How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! —and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
"If there is any priority in the personal or professional life of a Christian more important than the lordship of Jesus Christ, he or she is disqualified as a witness to the gospel."
Those watching Christians will only be led to Christ by a totally committed life. Part-time disciples have a testimony and a witness that hurts the cause of Christ rather than helps it. When we willfully and knowingly place idols in our hearts, we rebel against God's presence in our lives.
Be totally committed and God, through you, can change the world.
Recent performance of "On My Own" on morning television when Les Miserables played in Houston as part of the 25th Anniversary Tour. Chasten Harmon was in this role when the show played Memphis. The current Eponine, who is seen here, takes a different approach to the song with less belt and more spoken lines.
Like most people, I carry
several things with me whenever I leave the house. My wallet, my keys, my cell phone, my watch
and my to-do list are taken along wherever I go. Earlier this week, I left the house in a rush
and realized when I was almost to my destination that I had forgotten my cell
phone. I was only a short distance from
home and I was going home within the same afternoon, but I felt lost without my
phone and the convenience and security it offers.
What if we viewed the
Christian graces in the same way we view our phones, wallets and keys? What if every time you went somewhere without
grace in your heart you felt uncomfortable?
What if you didn’t feel fully dressed without forgiveness, peace or
joy? What if love was your favorite
We have an opportunity
each day to get dressed spiritually.
Before we take ourselves out into the world, we should take stock of how
we appear spiritually. When we are
clothed with Christ and He is truly shining through our lives, we can be the
example that He has called us to be.
Remember that no matter what we may dislike about our appearance physically,
we can be beautiful and beautifully adorned by the presence of Christ in our
Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Concert in London. Skip ahead to 7:40 in the video for an all-star line-up performing "Music of the Night." Michael Crawford, the original Phantom, is present and is honored, but he does not perform due to the fact he had just left a performance at his then current show and had already sang a full show that night. The first part of the video features Sarah Brightman, the original Christine and former wife of show creator, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Her voice is considered a great treasure, but in my opinion, this is not her best performance.
I recently read Robert Morgan's latest collection of hymns and hymn-stories, Then Sings My Soul Book 3. This book, like its two predecessors, is attractive and user-friendly. The book contains stories from some great hymns of which you have probably never heard. If you are looking for more familiar hymns, the first two volumes in the series are to be preferred. What this book does feature is great however. Unlike the first two volumes, this book goes beyond the two-page format for each hymn and includes several hymn stories and biographical sketches that simply would not fit in the format of the original and subsequent volumes. The introduction about God's singing world and the tracing of hymns from the time of the Bible until the present is very informative and moving to a believer. The stories about the old maid writers of West Point and of the peculiar Isaac Watts were very touching. I enjoyed the flow of the book better than the other volumes mainly due to the fact that in dealing with fewer accounts for longer periods, Morgan gave the reader a more full and fulfilling experience.
Overall, I enjoyed the format of this book better to read like an actual page-by-page book and not merely as a reference material for hymn study. As before, sheet music is included to provide the tune if you seek to sing the hymns privately or with a congregation.
I very much enjoyed this book and hope the study of hymnody continues for generations to come.
Thomas Nelson provided me with a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an unbiased review.
"To love Christ more is the deepest need, the constant cry of my soul...Out in the woods and on my bed and out driving, when I am happy and busy, and when I am sad and idle, the whisper keeps going up for more love, more love, more love."
Refuse to compete with fellow ministers because we know...
So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
"He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is we are sinners!"
My allegiance to Christ and His people must far and away surpass any passing earthly alliances. When I live as Christ would have me live, I will naturally become a better spouse, parent, child, employee, friend and citizen. As I live in God's will for me, God can and will use every circumstance of my life for His glory and my good.
This is the essence of faith: to believe that a life lived with God and for God is truly the best life possible.
Many people have experienced it. It is as real as cancer and sometimes as deadly. Its effects can cause a person to lose faith, to give up on life, to become angry, to grow bitter. It creates a vacuum of feeling and yet causes such intimate pain. It burdens its bearer with sadness, grief, doubt, regret and often malice. I speak, of course, of a broken heart. My heart was broken by the realization that I would never be perfect and by the realization that someone I thought was perfect wasn't. Over the course of a few years, I spent a lot of time in confusion and grief, in sadness and despair. This brokenness impacted all other relationships and I allowed its effects to dampen and damage many other areas of my life. As I read and studied and prayed, I came to realize that much of God's great work has been accomplished by a fellowship of broken-hearted men and women. The pain of infertility that stalked the lives of Abraham and Sarah, the loss of his childhood culture experienced by Moses, the passionate, burning desire of David to both worship and be wayward, the boldness of Peter matched only by his cowardice...on and on. And, of course, the ultimate example of a broken-hearted Man, the Lord Jesus Himself. Grieved because His apostles did not understand His mission, weeping over the disobedience of Jerusalem, burdened with the agony of Gethsemane, and finally, His heart, the very heart of God, broken on the cross. If God has accomplished His purpose in the world through these and others like them who were broken-hearted, shouldn't I thank God for breaking my own heart? If blessing can only come through brokenness, shouldn't I bless God for taking away what I had in order to replace it with Himself? Shouldn't I praise God for His ability to bring blessing from brokenness? There is a purpose for pain and there is a blessing in brokenness. God cannot make us all we can be if we insist that we are fine just how we are. We must lose the things most dear to us in order to realize our need for One who is greater than us. Some of us are broken publicly by disease, divorce, depression or disgrace. For others, the brokenness is within the private recesses of their souls, but either way without a realization of our brokenness we cannot find our redemption. Through our pain, God is opening up new levels of fellowship with Christ. A Christ that is real. A Christ that knew pain. A Christ that suffered and, ultimately, a Christ that was broken so I don't have to be broken alone. Have a great week.
"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved..."
Chad Kimball sings "Memphis Lives in Me" at the box office opening of Memphis: The Musical in New York City. Sadly, Kimball's repeated performances of the demanding vocal role injured his voice by the time the live-on-stage version was filmed. In that recorded version, Kimball is unable to hit the closing note. The version seen here was shot before the show opened on Broadway. The show won Best Musical at the 2010 Tony Awards. The national tour opened in 2011 at The Orpheum Theatre in Memphis.
I have a problem knowing when to speak and when to refrain. The wisdom writer of Ecclesiastes famously noted that, "For everything there is a season." More specifically he wrote that there are times for various activities including times to speak and times to keep silent. It is tempting to wish he had given us a list of those scenarios seeing as many of us have a hard time telling the difference.
So, a challenge for us. For the rest of the day today, try saying only positive things about the various situations in your life. Try to frame your family situations, your work life, your social connections in a positive way. If something positive can't be said, don't feel the need to make a comment or criticism. Now, obviously, negative emotions are real and need to be expressed as well. Instead of taking your negativity out on a coworker/spouse/child, take that negativity into prayer with God. Pray for all the bad situations, hardships and problems you face. Pray that God will give you a kinder spirit. If specific negative feelings or actions arise, ask for specific help in meeting those challenges. Supplant your negative thoughts with positive action and focused prayer. If you want to gossip, compliment someone instead. If you want to be profane, be prayerful instead. If you are a constant gripe and negative thinker, try to refocus on all the blessings you have been given.
Today is November 1, 2012.
If you can allow God to tame your tongue today, why not tomorrow? The rest of the week? All of November? Until the end of the year? For a lifetime?
It all starts with the decision to let all of our communication be filtered by the measure of God's standard. If we chose to redeem our speech and season it with grace and compassion, we can truly change the world, and maybe just as importantly, we will change ourselves into a people that are kinder, gentler and more Christ-like.