Thursday, January 29, 2009

Closing Songs

With the advent of small groups, many churches are foregoing their Sunday evening services. I'm fine with that, but there are so many "evening" songs that have such beautiful meaning. It's kind of hard to sing "Day is Dying in the West" on Sunday mornings. Many of these songs are beautiful in their thought and in their music.
I remember as a kid, "Take the Name of Jesus With You" was kind of the standard closing song. My favorite, however, was "Now the Day is Over." Beautiful words like this:

Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh;
Shadows of the evening steal across the sky.

Jesus give the weary calm and sweet repose;
With Thy tend'rest blessing may our eyelids close.

Grant to little children visions bright of Thee;
Guard the sailors tossing on the deep blue sea.

Comfort every suf'rer watching late in pain;
Those who plan some evil from their sin restrain.

When the morning wakens, then may I arise
Pure, and fresh, and sinless in Thy holy eyes.

What a beautiful way to end the day. Another "evening closing" song we used to sing was this one:

All praise to Thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light;
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.

Forgive me, Lord, for Thy dear Son
The ill that I this day have done,
That with the world, myself, and Thee,
I, ere I sleep at peace may be.

O may my soul on Thee repose,
And with sweet sleep mine eyelids close--
Sleep that may me more vig'rous make
To serve my God when I awake.

I love the thoughts contained in these songs! There is a humility, a contrite spirit that says, "I may have blown it today, Lord. Please forgive me. Put my mind at rest for tomorrow is another day to serve You. I think, though, that my favorite "evening closing" song has to be #513 in the old Great Songs of the Church songbook.

The sun declines: o'er land and sea creeps on the night;
The twinkling stars come one by one to shed their light;
With Thee there is no darkness, Lord:
With us abide; and 'neath Thy wings we rest secure
This eventide.

And when with morning light we rise, kept by Thy care,
We'll lift to Thee with grateful hearts our morning prayer;
Be Thou thro' life our Strength and Stay,
Our Guard and Guide to that dear home where there will be
No eventide.

The hope, the promise of a time when we won't have to go to bed anymore. Sin will not be our daily struggle anymore. But the promise of our Father's abiding presence and the hope of the time when there is no eventide. Wow! I love these songs. Have a great day! JW

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cover My Defenseless Head

Charles Wesley wrote a beautiful song that we used to sing all the time. Here are the words:

Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high;
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, O leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me;
All my trust on Thee is stayed;
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound,
Make and keep me pure within;
Thou of life the fountain art;
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.

I remember Jim Woodroof telling a story about this song and the Civil War. I found it on a website about Charles Wesley. Let me just directly quote it here:

"In a company of old soldiers, from the Union and Confederate armies, a former Confederate was telling how he had been detailed one night to shoot a certain exposed sentry of the opposing army. He had crept near and was about to fire with deadly aim when the sentry bgegan to sing, 'Jesus, Lover of my soul' He came to the words,

'Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.'

The hidden Confederate lowered his gun and stole away. 'I can't kill that man,' said he, 'though he were ten times my enemy.'

In the company was an old Union soldier who asked quickly,

'Was that in the Atlanta campaign of '64?'


'Then I was the Union sentry!'

And he went on to tell how, on that night, knowing the danger of his post, he had been greatly depressed, and, to keep up his courage, had begun to hum that hymn. By the time he had finihsed, he was entirely calm and fearless. Through the song God had spoke to two souls."

Great story. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Father and Friend

My high school and college years were spent at the College Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas. Several years later, my family worshiped there while I worked at Harding University. I loved those years because the preachers of the time were so good to listen to. I especially grew to love Jim Woodroof and Mike Cope--Jim because of his tender stories of Jesus, and Mike because of his passionate, stirring lessons on discipleship.
But one of the things I miss dearly are the songs we used to sing there. At that time we used the "Great Songs of the Church" song book. There are many of the old time favorites in there. But there was a section of songs with short, poignant songs with such deep meaning and melodies that moved the heart. I believe that section was entitled "The Hymns." I'm not a big "poem" person, but for some reason these songs stirred me. Their words were full of meaning and conviction. Over the next several months, I'll be putting some of these songs in this blogs to let you see or renew your appreciation for the wonderful words penned by these great writers. Or perhaps we'll talk of some stories behind the songs. Anyway, we'll be looking at these beautiful songs. Here's the first one.

