Thursday, August 13, 2009

"A Hymn for Ordinary Christians- Great is Thy Faithfulness"

Vocational visionaries come from all walks of life. Here's an example from Bob Kauflin:

"Our church as been trying to memorize one hymn a month for the past ten months. This month we’re working on Great is Thy Faithfulness. I had the opportunity to introduce the hymn yesterday morning and was moved by its history. Here’s what I shared.

The story behind Great is Thy Faithfulness should encourage every Christian who thinks of their life as ordinary. There’s no tragic story (think “It Is Well” by Horatio Spafford) associated with this hymn. It’s just the fruit of a faithful man with a simple faith in a faithful God.

Thomas Chisholm, who sometimes described himself as “just an old shoe,” was born in a Kentucky log cabin in 1866. He was converted when he was 27, became a pastor at 36, but had to retire one year later due to poor health. He spent the majority of the rest of his life as a life insurance agent in New Jersey. He died in 1960 at the age of 93. During his life he wrote over 1200 poems, most of which no one will ever hear.

But back in 1923, at the “beyond his prime” age of 57, Thomas Chisholm sent a few of his poems to William Runyan at the Hope Publishing Company. One of them was Great is Thy Faithfulness, based on Lamentations 3:22-23.

Lam. 3:22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Runyan was particularly moved by Great is Thy Faithfulness and sought to set it to a melody that would reflect the response of wonder and gratefulness to God’s faithfulness conveyed in the lyrics. Apparently, he succeeded.

The song quickly became a favorite Moody Bible Institute, and later George Beverly Shea sang it at Billy Graham crusades. Now it’s known all over the world and has been used to encourage millions of Christians to trust in a faithful God.

Pretty impressive spiritual fruit from a life insurance agent.

When Chisholm was 75, he wrote in a letter:

“My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

The hymn has three verses and a chorus. Verse 1 speaks of God’s faithfulness revealed in his Word, and is adapted from James 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Verse 2 tells us of God’s faithfulness revealed in creation. The seasons,the sun, moon, and stars all continue on their courses perfectly, orderly, quietly - guided by God’s faithful hand, without any help from us.

Verse 3 reminds us of God’s faithfulness revealed in our lives. He pardons all our sins, fills us with his peace, assures of his presence, gives us strength, hope, and blessings to numerous to count!

Whatever challenges, trials, or disappointments you might be facing right now, this hymn reminds us that God’s promises are true, that he never changes, that his compassions never fail, and that his faithfulness to us in Christ Jesus is more than good—it’s GREAT!
God doesn’t need incredibly gifted or wildly famous people to proclaim those truths from his Word.

Just faithful ones."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Puritan

The Puritans were men who derived a peculiar character from the daily contemplation of superior beings and eternal interests. Not content with acknowledging in general terms an overruling Providence, they habitually ascribed every event to the will of the Great Being, for whose power was nothing too vast, for whose inspection nothing was too minute. To know Him, to serve Him, to enjoy Him, was with them the greatest end of existence. They rejected with contempt the ceremonio0us homage which other sects substituted for the pure worship of the soul. They aspired to gaze upon the intolerable brightness of the Deity, and to commune with Him, face to face. Hence their contempt for worldly distinctions. The difference between the greatest and the meanest seemed to vanish, when compared with the boundless interval which separated the whole race from Him on whom their eyes where constantly fixed. If they were unacquainted the works of philosophers and poets, they were deeply read in the oracles of God.

Thus the Puritan was made up of two different men: one, all self-abasement, penitence, gratitude, passion; the other, proud, calm, inflexible, sagacious. People who saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth visages, and heard nothing from them but their groans and their hymns, might laugh at them. But those had little reason to laugh who encountered them in the hall of debate, or on the field of battle. They brought to civil and military affairs a coolness of judgment and an immutability of purpose which some writers have thought inconsistent with their religious zeal, but which were, in fact, the effects of it. The intensity of their feelings on one subject made them tranquil on every other. Death had lost its terrors, and pleasure its charms. They had their smiles and their tears, their raptures and their sorrows; but not for the things of the world. Enthusiasm had made them stoic, had cleared their minds from vulgar passion and prejudice, and raised them above the influence of danger and corruption. It sometimes might lead them to pursue unwise ends, but never to choose unwise means. We acknowledge that the tone of their minds was often injured by straining after things too high for mortal reach, and they too often fell into the vices of intolerance and extreme austerity. Yet, when all circumstances are taken into consideration, we do not hesitate to pronounce them a brave, a wise, and honest and useful people.

~Macaulay, 1894

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Our Fathers and their Homes

Nurse of the Pilgrim sires who sought,
Beyound th’ Atlantic’s foam,
For fearless truth and honest thought
A refuge and a home,
Who would not be of them or thee
A not unworthy son,
That hears amid the chained or free
The name of Washington?

Cradle of Shakespeare, Milton, Knox
King-shaming Cromwell’s throne,
Home of the Russells, Watts, and Lockes,
Earth’s greatest are thine own;
And shall thy children forge base chains
For men that would be free?
No! by the Eliots, Hampdens, Vanes,
Pyms, Sydneys, yet to be.

No! for the blood which kings have gorged
Hath made their victims wise;
While every lie that Fraud hath forged
Veils wisdom from his eyes;
But time shall change the despot’s mood;
And mind is mightier now than then,
When turning evil into good,
And monsters into men.

If round the soul the chains are bound
That hold the world in thrall;
If tyrants laugh when men are found
In brutal fray to fall;
Lord, let not Britain arm her hands
Her sister States to ban,
But bless through her all other States, -
The family of man!

For freedom if the Hampden fought;
For peace if Falkland fell;
For peace and love if Bentham wrote,
And Burns sang wildly well;
Let Knowledge, strongest of the strong,
Bid Hate and Discord cease;
Be this the burden of my song, -
Love, Liberty, and Peace.
~Ebenezer Eliot