Giver, Gift, Gifted

God is the vine,
And we are His branches.
We are known by the
Kind of fruit we bear.

refrain
God is the giver of every perfect gift.

Christ, His only Son, is God’s most perfect gift of all.
When we accept Him, we become the gifted,
Gifted with eternal life by God’s redeeming love,
By God’s redeeming love.

God’s fruit is love,
Love that gives and forgives,
And strives to turn
His enemies into friends.
(refrain)

God is the vine.
We are His branches.
When we share His love,
We bear His fruit.
(refrain)

About This Song:
“Giver, Gift, Gifted” uses something closely related to a neologism.

“Huh?” you might say. I had to look that word up the first time I saw it.

A neologism is a made-up word. We writers love to use them. Especially novelists and other writers of fiction.

In this song, however, I haven’t created a new word, but I’ve given a new meaning to an existing word: “Gifted” to signify that the recipient of God’s love (rather than talents) has been blessed with something special. The lyrics are based on these Scriptures. . .

  • James 1:17
    Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
    (NIV)
  • John 1:12
    Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
    (NIV)
  • John 3:16
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
    (NIV)
  • John 15:4
    Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
    (NIV)

Hence God is the Giver, Christ is the Gift, and Christians are the Gifted–the blessed recipients of God’s gift.

However, what the lyrics strongly imply comes closer to the conventional meaning of “gifted” as well. Through faith, Christians have been joined to the vine and thus enabled to bear God’s fruit.

If you’re a Christian, have you allowed God to fully enable you to bear His fruit? If you have a comment about this song, please leave a comment.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Fruit, Gift, Gifted, Giver, God's love, Love, Neologism, Uncategorized, Vine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That God’s Love Might Show

Live purest lives, God’s innocent children,
In this world of darkness and sin.
You must shine like stars in the night sky
As you share God’s message of life.

God is your father, Christ your brother.
How you live reflects on their name.
Show great care in using your freedom
That you don’t lead the weak to fall.

Feed those who are hungry, clothe the naked,
Visit those who are in jail.
Love each other and love those who hate you
That God’s love may show through you.

You must shine like stars in the night sky
That God’s love may show through you,
That God’s love may show through you.

About This Song:
The first thing my wife noticed about this song is that the words of the title don’t appear anywhere in the lyrics. That oversight occurred so many years ago I won’t make any effort to justify it now. I’ll just laugh at myself once more.

I have fond memories of singing this song the first time at an old age home in Australia. Can you imagine addressing a group of old folks as “God’s innocent children”? But when it comes to our relationship with God, we’re all children–regardless of age.

I believe this song probably comes closer to capturing the essence of the Christian life than any of my other songs.

It has a good biblical basis. The main idea comes from Phil. 2:15-16a:
15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
(NIV)

But related Scriptures include:

Matt. 5:44. . .
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
(NIV)

1 Cor. 8:9-13. . .
9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
(NIV)

Matt. 25:35-40. . .
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
(NIV)

John 1:12-13. . .
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
(NIV)

Rom. 9:8. . .
8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.
(NIV)

Rom. 14:13. . .
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
(NIV)

John 3:1-3. . .
1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
(NIV)

This planet we live on is populated with billions of people who don’t even know Jesus’ name, much less the hope He provides not only for eternity, but for a more meaningful life here on earth.

I can’t conceive of billions. I can’t even conceive of millions. But even if I could, that wouldn’t change the fact that my sphere of influence is pretty small.

That doesn’t free me from the responsibility to live in the light and to be light to others, though. I know the Good News. I have the Good News. But how can I show myself a child of God if I’m unwilling to share it with others?

“Faith without works is dead.”

What about you? Does your faith compel you to shine like a star in the night sky of sin and darkness so others can see you’re different?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Children, Darkness, Faithfulness, Light, Night Sky, Obedience, Serving Jesus, Sharing, Sharing God's Love, Stars, Works | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comfort Zone

Why should I wake when I can sleep?
Why should I stand when I can sit?
Why should I run when I can walk, Lord?
I want to stay safe,
I want to stay safe
In my comfort zone.

In my comfort zone, Lord,
In my comfort zone.
I want to stay safe, Lord,
In my comfort zone.

Why should I go when I can give?
Why should I preach when I can pray?
Why should I serve when I can send, Lord?
I want to stay safe,
I want to stay safe
In my comfort zone.

In my comfort zone, Lord,
In my comfort zone.
I want to stay safe, Lord,
In my comfort zone.

Lord, You want me to go WHERE?
Lord, You want me to do WHAT?
Don’t You know I can’t do THAT, Lord?
I’m scared to go out,
I’m scared to go out
From my comfort zone.

From my comfort zone, Lord,
From my comfort zone.
I’m scared to go out, Lord,
From my comfort zone.
From my comfort zone, Lord,
From my comfort zone.
Give me faith to go out
From my comfort zone.

About This Song:
Ten or fifteen years ago I was attending a missions conference at the Ridgecrest Lifeway Conference Center in western North Carolina. I was in the auditorium late one morning playing my guitar. The only other person in the auditorium–a lady–asked me to sing something for her. I chose this song, and it appeared to move her.

That evening when the call to surrender to mission service was given, she was one of the people who came forward. She said she’d been afraid to come out of her comfort zone before, but now she was ready.

I felt great, knowing that my song might have touched her that way. . .

Although our salvation through faith in Christ is free, the Christian life can be costly at times. God has high expectations of His Children. In fact, He wants each of us to participate in His Family business: reaching out to the lost and inviting them to join His family, too.

That’s not always easy. Especially for those of us who have trouble sharing our faith verbally. While a lifestyle witness is desirable, it may not accomplish much if we’re unwilling to say something about our faith.

A number of years ago a friend asked why I never talked about my religious beliefs. I told him I had been counting on the way I lived to speak for me. He told me in no uncertain terms that my lifestyle by itself didn’t cut it.

I suppose we’re all afraid to go out of our comfort zones in regard to one thing or another. But my constant prayer is that God will take me far enough out of mine to be a better witness than I used to be. But it’s a long, slow process.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Comfort Zone, Family Business, Going, Lifeway, Ridgecrest, Telling | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

By Faith We Are Saved

By faith we are saved,
But by our fruit we prove that
We’re what we claim to be.
For we cannot be light
If we hide from the world
That is dying in darkness.

By faith we are saved,
But by our light we are known.

By faith we are saved,
But by our fruit we prove that
We’re what we claim to be.
For we cannot be salt
If we lose the taste of love
That this world’s dying for.

By faith we are saved,
But by our salt we are known.

By faith we are saved,
And with hope we endure.
But with love we are everything
God wants us to be.

About This Song:
I dedicated this song to the memory of Mrs. Ed Weldon. Mr. Weldon was my junior college choir director.

The Scripture basis is Matthew 5:13-14. . .
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
(NIV)

Yet it also hints of ideas in 1 Corinithians 13:1-3. . .
1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
(NIV)

And perhaps a sprinkling of Mark 9:50. . .
50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
(NIV)

While this song doesn’t specifically refer to James 2:14-17, I certainly had that in mind when writing “By Faith We Are Saved”. . .
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
(NIV)

Faith is a good thing. Right?

Faith in God. Faith in our family and friends. Faith in our neighbors.

Yet our neighbors–and even our closest family and friends–will occasionally let us down. As we let them down.

But God never lets us down. He may not always do things the way we want–He has a perspective and a purpose we lack–but He is faithful. Always. Every time. Under all circumstances.

It’s reassuring to know that our relationship with God results from our faith in Him through accepting His Son, Jesus, as our Lord and Savior.

But as the Scriptures this song is based on emphasize, faith ought to result in “works”–doing the things God expects of us. This post would be endless if I tried to quote the appropriate verses.

Suffice it to say that God expects us to be salt and light to the world. If we demonstrate real Christian love to those about us, we will bear the kind of fruit that shows the world that our faith–and the God our faith is in–is real.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Faith, God's Dependability, Light, Salt, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All Those Who Wait Upon the Lord

All those who wait upon the Lord
Shall have their strength renewed.
They will walk and not get weary
And run, but not run down.

Yes, they’ll walk and not get weary
And they’ll run, but not run down.
They’ll walk and not get weary
And they’ll run, but not run down,
And they’ll rise up on wings like eagles
And fly, they will fly, they will fly.
They’ll fly, yes they’ll fly, yes they’ll fly.
They’ll fly, how they’ll fly, how they’ll fly.
They will fly.

About this Song:
This song is based in a very obvious way on Isaiah 40:31, a verse familiar to most Christians.

Here it is in five different translations:

  • but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (NIV)
  • But those who trust the LORD will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired. (CEV)
  • But they that hope in the Lord, shall change strength, they shall take feathers as eagles; they shall run, and shall not travail; they shall go, and shall not fail. (But they who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall grow wings like eagles; they shall run, and shall not labour, or struggle; they shall go, and shall not faint.) (WYC)
  • But those expecting Jehovah pass [to] power, They raise up the pinion as eagles, They run and are not fatigued, They go on and do not faint! (YLT)
  • He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts.For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. (MSG)

Although the wording differs from one translation to the next, the meaning is clear.

I wasn’t overly familiar with that verse until sometime after the death of my three-day-old daughter in 1976. Shortly after that, our pastor was talking about a well-known minister who’d had to endure the death of his daughter from leukemia. This passage had given him great comfort, and it did the same for me.

So much so that I reworked the wording to say it the way that meant the most to me and set it to music. Even now, this is probably the favorite of my original songs.

One thing you may notice is the way I changed the emphasis so that walking preceded running, and running preceded flying. Each of those activities is more difficult–or in the case of flying impossible–to do without God’s help.

