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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"One Scarred Hand"

Scripture: John 20: 24-28

24But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
 25The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
 26And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
 27Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
 28And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.

Thomas, one of Christ's 12 disciples, had to have proof that Jesus was raised from the dead. He got that proof--from Jesus himself, who took Thomas' hand and placed it in his own hands so he could feel the nail-prints where he had been crucified.

Those nail-scarred hands have been a source of comfort, strength, and even healing for 20 centuries.

As the old hymn says, 'Have you failed in your plan for your storm-tossed life? Place your hand in the nail-scarred hand.'

Millions have done so and found exactly what they needed. You can too.

Prayer: 'O God, let us bring to you our doubts, and, believing, place our hand in to your nail-scarred hands. Through faith let us believe. And in so doing, let us find in You hidden, unseen treasures more valuable than anything in this world. In Christ's name, Amen.'

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tonight's Scripture, Prayer, and Song for 5/29/2011

Scripture: John 14: 1-6

1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
 2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
 4And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
 5Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
 6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Prayer: 'O God, during perilous times such as these, let us know the fullness of your words, "Let not your heart be troubled." Through our faith in your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, allow us to have a safe haven of peace deep within our being that provides solace, shelter, and calm in this highly troubled world. In Your Great Name we pray, Amen.'

Song: 'His Eye is on the Sparrow' by Sandi Patty.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Artist Spotlight

Around 1963 or so in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina, a chemistry and physics teacher at the local high school in Bryson City, North Carolina noted that four of his students, whom he had known at church around and about, had taken a keen interest in singing. He began to meet with them after school to play the piano while tutoring them in the basics of 4-part harmony.

Soon the group was singing in churches around the area, and eventually they began to hold paid events at the local venue during which they would sing along with well-known professional southern gospel groups.

One of the groups they invited early-on was The Florida Boys. It would be the beginning of a long friendship that would last to this very day. As time went on, the group of teenagers, ages 14-17, began to garner the attention of some gospel promoters. The group would often open for gospel singings in which The Florida Boys would be the main group.

At one of these concerts, Florida Boys manager Les Beasley began to notice how popular the group was becoming. The fans loved them. So, Les picked up the phone after one of these events and called the most successful promoter at the time, J.G. Whitfield, and told him that he had found a group that Whitfield might wish to use on his many programs throughout the entire south.

Whitfield, on the word of Les Beasley, invited the young group to appear on his regular singings in Atlanta, Georgia at the old downtown auditorium. The group was an immediate hit due to their youth, their enthusiasm, their commitment to the Lord, and their very unique sound.

Soon Whitfield was featuring the boys at all of his gospel singings. Les Beasley also invited the group to appear on his nationally-syndicated TV show, the Gospel Singing Jubilee, which he and The Florida Boys hosted. It wasn't long until these boys were the most popular group in the nation.

When Archie Watkins, Ronnie Hutchins, Jack Laws, and Dean Robinson (two years later Troy Burns), and teacher Martin Cook started the Inspirations, little did they know at the time that they would become a national sensation.

But the Inspirations would go on to sell more records than any other group in southern gospel music from the early 1970s through the early 80s. You could well call that decade the Inspirations' era due to their dominance of the genre. In addition, they were personal guests of Evangelist Billy Graham, who enthusiastically gave them his blessing, and they were featured on CBS News' 60 Minutes in a segment the show aired on southern quartet singing.

Granted, the Inspirations have had their detractors. Their sound is quite different from the accepted 'male quartet singing' of that era. These were mountain boys. And there is a distinct mountain flavor to their singing--a sound that one can find no where else other than the high mountains of western North Carolina.

And the people were ready for something different by the time the Inspirations came along.

I admit I always loved them. While I am partial to a more professional and polished quartet sound, these guys were proud of their mountain heritage, and they brought to the forefront the music that characterizes this area of the country. Their harmony has that lonesome mountain ring to it that is quite distinct. But it's good.

The Inspirations still travel today with some different personnel, although Martin Cook and long-time bass Mike Holcomb are still with the group. But the other members of the group who have moved on are still friends--singers such as Eddie Dietz, Marlin Shubert, and others.

Throughout the years the Inspirations have been known for their solid reputation. The fans have appreciated their Christian devotion and sincerity.

Here is a video featuring two of the most popular songs the Inspirations ever had--'Old Revival Days and 'I'm Going Up to be with Jesus.'

Notice how ole Brother Archie (mountain tenor) leans way back on those high notes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More on Angels

15And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
 16And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
 17And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
--from II Kings 6: 15-17

The excerpt above is from the story of the prophet Elisha as told in the Bible. The king of Syria intended to invade Israel in a bloody battle. Israel was outnumbered sorely.

When Elisha's assistant arose early in the morning, he saw that the vast Syrian army had surrounded them with horses and chariots.

Frightened, the assistant went to Elisha in a panic, wondering what to do.

Elisha calmly told his servant not to worry, that 'they who are with us are more than they who are with them.'

The servant did not see what the prophet was talking about. So Elisha prayed for the poor frightened man to have his eyes opened. When God allowed him to see beyond this realm into the spiritual world, he saw tens of thousands of angels with horses and chariots of fire, surrounding Elisha in a wall of protection.

Praise be to God!

Prayer--"O God, our tongues cannot adequately express the deep emotions we often feel when we read of great examples in your Word about your angels and your protection of your people. We are simply awed, spellbound, and deeply moved. Please accept our deepest, sincerest thanks, through Christ our Lord, Amen."

Song: The Singing Cookes sing 'Victory is Sweet'--a great song based on the scripture above.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Angels Among Us

'For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.' -- Psalm 91:11

In the late 1970s Evangelist Billy Graham wrote a best-seller entitled, 'Angels--God's Secret Agents.' In the book Dr. Graham lays out perhaps the most comprehensive study on the subject of angels ever written.

Angels serve a specific function in the spiritual world. One of those is to guard God's people as sort of the divine secret service. Have you ever had a near-miss in which you could have been killed but survived? Maybe an angel was here.

An angel was at the tomb of Jesus after the Resurrection. Angels ministered to Jesus when he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. Has a stranger ever provided guidance, shelter, or help in a moment of need, but afterward you could not even find them, or know for sure they really existed? That may have been an angel, my friend. Thank God!

Prayer: "O God thank you for the countless times we have avoided injury or demise because you sent your angels to watch over us. We are thankful for the many ways you provide protection for your people. We are grateful for all of your rich blessings. In Christ's name we pray, Amen."

Song--Amy Grant sings 'Angels Watching Over Me.'

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sample from New CD--'Surely the Presence of the Lord is in This Place'

***NOTE--This post will remain at the top of the page. Scroll down for the latest articles.***

My new CD is 'By Request' and has 10 songs ranging from Southern Gospel, to Worship and Praise, from Country Gospel, to old hymns.  For a $10 donation, the CD can be yours. Use the PayPal button at the top right corner, and be sure to leave a shipping address. Thank-you, and I hope you enjoy this excerpt from one of the songs:

A Reason to be of Good Cheer

"Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid nor be dismayed. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." -- Joshua 1:9

These are some of the most encouraging and comforting words in the Bible. God is always with us.

Jesus said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you,' and, 'Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.'

Friends may fail us or turn against us. Foes may assail us with a vengeance. We may lose everything we hold dear. Some may have to pay a heavy price for what they believe in as we navigate our way through a world that is quickly turning against Christians.

But one thing is constant and unchangeable--the presence of Christ. The Lord our God is with us, always, forever, and wherever we go. What a glorious thought!

Prayer: "We thank you, O God, for your wonderful promises. We especially lift up our hearts in gratitude for the promise of your eternal presence. May we not forget you are with us when we walk through the darkest periods of life. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."

Song--'Jesus What a Friend for Sinners' by the Talley Trio, a group of real pros. They sing this hymn informally and without instrumentation. It is a great song.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Truth in the Midst of Error--What the Bible ACTUALLY Says about the End of Time

"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." -- Mark 13:32

The context of Jesus' words in the verse above is the 'end of time' or the 'coming of the Son of Man.' Theologians have designated the Bible's teaching on the end times with the term 'the parousia' or the 'Second Coming of Christ.'

Jesus makes it clear that no one, not even He himself, knows the day or the hour when this will occur. Thus, if the Son of God doesn't know, and if the angels in heaven don't know, then how can a human being claim he/she knows?

But there is more about this from Jesus in Matthew 24:42-44-- "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.But be sure of this,that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will."

Unlike misguided 'prophets' of today who insist that Jesus was speaking only about non-believers and not to believers, these verses make it clear he was addressing Christians specifically.

It is a huge mistake to make predictions about the coming of Christ. For 2000 years individuals have made such speculations. Invariably they are proved wrong. 

Jesus warned against it. Believers who obey the Lord will not engage in this behavior that makes Christianity the laughing stock of the world.

Prayer: 'O God, forgive all of us for the times we have mistakenly made assumptions that are contrary to your holy Word. We pray for those who are misguided and ask that you enlighten them as to their error. As your Word states, we watch and wait for the time when Your Blessed Son will return and make right all of the wrongs in this world of woe. We wait with great anticipation. Through Christ our Lord we pray, Amen.'

Song: This selection is an example of an 'old convention song' as it was known in the south way back in the early part of the 20th century. Nobody,perhaps,  could sing this type of song as well as the Goodmans. This one picks up and moves along. This is a clip from the long-running Gospel Singing Jubilee, and at the end of the song you will see producer Les Beasley (who sang lead with the Florida Boys and who hosted the show) join the Goodmans on the ending. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Not Even the Gates of Hell....

"...upon this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." -- Matthew 16:18

Jesus is speaking in this verse, and he declares Himself to be the rock upon which the church shall be built. Jesus Himself established, built, and nurtured the Church. The Church does not belong to any human being--not a deacon or deacons, not the Board, not the Pastor or Priest, not the Bishop, nobody. It belongs to Jesus.

And Jesus said that even the gates of Hell would not be able to prevail over the Church.

After 2000 years, He has proved to be right. Emperors, Kings, Queens, false religions, and others have tried to stamp it out. Hostile political forces, such as Communism/Marxism have proclaimed its demise. Academics have declared that it is irrelevant due to the 'enlightened minds that reject any notion of deity.'

Yet the Church still stands, and in many areas of the world it is getting stronger. The more Christians are persecuted, the more the Church thrives.

Let this be a warning to certain forces in the Middle East and American politicians that support them. You will lose in the end.

Prayer: "O God of Might and Power, the forces of evil and oppression are gathering together in a dark global plume that threatens the very foundation of the nation, as well as the Church. We are thankful that your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, has already promised that even the gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church. Let us stand at the ready, O God, to be your spokesmen in a world where every single thing we hold dear is under heavy attack. And we humbly ask that You will quickly defeat these forces of evil and protect your people, the Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."

Song: 'The Church Triumphant" by the Gaither Vocal Band.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In the Depths of the Sea

Micah 7:19

19He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

This, my friends, is a wonderful thought. God does not hold our past sins against us. Through our faith in Him he removes our transgressions from us 'as far as the east is from the west.' The Bible also says that once God has forgiven us he totally forgets our past sins--He removes them from His memory. It is as if we never rebelled against Him at all.

Prayer: "O God, thank-you for not only forgiving us but removing our sins from us and casting them in the depths of the sea. And we also praise You for your glorious forgiveness and for remembering our sins no more. We are most humbled by such love. In Christ's name, Amen." 

Song--This is one my all-time favorite songs by the late Glen Payne of The Cathedral Quartet. This song never got the recognition that other Cathedral songs received, but it is such a wonderful expression of the words in our scripture verse above. And as usual, Glen hits it out of the ballpark. So does the quartet.

You can always tell when Glen gets excited by a song because he jumps. I still miss him. Watch as Glen and the Cathedrals sing 'In the Depths of the Sea.'

This one is a special blessing. I can't watch it without tearing up.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Long Black Train

Here is a sample of my singing in this particular style--acapella. This song is not on the new CD, but it will give you an idea of what to expect.

I hope to have an mp3 sample directly from the new CD by midweek. This one will be with full orchestration. Hope you enjoy them.

My New CD Available This Week

Big news today. My new CD of Christian music will be released this week. It is entitled, 'By Request.' These are songs that people have asked me to sing on numerous occasions.  At the end of this post I will provide my latest sample of music, done acapella. That song is not on the CD, but it will give you an idea of what to expect.

I am going to provide a sample of one of the songs from the CD by midweek. It will be a section from one of the songs on mp3.

Here is the complete list of songs from the CD:
*Surely the Presence of the Lord is in This Place
*Saved, Saved
*Amazing Grace
*Will the Circle Be Unbroken
*Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus
*Jesus, Just the Mention of Your Name
*Why Do I Sing About Jesus
*I Stand Amazed in the Presence
*Let the Lower Lights Be Burning
*The Holy Hills of Heaven Call Me

The music on this CD is a mixture of Southern Gospel, Country Gospel, Worship and Praise, and old hymns. Some of these are with full orchestration, some with piano, and some are done acapella. I hope you will find at least something on the recording that will be to your liking.

And now, here is my latest YouTube sample, entitled, 'Long Black Train.' 

To place your order for this CD, simply use the Paypal button at the top of my main page.  Be sure to leave a shipping address. For a donation of $10 dollars, you can have your copy of this CD. NOTE--if Paypal does not allow you to leave a shipping address when you make your donation, simply leave one at my email address:

Thank you for your support. I hope you will enjoy it. God bless!  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Bit of Music History and an Artist Spotlight

The genre of music known as 'Southern Gospel Quartet Singing' had its roots in southern and western Americana beginning back in 1902. A man by the name of James D. Vaughn started a music company in Lawrenceburg, Tennesee that printed sheet music, hymnals, and other musical  material for churches.

By 1910 Vaughn's company was one of the largest gospel music publishers in the U.S. But he wanted to expand further. Vaughn wanted to put a male quartet on the road to travel to various churches across the country in order to sing at what was known as 'all day singings and dinner on the grounds.' These events were popular all over the south and southwest.

Vaughn figured that by sending a professional quartet out to sing his published material, they could sell his various wares on the road, and thus, his business would vastly expand. Thus, when Vaughn's quartet hit the road in 1910, Southern Gospel Quartet Music was born.

Vaughn's venture was so successful that another company started in Texas by the name of Stamps-Baxter Music, founded by V.O. Stamps and J.R. Baxter. The 2 men took the concept of using of quartets to sell their songbooks to a new level. Not only did the company send out a professional quartet, but at one time Stamps-Baxter had a half-dozen or more quartets on the road singing his new music and selling that music.

Some of the most famous gospel singers of the last half of the 20th century got their start in music, and their training I might add, through the Stamps-Baxter Music Company.. These include Glenn Payne, George Younce, Jake Hess, Hovie Lister, Les Beasley, J.D. Sumner, James Blackwood,and many more. Known as 'quartet men,' these singers were known for their polish, professionalism, and class.

J.D. Summer's career began to take off when he joined a group known at the time as 'the Sunshine Boys.' Eventually he would join The Blackwood Brothers Quartet as their bass. It was during that time with the Blackwoods that Sumner earned his recognition in the Guinness Book of World Records as the lowest bass singer in the world--an honor he kept for 30 years.

During this time the various Stamps-Baxter quartets fell by the wayside as the need for them changed. Churches could get their music in various ways, and then recordings came along, and customers could hear the songs on LP vinyl.

During the 60s after spending significant time with the Blackwood Brothers, J.D. decided he wanted to resurrect one of the old Stamps Quartets and call it 'J.D. Sumner and the Stamps.'

The group gained recognition quickly because it had a famous name, and J.D. was already well-known in the music world as the lowest bass singer ever. They appeared on many country music programs in the 60s, such as Buck Owens' weekly show in California. J.D. was also a mentor to none other than the late Elvis Pressley, who grew up in Memphis, the home base of the Blackwood Brothers. A young Elvis loved southern quartet singing but did not have the money to attend concerts. J.D would let Elvis in the back door for free. And a long friendship began.

Elvis never forgot the kindness shown to him by J.D. and once remarked to him that 'if I did what I truly wanted to do, I would sing quartet music like you guys.' And that was when Elvis was a superstar.

In the 70s Elvis used Sumner and the Stamps as a backup group. He also allowed the quartet to sing 3 or 4 gospel songs all by themselves on his road shows.

The following video of J.D. Sumner and the Stamps is taken from a 1967 broadcast of the Buck Owens Show back when Owens was perhaps the biggest star in country music. J.D.'s voice was in its prime at this point, and here he sings a mighty good bass lead, but also demonstrates why he was listed in the Guinness Book for so many years. Notice the double-octave J.D. manages to slide down to near the end of the song.

You will love this song--J.D. Sumner and the Stamps singing 'The Wayfaring Stranger.'

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Scripture and Song for May 14, 2011

Scripture Passage: Ephesians 6: 10-18

"10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
 11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
 18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

The Apostle Paul in this passage compares the Christian task to that of a battle that requires serious armor. Christ had warned His disciples that opposition to His message would be strong and relentless. Paul reaffirms that warning in this passage. Such danger still exists to this very day, and many believe the threat to Christians in today's world is as stark as it has been in several centuries.

Thus, we must prepare ourselves by putting on the whole armor of God. But let us also remember that the bravest of warriors need solace, encouragement, and blessing. We are spiritual children of God who need the constant care of our loving Father. We can get that abundantly in our relationship with Christ.

The following song speaks of this. It is a comforting song for the warrior in battle, written by one of the most prolific song writers today, Twila Paris. She sings well too, and has been one of my very favorite singers since this song was released in 1984. This one is called, 'The Warrior is a Child.'

Friday, May 13, 2011

MUSIC! Artist Spotlight

Back in the 50s a group of brothers from North Carolina began singing together in small churches and venues, gradually picking up some recognition along the way. They called themselves 'The Hopper Brothers.' Claude Hopper and his brothers began to make a mark on southern quartet singing.

But it wasn't until Claude married and his wife, Connie, joined the group that they really began to make some headway. At that point they called themselves 'The Hopper Brothers and Connie.'

In time, the brothers began to drop by the wayside, but Claude and Connie continued on and added their oldest son, Dean, to the lineup.

At that time a young lady by the name of Kim Greene was traveling and singing with her two brothers in a group known as 'The Greenes.' First thing you know Kim is dating Dean (when they could, between concerts), love blossomed, and the 2 were married.

Now, understand that Kim Greene is perhaps the finest female vocalist in Gospel Music today. When she married Dean, the Hoppers and Connie decided to add Kim to the lineup, and that's when the sparks flew all over the country.

The group became known as simply 'The Hoppers,' and their career skyrocketed with Kim singing the soprano, Connie on alto, Dean on lead/tenor, and Claude on the bass.

As a part of the original Bill Gaither Homecoming Tour, which started in the early 1990s, the Hoppers traveled all over the world and sang to perhaps millions of fans over the next 2 decades. They still travel and sing today and with great success.

The following sample features the Hoppers at their very best.  This was recorded at the Gaither Homecoming in a Georgia football stadium in Atlanta. As you will see, Kim's tremendous talent shines on this video--the Hoppers at their very best. The song they sang that day lit up the audience as nothing else in that concert. And, eventually many of the other groups got involved at the end. The crowd loved it.

I hope you enjoy this video, which is The Hoppers Singing 'It's Shouting Time in Heaven.'

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Sweetest Song I Know

"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord..." -- Genesis 6:8

This verse is one of the first times that the word 'grace' is used in scripture. But it is far from the last. The word is used often and represents one of the grandest concepts in Christianity.

'Grace' means literally 'God's unmerited favor toward humanity.'  Another definition is the unconditional love of God. God loves us unconditionally, and it is because of that kind of love (grace) that we find full forgiveness, faith, and all of the many benefits of being believers.

The New Testament says, "For it is by grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God..."

Prayer: "O Lord, we are awed by the unconditional love you send our way.  We do not deserve it, but you have granted to us 'unmerited favor' and called us your children through Christ, in spite of our sins. Our thanks rises up within us, and we are most humbled. Thank you for loving us.  Through Christ our Lord, Amen."

Song:  Amazing Grace is one my favorite hymns of all time.  It speaks so clearly of this concept described above. But another song describes how so many people feel about the hymn Amazing Grace and the concept of 'grace.'. It is 'the sweetest song I know.'

You have heard me speak often of famed bass vocalist J.D. Sumner. For 30 years he held the title as the world's lowest bass, and listed as such in the Guinness Book of World Records. Not long before he died, his group recorded a wonderful song entitled, 'Amazing Grace is the Sweetest Song I Know.'  It features J.D. with some very low notes.  As a bonus, contemporary artist Michael English makes a guest appearance on the video to sing one of the verses with the quartet. English now sings with the Gaither Vocal Band.

This is a very special video/recording, and it is 'The Sweetest Song I Know' by J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tonight's Scripture, Prayer, and Song

"Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in Me."--John 14:1

Prayer: 'O God, sometimes in this life believing is difficult. Various forces and circumstances come our way that place our beliefs under attack, and we begin to feel that our spiritual foundation is shaky at best. We are even tempted not to believe. Come to our aid in a special way during these times, and let us experience a renewal of our faith. And despite life's many disappointments and losses, remind us that through it all You have never left us nor betrayed us but held our hand, sometimes even carrying us when we were not even aware of it.  For this we give You our deepest thanks, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.'

Song: 'I Believe' by the incomparable, late crooner, Perry Como.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Wonder of Wonders

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Without Him was not anything made that was made. The same was in the beginning with God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us."--from the Gospel of John, first chapter

The written word is the Bible. The living Word is Jesus Christ. That is why these verses from John say that this living Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word became a man. He became one of us, to feel what we feel, experience the same emotions of sadness, happiness, etc, and understand what it is like to die.

In this way Jesus bridges the gap between God and man. Only by living and walking among us in a human body could God fully understand the human experience in its richness and variety.

This is one of the most attractive aspects of the Christian faith. God Himself became a man so we could see, feel, and touch him, and so that He could see, feel, and touch us, and experience ALL of our sorrows, grief, happiness, laughter, and pain.  Thus, in all of our various emotions and circumstances, my friends, we have a Savior who understands us completely. Praise the Lord.

Prayer: "Thank you, Lord, for walking among us, experiencing all of our emotions and circumstances, and thus giving us an intimate understanding as no other could comprehend.  We are thankful that in you we have the friend of friends, making the words of the old song come alive...'No one understands like Jesus.'  In Your name, Amen."

Song: 'The Wonder of Wonders' by the Inspirations.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Loving Tribute to Mother

I lost my Mother in 1994. Even today I miss her. She was a very unique lady, the finest human being I have ever known.

My remembrance, my tribute to her can be found at Conservative Examiner.

There is also a lovely song by Donna Lewis, provided at the end.  You will also find a link to that song, simply entitled, 'Mother.' It is a very special piece of music.

God bless you all.  And Happy Mothers' Day...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Blood-Washed Band

"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." -- I John 1:7

The shed blood of Jesus on the Cross is one of the most important aspects of Christianity. The concept is rooted in ancient Hebrew teaching of blood sacrifices for the sins of the people. A spotless lamb had to be sacrificed and its blood sprinkled around the altar in order to atone for the all of the sins of God's people. Through this they would find forgiveness.

Many people today find the concept of the blood of Jesus to be off-putting. The claim is often made that such a manner of thinking makes Christianity a blood-thirsty religion or that God himself is blood-thirsty.

But one must understand the concept within context of ancient Hebrew peoples, who were nomads, wandering pilgrims in a primitive society, until they were led to settle in the 'Promised Land,' which we know today as Israel.

Thus, for the ancient Hebrews a sacrificial lamb who was offered as a sacrifice was a solace to guilt-ridden sinners. The New Testament presents Jesus Christ as that spotless, sacrificial lamb, offered once and for all for our sins. It would be His blood that would be sprinkled around the alter of our hearts, symbolically speaking. The act is perceived by Christians as the ultimate love of God for His imperfect children who need to feel forgiven.

Several possible symbolic images are presented as a way of understanding the blood of Christ:
**The blood satisfied the requirement that a sacrificial lamb be offered..
**The blood is understood as the washing and cleansing of the human heart.
**The blood is often presented as the concept of 'substitutionary atonement,' that is, Christ died and shed His blood on our behalf, insuring that we would not have to endure the penalty for sins.
**The blood is understood by many as the purchase price for fallen human beings who are enslaved to the dark forces of evil. According to this understanding, Jesus purchased us out of slavery to sin and made us His own, by His own blood.
**The blood is a symbol of life. Thus, the shedding of Christ's blood on the Cross is understood as 'life-giving'--or in other words, the blood is the essence of all human life, and thus, by shedding His own blood, Christ is symbolizing the life-giving nature of our faith in Him.

These are but a few explanations and interpretations for the blood of Christ. But one thing is for sure, as Christians, we are, indeed, part of 'the blood-washed band.'

Prayer: 'Dear Father, we thank you for your precious blood that cleanses us, makes us clean and pure within, and frees us to live within your spiritual life-giving power. In your name we pray, Amen.'

Song: "Blood Washed Band." This is a special treat and it has always been a special favorite of mine. This video is of the Cathedral Quartet at their very best, at the top of their game. I always received a special blessing by listening to this song. I hope you enjoy it.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

Free Indeed!

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, then ye are free indeed." -- John 8:36

True liberty is God-given and originates with the divine personhood. Freedom is not granted by governments, church authorities, or any other human source. Freedom comes from God alone.

The Framers of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence recognized this fact when they stated, 'We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights...'

Jesus had already affirmed this concept when he stated, 'If the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed,' meaning, that liberty is endowed to us by God through our faith.  No human authority can legitimately take it away, unless we are convicted of a crime.

This is one of the most glorious blessings for the person of faith--knowing that the divine concept of freedom and liberty is part of our very identity as human beings. We are made to be free. And the closer to freedom we are, the more we are a reflection of the divine character.

Prayer: 'We thank you, O God, for making us free. Show us how to live in light of the liberty you given us. And let us be ever diligent toward dark, evil forces that seek to destroy that freedom. We ask that you help us be good warriors for what is right so that this ominous force of darkness can be thwarted and destroyed forever.  Through Christ our Lord we pray, Amen.'

Song: J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet sings 'Thank God I am Free.'  This was a short time before J.D.'s death.  The tenor singing the lead is the great Rick Strickland.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tonight's Scripture and Prayer

"If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." -- 2 Chronicles 7:14

Prayer:  "O God, we humbly confess that we have not always done your will nor held to that which is right.  We have often failed at being the persons you created us to be, and much of that due to circumstances of our own making.  Our nation stands at a dark hour.  We have turned against Your ways and precepts.  We have allowed evil to take hold in our schools, our government, and even in many of our churches.  Give us the strength to turn.  Forgive us for our wrongdoing and inaction.  And let us commit ourselves anew to the path you have set forth for us. And by so doing we ask that You heal our land. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen."

Song: Avalon sings 'If My People.'

It's Music Time! Today's Artist Spotlight

During the last 10 years of the stellar career of the world-famous Cathedral Quartet, the group had a tenor singer by the name of Ernie Haas.  Ernie had big shoes to fill.  He had just taken the position held by the great Danny Funderburk, who left to form his own group.

But Ernie made his mark in the world of Gospel quartets while traveling with the Cathedrals.

As you have read here before, the Cathedrals decided to retire in 1999, at the top of their game, after 36 years as a group.  Glenn Payne and George Younce were getting older--in their 70s--and they decided it was time to leave the road.

At that point Haas launched a solo career and eventually formed his own group called 'Ernie Haas and the Signature Sound.'  Immediately the group launched several radio hits.  Then, after several personnel changes, the group hit its stride.  They developed a unique stage presentation aimed at having fun, choreographed moves in sync with their singing, and a unique way of dressing for their performances.  Younger people loved it and flocked to Signature Sound concerts, as you will see in the video below.

Haas teamed up with Bill Gaither, and the two groups took America by storm.  Then, Haas and company became so popular that they separated from Gaither (a friendly departure as they still record for Gaither's label).  Still, the group continued to draw massive crowds to their concerts.

Today Ernie Haas and the Signature Sound Quartet is perhaps the most popular Gospel group on the road.  Their record sales are high, and their concerts are well-attended.

The following video is a sample of the quartet's stage work.  You will note that not only do they have a lot of fun while singing, but their songs still hold true to that 'old, old story' told in the Bible.  And their younger audiences respond very positively to their presentation.

Video--Ernie Hass and the Signature Sound Quartet sings 'Pray for Me.'

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Now Booking for May and June

I am pleased to announce that in a couple of weeks my new CD will be ready, and I will begin booking for May and June.

Your church can have me do a free-will, love-offering concert of Christian music basically anytime except for selected Sunday mornings.

My music is middle-of-the-road Gospel--worship music, hymns, Southern Gospel, country Gospel, contemporary--all in good taste and suitable for houses of worship.  Contact me at the email address at the top of the right column, and we will discuss details.

I look forward to coming to see you!  God bless!

The Beginning and the End

"I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, said the Lord, which is, which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." -- Revelation 1: 8

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.  Greek was the language in which the New Testament was written.  Thus, these words denote the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

As believers we are part of something eternal, infinitely bigger than any human being or even the stars in the universe.  Jesus told us that He was with the Father in the very beginning, even before time as we know it began, and He will be here at the end, when history as we know it comes to a close.

We therefore have nothing to fear.  He is with us, holding our hand.  The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the Son of God, the King of Kings.  AMEN!

Prayer: "We praise Your holy name for the vastness of your presence and love.  We lift up our hearts in adoration of your never-ending power, a power that see us safely through right to the end of the age.  And even after that, You are there, and we will be with You.  We humbly thank you for loving us thoroughly.  In Christ's name, Amen."

Song: The Gaither Vocal Band sings 'Alpha and Omega.'  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

'Thy Word'

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." -- Psalms 119:105

Whatever your need or state of mind, you can find guidance and light in the Word.  When I was a little boy my Mother taught me to memorize large portions of the Word.  She believed in the statement in the Bible, 'Thy Word have I hid in my heart.'  Such a practice gives life-long solace and guidance.

And then there is the other definition of the Word as presented in the Bible--'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'--John 1:1.  Of course, the verse is referring to Christ.  And with Him we can never go wrong.

Prayer: "Lord, thank you for providing the light and enlightenment available in your Word.  And let us take care to hide that Word in our hearts.  We are also careful to give you our gratitude for your blessed Son who is the Word that gives light to our lives."

Song: 'Thy Word' by singer/songwriter Amy Grant

Monday, May 2, 2011

Be Still and Know

"Be still and know that I am God..." -- Psalm 46:10

In times of uncertainty this scripture verse can be a source of much comfort and strength.  But it sounds much easier than it is in practice.  It is hard in today's world to 'be still.'

We have become acclimated to constant noise.  Many report that they cannot sleep without some sort of noise in the background, because it is 'too quiet.'  But it is important to include in one's day a period of complete silence, if even for 15 minutes, for meditation, quiet reflection, and prayer.  It is then that we can reaffirm deep in our spirit that we 'know that He is God.'

Knowing that God is God comforts us in time of upheaval and strengthens us in doing what we have to do to survive.

Prayer: "O God, help us to become quiet and still so that we can know You are God.  And in so doing let us find your peace.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."

Music for meditation: "As the Deer"--a symphonic arrangement of the traditional hymn.  Beautiful!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Scripture and Prayer for May 1, 2011

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." --Psalm 40:31.

