Category Archives: Uncategorized

Just Drop the Blanket

There is nothing I can add to this. The deep meaning of this symbolic action says it all.

The Way I See It

419244_1280x720This time last year, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” aired on national prime time television for the 50th time. In a world where the latest greatest technology is outdated in a matter of months, and social media trends come and go in a matter of days, 50 years of anything becomes quite meaningful.

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When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder

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 yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

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 yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

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 yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

Words and Music by James M Black, 1893

 


For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 – 18

Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Matthew 24:30 – 31

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55 – 57

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23


 

 

The practice of using a trumpet or bugle to communicate to large groups or over a distance, especially when it comes to military application, traces its history back to ancient times.  One clear example is that God commanded Israel to use trumpets when they marched around Jericho in Joshua 6.  Trumpets were used to announce celebration of victory, to sound an attack  and to signal a retreat.  As the use continued and developed they began to us it to signal the start of the morning, the roll call and the end of the day in military camps.  Traditionally in an american military setting “Taps” signaled the end of the day and “Reveille” signaled the start of the day and roll call. This is the image that James Black draws upon in his hymn, “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder.”

Black writes, “When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more.”  The Trumpet is used as a signal of the end times in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 where we read, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.”  The blast of the trumpet signals something is happening.  In this case, the apostle Paul is speaking of a day all Christians await.  The day Jesus will fulfill the promise of Acts 1:10 – 11 and return.

The hymn continues “When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.” This time Black draws our minds to a second passage that references the sound of the trumpet signalling the end of time.  In Matthew 24:31 we read, “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

The hymn continues by saying, “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.”  Again, we are brought back to the 1 Thessalonians 4:16 – 17 where Paul tells us, “and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” The glorious news is there.  Death has no final power over those who believe in Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55) For as Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In light of this truth, the hymn declares what our response should be.  It says, “Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun, Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care.” If the gift of God is eternal life, if we can know with confidence that we will one day share in his glorious resurrection, then our response can be nothing else.  We are compelled to give our all for Him knowing what we have been given.  “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.”

 

 

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Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Words by Martin Rinkart, 1636
Music by Johann Cruger, 1647

 


Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 118:1

Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven
Lamentations 3:41

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Colossians 3:16

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Psalm 145:8

let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 10:22


 

From the time we are young our parents taught us to say, Thank you. These two simple words communicate so much. When we receive something, a gift, a compliment, a favor, we say it. It is a way of expressing appreciation for things we receive.

But more often than not it seems to simply be an after thought.  Something we casually throw out because it is the cultural norm.  We don’t stop to think about what we are saying, so in the end it has not real meaning. But then there are those time, though they may be few and far between, that the words are genuine and heart-felt.  They do not come close to relaying the gratitude that is felt and so their meaning carries a profound depth. This is the theme of Martin Rinkart’s, “Now Thank We All Our God.”

Starting with the opening line of the hymn, “Now thank we all our God,” we are drawn in to see our need to express thankfulness to God. We “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.” (Psalm 118:1) We give thanks for what He has done. A thankfulness that is not simply expressed in words but comes from our full being. So Rinkart writes, “with heart and hands and voices.” reflecting the words of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:41 where we read, “Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven.”

Yes, we are to express our deepest gratitude to him. Gratitude to a God “who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices.” We rejoice in God, “who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way. With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.” He has always and will always be there. He alone is our source of joy and true hope.

When we honestly stop to reflect, there is so much that God has given us for which we are grateful. When we stop to realize this, we cannot help but pray that His blessings do not end. This is why Rinkart writes, “O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us.” We pray that God will not leave us and we can rest confidently in the knowledge that, “he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

So we thank God for all he has done. We thank Him for his blessings. We thank him that he will always remain near to us. We lift our voice up to him with “All praise and thanks to God the Father . . . The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven.

 

 

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What Have I To Dread

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Words by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1887
Music by Anthony J. Showalter, 1887

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.
Deuteronomy 33:27

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
Psalm 29:11

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right 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 41:10, 13

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
John 4:16 – 18


One of the things that I remember from growing up may seem a little strange and silly to a lot of people. At the top of the stairs in our house there was a cabinet that kept some of the nice dishes and other items. On the top shelf there was a cookie jar. It was shaped like a cow with a kitten sitting on its back. Now for some unknown reason, I not only did not like the jar, but I refused to go past the cabinet if I could see the cow. This was a problem, especially considering the fact that I had to pass the cabinet to get to my bedroom.

Well my older sister and brother came up with an interesting solution. They went up there with a couple of toy guns and “eliminated” my fear. Now the jar was still there, but for some reason I had a little less problem going by it, though sometimes, I may have been moving quickly.

Seems strange, but we all have fears. Most of them are irrational fears,or phobias. Fear of spiders, Fear of heights, Fear of crowds, Fear of cow shaped cookie jars. Sometimes these fears make us unable to move, sometimes we find strength from facing them.

Now not all fears are irrational. For instance, a fear of walking down a dark alley is actually a reasonable. It is a reminder that we need use common sense precautions in life. But in these cases, just like in the irrational ones, we need to find the strength to move past them.

In the hymn “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms” we read, “What have I to dread, what have I to fear?” It speaks with such confidence. But what is the source of this confidence to face fears. In Deuteronomy 31:6 we find the answer. It reads, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This same message is repeated in Isaiah 41:10 where God says, “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” and in verse 13 he continues, “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.”

God is the answer. He is the source of the strength to face our fears. He has promised that he will always be with us and will never leave us.

This strength is made available to each of us through His Son, Jesus Christ. John 4:17 – 18 tells us, “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” The love of God that dwells in us, through our faith in Jesus Christ, will drive the fear away.

Yes there are still genuine dangers we need to be aware of in life, but it is not fear that should rule our response. When we realize that God holds our hand in His, then we sing the words, “ Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms”

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Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us

Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us, be the guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and power to free.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! We will early turn to Thee.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! We will early turn to Thee.

Early let us seek Thy favor, early let us do Thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Savior, with Thy love our bosoms fill.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast loved us, love us still.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast loved us, love us still.

Words by Dorothy A. Thrupp, 1836
William B. Bradbury, 1859

 

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
John 10:1 – 18

 

One of the many things I miss about my childhood is growing up on a farm. To have wide open spaces and animals all around. We had dairy cattle, pigs, ducks, chickens, turkeys, a pony, a couple of miniature mules and three or four sheep.

I love working with animals. But, as anyone with a pet, let alone a who farm knows, animals are a great responsibility. You have to feed them, clean up after them and watch over them. You not only want to meet their needs, but you are seeking to keep them safe as well. You lead them to food and along safe routes. You care for them when they are sick and you keep away dangers.

Historically this is the role that a Shepherd fulfilled, and this is the image that Dorothy Thrupp draws upon in her hymn, “Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us.” The theme is found through out scripture and is an incredible picture of Christ relationship to us.

Thrupp writes, “Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care; In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare.” The message reminds us of the fact that in and of ourselves, we will not do what is best for us. We need Jesus care to watch over us, protect us and to meet our needs.

She continues with the imagery as she writes, “Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.” For the sheep, it was the wolf that was a danger and the shepherd stood guard, ready to fight off any that came. For us, it is sin that is the danger we must beware of. The writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 12 verse 1 that we need to rid ourselves of “the sin that so easily entangles.” Yes, sin is the danger we face, and it is Christ who stands guard. It is Christ who gives us the strength to stand against sin.

Even so, at times we still wander from the path that Christ our shepherd has laid out for us. When this happens he comes to find us as the shepherd in Luke 15:4 who leaves the 99 to find the one who has become lost.

Thrupp now sets aside her imagery of the Shepherd to speak straight to our situations. She writes, “Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be; Thou hast mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and power to free.” None of us is perfect. More accurately, we are anything but good people. But as sinful and lost as we are, Christ is willing to accept us. But beyond his willingness to accept us, he is able to make us clean and to forgive us for our sins. He is able to make us new, to set us free.

Isaiah 53:6 tells us, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.” This is who we are. When we are left to our own devices, we wander away. But God placed our failings on Christ. He took our place. The rest of Isaiah 53:6 tells us, “and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Christ is our Shepherd and our Savior. He alone can make us new. It is out of thankfulness for Christ loving sacrifice that I sing the final words of this hymn, “Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast loved us, love us still.”

 

 

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