Who is like you, Jesus – a wonderful prayer of praise

May 13, 2014

Thanks to Trevin Wax for posting this fantastic prayer this week. I needed this reminder of who Jesus is… (And hey, it even counts as an Easter devotional prayer since it reminds us that Jesus is the life of those who are spiritually dead. :-) )

Who is like You, Jesus, sweet Jesus?
You are the light of those who are spiritually lost.
You are the life of those who are spiritually dead.
You are the liberation of those who are imprisoned by guilt.
You are the glory of those who hate themselves.
You are the guardian of those who are paralyzed by fear.
You are the guide of those who are bewildered by falsehood.
You are the peace of those who are in turmoil.
You are the prince of those who yearn to be led.
You are the priest of those who seek the truth.

- Johann Freylinghausen, 1670-1739, from Prayers for Today


on a personal note…

May 11, 2014

As will be evident to those of our readers who were following the Easter devotional blogging posts I’d begun, I’ve had to lay aside blogging for the past 2 weeks.  Between an illness that required I get quite a bit of extra sleep in order to recover, and a very difficult situation that has arisen in my work and ministry during the past week, all thoughts of blogging have been pushed aside.   I’m not likely to be able to resume anytime soon I’m afraid.   But may the Lord help us all to continue to remember and walk in the reality and wonderful truth of Jesus’ resurrection each day.   – Karen B.


Easter Quotes: Martin Luther, and commentary by Andrew Peterson

May 2, 2014

Apologies for not posting any Easter devotionals this week.  I’ve been unwell the last few days.  

***

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime”

a quote attributed to Martin Luther (#41)

About this quote, Christian songwriter Andrew Peterson reflects:

I long to see him face-to-face. I long to put my hand in his side, and touch the scars. I want to thank him and to worship him without this confounded veil between us. Just fighting to believe can make you weary, and faith is hard to hold. But we are given moments of reprieve. Easter comes around and the pews are full of every-Sunday sinners and once-in-a-blue-moon saints. The ice melts. The daffodils glow like little suns. We remember the earth-shaking fact of the resurrection of Jesus, and hope comes galloping in from the east, trumpeting the tune of victory.

Today, when I walked the hill and saw the buds on the tulip poplar spreading out their little hands, I believed it. When I sat in the dark during the Good Friday service and sang “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” with a roomful of saints who, astonishingly, forsook whatever else they could have been doing to drive across town to mourn the murder of Christ–I believed it. And now, as I write this on Easter morning, when I think of the pain and death and sorrow that surrounds me and my community, I believe it, because I have seen a light the shadow cannot touch. I have seen healing, and unexplainable faith; I have seen quiet mercy stop evil in its tracks.

Demand proof if you want. Proof has its place, as it did for the early Christians. But blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe. The stories are true.

Let wonder infect you.


Easter quotes – Easter turns the world upside down

April 29, 2014

From the Rev. Bryan Owens’ Easter sermon:

The Easter message that God raised Jesus to bodily life again after bodily death turns the world upside down. It flies in the face of experience and common sense. It mocks the pretensions of human wisdom. It undermines our faith in the all-sufficiency of reason. It boldly announces that a Power has been unleashed into this world against which tyrants and bullies, sickness and disease, loss and grief, fear and shame, sin and evil, and death and decay are powerless. And it proves a staggering truth: that God loves this world in all of its dazzling diversity, and that God loves each and every one of us, so very much that He will go to any lengths to guarantee our salvation, including suffering the ravages of death and hell so that we don’t have to.


ِArabic worship music for Easter

April 28, 2014

Adding to the praise report Jill posted about Muslims coming to Christ, here is an Arabic worship song for Easter:  Al Masih qam, bil haqiqatan qam.  The Messiah is risen – He is risen indeed!

The song is a traditional Arabic Christian song for Easter, performed by the Better Life team in Egypt who have produced a number of excellent Arabic worship CDs.

Here’s a translation provided by one of the commenters on the original YouTube post:

Jesus is risen…Truly He is risen He carried our sorrows… He forgave our iniquities In His stripes there is healing …He is the spring source of peace The thorn of death He broke…when He rose and triumphed He illuminated the way …And removed the darkness If the cross put an end to the story of Your love.. I would not have been alive and chanting, “Christ is risen! “.

Alleluia!

I’ll be back to posting more hymns and CCM classics, and contemporary worship music from my own Easter music playlist tomorrow.

 

 


Another great Easter prayer from Scotty Smith – Celebrating our Living Hope

April 28, 2014

Pastor Scotty Smith posted a wonderful Easter-themed prayer yesterday at Heavenward, rejoicing in the LIVING HOPE we have in Christ:

Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being shielded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

     Dear heavenly father, on this first Sunday after Easter, I praise you for the calling to ponder the magnificent and measureless implications of the resurrection of Jesus, best described, in Peter’s words, as hope—living hope. Not a “fond hope”—fragile and uncertain; not “hoping against hope”—a wistful yearning; and not “hoping in hope”—groundless optimism, but a living hope.

We dare live with hope because Jesus is alive—raised from the dead. He’s not our dead model to imitate; he’s present Savior, to know, love and trust. We can live with hope because we too are alive, a second time—having been given new birth, a new life, and a new creation story through the gospel. You cannot love us more and you’ll never love us less.

Father, thank you for your endless mercies, measureless grace and steadfast love, all lavished on us in Jesus. Thank you for a most certain inheritance, kept in heaven for us—the legacy, heirloom and new-birthright of the life in the new heaven and new earth (2 Peter 3:13). Everything broken will become unbroken. Every tear will be wiped away—no more death or mourning, only life and the perpetual new morning of a grace-full eternity.

And, Father, thank you that this inheritance is not only being kept for us, but that we are being kept for it—shielded by your power until the Day Jesus returns, and you finish your good work in us. Hallelujah, many times over! We can no more keep ourselves saved that we were ever able to earn a relationship with you.

Through the riches of this living hope, may we live and love to your glory; may we suffer and wait patiently by your grace; may we love and serve Jesus increasingly (1 Pet. 1:8), and fret and fear, less and less. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ bold and beautiful name.


Bishop Eric Menees’ reflection on the Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter

April 27, 2014

From the Soundings blog

Alleluia. Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

What a joyous proclamation of our faith! So much is captured in this opening acclamation of the Easter Season. Jesus broke the bonds of sin and death, and opened the gates of heaven to all who believe in his name. But this is not only a future hope: his sacrifice has made possible true, lasting, and profound reconciliation between man and God, here and now.

This Sunday we are reminded that the Church is God’s instrument for that reconciliation:

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery hast established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room on that first Easter Day. He breathes on the disciples and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:22b-23)

What an awesome responsibility, and what an awesome joy, Christ has given to his Church. As a priest of the Church, it has been my greatest honor to pronounce absolution upon men and women who come to the Lord with contrite hearts. That forgiveness is available to us because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead.

There is a bit more at Soundings


Easter Quotes: Ann Voskamp – the Cornerstone of Christianity

April 27, 2014

And all the people in need, in desperate need, in broken need,

whisper it like a breaking dawn in the dark,

He is risen indeed, indeed, indeed.

 

and the cornerstone of Christianity

is this rotting cell sparking,

a heart valve quivering in the pitch,

a beetle scratching in the black while

convex chest cavity shudders,

sunken death inflating with His hot breath,

atoms of the second Adam recreating

resurrecting

all the impossible things and the universe.

– Ann Voskamp, from her Easter Sunday post at A Holy Experience

 


Easter 2014 – Easter Music Series Index

April 26, 2014

Last updated 26 April 2014.  (I’ll aim to update this every Saturday….)

It’s not only for the “Easter Octave” (the first week after Easter Sunday) during which I’ll be posting Easter music.  I intend to keep it up the entire 50 days of Eastertide (my schedule and internet connection permitting!).  I thought it would be good to compile an index of all the Easter 2014 Music Series entries so you can go back and find any great songs you might have missed.

Songs are grouped by Music Subcategory:

1. CCM Classics for Easter  (CCM from early 70s – early 90s.  Includes artists such as 2nd Chapter of Acts, the Imperials, Keith Green, Dallas Holm, Sandi Patty & Larnelle Harris, DeGarmo & Key, Amy Grant, Michael Card, Benny Hester, Bob Bennett, Leslie Phillips, Glad, Petra…)

2. Easter Hymns & Classical

3. Easter Worship Songs  (Contemporary worship songs from songwriters such as Graham Kendrick, Stuart Townend, Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, etc.)

4. “Contemporary CCM”  (CCM songs from the mid-90s to the present, includes artists such as Andrew Peterson, Steven Curtis Chapman, Jeremy Camp, Natalie Grant, MercyMe, Mark Schultz, ThirdDay…)

***

1. CCM Classics for Easter 

Keith Green, The Victor (1978)

Dallas Holm: Rise Again (1977)

Four songs from DeGarmo & Key – Mary, Rejoice, He Has Risen, Let the Whole World Sing (1979 – 1984)

The Imperials:  Because He Lives (1974)

Benny Hester:  To Fill Our Empty Hearts (He Came Out of an Empty Tomb) (1985)

Jessy Dixon:  Gone

John Michael Talbot & Terry Talbot:  He is Risen (1983)

Christian Stephens: Arise (1980)

Steve Green:  He Holds the Keys (1984)

Mickey and Becki Moore:  Many Years Ago (1976)

***

2. Easter Hymns & Classical

Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia (a Tanzanian hymn – multiple versions posted)

The Strife is O’er, performed by Truro Cathedral Choir

Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands (written by Martin Luther)

***

3. Easter Worship Songs

Ben Cantelon, The Same Power

Graham Kendrick, I Know He Lives

Michael W. Smith, All Arise (link to where it can be downloaded)

Elevation Worship, Raised to Life (link to where it can be downloaded)

***

4. “Contemporary CCM”

Andrew Peterson, High Noon


CCM Classics for Easter: Keith Green, The Victor

April 26, 2014

Today’s song is perhaps my absolute favorite in my entire Easter playlist…, it may be the reason I even have an Easter playlist…!  Keith Green’s The Victor, and the Second Chapter of Acts’ Easter Song convinced me that contemporary songs have just as much a place in celebrating Easter as the classic hymns we sing in church!

I had the joy and privilege of attending a concert by Keith Green in 1977, just shortly after his first album, For Him Who Has Ears was released.  I’ve been a diehard fan of contemporary Christian music ever since…  Keith’s album For Him Who Has Ears was the second Christian album I ever purchased.

Keith’s never been equalled.  His passion, his absolutely astounding piano playing… what a gift his music was and is to the Body of Christ.  One of his best songs is The Victor, from his second album, No Compromise, released in 1978

Here’s a video of Keith performing the song live in Colorado in 1978:

I’ve posted the lyrics to the song below, following a short excerpt from St. John Chrysostom’s famous Easter sermon, which matches the passion, triumph and excitement of Keith’s song… albeit written many centuries earlier!

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

***

The lyrics to Keith Green’s The Victor:
descentamongthedead

Swallowed into earth’s dark womb
Death has triumphed, That’s what they say
But try to hold Him in the tomb
The Son of Life rose on the third day

Just look
The gates of hell
They’re falling!
Crumbling from the inside out
He’s bursting through
The walls with laughter (Hah!)
Listen to the angels shout

It is finished
He has done it
Life conquered death
Jesus Christ
Has won it!

His plan of battle
You know it fooled them all
They led Him off to prison to die
But as He entered Hades hall
He broke those hellish chains with a cry

Just listen to those demons screaming
See Him bruise the serpent’s head
The prisoners of Hell
He’s redeeming (Oh!)
All the power of death is dead

Art Credit: Christ’s Descent among the Dead


An Easter Homily from Saint Ephrem of Syria

April 26, 2014

An excerpt from an Easter homily by St. Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306-373).

Here’s the beginning:

Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but he in his turn treated death as a highroad for his own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means he would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying his cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross he summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.

Death slew him by means of the body which he had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which he conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of his manhood, his godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.

The full text is at Creedal Christian


Free Kindle Book for Easter: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead, by William Lane Craig

April 25, 2014

Check out the post by Will at Prydain for the details about this free eBook


CCM Classics for Easter – Dallas Holm “Rise Again” (1977)

April 25, 2014

Coming back to our CCM Classics for Easter series….

This afternoon, I’m featuring Dallas Holm’s Rise Again, from 1977.   Originally released on the  Dallas Holm and Praise Live album, this song won multiple Dove Awards in 1977:  Song of the year, Songwriter of the year, Male Vocalist of the year, and Group of the year.  Pretty good for a song Dallas Holm recalls that he wrote in ten minutes!

The original live version of the song from 1977 is available for purchase online from the Dallas Holm Early Works collection, or you can purchase it direct from Dallas Holm’s website.

Here are the lyrics

Go ahead, drive the nails in My hands
Laugh at me where you stand
Go ahead, and say it isn’t Me
The day will come when you will see

‘Cause I’ll rise again
Ain’t no power on earth can tie me down!
Yes, I’ll rise again
Death can’t keep Me in the ground

Go ahead, mock My name
My love for you is still the same
Go ahead, and bury Me
But very soon, I will be free!

‘Cause I’ll rise again
Ain’t no power on earth can tie me down!
Yes, I’ll rise again
Death can’t keep Me in the ground

Go ahead and say I’m dead and gone
But you will see that you were wrong
Go ahead, try to hide the Son
But all will see that I’m the One!

‘Cause I’ll come again!
Ain’t no power on earth can keep Me back!
Yes, I’ll come again
Come to take My people back

 


Easter Music – Great Contemporary CCM songs – Andrew Peterson: High Noon

April 25, 2014

Ok, so far in our Easter Music series for 2014, I’ve posted: 

some Easter CCM Classics, some Easter Hymns, some Easter worship songs, oh yes, and some awesome Classic Gospel too!   And I’ll be posting more songs in each of those sub-categories.

But there’s still another sub-category of music – “Contemporary CCM” (yes… I know CCM stands for Contemporary Christian Music, so I’m repeating “contemporary” and that’s really lame! LOL!)  But, if “CCM classics” are (roughly) from the CCM genre’s first 20 years (the early 70′s to early 90′s), we need a way of describing CCM songs from the past 20 years, and for better or worse, “Contemporary CCM” is the tag I’ll use.

Anyway, whatever we call them, there are some great Easter songs from the last 20 years from artists such as Andrew Peterson, Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp, Natalie Grant, Gungor, MercyMe, Mark Schultz, Steven Curtis Chapman, Third Day, Newsboys, Todd Agnew, etc.  These are not generally “worship” songs that would be sung in church on Sunday morning, and yet they are wonderful worshipful songs celebrating Christ’s resurrection. And I’ve got a bunch of them in my CCM playlist. Some of them will be posted here…

***

For today, I thought I’d post the song I’ve most recently added to my Easter Contemporary CCM playlist.  I’ve long enjoyed many of Andrew Peterson’s songs, and his song All Things New was already in my Easter playlist.  But thanks to Trevin Wax’s blog post about Easter Music  earlier this week, I discovered Andrew Peterson’s song High Noon, from his album Love & Thunder, released in 2000.  Somehow, I’d never heard this song before this week, and wow, the lyrics are SO powerful. (Really can’t believe I’ve missed hearing it for 14 years!)  It’s a wonderful contemplative song that fits in really well with the devotional reading I’ve been doing focusing on “Why does the Resurrection matter in our everyday lives?”

Grab a cup of tea or coffee and settle in and savor this song and the freedom and victory we have in Christ because of His resurrection.

“… Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  (2 Tim 1:10)

Here’s a YouTube video featuring the song:

Here are the lyrics:

High noon in the valley of the shadow
When the deep of the valley was bright
When the mouth of the tomb shouted,
“Glory, the groom is alive”
So long, you wages of sin, go on,
Don’t you come back again
I’ve been raised and redeemed;
You’ve lost all your sting
To the victor of the battle at
High noon in the valley
In the valley of the shadow

Now the demons, they danced in the darkness
When that last ragged breath left his lungs
And they reveled and howled
At the war that they thought they had won
But then, in the dark of the grave
The stone rolled away
In the still of the dawn on the greatest of days

It was high noon in the valley of the shadow
When the shadows were shot through with light
When Jesus took in that breath
And shattered all death with his life
So long you wages of sin
Go on, don’t you come back again
I’ve been raised and redeemed
You’ve lost all your sting
To the victor of the battle at
High noon in the valley of the shadow

Let the people rejoice
Let the heavens resound
Let the name of Jesus, who sought us
And freed us forever ring out
All praise to the fighter of the night
Who rides on the light
Whose gun is the grace of the God of the sky

High noon in the valley of the shadow
When the shadows were shot through with light
When the mouth of the tomb
Shouted, “Glory, the Groom is alive”
So long you wages of sin
Go on, don’t you come back again
I’ve been raised and redeemed
All praise to the king
The victor of the battle at
High noon in the valley
In the valley of the shadow


Easter Quotes – He is Risen: God has irrupted* into the present

April 25, 2014

*(Yes “irrupt” IS a word, and IS spelled correctly… I looked it up!  I was tempted to “correct” Cranmer, or thought it was just a British / US spelling difference, but there is an important distinction of meaning from “erupt”)

***

God died on Friday, and the world ended. Yesterday, He was lying in His tomb; all hope and promise of the coming kingdom buried with Him. Today, He is risen: God has irrupted into the present, and now we look forward to the eschatological fulfilment in the transformation of the world order, the ultimate redemption of the believer, and the final judgement.

No matter how hostile, antithetical or ‘secularised’ the world becomes, nothing will change this immutable truth. Jesus is alive. The resurrection of Christ is the “first fruits” of the full harvest – the resurrection of all believers. The risen Lord is the “firstborn from among the dead”. The power of sin has been conquered, but the consequence – physical death – remains, awaiting a future consummation. The Spirit is a “guarantee” of our ultimate redemption.

The resurrection of Christ split history in two; it divided BC from AD. It isn’t politic to say so in this age of religious equality, but Moses, Mohammed, Buddha and guru Nanak are all dead and in their tombs. Only Jesus is alive. Of course, to the superior intellects and enlightened ones, this is but a fairytale, a fantasy, an hallucination, a delusion.

But if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and our faith is in vain. The Christian faith stands or falls with Christ’s resurrection. His death on the cross is historical fact brought about by man. His resurrection is an eschatological event brought about by God. Just as God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and gave them the Promised Land, so He delivered mankind from sin and death that we might have eternal life. The blood of the first Passover which spared Israel’s firstborn foreshadows the second Passover and the Lamb who died that we might be born again.

From the Cranmer blog, April 20, 2014


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