The Christian Hedonist Takes a Wife

Our God has made another way To put his glory on display. His goodness shines with brightest rays When we delight in all his ways. His glory overflows its rim When we are satisfied in him. His radiance will fill the earth When people revel in his worth. The beauty of God’s holy fire Burns brightest in the heart’s desire.

I am a Christian Hedonist Because I know that if I kissed My wife simply because it’s right, And not because it’s my delight, It would not honor her so well. With pleasures I will praise Noël, And I will magnify my wife By making her my joy in life.

So may this blazing, God-like flame Ignite in us for his great name A holy passion, zeal and fire That magnify him with desire.
I hail him as my joy in life, And take from his pure hand my wife.

John Piper, Velvet Steel, pg.22-23.

Bright Star

Bright Star by English poet John Keats (1795–1821)–one of the key figures of the Romantic movement, expresses the poet’s desire to be like a star. In the poem the tone is melancholic while the theme is the desire to live in an unchanging state. Keats uses rhyme and literary techniques to reveal these ideas.

The melancholic tone is expressed throughout the poem. He begins with the use of apostrophe, by addressing the star. “Bright star! Would I were steadfast as thou art”. His desire is to be the impossible, unchanging like a star. Although he understands that a star is “sleepless”, he acknowledges this as a positive trait being “patient”. He also recognizes that the star is alone, but refers to this as “splendour”, giving the impression of the bittersweet existence of the star. The imagery of the next few lines involves the observation of life’s great spirituality as he refers to “the moving waters at their priestlike task” and the snow on the mountains. Keats seems to feel that watching life changing from afar would be better than living in it and having to change with it. He ends the poem by saying that he would like to live as a star “or else swoon to death”. It is apparent that Keats understands the sacrifices of living as a star, but acknowledges its benefits as well.

The theme of the poem is the desire to live in an unchanging state. This is achieved by Keats metaphorical analysis of the star. The entire poem personifies the star as a human creature that watches patiently from above. Keats also relays his message through the use of oxymoronic ideas such as “sweet unrest” and patient sleepless”. This concludes that Keats knows the impossibility of his desire to live in an unchanging state. The descriptions of the “earth’s” gifts represent what is changing and the star represents what is “steadfast” and what he desires to be. He finds comfort “pillw’d” in this locale which helps express the theme.

In the poem “Bright Star” by John Keats the desire to experience a life that never moves forward is expressed. The impossibility of this desire leads to its melancholic feeling. (Source)

Here is the original poem:

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–
No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.

Here is the trailer to the upcoming film by Jane Campion featuring Ben Wishaw as the 19th century poet John Keats and Abbie Cornish as his “bright star” Fanny Brawne. (Movie opens September 18, 2009)

In the Cold of Our Soul’s Winter

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We stand here encompassed by winter: the barren trees with their fallen leaves, the silent riverbed. Nothing is more certain in life or in nature than death. We accept it as the way of things. Perhaps we are able because we have faith in spring. Yet somehow it seems different to us when death comes early. Much as we might bemoan an early winter, we feel robbed of something due. We feel cheated. Sometimes we rage. And sometimes we blame. And, in doing so, we say to God, “My will be done, not Thine,” and we forget about the promise of spring.

In the cold of our soul’s winter, we bury our hearts, and then we wonder why it is dark and why we feel so alone. And we risk spending so much of our lives occupied with our loss and what we have not, that we forget the beauty of what is and what we have still.  And this is sometimes the greater loss.

Richard Paul Evans — The Looking Glass

I Have Nothing: Broken As an Offering of Love

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Take these hands and lift them up
For I have not the strength to praise You near enough
For I have nothing, I have nothing without You

Take my voice and pour it out
Let it sing the songs of mercy I have found
For I have nothing, I have nothing without You

All my soul needs
Is all Your love to cover me
So all the world will see
That I have nothing without You

Take my body and build it up
May it be broken as an offering of love
For I have nothing, I have nothing without You

But I love You…
With all my heart
With all my soul
With all my mind
And all the strength I can find

Take my time here on earth
And let it glorify all that You are worth
For I am nothing, I am nothing, I am nothing without You

Bebo Norman - Nothing Without You

When the Lamp is Shattered

When the lamp is shattered
The light in the dust lies dead—
When the cloud is scattered,
The rainbow’s glory is shed.
When the lute is broken,
Sweet tones are remembered not;
When the lips have spoken,
Loved accents are soon forgot.

As music and splendour
Survive not the lamp and the lute,
The heart’s echoes render
No song when the spirit is mute—
No song but sad dirges,
Like the wind through a ruined cell,
Or the mournful surges
That ring the dead seaman’s knell.

When hearts have once mingled,
Love first leaves the well-built nest;
The weak one is singled
To endure what it once possessed.
O Love! who bewailest
The frailty of all things here,
Why choose you the frailest
For your cradle, your home, and your bier?

Its passions will rock thee,
As the storms rock the ravens on high;
Bright reason will mock thee,
Like the sun from a wintry sky.
From thy nest every rafter
Will rot, and thine eagle home
Leave thee naked to laughter,
When leaves fall and cold winds come.

By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1803-1882)

Welcome to the Silence

Hi. Welcome to the silence.

Life is so loud sometimes and just being still even for a few minutes can powerfully rearrange everything that’s assaulting our minds and our hearts. Especially when God is in view. After all he’s the one who said “be still and know that I am God.”

So we’ve turned the volume down as we start what we hope will be a beautiful and raucous night in the hopes that the things we need to hear most will become really, really loud.

God knows who you are. Where you are. And he knows what you need in this moment. He is not looking at a massive crowd but the eyes of the one who so easily spoke galaxies into their places are looking right at you. Amazingly he knows your name and the color he painted your eyes. And he knows what makes you laugh and what makes you cry. He is not distracted by what you think about him. Or what you want him to think about you. He knows what he thinks about you and how he feels. And he wants to say something to you in the silence.

“I love you.”

Let that sink into the silence and the stillness and the soil of your heart.

God loves you. Oh don’t believe the words on the screen or the words of somebody. You don’t have to take it from a third party. No. The Father has spoken directly to you. The God of all creation is engaging you in a pretty stunning conversation. And as is always the case God is speaking first. Not waiting for your proposal or assessment of where you feel you are. Or if you’ll ever be as amazing as something deep inside tells you that you were meant to be. He isn’t waiting to hear about all your screw ups or your great deeds to make it up. No God is eager to share his take on you. Continue reading

So I Will Praise Him in the Night

I recently sent this to a friend in Toronto, so I thought I might share this with y’all here. May the God-centered words be a blessing to you, especially in your times of “night”.

The plans of God bring ebb and flow –
His wisdom thus ordains it.
Prosperity to want may go,
As His good hands arrange it.
Both day and night dispense His grace;
Both work to serve His pleasure.
By day we know the glorious Face
At night we learn to treasure.

We err to think the darkness bad,
When shadows mask our knowing,
For there refreshing dew is had
That keeps the flowers growing.
The waxing and the waning moon
Both work to mark the season.
The winter dawn and dusk of June
Alike display His reason.

Should we then seek that He explain
The circle of His blessing?
Our daily rhythms here maintain
Great patterns there expressing.
For sorrows come until the Day
When Night itself will vanish,
While Wisdom works its perfect way,
And Light, will darkness, banish.

The happy soul is then content
To know that He is faithful,
And through each difficult event
Remembers to be grateful.
For God commands each circumstance
To serve those of His calling.
His loving Hand of providence
Will keep the faint from falling.

So I will praise Him in the night,
This globe of sorrows surely turns.
See there His stars of promise bright;
Behold, the light of dawn returns.


Kevin Hartnett, August 2007