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In the growing darkness, Lake Erie’s waves crashed against the shore near Cleveland, Ohio. The lighthouse keeper was responsible to keep the beacon at the top of the structure lit. He also would light a row of smaller oil lanterns along the shoreline to guide ships into the channel toward the harbor’s safe haven. With each nearing storm, the lighthouse keeper would painstakingly go from lantern to lantern, filling and lighting each one. Despite the great beacon, without the smaller lights to lead the ship through the narrow passageway, the vessel would wreck upon the rocks.  One particular evening the lighthouse keeper did not light the shoreline lanterns. During the night, a violent storm arose. Amidst the turbulent waves and howling winds, a ship’s captain tensed. His old pilot gripped the helm. As the pilot struggled to steer, the captain anxiously peered into the darkness.  “Are you sure this is Cleveland?” he asked the pilot. “Quite sure, sir,” replied the pilot, gripping the wheel.  “But where are the lower lights?” questionedthe captain. “They are out, sir,” was the terse, despairing reply.  One last question remained. Finally, the captain asked, “Can you make it?”  “We must sir, or we’ll perish.”  Determinedly, […]
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The evening flicker of a nearby street lamp filtered through white curtains into a Victorian sitting room. It had been a busy, full day, and the industrious lady was still hard at work. “Fanny! Sit back and rest!” Fanny Crosby smiled as she thought how many times people had told her to do that. Despite being blind since infancy, she was known to be a hard worker and remained busy at whatever her hands found to do. One work that God had gifted Fanny Crosby with was writing poetry. Often, poems formed themselves quickly in her mind. Other times it was not easy. Fanny Crosby noted, “There are some days, or at least hours, when I could not compose a hymn if all the world were laid at my feet as a promised recompense.” Yet, even in those uninspiring times, she was diligent to accomplish her tasks. Fanny Crosby wrote hymns for a music publishing house, and they counted on her to supply poems, whether she felt like writing or not. She asked the Lord for inspiration. Eventually, the words would come. Fanny Crosby not only wrote what was asked of her, but she also wrote additional options of poems […]
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The year was 1852, and the place was Ireland. The Reverend William Alexander and his wife, Cecil Frances Alexander, were discussing the sermon he was planning to preach on Sunday. Sunday would be St. Andrew’s Day, commemorating when Jesus called His disciple Andrew to leave his nets and follow Him. Reverend Alexander planned to base his sermon on this Biblical account. Mrs. Alexander enjoyed listening to her husband preach. One of his previous sermons had inspired her to write a poem, “The Burial of Moses.” A published writer of children’s hymns, her talent would soon be a blessing to her husband once again. As the couple discussed the upcoming sermon, the reverend asked his beloved wife if she would write a poem that he could read from the pulpit. Mrs. Alexander happily agreed and set to work studying the Scripture text. The Irish lady was inspired, especially as she read of Christ’s call to us, too. The hymn “Jesus Calls Us” was completed, and Mrs. Alexander rejoiced hearing it read at the close of her husband’s sermon the following Sunday. Loyalty is “using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those He has called me to serve.” […]
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Although only thirty years old, Dudley Tyng was already known as a bold, uncompromising preacher. He would seek out those who needed Christ and unashamedly preach to them the Gospel. On March 30, 1858, Pastor Tyng preached to a packed auditorium of 5,000 men gathered for a noon meeting. His message was from Exodus 10:11: “Go now ye that are men, and serve the Lord.” Placing his left hand on his right arm at the shoulder, he fervently avowed, “I must tell my Master’s errand, and I would rather this right arm were amputated at the trunk, than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God’s message.” In that assembly, an estimated 1,000 men came to Christ that day! As Pastor Tyng left the meeting, he had no idea what would soon happen. Shortly thereafter, Pastor Tyng was in his study. Outside in the Pennsylvania farmyard an old mule plodded in a giant circle, powering the corn sheller. Taking a break, the preacher strolled outside to check on the corn shelling. As the young man reached out to scratch the mule’s head, his long shirt sleeve was caught in the corn shelling gears! Swiftly his […]
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The sun was rising as people streamed up Holborn Hill, heading to their places of employment. Among them was thirty-four-year-old Edward Mote, the owner of a cabinetmaking shop. As he walked, his mind was filled with thoughts of his security in Christ. These thoughts would become the words to a new hymn:  On Christ the Solid Rock I stand,All other ground is sinking sand. At his shop, Mr. Mote instructed the workers and then sequestered himself alone in his office. By the day’s end, he had written four verses of his new hymn! Soon afterward, Mr. Mote was invited to a friend’s home. The host shared how he and his wife usually sang a hymn, read Scripture, and then prayed together. However, the couple’s hymnal had been misplaced. So, Mr. Mote offered: “I have some verses in my pocket; if you like, we could sing them.” The verses were the new hymn written earlier that week in his work office. The host’s ill wife enjoyed the words of the hymn so much that the man requested Mr. Mote to leave a copy for her. Greatly encouraged, he went home, “and by the fireside [I] composed the last two verses . […]
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The moon shone through the curtains in the New York home. The moonlight revealed the middle-aged lady’s face, grimacing from pain. Lydia Baxter was an invalid and had spent most of her married life confined to her bed. Carefully she moved her stiff muscles into a different position. Then, closing her eyes again, she whispered a name . . . . Many Christian workers gathered at the Baxter home because of the beloved woman’s cheerful personality. Despite her physical incapacity, Mrs. Baxter’s spirit was in fellowship with the Lord, and joy filled her heart. Preachers, evangelists, and Christian workers sought her out for comfort and encouragement. She would share with those who asked how she could be so joyful in the midst of physical pain—the secret was in the name she often whispered: I have a very special armor. I have the name ofJesus. When the tempter tries to make me blueor despondent, I mention the name of Jesus, andhe can’t get through to me anymore. Mrs. Baxter was an avid student of the Bible and loved to discuss the meanings of Biblical names. Bible names such as Sarah (“princess”), Samuel (“asked of God”), and Isaac (“laughter”) are well-known examples. […]
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White waves churned from under the large boat as it sailed across the large lake in Sweden, on its way to the city of Gothenburg. Standing at the rail of the ship, Pastor Jonas Sandell and his daughter gazed at the view. They had always shared a close, loving relationship. As a child, his daughter Lina had been sickly and often stayed in her father’s study while all the other children played outside. Not only did those hours together build a special bond between them, but through her father’s tender, loving example, she learned to know the sweet compassion and care of her Heavenly Father. As she grew older, she became her father’s secretary, and for that reason she was accompanying him on this peaceful boat trip. In a single moment, however, her world changed. With a sudden jolt, the boat lurched. In horror, the young woman saw her beloved father abruptly lose his balance, totter, and fall overboard! The sailors did all they could, but they were too late. By the time they pulled Pastor Sandell’s body out of the water, he had drowned.  What a sudden, terrible grief—especially for someone as close to her father as Miss Sandell […]
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The young girl sat quietly beside her mother’s bed. She waited silently for her mother, who was deathly ill, to speak. Softly her mother said, “Fanny dear, pray God to prepare you for all He is preparing for you.” Her mother’s dying words became Frances Havergal’s lifelong prayer. Only eleven years old when her mother died, Miss Havergal turned to her Savior through a disciplined prayer life. Concentrated time with Jesus enabled Miss Havergal to know her Savior and His grace for living a life of discretion.  Miss Havergal began reading at age three and writing poetry when she was seven. Her writing opened the door to a special friend in her life when she was older. That friend was Fanny Crosby, who also enjoyed a close relationship with her Heavenly Father while writing poems and hymns for His glory. Although the two women never met in person, Miss Havergal admired Fanny Crosby and her joy in the Lord. Despite the two ladies living on opposite sides of a vast ocean, their friendship was filled with mutual encouragement and enjoyment through their letters and poems. Miss Havergal showed discretion in choosing a friend who shared her desire to grow spiritually […]
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In 1925, a new hymn appeared in the children’s publication, Golden Bells. Titled “May the Mind of Christ, My Savior,” it included Philippians 2:5 as a byline: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Very little is known about the hymn writer, Kate Wilkinson. She was born in 1859 in England and married in her early thirties. Mrs. Wilkinson attended the Keswick Conventions, which were gatherings of conservative evangelical Christians. She also ministered to girls in West London. This hymn was published when she was sixty-six years old. Three years later, in 1928, Mrs. Wilkinson passed away.  Written as a prayer, this hymn asks for God’s enabling to help us live as Christ would. Deference is “limiting my freedom in order not to offend the tastes of those God has called me to serve.” The opening line—“May the mind of Christ, my Savior Live in me from day to day,”—is a reminder to defer to Christ and seek His perspective throughout each day. In every situation ask: “How would Jesus respond?” or “What would He have me say?”  Each verse in the hymn expounds a secret of the Christian life. First, God’s love and power […]
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The poor, ill woman had seen many afflictions. The pastor, Elisha Hoffman, was known for his compassion for the destitute and those literally from the poorer side of town. As he visited this suffering lady, she wearily unburdened her heart to him. She looked to him in pain and discouragement and begged of him, “What shall I do? What shall I do?” How well the pastor understood her pain and sorrows! His own life had been touched with deep sorrow when his young wife had died several years earlier. With tenderness and heartfelt empathy, he prayed with the suffering woman. He shared specific Scriptures to comfort her. Then he added, “Youcannot do better than to take all of your sorrows to Jesus. You must tell Jesus!” Her eyes lit up as she exclaimed, “Yes! I must tell Jesus!” Pastor Hoffman later recorded: “As I left her home I had a vision of that joy-illuminated face . . . and I heard all along my pathway the echo, ‘I must tell Jesus. . . I must tell Jesus.’” Once home, the pastor wrote down those words and the lines they inspired. From burdens to troubles to temptations, over and over the […]
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A crowded testimony meeting was part of the revival held by Dwight L. Moody in Brockton, Massachusetts. Suddenly, a young man stood up. Earnestly he confessed, “I am not quite sure, but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey!” The simple words of faith struck the soul of songleader Pastor Daniel Towner. Quickly he jotted down the sentence. Afterward, Pastor Towner wrote a letter to his friend, Pastor John H. Sammis, giving a quick report of the young man’s testimony and the stirring words he had said. As soon as Pastor Sammis read his friend’s letter, he realized the testimony was perfect for a hymn. First came the refrain: Trust and obey for there’s no other wayTo be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. Following the refrain, the verses quickly came. Pastor Sammis’s hymn expounded on trust and obedience: Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;What He says we will do, where He sends we will goNever fear, only trust and obey. Completed, Pastor Sammis mailed the song to Pastor Towner. Pastor Towner soon composed the melody, and “Trust and Obey” became a hymn […]
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While teaching English in faraway Japan, the twenty-three-year-old American professor sat at his desk one day, intently writing a letter to his mother. Howard Walter wanted to encourage her with the vision statement he had written for his life. His mother had influenced him greatly by the habits of dependability and service she had instilled in him as a young child. Weeks later in America, his mother eagerly opened his letter. Enclosed was his poem of three stanzas, titled “My Creed.” She rejoiced as she read the poem which stated her son’s strong convictions! The proud mother promptly sent a copy of her son’s poem to Harper’s Magazine. “My Creed” was published in the May 1909 issue. I would be true, for there are those who trust me;I would be pure, for there are those who care.I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;I would be brave, for there is much to dare. Who was the young man behind these penned affirmations? Howard Walter was born in 1883. He graduated from Princeton University, then journeyed to Tokyo to teach English at Waseda University. Fulfilling his one-year commitment there, Mr. Walter came home, attended seminary, and afterward served as […]
