Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Beware of gifts—not just Greeks bearing them

Beware, says Seneca, for gifts can possess you. Seneca’s claim here is more subtle than the typical Stoic injunction to avoid attachment to “externals" (though of course this is assumed). Indeed, his warning to “other men” is that gifts draw us in and accustom us to their presence, thus creating a set of dependencies that fundamentally determine us away from the happy life. Through our fear of the gift’s potential absence or the experience of grief at its departure—the loss of a fleet of grain ships, say, or a crash in the stock market—our lives reveal a basic conditioning by the presence of the gift and the existential vulnerability that is its direct result. We fear, we grieve, we damage our chance to live well. Over time, Seneca's logic suggests, our dependency on the gift is deepened, and we have learned to move within the gifts ambit. We have thus been ensnared by Fortuna, and we now belong to her. By giving us what we believed was a gift, Fortuna has in the end come to possess us. While we thought we held the gifts in our hands, she was holding us in her grasp. Fortuna’s gifts, says Seneca, make us vulnerable to defeat precisely because they are not gifts. Remember your own line, Lucilius, “What Fortune has made yours is not really yours” (Ep. 8.10). Don't be fooled, my friend, it's still the ol’ bait and switch.—One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions, 23–24

<idle musing>
It's lines like this that enabled the early Christians to say that Stoicism was a tutor—handmaiden is the word Rowe uses, I think—leading to Christianity.

It sounds almost Christian, doesn't it? "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be," as Jesus said. But, if you know much about Stoicism, you know that the theological presuppositions are diametrically opposed to Christianity. Their concept of God is pantheistic and impersonal.
</idle musing>

Sickness doesn't kill you—being mortal does (Seneca)

“You will not die,” he tells Lucilius in a startling turn of phrase, “because you are ill, but because you are alive.” He continues: “Even when you have been restored to health, the same end awaits you; when you have convalesced, it will not be death that you have escaped—only ill-health" (Ep. 78.6). The fear and worry brought on by pain and disease are thus not, in Seneca’s view, finally about these phenomena themselves but about our natural end in the grave. See that clearly, Seneca argues, and our worry can cease" (see Ep. 24.12).—One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions, 17

<idle musing>
Can't say as he got the diagnosis wrong, but I think he badly misjudges people's response! But, then again, probably not, because he's tutoring Lucilius on what his proper response to death should be.

Truth be told, I prefer the Christian response; it seems a good bit less fatalistic!

Just an
</idle musing>

Eschatological Hope

238 9th P. M. 87, 87, 87, 87.
God her everlasting light.

HEAR what God the Lord hath spoken:
   O my people, faint and few,
   Comfortless, afflicted, broken,
   Fair abodes I build for you:
   Scenes of heartfelt tribulation
   Shall no more perplex your ways;
   You shall name your walls salvation,
   And your gates shall all be praise.

2 Ye, no more your suns descending,
   Waning moons no more shall see ;
   But, your griefs forever ending,
   Find eternal noon in me:—
   God shall rise, and, shining o’er you,
   Change to day the gloom of night;
   He, the Lord, shall be your glory—
   God your everlasting light.
                  William Cowper (pronounced "Cooper")
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Monday, February 27, 2023

Sickness unto death? Or fear of death as a sickness?

Seneca argues that we still treat death as that which happens to someone else. Like Tolstoy almost two millennia later, who knew that war can happen only because of our capacity to believe someone else will get killed in the battle, Seneca says that “we never think of death except as it affects our neighbor” (Ep. 101.6). Seneca ’s psychological point here is that human beings know they will die, but nevertheless deny their deathward existence by projecting it onto their fellows. In short, Seneca’s letters repeatedly display his concern to grasp the widespread human condition vis-a-vis death as a self-destructive denial of the way things are and must be: we know that we are mortal and must die, and yet out of a fear of our death we organize our lives to a stunning degree in an attempt to avoid it. For Seneca, this is a sickness from which we need to be healed.—One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions, 15

Are we missing the point?

The study of emergent Christianity within wider Greco-Roman philosophical culture has become a field of minutiae: we pick and choose this or that little theme from the Roman world, showing how it may relate to this or that small part of one New Testament document or author and miss entirely the significance of the questions that animated the sources we're reading. Both the New Testament and the ancient philosophical texts are inconceivable—tout court inconceivable—as documents of minutiae. To study them as if matters of life and death were not on the table is not to conceive their finer grained points in moments of scholarly repose. It is, rather, to miss the point altogether.—One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions, 9

<idle musing>
Scholarly abstraction. That's what we're trained to do, isn't it? To stand aside from our biases (as much as possible) and analyze the data. But in so doing, we miss the point, don't we? The ancients were altogether serious when they considered study a life-changing endeavor.

