Are You Weighed Down?


(photograph of Richard and Anne Morrison)


“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12.1)

     INTRO.: A song which encourages us to run with patience the race that is set before us by laying aside the things of this life that weigh us down and looking to the Lord is “Are You Weighed Down?” (#654 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Craig A. Roberts (b. 1957). The tune was composed by Richard L. Morrison, who was born on Nov. 17, 1945, in Fullerton, CA, to Richard Lee and Doris Morrison. Because his father was a preacher, he lived in Washington, Oregon, several places in California, Arizona, and Texas during his youth.   His musical education began at the feet of the prolific and admired song writer Austin Taylor, who partnered with Edgar Furr to start the Texas Normal Singing School at Sabinal, TX, in the late 1940’s.  Having begun to write songs at about age fifteen, he went to the University of Houston (TX), playing the trombone on a music scholarship for two years until he married his wife, Emily Anne, in 1965. They have four children.

In 1986 Morrison began working on a Ph. D. in Computer Science, taking one computer class and one music class each semester, and started writing music again. For several years he taught at the Texas Normal Singing School every year, and now works at the Oklahoma Singing School at Wilburton, OK, each summer, where he has taught music composition and advanced sight singing. Currently he and Anne live in Plano, TX, where he serves as an elder at the Spring Creek church of Christ. Richard, who has a deep love for the Lord and a desire to be faithful to God’s word, has written the music for over 50 hymns, many of which are regularly used by the Lord’s people across the country, helps churches grow in their ability to worship God, and serves as a helpful mentor and resource for several song writers.  He knows that good song worship is essential for a healthy local church.

“Are You Weighed Down?” was first published in 1993 in the revised edition of Hymns for Worship. Morrison also wrote or collaborated in writing tunes for two other songs which appear in Hymns for Worship Revised, “Resurrection” with Gary L. Box, and “Come My Soul, Your Plea Prepare” with Roberts and co-editor R. J. Stevens (1927-2012). In 2000 and again in 2002, he helped to published two new songbook supplements entitled Sing To The Lord! with the assistance of several others, including Stevens.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “Are You Weighed Down?” is found only in Hymns for Worship and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.

The song identifies the characteristics of the Lord by which He provides for our needs and helps us in life.

I. Stanza 1 speaks of His omnipotence

“Are you weighed down with cares of life?

Weak in temptation, faint in strife?

Lean on the Lord to help you through;

Almighty God will strengthen you.”

1  Many times we find ourselves weighed down with cares of life: Lk. 21.34

2. Such cares often present temptations which, when we are faint, can draw us away from God: Jas. 1.14-15

3. In these times, we need to lean for strength upon God who is Almighty: Gen. 17.1

II. Stanza 2 mentions His omnipresence

“Are you alone and far away?

Find a calm place to sing and pray,

For in the midst are gathered two,

All-present God is there with you.”

  1. When we feel alone and far away, we can find a calm place to sing and pray, as did Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail: Acts 16.25
  2. Jesus has promised that where two or three are gathered together, He will be with them: Matt. 18.20
  3. Thus, in such times we can remember that there is no place that we can flee from the presence of the All-Present God: Ps. 139.7-12

III. Stanza 3 refers to His omniscience

“Are you afraid of coming years,

Filled with uncertain joys and tears?

Blessings or burdens, great or few,

All-knowing God knows best for you.”

  1. It is easy for our finite minds to be afraid of coming years: Matt. 6.34
  2. The fact is that we do not know what will be in the future, whether joys or tears, whether blessings or burdens: Jas. 4.14
  3. However, regardless of what the future holds, we can put our trust in the All-Knowing God who alone can declare the end from the beginning: Isa. 46.9-10

CONCL.: All of us have to deal with cares and temptations in life.  There are times when we feel alone. And we face a future that, so far as this life is concerned, is uncertain. However, if we put our trust in the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, He has promised that He will always provide for us as best suits our needs. Therefore, we can find comfort by turning to God when others ask us, “Are You Weighed Down?”

are you weighed


Come While You May


(photo of H. Leo Boles)


