Chariots of Fire Redux

I came across an interesting article in The Daily Record which speaks of one British sports star who takes seriously the command to “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” (Actually, a message board pointed me to the article and I decided to share the article with you.) Read here about Euan Murray’s decision not to play rugby on Sundays.

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Keep Christ in Christmas?

First of all, let me announce at the beginning of this post, that it is not my desire to rain on anyone’s Christmas parade. I am not in the business of telling people how they must celebrate Christmas, or for that matter, how they should not celebrate Christmas. While I have many Puritan leanings, I am not the type to make a big production of purposely going to work on Christmas, just so everyone knows that I am not celebrating Christmas. (I do celebrate Christmas with my family so don’t think of me as a “Christmas hater.”)

However, I do have a bone to pick with many (not all) of those who constantly cry out, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Why? Because many (not all) of those who chant that particular mantra get incensed when someone says “Happy Holidays,” instead of, “Merry Christmas,” yet throughout the rest of the year they seldom take seriously the Biblical command to:

 8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:  10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:  11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11)

It is funny to me (funny, strange; not funny, ha ha) that those who shout the loudest about Christmas (a holy day not commanded by God), are the ones who often think little about heading out to the mall, to the grocery store, to a softball or soccer tournament, to a football game, or to a restaurant on the Lord’s Day (a holy day which God has commanded that we observe). It is not my intention to become the Sabbath Police, determining what everyone can or can’t do on the Lord’s Day, but I desire to shout from the housetops that God has given us fifty-two holy days every year in which to turn aside and worship Him, and His Son, and to be strengthened by His grace through the hearing of His Word by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Feel free to think about Christ at this time of year, but be sure that you do not forget about Him through the rest of the year. As the writer of Hebrews has written:

 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:22-25)

 

Tuesday Hymns: “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates!”

In 1635, Georg Weissel, the pastor of the Altrossgart Church in Königsberg (which I assume made him a Lutheran) wrote the hymn which is our Tuesday Hymn for the week, Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates! It is based on the Twenty-Fourth Psalm and is a reminder to us that Christ is more than a baby in a manger, but that He is the King over our individual hearts, over His Church, and over all of the heavens and the earth. It was first published seven years after his death, and it is normally sung to the tune of TRURO.

Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates! Behold, the King of glory waits; the King of kings is drawing near, the Savior of the world is here.

A helper just He comes to thee, His chariot is humility, His kingly crown is holiness, His scepter, pity in distress.

O blest the land, the city blest, where Christ the Ruler is confessed! O happy hearts and happy homes to whom this King in triumph comes!

Fling wide the portals of your heart; make it a temple, set apart from earthly use for heav’n’s employ, adorned with prayer and love and joy.

Redeemer, come! I open wide my heart to Thee; here, Lord, abide! Let me Thy inner presence feel; Thy grace and love in me reveal.

So come, my Sovereign, enter in! Let new and nobler life begin! Thy Holy Spirit, guide us on, until the glorious crown be won.

Tuesday Hymns: “He Walks among the Golden Lamps”

Timothy Dudley-Smith, formerly the Bishop of Thetford in the Church of England, and perhaps more well known as the author of the two volume biography of the life of John R. W. Stott, is the author of our Tuesday Hymn (yes, I know it is Friday) of the week. It is entitled, He Walks among the Golden Lamps, and is a modern rendering of John’s Vision of Christ in chapter one of the Book of Revelation. This hymn, written in 1972, speaks of Christ’s deity, presence, authority, majesty, and thus, His worthiness to be praised.

In our world of uncertainty, this hymn reminds us that “there is no authority [in heaven and earth] except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1) Moreover, it is a reminder that God’s people should never live without hope for Christ said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) So, rejoice as you read this hymn, knowing that our Lord holds the keys to death and the grave in His mighty hand.

 He walks among the golden lamps on feet like burnished bronze; His hair as snows of winter white, His eyes with fire aflame and bright; His glorious robe of seamless light surpassing Solomon’s.

And in His hand the seven stars and from His mouth a sword; His voice the thunder of the seas; all creatures bow to His decrees, who holds the everlasting keys and reigns as sov’reign Lord.

More radiant than the sun at noon, who was, and is to be: who was, from everlasting days; who lives, the Lord of all our ways; to Him be majesty and praise of all eternity.

A Kind Word for WordPress

I looked at one of my comment sections for my blog this morning and there in one of the computer generated listing of blogs was a title that contained an expletive which is definitely not a part of my vocabulary. After searching all through the mechanisms to delete such things I could find nothing (mainly because I am technologically challenged) that could accomplish that task. I emailed WordPress for help and within five minutes was directed how to delete the obscenity. In a day in which prompt and reliable service is rare, I wanted to say publicly that I appreciated WordPress’ response to my particular need. May your tribe increase!

Music to Dig By

Yesterday evening I needed to dig a ditch to lay some conduit to a portable building at the house (which is soon to be my study), and Caleb (my twelve year old) volunteered to help. However, he decided that we needed some inspiration to dig up that hard southeast Texas clay, and provided some music by which to dig. (The music starts at the 30 second mark) By the way, we finished in record time.

Mencken and Machen

This morning I came across an obituary of J. Gresham Machen written by H. L. Mencken (For the full obituary click here). While Machen was a devout Christian, theologian, and churchman, and Mencken was an avowed skeptic, Mencken nevertheless valued Machen’s intellectual abilities and his complete devotion to the Scriptures (He didn’t agree with him, but he respected his integrity). I would like to quote a paragraph out of the obituary which caught my attention.

Mencken described Machen’s decision to found Westminster Seminary with the following paragraph:

What caused him to quit the Princeton Theological Seminary and found a seminary of his own was his complete inability, as a theologian, to square the disingenuous evasions of Modernism with the fundamentals of Christian doctrine. He saw clearly that the only effects that could follow diluting and polluting Christianity in the Modernist manner would be its complete abandonment and ruin. Either it was true or it was not true. If, as he believed, it was true, then there could be no compromise with persons who sought to whittle away its essential postulates, however respectable their motives.

Mencken (although a non-Christian) was able to understand that theological liberalism and orthodox Christianity were like oil and water, they could never mix. Once a belief in an inerrant and infallible Bible is jettisoned, Christianity falls like a house of cards. It is imperative to understand that the Bible does not contain the Word of God; it is the Word of God. It is not a Luby’s Cafeteria where one can pick and choose what he likes and pass over what he dislikes; it is all God’s Word to us and is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16)

Mencken went on to describe the emasculation of Christianity that takes place when one discards its essential truths:

It is my belief, as a friendly neutral in all such high and ghostly matters, that the body of doctrine known as Modernism is completely incompatible, not only with anything rationally describable as Christianity, but also with anything deserving to pass as religion in general. Religion, if it is to retain any genuine significance, can never be reduced to a series of sweet attitudes, possible to anyone not actually in jail for felony. It is, on the contrary, a corpus of powerful and profound convictions, many of them not open to logical analysis. Its inherent improbabilities are not sources of weakness to it, but of strength. It is potent in a man in proportion as he is willing to reject all overt evidences, and accept its fundamental postulates, however unprovable they may be by secular means, as massive and incontrovertible facts.

While I disagree with Mencken’s contention that Christianity is illogical, I do agree with his belief that many have attempted to turn Christianity into a pallid, tasteless, and nebulous wasteland which has as its only tenet, “why can’t we all just get along.” I thank God for men like Machen, who understood the importance of devotion to the truth of God’s Word, and stood like steel against the waves of Modernism (and Postmodernism), even if that meant standing alone.