Lenten Reflection: From Lofty Mountain Grandeur

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by Vic and Sandy Kiel

 

When we were asked to reply to this question, two hymns immediately came to mind, The Old Rugged Cross and How Great Thou Art. But if pressed I would have to choose How Great Thou Art. It is a hymn that we have grown up with and know well. And still it is a hymn that affects me profoundly to this day. But now the challenge is ‘what is my favorite line’ from the hymn? Unfortunately, I will not be able to select just one line, so if you will allow me, let me attempt to express what this song means to me by verse.

When on a crystal-clear morning I see the snow glistening to the distant mountain tops, the radiant sun, the evergreen tree needles glistening with the morning dew, the tulips opening to the warming season, the ripples on the lake, verses one and two talk to my head and heart how magnificent the universe is and How Great Thou Art.

Verses three and four are my favorites. The awesomeness that God sent his Son to take away my sin and the joy it will be to go home makes my soul sing How Great Thou Art.

  1. Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
    Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
    I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
    Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
  2. When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
    And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
    When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
    And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
  3. And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
    Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
    That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
    He bled and died to take away my sin.
  4. When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
    And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
    Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
    And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Refrain:
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

 

While we enjoy singing this hymn and hearing it sung by numerous artists we have recently been really touched by Susan Boyles’ version. Included in this version is a very poignant reading of Psalm 8

  1. LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. 
  2. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 
  3. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
  4. What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? 
  5. You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. 
  6. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: 
  7. All flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, 
  8. The birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 
  9. LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

 

How Great Thou Art…Amen

 

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Lenten Reflection: All Now Mysterious Shall Be Bright At Last

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by Jan Lovegren

Be Still My Soul by Charles Wesley

Years ago I was going through a big change. We had sold our house and moved in with my husband’s parents. They needed help, and we were waiting for our new house to be finished. Several of my friends had moved away and we were ‘long distance’, an impossibly expensive way to talk to my friends. My husband was working long hours, our daughter was in Iowa at college and our son was in high school.
I was the loneliest I had ever been. Now was the time to seek God. It turned out I was led to this hymn. I would walk and learn of my wonderful God who loves me and died for me so I could live forever with him!
This verse became so meaningful to me:
“Be still my soul:
your God will undertake to guide the future as he  has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake ;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below”.

This verse as well as the other verses of this hymn began in me the deep understanding that I could be still. I no longer had to cover up my pain of loneliness and sadness by running after things in this world.

Be still and know that I am God. He is a God who has my future and past in his hand. As I pondered this I came to understand all the times God had rescued and protected me. He was there watching over me!

I can trust him even with so many mysteries and unknowns. For one day I will see clearly. I learned that this Jesus who died on the cross for me is not only my close confidant but God himself who stilled the storm while his friends sat terrified in a boat ready to sink into the sea. Being still in your pain of loneliness and fear is the best place to meet our God.

He finally had my attention so he could lavish his love and understanding through the bible and the wonderful hymns of old. They were written by people just like us. The lonely, fearful, or those of us who are looking for love in all the wrong places.

Be still my soul, he is here, he loves us and he is God.

Lenten Reflection: I Lay in Dust Life’s Glory Dead

by Pastor Bert Hitchcock
From the last stanza of “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”:
O Cross that liftest up my head, 
I dare not ask to hide from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead, 
and from the ground there blossoms red,
life that shall endless be.
This wonderful hymn was written in 1882 by George Matheson, the blind, Scottish Pastor of St. Bernard’s Parish Church in Edinburgh.  He later claimed that writing this song scarcely took him five minutes, but it is worthy of so much more reflection by us who now sing it.  For, this hymn walks us through the process of our sanctification.
It begins with a call to rest in the “love that will not let us go” – to rest in it when we are weary, and to respond by giving our lives back to the One who loved us more than we will ever love him.  Many believe that in these lines, Matheson was contrasting the love of the Lord, with that of the girl whose love did let him go, when she found out he was going blind.
The second stanza may also make reference to his blindness (“my flickering torch”) which made him so dependant on the One who is the Light of the World – the One who fills our darkness with His own clear view of all things.
In the third stanza, Matheson acknowledges that the pain never goes away.  But like a rainbow appearing in the midst of the storm, that pain is accompanied by hope for a glorious, tearless, sunny day.
O but it is the fourth stanza that most powerfully speaks of our experience in Christ. Here we contemplate the cross, but it is not just the cross on which Jesus died; this is the cross which signifies our own death – as in, “take up your cross and follow me.”  We are often inclined to follow Jesus on some level, for he is a worthy role model.  But the thought of dying – worse yet, of willingly laying down our own life in order to follow him – is repugnant to us.  It feels like we’re burying everything glorious about our life in a grave – like we are lying on the ground with our very life-blood soaking into the dirt.
Why would we ever pay such a price to follow Jesus?  And no mistake, this dying to self is the price which the Lord demands.  Well, Matheson reminds us why: for “from the ground thee blossoms red, life that shall endless be.”  In other words, our dying to self is but the entrance into eternal, resurrection life.  From that puddle of blood, new life springs up eternal.
This may have taken Matheson only five minutes to write, but it takes us a lifetime to learn to live it out.

Lenten Reflection: Christ is the Truth

by Nick Laninga

Jesus said unto him, “I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”
John 14:6.

Thirty years ago I prepared a devotional from Memoir and Remains of Robert Murrey M’Cheyne  for the start of a new school year at Bellingham Christian. The Topic was “Christ is the truth”. I thought it may serve us well after our last Sunday School session.

The whole Bible and the whole of experience, bear witness and by nature we are ignorant of the truth. No doubt there are many truths which an unconverted man does know. He may know the truths of mathematics and arithmetic, he may know many of the common everyday truths; but still it cannot be said that an unconverted man knows THE TRUTH, for Christ is the truth.

Christ may be called the keystone of the arch of truth. Take away the keystone of an arch, and the whole becomes a heap of rubbish. The very same truths  may be there; but they are fallen,—–without coherence, without order, without end.

Christ may be called the SUN of the system of truth. Take away the sun out of our system, and every planet would rush into confusion. The very same planets would be there; but their conflicting forces would draw them hither and thither orb dashing against orb in endless perplexity. Just so take Christ away, and the whole system of truth rushes into confusion.

The same truths may be in the mind, but all conflicting and jarring in inextricable mazes, for the paths of the wicked is as darkness; they know not at what they stumble. But let Christ be revealed to an unconverted soul—-let it not be merely a man speaking about Christ unto him, but let the Spirit of God reveal Him,—and there is revealed, not a truth but THE TRUTH. You put the keystone into the arch of truth; you restore the sun to the center of the system. All truth becomes serviceable in that mind.

Now he knows the truth with regard to himself. Did the Son of God really leave the bosom of the Father to bear wrath in our stead? Did the Lord Jesus become a servant, that He might obey the will of God instead sinners? Then I must be without any righteousness, a child of disobedience.

Again knowing Christ, he knows the truth with regard to God. Did God freely give up His own Son to death for us all? Then, if I believe in Jesus, there is no condemnation to me. God is my Father, and God is love.

“My friends, have you seen Christ, who is truth?  Has He been revealed to you, not by flesh and blood, but by the Spirit of our God? Then you know how true it is that” in Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”
COLOSSIANS 2:3.

That He is the ALPHA and OMEGA the beginning and ending of all knowledge. But if you have not seen Christ, then you know nothing yet as you ought to know; all your knowledge is like a bridge without a key-stone—like a system without a sun. What good will it do you in hell that you knew all the sciences in the world, all the events of history and all the busy politics of your little day?  Do you not know that your very knowledge will be turned into an instrument of torture in hell? Oh, how you will wish in that day that you had read your newspaper less and your Bible more, that with all your getting, you had got understanding—that, with all your knowledge, you had known the Savior. Who to know is LIFE EVERLASTING. The Way, TheTRUTH, & The Life.”

What an awesome responsibility is ours. Yet what an adequate resource we have in Christ. As we lead our youth in TRUTH pray always for the Holy Spirit to open their hearts to see Christ who is TRUTH and everything will fall into pleasant lines. How important to have the blessing of Christian education that seeks to link God to home, school and to the heart of every individual that attends our school. Our prayers continue for you all.
~Nick & Diana Laninga

I like these verses from “ LOVED WITH EVERLASTING LOVE”

Vrs.2 Heav’n above is deeper blue, earth around is sweeter green, that which glows in every hue Christ-less eyes have never seen.  Birds in song his glories show, flowers with richer beauties shine since I know, as now I know, I am His and He is mine.

Vrs.3 Taste the goodness of the Lord; welcomed home to His embrace, all His love as blood out-poured seals the pardon of His Grace. Can I doubt His love for me when I trace that love’s design? BY THE CROSS OF CALVARY I am His and He is mine.
George w. Robinson/James Mountain

When one sees Christ, who is the Truth, that makes all the difference.

Have a reflective season of Lent!!!

Lenten Reflection: The Church’s One Foundation

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by Lance Crumley

Christ Jesus himself as the chief corner stone
~Ephesians 2:20

A favorite hymn:  The Church’s One Foundation by Samuel Stone

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ,
him being the chief cornerstone!

Personal note from Lance:

There is only one church.

“Follow me off this bridge and I will take you to a place and you will find rest”

In the spirit of Christ into the body of the church Wiser Lake Chapel, I have found rest.
Keep coming back young man.

 

Names of God: The End

Jesus “The End”
by Pastor Bert Hitchcock

Our very first Lenten meditation focused on the fact that Jesus is called “the Beginning”. He is both the Creator, who accounted for the beginning of all things, and He is the Redeemer, who by His death and resurrection brings a new beginning of eternal life.

But the same two verses that call Jesus “the Beginning” (Revelation 21:6 & 22:13), go on to also call him “the End”. Now, a measuring tape, a book, or a year has a beginning and an end, but how can the Eternal Christ Jesus who lives forever with his new creation ever be called “the End”?

The answer is found in the fact that our Bibles were not written in English, but in Hebrew and Greek. And so, that word “end” in Revelation (the Greek word is telos) has a more complex meaning than our English word “end”. Telos primarily means “fulfillment” or “goal”, and that is how we must understand it in regard to Jesus. He is the fulfillment, the goal, of all things.

So, for example, Paul said in Romans 10:4 “Christ is the end of the law;” but Jesus made that statement about the scriptures clearer, when He said, “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” So, Christ Jesus is the fulfillment, the goal, the intended ‘end’ of all that God has said and done. “It is all about Jesus!”

This must be our focus as Christians: that at the end of history the Lord will be “all in all.” The Apostle Paul put it this way: “from him, and through, him and to him, are all things;’ He is “above all, and through all, and in all.”

And if He is the reality that will fill eternity, we have nothing more important for our lives on this Resurrection Day.  It is all about Jesus!

Names of God: Shiloh

Shiloh
by Ben Gibson

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Genesis 49:10

On Sunday, April 6th, 1862 the Union soldiers were still cooking their breakfasts when they heard shots in the distance. Camped out near Shiloh Meeting House, the open field was only supposed to serve as a pit stop on the trek down to the Confederate rail center in Corinth, Mississippi. However, a patrol of Union troops stumbled upon 35,000 Confederate soldiers on the outskirts of the Union camp and one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War ensued. With over 100,000 troops engaged and over 20,000 casualties by the end of the fighting, the Battle at Shiloh was the bloodiest occurrence on American soil up to that point in the country’s history.

At the center of all the fighting stood the small Shiloh Meeting House. The Messianic use of Shiloh, meaning “he to whom it belongs,” is found only once in Scripture, in Jacob’s blessing to his sons in Genesis 49. While Shiloh was also a town in Ephraim, the term is alone used with prophetic connotation by Jacob. In blessing his son Judah, Jacob declares that Judah’s tribe will hold the scepter until “he to whom it belongs” comes.

Christ, we know now, is the one to whom it belongs.

But it is not just the scepter that is Christ’s. We know from Colossians that all the world was created in and through him. Christ is Shiloh, he to whom it all belongs. I am often left wondering, however, whether Christ would still claim it? In a world where the events, such as the one at Shiloh, Tennessee, have become common place, why would a perfect God choose acknowledge ownership over such a messy reality?

In the incarnation, we are given the answer. Christ, in the incarnation, comes and shows, in taking on human flesh and human nature, in taking on our sin through his own suffering and death, that it all belongs to him.

In the incarnation, Christ claimed every moment from Jacob’s death to a spring morning in Tennessee and beyond. In the incarnation, God, in Christ, surveys all of creation and declares “…this is mine.”
~Ben Gibson