“…Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which encourages the sinner to be saved while there is still time is “Come While You May.”  The text was written by Henry Leo Boles, who was born on February 22, 1874, near Gainesboro in Jackson County, Tennessee, in the heart of the high Cumberland plateau. His parents were Henry Jefferson Boles and Sarah Smith Boles. His paternal grandmother was a daughter of “Raccoon” John Smith, a leader in the “Restoration Movement.”  His father was a preacher of the gospel in the mountain areas near his home, who was married three times and was the father of 18 children. He never saw all his children at home at the same time.  Leo was the third of six children born to the first marriage.  As a student, Boles attended the public schools of White and DeKalb Counties in Tennessee. The school term was only four months each year. In 1892, he entered Shorter College of Mechanicsville. which was located near Short Mountain in Cannon County, Tennessee. This was not a college but was equivalent to a high school. He remained there one year. It was here that he made his first public talk in a small debating society. For the next two years, circumstances were such that he had to stay home and work on the farm, except for teaching as an assistant for a few months in the fall.  He next entered Dibrell College, which is now Dibrell High School in Warren County, Tennessee.

Boles married Miss Cynthia Cantrell in 1894 when he was 20 years of age. To this union a son, Cleo, was born on July 14. 1895. The young wife and mother lived only four days after the son was born. A sister of Boles took little Cleo and cared for him until his father was in a position to take him.  Boles was baptized by W. T. Kidwill in a meeting at Olive Church of Christ in DeKalb County, Tennessee, on September 27, 1895.  In January, 1898, Boles entered Burritt College, Spencer, Tennessee, from which he graduated, earning a bachelor of science degree in 1900.  Boles began his career as a schoolteacher in Texas.  After teaching four years in Texas, Boles returned to Tennessee, preached his first sermon on June 7, 1903, at Stony Point in DeKalb County, and then entered Nashville Bible School, later known as David Lipscomb College/University, on October 12, 1903, and graduated in the spring of 1906 with a bachelor of arts degree in 1906.  Boles married Miss Ida Mae Meiser, of McMinnville, Tennessee, on September 23, 1906. To this marriage one son, Leo Lipscomb, was born.   In the fall of 1906, he became a member of the faculty of David Lipscomb College (then Nashville Bible School) and taught there from 1906 until his retirement.  While doing regular work as teacher, he took lessons daily in the Bible under David Lipscomb. For seven years he taught Mathematics, Religious Education, Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy, and the Bible.  “Come While You May” was copyrighted in 1908 with the tune composed by Flavil Hall (1876-1952).  It appeared in The Gospel Message in Song edited in 1910 by Flavil Hall and Samuel H. Hall, with Boles listed as an associate editor.  I also found another hymn, “The Halo of Humility” by H. L. Boles with music by L. Dow McDonald, copyrighted in 1919, in an old paperback hymnbook Shining Gems for Jesus published by The R. L. Page Music Company of Belmont, MS.  Boles earned a master’s degree from Burritt College in 1913.

Boles was the head of the Bible department for more than two decades and served as the university president twice, first from 1913 following the resignation of E. A. Elam, when he began to give more and more time to teaching the Bible, to 1920, when he received his M.A. degree from Vanderbilt University, and a second time from 1923 to 1932.   He earned a PhD from the Southern School of Divinity in Fort Worth, Texas in 1927. He finally left the services of the College in 1934.  While his greatest work was during the years that he served as teacher and president of David Lipscomb College, he was also a preacher with the Churches of Christ, an elder of the Reid Avenue Church of Christ, and the author of several books including commentaries on Matthew, Luke, and Acts, a book on the Holy Spirit, and a book on biographical sketches of gospel preachers.  In addition, he engaged in public discussions, such as the Boles-Boll Debate on premillennialism and the Boles-Clubb debate on instrumental music.  For almost 40 years, Boles wrote for the Gospel Advocate as contributor, editor, and staff writer. Boles was crippled in November of 1945 by phlebitis. It was in the early morning of Thursday, February 7, 1946, that his wife was awakened to hear his cry of pain.  An attack of pneumonia had complicated his phlebitis, and on that same day at 10:30 a.m., the soul of Henry Leo Boles took wings. His funeral was preached at the Grace Avenue church of Christ by N. B. Hardeman, S. H. Hall, and B. C. Goodpasture, and he was buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Nashville.

The song invites those who are lost to come to Jesus while He waits.

I. Stanza 1 says that Jesus calls

How sweet the voice that calls you home,

That bids you to the Savior come.

His love and peace accept today.

  1. The means by which the Lord calls us is the gospel: 2 Thess. 2:13-14
  2. In the gospel He calls us to come to Him: Jn. 6:44-45
  3. We need to listen to His voice today: Heb. 3:14-15

Oh, come to Him now while you may!

II. Stanza 2 says that Jesus pleads

Now tenderly the Master pleads;

O, then His love and grace I’ll heed!

How sad for me now to resist;

His pardon I will not neglect.

  1. Jesus pleads with each person as one who stands at the door and knocks: Rev. 3:20
  2. To be saved we must heed His love and grace by obeying His teaching: Rom. 6:17-18
  3. And we need to be careful that we do not neglect this great salvation: Heb. 2:1-4

III. Stanza 3 says that Jesus loves us

How often I have turned my heart;

With hope I will from sin depart.

For Jesus loves me still I know;

I now in faith repent and go.

  1. The Lord wants us to give Him our hearts: Prov. 23:26
  2. Jesus loves us enough to have given His life for us: 1 Jn. 3:16
  3. One thing which we do in giving Him our hearts is to repent: Acts 2:38

IV. Stanza 4 says that Jesus offers rest

I will not be enticed by sin

To stay in death away from Him;

I now resolve to do my best,

And in the arms of Christ I’ll rest.

  1. We should seek to have God’s word in our hearts that we might not be enticed to sin against Him: Ps. 119:11
  2. The reason is that if we remain in sin it will bring forth death: Jas. 1:14-15
  3. But those who are lost in sin can find rest by coming to Christ: Matt. 11:28-30

CONCL.:  The chorus continues to exhort the sinner to come to Jesus today.

Come while you may, O, come today!

Come while inclined by love divine;

For Jesus waits at heaven’s gate

You to embrace with love and grace.

It is a common custom in most American congregations of God’s people to close each sermon or service by extending the Lord’s invitation to come to Him in obedience to receive salvation.  Songs like this are designed to tell those who are lost or unfaithful, “Come While You May.”

come while you may boles

Loved Ones


(photo of Craig Roberts)


“Let my cry come near before Thee, O Lord: Give me understanding according to Thy word” (Ps. 119:169)

     INTRO.: A hymn which asks the Lord to give us understanding according to His word about those on earth whom we love is “Loved Ones” (#499 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune (Columbus) was composed both by Craig Arthur Roberts, who was born on Aug. 15, 1957, in Columbus, MS, where his father Darell had met his mother, Maxine Belue.  Darell was serving in the Air Force at the time.  Raised primarily in Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma, moving often because his father was chemical engineer for various petroleum companies, Craig graduated High School from Tulsa Memorial in 1975.  After attending Florida College (1977), University of North Alabama (1979), University of Arkansas (1982, 1985), and University of Illinois (Postdoctoral Research Associate,  Department of Agronomy, 1985-88), he joined the faculty of the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO, where he currently serves as Professor of Plant Sciences.

In 1978, Craig married Joetta Watts from St. Joe, AR, and they are the parents of three children, Cody, Sarah, and Mary.  He became involved in hymn-writing due to his love of the Bible which came from his grandfather A.C. Belue and from his parents; his love of writing and editing  which came from his secular career; and his love of music which came from his parents, the school band, listening to music since childhood, and playing bluegrass.  He learned to read shaped notes from his friend Kelly Hersey and learned rules of harmonization from R.J. Stevens and Richard Morrison.  This particular song was first published in 1993 in Hymns for Worship Revised.  Craig has been holding hymn-writing workshops called “Hymninars” since 1997 and was co-founder in 2002 and first President of Sumphonia, a nonprofit organization that promotes hymn-writing and hymns for congregational use.   In addition, he has served as an elder for the Eastside church of Christ in Columbia, MO, since 2006.

In his work as Professor of Agronomy and State Forage Extension Specialist at the University of Missouri, Roberts conducts research in forage quality with specializations in near-infrared spectroscopy and fescue toxicosis. He maintains statewide educational programs in fescue toxicosis and grazing systems. Currently he serves as Editor-in-Chief of Crop Science Society of America publications.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Loved Ones” has appeared in the 1998 Hymn Supplement: Let the Whole Creation Cry “Alleluia” published by the Columbia Hymn Association; and the 2007 Sumphonia Hymn Supplement and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs both edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; as well as Hymns for Worship Revised (it was not in the original edition).

The song asks the Lord to help us have a good attitude towards from whom we are separated.

I. Stanza one talks about those who depart in general

O Lord, help me maintain

An understanding heart,

So I can overcome the pain,

When those I love depart.

  1. The Lord wants us to have an understanding heart: Prov. 8:5
  2. The reason why is that we all experience pain because man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble: Job 14:1
  3. The cause of the particular pain under consideration is the departure of those whom we love; at this point in the song, no specific reason for the departure is given, but in general we experience pain when those whom we love depart for whatever reason: 2 Tim. 4:9-11

II. Stanza two talks about those who depart by moving away

Lord, help me understand

That loved ones move away,

But carry into future lands

Thy word, learned yesterday.

  1. Loved ones may move away, as Barnabas and Paul did from Antioch: Acts 13:1-3
  2. They may even go into distant lands, as Paul often did: Rom. 15:19-20
  3. But we can take comfort that those who are faithful Christians will preach the word wherever they go: Acts 8:1-4

III. Stanza three talks about those who depart by falling into sin

Help me remember, Lord,

When loved ones fall in sin,

With kindness, they can be restored,

And feel Thy love again.

  1. It is an unfortunate possibility that loved ones might fall into sin: Jas. 5:19
  2. However, it is always possible too that with kindness they can be restored: Gal. 6:1
  3. Those who thus return to the Lord know the love that covers a multitude of sin: 1 Pet. 4:8

IV. Stanza four talks about those who depart in death

And Father, comfort me

When loved ones pass away;

Remind me, Lord, Thy children see

Their love another day.

  1. Loved ones will pass away because it is appointed for men to die once: Heb. 9:27
  2. However, the children of God will see one another in the resurrection: 1 Thess. 4:16-17
  3. And knowing that death is not the end but there is “another day” is one way that God comforts us: 2 Cor. 1:3-4

CONCL.:  The inspired apostle John said that he prayed for his beloved friend Gaius that he would prosper in all things and be in health just as his soul prospered (3 John vs. 1-2).  We may pray that when those whom we love move away from us God will watch over them, care for them, and help them remain faithful.  We should certainly pray for those whom we love and have fallen away to return to the faith.  We must also pray for those whom we love when they have lost friends and relatives that they will be comforted.  And we ought to pray that God will help us have the proper attitude in all things towards our “Loved Ones.”

loved ones

In His Memory


(photo of Paul Springer)


“…This do in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:24)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which speaks of the Lord’s supper as something that Christians are to do in remembrance of Jesus Christ is “In His Memory.”  The text was written by Robert A. Sharpe.  It was co-written and/or arranged and the tune was composed both by Paul Allen Springer, who has been involved with music since the crib. He has played the piano, the trumpet in band and jazz band, and led singing since the age of twelve. He wrote “Christ is My Savior” with his sister in 1978 (copyright 1980), a few piano/voice pieces, and then “A Joyful Noise” in 1980.  A member of the David Lipscomb University (Nashville, TN) band and jazz band in 1981, and the A Cappella Chorus from 1981 to 1985, he even has the master and digital re-mastered recordings of A Cappella’s Spring Concerts from 1982 to 1985. They performed at the World’s Fair (Knoxville, 1982) and traveled to seven European countries for three weeks with conductor Robert Shaw of the Atlanta Symphony Chorale, performing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis as a part of a mass choir. And he has led singing for congregations ranging from twelve to 1,200 in attendance.  At Lipscomb, he majored in Physics (minor in MIS) and even took N.T. Greek as his foreign language.

Since March of 1999, Springer has decided to concentrate on music specifically for congregational singing, as too much of today’s music is from the entertainment industry and is for performance careers and not for the body of Christ to come together in worship and sing with their voices with grace and thanksgiving in their hearts, and with the spirit and understanding, to God. He writes the music specifically for normal folks to sing and in the historical a cappella style as found in the New Testament.  “In His Memory” was copyrighted in 1999 by Sharpe and Springer.  In 2000, Paul published Songs for Worship and Edification, Vol. 1, containing twenty new and original songs, including “In His Memory,” written specifically for congregational singing, with four-part harmony, shaped notes, and scripture references. Many different styles are represented.  In March 2001, he completed the start of Springer Music, in Memphis, TN, to publish and distribute mainly religious songbooks, and recordings of the songs.

Several years ago, and I do not now remember all the details, Paul somehow contacted me and sent me a couple copies of Songs for Worship and Edification, Vol. 1.  After discovering other “Paul Springer” people in the music business, he began in 2003 to put “Paul A. Springer” on his songs to eliminate some potential confusion.  His “other job” is currently in computer and large-format printer/copier support.  Also he custom builds speakers, understands auditorium acoustics, has some knowledge of psycho-acoustics, and has reworked many a sound system. In addition, he understands electronics, sampling, and recording and has done it all with the minimum of equipment.   Furthermore, he has written music for other styles and has recorded a few demo CDs.  Hoping to become a launching pad for new songs, as he finds good family-friendly and moral songs in other styles he will write and promote them as well, but his main long term aim is new songs for congregational singing.  In 2006, Springer moved from Memphis to Pace, FL, near Pensacola.

“In His Memory” emphasizes the fact that the Lord’s supper is to be done in Christ’s memory.

I. Stanza 1 relates the Lord’s supper to an occurrence in the past

Jesus gave His life blood upon cruel Calvary,

To purchase our ransom and the sinner set free,

But, before our Lord did suffer, He prepared us a feast,

And said that you do this “in My memory.”

  1. Jesus shed His blood on Calvary for us: Heb. 9:12-14
  2. He did this to purchase our ransom: Matt. 20:28
  3. Thus, when we eat the Lord’s supper, we remember His death: 1 Cor. 11:23-26

II. Stanza 2 relates the Lord’s supper to a reality in the present

Our Lord is now seated at the Father’s right hand,

To intercede daily with the Father and man.

Now when we discern His body, we remember His plea,

“As oft as you do this in My memory.”

  1. Jesus is now seated at the Father’s right hand: Eph. 1:17-20
  2. He ever lives to make intercession for us: Heb. 7:25
  3. As we remember His death which made this possible, we need to discern His body: 1 Cor. 11:27-29

III. Stanza 3 relates the Lord’s supper to an event yet in the future

Our Lord is returning in the clouds some sweet day,

To gather His children on to heaven’s bright way!

So, as we now wait and worship, by faith we hear Him say,

“As oft as you do this in My memory.”

  1. Our Lord will return in the clouds some day: Acts 1:9-11
  2. When He does, He will raise the dead, change the living, and take us in the air ever to be with Him: 1 Thess. 4:16-17
  3. Till then, we observe the Lord’s supper in His memory: Lk. 22:19-20
    CONCL.: The chorus reminds us that as often as we partake of the Lord’s supper, we should always do so in memory of the Savior’s death.

“As oft as you do this in My memory,”

Were the words of the Savior proving His love for me.

Now when we come together to partake of this feast,

We should always do it in His memory.

We can always use more good communion hymns.  Jesus died for us.  He wants us to remember His death.  Therefore, He gave us the Lord’s supper to observe each Lord’s day “In His Memory.”



box no. 2

(photo of Gary Box)


“Jesus said: I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25)

    INTRO.:  A hymn which emphasizes that Jesus is the resurrection and the life is “Resurrection” (#557 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written by Gary L. Box and Richard L. Morrison (b. 1945).  I do not know when or where Gary Box was born.  The tune was composed by Morrison, who wrote that he and Box use to teach at the Sabinal Singing School together, from around 1985 to 1996 or so.  Morrison had written some music, and one year at the singing school he asked Box, who was preaching then but later became a postmaster at De Berry, TX, in Panola County in east Texas, to help write some lyrics for it.  So one afternoon at break, they sat out in the yard under a big tree and started thinking about it.  They came up with an idea from three scriptures and started working with the words until they got what they liked.

