My Way…or His Way?

Some of you may be old enough to remember singer Frank Sinatra and the song “My Way.” I wasn’t a Sinatra fan, and that’s probably the only song of his I paid any attention to. Although he didn’t write the lyrics, they clearly represent his attitude and were apparently written specifically for him.

I can’t legally quote the lyrics–you can read them here–but he lived his life the way he chose. Yes, he had a few regrets, and he had his ups and downs. He didn’t claim that his life had been trouble-free, but he was proud of doing things his way and saying what he considered genuine and “not the words of one who kneels.”

I don’t know if Mr. Sinatra was a Christian, but I take his scoffing at “the words of one who kneels” as a suggestion that he was so self-dependent he didn’t feel the need to pray. Or to depend on God.

God gave each of us strengths to do as much as we can on our own, but He also allowed each of us to have enough weaknesses to keep us humble. Christians recognize their need for God’s help. Day in and day out. Moment by moment. We know where our strength comes from.

I have a few regrets, too, and most of them have resulted from doing–or attempting to do–things “my way” rather than “God’s Way.” Regrets like those could easily result in guilt.

But they don’t have to.

God is merciful and forgiving when we turn to Him in repentance.  How thankful I am that my regrets don’t bog me down unnecessarily. I can’t change the past, but I can certainly learn from it and continually strive to do better as I attempt to follow God’s Way more closely each and every day.

Frank Sinatra may be remembered as someone who did things his way. I’d rather be remembered as someone who at least tried to live his life God’s Way.

Whose way do you live your life? Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

    

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Spoken Moments

I’m currently reading a little book called Spoken Moments. Compiled and edited by popular Christian romance novelist and writing conference director extraordinaire Yvonne Leyman, it contains fifty-two inspirational stories about the power of words. Spoken Moments is just one in an ongoing series of Moments books. I have a story in the newest one, Stupid Moments, in which I tell about my wife and me being assigned to what turned out to be Yvonne’s suite at one conference.

I still jokingly address Yvonne as “Roomy.”

As I read Spoken Moments, I keep thinking about how I wish I’d submitted a story to that collection. But since I didn’t, I’ll share it here.

I wasn’t a very happy teen. I didn’t have that many friends in high school, although I probably had a fair number of acquaintances.

I started learning to play guitar during the early-to-mid sixties, when the so-called “folk fad” was getting popular. (I still enjoy listening to the Kingston Trio, the Brothers Four, and the Chad Mitchell Trio, among others, even though their music wasn’t “real folk.”) When I discovered that two of the fellows in my Sunday School class wanted to form a group and were interested in my playing, I started feeling better about myself.

We enjoyed some local success. I couldn’t tell you how many free meals we earned, although we probably never received any actual pay.

I really liked my two fellow-musicians. I still do.

But one of them looked at my profile one day and very innocently–and I’m sure non-maliciously– called me “Roger the Rat.” I can’t prove that he wrote it in my high school yearbook, but I think he did.

I checked out my profile using two mirrors. Oh, great! He was right! Not only did I have a weak chin, I also had an overly large and pointy nose. Very rodent-looking. His assessment was spot on.

I tried to laugh it off, but the memory of that has stuck with me through the years. I’ve had a beard or goatee ever since 1976–maybe sooner than that–and the main reason was to make me look like I had more of a chin. Not much I could do about the nose, though. It wasn’t worth the pain and cost of surgery, and even if nose hair grew on the outside, it would’ve made my nose look bigger, not smaller.

No longer do my friend’s words bother me. At seventy, I’m too well adjusted to continue to worry about my looks or to fret about what someone once said. Someone who would probably be horrified to be reminded of what he’d said and to learn I still remember it. I sincerely hope he doesn’t read this blog post. I wouldn’t want to hurt him the way he temporarily hurt me.

That’s it. That’s the “spoken moment” I would’ve submitted to Yvonne’s book if I’d thought about it then. Maybe the fact that I didn’t is a sign of the healing that’s taken place over the years.

