Monday, April 20, 2009

a Hymn and a Psalm





I was meditating on Psalm 71 today in light of a visit from my mom and conversation about how God is giving her strength to share the Gospel in so many opportunities.


Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent


Psalm 71:1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame!
2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me, and save me!
3 Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother's womb.
My praise is continually of you.

7 I have been as a portent to many,
but you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
and with your glory all the day.

9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
forsake me not when my strength is spent.

14 But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.

17 O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
19 Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
21 You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.





So, I found an Isaac Watts hymn inspired by this psalm and put a tune to it today.




Psalm 71 part 3
Isaac Watts


God of my childhood and my youth,
The guide of all my days,
I have declared thy heav'nly truth,
And told thy wondrous ways.

Wilt thou forsake my hoary hairs,
And leave my fainting heart?
Who shall sustain my sinking years,
If God my strength depart?

Let me thy power and truth proclaim
To the surviving age;
And leave a savor of thy name
When I shall quit the stage.

The land of silence and of death
Attends my next remove;
O may these poor remains of breath
Teach the wide world thy love!


Thy righteousness is deep and high,
Unsearchable thy deeds;
Thy glory spreads beyond the sky,
And all my praise exceeds.

Oft have I heard thy threat'nings roar,
And oft endured the grief;
But when thy hand has pressed me sore,
Thy grace was my relief.

By long experience have I known
Thy sovereign power to save;
At thy command I venture down
Securely to the grave.

When I lie buried deep in dust,
My flesh shall be thy care;
These withering limbs with thee I trust,
To raise them strong and fair.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Whipped or Smoked?



Last night Addison overheard me talking to a friend who asked how Addison's team did in their tee-ball season opener.

I told my friend "Our team got smoked by a MUCH better team."

Addison then hurriedly interrupted, "No dad, Coach said we only got whipped."

I didn't have he heart to tell him that those are synonymous adjectives that describe what happens when the other team "run rules" you every inning (This is where the umpire simply declares the inning over because one defense cannot stop the other team from constantly scoring), and your team's total times on base for the game is 4.

I honestly think that the other team's 1st grader First Baseman did as good a job as I personally could have done. As I watched this kid move to the ball and throw perfectly to home plate after every consecutive out, I was convinced this child had been conceived, birthed, and raised on the field.

Well, Addison got to bat once and killed the ball off the first swing. He bolted to first base...safe. He ended up scoring, but while he was on that base I saw him say something to that first base prodigy.

There is, of course, no possibility that he said the things I imagined him saying.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Preston Engages with the Easter Sermon?

This year my family tried to prepare more thoroughly for Easter. One of the things I did with the boys was watch some of of the movie "The Ten Commandments" Saturday night. Of course, I had inside information that our pastor, Ricky Jones, was going to be preaching Christ as the true Exodus.

The following clip is of Ricky talking about the meaning of Moses's staff turning into a snake and eating Pharaoh's snakes. When Preston heard this on Sunday he looked at me and said: "Daddy we saw that last night!"

After I confirmed that Ricky was talking about the same thing he asked: "How did pastor Ricky know that we watched that?!"

This emphasized two things to me, First, how important and practical it actually is to prepare my kids for Worship. And second, the beautiful simplicity of the child mind. Preston just couldn't conceive of any other possibility except that he was being preached to directly.

It was a good week.



video

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday

This year we joined 5 other families in a Good Friday event. The Dees, Webers, Sheffields, Boyds, Coulters, and Zellners came together with the goal of having some 'ceremonial' type activities and explanations that emphasize the crucifixion and death of Jesus. As well as community worship, we definitely had our kids in mind -wanting to draw clear lines for them from Christmas to Easter, and communicate (the best we could) the overwhelming significance of this Sunday's celebration.

The flow of the evening went like this:

Kick-Off ~

Nate gathered the kids together, did a Crucifixion reading and gave a short explanation of the evening.

Dinner ~

Sheff developed the lamb and blood imagery and and told the story of the Exodus. We ate roasted lamb and drank copious portions of wine.

Tree Burning ~

Mitch talked about the connection between the incarnation and crucifixion, what Christmas has to do with Easter. Then, we burned a Christmas tree to symbolically bring this into view.




video

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Death is a bastard


Aunt Thelda, my dad's aunt, died last week of a stroke at 85 years old. Wife of one husband, widow for decades, member of one small country church her entire life.

I wondered how the funeral would be. Would the gospel take center stage? Would harmful cliches and corrupt eschatology win the day?

Well, I was blessed beyond all anticipation as this missionary baptist pastor seemed to strike the perfect balance between honoring the faithful life of a dear Woman while pointing to the only basis by which Aunt Thelda will be resurrected.

Here is the summary. I would be very satisfied if this were my testimony at the end of my life:

1.) Aunt Thelda loved children. Despite the disapproval of many whom had seen Halloween as "the devil's holiday", Aunt Thelda not only supported kids enjoying the fun day - but she actually DRESSED UP every year with the children of Prairie Grove, Arkansas and took them trick or treating. Little first and second grade kids would ask their mommy's and daddy's if they could sit with Aunt Thelda during Worship. She taught, loved, hugged and kissed children until her final days. Wow. Do you really need to know more?

2.) Aunt Thelda cooked constantly, untold number of meals, for family, friends, and neighbors. She had dishes and deserts for which she was famous. Her nephew talked about certain dishes specifically with as much admiration as (perhaps) Albert Eisenstein's early descendants talked about his unique intellectual accomplishments. And indeed, it was easy to see how her hospitality has had more effect for the Kingdom than the atom bomb.

3.) Aunt Thelds cared deeply for the church.
They called her little white country house a "communication hub". Now, the reason they can call it that and everyone laugh and cry is because she wasn't a gossip. Rather, she was women with a life dominated by prayer- and she wanted to know what to ask Jesus for.

But the most beautiful thing was to hear the pastor say that none of these things are the basis for Thelda's redemption. In fact, Thelda was a sinner till the day she died and it took the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ to guarantee her salvation, and his victory over the grave to give her sure hope of resurrection.

I love good funerals. Death is a bastard. And I need to be reminded of how essential the gospel is.