A Rare and Sweet Perfume

(You may find a lead sheet for this song here and a very old recording here.)

We are called to share God’s Good News
Like a rare and sweet perfume
Whose fragrance gives life,
But–if rejected–
It becomes the stench of death.

As we share the news of God’s love,
With its rare and sweet perfume,
We spread fragrance where we go,
Leaving traces where we’ve been.

We are called to share God’s Good News
Like a rare and sweet perfume
Whose fragrance gives life,
But–if rejected–
It becomes the stench of death.

Who can truly tell of God’s love
And its rare and sweet perfume?
Only those who’re known by its scent
And by the life it gives.

We are called to share God’s Good News
Like a rare and sweet perfume
Whose fragrance gives life,
But–if rejected–
It becomes the stench of death.

About this Song:
Roger-2021
This song is based on 2 Corinthians 2:14-17. I got the idea from an old church friend, Mike Motsinger.

Here are the verses in three editions of the Bible:

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.
New International Version (NIV)

14-16In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
16-17This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No— but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.
The Message (MSG)

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
New King James Version (NKJV)

Have you ever smelled someone before actually seeing him or her? The scent might have been pleasant–perhaps a nice perfume or after-shave worn in moderation. Or it might have been the harshest and most offensive of body odors. Either way, however, you couldn’t help associating that person with his or her smell. If you liked the smell, you were apt to accept that person. Or to reject him or her if the odor was unpleasant.

We’re supposed to figuratively “smell for God,” if I may describe it that way. Sharing the Good News of God’s love is like walking through a room and giving off a pleasing scent that lingers long after we leave.

But not everyone likes the same pleasing scents. Some people are allergic to them. For one reason or another, some of the people who “smell” our sharing of the Gospel are going to, uh, turn their noses up at it–to reject the Gospel message. Because they have chosen eternal death in the process, our sweet smell becomes a scent of death for them, even though they don’t realize it.

Christian, is your smell sweet enough to be appealing?

Non-Christian, won’t you consider the possibility that God’s Good News might be worth “sniffing at” again?

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

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

Best regards,
Roger

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Quench My Thirst, Lord

(I’ve updated a number of the lyrics from what you’ll hear on this very old recording, but at least it’ll give you an idea of what it sounds like.)

Quench my thirst, Lord;
Fill my life with things that always satisfy.
Take away my penchant for
Those things that always leave me dry.

Take my doubt, fill me with faith.
Take my dread, fill me with hope.
Take my fear, fill me with peace.
Quench my thirst, Lord.

Take my dark, fill me with light.
Take my cold, fill me with warmth.
Take my greed, fill me with care.
Quench my thirst, Lord.

Take my lies, fill me with truth.
Take my wrongs, fill me with right.
Take my self, fill me with You.
Quench my thirst, Lord.

About This Song:

Do you recall a time you were really thirsty? I mean “about to pass out thirsty.”

I experienced one of those times some years ago while having fun at Kings Dominion (an amusement park near Richmond). I was so out-of-it I barely knew what I was doing, and I wasn’t even up to asking anyone for help. Being there by myself didn’t help.

My next question is what you drank when you were that thirsty. Water, juice, an energy drink, a soft drink?

Not a caffeinated soft drink, I hope. From what I’ve been told, caffeine dehydrates the body. It might quench your thirst temporarily, but it won’t restore lost water to your body.

Often–too often–we fill ourselves with things that aren’t harmless. Things that hurt us and our relationships with other people. We may not even realize how much we’re gorging ourselves on those things.

They’re not things that satisfy us.

My prayer for you today is that–if you’re filling up on any of the negative things listed in this song–you’ll pray for God to quench whatever you’re really thirsting for with whatever He knows is better and wants you to have.

A PDF lead sheet of this song may be found here.

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

Best regards,
Roger

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His Life for Mine

You may listen to a recording of this song here.

I was God’s enemy
Till He made me His friend,
Giving the greatest gift,
His life for mine.

God gave Himself through Christ;
His Son He sacrificed.
He died to give new life:
His life for mine.

Though a good man might give
His own life for his friends,
Yet who would die to save
His enemies?

Even the least man gives
His family what it needs.
Yet who’d give up his own
Son for his foes?

I was God’s enemy
Till He made me His friend.

About this Song:
Roger-2021
I wrote this song in 1982–and put it in a minor key. I don’t think I ever sang it publicly that way but once, and that was at a tiny church in Australia. Even though it has a positive message, I found the minor key to be so depressing I actually said something about that to the congregation. Not something I would normally do, especially during a worship service, and I still feel funny about having done it.

So in 2003 I decided to rework the melody and put the song in a major key. Much nicer, I believe.

If you’re familiar with Scripture, you won’t have any trouble recognizing the passages referenced.

John 15 says:

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

And Matthew 7:11 says:

As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

There may well be additional relevant Scriptures I haven’t thought to include here. If you can think of any, please feel free to post them in a comment.

A free lead sheet (lyrics, tune, and chords) is available for this song here.  And if you enjoy reading clean, quirky Christian fiction, you may click on the pictures below to go to Amazon.

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

Best regards,
Roger

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ALMOST YOU’RE SMILING

NOTE: This is a repeat of a 2020 post of this song. Because this song has such a special meaning at this time of year, I won’t apologize for posting it again now…and I’ll do it again next year. Listen to an audio recording here.

Little baby in a manger, almost You’re crying.
Can it be You feel the coldness of the world You’ve come to?
Do You somehow miss the warmth You’ve left at home in Heaven?
Little baby in a manger, almost You’re crying.

Do You see Yourself as just an ordinary baby,
Or do You somehow recognize that You’re the Son of God?

Little baby in a stable, almost You’re smiling.
Can it be You feel the joy of those who wait Your coming?
Do You somehow know what hope You’ve brought to earth from Heaven?
Little baby in a stable, almost You’re smiling.

Do you see Yourself as just an ordinary baby,
Or do You somehow recognize that You’re the King of Kings?”

(instrumental third stanza)

Do you see Yourself as just an ordinary baby,
Or do You somehow recognize that You’re Emmanuel?

About This Song

If you’re like me, you’ve often wished you’d been around two thousand years ago to witness Jesus’s life and ministry in person.

But wishing doesn’t change the fact we were born two millennia too late. Rather than fret about it, let’s imagine we were among the shepherds who saw and listened to the angels’ spectacular announcement of Jesus’s birth. No Super Bowl commercials will ever come close to matching it. And let’s imagine we’ve come to the stable and are looking at Jesus as a newborn.

Hmm. No matter how special the angels said He was, He looks pretty much like any other baby, doesn’t He? Or does He look a little bit more peaceful than a regular baby as he lies there sleeping?

He opens His eyes. He appears to look first at you and then at me. Strange. Newborns aren’t able to focus that way, are they? More amazing still, He appears to be deep in thought. But babies can’t think yet; thought requires a knowledge of language, something  babies aren’t born with.

Of course we know Jesus is both human and divine. So isn’t it possible He can observe things a normal baby can’t observe? And think or feel things babies shouldn’t be able to think or feel?  Alas, the Bible doesn’t tell us.

I speak to baby Jesus, aware that He shouldn’t be able to understand me. Yet He appears to be listening to my words. Perhaps even comprehending them. As if He might truly be more than just an ordinary baby. After all, fully human and fully divine is a strange and powerful combination. Not to mention a unique one.

Yes, Jesus is unique. Even so, I’m certain He won’t be able to answer my questions or comment about my observations.

I don’t know how Jesus differed from ordinary babies while, at the same time, still being quite ordinary. It doesn’t  matter. Even as a baby, He deserved and deserves my praise and adoration during the whole year. Not just at Christmas.

Please feel free to share a comment.

The free lead sheet (lyrics, tune, and chords) for this song is available here.

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

Best regards,
Roger

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Without You, Lord (long version)

I’m a rainbow with no colors;
I’m a fence that has no gate.
I am sugar without sweetness;
I’m a knife without a blade.
I’m a house that has no framework;
I am teeth that have no bite.
I’m a can that has no contents;
I’m a forest without trees.

refrain:
Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t be all You want me to be.
Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t do all You want me to do.

I am gold that has no glitter;
I’m a sparrow with no song.
I’m a joke that has no punchline;
I am fire that has no flame.
I’m a book that has no pages;
I’m a table with no legs.
I’m a phone that has no number;
I’m a pizza with no cheese.
(refrain)

I’m a compass with no needle;
I’m a window without glass.
I am mail without an address;
I’m a pill that gives no cure.
I am steel that has no hardness;
I’m a blimp that holds no air.
I’m a door that has no hinges;
I’m a lamp that gives no light.
(refrain)

I’m a camera without focus;
I’m a plane that has no wings.
I’m a map that has no markings;
I’m a clock that tells no time.
I’m a riddle without answer;
I’m an ocean with no salt.
I’m a speech that serves no purpose;
I’m a screw that has no threads.
(refrain)

I’m a jukebox with no music;
I’m a pen that has no ink.
I’m a well that has no water;
I’m a mousetrap with no spring.
I’m a mirror without an image;
I’m a rose that has no scent.
I’m a box that has no bottom;
I am soap that does not clean.
(refrain)

About this Song:
Roger-2021

Last week I shared the short version of this song, in which only one word changes from stanza to stanza. This longer version couldn’t be more different.

Do you recall how Paul begins 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter”? If not, here’s the NIV translation:

“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.”

Although my song doesn’t talk specifically about love, it uses a similar pattern of thought. Without God at work in our lives–“Without Him”–we are as useless as the forty items listed in the lyrics of this song.

Those lyrics were among my most difficult to write. Primarily because I had such a hard time stopping once I got started!

Not only that. Some of them were hard to describe the “without” part of and remain in the specified rhythm.

I’ve never recorded or sung this song publicly, but–should I ever do so–I would do well to omit a couple of stanzas so I won’t find myself “Without My Audience.” It doesn’t need this many to make the point, does it?

Nonetheless, I hope you’ve found them thought-provoking. Please leave a comment and tell me what you think.

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

Best regards,
Roger

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Without You, Lord

(You may listen to this song here.)

Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t be all You want me to be.
Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t be all You want me to be.

Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t see all You want me to see.
Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t see all You want me to see.

Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t do all You want me to do.
Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t do all You want me to do.

Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t give all You want me to give.
Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t give all You want me to give.

Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t love all You want me to love.
Without You, Lord, without You, Lord,
I can’t love all You want me to love.
I can’t do all You want me to do.
I can’t be all You want me to be.

About this Song:
Roger-2021
Without You, Lord focuses on how being God-like affects us and what it enables us to do–things we can’t begin to accomplish fully without His help. In our effort to be the people He wants us to be, we will open our eyes to see the needs surrounding us. Then we will do what God wants us to do to touch the lives of others. Consequently, we will give of ourselves–our time, our talents, and our resources. And we will love others because God loved us first. Only with God’s help can we be, see, do, give, and love.

A free lead sheet of this song is available here. Because of the repetitiveness within this song, it’s a good one to teach to a group.

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

Best regards,
Roger

P.S. My latest two books are available on Amazon now:

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He Is Who He Is

He is my rock,
And He is my redeemer.
He is the Way,
The Truth and the Life.

He is the Way,
The Truth and the Life.
He is God’s Son.
He is who He is.

He is my light,
And He is my salvation.
He’s the Good Shepherd,
The Bread of Life.

He’s the Good Shepherd,
The Bread of Life.
He is God’s Son.
He is who He is.

He is the Word
Who was with God in beginning.
He is the Word
Who Himself is God.

He is the Word
Who Himself is God.
He is God’s Son.
He is who He is.

About This Song:
RogerCapped - smaller
In Exodus 3:14, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” The same idea, using the Hebrew word translated as “I AM,” is found in numerous places in the Old Testament. When the Jewish people heard that word, they knew it was a reference to the Living God.

As the Son of God, Jesus had the right to refer to Himself as “I AM,” too. Look at these references…

John 6:51:“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;”

John 8:23: And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I AM from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:12: Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John 8:58: Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

John 10:9: “I AM the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

John 10:11: “I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

John 10:36: “Do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

John 11:25: Jesus said to her, “I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 15:1: “I AM the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

John 19:2: Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”‘”

I AM signifies that God is alive today. He has always been alive and always will be.

That’s the essence of this song. And the fact that I believe it.

But the question is whether you believe God is alive now and whether Jesus is living in you.

You may find the PDF lead sheet for this song here. An audio recording of this song is available here. If you’re a guitar player trying out the lead sheet, be sure to listen to the song because the Bm7 and D#Maj7 may not be where you expect them to be.

I’ll be back again next Wednesday. Please check back then or, better still, sign up to receive these posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

P.S. Here’s my newest novel, the third and final book in the CURMUDGEON series:

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(If Christ Had Not Been) Born a Baby

(You may listen to this song here.)

If Christ had not been born a baby,
Fully human and yet still fully God;
Had He not lived and died as a man,
Then how would God know what we feel?

If Christ had never been tempted,
If He had never suffered grief,
Had He never known the pain of rejection,
Then how would He know how I feel?

If Christ had never been lonely,
If He had never dreaded death,
Had He never known physical suffering,
Then how would He know how I feel?

If Christ had never been lied about,
If He have never suffered loss,
Had He never known emotional anguish,
Then how would He know how I feel?

If Christ had not been born a baby,
Fully human and yet still fully God;
Had he not lived and died as a man,
Then how would God know what we feel?

About this Song:
RogerCapped - smallerOne of people’s hardest problems about accepting Christianity is making sense of Jesus being “as fully God as if He weren’t human and as fully human as if He weren’t God.” We rational human beings can’t–pun not intended–conceive of a baby whose Father was God Himself and whose mother was teen-aged Mary–a human being. How was that, uh, humanly possible?

That’s the problem, isn’t it? We can only look at this question (and try to explain it) in human terms. And it doesn’t work.

How many times have I acknowledged that–if I could understand God–He wouldn’t be big enough or powerful enough, loving enough or merciful enough, righteous enough or enough of anything good to be worthy of my worship and adoration. And He certainly wouldn’t be someone I would want to put my life into the control of.

But that raises another question: As perfect as God is and always has been–in every way–how could He possibly understand everything about us human beings? He created us to be perfect, but sin did a dastardly number on that. How could He understand our loneliness, our dread of death, our physical suffering, and all of the other problems mankind suffers?

That very question is why I value and accept Jesus not just as my Lord and Savior, but as a model of how to live successfully in spite of every possible human hardship I could encounter–and then some. What problems will ever pop up that Jesus didn’t face and overcome (including death itself) 2,000 years ago?

I can’t explain the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). Honestly, that very concept is as mind-boggling as anything I’ve ever tried to understand. But what I believe–and this is extremely important to me–is Jesus as God the Son returned to His Father’s side after His resurrection and (so to speak) clued God the Father (God the Father is spirit) in on what being human really felt like. I picture Jesus telling God, “You’ve never experienced that kind of self-doubt, but I have. Believe me, that fellow needs Your help getting through it.”

Maybe that’s why Christians typically pray “In Jesus’ Name.”

Those thoughts have helped me over the years, and I hope they’ll help you, too.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

You can find a free lead sheet for “Born a Baby” here.

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

Best regards,
Roger

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Trust in the Lord

A recording of this song may be heard here.

Trust in the Lord
With all of your heart.
Don’t rely on your own modest wisdom.
Seek to follow His will,
Wherever it leads,
For His path is straight,
And His way is sure.

About This Song:
RogerCapped - smallerWhen I started this blog to share my song lyrics, I never promised that everything would be poetic or complex. Whatever beauty these lyrics have is the beauty of the Scripture they’re based on.

While working at the International Mission Board, the first thing I did when I arrived each day was to pick up the A.M. Adviser, a daily information sheet. Each issue contained a verse or two of Scripture. One day in 1994 the Adviser quoted Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
(NIV)

Although I was already familiar with those verses, they spoke to me that day as never before, and I started to mull them over.

I normally had company on my lunchtime two-mile walk, but that day I walked by myself. Thoughts about those two verses bubbled up to form not only the lyrics but a very definite melody–one that struck me as a keeper.

Working out the melody for a new song normally takes days. Often weeks. But this one took less than an hour.

I had access to a guitar at work, so I jotted down the notes when I returned from walking. Remembering that tune for thirty or forty minutes was one thing, but I didn’t want to chance forgetting it before I got home.

Since then, I’ve added a descant that makes it a little nicer. If you’re musically inclined, please look at the free lead sheet for this song and see what you think.

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Greater Than All

You may listen to an old recording of this song here.

Your questions fall like a hard rain,
And your problems rush like a flood.
Your faith is stuck in the mud of despair,
And your sunshine is tainted with clouds.

But remember that Somebody loves you,
Someone Who has lived here before,
Someone Who is greater than questions and doubts,
Someone Who is greater than all.

The mountains you want to conquer
Are taller than you think you can climb,
And the valley you’re walking through right now
Seems to keep leading you down.

But remember that Somebody loves you,
Someone Who has lived here before,
Someone Who is greater than mountains and depths,
Someone Who is greater than all,
Greater than all.

About this Song:
RogerCapped - smaller
This is one of two songs I wrote on a visit to my (then) in-laws in 1979.

My former brother-in-law was a teen then, and he was experiencing some significant problems. I’m not sure I even knew what they were, but that didn’t matter. I felt compelled to write this song of assurance for him.

The first stanza follows a logical progression: from rain to flood to mud. And even the clouds (where else would the rain come from?) enhance the symbolism of the problems being addressed. The refrain, which differs slightly from stanza to stanza, echoes the ideas expressed in the stanza it follows.

The second stanza uses a contrast rather than a logical progression: mountains and valleys. People often use mountains to symbolize a goal or something desirable. Think about mountaintop experiences.

But I’ll bet our American forefathers didn’t view the mountains that blocked their westward travel as anything but problems to overcome.

And even though valleys symbolize peacefulness, normal life, or even home, I suspect that our forefathers felt quite differently when looking upward at the next mountain from the depths of the current valley.

And that’s the way I imagined my brother-in-law felt as he faced his seemingly insurmountable problems at that time.

One thing I’ve always found interesting about this song is the fact that the “Someone Who…” clearly means Jesus, even though the song never references Him by name. But that’s okay. This song was written for a Christian who understood that.

My former mother-in-law surprised me by making a printing plate of some kind from a copy of this song. I no longer know exactly how a plate like that could have been used for printing, but she’d framed it, and it still has a place of honor in my home.

Please leave a comment if this song has spoken to you.

Free lead sheets (lyrics, tune, and chords) are available for many of my songs. The one for this song is here.

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

Best regards,
Roger

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