Musically Challenged

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(The following story is said to be written by a former elementary school music teacher called Mildred Hondorf from DeMoines, Iowa, USA.)

 

I’ve always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons – something I’ve done for over 30 years. Over the years I found that children have many levels of musical ability. I’ve never had the pleasure of having a protégé though I have taught some talented students.

 

However I’ve also had my share of what I call “musically challenged” pupils. One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby. But Robby said that it had always been his mother’s dream to hear him play the piano. So I took him as a student.

 

Well, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel. But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to learn.

 

Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he’d always say, “My mom’s going to hear me play some day.” But it seemed hopeless.

 

He just did not have any inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled but never stopped in. Then one day Robby stopped coming to our lessons.

 

I thought about calling him but assumed, because of his lack of ability, that he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that he stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!

 

Several weeks later I mailed to the student’s homes a flyer on the upcoming recital. To my surprise Robby (who received a flyer) asked me if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils and because he had dropped out he really did not qualify. He said that his mom had been sick and unable to take him to piano lessons but he was still practicing.

 

“Miss Hondorf . . . I’ve just got to play!” he insisted. I don’t know what led me to allow him to play in the recital. Maybe it was his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that it would be alright.

 

The night for the recital came. The high school gymnasium was packed with parents, friends and relatives. I put Robby up last in the program before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my “curtain closer.”

 

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Well the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing and it showed. Then Robby came up on stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked like he’d run an egg-beater through it. “Why didn’t he dress up like the other students?” I thought. “Why didn’t his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special night?”

 

Robby pulled out the piano bench and he began. I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen Mozart’s Concerto #21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys, they even danced nimbly on the ivories.

 

He went from pianissimo to fortissimo; from allegro to virtuoso. His suspended chords that Mozart demands were magnificent! Never had I heard Mozart played so well by people his age. After six and a half minutes he ended in a grand crescendo and everyone was on their feet in wild applause.

 

Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy. “I’ve never heard you play like that Robby! How’d you do it?” Through the microphone Robby explained:

 

“Well, Miss Hondorf . . . remember I told you my mom was sick? Well actually she had cancer and passed away this morning. And well . . . she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special.”

 

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care, I noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy and I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil.

 

No, I’ve never had a protégé but that night I became a protégé . . . of Robby’s. He was the teacher and I was the pupil. For it was he that taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe even taking a chance on someone and you don’t know why. This is especially meaningful to me since after serving in Desert Storm, Robby was killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995, where he was reportedly . . . playing the piano.

 

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You may like to listen to Mozart’s Concerto #21 in C Major:

 

 

Note to the reader:

 

While the details of this story cannot easily be substantiated, there still remains a very powerful truth in the reality of our own understanding of people’s complex lives. While, the events in this story may or may not have happened in the precise way described – the details remain somewhat secondary and subsidiary to the unseen truth hidden within the story, and the actual emotion felt by all when we stop to appreciate the fragility of life itself, and the love that we all long to give and receive. This love is something we seek our entire lives, and unless we find the route source of love in this life, we will remain continually unsatisfied and skeptical our entire lives.

 

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God is Love: How do we Define Love?

 

The Bible actually tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8), and as much as humankind destroys itself, nothing changes God’s love for us.  But how do we define this? The Dictionary defines love as “an intense affection for another person based on familial or personal ties”. Often this “intense affection” stems from a sexual attraction for that other person. We love other people, or we say we love other people, when we are attracted to them and when they make us feel good. Notice that a key phrase in the dictionary definition of love is the phrase “based on.” This phrase implies that we love conditionally; in other words, we love someone because they fulfill a condition that we require before we can love them. How many times have you heard or said, “I love you because you are cute;” or “I love you because you take good care of me;” or “I love you because you are fun to be with”?

Our love is not only conditional, it is also mercurial. We love based on feelings and emotions that can change from one moment to the next. The divorce rate is extremely high in today’s society because husbands and wives supposedly stop loving one another-or they “fall out of love”. They may go through a rough patch in their marriage, and they no longer “feel” love for their spouse, so they call it quits. Evidently, their marriage vow of “till death do us part” means they can part at the death of their love for their spouse rather than at their physical death.

Can anyone really comprehend “unconditional” love? It seems the love that parents have for their children is as close to unconditional love as we can get without the help of God’s love in our lives. We continue to love our children through good times and bad, and we don’t stop loving them if they don’t meet the expectations we may have for them. We make a choice to love our children even when we consider them unlovable; our love doesn’t stop when we don’t “feel” love for them. This is similar to God’s love for us, but as we shall see, God’s love transcends the human definition of love to a point that is hard for us to comprehend.

 

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God is Love: How does God Define Love?

 

The Bible tells us that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). But how can we even begin to understand that truth? There are many passages in the Bible that give us God’s definition of love. The most well known verse is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” So one way God defines love is in the act of giving. However, what God gave (or should we say, “who” God gave) was not a mere gift-wrapped present; God sacrificed His only Son so that we, who put our faith in His Son, will not spend eternity separated from Him. This is an amazing love, because we are the ones who choose to reject God, yet it’s God who mends the separation through His intense personal sacrifice, and all we have to do is accept His gift.

Another great verse about God’s love is found in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His love toward us, in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In this verse and in John 3:16, we find no conditions placed on God’s love for us. God doesn’t say, “as soon as you clean up your act, I’ll love you; ” nor does He say, “I’ll sacrifice my Son if you promise to love Me.” In fact, in Romans 5:8, we find just the opposite. God wants us to know that His love is unconditional, so He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us while we were still unlovable sinners. We didn’t have to get clean, and we didn’t have to make any promises to God before we could experience His love. His love for us has always existed, and because of that, He did all the giving and sacrificing long before we were even aware that we needed His love.

 

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God is Love: It’s Unconditional

 

God is Love, and His love is very different from human love. God’s love is unconditional, and it’s not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable or because we make Him feel good; He loves us because He is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with Him, and He sacrificed His own Son (who also willingly died for us) to restore that relationship.

 

God is Love: How Should we Define Love?

 

When the Scriptures say, “God is love,” they aren’t telling us that God is some nebulous, warm fuzzy feeling of love. The writers who penned the scriptures weren’t saying that in our limited form of human love we will find God. Not at all – in fact, when we read that God is love in the Bible, this means that God defines love. And when we say that God defines love, we don’t mean that He defines it like Wikipedia might define something — we mean that God is the very definition of love itself. There is no such thing as love without God. As hard as we might try, we cannot define love outside of knowing God. This essentially means that our human definition of love is false.

God is the Creator of all things, and by His very nature, He is love. God says love is unconditional and sacrificial, and it’s not based on feelings; therefore, love is not an “intense affection… based on familial or personal ties”. To understand what true love is and to be able to truly love others, we must know God, and we can do this through a close personal relationship with Him. We can have that close relationship with God by putting our faith in Jesus Christ, who was God’s sacrifice of love for us.

 

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God is Love: True Love Only Comes Through a Relationship With Him

 

If you want to know this love – true love – get to know God. He is ready to pour out His love on you, and He wants to teach you how to love others as He loves you.

 

God’s love towards us, His estranged creation, is graphically depicted in the sacrifice He made on our behalf. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus Christ, is God’s unique and eternal Son. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Great I AM, the “Mighty God” by whom all things were created and in whom all things consist. Jesus, who is the head of all things, humbled Himself in such a way that the human mind couldn’t even bear the thought of it. He came into this sin-cursed world and actively partook in our sufferings. Even as we are flesh and blood, He shared in the same. He became a man and dwelt among us. He shared in the sufferings we brought upon ourselves through our rejection of His holy precepts. And as if that were not enough to convince us of His love and concern for us, Jesus, the immortal God and the Giver of Life, gave up His own life upon the cross in the greatest act of love the world has ever known! In doing so He took our sins away, effectively nailing them to the cross with Himself. Thus, He who knew no sin became sin for us and He who gave life to all, tasted death for those condemned to it.

