Friday, October 14, 2011

The Ninety and Nine

One of my favorite hymns is "The Ninety and Nine" - it assures me that my Savior will never abandon me. The author of the words, Eliszabeth Clephane, never lived long enough to hear her words put to music. She wrote it as a poem for children in 1868. It was torn out of a religious paper by Ira D. Sankey and placed in his pocket as an afterthought. In 1874, Ira was in a rivival meeting in Edinburg Schotland with Dwight Moody. Following a powerful sermon Moody asked Ira to sing something appropriate. He thought of the poem in his pocket and pulled it out, placing it on the organ. He sang composing the song as he went - the audience was greatly moved. In fact, Ira related that "Mr. Moody was in tears, and so was I." The hymn remains unchanged to this day.

Friday, September 2, 2011

To My Home

(taken from "To My Home" 1912)
The mother-heart doth yearn at eventide,
And wheresoe'er the straying ones may roam,
When even cometh on they all fare home.
'Neath feathered sheltering the brood doth hide:
In eager flights the birds wing to their nest,
While happy lambs and children miss the sun,
And to the folds do hurtle one by one,
As night doth gather slowly in the west.
All ye who hurry through life's busy day,
Hark to the greeting that the Ages tell,
"The sun doth rise and set, hail and farewell."
But comfort ye your heart where'er ye stray,
for those who through this little day do roam,
When even cometh on shall all fare home.
by Lucy Evangeline Tilley

Friday, August 12, 2011

What is small and round and green and known the world over?

(Taken from "Strange Facts About the Bible" by Webb Garrison)

Olives grow only in comparatively narrow geographical bands. Small variations in temperature and annual rainfall are sufficient to make a region barren of olive trees. As a result, there are only a handful of countries that can produce the olive for commercial purposes. Yet, because of the Scriptures, every person in the world - even those who have never seen an olive tree - knows the significance of an olive branch.

Genesis 8 describes how God flooded the world because of the wickedness of mankind - only saving Noah and his family. When the floods abated, Noah sent out first a raven to see if it was safe to leave the Ark. Then he released a dove who returned to the Ark empty handed at first, but on the second release, the dove brought back an olive leaf. To Noah this symbolized the end of God's wrath and the beginning of peace - it was safe to open the door and view the cleansed world.

So today - the olive branch is universally recognized as the symbol of peace and reconciliation. It has been depicted in countless paintings and described in poems written in every major language of the world.

Gentle Readers - Peace and Hope for you.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Homeward Bound - Full Circle

(From the book "To My Home", poem by Alice Cary 1912)

So many, many roads lie traced

Where wanderers may stray -

Roads twining, weaving, interlaced,

Roads sorrowful and gay.

Running through countryside and town

They climb the mountain steep,

Through storied realms of far renown

Unceasingly they creep.

When silver moonlight floods the nights -

O hark! across the sea,

These roads, the wanderer's delights,

Are calling you and me.

Singing their challenge sweet and clear

For wanderers to roam;

But, all at once, I only hear

The road that leads me home!

Gentle Reader, are you going home?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Alligator Pimples!!

(taken from "Does God Exist" by John Clayton)

The next time you see a picture of an alligator, look closely and you will notice that there are some pimple sized bumps all over the animal's jaws. At first thought, one would think that they are just to make him look even uglier, but no - they are in fact, a highly sensitive system designed to help the animal eat and know what is going on around him!

When scientists studied these bumps, they discovered that the bumps are connected to a nerve called a trigeminal nerve which stimulates the skin and muscles of his face. These nerves travel through holes in the bones of the jaw that bring the nerves up into the the alligator's brain. The "pimples" are actually sensors that detect any changes that happen in the water of the pond where the animal lives. Anything that moves the water will send out ripples that make the nerves in the "pimples" on the alligator's jaw fire up and the animal will come to see what has caused the ripples.

God has designed all living animals with all of the equipment they need to survive, and every time we learn of some new system that animals have we can see the wisdom and designing ability of our Creator.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Show Me The Way

"Show Me The Way"

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox - 1883

Show me the way that leads to the true life.
I do not care what tempests may assail me,
I shall be given courage for the strife,
I know my strength will not desert or fail me;
I know that I shall conquer in the fray;
Show me the way

Show me the way up to a higher plane,
Where body shall be servant to the soul,
I do not care what tides of woe, or pain,
Across my life their angry waves may roll,
If I but reach the end I seek some day;
Show me the way.

Show me the way, and let me bravely climb
Above vain grieving for unworthy treasures;
Above all sorrow that finds balm in time -
Above small triumphs, or belittling pleasures;
Up to those heights where these things seem child's play:
Show me the way.

Show me the way to that calm, perfect peace
Which springs from an inward consciousness of right;
To where all conflicts with the flesh shall cease,
And self shall radiate with the spirit's light.
Though hard the journey and the strife, I pray
Show me the way.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Tie That Binds

Blest Be the Tie That Binds
(taken from the

Dr. John Fawcett was the pastor of a small church at Wainsgate, and was called from there to a larger church in London in 1772. He accepted the call and preached his farewell sermon. The wagons were loaded with his books and furniture, and all was ready for the departure, when his parishioners gathered around him, and with tears in their eyes begged of him to stay. His wife said, “Oh John, John, I cannot bear this.” “Neither can I,” exclaimed the good pastor, “and we will not go. Unload the wagons and put everything as it was before.” His decision was hailed with great joy by his people, and he wrote the words of this hymn in commemoration of the event

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nineteenth-Century Children's Crusade

(taken from "Strange Facts About the Bible" by Webb Garrison)

Before the Civil War children from two lands collected dimes and purchased stock to outfit a special Bible boat. More than 150,000 youngsters in this country and in the Hawaiian Islands invested their dimes in "The Morning Star" - a sloop built especially for the purpose of taking the Scriptures to the Marquesas Islands and the regions of Micronesia.

On her first voyage the ship logged more than 10,000 miles. The Bibles were received with such warmth that when the boat was wrecked, she was replaced by a two-masted vessel bearing the same name. Three more boats bearing the same name were later used as each one wore out taking the Holy Word to the coral atolls and volcanic islands of Oceania in the western Pacific.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rock Me to Sleep Mother

Rock Me To Sleep, Mother

By Elizabeth Akers Allen (1883)

(Dedicated to my Mother who passed away 8 years ago today)

Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again, just for to-night!
Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
Take me again to your heart, as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair,
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep, --
Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.

Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue,
Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you;
Many a summer the grass has grown green,
Blossomed and faded, our faces between,
Yet, with strong yearning and passionate pain,
Long I to-night for your presence again.
Come from the silence so long and so deep -
Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.

Over my heart, in the days that are flown,
No love like mother-love ever has shone;
No other worship abides and endures
Faithful, unselfish, and patient, like yours;
None like a mother can charm away pain
From the sick soul and the world-weary brain
Slumber's soft calms o'er my heavy lids creep -
Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.

Mother, dear mother, the years have been long,
Since I last listened your lullaby song;
Sing, then, and unto my soul it shall seem
Womanhoods's years have been only a dream.
Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace,
With your light lashes just sweeping my face,
Never hereafter to wake or to weep -
Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.

Monday, March 14, 2011

First Organized Disaster Relief

(taken from Strange Facts About the Bible by Webb Garrison)

In light of the recent and ongoing tragedies in Japan, I thought this might be interesting to read about the first recorded organized disaster relief effort.

"The earliest documented account of voluntary aid in time of disaster is reported in Acts 11:27-30.

Secular records of the period confirm and supplement biblical accounts of a great famine during the reign of the fourth Roman emperor, Claudius I (ruler from A.D. 41-54). Crop failures were so extensive that food supplies were exhausted in many regions. Before the critical condition of "great dearth throughout all the world" actually existed, a follower of Jesus named Agabus had a prophetic vision warning of it. He appealed to fellow believers in the big and wealthy city of Antioch. They heard his plea. "Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea: which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul."

Though there are records of famine as early as the time of the Hebrew patriarchs and crop failure was a constant threat throughout the Near East, neither secular nor religious chronicles report love gifts for famine relief before those made in the time of Claudius Caesar.

Monday, February 28, 2011

He's My Preacher Boy

(Written for "Good News" of Oklahoma Christian University by Steve Bailey, pulpit minister for the Mesquite church of Christ)

I first met her when she was 65 years of age. I was 22 and just out of Oklahoma Christian College in April 1976. Little did I know that I was about to meet a "fire ball of a church secretary" and her name was Evelyn Shannon.
After 36 years of ministry, Evelyn and I remain close friends. She is 101 years of age and still going strong. I attended her 101st birthday party and spoke about how I was so blessed to be part of her life. I will never forget that as she briefly addressed the crown with a clear and strong voice as she introduced me to the crowded room as "her preacher boy"!

As the years have gone by, I don't believe I have ever know any one person who has done so much for the cause of Christ with so little. Every day that goes by, she shares Jesus Christ in some way. She helps to facilitate a weekly Bible study with a group of Ladies from her nursing home. In late January, she told me that she was working on yet another project - "I want to make sure the Lord's Supper is brought to the nursing home each Sunday for the residents that are members of the church" she said with resolve. I would not expect anything less from Sister Shannon. Guess what has happened? The church now serves communion each week to the residents.

At age 101 she still gives from her retirement check and her pension. She donates to places like Heritage Christian University, several mission points, World Christian Broadcasting, and of course her congregation. Evelyn says, "I want to do what I can, while I can, and make an impact on the world for the church of Jesus Christ."
Evelyn Shannon is still going strong. I visited her again recently and when I left her room, she kissed me, hugged my neck and told me again, "I am working on another project!".

Evelyn Shannon - may your example be a beacon to others that feel their life is on the sidelines. Let us all remember what Jesus said "Do not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest?' Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white unto harvest." (John 4:35)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Crossing the Bar

by Alfred Lloyd Tennyson (1809-1892)

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me,
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of time and place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Bible No Living Person Can Read

(taken from "Strange Facts About the Bible" by Webb Garrison)

John Eliot is famous as the translator who issued a Bible no living person can read. Working with tribesmen who spoke a Massachusetts dialect of the Algonquian Indian tongue, he published a New Testament for them in 1661. Several natives, among who Cockenoe the interpreter was most important, assisted in the work.

Approximately fifty copies of Eliot's Bible have been preserved, but no one can read it because the tribesmen who spoke the language it employs have become extinct. A few words have been identified by scholars, however. Eliot rendered the phrase "kneeling down to him" (Mark 1:40) by a thirty-four letter word;

Though that word didn't survive, at least one of Eliot's is still in use. For the title "duke" that appears in Gen. 36:40-43, he substituted the native title "mugwump". Used as a slogan in several famous political campaigns, it is still included in the English dictionary as a label for a chieftain or person of importance.

In 1966 one copy of his Bible sold at auction for $43,000 - more money than the missionary-translator made in his entire life.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Yes, Jesus Love Me

(Taken from "The Cyber Hymnal"at

In 1891, when Har­u­tune S. Je­nan­yan, took his wife and lit­tle daugh­ter on a per­i­lous and dan­ger­ous mis­sion­a­ry jour­ney from Tar­sus, Asia Mi­nor, the ci­ty of St. Paul, to Si­vas in Ar­men­ia, they tra­velled on horse-back through rob­ber-in­fest­ed coun­try for four­teen days. Two of the lead­ing rob­ber chiefs on that ter­ri­to­ry were Chol­lo, whose “name cast ter­ror on ev­ery side” since he had suc­cess­ful­ly evad­ed pur­su­ing Gov­ern­ment forc­es for ma­ny months, and Ka­ra Ag­ha, a fa­mous Koor­ish chief, whose name caused even the fear­some Chol­lo to trem­ble. Har­u­tune took his small par­ty di­rect­ly in­to the heart of Ka­ra Ag­ha’s coun­try, tell­ing those he met en­route that he was go­ing to be Ag­ha’s guest in his own vill­age. When they reached the bri­gand’s head-quar­ters, the mis­sion­a­ry asked that they be re­ceived as guests for the night. The sur­prised rob­ber chief gave them ac­com­mo­da­tions, en­ter­tain­ing Har­u­tune in his own spa­cious tent while his wife, Hel­ene, and their lit­tle daugh­ter, Grace were cared for in ano­ther tent by the wo­men of the vill­age. The next morn­ing, be­fore tak­ing their leave, the mis­sion­ary asked for per­miss­ion to read a por­tion of the Ho­ly Script­ure, and then of­fered a pray­er. See­ing that the chief was some­what af­fect­ed, he then said, “Do you wish to have the lit­tle child sing for you?” The chief re­plied, “Oh yes; can she?” Then lit­tle Grace, on­ly three-and-a-half years old, came for­ward and stood be­fore the tall old man and sang two songs she had re­cent­ly learned in the Sun­day School in Tar­sus, sing­ing them in the na­tive tongue, “Je­sus loves me, this I know” and “I want to be an an­gel”. The chief was so deep­ly touched, that he sent his own son, Bek­keer Ag­ha, mount­ed on a hand­some Ar­a­bi­an steed, to lead the small mis­sion­a­ry par­ty through the rest of his ter­ri­to­ry.