Tuesday, 21 February 2012

John Newton

I recently came across this hymn by Newton. It is one of his lesser known and to me one of his most powerful.

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favoured hour
At once He’d answer my request;
And, by His love’s constraining power,
Subdue my sins and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea, more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

“Lord, why is this?” I trembling cried,
“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
“’Tis in this way”, the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.

“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free,
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou mayest seek thy all in Me.”

John Newton, 1725 – 1807.
(Author of the Hymn, “Amazing Grace”)

I am sure most folk who read this page know the story of John Newton. He was born in 1725 and his mother died when he was just six. At the age of eleven he went to sea and very soon was working on a slave ship. This occupation he did for the next twenty years, eventually becoming a master of slave ships. The story of his life from slave trader to abolitionist to Anglican priest, writer and hymnist has been well documented. I would encourage you to read the story and sing his hymns. He was a man who knew what it was to be lost and then found, to be blind and then to see.

The words in the hymn above do not make for an easy read. In it Newton writes of his inward struggles with God and describes the afflictions of his soul. I feel that it perfectly illustrates the scripture that says "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12 and it is cited also in Hebrews 12.

Being a follower of Christ is not easy for He “answers prayer for grace and faith” by leading us down paths we would rather not go; sometimes extremely painful and sometimes with much sorrow, but we know that ultimately it leads to Glory.

2 Cor 4:17-18
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Secret of His Presence

Psalm 27:5
"For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock."

Ps 31:20
"You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence"

I love to think that in the times of stress and heartache and sorrow that the Lord not only hides me in His tabernacle (hebrew סכה, suka; from which we get the Jewish feast of tabernacles or booths) but it is also a secret place and it is high up. It is a place that only He and I know. There I am safe and secure in His love. More than that while we are here on this earth, it is only a temporary abode, because we’re to remember we are here only as sojourners. We are just passing through.

This is a beautiful hymn by Ellen Lakshmi Goreh:

In the secret of His presence how my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus’ side!
Earthly cares can never vex me, neither trials lay me low;
For when Satan comes to tempt me, to the secret place I go,
To the secret place I go.

When my soul is faint and thirsty, ’neath the shadow of His wing
There is cool and pleasant shelter, and a fresh and crystal spring;
And my Savior rests beside me, as we hold communion sweet:
If I tried, I could not utter what He says when thus we meet,
What He says when thus we meet.

Only this I know: I tell Him all my doubts, my griefs and fears;
Oh, how patiently He listens! and my drooping soul He cheers:
Do you think He ne’er reproves me? What a false Friend He would be,
If He never, never told me of the sins which He must see,
Of the sins which He must see.

Would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the Lord?
Go and hide beneath His shadow: this shall then be your reward;
And whene’er you leave the silence of that happy meeting place,
You must mind and bear the image of the Master in your face,
Of the Master in your face.

you can listen to the tune here

Monday, 9 January 2012



A Plea for Deliverance and Forgiveness
A Psalm of David.

1 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

2 O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed;
Let not my enemies triumph over me.

3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed;
Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.

4 Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.

5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.

6 Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they are from of old.

7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
According to Your mercy remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

8 Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.

9 The humble He guides in justice,
And the humble He teaches His way.

10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,
To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.

11 For Your name's sake, O Lord,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

12 Who is the man that fears the Lord?
Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.

13 He himself shall dwell in prosperity,
And his descendants shall inherit the earth.

14 The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him,
And He will show them His covenant.

15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me,
For I am desolate and afflicted.

17 The troubles of my heart have enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses!

18 Look on my affliction and my pain,
And forgive all my sins.

19 Consider my enemies, for they are many;
And they hate me with cruel hatred.

20 Keep my soul, and deliver me;
Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.

21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
Out of all their troubles!

I was just going to put verse 18, but in reading the whole Psalm I felt it needed the context.  This is King David who is at the point of desperation and is acknowledging his need for deliverance and salvation, not just for himself, but for his people, the nation of Israel.

In verse 1 the Hebrew word for "lift up" and in verse 18 the word for "forgive" is the same root נשׂא (nasa’). It is a primitive root and is used both literally and figuratively. It means to "bear" "hold" "carry" "forgive" "lift up". The same root is used in Isaiah 53:4:-

Surely H
e has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows...

As Christians, we have
been forgiven because Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was lifted up on the cross in our place and bore our sins in his body. It is an amazing thing when we realise that in this act, our sin is not just overlooked, but we ourselves are lifted from where we are here on earth in the quagmire of sin up to the realms of glory in heaven with Him. This is done by faith now, but in reality when Jesus returns.

John 3:14-17

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so (in this manner) loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

10 Pitfalls of the Foolish Apologist

I came across these "pitfalls" on the brilliant site Apologetics 315. I agree with them absolutely and post here for your interest and, hopefully, edification. If anyone can think of any more, please feel free to comment!

A Christian ambassador desires to be tactful, persuasive, sensitive, and thoughtful. Being a good apologist and being able to give good reasons for the truth of the Christian view takes prayer, patience, study, and persistence. For those who have made it their goal to become good defenders of the faith, there are certain positive disciplines and character traits that one would do well to develop. These help you become awise apologist.

But on the other hand, there are certain pitfalls that can appear that, when left unchecked, can become character traits and make you a foolish apologist. Although there are surely more, here are Ten Pitfalls of the Foolish Apologist:

  1. The foolish apologist speaks before listeningProverbs 18:13 says, "He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame." Not only does he communicate to others that he could care less about what they have to say, but he also becomes unable to give a well informed answer. The wise apologist is patient, seeks to understand, and avoids monologue.
  2. The foolish apologist overstates his argument. The foolish apologist doesn't have "good reasons." Instead, he can prove it. He can show something beyond the shadow of a doubt. His arguments are presented with all confidence -- and of course he can't be wrong. Even when using good arguments, he exaggerates what they actually show. No modesty here, and people balk. The wise apologist argues confidently, yet with modesty.
  3. The foolish apologist wants to win every point. When the conversation gets complex, he needs to make sure to correct every single error he sees with another person's view. Never mind that his conversation partner is getting offended by his "attention to detail." This apologist is the fallacy police, the fact-checker, and grammarian all-in-one. If he makes an error, back-pedaling is in order, with little or no admission of wrong. The wise apologist can discern what really matters in a conversation.
  4. The foolish apologist chases red herrings. If the topic is the resurrection, just bring up evolution. The foolish apologist will happily hop down any bunny trail that appears. The conversation goes in all directions. He can't make any progress in an argument because he can't spot red herrings, distractions, and non-issues. In fact, he may often enjoy these deviations from focused dialogue, because he's proud of his expertise in his own pet subject areas. The wise apologist knows how to stick to one point.
  5. The foolish apologist is proud of himself. He likes the fact that he knows terms that make the "novices" around him cock their heads. He secretly commends himself for reading more books in a month than most people do in a year. He enjoys the sound of his own voice, and thinks he does a pretty good job in an internet forum. Apologetics is his tool to show the world he can flex his intellectual muscle. He's received his rewardThe wise apologist humbles himself before God, and looks upon himself with sober judgment.
Continue reading article here

Friday, 30 December 2011

Jude 3

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (NKJV)

Today I pray that the Lord will strengthen us to continue contending for the Faith throughout 2012 and until the Lord returns. Amen

Saturday, 24 December 2011

O Holy Night

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our friend!

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Saturday, 17 December 2011


"Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, in whose hand [is] the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind? Does not the ear test words and the mouth taste its food?" (Job 12:9-11)

The Venus flytrap is one of the most fascinating plants you will ever find. In college, I had a Venus flytrap that I would now and again feed with a morsel of hamburger from the college lunchroom. One day a classmate saw me carefully wrapping up the morsel and asked what I was going to do with it. I explained that I was taking it back for my plant. He refused to believe that a plant would eat meat. Well, he stared in doubt as I placed the morsel of meat into one of the leaves and tripped the trigger. When the leaf closed on the meat, he fled the room in absolute disbelief.

Did you ever wonder how the Venus flytrap's leaf can close so rapidly on a fly or other morsel? It has taken scientists some time to figure out how it is done. When the trigger hairs are triggered, the cells on the outer layer of the leaf grow incredibly fast. The closing leaf is really the result of astonishingly rapid cell growth! It takes days for the cells on the inside of the leaf to catch up. As they do, the leaf slowly opens again.

The wild growth of the leaf's outer cells is started by an electrical impulse produced when something brushes up against the trigger cells inside the leaf.

The complex systems of the Venus flytrap are difficult to explain as the product of no intelligence. They are yet another example of the variations possible to an infinitely imaginative Creator.

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