Hymn-Theology – Thou My Great Father


Thou my great Father, and I thy true son, Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.” ~  English Methodist version, 1964, “Be Thou My Vision

Sometimes we forget that becoming a Christian is more than acknowledging the existence of God or believing that Jesus is our Savior.

“Thou my great Father”

When we become a Christian we become part of a family.

So many struggle with loneliness. Will a husband solve that? Will a child cure that longing? To whom do we belong? God puts the lonely in families.

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.” Psalm 68:5-6

This is one of the benefits of the church life. We come together, worship together, serve together, learn together. We pray together, counsel one another, and speak to each other in psalms and hymns. We lift one another up.

“speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” Ephesians 5:19

“Thou in me dwelling”

He dwells in us – Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col 1:27).

We are one with him and He with us. Just as Jesus prayed,

“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” John 17:22-23

When we are one with Him, we are one with each other. We have a Great Father. We have sonship! There is so much to encourage us just in these two lines.

For Thought & Discussion:

  • Why Did I Write this?
  • What are your thoughts about this stanza?
  • Can you think of any other hymns or songs with similar themes?
  • See also:
  • Are there any other verses that back up this hymn theologically?
  • Have you used this song lately?  Have you explained it?

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Why is Easter Important?


Jesus' Tomb by upyernoz, on Flickr

Jesus’ Tomb by upyernoz, on Flickr

Easter is the celebration of the resurrection after the death (Good Friday) and burial of Jesus, the Christ.

I don’t write to the unconverted. I don’t believe anyone can be convinced.

But if you need encouragement today, please continue.

Good Friday

Good Friday (some people think He died on Thursday, but I’ll leave this to the apologetics crew) is when Jesus died in our place.

Sin has a cost. We like to focus on the love of God but seldom consider the cost of sin. Furthermore, when we do focus on the love of God we forget that it was His love that motivated Him to die.

Our Sin

The Bible teaches us that all of us have sinned.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Whether it sounds appealing to our modern view, there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. In the context of the Bible, and His laws (rules) that He set up (it’s His world, after all), this cannot be bypassed or hacked.

“And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22

If you want to read the legal case set against us, try reading the Book of Romans. Paul does a good job laying out the case for all things “New Testament.” Suffice it, for the sake of this blog post, to say, that we are sinners, needing redemption, and only the blood of Christ (fully man yet fully God) would be acceptable. Continue reading

Hymn-Theology – Whatever My Lot


“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

It Is Well with My Soul by Horatio Spafford and Philip Bliss.

Ah, the emotional power and connection of Hymns. The story of hardship, heartache, and loss is sure to break your heart. Was he the only one to suffer? No. But he didn’t blame God.

Joseph, Job, even Jesus all suffered without cause.

How many people have you known who, after adversity, say,

“I tried prayer; it didn’t work.”

I believe part of the universal love and appeal of this hymn is that we all do suffer. Christianity isn’t a “get out of jail free” card. It doesn’t exempt us from the sufferings of the world. In fact, Jesus tells us that there will be tribulation in this world, but in Him we have peace.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Continue reading

Final Greetings: Colossians 4:7-15


FarewellTychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here. Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.  Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.” Colossians 4:7-15

There’s a joke that goes around in the church life, especially if you’ve ever spent time on staff.

“Ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people.”

We laugh because people can be problems and people have problems. But ministry is just a fancy-pants word that means “service.” If there are no people, there is no one to serve.

Pastor Brian Wood used to say:

“Ministry is people.”

He is right.

People come and people go. I’ve been serving since 1996 and I’ve seen almost all there is to see. People who you thought were faithful have left like Demas. People who you had no confidence in like Mark (Acts 15:37-39) became invaluable (2 Timothy 4:11). Continue reading

Songwriting – The Musician’s Sermon


An Old Music Stand

An Old Music Stand by MTSOFan on Flickr

Do you think the lyrics in church music are important? How accurate should the lyrics be? How much artistic license should be allowed?

recent discussion on my Facebook Page about a line in a song that has been bugging me prompted much of this post.

At the last Calvary Chapel Worship Leader’s Conference  I went to in 2008 I took a songwriting class from Brenton Brown. This is what I remember from that sesson.

Every song is a sermon.

The chorus is the thesis statement.

All of the verses should support that thesis.

In the list of spiritual gifts the one that is most applicable to the worship leader and church songwriter is teaching. Continue reading

“I Will Bless the Lord” from the CD “Come Away”


I Will Bless the Lord (CCLI #4570318)

ImageThe Lord gave me this song early in my writing career. Ben Camp, my piano teacher at the time, put the chords to this song, as he did to most of the songs on this CD.

Often we think we should praise the Lord when we feel good, but it is just the opposite. When we choose to worship, is when He fills us with His Spirit.

He is worthy of our praise and that is enough reason to worship. The Psalms are a good source of prayers and songs that David and the other Psalmists wrote to express themselves to the Lord. Whenever I am down, I turn to David, the worship leader of worship leaders.

Here is a video of the recorded version:

Continue reading

Communication on Fire? Stop, Drop, And Roll



And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.  James 3:6

Are you the smackdown king in your marriage? Do you have a blackbelt in Tongue-Foo?  Do you have a quick, witty, albeit cuttng, remark on hand for quick and easy use?

Mercier and I are both adept at making the snide remark or two; however, our goal is to maintain healthy communication.  (I say “goal” because, much like yourself, we are only human and are bound to make mistakes.)

When I observe couples engaging in this sort of tit-for-tat war (when really a simple answer would suffice), I am reminded the fire prevention public service announcements during Saturday cartoons: Stop, Drop, and Roll Continue reading

Christmas Song Collaboration: Gift of Love


Good and Perfect Gift   (CCLI 5350331)

I wrote this for our church ladies’ luncheon based on James 1:17.  Joel Klampert and I collaborated to re-work this song.

Get the chart here:

In the Key of C (G Capo on 5th Fret)

Here’s my newest version.

Here’s Joel’s first draft.

Continue reading

Grace Be With You: Colossians 4:16-18

Grace... by Sharon, on Flick

Grace… by Sharon, on Flick

Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen. ‭Colossians‬ ‭4‬:‭16-18

This letter (epistle) to the church of Colossee (and to the church of Laodiceans and to us) ends with “Grace be with you.” It began with

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Col 1:1b

Grace, unmerited favor, comes to us after we’ve made peace with God, not that it was our work because we know “He himself is our Peace.” from Ephesians 2:14. Yet, we have to acknowledge the end of the war with God – that’s peace.

Take heed to the ministry.

We need God’s Grace, and His Presence to be with us to fulfill our ministry. It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun. I’ve experienced church breakups and ministry splits. I’ve seen people get divorced and leave the church. And when people leave the Lord, sometimes they leave you, too.

Remember my chains.

There are many Christians in this world and throughout history who have not had it as easy as the American church. Though we are ridiculed, sued, and downcast, we have yet to be thrown in prison, have our homes taken from us, been beaten or tortured, or killed simply because of our faith.

Grace be with you.

The one who believes they earned salvation doesn’t need grace. The rest of us know we need it.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

There is no better benediction than “grace be with you.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” Philemon 1:25

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. ” Romans 16:24

“Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” Galatians 6:18

Questions for Further Thought:


All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Walk in Wisdom: Colossians 4:5-6

Danger - High Surf by Bridget Willard

Danger – High Surf by Bridget Willard

“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Colossians 4:5-6

Walking in wisdom is our call but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The world wants us to walk in its direction, be concerned with its issues. Candidly, more and more even here in America we face ridicule or lawsuits for expressing our beliefs. But I digress.

Paul says to “walk in wisdom toward those who are outside.” Who’s outside? It’s safe to say the people outside are not inside. In this context, he is referring to the church and the world outside of the church: the secular world.

Redeem the Time

Something that has been used but has some value can be redeemed like recycling aluminum cans or plastic bottles. Time is one of the only unsustainable resources we have. Time cannot be manufactured. Rather, it must be spent wisely. Be wise in how you spend your time and with whom. There are many warnings in the Book of Proverbs about foolish versus wise behavior. Continue reading

Meanwhile Praying For Us: Colossians 4:3-4

IMG_7306“meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:3-4 

The life of a Christian worker is not a safe, cushy life. No, it’s quite the opposite. We don’t seem to market it that way. Even I thought it would be like Disneyland – “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

As a Christian for over 20 years, having served in several ministries since 1996, I have suffered in every way save physical harm. Many overseas missionaries face threats to their health, belongings, and even their lives.

One of the things we should pray for is that the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit prospers.

Pray that God Would Open a Door

Not everyone’s heart is open. In Acts it says that God opened the heart of Lydia. In Ephesians Paul prays that the “eyes of our hearts would be enlightened.” (Eph 1:18)

“Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.”  Acts 16:14

Continue reading

Continue Earnestly In Prayer: Colossians 4:2

Prayer is the language by Leland Francisco, on Flickr

Prayer is the language by Leland Francisco, on Flickr

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving

 Colossians 4:2 

Do you wonder why Paul has to tell the church (us) to continue earnestly in prayer? Why do we have to be vigilant?

Jesus even had to explain that we always should pray and not give up because even an unjust judge will give into persistence. (Luke 18:1-8)

Firstly, all of the things requested of us in previous chapters (loving one another, submitting to authority, being just to one another, etc.) can only happen by a supernatural enabling by the Holy Spirit. That only comes by prayer. It’s very important that we rely on Him even to obey.

“…for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” Acts 17:28


 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Secondly, we need to be thankful. Thankfulness is a key part of our relationship with Christ and helps our perspective remain true.

 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

If we know in our minds that we need to rely upon Him, then why do we fail in practice? This is the vigilance that is lacking. We need to be aware.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

We are quick to give up. I believe it’s because we question our worthiness, waiver in our faith, and get discouraged.

Questioning the Right

It’s hard to be persistent if you question whether or not you have a right to your request. But we know that since the veil was torn top to bottom at the death on the cross, all men and women who accept Jesus have the right to be in the Holy of Holies. Continue reading

Just and Fair: Colossians 4:1

Justice sends mixed messages by Dan4th Nicholas, on Flickr

Justice sends mixed messages by Dan4th Nicholas, on Flickr

Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. 

Colossians 4:1

Just and fair.

With God we don’t want justice and fairness because it means we would receive punishment for sin. This is the Good News, that Christ died in our place. We get grace and mercy instead of justice and fairness. It’s a good deal on our end.

But among us, as we deal with one another, God always asks us to be just and fair. There are many proverbs dedicated to this very truth. We know that God defends the defenseless.

Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight. Proverbs 11:11

Continue reading