Friday, March 14, 2014
His hunger for knowledge consumed him. Day and night he studied Scripture, history, and literature. But he paid a heavy price to quench this hunger. While still a young man, he lost his eyesight forever. He could have felt betrayed. Instead, he bowed to God and cried out: Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.”
Thus Irish folk legend gives us the origin of the great hymn Be Thou My Vision, ascribing the words to the 6th century monk and poet known as, Saint Dallán Forgaill, whose name meant “the blind man of eloquence.” The words of this magnificent hymn resounded in Irish churches for centuries, first as part of monastic liturgy, and then sung to an Irish folk tune called “Slane.” Although the composer remains unknown, the music originated around the 8th century. The title suggests it commemorates a famous confrontation between Saint Patrick and the High King Logaire of Tara at Slane Hill in 433. Irish linguist Mary Elizabeth Byrne translated the lyrics into the English in 1905 for the rendition we know today.
Despite his disability, Saint Dallán held a position of great power and influence as Chief Ollam (Bard) of Ireland and a church scholar. The Bardic tradition goes back to the pre-Christian days when Druid poets kept the history and genealogy of the particular king or chieftain they served. When Saint Patrick converted the nation to Christianity, he incorporated poetic forms into his own writings and encouraged its use to spread the gospel. (See my blog on Saint Patrick http://dedicatedwriter.blogspot.com/search/label/St.%20Patrick) From time to time, both before and after the nation’s conversion, disreputable bards and their followers took advantage of their positions, causing unrest among the people. This happened during Saint Dallán’s time. He worked successfully to reform the Order of Bards, which kept the king from expelling them from the country. Tradition says that Saint Dallán died during a pirate raid while visiting the Monastery of Inneskeel at Donegal.
Of course, we do not know at what point in his life Saint Dallán wrote the words to Be Thou My Vision, if he is indeed the author. But keeping his story in mind, listen to the video below. He offers every thought and emotion to the Lord—his discouragement in his blindness; his thirst for knowledge; his fears in life’s battles; and his pride at earthly accomplishments. In the end he joyously receives the victory, no longer blind, but rejoicing in the light of heaven.
Blog Copyright by Tammy L. Hensel, 2014, All Rights Reserved.
Macmanus, Seumas, The Story of the Irish Race, Old Saybroook, CT: Konecky & Konecky, 1921)
Monday, December 23, 2013
“You know I can’t walk the stores anymore, so will you pick out a present for me to give Danny?
I counted the money my grandmother handed me and smiled in appreciation.
“Oh, thank you. This is the exact price of the shoes we looked at in the mall.”
”Shoes? That's boring. I want to give him a toy he will be excited to open Christmas morning."
"But, he really needs shoes and we can't afford them."
I understood my grandmother’s desire to give her first great-grandchild something special. She anticipated that at 18 months old, he would truly experience the magic of the day for the first time. She wanted to have a part in creating that excitement with a marvelous toy. Yet, she also related to our practical need, having raised my mother during the Great Depression. So she agreed to give the shoes.
As Christians, God calls us to put aside our own desires to meet the needs of others. “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:4-7).”
My grandmother did that, not expecting any special recognition for her gift from Danny, although she knew my gratitude. But God gave her a surprise on that Christmas morning almost thirty years ago.
Our son sat in the middle of my grandmother’s living room surrounded by brightly colored packages. We showed him how to tear the paper and soon he busily ripped into one and then another. He showed more interest in the wrappings and boxes, than he did the gifts themselves, barely playing with one toy before moving on to the next.
Then he came to the present from my grandmother. "Shooooes," he exclaimed as he held them up, pleasure radiating from his face.No other gift evoked such an animated response. Not only did he know how to say the word, he knew what to do with them. Immediately he pulled off his old shoes and stuck his toes in the new ones.
As I tied the laces, I glanced over at my grandmother’s face. It shone with unexpected joy.
copyright Tammy L. Hensel 2013 All Rights Reserved
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I haven’t posted a blog in a while because I’m snowed under with projects. Between editing for others, I’m working on revising some of my blogs and devotions to make into a book. I hope to self-publish it either this year or next year. In the mean time, I hope you’ll look through my earlier posts for blogs you haven’t read. I’ll try to keep you updated on my progress.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
By Tammy Hensel
Surprised by the sudden darkness, I stood motionless in the hotel indoor swimming pool. Taking a deep breath, I squelched the urge to panic.
"Hey, that's not funny! Turn those lights back on," someone yelled. A voice from the hallway answered, "It's a power outage. The whole hotel is dark."
The emergency back-up lights had failed, leaving us stranded in complete darkness. Fortunately, I stood close to the side of the pool. I reached for the edge and slowly inched my way in the direction of the steps.
"I have a light on my cell phone if I can find it," a young man said.
A few seconds later his small light shone into the darkness. Then another man came into the room with a flashlight. Using his added light, everyone exited the pool safely. We made our way to the lobby, where a several other people shared flashlights as the hotel night clerk lit some small emergency candles.
As I reflect on the scene, it reminds me of the verbal image Jesus painted in the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)
Deep in the heart of the every person dedicated to Christ burns a light fueled by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Under His guidance we shine that light of God's glory by serving those around us. We do not perform "good deeds" for earthly recognition or to earn our way to heaven. Rather, we do them in loving obedience to our Savior who gave His life for ours.
The first little cell phone flashlight gave off enough illumination for me to move a few feet. The second light helped me to see enough to get out of the pool and walk through the hallway. But, when I reached the lobby with several little lights shining together, I could see a whole room!
Jesus calls us a "city on a hill." We picture windows brightly lit to welcome weary travelers. The more we work together as believers, the more we illuminate Christ for the world to see. Satan strives to divert or bury our lights. He wants us to hide them under the coverings of busyness, inadequacies, or organizational differences. We become susceptible when we don't follow the Holy Spirit's guidance day-by-day. Trials, distractions, and, especially unconfessed sin can cause a temporary "power outage" or interruption in our communion with the Spirit.
Daily prayers of confession and thanksgiving help strengthen or restore our connection to the Spirit. Then, in His power, we do good works that draw lost souls to the light of God's love.
copyright Tammy L. Hensel 2012 All Rights Reserved
Video: Go Light Your World by Kathy Troccoli
Monday, April 2, 2012
Note: Today is the 40th anniversary of my public confession of faith and baptism, which occurred on Easter Sunday April 2, 1972. What a tremendous walk with the Lord I've had! In honor of that I'm re-posting something that is very special to me.
