No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus


No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus

Words and Music: C.F. Weigle

I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus,
Since I found in Him a friend so strong and true;
I would tell you how He changed my life completely,
He did something that no other friend could do.

No one ever cared for me like Jesus,
There’s no other friend so kind as He;
No one else could take the sin and darkness from me,
O how much He cared for me.

All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me,
All my heart was full of misery and woe;
Jesus placed His strong and loving arms about me,
And He led me in the way I ought to go.

No one ever cared for me like Jesus,
There’s no other friend so kind as He;
No one else could take the sin and darkness from me,
O how much He cared for me.

Ev’ry day He comes to me with new assurance,
More and more I understand His words of love;
But I’ll never know just why He came to save me,
Till some day I see His blessed face above.

No one ever cared for me like Jesus,
There’s no other friend so kind as He;
No one else could take the sin and darkness from me,
O how much He cared for me.

This song one of my favorites of all time. After coming back from the depths of despair and regaining his vibrant faith Charles Weigle wrote this beautiful song.

It tells my story, expresses my heart, and gives Christ glory. The dear man who wrote both the lyrics and music lived his last 15 years  in a cottage at Tenn. Temple University in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was a friend and mentor to many and became a favorite person of both the students and faculty. He wrote over 1,000 songs in addition to preaching the good news of Jesus many, many years. What a wonderfully blessed legacy!

Listen to the song here: Youtube by Signature Sound.

Royce

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Over the past several months I have written what I thought were some pretty good posts and they hardly got a look. I am astounded that the number 1 post of all time on Grace Digest is one about Gov. Sarah Palen. She is still a headline maker and we aren’t done seeing her smiling face on national TV just yet.

Interestingly, most of the readers of posts ranked 2 and 3 are from the African continent, and over whelmingly so. I wonder why that is?

Just as interesting, the post ranked in 5th place has drawn mostly readers from the British Isles, perhaps as much as 85 to 90%.

Not surprisingly a short series on the Deity of Jesus and other similar posts hardly got a notice. Some of those topics I am most passionate about, and am sure are largely neglected by most Christian bloggers, are perhaps not posted for a reason; no one reads them.

One would reason that blogs in the category of “Christian” and with largely a church of Christ readership would have some posts about the foundations of the historic Christian faith but alas a cappella singing, discussions about how many ways a Christian can be lost and why, how church A does something different than church B and who is in and who is out because of it continue to get top billing.

I once asked on my blog why was it necessary for Jesus to be born of a virgin. One fellow said “I’ll have to think about it and get back to you” and that was about it. Most of what I am seeing on “Christian blogs” is at best “theology lite”; Not all, but most.

I know mine is far from being among the best blogs but I do enjoy the exercise and when I get an occasional private message or email from someone who says they have been helped or encouraged by reading I know it is not completely in vain.

Trey Morgan, John Dobbs, Patrick Mead, Jay Guinn and others have great blogs, some of them with very intersting glimpses into the lives of their families, friends, and their interests. I enjoy those very much. At 64 years and counting down, my life is far too boring  to open the window very often.

Thanks for reading and for your encouragement.

for Jesus,
Royce

Smoke on the Mountain


Tonight it was my joy to go with my daughter and a friend to the Strauss Theater here in Monroe to see the musical “Smoke on the Mountain”. What fun! We laughed a lot, we sang a lot, and we were reminded of times gone by and our wonderful Lord.

The setting for the play is the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina just west of Hickory near the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1939. The 63 member church is hosting a Saturday night singing and the guests are the singing Sanders family from Slier City up on Highway 11.

The actors sang hymns, gospel songs, blue grass gospel tunes, and gave testimony to what Jesus had done for them and lamented hard times and the closing of the pickle factory in Mount Pleasant. It was a wonderful, very entertaining evening. I saw John and Maggie Dobbs and the Riley’s, Chuck Adams who leads my 6:30 a.m. men’s group on Wednesdays, and other friends.

As I enjoyed the show the memories flooded my mind. The Singing Sanders family owned a filling station and they talked about Esso gasoline and selling Ne-Hi colas. And of course the church set was very familiar.

In my late teens and through my twenties I attended many Saturday night signings at little frame churches stuck on the side of a hill up in a hollow in the Blue Ridge. The singers were often family members. I was always amused that at least one of the groups would begin their part of the program by one of them saying something like “We an’t much at singing but we like to make a joyful noise for the Lord“. Well, let me tell you, that disclaimer was usually a prophecy! At least 25%  of them couldn’t sing a lick but they tried, and most of them earnestly believed it was one way they could serve the Lord.

Many, many times I led singing at some little church on the side of road where someone I knew was holdin’ a revival and didn’t have a song leader. I was a pitiful excuse for a song leader but I was glad to try. My wife and I would often sing a couple of songs a cappella like More about Jesus…

More about Jesus I would know, more of His grace to others show.
More of saving fullness see, more of His love who died for me.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

A good crowd at those little country churches would be 30 or 40. They were country people who for the most part lived off the land, hard working folks who lived a hard life by today’s standards but they loved God and  were doing what they could for the kingdom.

I have preached to perhaps 15 or 18 and I have preached to several hundred and I had just as much joy sharing my heart with those wonderful, simple people, my people, as when I spoke to 800 or so upper middle class people in the city.

I have seen first hand the power of the gospel of Christ. I’ve seen drunks dried up, men addicted to cheap drugs for years delivered in an instant never to use them again. I have seen rough mountain men like my own father changed from bitterness and hopelessness into humble servants of Christ. I don’t know how to explain it but in those days we were not bothered much by hypocrites. Most of those mountain folks were pretty easy to figure. What you saw was what you got. Most of the time a man was exactly what he claimed he was. Yes, there was few devils about but they were the rare exception. Even our drunkards believed the virgin birth of Jesus and that the Bible was the word of God. Everybody respected the preacher. He was the one who would help them get to heaven, bury their dead, and marry their children. He was without question, God’s man.

I am fortunate to have the heritage that I enjoy and appreciate. I am familiar with folks  who believed the only reason to pray was to get what you asked for. Their word was their bond and nobody locked their doors or took the keys out of their cars. It was  good place to grow up and a good place to meet God and begin what is now my almost 50 years of walking with him.

If you ever have a chance to see “Smoke on the Mountain” I recommend it. You’ll get just a glimpse into my history and get to know my people from the hills.

Grace be with you,
Royce

 

The Dumbing Down of Discipleship, Superficial Scholarship in the churches of Christ


In the last several months there have been several dozen blog posts and articles in coC journals about the decline both of the number of churches and membership. The Christian Chronicle has done a good job of examining the raw data available and raising some relevant questions as to why this trend is real.

I have read letters to the editor, blog posts, and listened to on line sermons, each with some suggestion about how to stop the downward spiral. Most of what I have read only touches upon symptoms and does not address the heart of the problem.

Last night I listened to a message preached by John McCord to his people at the El Campo church of Christ in El Campo, Texas. I invite you to listen to this young man’s sermon. John McCord is one example of a preacher who has decided to no longer facilitate the falsehood of legalistic teaching. This is an example of someone with the courage to bring ethics into the pulpit along with his Bible.

All of the hand wringing and ideas about how to be more relevant, develop better programs, and become more attractive to our communities are all exercises in futility unless the root of the problem is addressed. Shoddy and sometimes even dishonest Bible scholarship is our greatest problem.

The recent uproar about 21st Century Christian not including congregations in their directory that had one or more instrumental service on Sunday highlighted a shocking truth. Today, almost 25% of the members of churches of Christ in the United States attend a congregation which has at least one service on Sunday where singing is accompanied by musical instruments.(I am sure there are others the keepers of the gate to heaven have not discovered yet) This is not the problem. The awful truth is that many of the remaining 75% don’t believe the 25% is going to heaven because they have the dreaded “instrument”. This undeniable fact gets at the root of the decline of the numbers of congregations and members. Many educated, thinking people simply dismiss this sort of nonsense as silly and either move on to some other church of Christ or quietly leave the church tradition of their ancestors.

Why should we expect people to be drawn to or stay in a church that teaches you are in danger of hell fire if you don’t agree with what they teach, and what they teach can’t be supported by the Bible? Almost every member of our churches has a computer at home and within a few clicks of a mouse they can tap into the wisdom of trusted theologians on any given subject and quickly decide if a teaching is Biblical or a myth.

We must devote ourselves to honest interpretation of the scriptures and lay aside the traditions of men if they are not valid. Each of us will do so at great risk but it is worth the effort. Christian discipleship is not for the thin skinned and faint of heart. If you set out to be loyal only to Christ and the word of God you will become the target of zealots whose security is not in Christ but rather in what they do, the system they have endorsed, and the religion they are committed to.

To be what God wants us to be, without regard to the numbers or our critics, we must get back to the basics of the Christian faith. We must become a people of the Word whose lives have the flavor of an authentic, vibrant faith relationship with Jesus Christ. Every area of our lives should reflect our devotion to the Son of God and our unconditional surrender to His will. We must become known as people who love each other unconditionally, who hold each other accountable, who look out for the interests of others, and whose mission on earth is to make Christ known.

True disciples of Jesus are known by how they love. They are not known by how they worship, by what sign is over the door where they worship, or by what their church history is.They are known by loving each other and by loving even their enemies and by so doing loving God.

We must stop pretending we have it all right and everyone else is wrong. We must stop being church centered and become Christ centered. It is high time the Restoration Movement churches are restored to the faith of our fathers without all the trappings of man made religion. It is a life or death matter.

Royce