“For God So Loved the World” – A Hymn

Using the tune to “This Is My Father’s World,” I wrote a hymn called “For God So Loved the World.” It is three verses long, and the words are below. I was reflecting on truths in John 3, as well as the third-day resurrection of Jesus, and these notions shaped the three verses. They speak to the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and our need to be born again by the Spirit of God. I hope it’s a blessing to you!

“For God So Loved the World”
March 2020

VERSE 1
For God so loved the world
That He gave His only Son.
In matchless grace,
He took our place.
Behold what God has done.
Christ is our only hope;
For us He was condemned,
And when he died
He satisfied
The judgment for our sin.

VERSE 2
The stone was rolled away;
His body was not found.
The light had won,
Death was undone,
O let His praise resound!
Shout now through all the earth
That Jesus Christ is King!
His word shall stand
And, by His hand,
A new creation bring.

VERSE 3
You must be born again
By the Spirit of the Lord,
For then His breath
Brings life from death
And fills us evermore.
By grace through faith we come
And trust the Savior’s name.
The First and Last
Will hold us fast.
His blood: the sinner’s claim.

10 Favorite Reads in 2019

In 2019, here–in no particular order–are the top ten books I enjoyed reading:

  1. The Case for Jesus, by Brant Pitre
  2. Made for Friendship, by Drew Hunter
  3. Keeping the Heart, by John Flavel
  4. Confronting Christianity, by Rebecca McLaughlin
  5. The Imperfect Pastor, by Zach Eswine
  6. Hearers and Doers, by Kevin Vanhoozer
  7. None Greater, by Matthew Barrett
  8. Matthew, Disciple and Scribe, by Patrick Schreiner
  9. The Birth of the Trinity, by Matthew Bates
  10. Systematic Theology, by Robert Letham

 

“O Night Most Holy” – An Advent Hymn

Set to the tune of “Be Thou My Vision,” here are the lyrics to a Christmas hymn I’ve written, called “O Night Most Holy.”

“O Night Most Holy”
For Advent 2019

VERSE 1
O night most holy,
Do you hear that cry—
Sound of salvation
That fills up the sky?
Word of the Father
Now dwelling with man,
Born to young Mary
In Bethlehem.

VERSE 2
O what a chorus
Of praise at his birth:
Angels in heaven and
Shepherds on earth.
Words of the prophets
Fulfilled in this boy,
Shout from the mountains
Good news of great joy!

VERSE 3
O Son of heaven,
Thy vict’ry we sing,
Death on a cross and
Yet where is its sting?
For on the third day,
Thou rose up in might.
Into the darkness
Thou art the true light.

VERSE 4
O Hope of nations!
All blessing and praise,
All pow’r and honor,
All glory, always
Be to the Savior
Whose birth we adore,
Knowing, confessing
That Jesus is Lord.

In 2018, I wrote “There Is a Manger” to the tune of “There Is a Fountain,” and in 2016, I wrote “Come, Thou Word” to the tune of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

“My Cry I Raise” – An Easter Poem

empty tomb image

For Easter 2019, I wrote the following poem reflecting on Christ’s resurrection.

“My Cry I Raise”
Written 4/19/19

Hear my voice as I recount
the things I felt and heard.
You need to know what I will share,
so capture every word.

Friday neared the Sabbath when
they laid him down inside,
the one they called the Nazarene,
the one they crucified.

Wrapped and still his body lay,
hour by hour that passed.
The tomb was carved for those like this,
who finally breathed their last.

Outside the Roman soldiers watched
and guarded all around.
The Sabbath came and went without
a robber to be found.

But before the sun rose on
the quiet place of death,
I felt the ground begin to quake
and heard him take a breath.

I felt the royal cords give way
and heard the soldiers cry,
as some fell faint and others fled
in fear that they would die.

Angel hands pushed me aside
and there I sat again,
beside the tomb so I could let
the women enter in.

The Nazarene said stones would cry
if people did not praise.
I am the stone that rolled away,
and this my cry I raise.

20 Years of Preaching the Bible

Open Bible picToday is April 18, 2019, which is twenty years since my first sermon on April 18, 1999. I have a deep love for opening God’s Word with God’s people, and I hope this joy never fades. Throughout these twenty years, I have learned and heard many important truths about preaching Scripture, and it seems fitting to share twenty thoughts.

