NQC Highlights 2016: Day 2

Yesterday was my sister’s last day here so I missed the beginning of the program but it was hosted by Jim Brady and Karen Peck Gooch.

Every time the Hoppers take the stage, I think about what a blessing it is that Claude and Connie Hopper are still able to travel and sing. This has been a rough year for them with Claude’s stroke and Connie’s battle with cancer but they continue to give God all the glory. The most touching moment of the evening was Claude singing the last verse of “Never Grow Old” to Connie. So fitting for two people who have spent the majority of their lives serving the Lord together.

Peg McKamey Bean was inducted into the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame. She didn’t have much to say except to thank everyone.

Ernie Haase and Signature Sound were not my favorite group on the platform last night, but Ernie did sing “O What a Savior” and nailed it once again.

I am always glad to see Squire Parsons on the stage. NQC is the only time I get to hear him but he can still sing, as can his son, Samuel. They did a great job!

I was really looking forward to seeing The Kingdom Heirs with Loren Harris. I am very happy to see him back on the NQC stage and hope to catch every one of their sets this week.

The Second Half Quartet sang again last night, and I enjoyed them even more than I did Sunday night. It was even more fun watching Gerald Wolfe getting blessed listening to them and playing the piano.

Gold City ended the evening with some of their old standbys. I’ve not kept up with them since Tim Riley retired but theirs is a group I want to start watching once again.

National Quartet Convention 2016 Highlights: Day 1

I debated as to whether or not I should post convention highlights this year and was actually leaning against it. What is a highlight to me may or may not be to you, and I don’t know how interesting it is to read my pared down list of things. There is also the fact that it can be hard to find time to post every day which makes me wonder if it is worth it. This morning, however, I decided I will go ahead and post fewer “highlights” than usual but I will post some things that I feel are of special note to give you a brief glimpse into the happenings. I assume that those who find these kinds of posts boring will just skip reading this week but, for those of you who are not at the convention, you may enjoy reading about it. I am not at the convention myself but I’m watching online, and I have already been blessed!

Sunday night was the kickoff with The Hoppers, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, The Mark Trammell Quartet, and The Jim Brady Trio. Each group sang 2 sets, going about 15-20 minutes each. The Hoppers and Legacy Five featured more of their newer songs. I especially want to get the Hopper’s CD. It sounds very good.

The night was interspersed by piano solos from Josh Singletary and Tim Lovelace. Tim did a segment which included a variety of styles of music from the rhythmic playing of Hovie Lister to the soul of Ray Charles. He also featured some African American church music, as well as some classical and an imitation of what you may see when a new, young southern gospel player comes on the scene. Tim and Josh later did a duet on the piano of “Just a Closer Walk,”

At the end of Legacy Five’s set, they played a clip of the Cathedrals with George Younce giving Scott Fowler a hard time. This was my first time to hear Josh Feemster with Legacy Five. He did a wonderful job, ending with “He Made a Change.” I also enjoyed watching them sing “The Hallelujah Chorus.”

Replacing Tim Parton with the Jim Brady Trio is 23-year-old Layke Jones from Anderson, Indiana. In their second set, Jim’s sister Marla Henry joined them to sing a song. I grew up listening to the Brady family sing so this was a special treat for me. Jim talked a bit about losing his dad and sister and Melissa’s mom, all in the last year. They then went on to sing “That Sounds Like Home to Me.” This brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure everyone reading this has someone that has gone ahead. The older I get, the more songs like this become precious.

Claude Hopper talked a bit about the coming election and the state of our country. It seems most people put the emphasis on voting so I was surprised when he emphasized prayer and the importance of praying for our leaders. He encouraged everyone to pray about who to vote for but he said he is praying that they get saved because, if that happens, everything else will work out. Thank you, Brother Claude, for reminding us of what is truly important.

Usually at the convention, a few groups will go over, causing the evenings to end later than planned. Sunday night, they ended up being ahead of schedule so they threw in a bonus group: Second Half Quartet. The group sang “Standing on Holy Ground” and “Wedding Music.”

Learning to Rest in the Valley

It’s been 8 weeks since I’ve written a blog post, except for a couple small ones recently. I don’t think I’ve ever gone that long without writing since I started this blog. To everything there is a season. As a writer, my brain is always working. Whether it’s a conversation, something I’ve read, or something God is teaching me, it seems like I should never run out of things to say. In some ways I don’t, but there are seasons where it takes a while to really hear what God is speaking and to find the time to get it down.

Since I’ve last written, life has been a myriad of ups and downs. I had a period of time where I struggled to find faith in the midst of trials, which was really my way of not accepting the lot that God has seen fit to give me right now. I hate growing pains and yet I know they are necessary to make me the person God truly wants me to be.

Lately, although I am still going through some trials, He is helping me to trust Him. I don’t understand everything and I know I will still have rough days but I pray to get God’s mind, to know what He desires of me, and to come through this full of faith and victory. I believe He will answer that prayer.

If you are going through a trial, don’t despair. God’s plans for you are good and not evil. He desires to make you more like Him, and sometimes it is the dark tunnels that cause us to turn to Him and realize how much we need Him to get us through each day. The bottom line is that: “If it takes a valley to really know Your grace and if it’s in the desert where I meet You face to face, then turn this path I’m traveling to some dark and lonely place ’cause if it takes a valley, then a valley’s what I’ll take.”

Loren Harris Joins the Kingdom Heirs

  • September 21, 2016 at 11:02 pm in

The Kingdom Heirs announced yesterday that Loren Harris will be their new baritone, replacing Brian Alvey who recently left the group. It’s been a while since I have been excited about a group change, but I am very happy that Loren will be back on the NQC main stage this year. I won’t be attending the convention, but I plan to watch it online, and I’ll be making a point especially to see the Kingdom Heirs set.

CD Review: After All This Time (The Talleys)

With this CD, the Talleys are celebrating 20 years of ministry as Roger, Debra, and Lauren. Their harmony and their lyrics are as strong as always.

It’s fitting that the CD is titled After All This Time. Throughout the years, God has not stopped being faithful.

There is Coming a Day talks about that day that we all wait for. Keep looking up. Our redemption draws nigh.

There’s Never Been a Mountain is a song of encouragement, reminding us that God is still in control.

Debra Talley sings What is This Thing Called Grace?

If you have listened to the Talleys as long as I have, you’ll remember a song they recorded in the ’80s called simply Naaman. Well, they’ve brought it back for this CD. It’s a very different song but a good message. I love the line that says “Power comes from doing what God says.”

Lauren sings lead on Jesus’ Blood is Enough. You don’t need anything else but Jesus.

The tempo speeds up with My Hope is in the Lord.

But I Need You More is a song of worship, telling the Lord how much we need Him. Nothing compares to him.

The People in the Line is a reminder to not be so focused on ourselves that we fail to see the needs around us.

Somebody’s Story is a song about being slow to judge because you don’t always know somebody’s story.

Lauren is featured in the old song, Who But God.

The CD ends with a medley of I Love to Tell the Story and Blessed Assurance.

I Surrender All

There are times that I think God underestimates how much I can take in this life. The strength I used to think I had has disappeared, and now it is time to lean on Him. But, when I think about it, that is what I’ve been doing all along. Sometimes He just needs to remind me that I am weak, but He is strong.

The fact is that God does know how much we can take but He also knows how much He can carry, and that is immensely more than we can imagine. If you are His child, He will stretch you as much as He has to in order to bring you into a deeper relationship with Him.

This is something I struggle with, but I am learning to sing from the heart:

I surrender all! I surrender all!
ALL to Thee, my blessed Savior
I surrender all!

Surrender is not something that comes overnight, but it is something we must learn as we walk with our Savior and pray to please Him. We can’t pick and choose what we want to surrender and what we want to keep. Jesus gave everything for us. How can we give any less to Him?

Learning to Rest in Trials

No one likes to go through trials but one reason I don’t care for them is that they reveal things in my heart that I would rather not see. I like thinking of myself as a strong woman of faith who praises God in every circumstance. Yet, when the storm comes, wham! That all blows away.

I don’t know why it is hard to trust God. He has never been anything but good to me and yet I tend to think I know better than Him. If He would just _________, then I could serve Him better. And yet God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect through your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And He’s always right!

I am currently going through a trial which I know is, in part, to bring me into a greater place of trust and surrender, but I confess this has been hard for me. I console myself that this trial is light and momentary and is a sign that God will complete the work He has begun in me, but it is taking me a while to rest in that.

Part of the problem is that I have plans. I have ideas of how life should work out, and when my plan doesn’t turn out, I don’t handle it well. I can quote Proverbs 16:9 (“A man’s heart plans his way; but the Lord directs his steps”), but knowing it and really embracing it can be two different things.

I’ve stated it before but it’s been a while so I’ll say it again. I don’t write because I have all the answers. I write because there are things that God is teaching me, and I expect I’m not the only one who needs to learn these lessons. Maybe not every post will speak to you but, if you read my writings long enough, I’m sure some will.

Life is not all mountaintops. And it’s really not all valleys. The fact is you will have some of both. The key is, in whatever state you find yourself, to press on, keeping your eyes on the Light, not looking to the right or the left.

Things I am reminding myself and, therefore, reminding you:

1) Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is not always easy, and I don’t believe this means that we need to thank God for the trial, but it does say we need to give thanks. There is always something to be thankful for, so find that.

2) God’s plans for you really are good. You don’t have to doubt. They may not be the plans you made, but your plans may not have been for your best. You need to trust Him.

