Monday, December 31, 2012

Bible Intake for 2013

As you consider a Bible reading plan for 2013, consider these words of wisdom by Don Whitney:
Read less (if necessary) in order to meditate more1…spend at least 25% of your time in the Word of God meditating and not just reading2.
You can read more here. Monergism also has an entire MP3 on meditation.

  1. Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1991), P. 55.
  2. Do You Thirst for God? (Seminar mp3, 53:15)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Psalm

We've been studying the Psalms in homegroup, and for fun I challenged everyone to write a psalm. Here was mine.

A Psalm

Lord, your people know you and give you thanks
For you marvelous care;
Lord, your people know you and cry out
For you enduring love.

You are mighty;
Your right arm is strong, strong to save.

Save me, Oh God, from my enemies;
The enemies without, who care nothing about you;
The enemy within, who'd rather do without you;
Lord, make your triumph my triumph
And all of the enemies as nothing, a footstool.

Then all will proclaim your care,
Your love,
Your victory.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hymn for Sunday - O for a heart to praise my God

I hate to admit it, but I have always sold this hymn short. I think it's because I've always heard it sung to the same tune as "O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing" (which I heard first and more often) that I have considered it something of an also-ran.

But recently, there's been a personal reason to reconsider it. As I am beginning to see ever more clearly God's teaching on the importance of the heart throughout Scripture, the lyrics of this hymn are transformed from a set of disembodied words to a personal prayer.

O for a heart to praise my God

Words: Charles Wesley, 1742
Music: Stockton, Song 67, Holy Cross, Wetherby, Kilmarnock
Meter: CM

O for a heart to praise my God,
a heart from sin set free,
a heart that always feels thy blood
so freely shed for me.

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
my great Redeemer's throne,
where only Christ is heard to speak,
where Jesus reigns alone.

A humble, lowly, contrite, heart,
believing, true and clean,
which neither life nor death can part
from him that dwells within.

A heart in every thought renewed
and full of love divine,
perfect and right and pure and good,
a copy, Lord, of thine.

My heart, thou know'st, can never rest
till thou create my peace;
till of mine Eden repossessed,
from self, and sin, I cease.

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart;
come quickly from above;
write thy new name upon my heart,
thy new, best name of Love.

(Taken from an entry located at the Oremus Hymnal. This work is in the public domain.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How People Use the Bible on the Internet

Spent a little (too much) time yesterday at Some interesting stuff. Think about the creativity of Google, and mash it up with the web-awareness of the Crossway folks, and you'll have some idea of what you'll find there.

They have a page that uses Google data to look at Twitter and Facebook to see how people are quoting the Bible. Fascinating technology.

There are other interesting pages as well. There's one that estimates the translation share on the web based on web searches. I'd love to see the companion to this--what translation people use when they are quoting.

Another one has visual cross-references. Since we're studying Romans at church, I compared Romans to the Bible as a whole. Not sure what I'm looking at, but I do think there's a future for this kind of thing--computer analysis of texts based on input from users. See, for example, a comparison of Hebrews and Leviticus. Or this one, comparing Song of Solomon to the Bible. (By the way, you can click on the graphic, and it links to a picture that you can download.)

Definitely something to watch for the future.

Projects like this redeem the internet. I love it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hymn for Sunday - Just As I Am, Without One Plea

Going through Romans on Sunday mornings at church, and also reading through John Stott's book "The Cross of Christ." God keeps bringing me face-to-face with what I bring to the table in salvation, which is nothing. I don't mind, because I need the reminders, and the more I wrestle with my own sinfulness, the more I can love my wonderful savior.

Those thoughts are what led me to this hymn.

Just as I am, without one plea
Words: Charlotte Elliott, 1841
Music: Woodworth, Saffron Walden, St. Crispin, Misericordia

Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidd'st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt;
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
sight, riches, healing of the mind,
yea, all I need, in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive;
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thy love unknown
has broken every barrier down;
now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
the breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
here for a season, then above:
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

(Taken from an entry located at the Oremus Hymnal. This work is in the public domain.)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Bible Translations Revisited

I've been thinking for awhile about writing a series of articles about the Bible. Specifically, Bible translation. It's been a longtime passion of mine, and I've written snippets about it previously, but several things have coalesced that have made me want to revisit it more systematically. (Series are much easier to do now that blogs have tags available.)

With that said, since this is the kingdom, not competition, I'm thrilled to find out when someone is already working on this, especially when it is someone I know. I stumbled across my friend Kim Shay's blog entry about Bible translations, and it is just the sort of thing I'm thinking about writing. I commend it to you.

I am also working on revising my listing of bible copyrights into a full-blown discussion of them. Until it is finished, my original listing is available on my blog's copyright page, or as a downloadable PDF on scribd.

More to come...

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Hymn for Sunday - Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty

One of the things I've noticed recently in going through the Psalms is the pervasiveness of praise.

Consider this excerpt from Psalm 103:

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

Bless the LORD, you angels of his,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
and hearken to the voice of his word.

Bless the LORD, all you his hosts,
you ministers of his who do his will.

Bless the LORD, all you works of his,
in all places of his dominion;
bless the LORD, O my soul.

(vs. 1,2,20,21,22)

This picture, of God's praise coming from everywhere—from within the psalmist, and from creation, high and low—reminded me of a stanza in the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty," where earth, sky, and sea all praise God.

The lyrics below were obtained from the Oremus Hymnal online, which lists more than 40 separate Anglican hymnals that contain this particular hymn.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty

Words: Reginald Heber (1783-1826), 1827
Meter: 11 12 12 10

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity.

Holy, holy, holy! All saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the sinful human eye thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity.

(Psalm quote adapted from The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church, 1979 edition, obtained from The (Online) Book of Common Prayer. Lyrics for the hymn are from an entry located at the Oremus Hymnal. Both of these works are in the public domain.)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What is the Christian Life?

One of the other things I decided to in learning about Lent was to get the Anglican Church’s Lent app, which has daily reflections. The following quote, which I think is a very nice summing up of the Christian life, is excerpted from the 02/28 entry.

The Christian life is not a set of principles that can be quickly learnt and swotted up on, and the exam then passed. It is a life of growth, pruning, development, commitment, wisdom, maturity, chastening and encouragement. It is, in short, learning and growing through a living relationship.

(Quote taken from the Reflections for Lent app, Published 2012 by Church House Publishing. It is Copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2011.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lent 2012

There seems to be lots more activity than normal surrounding Lent this year. I could be wrong, or it may simply be that I'm paying more attention since I've decided to participate.

My wife and I have decided to celebrate Lent for the first time this year by making it a priority to pray with each other every day. We are both excited about it, and hopeful that God will use this time to grow us closer together, and help us make a habit of this important practice.

One of the most interesting things I found in my readings was written by Michael Horton of White Horse Inn. This link brings together an article he wrote entitled Lent—Why Bother? To Lead us to Christ, which defends the idea of Lent without condoning the superstitious practices surrounding it, and a brief discussion of why he doesn't think the practice violates the regulative principal.

I'm not a fan of the regulative principal anyway—I think it is misused and arbitrary at times—but its use in this case seems to bring it into conflict with Scripture. I think Horton nails it when he talks about Paul allowing feasts.

That's not to say that Horton couldn't be wrong; he could. I could, too. But I hope that, far from celebrating something superstitiously, we are actively working to redeem the time, doing something to strengthen our marriage and devotion to the Lord.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hymn for Sunday - O Love that wilt not let me go

A few years ago Bryan Duncan put out an album called "Quiet Prayers," tied to the "My Utmost for His Highest" anniversary celebration. It is by far some of my favorite music, wonderful for background, contemplation, and the right kind of meditation. Highly recommended, and although out of print, it is available used and download. I really need to track my copy down.

One of the songs on it was "Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go." I was thrilled when I stumbled upon this hymn at the Oremus Hymnal this week. Between the words themselves and the ABAAB structure of the stanzas, this is a nice selection.

O Love that wilt not let me go

Words: George Matheson, 1882
Music: St. Margaret, Consecration, Wyke
Meter: 88 886

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths its flow
may richer, fuller be.

O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
my heart restores its borrowed ray,
that in thy sunshine's blaze its day
may brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain,
that morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms red
life that shall endless be.

(Taken from an entry located at the Oremus Hymnal. This work is in the public domain.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hymn for the Day - I Sing the Mighty Power of God

We are just getting started in Romans at church, and as we’ve come to Romans 1:18-23, we read that God’s invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—are clearly perceived since the beginning through the creation itself. This was one of the hymns we sang today, and our pastor reminded us that we should be inspired to praise God even just by looking at what we see around us.

I Sing the Mighty Power of God
by Isaac Watts

I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God’s command, and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.

There’s not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God art present there.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Character of God's Law

"There can be nothing... in the demands of the law, and the severity of the law, and the condemnation of the law, and the death of the law, and the curse of the law, which is not a reflection (in part) of the perfections of God. Whatever is due to the law is due to the law because it is the law of God, and is due therefore to God himself."

Nathaniel Dimock, Doctrine of the Death of Christ, p. 32, quoted in The Cross of Christ, by John Stott, p. 118 (IVP, 2006).

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Hymn for the Day - Isaac Watts on Psalm 90

Isaac Watts was not merely prolific in his hymn writing, in terms of quantity; even a brief glance at a hymnal reveals that lasting impact he has had on the faith. Here is one of his adaptations of Psalm 90.

Psalm 90 (v. 1-5)

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting thou art God,
To endless years the same.

Thy word commands our flesh to dust,
"Return, ye sons of men:"
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

A thousand ages in thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

[The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by the flood,
And lost in following years.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the op'ning day.

Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower's hand
Lie with'ring ere 'tis night.]

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

(Taken from Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts, located at the the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. This work is in the public domain.)

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

No More Death to Die

We sang Crown Him With Many Crowns a couple of weeks ago at church. I remember it well, because it was just after my grandmother's funeral, and the following stanza struck a particular chord and stuck with me.

