Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Selecting Hymns

I am often called upon to preach as a layman at The Parkrose Village Congregation and also in two Renmark Uniting Church congregations. You will find some of my addresses and orders of service on this blog and my Christian Sermons blog.One of the tasks is to select suitable hymns to be sung.In Parkrose we predominantly use the Australian Churches of Christ Hymn Book and in Renmark mainly the Australian Hymn Book.
Having not grown up as a Christian in the Uniting Church I am not always familiar with the Hymns available.  Fortunately for me my wife who plays piano when I preach in Parkrose, is very familiar with Churches of Christ Hymns and also as in her younger days was a member of the Congregational Church and youth groups.So she is my arbiter and expert when it comes to choosing what we will sing. I have recently come across a wonderful site on the internet where many historical books of the restoration movement can be found. Churches of Christ in Australia is derived from the Restoration Movement. I am familair with the basics of it's history but there is a wealth of information on this site. I came across a book by John W Mcgarvey which is a series of Chapel Talks to students at the Bible College of which he was president.
I have reproduced this one address here on how to study and select Hymns.
Bear in mind this was for would be preachers and pastors.
My wife is a great exponent of the the things he highlights here for which I and our congregations are are always greatful.

There is a link at the bottom to where this book is and also the website itself.

Chapel Address -- No. 8

I have said a few words to you on a number of occasions, about the importance of studying hymns and the proper selection of hymns to suit occasions. Sometimes an improper selection of a hymn leads to very deplorable results. I was informed of one instance in which, on a funeral occasion, the selection of the hymns was left to the young man who led the singing. He selected one that started right, but just as the pallbearers started off with the corpse they sang, "Believing we rejoice to see the curse removed." That service ended with more tittering than tears.

In order that you may make appropriate selections you must know your hymn book, not only the first stanza of every hymn that is worth singing, but the whole of it. You must know all those that are worth singing if you would make your selections wisely. The elements of a good hymn may be stated thus:
First, and most important of all, its sentiments must be scriptural. There is a hymn in one of our church hymnals which has been sung a great deal, the second stanza of which confidently looks forward to the time when that old boatman familiar in Greek mythology who used to row people across the river Styx, will safely row the Christian across the river of death. Now that is heathenish, but it is in a Christian hymn book. First, then, let me say again, and emphasize it, See to it that the sentiments of every hymn you select to sing in the church are scriptural.
Second, a good hymn is good poetry. Those of you who have gone pretty well along in the course of English, ought to know what good poetry is. You have been taught what it is. But it will require on your part a good deal of thought and study in addition to what you get from your professor, in order to give you that fine taste which will enable you to see the fine elements of poetry in a hymn. I do not think that there is one of the hymns that have become permanently popular that is not good poetry. Not only is good poetry essential, but there is a sentiment among uncultivated people that demands it. Some hymns acquire popularity and usefulness for a short time by means of the fine music set to them, even though they are only a jingle of rhymes: but they soon pass away.
When, then a hymn is found to contain scripture sentiment and good poetry, in order to be effective as a hymn it must be sung to appropriate music, music that expresses finely the sentiments of the hymn. Now no man can be successful in the selection of hymns to suit occasions from day to day and from week to week, who does not devote a great deal of attention and careful study to hymns. There are hymns which, instead of being good poetry, are nothing but lines of prose with a rhyme at the end of them, and not always good rhyme at that. I will read you a couple of instances of this kind. Number 526 in our hymnal: the second stanza: "Thrice blest is he to whom is given the instinct that can tell That God is on the field, when He is most invisi- - - bell, it ought to be. If it be true as was said a long time ago by some wise man and repeated again and again by others, that, if you will allow a man of good judgement to select the songs of a people, he may care very little who makes their laws, then it can not be a matter of minor importance to select wisely the songs of the church. There are a great many people, and especially children, who obtain their religious sentiments more from the hymns they are taught to sing than from the Scripture which they read or hear from the pulpit. And when sentiments are thus formed, whether just right or just wrong, it is almost impossible in later years to eradicate them. This is another indication of the importance of the careful study of hymns.
I have said that those hymns which have been long popular, and have had strong hold upon the minds and hearts of the people, have, all of them, been characterized by those qualities of a good hymn which I have mentioned. For example, that one which Matthew Arnold pronounces the finest hymn in the English language:

"When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ, my Lord;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."
I do not know that Matthew Arnold was correct in thinking that the finest hymn in the English language, but certainly it has in it all the elements of a good hymn. Take as another example that old hymn that should have made the name of its author immortal. Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, who died a few days ago, made her name famous by the composition of one song that has attained the name of The Battle Hymn of the Republic. We have a battle hymn.

