Because He First Loved Me

God wants me to love Him with all my heart,
And He wants me to love Him with all my mind.
God wants me to love Him with all my strength;
Yes, He wants me to love Him with all my soul.
God wants me to love my neighbor as myself,
And He wants me to love my foe as my friend.
God wants me to love because He first loved me.

About This Song:
This song may be short, but it’s full of Scripture.

Luke 10:27:
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Matthew 5:44:
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. . .

1 John 4:19:
We love because he first loved us.

(all passages from the New International Version)

The lead sheet for this song is here.

Free lead sheets (lyrics, tune, and chords) are available for many of my songs. Click on the Lead Sheets tab at the top of this page to see which other ones are available. Videos for many of my songs, some recorded at home and some at our church’s nursing home ministry, can be accessed at my website, RogerBruner.com, under the Listen tab.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

Advertisements
Posted in Foe, Friend, MInd, Soul, Strength | 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 was very fond of how either side was acting.

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?

Free lead sheets (lyrics, tune, and chords) are available for many of my songs. Click on the Lead Sheets tab at the top of this page to see whether one is available for this song. Videos for many of my songs, some recorded at home and some at our church’s nursing home ministry, can be accessed at my website, RogerBruner.com, under the Listen tab. Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

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

In the Lord’s Hands

If you race against men
And the running wears you out,
Then how can you compete
Against swift horses?

If you always trip and fall
On a a path that’s straight and sure,
Then how can you hope to climb
The steepest mountains?

Who can hope to weigh the mountains
With a bathroom scale?
Who can hope to measure the oceans
With a coffee cup?

There are things we can’t do;
There are things we cannot change.
But everything in this whole world
Is in God’s hands.

Everything in this whole world
Is in God’s hands.

About This Song:

During the nearly nineteen years I worked at the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, I heard inspiring presentations from a number of people–fellow staff members, visiting missionaries, and special guests like Beth Moore and Ray Boltz. Today’s song was inspired by staff member Jimmy Maroney, who later went overseas as a missionary.

The words are based on two Scripture passages. The first is Jeremiah 12:5:

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”
(NIV)

That passage reminds me that humanity limits us greatly. We have high hopes that we have no chance of fulfilling.

The second is Isaiah 40:12:

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
Or weighed the mountains on the scales
And the hills in a balance?
(NIV)

God’s works of creation are miraculous. How can we ever understand them? How can we even weigh or measure them using our human limitations?

My limitations aren’t terribly important, however. Not as long as the world and everything in it is truly “in the Lord’s hands.”

Note: I forget what translation of the Bible I was using at the time, but the references to “coffee cup” and “bathroom scales” are not original.

Free lead sheets (lyrics, tune, and chords) are available for many of my songs. Click on the Lead Sheets tab at the top of this page to see whether one is available for this song. Videos for many of my songs, some recorded at home and some at our church’s nursing home ministry, can be accessed at my website, RogerBruner.com, under the Listen tab.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

 

Posted in Climbing, Coffee Cup, Dependability, Dependence, Falling, Horses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jimmy Maroney, Racing, Running, Scales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nothing I Am

If I could speak the tongues of angels and men,
But I spoke not with love, my words would be noise.
If I could preach and teach and understand all things,
But if I don’t have love, nothing I am.
Love is patient and kind, not jealous or rude;
Love is happy with the truth and forgives all wrongs and forgets.

If I had all the faith to make mountains move;
If I gave up my goods for show, not for love,
If I should sacrifice my body to be burned,
But if I don’t have love, nothing I am.
Love is eternal; love never fails.
All else is temporary, but love survives all things.

About This Song:

During the latter 1960s I heard a wonderful Sunday School lesson about 1 Corinthians 13–the “Love Chapter” of the Bible. What’s the last sermon or Bible study you still remember more than fifty years later?

Here’s the passage. . .

1 If I speak in the tongues 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, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)

As much as I, uh, love this passage, it’s always frustrated me. It describes perfect love. The kind I can never hope to attain completely.

No matter how much I love my wife or my daughter and her family or my stepdaughters, I can’t love them the way the apostle Paul describes in this chapter.

And maybe that’s the point.

God Himself is the living example of that kind of love. If I want to be more loving, I need to keep my eyes on Him–and to put love first in my life. No matter how well I might think I write novels and songs and take photographs and program web pages–even if I do those things in God’s name–those accomplishments are nothing compared to my ability to love others. Others including the unlovely and the unlovable.

Jesus died for people who hated Him. And for billions of people who hadn’t even been born yet. He loved them all.

I probably won’t have die for the sake of my enemies, but I can surely do a better job of loving the people my life touches.

How thankful I am that God loves me perfectly and wants me to learn to love Him–and other people–the same way.

What are your thoughts on perfect love? Please share a comment.

