Tuesday Hymns: “Wondrous King, All-Glorious”

Last night at family worship, Reed wanted to sing, Wondrous King, All-Glorious, and I thought it appropriate to make it our Tuesday Hymn for this week. The lyrics and the tune were written in the seventeenth century by Joachim Neander (1650-1680), a pastor in the German Reformed Church. His most well-known hymn is the beloved Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation. In his short life on earth (he died at thirty of tuberculosis), he wrote approximately sixty hymns and also composed tunes for many of them.

Wondrous King, All-Glorious is a hymn that I discovered later in my life, and is full of the theological truth about the worthiness of God to be praised, and of the experiential joy and love that believers feel for their Lord.

Wondrous King, all glorious,
Sovereign Lord victorious,
O, receive our praise with favor!
From thee welled God’s kindness
Though we in our blindness
Strayed from thee, our blessed Saviour.
Strengthen thou,
Help us now;
Let our tongues be singing,
Thee our praises bringing.

Heavens, spread the story
Of our Maker’s glory,
All the pomp of earth obscuring.
Sun, thy rays be sending,
Thy bright beams expending,
Light to all the earth assuring.
Moon and star,
Praise afar
Him who glorious made you;
The vast heavens aid you.

O my soul, rejoicing,
Sing, thy praises voicing,
Sing, with hymns of faith adore him!
All who here have being,
Shout, your voices freeing,
Bow down in the dust before him.
He is God
Sabaoth;
Praise alone the Saviour,
Here and there for ever.

Hallelujahs render
To the Lord most tender,
Ye who know and love the Saviour.
Hallelujahs sing ye,
Ye redeemed, O, bring ye
Hearts that yield him glad behavior.
Blest are ye
Endlessly;
Sinless there for ever,
Ye shall laud him ever.

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Family Worship

After taking a one week hiatus from blogging due to vacation, it is now time to get back into the normal routine of life. (By the way, we had a great time visiting some old “stomping grounds” such as the San Jacinto monument and the Battleship Texas near Houston, and for the first time we visited Washington on the Brazos and Barrington Farm outside of Navasota.)

Although vacations have their place, at our house the lack of routine makes it much more challenging to have a time of family worship. Therefore, it will be imperative this evening to find some time to read Scripture together, sing a hymn or psalm, work on a catechism question or two, and pray together as family to remind us all of the need for God’s grace in our lives. The key to consistent family worship is simply, to borrow a phrase, “Just Do It.” Don’t put it off for later in the week, but start today. The time you spend together may be short or it may be long, but it is important for both the adults and the kids to remember that “The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.” (Psalm 28:8)

I will be forever grateful that during my childhood Dad took out the Bible every evening, read it aloud to us, and had one of us pray. Oh, there were times when my mind was a thousand miles away, and there were times when I wished he would read faster and not pray for so long, but it did teach me the importance of spending time worshipping God as a family.

Family worship is not a magical formula to avoid problems with your children, and it is not a guarantee that your children will never stray (we do live in a fallen world), but it is one of the means that God uses to grow our children into spiritual maturity in Christ. As the LORD commanded through Moses:

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 10 “And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you- with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant- and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. (Deuteronomy 6:4-13)

Matthew Smith (of Indelible Grace) on True Worship

There are blogs out there in cyberspace that I regularly click on to read and learn. One of those blogs is the work of Tim Challies. This week he has invited a “guest blogger,” Matthew Smith, of Indelible Grace, to post, and his Confessions of a Failed Worshipper is worth reading. I would encourage all of you to read what he has written about worship in spirit and truth.

“We are not THOSE Presbyterians”

Growing up in Southeast Texas, the only Presbyterian denomination of which I was aware was the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. They have been making headlines this week at their General Assembly such as this notice in The Christian Post (a friend on Facebook brought this article to my attention). Therefore, I thought it might be wise to go on record and announce to the few who read this blog that, “WE ARE NOT THOSE PRESBYTERIANS!”

We are members of the Presbyterian Church in America. Our Constitution “which is subject to and subordinate to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, the inerrant Word Of God, consists of its doctrinal standards set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith, together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, and the Book of Church Order, comprising the Form of Government, the Rules of Discipline and the Directory for Worship; all as adopted by the Church.” (Preface of the Book of Church Order) The Westminster Confession of Faith can be read here.

Granted, we have our own issues, but we are committed to the Scriptures and to the Christ of the Scriptures as our Book of Church Order states:

“Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government rests, whose
name is called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting
Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace
there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon His
kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice from
henceforth, even forever (Isaiah 9:6-7); having all power given unto Him in
heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised Him from the dead and set
Him at His own right hand, far above all principality and power, and might,
and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also
in that which is to come, and has put all things under His feet, and gave Him
to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness
of Him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:20-23); He, being ascended up far
above all heavens, that He might fill all things, received gifts for His Church,
and gave all offices necessary for the edification of His Church and the
perfecting of His saints (Ephesians 4:10-13).

Jesus, the Mediator, the sole Priest, Prophet, King, Saviour, and
Head of the Church, contains in Himself, by way of eminency, all the offices
in His Church, and has many of their names attributed to Him in the
Scriptures. He is Apostle, Teacher, Pastor, Minister, Bishop and the only
Lawgiver in Zion.

It belongs to His Majesty from His throne of glory to rule and teach
the Church through His Word and Spirit by the ministry of men; thus
mediately exercising His own authority and enforcing His own laws, unto the
edification and establishment of His Kingdom.

Christ, as King, has given to His Church officers, oracles and
ordinances; and especially has He ordained therein His system of doctrine,
government, discipline and worship, all of which are either expressly set
down in Scripture, or by good and necessary inference may be deduced
therefrom; and to which things He commands that nothing be added, and that
from them naught be taken away.

Since the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven, He is present with the
Church by His Word and Spirit, and the benefits of all His offices are
effectually applied by the Holy Ghost.”

Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone be the Glory)!

Dixie (the wife, not the song)

As King Lemuel’s mother taught him what to look for in a wife, she asked the rhetorical question, “An excellent wife who can find?” (Proverbs 31:10) There are times when I want to answer her question by saying, “I can!” The Lord has truly blessed me with an “excellent” woman in my life.

Dixie is definitely not perfect (if she was, she surely would not be able to live with me!) but she is exactly what I need. I know that she is committed to me, and to our boys, and when she vowed before God to “have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part,” that those were not idle words. I may not know what the future holds, but I know that apart from death (hers or mine) we will face that earthly future together.

I am sure that along the way we will have our differences; our feelings, like the tide, will rise and ebb; our circumstances will sometimes bring laughter, and sometimes tears; but we both know that God has made the two, one; and “what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Math. 19:6) So, Dixie, thank you for the past twenty years, and may the Lord bless us with many more in the future.

“Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow”

People who desire to know the future are an enigma to me. (You know of whom I speak: Those who run to Madame Dora, or read their horoscopes, or check Mayan calendars, or read the Bible in the same way as a devotee of Nortradamus would read his ramblings, setting dates for Christ’s return, etc.) As I look back through my life and see some of the things that I have experienced, I am convinced that if the Lord had let me know what lay ahead, He would have had to drag me kicking and screaming into that future.

Christ, on the other hand, knew exactly what lay ahead:

17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Matthew 20:17-19)

Yet, Christ continued on to Jerusalem because He knew it was the purpose for which He had come: to die to justify sinners before a holy God.

As children of God, we, too, live within the purposes of God, and He promised us that He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Therefore, people of the covenant, fear not the future, for it is in the hands of an all-powerful and all-loving God who will truly fulfill all of His purposes for your life, to your eternal good and His eternal glory.

Tuesday Hymns: “When All Your Mercies, O My God”

Joseph Addison was an early 18th century English playwright, political statesman, essayist, and writer of hymns. His play, Cato: A Tragedy, was popular among British Whigs such as John Trenchard, Thomas Gordon, and Edmund Burke, along with early Americans, George Washington and Patrick Henry. Furthermore, his hymn, When All Your Mercies, O My God, is our Tuesday Hymn for this week.

The hymn speaks of God’s shepherding care for all of His sheep during the sunshine and shadow of their lives on earth, and throughout eternity; and is a wonderful testimony to the fact that Reformed theology is more than just intellectually and doctrinally stimulating, but is also warmly experiential. It has been sung to the tune of WINCHESTER OLD, and in The Trinity Hymnal, the beautiful tune, MANOAH.

When all your mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I’m lost
In wonder, love, and praise.

Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Your tender care bestowed,
Before my infant heart conceived
From whom those comforts flowed.

When worn with sickness, oft have you
With health renewed my face;
And, when in sins and sorrows sunk,
Revived my soul with grace.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the least a cheerful heart
That tastes those gifts with joy.

Through ev’ry period of my life
Thy goodness I’ll pursue;
And after death, in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.

Through all eternity to thee
A joyful song I’ll raise;
For oh, eternity’s too short
To utter all your praise.