Monday, August 19, 2019

Marriage, a cross and a crown

Marriage is not just some romantic notion. Man and wife enter a devout covenant for life. Too often, the illusion of perfection and false expectations of “happily ever after” define marriage. (That is what the fairy tales tell us!) No, the valley of love is also a valley of tears. Marriage is not only a blessing to cherish or a crown to wear, but also a cross to bear. Marriage defeats the oneness of you and deposits you in the oneness of two. It attacks self and selfishness, and embraces “the golden rule” – do unto others. The marriage not united to the cross of Christ will not be united at all.
R. L. Vaughn

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sing praise to God who reigns above

“Sing praise to God who reigns above” – “Sei lob und ehr dem höchsten gut” – was written by Johann Jakob Schütz (1640-1690) in 1675. In addition to writing hymns, Schütz was also a lawyer. Frances Elizabeth Cox made the English translation below, and included it in her book Hymns from the German in 1864. The original German text had nine 6-line stanzas, with the theme derived from Deuteronomy 32:3. The meter hymn is usually paired with the tune Mit Freuden Zart.

1. Sing praise to God who reigns above,
the God of all creation,
the God of power, the God of love,
the God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul is filled
and every faithless murmur stilled:
To God all praise and glory.

2. The Lord is never far away,
but through all grief distressing,
an ever present help and stay,
our peace and joy and blessing.
As with a mother’s tender hand,
God gently leads the chosen band:
To God all praise and glory.

3. Thus all my toilsome way along,
I sing aloud thy praises,
that earth may hear the grateful song
my voice unwearied raises.
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart,
both soul and body bear your part:
To God all praise and glory.

4. Let all who name Christ’s holy name
give God all praise and glory;
let all who own his power proclaim
aloud the wondrous story!
Cast each false idol from its throne,
for Christ is Lord, and Christ alone:
To God all praise and glory.

Friday, August 16, 2019

A. T. Robertson, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Deuteronomy 15:11

For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

Deuteronomy 15:11 sits intriguingly in the midst of the context of Deuteronomy 15, which seems to hint in verse four of a time when there would be no poor among them.[i] It is noteworthy how well the statement in verse 11 intersects with the statement of Jesus in John 12:8.

First, as background, we understand that all Israelites became property owners after the conquest of Canaan and division of the land. Joshua divided the land of Canaan by lot to each of Israel’s twelve tribes (e.g. Joshua 19:51; see Joshua 13—21),[ii] as determined by God (Cf. Proverbs 16:33).

The first part of Deuteronomy 15 mentions the seven-year release. God placed this and other things within the legal system of the Law of Moses. The seven-year release and the year of jubile,[iii] in at least one of their effects, helped the poor and needy. These events recalibrated the scale to recreate just weights and balances and at least temporary relief. Verse 5 of Deuteronomy 15 suggests faithful adherence to these principles would fulfill that purpose.[iv] Yet God knew Israel would disobey the law of God, and that the poor would never cease out of the land. Verse 11 acknowledges that. It is a bare statement of fact, and makes inexcusable the attempt to excuse oneself from helping the poor and needy on prior grounds (verses 1-6). But for the nature of man, which we always have with us, poverty might be eradicated. So, like our sin nature, the poor we always have with us also.

[i] The Pulpit Commentary states, “This statement [v. 11] is not inconsistent with that in ver. 4, for there it is the prevention of poverty by not dealing harshly with the poor that is spoken of; here it is the continuance of occasion for the relief of the poor that is referred to.” John Gill says, “There would be always such objects to exercise their charity and beneficence towards, John 12:8, which is no contradiction to Deuteronomy 15:4 for had they been obedient to the laws of God, they would have been so blessed that there would have been none; so the Targums; but he foresaw that they would not keep his commands, and so this would be the case, and which he foretells that they might expect it, and do their duty to them, as here directed…”
[ii] Though the Levites did not have a political division of land, they received cities and land within the divisions of the other tribes.
[iv] There is difference of opinion whether the seven-year release meant a permanent release from the debt, or a year-long release for relief and rest from the debt. In comparison, the release of the land itself was only for the year, and was brought back into cultivation the next year (Cf. Exodus 23:10-11). Regardless, I don’t think the seven-year release or the year of jubile can be used to support the redistribution of wealth ideas that some think should be by secular governments. For example, the jubile return of the land was a fact known and accounted for in business dealings. The land could not, according to the Law of Moses, be sold in perpetuity (Cf. Leviticus 25:23-24). Most proposed current ideas for redistribution of wealth to alleviate “social injustice” would just create a different social injustice.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Least of These

Kevin DeYoung on Matthew 25:31-46

In verse 45 Jesus uses the phrase “the least of these,” but in verse 40 he uses a more exact phrase: “the least of these of my brothers.” The two phrases refer to the same group. So the more complete phrase in verse 40 should be used to explain the shorter phrase in verse 45...Matthew 25 equates caring for Jesus’s spiritual family with caring for Jesus. The passage does not offer the generic message: “care for the poor and you’re caring for me.” This doesn’t mean God is indifferent to the concerns of the poor or that we should be either. It simply means that “the least of these” is not a blanket statement about physical deprivation.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Singing in a choir, and other music links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Monday, August 12, 2019

We get to the finish line, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify when possible.)

"We get to the finish line at the exact time we are destined to cross it." -- Deshauna Barber

"If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you." -- Unknown

"I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as an historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history." -- Attributed to H. G. Wells

"A pregnant woman and her baby are not radically separate individuals with isolated human rights “at war” with one another. A woman and her baby are a “unity of two persons” interconnected in love with everyone and everything. Whatever harms the baby harms the mother, whatever harms the mother harms the baby, and whatever harms either of them harms us all." -- Sue Ellen Browder

"Real change is an inside job." -- Copied

"Loyalty to Scriptural truth and authority is a higher consideration than momentary and sensational excitement." -- A. T. Robertson

"Everybody who belongs to Jesus belongs to everybody who belongs to Jesus." -- Steve Brown

Lips and slips

“If your lips would keep from slips, 
Five things observe with care:
To whom you speak, of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.”
- William E. Norris

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Why Not Now?

Too few are the garlands we weave for the living,
Too many the wreaths that are laid on the bier;
If someone has flowers or praise to be giving,
’Tis wrong to withhold while the loved one is here.
When once the dear soul from the cold clay doth vanish,
What use the sweet blossoms so lavishly spread?
One kind, loving word that the teardrops will banish,
Is better than loudest applause to the dead.

This poem “Why Not Now?” was written February 12, 1924 by Elsie Lister Ross, the paternal grandmother of Sacred Harp singer Leland Ross.

The meter is 12s.11s.D., and it can be sung to The Ash Grove or Eden of Love (#39 in The Sacred Harp, Cooper Edition), among others.