Archive for August, 2013

Learning to trust God: Five songs of trust

August 27, 2013

Isaiah-26-Verse-3post

The Verse of the Day for August 27, 2014 is the same as the Verse of the Day a year ago, and I am re-posting last year’s blog entry which I have also modified:

As is my custom on occasion, I will begin my day as I meditate on the Verse of the Day when I open Biblegate.com on my laptop. The verse for today is taken from Isaiah 26:3:

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

I especially appreciate how the verse is rendered in the Amplified Bible:

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

E.W. Bullinger points out that the figure of speech “epizeuxis” is used in Isaiah 26:3.  The phrase “perfect peace” indicates this figure of repetition where the word for peace is repeated in the Hebrew text, literally “peace, peace.” God provides a “double dose of peace” to those who trust in Him.

The verse from Isaiah caused me to recognize that I must put my trust in God and His Word alone. I am continuing to learn where to place my trust.  Psalm 118:8-9, which some believe to be located in the center of the Bible, express this truth:

It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. (Amplified Bible)

In thinking about trust, I developed an acrostic that expresses the essence of what it means to trust or to have trust. As I turn from my former position of totally depending upon myself and others and learn to put my trust  in God, I proclaim that I will maintain

a most “Triumphant attitude”

with     “Rugged determination”

and      “Unswerving commitment,”

even    “Strengthened believing”

plus     “Tremendous confidence.”

“I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus”

The Verse of the Day also brought to mind five songs related to “trusting God.” The first one is “I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,” a hymn that I was introduced to a week or so before my wife Brenda and I were married forty-one years ago. As we were driving toward our first ministry assignment, the lyrics rang in my head.

I recognize and declare the truth of these lyrics that continue to remind me that: “I Am Trusting Thee Lord Jesus”:

I am trusting Thee, Lord, Jesus,
Trusting only Thee;
Trusting Thee for full salvation,
Great and free.

I am trusting Thee for pardon;
At Thy feet I bow;
For Thy grace and tender mercy,
Trusting now.

I am trusting Thee for cleansing
In the crimson flood;
Trusting Thee to make me holy
By Thy blood.

I am trusting Thee to guide me;
Thou alone shalt lead;
Every day and hour supplying
All my need.

I am trusting Thee for power,
Thine can never fail;
Words which Thou Thyself shalt give me
Must prevail.

I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus;
Never let me fall;
I am trusting Thee forever,
And for all.

Here is a rendering of the song by Hope, recorded live at Faith Church.

“I Trust You”

The second song is a contemporary gospel song that has come to mean a great deal to me: “I Trust You” by James Fortune and Fiya.

“Trusting Jesus”

Recently I discovered another 19th Century hymn “Trusting Jesus” with the memorable line “Trusting Jesus, that is all.” Here is video of this a capella hymn rendered as sacred harp singing or shape note singing recorded at Mount Pisgah in Stroud, AL, May 24, 2008. Harp singing or shape note singing dates back to the colonial period and continues to enjoy popularity in the rural South and elsewhere.

Edgar P. Stites wrote the lyrics, and Ira D. Sankey provided the music:

  1. Simply trusting every day,
    Trusting through a stormy way;
    Even when my faith is small,
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.
    • Refrain:
      Trusting as the moments fly,
      Trusting as the days go by;
      Trusting Him whate’er befall,
      Trusting Jesus, that is all.
  1. Brightly doth His Spirit shine
    Into this poor heart of mine;
    While He leads I cannot fall;
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.
  1. Singing if my way is clear,
    Praying if the path be drear;
    If in danger for Him call;
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.
  1. Trusting Him while life shall last,
    Trusting Him till earth be past;
    Till within the jasper wall,
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.

“Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”

One of the most popular hymns of all times relates to trust: “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” This recording features the contemporary music group “Casting Crowns”:

“I Will Trust in You”

The final song of trust is written and performed by Gary Oliver: “I will trust in you.” In actuality the lyrics also refer to Isaiah 26:4 rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

These five songs of trust reinforce the message of Isaiah 26:3 which promises that God will keep us in a state of perfect peace, as we stay our minds on Him, proving that we trust Him.

In the midst of trying times: Finding comfort

August 23, 2013

Psalm 94-18-19This passage from Psalm 94 is the inspiration for a previous blog entry containing these same verses and which is modified and re-posted here:

Psalm_94-19

The Verse of the Day for August 23, 2014 is taken from Psalm 94:18-19, rendered here in the Amplified Bible:

18 When I said, My foot is slipping, Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, held me up.

19 In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!

Verse 19 is the inspiration for this scripture memory song:

In the Multitude of My Thoughts

In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

You soothe my mind and strengthen the depths of my heart and soul.

I delight myself in the abundance of Your peace.

You are my God. I know You love me.

You are my God. You’ve set me free.

You are my God. You will never leave me.

You are my God. I long to be all you’ve called me to be.

In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

Your comforts delight my soul.

Your comforts delight my soul.

The times in which we live seem to be especially challenging, as the pressures of life abound in the midst of what the Bible speaks of as “perilous times” or times that are difficult to deal with. The lyrics to “This Too Shall Pass” express what seems to be transpiring in our lives every day:

In the middle of the turbulence surrounding us,

These trying times are so hard to endure

In the middle of what seems to be your darkest hour

Hold fast your heart and be assured

From time to time, we may lose focus and become anxious regarding our circumstances that ever seem to fluctuate. During times of uncertainty when our feet seem to slip and we are about to lose our grip, we can turn our thoughts toward the promises of God, assured that just as He has been with us through the stormy trials of the past, so He will be with us now. Along with the Psalmist, we take comfort in this knowledge which delights our soul.

Listen to a reading of Psalm 94 in its entirety while the screen focuses on Psalm 94:18-19

In reading the passage from Psalm 94, I also recall lyrics to another original song:

I Will Deliver You

I will deliver you from the snare of the fowler.

As a bird escapes from the cage, so I will release you from captivity.

I will lift you up, out of the hand of your fiercest enemy.

I will draw you to myself and hide you under the safety of my wing.

I will deliver you from the raging deep waters.

The sea shall not overwhelm you, but I will bring you through the storms in peace.

I will lift you up, and bear you up on the wings of an eagle.

I will provide for you and hide you in my secret dwelling place.

These lyrics bring to mind a song of great comfort and assurance: “My Deliverer” by Chris Tomlin:

A word for the day: “I shall not be moved”

August 20, 2013

Psalm_16-8

The Verse of the Day for August 20 is taken from Psalm 16:8 in the King James Version:

I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Immediately the First Psalm came to mind, the first passage of scripture I ever committed to memory. More than 60 years ago, back in the day, in what we called “junior high school,” I remember that Mrs. Little, the local undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood and told us to memorize Psalm 1, which I did and still recall by heart to this day. Psalm 16:8 brought to mind Psalm 1:3:

 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psalm 16:8 and Psalm 1:3 merge in the familiar gospel song “I shall not be moved” that is sung by children on this video.

Another version of the song is rendered by the Gaithers at one of their Homecoming celebrations, featuring the lyrics to the song along with other scriptures on this video:

1_Corinthians_15-58

There is a similar exhortation to remain “steadfast and unmovable” found in I Corinthians 15:58 whose message is augmented in the Amplified Bible:

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose].

That verse was the inspiration for one of the first scripture memory songs that I ever composed:

Be Steadfast, Unmovable

(I Corinthians 15:58)

Chorus:

Be steadfast, unmovable,

Always abounding in the work of the Lord.

For as much as you that

Your labor’s not in vain in the Lord.

(Repeat)

Don’t be discouraged

When mountains block your way.

In times of doubt

He’ll bring you out.

Stand fast, watch and pray.

Repeat Chorus:

When problems press you,

Your back’s against the wall,

Cast fear aside.

God’s on your side.

Keep on standing tall.

Repeat Chorus:

In the darkest night

God will give you a song.

Never give up.

He’ll fill your cup.

Trust God and be strong.

Repeat Chorus:

In the midst of the turbulent times that surround us and seek to overwhelm us, God encourages us to remain steadfast and unmovable.

Another reminder: To live is Christ

August 18, 2013

Philippians_1-21

The Verse of the Day for August 18, 2013 is taken from Philippians 1:21 in the King James Version, but I prefer reading the verse in the Amplified Bible:

For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity].

As I read the verse, I also acknowledge that “. . . in him we live, and move, and have our being.” I am further reminded that of the truth revealed in Galatians 2:20:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

This message is powerfully reinforced in this stirring rendition of the song based on this verse by Phillips, Craig and Dean, “I am Crucified with Christ”:

Sometimes it is difficult to grasp fully the reality that God in Christ lives in me, as is so magnificently expressed in Colossians 1:27 where the essence of the revelation of the mystery of the “One Body of Christ” is made known to the Paul:

 To whom God was pleased to make known how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ within and among you, the Hope of [realizing the] glory.

That verse was, in part, the inspiration for the song: “Christ in You, Christ in Me” that was also included in an earlier blog entry this year:

Christ in You, Christ in Me

   Colossians 1:27

Even before the world began,

God put together His master plan,

Calling Jews and Gentiles into one body,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

Enlighten my eyes, help me to see

All that you have called me to be.

Share with me the secrets that you have for me,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory.

 

Put on God’s Word, renew your mind.

Seek Him with your whole heart, and you will find

He’ll open your eyes; He’ll let you see

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

I’m no longer bound; I’ve been set free.

I once was so blind, but now I see.

I’m walking into my destiny:

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me the hope of glory.

 

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory.

CampaignKerusso offers another musical composition based on the same scripture from Colossians 1:27:

The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead resides in every born-again believer. We have the privilege of demonstrating that power, as we apply the principles of the Word of God whereby we manifest all that God desires for us:

 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, (Ephesians 3:17-20).

May the Verse of the Day establish a solid foundation upon which to build each day, as the week unfolds before us.

In life and death: The love of God prevails

August 15, 2013
This verse reminds us of who we are and whose we are.

This verse reminds us of who we are and whose we are.

The Verse of Day for August 15, 2013 is taken from Romans 14:8:

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

As I thought about this verse from Romans chapter 14, another chapter in the same book also came to mind. If I were forced to choose one chapter of the Bible that has meant the most to me over the years, I would select Romans 8 which relates the constancy of the love of God which never fails. No matter the circumstances of our lives, whether on the pinnacles of success and dreams come true or in the pits of disappointment and failure, we are assured that God loves us. I recall a statement from the late Dr. Adrian Rodgers, “God cannot love us any more than He does, and He will not love us any less.” The chapter concludes with this assuring reminder expressed in the Amplified Bible:

Romans 8:37-39:

Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.

For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,

Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The vastness of God’s love is revealed in the song “The Love of God,” rendered so powerfully, yet poignantly, by “Mercy Me,” an appropriate way to conclude this blog entry.

Romans-8-38-39

 

Revelation 3:20: Anticipating the ultimate dining experience

August 14, 2013

Revelation 3_20

I begin the day reading and reflecting upon the Verse of the Day.  Today on August 14, 2014, I find two verses: Revelation 3:14, 20, but as I focus on verse 20, my mind is flooded with warm memories of past experiences related to dining.

Revelation 3:20 (Amplified Bible)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.

Eleven years ago I was one of the coordinators of a summer educational program, and I composed a number of scripture memory songs to help students learn the Word of God by heart. One of the songs that we sang before serving the noon meal was based on Revelation 3:20:

Come and Dine with Me

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“I have prepared the table to set before you.

Won’t you come and dine with me?”

 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

If any man hear my voice and open the door,

I will come unto him and will sup with him and he with me.

To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me on my throne,

Even as I also overcame and am sat down with my father in His throne.

 

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“I have prepared the table to set before you.

Won’t you come and dine with me?”

A visit to the Hyde Park Vanderbilt Mansion brought to mind a scripture that related to a forthcoming heavenly dining experience.

A visit to the Hyde Park Vanderbilt Mansion brought to mind a scripture that related to a forthcoming, heavenly dining experience.

A few years prior to that occurrence, I recall another delightful experience related to dining when I visited to the Vanderbilt mansion in Hyde Park, NY. Here is an excerpt from a journal entry made at the end of a writing workshop that I attended at Bard College in 1999.

Once more I gained great spiritual insight from observing a physical place which provided another glimpse of the grandeur of God. Upon entering the palatial estate of Cornelius Vanderbilt, a man of enormous wealth–though modest in comparison to some of his brothers–I immediately thought of the verses in John 14: “Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my father’s house are many mansions.  If it were not so, I would have told.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go, I shall come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.

The magnificent estate of fifty-four rooms with fourteen bathrooms on a mere 600+ acres is indeed modest in comparison with the Biltmore Estate built by another more extravagant brother whose mansion of 220+ rooms has as many bathrooms as the Hyde Park mansion has rooms (54) situated on originally 2000 acres.  The opulence of the rooms overwhelms me, with each individual room decorated to reflect a splendor and uniqueness.  The bedrooms, especially, but the entire house seems to have been designed with royalty in mind.  As I stand awe and walk, observing the rooms on the two levels, I sense the reality that the splendor awaiting us in God’s magnificent “buildings not made by hands,” reserved for us in the heavenlies far surpasses what I am observing in a temporal context.

The last rooms we observe before exiting the building are the servants’ quarters in the lower level of the building.  I was especially moved when I saw the servants’ dining room where we were informed that the servants of the household were served by other servants.  Mr. Vanderbilt paid his servants quite well and provided his personal physician in cases of illness, both for the servants and their children, for whom Mr. Vanderbilt provided an education from grade school through college if they so chose.

As I stood observing the servants’ dining room, I thought of Luke 12:37 in the Amplified Bible:

Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are those servants whom the master finds awake and alert and watching when he comes. Truly I say to you, he will gird himself and have them recline at table and will come and serve them!

That particular verse I make reference to in another musical composition:

The Servant’s Song: My Eyes Are Only on You

My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

As the eyes of a servant look to the hands of His Lord.

As the ears of a servant know so well his master’s voice,

So my mind stays focused to watch and learn how you move.

Create in me a servant’s heart; teach me to serve in love.

My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

As I continue to wait upon my Master and Lord,

I will quickly obey and gladly submit to His will.

I fulfill my calling as I watch and wait to see

When He bids me to the wedding feast, and He will wait on me.

My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

As one who enjoys preparing and serving meals, I also appreciate dining at fine restaurants. In many instances, one must make reservations ahead of time to be assured that your party and you will be able to eat at the time that you would like. The idea of making reservations or having a place “reserved” for you, brought to mind this poem:

Reserved_Sign

Reserved

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again

to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away,

 reserved in heaven for you,

 1 Peter 1:3-4

 

To know intimately the fullness of your grace,

To grasp the truest meaning of being “reserved”

For your glory: for your purpose I am preserved

To someday stand in your presence, face to face

With the Lord in the jeweled splendor of that place

Where those of every kindred, tribe and tongue shall hear

The voice sounding as though many waters are near;

To stand on the bema at the end of the race,

To apprehend living in the eternal now

When all the praises of the ages shall resound:

Every tongue shall confess and every knee shall bow.

Where sin once reigned, grace does now even more abound.

“I ‘reserved’ you, set you apart, for you are mine.

Beloved, this is ‘reserved’ for you—come and dine.”

 

Revelation 3:20 and other related verses build our anticipation for the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” which will be like no other dining experience known to humanity. Gary Chapman expresses the essence of this powerful message in the song “Come and Dine”:

The Church: Exquisite Exhibit

August 13, 2013

 

The Verse of the Day for August 13, 2014 is taken from Ephesians 2:10, the identical verse quoted a year ago when I posted the following blog entry, which I am re-posting with the addition of one of the most beloved hymns of the Christian Church “The Church’s One Foundation”:

Ephesians-2-10 NLT

Ephesians 2:10, the Verse of the Day for August 13, 2013,  brought to mind to an experience that occurred five years ago when my wife and I visited family and friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles. During our stay in the City by the Bay, we enjoyed a most enlightening experience at the Asian Museum where we saw a special exhibit from the Ming Dynasty. One of the pieces on display was a stationery box which is similar to the one shown below. Although the final product reveals what the designer had in mind, we do not see how the object looked at the various stages of development. So it is with the Church, the Body of Christ, which is made reference to in the Book of Ephesians, especially in Chapters 2 and 3. The Church, as such, is still a work in progress, but I believe that God is putting “the finishing touches on His crowning achievement.”  The poem “Exquisite Exhibit” conveys in part my thoughts regarding the Church and my role in this amazing masterpiece of God’s creation.

Exquisite Exhibit

Viewing a Ryoshi-bako (stationery box)

Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty

Asian Museum–San Francisco, California

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew

in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things

 he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

 

God’s purpose was to show his wisdom in all its rich variety

to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

They will see this when Jews and Gentiles

are joined together in his church.  

Ephesians 3:10

Sublime thoughts never diminish, only increase,

As I marvel at this ancient masterpiece.

The designer sees the end long before he starts

And envisions intricate details of the parts

And fashions a wood box inlaid with jade and gold,

Lacquered vessel for deepest thoughts the mind can hold.

Beyond all that I see, God formed and fashioned me

With precise measure of each scroll and filigree.

Displayed by the skillful hands of the Master craftsman,

Beyond the finest design of any artisan,

The Church, exquisite exhibit now on display,

Treasures from the hand of God take one’s breath away.

With the eyes of our heart now opened, we find

We are the masterpiece Jehovah had in mind.

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God's masterpiece, the Church.

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God’s masterpiece, the Church.

A number of years ago I hosted a radio show “Poetry and Praise,” and I would close each show with this reference to Ephesians 2:10

Everyday of our lives we recognize and celebrate the truth that as born-again believers we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, ‘. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.’ The word ‘workmanship’ is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, certainly present company included, is always a ‘masterpiece’ or glorious creation. So that the people of God represent the real poetry of life, for which we praise God. Yes, each of us is a poem, or God’s handiwork or workmanship, a special work created by God that we should be to the praise of His glory….

The accompanying video performed by Jonathan Stockstill, “Let the Church Rise,” displays a specific instance where the Church rose to the occasion and made a significant difference in a disastrous situation. The world continues to be engulfed with endless challenges that at times can be overwhelming. During such times, “Let the Church Rise.”

Another musical selection also comes to mind when thinking about the Church Universal, as the Body of Christ, the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation,” a fitting reminder of God’s intent:

Righteousness and Judgment: The Righteous Judge

August 6, 2013

psalm_119-160

My morning meditation focuses once more on the Verse of the Day for August 6, 2013:

Psalm 119:160

Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. (KJV)

The phrase “righteous judgments” brought to mind one of my favorite passages from Psalm 19 which uses various expressions of the Word of God, such as the law of the Lord, statues, and commandments. I especially recall verse 9:

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

This passage from Psalm 19:7-11 is offered as part of Christian Praise Worship with Lyrics in this video:

These verses also remind us of the truth expressed in Psalm 103:6:

The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

As believers we, of course, recognize that, indeed, God is the “righteous judge” spoken of in 2 Timothy 4:7-9:

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (KJV)

2 Timothy 4--7-8

Psalm 119: 160 and related verses from the Old and New Testaments remind us that God is righteous and executes righteousness in all His judgments.

August: “What will be your legacy month?”

August 3, 2013
 The Torchbearers by Charles Umlauf depicts the teacher passing the torch of knowledge to the student.


The Torchbearers by Charles Umlauf depicts the teacher passing the torch of knowledge to the student.

August is “What will be your legacy?” month. Gone-ta-pott.com, holiday website, offers this definition and elaborates upon the month-long celebration with this comment:

“A legacy is what someone or something is remembered for or what they have left behind that is remembered, revered or has influenced current events and the present day. . . What Will Your Legacy Be Month is a month for people to reflect on their past and present actions and vow to make positive changes that will affect generations. We have to remember the seeds, whether positive or negative, that we plant in our children’s lives. This observance is about making the right choices so our children and their children will make the right choices. Everything we do will grow and reflect our teachings. So teach your children well.”

This holiday website offers tips on how to create a legacy as well as information on how to celebrate the holiday, along with other valuable material. ”

Victoria Lynn Dunn, Director, Leadership Initiatives for Women of Color at The Ohio State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion, provides another perspective and describes in poetry:

The Life That Becomes a Legacy

The life that becomes a legacy

is never merely measured in days

never simply seen through the haze of unmet expectations

and dreams deferred.

 

The life that becomes a legacy

is never merely one that teaches

but is one that reaches toward the mark

pressing whether or not it makes it—today.

 

The life that becomes a legacy

keeps kindly in view tomorrow

and mediates its sorrows

with joys unspeakable

and sometimes spoken.

 

The life that becomes a legacy

becomes that legacy

despite a history of many things

shattered

broken.

 

But never destroyed

for even broken things and broken wings can fly

Contrary to the black bard Dunbar,

for there Is one far greater than he

and HE wrote your story before ever any bird was caged

HE set the stage of the play that would become the great drama of life.

 

And HE never sees anything too broken not to care

too broken for repair and, in fact, delights in repairing broken things

broken dreams

and making them new.

Benjamin Disraeli made the statement, “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” We are perhaps familiar with the statement, “The greatest gift you can give someone is a good example.” Similar sentiments are also expressed in Proverbs 22:1:

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Paul exhorts Timothy, as a father to his son, to be an example of the believers in what Timothy says, in what he does, in the way he lives, in faith and purity.

The example that we leave for others to follow is part of our legacy, which should be of concern to everyone, not just during August but every day of our lives. The video below is a reminder to Christian believers of the importance of the legacies that they leave: “Find Us Faithful.”

Hearing vs. listening: The art of listening

August 2, 2013

The Verse of the Day for August 2, 2014 is found in James 1:22. The same verse was the basis for a previous blog entry which I have re-posted below with the addition of a contemporary Bible Memory Song from JumpStart3 based on that verse.

James 1 22

The Verse for the Day from James 1:22 brought to mind a number of thoughts regarding the distinction between hearing and listening, as I thought of a discussion on “listening” in the public speaking class that I am currently teaching.

In discussing the communication process, we noted the difference between “hearing” and “listening.” Hearing and listening are not synonymous. Hearing is “the process by which sound waves are received on the ear; it is the sense by which sound is perceived.” We hear the ambient sounds that surround us without really paying any attention to the fan on the computer or the air conditioning or the ticking of the clock. On the other hand, listening is the act of interpreting and evaluating what is being said; it is an active activity that involves receiving, deciphering, and perceiving a message with intent to respond.  Hearing is passive, whereas listening should be active. Keith Davis comments, “Hearing is with the ears; listening is with the mind.”

In Chinese calligraphy, the character for “listen” consists of pictures of the ear, the eye, and the heart, illustrated in this way:

listen

The discussion regarding hearing and listening also brought to mind that listening is an art that is perfected over time by conscious, consistent effort to improve. This is especially true in a spiritual context whereby believers must learn to listen to God. We find that God is always speaking; indeed, God is never not speaking. As we continually place our ears near to the lips of God, we develop our proficiency in listening to hear the Master’s voice, as we practice in order to perfect this art:

The Art of Listening         

God has something to say to you,

 God has something to say.

 Listen, Listen, Pay close attention.                                                                                                

 God has something to say.

 Children’s Song

 

The Lord GOD has given Me

 The tongue of the learned,

 That I should know how to speak

A word in season to him who is weary. 

He awakens Me morning by morning,

He awakens My ear

To hear as the learned.

 

The Lord GOD has opened My ear;

And I was not rebellious,

Nor did I turn away.

Isaiah 50:4-5

 

Listen, listen, my son: hear with the inner ear.

Tune your ears to hear in the center of your heart.

I will whisper cherished secrets as you come near.

To listen intently and obey is an art,

Practiced and perfected day by day.

As you hide my Word in the center of your heart,

I perform and bring to pass each word that I say.

In my unfolding Kingdom, you too have a part,

For to walk in love is the more excellent way.

Partake of my promises and consume my Word.

As precious as life-giving water, hold it dear

And do my will, proving all things that you have heard.

Listen intently and obey: Perfect this art.

Listen, listen, my son: hear with the inner ear.

Although I use this poem when I teach the section on listening in the oral communication classes that I teach, quite providentially,  I wrote the poem years before I started teaching these classes. When I first read the poem at a Bible study, someone pointed out that at the center of the piece is the word “heart” which encompasses hear, ear, and art, all of which reinforce the message, as illustrated in this way:

Hear with the heart

Without a doubt we must strive each day to become more proficient at developing the “art of listening.”

Listen to a contemporary Scripture Memory Song of James 1:22 offered by JumpStart3: