Give Me Jesus

SunRise

African American Spiritual, c. 1860

1. In the morning when I rise,
in the morning when I rise,
in the morning when I rise,
give me Jesus.

Refrain:
Give me Jesus,
give me Jesus,
you may have all this world;
give me Jesus.

2. Dark midnight was my cry,
dark midnight way my cry,
dark midnight was my cry,
give me Jesus. [Refrain]

3. Just about the break of day,
just about the break of day,
just about the break of day,
give me Jesus. [Refrain]

4. Oh, when I come to die,
oh, when I come to die,
oh, when I come to die,
give me Jesus. [Refrain]

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Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

Yunmentum1680

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s demands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.

United Methodist Hymnal, 1989

Heaven

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Grief With Hope

A Ministry to and with the Grieving

October 1998

by James Alexander

 

Heaven is God’s Dwelling Place

Even though God’s presence extends without end, the Bible presents God as having a definite place of dwelling. This dwelling place, called heaven, should not be thought of as a location in the physical universe, but as the fullness of God’s revelation of Himself in a way that breaks through our temporal limitations. Those in this place, heaven, enjoy an environment composed of the perfection of God’s own nature. The atmosphere of heaven shines with His glory. Those who dwell there feed upon the life of God. No sin can enter to darken the glory, and no misery can bring suffering and pain into this house of blessing. Those who dwell in heaven with God live an unmarred experience of these joys.

Heaven is Where Christ Is

After his resurrection, Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father. The right hand of the Gather speaks, not of a coordinate on a grid, but a position of kingly honor and power. The Father has granted to the Son all authority and power to rule and govern. From this heavenly position, Christ even now rules over all things. Sin brings death, but Christ rules over death.

Those who die in Christ leave their bodies to be kept, even in decay, by Christ until the resurrection of the dead at the return of Christ. Their souls immediately enter into heaven into the presence of Christ. There they do not exist as floating spirits, but are clothed with the white robes of Christ’s own glory as they wait for the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan. While waiting, they enjoy the full activities of the heavenly life. The potentiality of being in Christ reaches toward a new and richer fulfillment summed up by the following:

  1. The heart no longer sends out streams of depravity, but now reflects the unbroken image of God’s own character. Perfect holiness brings perfect rest from struggles with sin and from life’s stresses and strains.
  2. The miseries of life are gone forever. Pain, sickness, suffering, heartache, loneliness, sadness, and grief melt away in the sunshine of heaven.
  3. Man is at his best when worshipping, so the endless theme of worship is interwoven into all activities.
  4. Family life reaches perfection in the fullness of security, care, love and fellowship with Christ and all the saints.
  5. No longer thwarted by pride and selfishness, the saints serve God and each other with an endless joy.
  6. The light of God’s presence penetrates every place bringing to all His children continuous newness in the revelation of His love.
  7. Heaven’s temple reverberates with happiness and joy that go on undiminished through eternity.

Scripture for Meditation: Revelation 6:12-17; 7:9-17

Being Dead They Still Speak

Now while they were thus drawing near towards the Gate, behold a company of the heavenly Host came out to meet them; to whom it was said by the other two shining Ones, “These are the men that have loved our Lord, when they were in the World, and that have left all for his Holy Name, and he hath sent us to fetch them…that they may go in and look their Redeemer in the face with Joy.” Then the Heavenly Host gave a great shout, saying, “Blessed are they that are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” …But Glorious it was to see, how the open Region was filled with Horses and Chariots, with Trumpeters and Pipers, with Singers and Players on stringed instruments, to welcome the Pilgrims as they went up, and followed one another in at the Beautiful Gate of the City….these two men went in at the Gate; and lo, as they entered, they were transfigured: and they had raiment put on that shone like Gold….Now, just as the Gates were opened to let in the men, I looked in after them; and behold the City shone like the Sun, the streets also were paved with Gold, and in them walked many men with Crowns on their heads, Palms in their hands, and Golden Harps with which to sing praises…and after that they shut up the Gates: which when I had seen, I wished myself among them.

– John Bunyan in The Pilgrim’s Progress

What is heaven: A glorious and happy place, where the righteous shall be forever with the Lord.

– Children’s Catechism

One breath of paradise will extinguish all the adverse winds of earth.

– A. W. Pink

– In memory of Matthew James Alexander by his father, James Julian Alexander

Grief with Hope is a ministry established by James Alexander in memory of his son Matthew James Alexander, who died in the crash of TWA Flight #800, July 1996. Grief with Hope ministers to and with the grieving through the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship.

Why is the kitchen counter so clean?

