Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Old Rugged Cross

This from the book Christ and the Fine Arts by Cynthia Pearl Maus (1938) New York, NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers.

The Old Rugged Cross

Among the great hymns of the Church that center in the theme of the cross, none, perhaps, has had more widespread popularity than “The Old Rugged Cross.” Which was written by the Reverend George Bennard, and for which copyright was secured in 1913…It portrays the story of what happened on the cross—the shedding of the blood of God’s only begotten Son for the sins of the world—as He hung suspended there. For crucifixion, in the time of Jesus, was the most cruel an disgraceful method of killing that human skill knew how to devise, and the cross itself associated with all that was vile and unholy. Today the cross is cherished wherever Christianity has gone, because it became through suffering of the sinless son of God the emblem of humanity’s redemption from sin and degradation.

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame,
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.


So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me,
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.


In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see
For ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.


To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share

(pp 415-417)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sound Bites and Pascal

This was sent to me today and I feel led to share it:

From a daily devotional called Sound Bites

"I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
Therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5-6 NRSV)

Knowing God without knowing our own wretchedness makes for pride. Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes for despair. Knowing nether God nor our own sinfulness makes for false peace and the absence of truth. Knowing Jesus Christ strikes the balance, because He shows us both God and our own wretchedness and He brings true peace.

Adapted from Blaise Pascal

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Which Will You Choose?

What is the definition love?

If we define love the way the world does, it could be summed up by the visual of a pink chenille robe and warm slippers; add to that a box of the finest chocolates and of course a dozen red roses. To be fully indulged in all you do in life…that is true love.

What is God’s definition of love?

A splintered, blood and tissue covered Roman cross; a woven circlet of thorn-bush branches and three large iron spikes. To give up your life to set others free…that is true love.

So what definition of love will you choose?

“…If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me; for whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:23-25)

“Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Radical Trust

In going through some of the toughest trials I have ever encountered in the last several weeks, I have come to the conclusion that to “radically” trust God is one of the hardest things I have ever encountered. I have faced both the spiritual battles and the physical battles…my sanity and my health. How much am I really able to submit to God’s will for my life. And the answer I have decided on was to truly trust God; no matter what.

I decided that even if I was to be poured out like a “drink offering”, another words, to be wasted and never used to build the kingdom of God, I will submit to God’s will for my life, and trust him. So I say like Paul “The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom, to him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 18)

You know that the prophet Jeremiah was thrown in a cistern, beaten, and ultimately dragged off to Egypt with the escapees to die where God did not want them to go. So in knowing that history, what did Jeremiah ultimately achieve? Prophecy? Some great inspirational scripture? Or is the actual answer to be known at some time in Glory?

It does not matter.

Never the less, not my will, but Thy will be done.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jesus Cannot Be "Labelled"

This essay is from the book Ring of Truth (1967) by J.B. Phillips.

Jesus cannot be “labelled.” Yet woe betide any man who tries to fit this man into any political or humanitarian slot! Those pacifists who would claim him as their champion would do well to remember that it was a soldier, a Roman commissioned officer, who most evoked the admiration of Jesus. The parable of the talents is enough to show that Jesus recognized the fundamental inequality of men in ability and possessions. The stories of Jesus abound in such inequalities, in the difference between master and man, hard working and lazy, prudent and improvident. It is true that he denounced hypocrisy, exploitation, and lack of compassion. But he made no attempt, as probably Judas Iscariot hoped, to make himself a national champion. The “other-worldly” aspect of his teaching cannot be fairly ignored. “My kingdom,” he insisted, “is not of this world.” Yet it had already “come upon men unawares” and was even then “among” or “within” them. The way men treated one another in this world was of paramount importance, but Jesus recognized the obvious unfairness and injustice in the here-and-now. In the end, justice would be done and be seen to be done, but not in this time-and-space world. Jesus was no sentimental “do-gooder,” and he spoke quite unequivocally about rewards and punishments “in the world to come.” He declared that a man who harmed one of his “little ones” would be better off dead. Some of the most terrifying words ever written in the New Testament are put into the mouth of Jesus. Yet they are not threats or menaces but warnings given in deadly earnest by the incarnation of unsentimental love.

What I am concerned with here is not to write a new life of Jesus, but to set down my witness to the continued shocks which his words and deeds gave me as I approached the Gospels uninsulated by the familiar cover of beautiful language. The figure who emerged is quite unlike the Jesus of conventional piety, and even more unlike that imagined hero whom members of various causes claim as their champion. What we are so often confronted with today is a “processed” Jesus. Every element that we feel is not consonant with our “image” of him is removed, and the result is more insipid and unsatisfying than the worst of processed food.(pp 90-92)

So my personal parting shot here is to ask as in the song by Todd Agnew, “What Jesus do you serve?”

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Ninety and Nine

There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold,
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold;
Away on the mountains wild and bare,
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care,
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

“Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?”
But the Shepherd made answer “This of mine
has wandered away from Me;
And although the road be rough and steep
I go to the desert to find My sheep,
I go the desert to find My sheep.”

But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Or how dark was the night that
The Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry—
Sick and helpless, and ready to die,
Sick and helpless, and ready to die.

“Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way
That mark out the mountain’s track?”
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.
“Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?”
“They are pierced tonight by many a thorn,
They are pierced tonight by many a thorn.”

But all through the mountains, thunder riv’n.
And up from the rocky steep,
There rose a cry to the gate of heav’n,
“Rejoice! I have found My sheep.”
And the angels echoed around the throne,
“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!”

--Elisabeth C. Clephane

From the anthology
Christ and the Fine Arts (1959)
Cynthia Pearl Maus