LONGEVITY STUDY: HOPE AND OPTIMISM

Have you ever wondered if being optimistic may contribute to longer life more than if pessemistic? Are you generally an optimist or a pessimist? If an optimist then you may find hope in a recent study’s findings. If a pessimist then you may want to work at improving your outlook in life.

A recent study was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The findings indicated that most subjects who had positive outlooks had 50% – 70% better chances of reaching “exceptional longevity” (which is considered 85 years old) than those who had negative outlooks.

Also the study indicated that an average of 11% – 15% longer life span is associated with those who are optimistic.

Optimism was defined by the study as “a psychological attribute characterized as the general expectation that good things will happen.”

It is commonly believed that attitude affects physical health.  Researchers also believe that those more optimistic were more likely to be physically active, which may increase longevity as well.

The study results clearly indicate that being optimistic is a “psycho-social asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan,” according to Lewina Lee, an author of the study and clinical research psychologist at the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston.

Interestingly, optimism may be modifiable using relatively simple techniques or therapies,” Lee added.

Although the study did not answer specifically how optimism leads to longer life, Laura Kubzansky, a senior author of the study, commented that it may relate to how optimistic people cope with stress.

“Other research suggests that more optimistic people may be able to regulate emotions and behavior as well as bounce back from stressors and difficulties more effectively,” Kubzansky further explained.

Researchers were from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). The study followed more than 70,000 individuals, both men and women, up to 30 years before publishing results.

If being positive helps us live longer, then we may improve our chances for longer lives by improving our outlook. Whether that will lengthen life’s journey or not, it is sure to make the trip more pleasant.  It may even increase our hope and optimism.

Let us see what the Bible says about longevity and the expectation that good things will happen.

“So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today that it may go well with you and with your children after you and that you may live long on the land, which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”  (Deuteronomy 4:40)

“You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”  (Deuteronomy 25:15)

“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
(Psalm 23:6)

“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.”  (Psalm 31:24)

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.”  (Proverbs 3:1, 2)

“For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.”
(Proverbs 9:11)

“The fear of the Lord prolongs life….”
(Proverbs 10:27)

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

“The one who desires life, to love and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.”  (1 Peter 3:10)

These are only a few of many such verses. Peace, courage, strength, and other good things come from Creator God. Looking to Him continually and receiving daily will increase our hope and optimism. Try Him and see for yourself.

VIOLIN CONCERTO: HOPE & BEAUTY

I was reading, “Ludomir Różycki buried his composition in a Warsaw garden as he fled the Nazis.” It sounded like a sad and hopeless time in a composer’s life during a sad and hopeless time in history. It was indeed sad but — thankfully — not hopeless.

There was more to read…. “Polish composer’s lost wartime concerto brought to life” added the missing hope. This true story by Kate Connolly in Szczecin, Poland, published on January 1, 2020, shared hope and an outcome very different than might have been.

A Warsaw home had been destroyed during World War 2, and builders later uncovered a suitcase in the garden and passed it on to authorities. Inside were multiple pages of an original musical composition. The Polish National Library became keepers of the contents then forgot about it… for decades.

The manuscripts had been buried by composer Ludomir Różycki before he escaped Warsaw and its devastation caused by war. Could he have held hope that one day his works would be reclaimed? Was it even possible to maintain hope during such a life-threatening and near-hopeless situation?

Hope refused to be hidden in the garden nor remain entombed in the suitcase nor forgotten forever in  library archives. Surprisingly the future would find the composer’s great-granddaughter, Ewa Wyszogrodzka, with eyes filling with tears and a heart overflowing with hope during a concert 75 years later.

A musician’s nearly lost composition was finally played by a Polish virtuoso violinist in concert at Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin. Rozycki’s original composition finally came to life as hope and beauty were musically proclaimed. Rozycki’s musical score, never presented while he was alive, was now shared with the world. To me this is an example of hope. We were finally blessed with his beautiful music, and hope blessed us as it played.

“Listening to the music, it’s like getting to know my great-grandfather for the first time,” Ewa said after the concert. “To think these pieces might have been lost forever.”

Poland’s leading classical violinist, Janusz Wawrowski, labored approximately a decade on Różycki’s Violin Concerto, which has been called “an exuberant, optimistic work comparable to that of George Gershwin or… Erich Wolfgang Korngold.”

Wawrowski thought it a “happy accident” that the original orchestral score and basic piano arrangements were discovered in two separate archives, and he correctly realized they belonged to Różycki’s Violin Concerto. I do not believe it was an accident at all. I am glad it allowed him to musically combine his findings, and that was neither simple nor quick.

Różycki’s musical experiences indicated a successful musical career in his future had he lived. He had studied piano and composition at the Warsaw Conservatory then continued his musical education in Weimar Berlin under the German opera composer Engelbert Humperdinck, associating with Richard Strauss, Giacomo Puccini, and other exceptional musical talents. His ballet Pan Twardowski was an international success performed almost 1000 times in Warsaw and throughout central and eastern Europe.

Unfortunately family stories about the composer were not shared. Ewa’s great-grandmother remarried after his death in 1953 and did not pass on details. Ewa shared, “But I do remember my grandmother telling me how he had been interrogated by the Gestapo.”

Rozycki had been forced to flee for his life after refusing to sign the Nazi Volkliste to register certain inhabitants of the Third Reich’s occupied territories. “There were no USB sticks in those days, so he was forced to put his scores in a suitcase and bury it in the garden,” Ewa explained. “The family thought they’d have the opportunity to find it after the war, but they never came back and assumed it had been lost or destroyed.”

At the recent concert conducted by Norbert Tworczynski, Wawrowski and the orchestra also performed Różycki’s Pieta. This work was completed in 1942, but his original manuscript was destroyed in the Warsaw Uprising.

“He had kept a memory of it in his head, so after the war, settled near Katowice, he was able to construct it with the help of musician friends,” said Ewa. She believes hundreds of missing works ready to be reclaimed still remain in Polish archives.

Różycki had desired to complete from memory the Violin Concerto, but the war had separated him from violinist friends who might have helped. “I’ve sometimes thought I was a substitute for the violinist friend, having that conversation with him but decades apart,” Violinist Wawrowski said.

“I spent years experimenting to get the sound I think Różycki would have wanted,” Wawrowski said. “I changed it to make it more violinistic, more technically complicated — as he was more of a pianist. To me it’s full of the energy and life of Warsaw before the war, and I think he was trying to conjure and convey this positive energy as he wrote it in 1944 in a very dark time as the artillery of the Nazis rained down on the city.”

Performing the Violin Concerto with Szczecin’s Symphony Orchestra to rave reviews, it was apparent that Wawrowski with his Stradivarius had mastered Rozycki’s musical score. Critics’ praise included comparisons of him to Stravinsky and Brahms, both of whom Różycki was frequently compared.

A Poznan University musicologist, Piotr Urbański, declared Rozcyki’s music, “rich, clear and brilliant, connecting us with a part of Polish history which was very tough, but he used his music to encourage optimism like a kind of therapy.” Urbanski further praised Rozcyki, “He was one of the most important composers of the first half of the 20th century, but he’s unknown to most Poles today. Let’s hope that will now change.”

A lot resulted from an accidental finding of long lost music composed by one running for his life. Certainly the odds were against the beauty of Rozycki’s Violin Concerto ever being found, finished, and felt by audiences  75 years after its composition.

I believe hope played a major role in bringing to pass the unlikely performance. Also hope helps in overcoming despair so common in circumstances like Rozycki tried to escape. May we remember this true story next time we are tempted to give up or simply give in. May we hold tight to hope and  look to God for strength. May we always believe that hope and beauty will  triumph in the end.

 

“to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”  (Isaiah 61: 2,3)

BEAUTY FOR ASHES:

“He gives beauty for ashes,
Strength for fear, Gladness for mourning, Peace for despair.

