Thoughts on Suicide

Last week, I found out that an acquaintance committed suicide. This was not a close friend but it affected me as I’ve pondered why people take such extreme measures when, more often than not, the trials of life are only temporary afflictions.

This is only the second time I can remember someone I know dying by his own hand. In the other case, the motive seemed to be selfishness: getting back at someone else.

In many cases, the motive is extreme hopelessness, and this makes me sad. Where there is life, there is always hope. It is only after death that nothing can be changed. At that point, not only your past, but your present and future are determined forever.

I wonder, though, if sometimes people commit suicide due to guilt. Could people honestly have done something “so bad” that they don’t think even God would forgive them, so they take the “easy way out” instead of humbling themselves in repentance and trusting God’s saving grace?

This last thought concerns me even more than the others. There is no sin that God won’t forgive IF a person is willing to repent and turn from that sin. The problem is that many don’t want to do that and so they live with the guilt of the life they are living until tragedy claims that life.

I understand discouragement, and I have been down to the point of wanting to die. But I remind myself that there is a reason that I am still alive, and it has nothing to do with me. The God who placed me on this earth still has a plan for my life and, until that plan is finished, I must be faithful. There is no “easy out” for a Christian. We are called to take up our cross daily and follow Him.

The thoughts going through my mind right now are many. First of all, my heart goes out to those who think the only way out of their problem is to end their life. But I also wonder how many people I know are struggling more deeply than I would ever imagine. We live in a world of “happy” faces, where people don’t want to be burdened with others. Therefore, there are a lot of lonely people in this world. As Christians, we should never be so busy or unconcerned that we don’t take time to listen to someone who is struggling. If someone is willing to open up and talk to you, it may be because they are hoping you will show them the Hope they need.

If you are one who is down and suicide has even crossed your mind, please find someone to talk to. I realize that you can’t trust just anybody but ask God to show you someone who would be willing to pray with you and check on you periodically to make sure you are okay. Although there will always be trials in this life, they truly are temporary, and God can give you the strength to walk through them if you allow Him to.

Don’t become another statistic. Be a victor! And help others to be victorious as well.

CD Review: Undivided (Master’s Voice)

I just became aware of Master’s Voice a couple months ago. Their CD is a mixture of OK lyrics to really good ones but the good ones are worth listening to. A variety of songwriters contributed to this CD but of special note are Joseph Habedank and Daryl Williams.

The songs I like are:

How Long a Lifetime Is – written by Joseph Habedank and Rachel McCutcheon. I often think of this concept. Life is so short. You never know when this will be the last time you see someone. Please don’t take today for granted.

Here I Am Again – How many times have you had to go to the Lord and ask forgiveness? Maybe for something you thought you had victory over but yet had reared its ugly head once again. I’m so thankful we serve a loving and merciful God!

Somebody is Me – an uptempo, toe-tapping song of testimony. I love it!

The tempo slows down for This Same Jesus, a song of reminder that this same Jesus that ascended up to Heaven will come back again.

Other songs included are:

I Can Hardly Wait to Fly, Goodbye to Goodbye, Lord of Mercy, I Know What He Did For Me, Things God Doesn’t Know, Send Somebody, Ain’t it Good, and Everything the Blood Touches Lives.


My southern gospel journey started back in the early to mid-1980s. My mom bought an aerobics tape which included a variety of styles of music, but among the artists featured was The Happy Goodman Family. It was love at first sound and started me on a journey to learn all I could about the music, as well as the groups who sang such wonderful harmony.

Within a year or two, I found a radio station out of Winchester, VA that played Southern Gospel music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I listened to that station all the time and began to know all the songs and recognize the artists by sound.

In January 1991, my family moved and it was harder to find a good station so I lost touch with group changes, new releases, etc. I still loved the music and listened to the CDs I had; I just didn’t stay up with anything current.

Somewhere around 2005 or ’06, I met a young man who became one of my closest friends, maybe in part because he was also a southern gospel fan. Up until that time, I don’t think I had met another young person who was into the music as much as I was. He was part of a southern gospel forum and, before too long, I joined my first forum.

I started out slowly, as this was all new to me, but I soon came to enjoy just chatting with other southern gospel fans about anything at all, not just music. After a while, we became like family. When one member hurt, we all hurt. When one rejoiced, so did the rest of us. I used to think about about the fact that that’s how the Church should be, but I expect I’m not alone in feeling more faith that my forum friends would be with me through a tragedy than my local church would be.

It would be easy to think that this is a classic case of neglecting those close to you and feeling close to those afar off since they aren’t “there.” I used to wonder about that too, but when we got together, it really was like a family reunion. Only we liked our family.

Yesterday, one of the members of that forum passed away. It had been a while since we talked but I would see her on Facebook and always thought fondly of her. She had a lot of health problems and pain, yet she stayed positive. That always encouraged me.

It really is true that each life touches other lives, many times when we don’t realize it. You may think your life counts for nothing but you may be surprised who feels a void when you are no longer around. I’ve reminded my readers often to let people know what they mean to you before they can no longer hear you. I reiterate that today.

