O Perfect Love

I had not intended to write a post on for valentine's day; but as everyone else is writing about it, I wondered, why not?  So here I am, whether I like it or not!
   When I think of the time of year, when men endeavor to show their affection towards their wives or sweethearts, I also remember how perfect is God's love towards us. He does not forget, nor need a special day set apart to remind Him of his love towards us; indeed Christ is the perfect lover, the dreamed of hero! His love alone is perfect when all else falls short and disappoints.
  So today I would share with you one of my favorite songs relating to this subject, "O Perfect Love"!

O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
Lowly we kneel in prayer before Thy throne,
That theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
Whom Thou forevermore dost join in one.

O perfect Life, be Thou their full assurance,
Of tender charity and steadfast faith,
Of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.

Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
Grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
And to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow
That dawns upon eternal love and life.

Hear us, O Father, gracious and forgiving,
Through Jesus Christ, Thy coeternal Word,
Who, with the Holy Ghost, by all things living
Now and to endless ages art adored.

I actually didn't know the fourth verse existed until I looked up this song. But it is extremely good as are the others! For lack of time to state the history of this hymn in my own words, I will copy an excerpt written by the author herself (Dorothy F. Gurney) on the writing of the Lyrics.
     " It was Sunday ev­en­ing [at Pull Wyke, Win­der­mere, Eng­land] and we were en­joy­ing a time of hymn sing­ing. A song that was par­ti­cu­lar­ly en­joyed by all of us was O Strength and Stay, the tune to which was a fav­o­rite of my sis­ter. As we fin­ished sing­ing this hymn, some­one re­marked, ‘What a pi­ty the words of this beau­ti­ful song should be un­suit­a­ble for a wed­ding!’ My sis­ter turned to me and chal­lenged, ‘What is the use of a sis­ter who com­pos­es po­et­ry if she can­not write new words to a fa­vo­rite tune? I would like to use the tune at my wed­ding.’ I picked up a hymn­book and said, ‘If no one will dis­turb me, I will go into the lib­ra­ry and see what I can do.’ With­in 15 min­utes I was back with the group and read­ing the words I had jot­ted down. The writ­ing of the words was no ef­fort what­ev­er af­ter the in­i­tial idea came to me of the two­fold aspect of per­fect un­ion, love and life. I feel that God helped me write this song."
   The tune was written by Joseph Barnby for the wedding of Princess Louise of Wales.
Below is the best video I could find!
Happy Valentine's day! May God's love satisfy your heart's deepest longings, as only He can do.

A Miracle of Grace

John Newton was not "supposed" to be saved! In His teens he never did show any signs of a repentant heart.  He was even too bad to be accepted among the wickedest of those in society. If you had met him before he was saved, all you might have wanted to do was get away from him, you might have tried to witness to him, but he probably would have cursed you, swore, perhaps, and maybe even cursed God; after all he'd tried for a short time to be religious to gain the affection of his beloved Mary, but she had seen right through him and had refused him. Perhaps, though, even her memory may have kept him from doing anything any worse to you! However you probably wouldn't have prayed for him, you may have secretly hoped he'd go to hell and most likely try to forget the whole situation hoping you'd never see that horrible young man again.
  But then it happens that about twenty five years later or so, you step into a crowded church in the little town of Olney to hear a popular preacher(you didn't happen to catch his name) speak to the now crowded congregation. "What a sermon!" you marvel as he concludes his message, "what passion, what eloquence of the grace of God, what compassion he has for his flock. Surely he must have studied the Scriptures from His youth in order to be so knowledgeable about them. Perhaps he was saved at the age of six or seven for him to love God so!"
 You nudge a fellow congregant and ask him what the man's name is, "he ought to come and preach at my church at every church, he ought to..." your thoughts come to an abrupt halt as your fellow whispers his name, "JOHN NEWTON!" in disbelief you repeat your question and receive the same answer.
 With perfect amazement your gaze returns to the short, somewhat plump, figure in the pulpit; with the name a whole load of horrid memories come rushing into your head, and with disgust you rise to sing the closing hymn which your all too eager pew mate informs you was written by that very same blasphemer-turned-curate. All your brain is in a whirl, "how is it possible for him to be saved? Must be a hypocrite!" you reason with yourself; and you determine not to sing his song whatever others think, "Probably all pious and holy about how good he is and all!" you think scornfully.
 The organ begins to play, the people begin to sing and you receive yet another surprise.
      Amazing Grace How sweet the sound,
      That saved a wretch like me!
You have to concede this point, it would indeed be amazing grace that could save that God forsaken man - and then you realize in flash that that was what happened, and immediately it all becomes clear! It was indeed amazing grace, nothing else could have changed this person into what he is, and you attend more carefully to the rest of the verse: I once was lost, but now am found,
                                                 Twas blind but now I see.
You nod your head without thinking, that is exactly what he was and now is, he was blind and lost when you saw him, but now he is found and seeing too!
         You cannot resist any longer, but with gusto plunge into the rest of the song, realizing that the best change that could have happened to a man just did!
   
.......Well alright, perhaps you wouldn't have thought through things quite that way, but that is how I imagine it. We all know 'Amazing Grace' , we all think of Newton as this amazing man, devoutly Christian and yet how many of us have really comprehended what this meant to Newton and all those who knew him at his worst? Oh, of course we know he was bad and all that, "but he was saved,Amazing Grace, right? So let's forget about it!" No, really, let's think about it. Do you know any nasty young men? Or women? not just unbelievers, but that really, bad, scary kind that just will make you run a mad hide and seek game through the grocery store to keep from being seen by him if you happened to see him first?  Not necessarily because he is going to do anything to you, but you just know how he's going to snigger at "the God freak" and start talking about how religion is so stupid and how your God is such a nasty person he wants to give him a whipping and all such horrible things. Now just imagine this young man being a pastor, just imagine his face glowing with passion as he speaks of the mercies of God, just imagine his eyes overflowing with tender compassion as he ministers to his flock, just imagine...... that is Amazing Grace!

 I want to share with you the original six verses which Newton actually wrote; far better than the four we commonly sing now, especially the last which he didn't even write.
 His own are so much better!

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav'd a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

 

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev'd;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ'd!

 

Thro' many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

 

The Lord has promis'd good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

 

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

 

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below,
Will be forever mine.

May all you who read this, experience His Amazing Grace towards wretched sinners such as you and I and John Newton!