Category Archives: Religion

The Wayfaring Stranger

I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through this world below
There is no sickness, no toil, nor danger
In that bright land to which I go
I’m going there to see my Father
And all my loved ones who’ve gone on
I’m just going over Jordan
I’m just going over home
I know dark clouds will gather ’round me
I know my way is hard and steep
But beauteous fields arise before me
Where God’s redeemed, their vigils keep
I’m going there to see my Mother
She said she’d meet me when I come
So, I’m just going over Jordan
I’m just going over home
I’m just going over Jordan
I’m just going over home

Yesterday, I watched the movie 1917. It was phenomenal but also very sad. I think it’s almost impossible to have a happy World War I movie. If you did, it would be inaccurate. World War I was such an awful war. The set really bring that to life in this movie. In my opinion, the sets were very accurate. As a historian, I’d be remiss to say that there were no inaccuracies. There are a few, but I’m not here to talk about that. One of the most moving moments of the movie is when Jos Slovik sings “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.”

The song itself is an old American folk hymn about a plaintive soul on the journey through life. “I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger” speaks of man’s journeying on this earth. Yet, from what and to what does man go?

From the moment Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, man’s journey has him wanting to return. Yet, this return requires passing through the looming, dark portal of death. We journeyed through life into death.

The song’s line “I’m just going over Jordan” evokes this death. In one respect, the line refers to Joshua, that successor of Moses who led the Israelites across the dry bed of the river into the long-desired promised land. Yet, in a deeper sense, the line refers to baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. Our crossing is a watery plunge, a sign of dying and rising, a baptism.We journey through death into eternal life.

As we walk toward that dark portal of death, the baptized walk with Christ. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). In Baptism, we are changed at the deepest center of our being, we continue to walk in newness and with hope. We are on the way as wayfarers.

The song continues saying, “I’m just going over home.” This is a clear allusion to heaven. As pilgrims, we journey not just to death, but we pass on to more. “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Hebrew 13:14). The deepest and truest sense of our journeying is not about designation of place. Our journeying is about fulfillment, perfection, life, and the all-consuming vision of the beloved, face of God.

Upon rising from the waters of baptism, we follow Christ, who is “the way” (John 14:6). This following requires renewal and sacrifice. St. Paul exhorts us to put off the old man and put on the new man, even calling for our minds to be renewed in Christ (Ephesians 4:22–24). To put off the old man is a command to leave behind the sin and the corruption which came from Adam and Eve. To put on the new man is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). To be renewed in the spirit of the mind is to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Therefore, we are poor because we need all from Christ. We are wayfarers because we are journeying from death to life in Christ. We are strangers because we have died to this world and seek those things above. “For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). When our journey—that is, our perfection in the Son—is complete, we will see our Father. “No one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).


No Favorites

But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: (KJV) ( Galatians 2:6 ) 

God doesn’t have favorites. He desires to use us ALL and gives us all special gifts that he hopes that you will use to bless others with. Don’t think just because you don’t have a fancy title or that because you aren’t a Bible scholar God doesn’t want to use you! There is only one you in the world. God desires to use in a special only you kind of way.  


Limitless

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (KJV) ( 2 Corinthians 4:16 ) 

Have you encountered a snag in your life? … a lost relationship, rejection from a school or job, financial hardship or maybe simply a lack of determination. You might be praying for God to give you the strength to get back on your feet. But do you know how powerful God is? Instead of limiting your rescue to a level you understand, have faith and believe that God has a plan beyond returning you to ground zero. Through God, you have the capability to excel way beyond your limits. Jot down a goal that you think is impossible then watch God’s plan unfold.


With Great Joy

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, (KJV) ( Acts 2:46 ) 

There’s something special about sharing meals with others.  Not only is your body receiving nutritional refreshment, but your spirit gets to fellowship as well.  A great joy comes from this simple act.  Rather than view your daily rush to put dinner on the table as a chore, see it as an opportunity to interact with your friends, family, and loved ones. I especially enjoy it when I am able to feed others. I enjoy cooking, and I like to bring pleasure to people through food. However, going out to a restaurant, having drinks, and eating a good meal with friends, family, and loved ones is something I also enjoy very much. Food has always been a way of showing love for me, and having a meal, whether prepared at home or by a restaurant, is a wonderful way to share fellowship.


Right or Wrong

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. (KJV) ( Romans 14:1 ) 

If you’re a conflict avoider then this verse is for you. There are many issues to argue about in our daily lives including politics, ethics, and personal beliefs. When it comes to the Bible, we can become passionate about the meaning of a particular verse or chapter. Whether it’s the Bible or something relatively meaningless, open your arms and mind to accepting them regardless of their beliefs. Remember, Jesus’ greatest commandment was to love the Lord as well as others with all your heart. The next time you reach a state of discomfort over an argument, just remember this commandment which all others are based on. 


What a Friend We Have in Jesus

What a Friend we have in Jesus

1
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

2
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

3
Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” is a Christian hymn originally written by preacher Joseph M. Scriven as a poem in 1855 to comfort his mother, who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada. Scriven originally published the poem anonymously, and only received full credit for it in the 1880s. The tune to the hymn was composed by Charles Crozat Converse in 1868. William Bolcom composed a setting of the hymn.

The hymn also has many versions with different lyrics in multiple languages. The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal notes, “In spite of the fact that this hymn, with its tune, has been criticized as being too much on the order of the sentimental gospel type, its popularity remains strong, and the hymn retains a place in modern hymnals.” In some settings, the lyrics have been matched to other tunes such as the Welsh “Calon Lân” (originally wedded to the Welsh poem translated as “A Pure Heart”).


Those Who Argue

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? (KJV) ( Isaiah 45:9 ) 

How do you treat God when things in your life don’t go according to your plan? Do you argue with Him using logic, blame, or coercion? Maybe you thought you would have had kids at your age, or perhaps a loved one was supposed to be on the earth longer. Your Creator is all powerful and all knowing. Is your faith strong enough to trust in His power and His divinity? 


Too Great for Words

So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great. (KJV) (Job 2;13) 

Is a loved one walking through a difficult time?  We try so hard to say the right thing to comfort.  We desperately want to say words that will take all of the pain away.  Sometimes, our words aren’t enough and, perhaps, our words rub the wrong way.  Mostly, the greatest comfort you can give is like that of Job’s three friends.  No one said a word but they sat with him.  Is there a friend in your life who could use your presence today? 


Every Branch

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (KJV) ( John 15:2 ) 

Isn’t it painful when God cuts off one of your branches? We begin to turn on the Pruner and develop anger towards Him. Would it help to know God did it because the branch wouldn’t produce any fruit? Are there other areas that would be nice if God could have cut sooner before you put in blood, sweat, and tears? Like perhaps a failed business or a dead end job. Be encouraged to know He will stop you if it’s not fruitful and He prunes to keep you working harder resulting in fruitfulness. 


Training

For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. (KJV) ( 1 Timothy 4:8 ) 

Do you have a regular exercise routine that you follow? We all know the benefits of strengthening our muscles, burning off fat, and building up our heart. Do you also have a regular faith routine you follow? The benefits of strengthening our faith are much greater than anything else because the effects are eternal. If you find yourself without a routine or have fallen out of schedule, start one. Pick out some reading plans in the Bible, write daily in a prayer journal, meditate, pray. Whatever you choose, make sure you train for godliness. 


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Charlie Smith; Single Man, ensorcelled, unreliable narrator, ravenous reader, love child of Jane & Paul Bowles, borne by surrogate, Little Edie Beale, devoted catechumen of Her Grace, Duchess Goldblatt; now living a life of Love & Light, shining from the social-media-free exile of my own personal mirage of Tangier, the Grey Gardens in the Elba of my imagination, here, where I am, going.