Hymn – I Heard the voice of Jesus Say

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My goal is to put up one or two old hymns every month. Music paired with true words are healing to the soul. I hope they are an encouragement to you.

Horatius Bonar, a clergyman from Scotland, wrote this hymn in the 1800s. It has been sung to several tunes, but my favorite is an English folk tune called “Kingsfold” which was paired with the words around 1900.

You will find the music and words below so we can sing together.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me, and rest.

Lay down, thou weary one, lay down, Thy head upon My breast.”

I came to Jesus as I was, Weary and worn and sad.

I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give

The living water thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.”

I came to Jesus, and I drank, of that life giving stream.

My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light.

Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, And all thy day be bright.”

I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun,

and in that Light of life I’ll walk, ‘Till trav’lling days are done.

………………………………………………………..

“To be entitled to use Another’s name when my own name is worthless,

To be allowed to wear Another’s raiment because my own is torn and filthy.

To appear before God in Another’s person – the person of the beloved Son –

This is the summit of all blessing.”

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

For further study:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Choices

My grandfather’s sister was an extraordinary woman. She was born in 1886, which meant she lived through two World Wars. She lived in our town and spent all her holidays, birthdays, and many Sunday dinners with us. She was like a grandmother. We called her Aunt Signe.

She often told us to sit up straight… Didn’t like that we wore slacks… Complained that my sister’s boyfriend’s hair was too long. Severe might be the best way to describe her.

But we loved her and she loved us. She loved us enough to be critical, to push us to be better, to always remember our birthdays. She even bought our family a piano to ensure each of us learned to play.

She had spent most of her life teaching school and was the principal at four different schools in Fargo, ND. One year she even coached the boys basketball team. When she retired, she became a World Book salesman. I still have the well worn set she gave us when I was a child.

Signe was engaged to be married in her 20s to a young man named Byron. When she heard the gospel and God’s demands on her life she made a life changing decision to follow Christ. When she told the good news to Byron, her fiancé, he made light of it. He thought having a slight knowledge of God was good enough. He thought of himself as a good person who had no need of a transformation. Signe argued that God demanded a complete commitment, a redirection, a turning away from our own way of sin to follow Him. When Byron refused to take her new path seriously Signe gave the engagement ring back. God had changed her and nothing else mattered. She went forward with fire and determination.

She raised her nephew on her own. I’m not sure of the circumstances. Families didn’t talk about such things back then.

She never married and out-lived all of her siblings by quite a few years. She would often scold us for not knowing the names of 2nd cousins, that lived on the west coast, who we had never met. Family was important to her, but God meant more…always more.

She took seriously what Jesus said in Matthew 10:37-38.

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

I think often of her determination to follow hard after God, and her determination to convince us to do the same. In her view there was no other path worth taking. She lived to be 93 just as committed to her God as when she was 23. She never looked back.

And so, dear reader, like her, I beg you to be reconciled to Christ. We live in a temporary world that is full of trouble. It is full of sadness, injustice, sin and pain. There is another path that is beckoning. Shift your gaze from earthly rulers and pursuits to the God who is over it all.

Someday there will be a reckoning. Will you be like Byron or Signe? Do you think, like Byron, that you are good enough and just a passing knowledge of God is adequate? Or are you like Signe who saw her sin and her utter need of God?

For further study:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live…” Deuteronomy 30:19

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

“…and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die…” John 11:25-26

On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand

This song written by Samuel Stennett in 1787 (or earlier) was originally written in a minor key. It was given a new tune in 1835 and the chorus was added in 1895. I have removed the chorus and given it a minor key again in keeping with the original author’s intent.

I hope you enjoy this “new” version. Take special note of verse 3, which has special significance in our present situation. I’ve included the words so you can sing with me.

On Jordan’s Stormy Banks – Samuel Stennett – 1787

  1.   On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
    And cast a wishful eye
    To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
    Where my possessions lie.
  2. O’er all those wide, extended plains
    Shines one eternal day;
    There God the Son forever reigns,
    And scatters night away.
  3. No chilling winds or poisonous breath
    Can reach that healthful shore;
    Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
    Are felt and feared no more.
  4. When I shall reach that happy place,
    I’ll be forever blest,
    For I shall see my Father’s face,
    And in His bosom rest.
  5. Filled with delight my raptured soul
    Would here no longer stay;
    Though Jordan’s waves around me roll,
    Fearless, I’d launch away.

