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SGN Scoops National Day of Prayer with Bobby Carter and Kasey Kemp

Written by Staff on May 7, 2015 – 12:08 pm -

Jay Stone Singers

Jay Stone Singers

SGN Scoops is pleased to present these postings which focus on prayer, for the National Day of Prayer. We hope they draw you nearer to the Almighty, the focus of our prayers.

Bobby Carter of the Jay Stone Singers:

Bobby Carter

Bobby Carter

Not to sound like a broken record, but PRAYER truly is the key to heaven. So many times in my personal life and in the ministry of Jay Stone Singers have we seen God move and answer prayer!

When we are out on the road, I usually do most of the bus driving and one of my favorite times is early morning hours driving down an Interstate! God still answers prayers and I know He heard my prayer!

 

 

Allegiance

Allegiance

Kasey Kemp of Allegiance:

When I was growing up, we had a family bible on our family coffee table. The table was built by my grandpa and was the place I knelt to pray, at the age of seven, when my Dad led me to Jesus to Christ. Now, years later, I still have that little table and it is still a very special place for me to pray. I thank God for the gift of prayer knowing God does hear and answer what He knows is best for us.

Kasey and Haley

Kasey and Haley

Recently, a huge prayer request was answered when God sent me my beautiful wife Haley. I prayed for many years and on April 7 (my birthday) of this year we said “I DO!” God answered prayer by blessing me with a Godly, beautiful wife.

I praise God for answered prayer each week as Allegiance travels. God continues to keep us and our families safe and allows us to see people saved and encouraged. Prayer truly is an amazing gift from God.

Do you have a specific place to pray? Have you had a specific answer from God? Share it with us today! lorraine@sgnscoops.com


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Tuesday’s Prayer Focus: Are you Tugging on the Prayer Chain?

Written by Staff on May 5, 2015 – 1:06 pm -

Thank you for joining us as we focus on prayer this week. Thursday is the National Day of Prayer and we would like to thank all of you that are participating in this focus by sharing your thoughts on prayer. If you would like to contribute, please email lorraine@sgnscoops.com

Our verse for today is: “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:6-7. KJV)

Dixie Phillips

Dixie Phillips

Dixie Phillips, singer/songwriter and alumni of SGN Scoops, says we need to keep ‘Tugging on the Prayer Chain:’

For more than three decades I have belonged to a ladies’ prayer group. We meet every Friday morning and bombard heaven for the prayer needs that come in. We have seen first-hand the power in prayer.

I first learned to pray on my grandmother’s knee. She prayed about everything. Recently I saw one of her prayers answered. Grandma prayed often for lost family members to come to Christ. She prayed for each one by name. Grandma went to be with Jesus in 2000. Then a couple years ago my eyes were filled with tears as I watched two family members that Grandma had faithfully prayed for, come to Christ. I just marveled at God’s faithfulness. My ears had heard my precious grandma intercede for the souls of her loved ones decades ago but now, even though Grandma was gone, my eyes were seeing her prayers answered.

Prayer works! Keep tugging on that prayer chain.

 

The Riders

The Riders

Jason Oxenrider of family group, The Riders, says that God is good and still answers prayer:

Prayer is our time to talk to our Lord and Savior, to communicate our thoughts, our concerns, our needs, but most importantly, our love for Him. I am so thankful that I can talk to Jesus through prayer. My prayer time is in the evening, once my family has all gone to sleep, I rock in my recliner and pour my heart out in prayer. God is faithful and good!! He has answered many prayers that I know only could have come from above. My oldest son was born with a defective heart valve and had seven different times in the hospital before he was four years old. Brady is a growing, healthy boy now! My sister Pamela, our soprano singer, was told 20 years ago that her voice was going to leave her and she would never sing again. Well, here we are all those years later and he still sings like an angel! My God is good and He hears the cries of His children!

 

What are your thoughts concerning prayer? Who has been your greatest prayer warrior in your life? Have you had any answers to prayer that could only have been God? Email us! lorraine@sgnscoops.com


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Praying the Lord’s Prayer

Written by Staff on May 1, 2015 – 9:21 am -

 

Karen Peck & New River Releases Highly Anticipated Album, PRAY NOW

Karen Peck & New River Releases
Highly Anticipated Album,
PRAY NOW

In respect of the upcoming National Day of Prayer on May 7, 2015 and the release of Karen Peck and New River’s album and video, Pray Now, we have posted this devotional on the Lord’s Prayer by Lorraine Walker and Stephen Widener. We encourage you to visit Karen Peck and New River’s website and view their video, “Pray Now.”

 

For several months now I have been praying Our Lord’s Prayer as part of my daily devotions. God has been teaching me and I’ve been trying to comprehend at least part of what Jesus was saying when He gave the disciples this prayer in Luke 11:2–4 and in Matthew 6:9-13.

 

I asked my friend Stephen Widener, an assistant Pastor in Lenoir, North Carolina, to give his thoughts as well. My prayer is that this will lead you into your own study as we take a deeper look into these words from our Lord.

