Tag Archives: hymn

Worship Wednesday – A Pilgrim’s Progress – Matt Papa

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.Hebrews 12:1

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

During a difficult period of life, Matt Papa wrote a song about our journey as pilgrims in this world. A worship leader, known for penning theologically rich modern hymns, Matt faced a time of emptiness when the Lord pressed him to “keep running”.

“The song arrived very late in the process of making the album (Look & Live). I was flying up to Nashville to record the rest of the vocals. This was January, and we just had our third child. Life felt as crazy as it had ever felt. The transition for us from 2 to 3 kids felt like a punch in the gut. I admit I have an artist’s temperament — my highs are high and my lows are low — so I’ve struggled over the years with depression. I was praying as I was flying up to Nashville and I kept hearing that phrase, ‘Keep running!’ I felt like the Lord was saying it, I felt like the cloud of witnesses was saying it, just put your head down and keep fighting. I had the overwhelming sense that I needed to finish the song and record it, and I worked hard over the next couple of weeks to finish it. I don’t know why, but my prayer for that song is this; I really want people who are contemplating suicide or battling depression to hear this song, and I pray that the Lord would use that in their lives to encourage them to keep going…to keep looking to Christ.”Matt Papa

Matt Papa – A Pilgrim’s Progress (Keep Runnin’) – Daily Play MPE

The Word of God is filled with encouragements for our heavy, dark times…when we just want to quit – to stop in our tracks, turn aside, and take an easier path.

During Jesus’ public ministry – a time of wonder and miracles – he lost followers because his way seemed too hard for them. Once (John 6) when he turned to his closest disciples, he asked them would they leave, too.  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

We all have suffered different losses, struggles, difficulties in life, and compared ours as less or more doesn’t really compute. Whatever is hard for me (or you) is just that…hard. When life pins us down and we struggle to get out from under the weight, Peter’s words always come to mind for me. “To whom shall we go?”

For me, there is nowhere else to run but to Jesus. That’s not to say I do always. Disparaging of my situation, I may fall to complaining or searching for a way out, any way out…besides through Jesus’ grace and strength.

For the days we find ourselves slogging through, almost to a complete stop, God promises he is for us (Romans 8:31-38). He will never leave us, and we will reap the harvest he has prepared for us…if we don’t give up.

Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

Photo Credit: Max Pixel

Today, if I had a literal race to run, it would not go well. Yesterday, I reached down to a low shelf in the refrigerator to pull out leftovers for lunch. In an instant, something happened in my back, and the pain was excruciating. This was my very first encounter of back pain the kind I hear others experience. It is still with me today – as I have to do everything carefully, at times in slow-motion. Whatever falls to the floor will have to stay there…today.

Fortunately, no literal footrace awaits my toe on the line. A journey does continue for this pilgrim. A race of faith and endurance still draws us, whatever our situation. Thankfully, the Lord’s call to “keep running” is never ever without His presence or His provision.

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:2

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Please worship with me (lyrics below)…and let’s keep running.

Lord I’m tired, so tired from travelin
This straight and narrow is so much harder than I thought
On this path, I’ve met both doubt and pain
I’ve heard their voices say
“Yeah, you’ve given all you’ve got”

But there’s a crowd of witnesses,
the ones who’ve run this race
and even louder than my fears they’re crying
“Boy, you lift your face. . .!”

“. . . .keep running, keep running
don’t lost heart, don’t you give up now
don’t turn around
you’ve got to find a way somehow
keep reachin’, keep fightin’
the pain cannot compare to the reward
that will be yours
that waits in store
for those who just keep runnin”

On this road, this fight for holiness
I’ve struggled and I’ve bled
through these dangers, toils, and snares.
And I have foes,
their siren voices call
saying “Boy, you’re about to fall,
with that heavy cross you bear”

I remember there was ONE who died to win this race
He took the cross, he crushed the grave
Oh I can hear my Saviour say . .

