When Matt Boswell sent me some of the early lyrics for Come Behold The Wondrous Mystery it caught my attention, because the idea was in perfect stride with the book I was working on...
We live in the “same love” culture. The new ethic is sincerity. If he’s into guys, cool. If she’s into girls, ok. If that’s his religion, then it’s true for him. If she wants to kill it, then that’s her choice. Don’t judge, don’t offend, don’t disrupt.
Chill out evangelicals.
Granted….and sadly…Christians haven’t been the most gracious when it comes to these topics. However…
Love ≠ open-mindedness.
Love is intense. We all know this.
Nearly everyday my kids sincerely don’t want to sit in their carseats. What does love do? “Ok, no big deal honey, sit wherever you want.”
Love does this: “Put your bottom in your carseat right now, or I will come put it there myself.”
If you have a friend who is making decisions that are ruining their life, love doesn’t stand by and watch it. It sits them down…it gets in their face.
As it’s been said, the opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference.
Love gets angry when the good of it’s beloved is threatened.
“To love is will the good of another.” (T. Aquinas)
It turns out that our culture’s view of love is self-defeating. If to love is to will the good of another, but in a culture of “non-judgmentalism” and “tolerance” a standard of good is lost,then love is lost.
Truth without love is bigotry, and quite often, Christians have been bigots. But love without truth is cowardice. And we live in a culture of cowards.
Stand up. Do something. Say something. For love’s sake. Be cool or be loving. You can’t be both.
We’re here at the Campus Crusade Conference in Greensboro, and earlier this morning I heard Tyler Jones reference a Spurgeon quote that I had to share. I hope it does for your soul what it ...
Below is an excerpt from chapter 9 of C.S. Lewis’ powerful book “The Great Divorce”…brimming with insights for anyone involved in the arts or communication.
A little context….”The Great Divorce” is a story about a group of “ghosts” from purgatory or hell who take a bus trip to the foothills of heaven where they meet “spirits” who urge them to journey upward. Lewis brilliantly paints here, as he does in so many of his works, the hollowness of selfishness and the “thickness” or reality of love, beauty, and selflessness.
I was recently reminded of this section and wanted to post it, (especially) as a way to help to those who help us see…to my songwriting, preaching, painting, book-writing, instrument-strumming friends out there….who constantly strain…who continually squint…trying to further comprehend the Glory. But why comprehend it? Why communicate it?
That is Lewis’ question to us…..
“God!” said the Ghost, glancing round the landscape.
“God what?” asked the Spirit.
“What do you mean, ‘God what’?” asked the Ghost.
“In our grammer God is a noun.”
“Oh-I see. I only meant ‘By Gum’ or something of the sort. I meant . . . well, all this. It’s . . . it’s … I should like to paint this.”
“I shouldn’t bother about that just at present if I were you.”
“Look here; isn’t one going to be allowed to go on painting?”
“Looking comes first.” “But I’ve had my look. I’ve seen just what I want to do. God!-I wish I’d thought of bringing my things with me!”
The Spirit shook his head, scattering light from his hair as he did so. “That sort of thing’s no good here,” he said.
“What do you mean?” said the Ghost.
“When you painted on earth-at least in your earlier days-it was because you caught glimpses of Heaven in the earthly landscape. The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see the glimpses too. But here you are having the thing itself. It is from here that the messages came. There is no good telling us about this country, for we see it already. In fact we see it better than you do.”
“Then there’s never going to be any point in painting here?”
“I don’t say that. When you’ve grown into a Person (it’s all right, we all had to do it) there’ll be some things which you’ll see better than anyone else. One of the things you’ll want to do will be to tell us about them. But not yet. At present your business is to see. Come and see. He is endless. Come and feed.”
There was a little pause. “That will be delightful,” said the Ghost presently in a rather dull voice.
“Come, then,” said the Spirit, offering it his arm.
“How soon do you think I could begin painting?” it asked.
The Spirit broke into laughter. “Don’t you see you’ll never paint at all if that’s what you’re thinking about?” he said.
“What do you mean?” asked the Ghost.
“Why, if you are interested in the country only for the sake of painting it, you’ll never learn to see the country.”
