In church this past week we sang the well known hymn, I Surrender All, which always makes me smile. I remember the comment a guest pastor once made after he heard it ––” for the majority of us, the lyrics should probably be ‘I surrender some.'” Most of us are willing to give up things for Christ, but really, ALL? Isn’t some enough?
Like many hymns, there’s a story behind this one. The writer, Judsen Van de Venter, was a public school teacher and active Methodist layman. Because of his fervent devotion to Christ, friends encouraged him to leave his career and become an evangelist. It took five years for him to “surrender all.” Here is his testimony of how the hymn and his change of heart came about:
“The song was written while I was conducting a meeting at East Palestine, Ohio, and in the home of George Sebring (founder of Sebring Campmeeting Bible Conference . . .). For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, he caused me to sing.”
As you listen, ask yourself if you are surrendering all or only some to the call of Jesus.
This “morning hymn” is often used at the beginning of the service. It was written by Bishop Thomas Ken in 1697 and after all this time it’s still a good way to start the worship service and your day.
This song composed by David Ruis is a celebration of the best new beginning we will ever experience. We sing it on Via de Cristo retreats. Listening to it will cause you to long for that day when we dance with Christ on the streets that are golden!
“The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.” Revelation 21:21
According to Luther’s Small Catechism, baptism is a sign that:
“the old person in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned through daily sorrow for sin and repentance, and that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up.”
Baptism is the moment of our incorporation into the crucified and risen body of Jesus, a time when Christ takes hold of us and makes us His. It is entirely a work of God’s grace, as it is He alone who works faith in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Since a human “decision” is not the beginning of our life as God’s child, Lutherans baptize infants. In the sacrament of baptism, through water and the Word, we become the sheep of His pasture. He calls us by name. I’ve always associated baptism with this children’s hymn I used to sing with my daughters. Listen closely and you’ll see it addresses our end as well as our beginning.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. ” Matthew 6:1
This verse was part of the sermon text last Sunday. Is the point that we should always hide our good deeds, doing them only in secret? Well, that can’t be the case because it contradicts another verse in Matthew 5:16:
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
The point, as always goes to what is in your heart, your motivation. When we do good deeds, if our heart is in the right place, we do not want to be recognized as a “good person,” we want God to be recognized as our good and gracious Father. This lively hymn by Fanny Crosby expresses it well.
My last post about grief and a comforting song, reminded me of this gospel favorite. Written in the 1970s by Terry Smith, a full-time school teacher, “Far Side Banks of Jordan” became his most famous song. Johnny Cash did the first cut in 1975 and many other artists have recorded it since. This love song turned gospel number is a world-wide favorite, especially among the bluegrass community. My husband loves it and plays it often, ever since we heard it performed at a musical about Johnny Cash.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
A good Christian friend of mine is dying; in fact, by the time you read this post, he may be gone. This is harder for me than it is for him, because while he will soon be in the presence of God, I am will be left behind to grieve his loss. I will miss his friendship, his support, his passion for Bible study and his sense of humor. Fortunately for Christians, we do not grieve as the world does. This life is not the end, and everyone who is part of the family of God can look forward to meeting one another again. And so, the hymn, “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again” has been running through my mind.
It was written In 1880 by Dr.Jeremiah Rankin, Pastor of First Congregational Church in Washington, D.C. Dr. Rankin was was looking for a farewell hymn to close the service. Not finding one that satisfied him, he decided to write his own. Taking a dictionary from his book shelf, he looked up the words “farewell” and “goodbye” to see what ideas might create the image he was searching for. He found that one definition for “goodbye” was “God be with you”– and the seed that created this touching Christian hymn was planted.