In this WWW: Seven reasons to like Matt Redman’s 10 000 Reasons; free audiobook of Roger Resler’s Compelling Interest: The real story behind Roe v. Wade, and other resources on abortion; the critics aren’t happy about Mumford & Sons; lectures on CS Lewis; and how to start a pastoral training programme in your church.
Did you know that John Newton‘s best-known, beloved hymn Amazing Grace! was written as an illustration for his sermon preached on 1 January 1773? Newton wrote it to convey to his congregation at Olney, Buckinghamshire some of the marvellous, enduring truths in his text for that day, which was 1 Chronicles 17:16-17 — the start of one of my favourite prayers in the Bible:
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And this was a small thing in your eyes, O God. You have also spoken of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and have shown me future generations, O Lord God! (ESV)
Speaking of God’s providence and promises to David and of David’s grateful, humble praise to God, Newton said, “I would accommodate them to our own use as a proper subject for our meditations on the entrance of a new year. They lead us to a consideration of past mercies and future hopes and intimate the frame of mind which becomes us when we contemplate what the Lord has done for us.”
At the close of 2012, as at the end of many other years, i have been pondering Psalm 90 and how wisdom reckons time. Joshua Harris, pastor of Covenant Life Church in Maryland, also makes a habit of re-reading Psalm 90 every year on his birthday (which happens to be on 30 December) . It’s worth listening to the message he preached on Psalm 90 at the close of 2009 and considering what it means to “get a heart of wisdom” (verse 12).
This hymn by John Newton (1725-1807) must be one of the greatest autobiographical hymns ever to be penned, yet sadly it is not well known. It speaks both subjectively and objectively of the amazing grace Newton found in Christ.
In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopped my wild career.
I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agony and blood,
Who fixed His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood.
Sure never to my latest breath,
Can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.
My conscience felt, and owned the guilt,
And plunged me in despair,
I saw my sins His blood had spilt,
And helped to nail Him there.
Alas! I knew not what I did;
But now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain.
A second look He gave, which said,
“I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I died, that thou may’st live.”
Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
(Such is the mystery of grace)
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief and mournful joy
My spirit now is filled,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I killed.
(Public domain. Reproduced from Classic Christian Hymn-writers by Elsie Houghton, 1982. Fort Washington, Penn.: Christian Literature Crusade)
The following is a chorus/refrain i wrote five or six years ago during a challenging sermon series on Acts. It expresses my hope that by the grace of God i will live my life for Christ and His glory, for the future hope we have with Him, and to share this hope with others.
While i have a tune in mind (sorry, but i don’t have the means, voice, or musicality to record it right now!), this is, at the moment, all there is to this song apart from a desire for it to become a meaningful chorus or upbeat hymn and a gratefulness to God for stirring my heart this way.
i will answer the call
i will give You my all
i will count the cost
and consider all else lost
i will fix my eyes on the heavenly prize
i will pass on the flame
i will glorify Your Name