“But that’s just how a real artist is interested in the country.”
“No. You’re forgetting,” said the Spirit. “That was not how you began. Light itself was your first love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.”
“Oh, that’s ages ago,” said the Ghost. “One grows out of that. Of course, you haven’t seen my later works. One becomes more and more interested in paint for its own sake.”
“One does, indeed. I also have had to recover from that. It was all a snare. Ink and catgut and paint were necessary down there, but they are also dangerous stimulants. Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him.”
That you may not be drawn away from love of the Thing you tell,
The commandment comes,
“Do this I say,
cross not this line,
go not that way”
My fallen soul,
it writhes within,
it pouts and doubts
and seethes with sin
“I cannot do
this thing Love asks!
For shall I not
my freedom have?”
And so I choose
and flex my
And as I fall
into a pit,
’tis not the freedom
that I meant.
A tender hand
but strong, I feel,
and to my awe
no sword it wields
It pulls me out,
it cleanses me,
it chides me not,
but gently leads
Me to the place
where feet can stand,
a rock of grace
that never ends
“Oh Father, why?
How could you be
so patient with
a worm like me?”
I cling unto
this hand of love
that ever finds me
though I run
And now a dawn
within my soul,
shall not let me go.
The commandment comes,
“Do this I say,
cross not this line,
go not that way”
My heart of stone
is melted now,
and to this Word
I freely bow
The good hand points
and lo I see,
an altar there
prepared for me
I cling to climb
My doubts erased
His promise mine
I lie upon it
a child who loves
his Father’s will.
I’m writing you today from Nashville, TN, where I am incredibly thankful and excited to be recording my 4th full-length studio album. God is good. I feel more grateful than ever before to be able to create art for a living, and more grateful than ever for people like you who allow me to continue to do so through your prayers and support. I am working hard to create music that adorns God’s Name, God’s people, and God’s world, and that’s why I’m writing to you today.
Would you take 60 seconds and pray for us? Pray that God would take joy in what He hears. Pray that the music we make would point to the beauty of Jesus Christ. Pray that through this album people would see His glory more clearly. Pray that through this album, the Church would be encouraged, the lost would be converted, and that missionaries would be created. That’s why I do what I do.
Thank you! Your prayers infinitely matter.
The new album, entitled “LOOK & LIVE”, is set to release early fall of this year. Producing on the album is Stu G, former guitar player of the band Delirious. It is sounding fantastic and I am thrilled to get these songs to you, and to serve you in this way.
Please stay tuned through twitter, Facebook, etc. for updates and exclusives about the album.
Blessings to you today, in Christ-
The Story of God
by Matt Papa
Let me tell you a story
it’s no ordinary tale
no it is the ordinary
from which every other story hails
it’s the story of God
it’s the story of history
and I’m not the author
no, the Author is a glorious mystery
see long before He would put
His pen to the paper
long before there was time
or before there was matter
He was there, all alone
Father Son Holy Sprit
1 God in 3 persons
everlasting in existence
needing absolutely nothing
He was happy in Himself
and His joy was overflowing
the Son in the arms
of His holy righteous Father
the Spirit overshadowing
all glorifying one another
so why would this God
even bother to create
the fountain of all happiness
can you improve upon this state?
well the joy within Himself
welling up at such capacity
was so full it must be shared
with a glorious society
so the mighty Author, quill in hand,
to share His infinite mind,
His love His joy, sat down to write
His “once upon a time”
in the beginning God created
the Heavens and the Earth
He made all things to reflect
His beauty and His worth
mountains rivers oceans trees
all gladly testifying
endless stars and galaxies
declare His glory shining
He made it all and it was good
and to culminate His work
He fashioned man
and breathed to life
His special ball of dirt
man came to life with blinking eyes
& was welcomed by God’s face
they walked with Him every day and night
there was peace and no such thing as shame
be fruitful, fill the earth
and eat from any tree
except for this one
cause if you do you’ll surely fall from Me
now why do this? and give this choice?
because He is writing a Story
and He’s about to show to whole world
The fullness of His glory
early on in the script
with a snake in the garden
doing was he does best running his lip
flashback to when
this evil was created
he was an angel of heaven
who fell when his head got inflated
banished from God
and from His endless mercy
he came down to earth
to tempt us with the unworthy
so there in the garden
on an ordinary day
he came to the woman and said
did God really say?
that you should not eat
from every tree in the garden?
He must not want your happiness
or you would have total freedom
so pridefully they listened
and sinfully they took
and scorned their creator
and they ate the forbidden fruit
injustice. this, my friends
this is injustice
that God should be seen &
then treated as a nothing
that man should completely forfeit his joy
and dig for fleeting pleasures
in the gutters of this world
fallen now is all mankind
and sure to face His judgement
a world of pain, of toil and strain
and hell forever after
but God would make a promise to
preserve Himself a people
and through the brokenness of man
o could there shine a hero?
the plot line continues
some character development
all supporting actors
all fantastic as embellishment
Noah found great favor
in God’s holy sight
and when God sent the floods
He mercifully preserved his life
we come to Abraham
and God made him a covenant
He said “I will bless you
and make your offspring abundant”
to Isaac and to Jacob
God would come and do the same
and though many dangers
came to threaten His perfect plan
the story would go on
with the Author’s full control
and He would lead His people
everywhere that they should go
flash forward now 400 years
in Egypt there’s a pharaoh
who doesn’t like God’s people
growing numerous in freedom
so he made them slaves
but God came down and chose His servant Moses
a burning bush… a call to go
His presence was His promise
go and tell that pharaoh now to
let my people go
so they can freely worship Me
in the place that I will show
God would show that He is the I AM
that pharaoh’ rule is like a pawn
in His glorious hand
the waters part. the millions leave
to follow their great Savior
He guided them provided for them
though they were so ungrateful
at Sinai God gave the law
so perfect and so pure
His people soon discovered
they could not obey these rules
they tried they failed
they tried they failed
compelled to live in sin
they’d bow to worship idols
then they’d bow to God again
they said to God “give us a king”
and that will make things better
God, their rightful king, assured them
this would be a fetter
they insisted, God relented
gave to them their kings
some were good, led them to Him
some brought idolatry
God sent his prophets
“turn back to God”
sometimes the people listened
but mostly they just gave a nod
cause they all wanted to be Him
“God will not wink at your sin”
the prophets would all say
the people rose to eat and drink
and left to go and play
God finally seemed to have enough
and brought a blaring quiet
the prophets ceased, the people waited
400 years of silence.
enter our protagonist
the plot is quickly rising now
who is this guy?
nobody really knows
He meek…..He’s humble
but the craziest thing
about this character is well
unlike the other characters
this is the Author himself
His name was Jesus
He was born of a virgin
fully God He was perfect
fully man He was learnin’
different from all the others
but tempted just the same
in every single way we are
without a single sin
He made the lame to jump
He caused the blind to see
and unlike the religious leaders
had some real authority
cause He came from high
and He came to redeem
not to be served but to serve
His haters and enemies
He loved, He gave
showed us the heart of the Author
claimed no glory for Himself
cause He came from His Father
and we hated Him for it
cause we wanted to be God
despised and rejected
we esteemed Him not.
conflict escalating now
it’s starts with a betrayal
Judas whores his eternal Lord
for 30 pieces of silver
a final meal a prayer and then
they head into the garden
where Jesus sweat with drops of blood
preparing for our pardon
The soldiers took the Lord away
and led him to a trail
“are you the Son of God?” they say
I AM there’s no denying
Except of course for His disciples
who left their Lord in fear
Jesus looked up to the sky
He was all alone from here
they led Him to the Pretorian
and then began to beat Him
“who hit you?” they would shout and say
“oh Father please forgive them”
they made His back a bloody mess
they whipped Him till he lost his breath
they threw the cross upon His wounds
the weight of sin 300 pounds
the great eternal Lord of all
the Author of all things
now like a lamb unto the slaughter
would this be His defeat?
they nailed Him to the rugged cross
they shouted out “where is Your God?”
He said “have You forsaken me?”
He takes a breath, His final three:
“It is finished” the Savior’s cry
and then He bowed His head
the Author of life the Lord of all
the Son of God is dead
they laid His body in a tomb
then everything was quiet
as God’s people find themselves again
in everlasting silence
2 days pass.
on the second morning after Jesus died
Mary went to the tomb to take a look inside
and when she arrived she was
met by an angel
she fell to the ground but he said
there’s no danger
this Jesus, Jesus
is He the one that you seek?
Mary He is not here
He is risen indeed!
Climax, its true
every good story has one
the part where you feel
a slight shift of momentum
Mary sprints to go
tell the disciples
the Lord, He’s alive!
He’s alive like he promised
Peter and john go
and see for themselves
but there’s nothing there
they said “perhaps He truly lives?”
then Jesus’ words
came flashing to mind
they will kill the Son of man
but after three days He will rise
momentum is surely building now
the enemy is limpin’
Jesus finds the 12 and then
He gives to them the mission
all authority is mine
all in Heaven and on Earth
go and tell them I’m alive
go and tell the whole wide world
and don’t get slack
I’m coming back
Acts now the church is born
the Holy Spirit given
the news of Jesus
like the most contagious sickness spreadin’
thousands saved. A mighty wind
is blowing through the region
the promise God gave to Abraham
we’re finally starting to see it
Repentance and forgiveness preached
All in the name of Jesus
Sinners and saints alike proclaim
Our God has come to save us!
the Gentiles hear the story and
the news is blowing up
the plan is working, the gospel spreading
from Asia to Africa
martyrs laying down their lives
cause they know this story’s true
it’s a story like no other
it’s a movement you cannot undo.
Constantine tried to slow it down
and turn it into steeples
but an angry monk from Germany
wrote some holy gospel thesis
it’s spread like fire, then it came
to America by sail
and here we are the twenty-first century
the gospel cannot fail
It’s the greatest story
that’s ever been told
by the greatest Author the world has ever known
but there is some still left to go
yes there is some still left to go
see GO was the command
to every tribe and nation
and carry this great story to
this dying generation
cause when this gospel finally spreads
across the whole of earth
we’re gonna hear a trumpet sound
and Jesus will return
Heaven will be opened
and a white horse shall appear
and the One who sits upon it
all His enemies shall fear
His eyes will be like fire
and His purpose will be glory
justice for all evil
life for all who love this story
He’ll come to judge the quick, the dead
and all who’ve trod this world….every
knee will bow
and tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord
death and hades He will throw
into the Lake of Fire
and Satan too that serpent foe
that coward that old liar
the church will rise
surround the throne
and clothed in glory His
with every nation tribe and tongue
we will worship Him
singing Worthy Worthy
is the Lamb
The Lamb who has been slain
blessings honor glory and power
forever to His name
and for ages and ages
we will sing
the praises of
our God and King
it’s the greatest story
that ever been told
by the greatest Author
the world has known
yeah the bad guys lose
the good guys win
Jesus is Lord of all
I’ll be heading into the studio VERY soon, and I want your help. This saturday night I’ll be singing my new songs at Sola Coffee in Raleigh, and we’re asking you to come and vote on them! That’s right. Tell us what what you like and what you don’t like. You can be nice like Paula or mean like Simon. Come for a night of hanging out with friends, listening to music, enjoying coffee and a free dessert, and come ready to help us choose what songs will be going on my next album! Here’s the pertinent info:
Where: Sola Coffee
When: 8:30 PM
How Much: $10 at door
What Do I Get: A free dessert and a free digital download of My album “Scripture Songs & Hymns 2″
Anything Else: Seating capacity is around 75. First come first serve.
Hope to see you there!
Go worship at Emmanuel’s feet
A Hymn by Issac Watts
1 Go worship at Emmanuel’s feet,
See in His face what wonders meet!
Earth is too narrow to express
His worth, His glory, or His grace.
2 The whole creation can afford
But some faint shadows of my Lord;
Nature, to make His beauties known,
Must mingle colors not her own.
3 Is He compared to wine or bread?
Dear Lord! our souls would thus be fed:
That flesh, that dying blood of Thine,
Is bread of life, is heavenly wine.
4 Is He a tree? The world receives
Salvation from His healing leaves:
That righteous Branch, that fruitful bough,
Is David’s root and offspring too.
