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Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday's Message: Silent Night


Silent Night

       In the Austrian village of Hallein on Christmas Eve 1818, the organist, Franz Gruber, composed a hymn called Song of Heaven.  He played and sang it in church the following night.
       A man from a nearby town happened to hear the song. Being impressed, the visitor memorized the words and music which he later taught to a traveling quartet.
       By 1854, the piece had become so famous that a search was made for its unknown composer and Gruber was found.
       He then learned that his song had been memorized, sung for 36 years and had become the most beloved Christmas hymn of all time under another name—Silent Night.
       At that late date, the fact meant little to Franz Gruber, who was then 67, and he remained an obscure and impoverished organist until his death in 1863.
 

Silent Night! Holy Night! (1)
 
1           Silent night! holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
’Round yon virgin mother and Child!
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
2           Silent night! holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heav’nly hosts sing Alleluia;
Christ, the Saviour, is born,
Christ, the Saviour, is born.
3           Silent night! holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
 
 
Silent Night, Holy Night (2)

       Only by happy coincidence did the names of the true authors of the song “Silent Night” come to light—thirty-six years after they wrote it.
       The story begins in 1818 in a church in the little Austrian town of Oberndorf. Shortly after Christmas Eve, a mouse ate a hole in the leather bellows of the church organ, effectively silencing it.
       The itinerant organ mender was not due in town for months, and music was needed for the Christmas Eve service.
       In three-and-one-half hours, Franz Gruber, the organist, composed music for a poem written by Josef Mohr, a priest. It began Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (Silent Night, Holy Night).
       On Christmas Eve, the two men sang their composition accompanied by a guitar and children’s chorus. They were a great success.
       The following May, when the organ mender turned up, Gruber gave him a copy of the song, which the man then circulated in his travels. By 1831, thirteen years later, the Strasser family quartet was billing “Silent Night,” one of their numbers, as a Tyrolean folk song by authors unknown.
       Time went by, and soon the now-popular song was being attributed to several famous composers. In 1854, the leader of the king’s orchestra in Berlin wrote to the choir director of the Benedictine school in Salzburg, asking for a copy of “Silent Night” by Michael Haydn, brother of the more famous composer, Franz Joseph Haydn.
       The choir director asked a student—who just happened to be Felix Gruber, Franz Gruber’s son—to find a copy. And you can guess the rest.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Family Friday: Famly Traditions




Family Traditions
           
 Family traditions are important!  They help you and your children feel a closeness and bond because of the things that are unique to your family.  Traditions can be tied to holidays, but they don’t have to be so.  Perhaps there is a favorite vacation spot that your family always visits, or maybe there is a restaurant where you celebrate special events that has become a tradition in your family.         
Maybe you like the idea of traditions but don’t know where to start.   
The following are some ideas that we incorporate in our family, 
and a few ideas are from friends. 
·         Decorate the Christmas tree together – each member does at least a little part
·         Drive around looking at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve
·         Read the Christmas story from the Bible before opening presents
·         Bake Christmas goodies together and pass them out to church family or shut-ins
·         Pray with your children and tuck them in at night
·         Decorate Easter eggs together and tell the Easter story
·         Choose a “field-trip” day of the week during the summer, and do something fun each week on that day
·         If grandparents live far away, have a schedule to face-time
·         Have family reunions every few years
·         Choose a certain type of souvenir your family enjoys, then purchase one at each spot where you take a vacation
·         Eat grilled-cheese sandwiches every Sunday night after church
The possibilities are endless!  Start thinking of things your family really enjoys doing, then decide to do those things on a regular basis.  Start some traditions of your own, then enjoy them in years to come.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Thoughtful Thursday: Blessings


Two old friends met each other on the street one day.  One looked forlorn, almost on the verge of tears.  His friend asked, “What has the world done to you, my old friend?”
The sad fellow said, “Let me tell you:  three weeks ago, my uncle died and left me forty thousand dollars.”
“That’s a lot of money.”
“But you see, two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left me eighty-five thousand dollars, free and clear.”
“Sounds to me that you’ve been very blessed.”
“You don’t understand!” he interrupted.  “Last week my great-aunt passed away.  I inherited almost a quarter of a million from her.”
Now the man’s friend was really confused.  “Then, why do you look so glum?”
“This week . . . nothing!
That’s a problem with receiving something on a regular basis.  Even if it is a gift, we eventually come to expect it.  The natural tendency is that if we receive a gift long enough, we come to view it almost as an entitlement.  We feel hurt, even angry, if we don’t receive it any longer.
It is the same way with the blessings God gives us every day.  I don’t deserve my comfortable home that I live in, the beautiful scenery around me, the clean water I drink.  But after receiving these gifts (and a multitude of others) for years, I sometimes fail to be grateful.  I’ve come to expect these good things.  And when one of them is removed for a short time (like water or electricity or internet going down), I get upset.
Let’s make an effort today to recognize the blessing we’ve come to take for granted.  Focus on what we have rather than on what we don’t have, and see if it doesn’t improve our attitudes.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday's Message: O Come, O Come, Immanuel


O Come, O Come, Immanuel

       “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is a prayer that anticipates the coming of Christ to this earth. His coming as the Messiah (“deliverer”) was first prophesied in the sixth century B.C., when the Jews were captive in Babylon. 
       For centuries thereafter, faithful Hebrews looked for their Messiah with great longing and expectation, echoing the prayer that he would “ransom captive Israel.”
       Jesus Christ the Redeemer—capstone of man’s longing through the ages—is addressed in the first stanza of this hymn as “Emmanuel.”
       From beginning to end, all the stanzas of the hymn remind us of Christ’s first advent, and project our attention to His second coming.
 

O Come, O Come, Immanuel
1           O Come, O come, Immanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! rejoice! Immanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!
2           O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! rejoice! Immanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!
3           O come, thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice! rejoice! Immanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!
4           O come, thou key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! rejoice! Immanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!
5           O come, O come, thou Lord of might!
Who to thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud, and majesty, and awe.
Rejoice! rejoice! Immanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Family Friday: Faith in Finances




Faith in Finances

          We’ve all experienced an unexpected expense sometime in our lives, whether it be an appliance that suddenly broke, a car battery that died, or a medical emergency.  Perhaps you had some money laid aside for emergencies or had a small savings account and used that.  Perhaps you prayed for a large financial gift to cover it, or friends and family were able to assist you.  Having that “cushion” available is a blessing!  However, that is not living by faith in your finances.
          Faith is completely trusting that God will take care of all of our needs according to what He knows is best for us, while still obeying His Word.  Does that describe our normal financial behavior?  Tithing, giving ten percent of all income, is a command found in His Word.  Giving above the tithe is also a Biblical principal.  Perhaps you give ten percent only when you have enough money left at the end of the month or bill period; that is not really tithing, because tithing comes before any other financial obligation. 
          Many churches have a missions giving or church building fund.  If you have pledged to give to that, then be faithful to it and give even when it seems impossible.  There is a reason it is called faith promise giving.  God can give through you what He might not give to you.  There have been seasons of financial freedom in our family, and there have also been several seasons of financial leanness (my husband and I call those “the Baroque periods”).  We still give the tithe and everything we have pledged to other funds for church and missions.  Our children need to see us giving consistently. This not only teaches them the principle of Scriptural giving, but it might help them to increase their own faith.
          How much easier it will be for our children if they learn Scriptural tithing and giving at an early age than if they have to learn it as an adult?  Lead your children in tithing.  If your children receive an allowance, make sure they get enough so that they can tithe from it.  When they receive gifts, help them calculate the tithe on it and make sure they give it at the next church offering time.  Help your children to be blessed by teaching them to give by faith.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday's Message: Fill My Cup, Lord


Fill My Cup, Lord
 
       Life was never to be a bed of roses for Richard Blanchard.
       A severe lung problem developed, and Blanchard was left with one-third of his lung capacity. But a diminished physical well-being did not stop young Blanchard.
       In 1953, he became the pastor of a church in Coral Gables, Florida, and one day, was asked by a young couple to perform their marriage ceremony. However, the couple was quite late for their counseling appointment.
       Blanchard told his secretary, I will wait for thirty minutes and I’m leaving. He then went to a nearby Sunday school room and sat down to play the piano for a while.
       He later said, When I was not in the mood to be used of God, God was in a mood to use me. In less than thirty-minutes, as he waited for the young couple, God gave him the inspiring song Fill My Cup, Lord.
       As Richard Blanchard looks back over his life, he declares even though God chose in his providence to impair my physical being, he has in so many other ways ‘Fill’d My Cup.’ 
    

Fill My Cup, Lord

      
(1) Like the woman at the well I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy;
And then I heard my Savior speaking:
"Draw from My well that never shall run dry."
      
CHORUS: Fill my cup, Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
Bread of heaven, feed me 'til I want no more-
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!
      
(2) There are millions in this world who are craving
The pleasure earthly things afford;
But none can match the wondrous treasure
That I find in Jesus Christ my Lord.
      
(3) So, my brother, if the things this world gave you
Leave hungers that won't pass away,
My blessed Lord will come and save you,
If you kneel to Him and humbly pray:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday's Message: Thanks to God!


Thanks to God!

       The author, August Ludvig Storm, was born in Sweden. As a young man, he was converted to Christ in a Salvation Army meeting. Soon he joined the Salvation Army Corps. He wrote this hymn’s text for the Army publication, Stridsropet (The War Cry), on December 5, 1891.
       The original Swedish version had four stanzas, with each verse beginning with the word tack thanks, having a total of thirty-two thanks in all. The gratitude expressed to God ranges from the dark and dreary Fall to the pleasant, balmy Spring time, pain as well as pleasure, thorns as well as roses.
       At the age of thirty-seven, August Storm suffered a back ailment that left him crippled for life. He continued, however, to administer his Salvation Army duties until his death.
       A year before his death on July 1, 1914, he wrote another poem in which he thanked God for the years of calm and quiet as well as the years of pain. After his funeral, the Swedish War Cry wrote the following:
       It was a delight to listen to his powerful, thoughtful, and well-articulated sermons. And the numerous verses that flowed from his pen are the best that have ever appeared in the Army’s publications.
—Kenneth Osbeck
       ++++++++++

Thanks to God for My Redeemer

      
(1) Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and dreary fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!
 
(2) Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace the none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond conpare!
      
(3) Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav'nly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks thru all eternity!