 

Stephen: “Let me say this, it is the model prayer of how we’re to pray. The Bible clearly says to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). God wants to have an intimate relationship with us, as He did with Adam in the Garden of Eden before Adam sinned. This is why God sent His Son, Jesus to bring us back to the Father, God Himself.

 

“When you’re intimate with someone, not in a sexual way, but have a relationship where you talk consistently with them, it creates a special type of intimacy. That is what God wants and that’s what prayer is: talking to a Holy, Sovereign God. You are special to Him.

 

“Prayer is not getting God to do things for you, even though He wants to, but getting you to do His will. (v.10) His will does not go against His Word. When we are praying, we are to pray specifically.” Read more »


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We’re All Human by Jeff Steele

Written by Staff on April 24, 2015 – 8:16 am -

Dr. Jeff R. Steele

Dr. Jeff R. Steele

Three Reasons For Trouble

A lot of people don’t like to hear this but sometimes God allows trouble to come into our lives. One need only to look at the life of Job to realize that God does this from time to time. I believe there are three reasons God allows trouble to come to us. One is…He’s preparing us for what’s coming. Why is there Spring Training in baseball? Why are there Preseason workouts and two-a-days in the blazing hot summer for football? To get the players ready for the actual season that is still to come. Does the military just throw otherwise able-bodied men into the conflict of service? No, they first run them through “basic training” to prepare them for their real service.

I had a friend of mine when I was in high school. His dad owned a jewelry store where we lived. We visited that store often. This guy’s dad had solid white hair. I now know (with the perspective of years) that at the time I was visiting his store he was probably younger than I am right now. One day he was talking about the rigors of his basic training in the army. I (being a stupid teen-ager) said, “That must be where that white hair came from, the toughness of basic training.” He became very serious as he looked at me and said, “No, Son. Basic training didn’t give me this white hair. World War II gave me this white hair!”

The difficult thing that you’re going through…that trouble you’re facing…don’t be so quick to get mad at God for allowing it to come. He could be putting you “through the paces” so you will be prepared for the REAL battle that’s much tougher than this so you’ll be prepared when it comes.

Secondly, I believe He allows trouble to come in order to test us. When we were in school (if we’re honest) our least favorite part was test day. You know what, though? The teacher didn’t just give a test to determine whether we passed or failed the subject. They gave us the test to determine whether we had retained what we were supposed to have learned to see if we could move forward. There’s no sense going to what’s next if we haven’t yet retained the knowledge and skill we are supposed to have learned in the previous lesson. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Don’t put that on your car as a bumper sticker until you have passed the test that lets you know for a certainty that it’s true!

Thirdly, God will allow trouble to come to chasten us. Scripture tells us that the Lord chastens those He loves. Now we don’t like that but listen; chastening from the Lord is one of the things that prove we’re SAVED! I run into people all the time who tell me they’re not sure they’re saved. I ask them: “Is God chastening you?” If He IS, then that’s a sign you ARE indeed one of His children. As His children we are called to live our lives according to HIS will for us.   When we began to follow our own desires and leave His will for us then He will chasten us to get us away from where we ARE and take us BACK to where we are supposed to be!

Don’t get mad when God allows trouble to come. Just realize that it’s all part of His perfect plan for your life and that He’s using it to build you into what HE wants you to be.

First published by SGN Scoops digital magazine in February 2015.

Connect with Dr. Jeff R. Steele on Facebook.

Read Jeff’s latest column in the current issue of SGN Scoops on the SGN Scoops’ Mainpage.


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Josh Copenhaver: Gospel Singer Gone Too Soon

Written by Staff on April 8, 2015 – 3:06 pm -

Joshua CopenhaverI first met young Josh Copenhaver online when I did a story regarding single people in Southern Gospel. His brother Jimmy joked that Josh was ‘Gospel music’s most eligible bachelor.’ Shortly thereafter, I met Josh at the National Quartet Convention. He was sweet and funny, engaging and optimistic. He had met a girl recently and was really excited about where it might lead. Later, I wrote about Rachel and Josh’s love story in a Valentine’s article. I was friends with Josh on Facebook and occasionally saw a post or comment, talking about life and Southern Gospel music. He sang with his family, The Copenhavers.

I was shocked and saddened therefore to see a post before Easter. It said that Joshua Copenhaver had passed away at only 26 years of age.

SGN Scoops and SGM Radio sends their condolences and prayers to the family of Josh. With the consent of his mother Karen, we are reprinting his obituary as follows:

Joshua Copenhaver, 26, of Warren OH, formerly of Rittman, went home to be with the Lord on Saturday, March 28, 2015 at Trumbull Memorial Hospital in Warren.

He was born December 29, 1988, in Wooster, to Donnie R. and Karen (Jackson) Copenhaver.

Josh grew up in Creston, and graduated from Norwayne High School in the class of 2007. On May 18, 2013, he married Rachel (Romine) Copenhaver in Newton Falls, and made their home in Warren for the past 2 years. While there, he had been attending the General Assembly Church of God. Josh absolutely loved Southern Gospel music, enjoyed singing and recording albums in his home studio, all sports, especially football, baseball, and Nascar, and spending time with his family, especially his nephew Hutson. Josh was a positive, kind hearted, joyful man and was friends with everyone he met.

He is survived by his wife Rachel of Warren; parents Donnie and Karen Copenhaver of Wooster; brother Jim (Angela) Copenhaver of Wooster; nephew Hutson Copenhaver of Wooster; father and mother in law Lyle (Jennifer) Romine of Warren; aunts and uncles Bill (Betty) Copenhaver of Rittman, Linda Sineath of Virginia, Cathy (Dan) Hearn of Elyria; the Romine and Meadors families; and many other cousins, friends, and loved ones.

He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents Rev. Neil S. and Della Jackson; and paternal grandparents Denzil and Hazel Copenhaver.

Funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, April 3, 2015 at Auble-Gillman Funeral Home, 360 W. Sunset Dr., Rittman, with Pastor Mitchel Meadors officiating. Interment Rittman Cemetery.

The family will receive friends from 4-8 PM on Thursday, April 2, at the funeral home, and from 10-11 AM on Friday before services.

Memorial contributions may be made to Ron Moore of the Ohio Parkinsons Foundation, 127 S. Raccoon Rd., Austintown, OH, 44515.

For online register book, obituary, condolences, please visit www.gillmanfuneralhome.com.

Readers, we ask that you remember this family in your prayers.

You can reach the following Copenhaver family members on Facebook:

Karen Copenhaver

Jimmy Copenhaver

Rachel Copenhaver

 


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The Hall Sisters: True Blue Gospel

Written by Staff on April 7, 2015 – 2:36 pm -

Hall Sisters

Hall Sisters

By Tina Wakefield

Four young women with a heart and passion for God and music mix together to create a transforming experience for any audience. While listening to the Hall Sisters perform, one could close their eyes and feel as though they had been transported back in time to the days of The Andrew Sisters where harmony was queen. Jessica, Natalie, Lydia, and Valerie Hall possess great talent for singing and playing their way into the very heart of their audiences. The Hall Sisters enjoy a variety of musical styles, and perform music from all genres including Gospel, Bluegrass, Folk songs, and Oldies, as well as fiddle and instrumental tunes. There is even an Annie Moses Band influence that is obvious within the group, coming from the instruction the girls received from this popular band.

Jessica Hall, the oldest of the sisters, plays mandolin, guitar, and piano and is the alto singer for the group. Jessica is also considered the leader of the group and is responsible for arranging the music for The Hall Sisters. Jessica says that in learning to lead, “I had to learn that I was not right all the time. To be a real leader, you need to be humble and willing to accept correction from others.”

HS A75Y9129Being the one in charge can have its humorous side as well. Jessica was responsible for starting an a cappella song on a specific note. Unfortunately, she forgot the note and started the song too high. The group had to stop and restart the song on the correct note and that’s one moment she’ll never forget! Jessica says that while singing she feels the Lord’s pleasure and as long as she can sing, she is happy. She adds that their parents have been their spiritual leaders and encouragers and the grandparents have been the prayer warriors praying for unity and safety as they travel.

Natalie Hall is a gifted musician as well as singer, possessing the ability to play the violin as well as the mandolin. Natalie’s goal is that others would be drawn to Jesus through the light that shines in her. She is the high voice for the group and Jessica says that her voice is “one of the strongest that she has ever heard.”

Music is Natalie’s ministry to reach others but it does not define her totally. She enjoys being outside with her dad whether cutting grass, trimming bushes, or working in the garden. If she wasn’t singing, Natalie says she would most likely be a Dental Assistant working for her father and also at home learning to be a homemaker.

Natalie truly has a strong tie with her family and loves spending her spare time with either parent. Just as she enjoys time with her dad outside, she equally loves to cook with her mom. Natalie has had her share of kitchen disasters and told us how a recipe went wrong. She was baking cookies with her mom and turned the page for the remainder of the recipe, but the page stuck and she ended up with a totally different recipe to finish the cookies. As it turned out, the cookies were mixed with a granola recipe, which was definitely interesting. The family didn’t eat very much of that recipe, but they do love her homemade bread.

HS A75Y8698Lydia Hall has the great ability to light up the stage when she begins to minister through song and violin. Her steadfastness is based on the fact that, as she says, “I need Him everyday, and every hour of my life.” Lydia continues, “We live in a dark world but music can definitely penetrate the darkness and I want everything I do to point to Jesus.”

Lydia would love to perform overseas someday, as music speaks every language and she would love to meet others in different regions of the world. She has a tender heart for orphans and children and loves to understand how they see Jesus. A song that The Hall Sisters perform called: “Some Children See Him,” is a favorite of the group because it speaks about children from all nationalities and how they view Jesus.

Lydia’s beautiful voice can soar from alto to soprano for the group and her favorite song to sing is, “Brethren, We Have Met to Worship.” She describes this song as glorious and worshipful and their performance of this song makes this writer smile.

Lydia encourages older singers who may be thinking of retiring and wondering if anyone still wants to hear the old songs to never give up. She feels that people love the old songs for the memories. These songs can recount a time when things were better for most people and the world was not so crazy. Even movies reach back and take songs from The Golden Era because they anchor people and give them a secure hook to the past.

Valerie Hall is the youngest member of The Hall Sisters. Valerie laughs, “It is hard learning to take correction from my older sisters!” She says that learning to pull her share of responsibilities of a singing group has been good for her, but if she could be the leader for just one day it would be fun to be the one correcting the older sisters. Honestly, she said she would not change a thing about The Hall Sisters because she feels the presence of God when performing and loves “feeling” the music when she plays.

Valerie sings soprano and plays the cello for the group. She says that she loves to relate to the audiences, smiling at them and seeing them smile back, and making sure she conveys the message behind the song. For Valerie, it is hard doing the same thing everyday, but she would never want to stop because she loves feeling the Lord’s presence when performing. To other young people interested in music, she says: “Keep going, don’t ever give up, but make sure that you are doing it for the right reason: to glorify God. It is worth all the practicing. It is definitely worth it!”

We are sure to be hearing more from The Hall Sisters in the very near future, as they are one of the up and coming young groups in Gospel music. The ladies have just finished filming several music videos in Nashville, TN. in January to be aired on YouTube. They have plans to return to the studio this spring to work on a full Christmas CD and another album.

Be sure to see The Hall Sisters in concert when they are in your area and you will be blessed by the music, spirit, and energy of these four young women. You may purchase one of their current projects entitled, Snow and True Blue Love on their website www.hallsisters.com .

Written by Tina Wakefiled.

First published by SGN Scoops digital magazine, February 2015. For current SGN Scoops issues, click HERE. 

 

 

 


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Then Came The Morning

Written by Staff on March 27, 2015 – 12:03 pm -

Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene. The Passion of the Christ (2004). Image courtesy of Top Ten Bible Films.

Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene. The Passion of the Christ (2004). Image courtesy of Top Ten Bible Films.

By Cindy Walker

Restless throughout the Sabbath night, drifting into the sweet escape of sleep only to awaken repeatedly with the sorrow of deep grief clutching her heart, Mary rose before dawn.  Methodically and numbly she gathered up the jars of spices and oils that she, Salome and James’ mother had prepared before sunset on preparation day, the day before the Sabbath.  A timid knock on her door made her jump, and fear rose in her throat before she recalled that Salome and the other Mary were to meet her here.  She quickly pulled her garments close to her and slipped out the door into the shadows, where the other two women waited.  They silently drew into each others’ arms briefly, hoping somehow to gather strength from each other for the sorrowful task ahead of them.  Silent tears trickled down their faces as they each gathered up an equal share of the jars and quietly started toward their destination.

The pre-dawn light cast strange shadows into the cool mist that hung over Jerusalem and the women shivered, drawing their black robes tighter around themselves.  Each was lost in her own thoughts, terrible images flashing through their minds; bitter accusations and insults hurled at One who only came to bring new life and hope to them.  How could the crowds have waved palm branches one day, only to later have risen up and crucified the One who had such love in His eyes, such healing in His hands, such compassion in His heart for sinners?  How could this be?  It seemed impossible.  It felt like a nightmare, and yet, the chill of the early morning and the reality of where they were going struck with a crushing blow.  It was a nightmare…but it was a real one.

sky two Mary Magdalene continued to replay scenes in her mind as she walked silently beside two of her closest friends.  She recalled how different her life was since she met the Messiah.  She grew up in Magdala, a village well known for its fish trade, wool and woolen dyes.  Early on in her life she worked alongside her mother and quickly learned the skills of spinning wool and dyeing it, preparing garments that were sought after by many passing through the countryside.  Mary’s mother was a wise woman who managed her household, servants and purchases with skill and confidence while her husband and sons spent long hours on the fishing boats, earning a denarius each for their labour, day after day.  She was proud of her father and how he provided for them so faithfully.  Her family was happy and comfortably well off in their home in Magdala.  Everyone was healthy and rejoiced in the pleasure of a hard day’s worth.  That was the ‘norm’ for her family.  That is, until Mary became sick.

She remembered how she came home one day after several hours at the market selling the woolen garments her family was famous for.  She thought she had been out in the sun too long that day.  Her body felt weak and the pain in her head grew stronger even after she lay down.  After a few days, Dr. Luke grew more alarmed when she began to describe times of collapse, when her muscles would give way, sending her to the ground.  Also, of times when her heart and lungs seemed to suddenly cease their function leaving her gasping for breath moments later.  The powders and herbs he prescribed did little to alleviate Mary’s pain or improve her condition as days stretched into weeks.  The painful boils and scaly skin condition that came several weeks later added to the hopelessness and discouragement that had settled on her and on their home. 

No longer were the sounds of laughter heard where once the joyous sound was a staple during their evening meals together.  Not that Mary joined them for meals now anyway, she was too sick to take much more than broth and bread.  Weeks dragged into months and then a year passed, with no improvement in her condition.  Gone was the hope that every young Jewish girl dreamed of: the hope of a husband and a family.  Mary was known in the village now as being unclean because of her illnesses. Some even said she was demon-possessed, that each malady she struggled with was a demon that plagued her.  Mary’s mother, father and brothers tried to encourage her.  They felt the stigma that rested upon her but felt helpless to remedy it.

Then one afternoon the village grew loud with excitement.  Someone shouted that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by!  Although many in Magdala had forsaken their worship of Jehovah, still they were anxious to meet this Man they had heard so much about.  Was He truly the Messiah, or just a prophet, as some said?  Mary’s family talked of it as they prepared to join the people waiting in the street.  Mary wondered if the stories she had heard were true.  He had been in other villages and people had been healed.  Was that possible?  If this Jesus really did heal people, could He heal her? 

Her sicknesses had been with her so long that there was not much more than a flicker of faith that pushed its way through the pain of hopelessness and discouragement that pressed upon her.  “Perhaps He is able,” she whispered to herself, “But would He be willing to heal me?”  Many of the villagers believed she had demons that plagued her and they looked upon her with pity and distain as they moved away from her in the crowd.  For this reason alone, Mary was able to move forward to the edge of the street to see the Man everyone pressed in to see.

From The Great Passion Play

From The Great Passion Play

Suddenly He was before her, and Mary gasped as He looked at her.  She was so used to the looks of the villagers that she was shocked at what she saw in His eyes.  She found she could not look away from the compassion, care and hope she saw shining there.  No one had ever looked at Mary that way, especially since she had become sick a year ago.  She saw Him smile. 

Then as He stepped toward her, she saw Him rest His hand on the head of a little girl whose lifeless eyes suddenly sparkled, as for the first time in her life, she was able to see!  She threw her tiny arms around Jesus’ leg and giggled.  He beamed at her and patted her head before moving toward Mary.  She stood in awe at what she had just witnessed and faith leapt in her heart.  This was no ordinary man!  This man was from God!  Little Sarah was just healed of blindness!

Jesus reached out His hand toward Mary and she knelt to kiss it and bowed down in worship.  She had seen Him heal and her heart rejoiced in gratefulness.  She was in the presence of One who deserved her homage.  Jesus rested His other hand on Mary’s head for just a moment and said quietly, “Arise, your faith has made you well.”  Then He was gone in the throng of people calling out His name, begging for His touch.  Mary remembered rising slowly from the ground, the noise of the crowd fading as they hurried to catch up with Jesus.  She stood alone suddenly, staring down the street at the crowd.  His words burned within her, “Arise, your faith has made you well.”

Mary trembled as her faith in the Healer swept over her.  She looked down at her hands.  The boils were gone.  And the skin condition that had left her hands gray and scaled had been replaced with the creamy, golden skin of her childhood.  Her heart began to hammer, but not because of the plague that routinely squeezed the life from her heart and lungs.  In fact, she could breathe more freely than she had done in months!  Her headache was gone.  Mary realized that although she usually could only stand for brief periods of time without her legs suddenly collapsing, that strength surged through her body!  There was no weakness…there was no muscle collapse.

Mary’s heart pounded with the realization of what had happened to her.  She was healed.  This man of God, with such compassion in His eyes, had known her needs and healed her without a word from her own mouth.  She hadn’t time to call out to Him for healing when she witnessed Sarah’s; she had just bowed in worship of this God-man.  And He had healed her too!

The movie "The Passion of the Christ", directed by Mel Gibson.   Seen here from left, Maia Morgenstern as Mary and Monica Bellucci as Magdalen.  Initial theatrical release February 25, 2004.  Screen capture. © 2004 Icon Distribution, Inc. Credit: © 2004 Icon Distribution / Flickr / Courtesy Pikturz.

The movie “The Passion of the Christ”, directed by Mel Gibson. Seen here from left, Maia Morgenstern as Mary and Monica Bellucci as Magdalen. Initial theatrical release February 25, 2004. Screen capture. © 2004 Icon Distribution, Inc. Credit: © 2004 Icon Distribution / Flickr / Courtesy Pikturz.

“Mary!”  Mary was startled as she was brought back to the present.  Salome had asked her a question.  What was it she had said?  “Mary!  How are we going to roll the stone away?”  None of them had thought of this when they started out for the tomb.  “The Master will see to it,” Mary said quickly.  Then she hesitated, looking into the eyes of the other two women as the reality of what she had just said and where they were going struck them with new grief.

How often had they said those words over the years as they had traveled with Him and the other disciples?  As they helped, as they cooked and served meals and set out sleeping mats; as they moved from town to town, sometimes with abundance and sometimes with little provision, they had often experienced circumstances where questions and doubts would arise.  And yet, each time, the food was enough, the lodging was enough, the provision was enough.  They knew it was because of the Master.  He was their Teacher, their guide and their God.  He was Messiah.  They saw the miracles, but more than that, they saw the kingdom of God through His teachings.  There was hope!  Messiah was here!

Mary looked at the women and tears streamed down their faces, mirroring hers.  “The Master will see to it.”  Those were the words that came from her lips.  The words that came from her heart.  But none of that was true now. The death of hope crushed Mary’s heart.  She shuddered.  Partially from the damp gay mist that hung heavy around them, but the real depth of her shudder came from her soul.  What would they do?  About the stone?  About living life without Him? Mary’s heart cried out silently to Jehovah, “Please.  Will You not grant this one last chance to serve my Master?”  The cold chill of silence gave no answer to Mary’s spirit.

She lifted her head and gazed upward, her prayer lifted to the Father, silently seeking communion with Him.  As she lowered her gaze, through the dim light of the pre-dawn she could see the tomb ahead of her.  She blinked, then quickly turned her eyes to the other women.  They stared ahead, eyes riveted on the scene before them.  No one said a word as they grasped each others’ arms and ran toward the tomb.  The stone was gone!  It was not in front of the tomb, but pushed aside!  With fear, the women moved closer, then began to weep.  Someone had stolen His body! 

 

emptytombThere were no words to express the anguish dashing their hearts.  With tears falling, the women turned to each other in fear.  James’ mother and Salome gazed at Mary, grief overwhelming them, causing their eyes to grow large and dark.  Mary saw the fear that she felt mirrored in their eyes.  They wanted to go home. All this was too much to comprehend after the terrible days leading up to the crucifixion of their Master.  Mary drew into their arms for a moment before urging them to return to their homes to rest.  “I will tell Peter,” Mary said, “Do not worry.  I will tell Peter.  He will know what to do.”  The women drew together one last time to gather strength and then parted to go their separate ways.

Peter and John and the others looked at Mary without saying a word, but their eyes showed a mixture of grief, disbelief and pity.  Poor Mary.  This was obviously too much for her.  Peter sprang up and rushed from the door of the house, no longer fearful of who might see him or associate him with the King of the Jews.  John followed, assisting Mary and talking quietly with her as they journeyed back to the tomb.

Suddenly, up ahead, Peter stopped still.  John glanced at Mary and then over Peter’s shoulder. Mary was right! The stone was rolled away!  They both looked at her and then back at the tomb.  Peter bent to glance inside but John pushed past him and walked into the sepulchre.  The grave clothes were there!  And the special napkin that had covered their Teacher’s face was folded and set aside!  What could this mean?  There were few words exchanged between the three, Peter and John inside the tomb, and Mary sitting on a stone nearby.  The sun was beginning to rise and melt the gray mist of dawn away, warming the grass and the tiny white flowers that fluttered now in the soft breeze.  Mary noticed none of that.

“Where have they taken my Lord?” she whispered.  Peter and John told her they needed to go back to the house to tell the others.  Mary shook her head.  “I just want to stay here,” she said.  Peter and John looked at each other in concern.  They didn’t want to leave her here.  Alone.  In her grief.  And yet they must tell the others.  They must come up with a plan of what to do next.  They looked at her again, urgency flashing in their eyes, but Mary just shook her head.

“Come to us when you can,” John said softly, and Mary nodded as she starred off in the distance, tears glistening in her eyes again.  She didn’t hear them leave, she was lost in her thoughts; her healing, His traveling ministry, His teachings, His righteousness, His arrest, His beating, His crucifixion, His death.  Hope died within her. It was over.  There was nothing left to hope for.  He was gone.  Her Master, her Teacher was gone.  Her healing didn’t seem to matter now because now there was no one left to minister to.  Was it all in vain?  Had she put her hope, her future, her life into the hands of Someone who was dead? Weeping overcame Mary as she sat on the stone a short distance from the tomb.  Turning sorrowful eyes to the tomb, Mary saw two men.  She was not surprised by their presence as it was customary for the gardeners to be working in the early morning before the heat of the day arrived.  The man said to her, “Why are you weeping?”

Mary thought it strange for one acquainted with this garden tomb to wonder at her tears but answered him saying, “Where have you taken Him?”  She glanced to the far side of the garden to see if there was another tomb nearby.

“Mary!”  The gentle, yet commanding voice was the only one like it!  Mary quickly turned.  “Teacher!”she cried out.  A smile flickered through her tears as she bowed down in worship before Him, just as she had done many years ago.  She reached for His hand.  He gently told her, “Do not cling to Me, but go tell the brethren that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”  His eyes shone with compassion and grace as He smiled at her faith. 

From the Great Passion Play

From the Great Passion Play

Mary rose from the ground, her eyes fixed on the Lord, hope dawning within her at His words.  He was alive!   The Master was alive!  Hope was not dead.  Hope stood before her and promised eternal life.  The Lord had risen!  A smile started within her heart and burst onto her face!  “Messiah!” she whispered.  “Messiah!”  His words were true!  Because He lived, she would live also!  She rushed off to join the other disciples.  She had much to tell.  The greatest news of all!  She had seen the Messiah!  The Lord had risen! “Death had lost and life had won, for morning had come.”1 

 

 By Guest Author Cindy Walker

First published April 2012 on SGM Radio website. For current features click HERE.

1. “Then Came the Morning Lyrics.” Lyrics.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2015. Web. 27 Mar. 2015. <http://www.lyrics.net/lyric/8442675>. Written by: CHRISTIAN, CHRIS/GAITHER, GLORIA/GAITHER, WILLIAM. Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.


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Randy Byrd: Piece by Piece … It’s All Coming Together

Written by Staff on March 24, 2015 – 1:09 pm -

 

Mark Trammell Quartet

Mark Trammell Quartet

By Craig Harris

2014 brought bountiful blessings in more ways than one for Mark Trammell Quartet bass singer Randy Byrd

The pieces to Randy Byrd’s puzzle have miraculously fallen together. However, the “fit” happened a little later rather than sooner. Randy can vividly remember traveling to Robinson Auditorium in Little Rock, Ark., as a 12-year-old for a concert that included both the Kingsmen and the Cathedrals.

“I went home that night and I told my mom that I wanted to be a bass singer,” Randy says. “I got every Cathedrals’ album I could get my hands on. I tried to sound just like George (Younce, the legendary bass singer for the Cathedrals).”

However, Randy had to wait 28 years before even the outside edges of the jigsaw began to come into view. The road to full-time ministry was one that involved missed opportunities even from an early age.

“My first opportunity to ever sing was with the Bob Wills Family in Fort Worth, Texas,” Randy – who worked on an assembly line for 14 years in Missouri followed by a lengthy stint as a phone operator for a principal financial company in Des Moines, Iowa – explains. “Bob offered me a job full time when I was a senior in high-school. He offered it in October. I left home, and it all fell apart. The bass singer they ended up hiring was Jeff Chapman (currently a member of the Kingdom Heirs). Every time I saw him, I’d say, ‘You have my job,’ but I was proud for him.

“I never gave up. I knew it was a dream. With local groups, I had already lived a dream. I wanted to do it full time for a living. I wanted to be in ministry full time singing. My heart was to sing and minister. I wasn’t going to punch a time card somewhere.”

Randy Byrd

Randy Byrd

He had been singing with an Iowa-based local group, Majesty, for more than five years when an e-mail from Mark Blackwood settled in his inbox. That message was too hard for Randy to believe.

“I thought it was a joke, so I didn’t answer (initially),” Randy remembers. “I was just playing along (later on), so I answered it. It turned out that they (the Blackwood Gospel Quartet) were going to be in the area the next week. They had been there the week before and announced that bass singer Ken Turner would be retiring. Someone gave them my name. To this day, I don’t know who did it. Two weeks later, I got the job.

“This was the dream since I was 12. At the time, I was 40. I turned 41 later that year.” It was Randy’s first professional job in Southern Gospel Music. The group later changed its name from the Blackwood Gospel Quartet to the Blackwood Brothers.

He was with the group from that time until 2012, when he relocated to Arizona during a tough period in his life. That stay out West lasted just six months before he moved back to Tennessee.

“I applied for 200 jobs and got two phone calls,” Randy points out. “I got in my car to come back to Tennessee. I was in the car for 10 minutes, and my phone started ringing.”

Short stints with the Anchormen, LeFevre Quartet and Songfellows followed. He also did some solo dates. That’s when another Mark contacted Randy: Mark Trammell.

Mark Trammell Quartet - Cropped“I was just praying for God’s guidance,” Randy shares. “Mark called and asked if I would fill in (as the bass singer of the Mark Trammell Quartet). I said, ‘Sure.’ After the first week, he asked if he could consider me (as a permanent group member). I said, ‘God’s going to have to speak audibly.’

“I wanted it so bad. I had wanted it so bad with Mike (LeFevre). I didn’t want to do that again. I didn’t want to get ahead of God, but in my heart, I wanted it more than anything.”

Randy and Mark were acquainted since his tenure with the Blackwood Brothers. “When Randy came to the Blackwood Brothers, we sang with them not long after that,” Trammell says. “We hit it off with him.

“I started the process of listening to the other 35 (candidates for the bass-singing position), but I didn’t find anybody with the same kindred spirit and the same love of our music he had. As nice as they (the other candidates) were, I feared they would sing at the people instead of to them.”

Randy’s passion for the position was due in part to his fondness for his childhood heroes.

Randy Byrd 3027“My favorite group was the Cathedrals, and Mark stood next to my hero,” Randy notes. “My fiancé (Tracy Kelley) and I sat down and wrote three very specific things, fleeces to God. They were highly unlikely and very detailed. I told Mark that I wasn’t going to tell him what they were. He said, ‘I respect that.’ We prayed specifically about income and benefits packages that are not industry standards. In two weeks, all three of the fleeces took place.

“I shared that with Mark after he offered me the job. We both cried. When you are where God wants you, it’s good.”

The fit felt right from the outset. He officially joined the group in July.

“When he hired me, Mark said, ‘From the very first week you were on the bus, it felt like I came home and put my favorite old shirt on,’” Randy points out.

Mark adds, “It just worked. From the beginning, it worked because of like-mindedness. We have a lot of history. I can start an old joke that has been told, and he can finish it.”

Randy has been overwhelmed at the opportunity for many reasons, some of which pertain to past trials he has experienced. “When I left the LeFevres, I was so discouraged and distraught,” Randy remembers. “I felt like God wasn’t in tune with me anymore. Anything was a big deal to me. I understood him calling me to fill in, but to me, the likelihood of Mark Trammell offering me that job, it was more likely for the local high-school baseball pitcher to get a call from the New York Yankees.”

However, Randy is enjoying every minute of his opportunity in the “big leagues.” Read more »


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Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards: Favorite Industry Website

Written by Staff on March 19, 2015 – 12:00 pm -

gospel music todayThe 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are now open on the SGN Scoops website until March 31. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category. You can vote today from the link below!

We are traveling the Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards during this nomination period, by highlighting the definition of each award category. The Favorite Industry Website award is for a news, magazine, supporting business, or event that supports or promotes the Southern, Country or Bluegrass Christian music industry.

diamond-2014On November 4th, 2014, the Diamond Awards were held at the 2014 Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge. The winner of the 2014 Favorite Industry Website was Gospel Music Today with Ken and Jean Grady. You can find their website HERE.

Who will you decide to nominate this year?

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to vote for your favorite nominees today.

The list of nominees will be posted on the site and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In
this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/

The Diamond Awards are hosted by SGN Scoops digital magazine and Coastal Media Group.


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SMART-ER Goals for Spring by Laurette Willis, CHC

Written by Staff on March 19, 2015 – 11:16 am -

Laurette Willis

Laurette Willis

“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry” (Habakkuk 2:2-3).

 

Where are you going? Without goals, how will you know whether or not you are on the right track? How will you know if you are on the road to your destination if you don’t recognize the signposts along the way (smaller goals on the way to your larger goals)?

 

Study books editedSMART-ER Goals to INSPIRE You.

We’ve heard of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound). Here are SMART-ER goals, which honor God and help keep you on track!

Your SMART-ER Goals involve these seven steps:

S-Seek God

M-Make a Commitment

A-Ask

R-(w)Rite the Vision

T-Thank God in Advance;

E-Expect and R-Receive

 

S – Seek God. Get in a quiet place and seek the presence of the Lord. Meditate on scriptures about the Lord and what He has said and promised; such as “I am the Lord that healeth thee;” “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life;” “I will never leave you nor forsake you;” and others. (Matthew 6:33) “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL these things will be added unto you.”

 

M – Make a Commitment. Commit yourself to God. Let Him know you not only want the Lord’s guidance, but that you will follow it, too. (Proverbs 16:3) “Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established” and (Psalm 37:5) “Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”

 

A – Ask – We want to ask in line with God’s will. Ask Him. (James 4:2) “You have not because you ask not. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” and (John 14:3) “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

 

R – (w)Rite the Vision! Write your goals down in each area. (Habakkuk 2:2) “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.”

 

T – Thank God in Advance. Thank the Lord for His guidance, direction, favor and the fulfillment of these goals. (Philippians 4:6) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

 

E – Expect (1 John 5:14-15) “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” Expect MORE from God!

 

R – Receive (Mark 11:24) “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive (the word in Greek is “TAKE”) them, and you will have them.”

 

Laurette Willis

Laurette Willis

Now Praise the Lord! Really! Thank Him in a BIG way. Start praising Him and thanking Him for answered prayer. “I thank You, Lord, that You have heard me and that we will reach these goals together. I praise You, I worship You, and I give you ALL the glory for what You are doing in my life!”

 

Make this your year for SMART-ER Goals that honor God and keep you on track – guiding and guarding your ADVENTURE in Faith!

Christian Fitness Expert and Certified Health Coach Laurette Willis is the Director of PraiseMoves Fitness Ministry with DVDs, Training, and Classes by Certified PraiseMoves Instructors on six continents (http://Praisemoves.com). ©2015

By Laurette Willis

First published by SGN Scoops magazine in January 2015. For current articles by Laurette Willis in the latest SGN Scoops magazine click HERE.

 


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