Tag Archive | cross

A Song in the Night

“….‘Where is God my Maker who gives songs in the night, who teaches us more than he teaches the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?’” Job 35:10, 11

Clouded moon

Christ’s death and resurrection is particularly dear to me this year, as our earthly celebration follows mere days after my sister-in-law passed away. Over the past four years, some of my posts documented Rebecca’s battle with cancer and requests for your prayers.  You shared in her victories and disappointments. Now she is gone–and it’s as difficult to write that as to believe it.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” 

I Corinthians 15:56, 57

Becky wrote a song the night before she had a very difficult back surgery to remedy months of excruciating pain caused by an unforgiving tumor.  The song was put to music by the worship team at her church and played at her memorial service last week.  I may have a word or two wrong since I transcribed this from a shaky recording, but it deserves to be shared:

Becky’s Song in the Night

Jesus you are the bright and morning star

Illuminate our hearts and guide us where you are

Help us dear Lord in the shining light you send

Oh morning star, we love you, and we long for You

Jesus morning star, our lives in you made new

Jesus morning star, our lives in you made new!

~~

Chorus:

Praise the bright and Morning star

Praise his holy name

Praise the Master and the Saviour,

You won’t be the same

Praise Him, Morning star!

Praise Him, The bright and Morning star!

~~

Now as you rise in heavens glory, morning star

Help our hearts to rise up on your wings

Help us know the ways you made us free,

And let us see your beauty and your majesty!

~~

Praise the bright and Morning star

Praise his holy name

Praise the Master and the Saviour,

You won’t be the same

Praise Him, Morning star!

Praise Him, The bright and Morning star!

How amazing, that her song in the night focused entirely on her Morning Star!  Becky’s eyes were fixed on Jesus!

As we remember our Lord’s Passion, his suffering, pain and grief, may our songs in the night melt into praise in the morning, as we see Him, risen with power and glory, paving the way of Hope for our eternal future!

~~

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.   According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

And so we will be with the Lord forever.

I Thess. 4:13-17 

~

Forty years and a lifetime ago…

“No,” I said apologetically, “I wasn’t at Woodstock.”

My girls seemed disappointed that I didn’t take part in the iconic festival of my day.  And I felt a tinge of regret, too, because it seemed I missed out on a major identification point with my generation.

But God did one better.  He sent me to a festival of eternal proportions.

Explo ’72

Exactly 40 years ago today, as 80,000 candlelights flickered across the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, the Lord filled my heart with His light.  “It only takes a spark….”

Candles across the Crowd

What an awesome week!! Just six days after my high school graduation, the Lord set favourable boundaries around my future, by sealing my will in His.  And that one day made all the difference in the next forty years, and eternity, for me.

The days before that amazing night were filled with seminars, street evangelism, and some exceedingly convicting teaching on sex and purity by Josh McDowell.  And then there was the music–Johnny Cash, Larry Norman, Love Song, Andre Crouch and the Disciples, Randy Matthews, Children of the Day, and many others!  The evenings were filled with a call to follow Jesus.  On June 15th, candles were distributed to a Bowl full of young people, while Dr. Billy Graham spoke:

“I am asking you to light a candle…and we will start a spiritual fire here tonight that could sweep the world.”

The entire stadium glowed with candlelight.  We can’t really know, and only eternity will be able to reveal how much the world may have been affected by that evening.  But I know this…I changed.   It was the culmination of a mother’s prayers and the beginning of a new life in Christ.

As much as that one day changed the course of my life, it cannot be isolated from everything that took place prior to that time.  My earliest memories are of my mom reading the Bible to me every night before bedtime.  She also made me watch every single Billy Graham Crusade, go to church, Sunday School, and behind the scenes, prayed for me daily!

And, as anyone knows who has read about Moses’ forty years in the wilderness, Israel’s forty years of wandering in the desert, or David’s forty year reign, there was much more that needed to be worked out in my life after my initial surrender to the Lord–much more!

For the first several months following that momentous day, I probably sinned more than I did in the 17 years prior!!  What a wreck, as I grappled to hold onto my will, my desires, and the future I thought I wanted for myself!  A rigorous tug-of-war raged in my mind and almost took away all God had in store for me.

But, God’s grace is greater.  He had new mercies waiting for me every morning.  He guided me through decisions, 36 years of marriage, raising children, homeschooling, serving  20 years in the military, and too many other things to recount here.  He has been, is, and always will be, FAITHFUL.  That is my favourite characteristic of God!  I can truly sing with the heavenly host, Great is Thy Faithfulness!!

That day and the thousands since, constantly reveal His love to me, over and over and over again, through the Cross of Jesus, the Word of God, and the gentle wooing of His Holy Spirit.  There is no other place I would rather be than in Him.

I feel blessed and privileged to have been part of something much deeper and greater than Woodstock.   Explo 72 was a place in time where God stepped in and turned a remnant of young people to Him; He ignited a generation to serve Him around the world, and stirred up wave upon wave of new music and praise to glorify His name among the Nations!

I used to tell my daughters that sometimes a very simple decision could potentially be a life-changer.  Reaching out to the “new kid” at school, deciding NOT to go a party, or choosing TO go somewhere else..taking the road a little less travelled.

My life changed in 1972 when I decided to join our youth group on their journey to Dallas, Texas.

Yeah, Woodstock made quite an impact on my generation.

But Explo 72 changed us for eternity.

Life Magazine wrote about it.

And there was even a little book about it.

But in case you haven’t heard of Explo 72, you can read what Wiki says about it HERE!

It would take a book and a village to write about my forty year journey with the Lord.  Suffice it to say,

“Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:7-11, 14

Here’s a few YouTube videos created from The Jesus Explosion record album (yes, the vinyl product) recorded Live at Explo 72.

Randy Matthews:  Didn’t He

Larry Norman: Sweet, Sweet Song of Salvation

Johnny Cash:  I See Men as Trees Walkin

~~

What decision is God asking of you today that might make the difference of a lifetime for you–or someone else?

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!

~~

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!!

~~

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!

~~

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
~~
CHORUS
~~
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?

Christmas Carols Grace Notes – 2

[This article was first posted on Dec 13, 2010.  Sharing it again, because the song is That good. Blessings!]

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Is the world listening to the carols of the season, ignoring them, or simply apathetic to their content?

How much more intense could the gospel message be, than to declare the sufferings of Jesus through concrete visuals like “nails…spear…pierce…and Cross?” Yet that’s what this modest, lilting, 17th century Celtic melody proclaims with bold lyrics penned by William Chatterton Dix (1865).

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

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and lamb are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

         Raise, raise a song on high,
         The virgin sings her lullaby.
         Joy, joy for Christ is born,
         The Babe, the Son of Mary.

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

One reason the world doesn’t hear this gospel message is that many recording artists simply skip over the second stanza about Jesus’ suffering.   Perhaps they think the verse doesn’t lend itself to the joyful Christmas spirit.  Or maybe they don’t embrace its meaning..or the cross.

Thankfully, Third Day sings the entire song on their CD, Christmas Offerings.  I just uploaded their track of today’s carol in the music box so you can listen along, and worship, not just the Babe, but the Word made flesh and our King of Kings!

[Bebo Norman also sings a beautiful rendition of this, but, disappointedly, he omitted the crucial second stanza.  But I still love his testimony, voice and music, so I uploaded his version from the newly released CD, Christmas from the Realms of Glory (Extended Edition) . ]

The Cross – – Herein is Love

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5,6

From Horatius Bonar, The Cross of the Lord Jesus:

Thus we see in the cross an epitome of the Bible. The whole revelation of God is there. From the cross we “Where sin abounded, grace has superabounded.”  All the love of God is there. The sinner’s condemnation and the sinner’s pardon are there. God’s invitation issues forth from it to the chief of sinners. “Come”; “Look unto me and be ye saved.”

God’s eternal purpose is here unfolded: “the good pleasure of His will.” The fountain opened for sin is there. The rest for the weary is there. The relief for the conscience is here. The refuge for the guilty is there. The balm of Gilead is there. Peace to the troubled is there. There God meets with man, and man meets with God; heaven and earth embrace each other.

HEREIN IS LOVE. It is love that takes in the worst; love that took in the dying thief; love that knows no bounds; love that looks for no qualifications in him who comes, but that he needs it; love which is yearning over the lost, and stretching out its hands to the most rebellious and unholy; love which offers not merely pardon, but the perfection of the Son of God to the sinner, with all which that perfection can claim.

And for more on this love, read C.S Lewis’ gripping poem at Beth Stone Studio (Love’s as warm as tears).

Scandalous Grace

“…where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”   Romans 5:20,21

 

I just read an article at Stuff Christians Like on grace that speaks of the limitless, boundless grace God makes available to all of us.  The author, Jon Acuff, sought to answer the question, “Do you feel like some people take grace too far?”  Here’s an excerpt:

We establish a limit to grace and God’s love. We start to draw boundary lines on grace and it’s not the first time we’ve seen this kind of thing happen.

There was a guy in the Bible who was the worst. He was such a failure. He lied once and got an entire village murdered as a result. A priest and his family were killed because of his lies. He committed adultery. He cheated. He trusted in his own strength instead of the Lord’s. And when he did, when he failed, thousands and thousands of people died as a result. His family suffered from incest and murder and his hands were so covered with wrongfully shed blood that eventually God wouldn’t let him do something really important.

…So how is he referred to in the Bible?   Here is what God says about him:

         “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart.”

…How can God say these things?

Because grace is scandalous.

I think God knew the risk that we’d misunderstand grace and try to take advantage of it. I think he knew we’d try to find the limits of it with our sinfulness. Which is why he made it limitless, which is why he made grace infinite and never ending.

Please check out the entire article HERE.  I think you’ll be blessed..and humbly thankful for the Lord’s infinite, scandalous Grace!

Harmful or Healing Memories?

“Forget none of His benefits.”  Psalm 103:2

Some of us seem to have better memories than others.  Some can remember things from their first year of life, or have perfect recall of an entire book or lesson.  On the other hand, there’s those of us who need lists to remind us of everything, then we forget to check the list, or worse, forget where the list is! 

Most often, our memories are misplaced too.  We forget things we should remember, and remember things we should forget.  As Spurgeon said,

While memory too well preserves a poisonous weed, it permits the Rose of Sharon to wither.”

We often preserve harmful memories so we can dwell on them for years to come.  We hold onto the poisonous things, like bitterness, anger, hurt and pains within, as well as twisted images or troubling reports from without.

However, in doing so, we may forget the more wonderous, healing memories–all of God’s benefits:   His goodness, grace and mercy, redemption at the Cross, and promise of eternal live!  Here are a few things God’s Word tells to

REMEMBER:

Jesus’ body broken for us  (Luke 22:19)

Jesus’ blood shed for us  (I Cor. 11:35)

God’s benefits, who pardons all our sins, heals our diseases and redeems our lives (Psalm 103)

Who created us (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

His Words (John 15:20)

Lord, help us to let go of poisonous memories, and preserve ones that heal.  Help us to hold fast to Jesus and never allow the precious Rose of Sharon to wither away in our hearts and minds!

 

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put way from you, along with all malice.

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:31,32

 

What helps you to let go of harmful memories and focus on healing ones?