Mercies Anew

Every morning that breaks
There are mercies anew
Every breath that I take
Is Your faithfulness proved
And at the end of each day
When my labors are through
I will sing of Your mercies anew

When I’ve fallen and strayed
There were mercies anew
For You sought me in love
And my heart you pursued
In the face of my sin
Lord, You never withdrew
So I sing of Your mercies anew

And Your mercies, they will never end
For ten thousand years they’ll remain
And when this world’s beauty has passed away
Your mercies will be unchanged

And when the storms swirl and rage
There are mercies anew
In affliction and pain
You will carry me through
And at the end of my days
When my labors are through
I will sing of Your mercies anew

-Mark Altrogge and Bob Kauflin, 

Jesus, Where’er Thy People Meet

Jesus, where’er Thy people meet,
There they behold Thy mercy seat;
Where’er they seek Thee Thou art found,
And every place is hallowed ground.

For Thou, within no walls confined,
Inhabitest the humble mind;
Such ever bring Thee, where they come,
And, going, take Thee to their home.

Dear Shepherd of Thy chosen few,
Thy former mercies here renew;
Here, to our waiting hearts, proclaim
The sweetness of Thy saving Name.

Here may we prove the power of prayer
To strengthen faith and sweeten care;
To teach our faint desires to rise,
And bring all Heav’n before our eyes.

Behold at Thy commanding word,
We stretch the curtain and the cord;
Come Thou, and fill this wider space,
And bless us with a large increase.

Lord, we are few, but Thou art near;
Nor short Thine arm, nor deaf Thine ear;
O rend the heavens, come quickly down,
And make a thousand hearts Thine own!

-William Cowper, 1769.

Seeking True Holiness

Grant, Almighty God,

That inasmuch as You have condescended to favor us with an honor so invaluable as to adopt us for a holy people to You and to separate us from the world–

O grant that we may not close our eyes against the light of Your truth, by which You show to us the way of salvation;

But may we with true submissiveness follow where You call us, and never cast away the fear of Your majesty nor mock You with frivolous ceremonies, but strive sincerely to devote ourselves wholly to You and to cleanse ourselves from all defilements, not only of the flesh but also of the spirit, that by thus seeking true holiness we may aspire after and diligently labor for that heavenly perfection from which we are as yet far distant.

And may we in the meantime, relying on the favor of Your only begotten Son, lean on Your mercy; and while depending on it, may we ever grow up more and more into that true and perfect union, reserved for us in heaven, when we shall be made partakers of Your glory, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

-John Calvin, Lifting Up Our Hearts: 150 Selected Prayers from John Calvin (Dustin W. Benge, Ed.) (archaisms removed), 127.

O for a Closer Walk with God

O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and His Word?

What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.

Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
And drove Thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

-William Cowper, in Con­yer’s Col­lect­ion of Psalms and Hymns, 1772.

Grace Unmeasured

Grace unmeasured, vast and free
That knew me from eternity
That called me out before my birth
To bring You glory on this earth
Grace amazing, pure and deep
That saw me in my misery
That took my curse and owned my blame
So I could bear Your righteous name

Grace paid for my sins
And brought me to life
Grace clothes me with power
To do what is right
Grace will lead me to heaven
Where I’ll see Your face
And never cease
To thank You for Your grace

Grace abounding, strong and true
That makes me long to be like You
That turns me from my selfish pride
To love the cross on which You died
Grace unending all my days
You’ll give me strength to run this race
And when my years on earth are through
The praise will all belong to You

-Bob Kauflin, 2005 

Come, Children, Learn to Fear the Lord

Come, children, learn to fear the Lord
And that your days be long,
Let not a false or spiteful word
Be found upon your tongue.

Depart from mischief, practice love,
Pursue the works of peace;
So shall the Lord your ways approve,
And set your souls at ease.

His eyes awake to guard the just,
His ears attend their cry;
When broken spirits dwell in dust,
The God of grace is nigh.

What though the sorrows here they taste
Are sharp and tedious too,
The Lord, who saves them all at last,
Is their supporter now.

Evil shall smite the wicked dead;
But God secures His own,
Prevents the mischief when they slide,
Or heals the broken bone.

When desolation, like a flood,
O’er the proud sinner rolls,
Saints find a refuge in their God,
For He redeemed their souls.

-Isaac Watts, The Psalms of Da­vid, 1719. (Psalm 34)

Why We Love the Amish

By Tim Challies

We’ve got an Amish community not too far from here. It is the place to go when you need to stock up on produce, farm-grown foods, or heirloom-quality furniture. It is also known as the place to go if you really just need to see some Amish people doing what they do. And a lot of people like to do just that—to go and look, to go and gawk.

Even though we’ve got an extensive group nearby, we recently found ourselves in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, North America’s best-known Amish community. (Full disclosure: Our actual travel objective was Harrisburg and the overrated Civil War museum there, but every hotel in the city was completely full.) We did not stop on the road outside Amish farms to watch them do their work, and did not go on a bus tour, but we couldn’t help but see horses and buggies around town, and, of course, plenty of the distinctive Amish clothing.

As we headed north, back toward our home, I started to think about the Amish and why we find them so endlessly fascinating. Though they are small in numbers, everyone knows who they are and everyone knows at least a few of their unique customs; though so much of their religious practice appears insufferable, they are regarded as Christians who love and practice grace. They are the heroes of a million stories, the subject of a thousand documentaries. Why are they so fascinating? I have a few ideas.

The Amish challenge so many of our deeply-held beliefs and assumptions.

The Amish challenge us.

In a world where we are so completely dependent on our high-tech devices, the Amish somehow manage to survive without them, and even appear to thrive without them. Where we are convinced that newer is better and that we are only ever one innovation away from joy, the Amish seem plenty happy to do without. If you spend time around the Amish, or if you begin to learn about their ways, you necessarily find yourself asking questions like: Do I really need my smartphone? Are all of these devices really bringing happiness? What have I lost in all of this innovation? The Amish challenge so many of our deeply-held beliefs and assumptions.

We want to figure out the Amish.

We are fascinated by the Amish because we so badly want to figure them out. Where they proclaim that they have great uniformity in their lives and laws, we see great contradictions. Their faith appears contradictory: They speak about the grace of Christ but live by law; they extend grace to those who harm them, but shun those who leave them; they rejoice in their salvation, but do not share Christ with others. Their laws appear contradictory: The men can have buttons, but the women must use straight pins; connecting to a phone network attaches them to the world, but connecting to a road network does not; they rely on doctors and lawyers, but will not allow their own children to be educated beyond eighth grade. When I see the Amish, with all their strengths and weaknesses, all their grace and legalism, I look for a key that unlocks it all. I look for knowledge that makes it all make sense.

The Amish recall a simpler time.

Where life today is marked by endless complexity, the Amish are known for their quiet simplicity. As they go about their lives, they draw us to a simpler time. In some ways the Amish live in the best of both worlds—the world today and the world of centuries ago. They live their day-to-day lives in that simpler world, that quieter world, that slower world. But, when necessity dictates, and law permits, they take advantage of modern innovations. They use horse-drawn buggies to get to their worship services, but hire drivers to take them to the store. They have no electricity in their homes, but give birth and die while connected to modern medical equipment. Their simplicity attracts us. It draws us.

The Amish recall a purer time.

The Amish call us to a simpler time, but also a purer time. This purity is an illusion, I think, but it still captivates us. Even though we love our modern technologies, we can’t deny that they have changed us. We tend to think that they have polluted us. Marshall McLuhan was right when he said that we create technologies in our own image and, soon enough, they return the favor. We are products of our technologies, dependent upon them, and shaped by them. When we look at the Amish, unshaped by radio and television, cell phones and web pages, we see something that looks pure by contrast.

We admire the Amish.

We admire the Amish for their stubborn refusal to change and to adapt. We are amazed that they continue to live in this high-tech, always-on world in the way they do. Yet they live in it unabashed, unembarrassed by their eccentricities. They don’t allow external pressure to shape their deepest beliefs. With the modern world pressing in around them, they don’t only survive, but thrive. Their communities continue to grow, their land holdings continue to expand, their businesses continue to thrive. We admire them in many ways, but perhaps most deeply simply for being, and remaining, who and what they are.

Surprisingly, They still Exist

So I suppose the most fascinating thing of all about the Amish is that they still exist. When they first came to national attention in the early twentieth century, prognosticators gave them a generation or two before they were gone. They thrived. When they received close study in the middle of the century, sociologists and anthropologists once again decreed that they would soon surrender to the world around them. They grew. And as the technological distance between them and us deepens and widens, they seem to be thriving all the more. Their very existence is a marvel; their practices are a challenge. We love the Amish because, in some ways, we long to be the Amish.

-Tim Challies, http://www.challies.com/articles/why-we-love-the-amish

My God! How Perfect Are Thy Ways!

My God! how perfect are Thy ways!
But mine polluted are;
Sin twines itself about my praise,
And slides into my prayer.

When I would speak what Thou hast done
To save me from my sin;
I cannot make Thy mercies known
But self-applause creeps in.

Divine desire, that holy flame
Thy grace creates in me;
Alas! impatience is its name,
When it returns to Thee.

This heart, a fountain of vile thoughts,
How does it overflow?
While self upon the surface floats
Still bubbling from below.

Let others in the gaudy dress
Of fancied merit shine;
The Lord shall be my righteousness
The Lord for ever mine.

-William Cowper, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­iv­er, 1779), num­ber 67.

Go Light Your World

There is a candle in every soul
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold
And there is a spirit who brings a fire
Ignites a candle and makes his home

Carry your candle, and run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, confused and torn
And hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world

Frustrated brother, see how he’s tried to
Light his own candle some other way
See now your sister, she’s been robbed and lied to
Still holds a candle without a flame

So carry your candle, and run to the darkness
Seek out the lonely, the tired and worn
And hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world

‘Cause we are a family whose hearts are blazing
So let’s raise our candles and light up the sky
Praying to our Father, in the name of Jesus
Make us a beacon in darkest times

Carry your candle, and run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, deceived and poor
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world

-Chris Rice,