(Music copyright 2021 – Karen Pickering)

Revelation 21:23 – And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

A New Start

This year my daughter-in-law asked me what my goals were for the coming year. I came up empty, but it got me thinking. Suddenly I had a list of 20 things. Realizing that a list that is too long is worse than none at all I did some editing. Here is my much shorter list.

  1. Finish reading through the Bible. No, I’m not going to start in Genesis again. I’m going to start where I am and finish. Too many years I have started over every January without finishing from the year before. Maybe that is why Genesis is one of my favorite books. I have read it more than all the others.
  2. Memorize one Bible verse a month. My goal used to be 2 verses a week. My brain is older and slower now, and 12 verses is better than no verses.
  3. Pray more and keep a prayer journal. I am a forgetful person. I need to be reminded of how faithful God has been, how many times He has met my needs, kept me safe, and encouraged my soul.
  4. Sing more. Music is a necessary survival tool. Next time you feel discouraged try singing. Collect some old hymn books or chorus books from the second hand store and work your way through them. If you aren’t sure of the melodies YouTube is a wonderful tool that will teach you any song you want to learn.
  5. Write one letter each week to one of my five grandchildren. In this age of Facebook, messenger and texts I want to communicate something deeper to these ones I love. Tell them some things that they won’t hear on their favorite show or while playing a computer game.

I still have my longer list that I might look at from time to time, but for now this is more than enough.

What are your goals for this year?

Hope each of you is holding fast to the God who loves you. Blessings on another New Year.

Missing Christmas

They all were looking for a king

To slay their foes and lift them high:

Thou Cam’st a little baby thing

That made a woman cry…

And so begins a poem by George MacDonald, “That Holy Thing”.

This year we are missing the Christmas we were expecting…the Christmas we remember…

Over 2,000 years ago a baby was born. His purpose…to save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) The focus wasn’t on the corrupt government or the invading armies. He didn’t come to change society, He came to transform hearts. Repentance, not easy living, was His goal.

33 years after he was born He died an awful death at the hands of those He had come to save.

3 days later He rose from the grave in spite of Satan’s best efforts to do away with God’s redemption plan.

40 days later, He ascended into heaven. (Acts 1:9-11)

Now might be a good time to remember some of the promises He made before He left.

John 14:3 …If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again that where I am, there you may be also.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.”

John 17:3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

We need to remember that…

He is with us,

He died for us,

He has overcome the world,

He is preparing a place for us,

He is coming back to take us home.

There is nothing I would like more than to sit down with each of you and have a cup of tea. I can picture each of you hurrying around getting ready for Christmas with many or few people this year. Most of all I pray that each of you finds the peace that only Jesus can give.

For further study:

..in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. I Corinthians 15:52

Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings… As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake. Psalm 17: 8 & 15

Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence – Isaiah 64:1

And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. Joel 2:13

A Parkside Christmas

Christmas is just over a week away. 

I’ve finished wrapping my presents. 

Gathered my ingredients for the baking I need to do. 

Almost finished my Christmas cards.

Spent time looking at the Christmas lights through our car window with my Granddaughter. Arianna took several shots, but since it was dark and we were moving I won’t include them here. This picture is from the log house we lived in before we moved to Waldo.

I hope you are able to get to church in the next few days. I realize that isn’t possible for many of us. Early on in March when most of us were going to church virtually we listened to Alistair Begg from Cleveland. He was one of our favorite “virtual pastors.”

Below is a link to a virtual Christmas concert on Friday, December 18th, 8:00 p.m. EST. I hope you can join me. 

It will also be available for viewing after Friday.

Watch “A Parkside Christmas” with Alistair Begg (truthforlife.org)

Praying in this time of uncertainty that you can find comfort in the one who quietly came to Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. 

 

 

 

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks…

My favorite Christmas carol as a child was “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night”. In my mind it told the most spectacular part of the Christmas story, angels appearing in the middle of the night to Shepherds on a hillside.

I was deathly afraid of the dark so the 2nd verse spoke volumes to me.

“Fear not,” said he; for mighty dread had seized their troubled mind.”

I could well image how terrified they must have been to be out in the dark at night and then to be addressed suddenly by an angel.

But fear made way to…“Glad tidings of great joy I bring to you and all mankind”. The angel spoke of a Savior and of peace between God and men.

It was written by Naham Tate, an Irishman, who moved to London in his twenties. He was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1692 until his death in 1715. He wrote these lyrics in 1700 (approximately).

The tune is by George F. Handel. (1685 – 1759) Probably taken from an aria he wrote in 1728.

Here is a recording of the most familiar version.

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Hymn Charts with Lyrics, Contemporary) – YouTube

Here is another version that is probably almost as old. The tune is “Winchester Old”.

WINCHESTER OLD WHILE SHEPHERD WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS – YouTube

Here is a new version from 2013 by Craig Courtney that is also lovely.

Atlanta Master Chorale | While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Courtney) – YouTube

I will finish the list out with one more – “The Yorkshire Version”

While Shepherds Watched – The Yorkshire Version by Stamford Bridge Singers – YouTube

There are many other versions. Sorry if I didn’t mention your favorite.

What was your favorite Christmas carol as a child? Let me know what it was and why.

Accepted or Contaminated

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We just spent a few days in Door County. For those of you not from Wisconsin, Door County is on a peninsula in Northern Wisconsin. It is surrounded by Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other. We have been going up since our kids were little. Now we go with our grandchildren. It feels like our second home.

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Things have changed. It was no longer the welcoming place we remember. While some of the shop keepers we have known for years were friendly, many were not.

One store required masks that they approved. (check)

Use their hand-sanitizer. (check)

Knock on the door and they will let you in if they aren’t at their capacity of four. (check)

When the clerk came out to let us in we were informed that the two year old was not allowed. Why? Because he wasn’t wearing a mask and they knew even if we put one on him it wouldn’t stay in place.

Did I mention it was a toy store?

Another store required a mask. (Check)

Use their hand-sanitizer. (Check)

Stay socially distanced. (Check)

I came in alone the clerk being the only other person in the store. The clerk stopped me to say that if I touched anything not to put it back on the shelf, but to put it on the table for contaminated things. They would have to sanitize it.

Later at one of the parks in the area we came across a sign at the trail head.

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So we were required to clean our shoes as we entered and exited the trail.

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When we met the few other people on the trails we noticed they had masks on…outdoors…in the wind…

I guess we didn’t get the memo. They looked at us with suspicion and moved way off the trail when they met us.

If Covid has given you stress there is something even more pressing that you should be concerned about.

What about Heaven? Will we be allowed in?

No sin or germs allowed.

Hand sanitizer won’t be strong enough to make us clean.

Socially distancing will not be an option there. We must be perfect.

But miracle of miracles I will be allowed to enter.

Why???

Not because I am sinless or free of germs, but because Christ’s blood has made me clean. Since there is no hope of any of us being perfect we look to God’s perfect Son, Jesus who died in our place. His death on the cross has settled the matter.

To think that a perfect God would allow me into His perfect heaven is too wonderful to comprehend.

I will be accepted.

I will be loved.

I will be welcome.

God, Himself will wipe away my tears.

He is preparing a place for me.

Is He preparing a place for you?

Have you accepted His offer of eternal Life to any who would put their trust in His Son, who died for your sins and mine?

Neither of us knows what tomorrow holds. He might call us home tomorrow or next week or next year. Make sure you have made preparations. Put as much thought into your eternal health as you have been putting into your Co-vid avoidance.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 (ESV)

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that were I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going…I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. John 14:2-4, 6 (ESV)

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I John 5:11 & 12 (ESV)

Overwhelming Trouble

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I have lived through periods of being overwhelmed. My details aren’t important. Insert your own circumstances into the story I am about to tell you.

