Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Take courage...

Just down the road from me is the village of Olney where John Newton served as minister for a substantial part of his life. A little less well known is William Cowper, a man who was often found in the teeth of depression. John cared for William, even moving him into his house for long periods of time. 

John encouraged his friend to write hymns with him which would not only help to communicate biblical truth to his congregation, but also as a way of helping William totake a small step out of the darkness that seemed to torment his soul.

Below is a post which appeared on Desiring God about William and one of his famous hymns, God moves in a mysterious way!

New Year’s Day, 1773, marked a decade since depression nearly snatched away William Cowper’s life. 

 The mental agony tortured him so severely ten winters prior that he was locked up in St. Alban’s insane asylum after a botched suicide attempt. While there, he stumbled upon a Bible that the asylum’s Christian director had strategically left open. His eyes fell upon Romans 3:23–26, and the glory of Jesus Christ chased the shadows from his soul. 

 But by the beginning of 1773, successive blows had left Cowper staggering. His brother died in 1770, followed by two of his cousins the following year. In 1772, neighbors’ whispers suggested that Cowper’s relationship with his landlady was something short of innocent. The grief and the slander soon gathered into clouds too dark for his sanity. And so, as Cowper walked through the fields after church 246 years ago today, Cowper “was struck by a terrible premonition that the curse of madness was about to fall on him again” (John Newton, 217). 

 But before night fell on Cowper’s soul, he sat in the light of his remaining sanity, took up his pen, and wrote a hymn that has strengthened generations of staggering saints through their various shadows. Take Courage Cowper’s hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” is a song for every saint who sits on the edge. It is a guide for all who do not see fresh hopes rising over the horizon of the new year. It is a confession of faith in the face of darkness — one that flickers with enough light to carry us through whatever midnights this year brings. 

 At the heart of the hymn is a simple exhortation: “Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take.” Take courage. Take courage when the clouds come thundering toward you. Take courage when the coming days seem covered in shadow. Take courage when you cannot understand God’s ways. But why, we ask in the valley, should we take courage? Throughout the rest of the hymn, Cowper gives his reasons.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Go find a ladder....

With the annual season for stating resolutions that won’t make it into the second week of January, almost upon us, I thought this post by Seth Godin  had a truthful ring to it. For me anyway!

While it might be fun (or appear expedient, or brave, or heroic) to try to scale a cliff with no tools, it turns out that ladders are a more effective way to level up. 
When it’s time to drive a nail, a hammer is a lot more useful than a rock. Even if you have to invest in obtaining one. 
Often, we spend most of our time throwing ourselves at the wall instead of investing the time to find a useful ladder instead. Perhaps, instead of restating our audacious goals, we can spend more time finding useful tools–insights, skills, trust, attention, access–instead. 
It’s worth the search.

What does your ladder look like?

Friday, December 28, 2018

Wait for the gentle whisper

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was NOT in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was NOT in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was NOT in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

1 Kings 19:11-13

Wait for the gentle whisper.....that’s when you know God has arrived.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A hymn worth singing...to the Glory of God the father

It is suggested by Matthew Gordley in New Testament Christological Hymns, that the famous passage about Jesus, God and their relationship was written or adopted as a hymn by the church. Now that is a song worth singing!

6. Though he was in the form of God, 
he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. 

 7 But he emptied himself 
by taking the form of a slave 
and by becoming like human beings. 

 When he found himself in the form of a human, 
8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, 
even death on a cross. 

 9 Therefore, God highly honored him 
and gave him a name above all names, 

 P10 so that at the name of Jesus everyone 
in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow 

 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father.

Phil 2:6-11