three pieces

My life is full of music.

Just in the last couple of days, I’ve grown fond of three performances—each in a different style. I want to share them with you.

Complete in Thee is a song I have on a CD, but here is a singer who sings it as a one-man quintet. Listen to the words, and you may find them to be precious.

Weightless is a song that you can download for free. “Forgiveness is weightless” and “well hidden bundle on my back”(allusion to Pilgrim’s Progress?) are the phrases that stick out the most to me.

Mahler’s 1st Symphony (the “Titan”) is much on my mind as the Signature Symphony is performing it on Saturday. Here is the fourth movement conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

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Losers

Feeling like a loser? Or ever felt like a loser? Or think you ever might feel like a loser?

Here’s an article for you. And a quote:

What are you to yourself? worthless? vile? empty?

What is Jesus to you? precious? lovely? all your salvation? all your desire?

What is sin to you? the most hateful thing in the world?

What is holiness to you? most lovely? most longed for?

What is the throne of grace to you? the most attractive spot?

What is the cross to you? the sweetest resting place in the universe?

What is God to you? your God? your Father? the spring of all your joys? the fountainhead of all your bliss? the center where your affections meet?

Is it so? Then you are a child of God!

Those low views of yourself … that brokenness, that inward mourning, that secret confession, that longing for … more spirituality, more grace, more devotedness, more love, does but prove the existence, reality, and growth of God’s work within you.

Cheer up, precious soul!

That soul never perished, that felt itself to be vile, and Jesus to be precious!

– Octavius Winslow, “Evening Thoughts”

Without the Gospel

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit. If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation [life] is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation [verbal abuse], abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

-John Calvin

found here

Psalm 119:73-80

73. Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74. Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
75. I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76. Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant.
77. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
78. Let the insolent be put to shame,
because they have wronged me with falsehood;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79. Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.
80. May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!

73. God created me. He formed my mind. Only that of His Truth which He allows me to understand will I be able to comprehend. I have no ability outside of His enabling. I cannot wrap my mind around anything about Him and His Word except that which He communicates to me in a way that my frail heart can grasp. Rather than be discouraged by myself, I must fly to Jesus, seeking Him in His Word to make the words speak to me and to affect my understanding for His glory.

74. Hope belongs to believers. Without Jesus, you can have your best life now and put off unpleasantries till later. Face up to God’s wrath against you now, and you may enjoy His pleasure eternally. Only children of God have hope of good things while they are afflicted here on earth.

For the non-christian, this life is the best things will get.

For the Christian, this life is the worst things will get.

No light matter is here connoted.

75. God’s ways are all good. Even His chastening is good. God will be faithful to afflict me with my sin until He calls me home. What a comfort!

76. As long as I am chastised by God for my sin and continually brought back to Him from my straying ways, I can rest in knowing that I belong to Him. Falling from the hands of my God would be the greatest tragedy. Therefore, knowing that I am held securely by Him is the greatest joy.

“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6

77. God’s grace in my life is my life. I have no life outside of His life. What He has given me and continually gives me is true life, not some semblance of a happy existence.

78. I must not try to right all wrongs. First, I would never be able to do so. Second, God alone is Judge. He will right all wrongs in His perfect timing, so I can rest in His goodness.

Here, is an example of what to do when we are falsely accused. Rather than mull over our hurt and ways of revenge, we should meditate on God’s Word. It alone is Truth. It is bad to encounter falsehood, but it is a hundred times worse to stoop into falsehood ourselves. Stooping to false thoughts shows a deeper false belief that our thoughts, words, and actions will not be judged.

To war against falsehood in our own lives, we must give ourselves to reading and meditating on what is true—God’s Word.

79. Are we so filled with God’s Word that we have a ready answer for all who question us? Are we able to confidently say that we can communicate God’s Word to others?

Ministry is not the goal. Knowing God is the goal.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” -2 Timothy 2:15 (emphasis mine)

Nevertheless, we should all be equipped to articulate our hope and minister to others in due time.

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” 1 Peter 3:13-17

We cannot articulate our hope unless we know what it is and know it well. We cannot have any counsel to minister to others if we have not plunged the depths of God’s counsel ourselves.

80. The psalmist did not here state that he desired his appearance or the way others perceived him to be blameless. He asked for his heart to be blameless. You cannot get any deeper than that. The heart in Scripture denotes the whole inner person, including the mind and attitudes. The heart, too, is the seat of emotion. Rather than wanting to promote an upright image, the psalmist desired Truth in the inmost parts. He wanted to be spotlessly clean on the inside. Why? If we Christians already have the promise of eternal salvation, why expend much energy on purifying ourselves? Why give ourselves to housekeeping of our earthly temples? (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Scripture states that each person will receive what is due him at the final judgment.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

I want to be worthy of receiving a large reward, don’t you? Now what should be my reason for desiring a large reward? I cannot think of a better reason than that I may be able to give a large reward back to my King. Whatever I may receive will rightly be cast back at my Savior’s feet. How big of a reward do I want to cast back? How much glory do I want to ascribe to His Name?

Now, here is a reason to pursue uprightness with a passion—to glorify my God as much as I can as long as He gives me breath.