Sunday, December 23, 2012

Shadow and Glory

The endless deepness of the evening sky
Is filled with silent, burning orbs of light
Which everlasting, seem, to you and I,

And glimmer in their march across the night
Beside their king – the faceless, golden moon
Whose broken shape, in shards of dancing light

Is carried by the dark and wild sea
Which tosses spray, like sand, into the wind,
And swallows up the lights into the deep.

If all of this came from the Master's mind,
And slipped into its place by His decree,
And by His word, will fade and pass away -
Like sand amid this brilliance, what are we?

Like morning glories, dying in a day,
What worth comes from two souls joined into one?
They, like the morning glories, wilt away,
Before true Glory's endless day has come.

But from the blackness all the silent stars
Look on, enraptured by the passing scene:
Two souls made into one become a shadow
Of bride and Groom, in glory yet to be.

Friday, June 29, 2012

From Sir Walter Scott and William Sleeper

This bit from the hymn, "Jesus, I Come" is one of four verses. I am posting it in order to boast. I am boasting in the grace of God, which I have recently seen powerfully manifested in the life of a dear brother. All glory to God.

"Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come; Jesus, I come.
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storm and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee!"

-William Sleeper

This bit is from the poem, "Lay of the Last Minstrel," Canto III. Think Romeo and Juliet, except replace Italy with Scotland, and warring families with feuding clans. The Baron (Cranstoun) is the Scottish "Romeo," who has just finished visiting his "Juilet," while the Borderer (Deloraine) is a knight from Juliet's family.

"Their very coursers seemed to know
That each was other's mortal foe;
And snorted fire, when wheeled around,
To give each knight his vantage-ground.

In rapid round the Baron bent;
   He sighed a sigh, and prayed a prayer.
The prayer was to his patron saint,
   The sigh was to his ladye fare.
Stout Deloraine nor sighed, nor prayed,
Nor saint, nor ladye, called to aid;
But he stooped his head, and couched his spear
And spurred his steed to full career.
The meeting of these champions proud
Seemed like the bursting thunder-cloud.

Stern was the dint the Borderer lent!
The stately Baron Backwards bent;
Bent backwards to his horse's tail,
And his plumes went scattering on the gale;
The tough ash spear, so stout and true,
Into a thousand splinters flew.
But Cranstoun's lance, of more avail,
Pierced through, like silk, the Borderer's mail;
Through shield, and jack, and action, passed,
Deep in his bosom broke at last -
Still sate the warrior saddle-fast,
Till, stumbling in the mortal shock,
Down went the steed, the girthing broke,
Hurled on a heap lay man and horse.
The Baron onward passed his course;
Nor knew - so giddy rolled his brain -
His foe lay stretched upon the plain."

- Sir Walter Scott

Friday, June 22, 2012

From Isaac Watts

One of Watts' best hymns, showing both desperation and hope. Note the strong terms he uses to describe his own evil and weakness, and how his trust is placed only in God.

O Help My Unbelief

"How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And Satan binds our captive minds
Fast in his slavish chains
But there's a voice of sov'reign grace,
Sounds from the sacred word:
"O, ye despairing sinners come,
And trust upon the Lord."

"My soul obeys th' almighty call,
And runs to this relief
I would believe thy promise, Lord;
O help my unbelief!
To the dear fountain of thy blood,
Incarnate God, I fly;
Here let me wash my spotted soul,
From crimes of deepest dye.

"Stretch out Thine arm, victorious King,
My reigning sins subdue;
Drive the old dragon from his seat,
With all his hellish crew.
A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall;
Be thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my all."

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hunger Games - A Review

Note: this is a review of the movie based solely on the movie itself - not on the books, and not what may come up in future movies in this trilogy. To those who have not seen the movie, I recommend reading a synopsis of it if this review seems confusing. Also, this review does contain mild spoilers, in that it hints at the overall tone and outcome of the movie.

As I watched The Hunger Games, I became enthralled with the central characters and the choices that they would be forced to make once in the arena. I wondered, "Twenty-four teenagers being told that they will have to kill each other in order to survive? How is the author going to redeem this situation? What kinds of noble sacrifices will I see? Who is going to lay down his or her life in order to demonstrate the wrongness of this situation?" In fact, the character development and pacing of the first half were so excellent, so that I was at the point of being physically affected by tense moments in the plot.

In my mind, I was beginning to harken back the coliseum in ancient Rome, where those who called Jesus Lord repeatedly demonstrated the excellence of their Redeemer by laying down their lives in His name, and by refusing to kill in cold blood. So, when I began to realize that both of the main characters seemed prepared to kill in order to survive, I began to become wary of what might happen next, though I still expected some plot element to somehow redeem the situation and demonstrate to me value of life, or the excellence of sacrifice, or some other noble virtue. Afterwards, I remembered thinking of the story of Telemachus, and how different it is from that of The Hunger Games.

As the characters interacted with each other inside of the arena, the story unfolded into one of total human depravity. I am unsure of whether the author meant it to be taken as such - perhaps I was supposed to see the main characters as justified in what they did. Kill to survive. Kill by default. Kill in self-defence. But by the end of the movie, I could only think that they had displayed evil selfishness. Any serous Christian evaluation of the movie must conclude the same. Not one of the twenty-four teenagers was willing to openly oppose the games before they started, and not one of them displayed a total unwillingness to kill for survival.

So then, what should a Christian do with this movie? Should he decide against seeing it because of its display of depravity? I do not think so, as I would cautiously recommend Hotel Rwanda to adults who can handle the terror it portrays. However, the effect of  The Hunger Games on the viewer will be very different from that of Hotel Rwanda, as The Hunger Games asks us to identify with characters who we eventually see as evil. My mind was extremely troubled by the story for several days afterward. Therefore, my recommendation is that a Christian who understands human depravity may see this movie without violation of conscience. However, he or she can expect to be disturbed by what they see - there is nothing at the end of the movie to redeem what happens.

One final note: the majority of those who see the movie will likely not understand that the main characters were wrong to kill. I even came across a review by a Christian missionary who thought that the main characters were vindicated, and simply victims of their situation. If you discuss this movie with friends, please keep in mind that killing for self-preservation is wrong, no matter how an author may frame it. We have the testimony of the Christians of ancient Rome, who considered it a privilege to die for the Glory of God. A person who chooses to kill others to save his or her own life is without excuse because of the Law of God which is written on the heart of every person.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Quotes >

"God loves to save the most despicable kinds of people."
This quote is from a sermon by Art Azurdia. He continues,

"And that was certainly true in my case. In getting me, God wasn't getting something good. In getting me, God wasn't getting anything special. In getting me, God wasn't getting anything that would add to Him or benefit Him in any way, shape, or form. Have you forgotten, by chance, the sewer out of which God rescued you?"

Behold, the love of God. When we come to Him, we bring our selfishness, our lusts, our wretchedness. He takes us as His children, to restore us to Himself, to teach us to worship Him. He gains nothing from it, except that which is beyond earthly comprehension - that He is glorified by this display of boundless mercy and patient love.

I am the worst of sinners! Let me serve this God, who sent His own Son to pay for my rebellion.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Thunder-Clouds of Caesar

The thunder-clouds of Caesar are advancing,
Scorched heads of grain fall under Roman foot;
The cindered huts of Gauls, long since abandoned,
Stare, dark-eyed, at these passing Roman swords.

        Some Gaul had held his torch,
        Spread silently the fire on his home
        In death of dreams to take
        What power might be taken from his foe

But march on, mighty Caesar, conquer on!
Spread fear from Roman hill to Briton's end,
For man shall wear the laurel, crowned forever!
And earth shall serve a pantheon of men.

        The woman holds her child,
        Stares silent at his frozen, fading face
        To catch what bit of life
        May still be caught before he fades away

But stand, oh mighty Caesar! Give no way!
The least of these are not a god's concern;
Vercingetorix's mighty men lay slain
And Rome awaits triumphant man's return!