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.

Prayer Requested for Jeremy Peace

Hey Everyone, I just found out that Jeremy Peace (the former tenor for the Old Paths and LeFevre Quartet, among others) is having brain surgery today. I don’t know what time it is scheduled for so it may have happened already, but I’d like to ask you to pray that the surgery will be successful and that God will give Jeremy and his family peace (no pun intended) as he goes through this. He’s been having seizures, speech and cognitive deficits, and he’s losing his vision. He’s also in stage 3 liver and kidney failure as a result of the medication he’s been taking. They need a miracle, but God is able. Thank you, friends. I’ll post an update when I have one.

Calling All Mentors

I just finished reading Mark Dever’s book Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus. As I neared the end, I remembered that I read another book not long ago on the topic of discipling/mentoring. I didn’t intentionally set out to study this topic, but since God seems to be bringing books my way, I’m taking notice.

I use the word “mentor” in the title because it sounds less scary than “discipler.” When you think of disciples, you probably picture the 12 apostles following Jesus, watching everything He did, and listening to every word He said. Although there are cases where your disciple may live with you, chances are that’s not happening, and I’m not suggesting that. However, it saddens me that I don’t often see older people taking younger ones under wing to teach them things they have learned along the way, nor do I see young people seeking to glean the wisdom of those older. And yet the New Testament is all about discipling and then sending them out to disciple others.

I’m a firm believer in our primary responsibility being to our families, but I don’t think that should be our sole world. When children are little a mother may not have time or energy to think about anything but making sure their children are cared for and training them to know and love the Lord. But when those children are grown, she often goes into depression because that was her life. This is the time to pray about others that you should invest in.

I know young women whose mothers have died or who didn’t have a good role model for a mother. These women would love to have older women they could learn from or just talk to. Boys who don’t have a dad in their life would like to see an example of what it means to be a Godly husband and father, or would just like to think that someone cares. Relationships take time, but if you calculate how much time you watch TV or scroll through Facebook, and exchange that for investing in another person, now you have the time.

To everything there is a season, and I know not everyone is in a season where they have time to disciple, but as Mr. Dever pointed out, a discipler doesn’t have to have it all together. Discipleship isn’t always accountability sessions and hard discussions. It can be living life in front of others, inviting someone for dinner once a week or so (you have to eat anyway), riding together while you do errands, letting them see God at work through even the stressful moments. This is not something most of us are comfortable with, but it’s something to consider.

Your disciple can be your child, your siblings, a young person in your church, a young married couple, new parents, or someone new to the area who needs a friend. You may not see yourself as a discipler, but others may be learning from you anyway.

Too many Christians are comfortable with their routine that the thought of letting someone else into it seems daunting. But I hope you will at least pray about what I’m saying. I can’t help but wonder if fewer young people would apostasize if someone would come alongside them and show them what it means to walk with Jesus.

Mining for Gold

Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.”  ~Mark 4:24

I started a Bible study on the Gospel of Mark tonight. I’m not teaching it; I just want to keep studying God’s Word to see what He would teach me. I want to know Him as well as He knows me. I realize that’s not possible since He is my Creator, but I definitely want to know Him more so that I can better emulate Him.

When you hear a phrase like, “To you who hear, more will be given,” you may panic and think you don’t want to hear any more, but being stretched is not a bad thing. It can be painful at times, but when you look back and see your growth, you will likely find that it was worth it.

There is so much in the Bible that it would take many lifetimes to completely dissect it all, but I encourage you to dig in. Picture yourself as a miner panning for gold and rejoicing with each nugget that you find. That’s what the Bible is like. I found a couple of nuggets this evening, and I hope to have at least a hat full by the time I’m done with this study.

Pleasing God in ALL things

And he walked in all the ways of his father Asa. He did not turn aside from them, doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for the people offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. Also Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.  ~1 Kings 22:43-44

When I read about Jehoshaphat, I consider him the Godliest king since King David, and yet even he had some shortcomings.  He left high places so that people were still able to sacrifice to false gods and, although he was quick to seek God in certain matters, when it came to the kings of Israel, he valued his alliance with them and often followed their bidding.

As I look at my life, it’s easy to think I’m doing well because I don’t do many things that the world does. Sure, there may be areas that I’m lax in, but God will no doubt overlook those because of all the things I do for Him. I know this isn’t true, of course, but it’s easy to live in this mindset, whether consciously or not.

