Too Used to the Dark

We’re getting too used to the dark;
We have been learning to live in the night.
We have forgotten how the world looks in the light.

We are getting too used to the surface;
Forgetting that there’s an underneath.
We have been drowning ourselves in the well of our unbelief.

We have forgotten the meaning of goodness.
We have forgotten what is meant by right.
We have given up believing that believing in God
Will carry us out of the dark world of our night.

About This Song:
If you see rhymes in one of my songs, it’s apt to be one of the older ones. In this case, it dates back to 1972.

M. Brent Coleman, my pastor during my first few post-college years, gave a great sermon illustration one Sunday. An illustration that jumped out, grabbed my attention, and refused to let go. A song waiting to be written.

He talked about walking into an oppressively dark restaurant. He could tell how dark it was because of his inability to see well when he first went inside. That was because of the contrast; he had just been outside enjoying the daylight. So the difference between outside and inside was as unmistakable as, uh, day and night.

The longer he stayed inside, though, the less conscious he was of the darkness. Of its being so objectionable. He grew used to it. More accepting of it. More comfortable about being there, no matter how uneasy he’d felt at first.

When we’re walking with God in His Way, we walk in His light. A light like no other. We’re “outdoors” in a special kind of way. There’s no stumbling when we’re walking close behind Him.

But when something tempts us enough that we go off on our own sinful way, we move from the safety of His light to the dangers of darkness. At first we realize we’ve strayed–our consciences are apt to bother us–but the longer we remain in the darkness of that “restaurant of sin,” the more comfortable we feel. And the less we worry about the pitfalls we may encounter.

A Child of God must be constantly on the alert. We can’t avoid temptations–even Jesus was tempted–but we can and must resist them. And remain in the safety of God’s Light.

What do you think? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

 I’ll be back again next Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the bottom right.

I have free lead sheets (chords, notes, & words) for many of my songs. To see which ones and print or download any of them, go HERE.

“As I Come Singing” isn’t my only blog. Go HERE to visit “On Aging Gracelessly.”

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
SmallGusCover
Best regards,
Roger

 

Posted in Brent Coleman, Darkness, Light, Sin, Temptation | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Like a Dog Chasing His Own Tail

Like a dog that is chasing his own tail
In a circle around, as he goes to lie down,
So my life’s been a cycle of searching
For happiness that disappears
As soon as it’s found.

Like a dog madly scratching at his fleas,
As if to say, “Please get rid of these.”
So my life’s been an everyday battle
Against fears and failures
And my weaknesses*.

Like a hungry dog that is wolfing down a big meal,
Slurping water everywhere, trying to get his fill,
So my life’s been spent thirsting for truth
And trying to sort through
The things that aren’t real.

Like a lost dog that’s finally found his home again–
No more to be alone, no more to roam–
So my life’s found a safe home in Jesus;
I’ll live with Him forever,
For I am His own.

*I pronounce this as “weaknessees” to force an amusing rhyme with fleas, please, and these.

About This Song:
When I was growing up, we always had a dog. First was Melina (that’s from  Greek for black), a mixed breed pup some friend of my parents brought back from the South Pacific at the end of the second World War. She lived to be seventeen or eighteen.

Then during my college years came Elsa, followed in turn by Fancy. Both were German Short-haired Pointers. Despite their high breeding, they proved too nervous to function as show dogs. They made great pets, though–once we got used to their skittishness at being touched or petted. The last dog I remember–this was long after I grew up–was a miniature Schnauzer named Schneider.

As a mid-lifer, I had to take Schneider to be put down because my father was seriously ill at the time. Too ill to do it himself. In fact, I’m not sure he knew what my mother and I were doing. If I recall correctly, she was relying heavily on his acceptance that we had done what had to be done. He accepted Schneider’s death as gracefully as possible once he got better.

When my father’s 70th birthday was approaching, a dog-themed song seemed an appropriate gift. That’s how this song came into being. The framed copy of the lead sheet I gave him that day is hanging in my hallway.

Now flash forward. From 1981 to 1991. I was on my first volunteer mission trip–to do ministry activities at the Windsor District Baptist Church about fifty miles northwest of Sydney, Australia. Our host pastor, George Stubbs, was a diligent worker, and he determined to work our team as fully as he could. He was–to be blunt–a loving slave driver.

One of our activities was presenting Scripture lessons in the public schools. When Pastor Stubbs told us the lesson was to be about the lost sheep, he looked at me as if I might pull something out of my head–easily. I nearly panicked. I didn’t mind talking to kids. I just didn’t know how to do it. And what was I to sing? I’d never written any children’s songs, and I’d never written one about searching for and finding the one lost sheep.