Let's enjoy the ride as Rowe takes us on the journey. We might discover that our techniques are lacking…
</idle musing>


While I was preparing the previous post, I checked hymnary.org, and in a rare happening, they linked to a similar, but different Wesely hymn. I thought it was superb, so I chased it down in my 1870 hymnal. Here's the version I have:

706 7th P. M. 8 lines 7s
Many, but one.

CHRIST, from whom all blessings flow,
   Perfecting the saints below,
   Hear us, who thy nature share,——
   With thy mystic body are.
   Join us, in one spirit join;
   Let us still receive of thine:
   Still for more on thee we call,
   Thou who fillest all in all.

2 Move, and actuate, and guide:
   Divers gifts to each divide:
   Placed according to thy will,
   Let us all our work fulfil:
   Never from our office move:
   Needful to each other prove:
   Let us daily growth receive,—
   More and more in Jesus live.

3 Sweetly may we all agree,
   Touch’d with softest sympathy;
   Kindly for each other care;
   Every member feel its share.
   Many are we now and one,
   We who Jesus have put on:
   Names, and sects, and parties fall:
   Thou, O Christ, art all in all.
                  Charles Wesley
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

What is really interesting, though, is that hymnary.org has shorter verses and more of them. I think they are worth posting too, so here you go.

1 Christ, from whom all blessings flow,
   perfecting the saints below,
   hear us, who your nature share,
   who your mystic body are.

2 Join us, in one spirit join,
   grant us still your help divine;
   still for more on you we call,
   you, O Christ, fill all in all.

3 Move, and animate, and guide:
   various gifts to each divide;
   placed according to your will,
   let us all our work fulfil;

4 Freely may we all agree,
   touched with loving sympathy;
   kindly for each other care;
   every member feel its share.

5 Love, like death, has all destroyed,
   rendered all distinctions void;
   names, and sects, and parties fall;
   you, O Christ, are all in all.

So, an interesting rabbit trail. I wonder which version is correct? Or, more likely, which version was first and Wesley went back a revised it? I'm not interested enough to chase it down, but if it tickles someone else's fancy and they do research it, please post it to the comments.

Glorious and spotless; may it be so!

225 C. M.
Glorious and spotless.

JESUS, from whom all blessings flow,
   Great Builder of Thy church below,
   If now Thy Spirit moves my breast,
   Hear, and fulfill Thine own request!

2. The few that truly call Thee Lord,
   And wait Thy sanctifying word,
   And Thee their utmost Savior own,
   Unite, and perfect them in one.

3. O let them all Thy mind express,
   Stand forth Thy chosen witnesses,
   Thy power unto salvation show,
   And perfect holiness below!

4. In them let all mankind behold
   How Christians lived in days of old,
   Mighty their envious foes to move,
   A proverb of reproach—and love.

5. Call them into thy wondrous light,
   Worthy to walk with thee in white;
   Make up they jewels, Lord, and show
   Thy glorious, spotless Church below.

6. From every sinful wrinkle free,
   Redeemed from all iniquity,
   The fellowship of saints make known;
   And, O my God, might I be one!
                  Charles Wesley
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Jesus, the name high over all

219 C. M.
The minister’s only business.

JESUS, the Name high over all;
   In hell, or earth, or sky; ’
   Angels and men before it fall,
   And devils fear and fly.

2 Jesus, the Name to sinners dear,-
   The Name to sinners given;
   It scatters all their guilty fear;
   It turns their hell to heaven.

3 Jesus the pris’ner’s fetters breaks,
   And bruises Satan’s head;
   Power into strengthless souls he speaks,
   And life into the dead.

4 O that the world might taste and see
   The riches of his grace;
   The arms of love that compass me,
   Would all mankind embrace.

5 His only righteousness I show,-
   His saving truth proclaim:
   ‘Tis all my business here below,
   To cry,—Behold the Lamb!

6 Happy, if with my latest breath
   I may but gasp his name;
   Preach him to all, and cry in death,
   Behold, behold the Lamb!
                  Charles Wesley
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Entire dependence on Christ

218 4th P. M. 886, 886.
Entire dependence on Christ.

EXCEPT the Lord conduct the plan,
   The best concerted schemes are vain,
   And never can succeed;
   We spend our wretched strength for naught;
   But if our works in thee be wrought,
   They shall he blest indeed.

2 Lord, if thou didst thyself inspire
   Our souls with this intense desire,
   Thy goodness to proclaim;
   Thy glory if we now intend,
   0 let our deeds begin and end
   Complete in Jesus’ name.

3 In Jesus’ name behold we meet,
   Far from an evil world retreat,
   And all its frantic ways;
   One only thing resolved to know,
   And square our useful lives below,
   By reason and by grace.

4 Not in the tombs we pine to dwell,
   Not in the dark monastic cell,
   By vows and grates confined;
   Freely to all ourselves we give,
   Constrain’d by Jesus’ love to live
   The servants of mankind.

