A Gracious Place

Monday, July 31, 2006

Let There Be Light

When I was in Nigeria, I had several opportunities to worship in various local churches. Since we were consistently visiting churches within the ECWA denomination (Evangelical Church of West Africa), there was some degree of continuity between these corporate worship experiences. For example, we sang from a songbook entitled, Sacred Songs and Solos, published by Marshall Morgan & Scott Ltd., London & Edinburgh. This songbook contains 1200 pieces. The lyrics are printed without the music, in small print. Many of the songs we sang out of this book I did not recognize. As I flipped through the pages, however, I saw that most of the old hymns I grew up singing were included.

One morning, during the second week of class, I noticed that one my students (James) had brought a copy of this book to class. We had been discussing the role of music in Christian contemplation as a spiritual discipline. I shared what some of my favorites are, and how I will purposefully sing them to myself when I need to stop thinking of earthly things and be more heavenly minded. During the break, I remarked to James that I liked that little songbook because it had so many old songs I had never heard, and so many that were my favorites. The conversation moved along, and my attention moved to other students who had questions, and wanted to talk.

After the break, James came back into the classroom sweating and a bit out of breath. He presented me with a brand new copy of Sacred Songs and Solos and had inscribed the title page thus: “A Gift for You Sir, Brother James Marama, 14/6/06. My Favorite Song, #237.”

Needless to say, I was touched and humbled by this generous gesture. These students all testified to the financial difficulties they face in order to be able to attend school at JETS (Jos Evangelical Theological Seminary). To be given a gift from someone who is very much in need is powerful. It turns on its ear our funny wage-oriented ways of giving wherein we try so hard to make sure everything is even. Grace is displayed, and the music is beautiful. The class, on the last day presented me with a beautiful shirt, along with a matching dress (for Diedra) that they had tailored, paid for by a collection they had taken up during the week. So needy, yet so generous. My stingy heart, convicted, my soul encouraged to be a better giver.

I picked up this book today, and I came across this song. I have no idea what the tune is, but I really like the Trinitarian emphasis of the lyrics.

Thou whose almighty word
Chaos and darkness heard,
And took their flight,
Hear us we humbly pray;
And, where the Gospel day
Sheds not its glorious ray,
“Let there be light!”

Thou, who didst come to bring,
On thy redeeming wing,
Healing and sight-
Health to the sick in mind,
Sight to the inly blind-
Oh, now to all mankind
“Let there be light!”

Spirit of truth and love,
Life-giving, holy Dove,
Speed forth Thy flight!
Move on the waters’ face
By Thine almighty grace,
And in earth’s darkest place
“Let there be light!”

Blessed and Holy Three,
Glorious Trinity,
Wisdom, love and might;
Boundless as ocean’s tide
Rolling in fullest pride
O’er the world far and wide
“Let there be light!”

Friday, July 28, 2006

Another Nugget

Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely. When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, “Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?”

He said, “My lord the king, since I your servant am lame, I said, ‘I will have my donkey saddled and will ride on it, so I can go with the king.’ But Ziba my servant betrayed me. And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king. My lord the king is like an angel of God; so do whatever pleases you. All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who sat at your table. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?” 2 Samuel 19:24-28


Diedra and I just spent the last several days enjoying a visit from my sixteen-year-old cousin, Natalie. We were very flattered that she actually asked her parents to let her fly down to Dallas by herself to spend a few days with us. We had a blast. We played games, watched movies, played in the pool, talked about the future, and went to Hurricane Harbor. Another cousin of mine, Peter, joined us the day we went to the water park. He lives in Longview and is a senior at LeTourneau. My heart was encouraged and I feel thankful. The Lord is guiding them. What grace!

Monday, July 17, 2006


The woman said, "Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son? Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Samuel 14:13-14

I meet on Sunday evenings with a group of men from my church. Currently we are going through 2 Samuel. We usually listen to Max McClean read about four chapters on audio Bible, and then we walk our way through the passage and talk about the story. The above quote is a beautiful little nugget, a rather blatant statement about God's ministry of reconciliation. In this story, a "wise" old woman is using this truth about God as a reason to compel King David to be reconciled to his son, Absalom. The Gospel leaps off the page!

One of the driving tensions throughout the Biblical story is how God will devise a way to reconcile his creatures who have become his enemies without compromising his absolute holiness. Thank God, he did devise a way, through the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son. Fully man, he qualifies to save humans. Fully God, He conquered sin and death. By some miraculous union, believers are joined to Him by faith. Hence, the Just Judge can be the Justifier of sinners without compromising His justice.

"...he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Romans 3:26

"Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." Romans 5:9-11

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pray for Peace

Having visited Israel last summer, I find myself paying more attention to the news. Knowing that Todd, our professor, guide, and friend is currently in Jerusalem (with his fam) makes me feel even more concerned. Here is his current perspective.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


“You wrote that the world doesn’t need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one.”

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Cultural Diversity

Originally uploaded by dandeelines.
Happy Independence Day! Diedra and I had a great weekend, enjoying an interesting mix of activities. Saturday night we went to Balch Springs Recreational Center to watch some professional wrestling. Apparently there are little wrestling federations around that put on “shows” in little venues like this Rec Center. We enter this gym (about the size of an elementary school gym) and see this huge wrestling ring set up with small bleachers set up on all four sides. A grey haired man comes out and gives the scenario, introducing the various wrestlers, and reviewing whatever drama took place in their previous meetings. Usually there is a contrived controversy regarding some violation of the “rules,” and the crowd roots for the more “virtuous” wrestler who got robbed last time. The wrestlers themselves are dressed in colorful costumes, and have names like “Scorpion” and “Slam Shady.”

The crowd heckles the wrestlers, and the wrestlers either taunt or woo the crowd. The choreographed slaps and slams ensue until one wrestler pins the other for a full three-count from the referee. After three different title bouts, the evening is over. What a night. You’d have to see it to believe it. Quite a cultural experience!

Sunday, we had another cultural experience. After church we went to see Les Miserables in Fair Park. This was by far my most favorite Musical Experience! The story is so beautiful, the set and costumes are amazing, and the music is simply rapturous. There are so many delectable moments that just make shivers tingle down your spine. If you haven’t had an opportunity to see a live performance, please try to go whenever you get a chance. It is so worth it.

There you have it, one weekend, two dances: a ballet of brawn, and a beautiful musical story. God bless Texas.


You may notice a new addition to the Friends sidebar. This blog, TreeInForest, is that of a good friend of mine from Church. He is a gifted writer, with a keen wit, and wisdom to share. Among his many other gifts, you will also notice that he is a fine photographer. In his most recent post, he has shared some exciting things happening at our church. Thoughts I share, he is a kindred spirit. Not surprising, as brothers in Christ, we share One Spirit. Please enjoy.