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The worship of the Christian Church is remarkably different from the worship of any other religion. Only in the Christian Church does music serve such a central role in expressing the people’s heartfelt praise and thanksgiving for who their God is and what he has done on their behalf.

Yet, how many times have we sung a song only to realize we are not entirely clear on the meaning of certain words, lines, and references? The shame of this is not our lack of knowledge but our inability to honor the Lord. Because singing mindlessly, that is with our mind disengaged from the truth being sung, or singing without an understanding of the meaning is the same as singing gibberish. It does not glorify God and it does not properly stir the affections of our own hearts toward him.

Thinking about this I have selected the first three songs that come to my mind in which we might pass over the lyrics without really understanding their meaning.

Fairest Lord Jesus

I love this song and here is why. The word “fairest” does not mean “just” as in “It was a fair decision.” It means “attractive,” “pleasing in appearance,” or “beautiful.” The first line is then exclaiming how beautiful Jesus is to those whose hearts have been born again. This same idea is present in the second and third lines. To paraphrase them, they say, “The meadows are beautiful! The woodlands are still more beautiful! But Jesus is even more beautiful! He is the most attractive thing to my heart!” “Sunshine is beautiful! Moonlight can be even more beautiful! And the heavens above are breathtaking! The thoughts of them make my mind turn inside out! But Jesus, O Jesus, shines brighter! He is more beautiful than all of these things! His death is more precious to me than all of creation because he takes my sins! He is the “Fairest Lord Jesus.”

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

The second line of this song asks, “Hast thou not seen / How thy desires e’er have been / Granted in what He ordaineth?” But have you ever thought about it? What exactly does that line mean? Here is what I believe it means. “E’er” means “ever” or “always.” Therefore to reword it slightly the line is asking, “Haven’t you seen how your desires have always been given to you according to what God has planned?” Then if we consider the context of the verse, “Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth,” we can see that this verse is talking about God’s gentle care for Christians. It is asking us to recall how God has sheltered us and sustained us. Because of this, “Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth?” should be understood as celebrating God’s ability to sovereignly keep the hearts of his people desiring himself. This truth is at the very heart of the Bible! That through Christ, God has made and will keep a people for himself who desire himself and the things of God.  What a wonderful truth! It means that I will remain a Christian until the end of my life, not because I am spiritually strong enough to keep myself faithful to God but because God mercifully sustains me and turns my heart to himself. It is what he has ordained. He has ordained that I desire him and for that I must give him all the credit and all the glory.

It is also interesting to notice that in the last line the word “aye” means “always,” and not the more common “yes.” As a whole the last line declares, “We will always gladly adore Him!” – And why will we always gladly adore him? Because he graciously keeps us. What an excellent thought.

Finally, the author of this hymn is addressing both himself and the assembled people of God. When he is speaking to himself he uses the words, “thou,” “thy,” and “thee” but when speaking to the entire congregation he uses the plural word, “ye.” He is instructing his soul to praise God. Like this song I find it helpful to urge myself, often silently but sometimes out loud when I am by myself, to worship or delight in God. Most often I do this when I read or hear a truth about God that I know should elicit the sweetest praise I have to offer but does not because my heart is a fallen human heart. In those times when your emotions do not match the truth of what is being said, it is helpful to say to yourself, “Come on heart! Love the Lord! This truth is glorious! Love the Lord! Feel the goodness of what is being said here! Come on emotions, catch up with the truth you are hearing!”

Rock of Ages

There is a line at the end of the first verse in Rock of Ages which says, “Be of sin the double cure / Save from wrath and make me pure.” I’m not sure when I didn’t notice this earlier but this line points out the two sides of sin. First, sin defiles us making us impure. Second, it places us under God’s wrath. – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” (Romans 1:18) – In this line the author is drawing our attention to the death of Jesus which is our “double cure” for sin. This is because on the cross Jesus took our sin upon himself and suffered God’s wrath while we received Jesus’ righteousness in place of our impurity. Therefore Jesus is the “double cure” for sin. He saves us from wrath and makes us pure.

It is my hope that this post will cause God to receive greater honor from his people and our hearts to burn more brightly with his truth as we worship him through music.

If you found this post helpful, please let me know by rating it. If it seems helpful I may make this into a series and explore the lyrics of other songs. I have given some thought to going through the new Baptist hymnal song by song. It includes both traditional and contemporary worship songs. As always, I invite your comments.

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I love podcasts. For me, they are the greatest invention since the printing press. Kind of like a printing press for your ears! And one of the best way to grow in the Christian faith is to increase your intake of the Word of God. There is no substitute for Scripture and there is no shortcut to spiritual growth. If you want to grow spiritually, you need the Scriptures. The great blessing of technology is to put sermons and audio resources at our fingertips without any effort at all. Simply subscribe to a podcast, let your computer download the files, and enjoy listening while you are in the shower, around the house, cooking dinner, at work, or driving in your car.

But, if you are gong to listen to podcasts you might as well listen to the best. There are so many great resources on the web that it is a shame to settle for anything but solid biblical preaching and teaching. Therefore please let me recommend what are, in my opinion, some of the best podcasts and audio resources on the web.

Free Podcasts:

Free Audio Resources:

Enjoy!

And if you found this post helpful, please let me know by rating it. I also invite any comments you may have. Thank you!

Who doesn’t love free stuff? So today in a shameless attempt to draw readers to my blog I have compiled a list of free quality offers from a few trusted biblical sources. Enjoy!

Books:

Audio Recordings:

Bulletin Inserts for Churches:

Thank you for reading this post. If you found it helpful, please let me know by rating it. I also invite your constructive comments or free resources you would like to share.

Is there any reason to read old books? Books hundreds of years old? With archaic language and unusual spellings? Whose authors could never have imagined something as simple as an e-reader? Let alone the printing press?

Well yes! I think there are great reasons, but one in particular stands above the rest. It is simply this: We all think alike.

“What?!” – you might say. There are so many different ways of thinking today that no one I know thinks alike. But please let me give you an example off the top of my head. A few days ago I wrote a post titled, “7 Reasons Why I Don’t Like the Sinner’s Prayer.” Now I realize what I wrote is not the dominate view in American Christianity. It’s not even close! Almost every Christian in this country, including myself, has been encouraged to use the “sinner’s prayer” as the way to do evangelism. Whether it is raking leaves, handing out soup, inviting someone to church, or simply talking with a good friend, each type of evangelism is designed to somewhere along the way move the conversation toward the sinner’s prayer. It is simply how evangelism is being done in America in our time. We might think differently on how the sinner’s prayer should be worded, when it should be presented, how a new Christian should pray it, but in the end we still think the same. We all assume it should be the sinner’s prayer and therefore we all think alike without even recognizing it. So what do we do?

The remedy to this is simple. We need someone to point it out to us. But if everyone is thinking the same way no one able to shows us our common assumptions or to critique our accepted ideas and we are left blind to our errors. Unless…. we can find a person living outside of our time and outside of our mindset, who can show us something new and possibly raze or fortify our thinking,

This is the value of old books! They help us to think new thoughts outside of our time we would not otherwise be able to think.

And if any of this is sounding familiar to you, it might be because these thoughts are not original to me. I’m only borrowing them from C.S. Lewis who penned them in an introduction to, The Incarnation of the Word of God, a very old book by Athanasius, a hero of the Christian faith.

Here C. S. Lewis writes to us:

“There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books… This mistaken preference for the modern books and this shyness of the old ones is nowhere more rampant than in theology.

Now this seems to me to be topsy-turvy. Naturally, since I myself am I writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But it he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old… It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones… We all… need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books… We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century… lies where we have never expected it… None of us can fully escape this blindness… The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through out minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.”

I might be completely crazy when I suggest we downplay the role of the sinner’s prayer. But one thing is for sure, if it had not been for old books, I never would have considered that Christians did evangelism differently for the first 1,900+ years of Church history.

Now stop reading my blog and go read an old book! Or better yet, share with me what old book has challenged your thinking about God.

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