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Archive for September, 2012

What a Friend we Have in Jesus: The Song & The Story

Irish born Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1896) was 25 years old, in love and to be married. The day before his wedding his fiance died in a tragic drowning accident. Heartbroken, Joseph sailed from his homeland to start a new life in Canada. While in Canada working as a teacher, he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of one of his students. Once again, Joseph’s hopes and dreams were shattered when Eliza became ill and died before the wedding could take place.

Although one can only imagine the turmoil within this young man, history tells us that his faith in God sustained him. Soon after Eliza’s death Joseph joined the Plymouth Brethren and began preaching for a Baptist church. He never married, but spent the remainder of his life giving all his time, money and even the clothes off his own back to help the less fortunate and to spread the love and compassion of Jesus wherever he went.

Around the same time that Eliza died, Joseph received word from Ireland that his mother was ill. He could not go to be with her, so he wrote a letter of comfort and enclosed one of his poems entitled What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

Many years later a friend was sitting with Joseph, as he was very ill. During this visit, the friend was very impressed when he ran across his poems, including What a Friend We Have in Jesus. As a result of this visit, almost 30 years after his letter of comfort to his mother, Joseph’s poems were published in a book called Hymns and Other Verses. Soon thereafter, noted musician Charles C. Converse (1834-1918) put music to one of those poems: What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

Well-known musician and revivalist Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908) was a great admirer of Joseph Scriven. In 1875, Sankey came upon the music and words for What a Friend We Have in Jesus. He included it as the last entry into his well-known publication Sankey’s Gospel Hymns Number 1.

After Joseph Scriven’s death, the citizens of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, where he gave so much of himself, erected a monument to his life. The seemingly sad and obscure life of one man resulted in so many lives being uplifted, both in his own time, and for many years after whenever the beautiful and comforting words of What a Friend We Have in Jesus are sung.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

1) What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

2) Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

3) Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer. Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

4) Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer. Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer. Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Written by: Connie Ruth Christiansen


Posted 9 September 2012

Holey or Wholly Holy

At the time, though I took them very seriously, I did not fully comprehend the impact and gravity of these words. Over the years they became more precious than ever, and today I treasure the wonderful memories and rewards of being joined to my husband by God and anchored in my marriage by these vows. One day I will see him again, but not as husband and wife for there is no marital union in heaven (Matt. 22:30). When we pass from this life into our eternal abode, we will shed our earthcoat of mud and dirt called flesh. We will struggle no more with its lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. We will be “as the angels” (Matt.22: 30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:35).

In the last days before his departure for his heavenly home, my husband commended me to the Lord, gave me his love and blessings, and promised to be waiting to welcome me when our Father calls my name and says it’s time to come home. What a reunion that will be!  I can’t begin to comprehend a relationship that is purely spiritual (since we’ll be without our physical house), yet in some small way it does help me understand why spiritual relationships are so important while we live on this earth. We are beginning our eternal abiding in Jesus Christ and the natural life must submit to spiritual principles.


After some direct and consequential teaching to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul wrote to them: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your WHOLE spirit and soul and body be preserved BLAMELESS unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23).  He is saying that as a total being you are set apart from others by God to keep yourself unto Him and unto Him only. Jesus said, thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:30), and you answer, “I will!”  The relationship begins. Over the weeks, months, and years that follow you find yourself renewing that vow daily as you face sickness and health, joy and sorrow, prosperity and adversity; and forsaking all others keep yourself to Him, and to Him only. The icing on the cake is that this vow we take is for eternity, not “till death do us part.” Those who are in Christ will never see death (John 8:51). Oh yes, they will shed their earthly body, but their spirit—which lives forever—won’t even miss it!

To sanctify you wholly means that every part of your being will be set apart for use by God: your mind, your will, your emotions, your attitudes, your actions, and your abilities. Nothing in your life will remain unaffected by this union with the Lord.

When we married, my husband was 36 and I was 27. Both of us were quite independent having lived alone for a few years without the encumbrance or necessity of looking after someone else. What an awakening when we realized that we were now accountable to each other. One no longer would decide to go away for a few days without the other. One no longer spent money without the input and consent of the other. We had a mutual concern now: our marriage. We were transparent before each other. Everything one of us did affected the other one in some way, thus we had to consider each other’s feelings, schedules, likes, dislikes, responsibilities, and personalities.

So it is in our relationship to the Lord. Our commitment to Him must penetrate and infiltrate every aspect of our being. No part of us can be withheld. In a marriage, when people are selfish and unwilling to work out such a relationship, they head for the divorce court. Before the marriage, they yearned for a husband or wife but later realized they didn’t want the changes that came with the commitment. They didn’t want to give up their old ways, their independence, and their pet indulgences. They did not give themselves wholly to the marriage. In the same way, often people make a vow to follow Jesus Christ then when adversity comes their way, they become angry and decide to split. When their selfish prayers are not answered to their liking, they reject God and harbor resentment toward Him. They did not give themselves wholly to Him.

God wants us to be WHOLLY HOLY—that is, every part of our lives to be in sync with Him. We are not under duress in this relationship.  When you answer His invitation, you say, “I will.” That means you choose to enter this commitment. You “will” to do it. You’re the benefactor of His blessings and His provisions and get all the inheritance that comes with carrying His name! He doesn’t come into this relationship with charge cards filled to the max. He comes with the wealth of a cattleman who owns all the cattle on a thousand hills! That alone ought to be worth giving up your spiritual poverty. His are eternal riches that outlast this life.

Thou shalt Love the LORD your God with your WHOLE HEART and with your WHOLE SOUL and with your WHOLE MIND and with your WHOLE STRENGTH(Deut. 6:5; Mark 12:30-NIV).

When Jesus quoted this Old Testament scripture, He was pointing out that a commitment to the Lord must have no holes in it. It must be whole, complete. When that commitment is not fragmented, it will result in a holy life.


When Jesus says to love the Lord with all your heart He is referring to your innermost being.

Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life (Prov. 4:23, KJV).

The word “heart” comes from the Greek word kardia; In Latin, it is cor—the very “core” of your being. Men look on the outward appearance. God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).  The heart is the center of the inner life of man and the source or seat of all the forces and functions of soul and spirit…It is supremely the one center in man to which God turns, in which the religious life is rooted…the center of his personal life (Kittel, III:611-612)[i].  We can actually say the word “heart” refers to attitudes which motivate, radiate, and energize our lives.

Some may ask how they can love others, as Jesus commanded, when they love the Lord with ALL their heart. It seems there would be nothing left for anyone else. Quite the contrary. If you have children, do you remember when you were expecting the second child? You wondered how you could possibly love that child after focusing all your love on the first one. Would there be any room left in your heart for another? And another? And perhaps another? Of course! When you love the Lord with your whole heart, love just oozes from that heart into the lives of others. When you fill the coffee cup to the brim and keep pouring, it runs over onto the saucer and onto the table and onto the floor. It covers everything around it. The Love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). It will fill up as much of our heart as we permit.

If you allow unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness in your heart, they will choke you to the very core of your being. They are like an infection that spreads to every part of your heart. Soon your motives are not seeded by love but by these negative thoughts and emotions and they eat at you until you have no part of your heart left for loving. But if you allow yourself to be cleansed by the Word of God and get all those negative attitudes out of your heart, you’ll have a fresh new love for the Lord and others.

Many marriages break apart, as do many commitments to Christ, because little hurts have been allowed to fester and absorb all seeds of love for one another.  Serve [the Lord] with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD SEARCHES every HEART and understands every motive behind the thoughts (1 Chr. 28:9, NIV). You can’t hide anything from God. Whether you acknowledge it or not, He knows what is in your heart. He knows how you continuously replay the pictures of mistreatment, rejection, abuse, and deprivation and desire to get revenge on those who were responsible for them. The Lord says it’s time to clean up your heart and make a vow to God that you will love Him with your whole heart—reserving no chamber therein for growing bitter roots. You want your heart to be whole, and holy, not holey—as in full of holes.


Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul  (Ps 143:8). “Soul” comes from the Greek word “psyche” which literally means “breath.” It is difficult to distinguish “soul” from “spirit” (pneuma) which also means “breath.” However, Hebrew 4:12 tells us the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. God’s Word is the medicine that goes deep into your innermost being and brings healing to places that have holes, wounds, hurts, and bruises. It causes the breath you breathe to be pure and not filled with venom and hatred, accusations and retribution. The Word restores that which was lost so you will be whole again.

Everyone has stories about things that were lost and found. I, too, have many. One that comes back to me again and again is the time I was washing my hands and my engagement ring slipped off my finger and went down the drain while I stood helpless—watching. It happened in an instant. You know the feeling. It appeared to be lost forever. Ah, but the one who had given it to me was now my husband. When I told him about it, he went right to work, tore out the pipe under the sink, and presented me with the brilliantly shining diamond ring. It was a messy job, but he knew exactly what to do. So it is with our Lord. He has given beautiful gifts of life and forgiveness of sin. Often in the process of the daily routine of life, in a moment of vulnerability we see it slipping away from us and we cry out to Him for help. No problem! He sends His Word, takes a few things apart, cleans us out, puts us back together again, and restores us to the joy of His salvation (Ps. 51:12).

The Psalmist says, Let everything that has breath praise the Lord (Ps. 150:6). In fact, Paul says In Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). Our soul is the very breath that God has breathed into us (Gen. 2:7). We are commanded to love the Lord who gave us that breath, with our WHOLE soul—every breath we take. As the deer pants for the water so my soul pants for You (Ps. 42:1). Our desire is to be one with Him. Then He [Jesus] breathed on them and told them, Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). First, our Lord breathed into us the breath of life itself. Some then experience forgiveness of sin and give themselves to the Lord, but don’t go the extra step to consecrate themselves wholly to Him. They need to ask Jesus to breath on them and be filled with His Holy Spirit—to be sanctified, that is to be separated from the world, set apart as a vessel through whom the Holy Spirit of God can flow in fruit and gifts. Those who have experienced this second breath and love the Lord with their WHOLE soul find loving God as natural as breathing air.


{The Lord] will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Him  (Is. 26:3). The “mind” is the sum total of our faculties of perception and understanding. It includes acts of thinking and knowing. As we read earlier, God knows not only our thoughts but also our intentions (Heb. 4:12).  He is omniscient—He knows everything! He knows our thoughts before we think them (Ps. 139:2). His thoughts are so much greater than our thoughts (Is. 55:8). He knows our ability, our capability, our vulnerability, and our instability. If we love Him with our WHOLE mind, not just giving Him a “piece” of it, He can elevate our thinking, reform it, transform it, and cause us to be conformed to His image rather than to the world.

We are to control our thoughts, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor.10: 5). When we follow this advice, we will not be meditating upon our circumstances, our inhibitions, our past hurts, or our limitations. God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). A “sound” mind is not sick. It is not divided. It does not waver. It knows what to do and directs the body to do it! While some people sit around saying, “I can’t”, others are defying circumstances and succeeding. While some sit around saying, “I’ve been offended”, others are forgetting, forgiving, and moving on toward better things.  If Paul had not chosen to love the Lord with his WHOLE mind, he would have fainted at the persecution and rejections he suffered in his ministry. If Peter had not chosen to love the Lord with his WHOLE mind, he would have wallowed in his own misery at having denied the Lord. Don’t allow any holes in your commitment! Be wholly committed to the Lord.


The word “strength” comes from the Greek word “ischus” which is “ability”. Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Eph. 3:20). It is His power in us that enables us to do the things He has equipped us to do. We must realize that without Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:5). We are co-workers with the Lord. We do our part; He does His part—and the job gets done.

The word “strength” also has in its meaning, “forcefulness”, which implies the need to willfully choose to do those things we have the ability to do. Let us not be weary for in due season we will reap if we do not faint (give up) (Gal. 6:9). We are to love the Lord with ALL of our ability—whatsoever you do in word or deed, do ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Col. 3:17). When you do a task half-heartedly, there is no joy in it. It becomes drudgery. When you only do tasks that are easy, there is no challenge in them. They become mundane. But when you put everything you have, all the effort you can muster up, and stretch beyond that which you know and activate the power of Almighty God within you, it is exciting, extraordinary, and fulfilling to you, and of tremendous benefit and encouragement to others.


People who have holes in their relationships to one another and to God are not happy people. They are fragmented. They are forever searching for someone to blame for their failures, unhappiness, and lack. They are quick to point out the evils of society, the weaknesses of their friends, and the shortcomings of their relatives. They cling to their past abuses and present difficult or strange circumstances as if to have an excuse for being scattered mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Paul prayed that there be no holes in our lives—and this mending of our daily lives begins by being made WHOLE by the God of Peace: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your WHOLE spirit and soul and body be preserved BLAMELESS unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23).

If you give yourself WHOLLY to the Lord—loving Him with your WHOLE heart, mind, soul, and strength, you will be HOLY—pure. Paul’s prayer is a prayer we should have for one another today as well. I pray that you allow the God of peace to set you apart completely for Him—your whole being, every part of you; and that you continue living and moving and having your very existence in Him—24 hours a day, seven days a week; and that you remain holy—pure—until the Lord comes for you.  This relationship will permeate every thought, attitude, intention, act, deed, word, movement, and choice you make. The fruit of the Spirit will be evident in your life. You will have a merry heart, a sound mind, and an abundant life.

Does that mean your life will be perfect? No. But it will be holy because you approach adversity, persecution, disappointments, and afflictions from God’s perspective because your mind is fixed on Him.

Does it mean you’ll have no problems? No. But you will have wholeness because the Holy Spirit is your comforter, your helper, your guide, and your teacher.

Does it mean you’ll not face temptation? No. But you will have the power to resist the temptation because you are wholly yielded to the Lord and sin shall not have dominion over you…now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruits unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Rom. 6:14,22).

Don’t be holey. Be wholly holy!

© Reprinted from V16N06Y2001 The Alabaster Box by Yvonne Karl.

[i] Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 9th printing, 1980. Vol. 3, p. 611-612.


One Size Does NOT Fit All!

If we really want to help someone grow, we will have to help them in a way that fits their wiring. Our great model for this is God himself, for he always knows just what each person needs.

He had Abraham take a walk, Elijah take a nap, Joshua take a lap, and Adam take the rap. He gave Moses a forty-year time out, he gave David a harp and a dance, and he gave Paul a pen and a scroll. He wrestled with Jacob, argued with Job, whispered to Elijah, warned Cain, and comforted Hagar. He gave Aaron an altar, Miriam a song, Gideon a fleece, Peter a name, and Elisha a mantle. Jesus was stern with the rich young ruler, tender with the woman caught in adultery, patient with the disciples, blistering with the scribes, gentle with the children, and gracious with the thief on the cross.

God never grows two people the same way. God is a hand-crafter, not a mass-producer. And now it is your turn.

God has existed from eternity but he wants to do a new thing with you. The problem many people face when it comes to spiritual growth is that they listen to someone they think of as the expert—maybe even the pastor of their church—talk about what he does, and think that is what they are supposed to do. When it doesn’t work for them—because they are a different person!—they feel guilty and inadequate. They often give up. But spiritual growth is handcrafted, not mass-produced. God does not do “one-size-fits-all.

(The above comment was penned by Pastor John Ortberg and copied as quoted in the book You Lost Me, by David Kinnaman, p216-217.)

P.S. from Yvonne:

Yes, contrary to the popular clothing label, God does not do “one-size-fits-all. For some it may fit, but for others it will surely be too snug or too loose. In Proverbs 22:6, we are exhorted to Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. A study of the Hebrew word picture here indicates that each child is born with different gifts and talents and it is the responsibility of parents to discern such and provide opportunities for their development. Some children have a natural flair for art, or music, or science, or math, or dancing, or athletics—or maybe a combination of gifts and talents. Parents are equally responsible to equip their children with scriptural wisdom (Deut. 6).


Posted 24 September 2012

Failure doesn’t have to be Final

Satan’s Strategy
 Luke 22:31-34, 54-62

All of us make tracks through the valley of failure. The question is, How are you going to respond? Plenty of people give up and exchange a vibrant kingdom-serving life for a defeated existence. But failure need not be an end. It’s a chance for a new beginning living in Christ’s strength.

