Suffering

Our church is currently going through a series on the theology of suffering (and, of course, the sovereignty of God). These lyrics from the sovereign grace CD Come Weary Saints, by Mark Altrogge, come to mind.

As Long As You Are Glorified

Shall I take from Your hand Your blessings
Yet not welcome any pain?
Shall I thank You for days of sunshine,
Yet grumble in days of rain?
Shall I love You in times of plenty,
Then leave You in days of drought?
Shall I trust when I reap a harvest,
But when winter winds blow, then doubt?

CHORUS
Oh let Your will be done in me!
In Your love I will abide,
Oh I long for nothing else as long
As You are glorified!

Are You good only when I prosper,
And true only when I'Â’m filled?
Are You King only when I'Â’m carefree,
And God only when IÂ’'m well?
You are good when IÂ’'m poor and needy,
You are true when IÂ’'m parched and dry,
You still reign in the deepest valley,
YouÂ’'re still God in the darkest night!

BRIDGE
So quiet my restless heart, quiet my restless heart
Quiet my restless heart in You

Perhaps most poignant to me in suffering is a church sister, one of my closer friends, whom I think I mentioned before. Her very young daughter has a life-threatening heart condition, and the medical experts on her case a couple of weeks ago have finally said there is nothing more they can do. Can you watch your child die? Can you bury your own child, who is so vibrant and unique? What did she do to deserve this? God, why are we suffering?

While He creates calamity (Isaiah 45:7) and rains on both the righteous and unrighteous (Matt 5:45), our holy, just, merciful, patient, infinitely loving God does not author sin and suffering. We recall that He also allowed His own Son, whom He loved, to die. He was sinless and therefore least deserving of suffering, but Christ received the greatest suffering of all. So why injustice? Why must my child die? Because of God's purposes, which are higher than ours. In His loving, perfect, compassionate wisdom, He allowed it. Oh, God, you are a wonderful, glorious, mysterious God.

One day all tears will be wiped away, imperfect made perfect, death reversed, and You will be glorified as much as You finally deserve. Til then, we seek Your glory with every stumbling breath we breathe, our continual sins covered by Your blood, and even in the depths of our suffering, we know that You are still God, and You are still good.

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soli Deo gloria
originally posted by Cheryl at soli-deo-gloria.deviantart.com, syndicated to chongsworship.com

To See the King of Heaven fall

In preparation for Easter weekend…

… have a listen to this song (click through to see the video), and hear not just how Jesus Christ died, but why He was crucified on Good Friday almost two thousand years ago.

Worship leader Jamie Brown aptly points out:

It’s not enough to sing a song that says Jesus was crucified and leave it at that. A sad sounding, minor-key song might set the right mood, but not point people to why Jesus died and what he accomplished on the cross. This song is a gift for worship leaders looking for a song that derives its emotion out of the truth it contains.

Here are the lyrics:


To See the King of Heaven Fall (Gethsemane)
To see the King of heaven fall
In anguish to His knees,
The Light and Hope of all the world
Now overwhelmed with grief.
What nameless horrors must He see,
To cry out in the garden:
“Oh, take this cup away from me –
Yet not my will but Yours,
Yet not my will but Yours.”

To know each friend will fall away,
And heaven’s voice be still,
For hell to have its vengeful day
Upon Golgotha’s hill.
No words describe the Savior’s plight –
To be by God forsaken
Till wrath and love are satisfied
And every sin is paid
And every sin is paid

What took Him to this wretched place,
What kept Him on this road?
His love for Adam’s curséd race,
For every broken soul.
No sin too slight to overlook,
No crime too great to carry,
All mingled in this poisoned cup –
And yet He drank it all,
The Savior drank it all,
The Savior drank it all.
Stuart Townend & Keith Getty Copyright © 2009 Thankyou Music

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2 Cor 5:21 – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

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-William

On John Piper’s sabbatical

John Piper

John Piper, preaching pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN, announced his upcoming sabbatical from all public commitments and explains why:

“Noël [John’s wife] and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness on either side. But, as I told the elders, “rock solid” is not always an emotionally satisfying metaphor, especially to a woman. A rock is not the best image of a woman’s tender companion. In other words, the precious garden of my home needs tending. I want to say to Noël that she is precious to me in a way that, at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage, can be said best by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments.”

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As a naïve husband on the opposite end of the age and ministry spectrum, I need to take note. John is humble in saying that even 40 years into their marriage, there is work to be done, and there are needs to be tended to. That is something I can only glean from older, wiser followers of Christ.

Who are we to haughtily assume we won’t be drawn to similar challenges in a later season of our marriage?

Who am I to brazenly throw around platitudes like “our honeymoon doesn’t have to end”, as if by being just over a month into our marriage we’re at an elevated level of sageness? It is foolishness for me to think so.

Who am I to be proud of having a marriage I don’t deserve?

For those who care for us, please hold us to account on this issue. Don’t let us get carried away in our married pride.

That’s right, knock us off our prideful perches and tell us how to be more humble, more Christ-exalting.

And most of all, pray for us, that we would continue to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt 6:33).

– William

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That thing they call christianity

Christians often say they are "saved." By this they define their "christianness." I remember the Revival Hymn video. At one point Leonard Ravenhill asks:"If I was to ask you tonight if you were saved? Do you say, 'Yes, I am saved.' When? 'Oh so and so preached, I got baptised and...' Are you saved? What are you saved from, hell?
Are you saved from bitterness? Are you saved from lust? Are you saved from cheating? Are you saved from lying? Are you saved from bad manners? Are you saved from rebellion against your parents? Come on, what are you saved from?"
Later, Paris Reidhead is quoted:
"Until we find something like this: 'Accept Jesus so you can go to Heaven, you don't want to go to that old filthy, nasty, burning hell when there's beautiful Heaven up there. Now come to Jesus so that you can go to Heaven.' And the appeal could be as much to selfishness as a couple of men sitting in a coffee shop deciding they are going to rob a bank to get something for nothing."
Paris Reidhead:
"I have talked with people that have no assurance of sins forgiven. They want to feel saved before they're willing to commit themselves to Christ. But I believe that the only ones whom God actually witnesses by His Spirit are born of Him, are the people whether they say it or not, that come to Jesus Christ and say something like this: 'Lord Jesus, I'm gonna obey You and love You and serve You and do what You want me to do as long as I live even if I go to hell at the end of the road simply because You are worthy to be loved, obeyed and served. And I'm not trying to make a deal with You.'"
Leonard Ravenhill finishes the video:
"The question isn't were you challenged. The question is were you changed?"
What do we actually mean when we say we are "christian"? Whose cross was it that Jesus died on?

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soli Deo gloria
Cheryl

Technology tells us we can’t sing

ChristianWeek columnist Michael Krahn writes a perceptive column and points out the rising trend in people who say they cannot sing. An excerpt:

“I see a parallel between the lack of confidence in singing and the world of visual images in tabloid and fashion magazines. Photoshopped images create unrealistic body expectations. In the modern era of music autotuned recordings give us unrealistically perfect sounds…

… The problem is not that there are people with uncommonly attractive bodies or uncommonly strong voices; the problem is that we have bought into the idea that unless we possess perfection in body and voice we are in the minority and should keep ourselves both hidden and unheard. This idea is an affront to human dignity and to God, who created our bodies and our voices in all their glorious variety.”

I would whole-heartedly agree that as a solid session of the whole church singing God’s truths can be revitalising, and almost a foretaste of things to come. But it’s true sometimes we can get unrealistic expectations of what good singing is from the pitch-perfect commercially-successful music playing on our stereos. In autotuned recordings, vocal lines are digitally altered so that their singing becomes perfectly in tune (here’s a notorious example by Cher). And if that inhibits our desire to sing, then that’s not good.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that only the talented vocalists sing worthily. It doesn’t say that Mary passed Grade 5 singing exams before praising God with her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). When Miriam and the ladies celebrated following their Exodus from slavery (Exodus 15:21), the Bible doesn’t say they weeded out the bad singers and sang with a hand-picked choir.

The worthiness of our singing, like anything we do, should be assessed on whether it’s done to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31) – why we sing matters more than how we sing. If I’m in the pews and singing because of my immense gratefulness of the salvation I’ve received, then whether I sound as nice as John Mayer or KT Tunstall naturally becomes less of a concern.

The whole article is worth reading: http://christianweek.org/stories.php?id=886&cat=worship.

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Do you think auto-tuning has made us more reluctant to sing God’s praises? What else makes you less likely to sing during a worship service?