When sorrow seems to surround you,
When suffering hangs heavy o’er your head,
Know that tomorrow brings
Wholeness and healing.
God knows your need.
Just believe what He said.

He gives beauty for ashes,
Strength for fear, Gladness for mourning, Peace for despair.

When what you’ve done keeps you from moving on,
When fear wants to make itself at home in your heart,
Know that forgiveness brings
Wholeness and healing.
God knows your need.
Just believe what He said.

He gives beauty for ashes, 
Strength for fear, Gladness for mourning, Peace for despair.

I once was lost, but God has found me.
Though I was bound I’ve been set free.
I’ve been made righteous in His sight,
A display of His splendor all can see.

He gives beauty for ashes,
Strength for fear, Gladness for mourning, Peace for despair.”

(Ed Cash & Bethany Dillon)

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”  (Victor Hugo)

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.”  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Music can change the world because it can change people.”  (Bono)

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”  (Leonard Bernstein)

CUSTOM BIKE: JOY, HOPE, BLESSING

Just last week in Branson, Missouri, a young girl received a unique gift that brings her joy and gives me hope. It was a creation by a thoughtful stranger, Randy Lourenco. A specially designed bicycle allows the young rider in her wheelchair access to riding.

Now Aaliyah Delgado can enjoy a common childhood experience thanks to Lourenco’s gift. Aaliyah’s mother described the dream-come-true as amazing and one that she never ever expected anybody to do — let alone strangers.

What led Lourenco to become the custom bike builder in this story? Why did he take action to make a difference in a child’s life? He explains his interest, “I couldn’t imagine not riding, so when I heard this story, I just… had to jump on it.”

Aaliyah’s mom first had an idea for a bike with a special sidecar to accomodate her daughter in her wheelchair. After sharing her idea with a friend, it happened to be passed on to Lourenco.

He explained, “That’s how it all started, and… I just felt like I was supposed to do this. Everything worked out. It’s unreal.”

His labor of love could be called a joint effort, because he was able to use parts from a friend who passed away last year. Other helpers were Wheeler Metal for parts and Maaco for a free paint job.

Aaliyah’s mom says of the collaboration, “It’s amazing how everybody’s little part… came together for my baby. You know, it’s pretty incredible.”

Lourenco’s actually doing that which he felt he was “supposed to do” speaks hope to me. So does giving by others to bring joy to a child. Such acts of kindness that share hope and bring joy are blessings.

Aaliyah’s mom perfectly describes her daughter as a “blessed little girl, that’s for sure.”

How many times have I felt I was supposed to do something but didn’t? Was my choice to neglect doing a good deed the cause of someone missing out on joy… hope… a blessing? I’m thankful Randy Lourenco was an example for me and acted to share hope.

 

And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  (Hebrews 13: 16)

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people….”  (Galatians 6: 9, 10)

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others.”  (Philippians 2: 3, 4)

The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.” (Albert Schweitzer)

“Do something wonderful; people may imitate it.” (Albert Schweitzer)

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” (John F. Kennedy)

When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” (Arthur Conan Doyle)

Next to a leisurely walk I enjoy a spin on my tandem bicycle. It is splendid to feel the wind blowing in my face and the springy motion of my iron steed. The rapid rush through the air gives me a delicious sense of strength and buoyancy, and the exercise makes my pulse dance and my heart sing.” (Helen Keller)

I don’t ride a bike to add days to my life. I ride a bike to add life to my days.” (unknown)

EASTER 2020: HOPE STILL LIVES

My calendar says today is Easter Sunday. However this year my activities do not indicate a typical holy day. Today is the first Easter I can remember not attending a special program with fellow believers. The reason is understandable due to circumstances beyond my control, and I consider a global pandemic way beyond my control.

I well recall past Easters throughout my life. The meeting place was usually a building where the church (the believers) met as usual. I have also joined believers outdoors at sunrise to worship as the sun arose. No matter the place or hour, I was blessed by fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.

I have enjoyed hearing and often participated in special music presentations that honored the risen Christ. I have listened attentively to pastors’ sermons with meaningful messages. Almost always they focused on the Resurrection of Christ.

Sometimes I heard God’s message for me personally. Both His Word and Holy Spirit spoke directly to my spirit. I was part of an important aspect of Easter… celebrating the event that made it possible to know God and experience Him personally.

There was a shared understanding that Easter Sunday was more exciting than the other Sundays in the year. Perhaps a special meal was planned and prepared with relatives around the table, and children always anticipated fun festivities. Even chocolate was included (though not as part of the day’s spiritual importance)!

Today any celebrating I do will be at home. I will not be attending a church program or going anywhere for that matter. No one is invited to come here. Only those self-isolated in this home will share with me any celebration. Easter 2020 will definitely be a different Easter, because today’s world  is different since coronavirus entered.

In a sense today’s Easter will be a stripped-down version. The extras will not be in the way to hinder true worship. I believe when Jesus is all you have, then you learn He is all you need.  The extras are not essential to worship, and their absence will not prevent the focus on the awesome risen Savior. He should be the focus of every Easter Sunday just as the first Easter events centered on Him.

His great love for humanity to pay our sin debt, His willing sacrifice to give His life on the cross, the power of God over death to resurrect Him, the Way provided to not only know God but to live with Him for Eternity…. All these amazing things were accomplished at the first Easter!

What are my plans for Easter 2020? I hope to remember that this day’s purpose is to commemorate the historical event of Christ’s resurrection. I want to be mindful that the Christ Who was risen is still alive and present despite dark times around the world. He can be experienced away from a church environment and without special music or a sermon and certainly without chocolate in any form!

The Reason for Easter hasn’t changed in more than two thousand years… the One Who arose on the first Easter still lives… He Who was worthy of worship then still is now. It is still Easter where I am, because He is here. Not having the extras usually associated with Easter does not mean that I cannot experience Easter. Maybe this year I will see Jesus Christ more clearly and focus more on Him not the extras.

It is only without the risen Christ that there is no Easter. I may experience Easter this year after all, because I have everything I need to celebrate. Actually only One thing is necessary, and He lives to be with me today. As a song proclaims, “Alleluia! Christ the Lord is arisen today. Alleluia! Man can live because of Easter Day!

Hope still lives, because Jesus Christ lives! Because He lives I have cause to celebrate. Another song comes to mind that says, “You ask me how I know He Lives? He lives within my heart!”

You, too, may celebrate, if you have faith that He is risen! May you have faith that He lives! May you trust that He is with you! May you experience Easter blessings in 2020, because you believe hope still lives! Then you, too, can say, “Alleluia!”

 

“Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53: 4-5)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
(John 3: 16)

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live even though He dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe in this?'” (John 11: 25-26)

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6: 8-11)

“Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
(Romans 10: 9)

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
(1 Corinthians 1: 18)

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”  (Philippians 2: 5-11)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
(1 Peter 1: 3)

For more about the first Easter according to the Holy Bible, read from the following New Testament books: Gospel of MATTHEW (chapters 27 & 28); Gospel of MARK (chapters 15 & 16); Gospel of LUKE (chapters 23 & 24); and Gospel of JOHN (chapters 19 & 20).

For past planethopeful blog posts related to Easter please read “RESURRECTION SONG: DAWNING OF HOPE” (April 21, 2019) and “JESUS’S WORDS ON THE CROSS: LAST WORDS GIVE HOPE” (April 16, 2019).

LUCADO’S REMINDER: HOPEFUL PROMISE

I just read Max Lucado’s devotional entitled “Easter Canceled? Not on Your Life” (April 10, 2020) at maxlucado.com.

I’m sharing an exerpt of his hopeful and true words:

“Easter cannot be canceled. The church doors might be closed,  but the promise is alive and well. What the angel said on the first Easter, he says still.

He is not here. He is risen from the dead as He said He would.’ (Matthew 28: 6)” (Max Lucado)

Acknowledging that we have reason to be hopeful, I’ll add my agreement: “He is risen indeed!”

 

For more about the first Easter according to the Holy Bible, read from the following New Testament books: Gospel of MATTHEW (chapters 27 & 28); Gospel of MARK (chapters 15 & 16); Gospel of LUKE (chapters 23 & 24); and Gospel of JOHN (chapters 19 & 20).

For past planethopeful blog posts related to Easter please read “RESURRECTION SONG: DAWNING OF HOPE” (April 21, 2019) and “JESUS’S WORDS ON THE CROSS: LAST WORDS GIVE HOPE” (April 16, 2019).

FOCUSED: HOPE INSPIRES

The inspiring message in a tract entitled “Focused” was written approximately 100 years ago by Lilias Trotter, a talented artist and a missionary to Algeria. This tract inspired Helen Lemmel to write the hymn, “The Heavenly Vision” that is known today as “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” (See 4/2/2020 blogpost.)

Read Trotter’s “Focused” and allow it to inspire you as it did Lemmel. If you are seeking and searching for God’s blessings… for His purpose for your life… for the way to rise above this world’s troubles… to find a heavenly light in the darkness… then focus on Jesus.

Isabella Lilias Trotter (1853-1928) knew real sacrifices and struggles and suffered with poor health throughout her lifetime. Despite these burdens she learned to live a focused life, to look to Jesus, and then shared her understanding. Her own experience and personal relationship with Christ led her to write that which gave hope to Helen Lemmel. Then Lemmel’s inspired hymns inspired thousands or more to find God’s glory, grace, and hope.

When we dare to live  focused lives, then others may be inspired as well. No matter the circumstances when our “all” is focused on Jesus then God’s hope inspires….

FOCUSED

“It was in a little wood in early morning. The sun was climbing behind a steep cliff in the east, and its light was flooding nearer and nearer and then making pools among the trees. Suddenly from a dark corner of purple brown stems and tawny moss there shone out a great golden star. It was just a dandelion and half withered — but it was full face to the sun and had caught into its heart all the glory it could hold and was shining so radiantly that the dew that lay on it still made a perfect aureole round its head. And it seemed to talk standing there — to talk about the possibility of making the very best of these lives of ours.

For if the Sun of Righteousness has risen upon our hearts, there is an ocean of grace and love and power lying all around us, an ocean to which all earthly light is but a drop, and it is ready to transfigure us as the sunshine transfigured the dandelion and on the same condition — that we stand full face to God.

Gathered up, focused lives, intent on one aim — Christ — these are the lives on which God can concentrate blessedness. It is “all for all” by a law as unvarying as any law that governs the material universe.
We see the principle shadowed in the trend of science; the telephone and the wireless in the realm of sound, the use of radium and the ultra violet rays in the realm of light. All these work by gathering into focus currents and waves that dispersed cannot serve us. In every branch of learning and workmanship the tendency of these days is to specialize — to take up one point and follow it to the uttermost.

And satan knows well the power of concentration; if a soul is likely to get under the sway of the inspiration, “this one thing I do,” he will turn all his energies to bring in side-interests that will shatter the gathering intensity.

And they lie all around, these interests. Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen good harmless worlds at once — art, music, social science, games, motoring, the following of some profession, and so on. And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the “good” hiding the “best” even more effectually than it could be hidden by downright frivolity with its smothered heart-ache at its own emptiness.

It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Does this test not give the clue? Then dare to have it out with God — and after all, that is the shortest way. Dare to lay bare your whole life and being before Him, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His glory. Dare to face the fact that unfocused, good and useful as it may seem, it will prove to have failed of its purpose.

What does this focusing mean? Study the matter, and you will see that it means two things — gathering in all that can be gathered and letting the rest drop. The working of any lens — microscope, telescope, camera — will show you this. The lens of your own eye in the room where you are sitting as clearly as any other. Look at the window bars, and the beyond is only a shadow; look through at the distance, and it is the bars that turn into ghosts. You have to choose which you will fix your gaze upon and let the other go.

Are we ready for a cleavage to be wrought through the whole range of our lives like the division long ago at the taking of Jericho, the division between things that could be passed through the fire of consecration into “the treasury of the Lord” and the things that, unable to “bide the fire,” must be destroyed? All aims, all ambitions, all desires, all pursuits — shall we dare to drop them if they cannot be gathered sharply and clearly into the focus of “this one thing I do“?

Will it not make life narrow, this focusing? In a sense it will — just as the mountain path grows narrower for it matters more and more, the higher we go, where we set our feet — but there is always, as it narrows, a wider and wider outlook and purer, clearer air. Narrow as Christ’s life was narrow, this is our aim; narrow as regards self-seeking, broad as the love of God to all around. Is there anything to fear in that?

And in the narrowing and focusing the channel will be prepared for God’s power — like the stream hemmed between the rock-beds, that wells up in a spring — like the burning glass that gathers the rays into an intensity that will kindle fire. It is worthwhile to let God see what He can do with these lives of ours when “to live is Christ.”

How do we bring things to a focus in the world of optics? Not by looking at the things to be dropped but by looking at the one point that is to be brought out.

Turn full your soul’s vision to Jesus and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him, and the Divine “attrait” by which God’s saints are made, even in this 20th century, will lay hold of you. For “He is worthy” to have all there is to be had in the heart that He has died to win.” (Lilias Trotter)

Hath not each heart a passion and a dream,
Each some companionship for ever sweet,
And each in saddest skies some silver gleam,
And each some passing joy, too fair and fleet,
And each a staff and stay though frail it prove,
And each a face He fain would ever see?

And what have I? An endless stream of love,
A rapture, and a glory, and a calm,
A life that is an everlasting Psalm,
All, O Beloved, in Thee.” (Gerhard Tersteegen)

 

The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand….” (Deuteronomy 28:  12)

Great is the Lord and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145: 3)

For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Brothers and sisters, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3: 13, 14)

Turn full your soul’s vision to Jesus and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him…. For “He is worthy” to have all there is to be had in the heart that He has died to win.” (Lilias Trotter)

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” (Helen Lemmel)

THE HEAVENLY VISION: GLORY, GRACE, HOPE

A popular hymn (and one of my personal favorites) was written by Helen Howarth Lemmel approximately 100 years ago. It is a source of hope, and when I learned Lemmel’s life story I gained even more hope. She was inspired to write it after reading a tract, “Focused” by Lilias Trotter, an artist and a missionary to Algiers. (I plan to focus on Trotter’s tract in a later blogpost.)

Lemmel (1864-1961) was a talented singer and concert performer who was becoming famous. Sadly her future was to include blindness. Then she was abandoned by her husband as she lost her sight. Consequently she also lost her financial livelihood and was often destitute.

Lemmel’s potentially overwhelming losses did not stop her from penning about 500 hymns. Many hearts are touched still today and many find hope in hymns that include “The  Heavenly Vision.” This is probably her best known hymn, although you may not recognize this title. It is known today as “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”

It has blessed my heart for more than 50 years. I liked it immediately when I first heard it, and I actually remember when I did and where I was. I believe its message is as pertinent now as when it was written. Perhaps it is needed even more now, because we are indeed in a troubled and dark time on our planet. We — all of us —  need the light of His glory and grace more than ever.

Hope comes when we see God’s glory and grace. It is apparent to me that Lemmel understood the blessing of seeing “the heavenly vision“– of turning her eyes upon Jesus. Surely she experienced looking full in His wonderful face. Of course the result was that the things of earth grew strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

God’s glory and grace bring hope. It was real for Lemmel. It is real for true believers around the world. It can be real for you, too, when you turn your eyes upon Jesus.

TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS

“O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion —
For more than conqu’rors we are!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

His Word shall not fail you — He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.”
(Helen Lemmel)

 

Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45: 22)

“…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith….” (Hebrews 12: 2)

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.”
( Psalms 69: 30)

Turn full your soul’s vision to Jesus and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him….”
(Lilias Trotter)

ANNA WARING POEM: HOPE BEYOND MEASURE

Until recently I wasn’t familiar with Miss Anna L. Waring (1823-1910). She was a woman of various talents and was involved in multiple interests.

Anna was a Welsh poet and hymn writer. She was a philanthropist who supported and was personally active in a prison ministry. She was a serious student who learned Hebrew to study Old Testament in the original language.

Anna was known by peers for her compassion, good humor, and actions commited to doing good. Today I appreciate her poetry that expresses her beliefs and relationship with God.

I believe poet Anna Waring drew inspiration from Psalm 23 and other Scriptures and knew hope beyond measure. I also think she experienced God’s peace even in the midst of life’s storms. Anna followed the Good Shepherd, and her confidence and hope was in Him.

I am blessed by one of her poems shown below. It reminds me that, like the poet, I cannot measure hope God gives when I abide in heavenly love.

IN HEAVENLY LOVE ABIDING

“In Heavenly Love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear,
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.

The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid,
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?

Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack.

His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim,
— He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.

Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me,
Where the dark clouds have been.

My hope I cannot measure,
My path to life is free,
My Savior has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.”

(Anna L. Waring)

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23: 1-6)

 

COVID-19: FAITH AND HOPE

Fear… Anxiety… Worry… Despair… Uncertainty…. Our planet has an abundance of these feelings that seems to increase with each diagnosed covid-19 (coronavirus) case. Is fear to be the most prevalent emotion in our future?

Not for one who believes the Bible! Not for a child of God Who trusts the One Who calms the storms of life! Consider the following gospel story if you’re struggling with feelings of fear.

One day Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they got into a boat and set out.

As they sailed, He fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke Him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.

Where is your faith?’ He asked His disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.'” (Luke 8: 22 – 25)

Just as surely as this world often has fearful circumstances, the Bible is filled with verses to comfort and reassure us when we are fearful. We can trust the One Who commands the winds and water, the One they obey, and the One Who promised to never leave us. No one cares for us like Jesus, and no one can give peace that passes all human understanding like He can.

The disciples should have taken hope in the fact that Jesus said, “Let US go over to the other side of the lake.” He was with them in the boat, and there’s the hope. Yet we sometimes overlook the fact that He’s with us as well (if we know Him as Savior and Lord).

Let’s remember He is with us and look to Him to either calm our storm OR to calm us. If he does not take the storm away, then He will be with us in it. His Word is true, and He is faithful. I will trust Him, and I will not fear.

There are hundreds of verses that show He does not want us to live in fear. We need to be familiar with them. We need to read, memorize, and quote these verses often then repeat as needed. This action will strengthen our faith and increase our hope.

Know faith; no fear. Know fear; no faith. To choose faith is to choose hope.

“Do not fear” does not mean to be foolhardy. Heed warnings and take safety precautions when possible. Don’t panic. Don’t stress out. Be wise. Pray, and as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 instructs, “Pray without ceasing.”

God’s got this pandemic problem — and everything else. This knowledge gives hope. Try Him… trust Him… receive hope. Be a strong and courageous example in this fearful world.

 

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” (Psalm 46:1-3)

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

TERRENCE K. WILLIAMS: MAN OF HOPE

Terrence K. Williams was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in foster-care and in unstable home situations. Despite the odds against him, Williams has become a man of hope and a voice of reason in unreasonable circumstances. He has learned to express himself using both comedy and common sense.

He was determined to find “his true calling” while being frustrated with America’s growing unrest and has used social media to post videos about controversial topics. After going “public” and consequently “viral,” he suddenly has millions of viewers.

Now Williams is dedicating his platform and career to improve the lives of underprivileged children. Today Williams shares his own story of hope  “to teach and inspire kids that they can be more than their circumstances” according to his website.

He is an example of the best which can happen in America… an underprivileged kid can rise above his circumstances to impact the world in a positive way and bring hope to others.

Visit terrencekwilliams.com for more info about Williams and his activities that share hope.

Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.”  (Psalm 82:3)

“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan....” (Isaiah 1: 17)

But Jesus called for them, saying, ‘Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’” (Luke 18:6)

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4)