I read in the “Our Daily Bread” devotional just recently the following:
Praise is the song of a soul set free
I don’t know what it is like in your church/denomination, but in the one I attend there has been a trend the past at least 10-15 years to stop singing hymns on Sunday morning. I don’t know why that is, but I have had a chance to know several young people who have attended Christian colleges, and some of them have had a worship emphasis. And they say they are taught not to sing hymns anymore. Why? I don’t know!
I had a friend a long time ago tell me that their pastor told them he didn’t want hymns sung in the church because, and I quote, “They are old and slow”. I was dumbfounded. My jaw dropped. A pastor said that??!! “Old”???? The Bible is old – do we stop reading it and teaching it because it is old? “Slow”??? Have you ever sung “I’ll fly away”? What about “There is Power in the Blood”? Slow? I don’t think so!
I miss singing hymns. Don’t get me wrong – the worship at the churches I’ve attended the past 10-15 years have had good worship. Great singing, great leadership, great instruments, great songs and choruses. I’ve been lifted almost to heaven with some of the worship I’ve heard in church. It isn’t that the worship is bad. It is just lacking. Missing something. It has been missing hymns.
I wish we sang hymns more in church. Here are some of my favorites. What hymns do you like?
It is Well with my Soul
Day by Day
How Great Thou Art
Rock of Ages
Nearer my God to Thee
Softly and Tenderly
I’ll Fly Away
Christ the Solid Rock
Holy, Holy, Holy
O the deep, deep love of Jesus
A Mighty Fortress is our God
O Worship the King
To God be the Glory
Crown Him with Many Crowns
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
Be Thou my Vision
Come Thou Font of Every Blessing
Fairest Lord Jesus
Great is Thy Faithfulness
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
The Old Rugged Cross
There is Power in the Blood
Victory in Jesus
What a Day That will be
When we all get to Heaven
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
My husband has several long-term chronic health problems. He has developed two more since we started dating (we just had our 4th anniversary!). The latest one started 10 months ago.
I knew well before I married him that his chronic health problems would only worsen. Aside from a miracle healing from God, one thing or the other would finally kill him in the end. We had expected things to start worsening 3-5 years from now.
We did not expect them to worsen immediately after we married. It has been an adjustment for us. Gradually, I have to take over all the duties. Cooking and cleaning and taking care of him and our cat. He has to stay close to home, or not go too far from it. Going on a honeymoon is out the question. Even going away for the weekend is out of the question. I have a big family gathering coming up soon at a cousin’s house, and we don’t think he will be able to go to that.
We have talked about it a lot, and continue to talk about it. Neither of us is very happy with this development, but we strive to adjust as best we can.
Life never really turns out the way you want it, or plan for it, or think it will, does it? God alone is eternal and never-changing. THIS is something to count on.
I’ve been hearing about how remarkable in American History the past week has been. As heart-breaking as I think the Supreme Court decision was to me, I have to agree.
God was not surprised by what happened last week. He didn’t say, “Whoops! Didn’t see that one coming!” And the thing is (and I am quoting someone else here) — Love Wins. Love has already won.
You have no doubt heard talk about how we should hate the sin and love the sinner. Others have turned that around and insist no one has any right to judge anyone and if you don’t fully agree with me well, then, you are a hater.
To God, all sin is sin. Stealing is sin. We should be against stealing. Adultery is a sin. We should be against adultery, and not do it ourselves. Idolatry is sin, and we should not have any idols. Lying, coveting, drunkenness and swindling are all sins. Homosexuality is a sin.
Jesus loved the sinner and yet he recognized their sins and knew they were wrong. He didn’t dance around it – he simply acknowledged they were sinning. And he loved them anyway. Sat down at a table for a meal for them. Went into their homes, walked with them along the road.
We don’t have to hate. We can readily acknowledge the person is a sinner. Has sinned, is sinning. Guess what? So do I! So am I. I am a sinner — the only difference is I am saved by grace. There is no hate there, there is only acknowledgement and recognition. And the love and grace of God that is open to everyone.
I recently bought a new car. Not just a new car to me, but a brand new car. It had 6 miles on it when I bought it. It is the first brand new car I’ve ever had, and only the fifth one I’ve ever owned. Have you bought a car in the past few years? They have sure made a lot of technological improvements on them!
I can’t have a Christian license plate frame on my car. You know – “Honk if you love Jesus” or “Pray for our troops”. Especially not here in the San Francisco bay area, where I might get hurt by advertising I’m a Christian.
No, I can’t have a Christian license plate frame because of the way I drive. I love my new car. It is comfy and has things like blind spot indicators, and it corners really well. And sometimes…. I follow too close. I drive too fast. I pull in front of someone closer than I should. I shake my fists sometimes.
I can’t blame those things on my new car. Nope — that’s me. Flawed, imperfect, God-is-still-working-on-me me.
If you have one — I salute you. I applaud you. You are an example to me. I’m gad you do. But not for me. Nope. I’d give Christians a bad name if I had one.
I recently sat down and talked with one of my sisters about two things that she had said and done that really hurt me. It was hard for me. Our family does not share feelings among ourselves. We were taught well by our parents not to. We have the feelings, and I’m sure all my siblings have people in their life they can share those feelings with. We just don’t often share them with each other.
I don’t know if I am unique in this, but when something (or someone) makes me mad or hurt, the deeper I feel hurt or mad, the longer it takes for me to be able to talk about it. I know from past experience that I have to really think through my feelings and not start talking about them right away. If I do, it turns into incoherent, disjointed, and non-logical emotional rambling (or even raving) that leaves everyone confused and me feeling horrible with no resolution. I don’t stew about it – I process it. Examine myself and my motives. Pinpoint my feelings and why I’m feeling that way. Think about and pray about my response.
This one sister had hurt me very deeply on Christmas day. Yes, that means I took about 5 months to process. Like I said – I was hurt deeply. Once I got over the worst of my hurt and also got past the self-righteous aspect of my feelings (“She had no right! She was in the wrong!”) I was able to spend time asking God what I could have or should have done differently, and what my response should be. Miscommunications and hurt are very seldom only one person’s fault, and if I was in any way at fault I wanted to own that and admit it. And I wanted to respond in a Christian way, since this sister is not a Christian.
It took me almost 5 months, but I was at the point where I could talk about it without getting all emotional and incoherent. So I sent an email. Probably should have made a phone call, but with an email I can be sure to put my thoughts down, reword them, change things around, and all without being interrupted. So yes, I will often write things down in an email when I have to communicate something that is hard for me. She responded, and then we decided to meet face to face.
I was surprised that she thought I hated her. She was surprised that I was hurt by her response, as she thought I had different motivations than I did. We explained to each other. She didn’t apologize, but then I never expected her to, nor was it why I met with her. We communicated. We cleared the air. We saw things from the other person’s perspective. And I think it made a big difference in our relationship. And, I was able to do all that in love and non-hateful way, which I believe was a good witness to her.
So I give glory to God that He was able to heal me and help me be a better person, and use an opportunity to witness my Christian walk to someone.
Last Sunday Pastor was talking about the passage where Paul is shipwrecked, and everyone ends up safely on the island of Malta and the people living there showed them “unusual kindness” (I think that is NLT). He asked us if we had known (or shown) unusual kindness, and it took me right back to Russia in 2002.
I was on a missions trip, visiting orphanages and old folks homes. Our group split into two for the weekend, and I went with the group who made the long trip north of where we were staying to the twin cities of Gubaha and Berizniki. When we got there we went to a handicapped orphanage in Gubaha. This was a huge orphanage – I think it was 5 stories high and had probably 1,000 kids there. The place where everyone gathered to hear us was crowded, and I finally persuaded a child to sit on my lap. He shuffled over to me, barely able to walk and stay upright, and I hoisted him onto my lap and we enjoyed the program.
As soon as he sat down it was obvious he had soiled his pants. It was all soaking into the jeans I was wearing, but I didn’t care. He was so happy! He kept smiling and leaning back and putting his hand on my cheek. He didn’t understand me, but I prayed for him and told him what a precious child of God he was. We knew we would be staying overnight in Berizniki so we had packed for it – I had brought a change of socks and underwear and a shirt. But I only had the one pair of pants.
Afterwards we went through each floor, hugging, playing, and interacting with the kids. In the infant floor we picked up babies who were stiff and unresponsive because no one had the time to hold them and they didn’t know how to react. Many of them wore urine soaked clothing and my shirt got soaked with it.
By the time we made our way back to where we were staying — I didn’t smell very good. I knew that I would have to rinse out my pants. I was already ripe — there was no way I could go another 24+ hours wearing those jeans without cleaning them. I explained to our translator. She told me that the apartment where we were staying, home to Victor and Luba, did not have a washing machine or dryer. I assured her it was ok, I understood, but I needed to be shown how to use the bathtub and where some soap was. I would hang up my jeans and wear them wet the next day if I had to.
She explained to Luba. Her husband Victor was the pastor of the church in Berizniki, a large church. He was away on a seminar, but Luba had already shown us her wonderful hostess skills. Silently, she listened to what the translator said, and then she looked at me and held out her hands. Now, by this time it was after 11:00 at night. We were all tired, and Luba had had hostessing duties on top of everything else that day. I did NOT want her to wash my jeans.
I insisted I could do it, I didn’t mind, I just needed to be shown where things were. Without a word she kept her hands held out, gazing at me steadily. I knew I had to give over my jeans. I had to let her wash them.
When we got up in the morning, here came Luba in our room, smiling, holding her arms out with my jeans folded neatly on her hands. I thanked her profusely (I could at least say that in Russian). You have probably worn jeans that were not dry all the way. Maybe you were in a hurry and didn’t let them dry all the way, or just didn’t notice they were not all the way dry. The seams, where they are thick, and especially the crotch where the seams come together, hold the moisture more than the other parts. They are uncomfortable to wear when they are wet. I had fully expected to be wearing wet jeans all day.
Not only were the jeans dry and smelled terrific — there was not a speck of wet on them. I could not feel any moisture in any seam anywhere. They felt brand new!
I have no doubt that not only did Luba carefully clean them, but she also ironed them dry. Have you ever done that? Do you know how long it takes? How long do you think it would take you if you didn’t have an electric iron? I don’t know for sure if she had an electric iron, but chances are high she did not. Chances are high she had one of those manual irons, where you put the bottom iron part in the oven to get it hot, then grabbed it with the tongs or top grippers and ironed until it cooled, where you then had to put it back in the oven to get hot again. It must have taken hours.
It was an unusual kindness shown to me when I really, really needed it. It was a huge blessing, and I have never forgotten it. What kind of unusual kindness can you show to someone?
My husband and I had been together 3 ½ years before we got married. I thought I knew him very well. We had experienced a lot together in those years – good and bad. Our relationship had gone through all kinds of changes, and weathered storms. I knew that I knew that I knew I wanted to marry this man and be his wife the rest of our lives. I was certain I knew him well.
And yet – after we were married I found out some things I had not known about him.
I had no idea he would make that particular sound when a heavy piece of glass got accidentally dropped on his foot.
I had no idea he was good at putting together things like a 4-shelf stand from Ikea. Make that anything from Ikea. He has way more patience than I in doing that stuff – and he follows the directions!
I didn’t know he got distracted so easily while unpacking. He does not work, so he is home most of the day every day, and when I come home I am invariably faced with pieces of projects in the dining room, living room, and library. Sometimes also down the hall.
I didn’t know he wouldn’t mind (heck – he asked me!) me rearranging his whole dresser. Refolding clothes, reorganizing, sorting.
I didn’t know he would be so protective of me enjoying at least part of the weekend. He actively seeks to get me to relax and not unpack or search for things or clean or organize or shop. He wants me to be able to enjoy the weekend, after working all week.
The lessons I’ve learned from these revelations are: You are never too old to learn something new. And – people can still surprise and even delight you even after you know them well.