Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Posted by Tony

I Am a Hymn Kind of Guy.

Before I begin let me say that the following blog about my preference for traditional hymns is in no way to be interpreted as a condemnation of non-traditional music. I believe that all biblically sound forms of worship are to be accepted and encouraged. However, I simply love traditional, old-fashioned hymns. I love the feel of a Baptist Hymnal in my hands and the effort of picking out the tenor line. This feeling is not the same while singing a contemporary Christian song projected on a screen. I want my hymns accompanied by the organ and piano. An acoustic guitar is acceptable on a very limited basis but electric guitars or drums don’t give me the same intimate feel. There is a communion with God that I have while singing traditional hymns. I am uplifted in a way that no other music provides.

I bring this up because on Christmas Eve, my in-laws, the Rev. George and Pat Pullium were presented with a unique and beautiful gift. My wife’s brother, his wife and their twin daughters created a modified Baptist Hymnal with a page dedicated to the favorite hymn of each child and grand-child. Each of us was afforded the opportunity to write a brief statement describing what our favorite hymn was and why it was chosen. Reading the selections was enlightening and entertaining.

I selected “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” I love its message of God’s protection from the influence of evil in this world and the promise of His eternal kingdom. Maybe it is the architectural imagery that appeals to me or maybe the biblical basis for the lyrics.

God is our Refuge and Strength, a Very Present Help in Trouble" (Psalm 46:1).


But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.


But the real appeal may be that the lyrics include the cool words, “bulwark” and “Sabaoth.”


 Regardless, I am a hymn kind of guy.


If you have a favorite hymn, please feel free to comment.








Thursday, December 5, 2013

Inspiration in 37 Seconds or Less IV

Posted by Michael

"Yet as I read the birth stories of Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog."
                                           -Phillip Yancey

Photo from The Nativity Story
Photo by Jaimie Trueblood - copyright 2006 New Line Cinema

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sleep: The Greatest Gift of All

Posted by Michael

I have a love/hate relationship with sleep.

I love a good night’s sleep, especially when the room is really cold, and I’m tucked in under heaps of warm blankets. One of the greatest gifts to mankind is waking up in the morning and realizing that you still have 45 minutes until your alarm goes off. Second sleep is the best!

I also battle against sleep.

I love to stay up late. There’s always something else to get done, or on the rare occasions when I feel caught up, it’s so tempting to try to squeeze in that movie I’ve been wanting to watch or catch up on the that TV show that’s been on my DVR for 6 months.  Sometimes when I finally give up and get my body still, my mind rebels. Thoughts of a thousand things undone today and twice as much to be done tomorrow bombard me relentlessly. My body is still, but my mind replays conversations, reworks budgets, and reorganizes an upcoming talk. My sleep is fitful and pointless and I wake up exhausted and push myself to grind through the new day.

On these days I have to return to the reflections of the Jewish king, David, in one of his many psalms where he wrote, “I will lie down and rest in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8). I have no real ability to make my days work. I do not have the vision to see all of the potential problems and challenges in the future or the power to keep myself safe from them. But God does. I am comforted by the fact that it gives Him joy to give me rest. Not only does He offer it, He commands it. Surrendering to sleep is my time to acknowledge that it's not my job to run the world. God is in control, not me. With the world safely off my shoulders and back in God's hands where it belongs, sleep becomes a blessing for both my mind and body. My prayer for you is that in the midst of all of your festive Christmas busyness this year, you will find the most peaceful and healing sleep you have had all year. Rest well!