Tag: Gospel-centered

Watts' Joy to the World

The famous Christmas hymn, Joy to the World, didn’t start out as a Christmas song. The hymn was written by Isaac Watts, a famous 18th century preacher turned hymn writer. With his health in steep decline, he turned from the pulpit to the pen, composing around 750 hymns.

Christ-centered Hymnody

Watts diverged from the traditional church practice of strictly adapting Scripture to song, by adding his own lyrical reflections to Scripture inspired hymns. Mike Cosper notes: “Isaac Watts recognized that people needed to see the gospel in the psalms and hymns of the church, and they needed to sing them in language and metaphors that they understood. In this, he became not only the father of the modern hymn, but the pace-setter for contextualizing the gospel for the people of God.” Joy to the World was included in Watts’ 1719 hymnal, Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament.

Origins of “Joy to the World”

Joy to the World was a poetic reflection on Psalm 98. Reflecting on this psalm, Watts bridged Davidic joy in the Lord to its prophetic fulfillment in Christ (the Lord). The original title of the song was “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom.” His aim was “to show David as a Christian” by revealing the Christ-centered character of Davidic psalms.

Joy in the Story of Scripture

Using the larger Story of Scripture as an interpretive guide, Watts locates “the joy of the world” among the various chapters Creation, Fall, Redemption, and New Creation (Genesis to Revelation). He weaves a redemptive thread that begins on the fateful day of Adam’s fall and finishes at the future return of the Christ:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found

In his first coming—Christmas—the Second Adam relaxes the curse by redeeming human hearts. In his second coming, all of heaven and nature will joy the song of redemption. The joy of salvation is for both creature and creation:

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,

Every person and nation will be called to account for their response to the “good news of great joy”. God is gracious but he is also just. Those that respond to his grace will be spared his judgment and enter into an everlasting joy to the world that forever glories in his righteousness.

He rules the world with truth and grace,

And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,

May our hearts receive Jesus as King with fresh joy and exultation this Season, as we join the refrain of all creation singing: “Joy to the World, the Lord is come!”

Check out the music of Sojourn in the Isaac Watts Project.

Gospel-centered Family Resources

Here are some gospel-centered family resources to follow up our Sunday sermon on Gospel-centered Parenting. This is a buffet of resources. Just start with a couple. Don’t order everything and try to start all of these rhythms overnight. Start with the Bible and a book and move out from there. And remember, you can’t change your children, only the Spirit of Jesus can, so pray!

Parenting Books

  • Gospel-Driven Parenting (Farley) – this book is principle driven, helping parents think through how to bring the gospel into their own lives as parents and into their children’s lives.
  • Shepherding A Child’s Heart (Tripp) – this book is more practical in nature, addressing the heart of our child through the various stages of child development. They also have a follow up book, Instructing a Child’s Heart.
  • How Children Raise Parents (Allender) – I loved this book and go back to it over and over for personal enrichment as a parent. I use some of Allender’s practices with our children.
  • God, Marriage, & Family (Kostenberger) – uber-biblical, with a twist of practical. Great for reference and finer concerns.
  • Grace-Based Parenting (Kimmel) – very introductory to gospel-shaped parenting, but good.

Develop Gospel Family Rhythms

  • Develop family rhythms around the Gospel. These are predictable times of worship, prayer and Bible reading. Consider doing them around meals, a time when the family should be gathering together free from the distractions of media. We do this at breakfast.
  • Don’t isolate the gospel to predictable times. Integrate prayer, worship, and Bible into every day life. Pray on the fly, sing on the fly, read on the fly. When we isolate we program our children for legalism. Show them the gospel in everyday life.
Suggestions for Family Rhythms
  • Read the a good children’s Bible (or this one). Remember to have fun with your children while learning the Bible. Avoid being uber serious and unrealistic expectations. Keep the time brief to hold the small children’s attention.
  • Do some Scripture flash cards to do over a meal. If you know of cards with better pictures for small children let me know! Use the verses in context, applying them to everyday life for instruction. Put the verses to music or rhythm. Your child will enjoy singing and clapping.
  • Sing Songs together. Teach them songs from CDs, DVDs, and ones you make up along the way.
  • Interact with the Book of Questions and Answers. My kids love this book. They ask for it. They enjoy getting to participate in the gospel rhythms, not just listen to stories.

Counterfeit Gods Excerpts

What is a Counterfeit God?

A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second  thought.

What is a Deep Idol?

Deep idols seek fulfillment through their public manifestation, surface idols. Deep idols can’t be removed. They can only be replaced, and only Christ can ultimately satisfy. HT: Out of Ur

How do you Get Rid of a Deep Idol?

Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol,” Keller says. “If you uproot the idol and fail to ‘plant’ the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.”

Recap from ENDURE (including audio links!)

I had a great time with the nearly 300 folks at the Houston ENDURE Bootcamp. Clear Creek Community Church was an incredible host with great facilities and humble staff. I was blessed just to be around them. It was a great couple days of training, connecting, dreaming, repenting, and so on.

Carter on Marriage

Matt Carter’s talk on Marriage was outstanding, challenging us to be the kind of fathers and husbands that leave a legacy of grace. Quoting from Edwards’ daughter, he charged us to be the kind of fathers that earn the appelation: “I thank God, for my father is a mercy to me.” Wow. Yes, Lord, make me a mercy to my children. Check out his video:

Here are the manuscripts from my talks:

Other Workshop Audio Already UP