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?We Were Made for Doxology? Morning, Evening, and Midnight

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0
If you grew up in church, currently attend church, or have ever visited church there’s a great chance you’ve heard and even sung the following lyrics:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host:
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


Ending with a resounding “Amen”, this classic hymn has been a part of church tradition for decades, even centuries. It’s a song almost everyone knows, without knowing they know it and it won’t be dying out anytime soon. 

The word doxology originates from two Greek words, doxa, meaning glory, and logos, meaning word. Doxology literally means, “a word of glory,” meaning we sing, pray, write, read, and meditate on doxologies to give glory and praise to God. 

This doxology written by Thomas Ken is often met with heavy, dismayed, groans especially by the younger Christian generation. However, Isaiah 43:7 says God created us for His glory. So, when we look at this passage, the true meaning of the word doxology, and then at Ken’s purpose in writing his doxology, it’s not just made for one, much older, generation that only listens to classic hymns. It was penned specifically by Ken for his students, the younger generation, and meant to be carried into adulthood, into their old age, because it still contains the same rich promises, reminders, and truths about God. In fact, Scripture is filled with doxologies written by various authors, ultimately written by God, all for that same purpose - to cause people to glorify and be reminded of who He is. What God is saying through His word and what Thomas Ken is meaning to convey through his writing is that we were all created for doxology - we were made to glorify Him with our lives.

As we take a brief look into Ken’s life, we are better able to see how he made it a doxology to the Lord. 

Ken’s Journey to Penning his Doxology 

Ken was orphaned as a young child and raised by his older sister, Ann, who was married to Issak Walton (a familiar name to some as he was most famously noted for his classic The Compleat Angler). 

When Ken was just fourteen years old, he began Winchester College and then four years later he began his studies at Oxford University. He later returned to Winchester College and took a position as the chaplain to the bishop. 

It was during this time, in 1674, he wrote and published a book titled A Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Scholars of Winchester College. It contained several hymns, each for their own unique purposes. This manual, included the following instructions: 

"As soon as ever you awake in the morning, . . . strive as much as you can to keep all worldly thoughts out of your mind, till you have presented the first-fruits of the day to God, which will be an excellent preparative, to make you spend the rest of it better, and therefore be sure to sing the morning and evening hymn in your chamber devoutly, remembering that the Psalmist, upon happy experience, assures you that it is a good thing to tell of the loving kindness of the Lord early in the morning, and of his truth in the night season."

Among the hymns included in Ken’s manual, was his Morning, Evening, and Midnight hymns written directly to his students at Winchester College and Oxford University to sing upon rising in the morning and going to bed in the evening. The Midnight hymn was added later as a song for students to rehearse when they were struggling to sleep at night. These songs, each over ten stanzas, ended with the now famous doxology. 

As David Mathis wrote in his article The Best-Known Hymn in History: Why We Keep Singing "The Doxology" for Desiring God, “Each hymn was a confession of faith, and an invocation of divine blessing, tailored to its particular moment of the day.” 

Ken wrote these hymns about a God he truly believed in and whom he loved. He hoped his students would have that same infatuation and devotion to God, looking to Him in their every waking, and even in their every restful or restless, moment. 

While the doxology is only 25 words in its entirety, Ken was able to clearly communicate the gospel and the glory that God ultimately deserves from us through his lyrics (though our worship could never truly convey what God has done for us and who He is). 

All Goodness and Blessings Flow From Him 

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow” 

God is the one from whom all blessings flow. In fact, as Mathis pointed out, in 1 Timothy 1:11 and also in 6:15, God is referred to as the Blessed One. 

James 1:17 tells us that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” and in Ephesians 1:3 it says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”.

He grants us every good thing we experience and treasure in our lives today. The fact that we can wake up and take a breath is a blessing from God that we don’t deserve and yet still receive. This is what John describes in John 1:16 as “grace upon grace”. Just in these few words, Ken is recognizing his life belongs to Christ and was given to him by God not because he deserves it, but as a blessing poured out from His grace.

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Thomas Ken experienced many blessings in his life. He ended up becoming an Anglican minister, a royal chaplain to King Charles II, and eventually a Bishop of Bath and Wells. 

But even he knew that God’s blessings are not for our own benefit, although they do bring us joy, can make life easier, and often fill our wants and needs. No, they are meant to remind us that He holds the universe and sustains us. Ken, in his instructions, reminded his readers that before anything else, we are to present our first fruits of the day to Him, before anything else can reach us, we are to go to Him. The ability to do so is a blessing made possible only through the blood of Christ alone. For that, He deserves all the glory.

Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

He is our morning, evening, and midnight. He is our Amen. 

Praise God in Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost 

“Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”

We have the tendency to exclude, or only focus on, one person in the Trinity when we worship. While it’s not wrong or sinful to worship one of His persons, He is also glorified when He’s worshipped in all of his persons and in His entirety. 

1 Corinthians 8:6 declares the Trinity as the Being in which we and everything that exists was created from. Paul says in this passage, “yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” 

He, in His goodness, even grants us every part of Himself, providing us with everything we need to glorify Him, to persevere in steadfastness, as well as giving us the grace to be forgiven (although it is not owed to us). Paul also says in 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

His Trinity is beautiful and deserving of our worship. Every explanation, symbolism, and demonstration of the Trinity we come up with will always fall short because in our human capacity we cannot comprehend it, but we aren’t meant to know everything. We’re only to trust in the One who has bever left us, continues to guide us, and will always hold us. That is enough. 

All Praise and Glory Belong to Him

As previously mentioned, we were all designed and created by our Father, as Isaiah 43:7 says, to glorify God - and to glorify Him with our whole selves.

Ken knew his very purpose and instructed his students and friends to be devoted to this same life of glorification. He said, “the Psalmist, upon happy experience, assures you that it is a good thing to tell of the loving kindness of the Lord early in the morning, and of his truth in the night season.” 

All of Scripture is saturated with these praises. Exodus 15:2 says, “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him my father's God, and I will exalt him.” 

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” and likewise, in Hebrews 13:15, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”

Finally, in James 5:13 it says, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”

Mathis too exclaimed in his article that “we were made for doxology”. 

“God is glorified in our heartfelt expression of praise. God made us for praise. He made us for doxology. He made the world that he might be praised. And these simple yet profound words serve that simple yet most profound human act of devotion — and all the more when we join our voices and sing together.” 

Later in his life, Ken was one of seven bishops who refused to sign King James’ Declaration of Indulgence, meant to promote Roman Catholicism. For his decision to take a stand for his faith and for this act of rebellion, Ken was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He would later be tried and acquitted. In his refusal to sign the document, Ken let his life be a declaration of his doxology to God. 

Let your life be a doxology to the Lord in your every waking and sleeping moment, go to the One who gives endless peace and joy. “We were made for doxology”, so let Him be your Morning, Evening, and Midnight. 
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How to Raise Money for Your Adoption

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0
According to americanadoptions.com, the average cost of adoption is between $50,000 and $60,000. While costs do vary case to case and can depend on whether it's domestic or international, one thing is clear - adoption can be very expensive. The adoption process is also no easy task for a family and can take a heavy emotional toll, especially when there’s financial pressure. 

GiveSendGo wants to be a resource for those families seeking to adopt and help support them in any way that we can.

So, here are a few tips and suggestions from us for families seeking to raise funds for their adoption journey!

1. GiveSendGo Adoption Campaign

We want to offer up our services to you! GiveSendGo has hundreds of families using our site to raise money for their adoptions. In fact, adoption is one of the top used campaign categories on our site. We highly encourage anyone looking to raise funds for their adoption to use GiveSendGo as a tool to make their journey easier. 

Just like with any other campaign, it’s important to tell your story and to show your family’s heart behind your decision. When creating your campaign, be sure to include those details to help other people understand your journey and desire to adopt. 

Once you’ve shared your story, share your campaign as much as you can with your family, friends, social media community, church family, co-workers, and your local community. Share it on your social media sites, send the campaign url through email to relatives and co-workers, and text the campaign url to your closest friends and family. You can’t share it too much. After all, adoption is a huge undertaking and you’ll need all the support you can get! You might even be surprised by the amount of people who want to help support you and your family throughout this process. 

The best way to raise funds for your adoption is to spread awareness, so share it in as many ways as possible to get the word out! 

2. Church Fundraising Lunch/Dinner 

Church community is a great gift from God and they’re the people who see you every week, who know your testimony, who see your heart, and maybe even who your family is closest with. Your church family can be a great support to you throughout this adoption journey whether that’s through prayer, filling practical needs, and/or even donating to your cause.

Hosting a Sunday afternoon lunch or after-service dinner fundraiser is a great way for your church to support you spiritually and financially in your adoption journey. Invite them to join you at your church for a catered lunch or dinner, carry-in potluck, or just for some simple drinks and snacks. Prior to the fundraiser meal, ask members to donate upon their arrival as they help support and celebrate your family’s decision to adopt. People love to support and give when they can, so invite them into your journey! 

Some churches may also decide to take up a love offering during the church service to support your family in this decision. 

3. Adoption Fundraising Letter

A personal fundraising letter is a great way to share your story in a more intimate way. Write-up a letter explaining your situation, telling your story, sharing your goals, and offering different levels of donations people can give to as they feel led. Don’t be afraid to share the details and maybe even tell your family’s testimony of how you reached the decision to adopt. 

This is also a great time to share the url to your GiveSendGo adoption campaign to offer a more direct way for people to give. Offering as many payment options to people will increase the likelihood of your family receiving donations. 

Once you’ve written out a message you and your family like and have clearly explained to people how they can give, mail it out to friends, family, church community, co-workers, and those in your circle. You might even get a letter in response from people who are moved by your decision to adopt and want to help support you further! 

4. Puzzle Piece Fundraiser 

Maybe you’ve already planned an adoption fundraising event and you’re wanting to know what activities will help motivate your attendees to donate. Or, maybe you want something simple that will still be special to you and your family. 

Buy a 100-500 piece puzzle (personalized puzzles can be found and purchased online if you want to add a special touch to the activity). Then encourage people to write their name on one piece and donate $20 (or whatever amount they feel led to give) for their piece. 

After all the pieces have been signed, you can frame the puzzle and hang it in your child’s room to be a reminder of all the people who were instrumental in their adoption. This will be a special memento to your child and to the whole family! 

5. Adoption Prayer Bracelet 

Prayer is such an integral part of a believer’s life and what better reason to pray than for an adoption? 

Invest in buying a few hundred adoption prayer bracelets to either give away or sell (this could serve as another fundraising method) to your family, friends, community, church, co-workers, etc. Or, you can direct people to a link with the adoption prayer bracelet you want them to buy as another way to fundraise. Each time a person looks at their bracelet, they will be reminded to pray for your family’s adoption journey! 

6. Bake Sale 

Nothing motivates people to give more than food, especially sweets! A bake sale is a great way to get your church, family, friends, and community together and involved in your adoption process. This is an event that may attract people from all over to buy baked goods and donate to your adoption journey in the process. 

Be sure to sell whole desserts, as well as individual servings so that everyone who comes to support you can be included in the fundraiser. A great personal touch might be to create personalized adoption tags to attach to each baked good! 

Bake sales can also be as big and as small as you want them to be. They can be a part of another event you may be hosting or the bake sale could be the whole event. You may also decide to make the bake sale a one time event or maybe it’s something you do every weekend for a month. It’s entirely up to you! 

7. Go Through Local or State Adoption Agencies
 
This isn’t necessarily a fundraising tip, but more of a suggestion to make your adoption journey more affordable. Adopting, especially a foster child, through local adoption agencies is often a more affordable option for families as well as helps rescue a child out of the foster care system. 

According to childwelfare.gov, “Adopting a child from foster care involves very little expense because of Federal and State adoption assistance programs that minimize financial obstacles and encourage the placement of children whose special needs or circumstances might make them more difficult to place, such as older youth, sibling groups, or children with specific medical or mental health problems.”

Families looking to adopt through this avenue will more than likely receive Federal Adoption Assistance, whether through a one-time reimbursement or recurring monthly financial support, by adopting a child in the foster system. 

These are only a few of the many tips, methods, and suggestions a family can utilize to raise money for their adoption process. GiveSendGo is proud to support families who have made the decision to adopt and we are dedicated as an organization to praying diligently for these children and families. 

Shine Brightly! 
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Knowing God

By: TYLER SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0

Recently, I have been contemplating and pondering through the work of J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God. Packer wrote this book to bring life to the believer who is pilgrimaging through this world and into eternal salvation. The main corpus of the book revolves around this single phrase:

“Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives”

We are on a journey to seek truth in ways that we may never understand. We are on a journey to find something greater than what we have now. That’s the beauty of our modern culture today. We are all searching to find something: health, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness. We are on the search for something to please our very needs. We need something to fulfill our emptiness. The answer to that emptiness in Jesus!

Jesus is the something that we have all been looking for. In life’s pilgrimage, the solution to our void is Jesus Christ. Jesus is our only solution to salvation from this life. He even told his disciples this when they asked him how to find the way. Jesus said,

            “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7)

Notice what Jesus says here, “No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.” When you are trying to seek God, you must first seek His Son. The only way to know the Father is to know the Son. It is when you acquire knowledge of the Son, that you have acquired knowledge about God.

We now have to ask ourselves: What is the aim of knowing God? What are my intentions with the knowledge I have acquired? Our aim of knowing God is to love him with all of our beings. When we love God, we should be intentional to pursue holiness because God is holy. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.  

Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Life does move fast. That’s the truth about it. And when life moves too fast, you tend to miss the better things in life.

Today, you need to ask yourself if you are going to tread on this pilgrimage knowing God or not. If you choose to go off on your own, there are consequences of hell and damnation that awaits you. A life of eternal suffering. A life of decay and death. But if you choose to know God, then you will come to know the vast promises that are offered through His Son. Notice this beautiful promise offered found only in Jesus:

            “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

I encourage you to stop and think about how you plan to live your life. Will you choose to know God and to find satisfaction in Him?

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