But God. Why evangelical Christians have hope. “How Great Thou Art”

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.

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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 Mönsteråsvikensmall 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

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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.

Refrain

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.

Refrain

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!”

Refrain

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.

God works in mysterious ways.

God works in all and through all.

God is.

 

What a difference between Trump and Obama on meeting with Putin. Two Limericks.

President Trump met Vladimir Putin July 7 2017 in Hamburg. The meeting was scheduled for 35 minutes to shake hands and size each other up, instead it lasted for over 2 hours. It lasted so long that at one time Trump’s support team sent in his wife Melania to remind him he was to meet with Theresa May in a few minutes, but he continued for another hour, so his meeting with the British P.M. got postponed. The meeting was frank and robust, and they agreed on a cease fire in Syria and a common goal with respect to North Korea, but disagreements were out in the open to be tackled by normal diplomacy.

With Putin and Trump face to face

Which alpha-male did win the race?

It’s the art of the deal.

With T. Rex it’s for real.

Poles Missile Defense back in place.

Trump made an end-run on Putin by going first to Poland, a former Warsaw Pact country and re-arming them with the Patriot missile defense system and making preparations for exporting Liquid Natural Gas to Eastern Europe, thus making them independent of Russian Gas.

This is leadership.

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This too is real leadership, Melania Trump explaining something to Putin (in perfect German, which they both speak), and Putin, starstruck listens.

Totally opposite to Obama’s lack thereof.

Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin
Headline in Washington Post Aug. 6 2013: Obama cancels summit meeting with Putin. Obama will still attend the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, but a top White House official said the president had no plans to hold one-on-one talks with Putin while there. Instead of visiting Putin in Moscow, the president will add a stop in Sweden to his early September travel itinerary.

Crybaby, why go to Sweden?
Putin will not give you Snowden?
Air Force One is no toy
You’re a man, not a boy.
Face it Obama, you’re beaten.

Why did he go to Sweden?
Was it to learn of the success of the 25% VAT (National sales tax)?
Was it their success in rooting out home schooling?
Was it their solid support of the Palestinians over the Israelis?
Was it confusion between Sweden and Norway? Norway, not Sweden gives out the Nobel Peace Prize, and he needs people who still admire him.
Was it to learn more about green energy?
Was it because Sweden has the ideal welfare state where even the conservatives are for it?
Was it because everybody belongs to a union in Sweden, even the employers have their union?
Was it to show Putin he is having more flexibility after the election?

Was it because Sweden now has 123 young men for every 100 young women thanks to taking in so many “refugees”, mostly young Muslim men of draft age?
Whatever the reason, it was not leadership.

Potica, a bread for life and celebration, a Limerick.

Potica, now cherished in Rome.

Slovenia is really its home.

So the Pope was all right

to Melania’s delight;

that nutcake fits Donald’s genome.

Visiting the Vatican, President Trump, his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka had a meeting with His Holiness, Pope Francis. The meeting started out tense, but after the half an hour private one on one audience, the President and the Pope emerged all smiles. President Trump said: “Thank you. I won’t forget what you said.” Later  he tweeted: “Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.”

The Pope, smiling broadly  even cracked a joke with Melania Trump. His Holiness the Pope asked Melania (in Italian): What do you feed your husband? ‘Potica?’  Melania laughed and answered in Italian “Potica, si, … yes”, the perfect answer. After all, Melania is fluent in six languages: Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, Italian, German, English and conversational French. The Pope is fluent in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, German, Ukrainian and Piedmontese  and, of course, Latin.

The mike feed wasn’t all that great, so many newspapers got it all wrong. The Guardian(UK) thought Melania responded “Pizza”. Huffington post seemed to indicate the Pope suggested that Trump looks like he’s filled with yeast, milk, butter, eggs and lots of nuts. Washington Post got it all wrong and called it an awkward exchange. The Pope and Melania understood each other perfectly in Italian, but the interpreter (interruptor) had to mistranslate Potica to Pizza. The Pope loves Potica, and it is the traditional cake for Christmas and Easter in Slovenia, Melania’s native country. It was the perfect small-talk.

Speaking of nutcake, or more properly nutbread it is really much more healthy if you mix in nuts or almonds with the bread as a substitute for shortening. We used to live in Lancaster County, where Ephrata Cloister is located. Once visiting the cloister we took a tour of the graveyard and noticed the brothers and sisters lived long lives, most reaching their 70’s, a rare occurrence in the 1700’s. They lived an ascetic life, sleeping six hours a night in two three hour shifts on a 15 inch wide wood bed with a wooden block as a pillow. They ate only one meal a day, vegettarian, but … it was rich in nuts, walnuts, black walnuts, Chestnuts, Lancaster County is rich in nuts. My wife tried them all in breads and cakes, also almonds, filberts, pecans, but not macadamia nuts, and no cashews.

Life is wonderful.

 

Different strokes for different folks. Who’s bowing now? A Limerick.

Melania, no hijab in Riyadh

was greeted as equal, I’m glad.

For King Salman shook hands;

bowed to western demands.

Obama submitted, bowed down. Sad.

Three pictures say it all: The 81 year old and in frail health, King Salman Himself welcomes President Trump and his wife Melania as Air Force 1 arrives.

Compare this with 2016, Apr 20.President Barack Obama is greeted by Ambassador Joseph W. Westphal, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as he arrives. No royal welcome at all.

A few years earlier Obama showed his true colors: The gesture of submission. Times change and elections have consequences.

American golfing and Japanese gardening diplomacy. A Limerick.

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First Lady MelaniaTrump revealed her interest in gardening as she accompanied Mrs Abe on a tour of Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden in Delray Beach, Florida, while her husband took the Japanese P.M. golfing.

This is golfing and gardening diplomacy at its best.

Melania Trump is an asset

With Japanese PM she has it.

In the garden’s still life

she was hosting his wife.

Diplomacy coup, Donald aced it.