Crown him the Lord of life,
who triumphed o'er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those he came to save.
His glories now we sing,
who died, and rose on high,
who died, eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

At Grandma's memorial service, we were given the opportunity to say something. I decided to try to find something from or about a Scripture passage on death, and after doing some research, I found what I wanted in a sermon from Charles Spurgeon, quoted in the book We Shall See God: Charles Spurgeon's Classic Devotional Thoughts on Heaven, by Randy Alcorn. (If that book sounds familiar, you may have previously read this review.)

Preaching on 1 Cor. 15:3-6, Spurgeon said this:

In the heathen part of the catacombs of Rome, the inscriptions over the place where their dead were buried are full of grief and despair. Indeed, the writers of those inscriptions do not appear to have been able to find words in which they could express their great distress, their agony of heart, at the loss of child or husband or friend. They pile the mournful words together, trying to describe their grief. Sometimes they declare that the light has gone from their sky now that their dear ones are taken from them.

"Alas! Alas!" says the record. "Dear Caius has gone, and with him all joy is quenched forever, for I shall see him no more." But when you come into that part of the catacombs which was devoted to Christian burial vaults, everything is different. There you may constantly read these consoling words: "He sleeps in peace." There is nothing dreadful or despairing in the inscriptions there; they are submissive, they are cheerful, they are even thankful. Frequently they are victorious, and the most common emblem is not the quenched torch, as it is on the heathen side, where the light is supposed to have gone out forever, but the palm branch, to signify that the victory remains eternally with the departed one. It is the glory of the Christian religion to have let light into the grave, to have taken away the sting from death, and in fact, to have made it no more death to die.

Our dearly departed loved ones who have died in Christ now have no more death to die, and it is all thanks to the Lord of life.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hymn for Sunday - Crown Him With Many Crowns

Crown Him with Many Crowns

Text: Matthew Bridges, 1800-1894, and Godfrey Thring, 1823-1903
Music: George J. Elvey, 1816-1893

Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne,
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
through all eternity.

Crown him the Lord of life,
who triumphed o'er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those he came to save.
His glories now we sing,
who died, and rose on high,
who died, eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

Crown him the Lord of peace,
whose power a scepter sways
from pole to pole, that wars may cease,
and all be prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end,
and round his pierced feet
fair flowers of paradise extend
their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown him the Lord of love;
behold his hands and side,
those wounds, yet visible above,
in beauty glorified.
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
For thou hast died for me;
thy praise and glory shall not fail
throughout eternity.

Lyrics obtained from

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Trying To Be More Trinitarian

One thing that I have been challenged on recently is my overall lack of Trinitarianism.

It's Carl Trueman's fault. The guy is an absolute menace to a comfortable pew-sitter like me. I was listening to his lectures on medieval church theology (which are worth listening to, despite the audio problems, which I think are due to a less-than-successful transfer from cassette), and he mentioned on several occasions that a pet peeve of his is the functional unitarianism of the evangelical church.

And doggonit if he isn't right. I mean, when was the last time you included all three members of the Trinity in your prayers?

I think prayer is where the whole thing intersected for me, because I was already feeling the weight of not praying as I should, and then to have this added to it, was really the tipping point for me.

There's more that could be said--more that I could go into--but now isn't the time. Instead, I'll just say that I'm working on all of those things, and a part of my inspiration is by looking at published historical prayers.

The Book Of Common Prayer is one of the most obvious, but not the only one by any means. But there are other things as well, like this book on Presbyterian Liturgy (I'm currently reading through Calvin's prayers), and this book of prayers and meditations by Anselm (that last was recommended by Trueman in his lectures, BTW).

The point is this: I'm trying to make progress in thinking Trinitarian, so that I will pray more Trinitarian.

What about you?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Prayer for Afflicted Persons

This comes from John Calvin's Liturgy of the Church of Geneva.

God of all comfort! We commend to you those whom you are pleased to visit and chasten with any cross or tribulation; the nations whom you do afflict with pestilence, war, or famine; all persons oppressed with poverty, imprisonment, sickness, banishment, or any other distress of body or sorrow of mind: That it may please you to show them your fatherly chastening them for their profit; to the end that in their hearts they may turn to you, and being converted, may receive perfect consolation, and deliverance from all their woes.

(Taken from Eutaxia, or the Presbyterian Liturgies: Historical Sketches by Charles Washington Baird, which is in the public domain. Spelling is slightly modernized.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Prayer for Today

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Your Spirit, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.


Adapted from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, which is in the public domain.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Listen Through the Bible in 2012

The read-through-the-Bible reading plans at are available as free daily audio podcasts. Search "ESV" on iTunes, & make it thru the Bible this year.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Considering Copyrights

While I was mulling over copyrights today (for an update of my blog copyright statement), I was also considering adding a Creative Commons license.

Anyone used that, or decided not to? And does anyone know what happens if I lawfully quote from a copyrighted source (like a Bible), can I legally license others to lawfully use the work that I lawfully used?