“Keep running, keep running
don’t lost heart, don’t give up now
don’t turn around
you’ve got to find a way somehow
keep reachin’, keep fightin’
the pain cannot compare to the reward
that will be yours
that waits in store
for those who just keep runnin”

Don’t turn aside
No compromise
Just lift your eyes
To the glory that’s comin’.
If you’re like me
you feel like you can’t go on,
you’ll never see the dawn,
and you’re just about to break . .
but don’t stop now
Know that every sacrifice
It’ll all be worth the price
when you finally see His face . . . . . . . .

Just keep runnin’
Don’t lose heart; don’t you give up now
Don’t turn around, you’ve got to find a way somehow
Dig deeper, run harder,
The pain cannot compare to the reward that will be yours; it waits in store for all who just keep…
So take my hand because we can’t do this alone
Until you hear “Well done”,
Until your race is complete
Find a way to just
Keep runnin’
Keep dreamin’
Keep darin’
Believin’
Keep workin’
Keep waitin’
Keep servin’
Keep prayin’
Keep movin’, keep tryin’, keep hopin’, keep fightin’, keep goin’,
He’s waiting
Arms open; He’s comin’
Keep runnin’*

Photo Credit: YouTube

None of this we do alone…we have God with us every step of the way. This is not a “do it in our own strength” thing. We are carried by His strength, and we run beside each other, encouraging and recalling the truth of His loving words to us…until we both reach the prize at the finish.

*Lyrics to A Pilgrim’s Progress (Keep Runnin’)

Wednesday Worship – Be Thou My Vision – Celebrating God with Rend Collective

[Adapted from the Archives]

The strongest memories I have of the song Be Thou My Vision are connected with worship across North Africa. When our children were growing up, we “attended church” – expat families, from various Christian denominations, who gathered once or twice a week to worship in English.  We sang great hymns, old and contemporary, with guitar accompaniment, and worship leaders with more British accents than American. I remember our little family, strung out along a pew of these little churches. Our stair-step children, with shoulders squared, singing from hymnals in the early years and then with lyrics projected on the stuccoed front walls.

Photo Credit: Eurobishop

We sang Be Thou My Vision, this old Irish hymn, across three countries in Heliopolis Community Church (Cairo), St. George’s (Tunis), and St. John’s (Casablanca). Before our children all launched back into life in the US, we “attended” church less and became a part of house churches. There we still sang Be Thou My Vision, still with guitar…less with a British accent.

Now to Rend Collective. I heard this group for the first time on my radio a few years back. The song was Second Chance. I jotted down the group’s name and song and would later buy the album based on that one song. Have you ever done that?

Photo Credit: Amazon

When I heard You are My Vision, my first thought was how could anyone mess with such a great hymn that so truly magnifies God? As I listened, the personal nature of this version drew me in. This old Irish hymn written in the 8th century has been, not-so-much updated but, celebrated by an Irish group of young worshipers. Not celebrating the song so much as celebrating the Savior of the song.

We no longer “attend church” in various African countries. Today we are deep in the life of church, bringing our own stuff to the stuff of many others. All of us collectively love God, albeit imperfectly, of course, and want to express His perfect love in our communities.

This Sunday during worship at Movement Church we sang Be Thou My Vision, and I was reminded of its great truths and of other years, in other places, where His truth was being made known.

Worship with me through the lyrics and music of Rend Collective’s  You are My Vision.

You are my vision, oh King of mine heart. Nothing else satisfies, only You, Lord. You are my best thought, by day or by night. Waking or sleeping, Your presence, my light.

You are my wisdom; You are my true word – I ever with You and You with me, Lord. You’re my great Father and I’m Your true son. You dwell inside me, together we’re one.

You are my battle shield, sword for the fight. You are my dignity; You’re my delight. You’re my soul’s shelter, and You’re my high tower. Come raise me heavenward, oh, Power of my power.

I don’t want riches or a man’s empty praise. You’re my inheritance, now and always. You and You only, the first in my heart –  High king of heaven, my treasure You are.

High king of heaven, when victory’s won, may I reach heaven’s joy, oh, bright heaven’s Son. Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, oh, Ruler of all.

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, oh, Ruler of all.

Lyrics for You are My Vision

You are My Vision – Rend Collective – Official Live – acapella part at 2:23 will seriously give you cold chills 

YouTube video of You are My Vision with lyrics

Rend Collective Albums with You are My VisionHomemade Worship by Handmade People and Campfire

Rend Collective Art of Celebration – Album & Tour

Be Thou My Vision – Wikipedia – English Methodist Lyrics, 1964

Back Story of Be Thou My Vision

YouTube video of Second Chance from album Homemade Worship by Handmade People

YouTube video of  Build Your Kingdom Here from album Homemade Worship by Handmade People – another favorite for another day

Worship Wednesday – How Deep the Father’s Love For us – Stuart Townend

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Worship can be a deeply emotional experience. In fact, sometimes, we lose our focus on God Himself in the midst of the singing of a familiar song. Our minds wander as memories of other times and places take us out of the moment. Not a bad thing necessarily, but…

That happened to me as the praise band at Movement Church this Sunday opened the hymn How Deep the Father’s Love For Us. I love this Stuart Townend hymn. He published it in 1995, the year we moved to Cairo, Egypt. New to us, this hymn became a standard in our family from those early days of adjustment to a new life in another country. [This and another hymn of his – In Christ Alone.]

On Fridays, we would join other internationals and a smattering of Egyptian Christians, at Heliopolis Community Church, and we would sing and pray in English. Such a refreshment to our souls as we spent most of our week, learning and using Arabic in our work and with neighbors and friends. English was our worship language.blog-international-church-worship-how-deep-the-fathers-lovePhoto Credit: CCCLux

Sweet memories of hot Friday mornings, singing with believers from all over the world, as the call to prayer broke through from a nearby mosque. Sweet memories of a oneness with each other…and with God.

Then my thoughts sprang back to the present on Sunday, as we sang this lyric:

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Because of what Christ did for me…for us…on the cross, I am no longer separated from God by the penalty of my rebellion against Him. The debt I built up through life is paid in one great act of God through Christ – His perfect, sinless life substituted, in death, for my own sin-filled mess…for our own. There is nothing left to pay…nothing. Christ paid in full, on the cross, for all our sins.

At what cost? Oh…we can imagine the considerable cost Jesus paid because our own flesh cringes at the excruciating pain of the cross. Yet, we also must take in, as much as we can, the cost to the Father. Such great love He has…for His own son…and for us…each one of us. The whole world, in fact.

When Stuart Townend was writing this hymn, he was very aware of the emotions that can be elicited in praise music. Just as I have described, the personal joy, refreshment, and happy memories that can be so satisfying in the experience of individual and corporate worship. His hope was to write in such a way as to help the worshiper get beyond himself and to a greater awareness of God.

“The danger now is that we are so focused on the experience our worship can become self-seeking and self-serving. When all of our songs are about how we feel and what we need, we’re missing the point. There is a wonderful, omnipotent God who deserves our highest praise, and how we feel about it is in many ways irrelevant!  I want to encourage the expression of joy, passion and adoration, but I want those things to be the by-product of focusing on God – I don’t want them to become the subject matter. I’m trying to write songs that refer to us as little as possible, and to Him as much as possible!”Stuart Townend

Hymns like How Deep the Father’s Love For Us complement our prayer life and study of God’s Word. For those friends of ours who don’t yet believe…those who say, “That’s nice for you that you believe God. I just don’t believe like you do.”…we have a witness in worship.

It is not just that we believe…what Townend describes in this hymn, reflective of the truth of Scripture, isn’t just what we believe…it is what happened and was witnessed by others – the deep love of God displayed in the self-emptying life and death of His Son. Hallelujah!

Worship with me.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

blog-how-deep-the-fathers-love-youtubePhoto Credit: YouTube

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.*

blog-movement-church-how-deep-the-fathers-love-worship-2

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.1 John 3:1

…the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20b

*Lyrics – How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – Stuart Townend

YouTube Video – How Deep the Father’s Love for Us – Cover by Joy Williams

YouTube Video – How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – Lyrics (with Scripture portions that support them)

The Depth of Christ’s Love: Its Cost – John Piper

YouTube Video – Story Behind the Song – How Deep the Father’s Love for Us – Stuart Townend

The High Cost of the Cross – Joe Crews

Hymn Reflection: How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – Adam Faughn

Wednesday Worship – A Mighty Fortress Is Our God – Martin Luther

Blog - A Mighty Fortress Is Our God - suwallsPhoto Credit: Suwalls

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.”Psalm 46:10-11

In the dark days of oppression, the great Reformer Martin Luther would sing in the streets of Eisenach, Germany, both to encourage himself and those within hearing. He wrote many hymns, but this one, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, written in 1527, became his most well-known. Inspired by Psalm 46, it became the heart cry of the Protestant Reformation.

“‘A Mighty Fortress’ so captured the spirit of the Protestant Reformation that when Protestant emigrants were forced into exile or martyrs went to their death, ‘A Mighty Fortress’ always seemed to be the song they chose to sing.” – Diane Severance

Blog - martin Luther - youtubePhoto Credit: YouTube

Severance also wrote about Luther’s love of music:
“Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. She is a mistress and governess of those human emotions…which control men or more often overwhelm them…Whether you wish to comfort the sad, to subdue frivolity, to encourage the despairing, to humble the proud, to calm the passionate, or to appease those full of hate…what more effective means than music could you find?”Martin Luther

We sang this great hymn on this past Sunday as Movement Church gathered. In the past, we worshiped singing this song usually with the accompaniment of an orchestra or pipe organ. This time, electric guitar riffs and a measured drum beat reminded us of the call to remember who God is…even in the midst of great struggle and the hard press of a changing culture.

This God is the Lord of the church…and we are His people…not just some seemingly silly church people clubbing together. His people are meant to be ready for whatever comes. Not because we are great or able, but because He is…He is our mighty fortress!

Worship with me in the way I learned this great hymn many years ago or in the more contemporary style of HeartSong (below).

A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing;
Our shelter He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth is His name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And tho’ this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim — We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow’rs — No thanks to them — abideth:
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Thro’ Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.*

*Lyrics and Hymn Story: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God – Tim Challies

The Weak Man Behind A Mighty Fortress – Mark Galli

Worship Wednesday – Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing – Faithful God to an Unfaithful People

Blog - Come THou FOunt - youtubePhoto Credit: YouTube

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise?…Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness. Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.  Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power… Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry. For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.Psalm 106: 1-2, 6-8, 44-45

 When Pastor Cliff Jordan led the gathered Movement Church recently to turn to Psalm 106, we were reminded afresh of a remarkable truth – the faithfulness of God to his unfaithful people. [Podcast here].

The psalmist calls the people of God to remember his steadfast love even in the face of their murmuring, disobedience, and idolatry. Account after account, he writes of the history of Israel…not to focus on the sinfulness of humanity, as much as to display the faithfulness of God in delivering them.

We are no different than those of old. We are broken by our sinful nature and fall too often into that age-old pattern of rebellion, repentance, and restoration.

Praise God that he is ever willing to restore us to himself. How dreadful when we miss restoration because we refuse to reckon with our rebellion. I know my sinful heart too well. That is one of the many reasons I love God so much.

“Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”

This lyric is from the great old hymn written in 1757 by another wanderer – Robert Robinson. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Like Psalm 106, it’s a great testament of a faithful God to an unfaithful people. I’ve written about this great old hymn before here.

Worship with me to the hymn sung by the David Crowder Band:

Come Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I’m come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
O to grace how how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

Robinson wrote a fifth stanza that is often omitted. Here it is:

O that Day when freed from sinning,
I shall see thy lovely Face;
Clothed then in blood-washed Linnen [sic]
How I’ll sing thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransom’d Soul away;
Send thine Angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless Day.

