Sunday, December 31, 2006

2 Hymns for New Year and a reminiscence in between

May this new year

1 May this new year our ears no more be filled
With the account of fellow mortals killed;
Forbid it mighty God, and peace restore;
May such convulsions shake the earth no more.

2 Hasten the happy times when war shall cease,
And every nation rest in perfect peace;
When superstition shall be done away,
And Christ shall reign with universal sway;

3 When the whole earth the Gospel will receive,
And distant nations shall on Christ believe;
When every kingdom shall learn war no more,
And peace extend itself from shore to shore.

Thomas Marsom 1743-1815
[New Year's Day 1794]

So what was this passing year like? In my life it was like a tornado, swooping everything on its way, sweeping away the old dust completely, leaving me amazed at the sight of things, making way for the new being.
I had read some psychological stuff about women experiencing major transformations when they are just about my age. It was some 5 years ago, and I was waiting patiently for this prophecy to transpire in my life. Now, I do not know whether I should trust psychology (after what did transpire), but one thing is sure: I am a changed person, forever.
This journey started in the spring, when I was looking for some (then) important answers, continued through the summer, when, to put it simply (this is not simple by any means, but anyway), God saved me, and has continued up until now, with a strong conviction of being with me for the rest of my life.

Outside my private room the world has moved forward, some governments fell, some arose, several famous and infamous people died, many more unknown people died en masse, without anybody taking notice (apart from media reporting on some riots, some bombings, some accidents...)

The job has been good, for the most part. Nothing to complain about.

Family is my strength, my husband is my support, my children mean the world to me. We are truly blessed with what we have.

I cannot wait to see what the next year is going to be like!

Happy New Year to You, too!

Hymn For New Year

1. Great God, we sing that mighty hand
By which supported still we stand;
The opening year thy mercy shows;
That mercy crowns it till it close.

2. By day, by night, at home, abroad,
Still are we guarded by our God;
By his incessant bounty fed,
By his unerring counsel led.

3. With grateful hearts the past we own;
The future, all to us unknown,
We to thy guardian care commit,
And peaceful leave before thy feet.

4. In scenes exalted or depressed,
Thou art our Joy, and thou our Rest;
Thy goodness all our hopes shall raise,
Adored through all our changing days.

5. When death shall interrupt these songs,
And seal in silence mortal tongues,
Our Helper God, in whom we trust,
Shall keep our souls and guard our dust.

Words: English Philip Doddridge, 1755

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Just listen to these :)

A short post this time, because I have been spending my time listening to some men of God and want to recommend their podcasts to everybody.
Let me make a list:

  • The Narrow Mind Aftermath
    - Gene Cook's brilliant apologetics radio, gratious, polite and firmly standing on the Word, every day

  • The Dividing Line
    - Dr. James White with his legendary program, witty, sharp and sarcastic at times, but extremely educating and biblical, sends several times a week

  • Desiring God Sermons
    - my favorite, John Piper, with his love for God, once a week

  • Desiring God Radio
    - the same as above, but a daily one

  • Sword and Trowel
    - the preaching of Phil Johnson and Don Green (right-click and copy link into iTunes)

  • The Wild Boar News
    - the Old Time Religion proclaimed on internet (right-click and copy link into iTunes)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Why is Gospel not sufficient?

Honestly, I do not have a clue. It is enough for me, it is enough for the people in my church, it is enough for my blogging Reformed brothers and sisters in Christ... But it is not enough for many post-modern seekers and church innovators. For them Gospel is simply too old-fashioned, and all that talk about sin and repentance too depressing and too gloomy.
A lot of research is being done in the area of church growth, as if chasing after numbers were superior to preaching the Gospel. Modern church, they say, should be seeker-friendly, attractive, kind and well-anchored in the culture. What they advocate is not telling sinners that they are sinners. Despite the sound and cautious words of reason spoken and written by the great men of God of today the temporary popularity is what is on nowadays. Despite all the warnings uttered in the subject of Emerging Church and its leaders, Brian
McLaren is gaining on popularity every day here in Sweden. His ideology is attractive to the culture that has been depraved of the real gospel for many, many years. And, of course, it is better than atheism, but it is deceiving people into a false peace of soul.

When I first started blogging, I began to learn about all those apostate trends in the Church, but was regarding them as geographically distant and theoretical for my corner of the world. Oh how wrong I was, and how naive. Many articles read since then have been good eye-openers to the inconvenient truth about the true state of the Church everywhere.
Why does my mother choose to still stay in the Roman Catholic church? Not because she shares the beliefs completely, but because the rituals are attractive, the decorum is captivating to the eye, the rich human tradition makes it hard to break the ties. She approves of my conversion, she finds no doctrinal flaws in the Biblical Gospel, but as far as she is concerned, things shall stay where they have always been.
Why do some people in my in-law family choose the flashy sparks of spiritual fixes served by Pentecostalism? Their explanation is similar to my mother's: they have never taken time to examine the validity of the doctrine, they have just accepted it without questioning, in spite of many signs of warning along the way.
Why do young people turn in the direction of New Age? Well, because, to answer it in a simple way, it offers something the materialism does not offer.

A digression: Christmas in Sweden is a period of two days, December 25th and 26th. The second day is for many a golden opportunity to go to the shops and hunt for bargains. This year was no different, in fact, and, according to media, it was almost impossible to find a parking space at the big shopping centres in town, and people were like crazy in the shops, fighting for stuff.
Is this Christmas?

So no wonder many young people turn away from this, and towards New Age spirituality, because it is so all-inclusive, easy and forgiving, often showing fast remedies to their problems.
Christianity is simply too difficult, too fundamental, too demanding. The modern man's religion must be easy and convenient, may cost a little money, but must pay back immediately. No way the modern man is going to wait for his reward until after his death. Such morbid notions belong to the Middle Ages, and people who preach Jesus crucified are not welcome into the modern man's feng-shui house.

Why these bitter words today? Well, I came across a Swedish blog criticising John MacArthur and his preaching directed against the emerging apostasy. Gospel according to Jesus is not appreciated by a modern man, to the extent of lies and straw men creation, because it hurts to hear the truth.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Heb 4:12-13)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

No religion suits me

I do not have a religion, because none suits me.

I have just read this sentence on one of the usenet groups, and it woke some interesting thoughts afterwards. As a new-born Christian I may only feel sorry for this kind of human philosophy, but at the same time I am perfectly aware that this is the way most people view religion - as to what degree it suits them. In other words - to what degree the god of a given religion fits their needs and feelings. This is plainly a man-made caricature of real God.
Now, everything a Christian says in response to this will be treated as boasting and pride, as well as limited and simplistic.

Do we have a religion? What is religion?
According to Wikipedia,
Religion is the adherence to codified beliefs and rituals that (generally) involve a faith in a spiritual nature and a study of inherited ancestral traditions, knowledge and wisdom related to understanding human life. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to faith as well as to the larger shared systems of belief.

In the larger sense, religion is a communal system for the coherence of belief —typically focused on a system of thought, unseen being, person, or object, that is considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine, or of the highest truth. Moral codes, practices, values, institutions, traditions, and rituals are often traditionally associated with the core belief, and these may have some overlap with concepts in secular philosophy. Religion can also be described as a way of life.

But this is not what Biblical Christianity is all about. And this is precisely why people have such a hard time to understand Christianity... They have built their idea of God according to religion. Any religion.

Now then, when we say that we have a personal relationship with God, the average listener looks at us with disbelief and considers us crazy. Why? Because this does not fit his preconceived notion of religion according to the above definition.
Since the above depicts a man-made religion of works, the definition has no relevance to Biblical Christianity as we know it. Unfortunately, the very name, Christianity, has been embraced by so many false teachers and cults, that it is no longer possible to explain the specifics of the true Christianity to an unbeliever.
False teachings of various sorts, not the least of the so called Christians of Rome, have introduced the treacherous notion of any religion being right. You are safe as long as you believe... in something. This is not what Bible teaches! But who would care for the teachings of an old book, half of which was written by Jews and for Jews, and the other half compiled after the 'supposed' death of a 'supposed' Jesus...
This is a nice story, they say, but how much of it can we really believe? There are no proofs... There are no trustworthy witnesses... You Christians want us enslaved to your preposterous doctrine, and we are too humanistic for that!

God gives His Grace and faith in Him to those He pleases to give it to. There simply is no other logic, no other Gospel, no other God, no other Jesus.
let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
(Act 4:10-12)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jesus Christ in the Book of Romans

This is a wonderful Christmas gift from John Piper and his Desiring God Ministries.

A beautiful sermon finalizing an eight years period of preaching from the Book of Romans, a sermon being, in fact, a prayer itself.
You may read it. You may listen to it. But what I recommend is watching it, and praying along.
to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
(Rom 16:27)

And may the peace of this Christmas stay with us forever, through Him and for Him, for His Glory and the glory of His Church.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Spurgeon's Devotionals for December the 26th


“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”
- Psalm 55:22
Care, even though exercised upon legitimate objects, if carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin. The precept to avoid anxious care is earnestly inculcated by our Saviour, again and again; it is reiterated by the apostles; and it is one which cannot be neglected without involving transgression: for the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into his place to do for him that which he has undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of that which we fancy he will forget; we labour to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if he were unable or unwilling to take it for us. Now this disobedience to his plain precept, this unbelief in his Word, this presumption in intruding upon his province, is all sinful. Yet more than this, anxious care often leads to acts of sin. He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God’s hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use wrong means to help himself. This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our counsellor, and resorting instead to human wisdom. This is going to the “broken cistern” instead of to the “fountain;” a sin which was laid against Israel of old. Anxiety makes us doubt God’s lovingkindness, and thus our love to him grows cold; we feel mistrust, and thus grieve the Spirit of God, so that our prayers become hindered, our consistent example marred, and our life one of self-seeking. Thus want of confidence in God leads us to wander far from him; but if through simple faith in his promise, we cast each burden as it comes upon him, and are “careful for nothing” because he undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to him, and strengthen us against much temptation. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.”


“Continue in the faith.”
- Acts 14:22
Perseverance is the badge of true saints. The Christian life is not a beginning only in the ways of God, but also a continuance in the same as long as life lasts. It is with a Christian as it was with the great Napoleon: he said, “Conquest has made me what I am, and conquest must maintain me.” So, under God, dear brother in the Lord, conquest has made you what you are, and conquest must sustain you. Your motto must be, “Excelsior.” He only is a true conqueror, and shall be crowned at the last, who continueth till war’s trumpet is blown no more. Perseverance is, therefore, the target of all our spiritual enemies. The world does not object to your being a Christian for a time, if she can but tempt you to cease your pilgrimage, and settle down to buy and sell with her in Vanity Fair. The flesh will seek to ensnare you, and to prevent your pressing on to glory. “It is weary work being a pilgrim; come, give it up. Am I always to be mortified? Am I never to be indulged? Give me at least a furlough from this constant warfare.” Satan will make many a fierce attack on your perseverance; it will be the mark for all his arrows. He will strive to hinder you in service: he will insinuate that you are doing no good; and that you want rest. He will endeavour to make you weary of suffering, he will whisper, “Curse God, and die.” Or he will attack your steadfastness: “What is the good of being so zealous? Be quiet like the rest; sleep as do others, and let your lamp go out as the other virgins do.” Or he will assail your doctrinal sentiments: “Why do you hold to these denominational creeds? Sensible men are getting more liberal; they are removing the old landmarks: fall in with the times.” Wear your shield, Christian, therefore, close upon your armour, and cry mightily unto God, that by his Spirit you may endure to the end.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2Ti 3:5)

Everybody seems to be celebrating... something today. When you look around, there are Christmas decorations in every window of every house, people visiting their friends, celebrating... what?
In Swedish language one is supposed to say 'God Jul' [merry Christmas] to each other. But what does it really mean?

Yule is the winter solstice celebration of the Scandinavian Norse mythology and Germanic pagans. In Neopaganism, this celebration is largely reconstructed to various extents by various groups. In Wicca, a form of the holiday is observed as one of the eight solar holidays, or sabbats, where Yule is celebrated on the winter solstice: in the northern hemisphere, circa December 21, and in the southern hemisphere, circa June 21.

"Yule" and "Yuletide" (also see Yalda) refer to the period extending from Dec. 24 to Jan. 6 and is often used to refer to Christmas. People unfamiliar with ancient Norse mythology's pagan traditions usually do not distinguish between Yule (Joul) and Christmas, as it is used in many Christmas songs. In Denmark, Norway and Sweden the term "jul" is still the most common way to express Christmas, as well as "joulu" in Finland and "jõulud" in Estonia. (Wikipedia)

So yes, it is perfectly safe to celebrate this, as well as to wish one another happy "this".
Convenient, isn't it? Nobody needs to mention Christ here, and they still can be merry, drink a lot and have fun.
I just do not grasp it...
Somebody who had some common sense suggested once that this holiday should not be observed in Sweden any longer, since it had lost contact with its origins (meaning: Jesus). But, nobody liked this idea, of course :) And, when taken at its definition, the origins are still perfectly valid, don't you think?

Spurgeon's Devotionals for December the 25th


“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
- Isaiah 7:14
Let us to-day go down to Bethlehem, and in company with wondering shepherds and adoring Magi, let us see him who was born King of the Jews, for we by faith can claim an interest in him, and can sing, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” Jesus is Jehovah incarnate, our Lord and our God, and yet our brother and friend; let us adore and admire. Let us notice at the very first glance his miraculous conception. It was a thing unheard of before, and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a Son. The first promise ran thus, “The seed of the woman,” not the offspring of the man. Since venturous woman led the way in the sin which brought forth Paradise lost, she, and she alone, ushers in the Regainer of Paradise. Our Saviour, although truly man, was as to his human nature the Holy One of God. Let us reverently bow before the holy Child whose innocence restores to manhood its ancient glory; and let us pray that he may be formed in us, the hope of glory. Fail not to note his humble parentage. His mother has been described simply as “a virgin,” not a princess, or prophetess, nor a matron of large estate. True the blood of kings ran in her veins; nor was her mind a weak and untaught one, for she could sing most sweetly a song of praise; but yet how humble her position, how poor the man to whom she stood affianced, and how miserable the accommodation afforded to the new-born King!

Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendour.


“And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.”
- Job 1:5

What the patriarch did early in the morning, after the family festivities, it will be well for the believer to do for himself ere he rests tonight. Amid the cheerfulness of household gatherings it is easy to slide into sinful levities, and to forget our avowed character as Christians. It ought not to be so, but so it is, that our days of feasting are very seldom days of sanctified enjoyment, but too frequently degenerate into unhallowed mirth. There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief. Alas! for our poor hearts, that facts prove that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. Come, believer, in what have you sinned to-day? Have you been forgetful of your high calling? Have you been even as others in idle words and loose speeches? Then confess the sin, and fly to the sacrifice. The sacrifice sanctifies. The precious blood of the Lamb slain removes the guilt, and purges away the defilement of our sins of ignorance and carelessness. This is the best ending of a Christmas-day-to wash anew in the cleansing fountain. Believer, come to this sacrifice continually; if it be so good to-night, it is good every night. To live at the altar is the privilege of the royal priesthood; to them sin, great as it is, is nevertheless no cause for despair, since they draw near yet again to the sin-atoning victim, and their conscience is purged from dead works.

Gladly I close this festive day,

Grasping the altar’s hallow’d horn;

My slips and faults are washed away,

The Lamb has all my trespass borne.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Under the tree

Presents have found their recipients.

You see, here in Sweden, as well as in Poland for that matter, we start serious celebrating on Christmas Eve, meaning a lot of good food and a multitude of gifts under the tree.

The house is quiet, my small and big boys are watching a film (one of the presents), and I have found some time to check on some Polish sites on-line.

We do not have much of white Christmas here, which is both good and bad. Good, because it means no snow to take care of, but bad, because it makes children sad. Plus 7 degrees centigrade - strange winter it is...

And we still have two more days to go on 'Christmassing' and carolling and eating and visiting and...

Well, tomorrow is church. I have really been missing this, since last Sunday had me sitting at home with high fever...

Have a Blessed Christmas, all of You!

A Hymn on the Nativity of My Savior

Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
A Hymn on the Nativity of My Savior

I sing the birth was born tonight,
The Author both of life and light;
The angels so did sound it,
And like the ravished shepherds said,
Who saw the light, and were afraid,
Yet searched, and true they found it.

The Son of God, the eternal King,
That did us all salvation bring,
And freed the soul from danger;
He whom the whole world could not take,
The Word, which heaven and earth did make,
Was now laid in a manger.

The Father's wisdom willed it so,
The Son's obedience knew no "No,"

Both wills were in one stature;
And as that wisdom had decreed,
The Word was now made Flesh indeed,
And took on Him our nature.

What comfort by Him do we win?
Who made Himself the Prince of sin,
To make us heirs of glory?
To see this Babe, all innocence,
A Martyr born in our defense,
Can man forget this story?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Good Cheer for Christmas

Delivered on Lord’s Day Morning, December 20, 1868, by

C.H. Spurgeon

At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

“And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”—Isaiah 25:6.

We have nearly arrived at the great merry–making season of the year. On Christmas day we shall find all the world in England enjoying themselves with all the good cheer which they can afford. Servants of God, you who have the largest share in the person of him who was born at Bethlehem, I invite you to the best of all Christmas fare—to nobler food than makes the table groan—bread from heaven, food for your spirit. Behold, how rich and how abundant are the provisions which God has made for the high festival which he would have his servants keep, not now and then, but all the days of their lives!

God, in the verse before us, has been pleased to describe the provisions of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Although many other interpretations have been suggested for this verse, they are all flat and stale, and utterly unworthy of such expressions as those before us. When we behold the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed—when we see him offered up upon the chosen mountain, we then discover a fullness of meaning in these gracious words of sacred hospitality, “The Lord shall make a feast of fat things, of fat things full of marrow.” Our Lord himself was very fond of describing his gospel under the selfsame image as that which is here employed. He spoke of the marriage supper of the king, who said “My oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready;” and it did not seem as if he could even complete the beauty of the parable of the prodigal son without the killing of the fat calf and the feasting and the music and dancing. As a festival on earth is looked forward to and looked back upon as an oasis amid a desert of time, so the gospel of Jesus Christ is to the soul its sweet release from bondage and distress, its mirth and joy. Upon this subject we intend to speak this morning, hoping to be helped by the great Master of the feast.

Our first head will be the feast; the second will be the banqueting hall—“in this mountain;” the third will be the Host—“The Lord shall make a feast;” and the fourth shall be the guests—he shall make it “unto all people.”

1. First, then, we have to consider the feast.

It is described as consisting of viands of the best, nay, of the best of the best. They are fat things, but they are also fat things full of marrow. Wines are provided of the most delicious and invigorating kind, wines on the lees, which retain their aroma, their strength, and their flavor; but these are most ancient and rare, having been so long kept that they have become well refined; by long standing they have purified, clarified themselves, and brought themselves to the highest degree of brightness and excellence. The best of the best God has provided in the gospel for the sons of men.

Let us attentively survey the blessings of the gospel, and observe that they are fat things, and fat things full of marrow.

One of the first gospel blessings is that of complete justification. A sinner, though guilty in himself, no sooner believes in Jesus than all his sins are pardoned. The righteousness of Christ becomes his righteousness, and he is accepted in the Beloved. Now, this is a delicious dish indeed. Here is something for the soul to feed upon. To think that I, though a deeply guilty one, am absolved of God and set free from the bondage of the law! To think that I, though once an heir of wrath, am now as accepted before God as Adam was when he walked in the Garden without a sin; nay, more accepted still, for the divine righteousness of Christ belongs to me, and I stand complete in him, beloved in the Beloved, and accepted in him, too! Beloved, this is such a precious truth, that when the soul feeds on it, it experiences a quiet peace, a deep and heavenly calm, to be found nowhere on earth besides. This is a kind of honey which never cloys, to be assured by the word of God, and by the witness of the Holy Ghost within you, that you are reconciled and brought nigh by the blood and the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is a choice mercy. This is a fat thing indeed; but this is not all, it is a fat thing full of marrow, too. There is an inner lusciousness in it when you reach the heart and soul of the matter, transcendent in richness; for remember that this righteousness, this acceptance, this justification, becomes ours in a perfectly legal way, one against which Satan himself cannot raise a demurrer, for our Substitute has paid our debt; therefore are we righteously discharged. Christ has fulfilled the law and made it honorable for us, and therefore are we justly accepted and beloved. Here is marrow indeed when we perceive the truth and reality of the substitution of Jesus and grasp with heart and soul the fact of our great Surety standing in our stead at the bar of justice, that we might stand in his stead in the place of honor and love. What bliss it is to cry with the apostle, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Come hither, all ye whose spiritual tastes are purified by grace, and feed upon this choice provision, which shall be sweet to your taste, sweeter, also, than honey and the honeycomb.

Meditate upon a second blessing of the covenant of grace, namely, that of adoption. It is plainly revealed to us, that as many as have believed in Christ Jesus unto the salvation of their souls, are the sons of God. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” Here, indeed, is a fat thing. What, shall a worm of the dust become a child of God? A rebel be adopted into the heavenly family? A condemned criminal not only forgiven, but actually made a child of God? Wonder of wonders! “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God!” To which of the kings and princes of this earth did he ever say, “Thou art my son?” He has not spoken thus to the great ones and to the mighty, but God hath chosen the base things of this world and things that are despised, yea, and things that are not, and made these to be of the seed royal. The wise and prudent are passed over, but babes receive the revelation of his love. Lord, whence is this to me? What am I and what is my father’s house, that thou shouldst speak of making me thy child? This gloriously fat thing is also “full of marrow.” There is an inner richness in adoption, for, “if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Well does the apostle remind us that if children, then heirs, for we are thus assured of our blessed heritage. “All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Here are royal dainties of which the Word has said most truly, “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house.”

Passing on from the blessing of adoption, let us remember that every child of God is the object of eternal love without beginning and without end. This is one of the fat things full of marrow. Is it so, that I, a believer in Jesus, unworthy as I am, am the object of the eternal love of God? What transport lies in that thought! Long before the Lord began to create the world, he had thought of me. Long before Adam fell or Christ was born, and the angels sang their first choral over Bethlehem’s miracle, the eye and the heart of God were toward his elect people. He never began to love them; they were always “a people near unto him.” Is it not so written, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore, with loving kindness have I drawn thee?” Some kick at the doctrine of election, but they are ill advised, since they labor to overturn one of the noblest dishes of the feast; they would dam up one of the coolest streams that flow from Lebanon; they would cover over with rubbish one of the richest veins of golden ore that make rich the people of God. For this doctrine of a love that has no commencement is the best wine of our Beloved, and “that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of them that are asleep to speak.” How joyously does the heart exult and leap for very joy when this truth is brought home by the witness of the Spirit of God! Then the soul is satisfied with favor, and full with the blessing of the Lord.

Equally delightful is the corresponding reflection that this love which had no beginning shall have no end. He is a God that changes not. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Where he has once set his heart of love upon a man, he never turns away from doing him good. He says by the mouth of his servant the prophet, that he hates putting away. Though we sin against him often and provoke him to jealousy, yet still, as the waters of Noah, so is his covenant to us; for as the waters of Noah shall no more go over the earth, so he swears that he will not be wroth with us nor rebuke us. “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” “I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” Why, beloved, this indeed is a fat thing, and I may add that it is full of marrow when you remember that not merely has the Lord thought of you from everlasting, but loved you. Oh! the depth of that word “love,” as it applies to the infinite Jehovah, whose name, whose essence, whose nature is love! He has loved you with all the immutable intensity of his heart, never more and never less; loved you so much that he gave his only begotten Son for you; loved you so well that nothing could content him but making you to be conformed into the image of his dear Son, and causing you to partake of his glory that you may be with him where he is! Come, feed on this, ye heirs of eternal life, for here are fat things full of marrow.

We should not, beloved, have completed this list if we had omitted one precious doctrine, which needs a refined taste perhaps, but which, when a man has once learned to feed on it, seems to him to be best of all—I mean the great truth of union to Christ. We are plainly taught in the word of God that as many as have believed are one with Christ: they are married to him, there is a conjugal union based upon mutual affection. The union is closer still, for there is a vital union between Christ and his saints. They are in him as the branches are in the vine; they are members of the body of which he is the head. They are one with Jesus in such a true and real sense that with him they died, with him they have been buried, with him they are risen, with him they are raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places. There is an indissoluble union between Christ and all his people: “I in them and they in me.” Thus the union may be described: Christ is in his people the hope of glory, and they are dead and their life is hid with Christ in God. This is a union of the most wonderful kind, which figures may faintly set forth, but which it is impossible for language completely to explain. Oneness to Jesus is one of the fat things full of marrow. For if it be so, indeed, that we are one with Christ, then because he lives we must live also; because he was justified by his resurrection, we also are justified in him; because he is rewarded and forever sits down at his Father’s right hand, we also have obtained the inheritance in him and by faith grasp it now and enjoy its earnest. Oh, can it be that this aching head already has a right to a celestial crown! That this palpitating heart has a claim to the rest which remains for the people of God! That these weary feet have a title to tread the sacred halls of the New Jerusalem! It is so, for if we are one with Christ, then all he has belongs to us; and it is but a matter of time, and of gracious arrangement when we shall come into the full enjoyment thereof. Truly, in meditation upon this topic, we may each of us exclaim, “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.”

I cannot bring forth all the courses of my Lord’s banquet; one serving man cannot bear before you the riches of such a surpassing feast; but I would remind you of one more, and that is the doctrine of resurrection and everlasting life. This poor world dimly guessed at the immortality of the soul, but it knew nothing of the resurrection of the body. The gospel of Jesus has brought life and immortality to light, and he himself has declared to us of Jesus, that he that believeth in him shall never die. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet should he live.” Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Not the soul only, but the body also shall partake of immortality; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. We expect to die, but we are assured of living again. If the Lord come not, we know that our bodies shall see corruption; but here is our comfort, we dread no annihilation—that dark shadow never crosses our spirits; we dread no hell, no purgatory, no judgment—Christ has perfected forever those who are set apart; none can condemn whom he absolves. The saints shall judge the angels and sit with their Lord in the day of the great assize. To us the coming of Christ will be a day of joy and of rejoicing: we shall be caught up together with him; his reign shall be our reign, his glory our glory. Wherefore comfort one another with these words, and as you see your brethren and your sisters departing one by one from among you, sorrow not as those that are without hope, but say to each other, “They are not lost, but they have gone before,” for, “blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” Here are fat things full of marrow, for ours is a glorious hope and full of immortality. Our expected immortality is not that of mere existence; it is not the barren privilege of life without bliss, existence without happiness—it is full of glory; for “we shall be like him when we shall see him as he is;” we shall be with God, at whose right hand there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. He shall make us to drink of the river of his pleasures; songs and everlasting joy shall be upon our heads, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

“Oh, for the no more weeping,

Within that land of love!

The endless joy of keeping

The bridal feast above!

Oh, for the hour of seeing

My Savior face to face!

The hope of ever being

In that sweet meeting–place.”

Thus I have set before you a few of the fat things full of marrow which the King of kings has set before his guests at the wedding feast of his love.

Changing the run of the thought, and yet really keeping to the same subject, let me now bring before you the goblets of wine. “Wines on the lees—wines on the lees well refined.” These we shall consider as symbolizing the joys of the gospel. What are these? I can only speak of those which I have myself been permitted to sip at. One of the dearest joys of the Christian life is a sense of perfect peace with God. Oh, I tell you when one is quiet for awhile, and the din and noise of business is out of one’s ears, it is one of the most delicious things in all the world to meditate upon God, and to feel he is no enemy to me, and I am no enemy to him. It is beyond comparison cheering, musingly to feel, I love him. If there is anything which I can do to serve him, I will do it. If there is any suffering which would honor him, if he would give me the strength to endure it, it should be my happiness, though it caused me to die a martyr’s death a thousand times. If I could but honor my God, my Father, and my Friend, all should be acceptable to me. There is nothing between the Lord and me by way of difference or alienation; I am brought nigh through the blood of his dear and only begotten Son. He is my God, my Father, and my all, and I am his child. Some of us have tried the imaginary happiness of laughter; we have mixed with the giddy throng, and tasted the wines of the house of carnal merriment; but our honest experience is that one single draught from the cup of salvation is worth rivers of worldly mirth.

Solid joys and lasting pleasures. Only Zion’s children know.

A quiet heart, resting in the love of God, dwelling in perfect peace, has a royalty about it which cannot for a moment be matched by the fleeting joys of this world.

Our joy sometimes flashes with a brighter light, but even then it is not less pure and safe. You may look upon this wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it moves itself aright; for there is no woe, no redness of the eyes reserved for those who drink even to inebriation of this sacred wine. This sacred exhilaration is caused by a sense of security. A child of God, when he has looked well to his Redeemer, and seen the merit of the precious blood, and the power of the never–ceasing plea, feels himself safe, perfectly safe. I do not understand the child of God reading his Bible and yet being afraid of being cast into hell. I can understand that the fear may cross his mind lest after all he should prove a castaway; but as he approaches once again to the foot of the cross, and looks up to Jesus, he feels that it cannot be. None were ever cast away who stood at the cross foot; for it is written, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” A child of God, with no hope but what he finds in Christ, has no cause to think his eternal state to be insecure. All are safe who are in Christ, even as all were safe who were in Noah’s ark. No flood, no storm could hurt the man of whom it was said, “The Lord shut him in.” The Lord has shut in all his people in Christ, and they are eternally safe in Christ. When the spirit knows that “there is, therefore, now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” then is it replenished with delight. When one feels that live or die, or work or suffer, all is well, how free from care is the heart! How divinely joyful to know that if one should lose all his earthly substance, the Lord will provide; that if one should be tempted, tempted greatly, yet with the temptation the way of escape shall be made! Here is assurance rich with consolation. When one feels that all is safe, all safe eternally, for life or death all secured, I tell you that this is wine on the lees, wine on the lees well refined; and he who wins a draught thereof need not envy the angels their celestial banquets.

This joy of ours will sometimes rise to an elevation yet more sublime when it is caused by communion with God. Believers, while engaged in prayer and praise, in service and in suffering, are enabled by the Holy Spirit to hold high converse with their Lord. Do not imagine that Abraham’s speech with God was an unusual privilege. The father of the faithful did but enjoy what all the faithful ones participate in according to the grace given them. We tell to God our griefs, discoursing upon our sorrows not in fiction, but declaring them in real conversation, as when a man speaks with his neighbor. Meanwhile the Lord’s Spirit whispers to us with the still small voice of the promise, such words as calm our minds and guide our feet. Yes, and when our Beloved takes us into the banqueting house of real conscious fellowship with himself, and waves the love banner over us, our holy joy is as much superior to all merely human mirth, as the heavens are above the earth. Then do we speak and sing with sacred zest and feel as if we could weep for very joy of heart, for our Beloved is ours and we are his. His left hand is under our head, and his right hand does embrace us, and our only fear is lest anything should grieve our Beloved and cause him to withdraw himself from us; for it is heaven on earth and the fair antepast of heaven above to see his face, to taste his love. Communion with Christ is as the wine on the lees well refined.

We will place on the table one goblet more, of which you may drink as much as you will. We have provided for us the pleasures of hope, a hope most sure and steadfast, most bright and glorious—the hope that what we know today shall be outdone by what we shall know tomorrow; the hope that by–and–by what we now see, as in a glass darkly, shall be seen face to face. We shall say, as in heaven, as the Queen of Sheba did in Jerusalem, “The half hath not been told us.” We are looking forward to a speedy day when we shall be unburdened of this creaking tabernacle, and being absent from the body shall be present with the Lord. Our hope of future bliss is elevated and confident. Oh, the vision of his face! Oh, the sight of Jesus in his exaltation! Oh, the kiss of his lips—the word, “Well done, good and faithful servant” from that dear mouth! and then forever to lie in his bosom. Begone, ye cares, begone, ye sorrows; if heaven be so near, ye shall not molest us. The inn may be a rough and poverty–stricken one; but we are only travelers, not tenants upon lease. This is not our place of resting; we are on our journey home! Beloved, in the prospect of the quiet resting places in the land which flows with milk and honey, you have wines on the lees well refined.

If we were not limited to time this morning, as, alas! we are, I should have reminded you that these joys of the believer are ancient in their origin, for that is shown in the text. Old wines are intended by “wines well refined;” they have stood long on the lees, have drawn out all the virtue from them and have been cleared of all the coarser material. In the East, wine will be improved by keeping even more than the wines of the West! And even so the mercies of God are the sweeter to our meditations because of their antiquity. From old eternity, or ever the earth was, the covenant engagements of everlasting love have been resting like wines on the lees; and today they bring to us the utmost riches of all the attributes of God. I should also have reminded you of the fullness of their excellence because the wine on the lees holds its flavor and retains its aroma, and there is a fullness and richness about the blessings of divine grace which endears them to our hearts. The joys of grace are not fantastical emotions, or transient flashes of a meteoric excitement; they are based on substantial truth, are reasonable, fit, and proper. They belong not to the superficial and frothy emotions of mere feeling, but are deep, solemn, earnest motions, justified by the clearest judgment. Our bliss is not of the foam and the surge; it dwells in the innermost caverns of our heart. I would also remind you of their refined nature. No sin mingled with the joys of the gospel and the delights of communion—they are well refined. Gospel joys are elevating; they make men like angels. As in the gospel God comes down to men, so by the gospel men go up to God. I might also have shown you how absolutely peerless are the provisions of grace. There is no feast like that of the gospel, no meat like the flesh of Jesus, no drink like his blood, no joys like that which crowns the gospel feast.

2. I can say no more: the table is before you, and now we must pass on with great brevity to notice the banqueting hall.

“In this mountain.” There is a reference here to three things—the same symbol bearing three interpretations. First, literally, the mountain upon which Jerusalem is built. I do not doubt that the reference is here to the hill of the Lord upon which Jerusalem stood; the great transaction which was fulfilled at Jerusalem upon Calvary has made to all nations a great feast. It was there where that center cross bore upon it One who joined earth and heaven in mysterious union; it was there where amid thick darkness the Son of God was made a curse for men; it was there where sorrow culminated, that joy was consummated. On that very mountain where Jews and Gentiles met together and with clamorous wrath cried, “Let him be crucified”—it was there in the giving up of the Only begotten, whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed, that the Lord made a feast of fat things. Everything I have spoken of this morning is found in Christ. He is the resurrection and the life; in him we are justified, adopted, and made secure; every drop of joy we drink streams from his flowing veins.

A second meaning is the church. Frequently Jerusalem is used as the symbol of the church of God, and it is within the pale of the church that the great feast of the Lord is made unto all nations. I am in the truest sense a very sound churchman. I am indeed a high churchman, a most determined stickler for the church. I do not believe in salvation outside of the pale of the church. I believe that the salvation of God is confined to the church, and to the church alone. “But,” says one, “what church?” Ay! that’s the question: God forbid I should mean by that either the Baptist church, or the Independent church, or the Episcopalian church, or the Presbyterian, or any other—I mean the church of Jesus Christ, the company of God’s chosen, the fellowship of the blood–bought, the family of believers, be they where they may, for them is provided the feast of fat things. Whatever outward and visible church they may have associated themselves with, they shall drink of the wines on the lees well refined; but the feast is only to be found where they are found who put their trust in Jesus. There is but one church in heaven and earth, composed of men called by the Holy Ghost, and made to live anew by his quickening power; and it is through the ministry of this church that an abundant feast is spread for all nations, a feast to which the nations are summoned by chosen herald, whom God calls to proclaim the good news of salvation by Jesus Christ.

But, brethren, the mountain sometimes means the church of God exalted to its latter–day glory. This mountain is to be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. This text will have its grandest fulfillment in the day of the appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Then shall the glory of the gospel be unveiled more clearly than at this present. Men shall have a fuller perception of the glory of the Lord and a deeper enjoyment of his grace, while happiness and peace shall reign with unmolested quiet. Soon shall come the golden age which has been so long foretold, for which we cry with unceasing expectation. The Lord send it speedily, and his be the praise.

3. Thirdly, let us think of the host of the feast.

“In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things.” Mark well the truth that in the gospel banquet there is not a single dish brought by man. The Lord makes it, and he makes it all. I know some would like to bring a little with them to the banquet, something at least by way of trimming and adornment, so that they might have a share of the honor; but it must not be. The Lord of hosts makes the feast, and he will not even permit the guests to bring their own wedding garments—they must stop at the door and put on the robe which the Lord has provided; for salvation is all grace from first to last, and all of him who is wondrous in working, and who does all things according to the counsels of his will. Out of all the precious truths which I spoke of at the beginning of this sermon, there is not one which comes from any source but a divine one; and of all the joys which I tried feebly to picture there is not one which takes its rise from earth’s springs; they all flow from the eternal fount. The Lord makes the feast; and, observe, he does it, too, as the Lord of hosts, as a sovereign, as a ruler, doing as he wills among the sons of men, preparing what he wills for the good of his creatures and constraining whom he wills to come to the marriage feast. The Lord provides sovereignly as Lord of hosts and all sufficiently as Jehovah. It needed the all–sufficiency of God to provide a feast for hungry sinners. No other than the infinite “I AM” could provide a feast substantial enough to supply the wants of immortal spirits; but he has done it, and you may guess of the value of the viands by the nature of our entertainer. If God spread the feast it is not to be despised; if the Lord has put forth all the omnipotence of his eternal power and Godhead in preparing the banquet for the multitude of the sons of men, then depend upon it, it is a banquet worthy of him, one to which they may come with confidence; for it must be such a banquet as their souls require and such as the world never saw before. O my soul, rejoice thou in thy God and King. If he provides the feast, let him have all the glory of it. “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.” O King immortal, eternal, invisible, thou feddest thy children in the wilderness with manna which dropped from heaven, and with water that flowed out of a flinty rock, and they gave thanks unto thy name; but now thou fillest us with nobler food. They did eat manna and are dead, but we live on the immortal bread, even Jesus, and therefore we can never die. They drank of the water which flowed from the rock, and yet they thirsted again; but we shall never thirst, but forever abide near to thyself, while the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall feed us and lead us to living fountains of water. Therefore, blessed be thy name, yea, a thousand times blessed be thy name, O thou Most High! Let all heaven say “Amen” to the praises of our hearts, and let the multitude of thy children here on earth, for whom this feast is spread, laud and magnify and bless thy name from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same.

4. Lastly, a word or two upon the guests.

The Lord has made this banquet “for all people.” What a precious word this is! “For all people.” Then this includes not merely the chosen people, the Jews, whose were the oracles; but it encompasses the poor uncircumcised Gentiles, who by Jesus are brought nigh. The barbarian is invited to this feast; the Scythian is not rejected. The polished Greek finds an open door; the hardy Roman shall meet with an equal welcome. Caesar’s household, if they come, shall receive a portion, and so shall the beggar’s brethren. Blessed be God for that word, “unto all people,” for it permits missionary enterprise in every land; however degraded a race may be, we have here provision made for it. This feast of fat things is made as much for the Sudra as for the Brahmin; the gospel is as much to be preached to the degraded Bushman as to the civilized Chinese. Dwell on that word, “all people,” and you will see it includes the rich; for there is a feast of fat things for them, such as their gold could never buy; and it includes the poor, for they being rich in faith shall have fellowship with God. “All people.” This takes in the man of enlarged intelligence and extensive knowledge; but it equally encompasses the illiterate man who cannot read. The Lord makes this feast “for all people;” for you old people, if you come to Jesus you shall find that he is suitable to you; for you young men and maidens, and you little children, if you put your trust in God’s appointed Savior, there shall be much joy and happiness for you—“For all people?” Methinks, if I were now seeking and had not laid hold on Christ, this word, “all people” would be a great comfort to me, because it gives hope to all who desire to come. None has ever been rejected of all who have ever come to Christ and asked for mercy. Still is it true, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Some very odd people have come to him, some very wicked people, some very hardened people; but the door was never closed in any one’s face. Why should Jesus begin hard dealings with you? He cannot, because he cannot change. If he says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,” make one of the “His” that come, and he cannot cast you out. There is another thought, namely, that between the covers of the Bible there is no mention made of one person who may not come. There is no description given of a person who is forbidden to trust Christ. I should like you to look the book through, you who dream that Jesus will reject you, and find where it is said, “Such a one I will reject; such a one I will refuse.” When you find such a rejecting clause, then you will have a right to be unbelieving; but till you do I beseech you do not needlessly torment yourself. Why needlessly sow doubts and fears? There will be enough of them without your making them for yourself. Do not limit what the Lord does not limit. I know he has an elect people; I rejoice in it—I hope you will rejoice in it too one day; and I know that his people have this marrow and fatness provided for them and for them alone; but still this does not at all conflict with the other precious truth that whosoever believeth in the Son of God hath everlasting life. If you believe in Jesus Christ, all these things are yours. Come, poor trembler, the silver trumpet sounds; and this is the note it rings, “Come and welcome, come and welcome, come and welcome.” The harsher trumpet of the law which waxed exceedingly loud and long at Sinai had this for its note, “Set bounds about the mount: let none touch it lest they die.” But the trumpet for Calvary sounds with the opposite note; it is, “Come and welcome, come and welcome, sinner, come! Come as you are, sinful as you are, hardened as you are, careless as you think you are, and having no good thing whatsoever, come to your God in Christ!” O may you come to him who gave his Son to bleed in the sinner’s stead, and casting yourself on what Christ has done, may you resolve, “If I perish, I will trust in him; if I be cast away, I will rely on him.” You shall not perish, but for you there shall be the feast of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. The Lord bless you very richly, for his name’s sake. Amen.

Abortion or favor exchanged

Two countries.
The first country used to have the freedom of abortion for a long time. Its communist regime thought it was good for women to go to work and decide over their own bodies.
The second country did not enjoy such freedom 50 years ago, so the women from this country travelled to the first country in order to execute their freedom. The mutual satisfaction was guaranteed and everybody was very happy. Of course, nobody asked those unwanted children about their say in the matter.
But several years ago something terrible happened - the first country's citizens conquered communism and became liberal, or sometimes even conservative. Clergy regained the moral power and started dictating laws of conduct, making the abortion issue one of the hottest topics in the people's minds and hearts.
And thus the present situation is not friendly for women's rights at all... Those poor persecuted creatures are forced to have their babies no matter what - or to seek some other country to get rid of them.
Enters the second country, since 1970's a paradise for those who are not so keen on living with the consequences of their promiscuity. Abortion is free, popular and easy. Wonderful free women of this second country stretch their friendly and sisterly love towards the oppressed and persecuted women of the first country:
"come, dear sisters, you may have your abortions in our hospitals, we might even pay for the procedure; anyway, we used to go to your country once, so it is only fair that we pay you back now." It is called healthcare.
You do not believe me? Check it for yourself.

Sweden "should offer abortions to foreigners"

Sweden, which already has one of the world's most liberal abortion laws, should loosen restrictions further by allowing non-residents access to the procedure, according to a government-commissioned report published on Monday.

"We suggest that foreign women be allowed to have abortions in Sweden," head of the study Eva Eriksson told reporters in Stockholm.
Read on...

The first country, by the way, is Poland.
Conveniently nobody mentions those children...
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: "I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself
(Isa 44:24)

We are about to commemorate our Lord being born as a man. We should be even more happy knowing that abortion was not something anybody considered as a possibility of covering Mary's presumed sin...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Wishes 2 days before

Christmas is sooo close.

Have a Nice and Warm and Loving Time, use it to be with your families, to share with your friends, to give to the needy.
Use it to study your Bible with your dear brothers and sisters; use it to have some well-deserved rest.

Joy to the World!

An observation of a Reformed Christian

I have, thanks to God's guidance and mercy, found the sound and clear doctrinal way to His Truth. It took me only a few months to grasp the basic notions and avoid the pitfalls of deception. The more I listen, read and learn, the more convinced I become of God's unmistaken providence in bringing me to Him. To the right faith, to the right church, to life.
At the same time I watch with shock how many various denominations and churches falter and fall away from the Word of God. The best place to read about it is Slice of Laodicea.

This observation makes me tremble with even greater thankfulness for God's unveiled wisdom towards many. I can hardly believe that my insignificant being was noticed and saved...
Somebody once said this about salvation and the effects of amazement it produces:
"you are saved; get over it and go on now as a Christian".
Although I agree with the latter part of this statement, the 'get-over-it' part seems impossible to me. I do not think I will ever be able to get over it.
Someone might ask: so how can a person know which church to choose, which way to go, in order not to make a mistake? Well, a person cannot know, and as long as a person depends on himself, things will not work out right. But:
But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
(Mat 19:26)

Therein lies my answer and my certainty.
As to my embracing Doctrines of Grace - I believe I wrote about it in my testimony...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Christmas Hymn

Tell me what is this innumerable throng
Singing in the heavens a loud angelic song?
These are they who come with swift and shining feet
From round about the throne of God the Lord of Light to greet.

O, who are these that hasten beneath the starry sky,
As if with joyful tidings that through the world shall fly?
The faithful shepherds these, who greatly were afeared
When, as they watched their flocks by night, the heavenly host appeared.

Who are these that follow across the hills of night
A star that westward hurries along the fields of light?
Three wise men from the east who myrrh and treasure bring
To lay them at the feet of him, their Lord and Christ and King.

What babe new-born is this that in a manger cries?
Near on her bed of pain his happy mother lies.
O, see! the air is shaken with white and heavenly wings—
This is the Lord of all the earth, this is the King of kings.

Tell me, how may I join in this holy feast
With all the kneeling world, and I of all the least?
Fear not, O faithful heart, but bring what most is meet;
Bring love alone, true love alone, and lay it at his feet.

by Richard Watson Gilder (1844 - 1909)

Today is the 4th birthday of my little one. Both my sons are born in December, and the Christmas time brings back not only memories of the Most Holy One, but also my own motherhood, joy and anguish.
It is a blessed time in my family.

P.S. We have just wrapped all presents.... Hush :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Growing up

This is strange. Really strange.
Apart from the most significant change that EVER took place in my life (and I am a fish of many ponds and lakes) that is - apart from becoming Christian, I finally am a grown-up.
Now wait a minute: maybe it is not "apart from", maybe it is the direct consequence of the previously mentioned?
All my life I
was never completely grown up. Always aspiring, always looking for something, always looking up to somebody, trying to prove myself in the eyes of other people, insecure and easily hurt by criticism. Every achievement was paid by my submission to some circumstances, so that I could in some sense feel that it was not my decision entirely to choose this or that path in life.
What I understand now is that
it was Jesus drawing me all the time
He put an aching in my heart
and a hunger in my soul.

But this realization came first this past summer.
And now, close to Christmas, the consequence of it - I have grown up. I know, it sounds funny when said by a middle-aged mother of two, right? But this is how I see it and how my life is right now, firmly anchored on the Rock of my salvation, not depended on any human ideology, content in my faith.
Eph 4:11-16 (11) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (14) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (15) Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (16) from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wisdom of God

I would like to ask those of you who visit here for a prayer for somebody in crisis. This is a person in many ways dear to me and important in my Christian walk, has supported me a number of times and now is in some kind of spiritual trouble. I do not know the details, and even if I knew, I would not be entitled to share. But one thing is certain - this person needs Lord's attention and our prayer.

There are so many things I have been thinking about lately, meditating upon Scriptures, and one of them is the notion of hatred in the world. Undoubtedly the diversification and isolation among various groups have created some close-mindedness and ignorance, thus leading quite often to misunderstandings, conflicts and hatred, to be honest. Many religions throughout the history have added their share of trouble, too. As soon as a religion becomes a means to power for some groups of greedy people, it stops being about deity, and turns into being about man.
And it goes on...
It is after this wonderful sermon John Piper preached on "The Great Work of the Only Wise God" on December 10, 2006 I really started examine the issue in my heart. How little do we really understand of God... How much there is to learn, to prayerfully ask for, in order to grasp some elementary understanding... We do not even know why we are saved, apart from the fact that this is His mercy...
Look at a tiny excerpt from this sermon (you may go to the site and listen/view/read the whole of it):
God’s Wisdom in Destroying Human Pride (Romans 11:25-26)

Look at verses 25-26 addressed to us Gentiles.

Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved . . .

The point of that strange strategy (Jews are hardened, so that we Gentiles get saved, so that when the fullness of Gentiles is in, the fullness of Israel will come in as well)—the point of that strategy is “lest you be wise in your own conceits”! So that no human being might boast in the presence of God! God’s way of keeping covenant is infinitely wise in achieving his main goal of striping human beings of pride.

Isn't it awesome? I think it is mind-blowing, this realization that I will never never never, as long as I live in this broken body of mine here on Earth, understand my Creator fully. I think this is amazingly fair and just that He deliberately limits my understanding, because my mind is not able to comprehend His Majesty and Wisdom, and only after my going home I will be gradually taught and shown everything. What a joy to wait for! What a future! What a richness awaits us!
And how futile and silly are human political animosities and struggles, when we know from God's Word, that He controls everything and laughs at kings and rulers...
Isn't it comforting to know, then, that I am a child of this Almighty God? This is worth everything.
Isa 43:1-7
(1) But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
(2) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
(3) For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
(4) Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
(5) Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.
(6) I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth,
(7) everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Just some thoughts

This was not a good weekend. I had three days off, but two of them with high fever and sore throat to the point that it is not possible to swallow water. So there was no church today, but several sermons on line instead...
But I am very thankful for everything. Lord has made me stop and think about many things in my life, and it was very profitable, indeed. My children had a mum who was with them, although ill, but at hand, and my husband had an unstressed wife.
Yes, I am also thankful for my family, they were all very sweet and helpful, I did not have to think of anything, just myself :)
I shall stay at home both Monday and Tuesday. When you are a teacher, you have to be able to speak :) I am not, right now. I shall stay at home and count my blessings...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity

John Milton. 1608–1674

307. Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity

IT was the Winter wilde,
While the Heav'n-born-childe,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature in aw to him
Had doff't her gawdy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize:
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the Sun her lusty Paramour.

Only with speeches fair
She woo's the gentle Air
To hide her guilty front with innocent Snow,
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinfull blame,
The Saintly Vail of Maiden white to throw,
Confounded, that her Makers eyes
Should look so neer upon her foul deformities.

But he her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-eyd Peace,
She crown'd with Olive green, came softly sliding
Down through the turning sphear
His ready Harbinger,
With Turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing,
And waving wide her mirtle wand,
She strikes a universall Peace through Sea and Land.

No War, or Battails sound
Was heard the World around,
The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The hookèd Chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood,
The Trumpet spake not to the armèd throng,
And Kings sate still with awfull eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.

But peacefull was the night
Wherin the Prince of light
His raign of peace upon the earth began:
The Windes with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joyes to the milde Ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While Birds of Calm sit brooding on the charmeèd wave.

The Stars with deep amaze
Stand fixt in stedfast gaze,
Bending one way their pretious influence,
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warn'd them thence;
But in their glimmering Orbs did glow,
Untill their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.

And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The Sun himself with-held his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferiour flame,
The new enlightn'd world no more should need;
He saw a greater Sun appear
Then his bright Throne, or burning Axletree could bear.

The Shepherds on the Lawn,
Or ere the point of dawn,
Sate simply chatting in a rustick row;
Full little thought they than,
That the mighty Pan
Was kindly com to live with them below;
Perhaps their loves, or els their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busie keep.

When such musick sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet,
As never was by mortall finger strook,
Divinely-warbled voice
Answering the stringèd noise,
As all their souls in blisfull rapture took
The Air such pleasure loth to lose,
With thousand echo's still prolongs each heav'nly close.

Nature that heard such sound
Beneath the hollow round
Of Cynthia's seat, the Airy region thrilling,
Now was almost won
To think her part was don,
And that her raign had here its last fulfilling;
She knew such harmony alone
Could hold all Heav'n and Earth in happier union.

At last surrounds their sight
A Globe of circular light,
That with long beams the shame-fac't night array'd,
The helmèd Cherubim
And sworded Seraphim,
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displaid,
Harping in loud and solemn quire,
With unexpressive notes to Heav'ns new-born Heir.

Such musick (as 'tis said)
Before was never made,
But when of old the sons of morning sung,
While the Creator Great
His constellations set,
And the well-ballanc't world on hinges hung,
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltring waves their oozy channel keep.

Ring out ye Crystall sphears,
Once bless our human ears,
(If ye have power to touch our senses so)
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time;
And let the Base of Heav'ns deep Organ blow
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to th'Angelike symphony.

For if such holy Song
Enwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold,
And speckl'd vanity
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous sin will melt from earthly mould,
And Hell it self will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.

Yea Truth, and Justice then
Will down return to men,
Th'enameld Arras of the Rain-bow wearing,
And Mercy set between,
Thron'd in Celestiall sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down stearing,
And Heav'n as at som festivall,
Will open wide the Gates of her high Palace Hall.

But wisest Fate sayes no,
This must not yet be so,
The Babe lies yet in smiling Infancy,
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss;
So both himself and us to glorifie:
Yet first to those ychain'd in sleep,
The wakefull trump of doom must thunder through the deep,

With such a horrid clang
As on mount Sinai rang
While the red fire, and smouldring clouds out brake:
The agèd Earth agast
With terrour of that blast,
Shall from the surface to the center shake;
When at the worlds last session,
The dreadfull Judge in middle Air shall spread his throne.

And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,
But now begins; for from this happy day
Th'old Dragon under ground
In straiter limits bound,
Not half so far casts his usurpèd sway,
And wrath to see his Kingdom fail,
Swindges the scaly Horrour of his foulded tail.

The Oracles are dumm,
No voice or hideous humm
Runs through the archèd roof in words deceiving.
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
With hollow shreik the steep of Delphos leaving.
No nightly trance, or breathèd spell,
Inspire's the pale-ey'd Priest from the prophetic cell.

The lonely mountains o're,
And the resounding shore,
A voice of weeping heard, and loud lament;
From haunted spring, and dale
Edg'd with poplar pale,
The parting Genius is with sighing sent,
With flowre-inwov'n tresses torn
The Nimphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.

In consecrated Earth,
And on the holy Hearth,
The Lars, and Lemures moan with midnight plaint,
In Urns, and Altars round,
A drear, and dying sound
Affrights the Flamins at their service quaint;
And the chill Marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar power forgoes his wonted seat

Peor, and Baalim,
Forsake their Temples dim,
With that twise-batter'd god of Palestine,
And moonèd Ashtaroth,
Heav'ns Queen and Mother both,
Now sits not girt with Tapers holy shine,
The Libyc Hammon shrinks his horn,
In vain the Tyrian Maids their wounded Thamuz mourn.

And sullen Moloch fled,
Hath left in shadows dred,
His burning Idol all of blackest hue,
In vain with Cymbals ring,
They call the grisly king,
In dismall dance about the furnace blue;
The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
Isis and Orus, and the Dog Anubis hast.

Nor is Osiris seen
In Memphian Grove, or Green,
Trampling the unshowr'd Grasse with lowings loud:
Nor can he be at rest
Within his sacred chest,
Naught but profoundest Hell can be his shroud,
In vain with Timbrel'd Anthems dark
The sable-stolèd Sorcerers bear his worshipt Ark.

He feels from Juda's Land
The dredded Infants hand,
The rayes of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
Nor all the gods beside,
Longer dare abide,
Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine:
Our Babe to shew his Godhead true,
Can in his swadling bands controul the damnèd crew.

So when the Sun in bed,
Curtain'd with cloudy red,
Pillows his chin upon an Orient wave,
The flocking shadows pale,
Troop to th'infernall jail,
Each fetter'd Ghost slips to his severall grave,
And the yellow-skirted Fayes,
Fly after the Night-steeds, leaving their Moon-lov'd maze.

But see the Virgin blest,
Hath laid her Babe to rest.
Time is our tedious Song should here have ending,
Heav'ns youngest teemèd Star,
Hath fixt her polisht Car,
Her sleeping Lord with Handmaid Lamp attending:
And all about the Courtly Stable,
Bright-harnest Angels sit in order serviceable.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

If I know God

Lately it hasn't been easy
Things haven't been working out right
Answers I pray for have been so uncommon
Seems like I'm lost in the night

But if I know God, He'll find the way to bless me
It's just like Him, to turn things around
He'll take a bad situation
And work it for my good
That's how life goes
If I know God

Sometimes it's hard to remember
How could I ever forget
He's never failed me as long as I've known Him
Though I can't see the way yet

But if I know God, He'll find the way to bless me
It's just like Him, to turn things around
He'll take a bad situation
And work it for my good
That's how life goes
If I know God

And I know my tomorrows will bring their own sorrows
But I can't foresee today

But if I know God, He'll find the way to bless me
It's just like Him, to turn things around
He'll take a bad situation
And work it for my good
That's how life goes
If I know God

If I know GodFrom "Workin' Our Faith" by The Pfeifers

What happens to those who have never heard the gospel?