Just A Closer Walk With Thee

This month of “walking with Jesus” wouldn’t be complete without this well-known gospel song. Although it is widely used, and has been performed by many artists, the origin of the hymn is unknown. It is believed to predate the Civil War, as some personal African American histories mention “slaves singing a song about walking by the Lord’s side as they worked in the fields.”

It gained national popularity in the 1930s, when African American churches used it at musical conventions.  By the 1940s, the hymn was featured at all night gospel singing rallies.  The first known recording was made on October 8, 1941 by the Selah Jubilee Singers.

It is often used on Lutheran Via de Cristo retreats.

The words are based upon 2 Corinthians 5:7:

 For we live by faith, not by sight. “

For more songs used on Via de Cristo weekends see these posts:

Wind, Wind Blow on Me

Borning Cry

Seek Ye First

My Unruly Brain

I’m not a logical thinker.  I picture my brain as a boiling pot — I throw ideas in and after a bit, something bubbles to the surface.  Here’s where it’s been taking me lately.  I’m reading a book that suggested thinking about our images of God. This led me to the hymn Jesus, Lover of My Soul and then to the Song of Songs (I’ve going through it carefully in a devotional way).  Last night’s section contained this verse:

“The voice of my beloved!  Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills”  Song of Songs 2:8

Isn’t this a beautiful picture of God as our lover, seeking us?  Better yet, there’s a song about it.  I remember it from Via de Cristo gatherings.  Listen this morning and ponder the greatness of God’s love for you.  See where your unruly brain takes you.

For more Via de Cristo songs, see these posts:

Wind, Wind Blow on Me

The Lights of the City

Peace Is Flowing Like a River




Prayer to the Holy Spirit

In the 1200’s, the prayer “Come, Holy Spirit,” written as a Latin worship poem called Veni Sancte Spiritus, took on a central place in the worship of the Western Church.  If you’ve attended a Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend, it will be familiar to you, as it is used before each talk on the retreat.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love.  Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created.  And you shall renew the face of the earth

O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of the faithful, grant, that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolations.  Through Christ or Lord.  Amen

For more about Lutheran Via de Cristo, see these posts:

What is Via de Cristo?

Remembering My Via De Cristo Weekend

And Speaking of Retreats …..


Wind, Wind Blow on Me

When I think about the Holy Spirit, my mind first goes to the description of Pentecost in the book of Acts.

“And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  Acts 2:2-4
On Lutheran Via de Cristo weekends, we often sing the song below which brings the same event to life.  Have you ever felt this wind?



For more songs used on Via de Cristo weekends see these posts:

The Lights of the City

Lord I Lift Your Name on High

Here I Am Lord


Lord of the Dance

In his book, The Reason for God, Timothy Keller describes the inner life of the trinity, and also the life of the individual Christian, as a dance.  His analogy goes this way:

“The life of the Trinity is characterized not by self-centeredness but by mutually self-giving love.  When we delight and serve someone else, we enter into a dynamic orbit around him or her, we center our interests and desires on the other.  That creates a dance ….The early leaders of the Greek church had a name for this–perichoresis….. it means literally to ‘dance or flow around.'”

This reminded me of a song we use sometimes on Via de Cristo weekends, Lord of the Dance. The words were written by English songwriter Sydney Carter in 1963.  Carter tells the gospel story in the first person voice of Jesus of Nazareth with the device of portraying Jesus’ life and mission as a dance.  Listen and ask yourself if you’re part of the dance.

Prayer Disciplines Part 1

This is from a reflection paper I wrote years ago while attending a two year program on spiritual direction. It mentions my personality type as revealed through the Meyers-Briggs testing method.  For those who are not familiar with this, you will find more information by following this link:



As a INFJ the routines of church attendance and Bible study come fairly easily to me.  I love the ritual of the liturgy and the church seasons.  This is the “J” part of me coming out.  The “NF” part of my personality, however, identifies with a character in the novel “Absolute Truth” by Susan Howatch.  She says:

“… my busy over-educated brain is a positive hinderance to prayer, and far too often my thoughts speed off on tangents that are intellectually fascinating, but quite irrelevant to the task of praying….”

