God is Love…

If one perfection of God shines out in redemption with greater effulgence than any other, it is this. Love is the focus of all the rest, the golden thread that draws and binds them all together in holy and beautiful cohesion. Love was the moving, controlling attribute in God’s great expedient of saving sinners. Justice may have demanded it, holiness may have required it, wisdom may have planned it, and power may have executed it; but love originated the whole. [It] was the moving cause in the heart of God, so that the salvation of the sinner is not so much a manifestation of the justice, holiness, wisdom, or power of God, as it is a display of His love.

-Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

The Everlasting Word Band’s “Glory”

unnamedGlory, the new Christmas album by the Everlasting Word Band, will be released next week. You can begin your Christmas music binge on November 24th!

The EWB (almost named “Drink the Sweet”!) has come a long way since those first rehearsals in my garage almost ten years ago. Back then we barely knew how to hook our gear into the sound system, and we most certainly didn’t know how to get what we needed from stage monitors (I’m still repenting for some of those rehearsals…). If the quality of this album is any indication, those days are long gone. Now the EWB is putting out professional quality recordings and wonderfully creative songs, all for the sake of the church.

Speaking generally, Glory shows a commitment to the joy of Christmas. They’ve bypassed the angsty navel-gazing sort of Christmas music some bands produce. Instead, the mind goes outward to the glory of Jesus Christ and the wonder of His humble love for mankind. Thank you! This is worshipful music.

I’ve listened to their new songs twice and here are a few comments, song-by-song… Continue reading

A lofty goal of setting all 150 psalms…

The church needs to be singing the Psalms. There is a range of expression, emotion, and intensity in those inspired songs that must find a place in our worship today. If we do the hard work of setting the psalms with singable, beautiful, and modern melodies, we’ll realize how indispensable these texts are for the proper reverence of God and for the encouragement of God’s people. To that end, my friends at Clearnote Church have set a lofty goal of setting all 150 psalms, but they need your support.

Here is an example of their great work (Psalm 3)… Continue reading

A sinner…

And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:37-39).

This Pharisee was much more civilized than his fellow Pharisees, many of whom wanted to kill Jesus. This Pharisee, at the very least, wanted to have Jesus over to his home for dinner. He was civilized, inquisitive, intellectually curious, hospitable—but, also, a run of the mill self-righteous man.

Jesus, the Pharisee, and honored guests reclined at table. A woman—a notorious woman—heard that Jesus was just up the road dining at the Pharisee’s house. Knowing Jesus is near, she made a plan and her love for Jesus kept her from second-guessing herself.

All we know about this woman is what this passage tells us—she was a sinner. The Holy Spirit inspires a one word bio for our dear sister: sinner… Continue reading

On earth peace, good will toward men…

Man’s maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey;
that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might grow weak;
that the Healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.

Augustine of Hippo (Sermons 191.1)

Lord's Day morning meditations (Thomas Watson)…

51XAQ3X7RWL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Thomas Watson suggests some ways we can direct our thoughts on Sunday mornings in order to obey the fourth commandment (Exod 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-15; Is. 58:13-14). Take these up this coming Lord’s Day and see if you ride on the heights of the earth…

Let your mind dwell on these four things… Continue reading

Good Christmas music: All the Bells Shall Ring…

We have a few policies in the Dionne household in regard to Christmas music: 1) we don’t listen to it before Thanksgiving (a rule I gladly break for the Good Shepherd Band), and 2) we purchase a new album each year to add to the collection. By this point, we’ve amassed an eclectic mix of music…bluegrass, folk, prog rock, country, Renaissance, jazz, Herb, and, of course, Nat and Vince. Some we’ve abandoned, and some we’ve worn out. Three years ago with the release of the Good Shepherd Band’s Repeat the Sounding Joy we had a new favorite, particularly the powerful “The Lord at First Did Adam Make”:

a0655437050_2Now this year—today—the Good Shepherd Band has pulled out the orchestral and sleigh bells (and, apparently, a newly acquired electronic keyboard) for their second Christmas album. They found some old, familiar but broken-down songs and brought them into the shop for a change of tires, a new paint job, and quite a few additional horses under the hood. You won’t have to sift through the album to weed out dumb songs about Jack and Nick and Rudy. These songs are about the Lord Jesus Christ and His birth as the Savior of man. I have only listened through the whole of the album once, but as was the case with their last offering, I expect this music will make a lasting imprint on my family’s celebration of our Lord’s incarnation.

I’ll call out a few of my favorites, quick impressions after one listen: the drum-heavy and guitar-gnarly “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is excellent (it takes second place to Jethro Tull’s instrumental version). “Fullness of Time” is musically and textually beautiful, wonderfully singable. Banjo in “I Saw Three Ships” made me smile and then the full Sufjan-ish orchestration had me dancing. I’m especially happy the album closes with some Scripture songs—the Magnificat, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Song of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis). Give us more!

Here’s a sample…have a listen and please consider purchasing the album so that the men who have set about this work of reforming the worship of the Church might be encouraged to keep going…

Fullness of Time…

Some encouragement from the Good Shepherd Band…

 

From Adam’s rebellion to Moses’ good law,
Death reigned the master of men;
With all of creation, held under its claw,
Awaiting redemption from sin.
But when the law thundered in earthquake and fire,
Weak as it was through our flesh,
It could not help conquer our sinful desires,
Only tightened the noose ‘round our neck.

Still, God remembered His mercy in wrath
And promised a way of escape:
A Lamb to be killed on the people’s behalf
Would trample the head of the snake.
But though we would offer our best to the fire,
And rivers of blood would be spilt,
This could not help with our sinful desires,
Nor atone for the depth of our guilt.

Chorus
When the fullness of time had come,
God sent us His only Son,
Born of a woman, born under law,
So that He might a people redeem.        (x2)

With joy set before Him and love to display,
He laid aside His great crown;
To share in our nature as creatures of clay,
He emptied Himself and came down:
Lived like a servant without any home,
Carried our sorrows and griefs,
Was spit at, rejected, despised and alone;
Accursed, He hung on a tree.

(Chorus)

Bridge
No longer slaves, we were bought with a price;
Adopted, delivered, we’re sons now with Christ.
We stand in His righteousness dressed,
To His righteousness freed!                         (x2)

(Chorus)

So that He might a people redeem.

Lyrics and Music by Jody Killingsworth