The Gift Of Fanny Crosby

 

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2016-02-09 20:53:56Z | http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.com“The hymns To God Be the Glory, Blessed Assurance, All the Way My Savior Leads Me, and He Hideth My Soul remind us that it’s never too late to begin serving Christ. Some people start as children, others as teens or young adults. But Moses was 80 when God commissioned him, and Paul was middle-aged. So was Fanny Crosby, author of the above hymns.

“Fanny was born in a cottage in South East, New York, in 1820. Six weeks later, she caught a cold in her eyes, and a visiting doctor prescribed mustard poultices, leaving her virtually blind for life. Growing into childhood, she determined to make the best of it, writing at age eight:

O what a happy soul I am!
Although I cannot see, 
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.

“Fanny spent many years in New York’s Institution for the Blind, first as a student, then as a teacher and writer-in-residence. Her career flourished; her fame swelled. She recited her poems before Congress and became friends with the most powerful people in America, including presidents. But not until 1851 did Fanny meet her greatest friend, the Lord Jesus. While attending a revival meeting at John Street Methodist Church in New York, she later recalled, a prayer was offered, and ‘they began to sing the grand old consecration hymn, “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?” and when they reached the line, “Here, Lord, I give myself away,” my very soul was flooded with celestial light.’

“Fourteen years later she met the hymnist William Bradbury, who told her, ‘Fanny, I thank God we have met, for I think you can write hymns.’ Bradbury suggested an idea for a song he needed, and on February 5, 1864, Fanny Crosby, seizing his idea, wrote:

We are going, we are going
To a home beyond the skies
Where the fields are robed in beauty
And the sunlight never dies.

“It was her first hymn, and she was 44. But by the time she reached her ‘home beyond the skies’ 50 years later, she had written 8,000 more.” —From On This Day

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What Child Is This Anyway?!

christ-the-kingA couple of years ago as we were setting up for our Living Nativity, I was wrapping a towel around the doll we were going to use for the infant Jesus. A young boy from the community was carefully watching me and he asked, “Is that baby Santa?”

“No, it’s not Santa,” I said. “See this manger? We’re getting things setup to tell the story about the very first Christmas, long before St. Nick came on the scene. Maybe you’ve heard about Mary and Joseph?”

The young lad’s eyes lit up as he seem to get the answer. “Oh! Is that baby Moses?!”

Clearly, people don’t know all the facts surrounding the first Advent of Jesus. Sometimes things in culture and church get jumbled—what belongs to which? Is Christmas a pagan holiday? Where do Christmas trees come in? Was the birth of Jesus actually on December 25? What does it all matter anyway?

Instead of running from these questions, Christians should use them to point people in the right direction. 

Have you heard the tune called Greensleeves? It’s been around longer than anyone knows. William Shakespeare referenced it in two of his plays and didn’t feel the need to explain it to his audience. The tune has been set to some pretty bawdy words about New Year’s Eve parties, and even as a mocking song to some folks about to go to the gallows. And then in the mid-1800s William Chatterton Dix used this tune to write words about Christ’s birth in What Child Is This?

What an excellent question! Who exactly is this Child? Is Jesus merely a line on the pages of history? Or is His birth something more? Oswald Chambers noted, “The tremendous revelation of Christianity is not the Fatherhood of God, but the Babyhood of God—God became the weakest thing in His own creation, and in flesh and blood He levered it back to where it was intended to be. No one helped Him; it was done absolutely by God manifest in human flesh.”

The first-century historian Luke simply records that Mary is pregnant with “a child.” That is, until Jesus is taken to the temple in Jerusalem eight days later, and we see that a man named Simeon didn’t just see this Child as any baby, but as a fulfillment of prophesy (see Luke 2:25-32; Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6).

This Child is much more than just a historic person. He not only split history into BC and AD, but He has changed my life, and countless others’ lives as well! That’s why the chorus of this Christmas carol joyfully announces, “This, THIS is Christ the King!”

People may be confused about what tradition belongs to culture or Christendom. You may even be confused about what belongs to which. But none of that should stop us from knowing the Child we celebrate this Christmas. None of that should stop us from helping seekers to find Jesus as their own Savior. None of that should stop us from enthroning Jesus Christ as King and giving Him the highest praise He deserves!

Jesus used common, everyday things—farmers, fish, trees, weather, children’s songs—to tell people about a Heaven that was prepared for them. Paul used the cultural idols and poets to point his community to Jesus. Philip used the Scripture a governmental official was reading to point him to Jesus.

So we, too, can use whatever is around us to point people to Jesus this Christmas! What Child is this? This, THIS is Christ MY King! Merry Christmas!!

The Carols Of Christmas

Carols Of ChristmasI heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

 

How many “old familiar carols” have you heard Christmas after Christmas, until the words have almost lost their meaning? If we’re not careful, any song repeated too often can lose the richness of its original intent.

There are some amazing messages in many of our old familiar Christmas carols, because many of those messages are saturated with the old familiar story of Redemption that the Bible tells over and over again.

Please join me this Sunday as we take a new look at the old familiar messages in our Christmas carols. These messages will bring a new appreciation of God’s love that was sung at Christ’s Advent, and reawaken the sweetness of meaning for this Christmas Day.

To get a taste of what we will be covering, check out the messages I have already shared on…

God’s Heavenly Choir

George Matheson“Certain songs can only be learned in the valley. No music school can teach them, for no theory can cause them to be perfectly sung. Their music is found in the heart. They are songs remembered through personal experience, revealing their burdens through the shadows of the past, and soaring on the wings of yesterday. … Therefore, dear soul, in this life you are receiving a music lesson from your Father. You are being trained to sing in a choir you cannot yet see, and there will be parts in the chorus that only you can sing. … Others have said that He sends sorrow to test you, yet this is not the case. He sends sorrow to educate you, thereby providing you with the proper training for His heavenly choir. … O dear soul, do not despise your school of sorrow. It is bestowing upon you a unique part in the heavenly song [Revelation 14:3].” —George Matheson

Overcoming Anxiety

God's answersI remember visiting Denver, Colorado. The scenery was so breathtaking, so I decided to go for an early morning hike. Quickly I discovered that my hike became breathtaking in more than one way! Even though I was in good shape, I had a hard time getting my breath because of the mile-high atmosphere.

I learned later that this is why many top athletes train in high elevation: it increases their lung capacity and endurance so that they now have an advantage when they compete against others.

God trains us on His mountains, but He made us to live and minister in the valleys. Our ascent into God’s mountaintop presence is so important for godly maturity!

In the first song of ascent, I noticed something unusual in the very first verse. Some Bibles translate the verbs in the present tense (I call on the Lord and He answers me), but some translations use the past tense (I called on the Lord and He answered me). Which is correct? Actually both of them are correct!

The verbs are written in the perfect tense—something done at a specific point in the past, but still relevant and powerful in the present. In other words, we can say it like this, “I called on the Lord in the past and He most definitely answered me. That gives me confidence to call on the Lord today, knowing that He will answer me again.”

Past answers lead to present power and future hope.

But—oh wow!!—check out how God answers us! The word literally means that God answers us in song. God so loves it when you trust Him enough to bring all your cares to Him, that He sings His answer to you. For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs (Zephaniah 3:17).

If we don’t continue to recall how God has answered us in the past, we’re missing out on the blessing of hearing Him sing His answers over us again today. As a result, we begin to live in the world’s valley-level turmoil and anxiety.

Peace is longed for in verses 6 and 7. The Christian wants to live in peace, but the world loves turmoil. Want proof? Just look at what makes the headlines today! The solution is to keep going back to God again and again and again—

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Check out the full message to find the peace you are longing for!

If you don’t have a home church, please join us this Sunday as we continue our look at the songs of ascent, or you can tune in to our live Periscope broadcast from wherever you are.

Handling Life’s Pauses

John Ruskin“There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music. In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests. During those rests, we foolishly believe we have come to the end of the song. God sends us times of forced leisure by allowing sickness, disappointed plans, and frustrated efforts. He brings a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent. We grieve that our part is missing in the music that continually rises to the ear of our Creator. Yet how does a musician read the rest? He counts the break with unwavering precision and plays his next note with confidence, as if no pause were ever there. God does not write the music of our lives without a plan. Our part is to learn the tune and not be discouraged during the rest. They are not to be slurred over or omitted, nor used to destroy the melody or to change the key. If we will only look up, God Himself will count the time for us. With our eyes on Him, our next note will be full and clear. If we sorrowfully say to ourselves, ‘There is no music in a rest,’ let us not forget that the rest is part of the making of the music.” —John Ruskin

O Holy Night & O Holy Day

O Holy NightIn 1847 an unnamed parish priest sent an unusual request to Placide Cappeau, the commissioner of wines in a small French town: “You are well known for your poems. Would you consider writing a poem for our Christmas mass?” Cappeau was both intrigued and honored, and he soon penned an essay called Cantique de Noel.

Cappeau felt that his poem was more worthy of a song, than just merely a poem, so he turned to his friend Adolphe Adams. Adams was a classically trained musician, but he was also a Jew. Adams said to Cappeau, “You’re asking me to write a melody for a poem that celebrates a man I do not view as the Son of God, and a poem that celebrates a day I do not celebrate?” But because his friend Cappeau had requested it, he gave it his best effort. Three weeks later, Cantique de Noel was first heard for the first at the Christmas Eve midnight mass.

Cantique de Noel quickly became popular throughout France. But when it was discovered that the lyricist Cappeau had left the church to become a socialist, and the musical composer Adams was a Jew, the Catholic Church banned the song from being sung in any of its churches. Still the song grew in popularity.

During the build-up to the American Civil War, an abolitionist named John Dwight was especially moved by a line in Cantique de Noel: “Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.” Dwight published his version of Cantique de Noel in his abolitionist magazine with the new title O Holy Night. The song quickly caught on in America.

The opening words of O Holy Night speak to our hearts today, as much as they did to those present at the First Advent—long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. To pine for something means to long painfully for something just out of our reach. It’s what the psalmist in ancient Israel capture too when he wrote, My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God (Psalm 84:2). There is a longing in all of us to know the Lord!

That’s why Christ’s First Advent is such a blessed, joyous event! In the second stanza we sing—In all our trials born to be our Friend; He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger. Indeed the writer of Hebrews tells us why Jesus was born as a human (Hebrews 2:14-18), and why we can approach him confidently (4:15-16).

Christ’s Incarnation allows us to put our faith in Him. When we do, we experience the Atonement. I like to remember this word by saying it at-onement. In other words, the Heavenly Father now sees us at-onement with His Son—when He looks at us, He sees Jesus. That’s why God forgets our forgiven sins (Hebrews 8:12)!

Then the third stanza of O Holy Night begins to tells us how we live out the at-onement every day by loving one another, enjoying His peace, living free and helping others get free too, singing joyfully to God day after night after day after night!

The First Advent was a holy night. But because Christ’s Atonement it makes us holy. So all our nights are O holy nights, and all our days O holy days, and all our work O holy work, and all our relationships O holy relationships!

Christ’s First Advent changes EVERYTHING for those who put their faith in Him. Is that you? Are you living in Christ’s at-onement? If not, you can be today by simply asking Him to come into your life.

You can check out some of the other Christmas carols we have looked at here. And check out the video of this message too—

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