 inches on the ground right now. But I like snow. It covers over some of the ugliness of the city with a beautiful, pure white blanket. I don't even mind driving in it; it's rather fun. Granted, it can get dicey at times, especially when you're not sure what the other drivers on the road will do.

However, I'm not overly crazy about the cold that has been accompanying the snow. But that's only because it makes it so uncomfortable to get out and walk my usual two miles. I just can't put on enough to keep warm. The wind pierces through every last layer, no matter how many I put on. And when it's damp as well, the cold seems to chill my very bones. So from now until Spring, I'm basically reduced to walking the boring treadmill.

O wind, why do you never rest
Wandering, whistling to and fro;

Bringing rain out of the west,
From the dim north bringing snow?

By Christina Georgina Rossetti

(pictures taken near our home by my husband)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mercy Said No

I was just a child when I felt the Savior leading
I was drawn to what I could not understand
And for the cause of Christ, I have spent my days believing
That what He'd have me be is who I am
As I've come see the weaker side of me
I've realized his grace is what I need
When sin demanded justice for my soul


Mercy said no
I'm not gonna let you go
I'm not gonna let you slip away
You don't have to be afraid
Mercy said no
Sin will never take control
Life and death stood face to face
Darkness tried to steal my heart away
Thank you Jesus
Mercy said no

For God so loved the world that He sent His Son to save us
From the cross He built a bridge to set us free
Oh but deep within our hearts there is still a war that rages
And makes the sacrifice so hard to see
As midnight fell on crucifixion day
The light of hope seemed oh so far away
And as evil tried to stop redemption's flow



And now when heaven looks at me
It's through the blood of Jesus
Reminding me of one day long ago


(as sung by Greg Long)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas Vacation

I must be doing something wrong. If I do everything that needs doing prior to going away, why do I always come back to days and days of things that need doing when I return? Two days ago we returned from spending Christmas down at my folks' house in Arkansas and I'm still trying to catch up. I think I'm beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel, though.

It takes about 12 hours to make the drive down there, which I don't mind at all. I'm forced to relax. Nothing for me to do, no housework, no catching up of any kind, just hour after hour of watching the different landscapes go by. Some of it is not too thrilling, particularly the northeast corner of Arkansas — mud flats as far as the eye can see. Others are rather "interesting"... like some of the "arkitecture" frequently found in areas outside Arkansas' cities. And many areas are quite beautiful.

We had a great time seeing my folks and my three brothers and their families. Unfortunuately our oldest daughter and my sister and her family weren't able to make it last minute, which was a disappointment to all. Per our usual tradition, we had our 'Junk Food Extravaganza' on Christmas Eve at my folks' house. And I must say, I think it was the best spread of food to date. Christmas Day was spent at my oldest brother's house, where his wife prepared an excellent Christmas Day meal of Petit Jean ham with all the fixings. Of course the usual run of sickness (fever and flu?) made its way from kid to kid while we were there. Why does that always happen? So far no one in our immediate family has gotten whatever it was, though. Mom taught my daughter how to knit a scarf during the down times. She's even working on a new one with some fancy yarn that was given to her. It's coming along quite nicely — only one hole so far. :) I even learned something new this trip; my middle brother informed us that he is "a very important man." Who knew?! Ha!

All in all a great trip. Thanks, guys.