Yesterday the word was “the heavenly realms” found 5 times in Ephesians. The King James translation renders this “heavenly places” suggesting it is a physical location. The original Greek does not mention realms or places, it simply calls it “the heavenlies”. For we, created in time and space, have a hard time getting hold of God, after all he exists since creation of both time and space. Just think, without physical matter time and space has no meaning. The apostle Matthew calls the heavenlies the Kingdom of heaven, Mark and Luke calls it the Kingdom of God. Jesus himself says in John 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.“
We tend to think that what we do makes a difference. God has given us access to the spiritual dimension, or realm, or even place in the form of the Holy Spirit, and thanks to that He has given us power. No, he has given us access to the heavenlies, not in our selves but it is Christ, in the form of the Holy Spirit that lives in us. Without him we can do nothing.
Something happened to us today that has never happened to us before. After a successful shopping trip we went to a diner that serves excellent crab cakes. After finishing the meal, the server, followed by the manager, came and said, somebody paid for our meal. At first we were dumbfounded, we have heard of acts of random kindness, but why us, we don’t look that destitute, as a matter of fact, we look rather good, considering our age. We humbly thanked the server and manager for the anonymous generosity. Leaving the diner I remembered that we always pray before the meal, holding hands, giving thanks to God for what He has tone today and for the meal, all in the name of Jesus.
There is something going on, i can sense it. We are praying for a revival of Biblical proportions, and a worldwide awakening. After all, God gives more grace.
We all know from history about the great Civil War. While it may not have started about slavery, it soon became the rallying cry from the Union soldiers and during the course of the war 750,000 people died, 58% from the North and 42% from the South.
But there is another aspect of the Civil War, and it was the spiritual side, led mostly by the slaves. They were often forbidden to pray by their slave owners, but prayer was their hope, and they met together at night where their owners could not hear their prayers and their singing. So they had their hideouts, and they communicated when and where their prayer meeting was to occur by humming the song “steal away”
Many years ago I led the singing once a month at the Wilmington Sunday Breakfast mission. Being brave I always asked them what they wanted to sing, and more than once they wanted to sing “steal away”. I had never heard of it, but by the time you are to the third verse you know it, and they helped me with the words. I leaned a lot from their singing vitality and exuberance. Their singing was not quite the quality of a university choir, but I loved it nevertheless. It went more like this:
Nobody knew what the second verse “Green trees are bending” meant. Today I found out why. When you meet in secret in the woods, regardless how well you hide it, that place is used up, so you have to find a new spot for the next secret prayer meeting. You had to make directions for the next meeting spot, so they took young tree saplings and bent them to the ground in the direction of the meeting. This is how they fond their way to the next meeting place, in total darkness and absolute quiet.
These prayer meeting with the slaves pouring out their hearts to Jesus was followed by prayer meetings in the cities. One such prayer meeting started in Charleston S.C. and a revival broke out reaching the whole Eastern Seaboard, reaching all the way to New York. This revival was maybe even more important, for now the battle was the Lord’s.
Now the Critical Race Theory is trying to undo all the hard fought freedoms won, from the founding fathers to the Civil war to the civil rights movement. Pray the Lord would send a great revival, this time world-wide, followed by an even greater awakening!
This is a remake of verse 95of the Obama impeachment song.
Obama and all his cabinet and active generals called ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) ISIL (the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant). This must mean he did send a signal to all his Muslim friends that Israel is part of the Islamic interest sphere. Take a look at the Geographic area called the Levant:
This leads to verse 95 of the Obama impeachment song (as if sung by former President Barack Hussein Obama to the tune of “Please release me, let me go”)
Johan Ludvig Runeberg, (1804 – 1877 ) Finno-Swedish poet is generally considered to be the national poet of Finland. His works, which express the patriotic spirit of his countrymen, were written in Swedish and exercised great influence on Swedish literature as well. Besides the Finnish national anthem (Vårt land) and “Fänrik Ståls sägner”, he wrote the lovely Christmas poem “Gläns över sjö och strand”, a song I always loved to sing as a child at Christmas. It had a piano accompaniment written by the Swedish music teacher Alice Tegnér, most famous for writing children’s songs, which she published. The song was stuck in my brain from childhood days, so ten years ago I made a translation of the song into English. Here it is, enjoy:
she worked all the time to make our country weaker
Protect the deep State!
Impeach and spew hate!
As always the Democrats future looks bleaker.
When Nancy Pelosi becme speaker of the house the first time in 2007 I penned
Ode to Nancy Pelosi, Limerick style.
Since Nancy Pelosi took over the gavel
Was our economy quick to unravel.