Life is so short. You may think you have tomorrow, but you never really know. We don’t always know the plans God has for us, but I do know His plans are good. I also know that every person that touches your life, whether for good or bad, does so for a reason.

Have you told the ones you love the most how much they mean to you? Have you taken time to talk over coffee (or tea) and really heard their heart? Have you prayed for those who are struggling, that they would have the strength they need to walk through their trials victoriously? I was listening to The Rambos sing, “I’m Gonna Leave Here Shouting” today, and I hope that, when I’m ready to go, someone is there to “lift up my dying hands.”

I don’t think I can say it too much. Take time to tell someone you love them. Go do it now before life becomes too busy and you forget and then it becomes too late.

True Friendship

Throughout most of my life, I have wondered how many true friends I really have. It’s easy for people to say, “I’m praying for you” or “I think of you even when I don’t write,” but I always wondered if that were really the case (although I am guilty of thinking of people more than I write as well).

Lately, I have realized that I do have a few close friends, and I sometimes wonder why since many seem to have none.

John 15:13 tells us: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

I used to interpret this in terms of dying, but that is not the only way to lay down a life. I have been blessed lately by friends who are willing to serve me, going far and above the call of duty, and I’ve decided nothing says friendship like that does. I am very blessed to have a family that loves me and does so much for me but I’m not sure how to handle it when others do those same things for me. At the same time, I’m very grateful when they do.

I am also thankful for friends who text and email me just to see how I’m doing. This takes a bit of time and thought on my friends’ part so speaks “care” to me as well.

And last but not least are the friends I know who pray for me frequently. I know this is often what gets me through life. Without this, I’m convinced my struggles would be greater so I do not take this for granted.

True friendship can be measured in different ways. What means a lot to me may not mean a lot to you but the point is that the world is in need of people who really care. Christians should radiate love to everyone around them.

Christians should be trustworthy, not given to gossip or slander. Too often, people suffer in silence because they don’t know who to trust, and the fact is they may not have anyone to trust. This is so sad.

You are called to be a Light in a dark world. Part of being that Light is being different. The only one you should be comparing yourself to is Christ. He epitomized love and care and compassion, and He wanted His children to extend that same love, care, and compassion to others. Instead, we tend to focus on ourselves and our needs that we forget about those who could use a kind, comforting word.

If you have a true friend in your life, someone you can lean on in your times of trial, who will pray with you when you need it and never make you feel like a burden, take time to tell that friend how thankful you are to have them in your life, and be sure to pray for them in return.

If there are people that God has put in your life to be a friend to, be faithful to be that true friend that points them to Jesus and shows them His love. After all, you may be the only true friend they ever have.

Willing to be Broken

It seems no matter how long I walk with the Lord, there are things that are difficult for me to accept or understand. Especially when my body is under attack, I don’t handle it well. And yet I know that my God does all things well.

Not long ago, I realized that I had fallen into the trap that so many in ministry do: that of being too busy serving God to have a lot of time for Him. This bothered me and I determined to do better. After all, I can’t do what I do without His help. Well, God granted that desire, just not how I would have chosen and, honestly, I’ve struggled with it.

I don’t know why I still fight God sometimes. In my heart, I know His way is best but my mind does not always want to accept it. I hate limitations. But right now God is using these limitations that I despise to draw me closer to Him. I’ve needed this time but it took God intervening, mercifully helping me to slow down and acknowledge Him and allow Him to direct my paths.

The fact is that, even in the valley, God is good. Our job as His children is to be still and know that He is God. He desires to be exalted in our lives and will do whatever He needs to do to accomplish that. I, for one, am thankful. I don’t want to get so far away from my Savior that I don’t realize I’ve strayed.

I’m not through my valley yet but I am learning to rest in the fact that I am where He wants me for a (hopefully short) season.

No one likes being broken. Our pride rebels at the first sign of weakness or not getting our way. And yet Scripture tells us that a broken heart He will not despise (Psalm 51:17). If I want to please Him, I must have a put away all haughtiness and stubbornness and be willing to be broken for Him.

I don’t know what all God is doing in my life right now, but I know whatever He does will be for my good and His glory. I pray I come through this stronger than ever before. And that is my prayer for you as well.

Christians are not always strong. We need God to make it through this life. Storms come. Trials bombard. But we still serve a loving God. He is right there with arms outstretched waiting to comfort and hold and wipe away your tears. All you have to do is ask.

Reach Out

A friend and I were talking recently, and it seems like a lot of people have a hard time truly getting close to others. Maybe they would consider themselves having close friends but, when it comes to deep conversations about spiritual things or what is going on in their lives, they feel uncomfortable. Maybe they are afraid of losing that friendship or maybe they were raised in a home where “what goes on in the home stays in the home.” There is a place for that, but I feel like there are a lot of lonely people because of this mindset.

Several years ago, I found myself saying, “I don’t need more surface friends; I have plenty of those.” I was looking for friends I could be real with, who would bear with me if I wasn’t always “up.” Looking at my life now, I realize God answered the cry of my heart. I have many friends where the extent of our relationship is catching up periodically and praying for each other as God brings them to mind. But I also have some that I believe truly love and care for me and who would do anything for me if they were capable of doing so. These are friends who will take time to listen to me when I’m up and when I’m down. On the days that I can only cry, they are there to encourage me and make sure I’m OK. This is priceless to me.

I realize not everyone has this, and many are afraid to be real because they don’t want to risk rejection. I understand this but I also know we live in a world that is longing for love. You don’t know when you might reach out to that person who will walk with you in good times and bad.

We were not meant to be alone. Sure, there are times that God brings us through deserted valleys to draw us closer to Him, but many times we are there because of our own decisions and our unwillingness to trust. I know because I’ve been there.

God is obviously the best friend you could have and the most important friend to go to in time of trouble. However, if you do not have someone in your life that will encourage you and pray with and for you when these times come, ask God to show you who may be willing to be that person in your life. Is there anyone you have a burden for that you could reach out to and be that kind of friend for them? It could be a neighbor, a relative, someone at church … whoever it is, follow God’s leading and trust Him to bless.

How Important is Experience?

We live in a society where people won’t receive advice from those who haven’t “walked in their shoes.” The older I get, the more I realize that experience is not always necessary.

Whether I have been married or not, I know how husbands and wives are to treat each other. Whether or not I ever have children, I know a few things about what works and what doesn’t work in raising children. I also realize that all children are different, so what works for one may not work for another. Basic principles can be the same though.

The Bible has clear guidelines as to how a person is to live. It really doesn’t matter what I would do if I were going through your circumstances. There is still a right way to handle a situation and a wrong way.

I believe part of the reason people get defensive is that they do not want to be judged for bad decisions they are making. If you are living in any way contrary to the Word of God, you are judged already. No one should be unwilling to receive input, regardless of the source.

For many years, I have periodically counseled people on marriage, parenting, and other issues. I often felt unqualified, but people needed help so I prayed and asked God for wisdom. Between Scripture and things I have learned from reading, praying, and watching others, I believe God used me during those times.

Too many times, people use excuses to do what they want to do. They are not interested in what the Bible says; they want to do what feels good in the moment. Because of this, children are hurt by parents divorcing. Selfishness reigns so that there is constant heartache and strife. God gave instructions for a reason. He loves His children and desires them to live a peaceful, holy life that He can bless. There is a reason that he condemns greed, envy, unforgiveness, hatred, etc. Those things cause us to do things that we will live to regret … if we live long enough.

Maybe I haven’t gone through what you are going through, but I know we serve a loving God. I know that His plan for you is good and not evil … IF you follow His ways.

CD Review: My Tribute: The Classic Songs of Andrae Crouch (Paul Lancaster)

As a diehard Andrae Crouch fan, I am not the best person to review a CD of someone else singing his songs. In my opinion, Andrae does the best job in delivering his own songs; however, it does bless me when others honor his memory. That is exactly what Paul Lancaster did with his latest CD.

This CD features the classics, I’ve Got Confidence; The Blood Will Never Lose its Power; My Tribute; Soon and Very Soon; Through it All; Take Me Back; Jesus is the Answer; I Don’t Know Why Jesus Loved Me; Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul; and Let the Church Say Amen.

Although Mr. Lancaster’s voice is different than Mr. Crouch’s, the music and background singers are reminiscent of Andrae and the Disciples.

Barbara Riley Passes Away

  • April 20, 2016 at 2:38 pm in

I was saddened to hear about the sudden death of Barbara Riley, wife to Tim Riley and mother of Daniel Riley (Gold City), Amy Riley Strickland, and the late Doug Riley. I used to wish I could meet her, as I thought she must have been a strong woman. I was also impressed with the fact that her husband and sons seemed to think the world of her. In an age where so many marriages don’t last, she and Tim remained faithful to God and to each other.  Please keep the Riley family in your prayers during this time.


This past weekend was one of reflection for me. I didn’t set out to do so. I just felt like God was speaking, and I needed to hear from Him. I can’t say I fully understand everything yet, but I do know I needed the reminder to take time to quiet my heart and tune it toward Him, even in the midst of a very busy season.

Thinking about everything Christ went through on the Cross makes me want to not leave one task unfinished before He calls me Home.  In a world that is more scary and unsafe every day, that thought is what keeps me pressing on on a daily basis. If I didn’t believe God still had a work for me to do, I would probably never step outside my door, but the safest place to be is in God’s will and, for me, right now, that still has me traveling all over the country, praying to be an encouragement to each person I encounter.

If you are discouraged but you know you are where God wants you, let that encourage you. Quiet your heart, read His Word, pray for His peace, and press on to keep the faith and run your race. One look at His face will make every mountain look like a stepping stone. Then, I guess that’s what they are anyway.