Morrison had to modify the music a little to match the word structure, and that was how it happened.  The song was copyrighted in 1995 by Morrison, who also provided music for “Are You Weighed Down?” with words by Craig A. Roberts, among other hymns.  “Resurrection” first appeared in Hymns for Worship Revised (not in the original edition).  Among other hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, it has also appeared in the 1998 Hymn Supplement Let the Whole Creation Cry Alleluia published by the Columbia Hymn Association; the 2002 Sing to the Lord Song Supplement edited by R. J. Stevens et. al.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.

One person  reported that when Ed Furr closed down the Sabinal Singing School, Gerald Wise, one of the four Wise brothers who all went to the singing school, and Gary Box tried to keep it going, but it did not last long, even after they moved it to a rented camp.  However, someone else reported that the old “Sabinal” school has never actually closed but has moved twice since leaving Sabinal. It is now operating under the name “Abilene Christian University Singing School,” and is still under the direction of Joe Ed Furr.  Gary Box has served as an elder with the Northside Church of Christ meeting at 701 Cottage Road in Carthage, TX, where he continues to preach occasionally.

The song pictures three specific resurrections which are related to our faith in Jesus Christ.

I. Stanza 1 mentions the resurrection of Lazarus

When Jesus stood at Lazarus’ tomb

And none believed He had the power,

Despite their grief and their unbelief,

He commanded, “Take away the stone.”

  1. Jesus came to Lazarus’s tomb because Lazarus was dead: Jn. 11:1-14
  2. In addition to the grief, there was a certain amount of unbelief exhibited by those at Lazarus’s tomb: Jn. 11:21-37
  3. Jesus told them to take away the stone, and Lazarus came forth: Jn. 11:28-44

II. Stanza 2 mentions the resurrection of Jesus Himself

When Jesus lay in Joseph’s tomb

And none believed He had the power,

True love spoke forth in a Father’s voice,

And the angel took away the stone.

  1. After His crucifixion, the body of Jesus was laid in Joseph’s new tomb: Matt. 27:57-61
  2. It was the voice of God the Father which raised Jesus from the dead: Rom. 10:9
  3. But it was an angel who was sent to roll away the stone: Matt. 28:1-2

III. Stanza 3 mentions our own future resurrection

When I shall lie within my tomb

And none believe He has the power,

The Lord Himself will descend from heaven

With a shout to take away the stone.

  1. Unless the Lord comes first, each of us shall lie within a tomb because it is appointed for men to die once: Heb. 9:27
  2. But someday the Lord Himself will descend from heaven: 1 Thess. 4:16-17
  3. And with a shout, His voice will call all those who are in the graves to come forth: Jn. 5:28-29

CONCL.:  It is through the signs done by Jesus, including the resurrection of Lazarus, which are written that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  On top of that, the resurrection of Jesus Himself declared Him with power to be the Son of God.  And both these things undergird our hope for the final resurrection of the dead when the Lord returns.  Therefore, it is quite fitting that we should sing about the “Resurrection.”


Remember Who You Are


(photo of Roger Hillis)


“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”  (Matt. 5:16)

     INTRO.:  A song which emphasizes the importance of remembering to let our light shine before men is “Remember Who You Are.”  The text was written by Jean Blackford.  The tune was composed by Roger L. Hillis, who was born on May 25, 1953, in Mattoon, Illinois, to Harry and June Hillis. While he was under a year old, the family moved to Olney, Illinois, and he grew up there, being educated at East Richland High School in Olney, Olney Central College, and Butler University in Indianapolis, IN.  In 1976, he graduated from Butler and has been a registered pharmacist ever since. While in Indianapolis, he was a member at the Emerson Avenue church of Christ and studied the Bible in preacher training classes under L.A. Stauffer and Bob Dickey, preaching his first sermon in April of 1975 at Emerson Avenue.  He worked as a pharmacist for several years after his graduation while preaching by appointment at several southern Illinois churches.

In 1982, Hillis began fulltime preaching work at the Olney church, the first fulltime preacher they had. In 1986, he moved to Tampa, FL, and was one of the evangelists at the North Street church. In 1989, he began preaching at the Westside church in Owensboro, Kentucky.  While at Westside, he often made the closing announcements and would end with the words, “Remember who you are.”   An elderly member, Jean Blackford, who was the mother of gospel preacher Dick Blackford’ and an excellent poet, took the phrase, at Roger’s suggestion, and wrote a poem from it which he then set to music.   It came to the attention of R.J. Stevens (1927-3012).  Stevens improved the harmony and several churches began singing the song.  I first saw the song in the July, 1994, issue of the Westside Report church bulletin which Hillis edited, where it was marked “Copyright 1993.”  Jean Blackford has since passed on to her reward.  Hillis is also the author of a Bible study book, One Another Christianity: Restoring Life-Changing Relationships in the Church.

Roger and his wife moved to Louisville, KY, in 1999 to help care for aging in-laws. At that time, he began working at a local pharmacy and also preaching for the Expressway church in Louisville.   Later, Stevens modified the music, to make it more congregational friendly and published this new arrangement in the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement, where it is marked “Copyright 1992.”  So, there are two versions of the song, the original and the one in the supplement.  Several have said that they prefer the original version, and that is the one that the Florida College Alumni Chorus has recorded on two different compact discs. Some people thought that Stevens took away the pep of the original and slowed it down too much.  The Oct. 1, 2013, issue of The Christian Chronicle reported a humorous incident involving an advertisement for the Westside Church of Christ in Owensboro in which the church was hosting a visit by Hillis from the Expressway Church of Christ in Louisville.   There’s nothing inherently funny about his two sermon titles — “Preparing for Marriage” at 10:30 a.m. and “A Look at Hell” at 6 p.m.  But they got a laugh from Jay Leno on the Sept. 30 episode of “The Tonight Show” when he said “I love sermons,” brandished the advertisement clipped and placed on his signature black cardstock, then merely read the two sermon titles together,  and chuckled. In 2015 Hillis moved to work with the Eastland church in Louisville as one of the evangelists.

The song seeks to remind us of who we are as Christians.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that we are creatures made in God’s image

In His image God created you.

In new birth He gave you life anew.

His matchless love you now proclaim,

You must live to glorify His name.

  1. The Bible teaches that human beings are created in the image of God: Gen. 1:26-27
  2. Those who become Christians are recreated in the new birth: Jn. 3:3-7
  3. Thus, we should live so as to glorify God in the name of Christian: 1 Pet. 4:16

II. Stanza 2 says that we are beings bought and redeemed by the blood of Christ

You were bought at such an awful price,

Redeemed by the precious blood of Christ;

Humbly obedient, freed from sin,

Peace and hope, and joy and love within.

  1. In order to have new birth, we had to be bought at a price: 1 Cor. 6:19-20
  2. That price for our redemption was the precious blood of Christ: 1 Pet. 1:18-21
  3. Therefore, we should be humbly obedient: 1 Pet. 1:13-17

III. Stanza 3 points out that we are lights in the world

Let your light be bright, steadfast and true.

Live so others will see Christ in you.

Your life a sermon sinners see,

What the Christian life is meant to be.

  1. God’s people are to be lights in the world: Phil. 2:14-15
  2. Hence, we need to live so that others will see Christ in us: Gal. 2:20
  3. In this way our lives become an example for those around us: 1 Tim. 4:12

CONCL.:  The chorus exhorts us to remember these things that we might be true followers of   Christ.

Christian, remember who you are today,

As you follow Him along the way.

Tho’ the way seems dark and the journey far,

Strength comes when you remember who you are.

For those of us who are Christians, Satan has many devices at his disposal to help us forget what it is that God wants us to be.  So if it is our aim to do what God desires us to do in this life and have the hope of heaven, each one of us needs to heed the admonition, “Remember Who You Are.”

(What follows is the original version.)


Heaven, the Place I Long to Be


{photograph of Sam Binkley)


“Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Phil. 1.23)

     INTRO.: A song which suggests the desire to be with Christ when we depart this life is “Heaven, the Place I Long to Be” (#629 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Sam F. Binkley, Jr., who was born on Sept. 28, 1919, to Sam F. and Martha Burton Binkley, at Mocksville, NC. Graduating from high school there in 1938, he afterwards completed two years of college work at David Lipscomb College in Nashville, TN. Binkley’s marriage to the former Rebecca Brown produced five children, Sam F. Binkley III, Barbara Davis, JeannieThornton, Sarah Burrell, and Dan Binkley.

Sam began preaching in August of 1944. Since then most of his local work has been in the states of Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Alabama. Also, he spent two years preaching in Australia.  After living in Athens, AL, for several years, the Binkleys moved and began worshipping with the Somerville Rd. church of Christ in Decatur, AL, where he continued to preach on occasion when the regular preacher was away and took turns with other men in teaching an adult Bible class. In addition to his preaching work, Binkley published some books including Success at Bible Teaching, co-authored with Martin Broadwell, A Workbook on Denominational Error, Sermons in Series, Effective Preaching As Paul Did It, Following The Example Of Jesus, and What Truth Means To Me.

This hymn was copyrighted in 1994. The arrangement was made by R. J. Stevens (1927-2012). It was first published in the revised edition of Hymns for Worship.  Several years ago, Binkley wrote to me, saying, “It is my hope that the lessons I present orally and the material I have written be used to help someone prepare to go to ‘Heaven, The Place I Long To Be.’ The older I get (now 88), the more I pray to that end.” Also he has produced a couple of others hymns that have not appeared in print. After 72 years of marriage, Rebecca passed away at the age of 91 on September 10, 2010, in Decatur.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “Heaven, the Place I Long to Be” is found only in Hymns for Worship.

It talks about some things that make heaven a desirable place.

I. In stanza 1 we are told that heaven is a place where there will be no pain

“If heaven’s a place where there’ll be no pain,

No sorrow nor crying ever again,

Where saints and angels sing refrain,

Then that’s the place I long to be.”

1.This life is full of troubles such as pain, sorrow, and crying: Job 14.1

2. However, John’s picture of heaven tells us that there will be no death, sorrow, crying, or pain there: Rev. 21.1-4

3. Rather, the redeemed of all ages will join the angels who sing the eternal refrain of praise to Christ: Rev. 5.11-14

II. In stanza 2 we are told that heaven is a place where there is a street of gold

“If heaven’s a place with its street of gold,

Where saved ones shall walk and never grow old,

There safe from harm in the Shepherd’s fold,

Then that’s the place I long to be.”

  1. The picture of heaven with a street of gold symbolizes its beauty and grandeur: Rev. 21.18-21
  2. The purpose of a street is to travel, so the street of pure gold suggests the fact that the inhabitants of heaven will be those who have walked with God by doing hiss commandments: Rev. 22.14
  3. The idea of being safe from harm is represented by the fact that the eternal city is surrounded by a great wall, just as ancient cities had a wall to protect them from danger: Rev. 21.12

III. In stanza 3 we are told that heaven is a place where there will be eternal life

“If heaven’s a place with its beauty rare,

With pleasures and joys beyond compare,

Eternal life with the Father there,

Then that’s the place I long to be.”

  1. The rare beauty of heaven is figuratively indicated by the precious jewels mentioned in connection with it that show the glory of God: Rev. 21.9-11
  2. The pleasures and joys beyond compare are figuratively indicated by the water of life and tree of life along with the activities of those who enjoy them: Rev. 22.1-5
  3. But the most outstanding blessing of heaven will be the fact that when this life is over, Christians will have eternal life in the world to come: Mk. 10.29-31

IV. In stanza 4 we are told that heaven is a place where we shall see the Lord

“But most of all it’s my Lord to see

Who shed His life’s blood to set my soul free.

Oh, heaven means so much to me;

Yes, that’s the place I long to be.”

  1. We have the promise that when the Lord returns, we shall see Him as He is: 1 Jn. 3.1-2
  2. The reason that we would want to see Him is that He is the one who shed His life’s blood to set our souls free: Eph. 2.13
  3. Therefore, heaven means so much to the Christian because when we have our dwelling place there, we shall be present with the Lord: 2 Cor. 5.1-10

CONCL.: The glimpses that God’s word gives us into heaven contain many figurative pictures that are designed to encourage us to want to go there and to motivate us to order our lives to do so. There are the beauty and grandeur of heaven, the absence of pain and sorrow, and the thought of eternal life with the saints of all ages. But even if I knew nothing of all this, the fact that in heaven I shall be with my Lord and Savior should make “Heaven, the Place I Want to Be.”