Getting to the AFLC Annual Conference last month involved a two-day road trip. My husband and I spent a lot of hours in the car, and as we drove, we listened to Christian music. I thought I’d share one of those hymns today.
It was written by Julia Harriette Johnston (1849-1919), the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. Julia wrote several books and also about 500 hymn texts. “Grace Greater than Our Sin” is the one that is most frequently used. In it the theme of God’s amazing grace (seen most clearly through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross) is contrasted with our own sin and guilt.
The scriptural basis can be found in Paul’s teaching of justification by faith in Romans 5:1-2:
“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
In yesterday’s post, I wrote a movie review (In His Steps) and mentioned that it included a song I really liked. The message is one we need to remember — whatever good results from our actions, we are only tools in the hands of God. He deserves all the praise.
Song is an important part of our worship as a congregation. In this book, Mike Harland (the author), explains how praising and worshiping God is referred to throughout scripture. We are told that the followers of Christ sang Psalms, hymns and praises to the Lord. Worshiping through music is a time-honored tradition that Christians have used for over 2000 years.
Lately, the church has become a house divided.
Where did it go wrong?
The author makes a great point that instead of integrating the newer music into our services, we have divided into traditional and contemporary or praise services. This has now created a congregational divide, or a generational gap, which is completely contrary to biblical teaching.
The author uses sound theological examples to explain the importance of all generations worshipping together.
The reason we attend church is to worship God and show gratitude for the blessings we have received all week long, not a building we go to once a week to get our fill up of God. We should use music for the same thing. To give praise and thanks to God, not for an emotional appeal but for a spiritual awakening.
I believe that the author has used his personal experiences and biblical knowledge to help guide today’s churches to not be music exclusive but to be musically inclusive in their ministry.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and feel most people would receive benefits from reading it.
I have times when I think about all the things that I’ve been through and I wonder if I made different choices how my life would be. Doing this actually just deepens my depression because I think that if I’d done things differently I would have a better life now.
This kind of thinking is not productive. We can’t go back and change our life. We can only start today and move in a different direction. However, to look back at your life can do some good in your life. When I look back now I can see how the Lord has sustained me over the years, even when I wasn’t praising Him or giving Him credit for that time. He has brought me through some really difficult situations that definitely could have been much worse.
Go back and change things? I know I wish I could. But I wouldn’t be the person I am now without those experiences. I think this is why when MercyMe released this song that it so, so spoke to me. Don’t we all wish that we could just speak to that younger me and tell them what we’ve learned today? But as this song points out, we are one of the redeemed. From this time on we are are to put our pain and hurt at the base of the Cross.
We’ve all had times that we get mad at God. Accidents, death, loss of job; the list can be endless. But we have to remember that God is sovereign, He is in control even when everything around us seems to be in chaos.
Almost thirty years ago my mother died and I got really mad at God. It wasn’t that she had died, but the way she died. For the six months before she died she was a vegetable. Staring into space, no response from any stimulation. It was heartbreaking. She finally died of pneumonia, but by that time I was so mad at God for “doing that” to her.
Looking back now, I know that my getting mad at God didn’t change anything. It isn’t like He’s going to apologize. But during that time I learned that no matter what happens, God is in control.
Recently, my family is going through some extremely tough decisions. It’s breaking hearts and causing some depression. I’ve learned to remind my family that God is in control and He’s got this. We need to praise Him, no matter what.
This is my “go to” song during times like these. It sums up the feelings that you have during any crisis. Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crowns just nails this.
Maybe some of you are curious, as I was, about Ellie Holcomb. I reviewed her book for children a few posts back. I had not heard of her, but here is one of her songs. Let me know if you like it — I did.
I just finished watching the movie, I Can Only Imagine. I don’t think it’s an accident that the next adult Sunday School lesson I’ll be teaching is from the book of Romans and titled “The Transformed Life.” God does that to me all the time! Bart Miller’s story is one of transformation, redemption, forgiveness, hope and most of all music. His father was abusive and angry, his mother left, and for young Bart, music anchored him, lifted him up, and gave him a dream. I won’t say more, because you should see this film for yourself. You’ve probably heard the song, but it’s worth another listen:
Years ago the Via de Cristo accountability group I was in spent time discussing our prayer life. One fellow in our group shared how each morning, he played a CD of favorite worship music. He paid close attention to the words as well as the music and considered it a time of prayer. That was eye-opening for me! Music as prayer!
I took his advice and starting playing Christian music on Saturday as I cleaned the house. Soon a time of drudgery was transformed into a peaceful place of communion with God. I encourage others to try this — listen to music when you’re doing mindless chores, driving, or just taking a break. Speak to God in the words of the song, and let Him touch your heart in the same way. God doesn’t care how we talk to Him, He just wants us to do it.
“…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” Ephesians 5:18-20
Have any of our authors or readers also used music this way? Tell us about your experience.
This is in response to Michele’s challenge to post the song or hymn that moves us most. It’s hard to choose, and I’m sure this month I’ll be posting others, but this one has been a favorite for a long time, and it speaks to me and calls me to Christian action. At times it brings tears to my eyes. It actually has a very similar them to “Here I Am” which was Michele’s pick. I’ve talked before about my life verse, so I guess I’d say this is my life hymn.
I once read somewhere that there are three ways children learn best: by example, by example and by example. That’s true of adults also. Happily in the Christian life, we have the best of examples to follow: Jesus Christ. This song has been in my head recently, and when we sang it in our worship service last Sunday, I knew I was meant to share it.