Richly Dwelling Words: I Love to Tell the Story

Richly Dwelling Words small.001

This Sunday we will begin a new sermon series called “Richly Dwelling Words: Hymns of the Faith.” During this series, we will examine the biblical background of several hymns, both ones we sing regularly and a few our congregation doesn’t know yet. We will begin this Sunday with “I Love to Tell the Story.”

While I think it is probably familiar to most of my readers, just in case you don’t know it here is the hymn performed by Alan Jackson.

You probably don’t realize that this hymn was based on a long poem written by Katherine Hankey called “The Old, Old Story.” The book is available to read or download for free thanks to the library of Princeton Theological Seminary.

oldoldstory00hank_0011

Independence Day and International Missions

grunge-american-flag

A few weeks ago in the Addis Ababa airport, I met a young marine. This Indiana man had been stationed in Juba, South Sudan as security for the American embassy. In December, he watched the civil war there begin. A few days earlier he had been hiking a mountain in a peaceful country. Then the country turned into a warzone

I didn’t find out if this young man was a Christian, but whether he realized it or not God is using him for his glory among the nations.

A navy blue United States passport is one of the most powerful passports in the world. Americans can travel to 172 countries either without a visa or receiving a visa at the border. Furthermore, I am convinced that even despite everything that is going on in the world today traveling as an American has never been safer. As was demonstrated last week with Meriam Ibrahim and family, that navy blue passport is a ticket that grants admission into the security of hundreds of American embassies around the world.

Where would international mission be without the United States of America? International missions would continue because God’s mission in this world will never fail. Even so, God has chosen to use the United States of America as a tool to enable his mission. American missionaries travel based on the credibility of the United State government and under the protection of the State Department.

God uses navy blue passports, American diplomats, and U.S. Marines to accomplish his work. Let us thank God for this privilege this Independence Day.

Sleep Your Way To Success

Sleep Your Way To Success

God “gives to his beloved sleep” (Ps 127:2). Yet many of God’s people reject this gift in order to live a hectic life or to burn the midnight oil wasting time with television or Internet. In this blog post, David Murray gives some fantastic bullet points on how lack of sleep affects people physically and emotionally.

As a parent, I think I am a living example of this fact:

Just one night of sleep deprivation is linked with signs of brain tissue loss.

Too many people blind themselves to the fact that their physical health directly affects their mental health. Here is another sample of Murray’s list, this time about teenagers:

In one study by researchers at Columbia University, teens who went to bed at 10 p.m. or earlier were less likely to suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts than those who regularly stayed awake well after midnight.

Read the whole list and then get some rest.

Naming the Elephant

“What holds up the world?” In Naming the Elephant, James W. Sire explores the concept of worldview. Our worldview, whether we realize we have one or not, consists of our understanding of “the basic constitution of reality” (161). Whatever we believe prime reality to be “provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being” (161). In his book The Universe Next Door, which was first published in 1976, Sire examined worldviews predominant in the history of Western civilization: Theism, Deism, Naturalism, Nihilism, and Existentialism. Later editions added Eastern Pantheistic Monism, The New Age, and Postmodernism. However, in Naming the Elephant Sire attempts something much more basic. He wants to examine and enhance his very definition of the concept of worldview itself.

After examining the history of the concept from Immanuel Kant to Wilhelm Dilthey to more recent Evangelical definitions, Sire begins to question and critique his original definition of worldview in the first editions of The Universe Next Door. He maintains that two aspects of his original definition remain largely unchanged. First, worldview deals primarily with ontology, that is a person’s understanding of prime reality or what is really real. Therefore, secondly, worldview examines a person’s pretheoretical (intuitive) notions and presuppositions. These ideas becomes the basis on which we build our thoughts as well as our lives.

These two elements would seem to point toward worldview as a “systematic set of propositions” (91). However, such a conclusion would largely ignore the way most people come to adopt a worldview. First and foremost, worldview is “a fundamental orientation of the heart” (161). Worldview should be thought of as a life system that emerges from one’s affections and volition as well as rationality. Therefore, a worldview is much more than a set of propositions. Worldview is most commonly expressed as a story, that is a master story or metanarrative, which explains what the world is and how it works but even more importantly our place in the direction of the world. The master story, whether it be the big story of the Bible or the narrative of Evolution, becomes the lens through which we understand life on this planet. Furthermore, we disseminate our worldview to others through the telling of our master story.

Whether we ever take time to put into words our answer to the question of prime reality, everyone gives an answer based on how he or she views and lives life. For those who claim to hold to a Christian worldview, the challenge is not so much answering the question. God is the really real. He is the Great I Am. The challenge comes when we attempt to live consistently with what we claim to believe. Since worldview is a “fundamental orientation of the heart” then we must have hearts oriented toward God (161). This orientation comes only through a heart-exchange that the Bible calls the New Birth.

Chosen Families: The Trampoline Catechism

Chosen Families: The Trampoline Catechism

This month on ChosenFamilies.org I share how I am attempting to catechize my son with autism. Here is the first paragraph:

Autism or not, God has called me as a father to teach his word and his ways to my son. Fathers must “tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (Psalm 78:4). God does not exempt fathers from this calling who have children with a disability. Instead, fathers like me must think creatively and teach at a level appropriate to their child’s abilities. Continue Reading.

No Grave Could Keep by Matt Damico

No Grave Could Keep

Matt Damico wrote a beautiful hymn for the church we called home while living in Louisville. Read the lyrics below or click here to listen.

No Grave Could Keep
by Matt Damico

Verse 1
The Maker of all, in a young virgin’s womb,
the Word, now a baby, cries.
In humility robed, in the form a slave,
the Lord of life come to die.

Verse 2
The Judge of mankind, now placed on a trial,
the guilt of His people now His.
The righteous one bears these thorns for a crown,
that sinners found in Him might live.

Refrain:
Mighty Savior!
Death could not hold Him, no grave could keep.
Hallelujah!
He reigns forever, the risen King!

Verse 3
Lifted and nailed to a cross where He died,
the record of sin, now paid.
But look for Him not, for the Man is not there,
the King is alive, as He said.

Verse 4
The bride now awaits for her King to appear,
when she will in purity rise.
And on that fair day, His praises we’ll sing,
our heart’s trust beheld with our eyes.