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Archive for March, 2013

Here are three hymns whose words and music will help you prepare your heart, mind, and spirit throughout Easter week. Listen to them several times over the next few days and linger over the lyrics, allowing the Lord to speak to you through the words and melodies.

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The first hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” was written by the prolific English hymn composer Isaac Watts in 1707 as a way of expressing his heartfelt thanks for the amazing love of Christ who willingly died for our sins on the cross. Isaac’s words and music have proven to be timeless and inspiring to Christian believers for more than three hundred years:

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

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The second, “What Wondrous Love Is This,” is an early American folk hymn that was first sung by worshipers in the Appalachian region of our country between the late 1800s and early 1900s, and then published in a hymnal in 1835. The author and composer are unknown.

May these simply stated lyrics and plaintive tune minister to you as you consider the depth of Christ’s love for us as he bore our sins on the cross.

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul!

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb I will sing!
To God and the Lamb, who is the great “I AM,”
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
while millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on!
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and through eternity I’ll sing on!

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The third hymn, “The Power of the Cross” was written in 2005 by Keith Getty, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Stuart Townend, a British songwriter and worship leader. They write and compose modern hymns that are theologically rich and teach the Christian faith in a style of music that unites people of different traditions and generations. Keith and his wife, Kristyn, presently live and perform in the U.S.

Oh, to see the dawn
of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
torn and beaten, then
nailed to a cross of wood.

CHORUS:
This, the pow’r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
took the blame, bore the wrath-
we stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
written on Your face,
bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev’ry bitter thought,
ev’ry evil deed
crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
now the ground beneath
quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
dead are raised to life;
“Finished!” the vict’ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
written in the wounds,
for through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
life is mine to live,
won through Your selfless love.

FINAL CHORUS:
This, the pow’r of the cross:
Son of God–slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

***

May these hymns draw you close to our Lord and Savior and prepare you for your own spiritual journey through Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the glorious celebration on Easter Sunday. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus bless you abundantly.

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This video of three-year-old Johnny lying to his mother went viral on the Internet after she posted it on YouTube. “I saw this as a sweet moment,” the mother said, “something that every child goes through…where they try to push the boundaries to see how far they can go.”

While little Johnny is cute and we smile and chuckle at his denials despite the glaring evidence of red sprinkles on his face, this video reminds us not only of how children are capable of lying at an early age but how we, as adults, continue to lie.

Our lies range from little “white” lies, half-truths, exaggerations, and denials, to major falsehoods. Some lies seem harmless, with few consequences. Other lies go hidden for years, and then are suddenly exposed in a glaring public manner, destroying careers, marriages, families, reputations, and lives.

We see the effects of lies by politicians, entertainers, athletes, corporate executives, and even among the clergy—for example:

• The devastating effects of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme on thousands of investors who lost their life savings

• The hundreds of thousands of deaths and casualties as a result of the “weapons of mass destruction” lies that led to the Iraq war

• The traumatized lives of young men and women who were sexually abused as children by priests and the subsequent cover-up by church leaders

Knowing how lies can destroy relationships, lives, and organizations, the apostle Paul admonished Christians in both the Colossian and Ephesian churches:

“Don’t lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9, New living Translation, NLT)

“…put away all falsehood and tell your neighbor the truth…” (Ephesians 4: 25, NLT)

Paul points out that lying is part of our old sinful nature, along with anger, rage, malicious behavior, dirty language, sexual sin, lust, impurity, and shameful desires, all of which need to be put to death within us now that we have been raised to new life with Jesus Christ (Col. 3:1-11, NLT).

In place of our old nature, Paul reminds us,

“…you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you. In this new life…Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

“Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

“Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other… And whatever you say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father. “ (Col. 3:10-12, 16-17, NLT)

We must not only speak truth to each other and maintain the unity of fellowship within the body of Christ, but just as importantly, Paul says:

“Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone.” (Col. 4:5-6, NLT)

As brothers and sisters in whom Christ dwells, let us commit ourselves to being people of truth and gracious words, and where we have failed to be such, may we be willing to confess our sin and make amends where possible.

Little Johnny was unwilling to confess to his mother. But we know that if we confess our sin to our heavenly father, “he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” (1 John 1:9, NLT)

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