Thankful for a Merciful God

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).  ~Ephesians 2:4-5

Many people focus on God’s mercy and forgiveness, viewing sin as no big deal, while others are afraid to move, thinking God is ready to zap them for the smallest infraction. I have tended to err in the latter camp, but God has been reminding me lately that He is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” (Psalm 103:8). This does not give license to sin (Romans 6:1), but it gives freedom and a desire to walk more closely with Him.

It’s sad that in so many areas, people fall in one ditch or another. It takes a lot of prayer and Bible study to find the level ground on which God desires us to walk. If you find yourself trying to please God by what you do but not feeling His pleasure, you may need to evaluate your reason for working so hard. A true servant of Christ will find His yoke easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:30). We should delight in serving Him, knowing that it brings Him joy, rather than living in constant fear of doing the “wrong thing.”

If you see God as a harsh taskmaster instead of the loving Father that He is, I implore you to get in the Word and learn of Him. Many think they know God based on what others say about Him, but biblical ignorance is rampant. Look up Scriptures that contain the words “merciful” and “gracious,” “slow to anger.” Write down what you learn. Ask God to reveal His heart to you as you read. Then walk in the assurance that He loves you more than you can comprehend. Yes, He will judge those who refuse to turn to Him, but He is near those who draw near to Him (James 4:8), “full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86:15).

Michael Helwig Passes Away

  • January 10, 2024 at 4:58 pm in

On December 24, 2023, Michael Helwig lost his long-time battle with ALS, also know as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

For those who don’t know Michael, he was the lead singer for the legendary Blackwood Brothers Quartet from 2012-2017. It was during that time that he discovered he had ALS. After he stopped traveling, he continued to appear occasionally at large events such as the National Quartet Convention. He had to be wheeled onto the stage, but he didn’t miss a chance to share about his journey and bring people to tears as he sang, “I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.” I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I look forward to doing so in Heaven. I hope you enjoy this powerful song.


A Tribute to Peg McKamey Bean

  • January 9, 2024 at 2:05 pm in

It was the late 1980s when I first heard the name The McKameys. I had been a Southern Gospel fan a few years by that time, but when asked if I was familiar with them, I had to admit that I wasn’t. (I secretly wondered if my friend was confusing them with The McKeithens, another group that had some radio songs at the time.) It wasn’t long after that someone gave me some Southern Gospel cassettes, one of which was the McKamey’s live recording Gone to Meetin.’ I believe it was in 1992 that I requested (and received) Sing Praises, and my love for this group grew. Although Carol sang many of their chart-topping songs, it was often Peg’s songs that caught my attention: songs like, “The Blood Covenant,” “Between Twelve and Thirty-Three,” “I Prayed for You,” “Roll That Burden on Me,” and of course her signature song, “God on the Mountain.”

Peg was fun to watch with her larger-than-life personality, but what people appreciated the most was her genuine love for God and others. As I watched her family on stage with her, they showed her nothing but respect. That says a lot about a person in my book. Peg will be missed, but her legacy will live on. My prayers are with her family.

Read the Word

The burden of my heart for at least a year now has been to encourage people to read the Bible. If you’re already reading, take time to study. God told Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). It occurred to me recently that the reason many have become soft toward sin is that they don’t know what God thinks about it, but He has told us if we would take time to open His Word.

Morals aren’t determined by what we think or what we want them to be. God has given us a strict plumb line by which to measure ourselves. It is not always easy to walk the straight and narrow path, but it is the only way to please the Father.

If you knew the true God, you wouldn’t doubt Him; you wouldn’t waver in your faith; you wouldn’t deconstruct; you would hold on to Him as though He were life itself, because He is!

For those who read the Bible but have never read it in its entirety, this is a good time to start. I am constantly reading my way through slowly as I want to glean every morsel that I can. But there are also read-through-the-year Bibles and programs. If you’re auditory, the YouVersion Bible app has several programs you can choose from.

Often, people start reading in January and by mid-February, they taper off. I used to be one of those. If you struggle to stick with it, ask God for help. You may want to join an accountability group such as the Daily Bible Podcast Community on Facebook. Or ask a friend to read with you so you can discuss what you’re reading and ask questions as they arise.

As I read through Proverbs, I am reminded of the importance of wisdom, which only comes by hearing from God through the pages of His Word.

Navigating Likemindedness

Among Believers, there is often a search for “like-minded fellowship.” People want a church that believes the way they do, friends whose values are the same, and so forth, and I understand that desire, but I ]wonder how much we can learn and grow if we only hang around people who are not that different from us.

I’m thankful that I stepped into a variety of churches growing up. I still read a wide range of denominational authors. People I connect with at conferences range anywhere from Independent Fundamental Baptists to Charismatics. In order to have close fellowship, they must have a heart for God, but if they’re willing to keep different beliefs from dividing us, I can do the same. If a person is moving toward God, He can show them where they’re wrong, and I trust that He will do that for me as well.

Now this may be easier for me since I don’t think I line up 100% doctrinally with one denomination anyway, and if you do, you want to attend a church that lines up with your beliefs and convictions. But don’t be afraid to interact with those who believe differently. There are many Christians who disagree with each other, but they are still your Brothers and Sisters. They, along with you, make up Christ’s Body, every part of which is needed.

Prayer Requested for Peg McKamey Bean

Posted on The McKamey’s Facebook page on Monday, December 11:


We want to let everyone know that Ms. Peg has been admitted to the hospital with a stroke. We are asking for your prayers and also that you please respect our privacy during this time.
Thank you and we love you all!
Ruben, Connie, Sheryl, Roger and Eli
Please pray for Peg and her family during this time.

Your Gifts Are Enough

“For those that seem better than I, help me not to be envious or jealous, but learn from them.”
(A prayer included in Quiet Times with D.L. Moody)
If you are a Christian, you should constantly be learning and becoming more like Christ. Life may be a race, but it’s not a competition. When the disciples asked Jesus, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He set a child before them and replied, “Whoever humbles himself like this little child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-4). There are many things that I wish I excelled at, but if I did, I no doubt would become proud and intolerant of those who weren’t as good as I would perceive myself to be.
I love editing because I get to work with people whose gifts complement my own. If everyone could do everything, there would be no need for the Body to work together.
I know people who constantly tear down others in order to make themselves look better (I assume). This reflects negatively on the fault finder. We should be willing to learn from others. Sometimes that will be noting ways that we do not want to be like a person, but many times we may pick up nuggets that we can use to improve our own lives.
If you, like me, find yourself envying those to whom everything seems to come easily, remember that God has given you the gifts you need for the work that He has called you to do. Just focus on being faithful in the little things so that He can open the door for bigger things in the future if He chooses to do so.

Thankful for the Holy Spirit

Our extension of love and forgiveness toward our enemies is possible only because, as believers in Christ, we are indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit. God is greater than the wrongs committed against us. We glorify him greatly by demonstrating this truth to a fallen world.  ~Cole Richards (President of Voice of the Martyrs)

Christians are supposed to be different. We are all born with a human nature, but when we come to know Christ, He fills us with His Spirit, which empowers us to conquer our fleshly desires in order to do some things which even fellow Christians can’t always understand. As I read the above lines in the latest Voice of the Martyrs magazine, the line that stuck out at me was “God is greater than the wrongs committed against us.”

My family dealt with a situation last year in which we were greatly wronged, and I confess it has been hard to forgive. I still don’t know that I fully have, but I pray frequently for strength to keep moving forward in God and to let Him deal with the wrong. I need God’s forgiveness in my life, and I don’t want to hinder fellowship with Him by refusing to forgive others.

The Holy Spirit is probably the most neglected member of the Godhead, but I’m thankful for the way He gives strength for every trial I face, for the comfort He provides, for wisdom beyond my own when I need it. One of my favorite songs is “I Wish I Could Have Been There” by the Perrys, and I do think it would have been cool to walk with Jesus when He was on Earth, but I know that I am in the time period in which God wants me. I have seen His hand at work in many ways. I have seen Him perform miracles. I feel His presence often. I know that “He walks with me, He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.” I don’t want to constantly long for the “good ol’ days,” but I want to be faithful to praise Him for what He’s doing now.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I want to once again thank each of you who continue to read my blog. I know my posts have gotten few and far between as my life has gotten busier, but it’s such a blessing to have an outlet to share my thoughts, and I trust that God will use something I say to encourage you to draw ever closer to Him. God bless you!

Thank God Even in Hard Times

Every year, I realize even more how much I have to be thankful for. I’ve now lived for over half a century. We’ve not had any family deaths this year (a reprieve after the last several years). God continues to provide the right amount of work to meet my needs (plus a latte here and there). I have been generally overly blessed.

I’m aware though how easy it is to thank God when everything is going well. Thanking Him for hardship becomes much more difficult. Some of you have lost loved ones this year. You or a family member may have lost a job. Even in the hard times, we need this weekend to regroup and say, “Thank You, Lord, for Your blessings on me!” “Thank You that You love and care for me and that even when I don’t understand why some things happen to me You are still good.”

In my rejoicing, I do remember that I have a friend under hospice care. I have other friends who are dealing with health crises and financial difficulties. I care about them so I feel their pain, but I will also encourage them to count their blessings wherever they can find them. You do not want to hit rock bottom where you feel as though God has abandoned you.  This can be a human response when everything seems to be coming against you, but rest in your Father’s arms and let Him carry you until you are able to walk again. Even that is something to thank Him for.

Rethinking Job’s Friends

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place. … They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. … And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.  ~Job 2:11-13

My sister and I were reading Job recently, and some things jumped out at us that we hadn’t noticed before. (At least I hadn’t.)

Every sermon I have heard on Job has focused on his suffering and the insensitivity of his friends, but as you read the above verses, there are some things we can learn from these men.

  1. Each of these men “came from his own place.”

    There’s a chance that these were not neighbors of Job, but rather friends who had heard about Job’s plight and traveled to see him in order to comfort him. (Remember, traveling was not as easy in Bible days as it is today.)

  2. “They raised their voices and wept … they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.”

    These men were not uncaring. When they saw the depths of Job’s suffering, they deeply grieved for him.

  3. “They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him.”

    This is the part that really jumped out at us. They sat with him … on the ground … for seven days and nights … without saying a word. Most people don’t have one friend, let alone three, that is willing to take a week of their life just to “be there” for them. During this time, Job wasn’t talking either so they were literally sitting in silence, just to show their support. That is true friendship.

The problem came when the men opened their mouths. They had been watching their friend suffer for seven days now, and their motive was no doubt sincere in wanting to help Job end his suffering, but they misunderstood the situation, thereby making it worse for Job, who just needed prayer and encouragement at that juncture.

People today need friends who will “be there” in whatever capacity they’re able to be. Obviously, if you have a job or a family, you can’t drop everything and go be with everyone you know who is hurting, but there are other ways to support them. It may be listening to someone who is going through a trial of which there seems to be no end. Maybe it’s praying for someone who is sick or dying. Maybe you are able to go hold someone’s hand and let them know that you love them. However God leads, I hope that you will learn to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15), to lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees (Hebrews 12:12). I believe the majority of people have things we can learn from them as well as things we want to avoid. Job’s friends are no exception. This week, I encourage you to reach out to someone who needs lifted up. God may lay something on your heart to say to them, but don’t be afraid to listen without input since that may be what is needed.