Monday, November 1, 2010

Do not pass me by

Son of David! hear my cry;
Saviour, do not pass me by;
Touch these eyelids veiled in night,
Turn their darkness into light.
Son of David, hear my cry!
Savior, do not pass me by.

Though the proud my voice would still,
They may chide me if they will,
Yet the more I’ll pray for grace,
Only here shall be my place.
Son of David, hear my cry!
Saviour, do not pass me by.

Though despised by all but Thee,
Thou a blessing hast for me;
Faith and prayer can never fail,
Lord, with Thee I must prevail,
Son of David, hear my cry!
Saviour, do not pass me by.

Glorious vision! heav’nly ray!
All my gloom has passed away;
Now my joyful eye doth see,
And my soul still clings to Thee,
Thine the glory evermore,
Mine to worship and adore.

-Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)

I came across this hymn last week as I was preparing for Sunday's message on the healing of blind Bartimeaus.

It is a really beautiful hymn, but it didn't really seem to flow with the direction that the sermon was headed so I had to leave it on the cutting room floor. I did want to post it here on this blog however, because it really does deserve to be read and appreciated.

What makes these words particularly poignant to me is knowing a bit of the background of the author. At six weeks old her parents took her to a doctor to treat an eye inflammation; a misdiagnosis and wrong prescription of mustard plasters caused her to go blind. She spent the whole of her life without sight. She surely prayed many times that the Lord would restore her sight, but He chose not to. Rather than grow embittered against Him, Fanny accepted this as from His hand, and grew in her love and trust of Him. She was one of the most prolific hymn writers of all time, giving the church over 8,000 songs!

I imagine her writing this song, about a man who cries out to Jesus asking for sight, and perhaps it would have been a challenge for her; to praise God for healing the blindness of some while not yet relieving her of her disability. But I believe Fanny understood that the eyes of her heart (Ephesians 1:18) have been opened by Christ, and that is a miracle worth praising Him forever for. I know that now, in Heaven, Fanny Crosby has perfect vision. Her sight on earth would have been so very dim, but now she sees Jesus face to face (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12)

Now my joyful eye doth see,
And my soul still clings to Thee

Saturday, October 16, 2010

But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" - Mark 10:38“Jesus calls His death a baptism because of the ease with which He would rise again. For just as one who is baptized in water easily rises up because of the nature of the water poses no hindrance, so, too, Christ rose with greater ease because he had gone down into death. And this is why He calls His death a baptism.” – John Chrysostom

Saturday, September 25, 2010

As a Little Child

Our Lord told us that the way of entering the kingdom is by receiving. Whosever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein (Luke 18:17). We do not enter into the kingdom of God by working out some deep problem and arriving at its solution, not by fetching something out of ourselves but only by receiving a secret something into us. We come into the kingdom by the kingdom’s coming into us: it receives us by our receiving it.

- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Bible isn't about you

Using a clip from Tim Keller’s talk at the 2007 TGC conference, Heath McPherson created using the art of Gustave DorĂ© (and others):

Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing Him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes His people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk His life, but gave His life to save His people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you—it’s about Him.

HT: Justin Taylor

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Tree

In God's mind (mens dei) there is an eternally preestablished relationship between the word (verbum) "tree" (lignum) in Exodus 15:25 and a real "tree" (res) that is understood to be a sign (signum) pointing to the cross (Vulgate: in ligno) in Acts 5:30. When, in Exodus 15:25, the Lord pointed (wayyorehu) Moses to the tree (lignum) that would make the water sweet, He was pointing to a real thing (res) that itself, as a thing (res), pointed to the cross (res). That cross (res), according to Augustine, points to the "sweetness" of salvation and eternal life.

John H. Sailhamer
The Meaning of the Pentateuch
Revelation, Composition and Interpretation

pg 79

Forever my heart will sing of how great You are

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Something worth preaching

“The motto of all true servants of God must be, ‘We preach Christ; and Him crucified.’ A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Isaiah 54:10

Friday, August 6, 2010

An Excerpt From An Encouraging Email From An Encouraging Friend

....Your insight into IC and the feast at Cana warmed me greatly tonight. XC has truly revealed to us truth and grace. A splendid comparison with Moses, worthy of the Theologian himself. You are a Cappadocian at heart, but much more Christ-like, Greg of Nazianzus was a total Jerk.

Blessings of the Thrice Holy Trinity upon you my dear friend.


(Shane has his own blog here. It's definitely worth subscribing to.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Covenants Old and New

In the Old Covenant God dealt with His sinful and rebellious people through the zealous young priest Phinehas. During a time of apostasy and immorality Phinehas' judgment on rebels "turned back [God's] wrath from the people of Israel." Numbers 25:11
Phinehas punished sinners by driving a spear through them both. It's graphic. It's violent. It's propitiation. It's horrifying.
In the New Covenant God deals with His sinful and rebellious people by entering into their history as the great High Priest Jesus. During a time of apostasy and immorality Jesus came to bear the punishment for their rebellion. He allowed Himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter and rather than driving a spear through the offending sinners, He let nails be driven into His hands and feet. Jesus had a spear thrust into His side, not because of any wrong that He had done, but because of the wrong that we have done. And because of all of this, God's wrath is turned back from His people.

It's graphic. It's violent. It's propitiation. It's horrifying.
And this is how God demonstrates His rescuing love for us.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Morning Prayer

O God the author of all good, I come to Thee for the grace another day will require for its duties and events. I step out into a wicked world; I carry about with me an evil heart. I know that without Thee I can do nothing, that everything with which I shall be concerned, however harmless in itself, may prove an occasion of sin or folly, unless I am kept by Thy power. Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe.

Preserve my understanding from subtlety of error, my affections from love of idols, my character from stain of vice, my profession from every form of evil. May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Thy blessing, and in which I cannot invite Thy inspection. Prosper me in all lawful undertakings, or prepare me for disappointments. Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with food convenient for me, lest I be full and deny Thee and say, Who is the Lord? or be poor, and steal, and take Thy name in vain.

May every creature be made good to me by prayer and Thy will. Teach me how to use the world and not abuse it, to improve my talents, to redeem my time, to walk in wisdom toward those without, and in kindness to those within, to do good to all men, and especially to my fellow Christians. And to Thee be the glory.

Valley of Vision, 1884

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Prayer requested

This year I've been asked to speak at a session at the UK Pastors and leaders conference. It's a tremendous privilege and honour. I had my sermon all worked out and printed Tuesday morning as I got onto my flight from Cork to London Stansted. Tuesday afternoon as I was taking the train in to central London I felt the Lord put an entirely different section of scripture on my heart. He has been giving me a great peace about what I will be sharing at the conference, even though I haven't had hardly any time to sit down and plot out my points and outline the message yet. Would you please join me in prayer for this message? Please ask God for brokenhearted boldness and contrite courage as I share from the Word with my brothers and fellow pastors this coming week.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Prayer in the midst of the storm

O God, make speed to save us.

We have sinned, O Lord, we have sinned, spare our sins,

And save us; Thou who guidedst Noah over the flood waves,

Hear us; Who with Thy word recalledst Jonah from the abyss;

Deliver us; Who stretchedst forth Thy hand to Peter as he sank, help us,

O Christ Son of God, Thou didst the marvelous things of the Lord with our fathers, be favourable in our days also;

Stretch forth Thy hand from on high.

Deliver us, O Christ.

Hear us, O Christ.

-Stowe Missal

9th Century A.D.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Birthday Video for my Wife

Monday was Rachel's birthday, so I made her a cake (which is a whole lot more work than I remembered!) and bought her a dress and we used a voucher that someone had given us for a night in Fernroyd House . It was a great time. Birthdays mean a lot to her and I really wanted to honour her and show her how much she meant to me. What touched her the most though was a video that I made for her.

All I Want Is You from Mike Neglia on Vimeo.

It's a little bit jumpy at parts, but that's from uploading it to vimeo...
Now go tell your wife that you love her!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What do you say when you are about to die? pt 2

Death without Christ is "the king of terrors," but death with Christ loses the "sting," the power to hurt, which it otherwise would have.
John Preston, the Puritan, knew this. When he lay dying, they asked him if he feared death, now that it was so close. "No," whispered Preston; "I shall change my place, but I shall not change my company." As if to say: I shall leave my friends, but not my Friend, for He will never leave me.

J.I. Packer
"Growing in Christ" 1994

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Common Thread

I have looked carefully over the lives of God's saints in the Bible. I cannot find one of whose history much is told us from Genesis to Revelation who is not a man of prayer. I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that they call on the Father and that they call on the name of the Lord Jesus. I find it recorded as a characteristic of the wicked that they do not call upon the Lord. I have read the lives of many eminent Christians that have been on earth since Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, some poor; some were learned, some unlearned; some of them were Episcopalians, some Presbyterians, some Baptists, some Independents, some were Calvinists and some Arminians, some have loved to use liturgy and some have loved to use none. But one thing I see they all had in common; they have all been men of prayer. I have studied the reports of missionary societies in our own times. I see with what joy the heathen men and women are receiving the gospel in various parts of the globe. There are conversions in Africa, New Zealand, in India and South America. The people converted are naturally unlike one another in every respect, but one striking thing I observed at all missionary stations, the converted people always pray.
I do not deny that a man may pray without heart and without sincerity. I do not for a moment pretend to say that the mere fact that a person is praying proves he is a child of God. As in every other part of religion, so also in this, there is plenty of deception and hypocrisy. But this I do say, that not praying is a clear proof that a man is not yet a true Christian. He cannot really feel his sins, he cannot love God, he cannot feel himself a debtor to Christ, he cannot long after holiness, he cannot desire heaven. He has yet to be born again, he has yet to be made a new creature, he may boast confidently of election, grace, hope and knowledge and deceive ignorant people, but you may rest assured it is all vain talk if he does not pray.
J.C. Ryle (10 May 1816 - 10 June 1900)
Practical Religion, pg 58

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Hardest Thing

Prayer is work. Unbelievers do not understand the difficulty of prayer, but those of us who are Christians know it well. Everything else in the Christian life is easier than prayer. It is far easier to read our Bibles than to pray. It is far easier to witness, to go to church, and to give to the poor than to pray. Why? The reason for this is that the closer we get to what is most important-what brings us the most spiritual power, the more opposition we are going to get from the devil, the world, and our own flesh.

-Reaching the Ear of God
Wayne Mack, pg 34

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not perfect, yet loved greatly

"Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults."
- John Calvin (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564)

Nobler, sweeter song

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

William Cowper
26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800

Noblest speech

My chains

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Charles Wesley 1707-1788

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Eschatological Preview

Yesterday Malcolm and Amanda flew from Cork back to London, then they got the bus back to Oxford where they are now living . We were all hoping that the newly revived Icelandic ash cloud would have kept them here for another day or two, but it relented long enough for their plane to make it's scheduled departure. It was a joy to have them stay in our house over the Bank Holiday Weekend, and I just came across this video (which I had forgotten about) which records their wedding ceremony about a year and a half ago.

I love officiating weddings, it's one of the great privileges of being a pastor. I love the solemnity and the ceremonies of weddings. I love the joy and happiness of weddings. I love the public declaration of love. I love the emphasis on the covenant that is being made. I love the food. I love the dancing. I love being able to preach the gospel to heaps of people who usually don't come to church.

Jesus loves weddings. His first miracle was at a wedding (John 2:1-12 particularly verse 11). He compared the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14 particularly verse 2). And the culmination of judgment on all earthly and satanic rebellion is actually the inauguration of the heavenly wedding feast between Jesus and His church (Revelation 19:9 and 21:2).