What about you? Has anyone ever said something you’ve forgiven but not forgotten? Would you share something about it in a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

“They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love” (part two)

Anyone who sees Christians going about the business of loving people–even the unlovely–should be able to understand that Christianity is the ultimate religion of love and peace. So loving and so peaceful,  in fact, that Jesus prayed and asked God’s forgiveness for the people who were putting Him to death–in circumstances where hatred, anger, and resentment would have been the normal human emotions. Especially since the Romans and religious leaders responsible for His death  weren’t the least sorry for what they were doing.

What amazing love! Love that deserves the description “awesome” above everything else.

Why do so many people view the Bible as a textbook of hatred (and how many of them have read the Quran?) and Christians as the most hateful people on the face of the earth?

Maybe they’re too busy looking backwards at wars and persecution that were carried out in the name of Christianity in days long past. By people who never would’ve sung, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Not unless they’d done it hypocritically.

Or is the problem that Christians believe “Do not murder” means preserving the lives of innocent babies rather than allowing pregnant women to erase their sinful “mistakes” by killing their babies in utero because of the inconvenience or embarrassment of being pregnant? Or that “Do not commit adultery” interferes with the desires of the many individuals who believe post-modernism has eliminated the need for moral standards of behavior regarding anything? Or is the problem that biblical admonitions against homosexuality affect the “rights” of the vocal gay minority to practice their sins publicly–and to flaunt them?

Or is the problem that  non-believers see Christians as judgmental? The Bible says murder, adultery, and homosexuality are all wrong. The Bible is very clear about those issues. All of them are sins–things God disapproves of. Things that stand in the way of having a right relationship with Him.

But the Bible also specifies a number of other sins. Is it right for Christians to go around ranting at gay people for being sinners when–in reality–each one of us is a sinner in our own individual ways. No one is righteous on his own merit, and no one is “good enough” to deserve God’s love.

I’m not advocating the toleration of sin–any sin. But I believe strongly in the popular saying, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I believe one of the worst sins Christians practice is failing to demonstrate the kind of love and forgiveness Jesus modeled during his earthly ministry. For me, that’s the bottom line.

“They will know we are Christians by our love.” And if they don’t see that love, then they have a right to question our faith–and even the basis of what we say we believe in.

If you’re a Christian, do others see a life filled with love, even when you don’t feel very loving? If you’re not a Christian, has any supposed Christian ever treated you in a way that made you question the reality of his faith? How about leaving a comment, please.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

“They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love”

The title of this post comes from a song that used to be quite popular in churches. Yet–probably more because of its continuing relevance than its former popularity–our music director dug it out again for congregational singing a few months ago. It was great to hear everyone singing it–some people for the first time in years, others for the first time ever. It has a simple but memorable tune–it’s the catchy kind of song a person’s not apt to forget once he hears it.

Catchiness isn’t the point, though. For many years, I’ve thought of songs that are meant for more than just dancing to as messages from the composer to the listener or to the singers who’re also listening as they sing. The lyrics are the actual letter. The heart. The meat of the message. The melody–along with the song’s arrangement–is just the envelope used for delivery.

Consequently, I think lyrics are immensely more important than tune and arrangement, even though people tend to overlook–or dismiss–songs that don’t “sound good” to them. I’ll be honest; I do that, too. But at least people can also read lyrics and get something out of them regardless of the tune and arrangement–if they choose to.

The Bible–particularly the New Testament and many of Jesus’ teachings–emphasize the importance of love. Christians are admonished to love their enemies as well as one another, to turn the other cheek, and to give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.

If you’re not familiar with the cold water reference, it simply means to do good things for people who’re in need. But no matter whether we’re giving to the needy, serving at a soup kitchen, visiting prison inmates, or performing any of hundreds of other possible ministries, we should do those things as if we were ministering to Jesus Himself.

Pretty important, huh? It’s no wonder “they will know we are Christians by our love.”

My original  post started getting a bit lengthy at this point, so I’m going to save the rest of it for Wednesday.