In the late 1980s I wrote and performed a dramatic monologue for our church Easter service entitled "Mary Magdalene's Testimony." This photo is from that first performance. I've continued to share it at various churches throughout the years. In 2007 my son uploaded a video of one of my performances onto YouTube and I posted it on my Myspace blog. It just so happened that the movie The Da Vinci Code had been recently released and was still in the mind of the public. Also a T.V. documentary that claimed to have discovered the tomb of Christ aired the week before I posted my video. I did not watch the program and don't recall the title, but the buzz from it created interest in Mary Magdalene. Apparently my unplanned timing for posting my video couldn't have been better. Many people wrote to me asking questions about Mary. To answer them I put together a little summary based on my research and posted it on my Myspace blog as a companion to my video. When I began writing this blog in January 2008, it was one of my first few posts, now buried in my archives. So I deleted that post to re-post it again today, after a little editing and revising.
Mary Magdalene's Testimony
By Tammy L. Hensel
My dramatic monologue "Mary Magdalene's Testimony" focuses primarily on her witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Before writing it in the late 1980s, I spent several weeks researching Mary. To my surprise, I found her to be a controversial figure in church history and denominational debates. I thoroughly studied every word surrounding her in the Bible in several versions. I did not have the Internet then, but did utilize my church and public libraries, Bible commentaries, etc. in my research. I also discussed some of the discrepancies in the Biblical accounts with my pastor.
Finally, with all the research spinning around in my head, I asked the Lord to help me write something glorifying to Him and as true as possible to the Biblical account. I experienced the joy of His Presence as I wrote in a remarkable way that blessed me tremendously. It is my continuing prayer that those with whom I share it will receive that blessing too.
The video below is my presentation at Fellowship of Huntsville Church, Huntsville, TX on Easter 2006. It's not my best performance, but the only one I have on video. Please overlook my bouts of overacting, and focus on the message. Over the years, I've received several requests from people wishing to use the monologue in their own church drama ministry. Feel free to write me for a free copy.
Questions About Mary
Who was she?
* A native of the town of Magdala, a town in Galilee, and a woman out of whom Jesus cast seven demons (Luke 8:1-2)
* One of several women who donated both time and money to help support Jesus' earthly ministry and she was a devoted disciple of His teachings (Luke 8:3).
* An eyewitness to the crucifixion, burial and the resurrection of Christ (Matt. 27:55, Matt 28:1, Mark 15:40, John 20:1-13, Acts 1:14)
Mary was not:
* The woman Jesus saved from being stoned for adultery in John 8:3-11. This woman is unnamed but since this happened in the Mount of Olives region she was most likely a woman local to that region.
* The woman who anointed Jesus' feet with perfume and kissed his feet.
There were actually two separate occurrences of this. In one the woman is identified as Mary of Bethany the sister of Martha and Lazarus. It happened in Bethany at their home (John 12:1-4) Although some tradition would combine the two Marys as one, it is very unlikely given the separate Biblical accounts of these two women.
The other occurred at the home of Simon the Pharisee. (Luke 7:33) The woman is identified merely as a "sinner" and her name is not given. There is no Biblical evidence to connect her with Mary Magdalene or any of the other women who are mentioned by name as being followers of Jesus. It is purely supposition that has done so.
Was Mary a prostitute before becoming a follower of Jesus?
The teaching that Mary was a prostitute came from oral tradition. All we know from the Bible about her past is that she was possessed by seven demons. However, it does not take much imagination to believe that anyone possessed by demons led an unholy life. One cannot deny the possibility that this oral tradition did have some basis in fact, but it cannot be proven through the Biblical record.
Was Mary more intimate with Jesus than any other woman mentioned in connection with Him?
In fact, the women mentioned in the Bible as most intimate terms with Him are his mother, of course, and Mary and Martha of Bethany. It is clear that Jesus was close with that family. Perhaps it is the fact that Mary Magdalene was one of the first people to whom He appeared after the Resurrection that has raised so much speculation about a romantic relationship between them.
I submit, however, that He appeared to Mary first because she was seeking Him! Mary's grief spurred her to seek the truth about what happened to Jesus, regardless of her own safety. When she did find Him and realized He was alive, she did not rush into arms as a lover would have, but fell to the ground and worshiped Him as her Lord God.
The resurrected Christ still makes Himself known to those who seek Him today.
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him and he with Me." Revelations 3:20
Copyright April 17, 2007. Revised April 2, 2012 Tammy L. Hensel All Rights Reserved
Sunday, December 4, 2011
By Tammy Hensel
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”—Ephesians 2:8 (NASB)
It looked so lonely sitting there under the tree—unopened, unwanted. My twelve-year old mind just couldn’t understand it. How could anyone not want a Christmas gift?
A few hours earlier the room teemed with much anticipated activity. Almost every Christmas Eve during my childhood my family gathered at the home of one of my grandmother’s ten siblings. We kids played “Santa’s helpers,” as we read the nametags and distributed the gifts.
“Here, Grandmother, another one for you. It’s so pretty.” I admired the beautifully wrapped package as I offered it to her. To my surprise, she refused to take it.
“Who’s it from? I already have my name gift.” She checked the tag. “Edna, you aren’t supposed to give me anything this year.” Many years before, my grandmother’s family agreed to draw names for giving among the eleven siblings. However, once in a while, not everyone obeyed the rules. Edna told her the gift was for her, but my grandmother was adamant.
“Put it back under the tree.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Sadly, I obeyed. Once in a while, someone who hadn’t heard the exchange picked up the gift and again tried to give it to Grandmother. Each time she refused and ordered it back under the tree. When the party ended and we walked out the door, I turned back to look once more at the unopened gift, sitting so beautifully under the Christmas tree.
Think of the above story as a parable. God offers a beautiful gift to all mankind—eternal life with Him. Have you opened it? Or is it still sitting under your Christmas tree?
Friday, September 30, 2011
(This is a tribute to both my grandmother and one of our shared favorite authors, Grace Livingston Hill.)
Bittersweet memories fill my mind today. The sort of memories you have when you realize it's the birthday of a loved one who is no longer on earth to celebrate. The person filling my mind today is my maternal grandmother.
Among other things, my grandmother and I shared a passion for reading. (I was also her cooking and gardening buddy.) She introduced me to many authors without even realizing it as I browsed her overflowing book shelves.I first read Shakespeare from a volume I found there when I was still in grade school.
I remember vividly the day she purposely introduced to an author I enjoyed much more. When I was about 14 years old, she handed me a well-worn paperback—Rose Galbraith by Grace Livingston Hill. It was the perfect book for a young teenage girl. I will always be grateful to my grandmother for giving that book to me as an alternative to the more worldly paperback romances directed at young teens.
Grace Livingston Hill (1865–1947) wrote more than 100 books, mostly contemporary Christian novels. She developed a formula for Christian romance that endures today of characters who faced real-life problems with courage and faith.
It's hard for a girl to imagine her grandmother as a young woman. But reading books set in time periods that were contemporary to her helped to bridge the generation gap. I'm not sure when my grandmother began reading Hill, but I suspect it was as a teenager. I know it was before my mother was born because she told me she named her after the title character in Dawn of the Morning—another one of her favorites.
If you love Christian romance, but have never read Grace Livingston Hill, I highly recommend her. If you have one or more favorites among her books, please share in a comment. It's hard for me to pick a favorite because I love some many. My top 10 (in alphabetical order because I can't rank them) are:
1. All Through the Night (1945)
2. Crimson Roses (1928)
3. Dawn of the Morning (1911)
4. Happiness Hill (1932)
5. Partners (1940)
6. The Patch of Blue (1932)
7. Rainbow Cottage (1934)
8. Rose Galbraith (1940)
9. Time of the Singing of the Birds (1944)
10. White Orchids (1935)
Monday, June 6, 2011
By Tammy L. Hensel
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.—2 Peter 1:5-7
A few weeks ago I had an arthritis flare-up in my neck and shoulder. Every morning I wake up feeling stiff until I get over to the pool for my morning work-out. After an hour of laps and pool exercises, ending with several minutes in the whirlpool, I feel a lot better. I'm energized and ready for a productive day.
That is until I sit at the computer too long, bend my neck the wrong way, or lift something too heavy. Then pain acts as a barometer letting me know that I need to change my activity. Now, I can either ignore the warning and keep going or I can listen to its voice to avoid further aggravating my condition. It takes daily diligence to not undo the benefits I receive from my morning exercise.
Reading and meditating on God's word is also part of my morning routine. Often I discover a new nugget of truth that I want to apply to my life. Or I'm convicted of something I need to change. I intend to follow through, but sometimes circumstances come up that distract or tempt me from my resolve. In John 14:26, Jesus promised, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."
Often the Holy Spirit reminds me of something from Scripture in the nick of time to keep me from stumbling, just as the first twinge of pain in my neck reminds not to bend that way. If I don't listen to His gentle warning, I soon regret it, just as I feel the consequences of not taking a break from the computer when my neck starts hurting. Yet, even when I fall, He wraps me in the soothing balm of His love, forgiveness and peace. With His peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7),He calms my heart much more than the hot water of the whirlpool that relieves my aching joints.
Diligence in my exercise program helps me to strengthen my body and better manage my chronic pain. Spiritual diligence strengthens my walk with God, building in me a godly character so that I can share the peace, love and joy He gives with others.
copyright Tammy L. Hensel 2011 All Rights Reserved
Video: Let the peace of God reign - Hillsong Updated
Friday, April 1, 2011
". . . knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."—1 Peter 1:18-19
As a child I loved collecting trading stamps to take to the redemption store. I recall the wonder of seeing the stamps magically emerge from the cash register at the grocery store. Then I carefully pasted them into the special books, always counting ahead to see how many more I had to fill before I could "redeem" them for something precious.
Trading stamps went out of vogue around 1980, the year I married. At a bridal shower all of my female relatives gave me their saved up stamps to redeem before our local store closed down. Boy, did I feel rich! I traded them for dishes, pots and pans, and many other items to help us set up housekeeping. The best thing I got was a canister vacuum cleaner, which I still use to today, more than 30 years later!
Yet, the wonder I felt as a child about trading stamps pales significantly compared to the awestruck wonder I feel when I consider the eternal redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that Jesus redeemed us with His own precious blood. Through His sacrifice He paid the penalty for my sin. He liberated me from my bondage to sin and empowered me with His Holy Spirit.
The items I got with my trading stamps were made with purpose. But as long as they sat in the store unredeemed they were unable to fulfill that purpose. It is the same with mankind. God created us to love, worship, and serve Him. The only way we can do that is to embrace the precious gift of redemption.
copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved
Video: Another great Gaither praise video of an awesome hymn.
Monday, August 23, 2010
By Tammy Hensel
Saturday evening my husband and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. For some reason I rejoiced to see that we were not the only ones whose lawn sported a patchwork look of green and brown grass.
Our property has an in-ground sprinkler system, installed by a previous owner, that doesn't water the yard evenly. And our many trees deprive some of the grass by blocking the sprinkler spray from reaching certain areas. I know I need to gives these areas extra water, and do so occasionally, but not consistently.
Seeing that most of my neighbors have the same problem, made me feel a little less guilty that I wasn't providing the nourishment my lawn needed to flourish. Then we came to a yard that was completely green! Not one brown patch in sight! Obviously the owners valued their lawn enough to water every area. When I arrived back at my house, I gave the brown patches a little TLC.
Unfortunately, I allow the same inconsistency in my spiritual life as I do in watering my yard. There are I times I soak myself in the word of God and experience amazing new spiritual growth. Other times I let either the busyness or entertainments of the world deny me spiritual refreshment, much like the trees in my yard block the water from reaching the grass. The result is patchwork spirituality, with dry spells that open me up to temptation and discouragement, while robbing me of my joy in the Lord.
Fortunately, our Lord offers us a well-spring of living water that can nourish us back from the driest of spiritual dry spells. King David penned Psalm 63 in just such a period of spiritual dryness. In verses 1-8, he shows us the way to spiritual renewal: confess our need and recognize the awesome lovingkindness of our God.
"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me." (NASB)
As I follow King David's advice — seek God earnestly, fill my mouth with praise and my heart with meditation on His word — then my brown patches fade and my spirit begins to thrive again.
Here is a song based on Psalm 63 by one of my favorite music groups Acapella:
Saturday, April 3, 2010
By Tammy L. Hensel
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved
What would you do if you had a benefactor who paid your bills for you every month so that every statement you received was stamped Paid-In-Full? How amazing that would be!
So much more amazing is the fact that our debt of sin has been Paid-In-Full by Christ’s death on the Cross. That is the truth that inspired Elvina Marble Reynolds Hall (Meyers) to pen the words to Jesus Paid It All.
Jesus Paid It All
Words by Elvina Hall
Music by John T. Grape
I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.
Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.
When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.
And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.
Elvina Hall was born June 4, 1822 in Alexandria, VA. None of my sources listed her mother’s name, but her father was Capt. David Reynolds. She married Richard Hall and they were active members of Monument Street Methodist Church in Baltimore.
One Sunday in the spring of 1865, she was overwhelmed during the sermon with the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice in her behalf. The words to a poem of thanksgiving formed in her mind, so she wrote them on the flyleaf of her hymnal. Although a little sheepish for writing in the church hymnbook, she presented it to her pastor, Reverend George Schreck’s, following the service. (My sources varied on the spelling of this name. I found it as Schreck, Schnick, Schrick)
We do not know the exact text of Rev. Schreck’s sermon that day, but there are many Bible verses that correlate with the message of this hymn. The verses that first came to my mind reading over these lyrics were:
1 John 1:2
And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
2 Corinthians 5:21
For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Some days later Schreck went to visit the church choir director, John T. Grape, a successful coal merchant and amateur musician/composer. Grape played for him a tune he had written and Schreck thought it went perfectly with Hall’s poem. Grape wrote about the event:
Rev. George W. Schreck called on me to select anything new that I had to offer. On hearing this piece he expressed his plea sure with it and stated that Mrs. Elvina M. Hall had written some words that would just suit the music. I gave him a copy of it and it was soon sung in several churches here in Baltimore [Maryland] and well received. At the suggestion of friends I sent a copy to Professor Theodore Perkins and it was published in Sabbath Carols. Under the providence of God it has been going ever since. I trust that it has not failed to accomplish some good to my fellowmen for the glory of God. http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/j/p/jpaidall.htm
After her husband Richard’s death, Hall married a Methodist minister, Thomas Myers in 1885. She died at Ocean Grove, NJ, on July 18, 1889. Other than the story of her writing of this hymn, I found little else about her life. John T. Grape was born in Baltimore Maryland May 6, 1835 and died there November 2, 1915. Besides being choir director and organist for the church, he was also very involved in the Sunday school.
VIDEO: I was hoping to find a video with all the verses, but couldn’t find one. I chose this video because I think these young people did an excellent job.
"Jesus Paid It All" - MS Baptist All-State Youth Choir & Orchestra 2008
Friday, February 12, 2010
By Tammy L. Hensel
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved
It is a snapshot etched in my memory. We were visiting my grandmother for the day and my two young sons went outside to play. My oldest was somewhere between 4 and 5 years old and his brother barely walking. So I was keeping a strict watch on them from the window. Suddenly I discovered they were out of my line of vision. Heart pounding I raced outside to be sure they hadn't found a way out of the enclosed backyard. As I turned the corner of the house my worry changed into great joy.
"Praise Lord . . . praise Lord," I heard my oldest singing at the top of his voice as he stood in front of his brother waving his hand like a choir director. My baby sat on a log and though he couldn't say the words he joined in with enthusiastic "Ah, ah, ah, ah," clearly following the tune to the chorus of "To God Be The Glory." Oh, how their sweet young voices thrilled my heart!
Here are the beautiful words my youngsters were singing in their young hearts, even if they couldn't really master their articulation:
“To God Be The Glory”
Words By Fanny Crosby (1820–1915)
Music: By W. Howard Doane (1832-1915)
To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.
O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
Known as one of the most prolific American hymn writers, Frances Jane Crosby (Fanny) was already one of the most famous published American women poets of her time before she ever penned her first hymn at age 41. Hers was an amazing life and one well worth studying. As I will cover more of her hymns in this series, I will share bits and pieces of what I have discovered about her in each one.
Fanny was blinded at age 6 months by the mistreatment of a an eye infection by an incompetent doctor. Her father died when she was only one year old and she was raised by her mother and grandmother. She began writing poetry at age 8 and published her first book at age 24. She was also a teacher at the New York School for the Blind and a popular speaker. Before her death at age 92, she had authored somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000 hymns and more than 1,000 secular poems and songs. The exact number of her hymns is unknown because of the practice of hymnbook editors of assigning pen names. For some reason the editors felt they should not use too many hymns by the same person, so often used pseudonyms to disguise their favorite writers. Fanny was published under more than 200 different names.
To God Be The Glory was one of several hymns on which Fanny collaborated with composer W. Howard Doane. Besides being a prolific composer of more than 2,000 hymns, Doane was also a successful businessman and inventor. He was president of the J. A. Fay woodworking machinery company, and patented more than 70 inventions.
I could not find any information on how or when Fanny and Doane met, but apparently it became common for Doane to bring a composition to play for Fanny. As she listened to the music the lyrics began to form in her heart. While the inspiration behind some of their hymns are preserved through letters and memoirs of Fanny, Doane, and people who knew them the writing of "To God Be The Glory" is a mystery. There is simply no mention of it.
Although we do not know if there was a particular verse or passage of which Fanny was thinking when she penned the hymn, its theme is found throughout scripture. God has done great and wonderful things, the very greatest of which is the gift of His Son as our redeemer.
He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen. Deuteronomy 10:21 (KJV)
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 (KJV)
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (KJV)
We do not know exactly what year the hymn was written, but Ira Sankey, songleader for D. L. Moody, used it at a crusade in England in 1873 and included it in his Sacred Songs and Solos, published in 1874 in England, but not in his American version Gospel Hymns. Its first publication in America was in the 1875 collection Brightest and Best compiled by Doane and Robert Lowry It was picked up by a few other American hymnals in the following years, but for the most part remained unknown to American churches.
Then a little over 80 years after Sankey used it in England, it was chosen by songleader, Cliff Barrows for Billy Graham's 1954 London Crusade.
It was suggested that we include "To God Be The Glory" in a song-book we were compiling for the London crusade of 1954. Because of its strong text of praise and its attractive melody, I agreed. We introduced the hymn during the early days of those meetings in Harringay Arena. As a result, Billy Graham asked that we repeat it often because he was impressed with the enthusiastic participation of the audience. In the closing weeks of the crusade it became our theme hymn, repeated almost every night. The words well expressed our praise to God, who was doing wondrous things in Britain. http://www.sermonaudio.com/hymn_details.asp?PID=togodbetheglory
Popular gospel singer George Beverly Shea sang the song the next year at Graham's Toronto Crusade and soon it became one of his standards. His tender rendition propelled it into popularity and it soon became a well-loved hymn sung in churches everywhere.
I looked on YouTube to see if I could find a video of Shea singing the song, but there wasn't one. However, I think the video below does justice to this truly inspirational hymn.
Friday, January 22, 2010
By Tammy L. Hensel
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved
The Old Rugged Cross has been called one of the most beloved hymns written in the 20th century. In fact I am writing this blog by special request from one of my faithful readers who wrote me of his love for it. I am so glad he asked me to review it, as I have been very blessed by my research on the song and its author. Both the lyrics and the music were written by Rev. George Bennard (1873-1958).
Here are the beloved lyrics:
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross
Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
Bennard, who was born in Ohio and raised in Iowa, made a confession of faith in Christ at a Salvation Army meeting sometime before the age of sixteen. When he was that age, his father died and he had to help support his mother and sisters. This delayed, but did not derail, his ambition to become an evangelist. After he married, he and his wife became brigade leaders for the Salvation Army in Illinois, until he was ordained as a minister in the Episcopal Methodist Church. Finally, his dream came true, as he joined the revival circuit as a travelling evangelist in Michigan and New York.
While in preparation for a series of revivals in 1913, Bennard was overwhelmed by the incredible sacrifice of Christ on the cross. It helped him to see his own trials in a new perspective. "'I saw the Christ of the Cross as if I were seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form and act out the meaning of redemption,' he said later." (http://www.christianhistorytimeline.com/DAILYF/2002/06/daily-06-07-2002.shtml)
John 3:16 says: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. KJV
Another related verse mentioned in a couple of my sources as inspiration for the hymn is 1 Peter 2:24: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. KJV
Bennard wrote the music on that day, but the only lyric that came out of his anguished soul was "I'll cherish the old rugged cross." He said later that he struggled for weeks for just the right words to express his deep spiritual experience. He wrote: "I composed the melody first The words that I first wrote were imperfect. The words of the finished hymn were put into my heart in answer to my own need." (101 Hymn Stories, p.255)
He sang his finished work for the first time at a revival meeting in the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pokagon. Mich., with the church choir joining him from his penciled notes.
The old church is now on the National Historic Register known as The Original Old Rugged Cross Church. It was restored and is maintained by The Old Rugged Cross Foundation. It had served as a barn by a farmer who bought it from the church when they moved to a new location.
Below is a YouTube video from the Gaither Israel Homecoming DVD filmed on Golgotha hill. I only wish they had included more verses of this truly great hymn that will be cherished for many years to come.
101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck (1982 Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 254-256)
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
By Tammy L. Hensel
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved
Happy New Year everyone!
Last night I watched the movie Julie & Julia and found it very inspiring. For those of you who haven't seen it, the movie it is based on the true story of how writer Julie Powell gave herself the challenge of preparing every recipe in Julia Child's famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year and blogging her progress. As she studied not only Julia's recipes, but her life story as well, she became more and more inspired to pursue the two things she really loved to do - cooking and writing.
The movie inspired me in many ways, but especially in my writing. A few weeks after I started this blog in January 2008, I was challenged by fellow writer and editor Lillie Amman to write out my goals for the blog and for my writing. In reading back over that post "Tagged by Lillie" (see link in my blog archives), I see that I was very ambitious in my goals and of course fell very much short of them. But some of that is because God simply took me in a different direction that I envisioned for myself at the time. And as usual, He does know better.
In 2008, I was still very new to the Internet and the whole idea of blogging. I began in 2007 on myspace, very timidly posting my reflections on some favorite Bible verses and then progressing to full blown devotions and Bible studies. I found that I thoroughly enjoy that type of writing. I put this blog up because some of my friends wanted to read those blogs, but were uncomfortable with joining Myspace. I also planned to use the blog as a showcase for my versatility as a writer in the hopes of finding more writing and editing opportunities. That is one goal that I have achieved through it, as some of my devotions and one interview were picked up by inspirational webzines.
In setting my goals for 2010, I am again being ambitious. That's why I'm calling them goals for 2010 and beyond. However, posting my goals here does give me some accountability and hopefully encouragement and prayers from you, my readers.
Goal #1 - Stay on my exercise program.
You may say - that's not a writing goal - but as I discovered this past year, good health provides the energy I need to write. So I have to put my post-therapy exercise program as a top priority, even when it takes me away from the computer. I also have to take breaks to garden and do other things that relax and get the creative juices flowing.
Goal #2 - Work some every week on a book project.
My first book project is a Bible study book on the principles of marriage that my hubby and I are co-writing. He was also inspired by the movie and said as the ending credits began, "We have to get busy on our book!"
While I am still doing some research it has moved into the writing stage and chapter 1 is just about finished. So I hope to begin chapter 2 in the next couple of weeks. I have ideas for a couple of other Bible studies after that one, and am also thinking about turning novelist. I have an idea for a historical novel series that I am already beginning to research. I haven't decided yet if I want to self-publish or look for an agent, but if any agents read this and are interested, please contact me.
Goal #3 - Continue to explore and take advantage of writing and editing opportunities God sends my way.
I really love interviewing and want to always do that even if I turn book author. I also love editing and encouraging other writers in their projects.
Goal #4 - Post blogs on a more regular basis.
Last year I was not able to post as often as I wanted due to health issues. I posted beginning blogs for two series, one on church hymns and another on authors, music artists, and others who inspire me. I want to try to follow-through with those ideas this year and be more consistent with my posts. With my other work, I may not be able to post a blog every week, but am trying for every other week, though perhaps it is best to commit to once a month. Hmm. Sounds like I am already backing out of goals doesn't it. (LOL) But I do want to be practical.
Again, my goals are very ambitious, and a lot will depend on my health. I appreciate all your prayers and especially all the kind comments I get from my readers. God bless you all. :D
Here's one of my favorite songs that always inspires me:
Friday, December 4, 2009
In a sermon during the Christmas season last year, our pastor mentioned that the Christmas carol Joy To the World, penned by Isaac Watts, was actually written about the SECOND coming of Christ, not the first. I was intrigued by that claim so I researched Isaac Watts and the song.
Watts was one of the most prolific hymn lyricists of all times, having written more than 750 hymns. He was also a theologian and logician, writing many articles and books on these subjects, including a logic textbook.
Joy to the World was part of a book The Psalms of David published in 1719, in which he paraphrased several Psalms in his own lyrical style. It was given its present tune by Lowell Mason, who used an adaptation of portions of Handel’s Messiah. Mason’s original name for his music composition was Antioch, but in 1839, it appeared in a collection he edited as Joy to the World with the Watts poem as lyrics.
JOY TO THE WORLD
Words by Isaac Watts (1674 - 1748)
Music by Lowell Mason (1792 – 1872)
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.
Watts’ inspiration for this particular poem was Psalm 98, which prophesizes the coming of Messiah as victorious king and judge.
Psalm 98 (KJV)
O sing unto the LORD a new song;
For he hath done marvellous things:
His right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.
The LORD hath made known His salvation:
His righteousness hath He openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.
He hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel:
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth:
Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Sing unto the LORD with the harp;
With the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
With trumpets and sound of cornet
Make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof;
Tthe world, and they that dwell therein.
Let the floods clap their hands:
Let the hills be joyful together
Before the LORD; for He cometh to judge the earth:
With righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity.
When you think of the lyrics as relating to Psalm 98 and the second coming, it makes the message even clearer. In the time between His first advent and His second, the hearts of men are being prepared to welcome Him with joyful praise. In fact all the earth will praise and welcome Him.
Phil. 2:9-11 “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The curse on the earth will be broken. Sin and sorrow will no longer reign throughout the earth or in the heart of man. It is a beautiful message filled with the "wonders of His love."
Revelation 19:7-9 7 "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God."
What a wonderful day that will be! The joy in the Lord we have today is but a foreshadowing of the joy we will have that day. This is the wonderful truth Isaac Watts so brilliantly wrote about in his lyric. I encourage you to sing this song not just at Christmas, but all year long to proclaim - JOY TO THE WORLD - HE CAME AND HE IS COMING AGAIN!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
By Tammy L. Hensel
Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved
Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983) is in my opinion one of the greatest OVERCOMERS of the 20th century. Her writings, especially her book The Hiding Place, based on her experiences as a member of the Dutch underground and a prisoner in German concentration camps during World War II, have blessed my own life in so many ways. I was about 14 years old when I first read this book and it made a lasting impression on me. I read it so much that I had portions of it memorized.
I had the honor of meeting Corrie Ten Boom once in the late 1970s when as a student at Baylor University (Waco, TX) I attended a luncheon at which she spoke. Since that time I have shaken hands with several high profile people the world calls celebrities, but the brief encounter I had with this awesome lady of faith is one of my most treasured memories.
(photo from photobucket.com)
When in 1837 Corrie's grandfather opened a watch shop in his home at Barteljorisstraat 19 in Haarlem, near Amsterdam, The Netherlands, he didn't know the plans God had for the building a century later. Even before the Nazis invaded Holland in 1940, the ten Boom home, fondly called "the Beje" was well-known as a place of hospitality where Christ's love was abundant.
Cornelia Johanna Arnolda ten Boom was born on 15 April, 1892, the youngest of four children. Her mother died of a stroke at the age of 63. Her father Casper ten Boom was a well-liked watchmaker, and often referred to in his later years as "Haarlem's Grand Old Man." Her sister, Elisabeth (Betsie), was born with pernicious anemia. Neither Betsie or Corrie ever married. Her sister Nollie, a school teacher, married, and had six children. Willem, her only brother, graduated from a theology school, married and had four children. Also living in her household were three of her mother's sisters known as Tante (Aunt) Jans (pronounced 'yunss'), Tante Anna, and Tante Bep.
Corrie began training as a watchmaker in 1920 and in 1922 became the first female watchmaker licensed in the Netherlands. In 1923, she helped organize girls' clubs, and in the 1930s these clubs grew to become the very large Triangle club. Corrie had a heart for the mentally handicapped and spent a lot of her time sharing the love of Christ with them. She wrote about her experiences bringing the gospel to the mentally handicapped in her book Common Sense Not Needed. When the Nazis occupied Holland they banned all youth clubs, except the Hitler youth. The also prohibited special care for mentally handicapped people and executed many of them.
When Jewish neighbors began arriving on their doorstep seeking sanctuary soon after the Nazi occupation began, the ten Booms took them in, knowing full well the risk they were taking. When word spread to the Dutch underground about the ten Booms house guests, Corrie was approached about doing more to help the effort to oust the Nazis. The underground organization helped the ten Booms build a special room to hide their guests should the Nazi's search the house. The room was the size of a medium wardrobe, 30" deep, with an air vent on the outside wall. The only entrance was a small hatch which slid open to let the occupants in and out.
(photo from photobucket)
The Nazis arrested the entire Ten Boom family on February 28, 1944 after they were betrayed by a former employee. On the night of their arrest a Gestapo officer offered to release Casper ten Boom if he would promise to behave himself. His answer underscored the whole family's courage and commitment to their helping their fellowman.
"Willem led Father up to the desk. The Gestapo chief leaned forward. 'I'd like to send you home old fellow,' he said.'I'll take your word that you won't cause any more trouble.'
I could not see Father's face, only the erect carriage of his shoulders and the halo of white hair above them. But I heard his answer.
'If I go home today,' he said evenly and clearly, 'tomorrow I will open my door again to any man who knocks.'
The amiability drained from the other man's face, 'Get back in line' he shouted." (p. 137-138)
I often wonder if I would have the same courage all of the ten Booms had in the same circumstances. Sometimes when I face something that seems difficult to bear I remind myself that my own trial is very small to what Corrie ten Boom suffered and survived. Corrie's sister Betsie said to her while they were at Ravensbruck, one of the most notorious concentration camps in Germany,
"[We] must tell people what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us Corrie, because we have been here." (Copyright 1971, p. 217)
After the war, Corrie set up rehabilitation centers for concentration camp survivors and wounded soldiers in both the Netherlands and Germany. Slowly she began sharing her story at churches and other gatherings, eventually becoming a world traveler or Tramp For the Lord as she called herself in her book about her travels. She authored many other autobiographical and inspirational books including: Each New Day; Father ten Boom - God's Man; In My Father's House; He Cares, He Comforts; He Sets the Captive Free; Don't Wrestle, Just Nestle; Corrie's Christmas Memories; Amazing Love; I Stand at the Door and Knock; A Prisoner and Yet; Plenty for Everyone; Not I, But Christ; Not Good if Detached; Marching Orders for the End Battle; Messages of God's Abundance; Reflections of God's Glory; Common Sense Not Needed; Defeated Enemies and more. I haven't read all these books, but the ones I have read really inspired me. Her writing style is very informal and friendly, as if she is sitting across the table, tea cup in hand, chatting with you.
The Hiding Place" was made into a movie in 1975. Although it is very moving, I really recommend reading the book before viewing the movie. You get such a better understanding of Corrie deepest thoughts and feelings and sustaining faith reading her own words.
Others have also written about her in books such as: Corrie Ten Boom: The Watchmaker's Daughter by Jean Watson, Corrie Ten Boom: Heroine of Haarlem by Sam Wellman, Are All The Watches Safe by Catherine MacKenzie, Corrie Ten Boom: Shining in Darkness by Renee Taft Maloche, Life Lessons From The Hiding Place by Pamela Rosewell Moore, and The Five Silent Years of Corrie Ten Boom by Pamela Rosewell Moore. I have not read these biographies, but just noticed that they are available. Some of them are specifically targeted for young readers. If you know of any others, please leave the title and author in a comment.
In 1977, Corrie, then 85 years old, moved to Orange, California. Successive strokes in 1978 took away her powers of speech and communication and left her an invalid for the last five years of her life. She died on her birthday, April 15, 1983, at the age of 91. Her legacy of faith in the most devastating of human circumstances will never be forgotten.
The Lord led me recently to put up a tribute site to her on Myspace to honor her legacy of faith and to keep her story alive as an inspiration for another generation. Besides my well-warn copy of The Hiding Place, I also discovered while unpacking some old copies of The Hiding Place Magazine published in the 1970s and early 1980s by Corrie's ministry organization Christians Incorporated. I am trying to track down the copyright holder, since Christians Incorporated is no longer active so that I can reprint articles from it on the Myspace blog attached to the site. If you are a member of Myspace and want to add it as a "friend" the url is: www.myspace.com/corrietenboom.
Sources: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, Copyright 1971; The Hiding Place Magazine, copyright Christians, Incorporated; Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrie_ten_Boom; The Corrie Ten Boom Musuem site http://www.corrietenboom.com/history.htm
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Cross Reference Writers
In February we formed a new Christian Writers group here in the Brazos Valley Texas called Cross Reference Writers. We meet the first Thursday of the month on the campus of Blinn College in Bryan. I just finished putting up a simple website for us using Google sites just to give us a web presence. http://sites.google.com/site/crossreferencewriters/ I am also working on post cards to send out to local churches asking them to put a notice about us in their bulletins and newsletters.
I am now a contributing writer to Brazos Insite Magazine, a regional magazine for the Brazos Valley. My first article came out in May and is about The Holistic Garden complex on the Texas A&M Campus. My next article will appear in July. This is a print magazine, so don't have a link to post.
I am working on more pieces to submit to Churchmouse Publications as they are about to launch their website. They are a Christian syndication group.
My husband and I recorded many of our ideas for our marriage book and I am beginning to transcribe the tape. I have made a book outline and written a preface.
Home and Family:
My younger son, and a niece and nephew graduated from college this month and we gave them a big party, so much of my time early in the month was spent organizing that event. It was fun and we are so proud of all of them!
We are still working on moving into this house we purchased last summer. We are finally emptying out our storage units, which means we are surrounded by boxes again. I am especially anxious to unpack books related to marriage to use as references in our book. I know I have several I want to look at again. I also need to organize the room we have remodeled into an office.
And I am working on my yard, trying to bring some order to the gardens that went untended for a year or more. Need to do that before it gets too hot for me to work out there.
You can see why blogging has not been a top priority with me. Lots to do this summer. However, I will try to post another in my hymn series soon.
Blessings to all!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Please join me in praying for our nation and all our public servants and government employees.
PRAY FOR OUR NATIONAL LEADERS: Our president and all those who work in the executive branch. Our legislators, specifically your state's senators and Congressmen. Pray for the Federal judges from the Supreme Court to the Federal District Courts.
PRAY FOR STATE LEADERS: Pray for your governor, legislators, and judges.
PRAY FOR COUNTY AND CITY OFFICIALS: Pray for your county and city officials and all who work with them.
PRAY FOR OUR SCHOOL DISTRICTS: Pray for all employees of your local school districts, especially for teachers and administrators.
PRAY FOR OUR TROOPS: Say special prayers for our young men and women serving in the military, both at home and abroad!
As always, I ask you to keep my son Danny in your prayers. He is currently serving overseas.
PRAYER: Here is the prayer from the 2009 National Day of Prayer website:
2009 Prayer for Our Nation
by Beth Moore, Honorary Chairman
Father in Heaven,
We lift our eyes toward Your Throne, where You reign in righteousness.
Your Word assures us that when Your people cry out in sincerity and humility, You will never turn a deaf ear to us.
We call upon You now, seeking Your forgiveness and favor.
Look over this fevered landscape and heal us, Lord.
Drop knees to the floor and raise eyes to the sky, for we know where our help comes from.
Unite these States again in devotion to You, and blur every dividing line.
Do not give us over to our sins. Give us, instead, over to passionate prayer that moves Your heart.
“May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You.”
In the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
Please leave a prayer request.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
The Story That Was Finally Told
By Tammy Reynolds (aka Tammy L. Hensel)
The children crowded around the old man like birds waiting to be fed.
"Tell us a story, Papa, please!"
Papa, can tell you a story later, it's time for your nap," said their mother as she herded the children out of the room.
Nathan McHannon lay back in the comfortable armchair which was as ancient as the old man himself. Born in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, he had inherited from his Scotch-Irish ancestors his bullheadedness, his authoritative manner, his compassion, and his love and loyalty to his country and family. All these qualities, plus a deep faith in God had sustained him through the storms of a changing world. His five brothers had died, making him the head of a family of three generations of nieces and nephews. Each had listened and loved his tales of his boyhood antics and struggles of a lifetime.
The old man's wrinkled, weary face was comfortably resting on the pillows; but his mind was not succumbing to the power of sleep. Instead, it had transferred to a different place and time. From the comfortable chair in his grand-niece's Texas farm to a bright mountainside - to a snowy day when he was a young man -- to Clarissa. . . .
The snow was up to Nat's knees as he made his way to Clara's house. He was filled with the foolish, unexplainable joy of a young man in love. She stood waiting for him, a pink glow on her cheeks, chestnut hair circling her face and crowning her shoulders, and her warm beautiful eyes sparkling at him from beneath coy eyelashes. That was the day he had proposed. They had a wondrous time in the snow, full of secret moments and childish games. Snowball fights, snowmen, angels in the snow, skating on the pond --
The ancient mind returned to the farmhouse. The children were there, lively from their nap and clamoring for a story. Nathan looked at them, he knew this would be the last story he ever told. Opening the wrinkled old lips, he spoke in a trembling, cracked voice. When I was a young man, I knew a very beautiful girl. She was full of kindness and love for everyone. In springtime, we collected flowers and took baskets to all the sick and poor."
The old man's voice broke off here. The children were silent. They sensed something was wrong and all they could do was keep quiet.
"One day we were walking in the mountain snow. It was my idea to go skating. I thought the ice was thick enough."
The old man's eyes closed and his voice rose with great intensity.
"Don't go too far until I check the ice. Clara, come back. The ice may be too thin. Clara! Clarissa!
Ninety-eight year-old Nathan McHannon opened his eyes for the last time. He looked at his family. Then he closed his eyes again. A bright light surrounded him and he could see a figure motioning to him. He walked slowly toward it. The figure became clearer now, a flowing white gown, chestnut hair, sparkling eyes, white arms outstretched. With a leap of joy, the man went to meet his bride.
Copyright 1976 Tammy L. Reynolds All Rights Reserved
Saturday, April 11, 2009
If you have a post about the true meaning of Easter or want to read some really inspirational blogs, please visit Becoming Me Thru Him.blogspot.com to share in the fun.
Happy Easter everyone. HE IS RISEN!!!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
As a journalism student at Baylor I took a basic course in media law which covered much on the “cans” and “cannots” of publishing. I have tried to keep up with changes to these laws through years, but I didn't think about how they applied to the Internet until a couple of years ago when I joined Myspace. (Of course the Internet wasn’t around when I was in college, so it wasn’t covered in my course.) As I viewed profiles, read blog comments and bulletins, I was amazed at how much potential for privacy and libel lawsuits I saw there. Here are a few things everyone who has an Internet site needs to know.
Your profile is your newspaper.
Publishing something on an internet site or forum is like publishing it in a newspaper or book. You are in a sense writing your autobiography on your profile or blog. You own the copyright to all original material you post. No one may copy it or forward it to anyone else without your express permission. But the content does become public information because you are making yourself a public figure. That means that others may gain information about you from your sites and use it as long as they don’t copy it word for word, without attributing it to you. More and more employers, journalists, and law enforcement officers are using Internet social sites as sources for information in their investigations. That is legal because it is public information, regardless of your “privacy settings.”
Keep from crossing the line between free speech and privacy laws.
Invasion of privacy and libel laws that pertain to all media also apply to profile sites and blogs. I have noticed much on the social sites that could qualify as violations of these laws. For the most part this happens because people are just uninformed and not used to thinking like a journalist. They think anything and everything is covered by the right to “free speech.” Or they think of it as private chatter. But privacy and libel laws draw a line as to what may be published about a another person. Sometimes it takes the courts to decide when the line is crossed. I foresee that in the future we will see more and more lawsuits brought against people for things they post on Internet social sites and blogs. So be careful!
The only private Internet communications are emails. In my research I discovered that it violates privacy law to forward emails without permission. Don’t forward or post on your blog anything that doesn’t have express permission in it, such as the words “please forward.” Never forward or even quote from a private letter without permission from the other person.
Privacy and copyright laws apply to your pics too.
You find a box of old school photos and you want to post them on your Facebook page to share with your old friends. However, you are in contact with some of the people, so you can't get permission. My advice is DON’T POST IT! You do own the copyright to that photo because you took it. But privacy law prohibits the publishing in a public forum photos without the permission of the subject. You never know what may embarrass another person.
You do not own the copyright to photos you did not take or inherit, even if you purchased them. So when you get that family portrait made, be sure and ask the photographer for permission to upload the photo to your website. There are photo and graphics sharing sites, such as photobucket, for people to post photos they want to share with others. Remember when you share your photos there you are granting others royalty-free permission to use your photo. I think most of these sites have certain usage restrictions to which members agree. Most stipulate that you cannot use the photos for commercial purposes. Usually the site will have their name attached to the pictures, so people will know where you got them. If there is not you should protect yourself by saying where you got the photo. Never copy a photo or a logo from a site that does not specifically give permission for it.
Be an informed participant!
The Internet is a fun and useful tool for social interaction, networking, and exchanging information. Just remember that the key to avoiding problems is to be informed.
A good resource I recently purchased is The Law (in plain English) for Writers by Leonard D. DeBoff and Bert P. Krages, II.
Here are some Internet articles I found:
Common Questions & Answers About Copyrights: A Simple Guide for Photographers, Artists, Illustrators, Writers, Musicians and Other Creative Individuals By Andrew "Drew" Epstein
Copyright and the Internet By Virginia Montecino
The Law for Photographers: Do I Need Permission? By Dianne Brinson, a copyright attorney, for PhotoSecrets
Copying Old Photographs: Infringement of Copyright Laws?
If you know of any other good resources, please share them in comments.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The Saint Patrick Challenge
By Tammy L. Hensel
As a child St. Patrick’s Day meant very little to me except that if I didn’t wear green someone would pinch me. I had no clue who Saint Patrick was or why someone one named a day after him. Most inquires along those lines usually ended with a story of him being sort of a pied-piper who drove all the snakes out of Ireland.
Even today I find there are many Christians who know very little about Patrick or what he really did to deserve the honor of a special day. So I want to share with you an astounding quote I read in The Story of the Irish Race by Seumas MacManus (Copyright 1921 Fourth edition published by Konecky & Konecky. I found this book on the bargain book table at a local book store and being a history buff just couldn’t resist it.)
“The coming of Patrick to Ireland marks the greatest of Irish epochs. Of all most momentous happenings in Irish history, this seemingly simple one had the most extraordinary, most far-reaching effect. It changed the face of the nation, and utterly changed the nation’s destiny. The coming of Patrick may be said to have had sublime effect not on Ireland alone, but upon the world. It was a world event.” (p. 109)
It is impossible in the scope of a blog to write a complete biography of Patrick and all that he did, but I want to hit a few highlights. Scholars differ on where Patrick was born, but it is thought the year was 385. His family lived both in the Dumbarton region in the Northern Roman colony of Briton (Scotland) and in Brittany in Gaul (France). His father was a Roman official in the region and there are records of him at both places during the time period, although most sources I read lean toward the Scottish location as Patrick’s birthplace. Patrick was christened in the Christian church with the name Succat. When he was about 16 years old, he and his two sisters were captured in an Irish raid. He was sold to a farmer and assigned shepherding duties.
Succat (Patrick) later wrote that at the time of his capture he was not living the life of a devout Christian. According to MacManus, “He confesses in his biography that in his wayward youth at home he had forgotten God, and from Him wandered into the ways of sin. Alone with his herd upon Sliab Mis during the day and the night, the months and the seasons, his spirituality was reawakened.” (p. 110)
Like Joseph and David, God used the circumstances of Succat’s life to prepare him for a great destiny. During those years, he learned the language, the customs, and the heart of his captors. He learned to listen for the voice of God and follow His lead. After about six years in captivity, he escaped from Ireland and returned to his homeland with a desire to learn all he could about the great God he now served with all his heart. He traveled through much of the Christian west at that time and spent some time studying under his mother’s uncle, St. Martin of Tours. At some point he had a vision of a man from Ireland calling to him with the words, “come to us, O holy youth, and walk among us.” (p111)
With a commission from Pope Celestine, who consecrated him as Patricious, Bishop of Ireland. Patrick returned to the land of his captivity knowing the perils he would face. He traveled the island, preaching the gospel, establishing schools and monasteries, and tearing down pagan shrines. Despite often life-threatening opposition, Patrick so demonstrated Christ’s love to the people, that soon they opened their hearts to both he and his God.
MacManus wrote “. . . when we contrast the two widely differing natures of the Irish people who before Patrick were carrying the ruthless law of the sword far over sea and land, and that very different Irish people who, after Patrick left the conquering sword to be eaten by rust, while they went far and wide again over sea and land, bearing now to the nations – both neighbouring and far off – the healing balm of Christ’s gentle words. All histories of all countries probably could not disclose to the most conscientious searcher another instance of such radical change in a whole nation’s character being wrought within the lifespan of one man.” (p. 126)
To me this statement is an awesome testimony, not just to the man Patrick, but to his witness for Christ and the power of God in his life. It is clear from Patrick’s own writings that he gave all glory to God for his accomplishments. How many of us can say that we practice God’s love so completely that the whole character of a nation could be influenced by our witness? MacManus adds, “An unquenchable burning desire for bringing souls to Christ was the passion of Patrick’s life. And he pursued his passion with an unremitting perseverance, with a greatness of mind and grandeur of soul that has infrequently been paralleled in missionary annals, and seldom surpassed.” (p. 126)
What a legacy to leave! To me this is the challenge Patrick’s life inspires – to have that same unquenchable desire, passion and devotion to Christ so that I share His love and message to all I meet. Will you also accept that challenge today?
Video: BE THOU MY VISION
This one of the greatest and most loved of all traditional Irish hymns. The music is an Irish folk tune that predates Saint Patrick. While some say the words were penned during Patrick’s lifetime, others attribute it to a 6th century Irish poet names Dallan Forgaill. Either way it is definitely part of Patrick’s legacy to us today. It was translated from ancient Irish into English in 1905 by Mary E. Byrne.