5 Is He a rose? Not Sharon yields,
Such fragrancy in all her fields:
Or if the lily He assume,
The valleys bless the rich perfume.
6 Is He a vine? His heavenly root
Supplies the boughs with life and fruit.
O let a lasting union join
My soul to Christ the living Vine!
7 Is He a head? Each member lives
And owns the vital power He gives;
The saints below and saints above,
Joined by His spirit and His love.
8 Is He a fountain? There I bathe,
And heal the plague of sin and death:
These waters all my soul renew,
And cleanse my spotted garments too.
9 Is He a fire? He’ll purge my dross:
But the true gold sustains no loss:
Like a refiner shall He sit,
And tread the refuse with His feet.
10 Is He a rock? How firm he proves!
The rock of ages never moves;
Yet the sweet streams that from him flow
Attend us all the desert through.
11 Is He a way? He leads to God,
The path is drawn in lines of blood;
There would I walk with hope and zeal,
‘Till I arrive at Zion’s hill.
12 Is He a door? I’ll enter in;
Behold the pastures large and green,
A paradise divinely fair,
None but the sheep have freedom there.
13 Is He designed the cornerstone,
For men to build their heaven upon?
I’ll make Him my foundation too,
Nor fear the plots of hell below.
14 Is He a temple? I adore
The indwelling majesty and power;
And still to His most holy place,
Whene’er I pray, I’ll turn my face.
15 Is He a star? He breaks the night,
Piercing the shades with dawning light;
I know His glories from afar,
I know the bright, the morning Star.
16 Is He a sun? His beams are grace,
His course is joy and righteousness;
Nations rejoice when he appears
To chase their clouds, and dry their tears.
17 O let me climb those higher skies,
Where storms and darkness never rise!
There He displays his powers abroad,
And shines and reigns the incarnate God.
18 Nor earth, nor seas, nor sun, nor stars,
Nor heaven His full resemblance bears;
His Beauties we can never trace,
Till we behold Him face to face.
The Roman prefect Asclepiades invaded the city of Antioch, intending to force the Christians to renounce their faith. But Romanus had encouraged the Christians to hold to Jesus.
As the believers saw the great grace of God working in Romanus, old men and women, fathers and mothers, young men and maidens were greatly encouraged to stand firm, ready to shed their blood for the name of their Christ. With one will and mind, they were able to fight off the armed Roman soldiers.
Ascledpiades had Romanus scourged with whips. But instead of tears, sighs, and groans, Romanus sang psalms all the time of his whipping. The more the martyr said about the Lord Jesus, the more furious the prefect became. He commanded the martyr’s sides to be slit with knives until the bones showed white.
Romanus continued to preach the living God, the Lord Jesus Christ, His well-beloved Son, and eternal life through faith in His blood. This time, the prefect ordered that his teeth be knocked out, so he couldn’t speak clearly. His face was beat, his beard pulled out, his cheeks were gashed with knives. When they were finished, Romanus said, “I thank thee, O Prefect. Look how many wounds I have, so many mouths I have whereby I may preach my Lord and Savior Christ, and praise God.”
The Roman prefect was astonished with Romanus’ unwavering commitment to Christ. He commanded the tortures to cease. He threatened to burn him. He blasphemed God saying, “Your crucified Christ is but a yesterday’s God; the gods of the Gentiles are most ancient.”
Romanus then preached on the eternity of Christ, His human nature, of His death for all mankind. Then he said, “Give me a child, O Prefect, one who is only seven years old, and not yet spoiled by malice and vice. You will hear what he has to say.”
A little boy was called out of the crowd. “Tell me, child,” said the martyr, “whether we should worship one Christ, and in Christ one Father, or should we worship many gods?”
“God is one and unique, ” the child answered. “We children cannot believe that there are many gods.”
The prefect was amazed and said, “Where did you learn this lesson?”
“From my mother,” answered the child. “With her milk I sucked in this lesson, that I must believe in Christ.”
The mother was called, and she gladly appeared. The prefect commanded the child to be whipped. The crowd of people watching could not keep from crying. The mother alone stooddry-eyed, reminding her child of stories from the Scriptures of others who suffered. She called to her son, “Hold fast, my child. Soon you shall pass to Him who will give you a crown of eternal glory.”
The mother smiled her encouragement. The child was encouraged and received the stripes with a smiling face.
The prefect commanded the child’s head to be cut off. The mother kissed him, saying, “Farewell, my sweet child. When you have entered the kingdom of Christ, remember your mother.”
As the sword came down on her child’s neck, she sang:
“All laud and praise with heart and voice,
O Lord, we yield to thee:
To whom the death of this thy saint,
We know most dear to be.”
Asclepiades returned to torturing Romanus. He was cast into a mighty fire, but a great storm arose and quenched the fire. Finally, the prefect, amazed at Romanus’ courage, commanded him to be brought back into the prison and strangled.
Story from Fox’s book of martyrs.
One day, on the way to visit some friends, John Denley was stopped and searched by the authorities, who found his written confession of faith. Denley believed the Church was built upon the apostles and prophets, with Christ as its head, and that the present state church, the Church of England, was not part of this true Church. In his time, many of its teachings were not according to the Bible.
For this he was turned over to a local government official, who turned him over to the bishop for questioning. Denley would not back down from his statement of faith, so he was condemned to die and turned over to the sheriff.
Within six weeks, he was sent to the stake to be burned. When they lit the wood beneath him, Denley showed no fear. He cheerfully sang a psalm as the flames rose around him. One of his tormentors picked up a piece of wood and threw it at him, hitting him in the face. He hoped to anger or silence Denley, but Denley only responded,
“Truly, you have spoiled a good old song.”
Then he spread his arms again and continued to sing until he died.
Story from “Jesus Freaks”, VOM (www.persecution.com)
Ranavalona, the queen of Madagascar, hated the Christians in her kingdom. Her complaints against them were many: they despised her idols, they were always praying, They always went to church, and their women were chaste. She sent officers to gather all those suspected of being Christians to bring them to trial.
About 1600 believers, when the charges were read, announced confidently, “Guilty.” They would not deny the charges, for to do so would be to deny Christ. The Queen offered them a second chance to deny Christ and bow to her idols, but each refused. They were thrown into dark, dank dungeons, and many were executed. The Queen was angered more, because for each Christian she had killed, twenty more rose up.
Later, the Queen ordered that 15 Christians be executed. They were to be thrown over a cliff into a rocky ravine 150 feet below. The Queen’s idols were taken to the top of the cliff, and each Christian was lowered slightly over the edge, tied with ropes.
“Will you worship the Queen’s gods?” the soldiers asked each Christian hanging over the precipice.
Each Christian answered, simply, “Christ.”
The ropes were cut, and they plunged to the rocks.
Some sang as they fell to their deaths.
One young girl was spared and declared insane.
She later started a church.
I wonder if some said “Christ” as bold as a lion, and others said “Christ” as a child crying for help.
But they said it. They finished their race.
Run yours today. Cling to Christ. If the face of temptation, in the face of suffering, in the face of fear,
Story from www.persecutionblog.com
The pastor had been questioned and beaten often, but today the guard took him to a room to talk. He said, “I’m curious about your beliefs and ask you to tell me the Ten Commandments.”
Shocked, the pastor began to share the Commandments. When he got to “Honor your father and mother,” the officer interrupted him. “Stop there. You Christians believe that God chose ‘Honor your father and mother’ as a very important commandment. Please look in the corner.”
The pastor turned to see an elderly woman chained and bruised beneath a pile of rags. She was the pastor’s own mother.
The guard inquired. “Look how much your mother has suffered. If you tell the secrets of the underground church, you and your mother can go free. If she dies from our torture, you will have failed to keep the commandment to honor her, and her blood shall be on your head.”
The pastor turned to his mother who was starting to regain consciousness. “Dear Mother, what should I do?”
Lovingly she replied, “Since you were a small boy, I have taught you to love Christ and his church. Do not betray God. I am ready to die for the Holy Name.”
The pastor looked back at the guard and said with renewed courage, “You were very right, captain…a man must obey his mother.”
Praise God for Moms….especially those that cherish Christ more than their children.
story from www.persecution.com