Several years ago, I received a call from a pastor in Virginia asking if I would be available to preach a series of revival meetings for his congregation. The scheduled evangelist was experiencing health problems, and had to cancel. Although it was a very short notice, I agreed to serve the church in that capacity. It was at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, Virginia. Brother Jim had been pastor there for thirty-eight years.
He had been told by a mutual friend of our’s from North Carolina that I also sang and played the piano. Brother Jim asked if I would be willing to provide special music for each service, too, to which I agreed.
During that first Sunday morning service, one of the two songs I sang was one titled, “I’ll Break the Law of Gravity Some Day,” which was written by Laura Riffle of Jane Lew, W.Va. It is a most lively song, which evokes from me a lot of zeal and enthusiasm.
After the church service, a church lady named Pam approached me and asked if I remembered the old time cartoon about the green frog that could sing and dance. This singing green frog revealed his talent to a man who was extremely down on his fortune in life. When in the presence of the man, the frog would in dynamic fashion whip out a straw hat and a cane, and would sing and dance with a high leg kick to “Hello, my darling, hello, my honey, hello my ragtime gal…” The man quickly envisioned marketing this unusual talent, and in the process make millions of dollars for him self.
“You remember that?” Pam asked. I told her I sure did. Then she added, “Your music reminds me of that green singing frog!”
Over the years, people sometimes compared the style and countenance of my preaching and singing to certain popular personalities. But, that was absolutely the most hilarious comparison to which I have ever been associated. The image of that green singing frog and inanity of the allusion caused me to laugh long and loud.
But, as many of you may remember the toon, the green singing frog posed a problem for the man. The frog would only sing and dance when alone in the presence of the man. When the man took his talent discovery to a talent agency with the opportunity to perform, the frog only squatted and mumbled, “Ribbit!” But, once back outside and alone with the man, the green singing frog would don his hat and cane, and sing and dance marvelously.
As I dare to venture a suggestion with this in mind, it very well may be a comparative observation that the people of the church all too often cause the Lord to be reminiscent of that green singing frog. For, we too often just sing gloriously only in His presence. We testify about Him only when in His presence. And, once we leave our worship facilities, we squat on our Christian haunches among the Gospel-needy people of the community, and only utter the “Ribbits!” of frog speak. All too often, when opportunity is present to uplift our Savior before others, we present ourselves as having nothing to sing or say.
Where are the bold believers who are willing to publicly identify with Christ? According to Scripture, after Peter and John were arrested for open Christian identification, those two made it clear concerning Christ, “We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.”
Here is the rub—-if we have a song to sing when we are in church, it should be a song we sing outside of the church. If we have a praise for the Lord when we are in church, it should be a praise we raise for the Lord outside of church.
Otherwise, our identification with the Lord become reduced to a mere “Ribbit!”
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.