Just Do It

Back in January, I was visiting my aunt, and we were talking about how easy it is to not reach out to others because you don’t know what to say and you don’t want to look stupid. I find that it doesn’t take much to paralyze me in regards to helping others if I think too much about it. I worry that I’ll do something wrong or they won’t appreciate my attempt. My aunt encouraged me to not be afraid to do even little things since they may mean more than I realize. I expect this will continue to be a process but there is wisdom in her words, and I want to pass that on to you.

Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do it heartily as to the Lord and not unto men.” I think this is what we lose sight of. This actually hit me years ago when I was thinking way too much about my actions that I let opportunities pass me by. I finally realized that, if my focus is on God and my desire is to please Him, I don’t need to worry so much about what others think.

I expect this is going to be a long process of learning this lesson but it is one I pray to achieve, and I would like to encourage you to as well. Don’t let insecurity keep you from being a blessing to others. Pray for a sensitivity to the Spirit, a heart of humility, and a willingness to serve. I anticipate that God will answer those prayers, and people will be drawn closer to the Lord through our obedience.

A Tribute to Grandma

My grandma isn’t well known. In fact you may be wondering why I would write a tribute to her when I typically feature Southern Gospel artists. Well, as with parents, grandparents can help to contribute to how a person turns out. They can pass along their interests and other genes which help to form our young and, ultimately, old lives.

I didn’t know my grandparents before they came to know the Lord but I heard that the difference was night and day. Whereas they would play and sing in night clubs before, they chose to only sing in churches after they were saved. They would sell their records for $5 or “whatever you can afford.”

Grandma was young when I was born so she would play ball with my brother and me, take us for ice cream, do typical grandma things, but she would also encourage me to obey my mom, honor the Lord, etc. She wanted to be a positive influence in my life.

For the first 17 years of my life, we didn’t live close but, when we would visit, I spent every moment I could with Grandma. I would go with her to “help” make the church breakfast, fold bulletins, run errands … whatever Grandma was doing, there was I in the midst of it. Whenever she sat down, I was on her lap before she could get comfortable.

When we moved closer to my grandparents, Grandma would drive a couple hours to help us with a collating project. She was a quick collater too.

A number of years ago, we began to suspect that Grandma had dementia. It began to get worse and worse until we could no longer ignore the fact. We also knew that it was becoming more than Grandpa could handle on his own. So in 2017, we made the difficult decision to move our grandparents to Arizona where their daughter and grandson could care for them. We no longer saw them on a weekly basis but we were able to visit them twice, the most recent visit being in January. I will always be thankful for our time together as Grandma joined me in singing for the last time. We spent a lot of time together and, in spite of her not feeling well, she hadn’t lost her sense of humor.

We buried Grandma on Good Friday. I dreaded that day for so long but God’s grace truly was amazing. I have no doubt that my grandma is in Heaven. My aunt asked if I would sing at her funeral, and God gave me strength to do so with my brother accompanying me on guitar and vocals. I’m thankful for the promise that, if I remain faithful to the Lord, I will see her again. I greatly look forward to that reunion!

The Best Gift

I am not a Barbara Streisand fan, but I grew up listening to her Christmas album. On that record, she included a song titled “The Best Gift” in which she goes on to describe the best gift that she ever got. At the end, she reveals that this gift was “a tiny newborn child.” (If you need me to explain what a record is, let me know.) 😉

Although I have received a lot of nice gifts in my 45 3/4 years of life, the best gift I ever received was the gift of salvation, made possible by Jesus Christ coming to earth and being willing to die a horrendous death on a cross. If you have never studied crucifixion and why it was the Roman’s choice of death, I encourage you to do so. It isn’t a pleasant study but it makes Jesus’ death even more meaningful. It wasn’t like a lethal injection where you die in a matter of minutes. Rather, it was a form of torture in which criminals died a slow, painful, suffocating death.

I realize that it’s not even Palm Sunday yet but I think it’s a good time to begin to think of Christ’s sacrifice, to thank Him for choosing us to be His children, and to ask Him how we can serve Him better.

I started this back in December around Christmastime but I think it’s perfect timing to finish it now. If you take communion in the next few weeks, don’t do it out of routine. Really think about the event that you are commemorating. Picture Jesus on the cross, beaten beyond recognition, blood streaming down His body, looking at you. Then think of the things you allow in your life that is the equivalent of spitting in His face. God’s grace is not cheap. It cost Christ a lot. How can we be so selfish as to not give Him every part of our lives?

Dave Kyllonen Passed Away

  • March 20, 2019 at 7:26 pm in

I found out today that Dave Kyllonen, formerly of the Couriers, has gone Home to be with Jesus. Growing up in Maryland, the Couriers were popular on the one southern gospel station I could get but I only saw them one time outside of NQC, and that was a number of years ago in my current state of Michigan. I appreciated how the group never lost their focus.

My heart goes out to Dave’s friends and family. Please keep them in your prayers.

CD Review: Our Story (Three Bridges)

I’m old enough to remember when Three Bridges first hit the radio and, to be honest, I didn’t care for their sound. Today, the group consists of original member Elliott McCoy, as well as Shannon Smith and Jeremie Hudson, and I am starting to enjoy listening to them.

Although most of their songs are progressive or have more of a black gospel feel, Down the Road to Damascus is the kind of song you would expect to find on a traditional Southern Gospel CD.

I like the message of Like Jesus Did as it talks about the desire to be more like Christ.

Faith Shines Brighter tells the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Live the Gospel is another song with great lyrics.

Other songs include: Count It Victory, My Story, Good News Never Gets Old, God Did It, Nothing But, Gonna Keep Livin’ and The King of Love My Shepherd Is.

 

 

For the Broken

Last year, my most-read post was one I wrote in 2014 titled “I’ve Been Broken (but I’ve Been Blessed).” Broken people are not just out in the world somewhere; they are also in the Church. The fact that a post from 4 1/2 years ago is still my post popular proves that fact.

I think of the old song that said:

He never said you’d only see sunshine
He never said there’d be no rain
He only promised a heart full of singing
And at the very things that once brought pain

(from the song Give Them All to Jesus written by Phillip Johnson & Bob Benson, Sr.)

I don’t actually remember a verse where God promised that, but I do know from experience that He often grants that. It’s when we trust Him in the bad times that we realize as Henry and Hazel Slaughter sang that we “don’t need to understand; we just need to hold His hand.” That is where true joy comes from, along with the peace that passes all understanding.

I wasn’t thinking of this when I started this post but, in closing, I would like to ask prayer for fellow blogger David Bruce Murray whose father passed away on Saturday. The funeral is tomorrow (Tuesday). I’m thankful that I have not yet experienced the loss of a parent but I can imagine how heartbreaking that must be. And yet, what a blessing to know that we will be reunited one day with those who love Jesus. David is the founder of Music Scribe, where I write a Sunday devotional when I’m able. He’s been supportive of my writing and some of my other business ventures, and my heart goes out to him and his family during this difficult time.

 

What Is Worship?

Several months ago, someone suggested that I do a word study on praise vs. worship since I use the two interchangeably when, in fact, they are two different things. I appreciated the gentle admonition so, although it’s taken a while, I am finally sitting down to do that and am sharing my findings with you.

Dictionary.com defines “praise” as:

1. the act of expressing approval or admiration; commendation; laudation
2. the offering of grateful homage in words or song, as an act of worship (emphasis mine).

“Worship” is described as:

1. reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred
2.
formal or ceremonious rendering of such honor and homage 

I often call “praise” worship but worship encompasses much more than verbal praise. Everything you do should be worship.

John 4:23 tells us that “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”

I think it is safe to say that the people or things that you idolize is who or what you worship. This is why Jesus told Satan, “For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” (Matthew 4:10). God is a jealous God, and He will not share His glory with anyone else.

Today I want to encourage you to “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2).

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash.

CD Review: A Million Miles (Sunday Drive)

If you are as old as I am, you may remember a group called Cedar Ridge. I loved their sound and have wondered at times what happened to them. Well, I recently found out that Jeff Treece now sings with Dusty Treece and Misty Treece in a group called Sunday Drive.

This CD starts out by asking, “Lord, am I Right Where You Want Me to Be?” This is a question we should each be asking ourselves.

I grew up listening to the music of Evie so I am happy to hear her popular song Born Again.

I’m Not Gonna Leave is a unique song that talks about never leaving the feet of Jesus.

I love the title song. No matter what you are going through, you can travel A Million Miles to reach the throne of God.

“I’m Living in the Middle of His Will, and life is better than it’s ever been.” True words. The Christian life isn’t trial-free, but if you are in the will of God, His grace will carry you through.

Other songs included are: What Can Change the World, He Set Me Free (not the old classic but a new song written by Misty Treece and Jeff Treece), Angels Sing My Victory Song, Just Before the Dawn, and It’s All About Me.

Your Life Matters

Those who got no further than the title probably assumed that this was going to be a post of psychology or a simple “God loves you” kind of post but my purpose in writing goes deeper than that.  When people talk of “finding” themselves, they typically are looking for validation, desiring to feel loved and accepted while figuring out why they were placed here on this earth. That comes closer to what I am addressing but not exactly.

Maybe I say too often that you were placed here for a reason, and you need to find that reason, but instead of rolling your eyes and moving on to other things, I want you to think about this: Your life matters. Not only to you and those around you but to future generations. Have you ever thought about that?

If you study the first five books of the Bible, you will find that God sometimes blesses future generations based on their forefathers’ faithfulness and obedience. He also punishes descendendants based on decisions their parents made. Besides that, a life lived wholly for the Lord can speak volumes after a person is dead.

I think of Jonadab who commanded his sons to never drink wine. Years after their father was gone, they were still honoring his wish. Because of this, God protected them from Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.

On the flip side of this was King Saul whose family was wiped out because he turned away from the Lord, while David was promised that one of his descendants would always sit on the throne due to David’s faithfulness. You may think that when you make a bad, selfish, or even sinful decision, that you are hurting no one but yourself. You may be hurting a lot more than you realize.

Not long ago someone made the comment that it’s hypocritical for parents who were involved in drugs or drinking when they were younger to tell their children they can’t drink or do drugs. I disagree with this statement since we learn from our mistakes, and it is a natural desire to keep others from making those same mistakes. However, think of how much better it would be had the parents not done those things in the first place. These are the things you need to think of.

For the last week and a half, I’ve been highlighting a book on my website titled Habits: The Mother’s Helper. In this book, the author talks about how you can teach character to your children by creating habits. I appreciate that she points out that this has to start by example. Whoever said “more is caught than taught” was correct.

So, you see, your life matters. Every word, every action is not only seen by your Heavenly Father, but it is also seen by those around you who will be seen by those around them and so on until, generations later, others may be carrying on the legacy that you left behind while having no idea who they have to thank for it.

Don’t take your life for granted. Don’t assume that, once you’re gone, your life is over. If you are a Christian, you will live forever. Not only in Heaven but also in the lives of those you left behind.

Are You Burnt Out?

Last Fall, while traveling with my brother on one of his speaking tours, I talked with a several people who mentioned that, in the past, they had become burnt out with serving, and some had even walked away from God for a while due to being tired and disillusioned. At least one person mentioned feeling like she was carrying a lot while others were doing nothing.

I suspect burnout is a common experience but one that most don’t talk about. After all, you might appear to be not very Christian if you admit that your heart is not into your service. If this is you, I hope this post will encourage you.

You may remember the story of Martha and Mary. Martha was busy serving while Mary spent the day sitting and listening to Jesus talk instead of helping her sister. I believe Scripture records this story so that we can learn from it.

“Martha” personalities have a hard time saying No. Whenever something needs done, they sign up, not really thinking through the activities they are already committed to and making a responsible decision to know whether or not this is something they can pull off.

Although I know there are some, I really don’t see many “Marys”–people who are spending quality time in God’s presence and are making that their priority. The reason most people don’t volunteer to do things is due to laziness or not wanting to come out of their comfort zones. And this is why “Martha” is getting burnt out.

If you are exhausting yourself to the point of frustration and failing health, I would like to suggest that it might be time for you to take a break and learn to become Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus and letting Him refresh your Spirit. Fulfill any commitments you have made but don’t take on anything else unless you know it’s what God is calling you to do. If you are serving out of guilt or obligation, there is a good possibility that God never intended for you to take on so much.

I believe that one can do thankless, exhausting work and yet have joy while doing it. If you are not experiencing this joy or the grace that comes from the Spirit when you are doing His work, then it’s time to reevalute. Now, if you are a complainer who doesn’t like to do anything, I am not talking to you. This is for those who have a heart to serve but who really need a break. You know who you are. The fact is, as hard as it may be for you to believe, you are replaceable. If you are like me, you don’t like to hear that, but you are. And it’s possible that, if you step down, someone else, whom God has been working on to develop a servant’s heart, will step up to the plate.

Remember the people I talked to last Fall? They had all returned to being active in the church but they’d learned to scale back and not over-commit. Even Jesus needed rest sometimes. Don’t underestimate the importance of that.

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