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Crown Him With Many Crowns

Crown him with many crowns,
The lamb upon his throne;
Hark! how the heav'nly anthem drowns
All music but its own;
Awake my soul, and sing
Of him who died for thee,
And hail him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.

Crown him the son of God,
Before the world began,
And ye who tread where he hath trod,
Crown him the son of man;
Who every grief hath known
That wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for his own,
That all in him may rest.

Crown him the Lord of love,
Behold his hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visiblel above,
In beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his wondering eye
At mysteries so bright.

Crown him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife
For those he came to save.
Hi glories now we sing,
Who died and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

Crown him the Lord of lords,
Who over all doth reign,
Who once on earth th'incarnate Word,
For ransomed sinner slain,
Now lives in realms of light,
Where saints with angels sing
Their songs before him day and night,
Their God, Redeemer, King.

The video for this is from the 50th coronation anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II. It is a magnificent rendition, which is fitting for such a magnificent picture.


Why we need kind, compassionate dialogue about mental illness

Recently, in conversation with some family members, I learned that there has been a history of depression on my father's side of the family. My mother's father suffered from depression, and was actually institutionalized at one point, and I was aware of that. The news about my father's family has been a recent discovery. And it is only recent because no one talked about it. It was a shameful thing to admit, so it was never addressed. But now that we are getting more information about mental illness, we can gain a little understanding into what some of our family members experienced.

Three years ago, I felt like I was losing control of myself. I told my husband one day that I felt like anxiety was coming from outside and attacking me. I knew something was wrong. I didn't tell very many people. Why? Because of the guilt associated with it. Especially as a Christian I was embarrassed. And I was aware of the attitudes of other Christians in the face of mental illness from having heard comments over the years: 

"Philippians commands us not to be anxious."

"They just need to trust God more."

"Don't they know that anxiety is a sin?"

"They're self-absorbed."

Today, I don't mind so much talking about it with others, but I'm careful, because frankly, there are just some people I know who will not be kind. And it is the people who have never struggled with it or have never known someone who has struggled with it who are the worst.

One of the things that helped me was knowing that I was not alone. My own father went through five years of clinical depression, and when he knew what I was going through, he called me and offered the kind, tender sympathy that only a fellow sufferer can offer. His attitude was not dismissive nor did he suggest things that would promise instant results. No, my father did not remind me to "Be anxious for nothing," but he patiently listened. 

We need people to talk about their mental health issues because those who came after us need to know; our children or our grandchildren. For some, the first signs of mental illness may frighten them. They may not understand why it's happening. They may need to know if there is a familial link. It can help them cope with it, and provide guidance to their doctor.

Not all people who are depressed or struggle with other kinds of mental illness are obvious about it. Some people are able to mask their suffering quite well with outgoing, gregarious behaviour. They may even make you laugh. But after the laughter has died down, their feelings return. I was able to teach a Bible study regularly while at the worst of my anxiety, and no one but those closest to me knew what was happening. My closest friend sat in on my studies and told me one day that she would never guess that I was overwhelmed. We find coping mechanisms. Simply because someone doesn't look like they are suffering doesn't mean they aren't.

It's lonely to struggle with anxiety and depression. I can testify to that. I was in God's word daily; sometimes hourly. There were nights when I couldn't sleep and I poured over the Psalms and the gospels. I credit that with keeping me from completely falling apart. But it didn't cure things instantly. And I am thankful that I know about our family history. As a mother, it has helped me to discuss things with my children, and to be observant and attentive. We need to talk about mental illness. But more than that, we need kindness and compassion. And we definitely don't need simplistic remedies that betray ignorance.


Behold Our God

I heard this the first time at T4G a few years ago. I was thankful when our associate pastor at the time brought it into our worship services.

Who has held the oceans in his hands?
Who has numbered every gain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at his voice.
All creation rises to rejoice.


Behold our God,
Seated on his throne,
Come let us adore him.
Behold our King,
Nothing can compare,
Come let us adore him.

Who has given counsel to the Lord?
Who can question any of his words?
Who can teach the One who knows all things?
Who can fathom all his wondrous deeds?

Who has felt the nails upon his hands,
Bearing all the weight of sinful man?
God eternal, humbled to the grave.
Jesus, Saviour, risen now to reign.

You will reign forever!
Let your glory fill the earth!


A subject most people don't want to hear about

Every morning, when I have my Bible reading and prayer time, I read from The Valley of Vision. It really is a wonderful volume. While the Puritans didn't do everything right, their devotional reflections reveal so much humility.

