Friday, December 19, 2014

Hymns Have a History - What Prompts Songwriters to Write?

My guest today is Lucy N. Adams. She has written a book called, 52 Hymn Story Devotions and I've asked her to share about one of her favorite hymn stories. I find the stories behind the hymn fascinating. When you put the story and the words of the hymn together they are a powerful combination that speaks to the heart.

His Name is Wonderful

By Lucy N. Adams | Dec 18, 2013

Hugging my young son Ben was always a joy.

Now that he is a grown man, I don’t remember every hug, of course, but one special one I will never forget. It happened on the first school day in January. In his class they were to bring a favorite Christmas gift for show-and-tell so they could tell why it was special.

Ben was leaving the house with nothing to share and I asked why. That dear little 6-yearold boy dropped his head and said it was because he didn’t get anything he wanted for Christmas.

I knelt beside him and almost cried. However, we hugged and I expressed my sorrow that we had not chosen gifts that made him very happy. In the days to come we went shopping and he chose a favorite toy that he had wished for.

There may be many of those experiences following our elaborate yearly Christmas giving. Sometimes we don’t hear such an honest appraisal of our choice, so I am happy that I heard from Ben. I could do something to remedy his disappointment.

There is a gift, however, that is perfect. One of my favorite songs, “His Name Is Wonderful,” describes that gift. In fact, it was “a gift from heaven” said composer Audrey Mieir. It has become a treasured gift to millions of Christians worldwide. It was born at Christmas while Mieir was at church.

She said she never intended to write a song on that Christmas day in 1955. She was focused on the children’s Nativity scene and the sermon as she quietly sat in church.

At Bethel Union Church in Duarte, California, her husband’s brother, Dr. Luther Mieir was the pastor. The joyful congregation was focused on the re-enactment of the Nativity scene.

The children, dressed as shepherds, were covered in oversized bathrobes. Some of the angels’ halos were slightly crooked. Singing the glorious old carols and hearing the scripture passages had great meaning.

The powerful prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 went down deep into Mieir’s soul as she cherished those words: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given... and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

When that familiar scripture was concluded, the pastor lifted his hands, closed his eyes and said, “His name is wonderful.”

There must have been a holy hush in Mrs.Mieir’s soul.

“I felt as if I heard the rustle of angel wings and a musical chorus came to my mind,” she exclaimed. On the flyleaf of her Bible she quickly wrote the words that her brother in-law had just proclaimed, “His name is wonderful.” After she wrote it three times, she added the sacred name of her Lord.

It remained as only a short chorus for a few days, until she completed all of the music and a fuller description of who Jesus is: “He is the mighty King, Master of ev’rything, His name is wonderful, Jesus, my Lord. He’s the Great Shepherd, The Rock of all Ages, Almighty God is He.”

The last line is a personal reflection on the One whose name is wonderful. We want to bow down, love and adore this wonderful Jesus.

“Bow down before Him, Love and adore Him, His name is wonderful, Jesus, my Lord.”

Before Mieir died in 1996 at 80 years old, some of her last words were: “His Name is Wonderful will outlive the chubby human hands chosen to write a few black notes on five lines and four spaces. But it will never outlive the Father who glories in His Son’s name and who glories in our praise.”

Jesus, name above all names, keep us calm during this Christmas rush. Help us to focus on You above all else. We see You in the manger scenes in our homes, in stores and placed on front lawns across the land.

There are some restrictions on where those displays can be but it is the manger within our heart that is the most important.  It is there that You are everlasting. We are free to speak Your name and  that too is a precious Christmas gift.

May Your wonderful Name reign supreme during each  moment of our lives.  Amen.

Reprinted with permission of the author

You can find out more about Lucy at

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Hugging son image courtesy of

photo credit Children's Nativity: johntrainor via photopin cc

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ever Wonder What Happens to Your Operation Christmas Child Box?

Lori Hatcher joins me again this week...

Ever wonder what happens to the Operation Christmas Child shoebox your family fills every year? Many families donate boxes full of toys, candy, and personal items to Franklin Graham’s ministry to children in impoverished or war-torn areas. They seldom think about what happens next. My visit to the giant OCC processing center in Charlotte, North Carolina enlightened me. 

Every year, thousands of volunteers help inspect and process the shoe boxes for distribution. This year, my husband led a team from his youth ministry, and I went along. In 2013, our guide told us, the Charlotte campus of OCC hopes to send out 2.9 million boxes. By 2 p.m. on the day our team arrived, they had already processed 109,000—a remarkable feat considering that every box must be hand-inspected by volunteers and prepared for travel. 

This is not me -- her hair is much prettier!
Stationed on a long assembly line, my job was to open each box and remove the seven-dollar shipping donation. As the first to handle each box, I was the first to peek inside. It was like Christmas morning a thousand times over. 

As I carefully raised the lid, mindful of the fact that a check could be taped to the inside or resting on top, I couldn’t help but imagine how the little child who will ultimately receive this box might feel. 

Two types of boxes were particularly moving. 

The boxes designated for little girls made me smile. Many included soft stuffed animals, hair bows and brushes, and pretty pens and paper. I imagined the girls’ delight when they fingered the faux pearls, sniffed the scented soap, or hugged the black-eyed teddy bears. My favorite box of all contained an entire fairy outfit, complete with a sparkly wand and a pink tutu. 

The boys’ boxes were equally exciting, according to my husband. They held flashlights with extra batteries, ball caps, and tools like hammers and screwdrivers. Candy filled the corners and the token toothbrush and toothpaste balanced out the equation. Some were packed so tightly and filled so full that we had a hard time closing the lids. 

Every now and then, however, I’d open a different type of box. Sparsely filled, sometimes with items that were second hand or functional, these country cousins just couldn’t compete with their overweight city relatives. They were usually smaller, almost apologetic in their presentation, and seldom wrapped in pretty paper. One had a photo of a little old lady sitting on a couch with a bug-eyed Chihuahua beside her. “Jesus loves you,” she had written. “I hope you come to love him, too.” 

Thankfully, due to the added generosity of individuals and businesses, we supplemented boxes like these with filler items. We’d tuck toys, school supplies, or toiletry items into the empty spaces and pray a blessing on the giver who’d obviously had a generous heart but an impoverished pocketbook. 

The full boxes made my heart happy, because they demonstrated the generosity of God’s people toward those less fortunate than themselves. They gave me hope that although our world seems to be increasingly selfish and self-centered, people are still listening to and obeying the Holy Spirit’s nudge to give. 

The partially filled boxes made my heart happy, too. Like the widow’s mite, they demonstrated the desire of God’s people to give sacrificially. Both boxes, I believe, made God’s heart happy. 

Perhaps some of the shoe boxes you’ve donated over the years have been filled with gracious plenty. Others, maybe not so much. Even if all you could give was a partially filled shoebox, rest in the knowledge that God multiplied your gift and sent it on. 

And he’s smiling—just like the little boy or girl on the other side of the world will be when she opens her box this Christmas.

Do you have an Operation Christmas Child story to share? I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below. If you’re reading by email, click here to comment. 

And if you'd like to read about two orphaned children who received shoe boxes, click HERE to read my friend Dawn Gonzalez's fabulous story.
Here's the team from Green Hill Baptist Church with my husband, David (left).


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