Now what kind of a question is that?

My oldest asked me to please find the lid to the blender. It was at the bottom of the dish drainer, with a whole bunch of other stuff just sitting there waiting for someone to put away…which I did. And then I saw how dirty the drain board was, so I put it in the sink so I could scrub it. Under that, I saw how dirty the counter was, because how often do you move the drain board, anyway? As I scrubbed the counter, the circles got wider, more useless objects were removed, more dirt revealed itself… Wow! That looks great – let’s not put any of those cluttery things back out, let’s find an actual place to put them away! What a novel idea – you don’t have to have everything out in full view at all times.

My husband was pleased. I have “permission” to do this to the whole house – LOL! I’m wondering just exactly how long that will take, considering I still have 5 pairs of mittens to finish knitting; a Super Mario Brothers mushroom afghan to crochet; several other scrap blankets in the workings; a newsletter to print, fold, stuff, and mail; oh yeah, and the trip to Canada to plan…..

I lost a sock needle yesterday, so I made a new one out of a skewer. Just saying.

Grief’s Sinful Anger

beach bench

Grief With Hope

A Ministry to and with the Grieving

September 1998

 by James Alexander

Grief produces powerful streams of emotive force. Often this deep emotion will manifest itself as sinful anger. Sinful anger can quickly lead to bitterness, hatred and a desire for vengeance. When such anger takes control of you, the lives of many are shattered and many relationships are ruptured. Instead of these destructive expressions of anger, you may be seeking to restrain anger by leaving it smoldering dangerously beneath the surface. This internalized anger eventually leads to self-destruction through various forms of sinful, irrational, or morbid behavior.

Every form of sinful anger has as its source anger toward God. The unexpressed thoughts of your mind may be, “How could God do this to me? Why did He allow this to happen? If He is going to treat me this way, then I will not serve Him.” In fact, some turn openly upon the God whom they once professed to love. This anger toward God cuts off the very source of help that comes in the living God. When this occurs, the comfort of the gospel no longer brings strength and hope to the broken-hearted griever. You must repent of sinful anger. God does not owe you anything. God has a right to govern His world in the way that pleases Him. The Scripture says, “He brings down to the grave and brings up.” (1 Samuel 2:6) Were mistakes made and sins committed by others in relationship to the deceased loved one? Yes! But that will always be true as long as we live in this sinful, fallen imperfect world. Yet God did not surrender his authority to secondary causes. He is the primary and ultimate ruler of all things. You will have no peace until you confess to God your sinful anger, seek forgiveness from those whom you have sinned against, trust Christ for forgiveness and seek His help to submit to the sovereign God who disposes all things for His own glory.

Grief’s Righteous Anger

The Bible says, “Be angry and do not sin…” (Eph. 4:26) The powerful emotive force associated with grief does not have to be sinful. As Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus, He groaned with deep inner emotion. Anger may well have been an element of that emotion. Death is an enemy because it is the ultimate temporal misery brought on by sin. You ought to be angry with death, and that anger must drive you to the remedy provided in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This anger must lead you to believe, proclaim and live the gospel which overcomes death and will soon, once and for all, bring God’s world back into order and harmony. Do not reject the blessing that lies on the backside of grief, and do not deny that blessing to others.

Furthermore, the gospel is not contrary to justice, but the gospel demands justice. Righteous anger must become a motivating power for achieving social and civil justice. Personal vengeance is wrong, but civil justice is a blessing to any society. In the case of a wrongful death there should be accountability and justice rendered. Under the grace of Christ’s forgiving love, you may benefit your society by seeking to bring about just accountability not only in your personal case but for others who may suffer from the wrongs of society. So, dear grieving one, “be angry and do not sin.” Give your life to Christ for the gospel and for making this world a better place for all.

Scripture for meditation: Ephesians 4:25-32

The Griever’s Question

How can I become free from thinking constantly about the wrong that I have suffered in the death of my loved one? The desire for justice is not wrong, but when that desire begins to consume your life, it is sinful, idolatrous and destructive. Confess your sin to God and seek forgiveness through Christ. Christ has promised to send the Holy Spirit to help you become free. As you ask for the Spirit’s help, remember that God is not enslaved to secondary causes, but He rules over every event to bring glory to Christ and blessing to His people. Often in this present world justice will not be done, but the day will soon come when He will correct all injustices. In the meantime, you must set your mind on the “things of the Spirit.” Vengefulness and bitterness are contrary to the Spirit. Think upon the sovereign goodness of God, begin to love those who sinned against you, and then you will have peace.