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His name?
You all know the rest of it. Then there is another hymn, not sung so often, but equally fine, which might be called the Christian's call to arms.

Soldiers of Christ arise,
And put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies,
Thro His eternal Son.

Strong in the Lord of Hosts
And in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts,
Is more than conqueror.

Stand, then, in His great might,
With all His strength endued,
And take to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God.

Leave no unguarded place,
No weakness of the soul,
Take every virtue, every grace,
And fortify the whole.

That having all things done,
And all your conflicts past,
You may o'ercome through Christ alone
And stand entire at last.
Such hymns as these two arouse all the energy and courage that is in the soul of a man who loves the Lord.
Then, we have our marching hymns; not one, but many; especially that one which we sing so often in this chapel:

"Come we that love the Lord,
And let our joys be known,
Join in the song with sweet accord,
And thus surround the throne,

Let those refuse to sing,
Who never knew our God;
But children of the heavenly king,
May speak their joys abroad.

The hill of Zion yields,
A thousand sacred sweets,
Before we reach the heavenly fields,
Or walk the golden streets.

Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry:
We're marching thro Immanuel's ground,
To fairer worlds on high."
That hymn is a fine piece of poetry and it is sung to the music of a very fine march. I wonder that some composer has not taken it in hand and made of it a grand march for a brass band. I think it would be a good thing right now for us to rise and sing it.
But there are times that come over the disciples of Christ quite different from these indicated in these exulting stanzas. They are times of gloom and tears, when we need the tenderest words of divine sympathy. Our hymn writers have not left us without comfort in times like these. at is more consoling than the lines in which we sing our Lord's own invitation to the weary and heavy laden, beginning with the stanza,

"Come unto me when shadows darkly gather,
When the sad heart is weary and distressed
Seeking for comfort from your heavenly Father,
Come unto me, and I will give you rest".
We love to sing of our final triumph over death and the grave, and some of our best hymns are devoted to this inspiring theme. I wish we could bring back into general use that inimitable composition in which the resurrection of our Lord and our own resurrection are so beautifully and triumphantly set forth that it should hold a place, as it once did, in every hymn book:

"The angels that watched round the tomb
Where low the Redeemer was laid,
When deep in mortality's gloom,
He hid for a season his head,
That veiled their fair face while he slept,
And ceased their harps to employ".

(Is there anything more beautiful than this?)

"Have witnessed his rising, and swept
Their chords with the triumphs of joy.

Though dreary the empire of night,
I soon shall emerge from its gloom,
And see immortality's light
Arise on the shades of the tomb.

Then welcome the last rending sighs,
When these aching heart-strings shall break,
When death shall extinguish these eyes,
And moisten with dew the pale cheek.
No terror the prospect begets,
I am not mortality's slave;
The sunbeam of life, as it sets,
Leaves a halo of peace on the grave."



Thursday, August 18, 2016

" How to reconstruct your marriage." by Frank Hunting

It is a tragedy today that so many marriages end in divorce and tears and sometimes domestic violence.
Our family and circle of friends has been at times greatly affected by such things.

While this post does not specifically deal with  your actual situation if you have come here with some desperation, for a Christian couple, the teaching here is a great place to start.

Some years ago my wife and I had some marriage  counselling with Frank Hunting.
He was our pastor at the time.
You will find more about Frank in the link below to my specifically Christian blog.

This study is from a collection of his written Bible studies.


We were a young couple with children at the time facing all the challenges of keeping it together.
We were already Christians.
We were active in our Church but still needed help.

We just did pretty much what is recommended here.

(We were strong enough in our faith, by God's grace, not to need any follow up counselling with Frank although I personally  had many conversations and discussions with him over many years.)

This study by him is along the lines of how we were counselled and  we were able to put these ideas into practice.
While this study is mainly for people who are already Christians there is no reason why non Christians cannot benefit from this if they decided to become Christians.


Always the partners in the marriage focus their attention on the faults of 
their opposite partner. 

In their minds they list the faults of the opposite partner.

They think about these.

They argue about these.

 They argue about these ,both in their minds and together.

They brood on these faults.

They build up tremendous emotional reactions to each other as a result 
of this thinking and brooding on these faults.


1.Their negative
                fault finding, 
                           about each other becomes


 They see little of good in their partner and what they do is overwhelmed by 
  the faults they see.

2. The only thing they can see about their marriage is the faults
       and wrongs of their partner.

This convinces them no change for the better is possible in their marriage.

3. They become absolutely despairing and hopeless about any 
    resolution to their marriage.

This despair and hopelessness prevents them from recognising and believing the 
 truth that Christ can so change each one in the marriage partnership as to 
make it possible for a new marriage to be constructed under God's guidance.


1. People are so stirred up over what is wrong in their marriage that, when they are told what can save can save and change their marriage, 
                         THEY REFUSE TO SEE IT AND BELIEVE IT. 

2. Secondly, brooding as they do over the sins and faults and wrongs of their partner,
   the devil is able to make them 
                     STRONGLY RESISTANT TO THE ANSWER TO THEIR                                                              PROBLEM MARRIAGE.



  Let me issue a note of warning at this point.

Don't assume because two people are Christians they will bring Jesus into their marriage situations.
                  They don't!

The only place where some Christians leave Jesus out of their living, is in their relationship
 with their marriage partner.

But once Christ is given control of any marriage partnership, true change for the better will begin. 


This is the way change comes into a marriage.

If you want change in your marriage.

If you want understanding.

If you want appreciation.

If you want peace instead of argument.

Let it start in you.





                                       and FEELINGS


If you are determined to let Him change your home and will carry out what He tells you, you can listen to His guidance as to what you are to do.-AND IF YOU ARE GENUINE HE WILL TELL YOU.

HE will tell you .

      where you are to change.
       what you are not to say.
      what wrong feelings you must give up.
      what ways you are to 
            show love and make your 
                  partner happy. "

My prayer is that if you have come across this post at just the right time in your crisis you will be able to let Jesus reconstruct your marriage.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Your Life is your Prayer

Parkrose Service  7/8/16 This is an outline of the message I shared this last Sunday at Parkrose Village.

Bible Reading:

Matthew 6
1“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Teaching about Prayer and Fasting
5“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
7“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!  

Order of Service 7/8/16

Welcome and Call to Worship : Psalm 106:1-2

Hymn: “turn your eyes upon Jesus”

               “Within the veil”

Bible Reading: Matthew 6:1-8
Hymn: “There is a place of quiet rest”


Church Prayer
Hymn: “What a friend we have in Jesus”

Sermon: “Your Life is your Prayer”

Hymn: “Take my life and let it be”
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace”
“Your  life is your prayer”

A  few weeks ago when we were here Barrie was talking about our Church here developing a praying ministry.

At the time I said I might speak on prayer next time so that is what today is about.

For those of you who read Christian books I wonder what you would say if I asked you what was the most influencial Evangelical Christian book of the 20th century, apart from the Bible.

The Christianity Today online internet magazine did a survey and the result surprised many.

Prayer: Conversing with God was number one on that list,
Rosalind Rinker, the author said,
   “The title might have been, Matthew 18:19, 20 or When Two or Three Agree, for the book is based largely on the meaning and contents of those verses. “

Over the years I ,like some of you, have read many books on prayer and even been to a really good seminar on prayer.

I have some great Bible studies on prayer.

I know how to pray and what to pray and who to pray to.

But if I was to look at a record of how much time each week I have actually spent in prayer I would be ashamed.

How many times a day do I pray?

Some other religions put us to shame in their dedication to prayer.

It would be wrong of course to pray in vain repetitions as our Lord has warned us against.

Matt 6  kjv :7But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

So what are some of the main principles we should adhere to when we pray, as a group or individually.

Matt 18: NLT  19“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20For where two or three gather together as my followers,h I am there among them.”
In my time as a Christian, since 1974, I have known and seen some wonderful answers to prayer but also known disappointment as I am sure you have.
But that is not a reason to throw in the towel.
Our whole Christian life is a learning and growing experience.
I am not too old to learn more and I am sure no one here is also.
So here are some important things regarding prayer.
1.  We need to know The God to whom we are coming.
Time should be taken to make as full a realization as possible of the greatness of God.

The God to whom I am coming is



Jesus tells us how to pray when He starts the Lord’s prayer ,“Our Father who art in Heaven”
 Jesus wouldn’t be teaching us to pray if it wasn’t a normal thing for Christians to do.

An expectation He has of us.

When we are praying we are praying to our Creator, the Creator of the Universe.

If that is the case then nothing is too hard for        our God.

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Jeremiah’s Prayer     Jeremiah 18:
16Then after I had given the papers to Baruch, I prayed to the Lord:
17“O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!
26Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 27“I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?

2   The only basis , the grounds ,on which we bring our loved ones or anyone to God is the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We all come on the same basis, which is:  Jesus died for us and has reconciled us to God.
Made us right with Him.

Through the death of Jesus we are redeemed,     saved.

We have been brought out of our lost state.

When we pray in Jesus name it is because we have been baptized into His name.

He lives in us.

Because we have been purchased with His blood He wants to carry out His will on earth through us.

No Christian is more worthy than any other to have their prayers answered..

When we come to God in prayer we are all equal.

We do have to discipline ourselves though if we are serious about prayer.

2.  We also need to take time to discover what God’s will is in certain situations.

         That is in a group or as an individual.

 In a group prayer that is where where the praying in agreement comes in.
It is no good praying in a group where we don’t all agree on what we are praying for.

In order to achieve agreement in prayer, we need to constantly ask:

What does God want in this matter?
What is His will in this situation?
What will bring glory to God in this matter?

We can find God’s will in any situation if we study what the Bible says.

There is no human condition and situation that is not dealt with in the Bible.

When we discover God’s will for a situation we are then to pray with no doubt in our hearts.

God wants us to pray prayers of faith not prayers of hope.
We can believe the words of the Bible, the promises, when we read them.

Believe in our conscious mind

Deep down though we have doubts.

That’s where we need to let the Holy Spirit touch us to take away doubt.

4. We also need to recognize that in prayer we can
use God’s mighty weapons to bring down any      barriers satan may have erected in a person or situation.

 We don’t very often think but a lot of what prayer is about is claiming the Victory that Jesus won on the cross over the devil.

 (Testimony of healing shared here but not included because of privacy)
A link below however to a transcript of a tape study on praying in agreement and authority when someone is addicted to drugs.
The story I shared is related to this. 


Let me re emphasise, we are all equal before God when it comes to prayer

No one has any more power than what God makes available to all of us.

However an important part of the
 equation in prayer is that we do need to make our life a prayer as such.

That’s where the discipline comes in .
How we live our Christian lives.
You see ,

our life is our prayer,

God wants to hear our petitions but He knows our needs before we ask Him.
He wants to see that we are walking with Him.
We may have unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts,
we may be piously waving our hands in the air,
 saying look how holy I am,
 but we need to be abiding in Him.
We need to make sure by our lives we live that our prayers are going further than the ceiling.

A simple illustration of the why of this, is that as Christians, God wants to allow rivers of living water to flow from us.

Our gutters don't flow if they are clogged by leaves. 

If our lives are clogged by sin then the rivers of living water will not flow.

Prayer is one of the biggest topics we can explore in the Christian faith.
Countless books and studies have been written.

In particular as we become less physically able to help people we can be dedicated prayers.

That can be a very important ministry at Parkrose.

Not always does God answer prayer how we expect Him too.

I watched this week a wonderful talk by Joni Eareckson(Tada) who you may have read of some years ago.
In a diving accident at 17 she became a quadriplaegic.
Shje will be 67 this october.
She desperately wanted God to heal her but Physical healing has never happened.
In her talk though she says how she would never have experienced the deeper inner healing and transforming power of God in her life and that of her husband if she had been physically healed when she so desperately wanted healing.
She still longs for a new body but she says her circumstances have enabled her to reach out to so many who need encouragement than she other wise would  have been able to.
There is so much more we could look into in this topic but I just want to encourage us all to get into the regular habit of praying.
Maybe one or two might like to do that with each other during the week.
The best way to learn about prayer is to do it and maybe keep a list of prayers we have prayed and the results of our prayers.
That can be very transforming.
I have been saying all these things in Jesus name.  Amen.