Sunday, April 21, 2013

Shea--He has Jesus Now

One of the giants of American Christian music, George Beverly Shea passed into heaven this past Thursday at the age of 104. Shea, a member of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Team, has not only shared the gospel message in song all across the world, but he has helped strengthen American churches.

Many Christians may not know it, but Shea introduced "How Great Thou Art" to America.  The song was written in 1885 but remained in obscurity until Shea, having bumped into a friend on Oxford Street in London who handed him a copy, started singing the song with his rich bass voice.  The song is now a staple of American Christianity. 

I grew up hearing Shea.  Mom's old stereo console cabinet had many records, some of which where those of Shea and Cliff Barrows.
Shea was given a poem by his mother in 1922.  He set the words to music and gave us the following song:

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand.

Than to be a king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway,
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name.

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs,
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

Well, Mr. Shea.  Thank you for your service to the King.  You have Jesus now in a way you've never known. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cotton Mather and teaching children

I don't think that Cotton Mather, a puritan preacher from the very late 1600s, had 21st century Sunday School teachers in mind when he wrote a brief article entitled "The Education of Children."  But I couldn't help thinking on the dozens upon dozens of people who have helped shape my spirituality and understanding of the Bible.  So bravo Sunday School teachers of children!  May God use you greatly tomorrow as you pour a piece of your life into children.

Here's in the ending of Mather's article.

But the Freedom with which this Address is made unto you, is not so great as the Fervour that has animated it. My Fathers and Brethren, If you have any Love to God and Christ and Posterity; let [Godly] Schools be more Encouraged.
If you would not betray your Posterity into the very Circumstances of Savages, let Schools have more Encouragement. But in the Anguish, the Despair of Success to be otherwise found by this Address, I will Turn it from you unto the Almighty Hearer of Prayer.
And, O thou Saviour, and Shepherd of Thy New-English Israel: Be Entreated Mercifully to look down upon they Flocks in the Wilderness. Oh, give us not up to the Blindness and Madness of neglecting the Lambs in the Flocks. Inspire thy People, and all Orders of men among thy People with a just care for the Education of Posterity. Let Well-Ordered and well-instructed and well-maintained Schools, be the Honour and the Defence of our Land. Let Learning, and all the Helps and Means of it, be precious in our Esteem and by Learning, let the Interests of thy Gospel so prevail, that we may be made wise unto Salvation. Save us, O our Lord JESUS CHRIST. Save us from the Mischiefs and Scandals of an Uncultivated Offspring; Let this be a Land of Light, unto Thou, O Sun of Righteousness, do Thyself arise unto the World with Healing in thy Wings. Amen.