Saturday, April 04, 2015

Holy Saturday 2015

LORD, God of my salvation;
I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!

For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves.

You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O LORD;
I spread out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you?

Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

But I, O LORD, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.
-Psalm 88 image 

Friday, April 03, 2015

Good Friday 2015

CIMABUE Crucifix (Detail), 1268-71
Home of our hearts, lest we forget
What our redemption meant to Thee,
Let our most reverent thoughts be set
Upon Thy Calvary.

We, when we suffer, turn and toss
And seek for ease, and seek again;
But Thou upon Thy bitter cross
Wast firmly fixed in pain.

And in our night star-clusters shine,
Flowers comfort us, and joy of song;
No star, no flower, no song was Thine,
But darkness three hours long.

We in our lesser mystery,
Of lingering ill, and winged death,
Would fain see clear; but could we see,
What need would be for faith?

O Lord beloved, Thy Calvary
Stills all our questions. Come, oh come,
Where children wandering wearily
Have not yet found their home.

-Amy Carmichael image

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Holy Thursday 2015

 Then He poureth water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet,
and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. -John 13:5

The Lord Jesus loves his people so much, that every day he is still doing for them much that is analogous to washing their soiled feet. Their poorest actions he accepts; their deepest sorrow he feels; their slenderest wish he hears, and their every transgression he forgives. He is still their servant as well as their Friend and Master....humbly, patiently, he yet goes about among his people with the basin and the towel. He does this when he puts away from us day by day our constant infirmities and sins....It is a great act of eternal love when Christ once for all absolves the sinner, and puts him into the family of God; but what condescending patience there is when the Saviour with much long-suffering bears the oft recurring follies of his wayward disciple; day by day, and hour by hour, washing away the multiplied transgressions of his erring but yet beloved child!....While we find comfort and peace in our Lord’s daily cleansing, its legitimate influence upon us will be to increase our watchfulness, and quicken our desire for holiness. Is it so?
...CH Spurgeon image

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sister Apple, Sister Pig; Willing Incompatible Worlds...more

Sister Apple, Sister Pig is a new, very creepy children’s book  ...When Lee sees a rosy apple on the highest branches of a tree, Lee asks, “Is that my sister?” Her father replies, “If you would like the apple to be your sister . . . but, the winter is long and you would have to eat her!” Lee exclaims, “Nah! The apple is not my sister! The pigs will eat the apple, but the apple is not my sister!” Then Lee announces, “The pig is my sister!” Her Papa explains, “If you would like the pig to be your sister, be my guest! But will you eat her fried, stewed, or baked?” Lee finally has an answer: “No, the pig is not my sister! Look at the pig’s behind! That is not my sister’s behind!” At a certain point in the story, Lee begins to explain about her sister. “Well, she used to live in Mama and doesn’t anymore. She doesn’t live with us.” Lee’s Papa says, “That’s right, she briefly lived in Mama.” But Lee has more to say, “She lived before me, but Mama couldn’t keep her. Mama says she is a ghost.” At this point, Lee tells her father: “I’m not sad that my sister is a ghost! If you kept my sister, you would be tired, and sad, and mad!”...
Lee's Ghost Sister: An Abortion Storybook

Willing Incompatible Worlds  
To find the words that describe with accuracy the media hysterics involved with Indiana’s passing of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) may be impossible. The sanctimonious moral preening offered via social media from such figures as Apple’s Tim Cook and the historically amnesiatic Hillary Clinton are both laughable and inexcusable for their dedication to spreading flavor-of-the-moment distortions.
Phrases like “License to discriminate” populate social media timelines. Internet memes showing separate water foundations for gays and straights harken back to the days of Jim Crow segregation.

All distortions.

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is substantially the same as the federal RFRA and the RFRAs on the books in many other states—including ones like Connecticut. What passed last week is a bill nearly identical to a bill that state senator Barack Obama voted for when he was in the Illinois legislature....

The Effect of Congregational Singing  ...Worship is a means by which we let Christ’s Word dwell in us. The ‘you’ is plural which suggests that it is not just that the Word dwells in our hearts (although it is that) but that in singing the Word dwells in the midst of our congregation. In worship the Word is to dwell in our midst. We rehearse it together as we are reflecting on God, his nature and his work, and most especially his work for us in Christ.

Paul also here points to the secondary effects of singing in the life of the individual and the corporate body. When we sing in a corporate worship we are reminding others of great spiritual truths. We are addressing God but Paul also sees us in Ephesians as addressing one another. We are saying spiritual truths together and to each other. Our joining in singing is an act of mutual confession and affirmation—we believe these things together and we are praising God together.

This can be of particular encouragement when a Christian comes to church after a particularly hard or discouraging week. We might feel so low and downcast that we have nothing to lift up before God and no ability to turn our attention to God with thanksgiving. Yet the singing of others and our own singing with them may serve to remind us of the spiritual realities of what God has done. It reminds us “I really do believe these things” or “I really do confess them.” As the Spirit works, we may find ourselves feeling again that my hope is in the Lord and it will not be dismayed. Proper worship has the effect of reminding us that we really do not have anything to bring before Him of our own strength or merit. Singing to God in a way that Christ’s Word richly dwells in us is an expression of the grace of God upon which we are all thoroughly dependent...