She is more than bad,
The worst that we had.
We finally stopped contemplating our navel.
Since Nancy Pelosi took over as speaker
Our job situation has gotten much weaker
All jobs that are lost
Since she got the post
And as for advise, shame to all who still seek her.
For Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader
The Chinese exploiters a life-line did feed her
Our debt load increased
Four trillions at least
We all must this fall go and vote to unseat her
For Nancy Pelosi, known Tea Party hater
Gets scared when the grandmothers start to berate her
It does go to show
That she doesn’t know
The Tea Party is a great hate dissipater.
Then in the 2010 election she lost the majority, which led to this verse
Oh, Nancy Pelosi, she fondly remembers,
she only lost sixty-three Democrat members.
And it doesn’t compute,
as a leader astute?
Her party is burning, it’s ashes and embers!
But in 2018, at the age of 78, the Democrats again gained control of the House of Representatives and reelected Nancy Pelosi as speaker, which led to this verse, being much the same as the top verse of this ode.
Twenty-two years a girl was born with undeveloped optical nerves and mild cerebral palsy. She was not expected to live more than at most one year. But God had other plans for her. At age two she began to sing. Her love for singing praises to God has never ceased. And so, in God’s providence she was chosen to sing at the 2017 inauguration interfaith prayer service. And sing she did! Her name is Marlana VanHoose, a little girl, but with a voice.
Meanwhile, the media was busy tracking the protest rallies all around Washington that day. I watched all day and never saw it.
How did the audience that was privileged to watch react? It is worth to listen to it a second time, this time around watching the reaction of the public in attendance, notably Melania Trumps reaction.
After the song Melania led the standing ovation to acknowledge God’s grace, not only for the song, but for the whole day and for the whole presidency.
This is what give us evangelicals hope. She not only sang it, she also sang the third and fourth verses, so often omitted in public settings, especially in interfaith services. Why is that so important?
Let us look at the history of “O store Gud”, and how it came to be the most favored Hymn of at least three presidents before Donald Trump!
Clouds have always been my fascination. They come and go, form and disappear, cool by day and warm by night. But most impressive of all are thunderstorms, forming when the temperature and humidity are high, transport a lot of water vapor to higher elevations, there condensing as rain or ice, coming down, cooling and watering the earth. Clouds and thunderstorms are the thermostat of the earth. Without it the earth would respond like climate models, predicting a sharp temperature rise as carbon dioxide levels increase. The models are all flawed, since they predict a hot spot in the troposphere over the equator, but there is none. The thunderstorms in the tropical doldrums take care of that. “Settled science” instead has settled on ignoring the lack of the hot spot, for to acknowledge it would make the global warming claim invalid.
I thank God for providing us with a thermostat that protects the earth from overheating, and especially for thunderstorms!
Such was the case in July 1885, when Carl Boberg, a 26 year young pastor of a small congregation of the Swedish Missionary society was the honored guest of the ladies’ auxiliary annual picnic, held in a meadow near Mönsteråsviken, (a bay of the Baltic Sea in southeastern Sweden). The day was perfect, the sky was clear, pleasant temperatures, the cows were grazing on the meadow, the birds were singing, in short, a pastoral idyll. Then it happened. In a few short minutes thunderclouds appeared out of nothing. There was no time to go home, so they all sought shelter in a barn close by. The rain came down hard, and lightning struck a nearby tree. Then as suddenly as it started the rain stopped and all was calm. In Sweden it turns much cooler after a thunderstorm, and the birds sing like they got a new lease on life.
They all went home, and the young pastor pondered the events of the day. He
heard the Coalthrush singing its melodic, beautiful drill and in a distance he heard the church bells ringing from Kronobäck’s church. The bay was calm like a mirror, and inspired he started penning the song “O store Gud”. Here is the first verse:
O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, Consider all the works Thy Hands have made; I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Refrain: Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art. Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
He continued to write and write of all the mighty works that God has made and what He has given us through His word, and continued long into the night. Before going to bed he had penned over twenty verses. The next Sunday he wove the poem into his sermon. They all loved it, but that was about it. Slowly the word got around the poem was pretty good, after much editing down 9 verses were published in the local newspaper Mönsteråstidningen in 1886. Carl Boberg didn’t make any efforts to publish it further, and was surprised when he heard it sung a few years later to a Swedish folk melody (in 3/4 tempo). This was then published in the periodical “Sanningsvittnet” (witness of the truth) in 1891.
It was translated into German by an Estonian, Manfred von Glehn. Five years later it was translated into Russian by Ivan S. Prokanoff, the Martin Luther of modern Russia. It was published in a book with the title “Cymbals”.
Later, while in the Carpathian Mountains of what is now Western Ukraine the English Missionary couple Hine heard the song sung in Russian, this time as a wandering song in march tempo. He got impressed by God’s great works in the Polish mountains, and as Stuart Hine heard the people singing it on their way to church he penned a translation. This become the second verse:
When through the woods, and forest glades I wander, And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees. When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
From now on the English version is different than the Swedish original. This is the origin of the third verse: It was typical of the Hines to ask if there were any Christians in the villages they visited. In one case, they found out that the only Christians that their host knew about were a man named Dmitri and his wife Lyudmila. Dmitri’s wife knew how to read — evidently a fairly rare thing at that time and in that place. She taught herself how to read because a Russian soldier had left a Bible behind several years earlier, and she started slowly learning by reading that Bible. When the Hines arrived in the village and approached Dmitri’s house, they heard a strange and wonderful sound: Dmitri’s wife was reading from the gospel of John about the crucifixion of Christ to a houseful of guests, and those visitors were in the very act of repenting. In Ukraine (as I know first hand!), this act of repenting is done very much out loud. So the Hines heard people calling out to God, saying how unbelievable it was that Christ would die for their own sins, and praising Him for His love and mercy. They just couldn’t barge in and disrupt this obvious work of the Holy Spirit, so they stayed outside and listened. Stuart wrote down the phrases he heard the Repenters use, and (even though this was all in Russian), it became the third verse that we know today: And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing; Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in; That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin.
The second world war broke out, and the Hines were forced to return back to England, but they continued their ministry. The fourth verse was was added by Stuart Hine after the Second World War. His concern for the exiled Polish community in Britain, who were anxious to return home, provided part of the inspiration for Hine’s final verse. Hine and David Griffiths visited a camp in Sussex, England, in 1948 where displaced Russians were being held, but where only two were professing Christians. The testimony of one of these refugees and his anticipation of the second coming of Christ inspired Hine to write the fourth stanza of his English version of the hymn. According to Ireland: One man to whom they were ministering told them an amazing story: he had been separated from his wife at the very end of the war, and had not seen her since. At the time they were separated, his wife was a Christian, but he was not, but he had since been converted. His deep desire was to find his wife so they could at last share their faith together. But he told the Hines that he did not think he would ever see his wife on earth again. Instead he was longing for the day when they would meet in heaven, and could share in the Life Eternal there. These words again inspired Hine, and they became the basis for his fourth and final verse to ‘How Great Thou Art’:
When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”
The complete song was soon published, not in England but in the Soviet Union (in English). The famous Gospel singer George Beverly Shea got hold of it, liked it a lot, but he wanted to change two words in the first verse: Instead of works, he wanted to use worlds, and instead of mighty he wanted to use rolling. Very reluctantly Stuart Hine agreed, but only for use in the Billy Graham Crusades. It was first sung in Canada in 1955. It became so popular that in Billy Graham’s 1956 New York Crusade it was sung at all 99 events, and from there the song spread out through all the world, even back in Sweden where the new version became the popular one. One of the visitors to this Crusade was the little boy Donald Trump, who went with his Father and Mother and Brother (and Sisters?) to listen. God’s word never returns void.
There stands in Virginia Beach a statue, donated by the citizens of Moss, Norway; a statue memorializing the dangers of the sea. Many ships have been shipwrecked on the American East Coast during the ages, and the seas have always been treacherous. Before telegraph and radio the women waited for their husbands safe return from their journeys, whether it had been a long journey to America, or just a fishing tour on the North Sea. I can still remember from my childhood’s Sweden how my great aunt Hanna sat, looking out the window with a perfect view of Skagerrak, watching the ships go in and out of Gullmarsfjorden. She was always the first spotter and sent a message to the town: “En, to, tre, hurra, no kommer Majblomma fra Gullholmen.” (One, two, three, Hooray, now is “Mayflower” coming in around the nearest island.) Their lives were full of waiting and longing, and with that, a deep faith. “Everybody” went to church, fearing God, the faith was dark but deep, well anchored in God’s word.
Which brings us to the importance of being well anchored. On the U.S. east coast nor-easterns and hurricanes come up the coast, and during these, sailing ships have to cut sail and throw anchor to stabilize the ship. If there are no solid rocks, only sand, the anchor does not hold and the ship drifts helplessly closer and closer to land, and runs ashore where the storm finally breaks it up.
Watching the statue this old hymn came into my head and reminded me of the importance of being securely anchored.
In times like these you need a Savior, In times like these you need an anchor; Be very sure, be very sure, Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One,
This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!