On my Gran’s first truly “happy birthday”: The Battle Won: Standing by grace in the holy place

October 2, 2013

Today would have been my Gran’s 92nd birthday.  Today was my Gran’s first truly “happy birthday.”

“[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

My Gran, Lilian Ernestine Collins, born 2 October 1921, died on 19 June 2013 after several months of illness — and she is now more alive than ever.  Below is the sermon i was privileged to preach at her memorial service.  My Dad posted this previously on his blog.  My Gran specifically wanted Psalm 24 to be the text for her memorial service.

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“I am a debtor” — On the two-hundredth birthday of Robert Murray M’Cheyne

May 21, 2013

Today would have been the two-hundredth birthday of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843), who was a faithful pastor in a small church in Dundee, Scotland for six years, until his early death at age 29. A life so short, and in many ways very ordinary, yet so powerfully used.

M’Cheyne is perhaps best known today for his widely used Bible reading plan, which goes through the Old Testament once every year, and the Psalms and New Testament twice (see this post for more info and suggestions).  He followed this plan much of his short life, and it was from this deep well that he ministered so powerfully.

M’Cheyne left few writings behind, but he was a memorable poet.  He wrote the following poem, titled “I am a debtor”, around 1837: Read the rest of this entry »


What are you reading this Easter? Try “The Cross of Christ,” “Scandalous,” or “Cross-examined”

March 9, 2013

John Stott - The Cross of ChristI well remember the excitement of reading The Cross of Christ when it was first published. It expanded my mind and warmed my heart like nothing I had read before or have read since, apart from the Bible.

— Vaughan Roberts

i can echo Vaughan Roberts’ endorsement above.

If you’ve never before read John Stott’s classic, theologically rich yet readable magnum opus on what Jesus’ death means, The Cross of Christ (Inter-Varsity Press, 2006), why not do so this Easter?  i have now read The Cross of Christ three times, and each time it has been a fresh experience of growing in depth of understanding and devotion.  i highly recommend you read it at least once, even though it is a weighty tome (both physically and in content). Read the rest of this entry »


“Immanuel” — a poem by Charles Spurgeon

February 16, 2013

Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Public domain image from Wikimedia.Two posts on the blog All Things Expounded, on the subject Poets and Theologians (part 1 | part 2), tipped me off that Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), the great nineteenth-century British “Prince of Preachers”, wrote a few poems and hymns, including a beautiful communion hymn.  i love reading Spurgeon’s books and sermons, which are full of joy in Christ despite the immense hardships he faced.  Spurgeon wrote the following poem, titled Immanuel (meaning, “God with us”; see Matthew 1:23), when he was 18.  It appears in volume one of his Autobiography. Read the rest of this entry »


Risen from the grave monstrosity

February 8, 2013

What is this now I see,

this grave monstrosity?

The sinful heart’s fecundity

gave birth to dead depravity,

set me always at enmity

against the holy Majesty.

 

And how would I be free

from my profanity?

Self-righteousness is vanity

and leaves me yet His enemy,

for I cannot live perfectly

and He alone will judge justly.

 

But finally I see

my sin nailed to the tree:

The death that was reserved for me

instead has fallen upon Thee;

I can but trust and bow the knee:

Thy blood alone bought liberty,

and I am Thine eternally.


Weekend Web Watch 3 February 2013

February 3, 2013

In this WWW: Desiring God (Machen style); McGrath on his new biography on CS Lewis; John Donne’s “A hymn to God the Father”; Proclamation Trust audio archives free to download; John Lennox in Cape Town; How much do I need to know to be saved?; three dangers of social media; why churches should disciple college-age students; why the Psalms start as they do; and William Lane Craig and Alex Rosenberg debate whether faith in God is reasonable.

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Looking at the Cross: Newton’s autobiographical hymn

June 12, 2010

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)


For God so loved

March 27, 2006

The angel who vied, once cast aside,
now turned snide snake, the tempter tried
to appeal to pride and to divide
the man and the woman from his side
from God in Whom they’d been satisfied

The fruit plied, they decide
Innocence died; their hopes subside
Open-eyed and mortified,
no more to abide by God’s side,
naked and afraid, they hide

Banished from Eden to the eastern side,
wishing they could undo their suicide,
turn the tide on their prolicide —
always with evil now allied,
as they realise what the fruit signified

Years went by while the Law applied;
still God’s people would backslide
Though priests preside and prophets chide,
they never could stay justified;
their sacrifices never satisfied

As God had promised, He did provide:
the Messiah, born in the countryside,
born in a stable — no room inside —
in Bethlehem, Judea — which was occupied —
while shepherds and Magi were notified

John the Baptist testified,
and baptised Jesus at the riverside
as the Father and Spirit ratified
that with Him they were satisfied,
and in Him God was glorified

The Jews’ expectations were belied
by this carpenter teaching on the mountainside
how God had now come to reside
with His people, with His Bride —
how man and God would again abide

Some Jews were jealous and decried
Jesus’ palm-paved donkey ride
to Jerusalem’s walls, where He cried
They began to plan the deicide,
and for thirty silver pieces, Judas complied

They brought Him bound and tied, inside,
where they had Him unjustly tried
They pronounced the curse, had Him crucified,
and as He hung there, bled and died,
He cried out, “It is done,” and sighed

Christ, with our sins identified, died:
God’s righteous wrath was satisfied
And as He died, the curtains divide,
and because He rose and was glorified,
He says that we are justified:
the bonds of sin and death untied,
God and man once more abide;
and man has no more need to hide
He sends a comforter, a guide —
the Holy Spirit, to dwell inside —
to help us to be sanctified,
and to fit us for His Bride.


You did this all for me

May 8, 2004

You set aside Your majesty
And took on human frailty
You walked the shores of Galilee
And said You’d come to set me free
You did this all for me

You showed the stark reality
Of my own depravity
But yet Your love and mercy
Led You to Gethsemane
You did this all for me

And there You honoured Heav’n’s decree
You manifest Your glory
And You paid my sins’ penalty
Crucified on Calvary’s tree
You did this all for me

“Lama sabachtani”
Death seemed to claim the victory
But then You conquered on day three
The triumph of Your majesty
You did this all for me