Being Dead They Still Speak

“But, when we resist Him with our brass necks and will not bow for the corrections which He sends us, we do nothing but continually double His strokes. On the contrary, then, if we feel our sins, so that we ask pardon for them and He knows that we are rightly touched by them; then He makes our afflictions to turn into a wholesome medicine for us, and there upon, He delivers us from them…. So then, let us not murmur any longer when we see that God sends such troubles into the world; neither let us be offended as it as if He has His eyes closed. For He well knows what He is doing, and He has an infinite wisdom which does not appear to us at first sight; but, in the end, we surely see that He has disposed things in good order and measure.” (J. Calvin)

– In memory of Matthew James Alexander by his father, James Julian Alexander

Grief with Hope is a ministry established by James Alexander in memory of his son Matthew James Alexander, who died in the crash of TWA Flight #800, July 1996. Grief with Hope ministers to and with the grieving through the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship.

Long Days of Grief

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Grief With Hope

A Ministry to and with the Grieving

August 1998

by James Alexander

Death casts a long shadow that reaches into every crevice of life. The bright sunshine that awakens you each day no longer sends out rays of happiness. Even the playful shouts of the neighborhood children seem to be out of place in a world that has become darkened by death. At first, everyone rushed to help and comfort you, but a long loneliness has now settled over every aspect of your life. Even family members who grieve with you seem to be taken up by their own inner torments. Each day feels like a long tunnel of foreboding events that soon threaten more grief. You have entered into the long days of grief.

Jeremiah spoke of such days when he said, “He has led me and make me walk in darkness and not in light. Surely, He has turned His hand against me time and time again throughout the day…He has set me in dark places like the dead of long ago” (Lam. 3;2, 3, 6) These days bring the most difficult time for the grieving. Your comforters have all returned to the concerns of their own lives, and they seem to wonder why you have not returned to your “old normal self.” The questioning eyes around you seem to be waiting to see if you are going to break under it all. Some may even imply that you should now snap out of it. They seem to say, “Smile! Be happy! Act like a good Christian!” Soon you begin to wonder about yourself, “Am I losing it? Is my faith so weak that I cannot rise above it? Why does agonizing emotion grip my heart?”

Dear grieving one, do not let the attitudes of others plant doubt within you. These are the long days of grief. When you need to weep, weep. When you must sit in darkness, sit for a while. Grievers must grieve. You must grieve. You must not try to conform to the ways of those who have not yet learned the ways of grief. You must not idolize your grief, but it is equally wrong not to walk through these long days of grief. Keep walking for soon the darkness will begin to break.

The Breaking Light of Hope

As you trudge through these long days of grief, there will soon be a light of truth that comes to your mind. As the prophet Jeremiah walked his dark valley, he said, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’” (Lam. 3:21-24) This hope flows directly from Christ. He has broken through the darkness by his mighty victory on the cross. So even in the darkness, there will always be the breaking light of hope.

We now live in the last days. That time when the victory is won, but the full realization of it is not complete. So we must now go on for a little while waiting for grief’s darkness to be driven away by the power of Christ. To pretend that these are not days of long grief is to deceive yourself, but in going through these times of heaviness you will again and again be refreshed in the gospel hope bringing relief and joy. Those who do not understand these present days of darkness will soon face their own dark tunnels. Instead of anger toward them, let there be compassion. Let them know that even though you fall you will soon rise up and “mount on eagle’s wings. You will run and not be weary.” (Isa. 40:31)

Scripture for meditation: Lamentations 3:1-24

The Griever’s Question

Does this long loneliness mean that Christ has deserted me? The Lord promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5) Jesus said to his own, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) So be assured that Christ never deserts his own. There are times, usually in grief or other hardships, when we lose a sense of his presence. During these lonely times when we do not feel his nearness, we must faithfully continue to seek Him and serve Him. We walk by faith, not by how we feel. When our Lord withdraws his felt-presence, our faith is refined, our character is proven, and hope grows strong. As you persevere in faithfulness, you will soon regain a sense of His blessing and His presence.

Being Dead They Still Speak

Elizabeth Prentiss lived in much suffering as an invalid, but even in her suffering she knew hope and joy in Christ. When two of her children died her once strong faith almost died. For weeks she lived in deep darkness of soul until the light of hope began to shine again. She expresses her grief in these words:

One child and two green graves are mine,

This is God’s gift to me;

A bleeding, fainting, broken heart,

This is my gift to Thee.

As hope began to revive, she penned the words of one of the great hymns:

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;

now Thee alone I seek, give what is best;

this all my prayer shall be: more love, O Christ, to Thee.

Let sorrow do its work, send grief and pain;

sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain,

when they can sing with me, more love, O Christ, to Thee.

– In memory of Matthew James Alexander by his father, James Julian Alexander

Grief with Hope is a ministry established by James Alexander in memory of his son Matthew James Alexander, who died in the crash of TWA Flight #800, July 1996. Grief with Hope ministers to and with the grieving through the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship.

Grief With Hope

jewel-tones-lyonsglass-com

by James Alexander, July 1998

A Ministry to and with the Grieving

Grief’s Purpose

On 17 July 1996, my son died in the crash of TWA Flight #800. Since then the Lord has continued to teach me Biblical grieving. The Bible has much to say about grief in the life of a Christian, but many of us even after years of study and ministry have not understood the importance of grief in the life of a Christian. We have absorbed much of the thinking of our culture in making temporal happiness the goal of our lives. As our society continues to plunge toward destruction, the American dream will die and the pain of grief and heartache will force itself upon us. Many will become bitter, angry, and resentful at not achieving the utopia of the American success story. We must now seek a Biblical view of life, suffering and death. The Bible teaches that grief is an essential part of living in this fallen world, and that as Christians we are to take the grief apportioned for us as a divine means of growth in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Grief is to become a mighty force within for our sanctification and service in God’s kingdom. When we seek to get over our grief or to bury our grief then grief becomes destructive. Even though grief hurts, crushes, brings unrelenting pain and will not end until glory, you and I must seek God’s help to take the grief that He gives to us as a God-given trial to enable us to learn the ways of our God.

When one that you love dies, you find that you are completely helpless to change the fact of death. You agonize wanting to make it not true, but it is true. This helplessness in the face of death brings you to see your utter dependence upon God for life and eternity. When living in utter dependence upon God through Jesus Christ, you begin to find new strength to go on in service of your King.

Has your grief become a means of growth in grace? Has it brought you to a more complete dependence upon the Lord? Or is your grief encased in a secret compartment of your mind? Is it becoming a root of resentment and bitterness? Come with your grief to the throne of grace and mercy. Jesus will help you!

Hope’s Comfort

The Psalmist says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” (Ps. 42:5) In 1 Corinthians 13:7, the Apostle tells us that love “hopes all things.” Hope arises in the heart as we are transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Grief arises from the consequences of living in a world of sin and death. While grief will not be completely done away with until Christ returns, the hope of the gospel begins now to bring relief and increasingly brings comfort to the grieving. Hope is Biblical optimism looking the miseries of this life in the face and through faith seeing the end of the present miseries because of the victory wrought out by Christ. When “we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Rom 8:25)

As you grieve daily, so you will find comfort daily through the hope of the gospel. In Psalm 42, the Psalmist exhorts himself in a time of depression and discouragement to hope in the Lord. As you feel the sharp edge of grief’s knife cutting relentlessly, exhort yourself to hope in the Lord. Ask our gracious Father to minister His comfort to you. He will not fail you.

Scripture for meditation: Psalm 42

The Griever’s Question

How can a loving God allow Christians to suffer so much grief and heartache? In Isaiah 55:9, God says, “So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” You will never understand fully because only God knows all things. Those in heaven have perfect human understanding, but not infinite understanding. Scripture does, however, give you sufficient understanding of suffering and grief. You can be assured that a loving God rules all things for the good of his children. With this assurance your suffering and grief will teach you to trust God more fully, to live the gospel more c0nsistently, and to be more heavenly minded. Furthermore, through your grief, you become aware of the many others who suffer and are thus enabled to compassionately reach out to them. You must also remember that now you see from a short-term perspective, but one day, perhaps soon, you will in the long-term perspective see the perfection, beauty, and glory of all of God’s ways.

Being Dead They Still Speak

“The gold loses nothing by the removal of its dross, and our faith loses nothing by the dissipation of its apparent force. Faith may apparently lose, but it actually gains. It may seem to be diminished, but it is not truly diminished. All is there that was worth having. You can now tell how much was solid, and how much was sham; for had that which has failed you been real faith, it would not have been consumed by any trial through which it has passed. You have lost the froth from the top of the cup, but all that was really worth having is still there. It must be so, for as faith is not born of earthly things, neither can earthly things kill it, nor take from it one true particle.”                                       – C. H. Spurgeon

 

– In memory of Matthew James Alexander by his father, James Julian Alexander

Grief with Hope is a ministry established by James Alexander in memory of his son Matthew James Alexander, who died in the crash of TWA Flight #800, July 1996. Grief with Hope ministers to and with the grieving through the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship.