How Can You Say No?

Thorns on His head
A spear in His side
Yet it was a heartache
That made Him cry
He gave His life
So you would understand
Is there anyway you can say no to this man?

(from “How Could You Say No” written by Mickey Cates)

Growing up, it seemed that more emphasis was placed on Christ’s resurrection than on His crucifixion. Although I can understand why, I think it is equally important to take these couple days prior to Easter Sunday to focus on Christ’s suffering and all that He went through so that we could have eternal life with Him.

I have not yet seen The Passion of the Christ, as I don’t think I could handle being faced with that graphic of a portrayal but I do think everyone needs to realize how horrendous Christ’s suffering was in order to better appreciate the life He died to give to us. He did not die so that we could live in ease and comfort. Jesus died so that we could have abundant life, serving Him all our days. For some, that may mean working on a mission field or in a homeless shelter. It could be serving your family day in and day out, whether they appreciate it or not. There is a chance that your primary task is to be a light in your workplace so that others can see what a Christian looks like. I don’t know what God is asking of you but I know that He has a purpose for every person He allows to be born on this earth. Whether or not we accomplish that purpose is up to us.

As you think about the cross this weekend, ask God what it is that He is asking of you. Then examine your heart to know if you are ready and willing to surrender whatever that thing might be. Christianity is not a halfhearted commitment. Jesus gave everything for us, and He asks that we give everything in return. He tells us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow. This is a daily task but one that a true follower will do.

Think about everything He has done for you and then answer me honestly: How can you say no?

Tribute to Joshua Copenhaver

  • March 30, 2015 at 10:47 pm in

Josh CopenhaverSome of you may not know the name Josh Copenhaver, but I hope you will take the time to read this anyway.

I first met Josh at the National Quartet Convention eight or so years ago. At that time, he was singing with his mom and brother in a group they simply called The Copenhavers. Since their booth was directly across from ours, we had the opportunity to get to know them a bit. They were so warm and friendly that we quickly began to call them our friends.

The following year, we went back to the National Quartet Convention and were pleased that they remembered us. I attended their showcase that week and watched them perform an old song, “I’ll Be There.” I loved the way they sang it, and it is still my favorite song they ever recorded.

This past Saturday afternoon, I found out that Josh had a heart attack and went to be with Jesus. My initial reaction was shock, followed by extreme sadness. I’ve not interacted with Josh much in the last couple years but I still remember a young man full of life and joy. He married a couple years ago, and I was so happy for him. I can’t imagine anyone not loving Josh, and I know his death has caused a void in a lot of hearts.

Although I am grieving, it is not as one who has no hope. You see, even if you do not know the name Josh Copenhaver, the Eternal God knows his name and, for a reason that I don’t understand, God chose Saturday to call this young man Home.

The last song I saw Josh sing was, “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain.” Judging by the comments I’ve read on Facebook, Josh’s living was not in vain. His life touched so many.

As I always do when someone I know dies, I am thinking a lot. I am inspired once again to tell those close to me that I love them since I may not get the chance to do so again. I am thinking of those I love who do not know the Lord and how much worse my grief will be when they leave this life unless their course in life changes.

None of us are promised tomorrow. When we’re young, it’s easy to think we have forever when, in reality, the hourglass is ticking away so quickly. Today is when we need to evaluate our lives. Are we spending the time God’s given us serving Him or focusing on our own desires? Are we walking in the Spirit or fulfilling the lusts of the flesh? Can we truly tell Josh, “You may look for me, for I’ll be there”?

The older I get, the more I long for Heaven. I miss my loved ones who have gone before but, with that, comes an increasing desire to be faithful until the day it’s my turn to enter my beautiful Home.

Josh, I miss you but I love the mental picture of you in Jesus’ arms. It may be a while before the thought of your smiling face does not bring tears to my eyes but they are selfish tears. In reality, I would not call you back to this world of sorrow. I will pray for your friends and family, as I know they miss you dearly as well. It’s amazing that someone so young could make such an impact but you definitely did. I am so blessed to have known you.

CD Review: The Horn Family

I first became aware of The Horn Family a year or so ago but I was instantly impressed. This CD is top notch both musically and vocally. A mixture of country, some soul, and a bit progressive, this group will still appeal to many Southern Gospel fans.

I’ve Got It is a Pentecostal song about receiving the Holy Ghost.

The tempo slows down for a beautiful song Tracy Horn wrote, titled Rise Above the Fall. A country sound with a good message. “In all the tough times I have seen, greater is He within than He that’s after me.”

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need “Victory through the name and the blood of Jesus.”

He Called Me Brother is pretty progressive music-wise. Jesus said that the one who does the Father’s will is His mother and brother and sister. How amazing is it that you and I can be Christ’s brother or sister!

Mary Magdalene (Why You Crying) is my least favorite song on the project but this is my preference. It’s not my musical taste but it is a song of redemption. If you know the story of Mary Magdalene, you know that she was despised in most circles, yet Jesus loved her and revealed Himself first to her after He arose from the tomb.

For the Life of Me is another slow, country-sounding song. “He gave His life for the life of me.” What a Savior!

The CD ends with an a cappella version of the old song, Lights of Home.

Other songs include Peace Everlasting, Love Like Rain, and It’s All in Jesus.

Fruit of the Spirit 5: Kindness

When I think of kindness, I think of a heartfelt desire to bless other people. I’m sure that is not the definition according to Webster but it may definitely be defined my way.

Kindness is deferring to others, preferring them above ourselves. It is not always having to be right. It is biting our tongue when we would like to comment on a “stupid” decision someone just made.

Kindness is servanthood. It exhibits itself in the way we talk about others. It is having a heart of compassion. It is selfless and patient (two other fruits of the spirit we’ve studied).

Colossians 3:12 tells us to put on kindness. Would your friends and family classify you as a kind person? If not, this is an area you must work on. As you begin to act kinder, people will better enjoy being around you.

Fruit of the Spirit 4: Patience

Oh boy. This is another hard one. I’m sure we’ve all heard people say, “Don’t pray for patience. God will test you on it.” I want to suggest that we should indeed pray for patience. The fact is we all need it, whether it’s standing in line at the checkout counter, waiting for a family member to get ready so we can leave, trying to teach something to a person who just is not getting it. There are many things that come up in a day’s time that requires our patience … unless we want to alienate ourselves from everyone around us.

First Corinthians 13:4 tells us that “Love suffers long.” If you truly love a person, you are going to bear with them. Instead of letting your frustration show, you will breathe deep and remind yourself that, sure, you may be a little late but you will be with your loved one and it’s not worth both of you being stressed as you go out the door.

Sometimes we must make a conscious effort to do the right thing, and I expect patience may be something that does not come easy for you but it is something you must work on. I am not a patient person by nature but, with God’s help, I have learned to trust Him when things do not go my way. As long as I am not making people wait on me, I’ve learned to get ready, let others know I’m ready when they are, and then find something to occupy my time until we are ready to go. It has done a lot to help my relationships.

In the words of Herbert the snail, “Have patience. Have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry. When you get impatient, you only start to worry. Remember. Remember that God is patient too and think of all the times when others have to wait for you.”

That puts it into perspective. Just as I want others to be patient with me, so I must be patient in return. I am still a work in progress but I’m thankful that God is working.

CD Review: Forever/80th Anniversary Recording (Blackwood Brothers)

Billy Blackwood is keeping classic quartet music alive with his current lineup of The Blackwood Brothers.

You Can Find What I Found is a neat-sounding song with the tenor leading and the rest echoing. It changes tempo on the chorus.

Dianne Wilkinson wrote the toe-tapping, I’ll Fly Away Home. A great quartet song.

The tempo slows down as Wayne Little sings Forever Forgiven.

Walkin’ and Talkin’ is an old J.D. Sumner that the Blackwood Brothers brought back for this recording.

Long Gone is a mediocre, uptempo song.

Heaven Will Be Mine Someday has somewhat of a ’50s or ’60s feel.

When I Cross to the Other Side of Jordan is an old song written by Ed O’Neal.

“I will give my all for Him who gave His all for me for I Know in Whom I Have Believed.” Amen!

Butch Owens sings the uptempo Oh, No You Don’t.

The CD ends with the classic Dear Jesus, Abide With Me.

Terry Davis Passes Away

  • March 8, 2015 at 1:16 am in

I just saw on Facebook that Terry Davis, who sang with the Florida Boys in the mid-1980s and was the original singer of “When He Was on the Cross, I Was on His Mind,” died last night in a car wreck.

My first introduction to Terry was at the National Quartet Convention, as he sang with the Florida Boys for their farewell performance. Although I didn’t know him personally, my heart goes out to his family. Please keep the Davis family in your prayers.

Fruit of the Spirit 3: Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

Ultimate peace: fearing nothing. I doubt very many of us could say there is nothing that we fear but the truth is, for those who know the Lord, we never have a genuine reason to be afraid. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That is the key: present your requests with thanksgiving, and trust God to take care of the situation. Once you hand it to Him, truly release it. He will carry your burden so that you don’t have to.

Like love and joy, peace is something others notice. In this world of constant change and turmoil, peace is a rare commodity but one that many would like to possess. You have the ability to do so.

I realize if you have walked in fear a long time, this may be difficult for you, but I encourage you to consciously work to get there. Start by thanking God that He is in control of a situation, even if you have no idea what in the world He’s doing. Thank Him for His love and His care. Ask Him to remove all fear and wariness from you and replace it with His peace. Do this as long as it takes until you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is listening and has only good in store for you. His definition of “good” may be different than yours but it will be good in the end.

Be encouraged, dear Brothers and Sisters. This world is not our final Home. One day all the things that trouble us here will be gone forever. I am looking forward to that day but, for now, let’s do our best to walk in the Spirit so that we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

Concert/CD Review: Battle Cry (The Kingsmen)

The Kingsmen 2-27-15

Friday night, I had the blessing of seeing the Kingsmen once again. I was surprised at how many of the songs they sang were off of their new CD since I typically expect to hear a fair number of old favorites. I was not disappointed, however. This CD has some great songs as well.

This is the second time I have seen this particular group in concert, and I am impressed with both Bob Sellers and Chris Jenkins. They are doing a great job.  People talk about the Kingsmen’s heyday in the 1980s but I’ve never liked the Kingsmen as much as I have in the last ten or so years. This group is no exception.

Kingsmen 2 2-27-15

The concert began with Beautiful City, an uptempo song about Heaven.

Then they sang one of their old songs, Meet Me at the Table.

Come and Dine is taken from the story where Jesus cooked fish for the disciples and fed them when they had been fishing all day but caught nothing. The second verse talks about arriving Heaven and being invited to come and dine at the Banquet Table.

Scripture says that God orders the steps of the righteous. I’ve Never Seen the Righteous Forsaken reminds us that God is in control no matter what you are going through. God will supply your every need.

Randy Crawford introduced the group and then they sang I Know, which talks about the joy of knowing you’re saved. It is possible to know.

A Kingsmen concert would not be complete without including their classic, Glory Road.

They included a summary of their old hit Excuses and then Randy Crawford sang a song he wrote, Here I Stand Amazed.

Chris Jenkins 2-27-15

Oh Yes I Am is the current #1 song across America. This was the first I’d heard it but I love it. Uptempo, this song is an encouraging message about going Home. Chris Jenkins puts energy into this song.

After a brief intermission, they came back to sing the title track from their new CD, Battle Cry. This is a great song. There is a time to rest but there is a time to answer the battle cry.

Faith is self-explanatory. Great harmony to some encouraging lyrics.

Ray Reese 2-27-15

Ray Reese sang Healing Stream and then they sang another old song, When My Feet Touch the Streets of Gold.

Cross of Grace is a powerful song about the cross.

They did a great a cappella arrangement of There is a Fountain Filled With Blood and ended with the chorus of their very popular song from the 1980s, Stand Up.

 

Songs not sung in concert:

Daryl Williams and Scott Inman wrote the toe-tapping quartet song, He Took Away My Burden.

It Should Have Rained is an interesting song about the Crucifixion.

Fruit of the Spirit (Part 2): Joy

I have several friends who are battling depression right now so I know it is no coincidence that the next Fruit of the Spirit is Joy.

It was only a few years ago that I went through a long period of depression. Prior to that time, I saw depression as a spiritual issue, and I still believe it is.  I saw another side, however, and that is that no matter how much I made myself look at the positive, it did not make me feel better inside. I fervently prayed for God to restore my joy or take me Home. Thankfully He answered that prayer by filling me once again with joy and a sense of His presence. Sure, there are still bad times but God’s grace is there, walking with me every step of the way.

I do not know how people who don’t have the Lord get through life because truly it is often the joy of the Lord which is my strength. If you do not have that joy right now, don’t stop asking for it and fighting to receive this important fruit. Once you receive this joy unspeakable and full of glory, you will be able to share it with others.

In closing, let me remind you that tears may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. Don’t give up hope. Everything happens for a purpose to those who love God. He will complete the work He’s begun in you if you will surrender and allow Him to do so.

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