The Martyrs’ Psalm, part 2

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If the words of Psalm 51 spoken from a condemned girl’s lips, give us a glimpse into the heart of this teenage martyr, consider some of the other recorded words of Lady Jane Grey.  This prayer was dated shortly before her execution:

“O Lord, thou God and Father of my life, hear me, poor and desolate woman, which flieth unto thee only, in all troubles and miseries. Thou, O Lord, art the only defender and deliverer of those that put their trust in thee: and therefore I, being defiled with sin, encumbered with affliction, unquieted with troubles, wrapped in cares, overwhelmed with miseries, vexed with temptations, and grievously tormented with the long imprisonment of this vile mass of clay, my sinful body, do come unto thee, O merciful Savior, craving thy mercy and help, without the which so little hope of deliverance is left that I may utterly despair of any liberty. 

Albeit it is expedient, that, seeing our life standeth upon trying, we should be visited sometime with some adversity, whereby we might both be tried whether we be of thy flock or no, and also know thee and ourselves the better, yet thou, that saidst thou wouldst not suffer us to be tempted above our power, be merciful unto me now, a miserable wretch, I beseech thee; which with Solomon (Proverbs 30:7-9) do cry unto thee, humbly desiring thee that i may neither be too much puffed up with prosperity, neither too much pressed down with adversity, lest I, being too full, should deny thee, my God, or being too low brought, should despair and blaspheme thee, my Lord and Savior.
O merciful God, consider my misery, best known unto thee; and be thou now unto me a strong tower of defense, I humbly require thee. Suffer me not to be tempted above my power, but either be thou a deliverer unto me out of this great misery, either else give me grace patiently to bear thy heavy hand and sharp correction. It was thy right hand that delivered the people of Israel out of the hands of Pharoah, which for the space of four hundred years did oppress them and keep them in bondage. Let it, therefore, likewise seem good to thy fatherly goodness to deliver me, sorrowful wretch (for whom thy son Christ shed his precious blood on the cross), out of this miserable captivity and bondage wherein I am now.
How long wilt thou be absent? forever? O Lord, hast thou forgotten to be gracious, and hast thou shut up thy loving-kindness in displeasure? Wilt thou be no more entreated? Is thy mercy clean gone forever, and thy promise come to an end for evermore? Why dost thou make so long tarrying? Shall I despair of thy mercy, O God? Far be that from me. I am thy workmanship, created in Christ Jesu: give me grace, therefore, to tarry thy leisure, and patiently to bear thy works; assuredly knowing that as thou canst, so thou wilt deliver me when it shall please thee, nothing doubting of mistrusting thy goodness towards me; for thou knowest better what is good for me than I do: therefore, do with me in all things what thou wilt, and plague me what way thou wilt. Only in the meantime, arm me, I beseech thee, with thy armor, that i may stand fast, my loins being girded about with verity, having on the breastplate of righteousness and shod with the shoes prepared by the gospel of peace; above all things, taking to me the shield of faith, wherewith I may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, and taking the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the most holy word: praying always with all manner of prayer and supplecation, that i may refer myself wholly to thy will, abiding thy pleasure and comforting myself in those troubles that it shall please thee to send me; seeing such troubles be profitable for me, and seeing I am assuredly persuaded that it cannot be but well, all that thou doest. 

Hear me, O merciful Father, for His sake whom thou wouldst shoud be a sacrifice for my sins: to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory. Amen.” 

What kind of life experience produces that kind of spiritual maturity in the face of persecution?  Consider these events from her history:

1536 (or 37) Lady Jane Grey is born to conniving parents Henry and Frances who in an attempt to gain access to the British throne commenced an unusual method of education with the hopes marrying their daughter off to Henry VIII’s son, Edward.

1542 Providence places Jane under the tutelage of protestant John Aylmer who instructs 6 year old Jane in Greek, Hebrew, Latin, French and Spanish and more importantly the Tyndale English Bible.  She becomes so proficient in languages that she eventually is able to correspond in Latin and Greek with noteworthy Reformers such as Martin Bucer and Heinrich Bullinger.

1545 9-year-old Jane is sent to live permanently at court as maid-of-honor to King Henry VIII’s 6th wife, Catherine Parr, a devout Christian.  There she engages in regular Bible study with other believers and comes to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.  Prince Edward also is surrounded by strong Christian influences at this time including Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer and develops a deep zeal for the protestant faith.

1547 King Henry VIII dies and 9-year-old Edward becomes King of England but quickly falls victim to scheming Uncle Edward Seymour who assumes custody and thus control of the throne.  Edward Seymour’s brother, Thomas, now married to King Henry VIII’s widow, Catherine Parr, is busy with his own schemes and convinces Jane’s father to sell her to him for 2000 pounds in exchange for a promised union with the young King Edward VI.  11-year-old Jane is now a ward of the Seymour’s and happily back under the Christian influence of Catherine.  Unfortunately, Catherine soon after dies in childbirth just before Thomas himself is beheaded for attempted kidnapping of the king.  Another conniving counselor to young King Edward VI, John Dudley, convinces Jane’s parents to transfer guardianship to himself.

1553 Dudley retains hopes of marrying his ward to King Edward VI until it becomes apparent that the young king is in fact dying of tuberculosis. So 16-year-old Jane is instead forced to marry John Dudley’s own son, Guilford.  But Dudley keeps a foot in the royal door by demanding the marriage be considered unconsummated in case the young king pulls through and an annulment can be made, freeing Jane up to marry him.  King Edward VI doesn’t pull through.  He dies just a month and a half later.  Edwards cousin, Lady Jane Grey, is proclaimed the new Queen of England by John Dudley himself.  Jane responds to her new title with these words:

“The crown is not my right, and pleaseth me not.  The Lady Mary is the rightful heir.”

Lady Jane Grey reluctantly holds the throne just over a week before her cousin Mary arrives with troops to depose her.  Queen Jane gladly hands over the crown and is thenceforth known as the 9-Days-Queen.

To be continued…

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The Martyrs’ Psalm, part 1

On February 12, 1554 a martyr mounted a London scaffolding having denounced the Catholic doctrines of salvation by works, transubstantiation, and Papal authority.  As from so many other martyrs, it was Psalm 51 heard recited from their lips before the axe fell or the tinder was lit. 

The martyr’s name was  Lady Jane Grey.

She was 17 years old.

Why Psalm 51?  Why the confession of an adulterous, murderous King on the saintly lips of this young girl and countless others willing to die for their faith?

Just read the following words and imagine them coming from a 17 year old girl with her pious head on a chopping block.

Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you may be justified in your words

and blameless in your judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,

and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,

and blot out all my iniquities.

10  Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

11  Cast me not away from your presence,

and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

and sinners will return to you.

14  Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,

O God of my salvation,

and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

15  O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will declare your praise.

16  For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;

you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18  Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;

build up the walls of Jerusalem;

19  then will you delight in right sacrifices,

in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;

then bulls will be offered on your altar.

King David uses no fewer than 5 different terms for his acts of adultery with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband:  transgressions, iniquity, sin, evil, and bloodguiltiness.  For these he is pleading with God for mercy, for washing, cleansing, purging, renewal, restoration, deliverance and salvation.  David confesses that the sin he was born in and continued to walk in are not just constantly visible to his own eyes but to God’s as well.  In fact, even though others suffered  deadly consequences as a result of his adultery and murder it was God Himself that David repents of sinning against.  

Like King David, Lady Jane Grey held the throne, albeit for a mere nine days, and like King David she was hunted by another monarch, only her persecutor met with ultimate success.  Neither sought the throne themselves and yet that is where their royal similarities seem to end.  Except for the thing they held most in common– the God they served.  And in her time of deepest testing, it was the failed king’s Psalm of repentance that sprang from Lady Jane Grey’s lips.

To be continued…

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If You Really Want to Soar

Since we acquired internet at our house this summer I decided it was time to dip my toe into the social media universe and get a little experience in those worlds myself before my teenagers had any access.  I’m still not on Facebook but did start following some ministries on Instagram and Twitter.  The ministry content has been great and as long as you keep your feed limited to about 20, a quick scan won’t take up more than a minute or two a day.  That said, I could see right away that if you don’t set parameters and just start following every person you’ve ever known, your screen can quickly become a rabbit hole from which some seldom, if ever, emerge.

Besides sucking up your time, I’ve noticed another alarming feature of Instagram in particular, and that is the propagation of lies.  I don’t just mean the staged, image-driven lifestyle idolatry, I mean the really sinful-advice/worldly-wisdom/bad-theology that shows up on every Christian women’s feed under the guise of self-care/self-love.  Since we’re studying birds right now here’s one that stuck out to me in particular.  @lizziejank reposted it with the appropriate pants on fire pasted on to identify the statement as the lie from hell that it is.

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Ladies, think of Eve a minute.   What method did Satan use to deceive her?  Was it guilt, fear, intimidation, bullying, put-downs? No!  It was lies just like the one above.  “Eve, don’t you want to be like God?  Don’t you want to really soar?”  And how does she respond?  “Yeah, that fruit would actually be good for me, it looks delightful and I deserve it.”  And thus sin and death had immediate lift off.

Even an elementary knowledge of the New Testament would serve to filter lies like “First love yourself” out of your daily diet of Instagram crumbs.  But you’re not going to be able do that unless you are personally feasting on the Word of God.  By that I mean actually reading it yourself.  Like regularly.  And in bigger chunks than your “Verse of the Day” app.  That’s why I love the Bible Reading Challenge for men and women.  If you haven’t heard about it I would strongly encourage you to check it out by clicking here.  Our family is already doing a chronological Bible reading plan together but I really didn’t want to miss out on the Bible Reading Challenge so I signed up via the YouVersion App and am listening to the daily readings on the audio ESV!

You’ve got to take those Instagram lies captive ladies and the only way to do that is by filtering everything through the Word of God.  So as John Piper so eloquently said, “Eat. Bible.” That, my friends, is the ONLY way to soar.

Have you checked out our new old blog, Of Skies and Seas?  Click here to see what’s hatching in our homeschool nest!