Authors Posts by Nils Olson

Nils Olson

Nils Olson is a missionary pastor who works at Munakata Bethel Christian Center (Japan). Attended Bethel Temple Bible School in Seattle WA. Has resided in Munakata City, JAPAN for almost 40 years. Nils has authored the book, "My Chapter of the Story," a lifetime collection of stories and anecdotes.

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Other than John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace,” perhaps the world’s most well-know hymn is Joseph Scriven’s “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” This hymn is sung in almost every chapel wedding service that is performed in Japan. Gentle, yet very powerful, this hymn has touched the hearts of countless millions all over the world.

My wife and I have had this hymn hanging on our bedroom wall for years and years. It’s a constant reminder that in times of joy and even the greatest sorrow, our best friend’s name is still ‘Emmanuel,’ which being interpreted is “God with us.”

The hymn books in the pews of our churches are the testimonies of men and women who have gone through heaven and hell experiences in their lives, yet give all the glory of such experiences back to God. The melodies have embedded themselves into our hearts and become a part of us as well. How many of us have found ourselves humming, whistling, and tapping them on a kitchen table, desk, or steering wheel while we drive our cars?

Like Emmanuel (God with us), hymns we sang, even memorized when we were young, go with us wherever we go, they are embedded in our hearts. For instance, how many of us remember: The Old Rugged Cross, There Is Power in The Blood, I Come to The Garden, Just As I Am, Silent Night, Joy to The World, How Great Thou Art, Just A Closer Walk with Thee, I Love to Tell The Story and Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow? The list goes on and on and on. Like we said, those hymnals in the pews of your church are “the testimonies of men and women who have gone through heaven and hell experiences.”

Here’s a real challenge: why not go get a pencil and paper, sit down and write your testimony of a personal heaven or hell experience like Joseph Scriven did in 1855? To add to this challenge, try writing it poetically! Before you begin, sit down and listen to this presentation of “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.” Lyrics by J. Scriven, Music by C. C. Converse. Sung by Jeremy, Tabitha (Lewis), Lisa, Ralph, and Michael Eldridge.

Read here the history of Joseph Scriven’s “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

The great American evangelist Dwight L. Moody incorporated this song in his sermons, writings, and teachings. This caused many people to believe that the song is an American hymn. Not so. It was written by an Irishman in Canada.

One Hundred fifty years ago two businessmen stood on a Port Hope, Ontario street corner as a little man carrying a saw walked by. One of the businessmen said, “Now there is a man who is happy with his lot in life. I wish I could know his joy. Perhaps I can get him to cut my winter’s supply of wood.”

“I know that man. He would not cut your firewood. He cuts wood only for the financially destitute and for those who are physically handicapped and cannot cut their own firewood.”

That young woodcutter was named Joseph Scriven. Son of a captain in the British Royal Marines, Joseph was born in Ireland in 1819. After receiving his university degree from Trinity College in London, he quickly established himself as a teacher, fell in love, and made plans to settle in his hometown. Then tragedy struck. The day before his scheduled wedding, his fiancé drowned.

Overcome with grief, Scriven left Ireland to start a new life in Canada. He established a home in Rice Lake, where he met and fell in love with Eliza Rice. Just weeks before she was to become Joseph Scriven’s bride, she suddenly grew sick. In a matter of weeks, Eliza died.

A shattered Scriven turned to the only thing that had anchored him during his life — his faith. Through prayer and Bible study he found not just solace, but a mission. The twenty-five year old Scriven took a vow of poverty, sold all of his earthly possessions, and vowed to give his life to the physically handicapped and financially destitute.

Ten years later Scriven received word that his mother had become very ill. The man who had taken a vow of poverty did not have the funds to go home to help care for her. Heartsick, and feeling a need to reach out to her, he wrote the story of his life in three short verses he called “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Later, Scriven said, “The Lord and I together wrote the song.” Several of his friends got a copy and one of them carried a copy to a music publisher. Within two years the little poem of inspiration had been published and coupled to a tune written by an American lawyer, Charles Converse.

Two decades later the great American evangelist Dwight L. Moody came across the song and believed it to be the most touching modern hymn that he had ever heard. It was Moody who gave the song a national platform and caused so many to think that the song had been written in America.

Ironically, Joseph Scriven drowned in a Canadian lake in 1886. He did not live to see his song carried to every corner of the globe. – James Q. Salter

Source: The information contained above is printed with permission from the author and publisher: Ace Collins, Stories Behind the Hymns that Inspire America, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2003).

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Good music is music that has three basic components. When these components all work together, they will captivate the heart. The result can be increased breathing, a thumping in the chest and a relaxation that will result in an “I don’t want this to end” feeling.

Music is one, but is made up of three simple basic parts: melody, harmony and rhythm. I would think that one without the other would make for monotonous music. Harmony brings depth to melody and rhythm brings stability. I think each one of us needs some good, balanced music in our lives to make our daily routines more enjoyable.

Here, let’s take a look at these three simple elements that make up MUSIC.

Well, here’s the music. Why not get a hot cup of something to drink and allow these two songs to bring some melody, harmony and rhythm to your life today? Don’t simply let this become BGM, but for the full benefit, listen to each word; listen for each instrument; listen to the MUSIC.

In 1975 Barry Manilow defined MUSIC with “I Write The Songs.”

The best has been saved for the last. This will grab your heart.



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God said in the beginning, “Let there be light: and there was light.” And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and darkness he called Night.”  Genesis 1:3-5

Have you ever thought of the opposites that we face every day? Yes and No, Black and White, Positive and Negative, Hot and Cold, God and Satan. We all want to be on the plus-side; we want to hear yes; we want to be positive, we want to be on God’s side, right? Notice here that God saw that the Light was GOOD. Now, logically that has to mean that darkness was/is BAD.

A little later God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, for seasons, and for days, and years. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.” Gen. 1:14-15.

Let’s go back to Genesis 1:1 for a minute. It says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” I think most of us would agree God doesn’t make mistakes and he would never create anything imperfect. So, the original creation in this first verse was absolutely perfect. Without spot, without wrinkle as it were. But, when Lucifer said,

 I will ascend into heaven, 

— I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, 

— I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north, 

— I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, 

— I will be like the most High,

he fell from his position, and great was the fall. In fact, it was so great it affected the entire universe.

Jesus said in Luke 10:18, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Let’s look at some of the original Greek meanings of words in this verse.

“as lightening” (796NT, astrapē) would indicate that Satan fell as, or like a bolt of lightning, i.e. suddenly, out of nowhere causing great destruction.

“fall from” (4098NT, piptō) in the original Greek means he was thrust down from a higher place to a lower.

“heaven” (3772NT, ouranos) has a double-meaning here. It is defined as 1) the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it; the universe; the aerial heavens or sky, the region where the clouds and the tempests gather, and where thunder and lightning are produced. 2) the region above the sidereal heavens (skies), the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings.

Two other scriptures tied to the above definitions explaining Satan’s position in the sky and in Heaven are  Ephesians 2:2 and Ezekiel 28:12-19. Please take the time to read through these now.

Sky — Ephesians 2:1-2 — And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.

Heaven Ezekiel 28:12-19 — 12 “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre (prophetically Lucifer the Son of the Morning here) , and say to him, Thus says the Lord God: ‘You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. 14 You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you (the Five I wills) 16 In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. 18 By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you (lightning)and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. 19 All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.’”

We can see the result of the fall in Genesis 1:2 — “And the earth was (suddenly) without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Since the original had passed awayfrom that point God began recreating. His Spirit began moving upon the face of the confusion brought on by the fall of Lucifer — and — The very first Word He spoke was, “Let there be light!”

Since we’re talking about Light here, I am reminded of a story that was once told me. It is a conversation between Light and Darkness. Once upon a time, long, long ago . . .

Light said: “Hey, come on up out of your dark, cold and lonely hole to see me, to see what I’m like, okay?  Let me show you life-giving warmth and  brightness.”

Darkness (grumbling atrociously) replied: “No way, I like it down here.”

Light pleaded: “Oh, come on, I won’t hurt you. Give it a try. I think you’ll like it up here.”

Darkness (again grumbling atrociously) shoots back: “Quit bothering me. I like it down here.”

Light continued every day to ask Darkness to come up out of his hole and see him. So, finally Darkness gave in and said, “Oh, all right, just this once.”

Darkness climbed up out of his hole and saw the first rays of Light. They were blinding. He could hardly keep his eyes open, but had to admit that it was warm and it kind of grew on him to the point that he almost began liking it, but . . . he soon scampered back down into his dark, narrow hole, into his own world.

A few days later, Darkness had a great idea! He would ask Light to come down and see him! Light, of course, did not argue and went immediately down into the hole. He searched and searched and searched, but could find Darkness anywhere.

Yes, darkness loses! Light does NOT win — LIGHT IS! The Word says, “The LIGHT shineth in darkness.” John 1:5. “Shineth” is the present tense the old English word. Darkness has never overpowered LIGHT — never put it out. Nor has darkness ever absorbed light; neither has it ever been able to seize or possess it.

Let’s turn to Isaiah 40:26. “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.” When one reads this he naturally thinks imagines the numerous stars in the night sky. Each one reflects the light of the sun in the darkness of night, just like Jesus reflected the glory of His Father in the darkness of the physical, political and financial world more than 2,000 years ago. When Jesus walked into the lives of undone men, women and children more than 2,000 year ago, His LIGHT brought new life to them.

Please take 4:46 minutes of time now to view this National Aeronautics Space Administration video of the nearest galaxies to earth. You will be amazed.

He calls each star by a name. He knows exactly how many there are, probably a number that is not even known in our English vocabulary. YOU, too, are named. God knows exactly where you are in the universe. He knows your downsittings, your uprisings. Why, the number of hairs on your head are numbered.

Seeing the beauty of the night skies makes a person want to believe God. They say, “Seeing is believing.” Well, that is why the night skies permeate with the handiwork of God — that we might believe. The stars are His witness in the night heavens that He is The Almighty. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork . . . There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” Psalm 19:1, 3. Stars reflect the glory of the sun in the darkness of night. We, too as Christians (Christ-like ones), are created to show forth God’s glory in the darkness of the world in which we find ourselves living.

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” Isaiah 60:1-3

When you ask the Light to come into your life and shine, darkness has to disappear.

Related scriptures: Job 38:19; Micah 7:8; Matthew 5:14-16; Luke 1:79; John 8:12; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 21:23-25.

“Grand spiral galaxies often seem to get all the glory, flaunting their young, bright, blue star clusters in beautiful, symmetric spiral arms. But small, irregular galaxies form stars too. In fact dwarf galaxy IC 2574 shows clear evidence of intense star forming activity in its telltale pinkish regions of glowing hydrogen gas. Just as in spiral galaxies, the turbulent star-forming regions in IC 2574 are churned by stellar winds and supernova explosions spewing material into the galaxy’s interstellar medium and triggering further star formation.

A mere 12 million light-years distant, IC 2574 is part of the M81 group of galaxies, seen toward the northern constellation Ursa Major. Also known as Coddington’s Nebula, the lovely island universe is about 50,000 light-years across, discovered by American astronomer Edwin Coddington in 1898.” –photo credit

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The expression Praise ye the Lord is listed 35 times in the Bible, all in the Old Testament. The word Alleluia, ἁλληλουϊά is listed in the New Testament four times, all in the Book of Revelation, chapter 19. ALLELUIA ἁλληλουϊά, praise ye Jah!, an adoring exclamation:—alleluiah.

And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God . . . Revelation 19:1.

And that folks, is what Christmas is all about! Jesus, the promised Christ, the answer to EVERY problem we may face in this life, the solution to our calamity, the salve to our wounded hearts. Isn’t this what we all want for Christmas? The present God has already given every one of us is waiting under the tree! All we have to do is pick it up and open it. You may ask, how in the world can I open a gift I can’t see? Well, you can’t open God’s gift with your hands. You have to use your mouth! Eh? What in the world? Here’s how:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16.

We must believe in, accept and receive God’s gift of Jesus. Yep, that’s right. All we have to do to believe is speak (say) with our mouths, “Jesus, I accept you, the Gift of God. As I open my heart to receive you, I believe you will open your heart to receive me. Amen.”

Now, that is a true gift exchange!

Alleluia, Praise Ye The Lord!

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1. Once all villagers decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella. That’s FAITH.

2. When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them. That’s TRUST.

3. Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set the alarms to wake up. That’s HOPE.

4. We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future. That’s CONFIDENCE.

5. We see the world suffering, but still we get married and have children. That’s LOVE.

6. On an old man’s shirt was written a sentence, ‘I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience.’ That’s ATTITUDE.

Have a happy day and live your life like these Six Little Stories. When I was a child, I thought nap time was punishment. Now it’s like a mini-vacation.