Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hymn-ful Sundays! "Take My Hand, Precious Lord"



This week's hymn is by Thomas Dorsey, a black American musician of the early 20th century. Credited with being the father of black gospel music, Dorsey's music was influenced by jazz and blues, but has since spread far and wide. He wrote this hymn after he lost his wife in childbirth, and then two days later, the son she had died giving birth to.


Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear
Precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

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

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I'm tired, I'm weak, I'm lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home
Thomas A. Dorsey


What a beautiful image of our walk with God! When we are tired and weak, we can call on Him to take our hand and lead us on the way. We are confident that the Lord will indeed lead us through storms raging and nights dark, for we know that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and the God will never leave us nor forsake us. Let us always remember the God can and will take our hand and lead us home.

Be blessed and shine holding His hand!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hymn-ful Sundays! "We Have an Anchor"



This week's hymn is by another female hymnwriter! Priscilla Jane Owens was a 19th century American teacher, who wrote many hymns for the Sunday School students that she taught. This hymn is one of her best-known ones.

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
 Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

 It is safely moored, ’twill the storm withstand,
For ’tis well secured by the Savior’s hand;
And the cables passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy the blast, through strength divine.

 It will firmly hold in the straits of fear,
When the breakers have told the reef is near;
Though the tempest rave and the wild winds blow,
Not an angry wave shall our bark o’erflow.

It will surely hold in the floods of death,
When the waters cold chill our latest breath;
On the rising tide it can never fail,
While our hopes abide within the veil.

When our eyes behold through the gath’ring night 
The city of gold, our harbor bright, 
We shall anchor fast by the heav’nly shore, 
With the storms all past forevermore.  
Priscilla Jane Owens


I think it's so interesting that this hymn starts out with a question: will your anchor hold throughout life's storms? Are you grounded in something that will last even in the toughest times. Then in the chorus we all declare that we do indeed have an anchor that is steadfast and sure, and it is fastened to a Rock that will not move. This anchor keeps the soul and is grounded in Jesus' love. What better thing could we be anchored to? What a beautiful metaphor for our reliance on Christ! For without being grounded in the love of our Savior, fastened to that Rock which cannot move, we would be driven and tossed by every wave, every wind, every storm.

Be blessed and shine anchored in Christ!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Biweekly Bits #14: A Pair of Shoes?

After writing 26 bits, I realized that there is so much I could elaborate on with each of my bits. So I decided to turn them into a biweekly (i.e. fortnightly) series, for the next year.


Marriage is like a pair of shoes. This one, interestingly enough, came from my graduate school mentor. She told me that it doesn't matter how cute or fancy they are on the outside, if you're going to wear them for a long time, they need to be comfortable (and sturdily made). I hope to make use of this bit of wisdom someday.

At 26, it seems like everyone in my life is getting married. Clearly everyone isn't, but there have definitely been wedding photos in my Facebook newsfeed every week for the past 2-3 months, and lots of engagement statuses/photos in the months before that. Not to mention the people in my life who are already married are celebrating anniversaries all over the place. [And then there's me, single as a dollar bill... womp, womp.]

However, I think this applies to any and every relationship that you'd like to last a long time: don't go for the cuteness, or the flashiness or the fashionableness, all of those external things that fade away, and are only for aesthetics anyway. What really matters when you get a pair of shoes for a long walk is that they are well-suited to your feet, they are comfortable, and they are well-made.

Anyone who has spent a long time wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes can testify that it is not fun after a while. And you may end up with corns and bruises and sore muscles which may last quite a while after you take the shoes off. And if on your walk you come across wet or icy ground wearing the wrong shoes for that weather, you could end up seriously injured.

I guess the same wisdom can be applied to marriages. Granted you definitely should be physically attracted to your spouse, but what matters more is your spouse's character, their beliefs, and their values; attributes that, when poorly matched with yours, make for sore feet on your long walk (or a much shorter walk than you planned for).

So I guess marriage can be like a pair of shoes? Clearly the metaphor has its limits, but there's still a bit of wisdom here.

All of this shoe-talk makes me want to buy some shoes. =)


Be blessed and shine your shoes! (lol)

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Hymn-ful Sundays! "Look and Live"



This week's hymn was written by William Ogden, a 19th century American musical prodigy and composer. Ogden, as a child, could write down music just from hearing it being sung or played. As an adult he wrote many songs and hymns, several of which he published in books. He was also a teacher of music.


I’ve a message from the Lord, hallelujah!
This message unto you I’ll give,
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”

Refrain:
“Look and live,” my brother, live,
Look to Jesus now, and live;
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”


I’ve a message full of love, hallelujah!
A message, O my friend, for you,
’Tis a message from above, hallelujah!
Jesus said it, and I know ’tis true.

Life is offered unto you, hallelujah!
Eternal life thy soul shall have,
If you’ll only look to Him, hallelujah!
Look to Jesus who alone can save.

I will tell you how I came, hallelujah!
To Jesus when He made me whole—
’Twas believing on His name, hallelujah!
I trusted and He saved my soul.

William Ogden

A simple message, look to Jesus and have life. It is only through Jesus that we receive the eternal and abundant life that the Bible speaks of. It is Jesus who saves our souls from sin and death.

Be blessed and shine and look and live!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: The Mended Heart

Once again, I've had the opportunity to review a book that I received through Bible Gateway's Blogger Grid. This time the book is T. Suzanne Eller's most recent book, The Mended Heart. You can get it here or here.

The Mended Heart deals with the different ways that our hearts can be broken or hurt, and how to heal them. In this book, Suzanne deals with a variety of topics, most of which we don't openly discuss in the church: spiritual abuse, sexual abuse, sin, the death of a loved one, and more. Her words remind us of God's love and His grace through all the most difficult times of our lives. She doesn't pretend that it is easy for a hurt heart to be healed, but she reminds us that with Jesus, even the most crushed heart can be made whole again. 

Content

The book has three sections: What Jesus has already done for you, Hearts in the midst of mending, and Moving Forward. The first section is an introductory one, telling us of God's grace which saves us, and also of what that means. She highlights three things that we don't have to do once we have been redeemed by Jesus.

Each chapter of the second section is dedicated to a single broad topic, such that you could just skip or skim that chapters that don't apply to your life. The chapters have major themes, each one covering a way in which our hearts can be broken. For example, there are chapters titled "When you lose a piece of your heart" (grief), "When sin hurts your heart" (sin) and "When a thief steals your heart" (abuse/violence).

In the third section, Suzanne offers steps to move forward in the healing process. She doesn't trivialize it either. She speaks of moving forward with a momentum that sometimes requires a complete turnaround, the challenges of changing your mindset and thought patterns, and the consciousness and consequences of our choices.

Format

Each chapter starts with a story, an example of someone who has experienced hurt in a way that is relevant to the content of the chapter. Then Suzanne gives an example or story from her own life and experience. 

Mostly importantly, each chapter has a section called The Jesus Factor, which links the content of that chapter to the life of Jesus and/or New Testament principles. She uses the gospels and several of Paul's letters to highlight how Jesus is relevant even in the midst of our hurt. 

Having linked these two things together, she starts to ask the reader to relate them to her own life, and the steps that she might need to take towards healing. After that is a brief summary of the chapter, with steps to moving forward.

Following this, (and my favorite part) she offers a few reflection questions at the end of every chapter, complete with scripture verses to meditate on, prayer points, and ways to implement the lessons of that chapter through practical tips. Sometimes those things are as simple (or difficult) as talking to a trusted person about something that you have been struggling with.

Each chapter has at its very end a principle, a prayer and a challenge, which helps connect what you just read in the chapter to your own life.

Summary

The format and content of the book make it a good devotional book, which you could read a chapter per day, or better yet, per week, taking time to really reflect on the questions at the end of each chapter, as well as taking steps to actually doing things to help the healing process.

I think that while I could not personally relate to some of the themes and issues presented in the book, as it was intended for someone with different life experiences from mine, I was still touched by the way Suzanne addressed these issues, and it made for good ways to pray for others who are experiencing heartbreak in one way or another.


Be blessed and shine with a whole heart!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hymn-ful Sundays! "Now Thank We All Our God"



Originally written in German in the 17th century, this hymn was one of thanksgiving usually sung before meals. It was written as a celebration for the end of the Thirty Years' War, during which Martin Rinkart, the hymnwriter and a Lutheran minister, was the only clergyman in the besieged city of Eilenburg and bore the responsibility of thousands who died because of disease and famine. Yet he was able to write these words after the war, and it showed the depth of his faith in God. The lyrics were translated into English in the 19th century by Catherine Winkworth, who was known for her translation of many German hymns.