Hungry Hearts

Like Bruce Springsteen said, all of us have hungry hearts.

We have a hunger to experience the transcendent.
We have a hunger to love and be loved.
We have a hunger for purpose and meaning in life.

Left to ourselves, we generally look to satisfy our hungry hearts
with the treasures and pleasures of this world.
In his Confessions, Augustine explains where this approach ends:
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord,
and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

In a world where people are crushed by pessimism and despair,
Jesus promises us life . . .abundant, spiritual, and eternal.
Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher and scientist asserts:
“It is good to be weary and frustrated
with the fruitless search for the good (life),
so that one can reach out one’s arms instead to the Redeemer.”

Worship involves us reaching out to our Redeemer.
Joseph Hart sets forth this joyful privilege:
“Come ye needy, come, and welcome, God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance, every grace that brings you nigh.
Without money, without money, come to Jesus Christ and buy.”

Reflections on Spiritual Drifting

‘We must pay the greatest attention to what we have heard,
so that we do not drift away (Hebrews 2:1).’
Drifting is the besetting sin of our day.
And as the metaphor suggests, it is not so much intentional as from unconcern. Christians neglect their anchor — Christ — and begin to quietly drift away.
— Kent Hughes

If you examined a hundred people
who had lost their faith in Christianity,
I wonder how many of them would have been reasoned out of it
by honest argument?
Do not most people simply drift away?
— C. S. Lewis

When our anchor begins to lift from our soul’s grasp
of the greatness and supremacy of Jesus Christ,
we become susceptible to subtle tows.
— Alexander Maclaren

Advice to a little girl: If you continue to love Jesus,
nothing much can go wrong with you and I hope you always do so.
— C. S. Lewis

I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene …
No man can read the gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus.
His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.
— Albert Einstein

The Psalter Lesson for Reformation Sunday – A Responsive Reading

Our Psalter Lesson highlights God’s protection of us, God’s presence with us, and God’s power for us that instills the courage to face and conquer fear.
Let us read responsively Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Martin Luther & The Courage to Face Your Fears

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Martin Luther leading family worship.

On Sunday, October 29th, we will celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. We remember on this day that Martin Luther began a process that resulted in the recovery of the biblical gospel. Many congregations will recall the efforts of Martin Luther and will sing his famous hymn based on Psalm 46 entitled “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

When Luther needed encouragement, comfort and strength to face the many afflictions and trials that came upon him, he would frequently go to Psalm 46 for courage.

He himself explains why he would regularly sing Psalm 46 during times of trouble:

“We sing this psalm to the praise of God,
because He is with us
and powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends
His church and His Word
against all fanatical spirits,
against the gates of hell,
against the implacable hatred of the devil,
and against all the assaults of the world, the flesh, and sin.”

 

Martin Luther’s Reflection on Music

Martin Luther - the father of song

God’s Fair and Glorious Gift

“Music is a fair and glorious gift of God.
I would not for the world forego my humble share of music.
Singers are never sorrowful, but are merry,
and smile through their troubles in song.
Music makes people kinder, gentler,
more staid and reasonable.
I am strongly persuaded that after theology

there is no art than can be placed on a level with music;
for besides theology,
music is the only art
capable of affording peace and joy of the heart…
the devil flees before the sound of music
almost as much as before the Word of God.”

– Martin Luther

Two Alternate Paths to Take in Life

thoreau_1050x700Henry David Thoreau, in his classic Walden, sets forth two alternate paths that lie before each of us: One is broad, common and natural. The other is narrow, uncommon and supernatural:

 

” The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation
and go to the grave with the song still in them.
What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
A stereotyped but unconscious despair
is concealed under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.
However, I would fain improve every opportunity
to wonder and worship as a sunflower welcomes the light.”

Advent is a season to “improve every opportunity to wonder and worship” our Savior who is Christ the Lord!

God’s Vision for His Church

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John Stott (1921-2011)

God’s vision for His new community – the church.
It is His family which He loves,
His kingdom which He rules
and His temple in which He dwells.

 

As this reality dawns in our hearts,
we “shall constantly be seeking to make
our church’s worship more authentic,
its fellowship more caring,
and its outreach more compassionate.
In other words, we shall be ready
to pray, to work and if necessary to suffer”
in order to make God’s vision more of a reality in our world.
– John Stott