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

Coffee Inspiration: Pour A Cup of Courage

As a child, you may remember the story of the “Wizard of Oz” and how, along with Dorothy, the lion, tin man, and scare crow all traveled together to the Emerald City to see the Wizard so that they could ask for something they were missing in their lives. Dorothy wanted to go home, the lion wanted courage, the tin man wanted a heart, and the scare crow wanted a brain.

Today we are going to talk about the lion’s request: courage. Merriam Webster Dictionary states that “courage is mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

God’s Word is filled with scriptures speaking about courage and strength. Here are three for you to think about when you need courage from the Lord if and when you are going through a difficult time in your life:

Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I Chronicles 28:20 – “David said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.'”

Psalm 31:24 – “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”

I believe Billy Graham summed up the word courage when he said:

“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.” – Quote from “Thank Heaven for Coffee (and other little pleasures) by Barbour Publishing, Inc.”

May we, like the lion, be of good courage and take heart because our God is always with us.

Blessings,
Yvonne

Coffee Inspiration: Pour a Cup of Love

Crosscards.com

On Tuesday, February 14, we will be celebrating the “love holiday”–Valentine’s Day. We have heard that “love makes the world go round”, “love and marriage come together like a horse and carriage”, and “all we need is love”; but what does the dictionary have to say about love: The Oxford Dictionary gives the following definitions:

“Love:
1) An intense feeling of deep affection
synonyms: fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy
2) A person or thing that one loves
synonyms: beloved, loved one, love of one’s life, dear, dearest”

Husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, and family and friends try to surprise one another with a special gift on Valentine’s Day in order to try and show/express their deepest feelings of love for that person or persons.

In Corinthians 13:4-8, Christ shows us His definition/teachings of what love truly is:

“Love is patient
Love is kind
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude
It is not self-seeking
It is not easily angered
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”

He sums up the chapter by saying (verse 13):

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

I don’t know about you, but whenever I read Jesus’ words regarding what love actually is and what it means to me as a Christian, I am immediately examining my heart and life so that I can truly show this kind of love to others each and every day. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I let the “little things” bother me and I am not thankful for all that Jesus has blessed me with. However, I get down on my knees and ask His forgiveness if I have wronged someone or said something rude. We are not perfect. We are on a journey in this world and if we show the kind of love that Christ has shown us, then this world would be a better place. All we need to do is remember to ask for His help.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this coming week, remember to show our family/friends/loved ones that we love and care about them and how we can always “protect, trust, hope, and always persevere” because “love never fails.”

In “Thank Heaven for Coffee (and other little pleasures)” published by Barbour Publishing Inc., we are reminded of the following scripture:

A CUPFUL OF LOVE
“God has poured out His love into our hearts”–Romans 5:5 (NIV)
Since we have been so loved, let us not neglect sharing that love with others even in the simple offering of a cup of joe.”

Blessings to All,
Yvonne

Coffee Inspiration: Pour a Cup of Peace

FreeFoto.com

John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

For the past couple of weeks as I have watched and listened to the news, I have thought a lot about the meaning of “peace.” The Oxford Dictionary states that peace is “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.” Jesus mentions peace a number of times in His word, but in John 14:27 this scripture talks about the Holy Spirit–the Counselor whom the Father will send in His name–who will “teach us all things” and “remind us of everything” regarding how we are to live our lives for Him.

In the book, “Thank Heaven for Coffee (and other little pleasures)” published by Barbour Publishing, I found the following quote by Henry Drummond which summons up and is a reminder of how we should live our lives each day:

ONE CHANCE
“I shall pass through this world but once.
Any good thing therefore that I can do,
or any kindness that I can show to any
human being, let me do it now. Let me not
defer it or neglect it, for I shall not
pass this way again.”–Henry Drummond

At the end of the Sunday service each week at the UMC Church where I have been playing the piano, the congregation sings the following parting hymn which I believe sums up the word peace as it pertains to our world today (live peacefully, in one accord, and in unity with one another):

LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson
“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God our creator, children all are we.
Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me; let this be the moment now.
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow:
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

May God help each one of us to allow the peace that “passeth all understanding” begin in our own hearts this coming week.

Blessings,
Yvonne

Coffee Inspiration: Pour A Cup of Blessing

“Bless the Lord Oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits…” (ESV) Psalm 103:2

How do we always know that Jesus is readily seen in our lives by others? Is it by our deeds and actions? Is it by our words of encouragement and sharing our faith in Jesus Christ?

On January 1, 2017, this was the question that the minister posed to the congregation as we pondered what it meant to each of us. He asked for individuals to share their experiences of how and when God made it clear that He was using them as a testimony of their faith to reach individuals who perhaps were struggling and who needed to learn more about God’s grace and faithfulness.

During this one hour service, I received a text message from our former foster son who is married and lives quite a distance away from our current residence. He shared that while they were in their church service–at the same time as ours–they began singing the song, “Make Me A Blessing” and he remembered “the blessing you are in my life” and wanted to share that thought at that exact moment. Talk about God’s timing!

Needless to say, it touched my heart and I shared that with him after the service. As I shared my thoughts with the congregation on “how do we know if God is seen in our lives by others”, I was overcome with memories and thoughts of having had our former foster son in our home for a number of years and how truly thankful I was that God had used my husband and I to show him the love of Christ.

We never know during our life’s journey what effect and/or impact we will have on others at the time; however, my husband and I have been shown and blessed with knowing that God has truly used us throughout our 40+ years in ministry and that we actually got to see some of the “fruits of our labor” with the many lives that God has brought us into contact with. Even a small word of encouragement could leave a significant impact without our realizing it as well.

“Eternal Blessings: A man may lose the good things of this life against his will; but if he loses the eternal blessings, he does so with his own consent.”–Augustine, “Thank Heaven for Coffee and other little pleasures”

May the God of grace and glory bless your lives and use you as a blessing to others.

Blessings,
Yvonne