Sacred Songs and Solos

Sacred Songs and Solos has been in my bookshelf a really long time, and I take a look at it every once in a while, but tonight I understood more of what a treasure it really is. This past week I´ve been reading a book named Mrs. Howard Taylor, by Joy Guinness. Mary Geraldine Taylor has become a dear friend and inspiration to me in so many ways. I so admire the burning passion she has for the gospel and the way by which she shares the good news of God´s mercy and grace to whomever she stumbles upon, and the Lord used her life in wonderful ways – bringing many souls into His glorious light.

She often quotes old hymns and songs in her personal and pubic writing, and I´ve been posting quite a few of those songs on facebook. But as I now took down Sacred Songs and Solos again, I realized how many of the songs she´d been singing would be in this book I myself had. I´ve often wondered at the richness of the language in the old hymns and songs compared to the modern lyrics of such songs, and it´s been bothering me how often the focus in modern worship surrounds us humanbeings instead of the Blessed Saviour, the Majestic, Holy and Awesome God whom we serve.

As I once again looked at the book I had brought with me from a little Christian bookshop in York, England, I saw that the introduction contained a few interesting details. It read:

«In this Revised and Enlarged Collection of «Sacred Songs and Solos» will be found most of the old favourites sung by Mr.Sankey in the great Revival Meetings conducted by Mr. Moody during their three notable campaigns in this country; together with a number of new pieces which have more recently become popular, and many others now published for the first time.»

I know Mr.Moody, and if these were songs they picked for the revival meetings conducted by him, I know they are worth taking another look at.

So I will post some of them here on my blog. Sometimes just the songs, sometimes I might add a comment or emphasize something I find important at the time. We´ll see, but I am excited to take a proper look at them and enjoy their timeless message. I´ll title them by the number they have been given in Sacred Songs and Solos, and by the author.

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Viewing Guilt as a Friend and Grace as a Teacher

michelangelo-creation-of-adam-detailWe all struggle with sin as a part of our everyday. It´s there when we throw hateful comments after people who annoy us – in our minds, that is (´cause I´d never in a million years say those things out loud!). It´s there when the chores we know we should get done just gets postponed – always for good reasons – and our flatmates suffer because of it. It´s there when we – mid-conversation – realize we´re gossipping about someone, but since we´ve already started and the harm is done, we might as well just finish the conversation – our friends do know that we mean no harm by it anyway. It´s there when we know we get grumpy in the mornings and whoever we´ll meet the next day will have to suffer through our irritation and short, harsh comments – yet we still choose to stay up most of the night to watch whatever lame show that´s cought our attention or surf the internet (there are always some pictures on facebook yet unviewed).

«Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.» (2 Timothy 2:21-26, ESV)

Thoughts, words, actions. Why do we so easily live like we ourselves are all that matters? I do at least – too often. I choose to ignore the still small voice motioning me toward Jesus, and indulge in whatever I feel like doing in that very moment, allowing the lack of discipline in my life to bring me to new pitfalls. Yes, I´ve got excuses. Plenty of them, as a matter of fact! They´re mostly ready long before the sins are committed, but when I come to think of it, they´re really not all that valid in view of the One Who payed the price for my freedom from sin through the death of His Own Son, Jesus Christ. 

«Well, if you put it like that.. I mean, isn´t that just a bit.. »

That´s the only way it can be put. Whatever my excuses were, they always crumble in the face of the all altering truth of the Gospel. «I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.» (Galatians 2:20, ESV). God will avenge whatever injustice has been done – both to us and by us (2.Thess.1:5-10). Our responsibility is to never make other people´s sin the excuse for our own. God knows that we are weak, He knows about the minimal amount of sleep (because of …) that always results in a sinful crankiness, He knows what they did – to us, to others – and He knows that we´re tired, bored, impatient, restless, lacking motivation, irritated, sad, jealous, brokenhearted, competative, angry, sick of the injustice all around us, our feeling neglected, not to mention feeling crushed under the weight of being human in a sinful and utterly broken world. He knows all this. That´s why He offers us freedom – out of sin, into Christ. It´s a freedom with restrictions, a freedom with rules, with the command of a certain way of living, but this is the only freedom that fills us with peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal.5:22-23). It´s also the only freedom which comes with a promise of the strength needed to face each difficult situation (2.Cor.12:9-10), abundance for every good work that is asked of us (1. Cor. 9:8); the only freedom with includes eternity together with our Saviour.

Lately I´ve been reading this blog called «The Beggars Daughter«, which is about women struggeling with porn-addictions. The writer of the blog, Jessica, has so much wisdom and insight into the constant struggle we have with sin, and if porn is the issue we struggle with or not, what she writes is applicable – because we all struggle with something – with plenty of «something»s.

Not too long ago she wrote a blog about guilt – not as the enemy we´re often raised to believe it is, but as a friend – a helper to get us back on our knees, handing our struggles over to God through repentance and resting in all the promises He has made to us; His beloved children (1. John 3:1). Jessica writes so beautifully about the process of facing the guilt, and dealing with the reason for it – our sin.

«Guilt means responsibility.  Guilty is taking responsibility for a wrong.  We just don’t like doing that. (…) If you want to continue growing on this journey, you are going to have to admit when things are not right.  Yes, it is hard, humbling, and it hurts.  You cannot push on like nothing ever happened. Moving on will give you a false sense of victory, a blissful ignorance, and when we are ignorant toward sin, the outcome can be disastrous.»

Close to always, my initial responce to guilt is to beat myself up – trying inwardly to choke my fleshly ways, and try to find a way to make up for my horrible tendency to fall into sin. This shows that I´ve misunderstood something essencial. Guilt is a friend beckoning us to run back to God, fall into His arms and experience the power of His grace – His life changing grace – the only thing that´s ever going to change our sinful tendencies.

«For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.» (Titus 2:11-14, ESV)

Grace saves us, but it´s also what works change in us – it´s training us. It is hard, and it costs us everything. But I believe with all my heart that it is worth it – for the «surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ» (Phil.3:8).

So will I lay it all down, live the perfect Christian life from now on? I wish I would, but I know that through showing me my sinfulness over and over again, the Lord also shows me His grace over and over again, and it just keeps appearing greater and greater. I know I will fall again, but I also know that He is there to catch in His grace me when I do – the grace that is training me to a life in godliness.

«To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.» (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, ESV)

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A beatuiful commercial by the Thai telecommunications conglomerate True.

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Thank you, Lord, for ..

1. Meeting the school choir from my high school, Kvitsund, in my church in Oslo – got the opportunity to tell a whole lot fo them to give my sister a hug when they get back there.

2. Heading out after church to eat at Jensens Bøfhus with a group we call «iMat». Always fun!

3. Drinking a wonderful hot chocolate at Jensens

4. Having a chill afternoon with a sweet group of girls from my church, just hanging out and talking while drinking cups of coffee.

5. More ppl coming over in the evening! Just hanging out with this amazing group from my church, playing games, seeing the competative spirits at work, drinking coffee in the sunshine, laughing our butts off, and enjoying good stories and flapjacks together .

6. My first time of making Flapjacks – and they ended up being perfect !

7. The smiles on the faces of my guyfriends when they see I do my pull-ups all wrong. haha.. Fail!

8. Having a quiet time with worship and prayer after all the dishes are done, and some nightfood is cooking on the stove.

9. Isa.30:15 «For thus said the LORD GOD, the Holy One of Israel, «In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.»»

Oh, how blessed I am!

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Thanking Him for the small things

I love to be reminded to thank God for the small joys and small blessings that He gives me during the day; anything that makes my heart smile, but which I almost never notice as being from God. I believe He fills every moment with reasons to praise and thank Him, and I´m challenging myself to start noticing these things, and consciously thank Him for them. I´ll try to write down some of the highlights of the day here, just as short small posts, but know you know what they´re about 🙂

Stay blessed!

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Loving God´s way

I´m learning to love.. God´s way. …again.

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Merry Christmas

Some friends and kids telling the well known story with a different set of details than usual 🙂

Be blessed by it, and read the extended version in Luke 2:1-21

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Starvation for God´s glory

«We are all starved for the glory of God, not self. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem. Why do we go? Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beholding self. Indeed, what could be more ludicrous in a vast and glorious universe like this than a human being, on the speck called earth, standing in front of a mirror trying to find significance in his own self-image? It is a great sadness that this is the gospel of the modern world.» – John Piper

I love this quote, because it puts things into perspective. I really do need to get things into perspective anew every day. I want to see God and His glory, not being caught up in my own small worries and frustrations.

I am here in Oslo, taking a Bachelors Dregree in Social Work for God; not for myself or my own pleasure. God wants me to enjoy what He has me to do, but at the same time He wants me to follow Him in the days when I find it easy and in the days when it´s hard, and when i´t´s the last thing my flesh wants. But it truly does feel good when Christmas holiday finally comes along 🙂

First semester is over, one and only exam is handed in, and I´m enjoying the first day of Christmas break. And I can´t wait to go home and enjoy the beauty and glory of the Lord that surrounds me in my little hometown. Praise God!

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Advent concert with Humming People, Helga Semset and Maria Solheim

Advent concert with Humming People, Helga Semset and Maria Solheim

In the middle of the busy times of writing exams and trying to stay warm inspite of -10C/14 F outside, my Uni arranged a Advent concert with some artists I really enjoy. Throughout the show Helga Semset told the story of the Fourth Wiseman, who regardless of searching for Jesus ever since Jesus was born in the manger, didn´t find him until the Saviour had given his life on the Cross. Yet, through the people the wiseman had sought out, helped and blessed, he had been serving Jesus, and when the wiseman died, Jesus received him with the words of Matthew 25:34-40. Amazing! It was such a nice time of both enjoying the story of the birth of Jesus and his death, through and next to really great music.
Praise God for great breaks in times of exams! 😀

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Newly Weds

Newly Weds

My oldest brother, Anders, got married to beautiful Elisabet 1.12.12.

It was absolutely freeeeeezing outside! But all our hearts had melted while watching them give their «I do»s in church..

The ceremony was amazing, and the wedding a great joy to all of us attending! Even my job as a M.C. went really well – Praise God! (I´ll post more pictures later when I´ve got more, cause my sister´s cellphone doesn´t quite describe it well enough..)

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