5 Now, Jesus, now thy love‘ impart,
   To govern each devoted heart,
   And fit us for thy will;
   Deep founded in the truth of grace,
   Build up thy rising Church , and place
   The city on the hill.

6 O let our love and faith abound;
   O let our lives, to all around,
   With purest lustre shine;
   That all around our works may see,
   And give the glory, Lord, to thee,
   The heavenly light divine.
                  Charles Wesley
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Reflections and links (updated)

I haven't said a whole lot about what's been going on at Asbury. I don't have much to add. I graduated from Asbury (then) College, attended Asbury Seminary, and lived in Wilmore for six years. I know the history of the school and revival. The revivals (or awakenings if you prefer) follow the same general pattern that is happening now. It's the Wesleyan way: allow the Holy Spirit to run things, but keep it orderly. Don't discourage supernatural manifestations, but don't highlight them.

John Wesley's journals record supernatural manifestations, but don't emphasize them. The emphasis was always on heart holiness to the Lord, which manifested itself in changed lives, reconciliation, and social action as a result of that. Wesley's favorite book of the Bible was 1 John, so all of the above flow naturally out of 1 John.

That being said, Christianity Today has published three very good articles/op-eds in the last two days that are worth reading:

  • No Celebrities But Jesus. This post reflects on the behind the scenes work that enabled the Holy Spirit to control the flow. It reflects the best of the Wesleyan view on revival that I mentioned above.
  • What Our Reaction to Revival Reveals About Us. This paragraph says enough to give you an idea:
    When I was there, I saw that the leaders had made a deliberate decision to amplify only the voices of the students and leaders on the campus. Both well-meaning Christian celebrities and grifting hucksters were turned away. There were no lights, smoke, or lasers. There was lots of prayer, Scripture, and testimony. Contrary to the complaints of some on social media, many spoke of God’s holiness, our sinfulness, and Christ’s saving work on the cross.
  • What Revivals Can Teach Us. By a historian of revival. He lists four important points that the current outpouring highlights, and then ends with this:
    Asbury is a reminder that salvation is supernatural. God’s Word is supernatural. Conviction of sins is supernatural. Compassion for the suffering and the lost is supernatural. We need a broad bandwidth and full-spectrum picture of the Spirit’s works. (emphasis original)
    Amen and Amen!
And, with thanks to Chris Gehrz, this reflection by someone watching via streaming is very telling.
I know that there can be a lot of cringe-worthy, ego soaked performance-y stuff in church. I know that when it comes to Christianity there are legitimate reasons for commentary and critique at every turn. But, as I like to say, nothing is only ever one thing. Because there is also God’s Spirit, who I believe is still stirring in the hearts of God’s people (is that what is happening at Asbury? Maybe). And while I remain suspicious of most human claims of a human project having “God’s favor” or being “Spirit led” (because it feels conveniently like using divine camouflage for human ego trips) I do trust more and more what I feel in my spirit and in my body.
I'm sure there are lots of other posts out there, but I'll leave you with one from John Fea, who has been doing a daily summary. Do a search for the name Leonard Fitch in that post. I worked at Fitch's IGA for about 18 months while we lived in Wilmore. Everything they say about him is true; if anything, they understate.

David Reimer posted two very good links in the comment section. I'm moving them into the main body for those who don't read the comments. Both are by Timothy Tennent, the president of Asbury Seminary:

Prepare ye the way!

209 L.M.
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

COMFORT, ye ministers of grace,
   Comfort the people of your Lord;
   O lift ye up the fallen race,
   And cheer them by the Gospel word.

2 Go into every nation, go;
   Speak to their trembling hearts, and cry,—
   Glad tidings unto all we show:
   Jerusalem, thy God is nigh.

3 Hark in the wilderness a cry,
   A voice that loudly calls,—Prepare;
   Prepare your hearts, for God is nigh,
   And waits to make his entrance there.

4 The Lord your God shall quickly come;
   Sinners, repent, the call obey:
   Open your hearts to make him room;
   Ye desert souls, prepare the way.

5 The Lord shall clear his way through all;
   Whatever obstructs, obstructs in vain;
   The vale shall rise, the mountain fall,
   Crooked be straight, and rugged plain.

6 The glory of the Lord display’d
   Shall all mankind together view;
   And what his mouth in truth hath said,
   His own almighty hand shall do.
                  Charles Wesley
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Friday, February 24, 2023

Does public opinion matter?

Well, yes, and no, so says Malcolm Foley at the Anxious Bench. It didn't seem to stop lynching in the 19th–early 20th century. And it hasn't stopped police brutality in the 21st century. What works? Well, according to Foley (and I think he's correct, sadly) this will:
Lynching did not fade because people stopped being racist; it faded because it became bad for American business. Perhaps the only way that racial violence of any kind will fade is if it becomes profitable for no one.
<idle musing>
If that doesn't tell you the true god of the United States, nothing does. Think back 22 years to 9/11/2001. What did the Taliban target? The Twin Towers (finance) and the Pentatgon (militarism defending the capitalists). That, my dear readers, is very discerning.

May true revival grip our hearts so that we hear the cry of the oppressed. God does and he will judge us accordingly!
</idle musing>

One True Life

Today we start a new (well, 2016) book: One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions. Jim Eisenbraun referred it to me. You can read his three-part summary here, here, and here.

As is my usual style, I'll post a snippet and sometimes comment on it, sometimes not. I hope you enjoy the ride! Here's the first one, summarizing his previous book (see excerpts here):

the scenes that displayed pagan resistance to the coming of the Christians illuminated fundamental features of Christianity's surprise: businessmen discerned the danger to their livelihood (Philippi, Ephesus), politicians found themselves in a pickle (Felix, Festus), local religious authorities saw their celebrations stop (Lystra), and so on. The modes of resistance varied, but they were all eventually intertwined with a sort of violence—the type that was based on the truth that the repentance and cultural reconstitution required by the Christians amounted to a devastation of constitutive patterns of a long-established, normal way of life.—One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions, ix
<idle musing>
If only that were true today! Unfortunately, it seems that Christianity has imbibed so much of culture as to be a part of it. Perhaps the only distinction that Christians can claim is to be more obnoxious and loud-mouthed than anyone else.

May we once again be leaven that makes the whole loaf edible, instead of a errant yeast that poisons the loaf!
</idle musing>

Hearts of love

195 L. M.
The plenitude of His grace and power,

SPIRIT of the living God,
   In all thy plenitude of grace,
   Where’er the foot of man hath trod,
   Descend on our apostate race.

2 Give tongues of fire, and hearts of love,
   To preach the reconciling word;
   Give power and unction from above,
   Where’er the joyful sound is heard.

3 Be darkness, at thy coming, light;
   Confusion—order, in thy path;
   Souls without strength, inspire with might;
   Bid mercy triumph over wrath.

4 Baptize the nations; far and nigh
   The triumphs of the cross record;
   The name of Jesus glorify,
   Till every kindred call him Lord.
                  James Montgomery
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Thursday, February 23, 2023

What is an Awakening?

I just read this last night, and I believe it sums up what a spriritual awakening is very nicely:
Those members of the Church who passively accept what they have been taught as “revealed truth” seem to be unaware of the fact that their view of “faith” is hampered by an age-long tradition which has misunderstood the meaning of “faith”, regarding it not as “encounter” with the Living Christ, but as the acceptance of “revealed truths”.

The truth which broke through at the Reformation (though later it was again obscured) of the personal character of faith, as “encounter” with Christ, means liberation from the rigidity and ethical sterility of orthodoxy, and sets us free to have a faith which is based on nothing save the Love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. This truth alone can preserve us from sterile “theologizing” and from clericalism, and awaken in the Church a missionary and pastoral spirit.—Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, v–vi

<idle musing>
So, we could say that Emil Brunner gives his endorsement to what has been happening at Asbury for the last 2 weeks, couldn't we? People are encountering the living Christ, not being content with simply revealed truths.

Interesting isn't it, that some of those who claim to cling the most to theological rightness miss the truth that Brunner caught.

Just an
</idle musing>

Descend in all thy power

194 S. M. The day of Pentecost.

LORD God, the Holy Ghost!
   In this accepted hour,
   As on the day of Pentecost,
   Descend in all thy power.

2 We meet with one accord
   In our appointed place,
   And wait the promise of our Lord,—
   The Spirit of all grace.

3 Like mighty rushing wind
   Upon the waves beneath,
   Move with one impulse every mind;
   One soul, one feeling breathe.

4 The young, the old, inspire
   With wisdom from above;
   And give us hearts and tongues of fire,
   To pray, and praise, and love.

5 Spirit of light, explore,
  And chase our gloom away,—
   With lustre shining more and more,
   Unto the perfect day.

6 Spirit of truth, be thou
   In life and death, our guide;
   O Spirit of adoption, now
   May we be sanctified.
                      James Montgomery
                      Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Enthroned on High

193 C. M.
Life, light, and love.

ENTHRONED on high, Almighty Lord,
   The Holy Ghost send clown;
   Fulfil in us thy faithful Word,
   And all thy mercies crown.

2 Though on our heads no tongues of fire
   Their Wondrous powers‘ impart,
   Grant, Saviour, what we more desire,—
   Thy Spirit in our heart.

3 Spirit of life, and light, and love,
   Thy heavenly influence give;
   Quicken our souls, our guilt remove,
   That we in Christ may live-.

4 To our benighted minds reveal
   The glories of his grace,
   And bring us where no clouds conceal
   The brightness of his face.

5 His love within us shed abroad,—
   Life’s ever-springing well;
   Till God in us, and we in God,
   In love eternal dwell.
                  Thomas Haweis
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

I'll take Anglo-Saxon for Clarity, Alex (Tozer for Tuesday)

The most cultured and healthy parents cannot take the word “die” out of their baby’s heart. Love it, weep on it and baptize it with their tears all they will, they cannot take the word “mortality” out of their baby’s life, for mortality and corruption remain. They follow, like some dark shadow, every human being. These twin clouds, mortality and corruption, rest about the perfumed boudoir of every Hollywood actress. They rest like twin clouds of doom above the chair of the White House where sits our president. And wherever men are found, if we could only see, we would see these two weeping clouds above them—mortality and corruption. “Mortality” and “corruption” are beautiful words; but when we throw the Anglo-Saxon at them and say “die” and “rot,” these are not so beautiful.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 78

Monday, February 20, 2023

Glorify the Son!

192 6th P. M. 6 lines 7s.
The Son glorified.

FATHER, glorify thy Son ;
   Answer his all-powerful prayer;
   Send that Intercessor down;
   Send that other Comforter,
   Whom, believingly, we claim,—
   Whom we ask in Jesus’ name.

2 Wilt thou not the promise seal,
   Good and faithful as thou art,—
   Send the Comforter to dwell
   Every moment in our heart?
   Yes, thou must the grace bestow:
   Truth hath said it shall be so.
                   Charles Wesley
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Come, Holy Spirit!

191 C. M.
His quickening power.

COME, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
   With all thy quickening powers:
   Kindle a flame of sacred love
   In these cold hearts of ours.

2 Look how we grovel here below,
   Fond of these earthly toys;
   Our souls, how heavily they go,
   To reach eternal joys.

3 In vain we tune our formal songs,—
   In vain we strive to rise;
   Hosannas languish on our tongues,
   And our devotion dies.

4 Father, and shall we ever live
   At this poor dying rate;
   Our love so faint, so cold to thee,
   And thine to us so great?

5 Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove
   With all thy quick’ning powers;
   Come, shed abroad our Savior’s love,
   And that shall kindle ours.
                   Isaac Watts
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Source of Light and Joy

185 C. M.
Source of light and joy.

GREAT Spirit, by whose mighty power
   All creatures live and move,
   On us thy benediction shower;
   Inspire our souls with love.

2 Hail, Source of light! arise and shine;
   All gloom and doubt dispel;
   Give peace and joy, for we are thine;
   In us forever dwell.

3 From death to life our spirits raise,
   And full redemption bring;
   New tongues impart to speak the praise
   Of Christ, our God and King.

4 Thine inward witness bear, unknown
   To all the World beside;
   With joy We then shall feel and own
   Our Saviour glorified.
                  Thomas Haweis
                   Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Friday, February 17, 2023

When the Spirit intercedes

383 3d P. M. 4 6s &s; 2 8s.
Pleading the promise.

THOU that hearest prayer,
   Attend our humble cry;
   And let thy servants share
   Thy blessing from on high:
   We plead the promise of thy Word;——
   Grant us thy Holy Spirit, Lord!

2 If earthly parents hear
   Their children when they cry;
   If they, with love sincere,
   Their children’s Wants supply
   Much more wilt thou thy love display,
   And answer when thy children pray.

3 Our heavenly Father, thou;
   We, children of thy grace;
   O let thy Spirit now;
   Descend and fill the place;
   That all may feel the heavenly flame,
   And all unite to praise thy name.
                  John Burton
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
This hymn spoke to me today, reflecting the yearning in my soul. Yes, we already have the Spirit, but also, yes, we always need to allow more of the Holy Spirit's control in our life. That's what this hymn seems to be saying to me, anyway.

By the way, hymnary.org adds a fourth verse:

4 And send Thy Spirit down
   On all the nations, Lord,
   With great success to crown
   The preaching of Thy word:
   Till heathen lands shall own Thy sway,
   And cast their idol-gods away.
Seems a bit too strong on the necessity of preaching—or maybe that's just me, reacting to the criticisms of what's going on at Asbury. After all, you can't have a revival without somebody (usually in their minds, a guy) standing up there urging repentance.

Perhaps they need to take a lesson from Andrew Murray, who had a revival break out in the children's Sunday School class. He couldn't believe it was real at first because of three reasons:

1. It didn't happen by his preaching
2. It happened in a children's class, and
3. That class was being led by a young Black teenage girl

He quickly changed his mind once he saw what was happening. Rather ironic, isn't it, that he was a Reformed pastor who preached on the sovereignty of God, yet when God sovereignly decided to do something that didn't align with his dogma … well, it couldn't be a God thing, could it?

All that to say, I suspect that the criticisms reveal far more about the criticizer than they do about the awakening happening at Asbury right now.

As for me, I will continue to pray that God would have his way there—and here, in my heart. Baker published a book on revival back in about 2004. The last paragraph has stuck with me: If you want revival, draw a circle around yourself while on your knees, and pray for revival within that circle.

Just an
</idle musing>

Thursday, February 16, 2023

The redeemer is on his throne!

176 S. M.
The Redeemer on his throne.

ENTHRONED is Jesus now,
   Upon his heavenly seat;
   The kingly crown is on his brow,
   The saints are at his feet.

2 In shining white they stand,—
   A great and countless throng;
   A palmy sceptre in each hand,
   On every lip a song.

3 They sing the Lamb of God,
   Once slain on earth for them;
   The Lamb, through whose atoning blood,
   Each wears his diadem.

4; Thy grace, O Holy Ghost,
   Thy blessed help supply,
   That we may join that radiant host,
   Triumphant in the sky.
                   T. J. Judkin
                   Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
This seems an appropriate hymn for what has been going on at Asbury recently.

For those of you who don't know: I graduated from Asbury College and attended Asbury Theological Seminary for three semesters back in the late 1970s–early 1980s. We lived in Wilmore for six years. More later … maybe.
</idle musing>

He ever lives to make intercession for us!

166 S. M.
He ever lives to make intercession for us.

LORD, how shall sinners dare
   Look up to thine abode?
   Or offer their imperfect prayer,
   Before a holy God?

2 Bright terrors guard thy seat,
   And glories veil thy face;
   Yet mercy calls us to thy feet,
   And to thy throne of grace.

3 My soul, with cheerful eye
   See where thy Saviour stands,—
   The glorious Advocate on high,
   With incense in his hands.

4 Teach my weak heart, O Lord,
   With faith to call thee mine;
   Bid me pronounce the blissful Word—
   Father—with joy divine.
                  Anne Steele
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Messiah, Joy of Every Heart

161 1st P. M. 6 lines 8s.
Messiah, the Saviour and the Judge.

MESSIAH, joy of every heart,
   Thou, thou the King of glory art,
   The Father’s everlasting Son:
   Thee it delights thy Church to own;
   For all our hopes on thee depend,
   Whose glorious mercies never end.

2 When thou hadst render’d up thy breath,
   And, dying, drawn the sting of death,
   Thou didst from earth triumphant rise,
   And ope the portals of the skies;
   That all who trust in thee alone,
   Might follow, and partake thy throne.

3 Seated at God’s right hand again,
   Thou dost in all his glory reign;
   Thou dost, thy Father’s image, shine
   In all the attributes divine;
   And thou with jmlgment clad shalt come,
   To seal our everlasting doom.

4 Wherefore we now for mercy pray;
   O Saviour, take our sins away:
   Before thou as our Judge appear,
   In dreadful majesty severe,
   Appear our Advocate with God,
   And save the purchase of thy blood.
                  Charles Wesely
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1879 edition)

<idle musing>
Hymnary.org adds two verses:

5. Wherefore we now for mercy pray;
   O Savior, take our sins away!
   Before Thou as our judge appear,
   In dreadful majesty severe,
   Appear our advocate with God,
   And save the purchase of Thy blood.

6. Hallow, and make Thy servants meet,
   And with Thy saints in glory seat;
   Sustain and bless us by Thy sway,
   And keep to that tremendous day,
   When all Thy church shall chant above,
   The new eternal song of love.

</idle musing>

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Dandelions (Tozer for Tuesday)

“See now that ye love one another” (1 Pet. 1:22). Obviously, this love is not a wild plant that will grow of itself. It is there in the heart by a divine planting, but it must be cultivated. Dandelions will grow without cultivation, but love must be cultivated. The human heart must be cultivated; we must work on it. We must pray, search the Word, obey, believe and humble ourselves, opening our minds to the incoming Holy Ghost so that we might cultivate and see that we love one another.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 73

<idle musing>
There's a lot to be said for dandelions; they grow anywhere. But, their value is limited, and in a garden they wreak havoc. But that's not the point of what Tozer is saying, is it? An analogy always runs on three feet; if you point out the fourth foot that is missing, it crashes and burns.

So, let's ignore that fourth foot and concentrate on the other three. What Tozer is pointing out is that spiritual growth is a synergistic endeavor.

I can hear you now: "Huh?"

Synergism means working together—you and God. Some theologies claim that monergism—God alone—is how salvation works. There's a small element of truth there: God initiates. It's always God's initiative; don't get that wrong! But, we must respond! That's synergism. Us responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us.

Growing in grace is becoming more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit—and responding! Without responding, we become insensitive and stagnant. That's what Tozer means when he says that the human heart must be cultivated.

May we hear, respond in obedience, and rejoice in his love for us!
</idle musing>

Sunday, February 12, 2023

His universal, everlasting love

141 1st P. M. 6 lines 8s.
His universal, everlasting love.

