HERE I RAISE MY EBENEZER

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I’ll praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home

Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above

Sharon Hodde Miller writes an excellent blog called She Worships that I find an interesting look at practical Christianity and living out our theology in the real world. December 28 she wrote an interesting post called “Here I Raise My Ebenezer.” It begins:

I still remember the first time I learned that “ebenezer” was more than a scrooge-y character in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I was taking an Old Testament class in seminary, and when I came to 1 Samuel 7 I read about God’s saving intervention in the face of great peril. 1 Samuel 7:10-11 recounts,

While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.

In response to God’s faithfulness Samuel does the following:

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (v. 12)

When I first read this passage I loved the visual, the idea of marking the spot where God had been faithful. Not only did that stone remind Samuel of God’s faithfulness, but whenever Samuel’s ancestor’s would pass by it, they too would remember God’s love.

That’s when I decided to begin doing the same.

Ever since I learned about the story behind the ebenezer, I have periodically paused to raise my own ebenezers, vowing to remember God’s faithfulness whenever He has helped me. And this year, as 2012 draws to a close, I can’t help but raise one now. Read rest of post

Sharon’s post got me thinking about my own Ebenezer’s for 2012:

1. Dianne and I celebrated 40 years of marriage. She is the best thing that has happened to me in my life, standing by me through many challenges and adventures that went with the ministry–including one now where we have moved out of our home and made ourselves available to what God wants to do next in our lives as we serve His kingdom purposes.

2. A sabbatical at Winebrenner Theological Seminary that allowed me take a respite from the daily business of pastoral ministry and re-energized my passion to teach churches how to reach their unchurched neighbors with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

3. The opportunity to take Bridgebuilders Seminars that I had been developing for several years across the country helping reawaken a vision in many churches to once again be identified with the love of Jesus Christ as they reach their neighbors without fighting a culture war.

4. Significant time with all four of my children and their families, something that I have not been able to do in several years.

5. Seeing the Church of God of Landisville that I had helped nurture and equip for vision for 11 years make a smooth and healthy transition to a new and younger pastor, Tim Bistline, who will now be able to reach a whole new generation for Jesus.

6. The return to the Seminary classroom with 16 delightful students in the New Testament Foundations Class for Winebrenner’s Pastoral Training Institute.

7. God selling our house in 28 days so we have had money to live during this time of ministry exploration that Dianne and I have called our “Abraham and Sarah Excellent Adventure” and friends like Dennis and Carol Regitz and Dennis and Ruth Hall who have made their homes available to us during this season of our life.

I am sure there are more, but you can see that I have lots of reasons as I begin 2013 to celebrate what God has provided in 2012.

Here I raise my ebenezer!

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