Southern Gospel Weekend

Creekside Gospel Music Convention

Kevin Chambers: Kevin’s Rule of Four

Written by Staff on February 26, 2020 – 8:28 am -

Kevin Chambers: Kevin's Rule of Four

Eagle’s Wings with Kevin Chambers

Is Your Music Pleasing? By Kevin Chambers

It is such a simple question, but the answer is more complicated than you might think.

The following is my personal opinion and philosophy, not a catalog of rules. I formed these ideas over several years and thought they might be of interest to someone. This is the method I use to decide if a musical recording or live band is arranged properly, if the focus is drawn in the right direction, and if it sounds good (to me). This is the science that must be applied before you get to the art. The concepts are nothing new, but they are rarely presented together as I am trying to do here. I truly believe that trained professionals, including  jam pickers, can benefit from a simple survey of their musical arrangements identifying what I call the Four Essential Elements for Pleasing Musical Sound or simply Kevin’s Rule of Four.

I’ve played several musical styles in my life; marching band, classical, jazz combo, country, even some of that rock and roll stuff, not to mention thousands of hymns, SGM standards, and of course bluegrass! I’ve listened to and analyzed so many more than that. And I’ve decided all music is the same, even when it is so completely different! What I mean is that there are four essential common elements that make a pleasing arrangement in any form, from Beethoven to Bill Monroe. I believe that any band of any size or genre, can focus on these elements, who is playing them at any given time, and improve their sound. For the sake of space and time, I’m going to get fairly technical right away. If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to e-mail me.

Nomenclature: I have to define the terms as I use them before I can teach how to use them. A traditionalist might be more comfortable calling the four elements: rhythm, melody, sustain, and counter-melody. However, my application for all this is fairly wide, so I often use the terms: groove, lead, continuity, and vamping. I use these words more out of habit than technical definition. You will easily see what I mean by each if you follow along.

In bluegrass music, it’s usually very easy to hear who is doing what. In other styles, it becomes more complicated, but the concepts still apply. I recommend that any performance arrangement of any song should be planned out using these elements in the order I will present them, taking care to build just deep enough to make the message or melody clear and pleasant. Also, as you will see, only one musician or section should hold any single piece of the pie, to avoid noise and confusion for the listener.

Kevin Chambers’ Rule of Four

First, we should think of groove or rhythm. This, very importantly, determines the style or vibe of the music. This element always has both a down and an up component. It is sometimes implied but usually played. In bluegrass, the bass always provides the down and either the guitar, mandolin, or sometimes banjo provides the up. In other styles, the groove of a song could be provided by vocalists singing “do-wop, do-wop” or constant pulsing eighth notes on a harpsichord. There is no rule. But, this is where the first critical decisions must be made. Make sure the groove fits the precise feel that you want for the song (as to instruments used and the technique). This will greatly help the other performers do their job. Now, if multiple musicians start playing the same groove foundation elements at the same time, then (at best) you will sound like a jam session. More often you’ll get a cacophony leading to a train wreck, especially if several different types of instruments jump on the groove wagon.

Next there is lead or melody. It may be a soloist or vocal group or an instrument. This is the core message you want to convey, the reason the piece exists. This is that important part of the music that you want the listener to really get. Harmony singing can still be part of this lead element, if the lyrics and timing match. The groove supports this. If the groove ever distracts the listener from lead, it has failed. Everyone in the band must keep in mind that your job is to support (feature / clarify) the melody or message of the piece and not to call attention to yourself or your talent. 

Third is what I call continuity or sustain. It may be chords on a piano, or long notes from strings, or the roll on a banjo. This is that one musical element that maintains the structure of the song. While groove is more about timing, continuity is more about tonal flow (chords ascending and descending, stress and release, etc.). This element can shift between players for every measure in some styles, but, of course, should not be played simultaneously by instruments (or sections), as this rapidly becomes confusing noise.

Lastly there is vamping or counter-melody. Vamping is not mandatory. It’s not always there, but, when done sensibly, it is barely noticeable, yet makes any song sound more professional. It’s is those tasteful fills that are often done on mandolin in bluegrass, but may be done on drums, piano or any instrument in any style.

Caution, vamping can be dangerous and addictive! Actually, any of these elements can be destructive to your music and your message. It takes honesty, humility, and attention to detail to purge out the noise and have only the essential elements going on at any given time. Sometimes this means (gasp) musicians don’t play constantly! I’ve seen many great shows with 15 awesome musicians on stage at once, but rarely do more than four to six of them play at the same time, just enough to cover the four elements. Pride must be left offstage.

Applying Kevin’s Rule of Four

Picture it if you will: The Nearly Famous Gospel Band is on stage! They are rolling along on their favorite Southern gospel music classic. The audience is tapping their toes in approval. The song, in the key of G, is about to transition from the G to the C chord. Everybody knows it. You can hear it coming like a freight train. Then, at the expected moment, the drummer vamps a half measure of syncopated “rebop-de-boom” right into the chord transition with a big cymbal crash, the bass efficiently walks up the G-A-B-C scale in eighth notes, the piano does the standard sanctified ritual of playing a full thick G7 chord for a couple of beats right before the change with a bonus Cramer-lick thrown in, the lead guitar eases down the neck to arrive at C after a nice pentatonic riff with some full step bends! So, for two full beats we had notes G-A-B-C-D-E and F (and some in between) walking all over each other during a drum solo.

The band may be competent musicians, but this would have sounded awful. Each one did a fine vamping transition between chords, but together it was bad. At most one should have telegraphed the obvious chord change, if any at all. This is what differentiates jam sessions from well-planned stage performances.

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Rob Patz: My Vision for 2020

Written by Staff on February 22, 2020 – 6:05 am -

Rob Patz2020 February SGNScoops Publishers Point By Rob Patz

I was part of a radio interview recently and was asked by the DJ what my vision was for 2020. It took me a minute to really gather my thoughts, but I wanted to share with you much of what I saw as a vision for 2020, concerning SGNScoops Magazine and Coastal Events.

More than anything in 2020, I want to lead more people to Christ. I want them to know my personal Savior. I want them to realize that they’re not in this world alone, that the hurt that they’re going through, the worry they have, the loneliness they feel, can all be answered by one man; and they can be comforted in knowing that he has everything under control.

That’s the first thing. The second thing is I want to watch this industry grow. I want to be a part of that growth and I want to be a cheerleader for those artists that are looking to see their ministries expand. I believe we live in a time where our industry needs to look back to its roots, back to a time when the local church was very important. My desire is to introduce new people who are not in our current demographic to our music. I believe it can be a life-changing, encouraging music, and the words are truly the message of salvation.

Rob Patz and February SGNScoops 2020My third vision for 2020, is to see the growth of events nationwide in our industry. We are excited about Ohio and Michigan and Tupelo, Mississippi. We’re excited about events we haven’t even been able to talk to you about yet.

As we move into the second month of the new year, it is important that we realize that everything we do should be tied to what God has called us to do. I believe everyone of us has a mission and I strongly encourage you to pray and seek out what that mission is that God has for you to do this year. I also want to ask you at this time if you’re interested in volunteering to be part of our team for events or behind the scenes work with the magazine. I encourage you to email me rob@sgnscoops.com.

Southern Gospel Weekend 2020I look forward to seeing you next month in Oxford, Alabama, at Southern Gospel Weekend, March 19 – 21. We are going to have an incredible time. If you have not been to Oxford, Alabama, and you have not attended Southern Gospel Weekend, please make plans now to join us.

Until next time, this is the Publisher’s Point.

By Rob Patz

First published in SGNScoops Magazine February 2020

For more Gospel Music News, read the latest issue of the SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

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Joseph Habedank lives in The Beauty of the Blood

Written by Staff on February 16, 2020 – 9:59 am -

Joseph Habedank lives in The Beauty of the BloodTough love, unexpected guest and faith in Christ set Joseph Habefank free from addiction

Joseph Habedank leans back, microphone in his right hand, left arm outstretched. He pours his entire soul into delivering the message he lives every day.

Heaven’s best takes all the scars

For the worst in all of us

That’s the glory of the cross

The wonder of His love

That’s the beauty of the blood!

They aren’t just words of beauty for one of Southern Gospel’s favorite soloists. They’re life. And he’s grateful beyond measure.

“Only God can take blood and make it pretty,” he says during a November concert at Stithton Baptist Church in Radcliff, Kentucky.

Joseph Habedank lives in The Beauty of the BloodJoseph Habedank knows that beauty of the blood. He knows it personally. Even his surname is a reminder of what God has done in his life. “My name in English is Habedank,” he says with a smile. “In German, ‘haben’ is ‘to have’ and ‘danke’ is thanks. So my name means ‘have thanks.’

It was fitting that a few weeks before Christmas 2018  he was with The Erwins as part of the Resurrection of Faith Tour which has been working since 2017. The name comes from the artists albums, Habedank’s “Resurrection” and The Erwins’ “Only Faith Can See,” which were current at the tour’s outset. 

At 33, Habedank is the oldest artist on the tour. The Erwins’ ages range from 18 to 26. Through November, they had played about 50 dates together and plan to continue the tour indefinitely. 

“I’m proud of (the tour). There is no one else in the entire world I would rather travel with than those kids,” Habedank says. 

But the Resurrection of Faith tour might be a metaphor for Joseph Habedank’s career. One of gospel music’s top stars before he was 20, Habedank hit the bottom before he was 30 but now tells his story, made possible by the beauty of Christ’s blood.

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Sweetheart Stories: Jack and Vonda Armstrong

Written by Staff on February 13, 2020 – 8:57 am -

Jack and Vonda Armstrong

Jack and Vonda Armstrong

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and we are happy to present another love story in our series of Sweetheart Stories. For many years, the gospel music community had known Vonda Easley as the vivacious blonde southern belle with a big smile and country drawl. However, behind the smile was a lifetime of challenges and mountains that she had overcome. She was a single mom with two grown children, who had their own families and lives. Vonda is hard-working and generous, humorous and full of faith in a God who cares. Yet, she realized a couple of years ago that something was missing. Here’s Vonda to tell her story:

 

I must have said it over a thousand times, “It just isn’t in the cards for me to find someone that loves me enough to let me be me.” And I usually followed that statement up with, “They would want me to leave my home, and I will not ever do that.”

I met Jack Armstrong at a Bill Bailey Event in Bonifay, Florida. I remember thinking that he was one of the friendliest people I had ever met, but the last thing I Jack and Vonda Armstrongwas looking for at a gospel concert was romance. I was there to hear my kids, Josh and Ashley Franks, sing and cover the event for SGNScoops Magazine. However, my daughter and Penny Shelnut (Scoot’s wife) were at Ashley’s booth, already playing matchmaker. When they suggested we go out to eat after the concert, I was quick to let Ashley know that I knew what they were doing, and I was not interested. I told her there was something messed up with your child having to get you a date!

As the concert went on, Jack talked to me a little about radio promotion, and when I got home, he called and hired Hey Ya’ll Media, my radio promotions company, to work radio for his group, The Bibletones. (I often tease him that he married me so he wouldn’t have to pay me anymore.)

I believe that God set up a divine appointment for me that night to meet Jack. It still amazes me today how much he is like my Daddy. I felt safe when I was with my Dad, and I feel safe when I am with Jack. He makes me want to be a better person, and he supports me in all that I do.

Jack and Vonda ArmstrongTrue Love is unconditional. There are no expectations set. To love unconditional is difficult, and most people aren’t good at that. But true love really does love without trying to change the other person. I love you, Jack Armstrong. Thank you for loving me and letting me be me. And by the way, Home is wherever you are…….. V

 

Vonda and Jack Armstrong, III,  were married on October 21, 2018, at her daughter’s church, People’s Tabernacle Church, Savannah, Tennessee, and officiated by her son-in-law, Josh Franks. Standing up with the couple were Vonda’s grandchildren, Priscilla and Eli Franks. The couple fits together like hand-in-glove and Jack’s laidback personality complements Vonda’s vivacity.

Do you have a Sweetheart Story to share? Write to me at lorraine@sgnscoops.com.

Be sure to let everyone you love know how much you care this Valentine’s Day. And Jack and Vonda Armstrongremember, God loved you enough to send Jesus Christ, his only son, to die on a cross so that he might have a relationship with you. Jesus went willingly because he knew it was the only way to bring you into his love. Please accept that love today. Want to know more? Write to me!

For more Gospel Music News, read the latest issue of the SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

Download SGNScoops Magazine PDF Here
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Listen To Today’s Gospel Music Here
Jack and Vonda Armstrong

Eli Franks, Jack Armstrong, Vonda Easley Armstrong, Priscilla Franks

Jack and Vonda Armstrong

Jack and Vonda Armstrong

Top Row: Josh and Ashley Franks
Bottom Row: Eli Franks, Jack Armstrong, Vonda Easley Armstrong, Priscilla Franks


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Sweetheart Stories: Marcie Gray and Donovan Curtis

Written by Staff on February 12, 2020 – 5:26 am -

Marcie Gray and Donovan Curtis

Marcie Gray and Donovan Curtis

In this edition of Sweetheart Stories, Marcie Gray, of Gray Dove Ministries,  tells us about how she met – and remet –  and married the love of her life, Donovan Curtis.

Marcie Gray and Donovan CurtisThe Most Unlikely Couple By Marcie Gray

If there had been a class vote, Donovan and I would have been voted “most unlikely couple!” We both attended Los Angeles Baptist High School in California and have known each other since middle school.

Marcie Gray and Donovan CurtisWe were acquaintances and had many mutual friends, but never dated in school and had lost touch after we graduated. Both of us married and had families, moved out of California and experienced both joy and heartache along life’s journey.

Marcie Gray and Donovan CurtisThanks to social media, we reconnected about 10 years ago. We watched each other’s children grow, prayed for one another and even met for coffee with our families a couple of times over the years.

Marcie Gray and Donovan CurtisIt wasn’t until I was diagnosed with cancer that Donovan realized that his feelings of devastation were based on more than just concern for my health. There was a spark there that took him by surprise.

Marcie Gray and Donovan CurtisWhen he shared his feelings with me, I was in the midst of raising my teenaged daughters alone while battling cancer, so I friend zoned him. An entire year later, after things settled down a little, I wondered if he had moved back out west, so I reached out to him. I reluctantly agreed to meet him for a “get together,” thinking of how awkward it would be if there was no chemistry and he still had feelings for me.

Marcie Gray and Donovan CurtisDonovan went all out! We met on a beautiful spring day, and he surprised me with a picnic in the park under a giant shade tree – complete with a bouquet of flowers. After just a few minutes of visiting, I noticed his adorable Irish grin and sparkling blue eyes and wondered how I had never seen him in that way before. Such a gentleman, yet so hilarious and full of mischief. We knew instantly that God was up to something special.

Marcie Gray and Donovan CurtisBoth of us had our hearts broken in the past, so there was much to discuss, but after praying about God’s will for our lives, it was evident immediately that He had prepared both of us for such a time as this. What a beautiful thing God did, growing the hearts of childhood friends into a bond that made us best friends instantly.

Donovan Curtis in High School Football: Donovan is #32 in the front row

We made two road trips out to California and back, taking turns driving so we could drive straight through. That amounted to almost 7,000 miles of conversation and prayer time together, as Donovan helped me move my parents from California to Tennessee. The question quickly changed from “if,” to “when” we would tie the knot.

Marcie Gray in High School Cheer: Marcie is the one on top

One of our favorite memories was meeting a couple of mutual friends from high school for coffee. They had no idea we dating, so we came up with a plan to surprise them with the news. The problem was, they were deep in conversation about something and when I was supposed to say something outrageously flirtatious toward Donovan, we couldn’t even get their attention. He ended up just planting a big, wet kiss on me, which stopped them in their tracks and they both started yelling and hollering right in the courtyard at Starbucks. Their reaction was hysterical! Sharing with friends from high school has been a lot of fun, and our classmates have all been supportive and happy for us.

Donovan travels with me when I sing and speak at events and is an amazing audio engineer, so I’m spoiled rotten with a husband that supports my ministry in so many practical ways. I did it for many years alone, so I will never take this partnership for granted!

Life takes us on some interesting journeys. Some roads we travel are exciting and fun, others heartbreaking and exhausting. We are so very thankful that God has connected these two California kids as soul mates, and we look forward to many years of serving the Lord together, encouraging people wherever the Lord takes us that God has a terrific sense of humor and when you trust Him with your life, He may very well surprise you in ways you can’t imagine! Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! 

Photo credit: Wendy Ivens Photography

Marcie Gray is a singer-songwriter, speaker, writer, and occasionally appears in SGNScoops magazine. Marcie is also the producer of Smoky Mountain Gospel Jubilee.

Do you have a sweetheart story you would like to tell us about? Please write to me at Lorraine@sgnscoops.com

For more Gospel Music News, read the latest issue of the SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

Download SGNScoops Magazine PDF Here
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Sweetheart Stories: Susannah and Grant Gibson

Written by Staff on February 10, 2020 – 9:31 am -

Sweetheart Stories: Susannah and Grant Gibson

Susannah and Grant Gibson

In these few days leading up to Valentine’s Day, we thought we would let you read some Sweetheart Stories of people you may know in gospel music who have met the one they have married for life.

Today we talk to Grant Gibson, of Karen Peck and New River, who recently married his sweetheart, Susanna. This is their story, in Grant’s own words:

Sweetheart Stories: Susannah and Grant Gibson

Karen Peck & New River. Grant Gibson is second from left.

It’s actually a total God thing the way He orchestrated the last couple of years of my life..

I wound up getting the job with KPNR and my very first weekend with the group I met my wife. Almost two years ago I got on the KPNR bus for the very first time. I knew everyone except this cute blonde named Susannah Bearinger. She was Kari’s best friend and came on the road with them that weekend.
I was in a relationship at the time and wasn’t really looking… although I thought she was very cute. Over the next year our paths crossed periodically. During that time I had broken up with my girlfriend and Susannah had lost her best friend to cancer. It was during that time I believe God was preparing both of us for each other.
Eventually I got up enough courage to ask her out and thankfully she said yes. Our first date was the best first date I had ever had. We hit it off!!!
I knew early on that this was the girl God had for me. We had only been dating six months when I popped the question and thankfully she said yes again.
Sweetheart Stories: Susannah and Grant GibsonOutside of my relationship with Christ,  marrying Susannah is the best thing that has ever happened to me. We got married December, 28th 2019 and marriage is great!
Thank you Grant, for sharing your story with us.
Has God brought a special someone to you? Let us know your sweetheart story and we may post it here! Send your story today to lorraine@sgnscoops.com

For more Gospel Music News, read the latest issue of the SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

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Legacy Five: “What Kind Of Man” is Scott Fowler?

Written by Staff on January 30, 2020 – 2:57 pm -

Legacy Five with Scott Fowler at the helm

Legacy Five with Scott Fowler at the helm

Legacy Five Turns 20

At 20 years of age, the teenager becomes a young adult. The brain is still developing, but otherwise, most human beings are physiologically mature by this age. Gospel quartet Legacy Five enters this age of maturity in January 2020 and is fully embracing this by the release of “Pure Love,” a dynamic re-awakening of the powerful Legacy Five sound first heard in their unofficial debut at the National Quartet Convention in September 1999. Scott Fowler, at the helm, is deftly guiding his group into their adulthood, with Josh Townsend, Matt Fouch, and newcomers Lee Black and Bryan Walker.

 

September 2019 SGNScoops Magazine

September 2019 SGNScoops Magazine

Who Fowler is now, is the result of God working in his life, bringing him into contact with Roger Bennett to form Legacy Five, and prior to that, leading him into ministry with the Cathedrals to sing with Bennett, Ernie Haase, and legends Glen Payne and George Younce. It was the Cathedrals that ignited Fowler’s desire to sing. From that time to this, God has been fulfilling Fowler’s dreams in a way even he could not imagine.

 

Legacy Five and Scott Fowler“I have been blessed to sing in a lot of amazing places in my 31 years (of professional gospel singing),” says Fowler. “I’ve sung at many of the churches in America that people would say are important to sing at. We have had United States Congressman and Senators in our audience over the course of 20 years. I have personally sung at a Billy Graham Crusade, in Cleveland, Ohio, where 70,000 people were packed in the Cleveland stadium.”

 

Fowler relates a particularly poignant memory, “Legacy Five saying on the (Ground Zero) Observation Platform, the day it was dedicated in New York City, just weeks after 911. There was still smoke rising from the site and we stood on the Observation Platform (as) it was dedicated by Rudy Giuliani and we sang the national anthem.” 

 

With all of these remarkable experiences, certain blessings stand out to the owner of Legacy Five.

 

Legacy Five and Scott Fowler

Scott Fowler

“I had a husband and wife approach me in the lobby and tell me that they had been married for 46 years, and that they had decided to separate and dissolve their marriage,” Fowler recalls. “She and he both informed me that evening, with tears in their eyes, that after being at our concert, they had decided not to do that and were going to get the help that they needed in their marriage. And what I love about the gospel is, whether it is presented in music or any other package, we didn’t sing one song or say one word that night about how God can restore marriages. And yet he somehow was able to convey that message to that couple that night. And the amazing thing is, that he was able to convey a totally different message, concerning a totally different need, to two totally different people the same night. I love hearing those individual stories from people about what God does for them through our music.”

 

God has worked through Legacy Five many times to change hearts.

 

“I think about the young lady a few years ago who came to us after the concert, weeping, saying that her life was a mess and that she had decided to take her life this very week,” Fowler recalls. “But after being at our concert and hearing the message, she was given a new sense of hope.”

 

The Cathedral Quartet (1964-1999) Members(in picture) (1990-1999) Ernie Haase ( Tenor, 1990-1999), Scott Fowler( Baritone, 1990-1999), Glen Payne ( Lead, 1963-1999, d.1999), George Younce ( Bass, 1964-1999, d.2005), and Roger Bennett (Piano,1986- 1999, d. 2007). Courtesy of Justin Gilmore

Reminiscences over the life of Legacy Five would not be complete without talking about the group’s co-founder Roger Bennett, who passed away March 17, 2007.

 

“I feel like I learned a lot from Roger,” says Fowler. “A couple of things that I learned from him were, how possible it was to have a great attitude in the midst of great distress and difficulty.  Roger endured three bone marrow transplants and countless chemotherapy treatments, and I can probably count on one hand the number of days that I feel like he was living defeated that day. He was extraordinarily resilient and optimistic and positive and happy and joyful. He was always, always, always laughing.”

 

“He taught me to be honest and transparent with myself and others.  He was a remarkable man. He was my best friend. And I still miss him fiercely,” declares Fowler.

 

Frank Seamans was the tenor with the quartet when Bennett passed. He shares a great memory from this pivotal moment in the history of Legacy Five.

 

Frank Seamans

“When we lost Roger Bennett to cancer in 2007, we had no idea how to move forward,” Seamans shares. “We were simply trusting God to help us and he certainly did. The first concert date after Roger’s death was quite a challenge. How do we start? What do we say? What do we sing? How do we address our loss on stage? These were all questions we couldn’t answer, but we prayed before going out and just asked God to lead us. We didn’t have a plan, but we decided to sing three of our standards without saying a word and then see where God takes it from there. As we sang those first three songs, we noticed an adorable and very exuberant couple in their late 80’s, sitting in the first row, clapping and singing along with every word. They were such an encouragement to us with their enthusiasm and sweet disposition. We stopped after those three songs and addressed the gentleman: ‘Thank you so much for your enthusiasm, sir. You are such a blessing to us tonight. How many years have you two been married?’ 

 

“‘He grinned and answered, ‘We’re not married, we’re on a date.’ The whole place erupted in laughter, and the rest of the concert was so light and fun, we never had to think about any of those questions,” Seamans concludes. “God knew exactly what we needed that night and we believe He placed that little couple on the front row just for us.”

 

Legacy Five and Scott FowlerLaughter is something everyone needs and Fowler and his group often deliver that during their performance. Tim Parton learned this during his time as pianist for the quartet.

 

“Scott Fowler taught me about having fun on stage, and when I have fun, the audience can too,” says Parton. “Scott also taught me that nothing happens by accident; you only see results when you’ve planned for results. Scott is a machine, but you’d never know it because he makes it look like he’s just having a good time.”

 

“Be who you are, there’s an audience for almost everyone,” Parton continues. “Enjoy the journey, support your friends, love people, love God. Fall, get back up. And forgive. “

 

Tim Parton

“I had a super time with L5 and I don’t think I ever laughed so hard than when I was on stage with them and Scott Howard forgot his words and made up an entire verse without skipping a beat,” laughs Parton. “I couldn’t see the piano keys for the tears.”

 

As Parton recalls, the gang was full of hijinks, and even the boss wasn’t exempt from the jokes.

 

“I recall hiding in Fowler’s closet after a concert and waiting until he changed clothes to scare the daylights out of him,” says Parton. “But one never does anything to Scott without him returning the favor, so I kept the shenanigans to a respectful level.”

 

Parton concludes his recollections with this comment: “Being with L5 was such a super time  in my professional life when all heck was falling apart at home. So grateful for Scott, Glenn Dustin, Scott Howard, Frank Seamans, and Gary Buckner. We were Legacy Five.”

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Cheryl Smith: This is a test, this is only a test…

Written by Staff on January 28, 2020 – 11:52 am -

Cheryl Smith this is only a test

Test. 1.2.3.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
James 1:3
(ESV)

When I was a little girl growing up in Ohio, Mom and Dad used to regularly listen to Moon Mullins’ bluegrass radio show on a station called WPFB. They also loved to listen to a station called WYSO on Saturday nights, when a bluegrass show came on every week. Our house was full of old-time country, gospel, and bluegrass music, with Dad often taking out his five-string banjo or guitar, as he and Mom and I would belt out those old bluegrass, gospel, and country tunes.

As Mom, Dad, and I would listen to that music coming through our house stereo or car speakers, we would sometimes hear an annoying, loud, alarm, siren-type noise, accompanied by a radio announcer’s voice saying, “This is a test. This station is conducting a test of the emergency broadcasting system. This is only a test.” It was like the announcer was wanting to let listeners know as quickly as possible that there was no imminent danger or cause for concern—it was simply a test to make sure equipment was working that would be used should there ever be a real emergency of which we all needed to be made aware.

Those words have been coming back to me a lot lately as I have considered the fiery trials that come into the lives of those who follow Jesus. Sometimes, they can seem to be way too much, am I right? Sometimes, they stretch us to the very limit of our endurance, and then some. Sometimes, the overwhelm feels like a tidal wave that knocks us off our feet and threatens to hold us under until we drown. It is hard to find our footing after such a bombardment.

The word “trial” means –
test to assess suitability or performance

In a nutshell, trials are tests, and I got to thinking and wondering how it would affect us if each time one was presented to our lives, we would immediately hear God’s voice say, “This is a test. I am conducting a test of your endurance and faithfulness. This is only a test.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but if I audibly heard God’s voice saying that to me, I believe it would completely transform the way I walk through the tests He allows to come into my life. Let me tell you why.

1. I would immediately know that there is no cause to panic.
Just as relief washed over our minds when we would hear the voice of the emergency broadcasting system’s announcer letting us know there was no imminent danger, that it was only a test and not the real thing, my mind would be quickly set at ease to hear God telling me He was merely conducting a test, and there was NO threat for me to be concerned about.

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:12-13 (NKJV)

2. I would be reminded that God is the One who is in control.
Not the person who appears to be the root of the trial. Not the devil. Not the overwhelming circumstances. I would know that even though it feels like the whole world is reeling out of control, every, single thing is still under His feet and nothing can operate outside of His permission and command.

“But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.” I Thessalonians 2:4 (NKJV)

3. I would know that the trial is only temporary.
Those tests of the emergency broadcasting system didn’t last very long. It was relieving to know that the annoying sound would soon stop, and life would resume normalcy. Being told that at the onset of the noise made the irritating commotion bearable. When we are walking through a season of testing, it can feel like it is going to last forever. We look ahead, and all we see is more of the same, with no way out. We aren’t given an ending date for the testing season, so we have no idea of its duration. The truth is, this life, every season, and everything about it, is temporary, and there is a beginning and an end to every trial. Tests start. We walk through them. They end. Life goes on.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
I Peter 1:6-7 (NKJV)

4. I would realize that my profession of faith isn’t worth its salt if it is never tested.
Even though those emergency broadcasting sirens were beyond irritating, they seemed to be so unnecessary, and they interrupted what we would rather be doing and listening to, there was a reason they happened. The person administering those tests was not just causing them to happen to punish us or make us miserable, but in reality, the testing was for our own good and benefit. Those tests were to make sure all of us could hear and make necessary preparations in case they one day needed to sound that alarm for real. What if a real emergency had happened, and due to inadequate testing, the emergency broadcasting system’s alarm had an undetected malfunction that was never discovered? What if this negligence prevented innocent, trusting people from being duly warned of real impending danger? What if they hadn’t performed those regularly-scheduled tests and just assumed that because they had been told all was working properly, there was no need to test their equipment? We can sing, “Living By Faith,” lift our hands in worship, and raise a hallelujah all day long, but can’t anyone and everyone do that? What good is a testimony that hasn’t been adequately tested? When life is going along unruffled, it is an easy thing to praise God and rejoice, but can we still rejoice when the Teacher is completely silent during the test? Do we still believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him? (Hebrews 11:6) Do we really believe what we say we do, and how will we really know unless we are put to the test from time to time? Don’t we really want to know if what we have on hand is real before we face God on Judgment Day? Isn’t it better to have it tested now while there is still time and space for repentance and adjustment before the REAL thing happens one day and we find ourselves standing one-on-one, face-to-face with Almighty God?

“Examine me, God, and know my mind, test me, and know my thoughts. See if there is any offensive tendency in me, and lead me in the eternal way.”
Psalm 139:23-24 (ISV)

5. I would remember that at the end of testing, there is a guaranteed reward.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3 (Berean Study Bible)

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 (ESV)

“The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also conquered and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21 (ESV)

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
Hebrews 12:11 (KJV)

As I was seeking God earnestly in prayer recently, He took me to Genesis 22:1-14, and OH, the lessons He began and continues to teach me through that passage! Truly, Abraham was presented with the ultimate test. God told him to take his son, his only son, Isaac, the son God had promised and given him at a ripe, old age, and sacrifice him on an altar!

Can you imagine what Abraham must have felt like and the questions that were swirling through his mind? After all God had promised him, now He was asking him to lay down the son whom the very promises hinged upon? Seriously? But, without hesitation, we see Abraham begin to make preparations to make the three-day journey to the specific place where God wanted to conduct this test.

Looking at this remarkable story from the vantage point of history, we know that it was NEVER God’s intention for Abraham to kill his own son! But, when God presents us with a test, we do not know His mind or intentions. All we are given is a specific set of instructions and a choice as to whether or not we will be obedient in that test.

After Abraham and Isaac made the three-day journey and climbed the mountain God specifically designated as the test site, Abraham bound Isaac, just like he would have bound an animal sacrifice. He then took the next natural step and raised the knife to kill his son, as God had instructed. At the moment his arm was raised, the testing period was over. Abraham had completely followed God’s plan, he had proven that he would walk out obedience to God no matter what the directive, and he had aced the test with flying colors.

God said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Genesis 22:12

And, the next verse is the one that has been ringing in my head for days—
“Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.”
Genesis 22:13

Only after his test of obedience was 100% complete, did Abraham see the ram—what had been God’s plan from the beginning.
I believe that ram had been there all along. Abraham just couldn’t see it because he was in the middle of a test. Had he seen the ram, he would have known God had everything under control, and even though it looked like he would be required to kill his only son, he would have known that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

What are you going through? I’d like to ask you to stop and consider your current circumstances and identify any test(s) you are currently walking through, and as you think about that, may I please encourage you?

This is a test. It is only a test. You are not going under. You will not be overcome by your circumstances. There is a ram. It is caught in the thicket by its horns. You can’t see it, but it is there. It has been there all along, and once you reach the point of proving complete faithfulness to God, in HIS time, He will say, “Enough!” THEN, my friend, you will do this —

You will lift up your eyes and look, and there behind you, (something you have not seen before) will be a ram. Caught in the thicket by its horns. Unable to move or be shaken or stolen from your grasp. God placed it there. He orchestrated the “catch of its horns.” He caused it to become lodged in such a way that all of earth and hell below cannot wrench it away from its designated purpose—YOUR DELIVERANCE! Your reward for being faithful to walk out God’s plan and the sacrifice needed to substitute for what it looked like was being taken from you. When the ram becomes evident and visible to you, you will courageously go and take the ram and use it for its God-ordained purpose.

“Taking the ram” may require some work on your part. God did not loose the ram, pick it up, and place it on the altar for Abraham. God placed the ram there and allowed it to become lodged and rendered incapable of leaving the very spot most visible to Abraham, but once Abraham saw it and recognized what God was doing, he had to put forth the necessary effort to free the ram’s horns from the thicket, so it could provide for his needs.

In verse 14, we read,
“And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

Cheryl Smith. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people

Cheryl Smith, author of the Inner Views and Homespun Devotions

I am not sure who God may be talking to through this post, but I know without a doubt that God has a ram for you! Stay the course until the ram becomes evident. Walk in obedience to the path of testing God has placed in front of you. Don’t quit. When God hits the “Stop” button on the test timer, you will look behind you and see the ram. When you do, go and place full trust in God’s plan of deliverance. Take the ram and enjoy the blessing of it providing exactly what you need.

This is only a test. It will come to an end. Keep trusting God and walking forward in faith and watch as God amazes you with what has been His plan all along!

Written by Cheryl Smith and originally published at www.homespundevotions.com.

Cheryl Smith describes herself as a “passionate disciple and follower of Jesus Christ.” She says: “I am married to the sweetest, most patient man for over 30 years…Mama to one miracle son God sent to us after 12.5 years of infertility…Homeschool Teacher who learns way more than I ever teach.I love to spend time with my husband and son in the mountains, sing and play Bluegrass music, and write. I am so thankful for your visit and hope you will visit my blogs: homespundevotions.com/ and biblicalminimalism.com/ It is my goal to encourage you in your walk with Jesus and to inspire you to let go of this world for the sake of a higher call. It is His call that I hope you hear. So compelling, so intense, so far above anything this world has to offer. It is the call His disciples heard as they went about a normal, ordinary day, fishing. It is a call they could not refuse. A call that caused them to drop everything they had and walk away from life as they knew it, without a backward glance. Can you hear it? Are you listening?”

Prayer Action Leader for Concerned Women for America

 


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Rob Patz: Because He Lives

Written by Staff on January 25, 2020 – 5:42 am -

Rob Patz. Picture courtesy of Penny Walters and Gloryland. Road to Creekside

Rob Patz. Picture courtesy of Penny Walters and Gloryland.

2020 January SGNScoops Publishers Point By Rob Patz

Welcome to the January Publisher’s Point. Can you believe it’s 2020? As I get older, it is amazing to me how time seems to move so much more quickly, and how we need to cherish the moments that we have.

Over this past year, I dealt a lot with mourning, as my family dealt with the sorrow of death. Now, I will tell you that, as a Christian, I have said many times, that even though someone in our life has passed away, we will have the joy of seeing them again. I can also tell you that in the last year, those words seemed to ring hollow inside of me as I missed seeing family members.

Recently, I have found comfort in a song that I’m sure we’ve all sung: “Because He Lives, I Can Face Tomorrow.” If you really think about it, facing tomorrow isn’t always easy, but we know that because Christ died and rose for us – for you and for me – we can face tomorrow no matter what the struggle is.

Maybe you’re struggling with your health, or with finances, or with finding a job; just know that you – like me dealing with mourning – you can face tomorrow because Jesus is going to be there with you. Just think of how amazing God is! He is not only here right now, but he is also already in tomorrow! Nothing catches him by surprise. Nothing will take him off guard. He knows your steps.

Rob Patz celebrates his birthday Sept. 24My dad used to reassure me about how much God loved me as a child, when he would tell me that God knows the number of hairs on your head. He would sit me on his lap and he would tell me that if God cares enough about you to invest the time in counting the number of hairs on your head, then he cares about your daily life, and He cares about your joys and your sorrows.

In 2020, my theme song is going to be “Because He Lives.” Not only that “Because He Lives, I Can Face Tomorrow,” but also, “Because He Lives,” I have the hope that I will see my family and friends again. “Because He Lives,” I know that he will take care of my finances, he will take care of my family, and he will take care of my job. “Because He Lives,” I do have hope for tomorrow.

I know that in most years past, I have spent the first Publisher’s Point talking about getting ready for the new year. But this year, it just feels different. This year, it feels like we need to talk about life, about what this year is going to hold for all of us. I know one thing: that “Because He Lives,” I can face tomorrow with joy, hope, and strength; that everything is going to be awesome.

Hey, I’d love to see you in Oxford, Alabama, March 19 – 21, 2020, for Southern Gospel Weekend. If you can’t make that, I would love to see you in Tupelo, Mississippi, April 23 – 25, 2020, for Gospel Music Expo.

SGNScoops Cover January 2020Also, watch the website for the opening of the Diamond Awards 2020. And let this be your special invitation to join us for Creekside 2020, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, October 25 – 29, 2020. For more information on any Coastal Events, email events@sgnscoops.com.

Read the latest Gospel Music News in SGNScoops Magazine online HERE

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SGNScoops DJ Spotlight on Sylvia Green of WVOB

Written by Staff on January 20, 2020 – 5:32 pm -

DJ Spotlight on Sylvia GreenDJ Spotlight on Sylvia Green

By Vonda Easley

WVOB 91.3 FM went on the air in December of 1988 with 2,500 watts of power. The studio is situated in the main Administration Building of Bethany Divinity College and Seminary.

 

WVOB offers Great Christian Programming, including the best and latest in today’s Southern gospel music, 24 hours a day. WVOB 91.3 FM is a listener-supported radio station and is the home of this month’s DJ Spotlight, the amazingly talented Sylvia Green. I quizzed Sylvia with five unique questions. Check out her answers and get to know her. You will be glad you did!

 

Vonda Armstrong: Sylvia, tell us about your current radio position. station, location, job, years on the job, and how you got started? 

Sylvia Green: Our station is Gospel 91-WVOB Dothan/Webb, Ala. We’re a 24 hour, seven days a week Southern gospel music station that covers parts of the tri-states area of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Currently holding the position of Assistant Program Director, I’m proud to say I’ve been associated with this station since the first few months of 1992.

Keith Brady, from the group I sang with at the time (the Bradys) was working at WVOB part time when not on the road. When a sister station was opened in nearby Bonifay, Fla., due to my knowledge of gospel music, the management asked me to help spearhead the opening of WJED.  I had no prior on-air experience, but with great on-the-job training and help from up above, WJED became a vital station in that area for many years. When management decided to sell it a few years ago, they transferred me to Dothan’s WVOB where we soon started the “Coffee-Break with Keith and Sylvia,” which has become dear to my heart. We love sharing behind the scenes news in gospel music, jokes, trivia, and a whole list of other things, plus we have the “Word Game” each segment where listeners can win gift items.

 

VA: You are not only a DJ, but a singer, songwriter and an inspiration to many. Do you have a favorite song that you have written? Tell us about that song of one that is special to you and why?

SG: “Here I Am” which was recorded by the Hoppers would have to be my first choice. I was so honored that it became Song of the Year in 1990 and was Song of the Decade for the 90’s. But what means the most to me are the thousands of testimonies connected with this song that I’ve heard through the years. Each time I stop to think about the far reaching effects for the cause of Christ this song has had, I’m blown away yet again by the fact that God allowed this simple girl from lower Alabama to write it. Next year marks the 30th anniversary of “Here I Am” winning Song of the Year. I’m still getting testimonies of how it changes lives. To God be the glory, he far exceeded my goals and I’ll always be humbled by it.

 

DJ Spotlight on Sylvia GreenVA: Please share your testimony. 

SG: I became a Christian at the young age of six years old during a revival at the church my dad and mom pastored in Troy, Alabama. I guess some think that is too young, but I knew exactly what I was doing. My heart was touched, the tears flowed, and I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life. I’ve rededicated my life to him many times since then because none of us are perfect.  We all fail, we all mess up, we all stray a little from where we know we need to be in our walk with him. We break his heart, but his mercy and grace woos us back to him and I’m so thankful for that. Too many feel that because they’ve made a mistake, that God hates them. But nothing could be further from the truth, that’s what the cross was for. I’ve spent a lifetime in gospel music, whether through singing, songwriting, or on radio, sharing the good news of his love and forgiveness; I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

 

VA: What is something you  look for from artists who send music to Gospel 91-WVOB? 

SG:  Our station has certain guidelines set up by management, that we as employees must adhere to when it comes to what is allowed to be played. One in particular is that it must be recognizable as a gospel song in lyric content. We are reminded that there are many good, positive songs, that may not necessarily fall under our guidelines. In the position I hold of being the person who approves or disapproves what gets to be added into rotation, this can sometimes be a hard task. Because I applaud great, positive lyric content, and because we always want to be relevant as music progresses in ways we can, as we maintain our original goal, I do my very best to make the distinctions needed so that management is pleased, God is glorified, and artists continue to send us great music! Having said that, listeners are facing some tough times, they struggle with things they never thought they’d have to face, so I love getting songs that point us to the source of our joy, our strength in times of trouble, and remind us that although what we are facing right now seems to have no answer, we have hope in a heavenly father who can bring miracles to pass!

 

VA: Do you have a bucket list? We’d love to hear about things you’ve checked off and what’s still there? 

SG: When I was young, the first time I saw Vestal Goodman sing, I wanted to sing. When she became “Queen of Gospel Music,” I immediately wanted (to be) that one day. That of course wasn’t meant to be. When I started writing, I dreamed one day of winning the “Song of the Year Award.” And, for some reason God saw fit for that little 14-year-old girl’s dream to come true.  Veering away from music a bit, I marked several things off my list, like, owning my own golf clubs and learning how to play, learning to shoot a target with a gun, learning to make old fashioned cat-head homemade biscuits, and learning to decorate cakes with roses. But there are some things on my bucket list I have not done. These include, going to Australia and Hawaii for vacation, and becoming a pilot. (Sylvia laughs.) How many would like to fly on a plane I was piloting?

 

Vonda Armstrong

Vonda Armstrong

Thank you Sylvia for sharing with us. I’d fly with you anywhere! Let’s go.

By Vonda Armstrong

First published by SGNScoops Magazine in June 2019

 

Read the latest Gospel Music News in SGNScoops Magazine online HERE

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Listen To Todays Gospel Music Here

 

 


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