WOULD Jesus have the sinner die?
   Why hangs he then on yonder tree?
   That means that strange expiring cry?
   (Sinners, he prays for you and me)
   Forgive them, Father, O forgive!
   They know not that by me they live.

2 Jesus, descended from above,
   Our loss of Eden to retrieve,
   Great God of universal love,
   If all the World through thee may live,
   In us a quick’ning spirit be,
   And witness thou hast died for me.

3 Thou loving, all-atoning Lamb,—
   Thee, by thy painful agony,
   Thy bloody sweat, thy grief and shame,
   Thy cross and passion on the tree,
   Thy precious death and life—I pray,
   Take all, take all my sins away.

4 O let thy love my heart constrain,—
   Thy love, for every sinner free,—
   That every fallen son of man
   May taste the grace that found out me;
   That all mankind with me may prove
   Thy sov’reign, everlasting love.
                  Charles Wesley
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

<idle musing>
Hymnary.org inserts a verse before the final one:

4 O let me kiss thy bleeding feet,
   And bathe and wash them with my tears;
   The story of thy love repeat
   In every drooping sinner’s ears,
   That all may hear the quickening sound,
   Since I, even I, have mercy found.

</idle musing>

Thursday, February 09, 2023

Hail to the Lord's anointed!

126 26th P. M. 76, '76, 76, 76.
The glory of His kingdom.

HAIL, to the Lord’s anointed,—
   Great David’s greater Son!
   Hail, in the time appointed,
   His reign on earth begun!
   He comes to break oppression,—
   To set the captive free;
   To take away transgression,
   And rule in equity.

2 He comes, with succour speedy
   To those who suffer wrong;
   To help the poor and needy,
   And bid the weak be strong;
   To give them songs for sighing,—
   Their darkness turn to light,—
   Whose souls, condemn’d and dying,
   Were precious in his sight.

3 He shall descend like showers
   Upon the fruitful earth,
   And love and joy, like flowers,
   Spring in his-path to birth:
   Before him, on the mountains,
   Shall peace, the herald, go,
   And righteousness, in fountains,
   From hill to valley flow.

4 To him shall prayer unceasing,
   And daily vows ascend;
   His kingdom still increasing,—
   A kingdom without end:
   The tide of time shall never
   His covenant remove;
   His name shall stand forever;
   That name to us is Love.
                  James Montgomery
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Worthy of ceaseless praise!

111 C. M.
Worthy of ceaseless praise from all his creatures.

PRAISE ye the Lord, ye’ immortal choirs
   That fill the worlds above;
   Praise him who form’d you of his fires,
   And feeds you with his love.

2 Shine to his praise, ye crystal skies,
   The floor of his abode;
   Or veil in shades your thousand eyes
   Before your brighter God.

3 Thou restless globe of golden light,
   Whose beams create our days,
   Join with the silver queen of night,
   To own your borrow’d rays.

4 Thunder and hail, and fire and storms,
   The troops of his command,
   Appear in all your dreadful forms,
   And speak his awful hand.

5 Shout to the Lord, ye surging seas,
   In your eternal roar;
   Let wave to wave resound his praise,
   And shore reply to shore.

6 Thus while the meaner creatures sing,
   Ye mortals, catch the sound;
   Echo the glories of your King
   Through all the nations round.
                  Isaac Watts
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Tozer for a Tuesday

The Holy Ghost gives us love that is real. Real love does not always fawn over its object. Real love sometimes rebukes. The sharpest book in the New Testament is the epistle of First John. The apostle of love also could exercise the paddle more vigorously than any other apostle. So the loving John could lay it on when necessary.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 72

<idle musing>
Not a popular statement, is it? We prefer the sickly sweet version of love that pampers us and gives in to our every whim. Tozer is reminding us that true love is not that version of love.

The scriptures say to "speak the truth in love." We prefer the second half of the verse; the first half, speaking the truth, can be painful. And it can be deadly if it isn't spoken in love.

John knew how to speak the truth in love because he was steeped in love first and foremost. May we be the same!

Just an
</idle musing>

Worshiping the Trinity

Robin Parry bemoaned the lack of hymns (and sermons) on the Trinity in his delightful book, Worshipping Trinity. He's correct, but the older hymnals are loaded with marvelous hymns about the Trinity; we just need to start singing them again! This hymn, from the Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition) would be a good one to start with:

101 C. M.
The Trinity

HAIL! holy, holy, holy Lord,
   Whom one in three we know;
   By all thy heavenly host adored,
   By all thy church below.

2 One undivided Trinity
   With triumph we proclaim;
   Thy universe is full of thee,
   And speaks thy glorious name.

3 Thee, holy Father, we confess;
   Thee, holy Son, adore;
   And thee, the Holy Ghost, we bless,
   And worship evermore.

4 Hail! holy, holy, holy Lord,
   Our heavenly song shall be;
   Supreme, essential One, adored
   In co-eternal Three.
                  Charles Wesley

<idle musing>
I found an online copy of the Methodist Episcopal hymnbook that's the same edition as the one I own, but it's date is 1868, while mine is 1870. They are identical, so I'm going to start linking to it. Here's the base url on the
Internet Archive. I don't recommend copying and pasting from the PDF version; it's loaded with misspellings that haven't been corrected. That's fairly common in older books; I have to clean up my scans from the one I'm using too. The faded ink and the darkening of the paper from the acid in it really make it difficult to obtain a clean scan.
</idle musing>

Monday, February 06, 2023

Holy as thou, O Lord, is none

190 L. M.

HOLY as thou, O Lord, is none;
   Thy holiness is all thine own;
   A drop of that unbounded sea
   Is ours, a drop derived from thee.

2 And when thy purity we share,
   Thine only glory we declare;
   And, humbled into nothing, own,
   Holy and pure is God alone.

3 Sole, self-existing God and Lord,
   By all thy heavenly hosts adored,
   Let all on earth bow down to thee,
   And own thy peerless majesty:

4 Thy power unparallel’d'confess,
   Establish’d on the Rock of peace;
   The Rock that never shall remove,—-
   The Rock of pure, almighty love.
                  Charles Wesley
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Quotation for the day

We have beguiled ourselves with gadgets, with machines that work for us, and think for us, and entertain us, and (as we believe in our folly) educate us, until our God-given powers have become atrophied through disuse.—A. Whitney Griswold, president of Yale, 1951, quoted in the Congressional Record

Wisdom and Goodness

92 C. M.
Wisdom and goodness.

BLEST be our everlasting Lord,
   Our Father, God, and King!
   Thy sov’reign goodness we record,
   Thy glorious power we sing.

2 By thee the victory is given:
   The majesty divine,
   Wisdom and might, and earth and heaven,
   And all therein, are thine.

3 The kingdom, Lord, is thine alone,
   Who dost thy right maintain,
   And, high on thy eternal throne,
   O’er men and angels reign.

4 Riches, as seemeth good to thee,
   Thou dost, and honour give;
   And kings their power and dignity
   Out of thy hand receive.

5 Thou hast on us the grace bestow’d,
   Thy greatness to proclaim;
   And therefore now We thank our God,
   And praise thy glorious Name.

6 Thy glorious Name, thy nature’s powers,
   Thou dost to us make known;
   And all the Deity is ours,
   Through thy incarnate Son.
                  Charles Wesley
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)

Saturday, February 04, 2023

I heard the voice of Jesus

1 I heard the voice of Jesus say,
   “Come unto me and rest;
   lay down, O weary one,
   lay down your head upon my breast.”
   I came to Jesus as I was,
   so weary, worn, and sad;
   I found in him a resting place,
   and he has made me glad.

2 I heard the voice of Jesus say,
   “Behold, I freely give
   the living water, thirsty one;
   stoop down and drink and live.”
   I came to Jesus, and I drank
   of that life-giving stream;
   my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
   and now I live in him.

3 I heard the voice of Jesus say,
   “I am this dark world's light.
   Look unto me; your morn shall rise
   and all your day be bright.”
   I looked to Jesus, and I found
   in him my star, my sun;
   and in that light of life I’ll walk
   till trav’ling days are done.
                  Horatius Bonar
                  #117 United Methodist Book of Hymns (1964/1966 edition)

<idle musing>
I was completely unaware of this hymn until this week, despite the fact that it was in the hymnal I grew up with. We just never sang it—at least to my recollection. It was posted on Ponder Anew on January 30th. I needed this hymn on that day; maybe you need it today.

Whether you do or not, it's a good hymn to have in your repertoire for those days when you do need it : )
</idle musing>

Friday, February 03, 2023

Isaac Watts, Goodness and Mercy

89 C. M.
Goodness and mercy.

LET every tongue thy goodness speak,
   Thou sov’reign Lord of all;
   Thy strength'ning hands uphold the weak,
   And raise the poor that fall.

2 When sorrows bow the spirit down,
   When virtue lies distress’d,
   Beneath the proud oppressor’s frown,
   Thou giv’st the mourner rest.

3 Thou know’st the pains thy servants feel,
   Thou hear’st thy children’s cry;
   And their best wishes to fulfil,
   Thy grace is ever nigh.

4 Thy mercy never shall remove
   From men of heart sincere:
   Thou sav’st the souls whose humble love
   Is join’d with holy fear.

5 My lips shall dwell upon thy praise,
   And spread thy fame abroad:
   Let all the sons of Adam raise
   The honours of their God.
                  Isaac Watts
                  Methodist Episcopal hymnal (1870 edition)