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For Your Gift Of God The Spirit – Sunday Songs

Last weekend the Congregation at Tenth Presbyterian, Philadelphia, were told that Philip Ryken was leaving the pastoral ministry there to take up a position as President of Wheaton College (a US university).
As part of the announcement Ryken read these words: “Father, grant your Holy Spirit
in our hearts may rule today, grieved not, quenched not, but unhindered, work in us his sovereign way.”
Thanks to the wonder of the internet, a quick search revealed they are part of the fifth verse of the hymn ‘For Your Gift Of God The Spirit’, written by Margaret Clarkson. Sung to the tune ‘Blaenwern’ the hymn praises God for the person and work of the Holy Spirit. A number of other tunes in the 87.87.D meter could be used to give it a folk or formal setting.

We sang the full hymn tonight at mgpc to ‘Blaenwern’ a favourite tune of mine.

Here are the lyrics:
For your gift of God the Spirit,
pow’r to make our lives anew,
pledge of life and hope of glory,
Savior, we would worship you.
Crowning gift of resurrection
sent from your ascended throne,
fullness of the very Godhead,
come to make your life our own.
He, who in creation’s dawning
brooded on the lifeless deep,
still across our nature’s darkness
moves to wake our souls from sleep,
moves to stir, to draw, to quicken,
thrusts us through with sense of sin;
brings to birth and seals and fills us–
saving Advocate within.
He, himself the living Author,
wakes to life the sacred Word,
reads with us its holy pages
and reveals our risen Lord.
He it is who works within us,
teaching rebel hearts to pray,
he whose holy intercessions
rise for us both night and day.
He, the mighty God, indwells us;
his to strengthen, help, empower;
his to overcome the tempter
ours to call in danger’s hour.
In his strength we dare to battle
all the raging hosts of sin,
and by him alone we conquer
foes without and foes within.
Father, grant your Holy Spirit
in our hearts may rule today,
grieved not, quenched not, but unhindered,
work in us his sovereign way.
Fill us with your holy fullness,
God the Father, Spirit, Son;
in us, through us, then, forever,
shall your perfect will be done.

Text © 1960, 1976, Margaret Clarkson.
Assigned 1987 to Hope Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

This YouTube is a congregational recording.

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WordPress Blog Posts Automatically Posted On Facebook

Apparently there was some other way to do this, but now posts on this blog will automatically be noted on my Facebook feed.

Details here.

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Pastoral Helps – 27/2/2010

At C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries blog Jeff Purswell writes about his concerns regarding the modern day phenomenon of the preacher/leader and how this may lead to confusion regarding the pastor’s biblical role.
While not decrying the need for planning among the eldership of a local church, Purswell wants preachers to remember:
“When we think about “leading” our churches, we can spend hours with our teams strategizing and brainstorming initiatives and structures, identifying emphases, and planning special meetings—all important functions. But we can spend hours doing all this and leave the Sunday preaching diet entirely out of the equation—when it should be central to whatever direction you’re providing the church in a particular season.
No form of leadership a pastor provides is more decisive than his proclamation of Scripture. Preaching both defines the priorities for your church and fuels the implementation of those priorities in the church. We must never sever the connection in our minds between leadership—providing direction for the church—and your preaching plan. It’s that preaching plan, and its execution, that provide the most powerful and biblically rooted leadership.”
Read the rest here: Preacher or Leader?: Defusing a Common Pastoral Dilemma

The ‘Federal Vision’ hasn’t made too much of an impact here in the backblocks. I was commenting to someone recently that I don’t see how it can flourish in the situations where the Sydney evangelical ecclesiology holds sway. Unless being part of the gathered group itself assumes some sort of sacramental status, and that starts to sound vaguely pentecostal.
Anyway, for anyone who wants a background primer written by neither an advocate or opponent, Mark Thompson has four posts which can be found here. With any new movement there are certain challenges in summing things up, because expressions can be frustratingly broad and vague. Thompson tries to tease out the shared center of the movement.

I’m uniformly impressed with the posts at ‘What’s Best Next’.
This one on “Christians and Negotiation” outlines the difference between positional and principled negotiation and explains why the latter is more constructive and better suits a Christian context. (Though, sadly, positional ‘negotiation’ is still all too common, and very often used by elders and ministers.)

Matt Chandler is pastor of The Village Church.
He recently has surgery from brain cancer and has been undergoing chemo and radiation therapy. During this time he has video blogged his experiences.
Here is a pastor still teaching (and leading) his people.


Does This Come With A Forklift And Health Insurance?

As if the original didn’t threaten to herniate you, Crossway have released a large print edition of their very helpful ESV Study Bible.
Given that many users of Large Print editions are also among the more physically frail it will be interesting to see how this works out for everyone involved.
(My edition of the ESV Study Bible lives on my iPhone. I don’t believe it makes the phone any heavier.)

In any case, the news also gives me the excuse to post this.

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Keller On Facing The Big Issues

(edit: I forgot to give this a title and the blog called it ‘1561’. That is not my cumulative total of posts, yet. Now it has a proper title.)

Last time Tim Keller named “The Big Issues facing the Western Church”.
They were:
1. The opportunity for extensive culture-making in the U.S. [relevant in Australia, as well]
2. The rise of Islam.
3. The new non-western Global Christianity.
4. The growing cultural remoteness of the gospel.
5. The end of prosperity?

This time he asks (and answers) “How Should Churches and Leaders Be Preparing to Address These Big Issues Facing the Church?”
1. The local church has to support culture-making.
2. We need a renewal of apologetics.
3. We need a great variety of church-models.
4. We must develop a far better theology of suffering.
5. We need a critical mass of churches in the biggest cities of the world.
Each of these points receives a detailed expansion from Keller. Some excerpts:
Point 2: “All young church leaders should take courses in and read the texts of the other major world religions. They should also study the gospel presentations written by missionaries engaging those religions. Loving community will be extremely important, as it always is, to reach out to neighbors of other faiths, but if they are going to come into the church, they will have many questions that church leaders today need to be able to answer.”
On point 4: “There are a great number of books on ‘why does God allow evil?’ but they mainly are aimed at getting God off the hook with impatient western people who believe God’s job is to give them a safe life. The church in the west must mount a great new project–of producing a people who are prepared to endure in the face of suffering and persecution.”

An interesting contribution that seeks, I think, to challenge the church not to retreat into itself in the face of a contemporary society that considers it an irrelevance. To follow that path is to marginalise itself.
The human hearts that represent contemporary society have never been any lesser or greater distance, ie. closer or further away, from the Gospel. The opportunity with which we are now presented is that this unchanging distance is actually clearly appreciable.
Keller is seeking to engage them so that the Gospel can be communicated.

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The Difference Between Excellence And Perfection

When you read a few (hundred) articles or comments about church services a recurring theme is the need to present as well as we can.
That’s okay, as long as your goal is excellence and not perfection.
Excellence (for the point of this exercise) is doing the best you can, with what you’ve got, conscious that God receives as worship as acceptable only because of the merit of Christ.
Perfection (again for the point of this exercise) seems to dwell on some idea that the more proficient we are, the closer to God we are.
Friends, if we need professional quality musicians in order to worship God (or to make our worship of God better, or more meaningful, or happier, or anything), then what do we really think the Lord Jesus accomplished on the cross?
More than that, as I read somewhere once, God is perfect. He has perfect pitch. He knows when we’re off key, too slow, too fast, mispronounce the lyrics or forget the tune. He knows it even when we don’t. He’s not David and Margaret sitting in review. (I give it three-and-a-half stars this week, shame that the vocalists mistimed their re-entry from the bridge in the third song.) We should all be thankful that God is not as casually critical of our worship as we are.
The reason our worship delights Him is not our perfection, or even our excellence, it’s because of the perfect obedience of Christ.
That should liberate our hearts to overflowing, fill us with joy, freedom, even abandon as we sing our praise, lift up our prayers, hear God’s Word, meditate on its truth and receive the sacraments.
I don’t mind it when our congregation has a hard time negotiating a new hymn. It helps them remember that because of Christ’s perfection we are able to give the best we have at any point in time.

And it’s the reason that the following piece of video is excellent, not perfect.

HT: see Justin Taylor for the background of the video, along with another video that actually has the full lyrics of what was sung.