heart john newton. the guy who wrote the words to amazing grace. a guy who understood grace. i especially love the above quote from him about pleasure and duty. you know how i love thing that rhyme AND are wise. i made that little card with the poem on it about it a year or so ago and it is in my bedroom on my dresser. i look at it almost every day and say those lines so that my pleasures and my duties of the day might both fall under serving Him with my all. i especially look at it before i make the bed and pick up adam’s clothing off of the floor right next to the hamper. trying to muster up the spiritual resources within to call that a duty AND a pleasure...
i came across this poem by newton and i loved it as well. i am planning on spending a few hundred moments of eternity with john newton. talking about stuff. i bet he doesn’t use the word “stuff” much. i plan to add some new words to my lexicon before i chat with him. words like “lexicon”. there, now i am ready for our chat...
this poem struck home with me because it seems the more i pray to be like Him, the more i act opposite of His ways. or at the very least the more i am aware of it. which makes me pray all the more. and makes me more aware of His work in my salvation... not my own.
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face
Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair
I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest
Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part
Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low
Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way” The Lord replied
“I answer prayer for grace and faith”
“These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”
and speaking of the work of Christ... from a GREAT book that i read this summer, king’s cross by tim keller.
It is finished
“Most of us work and work trying to prove ourselves, to convince God, others, and ourselves that we’re good people. That work is never over unless we rest in the gospel.
At the end of His great act of creation the Lord said, ‘It is finished,’ and He could rest. On the cross at the end of His great act of redemption Jesus said, ‘It is finished’– and we can rest.
On the cross Jesus was saying of the work underneath your work– the thing that makes you truly weary, this need to prove yourself because who you are and what you do are never good enough– that it is finished.
He has lived the life you should have lived, He has died the death you should have died. If you rely on Jesus’s finished work, you know that God is satisfied with you. You can be satisfied with life.”
“A gospel is an announcement of something that has happened in history, something that’s been done for you that changes your status forever. Right there you can see the difference between Christianity and all other religions, including no religion.
The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news. Other religions say, ‘This is what you have to do in order to connect to God forever; this is how you have to live in order to earn your way to God.’
But the gospel says, ‘This is what has been done in history. This is how Jesus lived and died to earn the way to God for you.’ Christianity is completely different. It’s joyful news.
How do you feel when you’re given good advice on how to live? Someone says, ‘Here’s the love you ought to have, or the integrity you ought to have,’ and maybe they illustrate high moral standards by telling a story of some great hero.
But when you hear it, how does it make you feel? Inspired, sure. But do you feel the way the listeners who heard those heralds felt when the victory was announced? Do you feel your burdens have fallen off? Do you feel as if something great has been done for you and you’re not a slave anymore?
Of course you don’t. It weighs you down: This is how I have to live. It’s not a gospel. The gospel is that God connects you not on the basis of what you’ve done (or haven’t done) but on the basis of what Jesus has done, in history, for you.
And that makes it absolutely different from every other religion or philosophy.”
–Timothy Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus
and i couldn’t forget my other homeboy, johnny piper... click here to read 11 ways God works for us (based on a little twitter series that he did recently. how much do i love that johnny p. tweets? i love it a whole lot.) he starts with this caveat... “The proper connotation of saying God works for me is that I am bankrupt and need a bailout. I am weak and need someone strong. I am endangered and need a protector. I am foolish and need someone wise. I am lost and need a Rescuer.”
"God works for me" means I can’t do the work. it also means that He is the only One who can do the work. and He is faithful to complete the work that He began.
“No eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4)
my part is the waiting. His part is the working.
so let’s recap, you got john newton, tim keller, and john piper (plus an oxford comma) all in one blog post. happy sunday. keep waiting. He is working...