Over and over in Kings and Chronicles, we see either, “He did wickedly in the eyes of the Lord” or “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Nevertheless …” It’s the “nevertheless” that stuck out at me. I don’t want God to be pleased with my life except for one or two areas. I want Him to be completely pleased. I don’t want there to be any shame when I stand before Him. Of course, even my best righteousness is as filthy rags when compared with His holiness, but I want to please Him everything I do.

Oh God! Don’t let me be satisfied if there is anything in my life that displeases you, but root out those things that maybe I don’t even see and throw them far away from me! May I be your faithful servant until the day You take me Home. Amen

It’s Time to Cast Away Idols

Go, tell Jeroboam, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you ruler over My people Israel, and tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it to you; and yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart … but you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back–therefore behold! I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam.”  ~1 Kings 14:7-10

In 1 Samuel, we read about the transition from judges to kings. Although it grieved him to do so, Samuel was instructed to heed Israel’s cry and anoint an earthly king to lead them. Unfortunately, Saul too quickly gave in to pride, which caused God to hand his kingdom over to David. God was with David throughout his lengthy reign, but his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband resulted in things not going well for his descendants.

God blessed Solomon’s reign and gave him peace with the surrounding nations which was unprecedented up until then, but his love for foreign women caused him to turn to idols. Because of this, after Solomon’s death, God divided the kingdom and gave the majority to Jeroboam, who had been Solomon’s servant. As we see in the above verses, Jeroboam too turned to idols, and God harshly judged him for not clinging to the God who had given him the prominence he enjoyed. (I’m giving you the quick run-down, assuming you are familiar with these stories, but if you are not, you will find them in 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.)

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, as I’ve been studying these accounts, I just finished reading Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick. When you read the Old Testament, it’s easy to read the stories as just that–stories. But I believe that everything in Scripture is included for a reason. Christians don’t build idols of wood or stone, but we often have idols just the same.

Merriam-Webster defines idol as “an object of extreme devotion.” Some things that come to mind off the bat that could fit this description are sports, your favorite TV show, your family. These things aren’t bad in themselves, but if they are more important to you than your relationship with God, they have become idols.

My heart goes out to parents of young children and those who work jobs that require long hours since it can be hard to figure out where to fit God into your crazy schedule. Although it’s possible to pray on the run, one cannot maintain a close walk with someone that they barely talk to. Busyness can be an idol too, but it’s not necessarily, and I understand that. We all have schedules to keep and deadlines to meet, and obviously, you can’t ignore young children while you take a two-hour prayer time. But I would encourage you to evaluate what you fill your free time with. If your only time to be alone is your 15-minute lunch break, do you spend it reading God’s Word or in some other way? When your baby naps, do you turn your heart to prayer until you follow suit? Every believer is called to seek the Lord. Everything else can wait until you have done that.

Review: Southern Gospel Hall of Fame and Museum

  • May 25, 2023 at 2:21 pm in

Anyone who has been there or driven by knows where this picture was taken even if they didn’t read the headline. Although it’s been a long time coming, I finally got to experience the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and I’m so glad I did.

Before you enter the building you will see what I believe was the original Blackwood Brothers’ bus. You may recall that in the early days of quartet music, the groups crammed into cars until J.D. Sumner got the idea to customize a bus which allowed them more space as well as a place to sleep so they could get places more quickly without having to stop. They did not have showers on the buses, however, and I remember reading where they would sometimes get out in the rain with a bar of soap and freshen up as best they could. I don’t know if anyone would call those the good ol’ days, but back then, they were high-tech.

Throughout the museum, you will find history. Whether news articles, plaques, or outdated items such as 45 LPs, it will be nostalgic for some and a time of learning for others. Long-time fans will enjoy seeing relics such as Vestal’s hanky, the original manuscript of “Because He Lives,” a shapenote typewriter (who know there was such a thing?!), and more. Plus the wall that everybody wants to see:

This wall lists members on the front and back. Each panel includes the date of induction, birth and death (if applicable), and a brief description of each members’ influence on Southern Gospel Music.

The museum is located in the back of the Biblical Times Theater, located on one of the main streets of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Also featured there are Christus Gardens (a program on the life of Christ) and The Shroud Museum, which discusses the Shroud of Turin and why they believe it to be Jesus’ burial cloth. They recommend setting aside two hours to see the whole thing. I didn’t have that much time the day I went, so I only saw the Southern Gospel museum and got a quick tour of the Shroud museum. Maybe I can catch Christus Gardens another day.