Tag Archives: Hymns

Don’t Get Angry, It’s Just a Comparison

The following was written in 2012, but still very applicable. But before you get mad at me for what you are about to read, it’s only a comparison, not a dogmatic definition of right or wrong. …But I might be more right than wrong.

In Line

Every Tuesday my wife and girls go to Precept Ministries (Kay Arthur) in Chattanooga for Bible study. On some days I go with them and use the time to study. It’s a nice place to study, believe me. However, I am writing this on a computer at Precept while Kay Arthur is talking to someone a few feet away. She is distracting me.

Then, there are other days when my wife and I leave the girls and sneak out to get a biscuit. Today we had to sit in line forever. For jelly biscuits.

Jelly Biscuit – May I insert just one question at this juncture? Why is it you always have to ask for jelly when you order a jelly biscuit? What is it about “jelly biscuit” that confuses people? If I ordered a plain biscuit, I would not expect jelly. But when I order a jelly biscuit, why don’t they assume I want jelly? Why do I always have to ask for it?! Good Grief!

I Hear a Song

It was while we were sitting in line that I heard a song on Christian radio (J103). The song caught my attention because of the lyrics. May I share with you the words from the chorus?

You make me happy…Uhhh
You make me feel the way I do…
You make me happy, Yeah!
I wish the whole world knew you, too! (and then the song ends with a bunch of “la-la-la’s.”)

I started to laugh. Honestly. Was I supposed to be blessed? Encouraged? Uplifted? Edified? Happy?

I know, I know, I know…I know that there are plenty of great, contemporary songs out there. Chris Tomlin, for one, has more than a few. I love several songs from Building 429, Avalon, and the Newsboys. But seriously, why can’t more of them take the subject matter at hand a little more seriously?

I Hear the Past

Some lines from the past need to be heard more often, especially if the best we can come with today is “uhh” and “yeah.”

  • My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righeousness.
  • A mighty fortress is our God, a bullwark never failing.
  • Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?
  • I will cherish the old rugged cross.
  • Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise: be thou mine inheritance now and always; be thou and thou only first in my heart; High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.

Dear Christian song writers, you can do better than “uhh’s” and “yeah’s” and “la la la la.”

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Ode to Green and Irish Hymns

All Things Irish

Normally, I don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but I figured today would be a good day for green.

IMG_0823

March, 2010

Somewhere in my ancient past, somewhere beyond the reach of genealogy software, I know there must be some Irish blood. It’s not something I can prove, but I do look good in green and turnip greens are one of my favorite foods. I also like green grass, the beauty of a rainbow, pots of gold, and Lucky Charms breakfast cereal.

Irish Hymns

But if there is anything Irish that makes a chill run up my spine, it’s the ancient hymn, “Be Thou My Vision.” I consider it one of the “battle hymns” of the faith: every time I hear or sing it, I am encouraged to draw my Sword and wage war with the Devil.

I had not been pastoring long when in 1996 I went to the Promise Keepers Clergy Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a rare three-day event featuring a once-in-a-lifetime lineup of speakers; everyone from Chuck Swindoll and E.V. Hill, to Jack Hayford and Tony Evans, just to name a few. 40,000+ ministers came from all over the world to this event, including 200 Native American pastors who took 2 months to walk from out West. Believe me, it was incredible.

Towards the end of the gathering of all these men who had dedicated their lives to the service of the Lord, all 40,000 men stood to sing what was to be the first time I had ever heard “Be Thou My Vision.” The power…the chills…the call to do battle with the Enemy was nearly overwhelming. 40,000 pastors singing “High King of Heaven…” could make the deadest doorstop of a Christian stand to his feet and shout!

So, after searching YouTube, I found this video with a stirring rendition of the Irish hymn I love so much. Along with the song, there are pictures of great preachers and missionaries of the church. The only thing is that it ends with a picture of John MacArthur, so if you are not a MacArthur fan, just close your eyes, OK?

On this St. Patrick’s Day, please keep in mind something else…theology! Here’s another little video you should watch 😉

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Filed under Christian Unity, Countries, Faith, General Observations

“My Jesus I Love Thee:” Sermon In Song

Song Sermons

One thing I love doing is taking old hymns and turning them into sermon outlines. Frankly, many of the old songs of the church were nothing more than condensed sermons put to music. They were not only meant to give us a means to sing praise to God, but to learn of His character, of his goodness and grace.

Last week I explained to the congregation at the church where I pastor that the songs we sing should be known and understood. I mean, how profitable is it if we stand as a group and sing something that makes no sense? What kind of corporate praise can we offer to our God if we cannot relate to the lyrics? It is so much better when we can all stand and sing from the bottom of our hearts the words of a hymn that means something vital to our soul!

An Outline

The following is an outline which I will be using soon, maybe even this Sunday. The outline is based on the song “My Jesus I Love Thee” by William Featherston (1864).

Please note, Featherston wrote this poem when he was between the ages 11 and 16 (he died age 27, long before the song became well-known). Adoniram Judson Gordon (founder of Gordon College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) added the melody. How many teens do you know these days who could write something like this?

On a different note, how many teens could God use if they would only let Him?

“My Jesus I Love Thee”

  1. My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine; (Jn 21:15-17)
    For Thee all the follies of sin I resign; (2 Tim. 2:19)
    My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou; (Ruth 2:10)
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. (The Place of Regeneration)
  2. I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me, (1 John 4:19)
    And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree; (1 Peter 1:18-19)
    I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow; (Mt 27, Mk 15, Jn 19:2)
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. (The Place of Realization)
  3. I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, (Job 13:15)
    And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; (Job 33:4)
    And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow, (Ps. 116:15)
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. (The Place of Resignation)
  4. In mansions of glory and endless delight, (Jn 14:2)
    I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright; (Rev 21:23)
    I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow, (2 Tim 4:8)
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. (The Place of Revelation)

I would love to know what you think of this, especially after you read the biblical references.

What do you think of topical sermons like this? Expository preaching is something I regularly do, but I also think we need to mix up the delivery styles every so often. Doing it this way – a song sermon – is not only a good way to explain a song, but doing so with Scripture helps reinforce the truth the next time the song is sung.

Head’s up, South Soddy Baptist! You might be hearing this sermon tomorrow morning 🙂

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Filed under Bible Study, God, Jesus, Love of God, music, poetry, Preaching, worship

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Choir Girl

Last night I had the rare chance to go hear my own daughter sing at Bryan College. It was wonderful! I wish all of you could have been there, especially to hear “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Powerful!

Katie at the doorNow, since Katie has gone to college, she has been busy, busy, busy…even touring with the Bryan College Chorale. On the rare occasion I have had to hear her display the music education she is receiving, all I’ve had to record it with was my iPhone. Last night all I got was a picture with her as she was handing out…what do they call those things?…bulletins? Menus? Billings? Keepsakes?

That has made me sad.

But WAIT!…

Earlier this month Katie and her personal choir (at least that’s the way this daddy sees it) performed at the Northside Presbyterian Church PC(USA). — on a side note, I’m not big on the denomination right now — Fortunately for me, since this was on a Sunday morning and I had other obligations, they did a wonderful job at recording the whole thing!

But before you watch it, let me tell you why I am sharing this (besides being proud of Katie and her backup singers). One of the greatest hymns ever written was penned by Isaac Watts, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Listening to it last night brought me to tears.

The Wondrous Cross

How often do we do that? Survey the cross? How often do we just pause for more than a few moments and measure out the height, depth, length, and breadth of the place where “sorrow and love flow mingled down”? If we did, we would think less of ourselves and more of Him.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NKJV

So, I hope you enjoy the video of Katie’s choir (incidentally, she is standing all the way to the far right). But after you listen to Isaac Watt’s famous hymn (beginning at the 32:48 mark), ask yourself the question the old man in the movie Do You Believe? asks the preacher: “What are you going to do about it?”

If you will see the cross for what it is, it will make a difference in your life.

(UPDATE: Katie just watched this and said, “We were not ready for that concert. We got our practice time in on the road.” This was their first concert.)

Oh, and “Jesus Paid it All” is awesome, too!

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Filed under God, Love of God, music, Parenting, Relationships and Family, worship

Ode to Irish Hymns

All Things Irish

Normally, I don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. But since all the beer companies are boycotting the St. Patrick’s Day parade, I figured today would be a good day for green.

IMG_0823

March, 2010

Somewhere in my ancient past, somewhere beyond the reach of genealogy software, I know there must be some Irish blood. It’s not something I can prove, but I do look good in green and turnip greens are one of my favorite foods. I also like green grass, the beauty of a rainbow, pots of gold, and Lucky Charms breakfast cereal.

Irish Hymns

But if there is anything Irish that makes a chill run up my spine, it’s the ancient hymn, “Be Thou My Vision.” I consider it one of the “battle hymns” of the faith: every time I hear or sing it, I am encouraged to draw my Sword and wage war with the Devil.

I had not been pastoring long when in 1996 I went to the Promise Keepers Clergy Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a rare three-day event featuring a once-in-a-lifetime lineup of speakers; everyone from Chuck Swindoll and E.V. Hill, to Jack Hayford and Tony Evans, just to name a few. 40,000+ ministers came from all over the world to this event, including 200 Native American pastors who took 2 months to walk from out West. Believe me, it was incredible.

Towards the end of the gathering of all these men who had dedicated their lives to the service of the Lord, all 40,000 men stood to sing what was to be the first time I had ever heard “Be Thou My Vision.” The power…the chills…the call to do battle with the Enemy was nearly overwhelming. 40,000 pastors singing “High King of Heaven…” could make the deadest doorstop of a Christian stand to his feet and shout!

So, after searching YouTube, I found this video with a stirring rendition of the Irish hymn I love so much. Along with the song, there are pictures of great preachers and missionaries of the church. The only thing is that it ends with a picture of John MacArthur, so if you are not a MacArthur fan, just close your eyes, OK?

On this St. Patrick’s Day, please keep in mind something else…theology! Here’s another little video you should watch 😉

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Unity, Countries, Faith, General Observations

Just a Comparison

Before you get mad at me for what you are about to read, it’s only a comparison, not a dogmatic definition of right or wrong.

In Line

Every Tuesday my wife and girls go to Precept Ministries (Kay Arthur) in Chattanooga for Bible study. On some days I go with them and use the time to study. It’s a nice place to study, believe me. However, I am writing this on a computer at Precept while Kay Arthur is talking to someone a few feet away. She is distracting me.

Then, there are other days when my wife and I leave the girls and sneak out to get a biscuit. Today we had to sit in line forever. For jelly biscuits.

Jelly Biscuit – May I insert just one question at this juncture? Why is it you always have to ask for jelly when you order a jelly biscuit? What is it about “jelly biscuit” that confuses people? If I ordered a plain biscuit, I would not expect jelly. But when I order a jelly biscuit, why don’t they assume I want jelly? Why do I always have to ask for it?! Good Grief!

I Hear a Song

It was while we were sitting in line that I heard a song on Christian radio (J103). The song caught my attention because of the lyrics. May I share with you the words from the chorus?

You make me happy…Uhhh
You make me feel the way I do…
You make me happy, Yeah!
I wish the whole world knew you, too! (and then the song ends with a bunch of “la-la-la’s.”)

I started to laugh. Honestly. Was I supposed to be blessed? Encouraged? Uplifted? Edified? Happy?

I know, I know, I know…I know that there are plenty of great, contemporary songs out there. Chris Tomlin, for one, has more than a few. I love several songs from Building 429, Avalon, and the Newsboys. But seriously, why can’t more of them take the subject matter at hand a little more seriously?

I Hear the Past

Some lines from the past need to be heard more often, especially if the best we can come with today is “uhh” and “yeah.”

  • My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righeousness.
  • A mighty fortress is our God, a bullwark never failing.
  • Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?
  • I will cherish the old rugged cross.
  • Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise: be thou mine inheritance now and always; be thou and thou only first in my heart; High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.

Dear Christian song writers, you can do better than “uhh’s” and “yeah’s” and “la la la la.”

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Filed under legalism, music, worship

Barriers to Church Growth. #1

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a different barrier each week.

“Churches aren’t concerned about God’s glory, believing the church is just for them (Isa. 42:8; 48:11).”

I [am] the LORD: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. – Isa. 42:8

For mine own sake, [even] for mine own sake, will I do [it]: for how should [my name] be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another. – Isa. 48:11

When we read the above verses it should be very clear to us that God is not interested in sharing His glory. Yet, too many times we rob God of the glory that is due Him by seeking it for ourselves. We do this in many ways, including the reason many of us go to church.

Lest we forget, “it’s not about us.” However, if you polled the majority of church-goers, I believe you’d find that the reasons for attending congregational worship are more selfish than we’d like to admit. To many believers, church is about what one can get, as opposed to what one can give.

The Tale of the Hymns

Have you ever stopped to listen to the words of those old-time hymns many of us grew up with? You may have sung them all your life, but stop and think about the following: “This world is not MY home, I’m only passing through. / My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue…;” “I’ll Fly Away;” “I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop;” “All I Need.” What is the common denominator of these lyrics and titles? “Me, me, me.”

If the Church Hymnal (© 1951,1979) was used as a tool to determine what we think of church, stop and think about this: there are 80 hymns with a title that start with the words, I, I’m, I’d, I’ll, I’ve, or My. In contrast, less than 10 contain the word glory. Those that do include “Glory Hallelujah In My Soul” and “I’ll Live in Glory.

I think it is pretty obvious that many of us come to church to get from God, not to give to God. He deserves our worship and our praise. He deserves all the glory because His is God, and not man (Hosea 11:9). We deserve nothing, yet His grace and mercy bestows upon us all the treasures we enjoy. Why do we come expecting anything?

Surely our churches would grow if God was glorified. Imagine a congregation of people who came together to lift up praise and adoration to Jesus for His glorious love. Imagine a group of folks who set aside all their own desires and petty differences in order to lift up holy hands unto the King of Glory. What did Jesus say? “If I be lifted up…I will draw all men unto me.”

So, what do you think? How could we do better in giving the glory to the One who truly deserves it?

Related Post: Un-“Christian” Ministry?

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Filed under Christian Maturity, General Observations, God, Uncategorized, worship