MORE WARING POETRY: MORE HOPE

In Heavenly Love Abiding,” a poem by Anna L. Waring, was featured at this blogsite on March 27, 2020. If you missed it, look back and read “ANNA WARING POEM: HOPE BEYOND MEASURE” to learn a little about the poet and to let that inspired poem bless you as it does me.

In view of the continuing global pandemic, I think it is time for another dose of hope; hence more Waring poetry. Find another inspired poem below that expresses the love which I desire to become true in my life.

Read it over and over to let it speak to you personally. Allow it to soak into your soul. Look to the One Who is the Object of the poet’s devotion. Ponder the poem’s message. Do not fear, wait on Him, and have your spirit filled. Receive His strength and hope that we all need today.

FATHER, I KNOW THAT ALL MY LIFE

“Father, I know that all my life is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come I do not fear to see;
But I ask Thee for a present mind intent on pleasing Thee.

I ask Thee for a thoughtful love through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles and to wipe the weeping eyes;
And a heart at leisure from itself to soothe and sympathize.

I would not have the restless will that hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child and guided where I go.

Wherever in the world I am in whatso’er estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts to keep and cultivate;
And a work of lowly love to do for the Lord on whom I wait.

So I ask Thee for the daily strength to none that ask denied,
And a mind to blend with outward life while keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space if Thou be glorified.

And if some things I do not ask in my cup of blessing be,
I would have my spirit filled the more with grateful love to Thee,
More careful not to serve Thee much but to please Thee perfectly.

There are briers besetting every path that call for patient care;
There is a cross in every lot and an earnest need for prayer;
But a lowly heart that leans on Thee is happy anywhere.

In a service which Thy will appoints there are no bonds for me;
For my inmost heart is taught ‘the truth’ that makes Thy children ‘free,’
And a life of self-renouncing love is a life of liberty.”

(Anna L. Waring)

“…I love You, O LORD, my strength.”  (Psalm 18:1)

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.”  (Psalm 27:14)

Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.”  (Psalm 100:2)

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  (Matthew 16:24-26)

And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  (Romans 5:5)

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:13)

Not that I speak from want for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:11-13)

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians: 16-18)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”  (1 John 4:18)

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”  (1 John 5:3)

GREG LAURIE: HOPE IS HOLDING ON

According to Greg Laurie, hope can be defined in an acrostic. H-O-P-E … Holding On with Patient Expectation.

Holding on” is often hard and “with patient expectation” is usually harder. With God doing the holding on, however, Laurie’s life has become a life that epitomizes hope.

Laurie’s life as a child was harder than difficult, and by the time he was seventeen he was more hopeless than hopeful. His mother’s life was filled with alcoholism and seven marriages and divorces. His life was full of being raised in his mother’s dysfunctional instability sometimes and by his grandparents and military school at other times.

Now fast forward… to the present. Today finds Pastor Greg involved in many endeavors, all helping others in some way or another. His changed life was not a random happenstance but planned and directed by the Master Designer. Thankfully Greg made some right choices along the way that accepted God’s having His way. Greg chose to hold on, but more importantly God held on to Greg.

Now Greg Laurie is Senior Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship located in California and Hawaii. It has consistently ranked among the most influential churches in America and has been affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention for about three years.

At age nineteen his first pastoral role in ministry was leading  Bible study to a group of thirty. God blessed and brought an increase from that first small group to a church with approximately 15,000 to make it one of the largest churches in the country.

Pastor Greg has held Harvest Crusades, his name for evangelistic events, for approximately thirty years. Almost eight million people have been reached by these Crusades in the United States alone.

In 2012 Pastor Greg’s Harvest America first brought internet simulcast live HD video to thousands of locations across America. More than 300,000 Americans attended, and Harvest America ranks as one of the largest gospel presentations ever. The Crusades also expanded internationally to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. An important result is that 506,644 people professed faith in Christ following these events.

Pastor Greg speaks on the nationally syndicated radio program, A New Beginning, on more than 800 radio sources around the world. He also has a weekly television program on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and appears on multiple television news programs as well. Besides working at Harvest Ministries, he has served as an Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer and is a member of the board of directors of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He received honorary doctorates from Biola University and Azusa Pacific University.

In addition to his many ministry activities, Pastor Greg is an author of more than seventy books. His bibliography includes Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon; Jesus Revolution; Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon; Live Love Fight; Tell Someone; The New Believer’s Bible Hope for Hurting Hearts; and his own story revealed in his autobiography, Lost Boy.

His documentary film, “Lost Boy: The Next Chapter,” and film “Hope for Hurting Hearts,” have won awards at international film festivals. “Steve McQueen: American Icon,” features the true story of the legendary actor coming to salvation in Christ.

