My God, how wonderful you are

Another old hymn, updated for personal worship

Original words by Frederick William Faber (1814-63)

My God, how wonderful You are,
Your majesty how bright,
How beautiful Your mercy-seat,
Intense forgiving light!
For limitless eternal years,
O everlasting Lord,
Worshiping spirits day and night
Continually adore!
Oh, how I fear You, living God,
With deepest, reverent fears,
And worship You with trembling hope
And true repentant tears!

Yet I may love You too, Oh Lord,
Almighty as You are,
For You have stooped to ask of me,
The love of my poor heart.

No earthly father loves like You;
No parent, even mild,
Loves patiently as You have done
For me, Your sinful child.

How wonderful, how beautiful,
The sight of You must be,
Your endless wisdom, boundless power,
And awesome purity!

How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours

Old hymn by John Newton (1725-1807), with minor revisions

How tedious and tasteless the hours when Jesus no longer I see!
Sweet prospects, sweet birds, and sweet flowers have all lost their sweetness to me.
The mid-summer sun shines but dim, the fields strive in vain to look gay.
But when I am happy in Him, December’s as pleasant as May.

His name yields the richest perfume, and sweeter than music His voice. 
His presence disperses my gloom and makes all within me rejoice. 
I’d have nothing to wish or to fear if He was always this near. 
No mortal as happy as I, my summer would last all the year.

Content with beholding His face, my all to His pleasure resigned,
No changes of season or place would make any change in my mind.
While blessed with a sense of His love, a palace would have no allure.
And prisons would palaces be, if Jesus would dwell with me there.

Dear Lord, if indeed I am Yours, if You are my sun and my song,
Then why do I languish and pine, and why are my winters so long?
Oh, drive these dark clouds from my sky, Your soul-cheering presence restore.
Or take me to heaven on high, where winter and clouds are no more.


When I was a student in Bible college, we sang an old hymn in chapel that was unfamiliar to me, “How tedious and tasteless the hours.” At the time I didn’t appreciate its tongue-twisting first line; and I found the hymn depressing. Rediscovering it recently, I now value the hymn’s realistic expression of what believers experience when they do not feel close to God. Even more, I love the contrasting description of how beautiful Jesus is to us when we are in a close relationship with Him and aware of His presence in our lives. This is a hymn that I can sing as a lament when I long for a closer relationship with God, and a song of praise when I want to adore my loving Savior’s name, face, voice….

I’ve changed a few words to update the language but left the poetic structure intact. I hope you will find it useful in your private worship.

Prayer for the start of a new week

O Master, let me walk with You
In lowly paths of service true.
Take on my burden, help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love.
Teach me the wayward feet to stay,
And guide them in the homeward way.

Teach me Your patience, waiting still,
And with Your Holy Spirit fill,
Through work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In trust that triumphs over wrong.

In hope that sends a shining ray
Far down the future's broadening way.
In peace that only You can give,
With You, O Master, let me live. 

Updated from the hymn O Master, let me walk with Thee, 
original words by Washington Gladden, 1879, Public Domain

A Prayer for Holy Week, 2022

Jesus, teach me what Your crucifixion really means,
The cross lifted up with You, the Man of Sorrows, condemned to die.
Help me understand what it cost You to make a sinner whole,
And help me recognize the value of a soul.

Teach me the meaning of Your death.
I now know that if I had been the only sinner, 
You still would have had to die.

Help me understand Your love that has no comparison;
A love that reaches deeper than my guilt and despair!
Help me believe and experience Your love more deeply,
Until there is a glimmer in my cold heart,
A pale reflection of Your pure love.

Teach me what Your death and resurrection really mean, 
Because I am full of sin, and only grace can reach me,
and only Your love can win.
Teach me because I need You -- I have no other hope.
And I am the sinner for whom You, the Savior, died.

Teach me what it means that You give rest
To all the anxious and weary who look to You and live.
Although I have been a rebel, I received Your pardon.
Because You have said “I will,” I do believe.

Infinite Redeemer I don't have any other plea. 
Because You have invited me, I cast myself on You.
Because You accept me as Your own, I love and adore You,
Because Your love has warmed my heart, I'll praise You forever more.

Based on the hymn “Oh, Teach Me What It Meaneth” 
Lyrics by Lucy A Bennett, written early 1900’s


Another updated hymn: All for Jesus

An old hymn, slightly revised to update language, that can be sung to the original tune. Original words by Mary D. James, 1880s.

All for Jesus

All for Jesus! I would give Him, all my life's desires and powers;
All my thoughts and words and doings, all my days and all my hours.
Let my hands do what would please Him; let my feet run in His ways;
Let my eyes see Jesus only; let my lips speak forth His praise.

Others prize their gems of beauty; cling to shiny toys of dust;
Boast of wealth, and fame, and pleasure; only Jesus will I trust.

Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus, I've lost sight of all beside,
So enthralled my spirit's vision, looking at the crucified. 

Oh, what wonder! How amazing! Jesus glorious King of kings,
Chose to call me His beloved, lets me rest beneath His wings. 

How Firm a Foundation

An old hymn, written in the 1780’s, updated and revised for such a time as this.

With prayers for the people of Ukraine

How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.

“Fear not, I am with you, do not be dismayed,
For I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I'll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”

“When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless, 
and purify you in your deepest distress.”

“When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply;
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design
Your waste to consume, and your gold to refine.

“The soul that on Jesus has cast all its woes,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, 
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!”

Speaking words of encouragement

The graceful power of our conversations

In the process of studying about God’s heart, and the meaning of “heart” in the Bible, this morning I came across the passage in First Samuel 1:9-18 about Hannah going into the temple to pray for a child. She was so intense in her prayers, crying bitterly and moving her lips without sound, that Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk. He was rather forceful in his criticism of her, telling her how inappropriate it was for her to be drunk in the temple. She of course let him know that she was not drunk. She said, “I was pouring out my heart to the Lord….I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow” (NLT). And immediately the priest’s attitude turned 180 degrees and in essence he gave her a blessing, “Go in peace!” He then entered her world of concern and spoke these comforting words to her: “May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.” And apparently just as quickly as Eli had changed his approach, Hannah’s attitude and feelings changed from despair and discouragement to at least some level of peace and hope. She regained her appetite and “was no longer sad.” She left the temple apparently trusting God for the answer to her prayer (which, of course, happened when she birthed Samuel soon after). 

Usually when we think about this passage we focus on Hannah and how she felt, how she poured out her heart, how she prayed intensely for what she wanted, and the fact that God answered her. But this morning I was drawn to the priest and his interaction with Hannah. Once he understood her heart and the intensity of her request to God and her apparent trust in God’s ability to answer her prayers, Eli’s attitude and behavior changed. He saw her differently and in response he spoke encouraging words to her. His change of heart led him to speak words that changed how Hannah felt and acted. It was God’s love and power that answered Hannah’s prayers, but Eli had a part in Hannah’s story as he encouraged her faith and eased her distress.

My take-away – As followers of Christ we are priests to each other. Through the Holy Spirit we can enter the world of others and speak words of encouragement to them. As Ephesians 4:29 says, we may become channels of God’s grace to each other by what we say to our sisters and brothers. I want to be that way. I want to have the sensitivity and the love and the wisdom to say what will bring God’s grace and love to other people. May it be so, Lord, for all of us!

For more on the potential power of our conversations, see

A Very Personal Walk through Ephesians – 40

Embracing God’s love for me

40. Postscript.

Where do I go from here? In looking back over my quiet time notes in Ephesians I see several convictions and prayers for growth that I want to occur in my life. My habit in the past has been to finish a study and go right on to the next Bible study or spiritual book study, forgetting the list of changes I prayed about making in the previous study. Therefore, I am making an intentional plan now to address these areas. Initially, I have a two-step plan, but I will be flexible in adding or subtracting to my plan as I see whether I am getting closer to my goals.

These are my Growth Goals from this study:

  • More awareness of God’s presence during the day
  • More grateful response to God’s blessings
  • Memorize key Bible verses
  • Keep track of prayers and answers
  • Live more intentionally (grace-filled conversations, use of strategies to fight temptations, looking for ways to bring joy to the heart of God)

And here is my plan:

Step 1

Use a small notebook (Bible-sized, kept with my Bible so I see it each day). Print the list above, tape it inside the notebook. Make a brief note each day on at least one of the goals listed.

Step 2

Ask a close friend to hold me accountable to pray about and write notes at least 5 days a week.

This feels very “mechanical,” but I have found that to establish a habit I must be methodical at least initially. And I have already thought of some creative ways of recognizing God’s presence during the day, such as imagining that each pleasant little thing I notice during the day is a post-it note that God has placed in my world to remind me of His love. E.G., a new bloom in my garden is a post-it note of His love; the parking space right in front of the grocery door when it is raining, another post-it note; a smile from my infant granddaughter, another note, etc.

Father, You deserve my complete love and worship, and here I am needing reminders of Your goodness to me. Thank You for Your patience and never-ending love! Thank You for the Book of Ephesians, and all You have taught me through it. Please continue to draw these images on my soul so that I become a more beautiful part of Your Body of believers. Amen. 

From the personal devotional notes of Peggy McKechnie, certified life coach and follower after God’s own heart.

Dear Reader, this post is the conclusion of the series on walking through Ephesians. I hope these posts have been a blessing to you. I would love to hear what you have taken away from Ephesians that has been encouragement for your soul. Also, would you be interested in walking with me through a series of posts on another passage or book of the Bible? You can respond on this post or write me at I appreciate your input. Peggy

A Very Personal Walk through Ephesians – 39

Embracing God’s love for me

39. Peace, Love, Faith, and Grace.

Ephesians 6:23-24. “Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NLT)

Paul opens and closes his letter to the Ephesians with prayers for grace and peace for his readers. And in between those two prayers he showers all those who have faith in Christ with the realities of how much grace God’s love has given us and how we can find peace in our relationships with God and each other. 

Looking back over the spiritual truths that the Holy Spirit especially impressed on my mind when studying Ephesians this time, the following are highlights for me:

> I have every spiritual blessing that I need. This passage reminds me of Second Peter 1:3 – “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life…” I am very wealthy spiritually and God intends for me to invest and enjoy the blessings He has given.

> God’s love for me is unconditional and greater than I could ever imagine or hope for. This is a crucial concept for me to understand and thoroughly believe. Realization of God’s love for me is the starting point for everything else I understand about myself, my relationship with God and with others, my purpose in life, and my future into eternity.

> My identity is determined by my relationship with God. I am chosen, adopted, called to a special purpose in life, gifted for that calling, and pleasing to God.

> My greatest need and my greatest strength is to trust God. That includes believing what He says through His word — that He has the power to do what He says He will do and that He will empower me to do what I’m called to do and be. My greatest happiness will come from choosing to trust him and responding quickly to his leading (because I trust him to lead me in the best way). He has planned significant things for me to do; I need to trust Him and depend on Him to do them. My greatest idol is my own trust in myself and my abilities to control my life. When I trust in them instead of God, I am putting myself in God’s place.

> The importance of loving others and being united with others. The power of using words to build up others; God may dispense grace to other people through my conversations with them.

> Living intentionally and mindfully to please God and thank Him for His goodness to me. I want pleasing God to be my primary motive in all my relationships. 

> The necessity of having an intentional strategy to resist the evil one.

Father, thank You for these six chapters in which You have revealed the depth of Your love for me. I need Your help to respond with more than just temporary appreciation. Make me more like You, Father, and spread Your grace through me. Amen

Dear Reader, this series on walking through Ephesians will conclude tomorrow, June 25th. I hope these posts have been a blessing to you. Could you tell me in one sentence what your most helpful take-away was? Also, would you be interested in walking with me through a series of posts on another passage or book of the Bible? You can comment on this post or write me at I appreciate your input. Peggy

A Very Personal Walk through Ephesians – 38

Embracing God’s love for me

38. Armor of God, Part IV.

Ephesians 6:13-18. “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (NLT) 

Concluding the 10 principles I found in the passage on the armor of God: 

7. Let God protect your mind by receiving the gift of salvation that God wants to give you. God has promised to make me a new creation in Him and to live in me. As I let Him transform my mind, I will know Him better and be able to distinguish between truth and lies.

8. Receive the Word of God and use it to defeat the evil one’s lies and temptations. The Spirit will give me God’s words when I need them if I am familiar with what the Bible says. My challenge: restart a memorization plan so that I can recall verses accurately, not just their general meaning, with their references, so I can easily look them up when needed. This will help when I am rehearsing God’s truth.

9. Stay alert. Mindful in the moment, reminding myself of these truths.

10. Pray at all times for yourself and for all believers everywhere. This is an important reminder to me…the purpose of God’s armor is not just to protect me, in my attempt to walk worthy of my calling. All followers of Christ are in this battle with evil; I need to be praying for protection and strength for all my brothers and sisters around the world. Paul specifically asks his readers to pray for him and his ministry, reminding me of the part I can play in supporting those who minister in my local church and beyond. 

In a recent conversation with my sister about the tragedy of so many well-known ministers falling into sexual sin, I found out that for years she has been praying daily for her pastor and his wife. She doesn’t just pray that God will help her pastor to remain faithful, but that he and his wife will have a deepening, satisfying love relationship. That’s the kind of pray-er I want to be. Helping to build others up and protect them by praying for them.

Father, once again I am aware of how much I need Your work in my life to survive the attempts of Satan to destroy what You want to accomplish in and through me, my family, and our church. For Your glory, give me Your strength to use the weapons You have provided and the grace to encourage others in their battles. Amen.

From the personal devotional notes of Peggy McKechnie, certified life coach and follower after God’s own heart.

Dear Reader, this series on walking through Ephesians will conclude on this Friday, June 25th. I hope these posts have been a blessing to you. Could you tell me in one sentence what your most helpful take-away was? Also, would you be interested in walking with me through a series of posts on another passage or book of the Bible? You can comment on this post or write me at I appreciate your input. Peggy