One particularly difficult period went on for a few years. I would often talk to God about “this mess that is my life.” I could see no way forward. It was impossible to go back. The circumstances I found myself in were beyond my control and way beyond my ability. It wasn’t a matter of trying harder, it was a matter of being completely undone.

My life was like a train wreck. Twisted metal blocking any clear path.

Sitting crumpled on my living room floor I cried out to God. “This is too hard. I am too weak. I can’t go on.” It was as if He whispered…”Can you get through this hour? I will be with you this hour.” “Take my hand. Moment by moment we will get through this.”

I wanted no part of this train wreck. I wanted a smooth easy existence with blessings floating down to my outstretched hands. God wanted my outstretched hands to be reaching for Him not His blessings.

Severe trouble shifted my focus from things He provides to God Himself. When everything else lay in ruins, God was the only thing left. He was offering to take my hand as I stumbled through the train wreck. The train wreck took years to get through. I still encounter remnants of it. When I do I am reminded of how far God has brought me. From constant, hopeless despair to a moment by moment existence holding tightly to my Father’s hand.

What have I learned? My utter sinfulness. My need, not for new circumstances, but to be right with God. My hope could not be found within myself, but within God’s redemption.

Whatever your circumstances there is hope. Not in yourself, but in God.

We are eternal beings. We will live forever. This life isn’t all there is. You have a choice to make. Living moment by moment with God now and for eternity, or turning away from His outstretched hand to live a miserable existence in this life and the next.

“For God so loved the world, (that means you) that He gave His only Son, (Jesus died for your sins) That whoever (that includes you) believes in Him should not perish (separation from God for eternity) but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV – (notes by me.)

For further study:

It Costs too Much to be a Christian

My father worked in the agronomy department at NDSU in Fargo.  He often brought home international students that he had met there.  One of those couples was from Taiwan.  Over the months and years that followed they came often for meals and holidays.  My parents became their “American family”.  They were a delightful couple that treated my parents with great respect and love.  My parents made an effort to not only share their lives with them, but to introduce them to their God as well.  The young couple listened politely and respectfully, but did not seriously consider accepting this “new religion”.  That is until the husband, Lee, became sick with encephalitis.  His condition worsened and he was hospitalized.  When he didn’t improve Jan, his wife, called my dad and asked him to come.  When he arrived she begged him to pray that her husband would live and not die.  She promised that if he lived they would both become Christians.  She was desperate.  Here she was in a foreign country and her only family member was near death.

I don’t know all that was said, but I know my father prayed with them and for them.  Lee improved and turned a corner.  It was a long struggle, but he eventually was brought back to health.  They were both grateful and thankful, but a curious thing happened.  They didn’t become Christians.  They talked about it with my parents.  They struggled with the decision.  They knew what they had promised to do, but they just couldn’t commit.  Finally, they spoke honestly and openly about the situation.  Following is a paraphrase of their words.

“You don’t understand what it would cost us to become Christians.  We would have to go against our family.  Our family would disown us.  We would have to give up everything to become Christians.  It is easy for you to be a Christian.  It is part of your culture and way of life.”

Therein lies the problem of most American Christians.  The problem isn’t that it is too hard.  The problem is that it is too easy.  It is very easy in our culture to call yourself a Christian.  Unfortunately to call yourself a Christian is not the same thing as being one.  It isn’t a life changing decision.  It is the accepted decision.  It hasn’t cost us much, if anything, and our life goes on as it has before.  We are a Christian just as much as it is convenient.  Don’t get me wrong.  Salvation is always of grace.  It is all of God and none of us.  We don’t earn our way to heaven.  But a changed mindset and life should be the indications of an inward work that God has accomplished.  if we can’t be bothered to live our lives all out for God  has there really been a change?  Are we following Christ or our peer group and culture?

As far as I know Lee and Jan never became Christians.  They counted the cost and decided it cost too much.  As our society becomes less and less Christian friendly I wonder how many professed Christians will walk away from the faith.  How full will our churches continue to be when persecution comes?

What has it cost you to follow Christ?  How is your life different because of that decision?  Are you following out of convenience or conviction?

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”  Philippians 3:7-9 (NASB)

(Originally posted May 8, 2014)