Music for Lent: Wonderful Merciful Savior

March 6, 2015

The March 5th Lent entry from the Biola University Lent Project online devotional site included the excellent modern hymn Wonderful Merciful Savior:

Wonderful, Merciful Savior lyrics

Wonderful, merciful Savior,
Precious Redeemer and Friend,
Who would have thought that a Lamb
Could rescue the souls of men.
Oh you rescue the souls of men.

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper,
Spirit we long to embrace—
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way.
Oh, we’ve hopelessly lost the way.

You are the One that we praise.
You are the One we adore.
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for.
Oh, our hearts always hunger for.

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own,
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne.
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne.

The “about” section of the Biola devotional includes some interesting history of the song:

The tune Wonderful, Merciful Savior was penned in 1989 by Dawn Rodgers, and the lyrics were completed by Rodgers and Eric Wyse while leading worship at Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN. The song is still sung regularly at Christ Community Church, and has been recorded by a number of artists, including Selah, who brought it to #1 on the Christian Inspirational Music Chart in 2001.

The Biola Lent devotional includes Selah’s version of this song.  While it is Selah’s version which has perhaps received the most acclaim, I first heard this song as recorded by Steve Camp on his 1994 album Mercy in the Wilderness, and this remains my favorite version. (Unfortunately it’s not available for online purchase.) 1994 was a challenging period for me personally and spiritually, and when I first heard this song, it helped me throw myself on Christ and trust in His mercy in a way I’ve never forgotten.

You can listen to Steve Camp’s version of Wonderful Merciful Savior (with a prelude of “There is No Other Name”) here:


Great Resource: Bible in a Year blog from Church of the Advent

March 5, 2015

One of our recent Twitter followers is the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham Alabama, one of the largest and most vibrant orthodox Anglican parishes in the US.  In browsing their Twitter feed, I discovered a great resource at their website:  The Bible in a Year blog

Here’s the about page which explains the rationale and purpose for the blog

Here’s a PDF document outlining the reading plan

Currently they’re reading and blogging about 2 Kings.  It’s a resource that’s very worth bookmarking, especially for small group Bible studies perhaps looking for a discussion starter on a certain passage, or if you’d like to find commentary on one of today’s Lectionary readings.  By looking at the reading plan, and using the blog’s calendar feature you could find the commentary for Jeremiah 4 – 6 - covering today’s OT lesson from Jeremiah 4.


Malcolm Guite: Prayer Walk – excellent poem and reflection on prayer

March 5, 2015

Malcolm Guite’s blog is one of my new discoveries thanks to Twitter, and I’m very much enjoying his Lent entries. I really appreciated his “Prayer Walk” entry yesterday, and encourage readers to go enjoy it in full.  I won’t post his poem here, but rather a portion of his reflection on how prayer walking has strengthened his prayer life.

I have noticed how often interesting footpaths and bridleways start just beyond the brambles at the end of tarmacked roads marked ‘dead end’. And it seemed, for me at least, that is very often where prayer starts too. I am sure that prayer should be a first resort, but for me it is sometimes the last resort when I’ve tried everything else! I’ve also noticed that the places in life where I get stuck and come up as it were against a ‘dead end’ sign, are inevitably the important places, the places where there is real stuff to deal with and that is precisely why I get stuck or find it difficult to move forward. Too often one simply shies away from these personal dead-ends and goes for the first diversion (usually Facebook!) to try something easier. But when I’m walking, the opposite is true. It gives me pleasure to walk down the apparent dead-end and find the hidden path where the cars can’t go, strike out across the fields and leave the traffic behind, so I have tried to apply this to my prayer life.

The full entry is here.

It’s interesting that he mentions George Herbert’s poem “Prayer” as his inspiration for the poem he posted.  I too have been reading and reflecting on Herbert’s poem, especially since I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s excellent book on prayer.  I’m hopting I’ll find time in the next day or two to post Herbert’s poem and some of Keller’s reflections and insights about it.

Music for Lent (Classic CCM): Keith Green – Rushing Wind

March 5, 2015

Keith Green’s wonderful prayer song “Rushing Wind” came up in my Lent playlist two nights ago.  I’ve been singing it in my head ever since.  It’s such a powerful prayer of sanctification and surrender.

Rushing wind blow through this temple,
Blowing out the dust within,
Come and breathe you breath upon me,
I’ve been born again.

Holy spirit, I surrender, take me where you want to go,
Plant me by your living water,
Plant me deep so I can grow.

Jesus, you’re the one, who sets my spirit free,
Use me lord, glorify, your holy name through me.

Separate me from this world lord.
Sanctify my life for you.
Daily change me to your image,
Help me bear good fruit.

Every day you’re drawing closer.
Trials come to test my faith.
But when all is said and done lord,
You know, it was worth the wait.

Jesus, you’re the one, who set my spirit free,
Use me lord, glorify, your holy name through me.

Rushing wind blow through this temple,
Blowing out the dust within,
Come and breathe you breath upon me,
For I’ve been born again.
Songwriters: Green, Keith Gordon / Green, Melody
Rushing Wind lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lent quotes: “Lent is for the Lost” – Ann Voskamp

March 4, 2015

I appreciated this powerful encouragement / basic reminder as Lent has me very aware of the mess I make of my life when I choose to cling to sin:

Lent’s for the messes, the mourners, the muddled — for the people right lost. Lent’s not about making anybody acceptable to a Savior — but about making everybody aware of why they need a Savior.

From Ann Voskamp’s most recent Lenten blog entry.  Go read it all!

Music for Lent: Help my Unbelief (Red Mountain Music)

March 3, 2015

For the last 1 – 2 days I’ve had this song / this prayer filling my mind in quiet moments.

It’s a wonderful modern update of an old hymn by John Newton which I discovered it last Lent.  In fact, I may have posted it here last year.  But it’s definitely resonating with my thoughts and prayers again this Lent.  I’ve been convicted of the stubborn unbelief in my heart…


I encourage you to view the page at YouTube and read the background about the hymn.

You can find the words and chords here.

Learn more about Red Mountain Music and buy their songs here.

Help my Unbelief Lyrics:

I know the Lord is nigh,
And would but cannot pray,
For Satan meets me when I try,
And frights my soul away,
And frights my soul away.

I would but can’t repent,
Though I endeavor oft;
This stony heart can never relent
Till Jesus makes it soft,
Till Jesus makes it soft.

Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
My help must come from Thee.

I would but cannot love,
Though wooed by love divine;
No arguments have power to move
A soul as base as mine.
A soul so base as mine.

I would but cannot rest,
In God’s most holy will;
I know what He appoints is best,
And murmur at it still.
I murmur at it still.

Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
My help must come from Thee.

Romans 1:9 – a challenging question for self-examination in Lent

March 3, 2015

Yesterday’s NT lesson from the Lent daily office lectionary passages was from Romans 1:1-15. It’s a passage I know well, and all too often, it’s tempting to skip over the greetings section of the Pauline epistles, eager to jump into the “meat” of the letter.

However, it was a verse in Paul’s greetings at the beginning of Romans, verse 9, which I’ve often passed by quickly, that yesterday stopped me in my tracks as I read it and which prompted some prayerful self-examination:

“God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son is my witness how constantly I remember you …” (Rom 1:9, NIV 1984)

OK, leaving aside the issue of how much I pray for people I’m discipling (do I CONSTANTLY remember them in my prayers as Paul said he did the Roman believers…?) what about those five small words: “serve with my whole heart.”

I couldn’t get past those words yesterday.  Am I serving the Lord with my WHOLE heart?  The Lord challenged me to look at some areas of compromise, areas where I was not wanting to count the cost or surrender fully to the Lord, not offering Him ALL of my time, energy, talents, myself, wanting to hold back some of my time and energy for myself.

I pray for myself and each of our readers that this Lent would be a time when we surrender more of our hearts and lives to the Lord so that we are able to say like Paul that we serve Him with our whole heart, an undivided heart.


P.S. I perhaps should note that the Bible I was using for my devotions yesterday while reading Romans 1 was the 1984 version of the NIV.  Other versions, including the new NIV and the ESV do not use the “with my whole heart” phrase, instead using “serve with my spirit” or “serve in my spirit.”  Only the less literal New Living translation still uses a similar phrase to the 1984 NIV.  (You can read the 1984 NIV version of Romans 1 here.)

Commentaries I browsed today suggest that the Greek meaning of the phrase in verse 9 now most common translated “serve in my spirit” refers to priestly devotion offered from our inmost soul, cross-referencing Romans 12:1.  You can look at the Stromg’s Concordance Greek Lexicon references here. (I serve) and here (in my spirit).

You also might enjoy looking at alternate versions’ translations of Rom 1:9 here.

Here’s a brief commentary on Romans 1:9 from the Pulpit Commentary, found at the Bible Hub site.

Verse 9.For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers. A like solemn asseveration is made with a like intention (Philippians 1:8; cf. also 2 Corinthians 11:31). It expresses the writer’s earnestness, and is in place for attestation of a fact known only to himself and God. The word λατρεύω, (“I serve”), when used in a religious sense, most usually denotes “worship,” and specifically the priestly services of the temple (Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:2; Hebrews 13:10). St. Paul’s λατρεία intended here is not ceremonial function, but a spiritual one (ἐν τῷ πνεύματί μου) – an inward devotion of himself to God’s service in proclaiming and furthering “the gospel of his Son.” A similar view of the essential λατρεία of Christians is found in Romans 12:1; Romans 15:16; Philippians 3:3; 2 Timothy 1:3; Hebrews 9:14.

Obviously it’s good for in depth study to look at the best highly literal modern translations (such as ESV), and verify alternate translations, and not get too focused on a single phrase in a single translation.  But I’m glad yesterday I was reading the older version of NIV and thus read the phrase “with my whole heart” – it got my attention in the way that the ESV translation might not have, and prompted a good prayer time.


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