Don’t Neglect to Be Joyful

Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything, and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.  ~Deuteronomy 28:47-48

When you read Exodus through Deuteronomy, you know there is a much bigger picture than what I’m highlighting here, but I was struck that much of the calamity God was sending on the Israelites was due to their lack of joy and gratitude. He had done so much for them, but they had a way of always seeing what they didn’t have.

Many today are the same way. Single people desire to be married while married people wish they were single. Discontentment fills the workplace, the church, the family. And can one make enough money these days? There is nothing wrong with trying to do better or be better, but when that becomes your obsession, it may have crossed over into ingratitude.

I just finished a Bible study on Philippians entitled, Joy in the Midst. Throughout this epistle, Paul tells us to rejoice. Whether it was fellow believers rejoicing with him or just in general, he emphasized the importance of being joyful in all circumstances. I thank God often for calling me, for bringing me through trials and continuing to care for me as only He can.

If you are unfortunate enough to have an enemy or an adversary, think about what it would be like to serve that person. That in itself may bring you to your knees in thanksgiving that you serve, not a harsh taskmaster, but a loving Father who, like all of us, desires to be loved and appreciated.

Dixie McKeithen Has Passed Away

It’s been a long time since I heard the McKeithen name mentioned, but this was another group I listened to on the radio when I was a teenager. Dixie and her husband, Tim, sang with the Hemphills before forming their own group. Dixie’s death came only three months after being diagnosed with cancer, but I expect she is now singing the Song of the Redeemed. My prayers are with Tim, Angelina, and the rest of the family.


The Recipe for Peace

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  ~Philippians 4:6-7

Anxiety. An emotion many struggle with and yet one which Scripture warns against. I think of Peter walking on the water. When his eyes were fixed on Jesus, he had no fear, but when he looked down, his faith dissipated. In the above Scripture, Paul instructs us to present our requests to God while we give Him thanks. He doesn’t say we will then receive what we ask for, but he does promise that God will give us peace beyond understanding.

I don’t understand why people get mad at God when their prayers are not answered. Even when God does not give me what I want, I’ve experienced peace that lets me know that, even though His ways are not my ways, He is still there to provide care and comfort.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. ~Philippians 4:8-9

Years ago, I found myself watching local news on a nightly basis. Before long, I was afraid to be outside at night. The things I was seeing and hearing did not cultivate peace, so I stopped watching, and I still don’t watch news unless I’m with someone who is doing so.

If you find yourself fearful and anxious, consider what you are focusing on. Do your thoughts line up with Philippians 4:8, or are they filled with violence, horror, circumstances, and other negative things? If the latter, it’s not too late to change. Begin now to look to Jesus, praising Him for how good He is and what He is doing. Then ask Him to fill you with His peace that passes understanding.

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.