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Alien with a Cause

“We don’t own culture, and we don’t rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy, for the good of man and the glory of Jesus Christ.”

This quote, and my new, prayerful and heartfelt mission statement, is from an extremely relevant article by Dr. John Piper, even though it was written ten years ago.

I can barely stand listening or watching the news anymore.  I try to keep an eternal perspective of events through Scriptures, worship, prayer, and listening to other Christians’ worldview, such as Dr. Albert Mohler’s “The Briefing” podcasts.  But, I can relate to a guy who tweeted Dr. Mohler today:

“@albertmohler hey I had to stop listening to the briefing cause I was getting depressed at the state of our culture. Thoughts?”

Dr. Mohler replied:

“Glad to hear from you and hope you keep listening. God is on his throne and we must not despair. God is at work here and now.”

Dr. Mohler’s response and Dr. Piper’s article turn our focus to the Lord…but not entirely away from our culture.  Rather, in spite of upside-down world we find ourselves in, we need to view the present culture through the eyes of Jesus—the One who shows mercy, compassion, and gave His life for all, including those who scorned Him most:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

Dr. Piper affirms,

The fact that Christians are exiles on the earth (1 Peter 2:11) does not mean that they don’t care what becomes of culture. But it does mean that they exert their influence as very happy, brokenhearted outsiders.

Why are we brokenhearted, when we’re called to be full of Joy?   He continues:

….our joy is a brokenhearted joy because human culture –- in every society –- dishonors Christ, glories in its shame, and is bent on self-destruction.

Along these lines, Wess Stafford of Compassion International, recently spoke about the meaning of “compassion.”  In his message, he said that we, like Jesus, are called to be “weeping warriors.”  He derived this term from the Latin and Greek words for compassion.  The former is compatior, or with suffering. That’s the weeping part.  We weep, groan, and suffer with the decline and sorrows of our present culture.

The Greek word embodies the fervor of emotion that rises up from other’s suffering, begging for change and action.  This compassion wants to stand between the woman and those who plan to stone her, to turn over the hypocritical tables in the church, rescue the abused, or find a home for the homeless.

Weeping Warriors.

So, with brokenhearted joy, may we walk in awareness of our indebtedness to God’s abundant grace towards ourselves and others; focus on God’s image stamped on every person; place our trust in His ultimate purpose; and make a difference in our world’s changing culture through tears, prayer, and action, for others’ good and God’s glory.

That is a cause worth living and, if need be, dying for.

Irish and More!

“I would not be a citizen where Jesus was an alien.”  Spurgeon

This Irish, Swedish, English, Welch of a person, is first, and by God’s grace, a citizen of heaven! So today, though I love celebrating my distant, yet beloved Irish roots, I long more to celebrate my heritage and inheritance in Christ!

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”   Hebrews 11:16

This poem and long-time hymn, is often, yet questionably, attributed to St. Patrick, the adored 5th century English missionary to Ireland.  Though its author may be contested, this abbreviated version of “St Patrick’s Breastplate” expresses how I want to wake up today, St Patrick’s Day, and everyday of my life:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.
 
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
 
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

“For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”
Hebrews 13:14

God of This City – The Song

“And they will call you the city of the Lord!”  Isaiah 60:14

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”  Revelation 21:24

We are the city of the Lord…and He is Lord of our city!   The following song by Chris Tomlin can take on many meanings;  it can apply to the geographical city in which we live, the spiritual city He has made us to be in Christ, and the eternal city to come, the place He has prepared for us.

For “Part One”, I simply want to give you another song of worship!  More thoughts on this will follow later this week!  I uploaded this in the Blue Music Box so you can listen, worship and sing to the Lord!  Blessings to all of you! 

 

God of This City
by Chris Tomlin

You’re the God of this City
You’re the King of these people
You’re the Lord of this nation
You are

You’re the Light in this darkness
You’re the Hope to the hopeless
You’re the Peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

There is no one like our god
There is no one like our God

Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here.

 

A Brit of Fresh Air!!

Everyday, countless unknown believers share their faith, at work, home, school, etc, all outside of any limelight or attention,  However, it’s a little rare to hear the Lord’s message of redemption and forgiveness shared on cable TV by a highly respected journalist.  But that’s just what Brit Hume did!  

Watch this 3-minute video of his discussion with Bill O-Reilly on Fox:

Justin  Taylor offers a detailed and insightful discussion on this interview at his website, The Gospel Coalition.   Also, check out an exceptional Q&A interview with Mr. Hume by Sarah Pullman Bailey of Christianity Today.

I was so encouraged by this news worthy piece and my sentiments couldn’t be expressed better than what Paul Werner of the National Review concluded in his article, “Hume’s Gentle Witness“:

“Brit Hume is rightly recognized as one of the finest journalists of his generation. He also turns out to be a man of deep Christian faith who isn’t afraid to say so. That makes him not only rare, but very nearly unique. And admirable. “

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:11-16

  

Thank you, Mr. Hume!

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This wasn’t always one of my favourite tunes of the season.  What I perceived as a plodding pace and dark minor key, didn’t express Christmas exuberance as I once preferred.

However..

That all changed when I listened to Johnny Cash’s recording of this song, and heard bright hopefulness through deep pain.

And so goes the history of this original poem by American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Longfellow’s fairly pleasant life turned upside down in 1861 when the Civil War began.  Only one day later, his wife died tragically in a home fire.  Then in 1863, he learned that his oldest son, Charles, was critically wounded in battle.   Longfellow’s journalings reveal a broken heart and despair, stating that his holidays were ‘inexpressibly sad.’

However, on Christmas Day, 1864, Longfellow truly Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and penned this poem.   Several stanzas of his original writing aren’t included in modern day hymnals, probably because of their specific references to the Civil War.   That’s regrettable, because each verse is part of a complete story.  What begins with obvious despair and grief, continues with a thread of hope, and concludes with the triumphant message of God’s faithfulness–He is NOT dead!–and only in Him is found peace on earth, good will to men.

I’ve included all the original verses, and uploaded two terrific versions of this song in the blue Music Box; one by Johnny Cash from his CD, The Christmas Spirit,  the other, by Casting Crowns on their Peace on Earth CD.

 

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

 
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 

A few of my favourite things..

Thanksgiving Day is past, but that doesn’t stop me from giving thanks!!

‘Sing to the Lord, bless His name, proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples!”
Psalm 96:1,2

These are a few of my favourite things for which I’m thankful:

The Cross

My husband, John

Our Girls

Happy Healthy Grandson

Beautiful Healthy Granddaughter

and holding them!

My Mom!

America the Beautiful

Autumn above all seasons

Wildflowers

Sunsets on the Water

and so much more…worship music, fellowship, ‘brown-paper packages tied up with string’, bonfires with friends, hot chocolate, and the month of December!

As we head into the Christmas season, I will have a whole new list of favourites for which to be thankful:  The joy of our Lord’s Birth, ‘born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth’, Christmas carols, Handel’s Messiah, Scrooge, Christmas trees, Salvation Army bells, and the spirit of Giving!

Good Christian men [& women] rejoice, with heart and soul and voice!”

Eternal Hope and Change

“The hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” Colossians 1:5

Without going political here, suffice it to say I’m not feeling very hopeful with our nation’s change.  So I remind myself almost daily that one man’s promise of “hope and change” is temporary, ethereal, and like chaff in the wind.  My hope and change is eternal, weighty, and powerful.

A past devotional by C.H.Spurgeon calibrates my focus back to the Lord:

Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy here.

It will animate our hearts to think often of heaven, for all that we can desire is promised there.  Here we are weary and toil-worn, but there is the land of rest where the sweat of labour will no more moisten the worker’s brow, and fatigue will be forever banished…

We have suffered bereavement after bereavement, but we are going to the land of the immortal, where graves are unknown things!  Here, sin is a constant grief to us, but there we will be perfectly holy…Oh, is it not joy, that you are not to be in banishment forever, that you are not to dwell in banishment forever, that you are not to dwell eternally in this wilderness, but will soon inherit Canaan?

Nevertheless, let it never be said of us that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present.  Let the future sanctify the present to its highest uses!

Through the Spirit of God, the hope of heaven is the most potent force for the product of virtue.  It is a fountain of joyous effort, it is the cornerstone of cheerful holiness. 

 The man who has this hope in him goes about his work with vigor, for the joy of the Lord is his strength.  He fights against temptation with ardor, for the hope of the next world repels the fiery darts of the adversary.  He can labour without present reward for he looks for a reward in the world to come!”

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16