Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye to 2013

Rock of Ages
by: Sandra McCracken

Rock of Ages, when the day seems long,
From this labor and this heartache I have come;
The skies will wear out, but you remain the same,
Rock of Ages, I praise your name.
Rock of Ages, you have brought me near;
You have poured out your life-blood, your love and your tears
To make this stone heart come alive again,
Rock of Ages, forgive my sin.
Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages
Bind your children, until the Kingdom comes.
Rock of Ages, your will be done
Rock of Ages, when in want or rest,
My desperate need for such a Savior I confess,
And pull these idols out from my heart’s embrace,
Rock of Ages, I need your grace.
Rock of Ages, broken, scorned for me
Who am I that you would die to make me free?
To give me glory, you took the death and the pain,
Rock of Ages, my Offering.
Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages
Bind your children, until the Kingdom comes.
Rock of Ages, your will be done.
Rock of Ages, “It is done” you cried,
The curtain’s torn and I see justice satisfied.
Now write your mercy on my heart and hands,
Rock of Ages, in faith I stand.
Rock of Ages, my great hope secure,
Your promise holds, just like an anchor to my soul.
And bind your children with cords of love and grace,
Rock of Ages, we give you praise.
Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages
Bind your children, until the Kingdom comes.
Rock of Ages, your will be done.

All Things for Good: The Best Things Work for Good

GOD'S ATTRIBUTES work for good.
1.  His power - supports us in our trouble, supplies our wants, subdues our corruptions, and conquers our enemies
2.  His wisdom - instructs us
3.  His goodness - leads us to repentance, and ushers in both common and crowning blessings
GOD'S PROMISES work for good.
1.  "The Lord is merciful and gracious."
2.  "I will heal their backslidings."
3.  "I will be with him in trouble."
There is more in the promises to comfort than in the world to perplex.
GOD'S MERCIES work for good.
1.  They make us humble.
2.  They make us tender toward Him.
3.  They make us fruitful.
4.  They make us thankful.
5.  They make us engaged.
6.  They make us compassionate toward others.
The spiritual mercies (Word, prayer, and sacrament) give us comfort, assurance, and hope.
1.  He prays that we may be kept from sin.
2.  He prays that we may progress in holiness.
The SAINT'S INTERCESSION works for good.
1.  They pray for our recovery.
2.  They pray for our victory.
3.  They pray for our deliverance.
4.  They pray for our forgiveness.
Summary of Ch. 1 - All Things for Good - Thomas Watson

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Divine Cordial

Are we in great trouble?  There is a promise: "I will be with him in trouble."  (Ps. 91)

God does not bring His people into troubles, and leave them there.  He will stand by them; He will hold their heads and hearts when they are fainting.  And there is another promise, "He is their strength in the time of trouble." (Ps. 37) 

"Oh," says the soul, "I shall faint in the day of trial." But God will be the strength of our hearts; He will join His forces with us.  Either He will make His hand lighter, or our faith stronger.

--All Things for Good, Thomas Watson

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Broken or Satisfied?

I would rather my children be broken, on their knees, pleading for the mercy, deliverance, and presence of Christ, than satisfied and at ease in their own strength and goodness.
I realize that statement might be offensive to some but I believe it comes from a heart of love. 
What I mean is that I'd rather them be the wayward, repentant son of the renowned Bible story, than the smug older brother whose fidelity has blinded him to his own, less obvious, sins.    I'd rather them be empty-handed Jobs who mourn the loss of every good thing, than rich young rulers who cling to the good things, including their obedience.  I'd rather them be Jacobs with their hip perpetually out-of-joint from wrestling with God, than be indifferent to His work in their lives.
I am NOT saying that I revel in my children's rebellion...that can lead to stiff-neckedness and destruction rather than repentance.  Of that I am well aware.
I am NOT saying that I find delight in my children's suffering or pain.  Every parent wants to guard their child from every possible hurt.
I am NOT glorifying sin (shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  God forbid!), nor do I want to rob my children of the joy of a faithful life. 
I AM acknowledging that profound wisdom can be gained from our wanderings, especially when those wanderings leave us in a pit of despair that forces us to seek Christ.    When we are emptied of our own goodness, we must...MUST...depend solely and wholeheartedly on the merit of Christ.  The Gospel becomes (not in abject reality, but in perception) more vibrant and alive.  I know...I've been there. 
I am also acknowledging that a life of faithfulness can easily lead to a self-satisfied heart that falsely, almost imperceptibly, rests in its own faithfulness, and that subtly, in the name of love and righteousness, slights all who fail to measure up.  This condition does not lend itself to humility, but arrogance; not to compassion, but to harsh judgement; not to mercy, but to consequence.  It can be as dangerous as prodigiously pursuing vain desires.  I know...I've been there too. 
Coming to a place of brokenness that drives us to Christ doesn't always come via personal sin.  It sometimes comes by way of other's sins against us.  It sometimes comes through the effects of living in a cursed creation...illness, accidents, and other circumstances over which we had no control.  It sometimes comes directly from the hand of God.
But it always...ALWAYS...comes at the place where our confidence lies.  Those people, institutions, possessions, expectations, or realities which house our hopes are idols that, like Dagon, must fall and lie shattered before the presence of the real and Triune God in whom is ALL our ACTUAL hope.
As Christians, we never intentionally erect these idols.  In fact, we often remain unaware of misplaced confidence until something is torn from us.  The loss of reputation, position, money, family, dreams, security, pleasure, home, friends, or independence reveals to us just how fully we trusted in them.
Though loss is always painful and grievous, ultimately it can draw us away from our false trust to a place of genuine need and therefore genuine reliance on the Source of All Good...mercy, love, reconciliation, wisdom...in desperation we seek AND FIND the Fount of Every Blessing.

I long for my children to KNOW this, and therefore I can honestly say, "I would rather my children be broken, on their knees, pleading for the mercy, deliverance, and presence of Christ, than satisfied and at ease in their own strength and goodness."

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

70 Years

70 years ago today, another baby was born and is the reason I know The One whose birth we all celebrate today. 

She entered the world in the lowliest of circumstances...a bastard born to a poor, uneducated farmer in southeast Missouri. Though she was often despised, ridiculed, and taunted, this little girl was also loved...by her Daddy, and amazingly, by his wife (to whom she did not "belong"). Her story is the stuff of books...almost unbelievable at times...And her life could have taken a thousand wretched turns. 

As an adult, her primary perspective on life is simply this: "But God…"  

The One we celebrate today, captured her heart as a young child and laid out a path for her. A path fraught with danger, with turning points, with unforeseen heartache...but also with protection, with joy, and with unexpected blessings. BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, not only rescued her, but KEPT her in his care through all the years and her primary aim has been to testify of His faithfulness.

I rejoice today in the birth of my Saviour Jesus Christ, but I also rejoice in the gift of my My Mother's birth.

Blessed are you among women and blessed be the name of your Lord whose steadfast love endures forever.

Happy birthday, Momma.