Greg’s personal successes include being married to wife Cathe for more than forty years. Together their marriage has been blessed with two sons and five grandchildren.

It is apparent that God has blessed Greg Laurie and his ministry. I am thankful that God uses him to share the blessings that bring faith, hope, and love to our planet. God has transformed his life from a near hopeless childhood to hopeful Christian leadership. Because of God’s transforming power, my own life has been blessed with the same hope that Greg Laurie shares.

I am thankful that God’s hope is apparent in this man’s life. His example reminds me to hold on with expectation when life is difficult. When that becomes too hard, I will thank God that He is holding onto me… to God be the glory!

 

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you to love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  (Joshua 22:5)

Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.  (Psalm 37:3-5)

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way.”  (Psalm 37:23)

“Serve the Lord with gladness….”  (Psalm 100:2)

And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Matthew 19:26)

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’”  (Matthew 25:21)

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”  (Romans 8:24, 25)

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect… Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:1,2,11)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 15:58)

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” (Hebrews 6:10)

PANDEMIC: HOPE OR FEAR

We all are aware that a deadly virus is spreading fear across our planet. What can we do? How shall we cope? Where can we find hope?

Many people offer ways to cope with fear, and some try to offer hope even in the midst of a pandemic. (I do not have all the answers, but I know Who does.)

That which we face right now is beyond our control, but we can choose how we react to our new world condition. So then… how do we react to the overwhelming uncertainty that is our current reality?

First each one of us needs to know without a doubt that we are God’s child. We can choose to exercise His gift of faith, and if we have prayed sincerely to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we can know.

When we know Him, then we can experience hope in whatever we face in life. We turn from going our own way to going His way. We learn His way by reading His Word and spending time with Him in prayer.

We need to refuse to dwell on fear and negativity. We can choose to focus on God’s Word instead. When we feel fear creeping into our minds, we can feed on Scriptures that share His hope and His promises.

We can pray for His peace and comfort in our current circumstance — whatever it is. We can choose to intentionally experience His presence knowing that He will never leave us nor forsake us according to His Word. In fact, God’s Holy Spirit is here to comfort us.  Knowing this brings hope to any circumstance.

We can acknowledge that God is in control of our lives, and nothing takes Him by surprise. We can remember that He cares for us. He loves us so much that He provided our salvation — a sacrifice not given lightly to then leave us abandoned to the ways of a world spinning out of control or to an evil randomly having its own way. We can trust God to finish what He started in the world and in our individual lives. Again, knowing this brings hope to our lives.

May we acknowledge and accept God’s providential will when we recognize it. May we pray for discernment, so we will be aware of His purposes. When we understand His will we can experience His hope.

May we study His Book — the Holy Bible — so we can trust the ending of His story. If we do this then we can look forward without fear. May we believe that His way is best and that our future includes a glorious eternity in His presence with a home Jesus Christ has prepared just for us. When we trust Him for the world to come, we can trust Him in this one. That is real hope.

Also we can care for those around us. We can share the hope that we have in Christ with others, who may be struggling with fear. If we personally know His love, then we will have enough hope to share.

We will contemplate God’s love and care whenever we feel fear overpower our faith. We will practice prayer, choose faith, meditate on the Scriptures, and intentionally respond in hope not in fear.

I do not pretend to know the details of our future lives, but I believe the Bible that says all things will be for our good and His glory. Beyond this I will leave the details to Him. Although that is sometimes easier said than done, I believe He is worthy of our faith and trust.

He alone is God. In Him alone our hope is found. Since He is still on His throne, I can sleep at night knowing that He has got this pandemic.

 

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  (1 John 5:13)

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?”  (Psalm 27:1)

“But He [Jesus] answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”  (Matthew 4:4)

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever.”  (John 14:16)

“For I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6)

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains from where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”  (Psalm 121:1-8)

MOVIE QUOTE & SONG LYRICS: HOPE & LOVE

I have not seen the 2020 movie, “Call of the Wild,” yet a quote from it kept speaking to me. While reading about the latest film based on the classic story by Jack London, I learned that Perrault, a mailman, says, “You see, Buck, we don’t carry mail. We carry lives. We carry hope. We carry love.”

I pondered the mailman’s comments and realized that this character said he did the very thing that Christian believers should do. I believe we should carry hope and love everywhere we go. They should be such deep-rooted parts of our being that we cannot go anywhere without those two elements being seen and felt by others. Everywhere around us are people who need hope and  love, so we need to share.

There are many song lyrics by talented Oscar Hammerstein II that I like very much. One of my all-time favorite movies is the 1959 award-winning musical, “The Sound of Music,” so I remember Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s song, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” The introduction for the reprise was not used in the film but is in theater versions. I like what those lyrics say about love:

“A bell is no bell till you ring it,
A song is no song till you sing it,
And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay —
Love isn’t love till you give it away.”  (Hammerstein)

Perhaps love that remains in a heart and never given away is not real love. Maybe love that is real has to be shared. I think Mr. Hammerstein understood love the way it ought to be.

Don Roth and Timmy Tappan, two songwriters, were inspired by and borrowed from Hammerstein’s lyrics when they wrote “Love Isn’t Love (‘Til You Give It Away)”, a song recorded by Reba McEntire:

A smile’s not a smile until it wrinkles your face.
A bell’s not a bell without ringing.
A home’s not a home when there’s nobody there.
A song’s not a song without singing.

Love isn’t love till you give it away.
Love isn’t love till it’s free.
The love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay.
Oh, love isn’t love till you give it away.”
(Roth and Tappan)

I have said that I have enough hope to share, and I try to do that via this blog. When I write about hope, am I sharing love as well? Love is said to multiply or increase when it is given away. Does it decrease when not shared? It seems selfish to try to keep love to oneself, and real love is not selfish.

It is generally understood that we cannot give that which we do not have. Who is the Source of love and hope? Where are they found? How are they accessed? Good questions! I know Who has answers.

According to the Book with answers to Life’s questions, the Christian’s Bible, God is Love. He wants to share His love that is found in Jesus Christ. To experience His love and hope (and forgiveness, peace, joy, and every good gift), one has only to accept Him as Savior and Lord. This is how one can have enough hope and love to share. Knowing Him, following Him, and trusting Him cause our faith, hope, and love to increase. The more we share, the more we will have.

If we know Jesus, then we carry love, and we carry hope — just as Perrault wisely equated with carrying mail. May we be intentional to not only carry but leave hope and love everywhere we go. When the world looks at us, may they see hope and love. May they see Jesus. They will if we carry His light to the world that seems to be growing darker.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1  Corinthians 13:4-7)

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness but according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)

Beloved, let us love one another for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (1 John 4:7-21)

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)

BIBLE READING: SUSPENDERS AND HOPE

I remember as a young child that if a cartoon on television showed a man’s pants falling down viewers witnessed polka dotted boxer shorts. It was embarrasing to the man and laughable to the audience.

Worse than the embarrassment of pants down, it could be downright dangerous for the man to attempt to walk with his pants around his ankles. He was sure to be unable to maneuver without falling, which only added to his funny situation and was certain to bring more laughs.

Perhaps the day could have been saved — as well as the man’s pride — if he had worn suspenders. Suspenders, while a useful invention, are not typically in one’s thoughts. In today’s blogpost they are the object of a spiritual illustration. Who would have thought?

Of course our faith has a foundation to keep us on our feet. If we fall spiritually it is not as funny as cartoon humor. Such falling is preventable, and prevention may be as simple as wearing suspenders!

What could possibly serve as spiritual suspenders? The Bible, God’s Word, keeps our Christian pants up so to speak. Today far too many are caught at times with their “pants down,” because they neglect God’s Word.

I think if we are careful to feast on God’s Word daily, then this serves as “suspenders” to hold up more than our pants. It holds us up to stand firm… to stand for that which is right and against that which is wrong. People who share our planet need to witness those who are able to stand spiritually. It is possible but not in our own strength.

How does the Bible support believers? It may be called God’s Word, the law, precepts, statutes, ordinances, or commandments, but it is not called suggestions or options. One reason to read… to study… to learn the Bible is because it is a command.

When we get serious about the Bible and fill our hearts, heads, and lives with it, then we’ll find that it has divine power to help us to stand. It is for us all to ponder, to meditate on, and to live by. If we have a daily feast on God’s Word, then we will be stronger spiritually. It is spiritual nourishment that can provide that which is needed for growth and strength of our spirits.

Where to begin? Proverbs offers a chapter for each day of our month. Psalms offers easy-to-relate-to chapters throughout this Old Testament book for our varied personal situations in life. Job is especially helpful in times of deep suffering. Read Genesis to understand the account of Creation.

The gospel of John is a good New Testament book to begin for those not used to reading it. On and on it goes; something for us all no matter where we find ourselves.

My point is we need to read it! We need to get to know the Word of God. It’s even more important to get to know the God of the Word. Let’s put on our spiritual “suspenders” daily. Doing so will help us to stand for Him and will increase our hope.

 

“But He answered and said, ‘It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”  (Matthew 4:4)

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; So that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3: 16, 17)

“For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit of both joints and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4: 12)

“But know this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  (2 Peter 1: 20, 21)

“Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall observe it to the end.

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart.

Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.

Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You.”  (Psalm 119: 33 – 35, 38)

“I shall delight in Your commandments, which I love.

And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, which I love; and I will meditate on Your statutes.

Remember the Word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope.

This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your Word has revived me.”  (Psalm 119: 47 – 50)

“I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me.

How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

I have sworn, and I will confirm it that I will keep Your righteous ordinances.

I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your Word.

O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me Your ordinances.”
(Psalm 119: 102 – 108)

“Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.

I hope for Your salvation, O Lord, and do Your commandments.

My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly.

I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies for all my ways are before You.

Let my cry come before You, O Lord; Give me understanding according to Your word.

Let my supplication come before You; Deliver me according to Your Word.

Let my lips utter praise for You teach me Your statutes.

Let my tongue sing of Your Word for all Your commandments are righteousness.

Let Your hand be ready to help me for I have chosen Your precepts.

I long for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your law is my delight.

Let my soul live that it may praise You, and let Your ordinances help me.

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant for I do not forget Your commandments.”  (Psalm 119: 165 – 176)

ROSE DAY: HOPE & ROSES

For 29 years pro-life supporters have sponsored and attended an annual Rose Day inside Oklahoma’s state capitol. They present red roses to the governor and other state leaders, meet their legislators, and show their support of pro-life legislation.

This event allows face-to-face communication by constituents to express their views directly to OK State Senators and Representatives for a cause that literally means life or death to many. The “many” happen to be pre-born babies who are at risk to be aborted and who have no voice.

Today is Rose Day 2020. I consider it as a day of hope for the unborn. There is hope that there will be an end to abortions, that innocent lives will be saved, and that life will be chosen over death.

Attendees always hear an excellent thought-provoking speaker during a Rose Day gathering. Speaking today will be Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood worker and now leading pro-life advocate. Her  personal experiences resulted in both a book and a movie, UNPLANNED.

At the 2012 Rose Day I heard Johnson speak  about operating a Texas abortion clinic for 8 years where abortions killed babies up to 25 weeks into a pregnancy. Then in 2009 she assisted in an ultrasound-guided abortion where she watched a 13-week baby in the womb struggle to fight for life.

Johnson shared, “What I saw on the ultrasound was a child who was frantic, struggling for his life. The place that was the safest became the least safe…. The boy did not stand a chance. Nobody stood up for him. This happens 4,000 times a day in America.”

Sadly, that baby’s life was taken, but the reality of his tragic end caused Johnson to resign and to take up the pro-life cause. Her changed life and change of her life’s work offers real hope that is impacting our world by saving precious lives of countless babies. I thank God for this powerful example of hope!

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139: 13, 14)

There is no ‘right’ to kill an innocent person.”  (Lila Rose, President of LIVE ACTION)

DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY: HOPE AND PRAY

  • January 31, 1985, was unforgettable for me. A precious bundle of beautiful baby was delivered via C-section where a record winter snow had just covered the world outside.

She weighed “about 9 pounds,” according to an experienced doctor, who proved accurate (exactly nine pounds) according to the scales. A length of twenty-two and a half inches meant she was half an inch longer than her older brother had been four and a half years earlier.

She really was a beautiful baby, and every possible moment was spent just holding her and being awed by such a miraculous gift. Sincere promises were made to love her and to do my best to take care of her and to be there for her… always. From my heart came prayers for her physical, mental, and spiritual growth, and with hope for her future.

Today I wonder how 35 years have gone by so quickly. If I am alive another 35 years then I’ll be 100! It seems strange to ponder these thoughts of time passing and of aging, but… “c‘est la vie” (“that’s life”).

These past 35 years have been full of continuing love, joy, prayers, and special memories. I’m still thankful for the awesome gift she is and appreciative of her tender heart and gentle spirit. She’s still my “little dear” even though she now stands about four inches taller than I do (there’s a funny story about where she gets her “tall genes”).

We laugh when her actions sometimes show she is “a chip off the block.” We’ve (partially) merged my realism-leaning art appreciation with her abstract-leaning artistic talents. Together we share a meaningful special song…. She constantly broadens my horizons in many ways, and best of all she has caused my heart to grow exponentially in ways she cannot imagine.

I pray the best for her, which means God’s best. He’ll do His part; she must do hers. May she… “Trust in the Lord with all” her “heart, and…” “not lean on” her “own understanding. In all… ways acknowledge Him, and He will make” her “paths straight.”

I still pray for her, and as long as I have breath and consciousness I will still hope for her future.

Happy birthday, Little Dear!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5,6)

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3: 3, 4)