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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Helen Howarth Lemmel, the author and composer of this hymn was also a brilliant singer who studied voice in Germany before returning to the midwest. She toured widely in the early 1900's, giving concerts at churches.

In 1918, she was given a tract by a missionary friend, entitled "Focused." The pamphlet contained these words, "
So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness."

Miss Lemmel recalled the experience she had upon reading these words: 
“Suddenly, as if commanded to stop and listen, I stood still, and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme, or note to note to make melody. The verses were written the same week, after the usual manner of composition, but none the less dictated by the Holy Spirit.”
Personally, I have no trouble believing her recount of this divine occurrence. How many of us have experienced the very happening which Miss Lemmel writes about in her chorus?

No matter how large or small, hurtful or benign our situation may be, when we shift our focus from our circumstances to our Savior the situation fades and our way becomes clear.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

This assurance is not pie in the sky or wishful thinking. The last stanza makes it known that clarity comes from His word and the hope we receive is one we must share!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!


You can find the entire series here.

Listen to Lauren Daigle's version (my new favorite) here.

Find a more traditional version here.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: Amazing Grace

Amazing grace (how sweet the sound)
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

Most of us are familiar with at least the first lines of this powerful hymn. A few of us know the backstory. John Newton, the debauched seaman, engaged in the despicable practice of capturing natives of West Africa and selling them into slavery. 

Through the reading of Thomas Kempis' Christian classic, The Imitation of Christ, a book that primarily answers the question, "What would Jesus do?" and other influences, such as his godly wife, God lifted Newton out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Newton never looked back and never stopped praising God for His amazing grace. 

In the mid-1750's he joined forces with William Wilberforce, the great abolitionist whose work brought about the end of the slave trade in Britain.  Newton was encouraged and greatly influenced by John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield. In 1764 he became an ordained minister in the Anglican church and pastored the little village of Olney near Cambridge. It was there that he wrote Amazing Grace and many other hymns of faith.

Stanza 5 was later added by John P. Rees and in 2011, Chris Tomlin wrote the refrain, My Chains Are Gone.  You can watch and listen to Tomlin's version here, it includes scenes from the movie Amazing Grace, which I highly recommend.

Shortly before his death, John Newton was heard to proclaim the following:
"My memory is nearly gone but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!"

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease:
I shall possess, within the veil,
a life of joy and peace.


You can find the entire series here.

Listen to the Celtic Women sing here.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: Jesus Loves Me

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it. (Luke 18:17)


Written in 1860 as part of Anna and Susan Warner's novel Say and Seal, the poem, Jesus Loves Me remains a favorite hymn of children around the world.

The composer, William Bradbury, recognized as a pioneer in children's music, composed the music for Warner's text and personally added the chorus to their existing four stanzas.

This simple, children's hymn teaches us some powerful things about our God:

We are weak; Jesus is strong.

Jesus has a special place in His heart for children; they belong to Him.

Jesus' death unlocked the gates of heaven allowing us to enter in.

When we come willingly to Him, as a child, He washes away our sin.

The Bible teaches us the truth about Jesus and His love for us.

You may not know all the words to this beloved hymn but chances are you know the most important ones:

Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! 
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.


You can find the entire series here.

It seems fitting to share this version, listen here.