Elaina Smith Music

Creekside Gospel Music Convention

Kristen Stanton: Do Not Fear

Written by Staff on March 30, 2020 – 1:23 pm -

Kristen Stanton: Do Not Fear

Kristen Stanton

In these uncertain times, there is a refuge. In these uncertain times, there is truth. In these uncertain times, there is power.

A couple of weeks ago, I got up in the morning to go to work. It was unusually warm for March, but it was exciting because I knew it meant spring weather was coming. Flowers were getting ready to bloom. I could see the barest hint of green unfolding in the woods surrounding my house. Awakening after the darkness of winter, it was a promise of a better day.

And then the news came. COVID-19 was spreading throughout our country. Our state closed schools, restaurants, and then all nonessential business. It seemed like in the blink of an eye things were completely different. The lightheartedness I felt that morning was gone. Yes, I was dealing with fear. If I’m being honest, it was causing anxiety like I hadn’t had for years. I knew God was in control. I knew that this didn’t take him by surprise. And yet, like many others, fear of the unknown loomed ahead.

I started reading Psalm 91 everyday, recollecting the many times in the past God has protected me. I would remind myself that God is my refuge and my fortress. He is my shield and my buckler. He would cover me with his feathers the way a mama bird would protect her babies. But why are Christians still dying?

And then I read verse 5: “You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day;” Wait, God, did you just command me to not be afraid of things I can’t see coming? God knew that we would be surprised in life by things we cannot see. God knew that terror would strike our hearts. He simply said don’t be afraid. Trust me.

We are afraid because we fear the unknown. But the unknown to us is not unknown to God. Psalm 91:4 says, “His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” Those are weapons of warfare. Not just the shield and the buckler which remind us that he always goes before us into battle, but his truth. His truth. His truth.

Here is the truth: Your mind is Satan’s battlefield. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Satan terrorizes using fear. God loves us and protects us. Sometimes God lowers the hedge. But God will never leave us or forsake us. Never. If we focus on God and not the news, if we focus on God and not on the way we feel, if we focus on God and not on what our friends think, we will begin to feel peace. We will begin to feel safe, hidden in the shadow of the Almighty – tucked beneath his wings.

The only one who knows the beginning from the end is our Creator. The truth is that he has created me for a purpose. He has created you for a purpose. God led Israel out of captivity. God kept David from being killed by Saul. God shut the mouths of the lions against Daniel. Nobody walks through life free from trials. And nobody walks through life free of fear. The difference is remembering what is truth.

The next time you are feeling afraid, open up the Bible, and let it envelop you like a mama bird envelops her young. Find the peace and security that only God can provide. God is your buckler. God is your refuge. God is your truth. And in that knowledge, there is great power.

Maybe those spring plants aren’t just here to remind us that winter is over, but maybe they are also here to remind us that no matter how bleak things may seem, God has promised us better days just ahead.

Kristen Stanton

Kristen Stanton

By Kristen Stanton

Kristen Stanton is a dynamic singer, speaker, and writer. From discussions on Facebook, to live concerts on any stage, Kristen’s main focus is to share her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. She says: “I was saved when I was four years old. I’ve been in church my whole life. I went to a Christian college. I don’t have the experiences of walking away from God and how He brought me back. But I do have the experience of how God continuously reveals Himself to me… of how He answers prayer. I want people to understand who God is so that they can be more of a reflection of Him. My goal is to help others see God in a way that meets every need in their life.”
Following a trio of No. 1 songs from her debut project, “Destiny by Design,” Kristen recently released her second solo project, “Love As Jesus Loves” and is currently writing songs for her new album. Kristen is also an Attorney-at-Law, serving clients in Northwest Ohio.

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Katelyn Dyess: To The Girl Who Made A Mistake

Written by Staff on March 12, 2020 – 3:30 pm -

Katelyn Dyess To The Girl

Katelyn Dyess

To The Girl Who Made A Mistake

Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. (Isaiah 43:18)

Katelyn Dyess To The GirlWe all make mistakes. One time within the span of four weeks I had gotten myself locked out of a house, scratched the whole driver’s side of my car, and broke the side mirror. I know those aren’t big mistakes but when you make mistakes you can say I’ve learned my lesson, I’m sorry, and I’ll move on from this.

