Jesus, Priceless Treasure

As I said on Sunday, I think this, coupled with the tune “Je­su, Meine Freude” is probably the antithesis of entertainment-driven, contemporary worship, “praise songs” so popular today.

Jesus, priceless Treasure,
Source of purest pleasure,
Truest Friend to me.
Ah, how long in anguish
Shall my spirit languish,
Yearning, Lord, for Thee?
Thou art mine, O Lamb divine!
I will suffer naught to hide Thee,
Naught I ask beside Thee.

In Thine arms I rest me;
Foes who would molest me
Cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking,
Every heart be quaking,
Jesus calms my fear.
Lightnings flash and thunders crash;
Yet, though sin and hell assail me,
Jesus will not fail me.

Satan, I defy thee;
Death, I now decry thee;
Fear, I bid thee cease.
World, thou shalt not harm me
Nor thy threats alarm me
While I sing of peace.
God’s great power guards every hour;
Earth and all its depths adore Him,
Silent bow before Him.

Evil world, I leave thee;
Thou canst not deceive me,
Thine appeal is vain.
Sin that once did bind me,
Get thee far behind me,
Come not forth again.
Past thy hour, O pride and power;
Sinful life, thy bonds I sever,
Leave thee now forever.

Hence, all thought of sadness!
For the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father,
Though the storms may gather,
Still have peace within;
Yea, whatever we here must bear,
Still in Thee lies purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless Treasure!

In its Narrow Chamber Keep

Lord, Thee I love with all my heart;
I pray Thee, ne’er from me depart;
With tender mercy cheer me.
Earth has no pleasure I would share,
Yea, Heav’n itself were void and bare
If Thou, Lord, wert not near me.
And should my heart for sorrow break,
My trust in Thee can nothing shake.
Thou art the portion I have sought;
Thy precious blood my soul has bought.
Lord Jesus Christ,
My God and Lord, my God and Lord,
Forsake me not! I trust Thy Word.

Yea, Lord, ’twas Thy rich bounty gave
My body, soul, and all I have
In this poor life of labor.
Lord, grant that I in every place
May glorify Thy lavish grace
And serve and help my neighbor.
Let no false doctrine me beguile,
Let Satan not my soul defile.
Give strength and patience unto me
To bear my cross and follow Thee.
Lord Jesus Christ,
My God and Lord, my God and Lord,
In death Thy comfort still afford.

Lord, let at last Thine angels come,
To Abr’am’s bosom bear me home,
That I may die unfearing;
And in its narrow chamber keep
My body safe in peaceful sleep
Until Thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me,
That these mine eyes with joy may see,
O Son of God, Thy glorious face,
My Savior and my fount of grace.
Lord Jesus Christ,
My prayer attend, my prayer attend,
And I will praise Thee without end!

(Mar­tin Schall­ing, cir­ca 1567 (Herzlich Lieb hab’ ich dich, O Herr); pub­lished in Kurtze und son­der­liche Newe Sym­bo­la et­lich­er Fürst­en (N�rn­berg, Ger­ma­ny: 1571); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Ca­ther­ine Wink­worth, Lyra Ger­man­i­ca, se­cond ser­ies, 1858, alt.)

Funerals and Resurrection

What I love about Lutheran funerals is the primacy given the Resurrection. In the prayers and liturgy, the Resurrection of Christ is dominant, coupled with the hope of our own resurrection. What bothers me is that resurrection does not take center stage at all times. What is our last enemy, after all? Is it is sin? Is it it the lack of forensic justification? Spare me. The last enemy is death, but we have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Death is our problem and the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise of the resurrection of all the dead and the life everlasting is the Gospel. It is the good news.

I’ve taken the “Jeff Gibbs” approach and try and try to always bring the hope to the life and the resurrection, not leaving it in some platonized, gnosticized heavenly existence in the Great Beyond©. The problem is so much of Pop-Christianity can only address the forgiveness theology that “gets us into heaven” and leaves it at that. We speak resurrection, but every preacher and Thomas Nelson Book © just talk about Jesus in the clouds and hereafter and they drown us out.

All the more reason to keep crying in the wilderness.

Master of Irony

I spent the three weeks of Pre-Lent (the good ol’ -Gesima Sundays of the One Year Lectionary, for you lectionary geeks) emphasizing the importance of preparing for Lent, what to watch out for, the need for prayer during Lent, the right understanding of fasting, the three Lenten disciplines of fasting, almsgiving and prayer.

But guess what I did? In all my talk about preparing for Lent, I forgot to print out the fasting guidelines and resources that I prepared a couple of years ago. I also forgot to print out the devotional books that many folks seem to like. Who knows what else I forgot to do that I haven’t remembered yet.

That’s one thing the Tempter is good at: irony and obviousness. He seems to hit us right in the hypocritical muscle and make fools of us. Well, expose our foolishness because so often we go right along with it and don’t notice the obvious temptation (tenatio, as Luther put it) until we have already succumbed.

What to do? Acknowledge the failure, repent of our slumber and try again. I printed the fasting guidelines Friday, forgot to fold them until Sunday morning and then forgot to announce they were there at the 10:30 service.

Lord have mercy!

What to Expect this Lenten Season

I hate to put it like this, but it is almost a rule that when we “make progress” in our Christian life, we will be tempted. Well, I mean we are tempted at every moment, but it gets stronger and less subtle when we are disciplining ourselves.

Ok, so what do I mean? Well, if you are fasting, be prepared for temptation. Not just for eating more food, or eating the food you are abstaining from. I mean you will be tempted with things you have long set aside. That itch for nicotine you hadn’t had for years? There it is again. That feeling of sowing your wild oats, like you did before you were married? Yep, that old “friend” may come back. Sometimes literally.

Even if you are not participating in a fast, but make some other progress, you ought to be prepared for temptation. When you start going to church after a hiatus, you will suddenly find all kinds of “reasons” not to go the next week. You make efforts to get out of debt, following the divine wisdom which states, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. (Pro 22:7 ESV), then do not be surprised to find yourself tempted into “financial emergencies” which require more borrowing.

Any time we  take up the cross and follow Christ, it is good and pleasing…and we will meet temptation to abandon that path, to gratify ourselves, to give up. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (Jam 4:7-8 ESV)

One Thing’s Needful

One thing’s needful;
Lord this treasure Teach me highly to regard;
All else, though it first give pleasure, Is a yoke that presses hard.
Beneath it the heart is still fretting and striving,
No true, lasting happiness ever deriving.
The gain of this one thing all loss can requite
And teach me in all things to find true delight.

Wilt thou find this one thing needful,
Turn from all created things
Unto Jesus and be heedful
Of the blessèd joy He brings.
For where God and Man both in one are united,
With God’s perfect fulness the heart is delighted;
There, there is the worthiest lot and the best,
My One and my All and my Joy and my Rest.

How were Mary’s thoughts devoted,
Her eternal joy to find
As intent each word she noted,
At her Savior’s feet reclined!
How kindled her heart, how devout was its feeling,
While hearing the lessons that Christ was revealing!
For Jesus all earthly concerns she forgot,
And all was repaid in that one happy lot.

Thus my longings, heav’nward tending,
Jesus, rest alone on Thee.
Help me, thus on Thee depending;
Savior, come and dwell in me.
Although all the world should forsake and forget Thee,
In love I will follow Thee, ne’er will I quit Thee.
Lord Jesus, both spirit and life is Thy Word;
And is there a joy which Thou dost not afford?

Wisdom’s highest, noblest treasure,
Jesus, lies concealed in Thee;
Grant that this may still the measure
Of my will and actions be,
Humility there and simplicity reigning,
In paths of true wisdom my steps ever training.
Oh, if I of Christ have this knowledge divine,
The fulness of heavenly wisdom is mine.

Naught have I, O Christ, to offer
Naught but Thee, my highest Good.
Naught have I, O Lord, to proffer
But Thy crimson-colored blood.
Thy death on the cross hath Death wholly defeated
And thereby my righteousness fully completed;
Salvation’s white raiments I there did obtain,
And in them in glory with Thee I shall reign.

Therefore Thou alone, my Savior,
Shalt be All in all to me;
Search my heart and my behavior,
Root out all hypocrisy.
Restrain me from wandering on pathways unholy
And through all life’s pilgrimage keep my heart lowly.
This one thing is needful, all others are vain; I count all but loss that I Christ may obtain.

–Johann Schroder, 1697