Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day 31: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

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This hymn has it all -- rich doctrine, powerful tune, written by Martin Luther, sung by generations of Christians. And, of course, I saved it for the last day of this series in honor of Reformation Day.

What you don't know is this hymn also represents the peak of my skills on the piano. When the kids used to take lessons, I tried to learn along with them, even taking lessons of my own for a little while. My crowning achievement was learning how to play A Mighty Fortress in Bastien's Popular Hymns, Level 3. It was the last hymn in the book, which in my opinion actually makes it harder than Level 3, thank you very much. All I know is that it took me about 1.8 million tries to finally get it, so I was quite proud of myself. Of course, once the kids stopped taking lessons, I didn't play much either, so I'm sure I can't play it anymore. I might have to give it a whirl later today.

Aren't you glad I shared that? Just humor me a little -- I have blogged 31 days in a row!!!!

Woo hoo! This series has been so much fun! Thank you for all your sweet comments along the way. It helped knowing that others were being ministered to, although it would have been worth it just for the effect it had on my soul. Ultimately, however, this whole series has been about praising our Lord, because He alone is worthy of all these beautiful lyrics and tunes.

To wrap things up, I've compiled my Top 10 list as promised. The first two are my absolute tied-for-first favorites, and after that they just appear in the order they were presented in the series.

  1. And Can It Be?
  2. I Know Whom I Have Believed
  3. From Every Stormy Wind that Blows
  4. I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord
  5. May the Mind of Christ My Savior
  6. God Himself Is With Us
  7. Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah
  8. Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul
  9. More Love to Thee, O Christ
  10. God Be Merciful to Me
And now it's your turn! Did I cover your favorites in this series? Remember, when I first went through my hymnals I had 79 hymns written down as candidates, so it's likely I still love your favorites, even if they didn't get mentioned this month. Do you have a Top 10 list? Or maybe you have a hymn that has sentimental significance you'd like to share. I'd love to hear from you in the comments! 

The series, 31 Days of Hymns I Love, may be over, but I pray our hearts will always be full of praise for our Mighty God and Savior.

Soli Deo gloria!

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Martin Luther, 1529

A mighty fortress is our God, 
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper he amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great;
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus it is he,
Lord Sabaoth his name,
And armed with cruel hate,
And he must win the battle.

And though this world with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure;
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow'rs,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also; 
The body they may kill:
God's truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 30: God, Be Merciful To Me

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When I first trusted in Christ as my Savior the summer before my senior year in high school, I didn't have a firm grasp on why I needed a Savior. It was more like it seemed like a great idea, and why not? Don't get me wrong, I am forever grateful for the events and people that God used to bring me to faith in Him. I also don't doubt that that moment was a turning point in my life. But I also wonder if I had had a better understanding of my sin and dire need for a Savior, would I have had some of the bumps in my faith that I did during those early years? If we see ourselves as basically okay, how dependent are we going to be upon Him in our Christian walk? I think this is even a danger for more mature Christians. We can get so comfortable in living a certain way (that seems so much better than other people) that we forget we are sinners and that apart from His grace we can do nothing that is good. That's why we need to sing hymns like God, Be Merciful to Me. Let us never forget that we are broken, and our guilt can only be removed through His grace.


When I started this series, I didn't think I would use videos for as many of the hymns as I have, but I've become kind of addicted to them. I am amazed at how many gifted people there are out there who love hymns. So the few times when I did have trouble finding a video it became frustrating. And that's what happened for this hymn.

First of all, most people know the hymn only as the Indelible Grace/Jars of Clay version, which I love too. But I wanted to use the original tune for this post because it's equally beautiful. When it became clear that wasn't going to happen, I decided I was okay with the Indelible Grace version. I bought the Pilgrim Days album years and years ago and it remains a favorite.

But then I could only find video with Jars of Clay singing. I love Jars of Clay and have fond memories of Marc taking me to one of their concerts when I was nine months pregnant with Anna. I was only 25, but it looked like we were at least 10 years older than anyone there, except maybe the occasional youth group leader. Ah, memories!

