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Stand up, Stand up, for Jesus

In 1858, a great Christian revival – known as “the work of God in Philadelphia” – swept across that great American city 

Of the participating ministers, it was said that none was more powerful than a twenty-nine year old Episcopalian minister, the Reverend Dudley Atkins Tyng – a bold and uncompromising preacher.

Dudley Atkins Tyng was a tireless advocate for the emancipation of slaves. He was ridiculed and persecuted for his view, and even criticized for bringing politics into the pulpit.  Many of his congregation owned slaves, a common practice in those days, and they didn’t like him telling them plainly and bluntly that to hold a fellow human being in slavery was a sin.

In addition to preaching at his own church, the Church of the Epiphany in Philadelphia, Tyng began holding midday services at the downtown YMCA.  Such was his power and dynamism that great crowds came to hear him preach, and on Tuesday, March 30th 1858, over 5000 men gathered for a mass meeting to hear him.

He took as his text these words from Exodus chapter 10 verse 11: “Go now ye that are men and serve the Lord”

Over 1,000 of the men were converted; the sermon was called “one of the most successful of the time”; the entire city was being stirred; a religious awakening was gaining force.

The next week Tyng returned to his family in the country.   On Tuesday, April 13, 1858, he was watching the operation of a corn-thrasher in a barn.  Raising his arm to place his hand on the head of a mule which was walking up the inclined lane of the machine, the young minister accidentally caught his loose sleeve between the cogs.

His arm was lacerated severely, the main artery severed and the median nerve injured. As a result of shock and a great loss of blood, he died on the 19th

His last words were “Stand up for Jesus, father; stand up for Jesus; and tell my brethren of the ministry, wherever you meet them, to stand up for Jesus.”

On the following Sunday, Tyng’s close friend, George Duffield, the minister of the Temple Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, preached on Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, the sixth chapter, beginning at the 14th verse:

“Stand, therefore, having your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.”

Duffield closed his sermon by reading a poem that he had just written.  It had been inspired by the dying words of his friend.  His words are still with us, of course, known as the hymn “Stand up, stand up, for Jesus.”

As we’ve said, Dudley Atkins Tyng was a vigorous campaigner for the emancipation of slaves. He  stood up in protest against inequality and injustice

– and so must we, wherever God’s will is ignored, wherever wrong and evil flourish….and by doing so, we stand up for Jesus.

We Christians stand up to powers of oppression, we stand firm in our faith, and we stand down when violence becomes the only option, because what we stand for is the very peace Jesus proclaims to his disciples.

Stand up for God’s justice, mercy, and truth. Stand up to protest against something—such as the obscene bonuses paid to failed bankers at this time of economic recession. Stand up against the disintegration of society; stand up for decency, honour and worth in our country. Stand up to affirm something—like the importance of traditional morality, the need for peace and cooperation in Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan and so many other troubled countries in the world,, or hope for the future of humankind..

When we encounter evil, hypocrisy, corruption, or anything else that is counter to the world of truth, beauty, peace and justice that is God’s will, let us, with righteous indignation, take an aggressive stand for God.  Let us, too, ‘Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!’

Let me finish by quoting a verse from the original version of the hymn:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus!

The solemn watchword hear,

If while ye sleep he suffers,

Away with shame and fear,

Where’er ye meet with evil,

Within you or without,

Charge for the God of battles,

And put the foe to rout.

 

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May 15, 2013 · 11:16

Abide

In 1934, Admiral Richard Byrd was exploring the area near the South Pole. He decided that an advance weather base should be established farther south than the exploration centre, which they called Little America.

The original plan was to have three men at this new weather base, but because the supplies for this number could not be transported before the beginning of the three months of total darkness in midwinter, Byrd decided to man the base alone.

A specially built shack fifteen feet long and eleven feet wide was sunk into the snow. Food, fuel, weather equipment, and a radio were placed in the shack, and the famous explorer settled in for months of solitude. For several weeks after he was left in the underground shack, his weather experiments went well.

He had time to read and listen to gramophone records he had brought along.

On the last day of May, 1934, tragedy struck. The exhaust pipe to the gasoline engine, that he used to generate electricity for his radio, froze, sending poisonous fumes throughout the shack.

Byrd became too weak to lift cans of food and fuel, and he spent hours resting after completing the slightest chore. He was sure he was going to die, and wrote farewell notes to his wife and children.

Outside, the temperature fell to nearly fifty degrees below zero.

At the base with which Byrd made radio contact several times a week, they knew something was wrong, but the solitary explorer would admit nothing. They decided that a rescue party should go out, even though the 125 mile journey through the cold Arctic night was filled with danger.

After several attempts failed, they finally reached Admiral Byrd on August 11.

Admiral Byrd wrote a book about his experience; it was entitled, Alone. In it he vividly describes the torments of loneliness, especially when he was weak with illness. But he also spoke of “an abiding presence,” that sustained him and protected his sanity even in his moments of deepest loneliness.

Loneliness, it seems,  is part of the human condition. A famous Bible scholar, commenting on the first chapters of Genesis, said that “Loneliness is the first thing God declared not good.” When God created Adam and saw that he was lonely, Eve was created so that there would be companionship, a mutual indwelling, a spiritual and physical union.

Jesus said   “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

Abide is a wonderful word.  It isn’t used much these days and in many modern translations, it’s been replaced with “remain” or “remain united”.

But the word “abide” basically means a mutual indwelling, or “living together” in such a way that our lives are completely intertwined .

When people live together in this way you cannot think of one without the other.  That is the way it is between God and ourselves.  Christ urges us into that mutual indwelling so that are lives are intertwined with God’s love.

It’s a very special word – that word  “abide”.

Think of that hymn by Henry Francis Lyte that has been such an inspiration to others in both life and  in death.

“Abide with Me”  was composed by the Scottish poet and hymnologist Henry Francis Lyte just before his death in 1847. It was completed on the same day as his last sermon to the congregation in his parish church, “All Saints” in Lower Brixham, Devon.

The emotional impact of the situation of drawing near to death and the occasion of his last words to the congregation is acutely felt in the words of the hymn.

Abide with me; fast fall the eventide:

The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, O Abide with me

—-O| Thou who changest not , abide with me

—-Through clouds and sunshine, Lord, abide with me

—- I  triumph still, if thou abide with me 

—-In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me

as the rain penetrates the tiniest roots of a tree in order in order to rise and to fill the whole tree and to bring forth leaves and fruit.”, as someone has written.

We will find it life giving.  And we could say that it is  a life sentence

 

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Lourdes

A Hibs fan was leaving the Fester Road ground after a game, when he was knocked down by an Edinburgh Lothian bus (ironically painted maroon and cream).

He suffered multiple injuries and after a long spell in hospital, was discharged – but with his legs badly mangled, forcing him to walk on crutches.

His pals had a whip round and bought him a ticket to Lourdes in an attempt to heal his poor legs and, literally, get him back on his feet again.

In Lourdes, he was gently lowered into a pool that was said to have healing qualities.

Suddenly, the water started to foam and bubble, rise and fall with waves crashing all over him.  And out of the tumult, a VOICE spoke.

It was the Almighty himself.

“Can you fix my legs, Loving Father?” asked our Hibbie friend.  “Can you get me on my feet again, Lord?”

There was a pause.  Then the VOICE spoke, “My son, your legs are beyond repair; I cannot do anything….. but  I can grant you a wish instead”

The invalid responded, “Can you let the Hibs win the Cup – it’s been 102 years now since we lifted it?”

Silence…..

then: “Let me have another look at your legs” 

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The Wrong Word

The Meenister’s Log

One Sunday in church the Minister  asked if anyone in the congregation would like  to express their thanks for answered prayers. 

Sue Smith stood and walked to the  lectern.  She said, “Two months ago, my husband, Bill, had a terrible  bicycle accident and his scrotum was completely  crushed.  The pain was excruciating and the  doctors didn’t know if they could help him.”

You  could hear a muffled gasp from the men in the  congregation as they imagine the pain that poor Bill must have experienced. 

“Bill was unable  to hold me or the children,” she went on, “and  every move caused him terrible pain.”  We  prayed as the doctors performed a delicate  operation, and it turned out they were able to  piece together the crushed remnants of Bill’s  scrotum, and wrap wire around it to hold it in  place.” 

Again, the  men in the congregation cringed and squirmed  uncomfortably as they imagined the horrible  surgery performed on Bill.   

“Now,” she  announced in a quivering voice, “thank the Lord,  Bill is out of the hospital and the doctors say  that with time, his scrotum should recover  completely.”

All the  men sighed with unified relief.  The Minister  rose and tentatively asked if anyone else had  something to  say.

 A man stood up and  walked slowly to the chancel.  He  said, “I’m Bill Smith, Sue’s husband.”

The entire congregation held its  breath… 

“I just want to tell my wife the word is, ‘sternum’.

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