I discovered in my novel writing that obtaining the right to quote a song isn’t always easy or affordable, so I’ve used my own songs in both of my published books. You can find this one in Lost in Dreams.

Let me add an amusing note to this story. A few years ago, I shared this song with singer/song writer Lynn DeShazo. (She’s the writer of More Precious than Silver and a number of other familiar contemporary Christian songs.) She had one objection: The “run but not run down” reminded her of the Energizer Bunny!

Fortunately, Lynn seems to be in a minority.

Have you ever experienced a problem so severe that you required God’s miraculous help to enable you to even walk, much less fly? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Eagles, Isaiah, Lynn DeShazo, Patience, Running, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Witness Between Us

Sing to the Lord; let’s make up a new song.
Sing to the Lord; let’s make up a new song.
Sing to the Lord; let’s make up a new song
As a witness between us that He is our God.

Sing of His love and sing of His goodness. . .
As a witness between us that He is our God.

Sing of His mercy and His forgiveness. . .
As a witness between us that He is our God.

Sing a new song to the Lord;
Sing of His infinite greatness.

Sing of His power and sing of His presence. . .
As a witness between us that He is our God.

Sing of his truth and sing of His wisdom. . .
As a witness between us that He is our God.

Sing a new song to the Lord;
Sing of His infinite greatness.

Sing to the Lord; let’s make up a new song. . .
As a witness between us that He is our God.

About This Song:

What Christians sing is a witness to others of what they believe. And sometimes that involves the creation of a new song. To be God-honoring, it doesn’t need to have professional potential or adhere to the rules of good musical composition. It just needs to be sincere–from the heart.

I made this song repetitious on purpose–to enable people to sing along with it more easily.

The basic idea comes from Psalm 98:1. . .
Sing to God a brand-new song.
He’s made a world of wonders!
He rolled up his sleeves,

He set things right.
(MSG)

and Joshua 22:34. . .
Reuben and Gad named the altar:
A Witness Between Us.
God Alone Is God.
(MSG)

The rest of the lyrics come from various Psalms and name many of God’s attributes. If you can think of any  I should consider adding–at least as optional stanzas–please Contact Me and let me know.

This song seemed complete for a number of years. But then a new idea came to mind and I  needed to add something. The little bridge that’s in italics: “Sing a new song to the Lord; Sing of His infinite greatness.”

Finally this song had something to break the potential tedium of the repetitious stanzas. I don’t know about other people, but I enjoy singing this song more with the addition of the bridge, even though–unlike a refrain–it only appears twice in the song.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in God's Attributes, God's goodness, God's love, Joshua, Psalms, Singing, Songs, Witness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blessed by the Past

We’ve been blessed in the past by the Saints who’ve gone before us,
Who in times of tribulation showed theirs was a living faith.
But the future is our challenge, for in days of wealth and leisure,
Will we show a lonely world that God is love?

We’ve been blessed by the past, but will we embrace the future?
When the Lord asks, “Who will go for me?” how will we answer Him?
Will we stay safe in our churches and drop coins into the offering,
Or will we respond to Him, “I’m yours; send me!”?

We’ve been blessed by the past, but when we embrace the future,
We will prove to be a blessing if we show our faith is real.
When we sacrifice our wealth and when we sacrifice our leisure,
We will show a lonely world that God is love.

About This Song:
A number of years ago, one of the Baptist associations in Virginia held a song writing competition as part of the celebration of a significant anniversary, although I can’t recall which association–or even which anniversary.

The theme was “Blessed by the Past.” I honestly thought that was a pretty weird idea–something I ordinarily wouldn’t have been interested in. But it seemed like a worthy challenge.

Months after the event at which the winning song was shared, I sent email to the association office. My song hadn’t won the contest, and that was okay, but what had become of it?

When I heard back, the contest coordinator apologized for the fact my song had somehow gotten lost–and consequently had not been considered.

I didn’t have much choice but to shrug off my frustration. Nothing they could do to make amends.

Have you ever put your best efforts into something you wouldn’t ordinarily have done? Something that seemed like the right thing to do, only to have your efforts ignored–or perhaps to have the project backfire on you? Then you can relate.

Yet as I look at these lyrics, perhaps my decision to write them was my way of telling God, “I’m Yours; send me.”

I believe God sometimes calls people to go somewhere or do something  to test their obedience. God’s asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac comes to mind. God didn’t want Abraham to actually kill his son, but to prove that he put God first. So God was able to prepare Abraham to do what He really wanted.

Let me change directions.

American Christians are currently under attack from the federal government, homosexual organizations, abortionists, atheists and non-Christian religious groups, and who knows how many other special interest groups that represent things Christians cannot biblically accept or endorse. And in some cases they are things Christians must actively oppose.

We may well be facing times of tribulation. Are we prepared to sacrifice our Isaacs to show that ours is a living faith in a loving God–a loving God who teaches us to “hate the sin, but love the sinner”?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Anniversary, Blessings, Future, Past, Persecution, Song Writing Competition, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment