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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Fanny Crosby tombstone
Brooksyne standing behind Fanny Crosby tombstone in Bridgeport, Connecticut

"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of the Spirit, washed in His blood."

"Seeing Through The Darkness"

Note: Today's message was primarily written by Brooksyne and is a bit longer than usual.

Message Summary: We
all see through a glass darkly on this side, some darker than others. Most can identify with the saying Fanny heard throughout her childhood, "What cannot be cured must be endured." It's true whether its physical, mental, emotional or otherwise. Healing is a gift from God; endurance is a lifetime process that comes as we Biblically train our spirit and mind.

to this message on your audio player.

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Mervin and his wife Lois are newer friends who've been attending our church about six months. We joined them for dinner the other night, along with several other friends from our church.
Mervin has a colorful personality and shared a story with a punchline that has a strange twisted logic!

He told us about a friend who was visiting Manheim, a small town north of Lancaster. He saw a man with a confused, worried type expression slowly walking along the street, his head lowered toward the ground. He approached the man and asked, "Is there something wrong?" The man told him he had lost a quarter so the friend offered to help him look for it. After searching for awhile with no success he asked, "Are you sure this is where you lost the quarter?" His strange answer was, "No, I actually lost the quarter a ways back but it was too dark to look for it there so I decided to look where there was more light." 

Strange as that story may sound it gives us some thought for today's message. Let's examine one who could not move to the bright light for better viewing but instead worked through the physical darkness to present the message of eternal light for those walking in spiritual darkness.
Fanny Crosby Fanny Crosby was born in Putnam County, New York in 1820 and was just weeks away from her 95th birthday when she died. Due to improper medical treatment Fanny was blinded at six weeks of age yet she did not succumb to self-pity or bitterness. Instead she made herself available to God to be used for His glory.  Over 3,000 hymns later believers all over the world have been deeply touched by this tiny but obedient and gifted woman of God.

At the young age of eight she wrote these verses about her condition:

"Oh what a happy soul I am, although I cannot see;
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy, that other people don't;
To weep and sigh because I'm blind, I cannot, and I won't."

As an adult she put it like this, "It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me."

One time a well-meaning preacher sympathetically remarked, "I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when He showered so many other gifts upon you." She replied quickly, "Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?" "Why?" asked the surprised clergyman. "Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!" 

Her poetic mind was truly a gift from God.  She composed poems and hymns entirely in her mind. She was said to work mentally on as many as twelve hymns at once before dictating them the next day. Can you imagine the expansive computer files in her brain? Keep in mind that hymns in those days typically had six to twelve stanzas.

A brilliant mind and yet Fanny could not see the light of day. On the other hand her vision expanded far beyond the sunlight of day to the eternal light of heaven. Her hymns commonly have visual words such as "seeing, watching, looking, sight, vision" indicating that Fanny's visual impairment on this side did not blind her view of the other side. In fact she was spiritually transported from this darkened, troubled world as she dictated the words, "visions of rapture  now burst on my sight".

Was this spiritual transport possible because she had memorized so much of the Bible? Fanny set to the task of memorizing the entire Bible. As a child her grandmother assigned a number of chapters per week, sometimes up to 5, and then drilled her line by line until they were inscribed in Fanny’s mind. She had a wonderful memory, probably aided by the fact that she could not see. Once the Scriptures were in, they never left her.

By the time Fanny Crosby was 11 years old, she could quote word for word from the Pentateuch, the four Gospels, many Psalms, all of Proverbs, Ruth, and the Song of Solomon. She was the champion in the Bible recitation contests in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The Bible came to be a part of her, and by the time she was 14, some accounts tell us that she knew the entire Bible by heart.

Coincidentally, her practice of reciting Scriptures in front of others surely aided her in speaking many years later before Congress on behalf of the blind where she said, "What cannot be cured must be endured." That brief thought carries a lifetime weight for those who identify with Fanny's plight (or special calling depending on how one chooses to look at the matter).  It also speaks to those who deal with troubling matters that don't improve or go away over the course of time.

The truth is we all see through a glass darkly on this side, some darker than others. Most can identify with the saying Fanny heard throughout her childhood, "What cannot be cured must be endured." It's true whether its physical, mental, emotional or otherwise. Healing is a gift from God; endurance is a lifetime process that comes as we Biblically train our spirit and mind.

I pray that Fanny's story inspires us all to be content with the life God has given to us here on earth and graciously accept that which cannot be changed. Let us be grateful for that which God has entrusted to us and use it for His glory.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You are our Guide through life, giving us grace for every trial as we feed on Your living Bread. Though our footsteps grow weary and our soul grows thirsty, it is from the Rock before us that Your water flows in abundance. We find joy and contentment in this life as we eat daily from Your Living Bread and drink from Your springs of living water. Amen.

(Prayer adapted from "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" by Fanny Crosby)

Eight years ago we stopped by Bridgeport Connecticut and took the photo of Brooksyne alongside Fanny Crosby's tombstone and wrote this message at that time.  In numerous accounts Crosby is credited with 8,000 or more poems/hymns. We are not sure why the tombstone only credits her with 3,000.

My aching tooth! Thanks for advice from several about my aching tooth mentioned in yesterday's message including one cousin who advised me "A tumbler of whiskey and such won't get it done. Simply bite the bullet and go to your dentist." This morning I received a call from Wendy from my dental office who had read the message, so how's that for proactive care!!!

First snow of season!!!
But not much

Birds feeding in first snow of season 1/13/16
We both enjoy feeding and watching the birds and have 9 birdfeeders we can view from our office window and often all of them are busy. It's a crisp, cold, windy day so most of the light snow we had last night has already blown off. Today we have some chaplain visitation then will be heading to the 100th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in the afternoon.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Today we feature all songs written by Fanny Crosby

"All the Way My Savior Leads Me"  Video   Chris Tomlin  Christ Tomlin is one of the foremost writers of newer praise and worship music. He also does a fine job in his hymn collection.

"Blessed Assurance"  Video  The Isaacs and Homecoming singers, a nice acoustic version

"I Am Thine, O Lord"

"To God Be The Glory"  Video   Royal Albert Hall, London  Stately congregational singing

"Rescue The Perishing"  Video  Billy and Cindy Foote  A newer rendition of the old hymn. The photos are outstanding.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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