Prayer: "Strengthen us, O Lord, for our tasks and challenges ahead.  We thank you for this word from Your Word which assure us that those who wait upon You in faith will find a renewal of our strength, even to the point of soaring like the mighty eagle, running without weariness, and walking without growing faint.  Remind us that with you we can do much more than we ever dreamed, and let us rise from our limitations to do that to which You called us, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."

Music Spotlight for a Sunday Afternoon

From 1964 until 1981 Americans awoke each Sunday morning to a nationally-syndicated program called, 'The Gospel Singing Jubilee.'  At the height of its popularity the show was broadcast in every television market in America, even in New York City and Los Angeles.

Headlining the Jubilee was a group from Pensacola, Florida known as 'The Florida Boys.'  Immensely popular, the group was part of the first gospel quartet concert ever held at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1963.  They were also one of the first groups to have a weekly television show with a national sponsor called, 'The Gospel Song Shop.'  And the Florida Boys to this day have the distinction of appearing on more television programs than any other gospel group, including Crook and Chase, NBC's Today Show, as well as televised appearances at the Grand Ole Opry.

The group was formed by a gentleman named J.G. Whitfield in Pensacola, Florida in 1948.  Whitt, as he was called, named the group 'The Gospel Melody Quartet.'  But promoters across the country almost unanimously introduced them as 'those boys from Florida.'  So, in the early 1950s, Whitt walked into the quartet office one Monday morning and said, 'Boys, as of this moment, from now on we are The Florida Boys.'

It was during the early 1950s that the fortunes of the Florida Boys began to change dramatically.  A young man from Tennessee who played the guitar and sang baritone was making a name for himself on the Grand Ole Opry with the Oak Ridge Boys, back when they were a gospel group.  Whitt hired a young Glen Allred to sing baritone for his quartet.  Thus, the first piece of the puzzle that led to the Florida Boys' success was in place.  Glen had that smooth, mellow tone that baritone vocalists are known for but which many fail to achieve.  To this day he is known as the greatest quartet baritone who ever lived.  I agree.  Of course, since we later became friends, I am naturally biased in my opinion.  But Glen was a great role model since I am a baritone singer.

One year later, Whitt hired a Marine, a Green Beret Sergeant, who had just returned from the Korean War.  His name was Les Beasley, who would become the group's lead singer.  Les became manager for the group when Whitt left the quartet to tend to his grocery business in Pensacola.

3 years later, in 1957 or so, the third piece of the puzzle to the Florida Boys' longtime success would be the hiring of a piano player from Brunswick, Georgia, Darrell Stewart, who was one of the few professionally-trained pianists in gospel music.

Thus, the 3 who would form the foundation for the quartet for the next 50 years were in place.

The group underwent many personnel changes through the years, with the exception of Les, Glen, and Darrell, but they always managed to put together a group with a distinct sound and style that was different than all the rest.

In 1966, the group hired tenor singer Tommy Atwood, who had been a country music fiddle player but wanted to sing Christian music.  Not only did Tommy sing a great first tenor but Les convinced him that he should play his fiddle in their appearances at well.  It was then that Les had an idea.  Each member of the group played instruments, so, in addition to Tommy's fiddle, Les played bass guitar, Glen played lead guitar, and Billy Todd played the rhythm guitar and sang bass.

This new country-flavored quartet singing took America by storm.  When they released their album entitled 'Kinda Country' in 1968, before the year was out the group had sold 800,000 copies of that album.

I met Glen Allred at a gospel singing back in the 60s when the Florida Boys came to my hometown for a concert. It was then that a long friendship began that lasted right up until today, even in their retirement.  Later I would get to know Les very well, and he too is still a good friend.  And then later on, Darrell Stewart became a good friend because he was always good for a laugh.  We always loved to share jokes.

As I said about the Cathedrals, these guys were my heroes as well.  I looked up to them as a boy, and I always loved their music.  When the group decided it was time to leave the road in 2007, they were at the top of their game.  Les stood behind the quartet to play bass guitar and hired a young lead singer by the name of Josh Garner to fill that spot.  He also hired the absolute best bass vocalist of this generation, Gene McDonald.  And in the tenor slot he hired Harold Reed, who fit perfectly with the group's new sound.  Glen Allred kept singing a perfect baritone right up until his retirement. I have never heard a man maintain such a near-perfect tonal quality in his voice after singing 250 nights a year for 55 years.

The following is but one example of their style from the Tommy Atwood era.  As you will see in the video, Les Beasley had a knack for taking old hymns and rearranging them for fiddle and other instruments.

This one will have you tapping your foot, and it is called 'Power in the Blood.'

As an extra bonus, here is a song the group made popular back in the late 60s-early 70s, and it features the baritone voice of Glen Allred and bass singer Billy Todd.  It's called 'Farther Along'--up-tempo.