That’s the great thing about Jesus. When you make a mistake you can say, “I realize what I did was wrong, I’m sorry,” and Jesus will forgive you. He’ll forgive you every time you make a mistake. Even when you don’t deserve it, He still forgives.

So today, ask God for forgiveness from whatever mistakes you’ve made. It can be big or small and he’ll still forgive you. It will bring you more freedom than you can ever imagine.

Thanks,
Katelyn

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8
Katelyn Dyess To The Girl


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Wade Phillips: Every Spiritual Blessing in Christ is Enough 

Written by Staff on March 11, 2020 – 1:58 pm -

Wade Phillips preaching

Wade Phillips

Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

This doesn’t say we have a few spiritual blessings; it says we have them all. 

If you have a relationship with Christ, you have everything Heaven has to offer.

If we truly believe the above statement, why is it believers walk around with their heads hung in depression? Why is it believers tremble in fear at the current political climate? Why is it relationships are breaking apart? Why is it churches are barely getting by financially? The answer is, “We just don’t understand what it means to have every spiritual blessing in Christ.” 

Let’s look at just a few of those blessings and see if we can begin to have a better outlook on things. 

The first blessing I would like to mention is Salvation. Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” 

Wade Phillips

Wade Phillips pop

Jesus Christ is our salvation.  That alone should be enough to get your fire burning. You no longer must worry about where you will spend eternity. You can be confident that Jesus is good enough to cover all your imperfections, and it is through Him that you have victory over sin and death.  

And if that’s not enough to cause you to live life with joy in your heart, he also gives you a Helper and Guide. Acts 2:38 says, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” John 16:7-8 says, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”

Not only do you have Salvation, but you have been given the Spirit of God to guide you through this complicated world. It’s through that Spirit you will be able to know the right path for your life and be able to discern what is good and what is not. It is through that Spirit you can have strength and confidence in what God has given you.

If that wasn’t enough to get you through this life, He has also given you hope. 1 Peter 3:4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”

I am so glad that God, through Christ, has given us that living hope. Through Christ, we know we have a place waiting for us in Heaven that is so beautiful we can’t describe it with the human tongue. We are not sentenced to eternity separated from God in a place so horrible it can’t be described. We have living hope and are heirs to God’s riches. He says we have an inheritance that will never fade away. 

I’m looking forward to the day when I get to step into the throne room and be in the presence of God. But, until that day, I know I have everything I need to live a life free from fear. I can walk with my head held high, knowing that Jesus paid it all and I belong to him.

You are a child of the Most High God, so live your life accordingly.

God bless, and have a great week in the Lord.

Pastor Wade Phillips

Three in One Ministries  3in1ministries.org

Wade Phillips is from Madisonville, Texas, where he attends Madisonville Christian Fellowship. He is married to Tonya Phillips, and they have a son, Nicholas, daughter-in-law, Courtney, and grandbaby Anna Grace. Wade’s Christian Country ministry is based on preaching, singing, and being the hands and feet of Christ.

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Jessica Horton: Here I Am Lord

Written by Staff on March 9, 2020 – 12:43 pm -

Jessica Horton

Jessica Horton Photo by Kim Lancaster-Brantley

“I will go, Lord, if you lead me.”

As someone who has struggled with anxiety her whole life, I know the massive distress we can feel
reaching out of our comfort zones.

When God moved me into the “spotlight,” so to speak, I had so many
objections. I’m not pretty enough. People will talk about my weight. What if I’m not good enough? What if
people notice how painfully awkward I am? Will they still like me the more they get to know me? Will they
notice how I stutter when I get stressed?

In Luke 22:42 Jesus prayed a prayer that I relate to on so many levels. He said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” Wow.

Granted, His prayer came from a place of such despair and suffering that you and I will never understand. But Jesus Himself knows what it feels like to want out of an uncomfortable situation. He knows our anguish and how things can tear us apart on the inside. But then He turns His conversation from a pleading prayer of escape to an unyielding prayer of surrender when He continues, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.”

Jessica HortonThis is the key to saying yes to God,
especially when He leads us out of our comfort zones. We have to surrender our own will to God’s and
trust Him to provide and see us through to the end.

He never promised us a life of perpetual ease and comfort. But He does promise to work all things together for the good of those who love Him and respond to His direction (Romans 8:28). We have to be willing to compromise, and sometimes abandon, our own comfort to carry out the plans of God.

We can’t do this life ourselves. When we do, we get it all wrong and increase our suffering unnecessarily.
We also don’t have all the abilities to accomplish what He asks. But there are so many characters in scripture that show us that our shortcomings don’t phase the will of God in any way. In fact, it’s when we come to the end of our own abilities that God is most glorified.

It doesn’t matter if I struggle to speak or if I say something weird or if I have a character trait that annoys someone. God knows exactly who I am, and He knows what He has created me to do. My job is to. surrender When we practice surrender, we learn to become less self-reliant, we run more speedily to the Father for direction, and we become more eager to go wherever He leads.

Heavenly Father,
Thank You for Your love for us. We are so broken and needy, yet You care about every concern. God, give
us the same love for one another that You have for us, so that that we wouldn’t dare hold back from your
invitations to serve and tell the world about You. We love You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Jessica HortonScriptures:
John 17:20-26
Matthew 28:19-20
Acts 13:47
Romans 10:13-14
Psalm 96:3
Joshua 1-9

By Jessica Horton

Find out more about Jessica HERE on Facebook or HERE online.

Jessica Horton is a singer/songwriter from Columbus, MS. She was raised in classic country and gospel, and the soul and sound of these classics often find their way into her music. Her songs feature the acoustic guitar, dobro, mandolin, and other roots instruments. On stage, Jessica brings a live aspect to her show by playing guitar and including singable old-time hymns and gospel songs. Offstage, Jessica spends a lot of time with her husband, David and her church family. She serves as a worship leader and youth director at Shaeffer’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Columbus, MS… (for more click here.)

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This devotion was based on the following modern hymn:
Here I Am, Lord
I the lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save
I have made the stars of night
I will make their darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall i send?
Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart
I the lord of wind and flame
I will tend the poor and lame
I will set a feast for them
My hand will save
Finest bread i will provide
Till their hearts be satisfied
I will give my life to them
Whom shall i send?

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Melody without Measure: Highlight Reel

Written by Staff on February 19, 2020 – 8:23 am -

Melody without Measure

Melody without Measure: Jaquita Lindsey, Ashley Franks, Katy Peach

I recently had lunch with an old friend. As we were finishing up, it became clear that she was pretty discouraged as she scrolled through social media.

She started commenting on how all of her Facebook friends seemed to have it all together.
“They look so in love.”
“Their house always seems to be clean.”
“They have such a great job.”
She went on and on. She then quickly turned her phone around and pointed to a picture of me and my boys and said, “See? You have it together too. My kids would never smile for a picture like that!”
I immediately laughed and said, “You should see the 12 pictures we took before that one! I only post the good pictures.”
I realized at that moment, that I, like most people, am guilty of sharing my “highlight reel” on social media. I’d like to say it’s mostly because I refuse to complain on Facebook and I’m fully committed to avoiding dramatic or negative posts, but if I’m being totally honest I’d also have to admit that, perhaps, I’d hate for anyone to know that I really don’t have it all together.
Heaven forbid people see that I’ve gotten fat, or that my house is messy, or that my kids don’t always behave, or even worse that I do indeed struggle with sin, just like everyone else.
Maybe it’s natural for us to subconsciously hide the parts of ourselves of which we’re ashamed, and showcase the good stuff, but I’d like to think if we were all a little more real and honest, we might just be more encouraged and realize we’re not alone.
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” – Galatians 5:25-26
I shared with my friend that I believe none of us really have it all together and it’s not a good idea to compare our own flawed and messy existence to others’ filtered and perfected social media lives. Comparison is a tool the devil has most certainly used to bring us all down at some point and make us feel less valuable. But God says we’re priceless!
By Katy Peach

Melody without Measure

Life is like a melody, with highs and lows and everything in between. But what’s a melody without harmony, touching lyrics, and beautiful orchestrations? Katy, Ashley, and Jaquita have a desire to be that kind of support, encouraging and inspiring all who read to find the sweet melody in the chaos.
11th Hour: Powerful Prayers and Opening Doors

Jaquita Lindsey of 11th Hour

Jaquita Lindsey grew up in Camden, Arkansas, where music and ministry have always been a major part of her life, from singing in choir at school and church, to singing and playing drums with local groups. In January of 2014, she joined the Southern gospel trio, 11th Hour. Ministry is beyond the edge of the stage for her. “While songs and messages are an amazing source of encouragement for me, it goes beyond that during hard times of life. Nothing ministers to me more than having a friend tell me they’ve prayerfully had me on their heart. God can use us to build up each other.”

Josh and Ashley Franks

Josh and Ashley Franks

Ashley Easley began singing at the age of four, in her home church in Heflin, Alabama. That day, music became her first love, until several years later when she met Jesus. She began traveling at the age of 15 and has always loved the ministry. In 2007, she met Josh Franks, and one year later they were married. The two have been married almost 12 years and have two children: Priscilla, eight, and Eli, five. The Franks family continues to travel week to week and sing, but every Sunday and Wednesday you will find them on Airways Boulevard in Savannah, Tennessee, where Josh is the Senior Pastor at People’s Tabernacle Church.

Melody without Measure

Katy Peach

Katy Peach, as a young girl from Columbus, Ohio, had big dreams of traveling the country on a bus, singing Southern gospel music. She was extremely blessed to have done just that for many years. But shortly after the arrival of twin boys, Clayton and Shelton, Katy’s dream changed to that of a mother whose desire was for her children to have a normal life. Although Katy can still be found in the studio on occasion, she now works in banking, while her husband, Troy Peach, of The Perrys, continues to travel full-time. “I have certainly learned over the years that you don’t have to be on stage to be used by God and although I miss traveling and singing at times, I’m thankful for opportunities to minister and encourage from home.”

SGNScoops is thrilled to welcome the talented trio of Melody without Measure to their host of elite writers. Be sure to check out their website for more from the wise pens of these lovely ladies HERE

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Kristen Stanton: Prisoner of War

Written by Staff on February 17, 2020 – 8:42 am -

Kristen Stanton

Kristen Stanton

Prisoner of War 

The Bible says that the enemy comes to steal,  kill, and destroy. When the enemy comes he will always seek to do one of those things. If you aren’t prepared for the battle – if you fall for the lies Satan perpetrates — you will become a prisoner of war.

This battle is not against flesh and blood, but you can become caught up in the deception and end up on the losing side of the battle.

One example that we see is the story of Lot and his wife in Genesis 19.  In order to fully understand the story we have to go back to Genesis 13:5-18.  Abraham (at that point still known as Abram) and Lot were traveling together and had become so wealthy in flocks and herds that Abram told Lot to choose what land he wanted and he would go the opposite way.  Genesis 13:10 says, “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the Garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as you come unto Zoar.”

Lot saw – he relied on his experience based upon what he saw – and he saw how beautiful everything was. He did not seek God as to where he should go. He did the same thing Eve did in the garden. He looked with his eyes and made a judgment that it was good. In verses 11-12 it says, “Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves one from another. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.”

Fast forward to Genesis 19. Genesis 19:1 tells us that Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot left Abraham and chose the plain and pitched his tent toward Sodom, I highly doubt he ever thought he would end up living in the midst of Sodom.  Yet here he was sitting on the gate of the city. This is just how clever Satan is. The deception caused Lot to become a prisoner of war, and he would be caught right in the middle of the battle.  He made a decision to go into Sodom, yes, but he didn’t make a conscious decision to leave God and enter into the wickedness.

If Satan held up a sign that said “Follow Me” how many would actually follow?  Most of us would naturally run the other direction. So he reverts to warfare–and in this case it was lust of the eyes. Lot saw the plain. And he pitched his tent toward Sodom. Oh, what harm can there be in looking?

 Have you asked yourself this question? I have. I talk myself into going by the shoes in the mall just to look. And then sometimes I find myself in a quandary: I found some shoes for a good price that would be so awesome to have! I don’t really need another pair of black heels but well, they are just different enough that I could justify buying them. So what started out as a leisurely window shopping day turns into a fight between do I buy the shoes or not buy the shoes? Yes, it’s okay to laugh because it’s a silly example, but it’s the truth of the situation we often put ourselves in.

We can avoid sin altogether but we don’t understand the battle.  Understanding that there is a battle behind every decision would help us to identify that we are pitching our tent towards Sodom. We are walking right into the trap our enemy has set, and he is about ready to take us as a prisoner of war.  He will hold us captive until we understand the war we are in and that the only thing that can set us free is the blood of Christ.

So in Genesis 19, we see that Lot was now living inside one of the most wicked cities ever to exist. He was now a prisoner of war. Somewhere along the line he stopped looking and started participating. Maybe his wife complained that there was nothing to do in the plain. Maybe his daughters complained that they were bored. Maybe the servants said it was too much work to go into the nearest city for what they needed. Maybe Lot himself forgot the Giver of the Blessings. Maybe Lot just thought it would be more convenient. Maybe he thought his family would be safer if he were in the city because more people would be around to help if trouble came.

All of these thoughts, if they passed through Lot’s mind, are fiery darts of the enemy. Deception and dissension. Excuses. Fear. They are all things that take place on the battlefield of the mind.

But here we are and, not only is Lot living in the city, he is smack dab in the middle of all the sin. In fact, his family is so entrenched in the sin that they don’t recognize it for what it is. It’s just the way things were. Everybody else was doing it so it couldn’t be all that wrong. Right? WRONG.

The attitude of everyone else should not bear on what our attitude is. The war is raging and this manipulation tactic is winning out in our world today. The viewpoints of the world, when in conflict with God’s Word, are the viewpoints of the enemy, trying to infiltrate the mind.

Lot’s wife became a prisoner of war who died in the war, not knowing that she was even a captive. When the angels warned Lot to get his family and get out of the city because God was going to destroy it, verse 26 says, “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”  She looked back longingly at her place of captivity and did not want to leave. If given a choice, she likely would have stayed. 

Sin will destroy you. It destroys your ability to make proper decisions. You can no longer filter things through your mind and understand that it’s a tactic of the enemy because your mind has become tainted.

Think of it like this: you are making frosting. You need the frosting to be white but you accidentally put a drop of red food coloring in it thinking that it will just be a really light tint… and you notice that the more you mix it the more you can no longer find any white. And by now you realize your icing is pink… it’s not the color you had originally designed and you can’t go back and change it. That pink food coloring is the deception that taints the mind. Once the mind is tainted you can no longer go back to the way it was. You have to make a new batch of frosting.  God has to renew your mind.

Satan wants you to think that it’s not possible for your life to change.  But when you leave it in the hands of God– when you cast yourself into His arms – He will break those chains, wipe away your past, and renew your mind.  When Satan tells you that God can’t use you, remember that even though Lot was living in the middle of Sodom, God still provided a way of escape. If you feel paralyzed– convicted by Satan’s lies–  trust in God, and He can change your status from captive to captor, freeing you from being a prisoner of war.

Kristen Stanton

Kristen Stanton

By Kristen Stanton

Kristen Stanton is a dynamic singer, speaker, and writer. From discussions on Facebook, to live concerts on any stage, Kristen’s main focus is to share her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. She says: “I was saved when I was four years old. I’ve been in church my whole life. I went to a Christian college. I don’t have the experiences of walking away from God and how He brought me back. But I do have the experience of how God continuously reveals Himself to me… of how He answers prayer. I want people to understand who God is so that they can be more of a reflection of Him. My goal is to help others see God in a way that meets every need in their life.”
Following a trio of No. 1 songs from her debut project, “Destiny by Design,” Kristen recently  released her second solo project, “Love As Jesus Loves” and is currently writing songs for her new album. Kristen is also an Attorney-at-Law, serving clients in Northwest Ohio.

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

Download SGNScoops Magazine PDF Here
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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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Charlie Griffin: The Challenge – Living a Christian Life in 2020

Written by Staff on December 28, 2019 – 8:31 am -

Charlie Griffin

Charlie Griffin

As the story goes, a pastor transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the large church that he was soon to be introduced as the lead pastor. He walked around his soon-to-be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service. Only three people said hello to him. He asked for change for food and no one gave him change. Others avoided him. A church leader asked him to leave, saying the church was not a place to loiter.

Later, the homeless person went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church. He was asked by the ushers if he would please sit in the back. People greeted him with stares, dirty looks, and people looked down on him.

As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation.

“We would like to introduce to you our new Pastor.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation.

The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with all eyes on him. He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited,

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

“”For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“’Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ ‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry, and many heads were bowed in shame.

He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?” He then dismissed service until next week.

Charlie Griffin

Charlie Griffin

Following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ should be more than just talk. There is a walk to match.

The question to the church, to you and me, is this: Are you living a Christian life that follows Christ’s master plan to reach humanity? When you do…it will change your home, church, community and the world. But you need to live it every day.

How?

Whether we are playing a game, driving a car, or baking a cake, there are certain rules that must be followed for our safety as well as our success.

Life’s rules are simple as well. Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18.)

The Bible teaches that our Christian life is one of constant growth. When you were born again, you were born into God’s family. It is God’s purpose that you will grow into full stature and become mature in Christ.

It would be against the law of God and nature if you were to remain a baby and thus become a spiritual dwarf. In 2 Peter 3:18, the Bible says that we are to grow. It implies steady development, constant enlargement, increasing wisdom.

For one to grow properly, certain rules must be observed for good spiritual health:

·       Read your Bible daily. Do not be content to skim through a chapter merely to satisfy your conscience. Hide the Word of God in your heart (memorize.) It comforts, guides, corrects, encourages – all we need is there.

·       Learn the secret of prayer. Prayer is communicating. Every prayer that you pray will be answered. Sometimes that answer may be “Yes” and sometimes “No,” and sometimes it is “Wait,” but nevertheless it will be answered.

·       Rely constantly on the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit prays for us (Romans 8), and what a comfort that should be to the weakest of us. Stand aside and let Him take over all the choices and decisions of your life. Learn when to do and when to wait on God.

·       Attend church regularly. The visible church is Christ’s organization upon earth. Christians need one another, we need to gather together to worship God and nothing can take the place of church attendance. Birds of a feather flock together!

·       Be a witnessing Christian. We witness in two ways: by life action- you are living it every day and by word – and the two, where possible, should go hand in hand. Always remember, your words and actions must complement each other.

·       Be an obedient Christian. Let Christ have first place in all the choices of your life. Living a Christian life is priority not a when you can do it process.

·       Learn how to meet and deal with temptation. Temptation is not sin. It is yielding that is sin. Let Christ through the Holy Spirit do the fighting for you. I am reminded of how Christ was tempted by Satan on the Mount. Christ did not give in, thus we say Jesus is the only sinless person ever. There have been some mighty good people, but only Christ is considered the sinless one.

·       Be a wholesome Christian. Our lives and appearance should commend the Gospel and make it attractive to others. If we look like the world, act like the world, talk like world, how can others see Jesus in us? Hard to know you are where you are if you can’t tell the world’s people from God’s people.

·       Live above your circumstances. Don’t let your circumstances get you down. Learn to live graciously within them, realizing the Lord Himself is with you. When you know you are not alone, somehow the circumstances are never as bad as you feel. When you leave the problem to Christ, how many times have you overcome and just did not see how it happened? With Christ all things are possible. He is still the God on the Mountain or in the Valley…in every situation. Yes he supplies your needs. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2)

·       Let love be the ruling principle of your life. Jesus said to those who followed Him, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35). The greatest demonstration of the fact that we are Christians is that we love one another.

When you are applying these principles you will find you are more than an overcomer, but you are living example of the teaching of your Savior. You are someone who impacts lives for the greater good. You are the one who people look to with wanting and questioning eyes.They want to come in out of the cold to warm by the revival flames burning.

Your challenge is simple: Be more than you can be. More than you were yesterday. Be that living example of a walking talking Christian in 2020!

By Charlie Griffin

Charlie Griffin is a regular contributor to SGNScoops and is a recording artist with Classic Artists Music Group.

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Selena Day: Christmas Love

Written by Staff on December 10, 2019 – 10:27 am -

Selena Day - Christmas Love

Selena Day talks about Christmas Love

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I pretty much begin decorating right after Halloween. Because of our traveling schedule, Christmas is usually the only holiday I decorate for. During this time, it looks like Christmas regurgitated all over my house. I have the 1960’s Christmas cartoon philosophy to decorating.  

 

Romans 12:2 NLT “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

 

With the Christmas season upon us, the same old discussions of what is excess versus what is not enough, tend to begin to war in our minds as well as in the Christian community. Asking ourselves, are we missing the ‘real’ reason for the season by our rushing around in a fury of activity? Like Paul, I say, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you, not the media nor your church peers.  

 

 

chuck Day Selena Day Merry Chrismas

Chuck and Selena Day say Merry Christmas

I really hate how we tend to judge others, by what is either going on in our own lives or what is going on culturally in our society. The other night Chuck and I, after a very long day of work, went out to eat at a restaurant. Both of us had our cell phones out, checking our social media, e-mails, and just basically decompressing from our day. We were chatting about what we had seen on our Facebook pages, and I thought of how many times we judge others doing this very same thing. We are seeing them as not connecting, instead of what it was for us, our time to relax and reconnect with what was going on in our family’s lives.  

 

Gal. 5:1 MSG. “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” 

 

Gal. 5:14 NLT. “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

 

I love what verse 14 says; for the ‘whole law’ can be summed up in this one command, love. Isn’t this what the season of Christmas is all about; God so loved us that he sent his son. And that son was sent not to condemn us but to save us. Isn’t this the very foundation for Christmas? We celebrate the birth of God’s Son into this world and how it changed the very fabric of time.

 

I have been meditating on Romans 12:2 lately. In that scripture, it tells us not to copy the behavior and customs of this world. What are the behavior and customs of this world? Jesus said to us that the world would know we are different because of our love for one another. What does that look like, practically, in your life? He also tells us that even the tax collectors, the dregs of society, love those who love them. 

 

Selena Day. ChristmasOur country is the most divided than I can ever remember it being. Now is our time as believers to stand up and love. Chuck and I have been married for 31 years. During that time, we both had had to choose to love the other, even when we were unlovable. Any parent will tell you that sometimes it is hard to love the child that may resent you or blame you for the pain and hurt they have experienced. You may love them, but being “in love” with them is a whole different experience.

  

Go on a search for love this Christmas season. Learn to love yourself again and allow God to help you to love others. So many people are in pain. Longing for someone to come along and make a difference in their lives. That difference just might be you. 

 

Someone, somewhere just might be asking God to reach out to them, and God may be asking you to be his hand extended. Think of the one person right now that brings up the most difficult emotions…do you have their face in your mind? Now maybe you need to reach out to them? Or perhaps they need your prayers right now? This is how we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. By changing the way you think about a person or a circumstance changes the brain cells in your brain, it releases healing to you.

  

This is how our world will change. I love the scene in the movie Elf. They are trying to get Santa’s sleigh to fly, and they remember what Buddy the Elf said about singing Christmas carols and spreading cheer for all to hear. Christians have the power to spread Christmas cheer all year long because our Christmas cheer is about Christ and how he came to save us, and our world. 

 

Merry Christmas from Selena Day

Merry Christmas from Selena Day

This Christmas season, you can change the very atmosphere around you by bringing the love of God to those around you. Not the judgment you believe God has for the world, but his love. Scripture tells us that love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Let us become different, showing love for others, and being the change you want to see around you.

 

The world is waiting for you.

By Selena Day

www.journey4women.com

www.queenliving.org

Selena Day is a motivational speaker and is available to speak at your conference or event.  You may contact her at selenaday@me.com http://www.queenliving.org  http://facebook.com/queenismsbyselenaday. Photographs courtesy of Selena Day.

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Kevin Chambers: Are you “gifted” or “called”?

Written by Staff on November 12, 2019 – 11:57 am -

Kevin Chambers: Are you "gifted" or "called"?Be Who You Are — For God’s Glory! By  Kevin Chambers

I surrendered the call to preach in 1997. It was some time after that when I began to seriously study the scriptural concepts of gifts and calling. I’d like to share some things that I learned on that journey, in the hope that it might help you in your daily pursuit of Godly wisdom.

The best place to begin a study of these concepts is Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” I found in my studies that gifts is plural but calling is singular. I searched the Bible diligently for every occurrence of any form of the words “call,” “called,” “calling,” etc. 

Kevin Chambers: Are you "gifted" or "called"?After extensive study, I found exactly one calling in the Bible. It is the call to be saved, to come to Christ, to join the family of God. I discovered that every other religious use of that word was something invented quite recently (in terms of the age of the Church) and outside the Bible.

I learned that when John Bunyan wrote of his calling in his amazing autobiography, “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners,” he meant something notably different from what we think of today. In the section “Imprisonment in November 1660,” he wrote of being examined by magistrates who urged him to “content (himself) with following his calling” and not preach, since that was against the law! Bunyan himself answered that he could “…do both these without confusion, follow my calling and preach the Word also.”

My point is that any religious “calling” (other than salvation) is a new concept that was not known as recently as Bunyan’s day. In that courtroom, all concerned knew that Bunyan’s calling was as a tinker (one who repairs pots and pans). In 1660 England, one’s calling was their regular job. There was no religious connotation in the word.

Eagle's Wings with Kevin Chambers

Eagle’s Wings with Kevin Chambers (far right)

I also noted in my Biblical studies in I Timothy 3:1-7, qualifications for a Bishop, generally understood to be equivalent to the modern idea of a pastor/shepherd/overseer, there is no mention of a calling. Verse one says “…if a man desire the office of a Bishop, he desireth a good work.” Honestly, there is no call to preach in the Bible at all. There are numerous commands to preach. There is desire to preach. But, you must look elsewhere to find the call to any ministry.

I learned that in the early church, any man who was of age, past his bar mitzvah, was welcome to read from scripture and make comments, or preach. They were to speak by two or three at most in any meeting to avoid confusion, and the pastor, literally “overseer,” should watch and call out any errors in love, not hostility; see I Corinthians 14:29-32. There was no “clergy” class. This was something conceived much later, for very questionable motives in the organized church hierarchy.

So, what does this have to do with Southern gospel music? I’m glad you asked.

Eagle's Wings with Kevin ChambersThere are many people in the ministry; preaching, singing, teaching, who at some point claimed or still claim an extra-Biblical “calling” on their lives. Once they made this claim and started down the path, they were trapped. They often have discovered that they do not have the gifts truly needed for that particular pursuit. That is not to say they do not have gifts, but they are afraid to manifest those gifts, since they have said that God called them to do some other specific thing, their “calling”.

Many times, this drives a person to literal despair, all while staying busy and active in their professed calling, knowing inside that they are not equipped to do the job.

The Bible is amazingly clear on the very plural subject of gifts. Paul, in Ephesians 4:7 and 4:11-12, speaks of the various gifts God has given to equip the Church. He also explains, like the body with many parts in I Corinthians 12, that we all have something valuable to contribute. Romans 12 puts it so beautifully. Please read Romans 12:3-8 if you get nothing else from this article.

Some people say they are specially called and that is between them and God. Others wait, pray and beg God for countless years, waiting for a mysterious calling, one that God never mentioned as necessary. Some believe they are gifted in one specific area, but, if they would be honest with themselves and God, then act logically and use their God-given strengths or gifts, they could lead much happier lives.

My earnest desire for you, the reader, is that you, courageously, “Be who you are… for God!”

We are all gifted in some way (Romans 12:3-8) 

We are all called (Philippians 3:14)

God has a plan for you (Ephesians 4:12) 

Don’t try to be something you are not (Psalm 84:10)

Never be afraid of failure (Proverbs 24:16)

Don’t let man’s idea of success be your standard. Noah and Jeremiah had public ministries that were dismal failures, by man’s account. Just do something to the glory of God. Keep trying until you find your gift. Remember this: “And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.” (Daniel 11:35)

Like the prospective pastor in I Timothy 3:1, if you have a desire to spread the good news of the Gospel in songs or sermons or books or any other way, then that desire is a good thing. I don’t believe the devil ever plants desires like that.

If you get to sing, “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Amazing Grace,” to a group of 10 people, God is praised. And one of them might understand a little bit more of the love of God, or how amazing his grace really is, that is a successful ministry.

Be who you are, for God. Don’t let religious language and concepts keep you from finding and using your God-given gifts to glorify him.

I hope this helps someone in their daily walk with the Lord.

Hey Y'all Media

Eagle’s Wings

By Kevin Chambers

Kevin Chambers sings vocals, plays mandolin, bass and guitar with Eagle’s Wings. He is the music director at Central Baptist Church in Jasper, Alabama. He is also a maritime security analyst.

Kevin’s credentials include: “U.S. Air Force Active Duty, U.S. Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, Civil Air Patrol-USAF Auxiliary, US Coast Guard AMSC Civilian… 35 years of working “in/for/with” the military in one capacity or another… I just hope we can keep a free country for the next generation… Then it would be worth all the trouble.”

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