Are you familiar with “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love”? What do you think of the idea? How about leaving a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Loving Other People

The Bible teaches us to love other people as we love ourselves. A wonderful thing to do, most of us would agree. After all, isn’t love a matter of wanting what’s best for the other person and being willing to sacrifice to make sure that happens?

But what if what’s best for the other person costs us something? Maybe even a lot. Shouldn’t we be free from having to love the other person that much if he or she is selfish and doesn’t want what’s best for us in return? How fair would that be if both parties in a relationship don’t want what’s best for the other equally?

The Bible also teaches us to love our enemies. You mean God wants us to sacrifice to provide what’s best for them when they have no concern whatsoever about our welfare? How unfair!

Hmm. Then again, look at Jesus. How he suffered that indescribably hideous death on a Roman cross to provide forgiveness for all who accept His free gift. That’s love beyond the call of duty, if you ask me.

Yet it’s what Jesus came to earth to do. And even while He was hanging on the cross, He forgave the soldiers who were crucifying Him. And they weren’t even sorry for what they were doing!

Maybe we should all take a fresh look at love. Do we love other people enough to put their needs and interests ahead of our own–and forgive them when they wrong us, even if they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong and are no way sorry for what they’ve done?

Hmm. Tall order. Humanly impossible. But the Bible says that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We’ll never be able to love as perfectly as God loves, but it sounds like Christ can enable us to do a better–a more Godly–job of it.

How do you feel about your enemies? Will you let God help you love them?

And what about the people you already love? Will you let Him help you love them more perfectly–less selfishly, more sacrificially?

I’d love to hear what you think. Do you know someone you couldn’t love if your life depended on it?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Family Christian Stores. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover

Best regards,
Roger

A Tale of Forgiveness Denied

HandsOff

The older I get, the more I appreciate the importance of forgiveness. When we tell God we’re sorry for a particular sin and will do our best not to do it again, He mercifully forgives it and forgets it so much better than we humans can ever do.

Nonetheless, if we claim to be God’s children, we have a heavy debt: forgiving others. It’s not always easy. And forgetting can be more difficult than forgiving.

Jesus modeled perfect forgiveness when He was dying on the cross. He forgave the men who were crucifying Him. I feel confident that He could have forgiven his betrayer, Judas Iscariot, just as He forgave the disciple who denied Him, Simon Peter.

So Jesus set the example I needed to follow when someone cheated me out of thousands of dollars some years ago. It took years, and—as you can tell from my reference to it—I’ve not forgotten the incident. What you can’t see is in my heart, though. The resentment is gone, even though the memory isn’t.

So, what’s this “Tale of Forgiveness Denied” then?

Some years ago, I used to walk at lunchtime with a couple of coworkers—ladies. One day I brought my camera to work—this was before the days of cell phones with cameras—to take on our walk that day. I thought it would be nice to have a picture of my walking partners.

Wouldn’t you know one of them was absent that day. I already had the camera around my neck when I learned that, however, so I still took it when I went to walk with the other lady.

She told me not to take a picture of her. I know that some people are really skittish about having their pictures taken, but I’m also aware that some folks just say that because they’re modest about their looks and don’t really mind the picture.

I kept holding the camera up as if I were taking a picture, and she kept protesting. Finally, I snapped a picture, and she blew up at me. Only then did I realize how badly I’d misinterpreted her protests. I felt horrible.

Even though I had several other shots on that roll of film, I rewound it, took the film out, and gave it to her, along with my apologies. I hoped that would take care of the problem.

It didn’t. I lost her as a walking partner, and it was years before she was willing to talk to me again. And when she did, it was as if we’d never had any issues. I suppose that meant I was forgiven.

I’m not judging her, but I’m saying she taught me a lesson. If I fail to forgive someone who’s wronged me, I may not only be destroying a good relationship but adding to that person’s guilt. Unnecessarily.

And grudge holding isn’t doing me any good, either.

Have you failed to forgive someone in your life for a wrong he or she has committed? Just think about Jesus and the soldiers who put him to death. He forgave them, and they probably weren’t even sorry for what they’d done to Him.

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Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. If you’d like to see “As I Come Singing,” check it out here.

Best regards,

Roger