Podcast Episode 31: Crown Him With Many Crowns

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Hear the background and an acoustic version of this new tune setting for one of my favorite hymns, “Crown Him With Many Crowns.”

Lyrics (by Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring):

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
Rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angels in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bend their burning eyes at mysteries so bright.

Crown Him the Lord of Heaven, enthroned in worlds above,
Crown Him the King to Whom is given the wondrous name of Love.
Crown Him with many crowns, as thrones before Him fall;
Crown Him, ye kings, with many crowns, for He is King of all.

Scripture References: Revelation 19:12

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Podcast Episode 30: I Rest in You

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Hear the story behind the song “I Rest in You” on this episode.  You can also check out a video of “I Rest in You.”

I Rest in You

When the rain is pouring
And my fears are roaring
I know You walk beside me
And in the storm, I rest in You
I rest in You

When the world is calling
And my strength is falling
Your perfect power still holds me
And when I’m weak, I rest in You
I rest in You

When Your blessings fill me
With Your light, I can see
How much You gave to love me
And in my joy, I rest in You
I rest in You

When my life is fading
No more trials remaining
A perfect home is waiting
And in the end, I’ll rest in You
I rest in You

CCLI Song #5681677

Scripture References: Joshua 1:5;  Matthew 11:28; John 14:1-3Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 12:9

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The Sacrifice of Communion

Ritual sacrifice was central to most early religions.  It took different forms, but it seems that from the beginning humans felt an impulse to appease the gods with burnt offerings and blood.  It is interesting that the first recording of sacrifice in the Bible (Genesis 4) was not prompted by a divine command (that we know of).  It is also interesting that, in this very first episode of sacrifice, the distinction between self-righteous religious activity and righteous living appears.  After rejecting Cain’s sacrifice, God tells him, “Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted (vs 6-7)?”

The Israelite system of sacrifice was a near constant flow of blood, and the purpose was not simply to appease a distant god by offering it some small bit of property, but to make atonement for offenses against a righteous God.  The concept of the “sin” or “guilt” offering is quite different from the offering of the first fruits or the tithe.  An offering of first fruits (including our modern tithes and offerings) recognizes proactively God’s provision, sovereignty, and rightful claim to all we possess.  A sin offering, however, is a reactive attempt to right a wrong, to gain back a relationship that has been lost, to display for the world the sinner’s horror of and abject humiliation by their sin, in the hopes that they can prove their repentance sincere.  Unfortunately, the stream of blood on the temple altar was never enough to turn back the tide of evil that constantly flows from broken human hearts.

As Christians, we believe that Christ sacrificed himself on our behalf, and that his blood has the power to do what the blood of animals could not- reconcile us to God.  This abolished the system of sin offerings by rendering them obsolete.  ”Unlike other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people.  He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself (Hebrews 7:27 NIV).”  ”He has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:26).”

In the act of Communion, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  We enter into the “new covenant in [Jesus'] blood, poured out for you.”  Our act in the Lord’s Supper is one of remembrance and acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice once for all.  At the point in our service where other religions, including the Israelites, would be compelled to slaughter an animal, we instead remember the  slaughtering of God himself.  This seems, at first, a much smaller burden than our religious ancestors bore.  It is a bloodless action that seems primarily mental, with the assistance of the props of bread and wine.

There is, however, another aspect of Communion.  We are not only remembering an ancient sacrifice, but we are partaking in it ourselves.  We ingest the body and blood of Christ and it becomes a part of us.  It draws us, physically, to his cross where we are crucified ourselves.  ”For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with…(Romans 6:6).”  Only through this crucifixion can we live. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).”

So, in one sense, our act of Communion is a remembrance and a light burden, but in another, it is a far greater act of sacrifice than any made in the tabernacle or the temple.  We offer our entire selves, our whole lives.  I no longer live.  We are uniting ourselves with Christ at his death and proclaiming, “I die here also.”  When we approach the altar, we don’t bring a goat or bull, we bring ourselves.  ”Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.  This is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1).”   The enormity of Christ’s sacrifice leaves no more room for us.  We take his death, and enjoy his life.  ”Christ is all, and is in all (Colossians 3:11).”

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Podcast Episode 29: Immanuel

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Immanuel

Verse 1:
You walked with us in the garden
And we chose to hide away
You called through fire, on mountaintops
You spoke and shared your name
The great I AM immortal
Whom nothing can contain
Comes into our fallen world
To remake and reclaim

Chorus 1:
Immanuel, God with us
Far as we run
You will not forsake us
Light in the darkness
Immanuel, shining out to save us

Verse 2:
You came to us in a manger
With the power of healing grace
You washed the dirt from sinners’ feet
Your love was Heaven’s face
And though we saw your glory
Our old rebellious need
Pierced your hands and took your life
But not your victory

Chorus 2:
Immanuel, God with us
Far as we run
You will not forsake us
Light in the darkness
Immanuel, shining out to save
Immanuel, God with us
Far as we run
You will not forsake us
Light in the darkness
Immanuel, glory in the highest

Verse 3:
Now into hearts that were broken
Into fragile jars of clay
You send your Spirit, filling us
With your eternal flame
A counselor to bind us
A truth to set us free
Rising from the ash of sin
A fire the blind will see

CCLI #6215925

Scripture References: Genesis 3; Exodus 3; Exodus 19:18; Isaiah 7:14;  John 14:19; 1 Corinthians 12:27

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Why "Jesus is My King" Might be a Bad Thing

We say it, we sing it, and we mostly even mean it, but what we mean when we say “Jesus is king” might not be healthy.  The idea of royalty in modern society has little in common with the meaning of kingship in the ancient world.  We have kings that symbolize pomp and grandeur, we have a “King of Rock and Roll”  and a “King of Pop.”

Our royalty doesn’t demand anything from us.  They exist for us to consume, to intrigue us, shock us, to give us vicarious thrills before we cast them aside.  And I think we’ve turned Jesus into the same kind of king.  An interesting, entertaining figure.  A wise sage.  A personal motivator.  Someone who’s always there in case we get bored, and we flip casually through the pages of our Bibles as indifferently as we peruse a tabloid.  Jesus is the “King of nice moral teachings” or the “King of my personal salvation.”

But this is so far from the Biblical portrait of Jesus’ kingship.  A true king is in charge, owning the loyalty and absolute obedience of his subjects.  A true king gets things done by the power of his word, knowing that what he says will be acted on.  If we confess that “Jesus is king,” we should be swearing our lives to His authority, not paying Him a nice compliment.

N.T. Wright puts it this way:

“Christian worship declares that Jesus is Lord and that therefore, by strong implication, nobody else is.  What’s more, it doesn’t just declare it as something to be believed, like the fact that the sun is hot or the sea wet.  It commits the worshipper to allegiance, to following this Jesus, to being shaped and directed by him.  Worshipping the God we see in Jesus orients our whole being, our imagination, our will, our hopes, and our fears away from the world where Mars, Mammon, and Aphrodite (violence, money, and sex) make absolute demands and punish anyone who resists.  It orients us instead to a world in which love is stronger than death, the poor are promised the kingdom, and chastity (whether married or single) reflects the holiness and faithfulness of God himself.  Acclaiming Jesus as Lord plants a flag that supersedes the flags of the nations, however “free” or “democratic” they may be… Worship creates-or should create, if it is allowed to truly be itself- a community that marches to a different beat, that keeps in step with a different Lord.”(Simply Christian, p.217 HarperOne 2011)

So when we call Jesus our king, if it doesn’t challenge our self-reliance and release our own claim on our lives, if it doesn’t commit us to rejecting anything that would usurp Him, then all we’re really doing is putting Him on par with Elvis.

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