What will you do the day before you die? For Fanny Crosby, it was to write another hymn.
Biographies of faithful believers can inspire us to continue living boldly in our faith and Fanny Crosby’s story will not disappoint. If you have ever looked at a hymnal, you have probably seen her name. Other than the Wesley brothers, Fanny Crosby’s name might appear more than any other composer’s name in hymnals. Her hymns are full of theological richness and joy, like “Draw Me Nearer,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour,” “Near the Cross,” “Rescue the Perishing,” “I Am Thine, O Lord,” “To God Be the Glory.”
Now let me fill you in on a little of her story.
Frances Jane Crosby was born in Southeast, Putnam County, New York (near Poughkeepsie), on March 24, 1820. She developed an infection in both eyes at just six weeks old, and the doctor’s treatment ended up blinding her for the rest of her life. Toward the end of her first year of life, her father died. Her mother, Mercy, raised her alone and taught Fanny not to turn to self-pity but self-sufficiency.
Crosby enrolled in the New York Institute for the Blind and spent twelve years as a student there and another eleven years as a teacher. She taught a man named Alexander Van Alstyne and eventually married him on March 5, 1858. Alexander was an accomplished organist and composed to the tunes of many of Fanny’s hymns. She collaborated with many great hymnists of her time like William Bradbury and William Doane, and she was published by some popular publishers like Ira Sankey and P.P. Bliss.
Let nothing stop you from serving the Lord in the ways He has gifted you. Fanny certainly overcame adversity. She never let her circumstances paralyze her faith. Crosby died on February 12, 1915, with a total of around 9,000 hymns to her name and her last one written on February 11. I hope we all can have the same kind of faithfulness to the end of our lives!
- Nichols, Stephen. http://5minutesinchurchhistory.com/fanny-crosby
- Watkins, Keith. “A Few Kind Words For Fanny Crosby.” Worship 51, no 3 (May
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Ever listen to a boring sermon? As I preacher, I can honestly say that some sermons are more effective than others due to the preacher’s preparation and delivery. But the effectiveness of a sermon could also rest on the listener’s preparation and reception.
Preaching should explain and apply Scripture. It is a laborious work to preach; and it is a laborious work to listen and interact with a sermon. You might find Daryl Crouch’s article helpful on the listener’s preparation side, and I want to address the reception side by sharing a practical method of interacting with a sermon to allow it to be most effective in conforming you to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).
I first read about the DOOR method from Adam Feldman in his book Journaling: Catalyzing Spiritual Growth Through Reflection (chapter 6). I want to share that outline, adding a few comments to each part.
When listening to a sermon, take notes! Here’s an outline you could use:
Adam says to write down the important details about the sermon preached, like the date, preacher’s name, sermon title, and Scripture reference(s). When I was preparing to officiate a funeral, I looked through the Bible of the godly woman we would remember. I was struck by how she wrote these details in the margins of her Bible. She has my name and “1st sermon at Central” by the passage I first preached there. The memories were remarkable!
I would also add that if you are listening to a sermon and these details are not easily found, especially the Scripture reference, you might want to consider if you are actually listening to preaching. Also, being able to look quickly to compare your notes when you’ve heard sermons from the same passage could be very helpful to remind you of the applications you made during those different seasons of life.
Adam recognizes that you must discipline yourself to listen for the “flow” of a sermon. Some preachers readily and easily give an outline, whether in print or verbally. I think this part of your sermon notes could help you become less distracted. You have to be intently listening in order to complete this section of notes. Listening for the outline/flow of a sermon will keep you from cherry-picking tweetable quotes without understanding the context in which they were given.
Adam points out that you should be observing three persons: yourself (What is going on inside of you as you listen? Are you open to receiving this message?), the preacher (what is he most passionate about in the sermon?), and the Holy Spirit (What is He saying to you?).
I like this reflective model of listening. It takes the main points you might list in the “outline” section of your notes a little further, setting you up for recognizing how you should be transformed by that Scripture. While Adam is right in focusing on your reactions to the message, I would say that you must be careful not to let your feelings during the sermon blind to the meaning of the biblical text.
For example, I know people who were upset after a sermon I preached it touched on a particular sin they were involved in. If they were note-taking during that sermon, they might have noted how they felt. Ultimately, they stopped coming to our worship services because they allowed their emotions to supercede Scripture. Always conform your feelings to the truth of Scripture, not the other way around.
Consider asking, “How will I apply the Word preached today in the coming days?” I like this final point because it does not allow you to leave a sermon as an academic or philosophic pursuit. The Bible is to be learned and lived!
Two common mistakes in responding is 1) being too general or 2) putting too much. If you are too general, you won’t actually do anything. Saying, “Speak encouraging words to my neighbor when I see him outside” is better than “love others more.” If you write five specific responses, you risk being overwhelmed and potentially inactive.
Try the DOOR method this Sunday. What other ways do you interact with a sermon?Post Views: 980
Some have commented on some gray hairs they supposedly see on my head. I usually tell them I’m sorry they are going colorblind. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
I’m talking about race.
And I’m asking you not to be colorblind.
Instead, celebrate it.
Nikki and I have five children under the age of ten; two by adoption and three biologically. Five of us are white, two of us are part black and part hispanic.
We have been a multi-ethnic family for almost two years now, and have not faced many challenges or had to deal with many difficult situations regarding race. The few ignorant comments we or our children have heard have been ones we could talk through with our children pretty easily. I expect it will get more difficult as they get older.
Opinions on race and diversity are in full swing with the 50th anniversary recently of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination and because of numerous situations around our country. One of the statements I’ve heard come up again is God is colorblind or I don’t see color. This is so sad and wrong because it doesn’t recognize the beauty of God’s creation.
I understand the intention of those who say that, but I think it sends the wrong message that we don’t care to see the differences that naturally exist in humanity; and perhaps when we say we are colorblind, maybe we are just picturing everyone else looking like us. You can’t help but see the differences in people, and we shouldn’t strip people of those differences or the stories behind those differences.
I see color. And I celebrate it.
Others have written great pieces from a theological perspective on this idea of not being colorblind, like Trillia Newbell. But here, I want to specifically encourage multi-ethnic families to celebrate their diversity in practical ways.
Talk About It At Home
You can’t help but see the differences, so don’t be shy to talk openly about them. We do this in simple ways like when Nikki makes two different shades of sunscreen to protect all of our skin best. We have no trouble saying this one is for the darker skin and this one is for the lighter skin. We talk about why our children use different skin and hair products, and we recognize that some of our children get rosier cheeks than others when they’re embarrassed. We laugh when one of our sons sticks a comb in his hair and when the other makes a mohawk with his hair. We don’t get upset when they see a darker skinned video game character and say it’s Manny! They are recognizing differences. And differences are okay.
We talk about the statements our children hear at school from other children, like why that child might have ignorantly said Africans are weak. At this point, the depth with which we discuss the history of racial tension is getting deeper, and will continue as they get older. But we don’t shy away from discussing difficult topics to the degree they can understand. We want our home to be a safe place where questions can be asked and topics can be discussed.
Talk About It With Others
Sometimes other people aren’t sure what to say. I get it. They don’t want to be offensive. So it might help if we talk openly with those who are more reserved and help them realize that it is okay to ask questions or recognize the obvious.
I took the boys to their first baseball practice last week. I introduced myself to the coach while the boys were huddled up nearby. I was trying to point out my sons, and the coach reservedly tried to ask for a visual indicator of who they were exactly. He politely asked the one with the yellow on his sweatshirt? I made it easy for him: the one with the black sweatshirt and the one with the darker skin (my son was the only darker skinned boy there). Just that simple permission to recognize the obvious made for a brief okay, thanks from the coach and might open the door to other conversations.
Learn About It
You might not understand everything about a particular race or culture. You might not know how to do certain things. Don’t remain ignorant about it–be open to learning!
When we first found out that our adopted children were coming home, I called an African American friend of mine and said I don’t know what to do. What do I put in his hair and how do I use a hair pick? I hear that your skin is ashy–what do I do about that? He was kind enough to tell me exactly what kind of brushes and picks and lotions to get. Now I know what I’m doing.
During the foster care status days before the adoption was finalized, I remember that our case workers were not permitted to initiate a conversation about some of the things they knew we wouldn’t understand, like how to care for African American hair. We had no experience with that kind of hair, but the rule at that time was that the social workers could not tell us about it unless we first asked. I remember thinking that was so strange–why is it taboo to tell us how to care for a specific type of hair?
Along those lines, I remember a great blessing we received when a friend of ours brought a basket of girl hair products to us within the first few days of the children coming home. She explained how she used them on her daughters who had similar hair types and even showed Nikki how to do some things. Nikki has gotten pretty good with all kinds of hair now, and I remember when she was learning how to do braids a certain way at first. At the pool, a group of African American women complimented our daughter’s hair to Nikki. That was very kind of them, and Nikki followed that up with can I ask you a few questions? They were very gracious to teach her a few things.
Take time to learn. And when you learn, marvel at the uniqueness of God’s creation.
Dream About It
I thought I’d end by telling you about some fun conversations we’ve had around the dinner table. Every so often the children will talk about the future–how many children they want to have, where they’re going to live, and what occupation they’ll have. Several times, the kids would say something like what if Sarina marries a white guy? What if Caleb marries an Asian girl?
Our response: how cool will our family picture be?
Dream about the future together, and celebrate your diversity as you do. Let your children (and others) know that we don’t need to fear the backlash that might come from some ignorant people in these situations. Let them know that they don’t have to be selective about their future based on some warped ideals that some might hold.
No, don’t be colorblind.
How do you celebrate your diversity?Post Views: 2,333
What’s the deal with Gideon’s fleece in Judges 6:36-40? This passage is one of those strange ones in the Old Testament that makes you wonder how we are to apply it to our lives. Here’s the summary:
Midian and other pagan nations gather together, cross the Jordan River, and camp at the Jezreel Valley. The battle is set between this pagan nation and God’s people, Israel. The Spirit of the Lord is empowering Gideon and God’s people gather when Gideon sounds the trumpet and sends messengers to bring them in. This is going to be a big battle!
You would think that Gideon would be fully confident because God already told him that He would save Israel through Gideon. But instead, Gideon asks for another sign (God has already been gracious to give some) that God would do what He said He would do. He asks him twice to perform a sign with a fleece he lays down. First, to put all of the dew on the fleece and not on the ground around it. Second, all the dew on the ground but not on the fleece.
Gideon is testing God. And that was a sin. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah” (Deuteronomy 6:16, ESV). Gideon must have known this because he asks the Lord in verse 39 to not be angry with him! In fact, there is only one time the Lord says it’s okay to test him, and that is with bringing in the tithe and seeing God’s blessing (Malachi 3:10).
This passage is an example of a descriptive passage (explaining what happened, not necessarily endorsing it), not a prescriptive passage (command). We know it is a descriptive passage because Gideon is committing a sin and he even knows it.
Some people ask the Lord for a supernatural sign of some kind before stepping out in faith. But He has already given us His Word! The whole time someone might be asking for a sign, the Lord has already given guidance for the right things that are to be done. Some believe that there will be a new revelation from God, something outside of his already-complete Scripture (the 66 books of the Bible), and they cherish that false idea more than the truth that God has already given to them.
Just because Gideon put out a fleece and God answered his request to make it wet and the ground dry does not mean that this is how God speaks to everyone. Don’t think that you need the Bible and your fleeces (or just your fleeces) to hear God speak. God was gracious to Gideon–his was a very specific situation of a timid servant needing some reassurance.
Let’s put our trust in the Lord and His Word and not in signs.Post Views: 1,212