Tag Archives: Old Dead Guys

I Would I Were a Child

I would I were a child,
That I might look, and laugh, and say, My Father!
And follow Thee with running feet, or rather
Be led thus through the wild.

How I would hold thy hand!
My glad eyes often to thy glory lifting,
Which casts all beauteous shadows, ever shifting,
Over this sea and land.

If a dark thing came near,
I would but creep within thy mantle’s folding,
Shut my eyes close, thy hand yet faster holding,
And so forget my fear.

O soul, O soul, rejoice!
Thou art God’s child indeed, for all thy sinning;
A trembling child, yet his, and worth the winning
With gentle eyes and voice.

The words like echoes flow.
They are too good; mine I can call them never;
Such water drinking once, I should feel ever
As I had drunk but now.

And yet He said it so;
‘Twas He who taught our child-lips to say, Father!
Like the poor youth He told of, that did gather
His goods to him, and go.

Ah! Thou dost lead me, God;
But it is dark; no stars; the way is dreary;
Almost I sleep, I am so very weary
Upon this rough hill-road.

Almost! Nay, I do sleep.
There is no darkness save in this my dreaming;
Thy Fatherhood above, around, is beaming;
Thy hand my hand doth keep.

This torpor one sun-gleam
Would break. My soul hath wandered into sleeping;
Dream-shades oppress; I call to Thee with weeping,
Wake me from this my dream.

And as a man doth say,
Lo! I do dream, yet trembleth as he dreameth;
While dim and dream-like his true history seemeth,
Lost in the perished day;

(For heavy, heavy night
Long hours denies the day) so this dull sorrow
Upon my heart, but half believes a morrow
Will ever bring thy light.

God, art Thou in the room?
Come near my bed; oh! draw aside the curtain;
A child’s heart would say Father, were it certain
That it did not presume.

But if this dreary bond
I may not break, help Thou thy helpless sleeper;
Resting in Thee, my sleep will sink the deeper,
All evil dreams beyond.

Father! I dare at length.
My childhood, thy gift, all my claim in speaking;
Sinful, yet hoping, I to Thee come, seeking
Thy tenderness, my strength.

George MacDonald.

When the great sov’reign would his will express,
He gives a perfect rule; what can he less?
And guards it with a sanction as severe
As vengeance can inflict, or sinners fear:
Else his own glorious rights he would disclaim,
And man might safely trifle with his name.

William Cowper, “Truth,” Table Talk and Other Poems, 1782.

Walking with God

Genesis v. 24.

Oh! for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame;
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul-refreshing view
Of Jesus and his word?

What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void,
The world can never fill.

Return, O holy Dove, return!
Sweet the messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made thee mourn
And drove thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
And worship only thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

William Cowper, Olney Hymns.

The People’s Bible

I recently finished publishing (in Kindle format) a sermon set called The People’s Bible by Joseph Parker, also published in 1970s as Preaching Through the Bible. Joseph Parker was a contemporary and friend of Spurgeon and, like Spurgeon, gathered thousands of Londoners in the late 19th century. His published sermons number well over 1000. The People’s Bible is a homiletic journey through the entire Bible, comprising about 1200 sermons, preached over the course of seven years.

Spurgeon called The People’s Biblea work of genius” and said that its innovative method would outlast the many copycats of his day.

What is unique about Joseph Parker’s sermons are their dynamic nature, their ability to surprise. He meditated on Scripture during the week, and his preaching was the outflow of that meditation. He gave his messages with few notes, and the man who copied them down said that Parker was at his best when he strayed farthest from his notes.

Alexander Whyte—himself among the most famous British preachers—after hearing Spurgeon and Dean Stanley in London, later heard Joseph Parker on another visit. After hearing him twice he wrote:

“He is by far the ablest man now standing in the English-speaking pulpit. He stands in the pulpit of Thomas Goodwin, the pulpit genius of all the Puritans, and a theologian to whom I owe more than I can ever acknowledge of spiritual light and life. And Dr. Parker is a true and worthy successor to this great Apostolic Puritan.”

Another prominent preacher and writer, Ian MacLaren, wrote the following:

“Dr. Parker occupies a lonely place among the preachers of our day. His position among preachers is the same as that of a poet among ordinary men of letters. … The power of his preaching lies in the contact of a mind of perpetual and amazing originality with the sublime truths of the Gospel, and the faculty which Dr. Parker possesses with all men of intellectual genius of discovering the principles which lie behind what seems the poorest detail, and which resolve all things into a unity.”

His biographer, Margaret Bywater, called him “the most outstanding preacher of his time.”

Below are the links for the new Kindle editions of The People’s Bible. These include active table of contents and linked footnotes.

Genesis
Exodus – sample
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges & Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel
1 & 2 Kings
1 & 2 Chronicles
Ezra, Nehemiah & Esther
Job
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Songs
Isaiah
Jeremiah & Lamentations
Ezekiel & Daniel
The Minor Prophets – sample
Matthew (3 vol.)
Mark & Luke
John
Acts (3 vol.)
Romans to Galatians
Ephesians to Revelation

4 1/2 Book Recommendations for Christmas

A few seasonal reading ideas, focusing on what’s freely (or cheaply) available online

As Western culture shifts, Protestants and Pentecostals have become more and more concerned with the liturgical year. Partially assisted by the advent of social media, America is getting whiplash as we return from individualistic culture to a more communal culture. The liturgical year is a way of remembering the Bible’s great stories together as a community, and in that way it has always had value for the church.

How can we remember the birth of Christ best? There are many Christmas “devotionals” out there, but I recommend first that we return to the great hymns of Christmas past. If you have not sat down and read a hymnbook as part of your worship, I would say you are missing out on some of the inexpressible truths entrusted to the church. Poetry (and hymns!) have a way of expressing what prose can’t.

A Book of Christmas Verse – ed. H. C. Beeching

This book is just what I had been looking for: a mix of classic Christmas hymns that I had heard almost every year, and other traditional hymns and poems that are lost to modern times. Of course the classics like Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley are there, but there are older English hymnwriters that you may not have read, like John Donne and George Herbert. Most of the poetry here explores the deepest truths of Christmas: the Incarnation, the humility of the Son of God, and the cross and resurrection that awaited him at the end of his life. (If you don’t read Latin you will have to skip a few, but don’t let it put you off—it is a great collection.)

A Book of Christmas Verse (Kindle edition)

My Christmas Book – F. W. Boreham

Boreham’s books are not “devotional,” strictly speaking. His Christmas book is more of a ramble through the park with an old friend. He mixes storytelling with preaching in a way that cannot be imitated. This book is newly available in a digital edition, and if you can get a hands on a copy you will be glad you did. If you can’t get your hands on a copy, you can read a sample at the following link:

A Clouded Christmas (sample chapter)

How Christmas Came to Roaring Camp (sample chapter)

My Christmas Book (Kindle edition)

All About God in Christ (or The Christ of Christmas) – Herbert Lockyer

Herbert Lockyer is one of the most prolific writers of Bible studies of modern times, but he is best known for the All series. In the 1930s, Lockyer was involved with Zondervan made the smart choice of publishing dozens his topical sermons:Sorrows and Stars, Roses in December, The Fairest of All, The Mystery of Godliness and several others. He published _The Christ of Christmas _in 1942. Later, when they were creating the _All _series, much of this older material was cleaned up and put into the 1995 volume All About God in Christ, so that book is primarily a study of the Incarnation, as was The Christ of Christmas.

The Christ of Christmas (Kindle edition)

All About God in Christ

The Glory of the Manger – Samuel Zwemer

Zwemer has many books, and even the most mundane titles that I have come across have been exhilarating and convicting. Like the others, this book is a mix of doctrinal and devotional, with a focus on Christ’s divinity. If my timeline is correct, Zwemer was teaching comparative religion courses at Princeton when he wrote this, and it shows in his wide variety of sources, stories, and poetry about the Christmas story. This book has been out of print for many decades, and was recently published for Kindle by Pioneer Library.

The Glory of the Manger (Kindle edition)

Conclusion

Leonard Ravenhill used to be invited to Christian book fairs, but he would decry the shallowness of the writings he found there. Biblical Christian truth is glorious, convicting, and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, and we dull the edge when we obsess over the earthly aspects of Jesus’ advent: who were the wise men, what is a manger, what was the star, etc. My final suggestion is that we look for books dealing especially with the glorious truth of the Incarnation of Christ, what Paul called “the mystery of godliness”—and if we meditate on that, we will not feel that we have missed the spirit of Christmas or the purpose of the season.