CD Report: Oh, How I Love Him (The Fosters)

A couple of years ago, I was contacted by Andrew and Devi Foster, asking if I would listen to their CD and consider reviewing it. I learned from my mom to never promise a review before becoming familiar with the product, but I’m always interested in new music so I agreed to listen. Since that time, I have listened to it a number of times, and I am happy to be able to introduce you to this couple.

Smooth vocals along with songs that bring you into the presence of Jesus make this a CD that isn’t easy to tire of. Even if you’re not a southern gospel fan per se, I encourage you to listen to the clips on their website.

Songs included are: I Know What Prayer Can Do, The Beauty of His Name, He’ll Find a Way, You Must Be Born Again, and Down from His Glory.

I especially like this last song. I’ve listened to Jeff Stice play it many times and love the tune so I have appreciated getting to know the words as well.

From Triumph to Tragedy

And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”

So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”  ~Matthew 21:10-11

For much of Jesus’ ministry, he didn’t want a lot of fanfare, but when he rode into Jerusalem, the whole city paid attention. Those who didn’t know Jesus before were hearing about Him now and wanting to know, “Who is this man? He is obviously an important person. Do tell.”

I am glad I don’t know the future, but Jesus did know that the glory He was receiving now would be short-lived. These fickle people who were singing His praises would be crying out for His crucifixion in no time.

It’s amazing how quickly people can change their minds depending on the atmosphere and views of their peers. This is why it’s important to know what you believe and why, to know the Bible so well that no one can sway your opinion just because it sounds good or is the common view.

On this day of triumph, Jesus didn’t act any differently than usual. He cleared the temple of sellers, healed people, rebuked Pharisees, and taught His disciples. Just a typical day in our Savior’s life.

Fast forward to the night of Passover. Jesus eats and drinks with His disciples, knowing that it will be the last time that He does so this side of Heaven. He tried to brace them for that fact, but they couldn’t grasp it. Jesus was young. He hadn’t attained His kingdom yet. Surely, He must be joking. Little did they know how quickly their lives were going to change.

And because of Jesus, our lives should be changed as well. I think people often want to bypass the Cross and get to the Resurrection. We are eager to reign with Him, but we don’t want to go through the suffering that this entails. We despise the thought of crucifying our flesh, thinking there must be a way to have the world and Heaven too, but it doesn’t work that way. If you want to know where you are at with the Lord, examine yourself in the light of His Word. He is our litmus test. Are you willing to be obedient to the Father unto death? Have you truly surrendered all? Does your life reflect His ways in everything that you do? We can learn so much from His life and His death. Yes, Sunday is coming, but Friday is here. Maybe Saturday by the time you read this. This is a time to be sober, to put yourself in the disciples’ shoes. What would it be like to watch someone crucified for crimes they didn’t commit? Someone that you have spent every day with for the last three years? Someone whom you’ve grown to depend on? Whom you love dearly? If you are a professing Christian, it shouldn’t be hard to imagine this since you should feel the same way about this man. I like how Dottie Rambo put it:

He left the splendor of Heaven
Knowing His destiny
Was the lonely hill of Golgotha
There to lay down His life for me.

If that isn’t love
The ocean is dry
There’s no stars in the sky
And the sparrow can’t fly

If that isn’t love
Then Heaven’s a myth
There’s no feeling like this
If that isn’t love

You would have to be pretty hard-hearted to look at the Cross and everything that Christ suffered and yet not feel anything. I pray that I do not become that calloused but that I continue to become ever more like Him.

Guest Post: Is it Time to Forgive? by Tricia Goyer

Sony’s Comments: I feel like I have done my share of forgiving in my 48+ years of life and, honestly, I’d like to not have to keep doing so. In the past couple months, I have been once again given the opportunity to forgive someone. It is not easy, and I’m still working through it, but with God’s help, I trust that I will. I think I have only shared one or two guest posts in the history of my blog, but when I saw the title of Tricia Goyer’s recent email, I knew I needed to read it. If you have lived for any length of time, you have most likely been hurt by someone. Probably by someone close to you. I hope you were able to forgive that person, squelching the root of bitterness that wanted to take hold. With Tricia’s permission, I am sharing her thoughts from her recent email. I pray you will take them to heart.

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I’ve never watched a hockey game, but recently a friend explained the penalty box to me. He explained that if a player commits a personal foul in ice hockey, he is sent to the penalty box. Having a player in the penalty box hurts the whole team. They are short-handed and miss out on the player’s skills.

Like in hockey, sometimes we send people who hurt us to the penalty box. We want them to “pay” for what they’ve done, yet we forget that we’re also hurting ourselves. Instead of confronting the other person and seeking to work together to make things right, we will often push the other person away or pull away ourselves. And unlike hockey, there is no set time limit to when people can get out of the penalty box. I’ve heard stories of family members or friends missing out on years of each other’s lives over minimal offenses. Instead, it’s much better to forgive.

​Many of us don’t understand forgiveness. It does not mean forgetting that something wrong was done. It’s not saying that the other person’s action didn’t matter. Instead, forgiveness is “giving” the other person’s wrong action to God and letting Him deal with it. It’s handing it over and saying, “This was wrong, and it hurt, but I’m giving it to you now to handle.” It’s not easy to forgive, yet it’s often even more challenging to keep someone in the penalty box and miss out on the relationship. More than that, learning to forgive well now will help us in every relationship, including marriage. Especially marriage. Learning to forgive and seek forgiveness gives us a tender heart instead of one surrounded by high walls.

​Forgiveness isn’t just something good to do. It’s something that will transform our hearts more and more every time we give others over to God for him to handle. It’s allowing God to turn hurt into healing in our relationships.

​Who do you need to forgive by turning their offense over to God to handle? Then, what can God do in and through you once you are free?

 

Prayer:

Father God, I understand forgiveness, but I admit that I often want to fight it. I know I’m supposed to forgive, but I can’t do it alone. God, can You help me forgive now so that my heart will be tender in every relationship? I trust that when I hand things over to You, You will deal with them according to Your wisdom. Thank You for handling the things that hurt me. I pray You will give me a tender heart. I ask this in the name of Your son, Jesus. Amen.

Tricia Goyer is a wife, homeschooling mom of 10, and author of over 80 books. You can connect with Tricia at www.TriciaGoyer.com.

CD Report: High Road (High Road)

When you hear the term “bluegrass,” you may think of groups like The Lewis Family or, more recently, The Primitive Quartet. However, bluegrass comes in various forms and styles as it has more to do with instrumentation than vocals. I would liken High Road to an Allison Krauss-type bluegrass: smooth harmonies singing easy listening songs while throwing in an instrumental number as well.

Although this group was founded in 2013, I just became aware of them a few years ago. Produced by Ben Isaacs, they sing a variety of songs, some of which will be familiar, but you will also hear a couple of new songs written by the group’s founder, Sarah Davison. I encourage you to check them out if you are not already a fan.

Songs included are: Nothing at All; Faith, Hope & Love; High Road; It’s You; Snake River Reel; Second Chances; Faithful Again; Precious Lord, Take My Hand; Two Coats; and The Day I Got Saved.

The Golden Rule

It saddens me when people do things out of spite, selfishness, or just to be mean. Many quarrels could be ended with one act of kindness but too often, people are focused on their own hurts and feelings that they don’t even try to put themselves in another’s shoes.

We live in a society where the emphasis is on not being walked over, pushed around, etc. Yet Christ taught us to turn the other cheek, to pray for those who persecute us. I don’t believe that this requires anyone to remain in an obvious abusive situation, but I will say that people get offended way too easily and, often, that offense leads to actions that do not honor God.

A number of years ago, I began to question certain things in order to discern right from wrong. I decided that, if the response to a situation was not clearly outlined in Scripture, a good rule of thumb is to follow Matthew 7:12:

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

I realize that this does not always work. For myself, a latte and a hug from a friend does wonders to cheer me up while others detest coffee and really are not that huggy so these things would not bring comfort to them at all. Some people want to be left alone when they are in a valley while others wish they had someone to talk to. In these cases, a key is knowing a person well enough to minister to them in a way that will cause them to feel love. That said, you cannot often go wrong with basic courtesy.

I knew someone who would attend a church for a while and then become upset with the church and leave. When she left, she disliked everyone who still attended said church. This resulted in her going out of her way to avoid them whenever she could. Every once in a while, someone would see her and go to give her a hug, but she would intentionally keep her arms down to make it known that she was not reciprocating any warm feelings for this person. When asked about this later, she replied that she didn’t want to be a hypocrite, but the saddest part was that many of these people did not do anything to her. She just held them guilty by association.

I don’t believe that it is ever wrong to show love to someone no matter how much they have hurt you. If the offense was serious, you don’t need to be friends with the person, but it should be a rare occasion that you would be rude. Don’t lie to a person and say “Good to see you” if you’re not happy to see them, but it’s not wrong to nod an acknowledgement in passing or at least smile as you walk by.

When you feel your anger start to get the better of you and you want to punish someone for how they have “hurt” you, ask yourself how you would want them to respond to you. For myself, I want to receive forgiveness and mercy when I do things that annoy others. I want people to bear with me when I drop the ball. Therefore, I want to show these traits to others. Jesus said:

For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  ~Matthew 7:2

This isn’t talking about righteous judgment, but rather harsh judgment and retaliation. We are to shine God’s light here on earth, and we can’t do that if we are busy focusing on ourselves and our “rights.” The world does a good enough job at this, but it does not befit a Christian.

Your Choices Matter

 

I don’t remember if I wrote on this topic recently or if I just thought about it, but it bears repeating. Your choices do not just affect you. They affect those close to you as well. I do not have tolerance for people who blame their actions on others, but I have also begun to understand how others’ actions do affect those around them.

For example, if you abuse your child, it would be wrong for your child to abuse his child even though his reaction is most likely due to built-up anger accumulated from his childhood. However, if you were to get control of your anger and stop abusing your child, she would most likely parent differently when her time came. I’ve heard parents make the statement, “They didn’t learn that from me,” but whether they learned their exact behavior from you or are acting out for another reason, it’s possible that something from their childhood has contributed to the decisions they are making today.

I see this especially in divorce cases. Moms and dads are so focused on their own hurts and their anger towards each other that they don’t realize how it is affecting the children until the children begin to act out, and they can’t figure out why. So they blame each other which only makes things worse. Putting others’ needs before our own isn’t easy, but it is the way of Christ.

Just like I would still tell young people that they cannot blame others for their actions, I would tell adults to weigh the things you say and do. Others are watching and, whether you like it or not, they may follow in your footsteps.

I hate that everything needs disclaimers these days, but I expect this post does. I know parents who did the best they could to love each other and their children, and they still suffered heartache. I am in no way blaming you for every decision your child makes. But I do think that it’s important to humble yourself before the Lord and ask Him to show you if you have contributed in some way to your child’s view of God or of you. If you have, then don’t hesitate to acknowledge it and ask for forgiveness. If you still feel like you did the best you could to honor God in your marriage and parenting, then rest in that and continue to show God’s love to your wayward child. Above all, don’t stop interceding. God is the only One who is able to change the hardest of hearts.

Why Should I Worry or Fret?

If you watch the news or go out at all, you will find plenty of reason for worry. Gas prices continue to rise (as do flights and everything else that is affected by a gas hike), things that were already over-priced cost even more now, there is talk of war in other countries. It can be easy to think that we are gearing up for an end-time apocalypse. These are the times that we should turn off the TV and read God’s Word.

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10

So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” ~Hebrews 13:6

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ~Luke 12:27

It is one thing to be aware of what is going on in the world. It’s another to be obsessed with it. The greatest need right now is for God’s people to hear His voice in order to know how to pray and how to act. Worry accomplishes nothing, and I know for myself that it is simply a sign of selfishness that I hate to admit lies within me. Fear and worry are indications that we don’t trust God as much as we say we do. Bill & Gloria Gaither nailed it when they wrote:

He holds the future in the palm of His Hand,
And He has never failed me yet,
I know He is reigning and still has control,
So why should I worry or fret?

That’s the question we need to be asking ourselves.

God Is Still Holy

Reading through the Old Testament, I am struck by how much emphasis was placed on God’s holiness. There were places that only the priests were allowed to go, but only if they were sufficiently cleansed, changing their clothes both before they entered and after they departed the Holy of Holies.

When Moses approached a burning bush, he was told to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground. It seemed like every time someone encountered God or His presence, they fell prostrate on the ground. God was not treated as a buddy come to visit or a genie that would grant their wishes. His audience knew that He could strike them dead with just a glance if He wanted to, so they showed Him great reverence, often fearfully, while they awaited his instructions.

It’s interesting that Adam and Eve “walked with God in the cool of the day” when they were created. After the Fall, they hid themselves when they heard him coming. Sin should have that effect on people. It is not a light thing to disobey one’s Creator.

Reverence is more than wearing nice clothes on Sunday and refraining from running in the sanctuary. If we saw God for who He really is, I expect that we would wonder why He has not struck us dead. Our best attempts at righteousness are as filthy rags when compared to His, but seeing His holiness and knowing that sin cannot dwell in His presence should inspire us to want to be holy as He is holy. The question is not, “What can I do and still make it to Heaven?” Instead, we should be asking, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” “How do you want me to ________________________ (act, dress, talk, etc.)?” Instead of giving others a hard time for their beliefs and convictions, we should be examining our own hearts to know what the Lord requires of us.

As Jonathan Edwards said a couple centuries ago, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. My favorite view of God is a loving Father, carrying me through the storms of life, and I know that He does that for me. But He is also a holy God who desires to be worshiped in reverence as we acknowledge His holiness and strive to be more like Him.

Christians should be the happiest people in the world so I am not suggesting that you go around morbidly in God’s presence. Rather, I would encourage you to seek to know Him more and understand how infinitely holy He is. Then, let’s sing together:

To be like Jesus
To be like Jesus
All I ask, to be like Jesus
All through life’s journey
From earth to glory
All I ask, to be like Him

Amen!

Welcome to Another Year!

Hello, dear friends, I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. Life has a way of getting away with me, and my mind often runs in so many directions that it’s hard to find time to slow down and focus on what God is speaking and what He wants me to write. Thoughts float around in my head, but a good writer does not just write down random thoughts, although I do this at times. A serious message takes thought and prayer. It takes study to know that I am not just writing platitudes, but that my posts truly have scriptural backing.

I’ve mentioned to several friends lately that I wanted to take some time off this month since December was so busy. Starting the year off sick is not what I had in mind. As sickness goes, I do not have it as bad as some. I had a really bad sore throat for several days, and I have an annoying cough that will only be warded off by drinking constantly (tea of course). As one who does not drink nearly as much as I should, I suppose this is one of the benefits of this malady. When I start coughing, it will only be soothed by drinking kombucha, which I am endeavoring to stay stocked up on. (Thankfully, I do not mind the stuff.) Today, I was also tired but I praise the Lord for the blessing of working from home so that I can rest when I need to. I’m not completely taking time off, as I am proofreading my brother’s latest writing project which he hopes to send off to his publisher soon, but I’m trusting God to give me the strength to finish that. Then I will rest. 🙂

Southern Gospel fans may have heard by now of the death of songwriter Kyla Rowland. I was listening to a Facebook Live that Les Butler did the other evening in her honor, and I was touched by some of the testimonies that were shared. I don’t remember if it was Les or one of his guests who mentioned that true prayer warriors are hard to find these days. He was referring to the fact that Kyla knew how to pray … and did so.

Every time someone goes ahead to Heaven, I wonder who is going to fill their shoes. Whether a songwriter, pastor, DJ, singer, housewife, construction worker … someone famous or relatively unknown … almost everyone leaves a void when they are no longer here. I’m sure there are cases where someone spends their whole life wasting it and no one really notices when they’re gone, but I like to think that is the exception instead of the rule. The Apostle Paul referred to life as a race, and I picture it as a long relay race. When one person finally makes it over the finish line, someone comes up behind and takes the baton and continues to run. Maybe it’s a son or daughter or a protege, but no doubt it is someone who has watched and learned from the runner ahead of them, following from a distance, but now catching up with increasing speed as they draw nearer to the prize themselves. Occasionally, though, I wonder if the person who was supposed to be next in line got tired and quit. Maybe running was too hard and so he sat down and made himself comfortable. Maybe she decided that, since the finish line was nowhere in sight, the race was futile so she turned around and went home. I trust that God is continuing to raise up men and women who will carry the torch, being a light to those around them, faithful in whatever areas He has entrusted them.

I, for one, don’t want to quit. I want to keep pressing on, growing in the areas in which I’m weak while never letting go of my Savior’s hand. I want to take advantage of quiet moments to hear His still, small voice. I plan to keep encouraging others to do the same. Pray for me if God ever brings me to your mind and, if I can pray for you, please let me know.

Have a blessed 2022. May our Father find us all faithfully watching and ready when He calls us Home.

Loving the Unloveable

Life always seems to have ups and downs, doesn’t it? I will say, though, that the downs probably cause me to be more grateful for the ups. I’d like to say this isn’t the case, but I expect that I at least notice them more than I would if life were full of constant gaiety.

One of my “downs” lately is that someone has decided to get a burr under their saddle towards me to the point that I can’t do anything right. I hear the comments from a third party who is getting the brunt of the animosity, but it doesn’t make it easier knowing that someone feels this way about me. Thankfully, these feelings are not coming from a friend, and my antagonist is not a Believer so I can’t really expect her to understand why I do the things I do. I also wonder, if I crumble when a few unkind remarks are said, how I would stand if I had to face real persecution. So I turn my hurt and frustration to prayer, asking God to keep me focused on what He has called me to do and praying that He will save the one who may just be unhappy with her own life that she is taking it out on me.

Everyone wants to be liked. I would like to say that’s the way we were created, but the reality is that this desire is rooted in pride. We may say that there is no good thing that dwells in us (Romans 7:18), but at heart, we really think we are pretty likable. Someone told me one time that he thought he was easy to get along with until he got married. I suspect that many can relate to that. When you do understand that you have flaws and idiosyncrasies that others have to look past in order to love you, it makes it easier to love others. I consider myself overly blessed to have friends all over the country that I believe love me and pray for me, but it’s when you live together or have close personal contact with someone over a long period of time that you know how deep that love really goes.

If I have an admonition this evening, it would have to be 1 John 4:7-8: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Father, thank You for Your amazing love. Help us to love others as You love us. Give us the strength we need to love the unloveable, to bear with those that we don’t understand, and to shine for You in every circumstance You place us in. Thank You that Your strength is perfect, and that You will strengthen us to do whatever You ask of us. We love You, Father. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

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