A Long and Happy Life

Psalm

A Long and Happy Life

May 29th, 1977 @ 10:50 AM

Psalm 91:16

With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
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A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Psalm 91:16 

5-29-77     10:50 a.m.

 

 

And again, welcome to the multitudes of you who are worshipping with us in this holy hour on radio and on television.  This is the pastor bringing the message entitled A Long and Happy Life.  And the text is found in the last verses of the ninety-first Psalm:

 

Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name. 

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. 

With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation. 

[Psalm 91:14-26]

 

And that is the text: "With long life will I satisfy him," bless him, sustain him, keep him. 

Now, there is a way in which it is better that one would never be born.  That’s what the Lord said about Judas Iscariot, when He dipped the sop in the dish and handed it to Judas, signifying that he was the one who should betray the Lord.  And the Lord added: "it were better that a man had never been born" [Mark 14:21]. 

You can remember this word from Job, chapter 3.  Job opened his mouth, and cursed his day and spake and said:

 

Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. 

Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it,

Why died I not from the womb?  Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the womb? 

[Job 3:3, 4-11]

 

There is a way in which it is better that we were never born. 

There is a way in which it is better that we die young.  The ancient Greeks had a saying: "Whom the gods love die young." 

I so well remember in 1947 walking into the main entrance of the British Museum, and there in the stone, by the side of the door, on the wall, was incised a poem written by the curator of the museum, dedicated to the young men who worked in the British Museum and who lost their lives in the First World War.  And that incised poem written by the curator went like this:   

 

They will grow not old as we that are left grow old

Age will not weary them nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

[from "For the Fallen"; plaque on Pentire Point, north Cornwall, UK]

 

It is quality of life, and not quantity of days, that make lives rich and special.  Our Lord died when He was thirty and three.  Raphael, the incomparable painter, died in his thirties.  He was painting the transfiguration of our Lord, had almost finished it.  And he lay in state under that beautiful canvass.  Two of the saints of God’s kingdom – David Brainerd in America and Robert Murray M’Cheyne in Scotland – died in their twenties.  But , however it may be, in the persuasion of some and in the judgment of others, almost without change or without extenuation, in the Bible, the blessing of old age is looked upon as a gift from heaven.  So, my text: "With long life will I satisfy him" [Psalm 91:6]. 

Do you remember the beautiful words in the third chapter of the Book of Proverbs: "My son, forget not the law of God that thy days may be lengthened.  Obey God, love the Lord and He will give years to thy life" [Proverbs 3:1-2].  Do you remember the sixth chapter of Ephesians?  The apostle Paul writes in that epistle, a letter to all of the churches: "Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise."  What is the promise?  What is this unusual thing that God will do to the child that reverences his father and his mother?  Listen to it: "Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise: namely, that thy life – thy days may be lengthened – multiplied in the earth" [Ephesians 6:2-3].  This is God’s best gift: length of days, coming down to old age. 

Do you remember in the Book of Kings when Solomon – facing the assumption of the throne of Israel, God asked him, "What would you desire of Me?" [1 Kings 3:5].  And Solomon asked that he be given wisdom to walk in and out before the people.  The Lord was so pleased with that choice that the Lord said: "Solomon, because thou hast asked wisdom, to be a wise and able ruler of My people, and that you have not asked for riches or fame or fortune, therefore," says the Lord God, "I will not only give you wisdom, but I will add riches and fame and fortune" [1 Kings 3:10-13].  Then God said His final and climatic and benedictory word: "And if you walk in My law and obey My word, I will furthermore add to thee length of days and of years" [1 Kings 3:14].   What a tragedy that Solomon turned aside from worshipping God, hungered after strange deities brought in by his heathen wives, and his life was cut short and cut down.  But do you not see what I am pointing out of this Holy Book: that age, length of days, long life, is ever presented in the Holy Scriptures as a benedictory remembrance and a gift from heaven. 

Therefore, in a thousand ways that I could not express are we honored and delighted to have you here in God’s house this morning hour, whom God has blessed so beautifully, so preciously, so wondrously through the years and the years.   And how shall I compliment you and express to you our delight in your presence and in the blessing of God upon you? 

There was a widow, not young – there was a widow who was trying to impress a young man.  And she put him on the spot saying to him, "How old do you think I am?" 

"Oh," the young man said, "I’m no good at guessing a woman’s age." 

She pressed him, "Yes, but you have some idea.  How old do you think I am? 

Now, listen to his reply.  He said, "Oh, my dear, I don’t know whether to say you are ten years younger than you actually are because of your beauty, or shall I say you are ten years older than you actually are because of your depth of wisdom and knowledge."  Ah, I bet he married that dowager!

It is great to be alive and to have length of days.  Did you ever see a medicine show?  Surely you’re old enough to remember when we had medicine shows?  I always thought they were the most interesting things that ever came by.  A medicine show – you know, a guy comes, and he has a helper or two, and he puts on a show, and he sells his medicines. 

Well, this medicine man was up there on the platform, and he had a bottle of elixir in his hand.  He said, "This is the gift of God!  This bottle I hold in my hand, this elixir, it will add years and years and years to your life.  Why," he said, "look at me, I drink from this bottle, and I am three hundred and eighty-five years old." And a man, watching that guy and hearing him say that, incredulously turned to his helper and said, "Is that so?"  And the helper said, "Sir, I don’t know.  I’ve only been with him one hundred and twenty years." 

We love having you.  Life can be dour, and dismal, and defeated, and dejected.  What a tragedy that life can be that way.  Do you remember this poem from Lord Byron?

 

 My days are in the yellow leaves.

The flower and fruits of love are gone.

The worm, the canker, and the grief

Are mine alone.

 

Do you remember the title of that poem?  "On Reaching My Thirty-sixth Birthday," and he died soon after.  Or do you remember this poem from Conrad Aiken, born In 1889, an American poet and novelist?  And unless he died recently, he’s still living.  Listen to him: 

 

 Well, I’m tired.

Tired of all these years.

The happy mornings, the noon,

The misty evenings.

Tired of the Spring,

Tired of the Fall,

The music starts again,

I have heard it all.

 

How old was that great poet when he wrote that?  He was twenty-six years of age.  I want to say in passing though that as the years multiplied – after fifty years later, when he pinned that dirge – he wrote a beautiful children’s poem called "Tom, Sue and The Clock."  And he had changed: that life can be very solemnly dour and sour and dismal, but life can be triumphant and victorious, through the multiplied years and down to old age.   

There’s no one but that has been encouraged by that beautiful stanza from "Rabbi Ben Ezra," by Robert Browning: 

 

Grow old along with me.

The best is yet to be.

The last of life for which the first was made.

Our times are in His hand who saith,

"A whole I planned;

Youth shows but half, trust God, see all

Nor be afraid."

 

Browning was fifty-two when he wrote that beautiful word, and God gave him another quarter of a century for the best things in life.

The glories of youth are undeniable, and we recognize the genius that brings some young people into the very throne of human endeavor and achievement.  Alexander the Great was thirty-two when he conquered the world.  Cyrus McCormick was twenty-three when he invented the reaper.  Isaac Newton was twenty-four when he formulated the law of gravity.  Thomas Jefferson was thirty-three when he drafted the Declaration of Independence.  Benjamin Franklin was twenty-six when he wrote Poor Richard’s Almanac.  Charles Dickens was twenty-five when he wrote the famous novel Oliver Twist.   William Cullen Bryant was eighteen when he wrote that "Thanatopsis," that first great poem written on the American continent. 

But, at the same time, there are glories of old age as well as the triumphs of youth.  Listen to this: Gladstone and Palmerston were prime ministers of Great Britain in their eighties.  John Quincy Adams, having served as president of the United States, was a vigorous congressman, representing his people, at eighty-four.

 Immanuel Kant was seventy-four when he wrote his finest philosophical works.  Verdi was eighty when he wrote "Falstaff."  He was eighty-five when he pinned his "Ave Maria."  Goethe was eighty-one when he completed "Faust."  Tennyson was eighty when he wrote "Crossing the Bar."  Michelangelo was eighty-nine when he finished his greatest work, St. Peter’s in Rome.  Titian was ninety-eight when he painted the historic picture of the Battle of Lepanto.  And Thomas Edison was eighty-three when he filed his last patent.

