A Rare and Sweet Perfume

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:
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 five translations:

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 But thanks be to God! For in union with Christ we are always led by God as prisoners in Christ’s victory procession. God uses us to make the knowledge about Christ spread everywhere like a sweet fragrance. 15 For we are like a sweet-smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are being saved and those who are being lost. 16 For those who are being lost, it is a deadly stench that kills; but for those who are being saved, it is a fragrance that brings life. Who, then, is capable for such a task? 17 We are not like so many others, who handle God’s message as if it were cheap merchandise; but because God has sent us, we speak with sincerity in his presence, as servants of Christ.
     Good News Translation (GNT)

14 I am grateful that God always makes it possible for Christ to lead us to victory. God also helps us spread the knowledge about Christ everywhere, and this knowledge is like the smell of perfume. 15-16 In fact, God thinks of us as a perfume that brings Christ to everyone. For people who are being saved, this perfume has a sweet smell and leads them to a better life. But for people who are lost, it has a bad smell and leads them to a horrible death. No one really has what it takes to do this work. 17 A lot of people try to get rich from preaching God’s message. But we are God’s sincere messengers, and by the power of Christ we speak our message with God as our witness.
Contemporary English Version (CEV)

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.

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

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His Life for Mine

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:
RogerHeadSmallI 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.

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

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What I Can Do for You I’m Doing for Him

Let me feed you when you are hungry;
Let me quench your thirst when you feel dry.
Let me shelter you when it’s cold outside.
Let me cheer you up when you feel cold inside.

Let me walk with you when you’re lonely;
Let me lift you up when you fall.
Let me show you the love of Jesus:
What I can do for you I’m doing for Him.

Let me love you when you need love;
Let me visit you when you’re in jail.
Let me wash your feet when you enter my house;
Let me clothe you in my very best.

Let me walk with you when you’re lonely;
Let me lift you up when you fall.
Let me show you the love of Jesus:
What I can do for you I’m doing for Him.

Let me forgive you when you have wronged me,
Let me turn the other cheek.
Let me bring you soup when you’re home sick in bed;
Let me listen to your ills, not make you listen to mine.

Let me walk with you when you’re lonely;
Let me lift you up when you fall.
Let me show you the love of Jesus:
What I can do for you I’m doing for Him.

About This Song:
Jesus talked many times about the importance of ministry to others. One of His most popular sayings is from Matthew 10:42:

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

But He also talked specifically about ministering to Him by ministering to others. Many of the ideas this song uses come from Matthew 25:40-46:

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.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

But this passage from Luke 6:29 is also relevant:

If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.

There are far too many passages dealing with forgiveness to pin a specific one down.

What do you think, though? Is Jesus speaking to you now the way He’s speaking to me? We (individually) aren’t responsible for feeding and caring for the whole world, but our lives touch people who need something from us–whether physical help, encouragement, or simply a listening ear. Are we willing do that much for Jesus?

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

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Help Me, Lord, in Becoming

Lord, don’t let me become satisfied
With what I think I’ve become for You,
But help me, Lord, in becoming.

Lord, You know I can’t match
What You become for me day by day.
Please help me, Lord, in becoming.

Lord, don’t let me become satisfied
With what I think I have done for You,
But help me, Lord, in doing for You. Lord.

You know I can’t match
What You do for me day by day.
Please help me, Lord, in doing for You.

Lord, don’t let me become satisfied
With how I’ve tried to love You,
But help me, Lord, in loving You.

Lord, You know I can’t match
How You love me day by day.
Please help me, Lord, in loving You.

About this Song:
Are you ever tempted to feel satisfied with your service to God?

I hate to admit it, but I am–every once in a while. I think about my church activities: singing in the choir, playing bass on the praise team, and participating each week in the nursing home ministry. I’ve also been  using my photographic skills at special church events, too. Those are all good, wholesome, need-to-be-done activities that–frankly–take some time and energy I don’t always have a lot of to spare.

On top of that, I write Christian songs and Christian fiction. I bear a much clearer witness to God through my writing than through my meager efforts at sharing His Good News verbally, so I feel that my writing is important for Kingdom purposes.

Surely God is pleased with what I’ve become, what I’m doing for Him, and how I’m trying to show Him my love. Thinking that way is definitely a periodic temptation.

That’s when I imagine God laughing gently and asking how many brownie points I think my activities are worth. And what good I think they’ll do, anyhow. He reminds me that He doesn’t operate on a system like that.

Our relationship is based on the fact that “He is God, and I am not.” He made me in His image, but we are NOT equals. And His “good and perfect gifts” are nothing I could ever afford. He is the Creator of all that is, and I’m one of His creations. He paid a price I can’t even conceive of to make me His child through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

And what parent doesn’t provide good things for his children? God’s gifts are truly the BEST. Better than anything a human parent can give his children.

So, forget thinking I can pay God back for His goodness. I can’t.

I can thank Him, though. By doing my best to obey Him. By trying to please Him. By trying to become the person He wants me to be, by trying to do the things he wants, and by loving Him in every way I can.

Becoming is a gradual process, however, and the wonderful thing is, God knows how incapable I am of becoming anything worthwhile on my own. I have to depend on Him totally.

Yet no matter how often or how severely I fail, He not only forgives me, He also picks me up, dusts me off, and sets me on the right path again. He knows how much–in my heart of hearts–I want to please Him. No matter how often I mess up and need His forgiveness.

What greater desire can a Christian have than to grow closer to God and to become more Christlike in every possible way? Even though it’s a process that takes an entire lifetime to accomplish.

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

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Posted in Becoming, Being Like Jesus, Doing, God's Help, Loving, Satisfaction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(If Christ Had Not Been) Born a Baby

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:
One 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 can ever 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 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.

Do they help? Please leave 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

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Posted in Baby, Birth, Grief, Human, Jesus' birth, Temptation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The More Like Him I Grow

God is my Heavenly Father;
He made me who I am.
He wants all that’s best for me;
It’s written in His plan.
His Son is like a big brother
Who guides me as I go.
The closer I walk beside Jesus,
The more like Him I grow.
Yes, the more like Him I grow.

The more I come to love Jesus,
The more I learn about me:
Who I was and who I am
And who God wants me to be.
It’s a lifelong transformation;
The changes seem so slow.
Yet the more I seek to please Jesus,
The more like Him I grow.
Yes, the more like Him I grow.

About this Song:
While I was away on a mission trip to Australia in 1995, my daughter, Kristi, made a profession of her faith in Jesus Christ at our home church; she was eight years old at the time. I wrote this song soon after my return, dedicating it “to Kristi at the beginning of her Christian growth.”

She sang it with me at our church not long after that and again at the Windsor District Baptist Church in Australia on a family trip in 1996. Never has her singing been sweeter.

Not one of us is born an adult anymore than a new Believer begins her Christian walk at full maturity. Our growth into human adulthood takes years, and our growth into Christian maturity is apt to take even longer. As this song states, the growth into being who God wants us to be “is a lifelong transformation.”

Christians don’t necessarily mature equally. But those who “seek to please Jesus” will grow into the kind of people God wants them to be.

If this post has spoken to you, how about leaving 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

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First and Second Mile Blues

If you’ve come to walk just one mile
And to tell me what you’re taught to say,
Go on home; I’m not gonna listen.
I don’t think you’ve a thing real to say to me.

But if you will walk all the way
And tell me how you really feel,
Have a seat; I’m ready to listen.
I think you might have something real to say.

About this Song:
I was visiting my original in-laws in November of 1979 when the ideas for two songs came to me. This is one of them. What you can’t tell from just looking at the words,  however, is the rhythm was so tricky–so challenging–that I never bothered to write the tune down until 1993.

It was just as much a challenge to play.

I’ll never forget doing a program at Allen Memorial Baptist Church in Salisbury, Maryland, one Sunday evening closer to 1979 than to now. I was sitting on a stool. “The First & Second Mile Blues” made me so nervous that the guitar bounced up and down on my knee from start to finish, and I’m not sure how many right notes I hit–if any. No wonder I decided never to do that song in public again!

But my friends at the Ashland Convalescent Center are pretty low key and uncritical, and I don’t get as uptight about mistakes as I used to. So a year or so ago I chanced doing it for them. It not only went well, they actually seemed to like it.

Enough about that, though.

If you’re familiar with Jesus’ teachings, the idea of voluntarily going the second mile in doing something distasteful for someone rather than just the required first mile–that teaching can be applied to so many aspects of life–then you understand where the idea came from.

You can see why I’ve chosen to share this song the  week after “An Empty Spoon.” Both songs warn people who try to pass their wisdom along to others–especially if it’s unsought–in a forceful and distasteful way to back off. No wonder we tend to describe people like that as “Bible thumpers” and accuse them of hitting listeners over the head with their Bibles.

They can’t seem to understand that nobody wants to listen to them until they’ve established themselves as genuine examples of what they’re proclaiming. As Christians, that often means going the second mile to establish a credible relationship.

If this song has spoken to you, please leave 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

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Posted in Bible Thumpers, Blues, Credibility, Second Mile | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment