Friday, April 29, 2016

“Lo! the hosts of evil round us scorn thy Christ, assail his ways.”

Hymn: “God of Grace and God of Glory”
Words: Harry Emerson Fosdick (b. 1930)

We’ve all heard it said that anytime a ministry is thriving, we had best keep a close watch because something or somebody is bound to attack it. That seems to be a defeatist approach, but there is a good bit of truth to it. That may be why Jesus’ teaching from Matthew 10:16 [“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”] is included in the gospels!

Why is it that we are often surrounded by so great a cloud of wolves? How is it that evil can move so quickly to dismantle?

Every semester I screen the documentary THE CLINTON 12 in my classes. This story of the integration of Clinton (TN) High School is riveting, but one of the most disturbing and eye-opening facts is that on the opening day of the school year, one man (John Kasper) came into town to stir up trouble, and by Friday of the first week, thousands had joined him in his protest. In the 1950’s – long before social media and flash mobs – evil reared its head to attempt the derailment of a long-needed process… and was able to speak loudly enough to cause quite the uproar – thankfully, an unsuccessful campaign.

After an unexpected attack, we who seek to truly be people after God’s own heart sometimes find ourselves standing with that “why me?” posture. WE may come under attack, but it is Christ himself who is being scorned; it is an assault on the plan that we have determined to be HIS.

The Evil One has been nipping at our bare heels since the Garden, and there is no sign that is about to change any time soon. Yet we continue to pray “… thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” – and in that perfect kingdom, the hosts of evil are silenced.

If you think you are truly God-will Hunting, brace yourself: the hosts of evil are all around. Also arm yourself (Ephesians 6:10-17) that you may be able to withstand the fiery darts -  the difficulties that seem to accompany the living of these days. Believe me, you are not alone!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet."

Hymn: “I Love to Tell the Story” – Katherine Hankey (1834-1911)

I feel like I should start by having everyone get your hankey out, but this is not an overly-emotional hymn!

This hymnline follows the line “I love to tell the story, ‘tis pleasant to repeat.” For those of us who have heard the old, old story of Jesus and his love since the Cradle Roll department, the repetition might seem to wear us down and become boring and less interesting… even less meaningful. For me at least, that is not the case. I just can’t get enough of those stories of Jesus’ teaching, healing, raising the dead, calming the sea, holding children in his lap, caring for the disadvantaged, praying – and eventually dying and rising.

Over the years as a minister in the local church, I’ve had opportunities to re-tell those stories in so many ways: through music, pageants, worship vignettes, etc. I’ve also been privileged to recount those events to adult classes and youth groups. But my favorite story-times have been with children to whom some of the accounts are fresh, never before heard. Their bright-eyed wonder at Christ’s ability to walk on water or call Lazarus from the grave – those are the times that are truly “more wonderfully sweet.”

Today’s hymnline may bring back memories of your growing-up years; you may call to mind a favorite Sunday School teacher or missions-group leader. As warm and fuzzy as that may be, let this hymn also remind you to continue to be totally fascinated by the life and ministry of the Son of God. Be sure it has not waned in importance or interest… or in its effect on how you live your life as a reflection of his. May that wide-eyed wonder return to us who are long separated from our childhood in terms of years… but closer than ever in our captivation by things holy.

Emily Lou Harris and Robert Duvall Sing This Hymn

Hymnlines - Hemlines: Get it?! :)

Hymnlines - Hemlines: Get it?! :)