Saturday Song: It Is Well

How was your week? Was it long? Busy? How about just plain rough? One of those weeks that seems like its only purpose is to remind a person how many things could go awry.

Sin. Temptations. Bad attitudes.

Sickness. Car trouble. Plumbing trouble. 

Hurt. Relational drama. Forgiveness withheld. Bitterness.

Stress. Expectations. Fear. Anxiety.

In the middle of one of those weeks, I had one word given to me: perspective. That’s what all rough weeks need. Perspective.

That word drove me to Psalms. There I saw that my perspective is all too often on the things going wrong below. I spend so much time looking to the left and right of me, that I forget to look up.

But David did. (And he was having more than a rough week.)

The unfolding of your words gives light: it imparts understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts. Make your face to shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes. Psalm 119: 130-135

Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight. Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live. Psalm 119: 142-144

In the middle of all trouble, big or small, there is…

  • Help from the Maker of Heaven and Earth (Psalm 121)
  • Steadfast love (Psalm 136)
  • Forgiveness and Full Redemption (Psalm 130)

In the middle of great sorrow, the Holy Spirit poured out remembrance of these truths to Horatio G. Spafford, who penned the words to “It is Well”. (Read the story and lyrics here.)

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll:
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul.

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Other lesser known verses:

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

By God’s grace, arranged and played by Katie

 

 

 

Saturday Song: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

This past week was Valentine’s Day.  Hard to miss, with all the pink, red, balloons, flowers, candy, stuffed animals, fancy dinners… and that was just Facebook.  Love was definitely in the air and to be celebrated.

I’ll admit, I did have some awkward moments, a sort of sense of failure really, when I walked past the displays in the stores, realizing that none of the tokens of love would be given to me.

Valentine’s evening, however, brought a greater token of love. I found myself sitting at a table with friends, talking about the meaning of 1 John 4:10:

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Atoning — to make reparation or supply satisfaction

Sacrifice — the act of offering to a deity something precious; destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else

Jesus was the precious offering. He supplied reparation, not for his sins, but mine.

“Your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Isaiah 6:7

All else, no matter how great and wonderful, are trifles compared to the love of God for me. That verse, like so many, is a token to imprint on my heart the realization of God’s love.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all… (Isaac Watts)

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river. (Frances J. Crosby)

By the grace of God, arranged and played by Katie

 

 

Saturday Song: He Will Hold Me Fast

When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast

Those He saves are His delight
Christ will hold me fast
Precious in His holy sight
He will hold me fast
He’ll not let my soul be lost
His promises shall last
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast

For my life He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast
Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
Till our faith is turned to sight
When he comes at last

Chorus:
He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

Singing this song while meditating on God’s promises in Scripture encourages me to push through feelings and renew my thinking.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) Hebrews 10:23
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
… But God, who called me here below, shall be forever mine. – Isaac Newton

He Will Hold Me Fast/Amazing Grace

By God’s grace, arranged and played by Katie

 

He Will Hold Me Fast: ORIGINAL WORDS VV 1-2 BY ADA HABERSHONNEW WORDS AND MUSIC BY MATT MERKER©2013 GETTY MUSIC PUBLISHING (BMI) / MATT MERKER MUSIC (BMI) (ADMIN BY MUSICSERVICES.ORG)

Snow Day Song

18“Come now, let us settle the matter,”

says the Lord.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red as crimson,

they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

Snow brings out our sense of wonder. We celebrate children seeing their first snow. We wish for it at Christmas. It transforms cities and landscapes into hushed, peaceful wonderlands.

I hope I never lose my joy and wonder over the snow that God sends. I also hope I never lose the sense of wonder that it is a metaphor for my forgiveness. God has power to send the snow from his storehouses (Job 38:22) and he has the power to forgive. I had nothing but the scarlet letter of the adulteress; he took my sin and the stain of it and made it pure. I cannot justify myself any more than I can send the snow. But I will rejoice that my God does.

And when before the throne

I stand in him complete

“Jesus died my soul to save,”

My lips shall still repeat,

“Jesus paid it all!

All to him I owe.

Sin had left a crimson stain-

He washed it white as snow.”

Jesus Paid It All

Saturday Song: Now I Belong to Jesus

After reading this post from Desiring God, I felt inspired to play some old hymns that I haven’t sung or played for quite a while. I couldn’t help but smile fondly at the hymnal when I pulled it from my piano bag. I remember reading some of my first words out of a hymnal like this… but this one was mine.

Without looking, I can tell this book apart from its hymnal twin in my bag, just by the feel of the cover. I have been playing out of this little book for 20 years now. I know how each page falls open and where each dog-eared hymn is. The margins are full of my notes. It is full of the songs that helped raise me. It’s been my companion at funerals and weddings, at Christmas programs and my grandma’s living room. When I play the old hymns, I hear the voices who used to sing with me harmonizing with the notes – sweet echoes from the past.

As dear as this little hymnal and the memories are to me, the words in it remind me of a deeper affection. A longing that is universal: to belong. Not just to fit in to a temporary group or fragile social structure, but to belong securely, completely, forever.

Tonight the little hymnal reminded me that I belong to one who is more constant than the most faithful companion ever could be.

Jesus my Lord will love me forever, from him no pow’r of evil can sever; He gave his life to ransom my soul- now I belong to him!

Once I was lost in sin’s degradation, Jesus came down to bring me salvation; Lifted me up from sorrow and shame- now I belong to him!

Joy floods my soul, for Jesus has saved me, Freed me from sin that long had enslaved me; His precious blood he gave to redeem- now I belong to him!

Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me. Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.

…You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefather, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Peter 18-19

A Toy Piano and the Promise of Eternal Life

 

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Triggers can be unusual, capricious things.  At least for me, they are almost always unwelcome. Last Wednesday, my trigger was a small, worn-out, Little Tikes piano. A toy piano like the one I started playing almost from the time I could sit up by myself. A toy piano like the one my grandpa tried to teach me to play  by ear — even though I didn’t understand why this was necessary since I had perfectly good, color-coded music. Wasn’t it easier to just use that? Years later, I learned to appreciate that lesson from my first piano teacher. But it was too late. My suspender-wearing, organ-playing, book-reading, pocket-knife-carrying, even-tempered, loving grandpa with a wood shop in his basement was gone. Last Wednesday, that little, out-of-tune piano in the church nursery brought back what little I can remember of my grandpa’s voice… and it reminded me how much I could miss a man who has been dead almost 25 years.

Then, with a goodness and comfort that passes all understanding, the Holy Spirit stopped me from lingering alone in that hurt. He prompted me to also remember that there will come a day when I won’t miss my grandpa anymore. In my future, there is a day when both the pain of missing Grandpa and the joy of being reunited with him in heaven will be consumed by the unimaginably perfect joy of living in Christ’s presence.  And no one will be able to take that joy away from me. (John 16:22)

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Lord, tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait- the sky, not the grave is our goal. Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord! Blessed rest, blessed hope of my soul.

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, a song in the night, o my soul!

– Horatio G. Spafford, It Is Well

If Christ can be trusted with such a future, then He is to be trusted with my present and my past, whatever the joy, pain, or memories… even the ones triggered by little toy pianos.

Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18

Saturday Song: the musician’s mission

Tonight I read this excellent blog post from Desiring God: Preaching Jesus With Our Songs

Here are a few of my favorite thought-provoking quotes:

If Ivan Illich’s words are true, “We live in a world that does not carry within itself the reason for its own existence,” then music must play a significant role in our achieving clarity and inspiration. Music can say to the hardened heart, “There is meaning to your existence! There is purpose behind why you are here!”

We must value and uphold words, sound doctrine, passionate preaching and proclamation, and clear teaching; but the very realities we’re tasked with preaching and teaching are simply too profound, too glorious, and too weighty to remain in the realm of monologue and dialogue. We must sing. These realities are not to be merely analyzed, but they’re to be felt, experienced, enjoyed, and delighted in — all things that music and song serve.

All great beauty opens us up to experience things we otherwise would never experience. It expands the soul. It produces a longing in our hearts for wholeness in a world of brokenness, for something right and ordered in a world of chaos. When we perceive various forms of beauty around us, they have a unique quality of moving us by their beauty toward the glory of our Lord.

Music is an ongoing exercise that, at its best, creates channels for the gospel to illuminate our lives in light of who God is. God gave Moses a song in Deuteronomy 31 so that when the children of Israel went through various trials and troubles, the song would confront them as a testimony to whom their God was. This is true of all great music; it speaks with clarity of the God of beauty behind the music.