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An Unknown Melody

An English poet and Anglican clergyman named John Newton wrote the words to Amazing Grace in 1772. Seven years later this Christian hymn was published. In the 2006 film Amazing Grace, British politician Wilber Wilberforce and Newton cross paths. In the attached clip above, Newton had lost his sight by this time in his life. However, Newton is a passionate supporter, urging Wilberforce to do whatever it takes to end the slave trade.

Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts, Colossians 3:16.

When you examine the credits of any song, there is usually two categories. While the gifted have the ability to craft the lyrics and melody, most songs have an author who writes the lyrics and musician to develop the cords. Yet, when I looked up the credits to Amazing Grace, after John Newton the melody is similar to a poem marked anonymous. After listening to a sermon yesterday, some attribute the melody to a ship full of slaves humming as they pass the time.

Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, 20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father, Ephesians 5:19-20.

In the first century, the apostle Paul encouraged Christians to sing songs of praise. If you look back to an experience in Philippi, Paul and Silas began a worship service at midnight after being imprisoned, Acts 16:25. Paul practiced what he preached, moved by the Holy Spirit as he poured out his heart and soul in song. While we may never know the origin of Amazing Grace’s melody, it’s never too late to make your own melody of thanks to God.

by Jay Mankus

On Your Lips

Microbiology suggests lips protect the mouth, communicates body language based upon their positioning and serves as a mechanism to feel, touch and taste.  As a highly sensitive body part, lips often need natural moisture, an exterior balm or vaseline to prevent dryness and cracking.  As a gateway to the mouth, lips can warn your body when something is too hot or possibly harmful to you.

From a spiritual perspective, lips are given a great responsibility according to Exodus 13:9, “the law of the Lord is to be on your lips.”  The etymology of the expression “bite your tongue” refers to a rebuke when an individual makes a rude or unpleasant comment.  However, if you close your lips, zipper tight, lips can steer your mouth in the right direction like a bit, James 3:3-6.  Solomon understood this principle expressed in Proverbs 13:3, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”

In the days of his youth, David was a gifted musician, 1 Samuel 16:18-23.  In fact, the footnote above Psalm 8 suggests David was a music director, possibly prior to becoming king.  Caught up in a state of worship, the spirit of the Lord moves David to make the following admission, “From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger,” Proverbs 8:2.  Whether you are currently happy, sad or stoic, may this blog inspire you to live out the words of Psalm 119:171.

by Jay Mankus

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