 

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God’s Love – For God so Loved the World

 

This is God’s love! “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:16-17).

 

Jesus Christ loved the world so much that He gave everything for it, from His rights and privileges as the unique eternal Son of God, to His very life! If you want to see the love of God, look to the cross. “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

 

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God’s Love – It’s For You!

 

God’s love has been made known to us and now He stands at the door and knocks. It’s up to every individual to either pursue a personal relationship with God or else reject Him outright.

 

The only barrier between us and God’s love is our own freewill and Jesus Christ is the door. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6). Salvation is a free gift bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. There is no other way. “…Do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21). You can’t earn God’s forgiveness through good works. How will doing the good works that you should have done all your life make up for the countless times you’ve failed? God is no fool. You can “use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before Me…” (Jeremiah 2:22).

 

A man once fell on his knees before Christ and begged, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Christ, “filled with compassion” replied, “I am willing; be clean” (Mark 1:40-41). We too can fall on our knees and acknowledge God’s only provision for our sins. We too can hear, “I am willing; be clean.” Christ willingly took God’s righteous indignation upon Himself so that you don’t have to; whoever accepts His death upon the cross as payment for their sins will be reconciled to the God whom they’ve offended. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ…God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them…God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, 21).

 

Will you accept God’s love today?

 

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Prayer of Salvation – This is our first real conversation with God!!!

 

The “prayer of salvation” is the most important prayer we’ll ever pray. When we’re ready to become a Christian, we’re ready to have our first real conversation with God, and these are its components:

 

  • We acknowledge that Jesus Christ is God; that He came to earth as a man in order to live the sinless life that we cannot live; that He died in our place, so that we would not have to pay the penalty we deserve.
  • We confess our past life of sin – living for ourselves and not obeying God.
  • We admit we are ready to trust Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord.
  • We ask Jesus to come into our heart, take up residence there, and begin living through us.

Prayer of Salvation – It Begins With Faith in God

 

When we pray the prayer of salvation, we’re letting God know we believe His Word is true. By the faith He has given us, we choose to believe in Him. The Bible tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

So, when we pray, asking God for the gift of salvation, we’re exercising our free will to acknowledge that we believe in Him. That demonstration of faith pleases God, because we have freely chosen to know Him.

Prayer of Salvation – Confessing Our Sin

 

When we pray the prayer of salvation, we’re admitting that we’ve sinned. As the Bible says of everyone, save Christ alone: “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

To sin is simply to fall short of the mark, as an arrow that does not quite hit the bull’s-eye. The glory of God that we fall short of is found only in Jesus Christ: “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

The prayer of salvation, then, recognizes that Jesus Christ is the only human who ever lived without sin. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Prayer of Salvation – Professing Faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord

 

With Christ as our standard of perfection, we’re now acknowledging faith in Him as God, agreeing with the Apostle John that: “In the beginning was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

Because God could only accept a perfect, sinless sacrifice, and because He knew that we could not possibly accomplish that, He sent His Son to die for us and pay the eternal price. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

Prayer of Salvation – Say it & mean it now!

 

Do you agree with everything you have read so far? If you do, don’t wait a moment longer to start your new life in Jesus Christ. Remember, this prayer is not a magical formula. You are simply expressing your heart to God. Pray this with us:

 

 “Father God, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

 

Prayer of Salvation – I’ve prayed it. So, now What?

 

If you’ve prayed this prayer of salvation with true conviction and heart, you are now a follower of Jesus. This is a fact, whether or not you feel any different. Religious systems may have led you to believe that you should feel something – a warm glow, a tingle, or some other mystical experience. The fact is, you may, or you may not. If you have prayed the prayer of salvation and meant it, you are now a follower of Jesus. The Bible tells us that your eternal salvation is secure! “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Welcome to the family of God! We encourage you now to find a local church where you can be baptized and grow in the knowledge of God through His Word, the Bible.  Get in touch if you have any questions.

 

God bless you.

 

Keep on keeping on…

 

Tony Anthony

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