Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Mystery of the Redeemer's incarnation

***UPDATED ****
 Thought I'd add a prelude to the poem below, now that I've been reflecting on what I read, it seems appropriate to add a few thoughts that if you read it again or for the first time you may think deeper about what was written.

First stanza lists some amazing things, biblical events, and biblical descriptions.  Things you might think odd such as living souls arising from withered bones which reminds me of Ezekiel's vison but could also apply to the widows son raised to life by Elijah and again by Elisha.  Or the body returning to life after touching the bones of Elisha or Jairus's daughter raised by Jesus and Dorcas raised by Peter. 

But as incredible as those first stanza things may be, the second stanza describes that which is most incredible, God manifest in the flesh.

The Fifth Stanza describes the hypostatic union, that is two distinct natures in the Person of Christ.

1) The two natures are not mingled, confused or mixed but distinct.
2) The two natures, human and divine are separate but in separably joined.
3) Two separate but inseparably natures joined in the one person Jesus Christ our Lord.

I think I best like from this poem the personification of "nothing."  Or maybe better stated, when Erskine describes man as "nothing."  I thought about that and thought of four ways we could apply this concept.

1) From Nothing God made all things.
2) Apart from Christ we can do nothing and are nothing.
3) Man himself is as nothing, and more so when compared to the God who is all.
4) The eternal Son of God took upon himself our nature, nothings that we are.

Also note, in the 8th stanza, Arian refers to an ancient but still present heresy that denys the full deity of Jesus Christ.

The Last two stanza's make for beautiful contrast.  What Man did in rebellion, what God has graciously done and for his own glory.

SO update complete, read again, or read for the first time, may it work to your spiritual profit.

Here is sweet heart music this Christmas Morning.   Read it yourself, read it again, then read it once more to a friend.

I borrowed my sweet Poem-Girl's header as fitting in our lowly state to commemorate the glorious incarnation of the most high God - how most dramatic the mystery from before creations dawn until the eternal living forever sing his song.

The Mystery of the Redeemer's incarnation, or God manifested in the flesh, 1Ti 3:16,  John 1:14

WHAT though the waters, struck with dread,
Rise up and form a pyramid?
Though floods should gush from rocks and stones,
Or living souls from wither'd bones?

To hear of an incarnate God,
Is yet more wonderful and odd;
Or to behold how God most high
Could in our nature breathe and die.

What though the bright angelic forms
Degraded were to crawling worms?
These creatures were but creatures still,
Transform'd at their Creators will.

Though creatures change a thousand ways,
It cannot such amazement raise,
Nor such a scene as this display,
Th' eternal Word a Piece of Clay. 

God-man a strange contexture fix'd,
Yet nor confused nor commix'd;
Yet still a myst'ry great and fresh,
A Spirit infinite made flesh.

What though, when nothing heard his call,
Nothing obey'd and brought forth all?
What though he nothing's brood maintain,
Or all annihilate again?

Let nothing into being pass,
Or back again to what it was?
But lo! The God of beings here,
As turn'd to nothing doth appear.

All Heavn''s astonish'd at his form,
The mighty God became a worm.
Down Arian pride to him shall bow,
He's Jesus and JEHOVAH too.

The Sum of Redemption

With haughty mind to Godhead man aspir'd,
With loving mind our manhood God desir'd:
Man was by pride from place of pleasure chas'd,
God man by love in greater pleasure plac'd.

Man seeking to ascend procur'd our fall,
God yielding to descend remov'd our thrall:
The Judge was cast, the guilty to acquit,
The Sun defac'd, to lend the shades the light.

Gospel Sonnets, ...Incarnation, Ralph Erskine, Page 257.

Merry Christmas to All and Glory to God in the Highest.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

Jas 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

One of the best gifts I've ever received from heaven is my Dad.  He is the coolest guy you could ever hope to meet.  He can do anything, make anything, fix anything, and he surely loves a great adventure.   He loves me, and when we are together - look out adventure for sure, maybe even a little danger. If it's not exciting enough, he's likely to go off road, two-wheel drive, don't matter.

Here's a story:

When I was maybe barely eight, we donned our winter clothes, and pulled our terra-tiger out to the river.  I had no idea what was in store.   The river was low, mostly ice covered.  No way to reach our duck blind by boat. So we hopped in the ATV and drove right into the river.   ATV  used to mean exactly that.  Drive on land, drive in the water.  The thing could float, and its six wheels served as our propulsion.  I don't remember much except that after a nice time heading up stream the six wheels paddling along and our ATV kind of like a little bobber we reached a point where it was time to drive up out of the water and onto the sand.  Only problem, the ice extended out from the sand over the water.   We thought would could simply drive the terra-tiger up onto the ice and out of the river but as we attempted the little bobber with six paddling wheels kept breaking through the ice.  UP we would climb at a precarious angle and then FWOOSH the ice would break and we would crash down into the water.  Seems like water was coming over the side and it was cold.  We tried and we tried maybe five or six times.  But discerning that this would never work my lowly status in life suddenly was elevated from passenger in an ATV to driver.  Never,  had I squeezed the accelerator on the handle bars of the craft, nor revv'd the engine, nor spun the wheels.  But the time had arrived, stranded in the river unable to climb out I was now the driver.  My Dad leaped from the ATV onto the ice which extended out from the sand bar and over the river.  He stood on this ice which could not quite support our craft and grabbed hold of the front of the Terri Tiger.  He pulled on the machine to help it up onto the ice while commanding me to gun it.   The whole thing is a blur to me now.  I can see him above me as the trajectory of the atv changed.  Front up in the air back down in the water.  I think I was getting wet.  It seems that things were happening fast.  I was squeezing on the gas for the first time - loving it.  Oh how  I loved the power.  But I think I saw some fear in my Dad's eyes at some point in the whole ordeal.  I don't remember getting out of that river.  But I'm sure we did.  We must have visited that duck blind.  We must have checked our decoys.  That's all gone from my memory now.  But I can see him pulling that craft up and out of the water.  Pulling me to safety.  Saving us both.   Hey, if it's boring you can always make it a little more exciting.

Below is one of my favorite pictures of my Dad.  It was created quite by accident.  I think it actually exists as a "slide" and I have this from taking a pic of that slide.  Appears that the film in his camera failed to advance and at least three pictures were super imposed over each other.  It shows my Dad having returned from one of his great and extremely successful adventures, reclined at home, enjoying a hot a cup of black coffee.  While at the same time, memories from that adventure are on display demonstrating a hunt successfully completed
 My Mom titles this pic, "Coffee-Lope" and by that name I have long remembered this picture.

A couple of years back, we were elk hunting and decided that we would set up a spike camp 12 or so miles deep into the national forest following the Wyoming Trail right on top of the Continental Divide.  Though, I'm 21 years younger than my Dad - he's tougher and he knows it.  My cousin Alex was along with us.  We had one horse set up to pack all our gear and two others to ride.  The plan was to take turns leading the pack horse so we could equally and evenly spend our strength.  The air was thin, we weren't quite acclimated yet, and it's just plain hard going.   A couple of times along that long trail, my Dad  traded off with my cousin, but when it came my turn to lead the pack horse.  My Dad would say "No, not yet.  Just keep riding, I wanna walk a little longer."  The whole day went along like that.  And except for a couple of spells my cousin gave him, he walked the whole way in.  10,500 feet elevation, up and down mountains as we followed along the continental divide.  Tough Man.  He said later, he wanted to see if he could do it.  But I think actually he wanted to spare me so that I would have a little energy left to hunt during our spike camp soiree. 

That spike camp proved to be an incredible several nights.  Camping almost at 11,000 ft just off the Continental divide next to a beautiful lake.  We were raided by some crazy horse terrifying animal in the middle night.  We weren't sure what - a pack of something.  the Pake woke us with the running padding of their feet.  We saw the tracks in the morning next to our tent.  The horses were sure spooked and very relieved when seeing us exit our tents and come to their aid, soothing them.  We hunted in a very heavy snowfall one day. It was beautiful, it was wet, amazing.  One night as we slept, a thunderstorm rolled over the mountains.  We heard the burst of thunder and we felt the mighty power of it all rolling over us.  We weren't just experiencing thunder we were in the very center of it, with it, not below it, but right there a part of it, one with it, the sound waves crushing down and around our chests.  Amazing and never to be forgotten.

Please take special notice of the lean-to just behind my Dad and back a ways.  In this picture it's keeping our saddles and gear dry.   The lean-to was my Dad's invention and proved a boon to us.   This was a very wet camp.  The next day we sat  huddled under that lean to rain coming down using those two buckets at my Dad's feet as our chairs.  There we cooked our meal over a mini-backpacker stove.  We were very close that day for sure.  Wasn't much room under there.  But enough to sit, to cook and to eat and to enjoy and to remember.

Praising God this day, thanking him for every good and perfect gift that comes from heaven and especially this Dec 8th, for my Dad.
  Happy Birthday Dad and many more amazing adventures:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Too Busy Living to see that I'm Enjoying it.

Kevin deYoung has started a three part article on the sin or danger of busy-ness.  But I've been too busy to read it.  Click here

I try every day to leave work and have lunch with my family.  But I've been too busy to appreciate it.

Today, at lunch, though the busy-ness and stress of work was perhaps at the top of 1 to 10- scale, I was blessed to at least caution myself while admitting, "I've allowed myself to be too busy to note the enjoyment God has given me."

So as a way of counting my blessings, I want to enumerate the numerous enjoyments my lunchtime this noon provided.

1) The meal was delicious.  My soon-to-be-17-daughter and my 14-yr-old-daughter both prepared me a nice luncheon and took good care of me as we dined together.

2) Resulting from her enjoyment of, and appreciation for the Preface to Robin Hood, My 17 yr old asked: "Dad, have you read the preface to Robin Hood? It's so well written, so expressive, and so much fun too read."  And so my 14-yr-old retrieved said book and my 17-yr-old proceeded to read the same.  And this reminded me of a recent blog article I had read, written by Doug Wilson, in which he mentioned Robin Hood. This made for good discussion as we compared modern sentiment, the book, the article and what we think of all that.  click here for D. Wilson's article.

3) I then proceed to read to my girls from Ralph Erskine's Large Explicatory Poem on the Song of Solomon. Oh, how we enjoyed those poetic words.  Some of which were from Song 1:7-8.  See below at the bottom of the post to read for yourself those joyful words we also read.

Reading those words we then went on to discuss poetry, as my 14yr old explained from her reading that very day how beat and metre and even "thump" is built into certain styles of the poetry.  "Do you hear the thump, Dad?  You have to listen for the beat?"  she exulted.

We then proceed to discuss Song 2:1 "I am the Rose of Sharon..." and who is the person of that verse.  Is it Christ?  Is it the bride?  Both Poole and Gill mention both possibilities, but they both proceed with large explanation why the received understanding is the correct.  Christ himself is the Rose of Sharon.   We saw good cause for both sentiments but the words "I AM" struck us in the verse.  So then we searched the Song using MySword and discovered all the "I am's."   "I am Black,"  "I am the Rose of Sharon,"  "I am come into my Garden,"  "I am sick of love,"  "I am his,"  "I am a wall."   Others escape me, but we did enjoy the commentators explanation of how this assertion is not unbecoming of Christ, not in this poetical language of love. 

I then made note to my girls how Erskine also has a preface to his poem.  In fact he has two.  He as a preface To the Curious Reader, and a second To the Serious Reader.  And so we read a little from the second.

"But if you are exercised unto godliness, and acquainted with the sweet life of fellowship and communion with our Lord Jesus Christ, I hope you shall see here a picture and representation both of his heart towards you, and of your heart towards him : and a portraiture of the sweetest experience of intimacy with heaven, that the bride of Christ can have upon earth. And I judge, that a song upon this subject is not unseasonable amidst these evil days, wherein the songs of the temple are like to be turned into bowlings, and wherein the bride, the Lamb's wife, is ready to hang her harp upon the willows. How desirable were it, if this little book might prove a mean for helping her to sing away her sorrows, and to harmonize with the design of that precious promise, Hos. ii. 15. " I will give her the Valley of Achor for a door of hope, and she shall sing there !" To drive away the night of trouble with songs of praise, would be a work and exercise most suitable to that gracious name our Lord takes to himself, Job xxxv. 10. " God our Maker, who gives songs in the night."

Oh, and how those words gave us cheer and warmed our hearts in hope!

We then ruminated together, who could enjoy this Song, and who could appreciate this poem.  Would this not make such a gift to a brother, a sister, suffering trials?  Someone, who perhaps themselves, also, to busy living to take note how they enjoy life.  And so we really did have much enjoyment.  Thus beware the busy life, how good it is stop and praise God, who gives such precious gifts from above.

Ralph Erskine - The Song explained in poetic formClick here.    On Song 1:7-8
For why should I that am thy bride 
Be left to starve and stray, 
Or seem as one that turns aside 
To any crooked way ? 

All other loves my soul abhors, 
Thy rivals I disdain ; 
With flocks of thy competitors 
Why should I wander then ?

 I all thy feign'd companions hate, - 
They are a bane to me ; 
My soul affects no other mate, 
No other Lord but thee. 

O if I knew thy fix'd abode, 
 I'd lodge for ever there ; 
Where may I then enjoy my God ? 
O tell me, tell me where ! 

O thou my bride, whom I esteem 
The fairest of thy race, 
However black thy form may seem 
While griefs do veil thy grace ; 

Dost thou not know, my lovely bride, 
The shadow of the rock ? 
Nor pastures green where I abide 
And feed my little flock ? 

Come follow my directing grace, 
Which I afford to thee ;
 I'll lead thee to the sweetest place 
 Of fellowship with me : 

That hence thy feet may never swerve, 
 Nor fall in snares and wrack, 
The footsteps of the flock observe, 
And follow thou the track. 

See how they climb the rock in droves,
To social worship prone, 
And forthwith haunt retiring groves, 
To meet with me alone. 

Keep thou the beaten good old path, 
Yet new and living way, 
Which all my saints have trod by faith 
And prayer night and day. 

Though none of their dislik'd escapes
Must be a rule to thee ; 
Yet follow them in all the steps 
Wherein they follow me. 

And, while my under shepherds tents
Are kept in good repair, 
 Attend them still ; for heav'n presents 
My choicest dainties there. 

These holy ordinances are 
The pastures of my grace : 
There feast thyself, nor thence debar 
Thy little tender race. 

Bring children, servants, all thy kids 
Along to feed with thee ; 
Thy Lord all comers welcome bids 
In offers full and free. 

Make all within thy charge to haunt 
These goodly tents of mine ; 
For there my feasts of love I grant 
To nourish thee and thine. 

Thus, that thy feet no more appear 
With other flocks to roam, 
In these my best inclosures here 
Stay till I bring thee home. 

Matthew Henry on Song 2:1
What Christ is pleased to compare himself to; and he condescends very much in the comparison. He that is the Son of the Highest, the bright and morning star, calls and owns himself the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys, to express his presence with his people in this world, the easiness of their access to him, and the beauty and sweetness which they find in him, and to teach them to adorn themselves with him, as shepherds and shepherdesses, when they appeared gay, were decked with roses and lilies, garlands and chaplets of flowers. The rose, for beauty and fragrance, is the chief of flowers, and our Saviour prefers the clothing of the lily before that of Solomon in all his glory. Christ is the rose of Sharon, where probably the best roses grew and in most plenty, the rose of the field (so some), denoting that the gospel salvation is a common salvation; it lies open to all; whoever will may come and gather the rose-buds of privileges and comforts that grow in the covenant of grace. He is not a rose locked up in a garden, but all may come and receive benefit by him and comfort in him. He is a lily for whiteness, a lily of the valleys for sweetness, for those which we call so yield a strong perfume. He is a lily of the valleys, or low places, in his humiliation, exposed to injury. Humble souls see most beauty in him. Whatever he is to others, to those that are in the valleys he is a lily. He is the rose, the lily; there is none besides. Whatever excellence is in Christ, it is in him singularly and in the highest degree.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gospel Sonnets - Chapter 1 - The Fall of Adam

The following is the first of Ralph Erskine's sonnet following the preface.  I could not go past it for days.  Reading and reading again the following words.  So much he says in so little space.  And so beautifully he says it.  And the imagination is engaged, the heart, the mind - O' God may such sublime truth possess me!

Please bear with me, my own ryhme,
Then Erskine below, Read him once, 
Read him a second time,
Do you his words and his sense divine?

What truths in these lines can your heart see?  
Federal Headship, Covenant of works, Man in his purity?
And original ability?
The Fall, Depravity, resultant inability?

Read along below and with me do you see?

OLD Adam once a heav’n of pleasure found,
While he with perfect innocence was crown’d;
His wing’d affections to his God could move
In raptures of desire, and strains of love.
Man standing spotless, pure, and innocent,
Could well the law of works with works content;
Though then, (nor since), it could demand no less
Than personal and perfect righteousness:
These unto sinless man were easy terms,
Though now beyond the reach of wither’d arms.
The legal cov’nant then upon the field,
Perfection sought, man could perfection yield
Rich had he, and his progeny remain’d,
Had he primeval innocence maintain’d:
His life had been a rest without annoy,
A scene of bliss, a paradise of joy.
But subtle Satan, in the serpent hid,
Proposing fair the fruit that God forbid,
Man soon seduc’d by hell’s alluring art,
Did, disobedient, from the rule depart,
Devour’d the bait, and by his bold offence
Fell from his blissful state of innocence. Gen 3:1-6
Prostrate, he lost his God, his life, his crown,
From all his glory tumbled headlong down;
Plung’d in a deep abyss of sin and woe,
Where, void of heart to will, or hand to do;
For’s own relief he can’t command a thought,
The total sum of what he can is nought.
He’s able only now t’ increase his thrall;
He can destroy himself, and this is all.
But can the hellish brat Heav’n’s law fulfill,
Whose precepts high surmount his strength and skill?
Can filthy dross produce a golden beam?
Or poison’d springs a salutif’rous stream?  (life giving/health giving)
Can carnal minds, fierce enmity’s wide maw,
Be duly subject to the divine law?
Nay, now its direfull threat’nings must take place
On all the disobedient human race,
Who do by guilt Omnipotence provoke,
Obnoxious stand to his uplifted stroke.
They must engulf themselves in endless woes,
Who to the living God are deadly foes;
Who natively his holy will gainsay,
Must to his awful justice fall a prey.
In vain do mankind now expect, in vain
By legal deeds immortal life to gain:
Nay, death is threaten’d, threats must have their due
Or souls that sin must die, as God is true.   Eze 18.4 

For more click here

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A New Look, and Erskine's Gospel Sonnets

In honor of my poem-writing daughter who has just given "Taste-That-Which-Is-Good" a nice new look, I'm posting a preface from what has been a very encouraging book of poem.  I began my year with this book in hand, and I hope, now, by the grace of God to end the year once again looking deep into Ralph Erskines, Gospel Sonnets.

So below the Preface:

The Believer's Espousals:
Upon Isaiah liv. 5. Thy Maker is thy husband.

HARK, dying mortal, if the Sonnet prove
A song of living and immortal love,
'Tis then thy grand concern the theme to know.,
If life and immortality be so.
Are eyes to read, or ears to hear a trust ?
Shall both in death be cramn'd anon with dust ?
Then trifle not to.please thine ear and eye,
But read thou, hear thou, for eternity.
Pursue not shadows wing'd, but be thy chase,
The God of glory on the field of grace:
The mighty hunter's name is lost and vain,
That runs not this substantial prize to gain.
These humble lines assume no high pretence,
To please thy fancy, or allure thy sense:
But aim, if everlasting life's thy chase,
To clear thy mind, and warm thy heart through
A marriage so mysterious I proclaim, 
Betwixt two parties of such diff'rent fame,
That human tongues may blush their names to tell,
To wit, the Prince Of heav'n, the heir of hell
But, on so vast a subject, who can find
Words fitting the conceptions of his mind ?
Or, if our language with our thought could vie,
What mortal thought can raise itself so high
When words and thoughts both fail, may faith
Ascend, by climbing up the scripture-stair
From sacred writ theses strange espousals may
Be explicated in the foll'wing way. ............

And so I add (with apology):
Now find yourself a copy of Erskine's Gospel Song,
It may you by grace aid in pursuit of the home called Long.

Ahh - follow the link I place right HERE
Soon the Sonnets may in yourself enter to your own good cheer.
Not sure if you wish to buy
A partial copy online reposes HERE  free to your eye.