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photo: weekly snaps graphic: Martha G. Brady

photo: weekly snaps
graphic: Martha G. Brady

I’m getting back to doing my hymns on Tuesdays again. I hope to mix them with guest posts of 1st person accounts of how you, my readers and/or fellow bloggers have been in a specific life situation and either been helped or hurt by the church but still met by GOD.

I’m not getting hoards of people craving to do this so feel free to pass on your story of GOD’s gritty grace as it has been shown to you in one area of your life…whether it was through the church or whether they failed you.  I think it will be a very encouraging part of the blog for all. There is nothing like a first person story to encourage and give hope, is there?

1 Let us love, and sing, and wonder,
Let us praise the Savior’s name!
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame.

2 Let us love the Lord, who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies;
Called us by his grace, and taught us,
Gave us ears, and gave us eyes.

3 Let us sing, though fierce temptations
Threaten hard to bear us down!
For the Lord, our strong salvation,
Holds in view the conqueror’s crown,

4 Let us wonder, grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When we trust in Christ our fortress,
Justice smiles, and asks no more.

5 Let us praise and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high;
Here they trusted him before us,
Now their praises fill the sky.

– John Newton, 1774

This is a newish tune (2001) to an old hymn. The actual hymn was written by John Newton. Yes, the same John Newton who wrote Amazing Grace along with many other hymns. The date it was written was 1774…about the time the United States was getting organized.

A few years ago, I read a brief biography of John Newton written by John Piper for an annual conference held at his church in Minnesota. I got a different picture of John Newton than I had made up in my head for years.

I had pictured this rough, tough man who still had a lot of it left over from his years as a slave ship captain. The reality was quite different. For one thing, his years at sea were forced on him by a cruel father after his mother died young. It isn’t that he didn’t know what he was doing, but he wasn’t really shown a different way to go as his life careened from bad to worse until he was taking slaves on ships from Africa.

He also heard them singing in the bowels of the ship as they tried to comfort themselves and whatever parts of their families were there with them.

Then GOD intervened in His life to change Him and bring Him into the family of GOD. Evidently, the change in him was so remarkable that people who would have known him prior to his conversion would have found it difficult to believe he was the same person!

He was influential in the life of William Wilberforce, the man who helped make slavery illegal in England

He studied to become a pastor (he was still a youngish man) and was ordained and pastored a church for many years!  Over the course of those years, He was influential in the life of William Wilberforce (who made slavery illegal in England as a politician) as well as in the lives of many pastors and others.

He mentored William Cowper, author of many hymns

One of the other men he mentored over the years was William Cowper (pronounced Cooper) who went on to write many hymns as well. William Cowper was hounded by depression and other mental disabilities as well as a very sad life!

He lived in Newton’s home for a few years after getting out of a mental asylum on more than one occasion. He struggled with suicidal tendencies at times and late in life was certain he was not one of the “elect.” The cost to John Newton in time and effort, to care for and love this man must have been high, but he seemed to have gladly taken it on and loved Mr. Cowper.

Everything about John Newton suggests that his later life was totally described by grace to those around him. It was quite amazing how he showed the love of Christ to all so freely!

After reading the brief bio of him, I wished I could have met him in person. He sounded like a man who understood the grace of GOD…and showed it generously to everyone!

John Newton was fully aware of the grace of GOD and was a happy, joyful person as well! He knew He was forgiven:) What a gift!

How do you treat others because of the grace you have received?