Alas, I finally found a way to embed the Indelible Grace version, which is the same as the Jars of Clay, except it's Laura Wall singing, not Jars of Clay. But then I couldn't get the embed "thingie" to work right, and after a million tries I finally discovered that it won't show up until the post is published. You'd think they might have mentioned that somewhere in the dozens of tutorials I read prior to the one that actually did mention it! Remember when I tried to convince you I wasn't stuck in the Victorian era? Maybe I should be. Technology and I don't get along very well.

So now that my little rant is over, please go back to the top of this post and reread about my sinfulness and need for a Savior, and then listen to this beautiful hymn and meditate on His grace and mercy. ; )

And don't forget tomorrow is the day to share your favorite hymn or hymns! Day 31, here we come!

God, Be Merciful to Me
From Psalm 51:1-15
The Psalter, 1912

God, be merciful to me,
On thy grace I rest my plea;
Plenteous in compassion thou,
Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within,
Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.

My transgressions I confess,
Grief and guilt my soul oppress;
I have sinned against thy grace
And provoked thee to thy face;
I confess thy judgement just,
Speechless, I thy mercy trust.

I am evil, born in sin;
Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art,
Teach thy wisdom to my heart;
Make me pure, thy grace bestow,
Wash me whiter than the snow.

Broken, humbled to the dust
By thy wrath and judgement just,
Let my contrite heart rejoice
And in gladness hear thy voice;
From my sins O hide thy face,
Blot them out in boundless grace.

Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true;
Cast me not away from thee,
Let thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation's joy impart,
Steadfast make my willing heart.

Sinners then shall learn from me
And return, O God to thee;
Savior, all my guilt remove,
And my tongue shall sing thy love;
Touch my silent lips, O Lord,
And my mouth shall praise accord.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 29: Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

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I love the shepherd illustrations in the Bible, whether it be from Psalm 23 or John 10. Years ago, I read Philip Keller's A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm, and I learned so much from his beautiful detailed explanations of the significance of God's role as our shepherd, based on his own experience as a shepherd. If the book weren't buried in my basement somewhere, I'd share some quotes with you. Don't worry, that's the last book recommendation I'll make in this hymn series, since I already told you yesterday you had to read Stepping Heavenward. At least they are both inexpensive books (and you can probably find A Shepherd Looks... at the library pretty easily).

Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us is such a beautiful hymn that really captures the image of God's tender care for His flock. Another reason I love this hymn is because of the story of how God used it to save the life of Ira Sankey, a music leader for the Dwight L. Moody evangelism campaigns. Written originally for children (the music is from the same person who wrote the tune for Jesus Loves Me), Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us is a good reminder for people of all ages to thank God for His protection and loving care.

Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
Hymns for the Young, 1836
Attr. to Dorothy Ann Thrupp

Savior, like a shepherd lead us, 
Much we need thy tender care;
In thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use thy folds prepare:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, thine we are;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, thine we are.

We are thine; do thou befriend us,
Be the guardian of our way;
Keep thy flock, from sin defend us,
Seek us when we go astray:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us, 
Poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us,
Grace to cleanse, and pow'r to free:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Let us early turn to thee;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Let us early turn to thee.

Early let us seek thy favor; 
Early let us do thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Savior,
With thy love our bosoms fill:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 28: More Love to Thee, O Christ

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I have a Sunday afternoon ritual: After dinner with our family I head upstairs for a nap. But before I partake in some glorious sleep, I like to read just for a few minutes. I usually read a short passage from Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss, who is also the author of today's hymn. I've been doing this for a few years now, so I've read through the book a number of times -- in fact I just finished it (again) yesterday, so next week I will probably start all over.

No matter how many times I read Stepping Heavenward, it remains one of my absolute favorite books. It's the fictional journal of a young woman growing up in the mid-1800's as she goes through courtship, marriage, and parenthood. She writes honestly of the struggles that are common to busy moms of any generation and also gives a beautiful look of how to persevere in trials. There are some delightfully funny moments as well. I've written about it before, so please read that post for more information about the book. Obviously, the Bible itself is our ultimate source for God's instructions in a godly life, but I believe this book is a must-read for Christian ladies.

