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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: Doxology

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore. (Psalm 86:12)

Today we end the way congregations have been ending for nearly 350 years. I'm thankful to Thomas Ken for writing these words all the way back in the late 1600's and for standing up for the moral right against the English monarchy.

True worship involves an offering. Let's continue in our daily praise and worship, offering God not only our song but more importantly, our lives.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav'nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


You can find the entire series here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: Holy, Holy, Holy

O Lord, grant that I may desire Thee, and desiring Thee, seek Thee, and seeking Thee, find Thee, and finding Thee, be satisfied with Thee forever.

Written nearly two hundred years ago it is difficult to find a hymn used across all denominations of faith with so very little variation of text. Originally written for Trinity Sunday and inspired by the Nicene Creed (325 AD) Reginald Heber's hymn praises God in all His fullness and perfection.

Mighty, yet merciful. The image of the angels and saints together, worshiping the One, alone, Who is perfect in power, love, and unity renders us nearly breathless, unable to sing.

And still, our souls cry out: 

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

Perhaps worship, more than any other spiritual discipline, nurtures the spiritual growth of a Christian. Our worship is a reflection of our relationship with God. Learning to worship, in spirit and truth, should be a believer's lifetime pursuit. 

I pray that these daily insights into our hymns of faith have inspired you toward worship.


You can find the entire series here.

Listen and worship here.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: Just As I Am

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. (John 6:35-37)

Are you waiting to conquer a particular sin or overcome that certain failing before living for God in earnest? Do you view your imperfections as hypocritical to the Faith?

Are you waiting to do that one really big thing for God, knowing that then, finally, He will accept you? 

An invalid at the age of thirty, Charlotte Elliott, who was once a popular portrait artist and writer, despaired of doing anything for God. Once known as "carefree Charlotte," Miss Elliott had become listless and depressed.

Then, one day, a Swiss evangelist, Dr. Malan spoke into her spiritual distress, saying: "Charlotte, you must come just as you are - a sinner - to the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!"

Charlotte immediately responded to Christ's redemptive sacrifice and experienced inner peace and joy, despite her physical affliction, for the remaining of her eighty-two years.

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

God didn't heal Charlotte or change her circumstances. He changed her. Constrained in place but not in heart, mind, or soul, Charlotte wrote over one hundred fifty hymns and is considered to be one of the finest of all English hymn writers.
"God sees, God guards, God guides me," she said. "His grace surrounds me and His voice continually bids me to be happy and holy in His service - just where I am!"
What are you waiting for?

Just as I am, without one plea,
but that Thy blood was shed for me,
and that Thou bidd'st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


You can find the entire series here.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: America the Beautiful

Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people.
(Proverbs 14:34)

Do you pray for your country?

Today's hymn not only stirs us emotionally to praise our great nation, but it also encourages us to pray for it.

God shed His grace on thee, 
and crown thy good with brotherhood 
from sea to shining sea.

Katherine Bates wrote the original text in 1893 while teaching summer school in Colorado Springs. The glory of the Rocky Mountains and Pike's Peak still inspire awe and worship today.

And, too, over 100 years later there is still a real need for a return to a national dependence upon God and a renewed pride in our wonderful land.

God mend thine ev'ry flaw, 
confirm thy soul in self-control, 
thy liberty in law.

Miss Bates felt deeply the message of her patriotic hymn:
We must match the greatness of our country with the goodness of personal godly living. If only we could couple the daring of the Pilgrims with the moral teachings of Moses, we would have something in this country that no one could ever take from us.


You can find the entire series here.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: Make Me A Blessing

Nothing is lost that is done for the Lord,
Let it be ever so small;
The smile of the Savior approves of the deed
As though it were greatest of all.


Real question: Where do you go for good news? Seriously. It there an organization that you know of that consistently reports news that is positive and uplifting? That shows humanity at its best? If so, please share in the comments!

In a world that seems determined to throw at us a steady stream of gloomy, polarizing, and downright evil words and images it has become more important than ever that we "carry the sunshine where darkness is rife."

Ira B. Wilson's song, first introduced in 1924 at a Sunday school convention in Cleveland, Ohio reminds us how to do just that; it's really quite simple:

Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love,
Tell of His pow’r to forgive;
Others will trust Him if only you prove
True, every moment you live.

Give as ’twas given to you in your need,
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed,
Unto your mission be true.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when we look at all the bad stuff. It's easy to believe the enemy's lie that kindness and love really don't make a difference.

The truth that the enemy fights so hard to keep hidden is just this:

Good always wins.

Sing this hymn as a prayer to God today.

Make me a blessing, make me a blessing,
Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

Start a revolution of kindness. Be the change you want to see in this world.


You can find the entire series here.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: Worthy Is the Lamb

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom, 
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” 
(Rev 5:12)

Inspired by the text of Revelation 5:12, Don Wyrtzen wrote and composed this hymn while in Mexico City assisting evangelist Luis Palau in 1970. Since that time, Wyrtzen's work and passion have been "to communicate truth from scripture and from music that will touch and transform people's lives."

Often referred to as "the poet of the piano" because of his virtuoso playing and improvisational ability. Wyrtzen has arranged or composed over 400 anthems and sacred songs and worked with many well-known artists in the Christian music field.

I read a quote by Watchmen Nee recently that says, "Prayer is a warfare, but praise is a victory." 

Few hymns proclaim Christ's victory more expressly than this:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom and strength
Honor and glory and blessing

Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
Worthy is the Lamb


You can find the entire series here.

Listen here.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: Standing On the Promises

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (2 Cor 1:20)

It has been noted that the phrase "fear not" appears in the bible 365 times. One for each day of the year. We all make promises. Yet even our well-intentioned promises are easily broken.

God's promises never fail.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
by the living Word of God I shall prevail,
standing on the promises of God.

His promises are not simply emotional crutches, rather these Truths from His word are powerful assurances that help us navigate daily life and give us hope for the future.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
bound to him eternally by love’s strong cord,
overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
standing on the promises of God.

The author and composer of this hymn, Russell Kelso Carter, was a prolific writer, professor, Methodist minister, athlete, sheep rancher, and even a practicing physician in his later life.

No doubt, Carter's versatility, and success rest solely on his dependence upon God's promises.  As does ours.


You can find the entire series here.

Watch and listen here.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: The Wonder of It All

“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him? (Hebrews 2:6)

My phone chirps announcing a new text from my son. I touch the screen and watch in wonder as a sepia image appears. A head, with distinct features, and two precious little hands can clearly be seen. Our grandson was in the perfect position to have his image captured that day.

A precious new life. Made in the image of God.

Everything about that should stun us.

Yet it is such a small part of the story. When we take in the incarnation, resurrection, ascension, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the eternal reign of Christ we see a great God Who knows, loves, and cares for us.

The wonder and knowledge of this has the power to move the lowliest sinner to repentance. George Beverly Shea saw the truth of this at every Billy Graham Crusade.

The Wonder of It All, written in 1955, was Shea's attempt to describe what it was like watching hundreds of people come forward to accept Reverand Graham's invitation.


You can find the entire series here.

Watch Reverand Shea here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: I Love to Tell the Story

You don't have to be on Facebook five minutes to realize that it's human nature to share about the goodness we've found or experienced. 

People love to share the newest cleaning products, DIY technique, or healthy food they've found for their families. And rightly so. We care about these things because we love our families and want what's best for them. And we want to share what we've found with others!

It follows then, that those of us who have experienced the life-changing love of God would want to share it. Those of us who understand the depth of our sin and the completeness of God's forgiveness have a profound compassion for those who are still entangled and weighted down by sin.

From a young age, A. Katherine Hankey, the author of this hymn text took great joy in sharing her faith. She organized Sunday school classes for the rich and poor throughout London in the mid-1800's. 

While recovering from a serious illness, Katherine wrote a lengthy poem on the life of Christ. Consisting of two main sections, the poem was later adapted into two hymns. The first section became "Tell Me the Old, Old Story" and the second, "I Love to Tell the Story."

I love to tell the story
of unseen things above,
of Jesus and His glory,
of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story,
because I know 'tis true;
it satisfies my longings
as nothing else can do.

While the song itself doesn't actually tell the story of Jesus and His love, we who sing it should be quick to fill in the blanks and answer questions as the Spirit guides.


You can find the entire series here.

Watch and listen to the Oak Ridge Boys here.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: All Creatures of Our God and King

All Your works shall praise You, O Lord,
And Your saints shall bless You. (Psalm 145:10)

Originally, and more appropriately, entitled "The Canticle of the Sun," Saint Francis of Assisi wrote this hymn near the end of his life while living in a small hut in the garden of the Covent of St. Damian where he had come to say goodbye to his dear friend Sister Clara.

Nearly 700 years later, William Draper changed the name and paraphrased some of the text for a children's Pentecost festival. Since then, it is difficult to find two hymnals with the same version.

While this hymn might not be so popular in our contemporary churches today, St. Francis remains one of the most esteemed and respected religious figures in history.

His familiar prayer is a good one with which to start our week:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is
discord, unity.
Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is
error, truth.
Where there is despair, hope. Where there is
sadness, joy.
Where there is darkness, light.
For it is in giving, that we receive. It is in
pardoning, that we are pardoned.
It is in dying, that we are born to eternal life.


You can find the entire series here.

Watch and listen here.


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.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Inspired by . . . Blessed Redeemer

A Hill with Three Crosses--
One cross where a thief died IN SIN
One cross where a thief died TO SIN
A center cross where a Redeemer died FOR SIN


Many hymns begin with a poem or lyrics which are then set to music. This hymn, however, began in the heart of a composer, Harry Dixon Loes. A music teacher at Moody Bible Institue, Loes was inspired after hearing a sermon entitled, Blessed Redeemer.

He sent the melody to his friend, Avis B. Christiansen, who captured the pain of Calvary in these words of praise:

Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer!
Seems I now see Him on Calvary’s tree;
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading,
Blind and unheeding—dying for me! 

It's hard to think of our precious Lord wounded and bleeding. As a man, Jesus didn't want to drink this cup of physical, unbearable pain and spiritual wrath. But as God, He embraced this one act of sacrificial love that would set every man, woman, and child free for all eternity.

As His lifeblood slipped away, He prayed for you. Even knowing the blackness of our hearts, He prayed. He prayed knowing that His blood would cleanse and wash away the sickness of sin that so entangles us. He prayed knowing that by His death, we would be free.

Oh, how I love Him, Savior and Friend,
How can my praises ever find end!
Through years unnumbered on heaven’s shore,
My tongue shall praise Him forevermore.


You can find the entire series here.

Listen to Casting Crowns here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Inspired by . . . Great is Thy Faithfulness

My income has never been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. But I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness. ~ Thomas Obediah Chisholm

That "astonishing gratefulness" is what inspired Chisholm to write today's text and over twelve hundred other sacred poems. Rather than born out of tragedy, like many other prominent hymns, Great is Thy Faithfulness is the result of the author's "morning by morning" realization of God's personal faithfulness in his daily life.

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23)

We receive a new start every morning! Let that sink in for a minute, friends.

Whatever we messed up yesterday because of our pride, laziness, apathy, selfishness, or just plain, "I'm too tired to deal with it," attitude - God says, "I'm giving you another chance, today, to do it My way."

His way is peace, joy, and freedom.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow:
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed Thy hand hath provided:
great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


You can find the entire series here.

Listen here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Inspired by . . . My Jesus, I Love Thee

And shall I use these ransomed powers of mine
For things that only minister to me?
Lord, take my tongue, my hands, my heart,
my all,
And let me live and love for Thee!
                                                               ~ Unknown


God was working in Montreal, Canada in the early 1860's. A young teen, William Ralph Featherston came to know the Lord and wrote the poem, My Jesus, I Love Thee from the depth of his gratitude. Featherston sent a copy of the poem to his aunt in Los Angeles. Two years later, it was published anonymously in an English hymnal entitled, The London Book.

It wasn't until 1870, just three years before Featherston's death, that Adoniram J. Gordon came across the text and wrote the tune that we know today. Gordon included the newly comprised hymn in a new Baptist hymnal he was compiling and the rest, as they say, is history.

Featherstone never knew how God would take his confession of faith across three countries, through the hands of so many people, to become this much-loved hymn of assurance that would bless millions of people.

This story is a testimony to the, often mysterious, ways that God uses the gifts and talents of His people.

Nothing we offer to God is ever wasted. Whatever gift or talent He has given you, no matter how small or insignificant it may appear, use it! Be faithful. The blessing will come, though we may never see it.

My Jesus, I love thee, I know Thou art mine;
for Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
if ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.


You can find the entire series here.

Listen to the beautiful voices of Selah here.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: Crown Him with Many Crowns

Jesus Christ, the condescension of divinity and the exaltation of humanity. ~ Phillips Brooks


The tune, Diademata, composed by George J. Elvey in 1816 specifically for this hymn builds with a flourish, the second half of each verse making you want to stand and sing:

Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless king
through all eternity.

Originally written in 1851 by Matthew Bridges, the text we sing today is usually combined with additional stanzas written years later by Godfrey Thring. Both men were distinguished Anglican clergy who desired to exalt our victorious Lord in song.

The One Who bore the crown of thorns now sits exalted at the highest place of honor at the right hand of God. Each crown in the hymn points to some aspect of Jesus' person or ministry.

The Lamb upon the throne. Lord of life. Lord of love. Redeemer! 

Whatever version we sing may we all agree:

Thy praise shall never, never fail
throughout eternity.


You can find the entire series here.

Listen to Chris Tomlin's version here.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Inspired by . . . Hymns of Faith: Precious Lord, Take My Hand

For I am the Lord, your God, Who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)


The song that Elvis made famous flowed out of the broken heart of Thomas Dorsey after he received a telegram informing him that his wife and newly born son had died.

The son of a preacher, Dorsey grew up in Georgia where he was a successful composer of jazz and blues songs. Having drifted from God, and after several brushes with death, Dorsey returned to Him and began to write gospel songs and sing in church services. 

God continued to lead Dorsey, inspiring him to write more than two hundred and fifty gospel songs during his lifetime.
"My business is to try to bring people to Christ instead of leaving them where they are. I write for all of God's people. All people are my people. What I share with people is love. I try to lift their spirits and let them know that God still loves them. He's still saving, and He can still give that power." ~ Thomas A. Dorsey
Dorsey's words speak to the very essence of our worn and weary souls. No matter what end you may be facing, end of the day, end of a season, end of life, may you take comfort in the truth that He is always with you, leading you home to Him.

When the darkness appears and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home


You can find the entire series here.

Listen here.