But then this song came to mind. All of the stanzas dealt with our need for Jesus, and that final one dealt specifically with lostness and coming home. God worked a miracle in helping me introduce that song in a way the children could really relate to, and I ended up using it in other Australian schools and on mission trips in other countries.

I hope these lyrics not only make you smile, but inspire you to appreciate what a privilege it is to belong to belong to God and to depend on Him for your needs.

Are you a dog person? Can you relate to these lyrics? How about leaving a comment?

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I’ll be back again next Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the bottom right.

I have free lead sheets (chords, notes, & words) for many of my songs. To see which ones and print or download any of them (including today’s), go HERE.

“As I Come Singing” isn’t my only blog. Go HERE to visit “On Aging Gracelessly.”

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
SmallGusCover
Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Australia, Birthday Present, Children, Dog, Lostness, Missions, Searching, Windsor District Baptist Church | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All Members of One Body

We are all members of one body,
And each of us has a different part to be;
We can’t all be hands and arms
Or the body will not go
Where Christ–the Head–wants the body,
Where Christ–the Head–tells the body,
Where Christ–our Head–tells His body to go.

We are all members of one body,
And each of us has a special part to be;
We can’t all be feet and legs
Or the body will not do
What Christ–the Head–wants the body,
What Christ–the Head–tells the body,
What Christ–our Head–tells His body to do.

We are all necessary members of Christ’s body,
And each of us is an essential part of the whole.
We support and are supported by the rest of the body,
And that is how the body lives and grows.

About This Song:
This song is based on 1 Corinthians 12:12ff. Here’s the passage from the NIV:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Isn’t that the most amazing passage? It never fails to inspire me. I look at my own meager talents (they seem meager to me, anyhow). I write music. I play guitar, bass guitar,and sing. I write Christian novels, three of which have been published. I like to take pictures. I enjoy encouraging other people. I believe in the biblical tithe, and I believe in supporting missions. Especially through our church’s nursing home ministry.

Those things don’t make me special, though.  They never will.  But using them to minister through my local church, where each of them is needed, is special indeed.

So the fact that I don’t preach, that I get tongue-tied trying to share my witness (except under just the right God-enabled circumstances), and that I don’t serve as a deacon or a Sunday School teacher–none of those things matters. God has called other people–people He has qualified–to perform those tasks. So I would be foolish to ignore the apostle Paul’s advice in this passage about the unity of the church and its many parts and dwell on what I can‘t be and can’t do.

Thank You, Lord, for the talents You’ve given me and the way You permit me to use them. Help me to  develop them to the fullest–and help me to be ever ready to use them. Not so anyone will look at me and say, “Isn’t he special?” but so my part(s) will help the whole to function even more smoothly. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

What about you? What part do you play in the whole? How about sharing a comment?

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I’ll be back again next Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the bottom right.

I have free lead sheets (chords, notes, & words) for many of my songs. To see which ones and print or download any of them, go HERE.

“As I Come Singing” isn’t my only blog. Go HERE to visit “On Aging Gracelessly.” OnAgingGracelessly.com

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
SmallGusCover
Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Body, Church, Effectiveness, Members, Ministry, Parts of the Whole, Unity, Wholeness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adding Up Fractions

Adding up fractions to total their sum
Requires finding their common denominator.
So growing a whole church from people like us
Takes our faith and our love and our common vision.

If you want to add two-fourths and five-tenths,
You cannot do it directly.
But if you look at both numbers as halves,
Their sum can be easily figured.

Adding up fractions to total their sum
Requires finding their common denominator.
So growing a whole church from people like us
Takes our faith and our love and our common vision.

The Lord wants to bond the “us-es” and “thems”
To form one sound church body,
By overlooking our differences
And using what we have in common.

Adding up fractions to total their sum
Requires finding their common denominator.
So growing a whole church from people like us
Takes our faith and our love and our common vision.

About This Song:
Some years ago I belonged to a church that was experiencing a severe lack of unity. The members were not of one accord, and I wasn’t sure God felt comfortable on either side. The spirit was fractured, and its ministries ineffective because of each side’s insistence on being “right.”

I wrote this song to encourage the members to seek those things we had in common: to find our lowest common denominator so God could add our mutual strengths together to form a perfect One. A unity He could use us for His purposes–whatever way He wanted to.

While my song may not have inspired the desired changes, the church eventually began to pull together. Better than before, anyhow. But can you imagine how much more effective this church might have become if the members had overlooked their fractiousness and put themselves fully into God’s hands to be made perfectly whole?

Note: In all fairness, I haven’t been involved in that church in recent years, so I cannot say that complete healing hasn’t taken place since then. Only that it hadn’t at the time I left.

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I’ll be back again next Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the bottom right.

I have free lead sheets (chords, notes, & words) for many of my songs. To see which ones and print or download any of them (not including today’s), go HERE.

“As I Come Singing” isn’t my only blog.  Go HERE to visit “On Aging Gracelessly.”

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
SmallGusCover
Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Church, Fractions, God's plan, God's Will, Good Intentions, Unity | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let The Whole Earth Ring!

Let the whole earth ring
With a shout of great joy
To the Lord, the King of Kings!
We serve Him gladly and obey His commandments,
And we sing glad songs
When we enter His presence.

We come into His gates with thanksgiving
And enter His courts with praise;
We thank Him for who He is
And praise His holy name.

Let the whole earth ring
With a shout of great joy
To the Lord, the King of Kings!
We serve Him gladly and obey His commandments,
And we sing glad songs
When we enter His presence.

We know He’s our Creator;
We didn’t make ourselves.
We’re sheep, and He’s our Shepherd;
We’re servants; He’s our Lord.

Let the whole earth ring
With a shout of great joy
To the Lord, the King of Kings!
We serve Him gladly and obey His commandments,
And we sing glad songs
When we enter His presence.

The Lord has been so good to us;
His love has never failed.
We know His promises will keep coming true
In all the years to come.

Let the whole earth ring
With a shout of great joy
To the Lord, the King of Kings!
We serve Him gladly and obey His commandments,
And we sing glad songs
When we enter His presence.

About This song:
One Thanksgiving Day years ago, I sat on the floor of my living room surrounded by different translations of the Bible.

These are several of the translations I was using:

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2     Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.
New International Version (NIV)

1 Sing to the Lord, all the world!
2 Worship the Lord with joy;
    come before him with happy songs!
3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God.
    He made us, and we belong to him;
    we are his people, we are his flock.
4 Enter the Temple gates with thanksgiving;
    go into its courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise him.
5 The Lord is good;
    his love is eternal
    and his faithfulness lasts forever.
Good News Translation (GNT)

1 Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
3 Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Why was I so interested in Psalm 100 that day? Because it best expressed what Thanksgiving meant to me, and I felt inspired to turn those words into a new song, while remaining as true to the meaning of the Scripture as possible. Click here for a PDF lead-sheet.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you won’t be surprised that I did take a few liberties with the words. Did you notice the one major change I made? I switched what should have been the first and second stanzas. Although I may have had a reason for doing that, I couldn’t tell you what it was now.

I never let Thanksgiving pass without singing this song many times. And now that I’m involved in an almost-weekly nursing home ministry, the folks at the Ashland Convalescent Center can count on hearing me do it for them each year.

No matter where or when this Psalm is sung–or how the words are arranged–may the joy it expresses reflect your feelings of thanksgiving for the countless blessings God provides day in and day out.

What are you thankful for today? Please share a comment.

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I’ll be back again next Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the bottom right.

I have free lead sheets (chords, notes, & words) for many of my songs. To see which ones and print or download any of them (including today’s), go HERE.

“As I Come Singing” isn’t my only blog. Go HERE to visit “On Aging Gracelessly.”

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
SmallGusCover
Best regards,
Roger

 

Posted in God's love, God's Provision, PDF, Praise, Psalm 100, Psalms, Thanksgiving, The Devil and Pastor Gus, Uncategorized, Worship | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All He Made Was Good

When God created the world,
He began a major project,
And when each phase was finished,
He saw that it was good.
Sometimes we face a task
That seems quite overwhelming.
Yet when we let God help us,
We see the end is good.

On the first day of creation,
God made the day and night,
On he second day of creation,
He made the sky above.
On the third day of creation,
He made the earth and sea.
And day by day He looked and saw
That all He’d made was good.

On the fourth day of creation,
God made the sun and moon.
On the fifth day of creation,
He made the birds and beasts.
On the sixth day of creation,
He made woman and man.
And day by day He looked and saw
That all He’d made was good.

When God created the world,
He began a major project,
And when each phase was finished,
He saw that it was good.
Sometimes we face a task
That seems quite overwhelming.
Yet when we let God help us,
We see the end is good.

About This Song:
How often have you been requested–or required–to do something that seemed totally impossible? I still remember demands like those that made me cringe in my own weakness. No matter how confident I felt about some of my abilities, I was weak in a number of others–including areas I should have been stronger in. Is it any wonder that assignments outside my comfort zone seemed IMPOSSIBLE?

Are you with me so far? Can you relate?

Now let’s think back three thousand years or so (many millions of years if your belief system can reconcile evolution and creationism), to the time God created the world and everything it contains.