More Love to Thee, O Christ was a favorite hymn before I read Stepping Heavenward, but now it's all the more special to me. So today I'm going to do something a little different. After each verse for the hymn (below), I'm going to include a favorite quote or two from Stepping Heavenward.

We're nearing the end of this 31 Days Series, and I think I've said this a few times already, but today's hymn is definitely in my top 10 list. I will have to go back and count how many times I've said that so far and make my top 10 official (I still have one more this week that I would consider top 10). On Day 31, I would love for you to share your favorite hymn or even a top 10 list, if you want. You can share in the comments or even blog about your favorite. Be sure to give me the link if you do! I'm eager to know your favorites. : )

More Love to Thee, O Christ
Elizabeth Prentiss, 1869

Quotes from Stepping Heavenward
Elizabeth Prentiss, first published in 1869
Barbour Publishing, Inc. edition, 1998

More love to thee, O Christ, more love to thee!
Hear thou the prayer I make on bended knee;
This is my earnest plea, more love, O Christ, to thee,
More love to thee, more love to thee!
First of all, then, if God should speak to me at this moment and offer to give just one thing and that alone, I should say without hesitation, Love to Thee, O my Master! (161) 
"Are you miserable now?" she asked. 
"Yes, just now I am. I do not mean I have no happiness; I mean that I am in a disheartened mood, weary of going round and round in circles, committing the same sins, uttering the same confessions, and making no advance." 
"My dear," she said after a time, "have you a perfectly distinct, settled view of what Christ is to the human soul?" 
"I do not know. I understand, of course, more or less perfectly that my salvation depends on Him alone; it is His gift." 
"But do you see with equal clearness that your sanctification must be as fully His gift as your salvation is?" 
"No," I said after a little thought, "I have had a feeling He has done His part and now I must do mine." 
"My dear," she said with much tenderness and feeling, "then the first thing you have to do is learn Christ." 
"But how?" 
"On your knees, my child, on your knees!" (170) 
Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now thee alone I seek; give what is best:
This all my prayer shall be, more love, O Christ, to thee,
More love to thee, more love to thee!
I had a busy day before me; the usual Saturday baking and Sunday dinner to oversee, the children's lessons for tomorrow to superintend and hear them repeat, their clean clothes to lay out, and a basket of stockings to mend. My mind was somewhat distracted with these cares, and I found it a little difficult to keep on with my morning devotions in spite of them. But I have learned, at least, to face and fight such distractions instead of running away from them as I used to do. My faith in prayer and resort to it become more and more the foundation of my life. And I believe, with one wiser and better than myself, that nothing but prayer stands between my soul and the best gifts of God; in other words, that I can and shall get what I ask for (294).
Let sorrow do its work, send grief and pain;
Sweet are thy messengers, sweet their refrain,
When they can sing with me, more love, O Christ, to thee,
More love to thee, more love to thee!
Then, too, I looked at my 'light affliction' and at the 'weight of glory,' side by side, and thanked Him that through the one He had revealed to me the other (326).
Then shall my latest breath whisper thy praise;
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise,
This still its prayer shall be, more love, O Christ, to thee,
More love to thee, more love to thee!
And wondrous as it is, how simple is this mystery! To love Christ and to know I love Him -- this is all! (340)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 27: Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

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I hope you are all having a blessed Lord's Day.

No words from me today, just some sweet worship.

