CD Review: HYMNS: the A Cappella Sessions (The Nelons)

I am not typically a fan of a cappella recordings but this CD from the Nelons is a keeper.

They did a brave move by starting the CD with The Hallelujah Chorus but it does the job in capturing your attention so you desire to hear the rest of the project.

It may grow on me but I am not particularly fond of their rendition of There is a Fountain. I expect some will like it though because it is different. It does showcase their tight harmony.

I hadn’t heard Do Unto Others before but they put a lot of soul into this arrangement.

Then the tempo slows down for a medley of Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior and Just as I Am.

They did a rousing rendition of Keep On the Firing Line/Onward Christian Soldiers.

Other songs include: Tis So Sweet; Hallelujah, What a Savior; Since Jesus Passed By; and I Need Thee Every Hour.

Mosie Lister is With the Master

  • February 17, 2015 at 10:24 pm in

The first time I saw Mosie Lister in person was at the National Quartet Convention. The Booth Brothers were singing on the main stage, and Mosie joined them in singing, “Still Feeling Fine.”

I believe it was the next year that I attended the convention with my grandparents and had the blessing of working it out for them to meet him. They were absolutely thrilled, as they had sung his songs for years. Grandma said he was the most humble person to work with.

I did not have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him but he seemed to be very genuine and caring. That speaks more loudly than anything he could have said to me.

I know he will be missed by all who knew him but I’ve no doubt that he is with the Master that he wrote about for years. One day, I will meet him and maybe we’ll have some time to talk.

Fruit of the Spirit (Part 1): Love

For a couple weeks now, I have been planning to write a series on the fruits of the Spirit. As I was reading Galatians 5:22-23 and thinking about what I would write, I found it fitting that I start this week with the first fruit mentioned, which is Love.

There is so much I could say on this topic, as there are different types of love which we show to different people; however, I would like to focus on the greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.

These two really go hand in hand. John tells us in 1 John 4:20: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

One of the most popular passages of Scripture which talks about love is 1 Corinthians 13: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

It can be easy to “sacrifice” in the name of “love” and, yet, real love is giving of ourselves on behalf of others–loving them in tangible ways. We need to know our friends and family so well that we know what will bless them. They will be able to tell if our actions are token or if they come from the heart.

Not everyone is easy to love but Jesus went so far as to tell us to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. Love is not an option. Jesus gave us the greatest example of love, and we are to follow that example: “Greater love has no man (or woman) than this, that he (or she) lay down his (or her) life for a friend.”

Truly, friend, if you don’t have Love, you don’t have anything. Everyone wants to receive love but we also need to be willing to give it: to those we like and to those we don’t.

It bothers me that many never know how much they are loved. Once a person dies, people line up to share how much that person means to them but the person being talked about never hears the kind words that are spoken. How much more important is it to tell our friends and loved ones how much they mean to us now, while we are still walking this road of life together. If you’re not used to saying, “I love you,” it can be really hard at first but I encourage you to begin to tell people. As you do, it will be easier, and you may find yourself loving more deeply and better able to genuinely serve because it is no longer about yourself but about those you love.

God Resists the Proud

One sin that I am convinced almost every human on the planet deals with to some degree or another is the sin of pride. It may exhibit itself in different ways but the root is there just the same. Years ago, I thought of pride as arrogance, and I did not think that described me, so it was easy to feel pretty good about myself. It wasn’t until I read Irresistible to God that I was reminded just how much God hates pride and exactly how one can begin to see the proud areas of his or her life in order to change into the humble son or daughter that God requires.

First Peter 5:5 tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. I don’t know about you but the thought of God resisting me makes me tremble. I can’t imagine kneeling before His throne to make my petition known just to see Him turn His face and refuse to even look at me. That’s at best. Resisting also means turning against. That is even more scary! I need God on my side so I must endeavor to become humble.

In Proverbs 6, you will find a list of things God hates. Pride is the first thing in that list, along with “hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked imaginations,” and several other things. If God hates it that badly, I want nothing to do with it.

Unfortunately, after 40+ years, it is not easy to just be humble and get rid of all pride. I have a lot of habits and patterns that are a part of me, which I must rely on God to help uncover bit by bit. As I see my pride flare up, I do have the responsibility to kill it though. I do not want that to define my life.

If you have never considered pride as a bad thing, I encourage you to do a study and see what else God has to say about it. My prayer tonight is:

Change my heart, O God
Make it ever true
Change my heart, O God
May I be like You

CD Review: Here Comes Sunday (Wilburn & Wilburn)

Wilburn & Wilburn has become a group that I look forward to hearing as soon as a new CD is released. If you have heard their previous releases, this one is just as good vocally, musically, and lyrically. Unfortunately, the type is too small and the color too light to read who wrote the songs but the songs are good and well-written.

This CD begins with the title track, which is a song of hope. No matter what you’re going through, Here Comes Sunday.

Jonathan Wilburn sings Funeral Plans. This song is about a man who is dying but he’s not worried. His house is in order, he’s been faithful, and now he plans to die praising the Lord.

Joseph is a song about Mary’s husband–the one who raised Jesus as his own son. What must it have been like for him to have married a woman who was with child by the Holy Spirit? Yet he bore it admirably, obeying God’s command to take Mary as his wife regardless what others thought.

Nobody Like Jesus reminds us that we’ve never seen anybody like Jesus. If you haven’t received Him into your heart, I hope you will do so today.

Every Scar has a story to tell.” This song begins with describing scars a boy may have and the stories behind them. It moves on to the scars that Jesus bore on our behalf.

Help Me reminds us that there are people with much worse needs than our own. We need God to show us how to help those people.

If These Old Walls Could Talk is the story of a man who went back to the church he grew up in. He imagines all the stories that would be told if those walls could talk.

The tempo slows down as Jordan Wilburn sings A Man Like Me. “If he can use some rugged wood and those three old rusty nails, … the fallen walls inside a pagan Roman jail, … a storm-tossed fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee, he can use a simple, searching, wounded, hurting, broken man like me.”

When you come to the Lord, Everything’s New. A great reminder.

Across the Miles is one of my favorite songs right now. Not a new song but the older I get, the more it means to me to know that people who love me are praying for me.

They also included two classics on this CD: I’m Bound for That City and Heaven’s Jubilee.

 

Servanthood

This is another trait that I do not excel in but I love watching it in action. It seems to me to be the epitome of Christianity. Jesus said that He came to serve, not to be served. I personally like to be served but that is not why God put me here on earth. It is not all about me.

I was talking with a lady yesterday who is always opening her home to others, organizing gatherings, etc. She mentioned that no one ever offers to help; they just comment on how this lady and her family do such a great job. This happens way too often in the Church. It’s easy to leave hard work to the pastor or church leaders because, after all, that’s their job or it’s what they are paid to do. Servanthood is not a gift, however; it is a calling for every Believer.

You may deal with insecurity as I do, thinking that there is no practical way you can serve others or maybe you feel like everyone else is better at doing things than you are. I guarantee you, though, that if you ask God to show you ways that you can be more of a servant, He will show you and teach you how to do so effectively. Don’t underestimate the blessing that you can be if you will lay aside your inhibitions and allow God to use you. Most people are not going to criticize genuine works of love, even if not done perfectly. And as you begin to serve in small ways, you will begin to be more confident and see more ways that you can practically serve others.

If you are one who tends to sit back and let everyone else do all the work, begin to pray about a place of servanthood that you can fill. If you are one who is getting burnt out because you are always the one pouring out, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s possible that others are willing to help; they just haven’t considered the fact that you need help or they may be afraid to admit that they don’t know what to do. Some just need a mentor to guide them.

I am not an expert on this topic and, as I mentioned, this is an area that I definitely need to grow in but I am trusting God to open my eyes to things I can do and to help me to grow in this area. I trust that you will pray about this too.

Self-Control

Self-control is a fruit of the spirit I don’t hear much about. In my Bible study the other night, I was reminded of how many areas are encompassed in this one character trait.

America has become a feel-good society. “If it feels good, do it” was the slogan of the hippies but many still have that mentality today. We have comfort food, promiscuous sex, rampant gossip, etc. (James 3 has a lot to say about the tongue and is worth taking the time to read.)

Whatever we do in word or deed, we are told to do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). There are also things God has told us not to do which all centers around living for self. Once we become children of God, our lives become His. Everything we do, say, and think are to reflect Him. If we are constantly feeding our flesh, we are not going to reflect our Father but instead are the antithesis of Him.

If there is one fruit that a lot of us don’t possess, it is this one but I feel like it is key to all the others. If you can master self-control, I believe love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, etc. will begin to exhibit itself. This is an area I am still working on. I pray for God’s help to surrender this area of my life to Him in every way that He shows me. I want and need God’s presence in my life. If anything is hindering that, it is not worth holding on to.

Tribute to Lari Goss

  • January 11, 2015 at 9:27 pm in

I am sad to hear about Lari Goss passing away. I had the opportunity to meet him a couple years ago when he asked if I could help him get to the artist circle at NQC. I’m not sure why he asked me. Maybe I looked like I worked there. When he came up to me, I didn’t know who he was. It wasn’t until we had walked a little ways that someone said his name. I waited as he stopped and talked to the person who stopped him. When he was finished, we resumed our walk and I told him it was a blessing to meet him. I was impressed with our brief encounter, as he struck me as a humble gentleman.

Lari was a great producer and arranger, bringing out the best in a number of southern gospel artists. There is no doubt that he will be missed.

Tribute to Andrae Crouch

  • January 9, 2015 at 11:12 am in

Although not a Southern Gospel singer, I grew up listening to Andrae Crouch and still play his music quite frequently. Mr. Crouch was not perfect but I believe he had a heart for God and a desire to see others come to know the Savior. I was sad to learn of his passing but I believe that He is not sad to be gone from this world. “Count the years–count the years as months. Count the months–count the months as weeks. You may think you still have a lot of time but count the weeks–count the weeks as days. Any day now, we’ll be going Home.” Andrae Crouch is no longer counting those days.

I never had the chance to meet him to tell him what his music has meant to me but I’m grateful for all the years that he sang and gave God the glory. It was not about Andrae but about the God who saved him when he was nine years old. It really won’t be long and we will be leaving here too. Are you ready?

Looking Ahead

  • January 1, 2015 at 11:05 pm in

Now that a new year is upon me, my heart wells up with anticipation. Who all will I see this year? What new friends will I make? What will my life be like a year from now? I’m thankful that I don’t know everything that is going to happen in my future. Part of the excitement of life is the element of wonder.

For those who may not know, writing and editing are some of what I do but my primary job is working with my brother and his wife in a ministry called Family Renewal. I handle my brother’s bookings and have the privilege of doing the bulk of the traveling with him. I am so grateful that God allows me to do that. If you would like to keep up with what is going on with us, email your name and address to familyrenewalorders@gmail.com, and I’ll put you on our email list. I just started an e-newsletter for our company and won’t send more than one or two emails a month but it’s a great way to know what specials we are running on our website and where we are going to be ministering. I would love to meet you.

I pray that, as you begin 2015, you are looking forward to another year as I am. Life is uncertain. Every year holds joy and heartache but God is always faithful. He will not fail you if you keep looking to Him. Keep pressing on!

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