The first question that comes to my mind is where God was and where He came from if nothing existed before Him. I can only assume that He lived (and still lives) in a dimension that’s not part of our normal human experience.

Hmm. That works for me, even though it doesn’t really answer the question.

And how did He plan something so intricate? Although I picture myself as a creative person, I can’t imagine designing the layout of the universe and determining the functionality of even the tiniest parts. Not to mention the relationships among them. I may detest flies and mosquitoes, but I don’t doubt they played a part in His Grand Design.

But what about the act of creation? How could anyone make something from nothing? Especially something as extensive as our universe? Did God use materials from His dimension? I can’t even guess at that one.

And to create life where none existed before? That took a degree of intelligence–or an ability that transcends intelligence–no human being will ever come close to matching.

The more I look at what God faced “in the beginning,” the tinier my seemingly impossible challenges seem. Especially since God doesn’t expect me to accomplish everything on my own. He’s standing close by, ready to help. All I have to do is ask.

He doesn’t expect me to do everything at once, either. He set the example for that. He took His time–whether in 24-hour days or some unit of time we humans are unfamiliar with–and carried out His plan in steps,  steps that were both logical and realistic for Him. Then He assessed His progress at the end of each step. He never had to back up and redo anything. He’d been careful all along, and He hadn’t made any mistakes.

Then at the end, He rested. Not because He was tired, I’ve been taught. But to set an example for mankind. Even the Energizer bunny runs down eventually, and God wants us to get enough rest to face the next project refreshed and ready to go.

Yes, I wish I could look at each of those major projects I’ve faced over the sixty-six years of my life and say that each of them was good, but they didn’t always turn out acceptably. I failed sometimes. Too often. Maybe I didn’t do the proper planning. Maybe I didn’t break my work down into the proper steps. Maybe I wasn’t sufficiently physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually rested.

Or maybe I just didn’t rely on God enough.

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I’ll be back again next Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the bottom right.

I have free lead sheets (chords, notes, & words) for many of my songs. To see which ones and print or download any of them, go HERE.

“As I Come Singing” isn’t my only blog. Go HERE to visit “On Aging Gracelessly.”

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. RogerBruner.com Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.

SmallGusCover

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Creation, Creativeness, Energizer Bunny, Planning, Reliance, The Devil and Pastor Gus | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perfect Present

When you purchase presents for the people you love,
It’s fun to do because you know what they like.
But could you imagine if you had to choose the perfect gift
For a perfect stranger?

That’s what God did for me when He sent Christ to earth.
He gave me His love long years before I was born;
Yet He knew me better then than I know myself today.
He knew His love would be what I need now.

When I shake the hands of the people I meet,
I can’t imagine just who they really are.
Yet God sees within their hearts and knows what each one needs;
He longs to love them through me.
Yes, God longs to give them His love through me.

About this Song:
Even though we sometimes complain about people who’re hard to buy for,  most of the folks on our gift-giving lists aren’t that bad. Especially if we’ve known them for years. We’re familiar with their tastes…their interests. . .their preferences.

Hmm. But what about those office gift drawings?

That’s almost like buying for a perfect stranger. Sure, those drawings frequently include a request from the recipient-to-be, but they can still be a challenge. Especially if the requested item doesn’t make sense or isn’t easily found.

God has a unique perspective on giving mankind the truly perfect gift, though. That’s because He knew each of us from the beginning of time. He knew who we would be and what we would need the most.

He knew we would inherit sin and death because Adam and Eve were going to use their free will to sin. He wanted us to have something better. Life. Real life.

So He gave us the Perfect Present by sending Christ to earth not only to show us how to live righteously, but to set us free. How could a present be more perfect than that?

But His giving didn’t end with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As crazy as it might sound, He also gives each of us the freedom to reject that first gift. But if we accept it–a meaningful earthly life and the assurance of eternal life in Heaven–we also accept His desire for us to share His gift with others.

Many of them will be strangers. Or people we don’t know overly well.

We may not know what near-strangers think they want, but God knows who they are. He knows their real needs. He knows how desperately they need His love.

So when we share His love with them, we’re offering a pre-approved gift. A gift He has pre-approved, that is, and that makes it a Perfect Present.

Have you accepted God’s Perfect Present? Does sharing it with others come naturally? How about leaving a comment?

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I’ll be back again next Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the bottom right.

I have free lead sheets (chords, notes, & words) for many of my songs. To see which ones and print or download any of them, go HERE.

“As I Come Singing” isn’t my only blog. Go HERE to visit “On Aging Gracelessly.”

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
SmallGusCover
Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Eternity, Gifts, God's love, Perfect Present, Presents, Sharing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment