God is Immutable

Recently I was asked to serve on a Via de Cristo weekend, and to give one of the talks. The title of the talk is “piety.” Writing it has required me to look back over my life with God (I’m old so it’s long). It’s been interesting to realize how much I have changed in 70+ years. Even though my basic personality is the same — quiet, serious, introverted, I’ve become more confident, more reliant on God, less adverse to change.

These changes in me would not have been possible without the immutability of God. Lucky for us, God does not change. In Psalm 102, the writer tells us:

“Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment.

You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away; but you are the same, and your years have no end.” Psalm 102:25-27

Just about everything in life is subject to change. We change jobs, loved ones die, friends move away. Our health may fail. Technology changes so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. Civilizations come and go Even churches have a life cycle of growth and death. In a world like that, it’s hard to feel stable — is there anything on which we can count?

The answer of course, is God. He provides the foundation, the rock that is always there for us. We can change, our circumstances can change, but God will always be there. We can run to His love, His mercy, and His justice whenever we are afraid. Who wouldn’t worship a God like this?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear thought the earth gives way; though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling….”Psalm 46:1-3

For more about Via de Cristo, see these posts:

What is Via de Cristo?

Remembering My Via De Cristo Weekend

My Via de Cristo Experience

Be Still My Soul

In the latter half of the 17th century a new revival was breaking out in Germany. The revival was pietism and the themes of this new movement were: “Living the Christian life versus doctrine,” and “Real conversion versus the appearance of godliness.”
Be Still, My Soul” was written by a German woman, Katharina von Schiegel during that time, but it really took three people to put it together as the hymn we sing today. Katharina wrote the words, originally in German. One hundred years later the hymn was translated into English by Jane Borthwick. The final contributor was Finland’s greatest-composer, Jean Sibelius. One movement from his “Finlandia” is used as the tune for our hymn. God used people from three countries to create this hymn. It teaches us that God is in control and to wait on Him when enduring challenging times.

It is based on Psalm 46, particularly verse 10:

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Be Still

Psalm 46:10—”Be still and know that I am God”

Katharina von Schlege was a Lutheran woman, possibly the canoness of a women’s seminary who lived about 100 years after Martin Luther’s reformation.  She was part of a pietistic movement, which emphasized personal faith.  Katharina wrote a number of hymns, but the one below is the only one that has survived.  At some point the words were paired with the tune of Finlandia by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.  Listen and rest in God’s peace.

For another hymn about resting in the Lord, follow this link:

Near to the Heart of God


When God Says Stop

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

As I write this,  I’m sitting here watching it snow for the second day in a row.  There will be no Lenten Service tonight;  I can’t go to the grocery store or the library;  I can’t visit a friend. I’ve finished all my usual household chores.  I’m stuck at home and there’s not a thing I can do about it.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes God, through our circumstances, just makes us stop?  It may come in the form of weather, but it may also be an injury or illness.  It may be that, as my friend Rob says, “all the wheels fall off the cart.”  Things happen that are out of our control, and we can’t keep going in our usual direction. We get a big dose of humility.  We have to stop.

Times like this are good opportunities to be still and listen.  Maybe we’re trying too hard.  Maybe God has another plan.  Maybe He just wants us to make time for Him– for prayer, for meditation, to give thanks, to consider our blessings.  It’s a time to remember that we’re not really in control, even when we’re racing around acting like we are.

Sometimes we just need to stop.  I guess I should consider doing that on my own, instead of waiting for God to do it for me.  What about you?  Do you need to stop for a day, an hour or even ten minutes and listen to God?

Martin Luther and the Book of Psalms

“Where does one find finer words of joy than in the psalms of praise and thanksgiving?  There you look into the hearts of all saints, as into fair and pleasant gardens, yes as into heaven itself.  There you see what fine and pleasant flowers of the heart spring up from all sorts of fair and happy thoughts toward God, because of His blessings.”

Martin Luther

The Book of Psalms was the songbook of the Israelites.  Many churches still chant or sing the Psalms today. A multitude of  hymns and Christian songs are based on a particular psalm. Luther called this book “the Bible in miniature” and took particular comfort in reading the Psalms. His most famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress, is a paraphrase of Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble

Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change,

though the mountains shake  in the heart of the sea;

though the waters roar and foam though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

What’s your favorite Psalm?  Is it used in worship or a song that you love?  I’m hoping our authors and readers will weigh in on this.