3) This is the hardest point for me right now, but I’m learning that sometimes God does what He needs to do make us slow down and spend more time with Him. I don’t realize how much I am rushing through my prayer and Bible reading times until God rearranges my schedule to where I can’t do many other things. I’m learning that resting is more than just sleeping or not doing anything; it is making your mind and heart rest in accepting God’s will, even when it isn’t easy.

Lately, I’ve been singing “The Potter Knows the Clay” by the Perrys. You may be going through a difficult time but, one day, you’ll be able to sing:

Friend, I just came through that trial not too very long ago
And looking back I can see why and that my God was in control

I also think of the song by Jamie Owens Collins:

Don’t give up; don’t give in; Give it all to Him
For He cares so much more than you know
When it seems who you really want to be is someone you’ll never become
Just look how far you’ve come

When I Need Love (A Poem)

  • July 14, 2016 at 1:40 am in

When I need love, I look to the Lord
For His is the love that I really long for
A love that is full and that never will end
When others desert me, He’ll still be my friend
I know I’m unworthy of this kind of love
But I gratefully receive it from my Father above

When I lack peace, I look up to my God
His peace like a river comes in like a flood
It’s not based on circumstance or what I see
But on the assurance God knows what’s best for me
Some days I must fight for this peace that I crave
But God is so faithful to comfort and save

When joy eludes me, I praise my dear Savior
For pouring out blessings and undeserved favor
His mercy is so great that it’s overwhelming
Which helps me refocus and turn to thanksgiving
How can I be down when I’ve been given so much
Now I am required to tell others of His touch

And so, dear Father, I ask Your forgiveness
I’ve been so ungrateful, forgetting Your kindness
Your love and Your peace and Your joy are all there
If only I would cast on you every care
I’m sorry for trying to make it on my own
Thank You for reminding me I’m not alone

Thinking of Steve French

  • July 13, 2016 at 9:11 pm in

You have probably heard by now that Steve French (the former manager and baritone singer for the Kingdom Heirs) passed away a couple weeks ago.

It’s never easy when a person dies but unexpected deaths are the hardest for me. When I see a person suffering, as much as I miss them, there is also relief that their body is no longer racked with pain. This holds true for every Believer, but, when a person seems to be in good health, or when I didn’t know they were sick and then they die, it hits me harder.

I’ve been watching old YouTube videos of the Kingdom Heirs and thinking back to the years I attended the National Quartet Convention. I never spent a lot of time at the Kingdom Heirs’ booth, but I always tried to catch their sets. I loved watching them.

The last song I remember seeing them sing on stage was “He Locked the Gates.” I loved it!When Steve left the Kingdom Heirs, I knew I’d miss him but I miss him even more now. Prior to his departure, I did email him periodically to tell him how much I enjoyed his last couple CDs. I’m thankful I did that.

Although it’s been a couple weeks now, I still pray for his family. May they find peace and strength during this time.

Bridle Your Tongue

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).

Gracious speech is something that many struggle with and something that I strive to attain. It is true that you cannot take words back after you’ve said them. How many words are said in anger and then regretted for the rest of one’s life?

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26).

This verse tells just how important controlling the tongue really is. It’s easy to think we are right with God but, if we don’t control our tongue, James tells us our religion is worthless. This can be shown by temper, cussing, anything that is the opposite of self-control.

“If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body (James 3:2).

We all know that there is no such thing as a perfect person and yet Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:48, “Be ye, therefore, perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” If we are to strive for perfection, we must strive to control our tongue.

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:6-10).

Wow. There is a lot in these verses. I encourage you to meditate on these but don’t come away with the conclusion that, “See? It’s hopeless.” The call goes out to challenge you to control your tongue so that God is honored in everything you do.

When I was in school, I learned how two-faced people can be, especially girls. They would tell you they like you one minute and then turn on you the next. I expect some of that came from insecurity but it was deceit, and I hated it.

Unfortunately, I sometimes see this in adults too. Instead of using words to build up others, we may be nice to a person’s face but then we stab them in the back, killing them with our words. They may or may not ever find out but the damage is done just the same.

What are the primary things that come out of your mouth? Gossip? Slander? Profanity? Curses? Tearing down others?

Or are you speaking words of life, blessing, encouragement, and joy to everyone you encounter? You are the only one who can control your tongue. Or maybe I should say the Holy Spirit in you is able to control your tongue, but you have to let Him. Sometimes you may have to literally bite your tongue to keep from reacting the way you usually would but do that if it helps.

Today can be a new day. When you find yourself going back into old habits, get on your knees, ask God’s forgiveness, and start anew. Do that 50 times a day if you have to. But don’t give up. God can give you a new, uplifting vocabulary if you want it. Won’t you start incorporating that today?