Peter had a life-altering failure. Jesus warned that Satan had asked permission to “sift” the disciple like wheat (Luke 22:31)—vigorous shaking is required to separate wheat kernels from debris. The Enemy wanted to shake Peter’s faith hard in hopes that he’d fall away from Jesus like chaff.

Peter fervently believed the promise he’d made to Jesus: “Even though all may fall away, yet I will not” (Mark 14:29). But Satan knows a few things about the power of fear. What’s more, he realized that the disciple would be wounded by his own disloyalty. A man with tattered pride can’t help but question his usefulness.

When Satan sifts believers, his goal is to damage our faith so much that we’re useless to God. He wants us shelved far from the action of the Lord’s kingdom. Therefore, he goes for our strengths—the areas where we believe ourselves to be invincible, or at least very well protected. And when the Devil succeeds, we are disappointed and demoralized. But we don’t have to stay that way.

If we are willing, God can use failure to do spiritual housecleaning. Peter laid down his pride and instead put on the Holy Spirit’s courage. Thereafter, he risked humiliation, persecution, and death to proclaim the gospel. Failure was the catalyst that brought forth greater faith and true servanthood.

Extra Quotes

On the Enemy

“The Devil often transforms himself into an angel to tempt men, some for their instruction, some for their ruin.” 
—Augustine of Hippo

“The deceit, the lie of the Devil consists of this, that he wishes to make man believe that he can live without God’s Word.” 
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The existence of the Devil is so clearly taught in the Bible that to doubt it is to doubt the Bible itself.” 
—Archibald G. Brown

“The Devil can counterfeit all the saving operations and graces of the Spirit of God.” 
—Jonathan Edwards

“The Enemy will not see you vanish into God’s company without an effort to reclaim you.” 
—C. S. Lewis

“For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel.” 
—Martin Luther

“That there is a Devil is a thing doubted by none but such as are under the influences of the Devil.” 
—Cotton Mather

“The more God uses us, the more Satan will attempt to harass us.” 
—Dr. Charles F. Stanley

“The Devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still.” 
—A. W. Tozer

“The Devil does not tempt unbelievers and sinners who are already his own.” 
—Thomas à Kempis

In-touch Ministries Daily Devotional by Charles Stanley. 24 September 2012. For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit

Remembering the Santrocks

Remembering John and Ruth Santrock

At 2PM tomorrow, September 2, 2012, at the First Baptist Church in Nitro, friends and family will be celebrating Ruth’s life and saying good-bye. When I was in high school, John was my principal and Ruth was the office secretary. She continually looked past my insecurities and encouraged and affirmed me.

Out of thousands of students under John Santrock’s leadership as Principal, I am one of those who can trace the joy of my professional life back to him. It was his recommendation that secured for me the WV Legislature’s Teacher Training Scholarship that paid my college expenses. Without it, I would not have been able to complete college when I did, if at all. (See photo below.)

When I graduated from college early three years later, he gave me my first teaching job at my alma mater, Nitro High School. After three years of teaching, with his recommendation and encouragement, I left the comfort and familiarity of that job, my family, my friends, my town, and my church and moved to Michigan to complete graduate school. That was the beginning of the rest of my life story. I am deeply grateful for my dear principal, Mr. Santrock, who expressed an unwavering faith in my abilities and aspirations.

He died in September four years ago at age 89, and his dear wife Ruth’s funeral is tomorrow, September 2, 2012. Theirs was a love story—raising a son and a daughter, and influencing thousands with their compassion and unabashed devotion to each other and to Christ. His was a story of bravery in war: shot, imprisoned, escaped, and awarded a Purple Heart.

For those—especially from my hometown Nitro and home county Kanawha—who might be interested in reading more about the Santrocks, check out this article written by their granddaughter after his death:  You can also find a list of their son’s published books on (John W. Santrock).

Read more about their life here:

John –

Ruth –

Photo: Mr. Santrock presenting me (Yvonne) the Board of Legislature scholarship at our awards ceremony, May 1958.

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