Sunday, December 31, 2017

On Reservedness: A Forgotten Virtue

Image result for beautiful green forest a little flower

Although the state of reservedness can be described  in a negative sense (e.g. aloof, non-committal, misanthropic, offish, cold, standoffish etc), it is nonetheless a timeless christian (and non-christian) virtue over the centuries.

For those of us who are seeking biblical womanhood, this neglected virtue and disposition should be a hidden treasure. The state of reservedness is a natural flow from a feminine fountain called ; the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit (1 Pet. 3:4, KJV), which is φθαρτο (imperishable, incorruptible).

But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.[KJV]  
but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.[ESV]  
but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.[ASV]

The feminine reservedness is lovingly considerate; it avoids being a showy bloom but seeks to cover her glory in order to uncover the indescribable beauty of her heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus; it prefers to be retiring and withdrawn, hidden from the public gaze, so that it can enjoy sweet and melodious communion with Him in her inner sanctum unreservedly and perpetually. It is firm but never loud. Its door is cautiously closed to any "strangers" who might loose her heavenly/earthly fidelity.

The disposition of feminine reservedness is soul-soothing. It stays her place calmly and speaks by being an innocent little flower does to forest-hikers.

O fellow pilgrims, let us seek and preserve this treasure and ever cherish it!

Friday, November 24, 2017

At Evening Time It Shall Be Light!

Image result for "At evening time it shall be light!"

Providences may even seem to be getting darker- merging like declining day into the shadows of twilight. But, contrary to nature, and to the Christian's expectations, "At evening time it shall be light!" The gathering cloud will then be seen to be fraught only with blessings, which will burst on the believer's head. My soul, be still, and know that He is God! "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." The mysterious "why" you have so long been waiting for, will soon be revealed. The long night-watch will soon terminate in the looked-for, longed-for morning.

"My God! my Father! while I stray
Far from my home on life's rough way,
Oh teach me from my heart to say,
Your will be done!
Then when on earth I breathe no more
The prayer often mixed with tears before.
I'll sing, when on a happier shore,

Your will be done!" 

by John MacDuff, The Providence of God

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Keep Silent or Not to Keep Silent: Martin Luther's Agonizing Prayer Before Facing the Diet of Worms (1521)

Image result for stormy night lightening  oil painting

O God, Almighty God everlasting! how dreadful is the world! behold how its mouth opens to swallow me up, and how small is my faith in Thee! . . . Oh! the weakness of the flesh, and the power of Satan! If I am to depend upon any strength of this world – all is over . . . The knell is struck . . . Sentence is gone forth . . . 

O God! O God! O thou, my God! help me against the wisdom of this world. Do this, I beseech thee; thou shouldst do this . . . by thy own mighty power . . . The work is not mine, but Thine. I have no business here . . . I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world! I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace. But the cause is Thine . . . And it is righteous and everlasting! 

O Lord! help me! O faithful and unchangeable God! I lean not upon man. It were vain! Whatever is of man is tottering, whatever proceeds from him must fail. My God! my God! dost thou not hear? My God! art thou no longer living? Nay, thou canst not die. Thou dost but hide Thyself. Thou hast chosen me for this work. I know it! . . . Therefore, O God, accomplish thine own will! Forsake me not, for the sake of thy well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ, my defence, my buckler, and my stronghold.

Lord – where art thou? . . . My God, where art thou? . . . Come! I pray thee, I am ready . . . Behold me prepared to lay down my life for thy truth . . . suffering like a lamb. For the cause is holy. It is thine own! . . . I will not let thee go! no, nor yet for all eternity! 

And though the world should be thronged with devils – and this body, which is the work of thine hands, should be cast forth, trodden under foot, cut in pieces, . . . consumed to ashes, my soul is thine. Yes, I have thine own word to assure me of it. My soul belongs to thee, and will abide with thee forever! Amen! O God send help! . . . Amen!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Psalter as Perpetual "Psychosomatic Medicine" and Reverent Worship

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Voices of the Past on the Psalter

Charles Spurgeon

 “Time was when the Psalms were not only rehearsed in all the churches from day to day, but they were so universally sung that the common people knew them, even if they did not know the letters in which they were written.

Time was when bishops would ordain no man to the ministry unless he knew David” from end to end, and could repeat each psalm correctly; even Councils of the Church have decreed that none should hold ecclesiastical office unless they knew the whole psalter by heart. 

Other practices of those ages had better be forgotten, but to this memory accords an honourable record. Then as Jerome tells us, the labourer, while he held the plough, sang Hallelujah; the tired reaper refreshed himself with the psalms, and the vinedresser, while trimming the vines with his curved hook, sang something of David.”

Martin Luther

The Psalter ought to be a precious and beloved book, if for no other reason than this: it promises Christ’s death and resurrection so clearly – and pictures his kingdom and the condition and nature of all Christendom – that it might well be called a little Bible. In it is comprehended most beautifully and briefly everything that is in the entire Bible... 

In fact, I have a notion that the Holy Spirit wanted to take the trouble himself to compile a short Bible and book of examples of all Christendom or all saints, so that anyone who could not read the whole Bible would here have anyway almost an entire summary of it, comprised in one little book.”

John Chrysostom

Do you wish to be happy? Do you want to know how to spend the day truly blessed? I offer you a drink that is spiritual. This is not a drink for drunkenness that would cut off even meaningful speech. This does not cause us to babble. It does not disturb our vision. Here it is: Learn to sing Psalms! Then you will see pleasure indeed. Those who have learned to sing with the psalms are easily filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Andrew Blackwood

Perhaps our other denominations would have greater love for the Bible if we sang from the Psalms as often as our fathers did after the Reformation. Many
of those songs came out of the fiery furnace, and so they brought our fathers a
mighty sense of God’s holiness, as well as a keen awareness of his laws.”


The Psalter as Daily Devotional

Psalm 51:7-13

 (The Scottish Psalter; click here to listen)

7  Do thou with hyssop sprinkle me,
         I shall be cleansed so;
      Yea, wash thou me, and then I shall
         be whiter than the snow.

   8  Of gladness and of joyfulness
         make me to hear the voice;
      That so these very bones which thou
         hast broken may rejoice.

   9  All mine iniquities blot out,
         thy face hide from my sin.

  10  Create a clean heart, Lord, renew
         a right sp'rit me within.

  11  Cast me not from thy sight, nor take
         thy Holy Sp'rit away.

  12  Restore me thy salvation's joy;
         with thy free Sp'rit me stay.

  13  Then will I teach thy ways unto
         those that transgressors be;
      And those that sinners are shall then
         be turned unto thee.

Psalm 28:6-9 

(click here to listen)

6  For ever bless-ed be the Lord,
         for graciously he heard
      The voice of my petitions,
         and prayers did regard.
   7  The Lord's my strength and shield; my heart
         upon him did rely;
      And I am helpèd: hence my heart
         doth joy exceedingly,
      And with my song I will him praise.
   8     My strength is God alone:
      He also is the saving strength
         of his anointed one.
   9  O thine own people do thou save,
         bless thine inheritance;
      Them also do thou feed, and them
         for evermore advance.

Psalm 62

(click here to listen in Gaelic)

1  My soul with expectation
         depends on God indeed;
      My strength and my salvation doth
         from him alone proceed.

   2  He only my salvation is,
         and my strong rock is he:
      He only is my sure defense;
         much moved I shall not be.

   3  How long will ye against a man
         plot mischief? ye shall all
      Be slain; ye as a tott'ring fence
         shall be, and bowing wall.

   4  They only plot to cast him down
         from his excellency:
      They joy in lies; with mouth they bless,
         but they curse inwardly.

   5  My soul, wait thou with patience
         upon thy God alone;
      On him dependeth all my hope
         and expectation.

   6  He only my salvation is,
         and my strong rock is he;
      He only is my sure defense:
         I shall not moved be.

   7  In God my glory placed is,
         and my salvation sure;
      In God the rock is of my strength,
         my refuge most secure.

   8  Ye people, place your confidence
         in him continually;
      Before him pour ye out your heart:
         God is our refuge high.

   9  Surely mean men are vanity,
         and great men are a lie;
      In balance laid, they wholly are
         more light than vanity.

  10  Trust ye not in oppression,
         in robb'ry be not vain;
      On wealth set not your hearts, when as
         increased is your gain.

  11  God hath it spoken once to me,
         yea, this I heard again,
      That power to Almighty God
         alone doth appertain.

  12  Yea, mercy also unto thee
         belongs, O Lord, alone:
      For thou according to his work
         rewardest ev'ry one.

St Clement's Church, Roghadal, Isle of Harris (Foto: Les Hull, Wikimedia Commons)
St Clement’s Church, Roghadal, Isle of Harris

Psalm 34:1-10

(click here to listen in English; here in Gaelic)

1  God will I bless all times; his praise
         my mouth shall still express.

   2  My soul shall boast in God: the meek
         shall hear with joyfulness.

   3  Extol the Lord with me, let us
         exalt his name together.

   4  I sought the Lord, he heard, and did
         me from all fears deliver.

   5  They looked to him, and lightened were:
         not shamèd were their faces.

   6  This poor man cried, God heard, and saved
         him from all his distresses.

   7  The angel of the Lord encamps,
         and round encompasseth
      All those about that do him fear,
         and them delivereth.

   8  O taste and see that God is good:
         who trusts in him is blessed.

   9  Fear God his saints: none that him fear
         shall be with want oppressed.

  10  The lions young may hungry be,
         and they may lack their food:
      But they that truly seek the Lord
         shall not lack any good.

Psalm 143:6-8

(click here to listen)

6  My hands to thee I stretch; my soul
       thirsts, as dry land, for thee.
 7  Haste, Lord, to hear, my spirit fails:
       hide not thy face from me; 
    Lest like to them I do become
       that go down to the dust.
 8  At morn let me thy kindness hear;
       for in thee do I trust. 
 Teach me the way that I should walk:
       I lift my soul to thee.

Psalm 107:17-22

(click here to listen)

17  Fools, for their sin, and their offence,
       do sore affliction bear;

18  All kind of meat their soul abhors;
       they to death's gates draw near.

19  In grief they cry to God; he saves
       them from their miseries.

20  He sends his word, them heals, and them
       from their destructions frees.

21  O that men to the Lord would give
       praise for his goodness then,
    And for his works of wonder done
       unto the sons of men!

22  And let them sacrifice to him
       off 'rings of thankfulness;
    And let them shew abroad his works
       in songs of joyfulness.

Psalm 35:1-8

(click here to listen)

1  Plead, Lord, with those that plead; and fight
         with those that fight with me.

   2  Of shield and buckler take thou hold,
         stand up mine help to be.

   3  Draw also out the spear, and do
         against them stop the way
      That me pursue: unto my soul,
         I'm thy salvation, say.

   4  Let them confounded be and shamed
         that for my soul have sought:
      Who plot my hurt turned back be they,
         and to confusion brought.

   5  Let them be like unto the chaff
         that flies before the wind;
      And let the angel of the Lord
         pursue them hard behind.

   6  With darkness cover thou their way,
         and let it slipp'ry prove;
      And let the angel of the Lord
         pursue them from above.

   7  For without cause have they for me
         their net hid in a pit,
      They also have without a cause
         for my soul diggèd it.

   8  Let ruin seize him unawares;
         his net he hid withal
      Himself let catch; and in the same
         destruction let him fall.

Psalm 81:1-7

(click here to listen)

1  Sing loud to God our strength; with joy
         to Jacob's God do sing.

   2  Take up a psalm, the pleasant harp,
         timbrel and psalt'ry bring.

   3  Blow trumpets at new-moon, what day
         our feast appointed is:

   4  For charge to Isr'el, and a law
         of Jacob's God was this.

   5  To Joseph this a testimony
         he made, when Egypt land
      He traveled through, where speech I heard
         I did not understand.

   6  His shoulder I from burdens took,
         his hands from pots did free.

   7  Thou didst in trouble on me call,
         and I delivered thee:
      In secret place of thundering
         I did thee answer make;
      And at the streams of Meribah
         of thee a proof did take.

Psalm 4

(click here to listen)

1  Give ear unto me when I call,
         God of my righteousness:
      Have mercy, hear my pray'r; thou hast
         enlarged me in distress.

   2  O ye the sons of men! how long
         will ye love vanities?
      How long my glory turn to shame,
         and will ye follow lies?

   3  But know, that for himself the Lord
         the godly man doth choose:
      The Lord, when I on him do call,
         to hear will not refuse.

   4  Fear, and sin not; talk with your heart
         on bed, and silent be.

   5  Off 'rings present of righteousness,
         and in the Lord trust ye.

   6  O who will show us any good?
         is that which many say:
      But of thy countenance the light,
         Lord, lift on us alway.

   7  Upon my heart, bestowed by thee,
         more gladness I have found
      Than they, ev'n then, when corn and wine
         did most with them abound.

   8  I will both lay me down in peace,
         and quiet sleep will take;
      Because thou only me to dwell
         in safety, Lord, dost make.

Psalm 80:14-19

(click here to listen)

14  O God of hosts, we thee beseech,
         return now unto thine;
      Look down from heav'n in love, behold,
         and visit this thy vine:

  15  This vineyard, which thine own right hand
         hath planted us among;
      And that same branch, which for thyself
         thou hast made to be strong.

  16  Burnt up it is with flaming fire,
         it also is cut down:
      They utterly are perished,
         when as thy face doth frown.

  17  O let thy hand be still upon
         the Man of thy right hand,
      The Son of man, whom for thyself
         thou madest strong to stand.

  18  So henceforth we will not go back,
         nor turn from thee at all:
      O do thou quicken us, and we
         upon thy name will call.

  19  Turn us again, Lord God of hosts,
         and upon us vouchsafe
      To make thy countenance to shine,

         and so we shall be safe.

Psalm 147

1  Praise ye the Lord; for it is good
        praise to our God to sing:
     For it is pleasant, and to praise
        it is a comely thing.

  2  God doth build up Jerusalem;
        and he it is alone
     That the dispersed of Israel
        doth gather into one.

  3  Those that are broken in their heart,
        and grievèd in their minds,
     He healeth, and their painful wounds
        he tenderly up-binds.

  4  He counts the number of the stars;
        he names them ev'ry one.
  5  Great is our Lord, and of great pow'r;
        his wisdom search can none.

  6  The Lord lifts up the meek; and casts
        the wicked to the ground.

  7  Sing to the Lord, and give him thanks;
        on harp his praises sound;

  8  Who covereth the heav'n with clouds,
        who for the earth below
     Prepareth rain, who maketh grass
        upon the mountains grow.

  9  He gives the beast his food, he feeds
        the ravens young that cry.

 10  His pleasure not in horses' strength,
        nor in man's legs, doth lie.

 11  But in all those that do him fear
        the Lord doth pleasure take;
     In those that to his mercy do
        by hope themselves betake.

 12  The Lord praise, O Jerusalem;
        Zion, thy God confess:

 13  For thy gates' bars he maketh strong;
        thy sons in thee doth bless.

 14  He in thy borders maketh peace;
        with fine wheat filleth thee.

 15  He sends forth his command on earth,
        his word runs speedily.

 16  Hoar-frost, like ashes, scatt'reth he;
        like wool he snow doth give:

 17  Like morsels casteth forth his ice;
        who in its cold can live?

 18  He sendeth forth his mighty word,
        and melteth them again;

     His wind he makes to blow, and then
        the waters flow amain.

 19  The doctrine of his holy word
        to Jacob he doth show;
     His statutes and his judgments he
        gives Israel to know.

 20  To any nation never he
        such favor did afford;
     For they his judgments have not known.
        O do ye praise the Lord.

Psalm 130

1  Lord, from the depths to thee I cried.

 2     My voice, Lord, do thou hear:
    Unto my supplication's voice
       give an attentive ear.

 3  Lord, who shall stand, if thou, O Lord,
       should'st mark iniquity?

 4  But yet with thee forgiveness is,
       that feared thou mayest be.

 5  I wait for God, my soul doth wait,
       my hope is in his word.

 6  More than they that for morning watch,
       my soul waits for the Lord; 
    I say, more than they that do watch
       the morning light to see.

 7  Let Israel hope in the Lord,
       for with him mercies be; 
    And plenteous redemption
       is ever found with him.

 8  And from all his iniquities

       he Isr'el shall redeem.

Psalm 16:8-11

8  Before me still the Lord I set:
         since it is so that he
      Doth ever stand at my right hand,
         I shall not movèd be.

   9  Because of this my heart is glad,
         and joy shall be expressed
      Ev'n by my glory; and my flesh
         in confidence shall rest.

  10  Because my soul in grave to dwell
         shall not be left by thee;
      Nor wilt thou give thine Holy One
         corruption to see.

  11  Thou wilt me show the path of life:
         of joys there is full store
      Before thy face; at thy right hand

         are pleasures evermore.

Psalm 117

(click here or listen to Youtube below)

1  O give ye praise unto the Lord,
       all nations that be;
    Likewise, ye people all, accord
       his name to magnify.

 2  For great to us-ward ever are
       his loving-kindnesses:
    His truth endures for evermore.

       The Lord O do ye bless.

Psalm 17:1-6

(click here to listen)

1  Lord, hear the right, attend my cry,
         unto my pray'r give heed,
      That doth not in hypocrisy
         from feigned lips proceed.

   2  And from before thy presence forth
         my sentence do thou send:
      Toward these things that equal are
         do thou thine eyes intend.

   3  Thou prov'dst mine heart, thou visit'dst me
         by night, thou didst me try,
      Yet nothing found'st; for that my mouth
         shall not sin, purposed I.

   4  As for men's works, I, by the word
         that from thy lips doth flow,
      Did me preserve out of the paths
         wherein destroyers go.

   5  Hold up my goings, Lord, me guide
         in those thy paths divine,
      So that my footsteps may not slide
         out of those ways of thine.

   6  I called have on thee, O God,
          because thou wilt me hear:
       That thou may'st hearken to my speech,

          to me incline thine ear.

Psalm 8:1-9

(click here to listen)

1  How excellent in all the earth,
         Lord, our Lord, is thy name!
      Who hast thy glory far advanced
         above the starry frame.

   2  From infants' and from sucklings' mouth
         thou didest strength ordain,
      For thy foes' cause, that so thou might'st
         th' avenging foe restrain.

   3  When I look up unto the heav'ns,
         which thine own fingers framed,
      Unto the moon, and to the stars,
         which were by thee ordained;

   4  Then say I, What is man, that he
         remembered is by thee?
      Or what the son of man, that thou
         so kind to him should'st be?

   5  For thou a little lower hast
         him than the angels made;
      With glory and with dignity
         thou crowned hast his head.

   6  Of thy hands' works thou mad'st him lord,
         all under's feet didst lay;

   7  All sheep and oxen, yea, and beasts
         that in the field do stray;

   8  Fowls of the air, fish of the sea,
         all that pass through the same.

   9  How excellent in all the earth,
         Lord, our Lord, is thy name!

Psalm 43:1-5

(click here to listen)

1  Judge me, O God, and plead my cause
         against th' ungodly nation;
      From the unjust and crafty man,
         O be thou my salvation.

   2  For thou the God art of my strength;
         why thrusts thou me thee fro'?
      For th' enemy's oppression
         why do I mourning go?

   3  O send thy light forth and thy truth;
         let them be guides to me,
      And bring me to thine holy hill,
         ev'n where thy dwellings be.

   4  Then will I to God's altar go,
         to God my chiefest joy:
      Yea, God, my God, thy name to praise
         my harp I will employ.

   5  Why art thou then cast down, my soul?
         what should discourage thee?
      And why with vexing thoughts art thou
         disquieted in me?
      Still trust in God; for him to praise
         good cause I yet shall have:
      He of my count'nance is the health,
         my God that doth me save.

Psalm 74:14-19

(click here to listen)

14  But I with expectation
         will hope continually;
      And yet with praises more and more
         I will thee magnify.

  15  Thy justice and salvation
         my mouth abroad shall show,
      Ev'n all the day; for I thereof
         the numbers do not know.

  16  And I will constantly go on
         in strength of God the Lord;
      And thine own righteousness, ev'n thine
         alone, I will record.

  17  For even from my youth, O God,
         by thee I have been taught;
      And hitherto I have declared
         the wonders thou hast wrought.

  18  And now, Lord, leave me not, when I
         old and gray-headed grow:
      Till to this age thy strength and pow'r
         to all to come I show.

  19  And thy most perfect righteousness
         O Lord, is very high,
      Who hast so great things done: O God,

         who is like unto thee?

Psalm 119:89-96

(click here to listen)

89  Thy word for ever is, O Lord,
        in heaven settled fast;

 90  Unto all generations
        thy faithfulness doth last: 
     The earth thou hast established,
        and it abides by thee.

 91  This day they stand as thou ordain'dst;
        for all thy servants be.

 92  Unless in thy most perfect law
        my soul delights had found,
     I should have perished, when as
        my troubles did abound.

 93  Thy precepts I will ne'er forget;
        they quick'ning to me brought.

 94  Lord, I am thine; O save thou me:
        thy precepts I have sought.

 95  For me the wicked have laid wait,
        me seeking to destroy:
     But I thy testimonies true
        consider will with joy.

 96  An end of all perfection
        here have I seen, O God:
     But as for thy commandment,
        it is exceeding broad.


useful references about the Psalter

from Amazon Review;
"A Wonderful Introduction to Singing the Psalms"

Ours is a time when the church has forgotten a primary role for which God intended the Psalms. At least in America, the Psalms are not so much sung as read. While reading the Psalms is certainly beneficial, God uniquely gave His people these words to lead us into His praise. Michael Lefebvre has given the church a stirring call to again take up the Psalms in our worship, led in singing by our Mediator, Jesus. Singing the Songs of Jesus challenges churches of every stripe to consider introducing Psalms back into congregational singing. This is not a polemical book that focuses on internecine debates about how Psalms are used (e.g. the exclusive singing of Psalms), but it is instead a universal plea that God's inspired hymns be allowed to form us and our worship. 
Lefebvre gives the reader a chance to understand the benefits of singing the Psalms beyond the devotional role to which they are so often relegated. He achieves this by considering the king-led construction of the Psalms, the way in which Jesus led His people in singing the Psalms, their Christ-centered nature, and how they carry us along from even sorrow into praise. Lefebvre chose not to employ confessional or historical arguments, but he has instead presented a thoroughly biblical case in order to make this book more useful to those outside of his confessional Presbyterian outlook. 
His strong grasp of the Old Testament narrative helps to shine a light on many questions that surround the creation of the Psalms. He answers the difficult questions that the new Psalm-singer will have about the imprecations in the Psalms and will cause them to gain new insight on this necessary part of the Scripture. At the end of every chapter, he also gives practical resources on how one might begin singing the Psalms in worship. If you have never considered singing the Psalms or if you desire to understand the Psalms better, you should not miss this immensely helpful book!