For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The State of the Union (one more pointless opinion)

OK, I admit, I didn't watch the State of the Union address.  I used to try and sit through these things, but I get so tired of the same old rhetoric, the same old sound-bite policy statements, the same old partisan pot-shots...from both sides.  So my family and I watched an old Jimmy Stewart movie instead (and no it wasn't Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). 

But I have a response to the State of the Union anyway.  Because I don't need a politician to tell me about the state of affairs in this land I live in and love.  So here it is. 

1.  We are further from being a "Christian" nation than we've ever been.  I won't argue that we ever were truly a Christian nation.  Our founders certainly came with religious freedom in mind, and our early leaders were certainly governed by a Judeo-Christian worldview.  But I don't think we can truly say we were a Christian nation; Christian-led, Christian-friendly, etc. yes, but... 

Anyway, we are further from any biblical worldview that at any time in history.  We could talk the acceptance of abortion, gay marriage, pornography, alcohol and drug abuse, etc.  We could talk about the increasing vileness of "entertainment."  We could talk about the every decreasing influence of the Church, due largely to the ever increasing influence of the world in the church. 

I think the one example that clinches the argument is the recent Grammy Awards.  I heard friend after friend, supposedly Christians, rave about what a great show the Grammy's were, none of them seeming to be bothered by the over the top sex and hedonism of most of the music and musicians, and none of them even mentioning the fact that it was used as an opportunity it perform a mass gay marriage ceremony.  We've become so much like the world that this things don't even phase us. 

2.  The system is more broke now that it has ever been.  And I don't just mean broke in the sense of financially bankrupt, though that certainly applies.  But the system in general.  A system that pays exorbitant salaries to men and women to "serve" our country, passing laws that they themselves are exempt from, more concerned about party power than the prosperity of the populace, more focused on impressing through the media than truly governing through principle. 

Case in point.  The one thing I heard from last night's speech (while changing discs in the DVD player) was this idea of increasing the minimum wage for those working under federal contracts, and challenging the rest of the nation to do likewise.  "Give America a raise," I think was the line.  Sounds good. Everyone cheers.  Hey, I haven't had a raise in five years, so I'm all for it!  But it's not sound fiscal policy.  Sure, the President can talk about more money, he prints his own.  But for the rest of us, that money has to come from somewhere.  

If every business suddenly gives $3/hour raises, where are they going to pay for it.  Sure, we could argue that the corporate CEOs could give up a bit of their profits, and surely some could.  But most small businesses don't have the biggest profit margin to begin with.  They are already taxed to death by the government, like the rest of us, to pay for a litany of "services" that for the most part help no one.  So the only way to come up with the funds is to raise prices.  My family can hardly afford to eat out at a fast food restaurant anymore already.  If prices go up to cover higher wages, we'll stay home.  Fewer customers now coming in, means less money coming in, which leads to lay offs.  Jobs lost.  Yeah, that'll work.

That's just one minor example.  The point is, our government system was the best design in the history of the world.  I really believe that.  But we've broken it.  Judges try to legislate, Presidents bypass Congress with "executive orders," Congress just does whatever it takes to win the next election.  It's broke.  An infusion of "new" faces and ideas from a third party like the Constitution Party would help, but I'm not naive enough to think that even that will be a cure-all.

3.  The need for the Gospel is more evident than it's ever been.  At least in this nation.  I know that the world has suffered through worse regimes, seen more difficult circumstances, etc.  But in this nation, the depravity of men's hearts and the need for a Savior is more evident than ever.  The Church needs to step up and be the prophetic voice it was intended to be.  Not necessarily for political change, though we should certainly be involved in that.  But in the end, the changing of individual hearts and minds through Christ is the only answer.

It's time to stop playing games, stop trying to be popular, stop trying to impress the masses with our clever speeches (no, most of them aren't sermons) and our hip worship bands, and just preach the Gospel.  Preach the Word, in season and out.  This is certainly an "out" season, but we are to preach it anyway.  Preach the Word, call men to Salvation in Christ, no other power on earth can truly change the "state" of our Union. 

Conclusion:  First, if you patiently waded through all of this, what's wrong with you?  Don't you have anything better to do?  Second, I called this "one more pointless opinion" because the truth is, what I think about the state of the Union really doesn't matter.  Truth is, what the President thinks about it doesn't matter either.  Our goal is to please God.  What does He think about the state of our Union?  

One day we'll all be answering to Him.  And on that day, there will be no sound-bite media to make us look good, no partisan crowd to cheer at all the right places.  Just us, one by one, answering for what we've done with His Son, how we've served Him, how we've loved Him, how we've loved and served our fellow man in His name.  How will we stand on that day?  His is the only "opinion" that matters. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Liberals Can't Handle the Truth

Yes, it's political post time.  It's no secret here that I've dumped the "traditional" two parties to support the Constitution Party.  I still think the system is broken, and only a real shakeup will fix it.  However, it's also no secret here that I'm a big fan of Mike Huckabee.  It was my support of Huckabee several years ago that got this little blog its brief moment of fame as I was interviewed by news folks from St. Louis and even New York.  (brag, brag, brag)

So, though it would put me in a real quandary should Huck run for President as a Republican again, I can still appreciate the guy.  And I do appreciate him.  He has always been very straightforward in his comments, and the media has slaughtered him for it.  It's happening again. 

For those who don't know, Mike Huckabee recently spoke at a Republican meeting and he addressed the attacks from the left about how conservatives apparently don't like women.  This is what he said:

"Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war on them, it’s a war for them. If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it. Let us take that discussion all across America, because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be."

Wow!  Go, Mike!  Of course, the liberals were quick to jump all over that, with even a White House statement saying it was "offensive."  Offensive?  How?  It simply points out the truth that liberals seem to think that government should "stay out of the bedroom" when it comes to killing babies, but when it comes to the actions that lead to that issue, suddenly now government has to jump right into said bedroom.  It simply points out the truth that if people stopped acting like animals who have no control over their sexual urges, then the issue of government provided birth control wouldn't be an issue at all.  

Now, I don't want to get into a debate over birth control in general.  If married couples choose to use such means, then that's between them and God.  But let's be honest.  The issue here isn't the average married couple.  We're talking about government forcing insurance companies to provide birth control to anyone and everyone, and for the most part we're looking at under-aged, or single, or multiple partnered, or all of the above.  Government sponsorship of promiscuity.  That's the truth.  And liberals prove once again that they can't handle the truth.  

People use the line all the time that "you can't legislate morality."  We can argue that.  But it seems here that the liberals sure want to be in the business of "legislating immorality."  I'm thankful for folks like Mike Huckabee standing for the truth, whether folks like to hear it or not. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Return of the Worship War (if it ever ended)

Pastor Voddie Baucham recently pointed out on social media this article about Martin Luther.  For the longest time there have been folks who used Luther as an example for why it's ok to use "modern" or "contemporary" music styles for worship.  The argument says that Luther used "bar tunes" for his hymns.  I have to admit that I heard that argument and even repeated it.  Turns out, it ain't so.  At least in the sense we think of.  (Read the article if you want the facts)

The interesting thing, to me, was the flurry of comments that followed the posting of this article.  Everything from "all contemporary music is from hell" and "anything with syncopation is pagan" to the other side which says "anything and everything is fine because style just doesn't matter."  And so, the battle rages on. 

The first thing we have to do, in my mind, is separate "worship" music from "entertainment."  What music we sing on Sunday mornings in our corporate worship services has a different set of criteria than what I personally listen to for my own edification and enjoyment.  Certainly there can be some overlap between the two:  I can enjoy listening to hymns/worship music at other times besides Sundays, and like it or not, some contemporary "pop" music can be acceptable for worship.  

I've argued all this before, I think.  I may not be a music expert (even though I was a music major for one whole year in college!).  But as a collector of antique hymnals and a student of church history/hymnology, I can at least argue with an "informed opinion."  And here it is...

Every generation has witnessed changes in musical style that reached the masses while also riling the establishment.  Congregational singing itself was a novelty at one point in history, with the church teaching that the singing should be done by trained professionals and the congregation should just listen.  Then of course there was the whole Psalms-only vs. Man-made songs thing.  Isaac Watts, whose songs most traditional folks love, was seen as a radical by many in his day for his departure from Psalms-only singing.  

The "old/traditional" vs. "new/contemporary" categories are themselves not sufficient for deciding what is appropriate for worship.  In 1871, Robert Lowry and W. Howard Doane (stalwarts in church music) introduced a song book called Pure Gold.  In the introduction, they say this:  "Nearly everything in the book is new...It is taken for granted that Sunday Schools do not wish to purchase over again the songs which they have used in other books."   What?  They take it for granted that we want books with new songs??  Surely not.

Of course, this was a book designed for Sunday Schools.  So surely it wasn't meant for the adults worship service.  In spite of the fact that this very book contains "new" songs that have become standards in our Baptist Hymnals like "Take the Name of Jesus With You" and "Something for Thee."  Hmmm...

Another collection of these Sunday School songs, 1874's Songs of Grace and Glory, makes this argument in the introduction:  "(We) are confident...that the deepest interest is secured, even on the part of the children, when the hymns and music of the Prayer Meeting and the Sunday School are so pleasantly and judiciously interwoven that both shall be a preparation for bearing a more intelligent part in the praises of the Sanctuary, thus making all the musical services of God's house to be offered 'with the spirit and with the understanding also.'  To this end they venture to suggest that the collection adopted in the school be occasionally used in the weekly evening meeting, and that the standard hymns...almost as sacred as holy Writ, be frequently introduced in the Sunday School."

In short, they argue that the new Sunday School music is just as worthy for worship as the old traditional, and the old traditional should be just as good for the young folks as the new hip stuff.  Pretty good insight.  Especially when you consider this was written in 1874, not 2014.  It's an old argument, an old debate, is it not?  And again, many songs in these new/Sunday School books have gone on to be standard "traditional" hymns today.  All songs were new at one time, after all.  Not everything new is good.  Much of it today is banal and shallow.  But some old songs reek of some horrible theology at times as well.  Sound theology, not newness, should be the key. 

Of course, then there is the issue of style.  This style is sanctified and this style is not.  High church hymns are closer to God than contemporary expressions.  Any cursory reading of these old song books will reveal that there is a wide variety of musical expressions, each of which reflects the day and age in which they were written.  

Again, I've said here many times that I'm not arguing that the stuff I listen to (like Skillet, TFK, Flame, Audio Adrenaline, etc.) should be brought into the sanctuary on Sunday mornings.  It goes back to the corporate worship vs. entertainment thing.  For the most part.  Truth is, some of those groups have produced some pretty amazing worship songs.  But I digress...

The point is that each generation, and each culture, writes music that reflects their own experiences.  What 18th Century French worshipers wrote and enjoyed is certainly different in style to 20th Century African believers, etc.  Styles change, culture to culture, generation to generation.  Style alone shouldn't be the judge. 

Don't you find it interesting that the largest book in the Bible is a book of songs; obviously indicating that worship and singing is to be a big part of our life of faith.  But also notice that not one single song tune is preserved.  Even the musical notations given to us in the Psalms are mysteries.  If God was so concerned about one style, one musical form, don't you think those would have been preserved along with the texts; at least in the traditions of men?  Or could it be that God wanted men to express their hearts to Him in the way that most moved them at the time, most spoke to their hearts.  Music is, and should be emotional.  Not just emotional.  But emotions are surely a part of it.  And face it, what moves you musically might be different than what moves me.  So why can't both be acceptable.

Well, enough ranting.  It's Pastor Baucham's fault for bringing it up again.  I think it comes down to something Thom Rainer said.  "When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the Gospel, the church is dying." If we continue to argue over personal preferences in music, it will continue to kill the church.  Time for the "worship war" to end!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Learning to Let Go

Solomon wisely tells us:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-7, ESV)

I look at that list these days and I see “a time to weep…a time to cast away…a time to mourn.”  And then I also have to think about “a time to love” and “a time to keep silence.”

All this comes to mind as I contemplate the state of my family.  Our oldest will be graduating college and has informed us that she will be moving to Germany this summer to live with a family as their “au pair” (fancy word for “nanny”).  She’s always wanted to travel, and apparently she learned about this idea from her college German professor (yes, I’m planning to have a talk with that guy).  She seems to have put a lot of thought and prayer into it, so as tough as it is for mom and I to think about our baby in a foreign country with no “safety net”, I have to think there is a time for everything.  A time to just love and keep silent.

To make matters worse, our oldest son (who graduated last spring but wasn’t sure about his future plans) is looking at college in the very near future.  Along with his little sister who will graduate high school this spring.  So, while not a definite thing, we could be looking at one daughter in Germany, and two others leaving the house at about the same time.  That would leave us home with just the nine-year-old (a frightening prospect on many levels!)

A time to weep.  A time to cast away.  A time to let go.  I know parents go through it all the time.  Granted, the timing of our little exodus seems a bit more drastic than some: three of the four possibly flying away at once.  But still, it’s a part of life, and I have to deal with that.

In all, it’s a lesson in the temporary nature of things in general, isn’t it?  All of this life is but a vapor.  All of it will pass away.  Nothing here is permanent.  We all face the temptation of holding on to things too tightly, finding our comfort and strength in things that are ultimately weak and worthless. 

Solomon’s wisdom, of course, ends with saying that the “end of the matter” is simply this: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  (Ecclesiastes 12:13)  He is our rock and fortress.  He is our only permanent source of strength and comfort.  He is the only one we can look to and know for sure that our help will come.

In the end, we’ve done our best to teach that same thing to our children.  And so while it scares me, worries me, even maybe angers me to have my children abandon me like this (ok, so that’s an exaggeration), I have to rest and trust in the fact that they are in the hands of God; a far better, safer, more solid place than I could ever give them.  I have to trust that whatever foundation we have given them, by God’s grace, He will cause to hold firm.

There is indeed a time for all things; even a time to let go of those precious ones God has blessed us with for a time in this world.  Still, learning to let go is just that.  It’s a learning process.  And I’m afraid I’m a slow learner.  So pray for me. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is Your Bible Reading Profitable?

Many of us have embarked once again this year on the journey of reading through the entirety of Scripture between now and the December 31.  For several years now we’ve encouraged this “through-the-Bible-in-a-year” approach, hoping to get folks into God’s Word more consistently.

But the question is, even if we are plugging our way through the given schedule of readings, are we profiting from our time?  Is this a meaningful, helpful, practical exercise; or is it merely a ritualistic duty, a check off on our to do list?

Arthur Pink wrote a wonderful little book about Profiting from the Word.  He begins saying:

 The Word of God may be taken up from various motives. Some read it to satisfy their literary pride. In certain circles it has become both the respectable and popular thing to obtain a general acquaintance with the contents of the Bible simply because it is regarded as an educational defect to be ignorant of them. Some read it to satisfy their sense of curiosity, as they might any other book of note. Others read it to satisfy their sectarian pride. They consider it a duty to be well versed in the particular tenets of their own denomination and so search eagerly for proof-texts in support of "our doctrines." Yet others read it for the purpose of being able to argue successfully with those who differ from them. But in all this there is no thought of God, no yearning for spiritual edification, and therefore no real benefit to the soul.

Pink then asks, “Of what, then, does a true profiting from the Word consist?”  He then embarks on an outline of various evidences of the working of the Word in our lives in relationship to sin.  He mentions:

1. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word convicts him of sin.
2. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word makes him sorrow over sin.
3. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word leads to confession of sin.
4. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word produces in him a deeper hatred of sin.
5. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word causes a forsaking of sin.
6. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word fortifies against sin.
7. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word causes him to practice the opposite of sin.

Pink amplifies each of those seven thoughts, and I’d encourage you to read through his complete work.  Of course, it’s not just our relationship to sin that gives evidence as to how God’s Word is working in us.  Pink goes on to talk about our understanding of God, the nature of prayer, our obedience, love and joy, etc.  Chapel Library has a nice little study based on this book which would be helpful as well.

The point is simply this.  We need to evaluate our time spent reading God’s Word.  What is our motivation for reading it?  What is the fruit of our labors?  What is God doing in and through us as we read, study, and meditate on His Word?

