Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Doxology

This posting is a test to see if I can figure out how to post a video to my blog. I found this great a capella version of the Doxology for the test. There are also a couple of verses of the hymn, All People That On Earth Do Dwell. Just for your information, there are a number of hymns that use this same tune, which is known as the Old 100th. It is called the Old 100th because of its original association with the 100th Psalm. Old 100th was written in the mid 16th century. What we commonly know as the Doxology was written over 100 years after that and is the 11th (Yes! eleven verses) and last verse of the hymn, Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

So, what are you doing for Lent?

Tomorrow begins the season of Lent. Lent the period of 40 days that runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. You may notice that there are actually more than 40 days in this time period. That is because Sundays are not counted in the calculation. Lent is a time of self-examination, repentance, fasting and purposeful focus on the sufferings of Christ leading to His crucifixion on Good Friday. The reason Sundays are not “counted” is because Sunday is looked upon as a day of celebration – a mini-Easter if you will.

You may choose to do something special during Lent this year. Perhaps you have chosen a special book to read or topical Bible study to go through from now to Easter. Others may deny themselves a certain luxury or pleasure and “give up” such things as deserts or other food items, eating between meals,
$5 daily lattes, going out to eat, television, etc. Really, it could be just about anything.

Still others may choose add something to their lives instead of or in addition to giving something up. This could be spending extra time in prayer or Bible reading. I could be helping out at a food shelf or shelter or volunteering in some other worthy cause.

Whatever one chooses to do or not do during Lent should be done as unto the Lord, with the purpose of drawing closer to Him during this time. Ultimately, some of these practices will continue once we get past Easter and become part of our daily discipline as we seek to be molded by Him into His image and as we seek to honor Him in every aspect of our lives.

For those who have chosen to fast during Lent, whether it be a day a week, a meal or two a day, or a complete fast for an extended period of time, I have included an original prayer for fasting. Perhaps it will be of help to you.


Lord, I commit this fast to you.
Grant that I would draw close to You during this time,
and not simply abstain from the pleasures of food.

When I feel hungry and desire to eat,
give me a greater hunger for You;
remind me that “man does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God;”
move me to feed upon Jesus, the Bread of Life,
the True Manna come down from heaven;
place within me a hunger and thirst for righteousness
with the assurance from Your word that I shall be filled.

Should I be troubled by headaches or stomach pain,
cause me to remember and meditate upon
the sufferings You willingly endured for me.

If I should become crabby or irritable,
draw me into Your presence; for in Your presence is
is fullness of joy.

If I am feeling particularly weak,
let me experience
the joy of the Lord which is my strength;
let me understand
that Your strength is made perfect in my weakness;
let me know
that when I am weak, then I can be truly strong.

If I wonder if I will be able to continue,
pour out Your abundant grace and that will be sufficient for me.

Throughout my fast,
increase my hunger for You;
allow me to taste and see that the Lord is good;
let me feast at the spiritual table You have set for me.

I ask these things for Your glory. Amen.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Shack Attack!

Well, I just finished reading The Shack, by William Paul Young. This is the current "hot book" in the country, especially in Christian circles. As of this morning, it is #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers list, #4 on Amazon and #14 on Barnes and Noble.

It is a different kind of read: weird in spots, borderline blasphemous in others, heart wrenching, soul stirring and thought provoking throughout.

This book has been criticized and condemned, as is often the case, by those who probably didn't read the whole book. The biggest bone of contention is how the author deals with the Persons of the Trinity. I'm not going to give any spoilers here and ruin it for those who haven't read it yet, but I will say this: The Shack is about how God is with us amidst tragedy and loss and suffering. It is not a theological treatise on the Godhead or a systematic study of the Trinity. IT IS A NOVEL, A WORK OF FICTION!

The Shack has a certain something that will bring healing to many who have lost a loved one due to tragedy or sickness. Its central message is one of hope and comfort and God's love in spite of circumstances. The message of the critics misses the point of The Shack, as well at the grace and comfort that can be found in its pages.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Devotions? or Devoted?

I have said, "God has not called us to do devotions, but to a devoted life." Now, "doing devotions" might be a part of the devoted life, but it is surely not a substitute for it.

William Law, (1686-1761) in his book, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, shared similar thoughts. Here a few snippets from one chapter in that book.

"...who does not know, that it is better to be pure and holy than to talk about purity and holiness?"

" is better to be holy than to have holy prayers."

"...I do not intend to lessen the true and great value of prayers, either public or private; but only to show [the reader] that they are certainly but a very slender part of devotion, when compared to a devout life."

"For God is to be glorified , holiness is to be practiced, and the spirit of religion is to be the common spirit of every Christian, in every state and condition of life."

Oh, for those of you who are hung up over the word "religion" and are, in the "Christianity-isn't-a-religion-it's-a-relationship" camp, I simply say,