Father and Friend, Thy light, Thy love,
Beaming through all Thy works we see;
Thy glory gilds the heav'ns above,
And all the earth is full of Thee.

Thy voice we hear, Thy presence feel,
While Thou too pure for mortal sight,
Enrapt in clouds, invisible,
Reignest the Lord of life and light.

Thy children shall not faint nor fear,
Sustained by this delightful thought;
Since Thou, their God, art everywhere,
They cannot be where Thou art not.

What a beautiful hymn telling us of God's abiding presence. He will always be with us and never leave us. When the storm is raging, and the waters rushing in, He will be right by our sides. Thank you, Father for being our Rock, our ever-present help. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Obesity Explained!

I just read a new report that has me both relieved and enlightened. Scientists, and I'm not making this up, have now determined that obesity is caught just like a virus. They say you can get it just by shaking hands with someone. In fact, the virus is called AD-36. All this time, I thought I was too large because I ate too much. It's not that at's because I'm sick!
Here's the quote fromt the article. The virus "infects the lungs then whisks around the body forcing fat cells to multiply and also causing sore throats." The article goes on to say, "When this virus goes to fat tissue it replicates, making more copies of itself and in the process increases the number of fat cells." Finally! A rational explanation of my weight gain. In fact, right now, I'm not feeling well. My throat hurts. And I think I'm hungry. Oh, no, I could be coming down with it again. Is that feed a cold, starve a fever? I never could get that right. Definitely, feed a cold. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mabrey Miller

I first met Mabrey Miller in 1961 when I was the ripe old age of 7. My mom and dad had just moved the family to York, Nebraska where we would spend the next five years of our lives. I remember going to the Miller's huge house (And it was huge. I've been by there many times in my adulthood and it is still a huge house) to play with his kids. He was just another one of those guys who worked with my dad at York College. Little did I realize until later that Mabrey was one of the first, if not the first, employee York College hired when it was taken over by the Church of Christ. And when everyone else had left--Roger Hawley, Gayle Napier, Dale Larsen, Bob Thomas, Joe Alley, Ed White, Charles Bawcom, and a host of others--Mabrey was still there.
When my family moved back to York to work at the college in 1999, Mabrey was still there. Obviously, a little slower, but his mind was still keen and he was still gainfully employed by the college. By now they called him "Doc." I heard President Wayne Baker say that he never made a major decision that would affect the college without first consulting Doc. He still taught a Bible class even when he was well into his 80s. He served in many capacities at the college. I remember him as the Academic Dean. But probably his best role was he was York College's biggest supporter.
I remember going out to the little golf course just outside of York at Henderson and there was Madge and Mabrey. Madge was really there to watch the ball. Mabrey couldn't see it once he hit it. Mabrey had always had a vision problem. I remember his thick glasses from when I was a kid. But I never heard him complain about it. He just took Madge with him.
My best memory of Mabrey now is when he prayed at the East Hill Church. When the song leader would sit down and the prayer was next, there seemed to be a long pause. It was Mabrey walking down the aisle at his leisurely pace. It wasn't because he couldn't walk faster, I think it was because he didn't want to hurry the fact that we were about to pray to God. And he would begin every prayer the same way. Silence....and then you heard Mabrey's distinctive voice and the words spoken slowly, "Holy.......Holy.......Holy are you O Lord."
A great loss for York College. Mabrey was truly one of a kind. York College's loss is certainly heaven's gain. For his fate is certain because he knew His God well. Mabrey, I am proud to say that I knew you. Give my regards to Mom and Dad. I know they were there to greet you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

-15 Degrees and Still Encouraged

It was -15 degrees this morning when I woke up. Not -15 degrees wind chill--but -15 degrees. Now I can take it. This old boy has had a tooth knocked out, partially cut off a finger on a large table paper cutter, and a variety of other injuries, but there is something about stepping into -15 that is just indescribable. An Anarctic researcher I could never be. Thank God there are those who enjoy that kind of work. Fortunately, I'm not one of them.
But as I put on my Nano this moring, a song came on. I've put the words of this song on this blog before. This has to be one of my all-time favorite songs.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood, support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found,
Dressed in His righteousnes alone, faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

This cabinet maker's song began my day. Before the sun came up and I could get my morning chai, I was encouraged by these words, in spite of -15 degree weather. Then I read of Jesus' resurrection and God's promise to Isaac. Wow! I couldn't have asked for any more. Now for a day of encouragement. Lord, please place the people in front of me that You need encouraged as You have encouraged me today. I pray in your blessed Son's name. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mixed Signals

Someone had posted a picture on a blog I saw the other day. The picture was a glass door with this sign, "THIS IS NOT A DOOR!" On our recent trip to Florida, we were driving back through Mississippi when I saw this sign, "Dry Creek Water Recreation Area." My take on food that is good for you and food that is bad for you--if it tastes good, it's bad for you. If it tastes awful (or has very little taste), it's good for you.
The world sends funny signals doesn't it? God told Eve not to eat of a certain tree in the Garden because she would die. The serpent said if she ate of it, she wouldn't die. Isaiah says, "Woe unto them who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." Things that we think look so good end up being evil in the long run. And that's the way Satan likes it. He's even described as one who dresses up like an angel of light.
Jesus never wavers. He's always there, always dependable, always the same. He'll never leave you. Matthew 28:18-20 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8. He doesn't trick. He tells it like it is. He doesn't sugar-coat, He's always honest, He will never deceive you or leave you. I like those odds. So why is it so very hard to understand? That, my friend, I don't guess I'll ever figure out. Hey, let's go swimming at the Dry Creek Water Recreation Area. I'll meet you there!! Have a great day! JW

Monday, January 12, 2009

Have Thine Own Way

You probably think I'm a jerk when you read these blogs and I reveal my feelings about certain topics. Well, this is another one of those times. I was asked to speak at an assisted living home last Thursday evening. Now I've told you about them before and it's not because I don't want to go. I enjoy my time there and the people are kind and love me and treat me well. I do have to work to come up with something intelligible to say and regardless of what some may think, that's not particularly easy for me to do. But the other thing that I was bothered by was the national title game was on last Thursday night featuring two high-powered offenses and two Heisman trophy winners. The Floria Gators from the SEC were taking on the Big Twelve champions the Oklahoma Sooners for the BCS Championship. You can tell I've watched too much hype.
Once again I was humbled. As we sang with those who gathered that night:

Have thine own way, Lord,
Have think own way.
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me
After Thy will,
While I am waiting,
Yielded and still.

Kind of like the Mary/Martha affair with Jesus. "Martha, Martha...Mary has chosen what is better." It was a slap in the face for me to realize what was really more important. What had more eternal influence? Time spent with those who don't have much more time here on this earth? Or who will win the national football title (of which we'll struggle to remember who won come this time next year)?
I was able to get home in plenty of time to see most of the game. The first quarter was over when I got home and the score was 0-0. I didn't miss anything. And then...I must confess...I fell asleep toward the end of the game.
There you go. Call me what you want. I deserve it. But you know what? I had a great evening with those older people. They make me laugh. I hope you have a good laugh today, too. JW

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

From A Worldly Point of View

I came across something the other day in my reading. And if you keep up with my blog, you'll know that I've determined this will be a year of reconciliation because we have been called to be God's ambassadors for reconciliation. Since God reconciled us to Him, he has called up to be ministers of reconciliation. (II Corinthians 5:16-21, If you haven't read that passage, go read it right now.)
There was a statement in this passage that I've seen before, but now it strikes me differently and it's imperative that we heed this call before we can, indeed, be ministers of reconciliation. Here's the phrase from v. 16--"So from now on we regard no one from a worldy point of view." See, if we go on the way we are, we'll fuss and gripe and judge and imply and justify (ourselves) and insinuate when really we ought to be seeing others through God's eyes. Eyes of forgiveness and grace and mercy and love. The former is regarding others from a worldy point of view, the latter from a godly or spiritual point of view.
That means your colleague who causes you grief, the grocery store clerk who is incompetent, the person who just pulled out in front of you in their car, the telemarketer who just interrupted your supper, the person who despises you for your spiritual stands, you got it, not from a worldy point of view. Instead, you see them as a creation of God, as God sees them. Nobody said this would be easy. But we have God alongside helping us with this. Just try it for today. I will. Let's see how we do. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Searching Eyes

I was in my office late the other night. In this place of sanctuary is a credenza where I have all kinds of memorabila from trips to various parts of the country and beyond. There's a bust of Abraham Lincoln from a trip to Springfield, IL; a rock from the beaches of Normandy, a piece of the Berlin wall, a small model of the Eiffel Tower, carved wooden gadgets my grandfather carved with his own hands, a bronze rose from my mother's casket, rock awards given to me from Girls 1 at Green Valley Bible Camp, and a host of other things that pull up certain memories from my past.
But that's not what caught my eye. What drew my attention and made me move over to the chair to face them were pictures. There's a picture of my Uncle Seldon in his doughboy uniform from World War I and he's wrapped in an American flag. A picture of my mom in her wedding dress. A picture of Woodrow Wilson comprised of thousands of soldiers from Camp Sherman during World War I. My grandfather Garloch is in the picture. This picture was included in Life magazine's 50 greatest photos of the century. There's a picture of my dad when he was young, robust, filled with dreams of changing the world. There's a picture of my daughter Meredith smiling broadly during her senior year of high school. Martha and Nate had their pictures made together and it's such a good picture. There's another picture of a debonair Nate with one of his "got the world on a string" smiles.
I sat there and looked at those pictures and all of their eyes seemed to be fixed on me. All of them looking to me as if to ask, "What are you making of your life?" In the case of my parents, grandparents, and great uncle, "Are you passing on what we gave to you?" As for the rest of my family, "Will you be there for us?" and "Will you lead us?" I was moved to tears as I looked at those who were and are dear to me. It was a God challenge to say to me, "Reflect on your life." My thoughts are the same as Paul's when he said, "But whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..." That's what I want. That's what I want to pass on, to know Christ. And not just to know Him, but to know the surpassing greatness of knowing Him.
What a challenge. I hope I'm up to it. I'll try not to let them down. And neither should you. Have a great day. JW

Monday, January 05, 2009

It's A Great New Day!

Well, it was the first day back at the office in the new year. I was determined that it would start out well and a positive attitude would be the trademark of the day. Nothing, nothing would keep it from being a bad day.
I stopped off at my local Starbucks and they told me that they price of my drink had gone up. Okay, I can handle that because I'm a gold card owner and I get 10% off my drinks anyway. So even if it did go up, it hasn't gotten back up to what I was originally paying before I got my discount? Make sense? Okay, so I'm drinking my drink and I notice something on the lid. It's lipstick! Now by this time, I'm incensed. How dare they give me a used lid for my chai. Then I looked at the color of the lipstick and it looked faintly familiar. Yes, it was my wife's color of lipstick. I had given her a peck right before she exited the car to go to work and that smudge of lipstick on my drink came from, yes, from my lips. But what a sweet reminder of how the day really began.
Then it was my Bible reading and a visit to Cody Elementary to deliver the latest batch of warm gloves for the kids. Great start! Great day! Great life! Nice try Satan. But this is a great start to a new day and a new year. Hope yours is the same. JW

P.S. Starbucks still raised the price of my drink. Stop it! Stop it! Get behind me Satan!

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Here it is 2009. Somebody, I think it was my daughter, told me I needed to write something on my blog since I hadn't in a while. I've noticed that my blogging has decreased every year since I started this. Perhaps you've heard everything I've had to say. I have to admit that sometimes I don't have anything profound to say. In fact, I doubt I've said anything that's terribly profound. But it is me. It's my thoughts and my ramblings. So there you have it, just a part of me.
This will be a year of reconciliation. II Corinthians 5 tells us that God reconciled us to Him so that we could become His ambassadors for what?...for reconciliation. In our church world of divisive talk, disunity, and division, it's time for reconciliation. That's my theme for this year. Reconciliation.
This year I will do all I can do to heal, not rub salt in the wound. I will do all I can to build up, not tear down. I'll become God's ambassador for reconciliation. Join me in this pursuit. And it is a pursuit, because my initial response is to lash out, destroy, and bad mouth. Not this year. And with God's help, it will be a wonderful year. I hope your year is a good one. JW