Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir’

Because he bore the shame, I am not ashamed

July 17, 2014

Romans 1_16

In Romans 1:16 we find the Verse of the Day for July 17, 2014:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Because of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that he endured on our behalf, as believers we rejoice and celebrate the good news (the gospel of Christ). We are not put to shame because of Christ’s obedience. Looking at Hebrews 12:1-2, we can really appreciate what the Lord accomplished on our behalf:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

When we turn our eyes upon Jesus Christ, we recognize all that he endured when he was made a curse, as he endured the cross, despising the shame and humiliation associated with such a disgraceful and shameful act, such as crucifixion.

In reflecting upon the Lord Jesus Christ and overwhelming burden of our sins that he bore, I recall the inspiration for a poem that I wrote in which I understood to a greater degree that the Lord was indeed my “Burden Bearer” In thinking on these two verses, my mind recalls a backpacking experience that occurred at TFI (Total Fitness Institute) in California back in December, 1975. During this outdoor wilderness adventure I was assigned to a platoon of believers, and we portioned out our food supply for the week among the group. I volunteered to carry the food for the last day, which meant that my load stayed the same while the load that everyone else carried got lighter.

On this particular day, we were told that we would hike for a mile and then take a break and rest for a while. After a considerable amount of time, I was certain that we had hiked more than a mile, but we continued. When I realized that I was carrying the food for the last day and that everyone else’s load was lighter than mine, I became agitated and began to complain in my mind that “This is just not fair. . .” During this time of frustration and agitation as I struggled under my heavy load, I thought of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that he gladly bore on my behalf. As I took my mind off myself and turned my thoughts toward the Lord, the distress and exasperation seemed to fade, and we arrived at our destination in a short time. That experience was the inspiration for this poem:

The Burden Bearer

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,

When I lay my burden down.

 

I stumbled up the rugged road;

I almost fell beneath the load

And spurned the pain inside my head,

Recalling words of one who said

Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

 

The yoke I bear cannot compare

With all he took upon Himself:

All sins, disease, and guilt, despair

That I could not forebear myself.

His burden was not made of wood,

His cross beyond all words can name.

Have I resisted unto blood?

Could I for joy endure such shame?

 

From a glimpse into his face

I’m strengthened by a second wind;

My mind’s renewed to keep the pace

The load is lightened by my friend.

 

I feel better, so much better

since I laid my burden down.

 

Because the Lord willingly bore our sin and iniquity on the cross where he took upon himself all of our guilt and shame, he released me from bondage of guilt and shame for past failures. The lyrics from contemporary gospel song “I am not ashamed of the Gospel” reinforce the message of the Verse of the Day, recorded here by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

Psalm 121: Looking beyond the hills

September 11, 2013

Psalm_121-1

The Verse of the Day for September 11, 2013 is a familiar passage from one of the most recognized Psalms of David:

Psalm 121: 1-2:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

This photo of Mount Zion is taken from Abu Tor.

This photo of Mount Zion is taken from Abu Tor.

Bishop KC Pillai, a converted Hindu, dedicated his life to enlightening students of the Bible regarding Orientalisms or customs and practices from the Eastern sectors of the world that so clearly influence our understanding of Scripture. Pillai and other scholars point out that the first verse of Psalm 121 is often rendered as a statement when in actuality it should be a question. In contrast to the rendering of in the verse 1 in the King James Version which opens with “I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help”, Pillai suggests that the verse should be read: “Shall I lift up my eyes to the hills? From whence comes my help?”  The answer follows in verse two: “My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”

This particular psalm is said to be among the Psalms of Degrees or Songs (Psalms) of Ascent. Psalms 120-134 comprise a “hymn book” from which pilgrims sang as they were ascending Mount Zion, the highest point in Jerusalem, the place of celebration of the annual feasts mandated by God for the Children of Israel.  Paul Stroble, in his blog devoted to this psalm points out that “Clift McCann writes in The New Interpreter’s Bible that these psalms are all short enough to be memorized and several contain references to everyday life, implying that these psalms reflect the experiences of everyday people traveling or arriving at Jerusalem.”

Stroble, also mentions that various writers refer to Psalm 121 as “the psalm for the journey of life,” and “the psalm for sojourners.”  He continues his discussion of the merits of this psalm that he finds especially meaningful  “because of the comfort of its promises as one travels literally and figuratively.”

One of my favorite musical compositions inspired by Psalm 121 is offered by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

 

In its rendering of Psalm 121:1 the Amplified Bible makes reference to Mount Zion:

I will lift up my eyes to the hills [around Jerusalem, to sacred Mount Zion and Mount Moriah]—From whence shall my help come?

Here is an artist's rendering of Mount Zion by William Henry Bartlett.

Here is an artist’s rendering of Mount Zion by William Henry Bartlett.

Indeed, Zion is the ultimate destination of those pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem and those sojourning through life. Ten years ago when most providentially found myself in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, I heard a life-changing teaching on the spiritual significance of Zion in a believer’s life, and the message inspired this poem:

Zion

For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.

Psalm 132:13

 

To ascend the holy hill, the quest to reach Mount Zion,

To dwell in that high mountain, a place of untold beauty.

Still onward and upward in this lifelong journey,

I situate myself in an accurate position,

As my obedience activates the blessings of God.

My spirit overflows and floods my heart with new song.

 

With all that is within me, I yearn to sing the Lord’s song,

As I migrate upward from Babylon to Mount Zion,

Up to Jerusalem, the place of the Temple of God,

The place where I shall worship God in all of His beauty.

I am ever moving toward that ultimate position,

Knowing both anguish and joy in my perfecting journey.

 

I am moving toward a place of wholeness as I journey

From an alien land where I could not sing the Lord’s song,

As I arise to a more elevated position,

To stand on the Rock, the chief cornerstone, laid in Zion,

Where I shall behold the Lord in His resplendent beauty

And see more clearly revelation from the heart of God.

 

Great and glorious and wondrous is the City of God.

We celebrate the goodness of God along this journey.

The Lord, our God, has fashioned the perfection of beauty.

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised with joyful song.

God displays His passion for Jerusalem and Zion:

He reigns over all the earth from this lofty position.

 

The grace of God flows freely from the highest position,

From the exalted place of the tabernacle of God,

Who has set His King upon the holy hill of Zion.

The sons of God shall be blessed and refreshed on their journey,

Teaching each other with psalm and hymn and spiritual song.

Ascend to worship at the transcendent throne of beauty.

 

The stone once rejected is now the stone of great beauty.

The chief cornerstone has become the foremost position.

The Rock of our Salvation fills our hearts with a new song.

Glory and honor and power and wisdom to our God,

Who strengthens and sustains us with power on our journey

To our destiny, perfected in a place called Zion.

 

The Lord, the Almighty God, is enthroned in great beauty.

As we journey, we maintain an accurate position,

For from Mount Zion flow countless blessings and endless song.

I recall a familiar hymn from childhood “We’re Marching to Zion” which turns out to be one of the hymns composed by Isaac Watts, said to be the father of hymn. The simple lyrics and rousing melody have become much more meaningful within the past 10 years. Here is a rousing rendition of the classic hymn recorded live with the Gaithers:

As I Begin This Day. . .

February 27, 2012

As I begin this day, I attempt to express just how much I love the Lord.

 

This morning as I started my day with a time of prayer and meditation, I came across one of my poems:

 I Begin This Day

Walk with me, Lord, walk w                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Walk with me, Lord, walk with me.

Walk with me, Lord, walk with me.

While I’m on this tedious journey,

I want Jesus to walk with me.

Traditional Black Gospel Song                         

                                                                                                                                                      

In the morning before I start on my journey,

As I greet and prepare to meet you each new day,

Once more you strengthen my soul and encourage me

And bolster my confidence all along the way.

Lord, teach me how to walk by faith and not by sight.

Each time I renew my mind, I prove you once more:

That you withhold no good thing from those who walk upright–

I have seen your faithfulness countless times before,

As you opened doors when there seemed to be no way.

Though transient life brings heights of joy, depths of sorrow,

The love I share today surpasses yesterday

But fades in light of my love for you tomorrow.

Led by the spirit and not by mere emotion,

I begin this day with pure-hearted devotion.

The epigraph or opening lyrics that precede the poem comes from a familiar gospel song “Walk With Me, Lord,” sung by Denny Denson and found on Michael Card’s “The Hidden Face of God” album.

As I re-read the poem my mind focused on these lines:

Though transient life brings heights of joy, depths of sorrow,

The love I share today surpasses yesterday

But fades in light of my love for you tomorrow.

The words brought to mind a song that I composed in 2003:

I Love You More Today Than Yesterday

I love you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

My love for your grows deeper every day

In sun and rain, in joy and in sorrow.

I love you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

I’ll serve you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

I’ll serve you, Lord, I’ll follow and obey,

Not just now but on that bright tomorrow.

I’ll serve you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

I’ll worship you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

I’ll worship you, I’ll honor and adore

And on that day I’ll worship you even more.

I’ll worship you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

As I recall, my song was a spontaneous overflow after visiting the Brooklyn Tabernacle in 2003.  I was working as an educational consultant in Newark, New Jersey for a few days, and figuring out how to get to the famed location via public transportation was a significant triumph for me.

After composing the song and singing it numerous times, offering it as a praise song unto the Lord, I recognized that the opening refrain was similar to a song that I recall from my “boppin doo wop days” in Gary, Indiana back in the 1950s. “M.T.Y.L.T.T.” is an abbreviation for More Than Yesterday, Less Than Tomorrow, a love song of another kind.

Erik Hogstrom, in his blog Route1, offers the following comments about this particular song:

Checkers Records single release No. 858 was a 1957 release by East Chicago, Ind. doo wop group The Dream Kings.

The enigmatically titled “M.T.Y.L.T.T.” only managed to become a local hit in the Chicagoland area. Now it shows up occasionally on doo wop or Checkers Records compilations, but for all practical purposes it has slipped into dark obscurity.

Give a listen to this classic “doo wop” recording:

As I begin this day, I am attempting to put in words just how much I love the Lord.

This recording of “Jesus I Love You” by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir expresses what I am trying to say: