CD Review: Mile Marker One (Zane and Donna King)

Zane and Donna King do not have voices that I would have put together in a duet, but they found a way to blend their musical styles and voices that really works.

The only song on this CD that was not written or co-written by Zane and/or Donna is the hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness, which starts the CD.

The CD continues with that same theme in a song titled No One Like God.

I first heard Keep Me in Your Will when Jessica King sang it a number of years ago. I did not realize until this CD that Zane King co-wrote that song. It continues to be one of my favorites, and Zane and Donna do a great job on it.

Donna sings the uptempo Shine. “When things get too tough to handle, just shine.”

Nothing Without You is self-explanatory.

If There Was Any Other Way talks about God’s heart toward those who are suffering and hurting. Although there are times you must walk through dark valleys, God is still there holding your hand.

Hallelujah Jesus Saves has a fun tune that you will enjoy singing along with.

Anything reminds us that nothing is too hard for God.

When love finds the lonely, when sweet prayers are spoken and tears are washed away, and when He hears “Jesus loves me” from the lips of a little child … these are the moments When God Smiles.

How Does It Feel to Be Home was written in memory of Norman Holland, the former vice president of A&R at Daywind Records. Although we miss those who have gone before, we would not wish them back.

The CD ends as it began: with the Postlude: Oh Tu Fidelidad/Great is Thy Faithfulness.

Read God’s Word

It has been a while since I have even attempted to read through the Bible in a year. This year, I am doing just that, along with my regular Bible reading (reading through more slowly) and a Bible study.

This has me going through five different sections of Scripture at present. I thought it could be a bit overwhelming but, so far, I am enjoying it. Each portion is different from each other and yet each serves a purpose.

I don’t know if I will do this every year. I’ll have to see how this year goes but, for this year, I am looking forward to seeing what God speaks to me, as I draw near to Him and ask Him to show me the way I should go and to help me to be faithful. This continues to be my constant prayer.

You may not have the time to read as much Scripture as I hope to this year, but I encourage you to read at least some Scripture every day. Even if it’s one verse that you meditate on each day, it will not return void.

Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (emphasis mine). Although sin is sometimes pleasurable for a season, it is the pure in heart that shall see God (Matthew 5:8).

Won’t you take time to read God’s Word today?

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8, emphasis added).

As I was reading the Beatitudes the other day, this verse especially jumped out at me. It seems like the verses on purity and holiness are the least-quoted verses any more, but I am challenged by this verse.

I wonder how many people on earth are truly pure in heart. It is a rare person who doesn’t at least struggle with lust, jealously, anger, etc. Yet, these are some of the things that can keep us from seeing God.

Despite popular belief, we have no reason to be proud. We should be constantly asking God to search us and try us and show us those impure thoughts and motives. We should be daily drawing closer to Him and becoming more and more like Him.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be blessed. I want to see God. I want to be pure so that I don’t stand before Him full of shame and disgrace. I want to hear Him say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” I expect that I will be more aware than ever before of how holy He is and how wretched I am. But I praise Him that He saved a wretch like me, and I will continue singing, “More like the Master I will ever be. More of His meekness, more humility. More zeal to labor, more courage to be true. More consecration for work He bids me do.

Happy New Year 2016!

Once again, another year has come to an end … and much too quickly, I might add. It never ceases to amaze me how fast the years go by the older I get. It’s very possible that I have lived more than half my life already, but I still feel like there is much God desires to do through me yet. There must be, or I would not still be alive.

The blessings of 2015 outweighed the trials, for which I am very grateful. Sure, there were little things that came up, some stresses that I did not want to go through, but if I am honest, they were really pretty small compared to what so many are going through.

Usually I would have taken the last week or two to pray and focus on what God desires to speak to me concerning my future, character, etc. Things have been hectic here so, although I have prayed about it some, I have not had enough time to really listen to my Father’s voice. I hope to do so next week.

What I do know is that my ultimate calling is to be faithful. Until He shows me otherwise, I plan to continue doing what I have been doing to serve Him, while praying to be open to whatever changes He desires me to make. This is not always easy, but I know it is necessary.

Some friends got me a devotional journal, and I am looking forward to using that this year. I believe it will be the perfect tool to help me slow down and listen.

It seems most people have done away with New Year’s Resolutions, but I would encourage you to not give up on resolutions altogether. Sure, you don’t want to make promises that you will inevitably break, but we should be willing to ask God to search us and try us and show us the areas of our lives that need to go and then fight the good fight to get rid of those things. It may seem hopeless but, with God, all things are possible.

My prayer for the coming year is that it be filled with joy unspeakable, and strength for each trial. May that be your testimony as well!

Preparing for Jesus’ Coming

I wonder what it was like to live before Jesus was born. The prophets had foretold His birth and encouraged people to be ready, but I wonder how many took the prophecy seriously. Maybe it seemed like one of those tales they had heard their whole lives so, even if it would become true some day, it most likely wouldn’t be in their lifetime.

I expect that people then were very much like they are today. The difference is that, today, we know He came. He lived, He died, He rose. But He also promised to come again! Are we watching, making sure that we are ready for His return? Or we are going through life with a vague recollection that He said He would return, but it probably won’t be for a long time yet?

Although that may be true, we need to live as if He were coming today. So many missed His first coming. I do not want to be among those who are not ready for Jesus’ second coming.

As you celebrate this week, think about how much we truly have to celebrate. God so loved you that He gave His Son, and one day, we will get to see Him face to face. Lord, hasten that day!

Thinking of LaBreeska Hemphill

  • December 11, 2015 at 11:39 am in

Probably the second song I ever sang in public was “He’s Still Working on Me,” made popular by The Hemphills back in the 1980s. This group (consisting of Joel and LaBreeska Hemphill and their children: Joey, Trent, and Candy) became one of my favorites but, unfortunately, they disbanded before I had the opportunity to see them in person.

I was sad to hear of LaBreeska’s Homegoing this week, but I’ve no doubt she is with the Savior she sang about for a lot of years. LaBreeska was one of the classy ladies of our genre, as well as a great singer. Her song, “An Unfinished Task,” is one I sing from time to time as a prayer to the Lord. I share it here to give you something to ponder the next several weeks. Is there something God has called you to do which you are procrastinating about? Tomorrow is not promised. Today is the day to serve God wholeheartedly so that, when He calls you Home, you know you have run the race and kept the faith and are now ready to see Him.

Focus on Jesus

Happy December! I trust you had a great Thanksgiving and are continuing to count your blessings. There are some things trying to bring me down right now but I am still very blessed. I know the enemy is just trying to make me lose sight of that. One problem with writing is that I am often tested on the very things I write about, but this does not make the words less true.

I know many people deal with depression this time of year. If you are one of those, I want to encourage you to fill your mind with things that are pure, true, lovely, of good report, etc.  It is easy to lose sight of those things, but it is often when we take our eyes off of Jesus and everything He has done for us that the weight of the world begins to overwhelm. Sometimes feelings of oppression, anxiety, etc. are simply reminders to draw near to Him. I definitely feel the difference when I allow the busyness of life to keep me from quality time with my Father. I hate that feeling, so I make more effort to stay close to Him.

Even now, I feel my Savior calling me to spend some time with Him while it’s quiet. Therefore, I must go, but I will write again soon. Be blessed, dear Brothers and Sisters, and remember that it will be worth it all.

Love Thy Neighbor

The pastor commented yesterday on how he had more friends when he was in the world than he did in the church. I remember an unsaved friend telling me the same thing. She preferred hanging out with prostitutes and people who did drugs, because they were “loving and accepting.”

I realize that is a cop out, but there is some truth to that. Unbelievers often treat their “friends” better than Christians do. It seems we forget the greatest commandment: love.

I feel bad that “What would Jesus do?” was a fad, because that is a question we should ask ourselves. Are we responding to others the way Jesus would?

I am not of the belief that Christians should not “judge,” but there is a difference between acknowledging that someone is sinning and actually being judgmental.  As humans, it is easy to look down upon those living in sin instead of realizing that, but for the grace of God, that could be me! Even in the Church, people tend to gossip about others instead of going to them and challenging them to keep walking with God. This is not really love for others. It is more focusing on others’ sin in order to get the focus off of your own.

God did not save you because you are a good person. If you are truly saved, it is more than likely because you saw your need and knew that you were wretched without God. Don’t lose sight of that. No one is hopeless, but I believe many have been turned off due to the lack of love they see in those who claim to love God. As John asks us, though, how can we love God when we don’t love our Brothers and Sisters (1 John 4:20)? And I would add, how can we love God when we don’t love everyone that He died to save?

True love is carrying a burden for those who are hell bound. It is interceding for them and being willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus when necessary. There are a lot of hard hearts in the world, but I’m convinced that there are still many who will respond to love.

Love is also seeing the needs of your Brothers and Sisters and looking for ways to lift their burdens. It’s taking time to listen to their struggles when you would rather be doing anything else.

I work with Christians, so I am not around unbelievers that much. I am also not good with words, except on paper, so I struggle to walk up to someone I don’t know and begin a conversation. But I hope I am never too busy to share a kind word or a smile, to recognize a need when there is one and be willing to fill that need. I pray that, every time I walk out my door, people see Jesus in me. This time of year, especially, people are hurting, and they need hope. Don’t neglect to show God’s love wherever He opens the door for you to do so.

I also hope I am never too busy or preoccupied with my own struggles to be available for a Brother or Sister in need. Jesus was constantly giving, and we need to be willing to do so too.

A Note of Encouragement for Pastors

I don’t know how many pastors read my blog but, if you are a pastor who is discouraged, I hope this will help to lift your spirits. If your pastor is down right now, feel free to share this with him. Even if he’s not down, this may provide the extra lift he needs.

I have several friends who are pastors, and at least one is very discouraged with the state of the Church. Unfortunately, many attend church because it’s what they do on Sunday morning, but they are not there to hear a word from the Lord. In fact, if God really showed up, I expect some would get up and leave. Gone are the days of growing and repenting and crying out, “Search me, O God!” People simply want a peppy worship service, with a feel-good message afterward, so they can then go back home and live their comfortable life.

Some pastors probably are fine with this, as they want the same thing, but I know there are some whose heart is toward the Lord, who desire His will above all else, who wonder if anyone hears a word they say week after week. It seems, many times, a congregation will not tell a pastor what a blessing his messages are (even if they think so), but he will definitely hear about it if he preaches too long, gets too excited, doesn’t get excited enough, etc. Let me just remind you that your job is to preach the Word. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to change hearts. It’s possible, though, that you can help that change come about through prayer and crying out to God for it. It is not the time to be discouraged. Faithful is He who called you, and HE will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24). If you know that you are where God put you, you must trust that He has a plan. Your job is simply to be faithful.

I know you already know this, but let me remind you that success in God’s eyes is not measured by numbers, wealth, or any such thing. God is looking for people who will speak the word He gives them to speak whether people want to hear it or not. He wants bold men and women who will say, “Here am I. Send me. It doesn’t matter if anyone makes fun of me, criticizes me, etc. As long as I know You are pleased with me, that’s all that matters.”

You may never see results this side of Heaven but, one day, when you finally get Home, you will hear your Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.” At that moment, all the struggles and frustrations you had while on earth won’t matter. It will finally be worth it all.

Pass Me Not

Pass me not, O gentle Savior
Hear my humble cry
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by

As I sing this song this evening, I have a picture of Bartimaeus sitting by the side of the road crying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on me!” It is so rare that I hear that kind of desperation in people’s prayers today. Especially when praying for others, I tend to hear monotone prayers, with words such as “Lord, be with _____ as he (or she) goes through surgery,” “Save _____,” “Be with us this coming week,” etc. Rarely do I hear people literally crying out to God, “Please save my loved ones. Don’t let them perish. Show me if there is anything I can do or say to help them find you.” Prayer should be more than a daily or weekly ritual; it should be a time when we enter God’s presence and present our petitions, knowing that He hears and expecting that He will answer as we pray in accordance with His will.

There are times I pray for a loved one, and I am not sure what God’s will is. This is especially true when a friend has a terminal sickness. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God can heal, even from Stage 4 cancer, but I also know He often doesn’t. During these times, I will still pray for healing until I am convinced that that is not His will. Then I pray for strength for the family to walk through the difficult time ahead.

God is not obligated to answer every prayer. I know that. But He has told me to ask, so ask I do. And I ask in faith, knowing that He hears me and that He will do what’s best for me and my loved ones.

Right now, I have a friend who deals with a lot of pain and sleepless nights. I am praying for His healing but I also know that God’s strength is made perfect through weakness. If God chooses not to heal my friend, He will use the pain to make my friend stronger and draw my friend closer to Him. Although we often refuse to look at it this way, pain with God close by is far better than a youthful body that lives apart from God.

In closing tonight, I just want to remind you that Jesus is very near. Present your needs to Him as if He is sitting or standing beside you, because He is. Then, when you’ve presented your requests, take some time to listen. At the very least, you may feel His peace and His presence, but you might even hear His voice as He speaks comfort or gives you direction. Then be sure to thank Him for not passing you by. He is such a good God. I’m so thankful to know Him.

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