Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Hymn: In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

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 it's grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Words and Music: Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Hymn: Be Still, My Soul

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Words: Katharina A. D. von Schlegel
Music:Jean Sibelius

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Hymn: Be Thou my Vision

Thanks to a wonderful "coincidence" that had me in Southern California the same week as Shepherd's Conference, I was able to attend the evening session on Thursday (March 11).  This is one of the hymn's that was sung in Grace Community Church's main auditorium by close to 4,000 people.  What a tremendous blessing!

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Words: Attributed to Dallan Forgaill
Music: The Irish Folk Song Slane

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Hymn: Oh, Worship the King

O worship the king all glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love;
Our shield and defender, the ancient of days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of his might, O sing of his grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is his path on the wings of the storm.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, thy pow'r hath founded of old;
Hath stablished it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air; it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills; it descends to the plain;
And sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!

O measureless might! ineffable love!
While angels delight to hymn thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall lisp to thy praise.

Words: Robert Grant
Music: Attributed to Johann Michael Hayden

"Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church..."

Dr. Robertson McQuilkin was the president of Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University) from 1968 – 1990. His wife having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years prior to the end of his tenure, Dr. McQuilkin reached a point where it became clear that he could no longer serve as president and also care for his wife personally.

In a 2004 article titled, “Living by Vows,” (published in Christianity Today), Dr. McQuilkin recounted how a number of close friends and colleagues, whom he respected deeply, encouraged him to consider institutionalizing his wife for the sake of his career :
So began years of struggle with the question of what should be sacrificed: ministry or caring for Muriel. Should I put the kingdom of God first, "hate" my wife and, for the sake of Christ and the kingdom, arrange for institutionalization? Trusted, lifelong friends—wise and godly—urged me to do this.

"Muriel would become accustomed to the new environment quickly." Would she? Would anyone love her at all, let alone love her as I do? I had often seen the empty, listless faces of those lined up in wheelchairs along the corridors of such places, waiting, waiting for the fleeting visit of some loved one. In such an environment, Muriel would be tamed only with drugs or bodily restraints, of that I was confident.
When the time came, the decision was firm. It took no great calculation. It was a matter of integrity. Had I not promised, 42 years before, "in sickness and in health . . . till death do us part"?

This was no grim duty to which I stoically resigned, however. It was only fair. She had, after all, cared for me for almost four decades with marvelous devotion; now it was my turn. And such a partner she was! If I took care of her for 40 years, I would never be out of her debt.
I have been startled by the response to the announcement of my resignation. Husbands and wives renew marriage vows, pastors tell the story to their congregations. It was a mystery to me, until a distinguished oncologist, who lives constantly with dying people, told me, "Almost all women stand by their men; very few men stand by their women." Perhaps people sensed this contemporary tragedy and somehow were helped by a simple choice I considered the only option. (emphasis added)

And so, in 1990, Dr. McQuilkin -- renowned author, speaker, and former missionary -- announced his resignation to the faculty and students of Columbia Bible College. He spent the next 13 years honoring and fulfilling his vows to his wife. A short segment of that speech survives in audio form.

Last fall, Focus on the Family aired an episode titled Love in the Midst of Alzheimer’s featuring a recorded talk of Dr. McQuilkin telling his story.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rethinking Proverbs 22:6

"Train a child up in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Now, that is something we're going to camp out [on] for awhile, because that is a verse that is another favorite verse of Proverbs that doesn't mean what anybody thinks it does.  I very reluctantly -- it takes a lot of hubris to say that everybody has translated a verse wrong -- but everybody has translated that verse wrong.  People are -- you'll read more and more academics who are admitting that -- but, traditional translations die hard, and, unfortunately, this is a well-beloved traditional translation.

The trouble is that...there are a number of troubles with taking it that way.  "Train up a child in the way he should go." Let me give you a literal -- a very literal -- translation of that: "Initiate for the child on the mouth of his way; even when he is old, he will not turn from it."  And I give you a more of a [loose] translation: "Start out a boy according to his own way; even though he may grow old, he will not turn from it."  Now, what do you notice that's missing there? What's missing is, there is no "way he should go."  And that is beyond argument not in the Hebrew; the Hebrew text says nothing like "the way he should go."  There simply is no argument about that.  You have people interpret it that way, but it doesn't say that.  It simply says, if you start out your child according to the dictate of his way, then when he is old, he won't depart from it.

Now, when you think about that, if you don't assume the traditional translation, does that sound like it's saying that this is something you should do?  "Start out a child according to his way" -- well, what is "his way" according to Proverbs?  We just saw at 22:15: "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child."  So, what is "his way"?  "His way" is a foolish way.  "His way" is a sinful way.  Left to himself, he'll bring shame to his mother.  Didn't we just read that?  So, if you start out a child according to his way, then when he grows old, he won't turn from it.  Do you start getting what Solomon really is saying?  He's saying something like 29:15 says: "A child left to himself brings shame to his mother."  That's a child who's let loose.  Remember, Proverbs says again and again that there's only two ways.  There are only two ways: there's God's way, and there's our way.  And what is  our way like?  Well, it's a way that seems right to the eyes of a man, but what's the end of it?  Destruction...the way of death.

So, this is a verse that's hinting at and giving the two ways: the one way is the child's way, but by implication, the other way is God's way.  But what this is actually is -- this is not a promise.  And, unfortunately, many, many Christian parents have taken this as a promise. It's not a promise; it's a warning.  It's not a promise that if you start out Johnny going to Sunday School, then although when he turns seventeen, he'll start boozing and carousing and being sexually immoral, but you know eventually he'll come back, because you took him to Sunday School.  That is not what this verse says.  What this verse says is that if you start Johnny out being accustomed to get Johnny's way, and Johnny expecting that if he whines and cries long enough then he will prevail on Mom and Dad, and if you start Johnny out expecting the world ought to cater to Johnny's whims and Johnny's  expectations and Johnny's demands, then even though his body will mature, he won't.  He'll never turn from that.  And you've known children like this, who grow up expecting the world to cater itself to them -- and if they ever "get religion," they think "religion" is the same thing.  That's why so many churches are consumer-driven; they've got a bunch of Johnnies in them, who expect that God should do things their way, the church should do things their way, they should be able to customize it, they think God is the great "Burger King in the sky" -- you know, where kids are king: "Special orders don't upset us."  And they've been led to expect that everything should cater itself to them.
That's what this verse is warning against.  This verse is warning that if you start out a child assuming that he should get his way, he won't depart from it.  Another indication of that is this word "will not depart."  That verb, sur, the verb is used seventeen times in Proverbs.  Thirteen out of those seventeen times, it means, "departing from something evil."  Only three of the times is it used of departing from something positive.  And then, the next one is this verse-- which is what we're trying to decide -- what does that mean?  So, I want to try to make that plain.  What I'm saying is, when it says, "when he is  old, he won't depart from it," the traditional idea is: "Well, you've led him in a good way, and when he's older, he won't depart from that good way."  But the verb usually means departing from something  bad.  So, naturally, we would assume that that's what it means here.  And I think that  is what it means here.

Let me be as plain as I can: what Proverbs -- what Solomon is saying is, "If you raise him to expect his own way, that's a bad thing, and it's a bad thing that he should depart from, but when he grows up, he won't depart from it.  He won't repent of it.  He won't  leave it, because you led him to expect it.  You led him to think that's the way things are supposed to be."

Do you see?  Are you tracking with me?  I don't demand that you agree with me, but [do] you at least understand what I'm saying here?
Dan Phillips, "Insights from Proverbs (Children in Proverbs)"
Sovereign Grace Baptist Church  2007 Conference on Proverbs
(Click here to see the audio files for all six sessions)