Songspiration: Because He Lives

“Because He Lives”, written by Bill and Gloria Gaither in 1971, is one of my all-time favorite songs to sing on Easter Sunday. According to Wikipedia, a majority of the Gaither songs have been sung and recorded by Christian artists such as the David Crowder Band, Carman, Sandi Patty, The Cathedral Quartet, The Speers and the Heritage Singers; and country singers such as The Statler Brothers; and pop artists such as Elvis Presley. Their songs are known worldwide.

The Gaither Trio has received a number of Grammy Awards and GMA Dove Awards, as well as other honors such as ASCAP “Best Gospel Song of the Year”; Christian “Songwriter of the Century”; and they were named among the top 75 American entrepreneurs in “Entrepreneur Magazine” in 1997.

Since Gaither first began singing with the Bill Gaither Trio in the 1950s, he has constantly been performing. The Bill Gaither Trio originally consisted of Bill, his brother Danny Gaither and his sister Mary Ann Gaither. In about 1964, Bill’s wife, Gloria, took Mary Ann’s place. They founded the Gaither Music Company, which includes a record company, concert booking, television production, copyright management, retail store, recording studio, and telemarketing for the Gaither organization, as well as a retail center called Gaither Family Resources.

Gaither’s Homecoming Tours, which began in 1991, brought together major stars of the southern gospel and CCM industry, such as Gary McSpadden, Steve Green, Lee Young, Jon Mohr, Mark Lowry, Larnelle Harris, as well as others.

This Sunday is Easter Sunday and this holiday will be celebrated around the world. The purpose: to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. A number of churches, various denominations, will sing this renowned hymn and will sing it with fervor. It is a song that speaks of Jesus’ love, death, and resurrection, and it is because of this that “we can face tomorrow and life is worth living because He lives.”

As you celebrate Easter resurrection Sunday with your family and loved ones, let us all remember the words in Hebrews 7:24-25:

“But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood; therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

May the Lord bless you and keep you all.
Blessings,
Yvonne

Songspiration: In The Garden

This Sunday we will celebrate Palm Sunday. Just before Jesus was betrayed, he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane asking God to “take the cup from him”, knowing that he would be betrayed and then crucified.

According to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, “In the Garden” was written in 1912 by C. Austin Miles, who served as an editor and manager at Hall-Mack publishers for 37 years. This song was first published in 1912 and popularized during the Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns of the early twentieth century by two members of his staff, Homer Rodeheaver and Virginia Asher.

Since that time, this song has been recorded and sung by such artists as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, and Glen Campbell, as well as other recording artists throughout the years. The song is also included on Johnny Cash’s 5-CD box set “Cash Unearthed.”

According to Austin Miles’ great-granddaughter, the song was written “in a cold, dreary and leaky basement in Pitman, New Jersey that didn’t even have a window in it let alone a view of a garden.” I would imagine Austin Miles depicted and imagined a beautiful garden where he felt safe, peaceful, and loved by Jesus as he wrote this beautiful hymn.

When I think about a garden, I envision a place of peace and tranquility, where one can go to reflect and pray, and listen for the voice of God, and talk with him. In this beautifully acclaimed hymn, the first verse and chorus are as follows:

“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And he tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

In Matthew 26:36-56, the story is told that Jesus took his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane asking that his disciples stay “awake” while Jesus prayed. But each time Jesus returned to his disciples, He found them asleep. It is during these three times that Jesus tries to tell them that He is going to be betrayed. It wasn’t until Judas arrived with the soldiers that the disciples actually realized what Jesus was talking about. Luke 22:39-46 also recounts this story: Jesus’ betrayal and arrest.

Jesus must have felt “let down” by His disciples because the scripture tells us that Jesus even questioned them about why they could not stay awake for even one hour while He was alone praying.

How would we have reacted if we had the chance to actually be in the same situation? Would we have fallen asleep as well? For many of us, staying awake would have been very difficult.

Jesus wants us to walk, talk, and tarry with Him and He says, “Come to the garden where it is peaceful and you will find rest in me.”

May each of you find joy, peace, and rest in Him continually.

Blessings,
Yvonne

Songspiration: The Old Rugged Cross

Since we are in the Lenten season, I wanted to share some songs with you that depict what and why we are celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. An old favorite is “The Old Rugged Cross.”

What is the definition of the cross? Thesaurus.com states it as follows:

“1. A structure consisting essentially of an upright and a transverse piece, used to execute persons in ancient times;
2. Any object, figure, or mark resembling a cross, as two intersecting lines; and
3. A mark resembling a cross, usually an X, made instead of a signature by a person unable to write.”

Meaning of the Cross

“The cross is a great contradiction:
Death and life,
Hate and love,
Violence and peace,
Accusations and forgiveness,
Brokenness and wholeness,
All is lost…yet everything is gained,
Destruction and restoration,
Defeat and victory,

The Cross is Love.”–Crosswalk.com

Research facts about this hymn:

Written by George Bennard (1873-1958), a Methodist evangelist;
Began writing the hymn in 1912 and finished it in 1913;
Published in 1915;
First recorded by two members of Billy Sunday’s staff–1921;
Song speaks of writer’s Christian experience rather than his adoration of God;
The song has been performed by some of the 20th Century’s most important recording artists, including Andy Griffith, Brad Paisley, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash and June Carter, George Beverley Shea, Willie Nelson, etc.

Some of the scriptures (NIV version) that mention the cross are as follows:

I Corinthians 1:18: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…”

Philippians 3:10-11: “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings (on the cross), becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Luke 9:23: “Then He said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'” (This verse is stated in three gospels: Mathew, Mark, and Luke.)

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This is what the cross should mean to each and every one of us.

“On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross…”

But Jesus did not stay on the cross. We will once again be celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday. Let us remember the cross but also that He arose so that we would not perish but have eternal life.

Blessings,
Yvonne

Songspiration: “Amazing Grace”

The song, “Amazing Grace”, has been sung throughout the ages since it was written by John Newton in 1779. Some facts that you may not know about Newton’s famous hymn are:

“The original title was ‘Faith’s Review and Expectation’, not ‘Amazing Grace’.
The song was written in 1779 based on Newton’s study of I Chronicles 17:16-17.
A nearly forgotten verse that Newton added near the end of ‘Amazing Grace’ were the words: ‘The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine; But God, Who called me here below, shall be forever mine.'”

This past weekend we attended a memorial service for my sister’s son who died at the age of 41. My husband, a licensed minister, talked about his life and asked those present to remember all the good things that came from his life. He was also a son, brother, husband, father (two daughters), and a friend to so many. I was asked if I could share in song and “Amazing Grace” was the first one that came to mind. I sang it at the last memorial service that we attended and the song is one that everyone can relate to.

So what exactly is grace? According to the Oxford Dictionary…

Grace is (1) simple elegance or refinement of movement; and (2) (In Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”

There are several scriptures mentioning grace as follows:

II Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Ephesians 4:7: “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

In reading these passages, we realize that grace is a gift from God because He “apportioned it” to each and every one of us.

At the beginning of “Amazing Grace”, Newton also mentions another word: wretch. He said…”Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…” In what connotation then is the word wretch used? The Oxford Dictionary describes a wretch as follows:

“A wretch is…Old English wrecca (also in the sense of ‘banished person’) of West Germanic origin, related to German Recke ‘warrior, hero’, also to the verb wreak.”

Because of the ‘dangers, toils, and snares’ that Newton found his life following, he recognized that he needed someone other than himself to lift him from his sinful life (a wretch) that he had been following and asked God to deliver him, according to a summary of Newton’s life written by Robert J. Morgan.

Without the help of God, it is easy to get caught up in the “things of the world” and the “temptations” like my sister’s son. His life ended tragically, but now he is in the arms of God.

May we always remember God’s grace in our lives. It is a gift to all of us and a reassurance of God’s love.

Blessings,
Yvonne

Coffee Inspiration: Pour A Cup of Faith and Hope

The Oxford Dictionary explains that Faith is:

“1. Complete trust or confidence in something or someone;
2. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual comprehension rather than proof.”

On the other hand, Merriam Webster dictionary describes hope as:

“1. To cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true;
2. To expect with confidence;
3. To desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment.”

There are various scriptures that describe both faith and hope. Some of them on faith are as follows:

Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

II Corinthians 5:7 – “We live by faith, not by sight.”

I Corinthians 13:13 – “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Scriptures describing hope are as follows:

Romans 12:12 – “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Psalm 39:7 – “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”

Hebrews 6:11 – “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.”

As I searched the scriptures regarding faith and hope, I was reminded that “without faith, there is no hope.” For example, several years ago our family lost a loved one. In a conversation with her fiance, he told me that he no longer had any hope. As I listened to his grieving heart, I asked the Lord to help me listen and to give me words to comfort him. It was then that I realized that even in a time of loss, that God wants us to continue to have faith in Him and in doing so we would have hope. As I mentioned this to him, I could see a change in his attitude and countenance. Since that day I have thought of and prayed for him and hoped that in time he would come to realize that there is “hope even in the darkest of times” when we put our trust and faith in God.

In “Thank Heaven for Coffee (and in other little pleasures)” by Barbour Publishing, Inc., I found the following quotes on faith and hope:

Faith: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

Hope: “Look to this day…for yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision…but today well-lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”

Remember, “He that lives in hope dances without music.”–George Herbert; and,

“Beginnings are always scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts. You just have to give hope a chance to float up.”–Steven Rogers

May the Lord bless your hearts and minds as you have faith and hope in what God can do.

Blessings,
Yvonne

Coffee Inspiration: Pour A Cup of Kindness

The Oxford Dictionary states that “kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

Psalm 63:3 – “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.”

Hugh Mitchell wrote the song, “Thy Loving Kindness” using Psalm 63:3-4. The words are as follows:

Vs. 1: Thy loving kindness is better than life, Thy loving kindness is better than life.
My lips shall praise Thee, thus will I bless Thee: I will lift up my hands unto Thy name.
Vs. 2: I lift my hands, Lord, unto Thy name, I lift my hands, Lord, unto Thy name.
My lips shall praise Thee, thus will I bless Thee: I will lift up my hands unto Thy name.”

The Scripture is filled with words of wisdom about kindness and how we should act toward one another. Some of these words are as follows:

Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.”

I Corinthians 13:4 – “Love is patient, love is kind….”

Isaiah 63:7 – “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us–yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.”

When I read these words, I see that kindness then is actually an act of faithfulness. If we truly love, then we will show this kindness towards one another and in doing so show our faithfulness to Him.

In “Thank Heaven for Coffee (and other little pleasures)” an Arabian Proverb is stated as follows:

“A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

This is the type person I want to be: someone who listens with a kind heart. May the Lord help all of us to be like Him and show kindness to those whom we come in contact with each and every day.

Blessings,
Yvonne

Coffee Inspiration: Pour A Cup of Patience

We are told that “patience is a virtue”. We also teach our children to “be patient” until we can get around to helping them. Patience, according to the Oxford Dictionary, states that “it is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”

The Bible clearly defines patience as it relates to the characteristics of a Christian as follows:

I Corinthians 13:4 – “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

Galatians 5:22 – “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…”

Psalm 27:14 – “Wait (be patient) for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.”

Waiting and being patient has never been one of my most notable characteristics, but the Lord has shown me that if I wait and am patient, that he works all things out for my good and even better than I could have imagined. So instead of jumping to conclusions, I try to wait and pray and see what God is going to do about the situation. He has never failed me yet and He has always “shown me a better way.”

In “Thank Heaven for Coffee (and other little pleasures)” by Barbour Publishing, Inc., it has this to say about patience:

Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will be powerless to vex your mind.” – Leonardo DA Vinci

The above quote sums up how we should grow in patience and Galatians clarifies the results of patience–the fruit of the spirit will be more readily seen in each and every one of us.

May the Lord help each of us to “grow in patience” as we walk with Him daily.

Blessings,
Yvonne