I often comment that weddings are a bit of an eschatological preview. People from all over the country (or in some cases, all over the world) are joined together, there is celebration and reunion, good food and wine, singing, dancing, and a real focus upon joining in on the joy of others. Weddings are always a real joy for me, and they are a bit of reminder to me (and hopefully to you) of the hope of heaven. Your presence there is fullness of joy... Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My lost estate

I will tell the wondrous story
How my lost estate to save
In His boundless love and mercy
He the ransom freely gave

I will sing of my Redeemer
and His wondrous love to me
on the cruel cross He suffered
From the curse to set me free

A student's prayer

Living in a university city a significant percentage of the church I pastor is made up of students. This prayer is particularly relevant for them as they sit exams this week, but also for everyone who ever endeavors to "study to show themselves approved".

A Student's Prayer

St. Thomas Aquinas

Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.

Relentless mercy and justice

We find that the animal sacrifices were God's "altar calls", symbolizing the way He relentlessly extends mercy with justice to faulty people. These rituals revealed His loving character and His desire for restoration and maintenance of intimate interaction with those whom He claimed as His own.

The NIV Application Commentary - Leviticus, pg 25
Roy Gane

What do you say when you are about to die?

“I do not need to plead my own cause … I am a dead man already. My life is dead and hidden with Christ. It is your lives that are in danger, you are dead in your sins. I will pray to God that after you have killed me, He will spare you from eternal destruction.
- Kefa Sempangi facing 5 would be assassins in Idi Amin's Uganda

The New Faces of Christianity: believing the Bible in the Global South.

HT: Patrick Mitchel

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My ambitions

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.

-Robin Mark 1990

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Baptism of Jesus part 2

The opening of the heavens occurs in the calling of Ezekiel in exile: 'The heavens were opened and I saw visions of God' (Ezekiel 1:1). It is usually a sign that God is about to speak or act and that one will get a quick peek at God's purposes. But Mark does not use the word 'open' (anoigo), as some translations render it. Instead, he describes that the heaven are torn (schizo), as one might imagine a bold of lightning tearing its fabric. What is open may be closed but when something is ripped it cannot be easily returned to its former state. When Jesus comes out of the water, Mark tells us, all heaven breaks loose! It is also significant that Joshua (josh 3:7-14, 4:14-17), Elijah (2 Kings 2:8), and Elisha (2 Kings 2:14) each parted the Jordan as a symbol of their power…Jesus, however, does not stand by the Jordan and part it; instead something far greater is parted – the dome of heaven.

-NIV Application Commentary Mark, David E. Garland page 48

The Baptism of Jesus part 1

When Jesus came to Jordan
to be baptized by John,
He did not come for pardon,
but as His Father's Son.
He came to share repentance
for all who mourn their sins,
to speak the vital sentence
with which good news begins.

-Frederick Pratt Green

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My King

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My faith

I must have the Saviour with me
for my faith, at best, is weak:
He can whisper words of comfort
that no other voice can speak

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Redeemer

I will sing of my Redeemer
And His wondrous love to me
On the cruel cross He suffered
From the curse to set me free

Friday, April 16, 2010

My surety

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My sinful soul

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My lips

Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My heart

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Monday, April 5, 2010

He is mine

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My hope

“See, God’s hands are nailed, they cannot strike thee; His feet also, He cannot run from thee. His arms are wide open to embrace thee, His head hangs down to kiss thee; His very heart is open, so that therein look, nay, even spy, and thou shalt see nothing therein but love, love, love, to thee.”

-John Trapp

My place

Bearing shame and scoffing rude
In my place condemned He stood

Dark Gethsemane

Death and the curse were in that cup,
Oh Christ, 'twas full for Thee;
But Thou hast drained the last dark dregs,
Tis empty now for me.