Welcome!  Hymns have been and continue to be a real source of inspiration to me.  My desire in this blog is to share special hymns with my readers hoping that the words will minister to them, especially in times of great personal need.  If one of these hymns ministers to you, please take time to leave a comment so that I know that my blog is helping others as much as it helps me. Sometimes I will also provide a link where you can go to hear the hymn played.  So, please join me here each week and sing along as we praise God together.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

THE WONDER OF IT ALL

We are enjoying a beautiful early spring here in Lancaster County Flowers are blooming, trees are budding, and the temperatures have been warm and above normal for this time of the year. It is always a wonder to see how after the dark dreary days of winter, life springs up into beauty. I think George Beverly Shea also felt that way about God's creation, but he expressed that he had an even greater wonder of wonders that filled his soul - the wonder that God loves him. "Bev" has always been one of my very favorite male vocalists. He celebrated his 100th birthday on February 1, 2009. He has often been described as "America's beloved Gospel singer" and is considered "the first international singing 'star' of the gospel world," as a consequence of his solos at Billy Graham Crusades and his exposure on radio, records, and television. According to the Guinness Book of Records Shea holds the world record for singing in person to the most people ever, with an estimated cumulative live audience of 220 million people. He was taught to play the violin by his father, and the piano and organ by his mother. But it was his deep resonant baritone voice that brought early recognition and provided many opportunities for him to sing in his father's church and later around the world as he teamed with Billy Graham. Shea himself has said that he became a Christian at the age of five or six, but made a re-dedication to Christ when he was 18. There are many hymns that have been his trademarks over the years and we have shared many of them on this blog numerous times. But I think this one, which is so simple and to the point, is one of the most profound. Shea wrote both the lyrics and music for it and it was copyrighted originally in 1956. As you sing it this week, I pray that you might be again filled by the wonder that the Creator of the universe loves you. May that truth and wonder thrill your soul.

(1) There's the wonder at sunset at evening
The wondrous sunrise I see
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is the wonder that God loves me
The wonder of it all
The wonder of it all
Just to think that God loves me
Oh the wonder of it all
The wonder of it all
Just to think that God loves me

(2) There's the wonder of spring time and harvest
The sky, the stars, the sun
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is the wonder that's only begun
The wonder of it all
The wonder of it all
Just to think that God loves me
Oh the wonder of it all
The wonder of it all
Just to think that God loves me

You can listen to "Bev" Shea sing it here. LISTEN

Sunday, March 18, 2012

WHO IS ON THE LORD'S SIDE?

If you have ever read Foxes Book Of Martyrs you have read of many who gave their lives for the gospel centuries ago. But today there are still many martyrs for the gospel all around the world. Many are still giving their lives for the cause of Christ while we here in the United States enjoy so many wonderful freedoms with little or any persecution. But that is slowly changing. Today it might not yet cost you your life here to be a Christian, but it might cost you your job or result in verbal ridicule. Around the country people have lost their jobs for believing in creation or traditional marriage. And it is going to get worse. And even though it was written in 1877, this week's hymn asks an important question that we may all have to answer, "Who Is On The Lord's Side?". The hymn was written by Frances Havergal, a noted hymnwriter. A bright but sickly person, she was reading by age four, and began writing verse at age seven. She learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and memorized the Psalms, the book of Isaiah, and most of the New Testament. Miss Havergal had a thorough training in linguistics and music and was a pianist and singer. She has been referred to as "the sweetest voice of hymnody," and "the consecration poet." The hymn is related to the story of Moses when he returned and found the people sinning, Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, "Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto me." (Exodus 32:26). In Matthew 12:30 Jesus said, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." And so today we too need to make the decision. Will we say "Savior, we are Thine!"? Think about that question and the implications of your answer as you consider the words of this hymn this week.

1. Who is on the Lord's side? Who will serve the King?
Who will be His helpers, other lives to bring?
Who will leave the world's side? Who will face the foe?
Who is on the Lord's side? Who for Him will go?
By Thy call of mercy, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord's side—Savior, we are Thine!

2. Not for weight of glory, nor for crown and palm,
Enter we the army, raise the warrior psalm;
But for love that claimeth lives for whom He died:
He whom Jesus saveth marches on His side.
By Thy love constraining, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord's side—Savior, we are Thine!

3. Jesus, Thou hast bought us, not with gold or gem,
But with Thine own lifeblood, for Thy diadem;
With Thy blessing filling each who comes to Thee,
Thou hast made us willing, Thou hast made us free.
By Thy grand redemption, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord's side—Savior, we are Thine!

4. Fierce may be the conflict, strong may be the foe,
But the King's own army none can overthrow;
'Round His standard ranging, vict'ry is secure,
For His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure.
Joyfully enlisting, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord's side—Savior, we are Thine!

5. Chosen to be soldiers, in an alien land,
Chosen, called, and faithful, for our Captain's band;
In the service royal, let us not grow cold,
Let us be right loyal, noble, true and bold.
Master, wilt Thou keep us, by Thy grace divine,
Always on the Lord's side—Savior, always Thine!

Listen to it being played on a pipe organ here. LISTEN

Here are the same words but being sung to a different melody. VOCAL

Sunday, March 11, 2012

WHEN THE ROLL IS CALLED UP YONDER

The exact details of the writing of this hymn are not known, but from a number of different sources we find that the writer, James Black, was a Sunday School teacher in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In 1893 he supposedly befriended a poorly dressed girl who lived "down on Front Street, along the river". He invited her to attend Sunday School but she hesitated because of her shabby clothes. Black apparently saw to it that she had something decent to wear and she began to attend. One day when he called the roll she failed to answer. Upon checking on her he found that she was very sick with typhoid fever and had little hope of recovery. Death came quickly. It is said that when Black realized that she would never again be there when the roll was called, he made the comment that he trusted that when the roll is called up yonder that she'll be there. It is said that he couldn't find an appropriate song to respond to this sad situation and that this was a big disappointment to him. The thought came to him that he should try to write one. It is said that tears filled his eyes and when he got home he sat at his piano and the words and music to this hymn just flowed from his heart. And neither the words or the music have ever been changed. And so for many years this up tempo song has been sung by thousands as a reminder of the day when an important roll will be called. And those of us whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be there to respond and enter the joys of that heavenly realm. What a day that will be! Is your name written there? Will you be there to respond when that roll is called up yonder? If your answer is yes then you can joyfully sing along with this old time favorite this week. If not, then place your trust in what Christ has done for you at Calvary.

1. When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.

2. On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.

3. Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.

Listen to it being sung here. LISTEN

Sunday, March 4, 2012

FIND US FAITHFUL

For several years the topic of legacy has been on my mind. How do we want to be remembered when we are gone, by the money or possessions that we leave behind? Or will we leave a godly legacy that draws others to the Savior? If the Lord suddenly called you home today, how would you be remembered? How would the things you left behind reflect your testimony and walk with the Lord. I recently talked to a friend whose father was suddenly called home to heaven. She had grown up with a godly father who had taught her many lessons including the lesson that all that we have is really the Lord's, including our money. She told me that while she knew this, when she looked at his checkbook left behind she saw how he had really practiced what he had shared. She was amazed at the number of missionaries and ministries he had supported in addition to his own church. What will your possessions say about your love for the Lord when you are gone? For over 25 years my wife and I and our three sons had a family ministry. We often presented about 100 programs a year with children and families. When our programs were for families, my wife and I often closed the program by singing this week's choice, Find Us Faithful, written by Steve Green in 1988. Every time we sang it, the words challenged me. And as I've watched so many of my close friends move on to heaven the words continue to challenge me. I have been blessed to have family and friends who have influenced me spiritually and I thank the Lord for them and their impact on my life. But, unfortunately, not all folks finish well. We've too often been saddened to see the actions of some in their latter years of ministry do things that tarnished their legacy. I pray that this won't happen to me and that when the Lord calls me home, my family and friends will be left with a godly testimony that impacts their lives. Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.

We're pilgrims on the journey Of the narrow road
And those who've gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who've gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

CHORUS:
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

You can listen to Steve Green sing his song here. LISTEN