In consequence, times of inner silence and contemplation elude me.  I’ve discovered that while it is easy for me to be quiet, it is difficult to be “still.”

In 1990, after attending a Via de Cristo retreat, I got serious about prayer as a discipline and since that time have sampled numerous prayer techniques which seem to work for a season.  Shortly after the retreat, I started going into work early.  I would spend a few minutes each day sitting in my car and praying with the “Pilgrim’s Guide” we were given on the weekend.  At times I’ve walked regularly, using that as my time alone with God and nature. For a while my Saturday morning housecleaning routine became a time of prayer.  I played Christian music and dedicated the time to God or sometimes to a particular person or event.  One summer I spent time almost every evening in my backyard, sitting alone in an adirondack chair and praying directly from Scripture.  I’ve used devotional books as a daily aid to prayer and meditation.  None of these routines really seemed to “stick” on a long-term basis.

To be continued ……


The Good Shepherd

Years ago my husband gave a Via de Cristo retreat talk entitled Study.  He spoke about the many ways we study without even realizing it, and one of those ways is through art.  He said that when he was a boy there was a huge painting of Christ, the King on the church wall behind the altar.  He gazed at that picture week after week during worship and it’s now deeply engrained in his mind.  It has influenced the way he sees and thinks about Jesus.

I realized that he was not the only one to have that experience.  My childhood church had the same sort of design, but the picture I saw every week was Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  In it, Jesus carries a lamb, and there are other sheep around Him.  I have come to believe this is why, for me, the image of the Good Shepherd has deeply colored my experience and understanding of Christ.  When I imagine myself meeting Jesus, this is the image that comes to my mind.

Christ the King depicts Jesus in His glory, surrounded by clouds, a crown on His head, with upraised arms. This is Jesus as God.  As the Good Shepherd, Christ appears to be very gentle and approachable. This is Jesus the man.  One emphasizes power and holiness, the other love and compassion.  Both are equally valid and parts of the same person, but each can influence our emotions and understanding of Jesus.

So, I’m interested.  Readers and authors, what is your dominant image of our Lord?  Is there a picture in your mind?  Where does it come from?

The Lights of the City

I assume that this song by Michael Murphy refers to these verses from the book of Revelation:

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.” Revelation 21:23-24

Following the second coming of Christ, the New Jerusalem will be established.  At that point, believers will need only the light of God.  We can look forward to that day and even now, we can almost see it.

I learned this song on a Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend.  Listen and enjoy imagining that city of heavenly light.



God’s Word, Our Light

 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105

Nothing enlightens and directs us more clearly than God’s Word in the Holy Bible.  This song written by Amy Grant and Michael Smith is often used on Lutheran Via De Cristo weekends to introduce the talk on Study.  It’s a good reminder of the blessings we receive from studying the Word and allowing it to influence our daily lives.

For more music by Amy Grant, go to this post:

Mary, a Servant

Lord I Lift Your Name on High

This past Saturday I attended an ultreya.  If you’re not familiar with this term, you can go to my previous  post Persevere Upward.  At an ultreya there is fellowship among those who have attended a Lutheran Via de Cristo retreat weekend, and normally LOTS of singing.  One of the songs we sang on Saturday has been in my head ever since — Lord I Lift Your Name on High.

This song is the best known work of composer Rick Founds, and from 1997-2003, the most used song in American churches.  Founds reports that on a particular day, during his devotional time, God impressed upon his heart the cyclic nature of Christ’s redemptive work.  He came from heaven to earth to show us the way to his Father.  He journeyed from the cross to the grave, paying our debt to God in full.  Then he rose from the dead and went back to heaven, completing the cycle of salvation.  Rick picked up his guitar and the song came very quickly.

“Let them praise the name of the Lord:

for His name alone is excellent;

His glory is above the earth and heaven.”

~Psalm 148:13

You’ve probably heard it before (it’s been orbiting the world for a while now), but like me, you’ll enjoy it again.  It’s certainly appropriate for the Thanksgiving season!