Archive for August, 2013

About “And Can It Be”

I enjoy listening to praise music as I meditate on Scripture, or when I’m prayer walking with my dog along the prairie paths of north Texas.  I have to admit, though, the old songs are some of the best.  Especially when it comes to theology.  Contemporary praise music is sometimes lightweight when it comes to theology.  Someone has characterized it as a seven word phrase repeated seven times.

Not so the old hymns.  Take Charles Wesley’s famous hymn, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain.”  If you don’t know this hymn, here is a link to it:  http://www.hymnary.org/text/and_can_it_be_that_i_should_gain

Charles Wesley was the other founder of Methodism, along with his brother, John Wesley.  He wrote this hymn in 1738.  It was written a short time after Charles had a heart warming experience at a Bible study in Aldersgate on May 20, 1738.  He came to realize that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

He wrote in his journal: 

At midnight I gave myself to Christ, assured that I was safe, whether sleeping or waking. I had the continual experience of His power to overcome all temptation, and I confessed with joy and surprise that He was able to do exceeding abundantly for me above what I can ask or think.

After this experience, Charles Wesley began to write hymns with a spirit of joyful exuberance.  Charles became the hymn writer of Methodism.  His hymns embodied the theology of the new Methodist revival.

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died he for me, who caus’d his pain?
For me who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be,
That thou, my Lord, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be,
That thou, my Lord, shouldst die for me? 

Romans 5:8–11 (NLT) But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

“Run the race!”

Steve

 

 

About me

Howdy,

My name is Steve Martinez.  I’m a United Methodist pastor serving in a small church in rural north Texas.  I’m finishing up a Master of Divinity at Asbury Theological Seminary.  I’ve been following Jesus for over five decades.

My purpose in writing this blog is to help make followers of Jesus Christ for the building up of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NLT)

“To take up your cross daily” suggests a kind of commitment.  The cross was the emblem of suffering and shame to first century people living in the Roman Empire.  The person who carried the cross was a condemned criminal going to his death.  This saying of Jesus suggests that being a follower of Jesus Christ calls for a commitment.  The kind of commitment is more than just sitting in a church pew Sunday after Sunday.  This kind of commitment is more than saying a magical prayer like some kind of insurance policy.  It’s more than putting your dollar in the offering plate.  The commitment to be a follower of Jesus Christ calls for relationship that lasts a lifetime.

In the movie “The Way,” Martin Sheen plays an American ophthalmologist who goes to France following the death of his adult son, killed in the Pyrenees during a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), a pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.  His purpose is to retrieve his son’s body. However, in a combination of grief and homage to his son, he decides to walk the ancient spiritual trail where his son died.  That’s what the Christian life is like:  a pilgrim journey.  It begins with a single step, but is a kind of journey.  Early Christians called the Christian faith “The Way.”

It reminds me of the cowboys riding the trail in the early days of Texas.  Friends, I’m just a fellow follower.  The only part of the trail I’m responsible for, is the little piece that I’m traveling on that we call life.

My life verse is Hebrews 12:1–2 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

My goal is to ride the trail that is set before me, wherever that takes me.  And I’m following Jesus, the pioneer who blazed the trail ahead of me.  Maybe we can help each other on trail like good pards should do.

I’m a wannabe cowboy, that’s why after a career as an officer in the United States Army, I decided to settle in Texas!  I wasn’t born here, but I got here as soon as I could!  I love both kinds of music:  country and western.  I also enjoy Contemporary Christian, Gospel and worship music.  I enjoy reading and walking around the countryside with my dog Rex.

I’m simply a follower of Jesus Christ who is trying to run the race!  So I usually finish my updates with the phrase:

“Run the Race!”

Steve