On the National Day of Prayer

Almighty and ever-living God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for your church and the United States of America.  Forgive us of our many and grievous sins that this prayer might be heard.  Thank you that we can be forgiven because of what Jesus Christ did in his perfect life in this world and in his sacrificial death on the cross.

By your word you created all we see and know.  By your word, you made us in your image.  By your word, Christ is raised from the tomb, death is overcome, and we are given new life by the power of your Spirit.  Help us to boldly proclaim this good news, rejoicing always in your powerful presence.  Let us go forward without fear of poverty, derision, or even death in order to glorify your great name.

Thank you for life, health, food, and opportunity.  Thank you for work to do and for strength to do that work.  Thank you for our homes, our families, our churches, and our friends.

For our country, grant our President and all leaders at the local, state, and national levels wisdom and courage to govern according to your moral law as described in the Bible.  Grant wisdom for our judges.  Protect our freedoms, especially our freedom of religion, and give us the courage to use those freedoms for the advance of your kingdom. 

Let our police protect us with strength and justice; and guard their lives as they fulfill their duties. Give firefighters and all other public servants safety and strength.

For our military we ask safety and success as they defend our country.  We pray that our enemies would turn to you as the salvation of their souls so that peace might reign. 

Grant that we as a nation would turn to you from our many sins, especially the scourge of abortion, that your glory might be displayed for the entire world to see.  Let our sexuality no longer be a source of sinful departure from your perfect will for us.  Let the rest of the world glorify your name because of what they see in our marriages and in our chaste, single brothers and sisters.

For all Christians who are enduring persecution for their faith in this world; especially those who are being persecuted by ISIS; grant health, safety, dignity, and; if necessary; strength to endure to the very end.  Give them a vision of your glory to sustain them in the midst of the suffering to which you have called them.  Grant their persecutors true faith and genuine repentance or, if not, intervene in your justice on behalf of your people, so that their suffering might end.

Strengthen those who stand firm in the faith, encourage the fainthearted, and help those who fall to rise and try again.  Restrain the attacks of Satan and his demons that we might triumph in this world for the glory of your Son, Jesus Christ.

Loving God, you want us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing except losing you, and to lay all our cares on you, knowing that you care for us. Protect us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that nothing in this mortal life may cause us to doubt your great love that Christ has bought for us.   

Be with your servants who make art and music, that with joy we on earth may glimpse great beauty.  Let the heart of this nation sing praise to your name once again as it has in the past.

Give us an accurate and healthy regard for our history, and help us to be thankful for the many things that our nation has done right.  Let us hold up the form of government that has served us so well for so long.  Do not let this grand form of government, this great experiment in representative democracy, perish from this earth.  Do not let it change into something that our founding fathers would not recognize.

Heal those who are sick in body or mind, and give skill and compassion to all who care for them.  Strengthen and preserve all women who are in childbirth, and all young children. 

Come to the help of all who are in danger; protect all who travel by land, air, or water; and show your pity on all prisoners and captives.  Comfort the aged, the bereaved, and the lonely.  Defend and provide for the widowed and the orphaned, the refugee, the homeless, and the unemployed.

Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as is best for us; for we pray these things in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.


The Morally Superior Atheist

I have made much of the argument for Christianity’s truth based on the moral argument.  The basic idea of the moral argument is that atheism has no basing for objective morality; there is no reason for an atheist to be moral given their way of thinking about the world.

This form of argumentation is often miss-characterized by those in the vocal atheist movement.  They say we are accusing them of being amoral, evil people who do not live lives that meet a high standard of right and wrong.  Some web sites ever accuse us of saying atheists eat babies because they are so immoral.  This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the argument. 

In fact, the argument only works if most atheists are outwardly morally outstanding people.  The idea is that a morally superior atheist has no objective basis for the moral life he or she is living.  They are borrowing a set of moral absolutes from another worldview, unusually Christianity itself.  A person only borrows a concept that he or she knows to be true at some level.

The atheist who is a fine, upstanding, and moral person proves by their very life that the atheist view of the world is inadequate.  A better way to see the world is to admit there are moral absolutes established by a loving creator God.  This is the only way to provide and intellectually tenable moral system (For a defense of that position by a professional defender of the Christian faith, see this book.).


A Christmas Hymn for 2015

In keeping with a Christmas tradition of mine, I wanted to share one of my favorite hymns, sung at a recent church service I attended.  I will also take the time to explain some of the lyrics.  

The song I have chosen this year is “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” a solid performance of which can be found here.  This song takes much of its imagery from Isaiah Chapter 6 and Revelation Chapter 5 and Chapter 19.  The hymn was probably written in 275 A. D.

The first verse says:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

These verses from John Chapter One come to mind: 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (John 1, ESV)

The Gospel of John was written in about 90 A. D., well within the generation of the earliest disciples of Christ.  This imminently reliable gospel begins with the startling fact that Jesus was the Divine Son of God, the very Deity in human flesh.  Jesus was what D. James Kennedy used to call “The Eternal God-Man,” a man distinct from God in person, yet one in essence with Him.  How could we not be in awe of the fact that the glory of God was revealed in the Person of Christ? 

Should we not say, with the prophet Habakkuk, ”But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him" (Habakkuk2:20, ESV)?  Should we not shout from the roof tops, “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling” (Zechariah 2:13, ESV)?

Followed by:
King of kings, Yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, In human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful.
His own self for heavenly food.

Our Lord’s deity is again praised using phrases said of Jesus from Revelation 19:16: ”On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” The vision switches briefly from the lowly Christ, born in a manger, to the exhausted Christ coming to earth in his glory to judge the nations.

Christ’s words from Luke 22:19-20 are then referenced: “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Christ gives his life as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of his people, and the “heavenly food” of The Lord’s Supper strengthens them for the long journey through this life to heaven to come.

Verse three:
Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.

In another allusion to Revelation Chapter 19, we hear of the risen and ascended Christ coming to earth to judge the world.  As Christ himself said, “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27, ESV).  This coming judgment should compel us to reach for God’s mercy to forgive our sins.  This grace and mercy was bought by Christ for all of those who repent of their sins and place their trust in him.

Verse four:
At His feet the six-winged seraph,
Cherubim, With sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to His presence
as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Lord Most High!

The imagery progresses to the heavenly vision seen by the prophet Isaiah in Chapter Six of the book that bears his name: “Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”” (Isaiah6:2-3, ESV).  We are transported through the vision of the prophet into the very throne room of God Almighty to see Christ at his most glorious.  We praise him with the seraphim, specially created angels of God who are specially equipped to fly in God’s direct presence.  We sound our “Hallelujahs” to “The Lord Most High.”  We praise him, not just for what he has done, but for who he is: the Lord God Almighty.

This humble blog post only begins to ‘scratch the surface’ of the wondrous message of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” May the God of all grace bend our knees and humble our hearts before the risen Christ this Christmas season.

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