Oh, except that I just have to point out that it's my beloved Baylor Bears singing this hymn. ; )

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Robert Robinson, 1758

Come, thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
By flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer, 
Hither by thy help I'm come'
And I hope, by thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand'ring from the fold of God:
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be;
Let that grace now, like a fetter,
Bind my wand'ring heart to thee.
Prone to wander -- Lord, I feel it --
Prone to leave the God I love:
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 26: It Is Well with My Soul (When Peace Like a River)

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If you love the classic hymns, you probably already know the story of Horatio Spafford and the tragedy that led him to write It Is Well with My Soul. Such grief, but also such peace -- the peace that can only be found in Christ.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).
Those were some of Christ's last words to His disciples. He knew the grief they would endure when He was gone, and He knew His followers for every generation to follow would experience grief. Some experience more grief than others, but death is something we all come against at some point in our lives, whether it be the death of a loved one or our own.

I have seen firsthand what it is like for someone to face death without the peace of Christ. Not only is it agonizing for that individual, but it is so hard for that person's loved ones to witness this struggle of the soul. It doesn't have to be that way.
"I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy" (John 16: 20-22).

Peace rooted in eternity. It is well.

It Is Well with My Soul (When Peace Like a River)
Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
"It is well, it is well, with my soul."

It is well with my soul;
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And has shed his own blood for my soul.

My sin -- O the bliss of this glorious thought! --
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

O Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
"Even so" -- it is well with my soul.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 25: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul

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I'm finishing up our Hallelujah Week with another Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah hymn, but this one is called Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul. I first fell in love with this hymn when our church hosted one of the denomination's governing body annual meetings (I can't remember if it was Classis or Synod). In our denomination the church leaders are all men, so our church sanctuary was full mostly of men and when they sang this hymn it was breathtaking to hear all those booming male voices praise God. As a result, I always associate this hymn with male voices, even though I love to sing it too.

It is not a common hymn and seems to only appear in a couple of hymnals, both from the Reformed tradition. And lo and behold, when looking for a video one of the only ones I could find was also from a Synod meeting, although not from the same denomination.

My favorite movie of all time is The Sound of Music and we watch it as a family for my birthday every year. But we do love to poke fun at some of the faulty doctrine in the movie, for example when Julie Andrews sings, "I have confidence in confidence alone!" You just sang those words, didn't you? ; ) This hymn reminds us that confidence placed in anything other than God Himself is useless. God is our Creator, Provider, and King. And that is why we offer up to Him our joyful hallelujahs.

Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul
Psalm 146
The Psalter, 1912

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Put no confidence in princes,
Nor for help on man depend;
He shall die, to dust returning,
And his purposes shall end.

Happy is the man that chooses
Israel's God to be his aid;
He is blessed whose hope of blessing
On the Lord his God is stayed.
Heav'n and earth the Lord created,
Seas and all that they contain;
He delivers from oppression,
Righteousness he will maintain.

Food he daily gives the hungry,
Sets the mourning pris'ner free,
Raises those bowed down with anguish,
Makes the sightless eye to see.
Well Jehovah loves the righteous,
And the strangers he befriends,
Helps the fatherless and widow,
Judgement on the wicked sends.

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul, Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Over all God reigns forever,
Through all ages he is King;
Unto him, your God, O Zion,
Joyful hallelujahs sing.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 24: In Christ Alone

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In looking back over the hymns I've chosen so far, the majority of them seem to come from the late 1800's or early 1900's. So to prove that I'm not completely stuck in the Victorian era, I'm including a hymn that is just a little more than a decade old. I love the progression of the verses: Christ as our hope, Christ's life and death, Christ's victory on the cross, and the eternal security we have through Christ. How to sum up the gospel in four verses? In Christ Alone is pretty comprehensive.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 1:20).

In Christ Alone
Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, 2001

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My comforter, my all in all --
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid --
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine --
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death --
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home --
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 23: Holy, Holy, Holy

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Years ago, before we had kids, Marc and I faced a real challenge in our belief in the doctrine of the Trinity -- one God in three persons. I had naively accepted some written materials from a couple of ladies who had knocked on our front door. I thought if I just took the material they would go away and I could toss it in the trash. But on my way to the trash can I decided to see for myself why they were considered so "out there" by Christians, so I took a peek inside the pamphlet. I was surprised to find that what they wrote seemed mostly okay, at least until I got to a part that indicated they didn't believe in the Trinity. I later learned there were other major differences in our beliefs, but this was what initially stood out to me.

To make a long story short, Marc and I realized that although we firmly believed in the Trinity, we weren't able to defend our belief very well. Those ladies came back and we thought we'd set them straight, but we ended up feeling very inadequate. We clearly didn't know our stuff very well. The result was that we spent many hours pouring through our Bibles in search of proof of the Trinity. This was before the internet, so it was not an easy task. God rewarded our efforts and led us to many passages that reaffirmed our beliefs. Even years later we would hear a Trinity-relevant verse in church and we would nudge each other and smile to silently say, "Yes! Another one!"

My purpose in telling this story is not so much to go into the doctrine (although I can't resist linking a couple of very helpful articles below), but to simply rejoice in it.  Because He is God in three Persons, He is perfect and worthy of our praise, and few hymns capture His perfection as well as Holy, Holy, Holy.

Holy, Holy, Holy
Reginald Heber, 1783-1826

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea.
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
Who wert and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye of sinful man they glory may not see,
Only thou art holy; there is none beside thee
Perfect in pow'r, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

For further reading:

Union with God the Trinity by Sinclair Ferguson
The Trinity is so vast in significance because it can bring comfort to men driven to the edge by the atmosphere of sorrow about to engulf them. The triune One is greater in glory, deeper in mystery, and more beautiful in harmony than all other realities in creation. No tragedy is too big to overwhelm Him; nothing incomprehensible to us is so to Him, whose very being is incomprehensible to us. There is no darkness deeper than the depths of the inbeing of God. 

Trinity and Salvation by Rick Phillips
Theologians speak of the economy of the Trinity, which refers to the arrangement of their work for our salvation. Since the members of the Trinity share one divine being, each Person is present in the work of each of the other Persons, so there is no work of salvation in which all three Persons are not involved. Yet we may rightly speak of a particular member of the Trinity taking the lead when it comes to certain aspects of salvation.

Day 22: Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord

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Many years ago, when Grace was just a toddler, we sang this hymn in church. I don't remember if it was Marc holding her while we sang or if it was me, but after church several people who had been sitting behind us just had to tell us about Grace's amazement as the entire church sang, "Grace, grace, God's grace!" Since she was likely propped up over a shoulder we didn't see any of this, but apparently her face lit up every time her name was sung.

While she didn't understand the difference between her name and the amazing GRACE we were really singing about, we should all have the same reaction when reflecting upon God's grace.

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"But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 5:20-21
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9

Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord
alt. title: Grace Greater Than Our Sin
Julia H. Johnston, 1910

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the Refuge, the mighty cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide;
Whiter than snow you may be today.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 21: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah

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I hereby proclaim this week (through Friday) to be Hallelujah Week!
{Google dictionary entry}

All the hymns I have picked for this week are just straight up praise for our God and Savior. It should be a marvelous week. We will meditate on His holiness and give Him the honor that is due to Him alone. Hallelujah, indeed! {hint, hint}

Anyone want to try to guess which hymns I have picked for this week?  ; )


This school year I have the great pleasure to teach the toddler Sunday school class at our church. I just have three students in my class, but they are about the cutest things you have ever seen! We've settled into a nice routine and they get so excited about every activity we do. They know that each week when I show them my Bible they are going to hear a story from God's Word. Every week we talk about how the Bible is God's true Word; it's not a pretend story. They know to find our Bible memory verse in a box decorated with shiny paper, sequins, and plastic gems to show that God's Word is a treasure for us. They can't wait for when they get to touch that verse in my Bible with their own finger.

One of my favorite parts of the morning (and theirs) is right after the Bible memory verse when we review our catechism questions:
  1. Q. Who made you? A. God!!!!!!!!!! {shouted as they jump up and point to the ceiling}
  2. Q. What else did God make? A. "Alllllllll fings"! {holding their arms out as wide as they will go}
  3. Q. Why did God make you and all things? A. For his own "gwory"! {that would be "glory" in toddler language}
I wish I had a recording of them -- it is so precious!

Working with these little ones reminds me that praising God is such a simple thing. He made me and everything else that has ever been made. It's all for His glory, and yet it gives me joy to praise Him.

But do I praise Him enough? Or am I too busy just moving from one urgent thing to the next?

When I see a beautiful sunset do I just thank Him for His wonderful gift or do I take time to praise Him for being such an awesome God whose glory is far above the earth and sky?

That's one of the beautiful thing about learning hymns -- they will always bring to mind the characteristics of God that make Him so praiseworthy. May these things always be on my mind!

Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah
Psalm 148: 1-13
Bible Songs Hymnal, 1927

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
From the heavens praise his name.
Praise Jehovah in the highest,
All his angels, praise proclaim.
All his hosts, together praise him,
Sun and moon and stars on high.
Praise him, O you heav'ns of heavens,
And you floods above the sky.

Let them praises give Jehovah,
For his name alone is high,
And his glory is exalted,
And his glory is exalted,
And his glory is exalted,
Far above the earth and sky.

Let them praises give Jehovah,
They were made at his command.
Them forever he established,
His decree shall ever stand.
From the earth, O praise Jehovah,
All you seas, you monsters all,
Fire and hail and snow and vapors,
Storm wind that hear his call.

All you fruitful trees and cedars,
All you hills and mountains high,
Creeping things and beasts and cattle,
Birds that in the heavens fly,
Kings of earth, and all you people,
Princes great, earth's judges all,
Praise his name, young men and maidens,
Aged men, and children small.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 20: O, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus!

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I hope you are all having a blessed Lord's Day.

No words from me today, just some sweet worship.

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus!
Samuel Trevor Francis, 1834-1925

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free;
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me.
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of thy love; 
Leading onward, leading homeward,
To thy glorious rest above.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus! 
Spread his praise from shore to shore;
How he loveth, ever loveth,
Changing never, never more;
How he watches o'er his loved ones
Died to call them all his own;
How for them he intercedeth,
Watched o'er them from the throne.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Love of ev'ry love the best:
'Tis an ocean vast of blessing
'Tis a haven sweet of rest.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
'Tis a heav'n of heav'ns to me'
And it lifts me up to glory, 
For it lifts me up to thee.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 19: How Shall the Young Direct Their Way?

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How Shall the Young Direct Their Way is not a song we sang as a family nor part of our homeschooling, but it ties in nicely with this week's theme of parenting because it sums up so nicely what we as Christian parents seek -- to have our children love the Lord God and His Word. I was first introduced to this hymn a few years ago, and it quickly became a favorite. On Thursday I was helping Grace study for her spelling list and we came to the word sincerely, and we both immediately started singing, "Sincerely I have sought you, Lord...."

Yesterday, I started to share my top 31 favorite Bible verses, so today I will conclude that list. If we want our children to cherish God's Word in their hearts, they must first see that we love God's Word. I hope they already see that in me, but I'm thinking it might be nice to write some of these verses down somewhere, maybe in an album, so they will always know which verses I treasured most. In my Bible I have marked a verse that my mom claimed when she was battling cancer, and it is such a special reminder to me of God's faithfulness.

If you didn't share your favorite verse in the comments yesterday, feel free to do so today!
  1. Habakkuk 2:1. "I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me...."
  2. Zephaniah 3:17.  "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
  3. Malachai 3:6. "I the Lord do not change." Cheating again and pairing this with Hebrews 13:8. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
  4. John 1:1-5, 18. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.... No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known."
  5. John 3:30. "He must become greater; I must become less."
  6. John 14:6-7, 26-27. "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.... All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
  7. Acts 4:12. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to me by which we must be saved."
  8. Romans 8:38-39. {Wish I could have just listed the whole chapter!} "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
  9. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any troubles with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
  10. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
  11. Galatians 6:9-10. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of God."
  12. Ephesians 1:13-14. "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession -- to the praise of his glory."
  13. Ephesians 5:1-2. "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
  14. Philippians 3:10-11.  "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
  15. Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things."
  16. Hebrews 11:1. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

How Shall the Young Direct Their Way?
Psalm 119:9-16

How shall the young direct their way?
What light shall be their perfect guide?
Your Word, O Lord, will safely lead,
If in its wisdom they confide.
Sincerely I have sought you, Lord,
O let me not from you depart;
To know your will and keep from sin
Your Word I cherish in my heart.

O blessed Lord, teach me your law,
Your righteous judgements I declare;
Your testimonies make me glad,
For they are wealth beyond compare.
Upon your precepts and your ways
My heart will meditate with awe;
Your Word shall be my chief delight,
And I will not forget your law.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 18: Wonderful Words of Life

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All week I've been sharing hymns we've sung together as a family, but Wonderful Words of Life is one we sang as part of our homeschooling. We loved the Hymns for a Kid's Heart series, and in looking for a link I was shocked to discover these books are out of print. That is such a shame, because the books and CDs are perfect for teaching young kids these hymns. We listened to them in our car and during school time.

In church last Sunday we sang the hymn I  have chosen for tomorrow, and like today's hymn it focuses on how important God's Word is in our lives. His Word is life-giving and is to be deeply treasured. As I was singing, I suddenly became convicted. Hymns can be a wonderful means of learning God's Word, but am I elevating them above the Bible itself? I already described yesterday how tied I can get to a tune, and sometimes I'm guilty of being so swept away by the music that I don't pay as much attention to the lyrics. And I wondered... would I have been as excited to do 31 Days of Bible Verses I Love?

So I put myself to the test. I went through my Bible and made a list of my favorite verses as if I were going to write another series. I ended up with 83 verses, although I had many, many more highlighted or underlined. And in going through these verses I started thinking of other Bible-themed series: 31 Days of Verses That Really Convict Me, 31 Days of Bible Stories I Love, 31 Days of Prayers in the Bible, and so on. Let me tell you, this was a fun and profitable exercise. I do cherish God's Word and I would have loved writing a series this month solely focused on the Bible.

Writing 31 Days of Hymns I Love has been wonderful in many ways and I'm so glad I took on this challenge, but I am doubtful I will take on a 31 Days challenge again next year. So I thought I'd go ahead and share my favorite verses with you -- 15 today, and 16 tomorrow. Now, to just figure out what those are -- after editing my list twice I'm still not down to 31 verses. ; )

I'd love for you to share your favorite verse in the comments!


My favorite verse is listed first, but the rest are just in the order they appear in the Bible. I've used the NIV version for this list.

  1. 1 Peter 1:3-4. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade -- kept in heaven for you...."
  2. Genesis 15:6. "Abraham believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness."
  3. Exodus 33:13 "If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you."
  4. Leviticus 19:2. "Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy." I'm going to cheat by combining this with Ephesians 1:4. "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight."
  5. Deuteronomy 10:21. "He is your praise, he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes."
  6. Deuteronomy 29:29. "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."
  7. 2 Samuel 24:24. "I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."
  8. 2 Chronicles 20:12. "O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."
  9. Psalm 4:8. "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."
  10. Psalm 40:3. "He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God."
  11. Psalm 138:3, 8. "When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted....The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever -- do not abandon the works of your hands."
  12. Proverbs 24:3. "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." 
  13. Isaiah 55:8-11. "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve for the purpose which I sent it."
  14. Isaiah 58:13-14. "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
  15. Ezekiel 11:19-20. "I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God."

To Be Continued

Wonderful Words of Life
Philip P. Bliss, 1874

Sing them over again to me,
Wonderful words of life;
Let me more of their beauty see,
Wonderful words of life.
Words of life and beauty,
Teach me faith and duty.

Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life.

Christ, the blessed One, gives to all,
Wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list to the loving call,
Wonderful words of life.
All so freely given, 
Wooing us to heaven.

Sweetly echo the gospel call, 
Wonderful words of life,
Offer pardon and peace to all,
Wonderful words of life.
Jesus, only Savior,
Sanctify forever.