This is a guest post from John Thornbury, who is currently Pastor of Worship at Bellepoint Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Previously, Bro. John served over 40 years as pastor of Winfield Baptist Church in PA. And, yes, he is the father of Greg.
I appreciated this meditation, and Bro. John was kind enough to let me share it with you.
THE HYMN WRITERS
We live in a day when it is increasingly become the vogue to say that the Christian message is a fake and that there is no such thing as a real relationship with God. It has occurred to me that it is very difficult to dispute the reality of a deep love for Jesus — when we read the the testimonies of hymn writers.
I take my stand with the saints (of many different denominations) who experienced rapturous love to Jesus. Here are some.
Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676 , (Lutheran) “What language can I borrow, to thank Thee, dearest Friend, For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end. O Make me thine forever, And should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never, outlive my love for Thee”.
Isaac Watts 1674-1748, (Congregationalist), “But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe; Here, Lord, I give myself away, ‘Tis all that I can do”.
John Newton , 1725-1807, (Anglican) “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see”,
Charles Wesley, 1707-1788 (Methodist), “O for a thousand tongues to sin, my great Redeemer’s praise, The glories of my God and King, The triumphs of His grace!”.
Nicolaus Zinzendorf, 1700-1760, (Moravian) “Jesus Thy blood and righteousness, my beauty are, my glorious dress. Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed, with joy will I lift up my head.”
Frances Havergal 1836-1879 (Anglican) “Take my life and let it be, Consecrated Lord, to thee. Take my hands and let them move, At the impulse of Thy love.”
William Featherson (1846-1873) (Methodist) “My Jesus, I love Thee, I know thou art mine, for Thee all the follies of sin, I resign; My gracious redeemer, my savior art Thou. If ever I loved thee, Lord Jesus, ‘tis now.”
Samuel Stennett, 1727-1795 (Baptist). “Majestic sweetness sits enthroned. upon the Savior’s brow. His head with radiant glories crowned, his lips with grace o’erflow. No mortal can with him compare among the sons of men, Fairer is he than all the fair who fill the heavenly train.”
Phillip Bliss, 1838-1876 (Presbyterian) “Man of sorrows, what a name, for the Son of God who came, ruined sinners to reclaim, Hallelujah what a Savior.”
John Peterson, 1921-2006 (non-denominational) “O what a wonderful, wonderful day, day I will never forget, After I’d wandered in darkness away, Jesus my Savior I met, O what a tender compassionate friend, He met the need of my heart; Shadows dispelling, with joy I am telling, He make all the darkness depart.”
Jack Hayford, 1934- (Pentecostal) “Majesty, worship His majesty unto Jesus be all glory honor and praise; Majesty, kingdom authority, flow from His throne unto His own, His anthem raise. So exalt, lift upon high the name of Jesus, Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the king”.
Bill Gaither, 1936- (Church of God). “Shackled by a heavy burden, Neath a load of guilt and shame; Then the hand of Jesus touched me, and now I am no longer the same. He touched me, O he touched me and O the joy that filled my soul. Something happened and now I know. He touched me and made me whole.”
How can anyone read such lines and doubt the reality of the Christian experience?