Old Caleb was eighty-five when he came to Joshua and said: "Give me this mountain" [Joshua 14:7-12], referring to Hebron, where the giants of the Anakim lived.  Think of that: eighty-five, and he won it from the grasp of the Anakim; forty years in the wilderness had not drowned his vision, or lessened his faith, or dulled his youthful spirit, or diminished his physical power: old Caleb. 

Longfellow wrote:

 

For age is an opportunity no less

Than youth, though in another dress,

And as the evening twilight fades away,

The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

[from "Morituri Salutamus," Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]

 

  Why, my brother, my sister, our finest years are yet to come.  It is for me to love God, to be patient in spirit, to be humble in my attitude, and to look for the best things God has for those to whom He gives this blessing of length of days. 

May I not grow old, and bitter, and dour, and sour, implacable, unhappy, fault-finding, grouchy, uncomfortable.  May I rather, as I grow old, grow in grace and in the sweet Spirit of the Lord. 

I’ll close now.  There was a great, wonderful layman who was the chairman of the Board of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He owned the Anderson – named after him – the Anderson Department Store in Knoxville, Tennessee.  In his old age, he was the chairman of the Board of our Southern Baptist Seminary.

The first assignment I ever had as a denominationalist was on the Board of Trustees of the Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  I had just been graduated from the school and immediately was made a member of the Board.  In that first Board meeting that I attended, Mr. Anderson, that wonderful and godly man, was resigning after many, many years his chairmanship of the Board.  The years had multiplied, and he felt he ought to give up the leadership of that group of men.  And in his little farewell speech, he quoted a poem that just stayed in my heart, and I have remembered for the years since.  That was in 1935, a long time ago.  And the poem is this: 

 

Let me grow lovely, growing old;

So many fine things do:

Laces and ivory and gold

and silks need not be new.

And there is healing in old trees;

Old streets a glamour hold.

Why may not we, as well as these,

Grow lovely, growing old?

["Let Me Grow Lovely," Karle Wilson Baker]

 

That’s a beautiful thing.  

And that wonderful man: so gentle, so fine a Christian, growing lovely, growing old; growing in grace, growing old; growing godly, Christly, growing old; reflecting the beautiful spirit of our Lord as the days multiply in our lives. 

And may that be so and true with you; that those who see you, and who know you, and who come to visit you, and who pray by your side, will go away blessed by the sweet, precious spirit that God hath given you. 

"With long life" – with many years – "will I satisfy him, bless him" [Psalm 91:16], God’s greatest benedictory gift from heaven: length of days. 

Now, Richard, the reason I’ve done this is because you asked me to prepare a message for this hour.  And I want to say to you, Richard; I never had a sweeter time before the Lord than preparing this message.  It blessed my heart just thinking about these things that I have spoken this morning.

You know, it’s a wonderful thing to be a Christian.  You see, if you don’t have the Lord, life becomes increasingly dark because there is no hope, there’s no better tomorrow, there’s nothing but the night and the dark.  If you don’t have Jesus, and you don’t have the Lord, what is there to look forward to but age and death and the grave?  But, if you love God, if your heart and life are hid with Christ in the Lord, why, bless you, every step of the pilgrimage, we’re getting nearer to home.  And the light becomes brighter, and it rises like the sun, and finally, the very vistas of heaven are open to us who lift up our faces in our redemption drawing nigh. 

Oh, how precious it is to walk with the Lord, every step of the way sweeter than the one before.  I thank God for you, and praise God for Jesus, and with joy unspeakable, look forward to the glories He has in store for us who have found refuge in Him. 

And this is our appeal to your heart this morning.  I’ll be standing right there, and in that throng, the crowd in the balcony and the press of people on this lower floor, a family you, a couple you, one somebody you, this day giving your heart in trust to Christ, coming into the fellowship of the church: "I want to come by confession of faith."  "I want to come by baptism."  "I want to come by letter."

