Tuesday, June 26, 2018

“In the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight.”

Billy Graham Crusade Choir

Hymn: “My Savior First of All” – Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915)

Mingling… fitting in… not standing out. That’s how I intend to be when I have opportunity to join the congregational singing in the hereafter.

Our true understanding of heaven’s details is extremely limited. Over the years, many have “put a spin” on what we might expect. Books have been written, songs have been published, art masterpieces have been produced, extensive studies have been compiled. Someone in Texas even created a show called “Heaven’s Front Porch.”

Though we lack for too many specifics, it seems we can count on music being involved. In the Bible’s ultimate book, there is too much evidence to deny. “Music plays a larger role in the book of Revelation than in any other book of the New Testament, and few books in all of Scripture have spawned more hymns sung in Christian worship today.” 1   Along with the singing of the saints, the only mention of instrumental music in the New Testament appears in Revelation.

I may not audition for the heavenly choir because great singing has never been my gift. However, I have from my earliest memories delighted to sing the congregational songs. So when they crank up those great melodies of the ages, my delight will continue as I add my not-so-wonderful singing voice to the greatest congregation ever assembled, joining the grandest hymn ever sung: the song of the redeemed.

As I have said thousands of times: “Please stand together as we sing.”

A Congregational Singing of This Hymn

From Gary Chapman’s A Hymn a Week

1 Craig Koester – “The Distant Triumph Song: Music and the Book of Revelation”: Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota

Monday, June 25, 2018

“Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise. Thou mine inheritance.”

Hymn: “Be Thou My Vision” – Ancient Irish

I've never been fond of applause in worship... especially when it is directed at me! I got a standing ovation at a church where I had served eight months as their interim director of music. It made me very uncomfortable; I just nodded and smiled. In my time with them I had tried to direct the attention off myself and toward the One to whom our music was offered -- and it is a rarely-applauding congregation! I know they were simply showing their appreciation; I was flattered, but I was uncomfortable. It was an interim, so we don't need to discuss the "man’s empty praise I heed not" aspect of the hymn-line!

A few summers ago, we took the guided VIP tour of Cowboy's stadium. Christine (our tour guide) did a marvelous job of pointing out various aspects of the grand structure -- JerryWorld. At every stop, she pointed out something that was the largest in the world (it is Texas, after all) and how Jerry had seen to it that only the finest of everything had been employed in the construction - including steel from Europe because he didn't want anything in this palace that came from Pittsburgh!

It was a grand and glorious tour -- worth every penny of the inflated price. I was as oohed and awed by it as anyone else; you don't have to be a Cowboys fan to be blown away by the place. However, I kept thinking that the billion-dollar price tag represented the construction of the world's largest altar upon which to celebrate football... and to display the wealth of one of the sport's proponents.

I admit that I would love to win the lottery, but I'm told you have to buy one of those tickets in order to qualify. I have auditioned for “Wheel of Fortune” and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"; as a semi-retired minister, we could use the cash! We try to make wise investments of our resources. But rich? It will never happen; I just hope to always be able to pay the bills at the end of the month! And the empty praise and applause is short-lived and can become a dangerous feeder of the ego.

No, my inheritance is held for me in the Kingdom of God. Thankfully, he doles out that inheritance daily, hourly, regularly. Most inheritances truly become the possession of the recipient when the donor dies. Well, that's not going to happen because we're talking about an everlasting God! And in our case, we don't have to wait until WE die to enjoy the wealth of riches he wants to send us - not monetary necessarily!

"For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever."  And as children of God, we are in line to inherit all of who he is!

Meanwhile, I'm guess I’ll be off to audition for another game show if they come to town! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

“The hope of all who seek him, the help of all who find.”

Hymn: “He Lives” 
Words & Music: Alfred H. Ackley (1887-1960)

We sang this one a lot when I was growing up in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. When it is sung nowadays, it’s usually around Easter; but it is truly an all-year hymn. In spite of its toe-tapping tune, there are lots of pithy little statements in this hymn from the 1930’s. Let’s explore one of those today!

Those who seek Christ find him. It’s a biblical promise: “If with all your heart you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me.” (Deuteronomy 4:29) Our very finding of him gives us a great hope – a sense of security.

It is important that we seek him regularly, not just once in order to enter the Kingdom – to have our hand stamped for eternity! With every return trip, our seeking produces more hope: hope upon hope.

Once we have sought him out and found him, we realize the help he wants to provide. There is an abundance of assistance available to those who have come seeking – and finding. It’s hard for most of us – especially men – to ask for directions, much less assistance. For some reason we have decided that we can all make it on our own.

Each of us knows how much we love it when someone dear to us asks us for help. There is something heart-warming about being asked to step in and assist in a time of struggle. I think God is like that with his loved-ones – those mutually found by him. Not only is he able to help, he is willing… and eager!

The Living Savior after whose likeness we seek, is also a Giving Savior – giving aid and assistance to those in need… and that would be all of us!

He is our hope and our help. Let us not give up hope or turn away from his help. They make for a very good balance, don’t you think?

Hear Allan Jackson Sing This Hymn

Hymnlines - Hemlines: Get it?! :)

Hymnlines - Hemlines: Get it?! :)