Showing posts from February, 2009

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

This is one of my favorite hymns. It was written by Joachim Neander, called the greatest of all German-Calvinist Reformed hymn writers. (Now there's a mouth full!) He wrote some sixty hymns and composed many tunes. Nearly all of his hymns are triumphant expressions of praise. Neander was a noted scholar in theology, literature and music, as well as a pastor of the Reformed Church in Dusseldorf, Germany. This particular hymn takes on new significance when you realize that he wrote it the year he died (at age 30 in 1680) while battling tuberculosis.
1. Praise to the Lord,
The Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him,
For He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear,
Now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

2. Praise to the Lord,
Who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings,
Yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen
How all your longings have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

3. Praise to the Lord,
Who doth prosper thy work and defe…


On Sunday we laid my mother-in-law's body to rest and held a celebration and memorial service for her. The service was beautiful, honoring Barbara and glorifying God. The highlight was my wife, Heather's, remembrance.

Remembrance of Barbara Strom

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised.” It is an honor for me to stand here today and rise up and call my mother blessed. Over the last few weeks as I have sat by her bedside, I have reflected quite a bit on her life and things I have learned from her.

The story of my walk with Christ begins with her as she nurtured our faith in Christ by her example. From my earliest memories church was what our lives centered around. And I have a love for the body of Christ that was born from watching her serve it with joy. She taught Sunday school, volunteered with the youth and then found her niche keeping the nursery for Sunday school, every Sunday for over 20 years.

The thing that I have reflec…

The Shadowlands

My wife, Heather, spent the day with "Grams" and said her goodbyes to her mom. She read the last two chapters of The Last Battle from The Chronicles of Narnia. The book ends with Peter, Edmund and Lucy meeting Aslan as they enter the Shadowlands. They were experiencing things too delightful for words.
"You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be," [said Aslan.]

Lucy said, "We're so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often."

"No fear of that," said Aslan. "Have you guessed?"

Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.

"Your father and mother and all of you are--as you used to call it in the Shadowlands--dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is t…

Torn Between Two Worlds

At the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy Frodo is leaving Middle Earth to pass on into the West. He leaves Sam, his best friend and companion, behind. In their exchange Tolkien makes some brilliant observations about passing on from this world to the next.
'I wish I could go all the way with you to Rivendell, Mr. Frodo, and see Mr. Bilbo,' said Sam. 'And yet the only place I really want to be in is here. I am that torn in two.'

'Poor Sam! It will feel like that, I am afraid,' said Frodo. 'But you will be healed. You were meant to be solid and whole, and you will be.'Sam doesn't realize where Frodo is going until later.
'Where are you going, Master?' cried Sam, though at last he understood what was happening.

'To the Havens, Sam,' said Frodo.

'And I can't come.'

'No Sam. Not yet anyway, not further that the Havens...Your time may come. Do not be too sad, Sam. You cannot be always torn in two. You will have to be one and w…

On Death and Dying

My mother-in-law is dying. She is a wonderful woman of prayer and nurture. She has taken each of her children (including in-laws) and grandchildren under her wing and encouraged them to follow God's will for their lives. She has lived well. Now she is dying well--under the excellent care of hospice and with the love of her family.

Seeing a loved one die makes the veil between this world and the next become very thin. It makes you face your final enemy. You realize "noone makes it out of here alive."

It has been interesting to read how people deal with death. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is widely recognized as one of the foremost authorities in the field of death, dying and transition for over 20 years. She reflects our culture at large's approach to death and dying. Here are some excerpts. (You can read the entire interview here .)
When I started this work, I wouldn't know what [dealing with death as an atheist or agnostic] was. I was raised Protestant. In my heart I wa…

Dodge Ball in the Street

I came home today to find my seven-year-old son, Eli, and my eight-year-old daughter, Emily, playing dodge ball in the street with some neighborhood kids in front of my house. After I was sure they saw me and were safely out of my way, it thrilled my soul. Do kids still play in the street? Mine do. Emily and Eli watch their share of television and DVDs. They play X-box--a lot! They are all too often on the computer nurturing their Webkins like every other kid in America. But when given a choice, they would almost always rather play outside–and I love it.I love it that they want to play with real kids in the real world more than they want to play with virtual pets in the virtual world. To me, kids at play in the neighborhood after homework is done and before dinner is ready seems very human–a little slice of how things ought to be. In that moment of seeing my kids play in the street, the pressures of being a pastor, the current political scandals of South Florida and Idaho, the war in…

Renewing All Things

I am starting this blog because I would like to share with others what I believe. I believe that God is on a mission to redeem and renew a world lost and broken by sin. He is “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Incredibly God has chosen to use his imperfect people (the church) to take part in carrying out his glorious work of renewal. Christians have been rescued by God in Christ to become agents of renewal. This requires word and deed ministry, proclamation of the gospel and demonstration of the gospel. God is renewing human hearts and recreating all things through his broken people (the church). This is our mission to the world. This renewal begins with individuals, families and communities. These are the themes I would like to take up in this blog.

The City of God

“The City of God is a place where the inhabitants love people and walk on gold; the city of man is a place where the inhabitants love gold and walk on people.”St. Augustine