 "Pastor, this is my wife and these are our children, all of us are coming today."  Welcome.  May angels attend you as you answer God’s call with your life.  Make the decision now in your heart.  And in a moment, when we stand to sing, stand, walking down one of these stairways here to the front, or coming down one of these aisles, God be good to you as you make the decision now; and then, standing, coming to the Lord and to us.  Do it now.  Make it now, while we stand and while we sing.

A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Psalm 91:16 

5-29-77     10:50 a.m.

 

And again, welcome to the multitudes of you who are worshipping with us in this holy hour on radio and on television.  This is the pastor bringing the message entitled A Long and Happy Life.  And the text is found in the last verses of the ninety-first Psalm:

Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he hath known My name. 

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.  I will deliver him, and honor him. 

With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation. 

 

And that is the text: "With long life will I satisfy him," bless him, sustain him, keep him. 

Now, there is a way in which it is better that one would never be born.  That’s what the Lord said about Judas Iscariot, when He dipped the sop in the dish and handed it to Judas, signifying that he was the one who should betray the Lord.  And the Lord added: "it were better that a man had never been born." 

You can remember this word from Job, chapter 3.  Job opened his mouth and cursed his day and spake and said:

Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. 

Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it…

Why died I not from the womb?  Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the womb? 

[Job 3:3-11]

 

There is a way in which it is better that we were never born. 

There is a way in which it is better that we die young.  The ancient Greeks had a saying: "Whom the gods love die young." 

I so well remember in 1947 walking into the main entrance of the British Museum, and there in the stone, by the side of the door, on the wall, was incised a poem written by the curator of the museum, dedicated to the young men who worked in the British Museum and who lost their lives in World War I.  And that incised poem written by the curator went like this:   

They will grow not old as we that are left grow old

Age will not weary them nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

[from "For the Fallen"; plaque on Pentire Point, north Cornwall, UK]

 

It is quality of life, and not quantity of days, that make lives rich and special.  Our Lord died when He was thirty and three.  Raphael, the incomparable painter, died in his thirties.  He was painting the transfiguration of our Lord and almost finished it.  And he lay in state under that beautiful canvass.  Two of the saints of God’s kingdom – David Brainerd in America and Robert Murray McCheyne in Scotland – died in their twenties. 

But , however it may be, in the persuasion of some and in the judgment of others, almost without change or without extenuation, in the Bible, the blessing of old age is looked upon as a gift from heaven.  So, my text: "With long life will I satisfy him." 

Do you remember the beautiful words in the third chapter of the Book of Proverbs: "My son, forget not the law of God that thy days may be lengthened.  Obey God, love the Lord and He will give years to thy life." 

Do you remember the sixth chapter of Ephesians?  The apostle Paul writes in that epistle, a letter to all of the churches: "Honor thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise."  What is the promise?  What is this unusual thing that God will do to the child that reverences his father and his mother?  Listen to it: "Honor thy father and mother which is the first commandment with promise, namely, that thy life – thy days may be lengthened – multiplied in the earth."  This is God’s best gift: length of days, coming down to old age.  Do you remember in the Book of Kings when Solomon – facing the assumption of the throne of Israel, God asked him, "What would you desire of Me" [1 Kings 3:5]?  And Solomon asked that he be given wisdom to walk in and out before the people.  The Lord was so pleased with that choice that the Lord said: "Solomon, because thou hast asked wisdom, to be a wise and able ruler of My people, and that you haven’t asked for riches or fame or fortune, therefore," says the Lord God, "I will not only give you wisdom, but I will add riches and fame and fortune" [1 Kings 3:10-13].  Then, God said His final and climatic and benedictory word: "And if you walk in My law and obey My word, I will furthermore add to thee length of days and of years"[1 Kings 3:14].   What a tragedy that Solomon turned aside from worshipping God, hungered after strange deities brought in by his heathen wives, and his life was cut short and cut down.  But do you not see what I am pointing out of this Holy Book: that age, length of days, long life, is ever presented in the Holy Scriptures as a benedictory remembrance and a gift from heaven. 

Therefore, in a thousand ways that I could not express are we honored and delighted to have you here in God’s house this morning hour, whom God has blessed so beautifully, so preciously, so wondrously through the years and the years.   How shall I compliment you and express to you our delight in your presence and in the blessing of God upon you? 

There was a widow, not young – there was a widow who was trying to impress a young man.  And she put him on the spot saying to him, "How old do you think I am?" 

"Oh," the young man said, "I’m no good at guessing a woman’s age."  She pressed him, "Yes, but you have some idea.  How old do you think I am?  Now, listen to his reply.  He said, "Oh, my dear, I don’t know whether to say you are ten years younger than you actually are because of your beauty, or shall I say you are ten years older than you actually are because of your depth of wisdom and knowledge."  I bet he married that dowager.

It is great to be alive and to have length of days.  Did you ever see a medicine show?  Surely you’re old enough to remember when we had medicine shows?  I always thought they were the most interesting things that ever came by.  A medicine show – you know, a guy comes, and he has a helper or two, and he puts on a show and he sells his medicines. 

Well, this medicine man was up there on the platform, and he had a bottle of elixir in his hand.  He said, "This is the gift of God.  This bottle I hold in my hand, this elixir, it will add years and years and years to your life.  Why," he said, "look at me, I drink from this bottle, and I am 385 years old." And a man, watching that guy and hearing him say that, incredulously turned to his helper and said, "Is that so?"  And the helper said, "Sir, I don’t know.  I’ve only been with him 120 years." 

We love having you.  Life can be dour, and dismal, and defeated, and dejected.  What a tragedy that life can be that way.  Do you remember this poem from Lord Byron?

 My days are in the yellow leaves.

The flower and fruits of love are gone.

The worm, the canker, and the grief

Are mine alone.

 

Do you remember the title of that poem?  "On Reaching My Thirty-sixth Birthday," and he died soon after.  Or, do you remember this poem from Conrad Aiken, born In 1889, an American poet and novelist?  And unless he died recently, he’s still living.  Listen to him: 

 Well, I’m tired.

Tired of all these years.

The happy mornings, the noon,

The misty evenings.

Tired of the Spring,

Tired of the Fall,

The music starts again,

I have heard it all.

 

How old was that great poet when he wrote that?  He was twenty-six years of age.  I want to say in passing though, that as the years multiplied – after fifty years later, when he pinned that dirge – he wrote a beautiful children’s poem called "Tom, Sue and The Clock."  And he had changed: that life can be very solemnly dour and sour and dismal, but life can be triumphant and victorious, through the multiplied years and down to old age.   

There’s no one but that has been encouraged by that beautiful stanza from "Rabbi Ben Ezra," by Robert Browning: 

Grow old along with me.

The best is yet to be.

The last of life for which the first was made.

Our times are in His hand who saith,

"A whole I planned;

Youth shows but half, trust God, see all

Nor be afraid."

 

Browning was 52 when he wrote that beautiful word, and God gave him another quarter of a century for the best things in life.

The glories of youth are undeniable, and we recognize the genius that brings some young people into the very throne of human endeavor and achievement.  Alexander the Great was thirty-two when he conquered the world.  Cyrus McCormick was twenty-three when he invented the reaper.  Isaac Newton was twenty-four when he formulated the law of gravity.  Thomas Jefferson was thirty-three when he drafted the Declaration of Independence.  Benjamin Franklin was twenty-six when he wrote "Poor Richard’s Almanac."  Charles Dickens was twenty-five when he wrote the famous novel Oliver Twist.   William Cullen Bryant was eighteen when he wrote that "Thanatopsis," that first great poem written on the American continent. 

But, at the same time, there are glories of old age as well as the triumphs of youth.  Listen to this: Gladstone and Palmerston were prime ministers of Great Britain in their eighties.  John Quincy Adams, having served as president of the United States, was a vigorous congressman, representing his people, at eighty-four.

 Immanuel Kant was seventy-four when he wrote his finest philosophical works.  Verdi was eighty when he wrote "Falstaff.  He was eighty-five when he pinned his "Ave Maria."  Goethe was eighty-one when he completed "Faust."  Tennyson was eighty when he wrote "Crossing the Bar."  Michelangelo was eighty-nine when he finished his greatest work, St. Peter’s in Rome.  Titian was ninety-eight when he painted the historic picture of "The Battle of Lepanto."  And Thomas Edison was eighty-three when he filed his last patent.

Old Caleb was eighty-five when he came to Joshua and said: "Give me this mountain," referring to Hebron, where the giants of the Anakim lived.  Think of that: eighty-five, and he won it from the grasp of the Anakim; forty years in the wilderness had not drowned his vision, or lessened his faith, or dulled his youthful spirit, or diminished his physical power: old Caleb. 

Longfellow wrote: "For age is an opportunity no less than youth, though in another dress.  And, as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars invisible by day."  Why, my brother, my sister, our finest years are yet to come.  It is for me to love God, to be patient in spirit, to be humble in my attitude, and to look for the best things God has for those to whom He gives this blessing of length of days. 

May I not grow old, and bitter, and dour, and sour, implacable, unhappy, fault-finding, grouchy, uncomfortable.  May I rather, as I grow old, grow in grace and in the sweet Spirit of the Lord. 

I’ll close now.  There was a great, wonderful layman who was the chairman of the Board of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He owned the Anderson – named after him – the Anderson Department Store in Knoxville, Tennessee.  In his old age, he was the chairman of the Board of our Southern Baptist Seminary.

The first assignment I ever had as a denominationalist was on the Board of Trustees of the Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  I had just been graduated from the school and immediately was made a member of the Board.  In that first Board meeting that I attended, Mr. Anderson, that wonderful and godly man, was resigning after many, many years his chairmanship of the Board.  The years had multiplied, and he felt he ought to give up the leadership of that group of men.  And in his little farewell speech, he quoted a poem that just stayed in my heart, and I have remembered for the years since.  That was in 1935, a long time ago.  And the poem is this: 

Let me grow lovely, growing old;

So many fine things do:

Laces and ivory and gold

and silks need not be new.

And there is healing in old trees;

Old streets a glamour hold.

Why may not we, as well as these,

Grow lovely, growing old?

 

That’s a beautiful thing.  

And that wonderful man: so gentle, so fine a Christian, growing lovely, growing old; growing in grace, growing old; growing godly, Christly, growing old; reflecting the beautiful Spirit of our Lord as the days multiply in our lives. 

And may that be so and true with you; that those who see you, and who know you, and who come to visit you, and who pray by your side, will go away blessed by the sweet, precious spirit that God hath given you. 

"With long life – with many years will I satisfy him, bless him" – God’s greatest benedictory gift from heaven: length of days. 

Now, Richard, the reason I’ve done this is because you asked me to prepare a message for this hour.  And I want to say to you, Richard, I never had a sweeter time before the Lord than preparing this message.  It blessed my heart just thinking about these things that I have spoken this morning.

You know, it’s a wonderful thing to be a Christian.  You see, if you don’t have the Lord, life becomes increasingly dark because there is no hope, there’s no better tomorrow, there’s nothing but the night and the dark.  If you don’t have Jesus, and you don’t have the Lord, what is there to look forward to but age and death and the grave?  But, if you love God and if your heart and life are hid with Christ in the Lord, why, bless you, every step of the pilgrimage, we’re getting nearer home.  And the light becomes brighter, and it rises like the sun, and finally, the very vistas of heaven are open to us who lift up our faces in our redemption drawing nigh. 

Oh, how precious it is to walk with the Lord, every step of the way sweeter than the one before.  I thank God for you, and praise God for Jesus, and with joy unspeakable, look forward to the glories He has in store for us who have found refuge in Him. 

And this is our appeal to your heart this morning.  I’ll be standing right there, and in that throng, the crowd in the balcony and the press of people on this lower floor, a family you, a couple you, one somebody you, this day giving your heart in trust to Christ, coming into the fellowship of the church: "I want to come by confession of faith."  "I want to come by baptism."  "I want to come by letter."

 "Pastor, this is my wife and these are our children, all of us are coming today."  Welcome.  May angels attend you as you answer God’s call with your life.  Make the decision now in your heart.  And in a moment, when we stand to sing, stand, walking down one of these stairways here to the front, or coming down one of these aisles, God be good to you as you make the decision now; and then, standing, coming to the Lord and to us.  Do it now.  Make it now, while we stand and while we sing.