Relating to Royalty

Unlike many of you, I was never a fan of Princess Diana. Not that I disliked her. I had no reason to.

But neither did I have any reason to care about her. Royalty didn’t impress me. I was sorry about her death, but no more so than I would be about anyone else I didn’t know personally.

Sometime prior to Diana’s death, my father took me to a special event at his alma mater, the College of William & Mary. Prince Charles was the featured speaker, and–much to my surprise–I found him interesting. Especially his openness about his problems with Diana.

But my interest in Prince Charles had nothing to do with his royalty. If he had not been one of the world’s most well known people, I wouldn’t have found him nearly as interesting.

Several of my favorite older movies have to do with royalty, though.

The first was King Ralph, in which the whole royal family was accidentally electrocuted and the search for a legitimate heir led to an American (played by John Goodman) who was anything but royal in words and actions. The second was Johnny English, starring the actor best known as Mr. Bean. It involved defending the English throne from being taken over by a nasty, villainous Frenchman.

You might think it strange that those two movies would appeal to me, given my general disinterest in royalty. I enjoyed their humor. No more, no less. What an Englishman would have thought, I couldn’t say.

Blind singer/song writer/pianist extraordinaire Ken Medema released a concert album about thirty years ago. Since I no longer have my copy, I know I’m misquoting something he said during the concert (not as himself, as I recall, but expressing what he imagined had been the feelings of someone else). As best I can recall, he said something about royalty before adding–I’m sure I have this part right–“These are democratic times.”

Even though I’ve probably taken those words out of context, they’ve always stuck with me for a reason that may surprise or even shock you.

The Bible is filled with kings, some good, some bad. Jesus is referred to as a King. The King of Kings, in fact. Because the Jewish people were used to kings and royalty, those who believed He was the Messiah had no trouble thinking of him as The King. It was something they could relate to.

But “these are democratic times”–okay, so the United States is a republic and not a democracy–and I cannot relate as fully to the idea of Heaven being a Kingdom, God being on a throne, and biblical references to Jesus’ royalty. If I’d lived in New Testament times, I would have easily recognized their significance. I wouldn’t even have had to think about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have complete faith that Jesus is Who He claimed to be. He’s my Lord and Savior, and my constant desire is to live a more Christlike life. I’m very much looking forward to eternity in Heaven, even if it’s a kingdom I can’t fully relate to because of my limited ability to appreciate royalty.

How thankful I am that God doesn’t hold my inability to relate to His royalty against me. In fact, I believe He understands. And sympathizes.

What about you? How do you feel about royalty? Does your comprehension (or lack of it) make the Bible easier or more difficult to relate to? How about leaving 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

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My “Aaron”

First, a little biblical background.

Isaac and his sons and their families had moved to Egypt when his son Joseph became second-in-command to Pharaoh during a time of famine throughout the region. As long as that Pharaoh lived, Joseph’s extended family was welcome and well provided for. But after the good Pharaoh died, subsequent ones forgot about Joseph and the debt Egypt owed him and his kin.

The Children of Israel (Jacob, Isaac’s son, was given the name Israel) were prospering and growing in number, and the Egyptians determined to take advantage of their vast numbers and use them as slaves.  That didn’t stop the Israelites from continuing to multiply.

One Pharaoh finally became so frightened that these countless foreigners living in their midst might rebel and fight against Egypt if an enemy attacked that he made their working conditions more severe. And then he made things even worse.

But God wasn’t ignoring the plight of His Children. He spoke to Moses from a burning bush and told him He wanted Moses to free the Children of Israel and lead them to the Promised Land–a land “flowing with milk and honey.”

Talking directly with God was probably scary enough, but Moses absolutely panicked at the thought of having to go to Pharaoh–he wasn’t in Pharaoh’s favor the way Joseph had been several hundred years earlier–and demand that he allow the Israelites to leave. So he immediately came up with the first excuse that came to mind.

“Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus 4:10, NIV)

Singer/song writer Ken Medema says it this way in his wonderful song “Moses”:

“Not me, Lord!
Don’t you know I can’t talk so good;
I stutter all the time.”

But Moses asks the Lord to have his brother Aaron do the actual speaking. Ken Medema says it this way:

“Do you know my brother, Aaron?
He can sing like an angel,
Talk like a preacher.
Not me, Lord!
I can’t talk so good.”

And God accepted it.

I can’t “talk so good,” either. Oh, I don’t have a speech defect, in spite of the fact that someone who has one once asked me if I did. Funny how a question like that can make a guy self-conscious for life!

As an official introvert (according to the Myers-Briggs Temperament Inventory), I need to think very carefully before I speak. If I don’t, there’s no telling how unclear my meaning will be. Not so much a problem in normal everyday conversations, but a real drawback in serious discussions. By the time I think of what I want to say and how to keep it reasonably clear, it’s usually no longer relevant to the topic.

I feel as if God has some important things for me to share with other people. Especially regarding His love and the fact that Jesus was born a human being, died, and returned from the grave to give new life to all who choose Him as the only path to the only true God. Heaven isn’t the only reward for Believers. So is a more meaningful earthly life.

Does God expect me to share those things orally? I keep hoping not, because I know my human limitations. I feel there’s a legitimate reason for me not to. God had a reason for not calling me to be a preacher.

But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t want me to share His Good News with other people. He’s willing for me to use  “my Aaron” instead.

“My Aaron” is the written word. Novels, poems, and monologues. Plays, short stories, and essays. And also the sung word. The songs I’ve written over the last fifty years or so. And the musical dramas–even an hour-long rock opera–I’ve written and produced.

The words to my songs and musical dramas have already been carefully thought out. They come as close to conveying my intended meaning as I can ever do.

Thank You, Lord, for giving me these creative talents and allowing me to use them for Your honor and glory.

Do you have any weaknesses that keep you from communicating clearly? Has God given you an Aaron? How about sharing a comment?

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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

Ken Medema: Every Blind Person Should Be So Talented

KenAtPiano KenCloseup KenRoger

If you read my post this past Wednesday, you know that I’m not facing either blindness or deafness. But that doesn’t mean I never wonder how either or those conditions would change whatever years of life I have left. As I pointed out, deafness would deprive me of some of my favorite activities and ministries. But blindness would affect more areas of my life, including my writing.

I’m not sure blindness has a positive side, but I have a friend who has put such a positive spin on it I wanted to share it with you.

Back during the years I was teaching school, 1968-1974, a blind singer/song writer/pianist came to the school where I taught and gave a concert in the gym. Those were the days when a Christian performer was still welcome in the public schools.

Ken Medema wasn’t yet a full-time musician. His “day job” was music therapist with the state of Delaware. But he made a real impression on the students and on me.

At a later date Ken came back to Cambridge (Maryland) to do some music at the First Baptist Church. He was staying with the father and stepmother of one of my friends, who lived right behind me, and Blake had a crab feast for Ken that Saturday evening. I got to know him some then.

I learned some interesting things about blindness that weekend. Like how he knew to walk around a vacuum cleaner he couldn’t see and how he rushed around the car to open the door for his hostess!

I’m no longer sure how we came to know one another better except perhaps because he was willing to listen to a cassette tape of some of my music and send me me his comments. I’ll never forget getting that tape back with his recommendations taking the place of the music. He’d appeared at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and was all sung–and all talked out–but he took the time to offer his help.

Flash forward a number of years. To early 2003. I learned that Ken would be doing a concert at the First Baptist Church of Richmond. But there was a slight problem. The evening of the concert was the same day Kathleen and I would be arriving in Richmond after moving her down here from upstate New York, and we were both exhausted from the drive.

But Kathleen knew how much seeing and hearing Ken again would mean to me, and was she ever glad we went to hear him! Ken recognized my voice and remembered me. Amazing…

We last saw Ken sometime around 2008 when he did another gig at Richmond’s First Baptist Church, and we picked up right where we’d left off before. The pictures above are from that reunion. We haven’t seen him since then, but we check out his website and know he’s still performing.

I’ve never seen Stevie Wonder perform, so I don’t know how similar he and Ken are, but Ken’s concerts are a wonderful experience. When he was learning to play the piano, his teacher challenged him to learn to improvise, and improvisation has become his specialty. At every performance he has members of the audience supply him with several random words. A moment or two later he’s singing and playing an original song based on those words.

Creating and recording personalized songs is an important part of his business. He’s also written some cantatas. One of the songs he’s most noted for–people are sorely disappointed if he doesn’t do this in a performance–is a hilarious song about Moses. Many people who’re familiar with that song probably have no idea that it was written by a blind musician named Ken Medema.

I have to apologize for something. I can’t do justice to Ken in a single blog post, but at least I’ve given you a little taste of someone who’s special to Kathleen and me. Incidentally, when my mother-in-law went to hear him in Memphis and identified herself in relationship to me, he reacted quite positively and told her what a good song writer I was.

Go, Ken!

Do you have a favorite musician, actor, writer, or whatever that you’ve established a limited but meaningful relationship with over the years? Please leave 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.

“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 online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger