Category Archives: Thoughts and Inspirations
The old hymn that my family loves to sing acapella was written with deeply moving lyrics and melodies.
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well
With my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well
With my soul
(c)1873 Horatio Spafford
This past Saturday, we enjoyed celebrating 75 years with Mom. She’s a firecracker! Still flits around like she’s in her twenties, loves to sing and play music, always busy about her cooking or housekeeping, and ever concerned with the well-being of others. She is one of the brightest souls I’ve ever known. She loves well, and is so loved by many.
When we get together, there is always a sing-along moment involved. So, as usual, we enjoyed greetings, mixing-and-mingling, southern fried cuisine (( yum!! )) … and, of course, good old Gospel singing.
One of the kids captured our impromptu vocal rendition of the hymn on Facebook live, posted it, and within hours we were getting ‘Likes’ from dear friends and family from all over the nation who love and encourage our musical heritage.
One family friend notified of us the sobering reality that their newborn baby boy is suffering a seizure-related condition and asked for prayer. We immediately called upon the Father on their behalf and ‘shared’ their request with our connected Friends.
Others noted how this song and our family harmonies are inspiring and uplifting, which brings us great joy.
This morning, our church staff begins a #21DaysOfPrayer campaign for the kick-off of Back-To-School season in our hometowns, and as a reminder that we are embarking upon the final ‘season’ of this calendar year. The intent is to refocus, lift up prayers to the Father for this season, and ask His will be done in our lives, our families, our church, our nation, our world.
At our home church, that format includes a congregational worship song, a scripture reading from our pastor, an extended time of personal and corporate prayers and songs, with a closing prayer from our pastor.
During my quiet time, several scriptures from Chronicles and Psalms were brought to my attention describing King David’s instruction for ‘divisions’ or ‘sections’ as skilled musicians and worshipers were trained and contracted for worship at the Temple.
As I pondered my life as a musician and worshiper of God, the Holy Spirit seemed to nudge me to remember that God has called me from my Mother’s womb to be His child — a worshiper. A musician. A singer of songs. A producer of things that are musical and artistic in form.
Mom has reminded her boys all our lives, that she “gave us back to God” when we were born. One of the very first Gospel songs I recall Mom singing and teaching us was titled Born To Serve The Lord, a Southern Gospel favorite in the 1970s and 80s.
Wow. Born … to serve the LORD. The One. The God of the universe. The Holy Father. The Foundation upon whom all creation rests. That’s a heavy thought for a Monday morning. The weight of the responsibility of serving a LORD that great and expansive was nearly overwhelming in my spirit as I quietly sang and prayed.
My soul was stirred and the tears flowed as I considered the thousands and thousands of miles that I’ve traveled during my brief 54 years here. Nearly all of those journeys have included Song.
God knew that I would be a musician and singer. He knew that my soul would need the healing touch of songs, of poetry, of lyrics, of art. He created me just as I am of course, and I am so grateful that He inspires me through music.
So, as I meditate on the songs that have touched my life, this beloved hymn — It Is Well — seems to come forward most often.
– it’s the heartwarming memories of singing with Mom and my brothers
– it’s the soul-soothing lyric and melody
– it’s the beauty of the harmonies we arranged and performed
– it’s the spirit of the lyric that heals the wounded and jaded spots in my heart
– it’s the reassurance that death’s sting does not win
– it’s the promise of a better tomorrow
– it’s the hope that good will overcome evil
– it’s the redemptive story behind the song
The maybe list is endless.
Maybe … it’s the gentle voice of the Father. Reminding me once again … it is well.
Thank you Father. All is well.
“Serve one another … ” – St. Paul’s Letter to The Church at Galatia, Chapter 5
How archaic is that?! Life is all about ME, after all. I gotta get Mine … take care of Self … chase My dreams … cover My behind … win at all costs. Right?!
In America, the statistics are mind-numbing. We have become one of the most narcissistic self-centered self-serving societies in civilized history. The more we get — the more we want. The more we want — the more we waste. The more we waste — the more depressed we feel. The more we medicate our depression — the more empty we feel. What a sad and sick emotional roller coaster.
Jesus modeled the Better Way. We’ve tried to get it right for two thousand years now. Still, we fall short. Scripture said we would. Yet, the Father provides us the Grace to persist and seek the Better Way.
“No one has ever become poor by giving” – Anne Frank
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another” – Charles Dickens
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed” – Maya Angelou
“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help” – Abraham Lincoln
“Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead” – Mother Teresa
So then, why is it sometimes so difficult to serve one another?
Bottom line: pride. We simply aren’t wired to give or serve.
Simple psychology teaches that we all need to receive and to give love in order to survive. And that makes good biblical or spiritual sense. But, that’s not our human nature. We are, by nature, sinners. We are imperfect. We are prone to wander. We are takers by nature. Yet, our very survival depends on our willingness to love and give. Oh the paradox.
St. John’s Gospel reminds us, “For God so loved the world that He gave …”.
According to Jesus, we too can give. If we are made in His image, we are empowered with the capacity to love and give. But it’s a choice. We must choose to love, and to give, and to serve one another. It’s the Better Way.
So, choose. Go … and SERVE. Try it. You will feel better. Not only about yourself, but about this crazy mixed up world. You might even discover that the Father is loving you towards Himself. He designed you for better. You can be better. We can be better.
His Way … is, after all … the Better Way.
Vacation. Everybody needs one! We all need to getaway on a regular basis. We all need chill time, family time, solitude, and of course … FUN!
My beautiful wife is the Queen of Fun in our house. Sheryl is a kid-at-heart anyway, so she brings out the “happy” when it’s time to have fun. Plus, we live near the most beautiful beaches in America ~~ The Emerald Coast!
We are not “swim-in-the-gulf” vacationers. We love to dip our feet in the shallows, pitch a nerf football or frisbee, and sun-bathe in the warm breeze as the tides roll in. Half the fun for us is people-watching. The sights .. the sounds .. the shapes! (( ha ))
So, this year’s beach vacation fell on the weekend of Fathers Day. How awesome for Dad, huh?! And it was.
But, despite the chill time for me personally, we have worked through a sea of emotions this year as a family.
It was our first Fathers Day without Sheryl’s dad. Papa Gene has been the patriarch of our family. He and Jo birthed three beautiful daughters who produced nine amazing grandchildren … and now two great-grandchildren, with little Russell due anyday now!
Gene made it to Heaven last June. The past year has been once again filled with firsts. Those nagging family tradition moments, holidays, and seasons when we remember, and realize, that our loved ones will not be with us.
The Hebrews Chapter 11 passage describing the Hall Of Faith resounds in my mind at those precious moments.
So, we worked through our emotions this weekend, enjoyed the beaches, the fresh gulf seafood, the adventure golf, favorite funny TV shows, the new summer movie releases … all of it that we could possibly pack into four quick vacation days.
And we read books. Sheryl and I both love to read. Our children have inherited our love for reading, which makes us both very proud parents. Reading is the key to formal education, deeper understanding, and — in our opinions as educators and ministers — a successful life on this side of Heaven. We believe reading is one of life’s most precious gifts. So, we read as often as we can.
I am reading Choose Joy by Kay Warren. I love Kay’s raw and honest impressions of God, of holy scripture, and of the stuff of life.
Sheryl is reading Crash The Chatterbox by Steven Furtick. The personal testimonies and insights from Steven are life-changing and God-breathed.
Vacation also helps us to re-calculate. Reboot. Refresh. Re-think.
We both realize that the next chapter of our lives together will require a new level of spiritual maturity, personal disciplines, and emotional endurance.
Our children have entered adulthood. Empty nest is on the horizon. Yet, FAMILY is all we’ve ever lived for — second only to Jesus. Papa Gene always said, “at the end of the day, all you really have is the LORD and FAMILY”. He was right. He was always right, it seemed.
As we enter this next season, we are determined to make better choices. Non-negotiable hardline choices.
I am determined to choose Joy. As I read Kay’s book, I shudder to imagine what the cost of Joy could be for my little family. Yet, I will choose … Joy.
Sheryl and I are going to crash chatterboxes. Those pesky, haunting, demonic voices in our heads that lie to us as we press towards the call that God has placed on us. We are His. He covers us. That is all that matters.
We choose to believe for better days. We choose to overcome. We choose to succeed. We hope you will too.
Thank you God for our heritage, for the fathers in our lives, for our precious family, and for the Call. Thank You for choosing us. Thank you for making a Way. Thank you for sunshine. Thank you for rain. Thank you for beaches. Thank you for seasons. Thank you for friends. Thank you for your Word. Thank you for Heaven. Thank you for Life. Thank you for LOVE. That is all. For now. 🙂