From this morning's passage, "Things Needful," I read these words:

I need spiritual comforts
that are gentle, peaceful, mild, refreshing,
that will melt me into conscious lowliness before thee,
that will make me feel and rest in thee as my All.

I thought about that phrase "conscious lowliness." That's not a topic most people want to think about. We tend to have a negative view of lowliness. When I read those words, though, I immediately thought of Paul's exhortation in Philippians 2. Lowliness is something Christ demonstrated to us, and it's something we are encouraged to pursue.

Lowliness goes against the grain of popular thinking. Lowliness is seen as weakness. But it's not the same thing. Some of the strongest people are the most lowly. Christ himself was lowly. Lowliness is not about strength; it is about who or what we are exalting, and whose will we are pursuing. If we pursue our own will above God's, that is not lowliness. If we constantly draw attention to ourselves, that is not lowliness. If we live as if we control our own destiny, that is not lowliness.

How do our daily lives reflect a desire to be lowly? What kind of activities foster lowliness? How do we demonstrate lowliness in our relationships with others? Our families? Our jobs? Our local church? When I think about my day, and how I spend my time, what can I trim away in order to focus on conscious lowliness? Off the top of my head, one thing that I need to do is speak less and listen more; offline and online. I can't help but think what a deterrent to lowliness Twitter can be.

More and more I'm beginning to see that lowliness and contentment are related. When I pursue lowliness, I'm not pursuing the exaltation of myself; I am directing my thoughts and energies to God. Actively seeking lowliness encourages me to yield to God's will, and it is in this yielding to God's will where I can find the most contentment. Yielding to God's will is the way to have my heart's desires changed. Lowliness doesn't mean we are weak; it just means we are recognizing the reality of who we and who God is.


Nothing comes without a sacrifice

A couple of days ago, it occurred to me that it has been 22 years since I came here to Ontario from Saskatchewan. That was a difficult time. I had no desire to leave behind my parents and come to a community where I didn't have friends. What made it more difficult is that we moved to my husband's home town and home church. People did not seem to understand that while people knew who I was, I didn't know them, and it took me a while to find my feet. People expected things from me, and when I didn't meet those expectations, it was obvious. It was a gradual adjustment, and within a couple of years, I was feeling better about it, but it was about five years before I could say that I was glad we came.

If we had not moved here, I probably wouldn't be in seminary right now. The experiences that God brought me to which inspired me to go to seminary are a product of being here in this place, among these people. And at the same time, as much as I love seminary and as grateful as I have been for all that God has given me, it has never been easy to give up being closer to my parents.

My parents are not Christians. They are getting older. They have health issues. My mother struggled along alone while my father battled depression a number of years ago. While he's hale and hearty today at the age of 80, I was not able to be there for him as I wished I could have been. Every time the weather is cold and snowy in the place where my parents live, I wish I was there to take them to their appointments, or even to just be there in case something happens. When I pray for them, I pray that that they don't fall in the winter months. A fall as a senior citizien can be life altering. My parents live in a big house. I wish I could be there to help my mother with the workload. Over these past 22 years, while we have had times together, there are countless other moments that I have missed. And it saddens me.

As a Christian, I recognize God's sovereignty over my life. I don't always understand why things are happening as they are, but I can do nothing but trust him. If I believe him, I must trust him. The past two years in seminary have contributed a great deal to my spiritual growth. I'm learning to think better. I'm learning to be patient as I think through things. I'm grateful for that. I know that whatever happens after I graduate, God wanted me where I am. When I am at school or doing homework, I know I am right where God wants me to be. But my heart is so frequently pulled back to my parents, and there are days when I wish I could just be with them, soaking up those moments that are only going to get fewer. I dread the day when a call comes with bad news.

Nothing comes without sacrifice, but sacrifice is something even Christians have become loath to give. People with chronic illness know about sacrifice, but for those who are riding high on a life of success, achievements, and mountain top moments, sacrifice may be something they don't avoid, or when it becomes inevitable, resent. We are accustomed to being told we can have it all. And it is not just the world who thinks we can have it all. The lines between how Christains think and how the world thinks are often blurry.

If something happened tomorrow that called me to my parents' sides because they needed help, and it meant giving up seminary, I would do it. There would be no question. It would be hard, but I would do it. Caring for parents as they get older is a privilege, not a burden. It's difficult, but it's something we do for our parents because we love them and because when we needed care, they were there. Friends have shared with me how precious it was for them to be caring for a parent in the final days. They wouldn't give it up even though it was hard. I trust that if something like that happened, I would have the right heart. Christ gave his life for me. Surely, I could give up this dream I'm living if he called me to.