Monday, August 28, 2017

Lost in Wonder


[Photo of a young woman sitting by the sea]

“One generation will commend your works
to another; they will tell of your mighty
acts. They will speak of the glorious
splendor of your majesty, and I will
meditate on your wonderful works.”
—Psalm 145:4-5

My old Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the word “wonder” as “ Rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience.”

Children seem to catch the wonder of a moment more quickly than adults, probably because, to a child, everything presents itself as something new. However, if we take the time, adults can experience wonder, too.

Charles Wesley, the author of more than 6,000 hymns, occasionally would “borrow” phrases from the hymns of others. One such phrase he used, originated from the hymn, When All Thy Mercies, O My God, written by Joseph Addison in 1712.1

In this hymn, Joseph Addison looked back over his life and surveyed the way God had cared and guided him from infancy, through youth, in hidden dangers, sickness, sorrows, and “every period of my life.” He stated that, as he considered all the times and ways of God’s good providence over him, he got lost in wonder, love and praise.

As for Charles Wesley, he used this phrase in his well-known hymn, Love Divine, All Loves Excelling in 1747.2 Wesley wrote this as a corporate prayer, asking God to work in His church to make us, His people, like Him in His love. He asks for Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God Himself to invade the hearts and minds of God’s people with His awesome character. We find the “borrowed” phrase at the very end of the hymn, where He concludes, Till we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love and praise.

Taken together we see that God fills our earthly life with the wonders of His grace. And yet, we look forward to even greater wonders when “in heaven we take our place.” What a wonderful meditation from two godly men of the 18th century.

Let me suggest you find the words to these two hymns, meditate on them, and use them as a means of worship and praise. Lose yourself in the wonder of our gracious and glorious God!


1 Addison, Joseph. When All Thy Mercies, O My God. Public Domain.
2 Wesley, Charles. Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. Public Domain.



Monday, August 21, 2017



[Photo of a renovated corridor]

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect
the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into
his likeness with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
—2 Corinthians 3:18

No one was surprised that my elementary school, the oldest in town, needed renovation. No other option existed. We had to go through this process over the course of a school year and two summers. What a mess this made of our schedules, our classrooms, our special events, and our programs.

One winter day before Christmas we even had to take the entire student population on a “field trip” visiting other buildings in town for special programs. The students came to school in the morning, were sent onto another bus with their classes for the “field trip,” and at the end of the day came back to school and got on their buses for home.

We tolerated a long year of sacrifices. But, once renovations were finally completed, the building became the boast of the town. We had new windows, new heating and air conditioning, a new roof, new carpeting, new counters, and even new furniture. The changes ensured more comfort, safety, and productivity. We had a like-new, attractive place to teach and learn. What a fun school year opening it was once the renovations were completed!

At some point in our lives, maybe the Lord wants to take us through a renovation process. Be prepared for a messy job. We’ll probably find things in closets that we had forgotten we had stored there, and see “dust” that embarrasses us. We may find that our lives gets disrupted and uncomfortable. No longer will He accept the old sins we’ve lived with for so long.

The Lord needs us for more productive and even more attractive work for His Kingdom. Maybe He wants new windows from which we can view the world more like He does. He wants to clean up our inner persons and rebuild us to serve His purposes in the world. Trust ourselves into the wise and loving hands of the Master Builder. He does everything well! New usefulness and new joy will result.

Listen to the words God gave Isaiah to tell the city of Jerusalem, when He was about to do a major renovation of their hearts and their culture. From Isaiah 54:11-12:

O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.

Oh what a beautiful prospect for a ruined and torn down city. A renovation project indeed! God always sees the renovation project to its glorious end. We can count on Him.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Adding Alleluias


[Photo of up-reached hands]

“Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.”
—Psalm 34:3

If I asked you what contribution Charles Wesley made to Christian history, most of you would know he wrote hundreds of our beloved hymns. If I asked you the same question about Martin Madan, you probably would have no idea. But, if I asked you to sing the words to Christ the Lord is Risen Today, written by Charles Wesley, you would add the words he didn’t put in himself. The Alleluias were added later by Martin Madan.

Martin Madan added Alleluias to other hymns of Charles Wesley’s, through whom he came to the saving knowledge of Christ. Yet, virtually unknown today, Madan influenced others for Christ, and even became a preacher of the Gospel. Still, his most remembered legacy comes in this simple addition to Wesley’s hymns.1

This made me wonder. Do we add Alleluias to other people’s praises? Do we enhance the praise and testimony of others? Do we, together with them, exalt God’s name, as the Scripture verse at the beginning of this blog post suggests?

Surely, when God’s people meet and exalt Him, He sends His Holy Spirit to enliven, empower, and encourage them. We read in Acts 2:1 that:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Three times in the first two chapters of this Book of Acts, in giving the story of the first Church, the author uses the word “together.”

At first, they met together for prayer. (Acts 1:14). In Acts 2:1, the Holy Spirit came to them when they met together. In Acts 2:44 and 46, we read how they met together, as God formed through them His early Church.

It’s apparent that God brings His power to bear on believers when together they meet and praise Him.

We may not all have a gift for writing hymns, or preaching, or praying aloud. But, we can all add “Alleluias.” The power of the combination of our praise exalts our God and brings others to the wonder of His presence with us.

Alleluia to His name!


1 Information for the opening of this blog post was gleaned from the following book: Brown, Robert K. and Mark R. Norton. The One Year Book of Hymns. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1995. pp. May 25, May 27, August 8.



Monday, August 7, 2017

Bowed Down and Lifted Up


[Photo of a vase full of drooping flowwers]

“But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me;
my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.”
—Psalm 3:3 KJV

I am amazed how quickly flowers start to droop. And, we know how unappealing and useless such a bouquet becomes. But, what a change in the structure of the flowers happens once we add fresh water to the vase!

Sometimes, we feel ourselves like a droopy flower, like a bowed attempt to look productive and useful on a banquet table. What makes us bow over like that and to keep our faces down? Sometimes we bow in shame over some past sinful practice. We hide our heads from God and those around us who know us well. We consider ourselves on the way to uselessness before Him.

Other times, our “bowing down” comes from some great sorrow, or from a long term trial. We feel like our heads bend with a heaviness we can’t get rid of, with a tiredness and joyless outlook on the future.

To us, the Psalmist David says in Psalm 145:14:

The Lord… lifts up all who are bowed down.

And again, in Psalm 146: 8, we read:

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.

I think God cares specifically and kindly for those in the condition of feeling bowed down. His written Word tells us in 1 Peter 5:5 that:

He gives grace to the humble.

And what do we do for our droopy flowers whose heads bow toward the floor? We run and pour some fresh water in the container. We feed them with that which they need the most.

We can hear Christ say, in John 4:13-14:

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become to him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

If we drink the water Christ welcomes us to drink, we can be assured that our heads will face the sun again and our shame will be washed away. God will lift us up, give us His grace to stand. And, He will do this, not only for us, but also for all those who will catch the sweet scent of the Living Christ in our raised and shining faces.