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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Fanny Crosby tombstone, Bridgeport, CT
We are standing behind the Fanny Crosby tombstone at Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport, CT. We were disappointed that her original tombstone was no longer present, just this one erected by friends in 1955. At her request the small original one read, "Aunt Fanny, 'She hath done what she could'" (from Mark 14:8). Today she is 200 years old in heaven. I wonder if in heaven we'll celebrate our birthday every 100 years!

"Blessed Assurance For Today"

Message summary: May the Lord fill your heart with His blessed assurance today regardless of what you are going through and what our world is experiencing!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10:22). "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

On the way back from our trip to Newport, RI earlier this month we stopped by Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport, Connecticut to see the tombstone of Fanny Crosby. We had stopped by to see her tombstone in 2008 and decided to do so again. Fanny lived with her half sister in Bridgeport during her last years on earth, and after a six month illness she died on February 12, 1915.

Fanny CrosbyFrances Jane Crosby was born a healthy baby girl on this very date 200 years ago. Six weeks later she was given improper treatment by a "quack" doctor for an eye infection which scarred the corneas of her eyes leaving her blind for the remaining 95 years of her life. She gained the title "Queen of American Hymn Writers" and the "Mother of Congregational Singing in America" due to her extraordinary gift for writing sacred hymn texts or probably the more personal and endearing title, "Aunt Fanny" by those dear to her.

Most all of our readers have sung a song written by Fanny Crosby. She wrote more than 8,000 poems and a good number are still sung today (if your church sings music over 5 years old, that is). She didn't like the acclaim so she resorted to using pen names to write many of them. Perhaps Fanny Crosby's most well-known hymn is "Blessed Assurance" with the lyrics written on her tombstone. This hymn was sung at the service we attended for Veda Shibilo, our former church secretary, in New England that prompted our trip to New England in the first place.

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

Blessed assurance can be a testimony we all share as we especially consider:

    * The provisions of God in our past,
    * The presence of God in our present and
    * The promises of God in our future.

A reflection on these truths indeed leads to blessed assurance!

Today let us consider several needed forms of assurance we all need:
  • The blessed assurance of our salvation, which is the main focus of the hymn
  • The blessed assurance that God is in control; as so many have fears and concerns about the COVID-19 we must remember this and keep it before us
  • The blessed assurance that God will always be with us
The message from this hymn text is one that is such a blessing to hide deep in our hearts; a musical expression of praise and glory to God for His work of salvation in our lives. Fanny Crosby writes about the assurance Christ gives us due to His redemptive work in our lives here on earth with a foretaste of the glorious rejoicing that will take place through all eternity.

In today's text from the book of Hebrews we read a wonderful phrase, "full assurance of faith". What a great blessing this full assurance is. "Assurance, which is not a commonly used word apart from theology, comes from the word 'assure' which in turn comes from the word, 'sure'. It speaks of the certainty of our salvation 'with no doubt as to our acceptance when coming to God by the blood of Christ'" (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary). Clarke's commentary states, "Being fully persuaded that God will accept us for the sake of His Son, and that the sacrificial death of Christ gives us full authority to expect every blessing we need."

There is certainly a sound Biblical basis for Fanny Crosby's song. It's one of the greatest blessings of life to have a full assurance of faith. May the Lord fill your heart with His blessed assurance today regardless of what you are going through.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as heirs of Your salvation, we have been purchased with the sacrificial blood of Your precious Son, Jesus. He gave His all that we might be saved from the eternal consequences of sin and have our names written in the Lamb's Book of Life. We have the blessed assurance that we are redeemed from sin and saved for eternity in heaven. Thank You for such wondrous love and abundant provision on our behalf. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  I highly recommend that you read this concise article about Fanny Crosby to get an overview of her remarkable life. Grandparents, you can see how important your influence is on your grandchildren when you read about Fanny's grandmother and the ways she taught and influenced Fanny, spiritually and physically, helping her to compensate for that which she could not see with her physical eyes.

"When Fanny traveled, it was usually by train; and she was fiercely independent, insisting on traveling alone, despite her blindness, until she was up in her eighties. Fanny lived in the rundown tenements of lower Manhattan so she'd be nearer her beloved Rescue Missions where she worked with the homeless and addicted." (Robert J. Morgan "Then Sings my Soul")

Though the careless "doctor" took away Fanny's sight God gave her a supernatural memory which she used for His glory. Fanny memorized Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the four Gospels, most of the Psalms, all of Proverbs and many other portions of Scripture. She would memorize her song texts during the night until she could dictate them the next day. Her extraordinary memory enabled her to retain up to forty complete poems until they could be put on paper, most of them used as hymn texts. (Henry Gariepy - "Songs in the Night")

Fanny married Alexander Van Alstyne and had a baby girl that died in infancy. Her grief was significant, yet she grieved silently and did not speak to others about her loss.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Blessed Assurance"  Video  Shane and Shane

"Blessed Assurance"  Video  Walkers to Heaven

"Blessed Assurance"  Video  CityAlight (Different song, great message)

Finally today:

Beavertown outdoor drive-in service 3/21/20
Yesterday we mentioned the many creative ways churches are seeking to have services during this time. My pastor friend, John Keefer, shared about a church in northern PA that had an outdoor drive-in service this last Sunday using a platform built on top of a truck trailer!

"In the Shelter of His Arms"  Video  Rick Maloyed

Here's a fun quiz for those familiar with hymns. How many hymn titles or phrases from hymns can you find in this poem by Greg Asimakoupoulos?


There is nothing like a timeless hymn
that tunes my heart to praise.
There's what a friend and at the cross
and then there's Jesus saves.

These thoughtful words wash over me
and soothe my restless mind
When at the cross, just as I am,
my Savior's love I find.

Hymns link me to a heritage
that stretches back in time
To others who, amazed by grace,
sang doctrine made to rhyme.

I do enjoy the worship songs
that cause me to look in,
But when it comes to looking up,
there's nothing like a hymn.

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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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