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 almost 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.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

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

Praise the Lord, Oh My Soul!

Praise the Lord; how my heart sings!
Let my whole being praise Him.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, oh my soul!

Bless the Lord; let my life sing
Of His great loving kindness.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, oh my soul!

God forgives me for my sins
And heals all my diseases!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, oh my soul!

Long He’s kept me from the grave;
His love and mercy clothe me!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, oh my soul!

God provides such perfect gifts;
He helps us soar like eagles!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, oh my soul!

About This Song:
I have a lot of favorite songs among the several hundred I’ve written, but this is one of the most fun to sing. If you’re a musician, I highly recommend downloading and/or printing the lead sheet here. Note that the asterisks indicate a single hand clap.

If this song sounds like something from the book of Psalms, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Check out Psalm 103:1-5. . .

1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(NIV)

As usual when I’m writing based on Scripture, the wording is apt to deviate from the Bible. But I try hard to keep the meaning intact.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in David, God's protection, God's Provision, Praise, Psalms | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Called to Celebrate

Sometimes we’re called to work the fields.
Sometimes we’re called to work the fields.
Sometimes we’re called to work the fields
And sometimes to clean the stables.

Sometimes we’re called to till the soil.
Sometimes we’re called to till the soil.
Sometimes we’re called to till the soil
And sometimes to mend the fences.

Sometimes we’re called to sow the seeds.
Sometimes we’re called to sow the seeds.
Sometimes we’re called to sow the seeds
And sometimes to feed the livestock.

Sometimes we’re called to pull the weeds.
Sometimes we’re called to pull the weeds.
Sometimes we’re called to pull the weeds
And sometimes to store the silage.

Sometimes we’re called to gather crops.
Sometimes we’re called to gather crops.
Sometimes we’re called to gather crops
And sometimes to remove dead trees.

And when the harvest is complete.
And when the harvest is complete.
And when the harvest is complete,
We’re all called to celebrate it.

About This Song:
I was getting ready to go on a mission trip to Wales in 1993–right at harvest time. So it seemed appropriate to write this song to use there. And since I blogged about another harvest song last Wednesday, I thought I’d use this one today–even though we’re in the midst of a very cold winter.

It’s inspired by 1 Corinthians 3:6-9. . .
6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
(NIV)

and by 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. . .
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
(NIV)

The primary goal of a farm is to grow and harvest crops to sell. That requires a variety of activities, some of which don’t have a direct influence on the harvest. Yet without people performing all of those tasks, the farm wouldn’t function well and the harvest would be poor. Perhaps even nonexistent.

As the body of Christ, the church consists of different members playing different roles, all of which are necessary to keep the church functioning. While the primary task of the church is to harvest souls into the Kingdom of Heaven, not every member plays a direct role in every harvest. Yet without each person’s part being carried out faithfully and thoroughly, the harvest would be a major disappointment.

But when someone walks forward to make a public profession of faith in Jesus, does anyone fail to rejoice just  because he or she didn’t play a part in that person’s decision? Not in my church. We may not all actively perform “crop-related” tasks, but that doesn’t keep us from rejoicing over each and every person we see enter the Kingdom.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Celebrations, Fields, Harvest, Serving Jesus, Sharing, Sowing, Various Tasks, Workers | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharing the Harvest

Who will come and share in the harvest?
Who will work the Master’s fields?
Who will join the angels as they’re singing praise
For each soul the Harvest brings in?

Crops are ripe and ready to harvest;
Who will help to work the fields?
Never has there been so much to harvest
Or to lose if the workers are few.

Crops will die if left where they’re standing;
Who will gather them in time?
Smallest loses cannnot be afforded,
For the Master planted His Son.

Pray the Master call more workers
That the Harvest be complete.
If He calls you, pray with ready answer,
“Here am I, Lord. Send me.”

About This Song:
Virginia Baptists had a mission partnership with the African country of Tanzania during the latter 1980s, and “Sharing The Harvest” was their theme. While I didn’t get to participate in that partnership, the relevance of the theme really struck me.

“Sharing the Harvest” refers to Matthew 9:37-38…
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
(NIV)

Also to Isaiah 6:8…
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(NIV)

And to Luke 15:7…
7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
(NIV)

My ex-wife and I used to have a vegetable garden. I still remember watching the green beans dying in place because neither of us wanted to go outside in the summer heat and gather them in. What a waste of good food.

But how much worse to let the unsaved people of the world “rot” and go to hell because of our failure to participate in their harvest.

I admit it. I have trouble picturing the billions of people who don’t even know the name of Jesus, much less have a personal relationship with God through faith in His Son. I have a very small circle of influence, and most of the people I know are fellow Believers.

However, I started out years ago committing to pray daily for the spiritual needs of three people I knew or knew about. My nightly prayer now includes fifteen unbelievers, several of whom are family members.

I have virtually no contact with most of the people on my list. Prayer is the MOST I can do to try to assure that they’re included in the Eternal Harvest. I’ve promised God to be faithful in my prayers for these people, even though I’ll probably never find out here on earth whether most of them ever become Christians.

But that is one way for me to say, “Here I am. Send me!”

Are you reaching out to nonbelievers–or are you a nonbeliever someone else is praying for or reaching out to? Either way, I’m praying for you as well.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Harvest, Tanzania, Virginia, White Fields, Workers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hearing…Telling His Story

Hearing, believing His story,
Living, telling the story of Jesus.
Hearing, believing His story,
Living, telling the story of Christ.

Someone cared enough to tell me of God’s love;
Christ is not just someone who once was,
For He lived and died and rose from death to give me life.
That’s the kind of truth I needed to hear!
(refrain)

Though his words sounded almost too good to be real,
God spoke to me through him and I believed;
For the life he lived told me that his words were true.
That’s the kind of truth I needed to believe!
(refrain)

Then I placed my life in Jesus’ hands;
I told Him I wanted to obey.
I’ll be known as His if I bear His fruit of love.
That’s the kind of truth I need to live!
(refrain)

In God’s love, I care enough to tell you who Christ is;
He is not just someone who once was.
I pray my life may tell you that my words are true.
That’s the kind of truth I need to tell!
(refrain)

About This Song:
Every year the International Mission Board comes up with a slogan to use in all of its products and communications. In 1986 it was “Hearing, Believing, Living, Telling.” I could be wrong, but it may have included “the Story of Jesus.”

I really liked that idea. The ideas flowed so logically. One must first hear the Good News of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice. Only from hearing can one come to believe. And after a person believes, he’ll want to live in the Godliest way possible. And part of that Godliest way involves telling the Good News to others.

That begins the cycle all over again. Pretty neat, isn’t it?

Where are you in the cycle? Are you listening to–and really hearing–the Gospel as it comes to you from various sources? Have you become a believer? Has becoming a believer changed how you live–and made you a more righteous and more loving individual? And–as part of your Godliness–are you sharing the Good News with others?

How about sharing a comment?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Believing, Hearing, Living, Telling | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

From the Manger to the Cross

My life is a journey,
Yes, sometimes a hard journey, Lord,
From the manger to the cross,
From the manger to the cross.

From my birth as a child of God,
From my birth as a child of God
To the death of my old self
To the death of my old self.

So Christ can come alive in me,
So Christ can come alive in me
And make me like Himself,
And make me like Himself.

My life is a journey,
Yes, sometimes a hard journey, Lord,
From the manger to the cross,
From the manger to the cross.

About This Song:
Strange as this comment may sound, I wrote this song to share at a New Year’s Eve gathering some years ago. Stranger still, I can’t remember why I thought it was appropriate. I simply did.

Nonetheless, the imagery of the manger and the cross isn’t something to take lightly.

Christ was born as a human child. I’ve been born as a child of God because of my faith in Jesus. So I’ve had a “manger experience.”

And Jesus died an earthly death, just as I need to put my natural, sinful ways to death. That process, my “cross experience” began taking place at the time I became a Christian.

Did you notice the word “began”? I’ll never be perfect until I die and reach heaven. So my life is the “long journey” from the beginning of becoming Christlike to the time I truly achieve it.

Are you on that journey? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

Posted in Cross, Journey, Life, Manger, New Years, Perfection | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Almost You’re Smiling

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 left behind in heaven?
Little baby in a manger,
Almost you’re crying.

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.

About This Song:
Merry Christmas several days late!

When we look at babies–even the tiniest of babies–don’t we sometimes imagine what they’re thinking or feeling at the moment? I was taught in college that thought is impossible without language, because thought actually involves talking to oneself.

No baby is born with the knowledge of language. Any language. So it would make sense to assume that babies can’t think.

But still. . .what about Jesus? Wasn’t He an exception? After all, he was half-God. Couldn’t God the Father have “programmed” Jesus with some special abilities that went beyond normal human capabilities?

I’m sure He could have, but I don’t believe He did. Being a fully normal baby–and growing into a fully human adult–was an important part of God’s plan. So I believe Jesus cried only when babies normally cry.

Yet if we could have been there in the stable observing Jesus after his birth, wouldn’t we be tempted to assign certain emotions to the looks we saw? Especially from our perspective of knowing who Jesus was and what he came to earth to do.

The ideas in this song are purely imaginary. I don’t believe Jesus had the knowledge of anything that would make him cry–or smile. But it’s something to think about.

If you would like to share your Christmas thoughts–about this song or anything else–please leave a comment.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again next Wednesday.

Best regards,
Roger

 

Posted in Baby, Christmas, Crying, Hope, Language, Smiling | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment