The hymn I present today may begin with angels, but it quickly moves to various groups of human beings. Each stanza highlights a unique aspect of doctrine that compels that group (and by extension, all of us) to come and worship.
As Christians, we now have the responsibility of calling people from all walks of life to come and worship. True, only the elect will respond, drawn by the Holy Spirit, but the Lord has decreed that we be His instruments in putting forth the call to salvation. Since God alone knows whom His elect are, we must proclaim the Gospel to all people, just as angels from the realms of glory did.
When I first started playing this version of O Come, All Ye Faithful on YouTube, I didn’t really like the sound quality. As my husband will attest, I’m finicky about the hymn videos I post each Sunday.
They must, of course, contain sound doctrine, but they also need to include certain verses, have specific wording, be pleasing to the ear and have good graphics. I also avoid artists that I know represent bad theology (like Hillsong).
I can’t always meet all my criteria. While I never compromise on doctrine or artists, sometimes I settle for boring graphics or slight updates in lyrics. Rarely will I tolerate poor sound quality.
So, as verse 1 played on YouTube, I began moving my mouse cursor up to the “Back” button in order to search for a version I would like better. But before I could reach it, verse 2 startled me. I’d never heard it before.
I love its bold pronouncement of Christ’s deity. What could possibly get to the heart of Christmas more than an unashamed declaration that God Himself was born in that manger? Listen to this familiar Christmas hymn and enjoy the wonderful surprise of verse 2.
I love many of the traditional Christmas hymns, with their bold declarations of the Lord’s Incarnation. Indeed, His Incarnation is one of my favorite doctrines! Those Christmas songs usually contain verses that secular people, presumably embarrassed by the frank theology they convey, omit. Evidently, the moral implications of Christ’s deity bothers them.
But I digress. As much as I love traditional Christmas hymns, occasionally I find a contemporary Christmas song that focuses on the Lord’s Incarnation. So today, just to do something a little different, I thought I’d feature a contemporary song that still expresses the wonder of God made flesh to dwell among us.
Things hadn’t gotten back to where they had been before my back injury, but I’d gotten into a nice routine of publishing two articles a week plus a weekly Saturday Sampler. It bothered me a little (okay, maybe more than a little) that I recycled graphics so often, but I’d decided that the content of my writing outweighs the importance of a new picture.
So I contended myself with a scaled back blogging schedule, reminding myself that I’ll turn 69 at the end of this month. How many old ladies even have blogs? I accepted a reduction in my productivity, albeit reluctantly.
Then a little over a week ago, my primary Personal Care Attendant called out, suffering from extreme stomach pain. She called again as she was being admitted to the hospital for gallbladder issues. Yesterday she called to tell us that she can’t work (except to do laundry and cooking) until after she has surgery.
Because I’ve been without a consistent weekend PCA for over a year, the ladies who do backup for me are getting understandably tired. With my weekday PCA out of commission, their frustration is rising. Tomorrow, we’ll start advertising for a temporary weekday person in addition to ads we’ve been running for the weekend position. We’d appreciate prayer for that endeavor.
Between advertising, interviewing, (hopefully) training and accommodating the schedules of my backups, I don’t anticipate much blogging time for a while. Oh, never fear — I’ll blog as often as I can! It’s just that Saturday Sampler will be entirely off the table for a while, and I may post old articles more than I’d like. I hope to write some original blog posts whenever possible.
So far, the Lord is helping me resist temptation to feed feelings of anxiety. I know He has sent this trial to deepen my trust in Him and to mold my character.
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. ~~Romans 8:28-30 (NASB95)
Please pray that God will continue strengthening me against the sin of anxiety. I know I have a particular weakness in that area, but I also know that God is faithful. I want an attitude that glorifies Him. The closing hymn of our church service today encouraged me to cultivate that attitude.
Why would a church that had “Bible” in its name offer a yoga class?
In the past several years, many evangelical churches have either encouraged their people to attend so-called “Christian” yoga classes or they have offered such classes themselves. Strangely, few Christians seem bothered by the historical link between yoga and Hinduism, apparently accepting the popular assumption that the physical exercises can be separated from their spiritual origins. Sadly, Hindu yoga practitioners almost universally refute this idea. Appealing to the Hindu scriptures, a writer for Yoga International explains:
According to the scriptures, hatha yoga is a complete path leading to physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual illumination. Hatha yoga practices combine asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), concentration, and meditation. The word hatha is itself an indication of the goals and objectives of this practice: ha means “sun,” and tha means “moon.” Thus, “hatha yoga” is the practice that enables a practitioner to balance his or her solar and lunar energies. Hatha yoga practices create a state of harmony in body and mind by balancing the solar and lunar, masculine and feminine, active and passive aspects of oneself. Unless you combine the disciplines associated with breathing and meditation with the physical postures, you cannot expect to achieve this harmonious state. And without this inner harmony, we waste a great deal of our time and energy fighting the distractions and disturbances arising from both the inner and outer worlds.
People in so-called “Christian” yoga classes may very well use the yoga poses as nothing more than stretching exercises, but eastern yoga practitioners would argue that they don’t practice true yoga if they make this separation. On that point, we’d do well to avoid misrepresenting our exercise routines as yoga.
Let me begin by assuring you that I have nothing against discernment ministries and blogs that call out false teachers. Especially when those discernment ministries and blogs balance their critiques with clear Biblical teaching. Elizabeth Prata serves as one of the best examples of Biblical discernment ministry precisely because she emphasizes Scripture and doesn’t write about false teachers unless she has reason. Justin Peters, though famous for exposing false teachers, always maintains his purpose of proclaiming the true Gospel. Other trustworthy discernment leaders include Chris Rosebrough, Steve Kozar, Amy Spreeman and Michelle Lesley.
When people call out false teachers for the purpose of leading others to sound doctrine and therefore pure devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s a good work they do. So much of the evangelical world falls for deception because they don’t receive solid instruction in the Word of God. Consequently, the need for discernment ministries has mushroomed in recent decades. Young and poorly taught Christians often need to hear the truth about popular teachers on the evangelical landscape.
The Bible commands us to be aware of false teachers to the point of calling them out.
All these beloved Christmas hymns exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, boldly proclaiming Who He is and why He came. Since my childhood, I’ve cherished each of them, growing more fond of them once I became a Christian. I love these hymns because they celebrate God’s incarnation. All Christians probably love them for the same reason.
Another beloved Christmas hymn stands out to me as perhaps the one that most magnifies Who Jesus Christ is. Its lyrics beautifully portray His glory and His humility. Maybe the other hymns I’ve mentioned do the same, but this hymn strikes a chord with me far more deeply. Over the years, it seems to grow more profound and wonderous in its depiction of the mighty God as the offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Enjoy these powerful lyrics that exalt our precious Lord Who was born to give us second birth. May your Christmas be filled with glory to the newborn King!
At this time of year, we generally think of a helpless Infant wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Now, there’s definitely wonder in the truth that God Incarnate came to earth as a Baby, dependent on His mother and her husband for His basic physical care. If that concept hasn’t filled you with awe and amazement at least once in your life, it should!
But Jesus is much more than a Baby in a Bethlehem manger. The shepherds and wise men, while they didn’t understand that this Child was the God Who rules all nature, knew that He was Israel’s promised Messiah. “Christ the Lord,” the angels had told the shepherds.
Our sentimental images of Christ’s birth often cause us to forget His power and majesty as the sovereign Lord Who governs all creation. I therefore encourage you to step back from thoughts about a Baby for a moment, and to meditate on Who this fairest of all Babies truly is. As you think about this Son of God and Son of man, you’ll remember that glory, honor praise and adoration belong — now and evermore — to Him.
It’s no accident that my articles on this blog tend to emphasize God’s holiness. Unlike generations before us, present-day Christians care little about fearing the Lord, preferring to see Him as a Butler, a Buddy or (worst of all) a romantic/sexual Partner. Such casual attitudes towards the Creator and Sustainer of the universe very much require a counterbalance. I have no problem helping to provide that counterbalance.
Ah, but I must guard against being unbalanced in the opposite direction!
Providentially, I spent most of last week working through Psalm 103, in which David lists the Lord’s tender qualities. This psalm brings out His beautiful sympathy towards those who fear Him, illustrated by His commitment to completely separate our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west.” Out holy God is also our compassionate Father. Jesus is our sympathetic Friend.
Our sympathetic Friend should be celebrated this Christmas. As we remember Him coming into the world as a Man Who understands our frailties, we rejoice that He is our dearest Friend.
Everyone loves singing. There’s something about it that liberates our spirits, making us feel as if we’re soaring on the music. What a glorious gift the Lord has given us!
Christians have an even deeper reason to appreciate this gift of singing because we have the privilege of singing praises to our God and King. And those who are blessed with the ability to gather with brothers and sisters in Christ understand the joy of mingling our voices with theirs to form a chorus of worship.
What a joy to know that, in eternity, our voices will join with all the redeemed to praise Jesus! Alleluia, Amen!