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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.

Easter better than Christmas??

Is it not strange, the darkest hour
That ever dawned on sinful earth,
Should touch the heart with softer power,
For comfort, than an angel’s mirth?
 That to the Cross the mourner’s eye should turn,
Sooner that where the stars of Bethlehem burn?

John Keble, Good Friday

As much as I LOVE Christmas, this season of Jesus’ death and resurrection brings me even greater tidings of comfort and joy!   Jesus birth was a glorious and beautiful foretaste of what He actually Finished at Calvary and the surprising dawn of His Resurrection.  And though there’s nothing quite like the all-cozy-inside feeling I have when I hear Christmas carols, the hymns and praise of Easter ring out assurances of Hope, Love, and eternal Life!

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I serve a Risen Saviour! Christ the Lord is risen today!! Hallelujah!! Hallelujah!!  Because He lives I can face tomorrow!  He’s Alive! He’s Alive!  Arise, My Soul, Arise!!

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I shared the last song, by Charles Wesley, under a different post, melody and musicians.  Today’s rendition is compliments of Sovereign Grace Music (where you can purchase their newest CD for only $5)!   The tune is new, soulful, and brilliant!  But the classic words and message remind us that we are ever inscribed on Christ’s hands and forever accepted in the Beloved!

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Arise, my Soul, Arise

by Charles Wesley

Arise, my soul, arise
Shake off your guilty fears
The bleeding sacrifice
On my behalf appears
Before the throne my surety stands
Before the throne my surety stands
My name is written on His hands
~~
He ever lives above
For me to intercede
His all redeeming love
His precious blood to plead
His blood atoned for every race
His blood atoned for every race
And sprinkles now the throne of grace
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CHORUS
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O my soul, arise
Behold the risen Christ
Your Great High Priest
Your spotless sacrifice
O my soul, arise
God owns you as His child
Shake off your guilty fears
My soul, arise
~~
Five bleeding wounds He bears
Received on Calvary
They pour effectual prayers
They strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry
“Don’t let that ransomed sinner die!”
~~
My God is reconciled
His pard’ning voice I hear
He owns me as His child
I can no longer fear
With confidence I now draw nigh
With confidence I now draw nigh
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.
~~
from From Age to Age, released 10 April 2012 .Verses by Charles Wesley (1742), music and additional words by Eric McAllister © 2012 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)
~~
And
 If you want to read another beautiful Easter poem, check Beth Stone’s blog for an amazing Love poem by C.S. Lewis.  It is simply, profoundly…beautiful.

Love’s as warm as tears,  Love  is tears….

What special song or poem speaks to you about Christ’s love, Easter, and His Resurrection?

Too Busy Being Me

Amidst this sad consciousness of imperfection, here is comfort for you–you are “perfect in Christ Jesus.”  ~ Spurgeon

I am so imperfect.  And quite the imperfect blogger.  I’ve been terribly sporadic this year!  So, thought it time to lay out all my excuses and explain why I’ve been less-than-regular with writing and encouragement.

My husband has often says of himself, “It’s a full-time job just being me.”

And so with Linda….I’ve been too busy being me.

Being me, as any beloved child, is about partaking in God’s daily discipline and grace.  Discipline, because I need it so much, and truly deserve it.  Grace, well, because I need it so much, and don’t deserve it.

And being me has felt a bit like Bilbo Baggins, who said he felt “thin, sort of stretched, like butter, scraped over too much bread.”

Stretched, but content…

.

~~Living in Ottawa, but preparing to leave for our “other” home, building on relationships while facing goodbyes, being served by the very people I seek to serve, tutoring and plugging along with my degree, surprisingly chosen for the “novel” task of ghostwriting,  and most recently, selected to be a contributing author for Regent University’s new blog.

~~A grateful wife of 36 years to a lovely, deep man, with an oft broken, contrite, yet humorous spirit!

~~Always a mom, though my daughters are grown and don’t live anywhere nearby.   But I’m a mom, and thankfully, ever will be!

~~A grandma to two precious little ones, with another on the way!  When I’m with them, I can’t imagine being away.  And when I’m away→→I skype!!

.

~~An only, beloved child to my sweet mom, and this year, planning her 80th birthday celebration and reunion! How priceless is that?!

Being me may keep me from blogging regularly, but may it never keep me from daily seeking the Lord, leaning on and learning of His unfailing love and surpassing mercy.

I just pray that me being me won’t get in the way of

Him being Him,

in me,

for

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

~~~

Maybe you could share how you maintain blogging and other responsibilities, while still being you?

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

On gratefulness…

“Happiness is not getting what we want, but being grateful for what we have.” 

This quote from a random British TV show we were watching one evening really stuck with me.  We always seem to want more, without being grateful for what we already have.  Millions have been spent in research to find out what the “perfect” monthly wage is that would make everyone happy.  The answer across the board:

More.

So, happiness is elusive.  But gratitude is not.

In fact, gratitude is God’s will!  Are you fasting, praying, desperately searching to know God’s will for you life?  How about this:

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.   I Thess. 5:16-18

Giving Thanks Together

The following poem from The Valley of Vision expresses a heart full of gratitude and one after God’s will:
~~~

O My Lord

You, fairest, greatest, first of all object,

My heart admires, adores, loves you,

For my little vessel is as full as it can be,

And I would pour out all that fullness before you in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with you

Ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,

Ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,

Ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart.

Crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless You for the soul you have created,

for adorning it, sanctifying it,

though it is fixed in barren soil;

for the body you have given me,

for preserving its strength and vigour,

for providing senses to enjoy delights,

for the ease and freedom of my limbs,

for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;

for your royal bounty providing my daily support,

for a full table and overflowing cup

for appetite, taste, sweetness

for social joys of relatives and friends,

for ability to serve others,

for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,

for a mind to care for my fellow-men

for opportunities of spreading happiness around

for loved ones in the joys of heaven,

for my own expectation of seeing you clearly.

I love you above the powers of language to express, for what you are to your creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

Assurance for the Journey

Someone may have made this point already, but my husband says that each day is a lifetime.  We wake up/are born, we move through the day/live, and go to sleep at night (sometimes)/a mini-death.  So resolutions shouldn’t be limited to New Years, birthdays, anniversaries, etc;  everyday we should resolve to surrender to the Lord, and trust His guidance… moment by moment.  God’s promises are for each day (give us this day..), so too, should be our reliance and trust.

Spurgeon offers this assurance for today’s Journey, and every Today:

And the LORD shall guide thee continually. ~ Isaiah 58:11

“The Lord shall guide thee.” Not an angel, but JEHOVAH shall guide  thee. He said He would not go through the wilderness before His people, an angel  should go before them to lead them in the way; but Moses said, “If Thy  presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” Christian, God has not left you  in your earthly pilgrimage to an angel’s guidance: He Himself leads the van. [yes, he said ‘van’ :-)]

 You  may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but Jehovah will never forsake you. Notice  the word shall–“The Lord shall guide thee.” How certain this makes it!  How sure it is that God will not forsake us! His precious “shalls” and “wills”  are better than men’s oaths. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Then  observe the adverb continually. We are not merely to be guided sometimes,  but we are to have a perpetual monitor; not occasionally to be left to our own  understanding, and so to wander, but we are continually to hear the guiding  voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we follow close at His heels, we shall not  err, but be led by a right way to a city to dwell in.

If you have to change your  position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if it should happen  that you are cast into poverty, or uplifted suddenly into a more responsible position than the one you now occupy; if you are thrown among strangers, or cast  among foes, yet tremble not, for “the Lord shall guide thee continually.”

There  are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if you live near to God,  and your heart be kept warm with holy love. He goes not amiss who goes in the  company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you cannot mistake your road. You  have infallible wisdom to direct you, immutable love to comfort you, and eternal  power to defend you. “Jehovah”–mark the word–“Jehovah shall guide thee  continually.

~~~

Dear Father and loving Guide, Thank you for the assurance of your Presence and the promises you give.   Help me to trust you more.  “Trust in the Lord with all you heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”  I’m so blessed to be your child, and I trust you as my loving Father.  In your son’s precious name, Jesus, Amen. 

~~~

On breaks, no condemnation, Christmas, and Folk Angels

Hello! Remember me?

I’ve been away from blogging waaay too long (over 4 months!) and I’m not even sure how to do this anymore!   I’ve been away so long, that I actually considered quitting blogging all together–after all, who’s NOT blogging these days, so are my two cents really necessary?  And if I keep blogging, where do I start? Should I explain myself, my absence, my life, or just hit the proverbial deck running?  And then, what about all the things I’ve been musing on, mulling over, journalling, or events that have either broken my heart with cries, tears and grief, or encouraged me to die more to self and live more for Him?

Seriously, if I consider any of these options right now, I’d rather close my laptop and procrastinate a few more months. Instead, I really need to ease back into this, so I’m going to focus on all the wonder, hope, and Joy of Christmas!  Everything else can wait…

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Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.

  (Romans 8:1-3)

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Romans 8 may seem like an unlikely Christmas passage, but it’s a perfect reminder about “the reason for the Season;”  God sent His own Son into the world as a sin offering for us!  Such a proclamation required angles upon angels to sing of the Wonder!  Oh, Holy Night!

The artists who’ve recorded this carol is nearly innumerable, but the ones I love hearing are a bit more limited–John Denver, Clay Aiken, Josh Groban, to mention a few.  And now, Folk Angel!  Yes, let me introduce you to Folk Angel, a band who has already released three Christmas CDs.  This is from their website:

Our desire as a band is to make known the greatness of Jesus Christ and to exalt Him through the music that we create. We write and rearrange traditional Christmas songs, and through that creative process we retell the Gospel story that illuminates all things.

Their music fulfills their mission!  Click on the album cover to view or purchase their music.  And you can listen to “O Holy Night” in the Music Box above.

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O Holy Night

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining

It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

~~

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

O night, O holy night, O night divine!

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Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,

With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand

So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,

Here came the wise men from Orient land.

The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,

In all our trials born to be our friend!

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Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

O night, O holy night, O night divine!

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Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His Gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother

And in His Name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise His holy Name!

~~

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

O night, O holy night, O night divine!

~~

… Oh yes, and I promise I won’t be away for another 4 months…