Here is Pink’s conclusion to that opening chapter:

Let both writer and reader honestly and diligently measure himself, as in the presence of God, by the seven things here enumerated. Has your study of the Bible made you more humble, or more proud of the knowledge you have acquired? Has it raised you in the esteem of your fellow men, or has it led you to take a lower place before God? Has it produced in you a deeper abhorrence and loathing of self, or has it made you more complacent? Has it caused those you mingle with, or perhaps teach, to say, I wish I had your knowledge of the Bible; or does it cause you to pray, Lord give me the faith, the grace, the holiness Thou hast granted my friend, or teacher? Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear unto all (1 Tim. 6:15)

Here’s to spending some profitable time in God’s Word in 2014.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Cheapening of Prayer

One of the recent trends on social media has been the proliferation of prayer request sites/pages.  In principle, I’m all for this.  If my child is diagnosed with a serious health issue, asking brothers and sisters in Christ to pray is certainly in order, and the more the merrier.

Of course, there are some negatives here as well.  For one, it treats prayer as a magic mantra of sorts.  For another, it assumes that all “prayer” is equal, whether someone is a true follower of Christ with a genuine relationship to the God to whom we pray, etc.  Too often, it’s more like sending “best wishes”, which in the end means absolutely nothing. 

I recently saw a request on one of these prayer sites that highlights for me how as a culture in general we have cheapened what prayer is all about, or at the very least show that we don’t understand it.

The person was asking for prayer to “get out of” her current situation.  Seems she can’t deal with her husband any more, she needs less stress in her life, and so she wants others to pray for her to be able to leave so she can have “peace.”

Now, first let me say that I don’t know anything about this person or the situation.  I don’t know if actual physical violence is present, which I would never want to make light of.  But from what was shared it seems more like just a rather irresponsible, difficult to live with individual.  And so, we take to social media asking others to pray for “deliverance.”

Here’s what I found most troubling and heart breaking about this.  All sorts of people were “liking” the request, implying their agreement with the need, and many others were actually commenting, sharing their sympathy and their intention of praying for this “situation.” 

Call me cruel and heartless but I see all sorts of problems with this.  Let’s list some, shall we:

1.  Venting personal marital issues on social media is never a healthy approach.  A marriage is intended to be a one-flesh union between a man and a woman, with God at the center.  Taking concerns to God is certainly good and right and necessary.  Airing your grievances on social media in the form a “prayer request” is nothing more than gossip, slander, and a host of other things. 

2. This person is seeking prayer for an unbiblical result.  In essence, we are told to ask God to do something that God is opposed to.  Divorce, whether you like it or not, is frowned upon by the God of Scripture.  One man, one woman, forever.  That’s His plan.  This in and out, easy divorce, love ‘em and leave ‘em approach to marriage is a blemish on the church.  That’s right, I said the church.  We’ve lowered the standards and given in to the world’s ideas on this, and we’re just as guilty in most cases.  God intends marital permanence.  And here we are asking people to pray to God and ask Him to grant us something that He has declared opposition to.  And no one even blinks.

3. This whole thing highlights the fact that we are more concerned with personal happiness than with holiness.  If it doesn’t make me happy, then it can’t be God’s will, right?  God wants me to have “peace” and “rest” and a stress free life, so if my spouse stands in the way of that, then surely God wants me to get away from that spouse. 

Forget about the fact that maybe I should be seeking to be a better example of love and grace and selflessness and humility toward my spouse.  Forget that maybe I should be asking for God’s grace to be showered in my spouse’s life, as well as mine, so that our marriage can be an example of Christ’s relationship with His Church the way it was intended (that’s a whole other rant!).

4.  There is a huge lack of discernment in the church.  So many people liking this post and saying they will pray shows that they haven’t thought it through, haven’t subjected any of this to Biblical standards, etc.  We just go right along with the “you deserve to be happy, sweetie” mentality. 

5.  The overarching problem of not understanding prayer.  Prayer is a communion between a holy God and a redeemed humanity made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ.  His atoning death opened the way for us to have fellowship with God, and we ought to be using that fellowship to seek His will and His way for His glory.

Now, I’m as guilty as anyone for being selfish in my prayers.  As one who struggles with the sin of anxiety, I frequently find myself praying for some of the most inconsequential things simply to assuage my own fears.  As I said in my last post: nobody is perfect.  And God deals with me ever so graciously in this for which I am so very, very grateful.

But folks, prayer is not just a hotline to some divine bellhop in the sky who comes running to make us happy all the time.  It’s certainly not a means of changing God’s mind so that He does something, or gives something, that is in opposition to His stated will, as long as we get enough “likes” and “best wishes” from others. 

God deserves more reverence.  Prayer deserves more respect.  Situations deserve more reflection.  Don’t get me wrong.  I will indeed pray for this person.  I will pray that God shows her how her ongoing love for this unlovable person is an example of how a holy God can love us.  I will pray that God’s Spirit moves within both of them to draw them both to repentance and salvation.  I will pray that He brings healing to their marriage so that it indeed shines as an example of grace and humility and forgiveness which will draw others to Christ as well.  And I will pray that all of us, me included, will take more seriously the privilege and power of prayer. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Not Even Spurgeon Was Perfect

Well, apparently my New Year's Resolution was to blog even less often than I had been doing.  Goal one: achieved.  Not that anyone is losing any sleep over the lack of output here.  While I once seemed to have a more passionate commitment to spout off about anything and everything, I've sort of grown a bit less prolific, maybe a bit more lazy, who knows.  Anyway, nobody's perfect, which brings me to my subject...

As we begin a new year (now a week old) I was going through various writings and poetry associated with the "new beginning" theme.  One of the places I often go to for both devotional reading and "idea" hunting is the collection of hymns Pastor Charles Spurgeon put together for his congregation at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. 

Just a little note, Spurgeon "Our Own Hymnbook" is a treasure trove of church hymnody, and the songs are all divided topically making it easy to find a verse for almost any occasion.  It even has a section for special meetings of the church, including Revivals and Missions, Prayer Meetings, Opening Places for Worship, and (soon the be the topic of a future post) Mother's Meetings.  He also has a selection of hymns for Morning, Evening, Harvest, Marriage, etc., and of course the New Year. 

Obviously I was looking at that last category when I noticed a mistake.  A glaring mistake.  A mistake right there in black and white, printed, published, recorded for all the world to see.  A mistake by C. H. Spurgeon.  I mean, I know I said nobody is perfect, but...  Spurgeon?!?

You see, he included a nice little hymn which begins "Com, Thou fount of every blessing..."  Recognize it?  Of course you do.  It's a slightly different arrangement of the words than you might be used to, but essentially the same.  But at the end, Spurgeon attributes the song to Selina, Countess of Huntingdon

The Countess was a well known figure in the mid to late 1700, being associated with the beginnings of Methodism and both John Wesley and George Whitfield.  When those two later parted, with Whitefield have much more Calvinistic leanings, the Countess sided with Whitefield.  In fact, the Calvinistic bent of the Methodist movement even spawned its own "denomination" called the "Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion."  

She also has some hymn connections, being close friends with such notable hymn writers as Isaac Watts, Philip Doddridge, and Augustus Toplady, as well as the Wesley's themselves.  It was in a collection of Wesley's papers that included a copy of this song, attributed to the Countess.  So what's the big deal then?  How does have anything to do with Spurgeon's mistake?

Well, as you probably know, modern hymnologists (is that a term?) universally attribute the hymn "Come Thou Fount" to a man named Robert Robinson.  His is a great story, too, having also been influenced by George Whitefield.  Robinson entered ministry and eventually leaned more toward the Baptist side of things.  Sadly, his life seems to have included further drifting as he ended up associating with the Universalists.  That makes an interesting story given the line in the hymn about being "prone to wander." 

Anyway, despite his later leanings, the evidence is strong (if not quite iron clad) that Robinson is indeed the author of the hymn. You can read more about the whole thing here.  But Spurgeon seems to be wrong. Unless I want to make the case that since Spurgeon said it, the Countess is the rightful author regardless of other evidence.  Sometimes we get so fixated on our own ideas and our own heroes that we might be tempted to do such a thing.  But I'll resist.  And I'll simply say, Spurgeon made a mistake.  Granted, he was simply repeating what others had said at the time about the hymn's origin.  But it just goes to show that nobody's perfect.

What this rambling diatribe is attempting to get at is this.  As we begin a new year, many will have made all sorts of different resolutions.  Most of them, of course, will never be met.  We will continue, each of us, to be reminded of our own weaknesses.  And while we should never settle for mediocre, never quite pursuing greater holiness in Christ, greater faithfulness in service, etc.; it is good to know that our imperfections put us in pretty good company.  Not even Spurgeon was perfect.