Spring 1991


"Great is Thy faithfulness," 0 God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever will be.
Summer and winter, and spring-time and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

"Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided —"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord,
unto me!

— Thomas 0. Chisholm, 1866-1960

This hymn reminding me of the love and mercy of God has been one of my favorites for many years. On two recent occasions I thought again of its special significance.

The first time was several weeks ago when a friend whom I have depended upon to help with my home decorating problems came to the house to help me place two new items. As usually happens, installing two new pieces became a major production, requiring the moving of many pictures, mirrors, and other things. Surprisingly, I had made few changes since this friend had helped me get things situated in 1974. I like getting everything settled and leaving it there. (In this way I am very unlike my mother. I remember hearing Daddy say that if he went into the bedroom after dark he knew he should turn on a lamp —Mother may have moved the bed that day.)

As we shifted things, my friend commended on the wood plaque with the words of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," hanging beside the piano, and she took it and put it in a more prominent place. The plaque is very precious to me not only because of the words, but also because it was given to me on a special occasion by my dear friend Elizabeth Briscoe. Although Elizabeth was more nearly the age of my mother, the bond of our friendship spanned those years as though they did not exist. As we moved the plaque and spoke of its significance, my friend reminded me of some of the times God had been faithful in our family— of the time in 1973 when the girls had survived an automobile accident with no lasting injuries and of the time in 1980 when Don had three years of cotton unsold and moved it just before trade closed on the market at one of the highest points in many years. (I was surprised she remembered the cotton story.)

The other recent occasion when this hymn touched me was in Jackson at church on one of those weekends we did not get home. When we are away, I miss many things — my children, my grandchildren, the beauty of the countryside, the early morning stillness — but, as much as anything, I miss worshipping with our church family at Clear Creek. Wherever we are we attend worship services, but nothing fills our needs quite like our own church. As we sat in church that day and the choir and congregation sang "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," uncontrollable tears streamed down my face. I had needed to be reminded of His faithfulness. Just that week I had learned the hip I broke in 1984 is beginning to deteriorate, and to relieve pressure and pain I must go back to my cane. A hip replacement has a limited life, and I just might live beyond the life span of a replacement if I get it now. Using the cane does not hurt my vanity (well — maybe a little) but it is simply one more thing to slow me down.

I have enjoyed learning the background of many hymns, and I began to wonder about the background of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." After a futile search of my resources, I called our friend, Dr. Tommy Lane, Minister of Music Emeritus of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, and asked for his help. He sent me two items about the hymn by George Beverly Shea, and I will share excerpts from them with you. The first is from Crusader Hymns and Hymn Stories. . . By The Billy Graham Team: The opening stanza and refrain are taken directly from scriptural affirmations about God. "His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lam. 3:22,23). "Ever good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). In other words, God is always like the bright sunlight characteristic of mid-day; there is never a shadow to cloud His complete and perfect faithfulness.

In many ways nature shows us that God is faithful. Every sunset is followed by a sunrise. Every winter is followed by a summer. Whenever we plant seed, we can count on a harvest. In the sky we see innumerable stars all moving in patterns which can be charted by astronomers thousands of years in advance.

But even more clearly, through His dealing with mortal men, we have learned that God is faithful. He has promised in His Word to forgive our sins and to give us peace of mind and heart; when we accept Christ His Son as our Lord and Savior, He fulfills His pledge. Morning by morning, day after day, we feel His presence in our hearts. Surely we can look forward with hope to His presence, even at the end of life’s journey.

I am often reassured by these words of an unknown believer: "Fear not tomorrow, for God is already there!"

In "A Hymn Story by George Beverly Shea," he says (in part): 

It would be wrong to assume that every hymn has been written or has become well known as the result of some dramatic experience. Some authors have simply made it a habit to write poetry regularly, perhaps one every day. Out of the hundreds that flow from the pen, only a few will be worthy of publishing.

Thomas Chisholm, a Methodist life insurance agent, gave us these inspiring words. He says that there were no special circumstances surrounding their writing. He simply penned the lines from his impressions about God’s faithfulness as told in the Bible and sent them, with several other poems, to his friend and collaborator William Runyan.

My pastor, Reverend Charles Lipe, researched our church library and found these comments on this hymn in Amazing Grace by K. Osbeck:

One of the important lessons the Children of Israel had to learn during their wilderness journey was that God’s provision of manna for them was on a morning by morning basis. They could not survive on old manna nor could it be stored for future use (Exodus 16:19-21).

While many enduring hymns are born out of a particular dramatic experience, this was simply the result of the author’s "morning by morning" realization of God’s personal faithfulness in his daily life. Shortly before his death in 1960, Thomas Chisholm wrote: "My income has never been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. But I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing and care which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness."
Thomas Obediah Chisholm was born in a crude log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky. From this humble beginning and without the benefit of high school or advanced education, he somehow began his career as a school teacher at the age of 16 in the same country school where he had received his elementary training. After accepting Christ as Savior, he became editor of The Pentecostal Herald and later was ordained as a Methodist minister. Throughout his long lifetime, Mr. Chisholm wrote more than 1,200 sacred poems, many of which have since become prominent hymn texts.

Sometimes we feel that if we do not hear God as a mighty rushing wind or from a burning bush then we are imagining that He has spoken. Yet in His love for me and His caring about anything which troubles me, He gave me these two reminders of His faithfulness just when I needed them most. (Those last six words remind me of another of my favorite hymns.)
As you read this hymn and meditate upon His faithfulness in your life, I trust you will be blessed as I have been by this reminder of the faithfulness of our mighty God.Because we have just observed Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is just a few weeks away, I cannot resist adding a note about these two very special days. As I read through articles, poems, scriptures, and stories for ideas, my thoughts kept returning to my sweet memories of my own mother and daddy.

I remember when they bought a little country store at Delay. In addition to helping with the storekeeping, Mother was Postmistress, following Mrs. Hilda Denton Edwards. We lived in the back of the big, long building owned by Mr. Byron Tate. I have the ledger Mother kept and the first entry is dated January 5, 1940. Some entries are: "lye $.05, lamp chimney $0.10, crackers $0.05, bobbie pins $0.05, quinine $0.25, money $1.00, gas to town $0.50, castor oil $0.10." Many of you have relatives listed in the ledger, and I would enjoy sharing it with anyone interested.

I remember late one afternoon, Mother, Jim, and I were sitting in the shade of the store. Mother said, "Jimmy Houston, go get us one of those Hershey candy bars." What a treat for us! When he came back, she opened it and divided it, counting the squares and giving almost all of it to Jim and me. She just wanted "a little bit."

I remember Daddy’s sharing too. I cannot place the year but it was before little Matt was killed in the automobile accident in November 1939. Jim and 1 always waited eagerly for Daddy to come home from work, watching for him to come walking up the hill and running to meet him. He had always saved us some little something that he "didn’t want" in his lunchbox. I remember best the fried bologna and biscuits. Now thinking back and remembering Daddy’s big appetite I know these leftovers were a sacrifice for him.

Such small incidents! yet they bring me the memory of a warm, loving; and protected childhood.
A scripture that I did not remember was suggested in my recent reading: Proverbs 23:22-26. I like these verses — especially from two Bibles, The New King James and the New International Version, Daylight Devotional Bible.

Thank you for letting me share my memories with you. I suggest that you enjoy and share your own happy memories of childhood and that you help make happy memories for someone else.


We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who have died and whose families we have served from February 18, 1991 to May 12, 1991.

Mrs. Willie Mae Gilmore 2/18/91

Mr. George Timothy Acree, Jr. 2/19/91

Mrs. Eva Mae Onsby 2/19/91

Mr. James Louis Singletary 2/21/91

Mrs. Mary Burns Inman 2/23/91

Mrs. Marguerite Taylor Barnett 2/25/91

Mrs. Ona Johnston Black 2/25/91

Mr. James Larry Kellum 2/26/91

Mr. George "Ed" Shields 2/27/91

Mrs. Henrietta M. Christman 2/28/91

Mrs. Katherine Miller 2/28/91

Miss Sarah Louise Blasingame 3/4/91

Dr. William Alton Bryant 3/6/91

Mrs. Ruth Jackson Lovelady 3/6/91

Mrs. Velver Fortner Bratton 3/7/91

Mr. Thomas Wayne Lauderdale 3/11/91

Mr. Arthur Rudolph Kreutz 3/11/91

Dr. William Eickhorst 3/13/91

Mrs. Irene Spence 3/16/91

Mr. Claude Wesley Hughes 3/18/91

Mr. Hugh C. Wiley, Jr. 3/23/91

Mr. George E. Homich 3/26/91

Mr. James Harry Cummings 3/28/91

Mr. Wilson Dulon Mize 3/30/91

Mr. Jim lnzer 3/30/91

Mr. Henry D. Butler 4/3/91

Mr. Tommie Lee Murphey 4/6/91

Mrs. Agnes Turnbow Hemphill 4/12/91

Mrs. Allie Baker Haney 4/12/91

Mrs. Cassie W. Wolfe 4/17/91

Mr. William Ross Parks 4/17/91

Mr. Jack W. Watson 4/17/91

Mrs. Pat Seppelfrick 4/22/91

Mrs. Juanita P. King 4/27/91

Mrs. Ree Matthis 4/28/91

Mrs. Elizabeth Gregory Roy 4/29/91

Mr. John Henry Adams 4/29/91

Mrs. Margaret H. Paterson 4/30/91

Mrs. Mattie Lee Bishop 5/3/91

Miss Kimberly Diane Vaughn 5/5/91

Mrs. Ethel Huckaby Traylor 5/8/91


"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena. . . who strives. . who spends himselve. . . and, who at the worst, if he fails, he fails while daring, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

— Theodore Roosevelt

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