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“Man is one of your creatures, Lord, and his instinct is to praise You…The thought of You stirs him so deeply that he cannot be content unless he praises You, because You made us for Yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in You.”
Augustine

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“For if we have no real interest in praising Him, it shows that we have never realized who He is. For when one becomes conscious of who God really is, and when one realized that He who is Almighty, and infinitely Holy, has ‘done great things to us,’ the only possible reaction is the cry of half-articulate exultation that bursts from the depths of our being in amazement at the tremendous, inexplicable goodness of God to men.”
Thomas Merton

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I will praise the Lord at all times; my mouth will continually praise Him.
Psalm 34:1

…what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life if gone, a new life burgeons!
II Corinthians 5:17 The Message

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I heard someone point out recently how repetition can be dulling which is why romance with its fresh experiences of love can be so appealing.
Perhaps that’s why God woos us with new mercies, new wine, new life.

And the best way to respond to the refreshment He lavishes on us?

Sing a new song of praise to Him;
play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.

Psalm 33:3

vcca 5 and lucy 327

Sing a new song to the Lord,
      for He has done wonderful deeds.

Psalm 98:1

Yes, that’s right:
I will sing a new song to you, my God;
   on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you.
Psalm 144:9

AS_D_Booklet_FINAL01

I’m grateful for the creative souls who write the new songs for me to sing. One that I’ve been enjoying these past few months is “Great are You Lord” by a folk/acoustic duo, All Sons and Daughters on their eponymous album, All Sons and Daughters [which is filled with wonderful songs]. Take a moment and enjoy the beautiful music video.

I’d also love to learn what new songs you’ve been singing these days. Leave a comment and share with us!

We talk about having a quiet time with God. Why not have a dance time too?

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“How can we not sing and make music to You in our hearts?
How can we possibly remain silent and still, in response to who You are and everything You’ve done for us, Jesus?
Forgive us when we, like the elder brother, remain smugly on the outside of the house of redemption—off the dance floor of Your reconciling love (Luke 15:25).
Cause us to hear the Father speaking to us right now: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours” (Luke 15:31).
Indeed, Lord, forgive us for confusing reverence with rigor mortis.
Forgive us for giving You ardor-less order when we worship You.
Forgive us for living more by our temperament tests, Myers-Briggs profiles, and personality types than by the lyric, music, and dance of the gospel.
Free us from giving You a measured response to a measureless gospel.” Scotty Smith

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We will dance, we will dance for Your glory
We will dance, we will dance for Your glory
We will dance for Your glory, Lord
We will lift up a shout to adore You
Every sound that we make, it is for You
We will dance for Your glory, Lord

For salvation’s in this place
You’re the name by which we’re saved, Jesus, Jesus
Let Your name be lifted high
As our thankful hearts now cry, “Jesus, Jesus”

Lift up your heads, you ancient gates
Be lifted up, you ancient doors
The King is coming in, the King is coming in
We lift up a shout to shake the skies
Lift up a cry, “Be glorified!”
The King is coming in, the King is coming in

We’re the people of God with a song to sing
And we’re bringing our lives as an offering
We will dance for Your glory, Lord
And Your cross is the hope that we hold up high
As we tell the whole world of Your love and life
We will dance for Your glory, Lord ”
Matt Redman

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“The fuel of worship is a true vision of the greatness of God;
the fire that makes the fuel burn white hot is the quickening of the Holy Spirit;
the furnace made alive and warm by the flame of truth is our renewed spirit;
and the resulting heat of our affections is powerful worship,
pushing its way out in confessions, longings, acclamations, tears, songs, shouts, bowed heads, lifted hands, and obedient lives.”
John Piper

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Dance, dance, everybody dance
Everybody sing for joy is in this place now

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
To save a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see

Dance, dance, everybody dance
Everybody sing for joy is in this place now

Your joy is in this place now”
Tim Hughes

Here are three songs that have encouraged me as I journey on:

Never Once
“Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful”
Matt Redman

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Take Heart
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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It is Well with my Soul
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Refrain
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
Horatio Spafford

Singing worship songs is another way I stay connected to God when life becomes busy. I often turn to one of the Seeds albums, but sometimes nothing is as satisfying as an old hymn. The ones below often pop up in my internal playlist as I meditate on God’s care, the anchor of our faith, and God’s abiding presence with us.

“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”
When I think of being held by God’s loving care, this hymn written in 1887 comes to mind. My favorite rendition is by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the band that sang with Paul Simon on “Graceland”.

1. What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

2. O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain

3. What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain

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“My Anchor Holds”
This 1902 tune falls under the “they don’t write hymns like they used to” category. I love the lyrics but I also love how the music in the last line of the refrain evokes a steady anchor. [Note: I prefer to sing this at a faster tempo.]

1. Though the angry surges roll
On my tempest-driven soul,
I am peaceful, for I know,
Wildly though the winds may blow,
I’ve an anchor safe and sure,
That can evermore endure.

Refrain:
And it holds, my anchor holds:
Blow your wildest, then, O gale,
On my bark so small and frail;
By His grace I shall not fail,
For my anchor holds, my anchor holds.

2. Mighty tides about me sweep,
Perils lurk within the deep,
Angry clouds o’ershade the sky,
And the tempest rises high;
Still I stand the tempest’s shock,
For my anchor grips the rock.
Refrain

3. I can feel the anchor fast
As I meet each sudden blast,
And the cable, though unseen,
Bears the heavy strain between;
Through the storm I safely ride,
Till the turning of the tide.
Refrain

4. Troubles almost ’whelm the soul;
Griefs like billows o’er me roll;
Tempters seek to lure astray;
Storms obscure the light of day:
But in Christ I can be bold,
I’ve an anchor that shall hold.
Refrain

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“Abide with Me”

I don’t remember ever singing this during a worship service, only at a funeral long ago in a small town. But when I went to church in the states last month, we sang it to a new tune from Indelible Grace which may help resurrect this comforting hymn.

1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

2. Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

3. Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

3. Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

4. Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

5. I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

6. I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

7. Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

I don’t think I knew much about Rich Mullins before his untimely death in 1997, except that he had a written some great songs including the contemporary praise chorus, “Our God is an Awesome God.” I was also familiar with his two-volume CD, “The World as Best as I Remember it.”

These are deeply spiritual songs that shy away from a neat, packaged faith. Mullins will ask a question without feeling the need to make up an answer for God. Things don’t always work out well, people suffer heartache and bitter disappointment. They are tempted. Sometimes they fall. Sometimes they wonder where God is.

There’s the haunting honesty of “Jacob and Two Women”:

“Jacob, he loved Rachel and Rachel, she loved him
And Leah was just there for dramatic effect
Well it’s right there in the Bible, so it must not be a sin
But it sure does seem like an awful dirty trick
And her sky is just a petal pressed in a book of a memory
Of the time he thought he loved her and they kissed
And her friends say, “Ah, he’s a devil”
But she says, “No, he is a dream”
This is the world as best as I can remember it.”

Then there’s the challenge of “Screen Door”:

“Well there’s a difference you know
Between having faith
And playing make believe
One will make you grow
The other one just make you sleep
Talk about it (yeah)
And I really think you oughta
Take a leap off of the ship
Before you claim to walk on water

Faith without works
Is like a song you can’t sing (sing)
It’s about as useless as
A screen door on a submarine

Faith comes from God and
Every word that He breathes
He lets you take it to your heart
So you can give it hands and feet
It’s gotta be active if it’s gonna be alive
You gotta put it into practice”

And there’s the confession of “Hold Me, Jesus”:

“So hold me Jesus,
Cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight you for something
I don’t really want
Than to take what you give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees”

It was songs like these, as well as joyful and playful songs, that drew me to read “Rich Mullins: A Devotional Biography: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven” by James Bryan Smith.
(the Kindle version is currently $1.99 I also have a copy to lend.)

mullins arrow

As one would expect from a devotional biography, Smith doesn’t give a comprehensive account of the facts. We do learn though what Mullins was like as a child, how his first album bombed, and how he went back to school in his 30s to get a degree in music education. But mostly, Smith looks into Mullins’ heart and tells the inside story of what fueled Mullins’ outer life.

It’s an uncomplicated but rich picture. Mullins loved the Bible, Jesus, and the church with passion. To live a simple life, he let someone else manage his finances so he wouldn’t be tempted by how much money he was making. He received a modest salary from his earnings, and gave the rest away.

Mullins also wasn’t afraid to challenge Christians but he was able to critique without being cynical or harsh. When he spoke the truth, it was with love. He focused on being centered on Jesus instead of making sure everyone else was living right.

He didn’t care about public opinion, but he did care deeply about how God viewed him. Jesus was his starting point and his ending point. But he didn’t focus on devotion to the exclusion of action–or vice versa. He managed to keep the balance between loving God and loving people.

I think what people found refreshing about Mullins was that he lived the gospel–not a Sunday School version but the real-life gospel. He was aware of his sinfulness–and his capacity to sin. At the same time he was grounded in the redeeming love of God through Jesus for those sins.

I came away from the book encouraged by Mullins’ story. My life may look very different from his, but I desire the same simple faith, childlike heart, and graceful love for people. Reading his life story helps point me in the right direction.

Speaking of prayer songs

September 25, 2013 — 1 Comment

“For my part, I will sing of Your strength.
I will celebrate Your love in the morning
For You have become my stronghold
A refuge in my day of trouble
To You, o my strength will I sing
For You, O God, are my stronghold and my merciful God.”

Psalm 59:19-20

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“He who sings, prays twice.”
–attributed to Augustine

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Sing that sweet, sweet song of salvation
And let your laughter fill the air
Sing that sweet, sweet song of salvation
And tell the people everywhere
Sing that sweet, sweet song of salvation
Tell every man in every nation
To sing that sweet, sweet song of salvation
And let the people know that Jesus cares
–Larry Norman

Recently a close friend was going through a very hard time in her life. As I listened to her story, I found myself taking on her burden. My heart felt so heavy, thinking about what she was experiencing and not being able to fix it for her, as much as I wished I could.

The next morning I talked with God about the situation and the concern I had for my friend. Having recently reflected on how God intends us to bear each other’s burdens, I was glad to carry my friend’s during this difficult time.

But as I prayed, whatever words I could come up with seemed inadequate. They didn’t seem to fully express what was in my heart. After praying, I still felt burdened. I chose a psalm to read but soon I reached the end of it.

I continued my morning routine, which usually includes exercising while listening to worship music. I’m often encouraged by the songs about God’s love and faithfulness, and challenged by the songs of commitment and surrender. The music and lyrics lift me up and inspire me.

That day I found myself singing not for myself, but for my friend. I began to change the words from ‘me’ to ‘her’, from ‘I’ to ‘she’. The songs became a kind of prayerful meditation, like the original psalms were intended. The music slowed me down, and the words gave expression to what I was feeling for my friend. My prayers were centered in my heart, not just in my mind.
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In the last few weeks, this has become the primary way I pray for family and friends, from my octogenarian mom to less-than-one-year old Nora. I still sing songs of praise to God, but I also sing songs of lament and hope and affirmation for those on my heart. This form of slow prayer enables me to pour out my heart to God and share my concern with Him.

Here’s a playlist of some of the prayers I’ve sung [or songs I’ve prayed, take your pick], with easy-to-edit lyrics:
Healer
The Power of Your Love
Jesus, Be the Center
Savior, Like a Shepherd lead…her/him
O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
Guide me/her/him,O Thou Great Jehovah
Mighty to Save
You Never Let Go

And just now, in the middle of writing this, I hear news that breaks my heart and brings me to tears. I don’t think we have many hymns of sadness and comfort these days. What songs can we sing for someone in a prison cell who has been beaten and tortured for their faith?

I find two,
When the Tears Fall,
and Grace and Peace
and I sing them for M.; an unknown friend who has suffered much.

What about you? What songs would you suggest for praying and carrying burdens of others?

The 12 Days of King Jesus

December 14, 2012 — 2 Comments

One of my beloved Christmas traditions growing up was to sing the Hallelujah Chorus in Junior High chorale. That was in an era when public school students were taught songs with lyrics such as these:

Continue Reading…

When did God start loving you?

Before the creation of the world…

Long before He laid down earth’s foundations,
He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love,
to be made whole and holy by his love.
Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ.
(What pleasure He took in planning this!)
He wanted us to enter into the celebration of His lavish gift-giving
by the hand of His beloved Son.
[Ephesians 1:4-6 The Message]

From the moment you were conceived…
If you go on Youtube and search for an eight week ultrasound, you can see one of many amazing videos of a fetus moving, with its heart beating. God was watching over you when you were that tiny, His heart filled with love for there is no unwanted child in His family.

For You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from You
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in Your book
before one of them came to be.
[Psalm 139:13-16]

On the cross…

He left his Father’s throne above
so free, so infinite his grace!),
emptied himself of all but love,
and bled for Adam’s helpless race.[Charles Wesley]

And His love will carry you home…

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. [John 14:2-3]

***

…Someday
Love’s gonna carry me home

Amazing grace, big surprise
Hits you right between the eyes
Hits you hard
Like a small, flat stone
Slays your giants and leads you home**
[Pierce Pettis]

Links
listen to Love’s Gonna Carry me Home

I can’t think of a better subject to contemplate during Holy Week.

The first selection is a little hymn with 12 [count them!] stanzas, though I’m only sharing eight here.**

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows
Are more felt than up in Heaven;
There is no place where earth’s failings
Have such kindly judgment given.

There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior;
There is healing in His blood.

There is grace enough for thousands
Of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations
In that upper home of bliss.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

Souls of men! why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts! why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?

It is God: His love looks mighty,
But is mightier than it seems;
’Tis our Father: and His fondness
Goes far out beyond our dreams.

But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.

Frederick Faber

***

I told a minister–a stranger–in ’86 that I was drunk, nuts and beyond God’s love. He said gently, “God HAS to love you. That’s God’s job.”

Anne Lamott

***

Love releases life that would otherwise remain dormant and
unsummoned. When you are loved, it is not just that you receive more from someone else, but also that you become more yourself. Loving people are literally lifegivers.

John Ortberg

***

for all the writers and scribblers out there:**

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

refrain:
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Frederick Lehman

Notes and Links
**All 12 stanzas to There’s a Wideness

the fascinating backstory to The Love of God, which reads like ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’

and if you want to sing along to this hymn

In Kansas

February 7, 2012 — Leave a comment

A little while ago when I was in the states, I went to a little restaurant and when I looked around. I said to myself, “Toto, I’m not in Kansas anymore.”**



But last year, here in Kansas, I sat in the dentist’s chair, listening to “Jesus, King of Glory” coming out of the speakers. How often do you hear praise music for an hour at the dentist’s in your country?

A few days later I sat at a restaurant and listened to a rousing rendition of Oh Happy Day**. It’s the song that goes:
“Oh Happy day, when Jesus washed, when Jesus washed,
oh when He washed, oh when He washed, He washed my sins away.”**

Yet I was surrounded by people whose government forbids them to do that.
That’s Kansas for you.



Scenes I’ve recently seen in Kansas

Links and notes
Blogpost of Not in Kansas

**The scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy says, “We’re not in Kansas.”

**This is actually the second time I’ve heard O Happy Day here. The other time was at a restaurant down south, ten years ago.

Oh happy day, Oh happy day
When Jesus washed
Oh when he washed
He washed my sins away
He taught me how
to watch, fight and pray
fight and pray
Oh happy day, Oh happy day
When Jesus washed
Oh when he washed
He washed my sins away
We´ll live rejoicing
ev´ry day, ev´ry day
Oh happy day, Oh happy day
When Jesus washed
Oh when he washed
He washed my sins away

This week’s special:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:38-40

All is well

December 25, 2011 — Leave a comment

All is well

All is well
all is well
Angels and men rejoice
For tonight darkness fell
Into the dawn of love’s light
Sing A-le
Sing Alleluia

Michael W. Smith

Lux venit
Lux venit [The light has come]
Sursum corda [lift up your hearts]
…Redemptions’s light
Pierces through the shadows dark

The Reckoning
by Andrew Peterson

…And I know you hear the cries of every soul tonight
You see the teardrops as they roll tonight
Down the faces of saints
Who grow weary and faint in your fields
And the wicked roam the cities and the streets tonight
But when the God of love and thunder speaks tonight
I believe You will come
Your justice be done, but
How long until this curtain is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?…

We’re living in Ordinary Time these days, the liturgical period that comes after Pentecost. The seasons of Advent to Christmas and Ash Wednesday to Easter bring a sharp focus on Jesus: virgin birth, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension. The holy holidays come with special preparations and music and celebrations.

In contrast, Ordinary Time has a more general focus on “the mystery of Christ in all its aspects.” It’s the period when he grew in wisdom, and then went around preaching and teaching and healing. There are moments of excitement, but life goes on in its quiet daily rhythm, giving us a chance to step back every so often and reflect in simple ways on who Jesus is.

That’s what I did this past week, listening to two songs that describe the richness and fullness of all that He is and all that He does. I love the way they both encompass the breadth and height and width and depth of His character.

The first is an old hymn put to new music, Savior and Friend [scroll down to the third track]

Rest of the weary, Joy of the sad,
Hope of the dreary, Light of the glad
Home of the stranger, Strength to the end,
Refuge from danger, Savior and Friend!

Pillow where lying, Love rests its head,
Peace of the dying, Life of the dead
Path of the lowly, Prize at the end,
Breath of the holy, Savior and Friend!

When my feet stumble, I’ll to Thee cry
Crown of the humble—Cross of the high
When my steps wander, over me bend
Truer and fonder, Savior and Friend

Ever confessing Thee, I will raise
Unto Thee blessing, Glory and praise
All my endeavor, World without end
Thine to be ever, Savior and Friend!
————————-

The second song is a litany of the names of Jesus, sung in French by Chemin Neuf, a Catholic-Protestant renewal community that began in France. The video includes the words in French, but here is the English translation.

Alpha and Omega
The first and last
The beginning and the end

Only begotten son
First-born over all creation

from the dead, first-born
Jesus, Savior

Word from God
Word of Life
Word made flesh in Jesus

Him who comes from heaven
In the name of the Lord
God with us
Emmanuel

Refrain:
Come, sing his praises
Come, adore him
Enter, bow down
Kneel before God who made us

Joy of Abraham
Son of David
son of Joseph
son of Adam
Son of the living God
The son of Mary
Beloved son
Joy of the Father

The Son of Man
The Son of God
Brother of men
the Child King

Image of God
Power of God
Glory of the Lord
Gift of God

Judge of the oppressed
Physician of sinners
Healer of the nations
The son crucified
Mirror of our sins
pierced heart
Redeemer
Jesus, Savior

The true temple
the Lamb that was slain
innocent victim
our Passover lamb
Bread from heaven
the spirit and life
the eternal covenant of the Father

Come, sing his praises
Come, adore him

Radiant star
Morning star
Sun of Justice
rising Sun
Sun of the Lamb
Torch of Zion
Light of the World
True light

Guarantor of the covenant
Husband of Zion
Consolation of Israel
Signal for the peoples
Standard in Zion
Desire of nations

Jesus, Lord


Church in Rhodes, Greece


I’m living in a medieval world here. Not only is the medieval pilgrim path right outside my window, next door, there’s a chapel that’s over a thousand years old, built in the 9th century and renovated in the 15th century.


I decided it would be nice to listen to medieval music as well, specifically Gregorian chant. That’s how I stumbled upon this beautiful 13th century hymn, [originally in Latin of course, though I don’t think much is lost in translation.] You can hear it sung by the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos here.

Come, Holy Spirit,
and give out
the heavenly radiance of Your light;

come, Father of the poor,
come, giver of gifts,
come, light of all hearts;

best of comforters,
sweet guest of the soul,
refreshingly sweet;

Our rest in labor,
calm in the storm,
solace in weeping.

O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of thy faithful.

Without Your divine will
there is nothing in a man,
nothing is wholesome.

Wash what is soiled,
water what is parched,
heal what is wounded.

Bend what is set firm,
warm what is cold,
rule over what has gone astray.

Give to Your faithful,
who trust in You,
Your sevenfold gifts.**

Reward the virtuous
release the rescued,
give joy for ever
Amen. Alleluia

Amen. Alleluia.

**Notes
** The sevenfold gifts refer to Isaiah 11:2-3
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

For Latin lovers, here’s the original text:

Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.

Veni, pater pauperum,
veni, dator munerum
veni, lumen cordium.

Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.

In labore requies,
in aestu temperies
in fletu solatium.

O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.

Sine tuo numine,
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.

Da tuis fidelibus,
in te confidentibus,
sacrum septenarium.

Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium, Amen, Alleluia.

Speaking of being loved

September 25, 2011 — Leave a comment

God not only accepts you but He also richly enjoys you…
your company is His pleasure,
your fellowship His joy,
your face His delight.

Scotty Smith
***

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is.

I John 3:1-2
***

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Philo of Alexandria or Plato [take your pick]
***

I’ll know my name as it’s called again.

Marcus Mumford**
***

This Week’s Special
I have made you, you are My servant;
Israel, I will not forget you.
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to Me,
for I have redeemed you.

Isaiah 44:20-21

Links
**from The Cave by Mumford and Sons
Mumford and Son is a grittier and funkier band than Jason Gray, and presents truth in a metaphorical way

I always find it disorienting and stressful to come back home after a few weeks in the states, and last week was no exception.


It wasn’t just traveling across five time zones or no longer being able to chat in English with the store clerks.It wasn’t just seeing the brown landscape that is going to hang around for another five months or the bathroom scale that told me, yet again, I had returned with a few extra pounds.

It wasn’t just being back in an underdeveloped country where cars share the city streets with donkey carts, or discovering I was completely out of practice dealing with drivers who so blatantly disregard the traffic laws that they make the ones in Boston look good.**

It was also the simple fact that I wasn’t on vacation any more. I came back to the house which, in the absence of enchanted organizational elves, looked pretty much how I left it, including rooms filled with too many books not yet read, cds not yet listened to, movies not yet watched. I’m thankful for this abundance I import from the states, but it still stresses me to see the piles after being away.

The first day back, I felt like I was drowning, cut off from land. There were so many pictures to go through, so many groceries to buy, so much to plan for. Fortunately, the next morning when I finally woke up, I went straight to spend some time with God and I found myself reading this devotion for the day:

“How can we not lose our souls when everything and everybody pulls us in the most different directions? How can we “keep it together” when we are constantly torn apart?
Jesus says: “Not a hair of your head will be lost. Your perseverance will win you your lives” (Luke 21:18-19). We can only survive our world when we trust that God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. We can only keep it together when we believe that God holds us together. We can only win our lives when we remain faithful to the truth that every little part of us, yes, every hair, is completely safe in the divine embrace of our Lord. To say it differently: When we keep living a spiritual life, we have nothing to be afraid of.” [Henri Nouwen]

Obviously, that was just what I needed to hear.

Then I just ‘happened’ to check out Jason Gray**, a singer I had read about on the plane ride back, and the first song I came to was Remind Me Who I Am:

When I lose my way,
And I forget my name
Remind me who I am…

In the music video for this song**, there are people holding up signs to express how they feel about themselves. That day, my sign would have been this:

Jack’s would have been:

But the song goes on:

…Tell me, once again
Who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to You, that I belong to You

In the video, it’s so powerful to see the people a second time, only this time holding up a sign declaring who they are to God.

Beloved

The reminder of that truth calmed me down. But it also challenged me. I not only need to treat myself as God’s beloved; I also need to treat everyone else I see that way. I need to look past the names they call themselves, past their bad behavior and their wounded acting out.

During the last few weeks, as I’ve talked to friends and family in the states, and then caught up with friends here, I’ve been struck once more that life in this world is not easy. It’s filled with loss and struggle and pain. Everyone has their cardboard sign. Everyone needs to hear God’s gentle name for them. And I can’t be God’s voice unless I put aside my stress and take on His view of me. Then I’m able to remind my hurting friends,

Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between His shoulders.

[Deuteronomy 33:12]

and

His name shall be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

[Isaiah 9:6]

**Links
If you want to know how bad Boston drivers are, read this list of characteristics. However I think over the years, they’ve gotten better, and actually this list is now a description of the crazy drivers here.

Jason Gray has a new album, A Way to See in the Dark and one of the more creative websites I’ve seen.

Watch the moving music video for Remind Me Who I Am

Come, ye disconsolate[Track 8]

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er you languish,

Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.

Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;

Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,

Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!

Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,

“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot cure.”

Here see the Bread of Life, see waters flowing

Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.

Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing

Earth has no sorrow but heaven can remove.

***

Come, Ye Souls [Track 2]

Come, ye souls by sin afflicted,

Bowed with fruitless sorrow down

By the broken law convicted

Through the cross behold the crown

Look to Jesus—mercy flows through Him alone

Take His easy yoke and wear it

Love will make obedience sweet

Christ will give you strength to bear it,

While His wisdom guides your feet

Safe to glory, where His ransomed captives meet

Blessed are the eyes that see Him,

Blest the ears that hear His voice

Blessed are the souls that trust Him,

And in Him alone rejoice

His commandments then become their

happy choice

Sweet as home to pilgrims weary,

Light to newly opened eyes

Or full springs in deserts dreary

Is the rest the cross supplies

All who taste it shall to rest immortal rise

Speaking of the King

August 12, 2011 — Leave a comment

Many old hymns talk about God as King:

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,

to the throne thy tribute bring;

ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,

evermore God’s praises sing.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Praise the everlasting King.

***

O worship the King, all glorious above,

O gratefully sing God’s power and God’s love;

our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,

pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

[if you like drums and guitars, here’s a contemporary version]

***

And some new songs talk about the King too:

All bow down, by Chris Tomlin

You’re arriving with the sound of thunder and rain

You’re arriving in the calm of the wind and the waves

You’re arriving in the glow of a burning flame

A burning flame

Praise awaits You at the dawn when the world come alive

Praise awaits You in the darkness and shines in the light

Praise awaits You with a song of love and desire, love and desire

Here comes the King

All bow down

Lift up your voices

Unto the Lamb

He is the King

All bow down

All bow down…

***

King of Glory, by Chris Tomlin

…Who is this King of Glory?

The Lord, strong and mighty

Lift up your hands

Be lifted up

Let the redeemed

Declare the love

We bow down

At heaven’s gate

To kiss the feet

Of hope and grace…

***

Clap your hands, all you nations;

shout to God with cries of joy.

For the LORD Most High is awesome,

the great King over all the earth.


Psalm 47:1-2

***

This Week’s Special

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High;

and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;

and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,

and His kingdom will have no end.


Luke 1:32-33