Hallelujah!

Postscript: Don’t miss the video below with the Aeolians singing this great hymn accompanied by pipe organ. We don’t often get to hear this sort of musical feasting very often anymore. Glory! A glimpse of the worship of which we may be a part in Heaven…thanks to a faithful God who restores a repentant people.

Lyrics to Come Though Fount as performed by David Crowder Band

Story Behind the Song Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come Thou Fount – Wikipedia article – interesting notation of the various lyric changes/additions

Did Robert Robinson Wander…as He Feared? – Dan Graves

Video of The Aeolians of Oakwood University singing Come Thou Fount, with directors Dr. Lloyd Mallory and Dr. Jason Max Ferdinand Don’t miss this!

Blog - Aeolians - cassmacenterprisePhoto Credit: Cassmacenterprise

Worship Wednesday – How Firm a Foundation – Illustrated

Blog - How Firm a Foundation - blueletterbible.orgPhoto Credit: BlueLetterBible.org

Many years ago, I spent the summer doing construction on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. A group of older American teens and five adults comprised a team who would build a structure over the course of that summer. The building would house a church (and the pastor family would live in the loft). Only one of us had any construction experience but we all had received a couple of weeks training prior to leaving the States.

It was a marvel that we had such confidence (faith, really) to do such a thing.

After flying halfway around the world to Manila, we boarded a ship for an overnight journey south to Mindanao. On our arrival, we were greeted at port by a small group of very enthusiastic Filipinos. They carried us, by bus, straight to the construction site for a look-see.

We must have been the sight.

Eagerly tumbling out of the bus, we were struck speechless at building lot where we would erect a church. It was obvious where we were to build because it was the only open space surrounded by several houses on stilts. It was also obvious why no homes had been built there before.

Covering most of the building site was a tidal pool, and it must have been high tide. We blinked and stared at the deep salt-water pool, complete with small fish popping the surface of the water.

How could we build in such a place?

Blog - Stand Firm - CouragePhoto Credit: NourishtheDream.com

Amazingly, we found that we could build there. A lot of engineering, which I don’t remember now, went into making the site dry (somehow rerouting the tidal water, pumping out the standing water, and filling in the area with dirt and rock).

Our project leader told us our most important job was to build a strong foundation. In this rural area, with more hands than construction companies available to us, we worked shoulder to shoulder with our new Filipino friends. Steel reinforcing bars were tied, and cement was mixed for days as we began pouring concrete footers. We poured a thick foundation and built up with cinder blocks.

I wish I had easily retrievable pictures from those hot summer days in Mindanao. The building went up and finally the sharply pitched roof was laid on.

On our last full day there, we celebrated our work together with those dear friends in that community. They would finish the last details of the building without us as we flew back to the US the next day.

I will never forget that first day, and the laying of the foundation, in particular. Such hard work…not to be short-changed. A year later, a violent typhoon hit that village, and we were sure the church must have been destroyed.

It stood through the storm.

How thankful I am for the sure foundation we have in God’s Word and His work in us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

A great old hymn, How Firm a Foundation, speaks powerfully about this strong support we have through the storms of our lives. Published in 1787, many have written hymn stories about it, but I refer you to the one written by Tim Challies. He also introduces the arrangement done of the hymn by the trio Ordinary Time.

Worship with me:

How firm a foundation, you Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
To you, who, for shelter, to Jesus has fled?

(In every condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.)

Fear not, I am with you; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am your God and will still give you aid.
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.

When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply.
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine.

(E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sovreign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.)

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.*

I love the imagery of this great old hymn, and thinking about how saints of God for more than 200 years have worshipped Him through these lyrics. Artist Laura Kranz applied her own powerful imagery to this hymn. One image is featured below; the rest you can find at the Overview Bible Project.Blog - How Firm a Foundation - buff.ly - Laura KranzPhoto Credit: Laura A. Kranz

Have a worshipful Wednesday. I pray you stand on such a foundation as God offers us. When we stood, that first day, on the building site…staring at a seemingly impossible task, a group of the church youth, sang a song of dedication. It was My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less. The chorus was perfect for that day:  – “On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

It was beautifully ironic as our eyes were riveted to the sight of that tidal pool – at the same time, listening to these precious young people sing about faith, not sight. How firm a foundation we have in Christ!

*How Firm a Foundation – Lyrics and Illustrations by Laura Kranz

Hymn Stories: How Firm a Foundation (+ Free Download) – Tim Challies

YouTube Video – Ordinary Time – How Firm a Foundation

Ordinary Music Website

YouTube Video – Sink My Feet by Jillian Edwards

Carpentry and Building Construction – a Do-It-Yourself Guide

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Photo Credit: Biblevisuals.org

Worship Wednesday – All Creatures of Our God and King – St. Francis of Assisi & the David Crowder Band

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Wild animals and all livestock, small scurrying animals and birds, kings of the earth and all people, rulers and judges of the earth, young men and young women, old men and children. Let them all praise the name of the Lord. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!Psalm 148:10-13

A friend of mine rescued a baby squirrel yesterday. It must have fallen from its nest in the tree above. Tender-hearted Sarah couldn’t just leave it there. After several hours and the baby was still not retrieved by its mother, Sarah tracked down a wildlife rescue agency (ARK of Virginia). She transported the little guy to the agency and left him in the capable hands of the caregivers there.Blog - All Creatures - SquirrelBlog - All Creatures - Squirrel by Scott Goff with Sarah GoffPhoto Credit: Sarah & Scott Goff

Our social media (Facebook and such) are full of stories of little critters, puppies and kittens, baby pigs and other adorable tinies.

This rescue affected me differently, maybe because I know Sarah. It’s not just about cute animal babies. A much larger story resonated for me in this. About honoring God in honoring His creation.

God made these creatures for our pleasure…and probably His as well. He tempers our hearts with His tenderness for them. The first work He ever gave us was to oversee His creation (Genesis 1:28).

We marvel at the world around us, and we delight in all the creatures – the animals in the wild or those not so wild living with us in our homes, and the humans we enjoy as family, friends, neighbors, both near and far away.

We may wonder at the beauty of creation, but we worship the beautiful Creator. Hopefully we never get that confused.

The Psalmist calls all of God’s creation to worship Him. That Psalm is reflected in the hymn All Creatures of our God and King, a poem first written by St. Francis of Assisi  (1225). It was paraphrased for hymn-singing centuries later by William H. Draper, and we still sing it today.

Worship our Creator God, with me today, with David Crowder’s help:

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Thou burning sun with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam
Oh, praise Him
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Alleluia
Alleluia

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in heav’n along
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Thou rising moon in praise rejoice
Ye lights of evening find a voice
Oh, praise Him
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Alleluia
Alleluia

Let all things their creator bless
And worship Him in humbleness
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Praise, praise the Father praise the Son
And praise the Spirit three in one
Oh, praise Him
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Alleluia
Alleluia

Praise, praise the Father praise the Son
And praise the Spirit three in one
Oh, praise Him
Oh, praise Him
Alleluia
Alleluia
Alleluia

Lyrics to All Creatures of Our God and King

YouTube Video with Lyrics – All Creatures of Our God and King – David Crowder Band

Story Behind the Song All Creatures of Our God and King

YouTube Video – All Creatures of our God and King (Lasst uns Erfreuen) – Choir of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland

Psalm 148 – All Creatures of Our God and King – Sermon Exposition of the Psalm – Hold on to your hats!

Crowder Music

Photo Credit: Sheep Herd – bpnews.net

Worship Wednesday – Thanksgiving – For the Beauty of the Earth – as Fall Fades into Winter

2014 November Fall and Friends & Family 292

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.
For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth. – Psalm 96:11-13

The wild and staggering beauty of nature renders me speechless some days. How can we take in the changing seasons and the fruit of each one and not wonder at a creator? How could all of nature work itself out in such amazing ways without a Master Designer? I love all the seasons of the year, but Fall is my favorite. There is so much to savor, with all our senses. For many years we lived in places where there was no noticeable Fall season. Still, the glory of oceans, deserts, and mountains left us satisfied.

Now that we are back in the US, I consider Fall a great gift to sooth the missing of those other places in my heart. Places where stands of cherry and almond trees in the Spring look snowy with pink and white blossoms. Places where olive orchards are tucked into mountain valleys. Places where wheat fields, golden in the sun, are punctuated by poppies, all swaying in the warm wind. These places always gave me pause – soaking up all before me, with worship in my heart.

Our journey now has taken us to Richmond, Virginia. Here, we are at the end of Fall. Some have told me that the colors this year haven’t been as spectacular as years before. I couldn’t say, because I am bedazzled by what we’ve experienced over the last several weeks.

2014 November Fall in our yard 0142010 October Fall Fun 017

Our neighborhood was built in an old forest. The hardwood trees stand tall and majestic. Right now, even at the end of Fall, the leaves are glorious in all kinds of shades and hues. Even as they turn to brown, I can’t get enough of it.

2014 Phone pics July-December 425

It’s sunny and warm for a November day, as I write, and an old hymn has come to mind. For the Beauty of the Earth (Pierpont & Kocher, 1864). This is sung especially at Thanksgiving or harvest time. For me, it takes me back to my childhood church where we sang out of the Baptist Hymnal. It reminds me of Fall even though the composer’s focus was really on raising up praise to God for all the good we have in our lives(especially the gift of Himself through Jesus).

This is Fall’s gift to me – nature’s testament of the glorious, creative, generous nature of God. When the leaves are all down, and the trees are bare, then Winter will come with its own witness of the Lord.

Worship with me – with the help of the Canadian band Eli Eli and a lovely acoustic arrangement of this old hymn.

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.

Refrain

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,*
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.

Refrain

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.

Refrain

For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love.

Refrain

For thyself, best Gift Divine,
To the world so freely given,
For that great, great love of Thine,
Peace on earth, and joy in heaven.

Refrain

*Originally, Christ our God, to Thee we raise

Fall Leaves Looking up - W'burg - Alicia Bowman - Blog

Photo Credit of pic just above – Alicia Bowman

 

For the Beauty of the Earth – with the hymn tune I most love – by Eli Eli

*Lyrics & Hymn Notes – For the Beauty of the Earth (Pierpont & Kocher)

**Lyrics & Hymn Notes #2 – For the Beauty of the Earth (other stanzas)

For the Beauty of the Earth – Sung by Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Primary) choir. Not traditional melody. Beautiful still.

11 of the Great Hymns in Church History

Worship Wednesday – You Are My Vision – Rend Collective

Blog - Rend Collective - You are My Vision

The strongest memories I have of the song Be Thou My Vision are connected with worship across North Africa. When our children were growing up, we “attended church” – expat families who gathered once or twice a week to worship in English.  We sang great hymns, old and more modern, with guitar accompaniment, and worship leaders with more British and Irish accents than American. I remember our little family, strung out along a pew of these little churches. Our stair-step children, with shoulders squared, singing from hymnals in the early years and then words projected on the stuccoed front walls.

We sang Be Thou My Vision, this old Irish hymn, across three countries in Heliopolis Community Church (Cairo), St. George’s (Tunis), and St. John’s (Casablanca). Before our children all launched back into life in the US, we “attended” church less and became a part of house churches. There we still sang Be Thou My Vision, still with guitar…less with a British or Irish accent.

Now to Rend Collective. I heard this group for the first time on my radio about a year ago. The song was Second Chance*. I jotted down the group’s name and song (while driving…sigh) and would later buy the album** based on that one song. Have you ever done that?

When I heard You are My Vision, my first thought was how could anyone mess with such a great hymn that so truly magnifies God? As I listened, the personal nature of this version drew me in. This old Irish hymn written in the 8th century has been, not-so-much-updated but, celebrated by an Irish group of young worshippers. Not celebrating the song so much as celebrating the Saviour of the song.

Worship with me through the lyrics and music of You are My Vision.

You are my vision, oh King of mine heart. Nothing else satisfies, only You, Lord. You are my best thought, by day or by night. Waking or sleeping, Your presence, my light.

You are my wisdom; You are my true word – I ever with You and You with me, Lord. You’re my great Father and I’m Your true Son. You dwell inside me, together we’re one.

You are my battle shield, sword for the fight. You are my dignity; You’re my delight. You’re my soul’s shelter, and You’re my high tower. Come raise me heavenward, oh, Power of my power.

I don’t want riches or a man’s empty praise. You’re my inheritance, now and always. You and You only, the first in my heart –  High king of heaven, my treasure You are.

High king of heaven, when victory’s won, may I reach heaven’s joy, oh, bright heaven’s Son. Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, oh, Ruler of all.

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, oh, Ruler of all.

Lyrics for You are My Vision

You are My Vision – Rend Collective – Official Live – acapella part at 2:23 will seriously give you cold chills 

YouTube video of You are My Vision with lyrics

**Rend Collective Albums with You are My VisionHomemade Worship by Handmade People and Campfire

Rend Collective Art of Celebration – Album & Tour

Be Thou My Vision – Wikipedia – English Methodist Lyrics, 1964

Back Story of Be Thou My Vision

*YouTube video of Second Chance from album Homemade Worship by Handmade People

YouTube video of  Build Your Kingdom Here from album Homemade Worship by Handmade People – another favorite for another day

Worship Wednesday – Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

Blog - Music inspired by the film Amazing GraceAmazing Grace is probably the most well-known Christian hymn of all time. The lyrics are powerful, written by John Newton, an 18th century slave trader, who had a riveting experience with God that changed his life forever. Amazing Grace is a deeply personal confession which we who are followers of Christ also share with Newton. Chris Tomlin’s cover (on his 2006 album See the Morning) is an updated version of the hymn which honors the melody we all love. He also includes a last verse that Newton wrote that was omitted in previous versions. This version is also a part of the soundtrack of the film Amazing Grace.

This film (2006, Michael Apted, Director) is high on my all-time-favorite-film list. For those of you who missed it, for whatever reasons, consider watching it now. It is beautifully filmed with great performances and magnificent sound. Amazing Grace is a biopic on the life of William Wilberforce, a member of the 18th century British parliament, who fought for the abolition of the slave trade. With John Newton as his mentor and pastor, Wilberforce was personally tormented by the reality of slavery. He battled, fearlessly and tenaciously, for over 20 years in Parliament, and, before his death, saw the passage of law abolishing slavery in Great Britain.

This film shows the story of how one person can affect great change. One person. It’s very reflective of how One brought us out of slavery through His life, death, and resurrection.  Amazing Grace.

There’s the phenomenal true-life subplot in the film, as well – the friendship and shared faith and passion of William Wilberforce and John Newton.  Newton spurred Wilberforce on, encouraging him that he could do more through his political life than if he became a member of clergy. There’s a lesson here for all of us as well – that whatever our work or calling, we are meant to infuse it with the great grace and purpose God has given each one of us.

Worship with me today through this lovely hymn. Consider renting Amazing Grace to watch with your family or friends (who somehow missed it the first time around).

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine.

What’s your favorite version of Amazing Grace? Youtube or other? Share it with us in the Comments.

YouTube video of Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace with clips from film

Brief & thrilling summary of the life of John Newton who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace

Film Clip from the Film Amazing Grace – 2006 drama of political & spiritual life of William Wilberforce and his battle against slavery

Music Inspired by the Film Amazing Grace

Film Amazing Grace

Chris Tomlin Website

Youtube Amazing Grace (Chris Tomlin) with Lyrics

Amazing Grace Lyrics