In this WWW: Ten reasons youth leave church; “How can I tell if I’m called to pastoral ministry?”; advice on parenting young kids; poets and theologians; Stuart Townend asks, “Do we really need more worship songs?”; and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor played on the glass harp.
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.
In this WWW: Science and Christianity; how C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, and how we should read them; theology and doxology belong together; the danger of mission statements; and Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah gets a lease on new life. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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
This hymn has been resounding in my head since we sang it at church this morning.
O God beyond all praising is sung to Thaxted, a stirring adaptation of the main theme of the Jupiter movement of Gustav Holst‘s The Planets, which is one of my all-time favourite orchestral compositions. (You’ll also recognise the tune from the British patriotic hymn I vow to thee, my country and, more recently, from the World in union theme song of Rugby World Cups since 1991.)
But while the tune is stirring, it is the words which speak loudest: “O God beyond all praising” – for how can our words ever repay Him for the great salvation He bought by His own blood, for the infinite riches of Christ? We sing of “love amazing that songs cannot repay”; He bids us “make a joyful duty our sacrifice of praise.”
Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His Name. (Hebrews 13v15, ESV)