  1. The whole Bible is important for the whole Christian, so preach the Old and New Testaments.
  2. The Bible is not boring, so neither should the preacher be.
  3. You can’t preach everything you’ve studied about a text, so a vital part of sermon preparation is determining what to exclude.
  4. Your personal sorrows are part of your sermon preparation.
  5. Some days you may not feel like preaching, but you preach anyway because the power of God works through his Word.
  6. Preaching must not be a regurgitation of commentaries.
  7. Don’t clog up your sermon with lengthy illustrations; simple and concise illustrations are helpful and sufficient.
  8. Growing in the craft of preaching is important, so read resources and learn from listeners (especially from other preachers) about ways you can improve your own presentation and method.
  9. Write a lot, either in a journal or in a document or for your congregation, because writing will fine-tune your thinking and your use of words.
  10. Make appeals and applications at points during your sermon, not only at the end.
  11. Don’t assume a faithful sermon equals a long sermon; instead, seek to treat the text faithfully and helpfully for your people, and that goal probably means the length will vary.
  12. Experiment whether notes-free, some notes, bare outline, detailed outline, or a manuscript works for you, but don’t think you have to adopt the method that works for others.
  13. Engage the imagination of the listeners, for that will help them stay engaged with you.
  14. First and last words matter, so spend time thinking about your sermon’s introduction and conclusion.
  15. Preach your own sermons, not somebody’s sermon that you’ve found online or in a book somewhere.
  16. Preach through difficult passages and through difficult books of the Bible.
  17. Whenever you think, “That sermon didn’t go the way I’d hoped,” thank God for the power of his Word, acknowledge that he uses his Word in ways we’ll never know, and then take a nap.
  18. Pray that God will help you exult in his Word as you are preaching it.
  19. With the authoritative and inspired Word of God that is sharper than a two-edged sword, you don’t need gimmicks.
  20. Be doers of the Word and not just preachers of it only, for you need the sermon that you are preparing for others.

My 10 Favorite Reads in 2018

I love reading top-10 lists, and I write up my own near the end of each year. This list focuses on works of theology or discipleship that I highly commend to you. In no particular order, they are:

  1. Echoes of Exodus: Tracing a Biblical Motif, by Brian Estelle
  2. Can We Trust the Gospels? by Peter J. Williams
  3. All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism, by James E. Dolezal
  4. Loosing the Lion: Proclaiming the Gospel of Mark, by Leroy A. Huizenga
  5. The Heart of Christ, by Thomas Goodwin
  6. Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope, by Matthew McCullough
  7. Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition: Recovering the Genius of Premodern Exegesis, by Craig A. Carter
  8. Lewis on the Christian Life: Becoming Truly Human in the Presence of God, by Joe Rigney
  9. The Ten Commandments, by Thomas Watson
  10. The Letter and Spirit of Biblical Interpretation: From the Early Church to Modern Practice, by Keith D. Stanglin

“There Is a Manger” – A Song for Advent

For Advent this year, I wrote these lyrics to “There Is a Manger,” which should be sung to the tune of “There Is a Fountain.” The five verses of “There Is a Manger” take you from the manger to the empty tomb, stopping at a hillside and a mother and a dragon along the way.

“There Is a Manger”
October 11, 2018

Verse 1
There is a manger
Filled with hope:
The promised Savior came,
The Holy One, God’s only Son,
And Jesus is His Name.
And Jesus is His Name,
And Jesus is His Name,
The Holy One, God’s only Son,
And Jesus is His Name!

Verse 2
There is a hillside
Filled with song,
As shepherds watched their sheep,
For angels sang, “Glory to God,
And on the earth be peace!”
“And on the earth be peace!”
“And on the earth be peace!
For angels sang, “Glory to God,
And on the earth be peace!”

Verse 3
There is a mother
Filled with love,
Her baby wrapped and warm.
His tiny feet would tread the waves,
His hands would still the storm.
His hands would still the storm,
His hands would still the storm,
His tiny feet would tread the waves,
His hands would still the storm!

Verse 4
There is a dragon
Filled with rage,
Who knew that God had said,
“One day a son of Eve would come
To crush the serpent’s head.”
“To crush the serpent’s head,”
“To crush the serpent’s head,”
“One day a son of Eve would come
To crush the serpent’s head!”

Verse 5
There is a promise
Filled with blood,
His life for us he gave.
He drank the cup and bore the curse,
Then rose up from the grave!
Then rose up from the grave,
Then rose up from the grave,
He drank the cup and bore the curse,
Then rose up from the grave!