Abide with Me

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After a long week that ended with a Friday that felt more like a Monday, it was incredibly refreshing to meet up with a friend for dinner and head down to see a former student perform at Asbury University this weekend.

The whole concert was excellent, but my favorite piece was Abide With Me, performed by their concert band. This particular piece was arranged by Jay Dawson, in which he juxtaposed bugle calls of Last Post, the British equivalent of Taps, adding an even greater sense of desperation and gravity to this popular hymn.

The overarching theme of the song is a petition for God’s presence–especially in death. Henry F. Lyte, an Anglican priest, penned these words as he was dying from tuberculosis at age 54, and actually passed into eternity just three weeks after writing this heartfelt plea.

This hymn is commonly associated with funerals. But if we need in Him in death, don’t we also need Him in life? I need Thy presence every passing hour; What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r? 

We sing a lot of hymns at my church, but I never recall singing this one. I’m committing to learning this one on my own because its lyrics would undoubtedly serve me well as I go about everyday life. I especially like the second verse which reminds me that though things around me are constantly changing, God remains constant.

Abide With Me
[Words by Henry F. Lyte | Music by William Henry Monk]

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” {Hebrews 13:5}
What a comforting promise. He will abide with me. Always. Even on the Fridays that feel like Mondays…and during the long work-weeks that never seem to end…when you get fabulous news…and when you receive devastating news…in all the ups and downs and monotony of everyday life…in the uncharted waters of death…through it all…He’ll be there. Always. Isn’t He good? 

P.S. I wasn’t able to get a video of Asbury playing, but thank God for the YouTube so you can hear a sample of this gorgeous arrangement played by a school band in Qatar. 

[And if you want to read more about the story behind the song, check out Tim Challies’ post on his ever-informative blog.]

Chasing Your Love

“The power of music can impact our mood, emotions, our day. But when you merge the strength of music with the heart, hope and passion of the Gospel… it has the ultimate power not only to change someone’s day, but to impact them for eternity. This is why we write music and sing songs – we hope that people will be moved, encouraged and stirred to live a life for Someone greater than themselves.”
{Joel Smallbone of For King & Country}

I’ve been enjoying For King & Country’s album Crave as I’ve been driving around this summer. If you listen to Christian radio at all, you’ve probably heard their songs The Proof of Your Love or Busted Heart during the last year. Their poignant lyrics resonate with what my heart often feels and the melodies are very catchy (not to mention their Aussie accents). 

As I was listening to Busted Heart on my way home from work this afternoon, I was reminded of how much God really loves me and how often I take His matchless love for granted. It gets so easy to just float by in life, focusing on the mundane day-to-day, forgetting about what God has done for me.

♪ I am the wondering son / Your love is never enough / I keep chasing the wind / Instead of chasing Your love ♪

If I’m not pursuing God with my whole heart second by second, I’m chasing after wind–empty, worthless things that have no meaning. This all declares that I don’t think His love is enough.

God relentlessly pursued me with His unconditional love while I was dead in my sins against Him. He died the death I deserved and gave me life! Oh that I would keep this as the center of my focus. Knowing that, how could I not want to chase His love continually?! How much richer life would be if I ran hard after His love. As they sang so well, I’ve got a busted heart. I’m in need of a change. I’m desperate for grace. I want Him to hold on to me and not let me lose my way. 

Perhaps I should start by running toward the 66 volume love letter He wrote to me. 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! {1 John 3:11}

For King & Country Crave

Check out the rest of their Crave album! I doubt you’ll skip very many. 

Sounds of my summer… ♪

Summertime is the best. Roadtrips with friends and family. Picnics. Band camp early in the morning. Swimming at sunset. Late-night Menchie’s runs. I love it all!

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of summer is figuring out what will become my most-played album of the season. This typically happens when my Dad and I travel to South Carolina to see my grandparents. (Last year our favorite was Jars of Clay’s “Long Fall Back to Earth.”)

This year we had a tie. Normally when I buy an album, there will only be about two songs on them that I really end up liking a lot, but in this case there’s not even one song on either of these albums that I don’t like. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to these songs this summer. Ridiculous. I’ve listed my favorites under each album and also put my favorite lyrics from each…

First up is  MercyMe’s “The Generous Mr. Lovewell”

This Life – This song has affectionately become the “Lighthouse” song to one of my students. We volunteered at a homeless ministry one day this summer and this song kept us going. Every moment is a chance to let Your light break through. This life was meant to shine. I live everyday just to make You known. If I’m outta my mind, then it’s all for Christ.

The Generous Mr. Lovewell – My dad basically embodies this song, but it should be true for every Christian. We should love well because we’ve been loved so well.  My loving dad has told me many times to not practice “Random Acts of Kindness,” but rather practice consistent acts of kindness. He wakes up every day the same, Believin’ he’s gonna make a change. Never wonders ‘if’ but ‘when.’ He believes it’s the little things that make a great big change.

Move – If this song doesn’t make you move, I don’t know what will. It’s extremely catchy! Clap along! I just might bend but I won’t break as long as I can see Your face.

Crazy Enough – Call me crazy but what if we learn to love our brother for nothing in return? Oh how the rules would change. Reaching out to the ones who need help, treating them as you first would treat yourself. Now that would be insane.

All of Creation – Beautiful reminder of the Gospel. Captivated but no longer bound by chains, left at an empty grave, the sinner and the sacred resolved.

Beautiful – This is the perfect song to listen to when you’re feeling worthless. You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His. You’re the one He madly loves enough to die.” 

This So Called Love – A lovely melody that serves as a simple reminder that love without Jesus is empty. But if all that we do is absent of Jesus, then this so called love is completely in vain.

Peter Furler’s “On Fire” I grew up listening to Newsboys and was so sad when Peter Furler left the group. This album sounds just like an old Newsboys album and I LOVE it!

I’m Alive” – This is the perfect song to start your day and it just might be my favorite. I just can’t get enough!

Reach– Such good words! You hold the weight of the world, still I don’t slip through Your hands.

Glory to the King” – What a day it will be when I singing around the throne with other sinners who have been redeemed! Peter wrote this song shortly after his grandmother passed away. He portrays such a beautiful image through his lyrics! A sea of voices sing, “Glory to the King, the King of everything.”

Never Ending Love Song” – You gave Your all in our stead, we can never forget.

All in Your Head – Get up, get off your seat, move your feet, just do what He said. And perhaps my dad and I’s favorite phrase on the whole album: a kick of love. The pastor likes that one a lot!

Psalm 23” – This super catchy song would be perfect to listen to while working out. Or while riding in the car with your best friend. Or by yourself. My Filipina sister has rocked out to this song in the passenger seat all summer long…and it’s precious! It has claps on 2 & 4 and it’s straight Scripture…does it get any better than that?!

Greater is He” – One of the first days of my summer was spent riding to Atlanta with my friends to drop them off for a 3-month tour with Drum Corps. As we stood in their driveway at 5:30 in the morning, their dad prayed a Scripture-soaked prayer over them as he told them goodbye. One of the verses he used was 1 John 4:4. He said, “Greater are You who is in Jeremy & Erin than he that is in the world.” Personalizing verses like that make them come so much more alive and that has stuck with me all summer long. We don’t fear the flame, we won’t fear our enemies, and we don’t fear what is to come ’cause the battle’s already been won! Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world: Christ in us, the hope of Glory. 

Longest post ever? Maybe. But I hope you check these two albums out. They have served my heart well this summer!