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The soloist’s voice filled the huge canopy. He possessed a rare, magnificent talent that moved his listeners to tears. Mr. William Kirkpatrick, the tent revival’s songleader, appreciated the man’s skillful vocal presentation. Yet he was burdened for the soloist’s soul. Every evening after presenting the special music, the man would leave, not remaining to hear the evangelistic messages. Mr. Kirkpatrick’s concern for the soloist’s salvation was so great that he began praying and asking the Lord to give him a song with words that would touch the singer’s heart! The soloist was so gifted—how much more glorious if he could sing about God from his heart? Mr. Kirkpatrick continued to petition God for this man’s life. While praying for the soloist, words suddenly came to Mr. Kirkpatrick. Eagerly, the songleader wrote this refrain: Coming home, coming home,Nevermore to roam.Open wide Thine arms of love,Lord, I’m coming home. Following those inspired words, more quickly came. Mr. Kirkpatrick swiftly jotted down verse after verse. Finally pausing, he saw he had written four stanzas! Thrilled with God’s answer to prayer, he quickly concluded writing the new hymn for the soloist to sing. That evening, how fervently Mr. Kirkpatrick must have prayed as the […]
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More than 100 years ago, northern India was a very superstitious region. Following a great revival in Wales, Welsh missionaries journeyed to the Assam area in northeast India to bring the Gospel to tribes of idol-worshipping headhunters. In one village, one of those fierce headhunters listened to a missionary, and his heart grasped the Good News of Christ. Not only did he believe, but his wife and two sons also became Christians. As the redeemed man eagerly shared his newfound faith with other villagers, they, too, became believers!  The changes among his people infuriated the village chief. Summoning all the villagers, the chief angrily addressed the first convert among the tribe: “Renounce your faith, or be killed!” Moved by the Holy Spirit, the man replied: “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.” The incensed chief next ordered his archers to kill the man’s young sons. Then he harshly demanded, “Will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife, too.” The man solemnly spoke: “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.No turning back.” Furious, the chief then ordered the man’s wife be killed. Within minutes, she joined her two sons […]
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For years, Charles Wesley determined to zealously serve God. In college he and his brother started a “Holy Club,” whose members fasted and did good deeds. The brothers also sailed from England across the ocean to evangelize the Native Americans in the New World. Yet, for all their goodwill and charity at home and abroad, the two young men were lost, lacking the true Answer for their souls. They needed God’s forgiveness. Charles Wesley began to understand forgiveness when homeward bound from a missionary jour-ney. Aboard ship he met Mr. Thomas Bray, whom Mr. Wesley described as “a poor, innocent mechanic who knows nothing but Christ.” Upon arriving in England, Mr. Wesley also met Mr. Bray’s sister who also shared with him about Christ and salvation. Other believers soon entered his circle of friends. According to his personal diary, on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 1738, the young man finally understood forgiveness and salvation, and gave his life to Christ. Mr. Wesley wrote, “I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ.” Finally at peace with God, Mr. Wesley’s Christian work now sprang from a grateful heart. He joined his brother, John, who also was […]
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In times past, tent meetings usually lasted an entire week and were filled both with Christians seeking inspiration and unsaved folks who were simply curious. Amid flapping canvasses, fervent preaching, and uplifting hymns, lives were changed. Such was the setting in Mountain Lake Park, Maryland, in 1898. After an especially moving sermon by the famous evangelist L. H. Baker, many people responded, some timidly and some quickly, by repenting and receiving Christ. Among them was a refined, upper-class woman. Kneeling at the altar, she tried to pray but was obviously struggling inwardly. Accepting Christ by simple faith was foreign to her. She wanted to do something more to merit salvation. Mrs. Leila Morris, one of the Christian women praying with those at the altar, saw the lady’s inner turmoil. Quietly she slipped an arm over the woman’s shoulder and prayed for her. “Just now your doubting give o’er,” Mrs. Morris gently encouraged her. Dr. H. L. Gilmour, the camp meeting song leader, also seeing and hearing the lady’s conflict, softly urged the woman, “Just now reject Him no more!” The evangelist Mr. Baker, drawn to the spiritual battle, earnestly pressed the woman, “Just now throw open the door!” “Let Jesus […]
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One spring day Mr. C. Austin Miles received an assignment from his employer. After working for ten years as a pharmacist, Mr. Miles had left that profession for a new job: writing hymns and music for the Hall Mack Publishing Company. That morning Mr. Miles’ employer requested he write a song that would be “sympathetic in tone, breathing tenderness in every line; one that would bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, and downy pillows to dying beds.” Mr. Miles accepted the challenging assignment. What followed was so remarkable that Mr. Miles recorded what happened as God met him in fulfilling this great task: One day in March, 1912, I was seated in the dark room, where I kept my photographic equipment . . . . I drew my Bible toward me; it opened at my favorite chapter, John 20 . . . . As I read it that day, I seemed to be part of the scene. I became a silent witness to that dramaticmoment in Mary’s life . . . . I seemed to be standing at the entrance to a garden, looking down a gently winding path, shaded by olive branches. A woman in white, […]
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The gentleman held the letter, pondering the request. Thomas O. Chisholm wrote poetry primarily for his own personal enjoyment, although many of his works had been published. The letter he had received was from C. Harold Lowden, a pastor in New Jersey. Two years earlier Pastor Lowden had written a children’s song for a special service. The melody was a “light and summery tune.” Now the pastor was preparing a book of hymns. He felt the original words did not quite fit the lilting melody. Would Mr. Chisholm please write new words to accompany his original tune?  Shaking his head, Mr. Chisholm wrote back, regretting that he did not know how to write lyrics for music. However, Pastor Lowden refused to take “no” for an answer. He responded, urging Mr. Chisholm to try. Pastor Lowden believed Mr. Chisholm was the man for the task. With his daughter assisting by repeatedly humming the melody, Mr. Chisholm penned the words that we know now as “Living for Jesus.” The writer’s early years began with his birth in a log cabin in 1866. Mr. Chisholm was educated in a one-room schoolhouse in which, at sixteen, he became the classroom teacher! Several years later […]
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The seated workmen listened attentively to the small blind woman speaking at the front of the room. Breaking suddenly from her discourse, Fanny Crosby pleaded, “If there is a dear boy here tonight who has perchance wandered away from his mother’s home and his mother’s teaching, would he please come to me at the end of the service?” Afterward, a youth of about eighteen approached. “Did you mean me?” he asked. “I promised my mother to meet her in heaven, but the way I’ve been living, I don’t think that will be possible now.” Fanny Crosby prayed with the young man. Then, with great joy he stood, exclaiming, “Now I can meet my mother in heaven, for I have found her God!” With this encounter fresh on her mind, Fanny Crosby considered a request she had recently received. A friend and composer, Mr. William Doane, had asked her to write a hymn about “rescuing the perishing.” The song’s purpose would be to exhort believers to reach out to neglected people in their own localities. She wrote the words that evening and gave them to Mr. Doane the next morning. He composed the tune by the end of the day.   […]
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Believers know that God’s Word is living and active and able to pierce men’s hearts. While the Holy Spirit uses His Word to convict men of sin, righteousness, and judgment, He sometimes uses other means as well. Such was the case of Edward Perronet’s hymn, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.”  Several hundred years ago, India was an unreached land, filled with unknown dangers. Yet, missionaries bravely ventured into its depths to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In cities, priests and temple leaders of the demonic religions put up fierce opposition. In the wild, the tribes of headhunters dwelt in spiritual darkness, threatening those who would come near. Still, missionaries continued to travel to this pagan country, hoping to bring the Good News. Reverend E. P. Scott was one such brave missionary. After ministering in India for seven years in the villages, he one day encountered a tribesman from the wild. The Holy Spirit filled the missionary’s heart to go to the man’s tribe. When Reverend Scott announced his decision to visit the savage tribe, his friends begged him not to go. However, he knew he must. After several days of strenuous hiking, Reverend Scott suddenly found himself […]
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