Put Christ First

I am making a conscious effort to tune in to my Savior’s voice and put Him above everyone and everything else. Although a basic Christian concept, it is so easy to let other things crowd in and take priority but this is something I can’t afford. I need Him more than ever. I have so much on my mind lately–decisions I’m trying to make, people I’m trying to be there for, things I’m trying to accomplish–but God’s Word says that, if I seek Him and His righteousness, everything else will fall into place (my paraphrase of Matthew 6:33).

Scripture also says that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6), so seek Him I must. I can’t point others to the Lord if I am not constantly drawing near Him myself. With His help, I will press on until I can wholeheartedly sing, “I’d rather have Jesus than ANYTHING this world affords today!”

Tribute to Norman Wilson

  • October 20, 2014 at 10:03 pm in

Norman and Reagan 2

Since I started this blog a number of years ago, this is the saddest tribute that I have written. Norman was one of the first people in the industry to reach out to me, and he has held a special place in my heart ever since.

I first met Norman over seven years ago at the National Quartet Convention. I was overwhelmed and had a lot on my mind at the time but I took something over to be signed, and he took my hands and talked for a while. After that, I made a habit of going back to the Primitive Quartet’s booth throughout the week. God’s presence was so evident in that corner of the convention.

Since that time, I’ve always made a point to talk with Norman whenever I saw him. He was so welcoming and never made me feel like the pest that I’m sure I was at times. One thing Norman told me that I still ponder sometimes: “If you don’t know what to do, go back to the last time you knew what you were supposed to do.” He often reminded me that we may never know the impact we have on people’s lives down here. If we did know, we would probably become proud. Norman definitely never seemed to think more of himself than he ought. He didn’t see himself as the greatest singer, but he wanted to be faithful … and he was.

I watched Norman’s funeral today and shed some tears but if I ever met someone who was ready for Heaven, it was Norman. He would not want to come back. Norman exemplified what it means to be a true Christian. He had a genuine love for people and a smile that lit up the room. He also had an obvious love for His Savior. My heart goes out to his beautiful wife Kaye and The Primitive Quartet, but I am grateful that we have a Comforter that can provide comfort when no person can. He will give guidance and wisdom and grace in spite of the heartache.

As Norman sang so many times, “So weep not, Friends, I’m going Home. Up there, we’ll die no more. No coffins will be made up there. No graves on that bright shore.” I am so looking forward to that day!

CD Review: The Best of Jonathan Wilburn: Years of Gold

jw-l.170x170-75In some ways, it’s probably not fair to review collection CDs since one would expect them to be great projects but I think there is still validity to letting you know which CDs are being released and which songs were included, as well as a bit about the songs for people who are new to the genre. I will say that this collection CD, featuring many of Jonathan Wilburn’s most popular songs when he was with Gold City, is one of my favorites that I’ve received this year.

He Said is one of my favorite songs on this project. I heard the studio version years ago but this live version, recorded when Jonathan was with Gold City, brings the whole song to life in my opinion.

My least favorite arrangement on this project is I’m Not Giving Up. After hearing the original version, the background singers don’t do it justice.

There Rose a Lamb is a song originally sung by Ivan Parker when he was with Gold City. It has stood the test of time, however, and Jonathan pours his heart into it as well.

He Lives needs no explanation.

The late Doug Riley wrote He Lifted My Burdens Away. This was a new song to me but it’s uptempo and encouraging.

Tim Riley introduces When He Touched Me. This is another song I hadn’t heard before but it is a great song of testimony.

“We can’t have church until the Holy Ghost shows up … When the Holy Ghost Shows Up (We’ll Have Church).” Can I hear an Amen?

Keep Me on the Wheel is a great song about surrender.

The Lamb Upon the Throne is a song of worship.

It’s Been Worth it All is a song all Christians can sing along with.

I’ve liked I Believe since it first came out. I’m really glad Jonathan included it on this project.

No “Best of Gold City” recording would be complete without the timeless classic, Midnight Cry.

The CD concludes with a live version of When He Calls (I’ll Fly Away).

Two Gospel Singers Go to Heaven

  • October 12, 2014 at 9:36 pm in

Today, the southern gospel community has had two losses.

First of all, Roy Bray, the piano player and baritone singer for The Southmen Quartet died in a bus accident when the bus ran off the road and hit a tree. Roy was driving. Owner and tenor singer Jim Hefner has been admitted to the hospital for further evaluation. Johny Washburn and Donnie Marr are fine. Please keep The Southmen and their families in your prayers.

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Bob Johnson, who sang with his wife Jeanne, passed away early this morning after having suffered a stroke back in July. My prayers are with Jeanne and the family as well.

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No loss is easy; however, for those who know the Lord, the pain and loneliness we feel now are only temporary. We may not always understand God’s timing but we know that He knows what is best. He has promised to send the Comforter, and I trust He is doing just that for everyone who is feeling these and other losses today. He is there. Just lean on Him.

Falling in Love with Jesus All over Again

Let me fall in love with You all over again
Let me know You as never before

As I was praying this morning, this song, sung by the late Kenny Hinson, became my prayer. There is nothing I desire more than to fall in love with Jesus all over again.

In the last few years, I’ve gone through a number of changes, some of which I struggled with a long time before surrendering to the direction God wanted me to take. I don’t like change, and I had to be absolutely sure He was leading. As I look back now, it is so obvious to me that He was indeed calling, and I am overwhelmed by His love for me and His willingness to use this weak, stubborn vessel.

In the last few years, God has also brought some wonderful people into my life–those who are willing to intercede for me, bear with me, and encourage me whenever God lays me on their heart. They say if you can count on one hand your true friends, you are very blessed. If I think about it, I can probably do that and more. At the same time, no one can replace my first Love.

I am not always faithful. I do not always embrace the tests He brings but have instead cried and begged Him to remove tests when I thought I could not stand it. In the end, though, like the apostle Paul, I found His grace to be sufficient and His strength to be made perfect through my weakness.

I was watching Joni Tada last night on the True Woman Conference’s webcast, and she talked about the importance of surrender to whatever will draw us closer to Jesus. That is a lesson I am still learning but, if I desire a closer walk, I must be willing to accept whatever He knows will rid me of myself so that I can have true communion with Him.

Being over 40 years old and single, God has been my husband and Father. He has been the friend who is there in the middle of the night when all I can do is cry. I have felt Him hold me and assure me He is there, even when I knew I had failed Him. True to His Word, He has never left me or forsaken me but He has blessed me much more than I will ever deserve, and He has surrounded me with people who love me.

I have had an ear infection for several months and, yesterday, I finally got in to get my ears cleaned out. I cried as the doctor worked to remove all the junk in there, but I knew the pain was necessary if I was going to be able to hear again and heal completely.

This experience brought home the reality that it is the same way with life. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. The longer we live, the more sin accumulates until we meet Jesus and He begins to chip away the sins that ensnare us. Even after walking with him for over 20 years, there are still things in my life that need to go. Humanly, I don’t want to go through the pain I may need to go through so He can chisel them out of my heart, but I realize it is necessary in order to have more room for Him. He cannot dwell where sin is present and so surrender I must. If I do so, I will feel more of His love and peace, and I will in turn love Him more than ever before.

God, make that truly my desire, that I love You, not only on the mountain when the sun is shining bright, but also in the valleys when it’s dark and I can’t see You. Keep me looking straight ahead and not on what is going on around me for, with You holding my hand, nothing can touch me and, one day, You will lead me to my eternal Home where nothing will ever harm me again. Thank You, Father. Amen!

Singing News Fan Awards 2014

  • October 8, 2014 at 10:26 pm in

Most of you have probably heard who the winners were of this year’s fan awards. For those who may have missed a category, I am going to post them below, along with the names of the people who presented the awards.

Presenter: Jason Crabb

Musician: Kim Collingsworth
Young Artist: Amber Thompson (Sonya Isaacs accepted)

Presenters: Karen Peck Gooch and Susan Peck Jackson

Soloist: Ivan Parker

Song of the Year Nominee: Kingdom Heirs–“Just Beyond the Sunset”

Presenters: Austin and Ethan Whisnant

New Soloist: Joseph Habedank
New Traditional Quartet: Canton Junction

Song of the Year Nominee: Triumphant–“Because He Loved Me”

Hall of Fame Inductee: Faye Speer (Arthur Rice accepted)

Presenters: Kelly Bowling and Aaron Crabb

Male Artist: Ronnie Booth
Band: Kingdom Heirs

Presenters: Connie Fortner and Sheryl Farris

Lead Singer: Ronnie Booth
Tenor: Michael Booth

Song of the Year Nominee: Brian Free and Assurance–“Calvary’s Cry”

Presenters: Morgan and Madison Easter

Songwriter: Dianne Wilkinson

Song of the Year Nominee: The McKameys–“A Hill Worth Dying On”

Hall of Fame Inductee: Eddie Crook

Presenters: Hannah and Parker Webb

New Trio: Hyssongs
Bass Singer: Eric Bennett

Song of the Year Nominee: Legacy Five–“Living in the Palace”

Presenters: Michael and Ronnie Booth

New Mixed Group: Mylon Hayes Family
Soprano: Kim Hopper

Song of the Year Nominee: Old Paths–“Long Live the King”

Presenters: Chris Taylor and Suzanne Hise

Mixed Group: Collingsworth Family
Trio: Booth Brothers

Song of the Year Nominee: The Whisnants–“He Can Move That Stone”

Hall of Fame Inductee: Claude Hopper

Presenters: Ben Isaacs, Becky Bowman, and Sonya Yeary

Alto: Libbi Stuffle
Female Singer: Kim Hopper

Song of the Year Nominee: Greater Vision–“Preacher, Tell Me Like it Is”

Presenter: Philip Collingsworth and Brooklyn Blair

Songwriter: Rodney Griffin
Male Quartet: Triumphant

Song of the Year Nominee: Karen Peck and New River–“Revival”

Hall of Fame Inductee: Paul Heil

Presenters: Dean and Michael Hopper

Album: Greater Vision–“For All He’s Done”

Song of the Year Nominee: Booth Brothers–“I See Grace”

Song of the Year Winner: Greater Vision–“Preacher, Tell Me Like it Is”

Presenter: Squire Parsons

Artist: Booth Brothers

Thoughts of Charles Johnson

  • October 7, 2014 at 11:47 pm in

I found out today that Charles Johnson of Charles Johnson and the Revivers passed away. When I read that, my mind went back to the 1980s when I used to listen to him on WTRM out of Winchester, VA. I never got tired of hearing “I Can’t Even Walk Without You Holding My Hand,” “Until Then,” and “I’ve Been Sealed.” I never saw him in concert but I enjoyed looking through YouTube videos this evening. I am so thankful that his music lives on. Please remember his family in your prayers.

 

Lily Isaacs’ Mom Passes Away

  • September 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm in

Many of you may have heard or read the announcement last week that Lily Isaacs’ mom passed away last week. After reading Lily’s autobiography which talked about her parents’ miraculous survival from the holocaust and a bit about Lily’s growing up years, I feel like I have met her mom, and I know it is never easy to say goodbye to a loved one, but I know God will give Lily and the rest of the family strength to get through this time. In response to the inquiries the Isaacs have received from people who would like to honor Lily’s mom, Lily writes the following:

A Message From Lily Isaacs

Nashville, TN (September 29, 2014) To all of our dear friends,

First I’d love to thank everyone for your prayers. The passing of my mother has been very emotional and sad. I know many of you have lost loved ones……parents, spouses, children, good friends and it’s a very lonely feeling because it’s final. Although we do believe in an after life, just the fact that you will never get to hear their voice or hug your loved one ever again here on earth, leaves you with such a void in your heart. Seems like it’s hard to take a deep breath! I’m so grateful that I got to keep my sweet Yiddish Mamma till age 95 and I was with her when she took her final breath. She truly was a survivor. She was a very strong, spirited woman. My entire family is thankful for the legacy she has left behind.

So many of you have asked us about funeral arrangements. Many of you wanted to send flowers and special gifts to honor Mom. I wanted to take this time to explain a little about our beautiful Jewish traditions when we lose someone in death.

Before I get into the explanation I will tell you that we tentatively have the funeral scheduled for Wednesday morning, Oct 1st. Mom passed away on Friday, September 26, and it is currently in the middle of a very Holy holiday, Rosh Hashanah (9/24-9/26) and Yom Kippur (10 days later) so it is hard to make final arrangements with the Rabbi, especially since Friday night started the Sabbath. We will know more Monday morning.

We have chosen to give Mom a traditional Jewish funeral. Our father had the same and this is what she would want. A Jew must be buried within a day or two of death and we do not embalm the body so it must stay refrigerated until burial. Of course, with family far away, it’s acceptable to wait until all gather together. The coffin must be a plain pine box, and the deceased is clothed in a shroud…..white pure linen called a Tachrichim. The reason is because we are all equal in death and we can’t take anything with us when we leave this world. God judges our merits and deeds, not our material wealth. Once the casket is lowered into the ground, the final act we do is to shovel dirt on top of it. Basically the family will cover the casket with dirt. The reason for this is the deceased cannot do it for themselves. In a way, it also acts as a gesture of love and gives family closure. We never see flowers at a Jewish funeral. Tradition says that flowers are unnecessary and die too quickly. Instead of flowers, we place stones on the casket or grave site. There are many speculations about the reason for this custom but the one that makes most sense to me is that stones were the only way a grave was marked before headstones were made. It also leaves a sign that the person had a visitor and they’re not left without being remembered . We will then sit shiva (means 7)…..The mourning period which actually lasts 7 days. Family will rent a garment and gather in the home to receive guests.

This is the way we do it and we plan to put Mom away in this manner. She deserves this honorable, final gesture from us.
For those of you who wanted to honor our mother, I’ve thought of a beautiful way do this. This seems like a gesture of love and would carry on our Jewish tradition.

Instead of gifts and flowers we will set up a fund in my mother’s name and receive donations to help purchase her a headstone! We cannot put the headstone up for one year at which time we have an ” unveiling.” This way you can be a part of putting a stone on her grave. We can all participate in giving her a loving departure together. We have so many friends far away and we can join together in this gesture.

If you want to do this, you can just make a check out to us…. The Isaacs and put on bottom of the check, for “Faye Fishman Headstone Fund.” When the time comes for the purchase of the headstone, we will post a photo and you will all know that you were a part of our mother’s home going.

Please remember our family as everyone is trying to get our here in the next day or so.

Send any donations to:

The Isaacs
PO BOX 370
Goodlettsville, TN 37070

Blessings to you all and again thank you for your prayers and support.

With love,

Lily Isaacs

To learn more about the Isaacs, go to http://www.theisaacs.com or https://www.facebook.com/TheIsaacs or Twitter at https://twitter.com/IsaacsMusic .

If you are interested in booking the Isaacs go to the Harper Agency at www.harperagency.com or info@harperagency.com.

NQC Highlights 2014: Day 7

Phil and Kim Collingsworth were the hosts of tonight’s National Quartet Convention. Phil beganĀ  by leading the people in singing “Blessed Assurance” while Kim played the piano.

Fanny Crosby was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Phil Collingsworth accepted the award and mentioned that he and Kim raised their children two streets away from where Fanny wrote most of her songs.

Jeff Sneed acknowledged Naomi Sego, who was there this evening, then they sang “Hallelujah Square,” followed by “He’s Leading the Way,” which they encored twice.

Clarke Beasley said this year was their largest convention since 2001.

It was really good to see the Perrys one more time. They started their set with Libbi singing “God Walks the Dark Hills” and ending with “I Wish I Could Have Been There.”

Phil and Kim played an instrumental of “Until Then.”

Arthur Rice quoted his pastor as saying, “A lot of people use prayer as a last resort when it should be the first response.” That is so true.

The LeFevre Quartet and The Booth Brothers sang “Jesus Saves” together.

Soul’d Out sang “Arise, My Love.”

For the finale, the following songs were sung or played:

Mark Trammell Quartet: “I Want to Know”
Collingsworth Family: “Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness”
Kim Collingsworth: “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (Piano)
Booth Brothers: “Blind Man Saw it All”Triumphant: “Saved by Grace”
Whisnants: “I’ll Pray for You”
Hoppers: “Jerusalem”
Brooklyn, Courtney, and Kim Collingsworth: “Power in the Blood” (violins and piano)
Greater Vision: “For All He’s Done”
Congregation: “Bless the Lord, O My Soul”

Goodbye, NQC 2015. There were some showcases I may give highlights from next week, as well as other thoughts. I only had time to do the evening concerts this week. Stay tuned.

NQC 2014 Highlights: Day 6

I have not caught a showcase winner all week but last night I tuned in just in time to see 10-year-old Chloe Fuentes sing “Something’s Happening.” She did a fabulous job. Even Tim Lovelace was in tears after her performance. I will be surprised if it doesn’t make it onto YouTube.

The Erwins were the acapella group tonight. They sang the McKamey’s song, “I Know How I Made It.”

Sonya Isaacs had mentioned the night before last that her grandma had fallen and had surgery, and that is why Lily is not at the Convention. Last night, she announced that her grandma passed away. Please keep The Isaacs in your prayers. Then they sang “Grandpa, Tell Me About the Good Old Days.”

Ernie Haase said he woke up with “Walk With Me” running through his head so he started his set with that. Then they sang “Sometimes I Wonder.”

Jason Crabb, along with his band and background singers, dressed in vintage clothing and brought out a vintage mic to sing a whole set of hymns. He even sang “This Little Light of Mine” with his daughter.

Melissa Brady joined the Whisnants to sing a song she wrote, “All is Well.”

Trey Ivey opened Legacy Five’s set by playing “His Name is Wonderful” and “Because He Lives,” which the crowd sang along on. Then Legacy Five sang “I Found Grace,” one of my favorite songs of theirs. Gus Gaches did a fabulous job on “I Stand Redeemed.” Then they sang “Truth is Marching On,” with Jim Brady and Michael Booth joining in. Jim sang at least one of the verses. I was doing something else and didn’t notice if he sang both verses or not. Legacy Five was my favorite set last night.

Canton Junction started their set with “Sweeter as the Days Go By” and ended with “In God We Still Trust.”

Ivan Parker’s son played electric guitar and led an instrumental of “Shout to the Lord,” which some background singers sang. Although not very southern, I would have loved to have been there to worship with thousands of people at that moment. Then Ivan sang his signature song, “Midnight Cry.” He called some friends on stage to help sing the chorus, among whom were Jason Crabb, Canton Junction, Jim Brady, and The Talleys. Jason sang the first part of the second verse and said he was thrilled to be able to sing with Ivan Parker.

Triumphant started their set with “Saved by Grace.”

Rita Pearson was not there last night due to being under the weather but The Diplomats did a great job anyway.

Jeff and Sheri Easter had asked people which song they would like to hear the group perform at NQC. The most requested song was “Roses Will Bloom Again.”

Melissa Brady sang “Tell Me the Story of Jesus” with The Booth Brothers. Everyone was a bit emotional when Michael Booth announced that this would be Jim Brady’s last full set on NQC stage with The Booth Brothers. I hope to see The Jim Brady Trio there next year. I think they are going to be fabulous.

The night ended with The Kingsmen.

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