Free lead sheets (lyrics, tune, and chords) are available for many of my songs. Click on the Lead Sheets tab at the top of this page to see whether one is available for this song. Videos for many of my songs, some recorded at home and some at our church’s nursing home ministry, can be accessed at my website, RogerBruner.com, under the Listen tab.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

Posted in 1 Corinthians 13, Faith, God's love, Hope, Love, Perfect Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Owner’s Satisfaction

A man once planted a vineyard
And built a high wall all around;
He leased it out to some tenants
Who paid rent when the harvest was done.

Every year at the end of the harvest,
When the tenants had money in hand,
The owner sent round a servant
To collect the fair share he was due.

But the tenants were selfish and stubborn;
They balked at the small debt they owed–
Till one year they beat up the servant
And said that they’d no longer pay.

The vineyard owner was patient,
But insisted the debt must be paid.
He sent one servant after another;
Each was battered and beaten or killed.

When the owner had no more servants,
He sent his own dear son instead.
But the tenants murdered him also
And thought the whole debt issue dead.

But some of the tenants were sorry
For the way they’d mistreated the son.
When they begged the father’s forgiveness,
He told them their whole debt had been paid.

The day and hour are soon coming
When the rest of the tenants will pay,
And the owner will have satisfaction:
Death to all who reject his son still.

About This Song:

 

The words to this song are based on Jesus’s parable of the tenants–Mark 12:1-12:

1 Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
6 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
7 “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:
“‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
11 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.
(NIV)

Throughout the Old Testament, God sent prophets to warn His people of the simple debt they owed Him: their love, loyalty, and obedience. Yet His people tended not only to reject the prophets, but to beat and even kill some of them. Like the vineyard owner in the parable, God finally sent His Own Son to collect the debt His people owed Him. And like tenants in the parable, they ultimately killed the Owner’s Son and thought all was well.

I used the word “satisfaction” in the sense of “satisfying a debt.” That is, squaring it away.

God forgives  those who repent. Their repentance satisfies their debt to Him. People who continue to reject Him will find that death is the only acceptable payment for their continued rejection of His Son.

I hope your debt is satisfied. All comments are welcome.

Free lead sheets (lyrics, tune, and chords) are available for many of my songs. Click on the Lead Sheets tab at the top of this page to see whether one is available for this song. Videos for many of my songs, some recorded at home and some at our church’s nursing home ministry, can be accessed at my website, RogerBruner.com, under the Listen tab.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

Posted in Owner, Prophets, Redemption, Satisfaction, Tenants, Vineyard, Winepress | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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:
I wrote this song in the late 1960s and included it in a musical drama I’d composed–to be sung by members of a band who were doing their best to resist Christianity. So these lyrics are not coming from a Christian perspective.

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.

Free lead sheets (lyrics, tune, and chords) are available for many of my songs. Click on the Lead Sheets tab at the top of this page to see whether one is available for this song. Videos for many of my songs, some recorded at home and some at our church’s nursing home ministry, can be accessed at my website, RogerBruner.com, under the Listen tab.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

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

As We Go Through the World

As we go through the world,
We go to share the Word of God,
So that all may hear
And have a chance to believe.

For how can they believe
Unless they’ve a chance to hear,
And how else can they hear
Unless somebody goes?

But we are all going somewhere,
And God’s Word says to share as we go.
So as we go through the world,
We go to share the Word of God.
As we go through the world,
We go to share.

About This Song:
The message of this song is both similar to and quite different from another of my songs, “All Around the World.” But whereas the latter talks about being willing to go somewhere else to spread God’s Good News, “As We Go Through the World” emphasizes the fact that we’re all on the go. Perhaps only locally. Still, we run into spiritually needy people throughout our lives–even if God never “sends” us anywhere as such.

We have the Good News. It’s up to us to share it wherever we are.

Much of the inspiration for this song comes from what my pastor father used to say about Jesus’ Great Commission, which is found in Matthew 28:19-20:

19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

He pointed out that in the original language, Jesus really said, “As you go…”

But this song also has a bit of Acts 1:8 mixed in:

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV)

That verse doesn’t say Christians will all go elsewhere. It doesn’t even say that when they go they’re doing it for mission purposes. It DOES say that Christians–this verse is about the very early Christians, but isn’t limited to them–will share the Good News wherever they do go. I think of “Jerusalem” as my home city (perhaps even just my neighborhood), “Judea and Samaria” as other cities or states, and, well, I guess “ends of he earth” is obvious.

And, finally, this song also contains a bit of Romans 10:14:

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (NIV)

If you’re a Christian, are you sharing God’s love wherever you are? It doesn’t have to be an elaborate or an intimidating process. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.”

Free lead sheets (lyrics, tune, and chords) are available for many of my songs. Click on the Lead Sheets tab at the top of this page to see whether one is available for this song. Videos for many of my songs, some recorded at home and some at our church’s nursing home ministry, can be accessed at my website, RogerBruner.com, under the Listen tab.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

Posted in Going, Good News, Jerusalem, Samaria, Sharing, Sharing God's Love, Witnessing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment