Southern Gospel Weekend

Creekside Gospel Music Convention

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.

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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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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.”

For more Gospel music features, read the latest SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

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Cheryl Smith: Letting go of “if onlys…” and “what ifs?”

Written by Staff on November 7, 2019 – 8:17 am -

 letting go of "if onlys" and "what ifs?"By Cheryl Smith

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

— Jesus’ words in John 14:27

How many times have you uttered the two little words, “if only?”  “If only I hadn’t gone so far into debt.”  “If only I had been more respectful of my parents and their needs.”  “If only I had spent more time with my kids.”  “If only I hadn’t gained so much weight.”  “If only I hadn’t spoken such unkind words.”  “If only I had chosen a different path.”  “If only I had listened to wise counsel.”

How about those other two little words, “what if?”  “What if the bottom falls out?”  “What if something bad happens?”  “What if I try again and fail again?”  “What if other people talk about me?”  “What if this relationship doesn’t work out?”  “What if I never find my purpose?”  “What if we can’t make ends meet?”

Your “if onlys” and “what ifs?” may be worlds-apart different than mine, but there’s a good chance, if you have lived very long at all, you have amassed a huge pile of “if onlys” and “what ifs?” all your own.

These are the things “if onlys” and “what ifs” are made of.  “If onlys” communicate remorse and regret over the past.  “What ifs” convey fears and anxiety over the future.  Both prevent us from living in complete joy in the present.  If you are like me, you may teeter between the two on a regular basis.  It sort of feels like an irreconcilable, futile tug-of war, lamenting one minute over things I wish I had done differently in the past and dreading unforeseen potentially bad things that may or may not happen in the future.

Can you envision just for a moment how much happier and more serene present life would be if we decluttered all “if onlys” and “what ifs” and never uttered those four words again?  “If onlys” and “what ifs” are a complete waste of time and energy because the truth is, we cannot go back and make alterations, nor can we see or control what happens beyond the moment in front of us.  “If onlys” and “what ifs” hold the power of rendering us incapable of experiencing joy in the beautiful parts of our own reality and they rob us of being able to live the peaceful life we all crave.

Remember the serenity prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference?”  (Written by Reinhold Niebuhr)

Acceptance, courage, and wisdom are quite possibly the three main qualities we all need on this path to a minimal life.

 

Acceptance of the things we cannot change—


What we sow will grow, and it is impossible to go back and unearth any of the seeds we have planted.  We will never find a sense of peace until we make the choice to let go of regret and embrace that what has already happened cannot be undone.  Regrets are past deeds for which we refuse to forgive ourselves.  Surrendering the grudge we are holding against ourselves is extremely liberating and conducive to peace.  It is completely okay to finally forgive yourself for doing the things you wish you hadn’t, leave the past where it happened, let it go, and walk on.

 

Courage to change the things we can—


Since we can’t rewrite the history of our own actions, why not focus our energy on learning the lessons our regrets have taught us and start courageously applying that knowledge to present and future behavior?  Why don’t we stop obsessing over what we can’t do and redirect that energy to what we still can?  While we can’t change the way we may have treated departed loved ones, we can recklessly and wholeheartedly love and care for the important people who are in our lives today.  Whenever possible, we can say we’re sorry to people we may have hurt along the way.  We can nourish relationships with our children and do our best to make up for lost time with them, regardless of their current age.  We can scale back on unnecessary commitments and obligations and set our current priorities in order.  We can pay off past debt and stop buying things on credit.  We can make better eating choices, start exercising and lose excess weight.  We can do whatever it takes to change career paths and start doing something we really love.  We can start today by mustering the courage to do the things we wish we had done in the past.  Life is incredibly short, no one is getting any younger, and there is no time like the present.  Start today to make the changes you wish you had made years ago.

 

Wisdom to know the difference—


There is a sense of relief that can be found in the mere act of compartmentalizing the things that bother us.  Just as it helps us feel more productive to place unwanted physical possessions into minimizing boxes that are labeled, “Donate,” “Sell,” “Trash,” and “Put Away,” tossing troublesome “what ifs” and “if onlys” into the “Things I Can Change” and “Things I Cannot Change” categories will help us feel that we are making progress and taking a step in the right direction.  Making the distinction between what we can change and what we cannot change empowers us to take control over hypothetical circumstances and realign our thoughts with what is real and doable.

The enemy of our souls wants to steal, kill, and destroy everything good in our lives.  If he can convince us to dwell on “if onlys” and “what ifs,” he can take our eyes off the blessings God so faithfully and bountifully pours into our lives.  Jesus came to give us life.  Not just existence, but life that is abundant.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10

“If onlys” produce regret.  “What ifs” generate anxiety.  Both are toxic to our well being, and regardless how much progress we may have made in minimizing stressful situations and letting go of excess physical possessions, they can rob our newfound peace and cause our otherwise simple lives to feel unnecessarily complicated.  The next time you are tempted to say, “if only” or “what if,” make the intentional decision to think of something about present life that you are thankful for, turn your eyes upon Jesus, and thank Him for that instead.

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

Cheryl Smith, author of the Inner Views and Homespun Devotions

By Cheryl Smith

First published at www.biblicalminimalism.com  The post can be found HERE.

Cheryl Smith is a Blessed & Grateful Wife to Kevin and Homeschool Mama to Zach 

Prayer Action Leader for Concerned Women for America

For more Gospel music features, read the latest SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

Download SGNScoops Magazine In PDF Here
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Rob Patz: How long have you been waiting? 

Written by Staff on October 28, 2019 – 6:47 pm -

Facing your fears with Rob Patz2019 October SGNScoops Publisher’s Point by Rob Patz

“For the man was more than forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was wrought.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭4:22‬ ‭ASV‬‬

How long have you been waiting? 

I’m sure most of us are familiar with this story in Acts from Sunday School and I’m sure you’ve heard countless sermons about the man who was crippled from birth.

As the story is detailed in Acts chapter 3, we see the crippled man continues to be faithful, waiting for someone to come along and help him. 

I read this as I was getting on a plane headed from Columbus, Mississippi, to Atlanta, Georgia, and I thought about him, a man who struggled from birth with a situation that in the time and era of the Bible, would’ve put him in a very vulnerable position. There are a few parts of the story that I really wonder about: I wonder about the people that helped him each day to get where he needed to go, and I wonder about his faith.

2018 June SGNScoops Publisher’s Point by Rob PatzSo back to my story for a second. Here I am, on a plane headed from Columbus, Mississippi. We’ve just finished a great event in Vernon Alabama, and I was headed back to Atlanta. The joke is that it takes a village to keep me (Rob) going. That really is the case. I have a fantastic group of people, both on my staff, and in my personal life, who allow me to do exactly what God has called me to do. 

There are some neat things that are happening with the magazine and with my company. As we took off and breached the cloud cover into beautiful sunny skies, I thought about some of those things, some of the opportunities I have prayed for, for 20+ years. I could have become discouraged, I could have given up and moved on, but instead I have done everything I can to hold fast to what God has promised.

Sometimes, in our Christian faith, as doers of the word and workers in his kingdom, we all need a Peter and/or John to come alongside us.  There are times in life we have to be reminded that even though we are strong in the faith, it takes a community, it takes people that are willing to listen to what God has for us and who are willing to lift us up.

Over the last 12 months, I will tell you that I have watched God answer prayers that not only have I prayed about, but close family friends have also prayed about since I was a child. I’m excited to talk about those answers over the next year. As we continue our journey together, look around you for your Peter and John, and your miracle could be today.

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

Rob Patz. Picture courtesy of Penny Walters and Gloryland.

Just remember that this may not happen immediately. There must’ve been so many days of discouragement for the crippled man. However, I can only imagine the victory that this man felt when, after his healing, he could share the joy of his healing, not only with his family, but also with those who cared for him for all those years.

I pray that each of us who are in transition, waiting for our answers to prayer to occur, will remember that we need our community, our family and friends who support us. And that each of us will have our own story of victory to share with each other.

Come be with our Creekside family at Pigeon Forge, Tenn., on Oct. 27 – 31. We want to share music, fun, fellowship, and prayer with you. If you enjoy Southern, Country, or Bluegrass gospel music, you need to join us. For more information visit www.gospelmusicconvention.com or write events@sgnscoops.com.

By Rob Patz

First published by SGNScoops Magazine October 2019

For more Gospel music features, read the latest SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

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Lorraine Walker: September, Seasons, and SGNScoops

Written by Staff on September 27, 2019 – 3:09 pm -

Editor’s Last Word for September 2019 SGNScoops Magazine by Lorraine Walker

(Photo above depicts September in Ontario)

Thank you so much for reading to the very end of the 121st issue of SGNScoops digital magazine. I am so happy that our magazine has been read and enjoyed by so many for so long. I give my thanks to previous editors, Kelly Burton and Rhonda Frye, and to my publisher, Rob Patz, for leading the way and teaching me the ropes of editing such a unique and constantly changing vehicle for the love of God. Our main purpose for SGNScoops is, and has always been, to be used by God to share his love and grace with everyone who reads it. We pray that as long as he can use us, we will be available for him.

 

September 2019 SGNScoops Magazine

September 2019 SGNScoops Magazine

That is also the message that we have been receiving from others who are celebrating anniversaries along with us in this issue. It is always a privilege and an honour to talk with Scott Fowler of Legacy Five. What a pleasure it was to share in the last concert with tenor, Josh Feemster, and baritone, Scott Howard. Scott Fowler had nothing but praises for the gentlemen who were leaving as well as the gentlemen who were coming in to take their place. Over their 20 years, Legacy Five has seen fewer changeovers than many in this industry. That says a lot about his style of leadership, integrity and love for this music.

 

Speaking of leadership and integrity, Mike Moran and the Torchmen have been representing Canada with excellence for 50 years. It was a pleasure once again to present their ministry to our readers. 

 

The artists we have featured in SGNScoops, like Carol Barham, Ivan Parker, the Pine Ridge Boys, and the Chordsmen, all love their music, and share the love of God this music. We thank all of the artists that have graced the pages of our magazine for being ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

Scott Fowler and Lorraine Walker

Scott Fowler and Lorraine Walker

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the writers, creative designers, editors, proofers, and all those who have shared their talents both in the magazine and website. Thank you for sharing your time and your lives with SGNScoops.

 

In the ten years I have been talking to artists for SGNScoops, one thing I have learned that is universal, regardless of who or where you are; if you are alive, you are going through something. If you are in a good season, your bad season is still visible in the rearview mirror. If you are in difficult circumstances, you aren’t alone.

 

I may be living with physical pain, but the person next to me might be enduring a recent death of a loved one. You might be working your way through deep depression while that artist on stage may have a child in the final stages of cancer. Or maybe they are facing bankruptcy while that joyful saint in the front row left a loved one with dementia at home with a caretaker.

 

We all experience heart-rending circumstances regardless of who we are. We can spend our time asking, “Why?” Although maybe the question should be “Why not?” We live in a fallen world filled with disease, death and debauchery. As Christians, we should not expect a free pass. What we should expect, as we grow closer to Jesus, is to join him in suffering. This pain becomes part of our testimony as others watch how we handle tough times. And as my friend Mike Moran assures me, it came to pass. Even if you can’t see the end of your tough time, I pray you know that Jesus sees your tears and he is right there with you. He has a purpose for your pain. He loves you too much to let you suffer for no reason, even though you may not know what that is until you reach heaven.

 

My dear friend who is suffering, may I suggest that asking for a reason isn’t the best use of your prayer time? I say this after spending many nights asking the same thing. Tell Jesus where it hurts. Pour out your heart. Then start to tell him about your friends who are hurting. Ask him to meet their needs. As you see the Lord work in the lives of others, you may be thrilled to find that he is answering prayers for you as well. 

 

Lorraine Walker

Lorraine Walker

I pray today that you will be filled with the joy of the Lord, as he blesses you with enough mercy, grace, bread and love to make it through the day. I pray this issue, and every future SGNScoops Magazine, will deliver his love to your heart, every time. 

 

I’d love to hear from you. Write to me at lorraine@sgnscoops.com.

By Lorraine Walker

First published by SGNScoops Magazine in September 2019

For more Gospel music features, read the latest SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

Download SGNScoops Magazine In PDF Here
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Rob Patz: What if I told you…?

Written by Staff on September 25, 2019 – 10:40 am -

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

Rob Patz. Picture courtesy of Penny Walters and Gloryland.

Publisher’s Point for September 2019 by Rob Patz

What if I told you…?

What if I told you that I never imagined my life would be exactly the way it is? I felt that I was going to do something completely different with my life, that I would be married, and that I would have kids. I’ll be completely honest: There are nights I have laid in bed and wondered what was wrong with me, and why it didn’t happen the way I wanted it to. But in the end I will tell you that I didn’t imagine this place, but God did.

 

What if I told you that everything you see on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter really isn’t what is happening? That people place so much in what they see and not what really is the truth?

 

What if I told you that every year in September when it’s my birthday, I reflect back on my life, and most of the time I’m not happy with any of it. That’s just the truth. Raw truth. I’m sure most of us can say that. As my mom used to say, “Hindsight is 20/20!” So, looking back on what decisions we’ve made during the year, or years past, they are easily dissected in the rearview mirror.

 

What if I told you that it took until this year for me to be comfortable in my own skin? For me to realize that God created me to be just who I am, for just his plan? I hate to admit it but I’ve always been one of those people for whom appearance was important. What other people thought and other people perceived about who I was, was something I worked on daily. I struggled with the thought that people saw parts of me that I didn’t want viewed. Over these last 12 months, I’ve come to realize that all the parts of me make up who I am, and I need to celebrate who God made me to be.

 

What if I told you that the blessings God gives you are not for you to keep, but for you to bless those that are less fortunate, whether that be through financial, or mentoring, or just an act of kindness? 

 

September 2019 SGNScoops Magazine

September 2019 SGNScoops Magazine

We live in a society now that stares at their phone more than they stare at their TV. To be honest with you, people spend more time looking at their phones, then they do interacting with other people. I’ve noticed this more and more as I travel. 

 

A week ago, I was sitting in a hotel breakfast room, which happens to be one of my favorites. I get to stay there at least once a month. On this morning, I looked around at the other people in the large restaurant area and I realized that no one was really talking except for a cluster of men in the corner, obviously headed off to do sales that day. But other than that, everyone in the room was staring at their phones. What if I suggested that you put the phone down and interact with those people around you? You may just change someone’s day.

 

What if I told you your dreams aren’t dead, or that they may have just taken a detour in your mind, but not in God’s? I’m amazed how many times in my life I have thought I had blown everything and that God couldn’t put back together everything that I had messed up. But it has been awesome to see how God takes all of the pieces and turns them into something incredible – a mosaic – beautiful, broken pieces put together into an incredible, beautiful picture.

 

Stevens Family Tradition, with Rob Patz and Vonda Armstrong

Stevens Family Tradition, with Rob Patz and Vonda Armstrong

What if I told you it was not by accident that this month that you are reading my Publisher’s Point? What if I told you that God is working in your life in ways that you can’t even imagine, to bring you to the point of the dreams that you’ve always had?

 

Creekside 2019 presented by Coastal Media

Creekside 2019 presented by Coastal Media

I hope to see you next month in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for Creekside Gospel Music Convention 2019, Oct. 27- 31, at the Smoky Mountain Convention Center. Contact events@sgnscoops.com for more information.

For more Gospel music features, read the latest SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

Download SGNScoops Magazine In PDF Here
Find SGNScoops Magazine On Facebook Here

Listen To Todays Gospel Music Here

 


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Kristina Cornell: No Other Name — Deliverance

Written by Staff on September 6, 2019 – 1:46 pm -

Kristina Cornell. No other name. Deliverance

Kristina Cornell

No Other Name – Deliverance

“The crowd joined in the attack on them, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely. When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and secured their feet to a stake.

Deliverance from Prison 

About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a severe earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew [his] sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted out in a loud voice, ‘Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.’ He asked for a light and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.’ So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once. He brought them up into his house and provided a meal and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.” Acts 16:22-34.

The scripture goes on to explain that Paul and Silas were actually Roman citizens. How frustrating it must have been for them to be accused of being something that they were not. And in addition to that, ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned, surrounded by darkness.  

As we read the New Testament, we understand that Paul wrote a lot of it.  Once a Christian killer, Paul was actually named Saul. As Saul, he was ruthless, what we would refer to today as a terrorist. But, on the road to Damascus, Saul had an encounter with the Lord and was converted to Christianity. He had a real experience with the Holy Spirit. Because of that experience, we have the greatest evangelist of all time, Paul.

The Lord used Paul in a mighty way for the early church. Paul wrote, “It is no longer I that lives, but Christ that lives in me.”  And, he exemplified that statement.  

In my life, I have been falsely accused, even misunderstood. I have been abused and rejected. I have experienced circumstances that held me captive, imprisoned in a situation that I, in myself, could not escape. 

These were very dark times in my life.

As I reflect, I am reminded of the difference in the outcomes of such situations. The outcomes were a direct result of my behavior, my actions, and my reactions.

There was a time in my life when I was so broken and so devastated that I was angry with God. I served him for my whole life and I faced some really awful things in a horrible sequence of events. 

I would have taken my life if I did not have a child that needed me. I had nothing left to give, nothing left to do.  That was the lie of the enemy that almost took my life.

Through some tough times, unnecessary self-inflicted trials, I surrendered my life to the Lord again.  He took me back into his arms and loved me, like a father does. He never reminded me of my wrongs, only redirected my path.  

Several years later, I had a very similar set of circumstances in my life. The same abuse, the same loss, the same devastation.

However, I learned a huge lesson the first time I suffered through this. I learned that being angry with God because of my circumstances was silliness.

He gives free will, and sometimes people make very poor choices, choices that make them seem like monsters. 

My free will had the right to choose how I would endure this hardship. Would I walk away from my best friend, Jesus? Would I cling tighter and expect him to deliver me however he saw fit?  This time, I chose “b”. I cried, I hurt, I sought God’s face constantly, I surrounded myself with worship and those who would join me in it.  

See, the enemy mistook my loyalty. He thought he could beat me up, humiliate me, bind me in chains, and keep me in darkness. But in my midnight, one of the most depression-riddled seasons of my life, my perspective changed. My behavior and actions were different. 

This time, I began to worship. I began to serve God more and deeper. I sang louder and louder. I wrote music to God. I stopped praising and began worshipping. I refused to be blinded by the darkness that was so thick I could not see.  

Something amazing began to happen. The chains of anxiety that bound me were being released. The prison walls of depression began to fall around me. I was free.

Like Paul and Silas, I sat there for a minute. See, the awesomeness of the freedom was not because I could now walk free from the scenario. It was awesome because even as I sat in the middle of my broken chains and darkness, I just was free. Whether walking out in the night or sitting in the middle of it, my freedom was the same.

One of the coolest points to this story is that Paul and Silas could have walked out, but they did not want their freedom to cause anyone else to stumble or to not experience freedom with them. When my deliverance began, I sat there. I waited ’til the Lord told me to go. In that time he was not only strengthening me but allowing me to be a witness to countless people. 

Dear friends, your deliverance is not only for you, it is for a testimony to others who also need deliverance. Theirs may look different than yours, like the guard’s deliverance was salvation, which was different than that which Paul and Silas experienced, but there was deliverance nonetheless.

I know that when God begins to break things from us and we enjoy freedom it can be difficult to wait and allow yourself to be used in such an exhausted state. But God has a plan and we will live a beautiful life of peace when we surrender all to him.

Kristina Cornell. No other name. Healing

Kristina Cornell

There is no other name for deliverance than the precious name of Jesus. He makes all things new.

By Kristina Cornell

Kristina Cornell is a regular contributor to SGNScoops website.

“…I have been delivered so many times by the hand of God that any creativity that I have I only want to give back to Him. I really have nothing else to say, as I have learned that I have nothing of significance to offer of myself. I am just like everyone else, in need of a Savior. I write from my heart, I write devotionals, stories, songs, messages, even starting on a book, and all I have to offer is Jesus and what He has done in my life!” — Kristina Cornell. Visit her website at www.tellthemministries.net.

You can find out more about Kristina on Facebook HERE.

 

For more Gospel music features read the latest SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

Download SGNScoops Magazine In PDF Here
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Listen To Todays Gospel Music Here

 


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Ten Ways to Have a More Successful, Effective Prayer Life

Written by Staff on September 4, 2019 – 10:35 am -

Ten Ways to Have a More Successful, Effective Prayer Life

Ten Ways to Have a More Successful, Effective Prayer Life

The other day as I was poring through some papers that belonged to my dear Mom, I came across an article she used to refer to often. It was written by someone in China many years ago, and it gave a description of how things would be right before Jesus comes back. I found the words as sobering as they used to be when Mom would read them to me or speak of them through the years. One of the main subjects the author spoke about was how increasingly difficult it would be to pray as we approach Jesus’ 2nd coming.

As I read the words again, I was amazed at the accuracy of this “prophecy” written so long ago.

Does anyone else have as difficult a time entering into intercessory prayer as I do?

It is not that I don’t love to pray.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I DO love to pray. I cannot begin to express how much I love immersing in a time of deep communion and conversation with my Heavenly Father.  Those moments with Him are my favorite moments of all, and without that time of keeping our communication open and fresh, I could not, by any means, maintain the spiritual Christian walk that He enables me to walk day by day.

I have lived for Jesus long enough and neglected my prayer life enough times to come to a full realization that prayer is absolutely essential and imperative to my success in living a Christian life. I cannot do without it for it is in Him that I live and move and have my being.  (Acts 17:28)

I have no ability to know which path to take, without consistently engaging in conversation with my Lord. “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”  Jeremiah 10:23

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in His way.”  Psalm 37:23

I desperately need to continually hear His voice instructing me which way to go, and it is crucial that I do whatever is necessary to draw daily strength and grace from Him to overcome the onslaught of evil that we all have to contend with in daily life.

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Matthew 26:41

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.”  John 15:51

I know I need to pray, and I know the consequences that ensue when I don’t pray as I should, so I determined to try to identify the main opponents to my prayer life.

Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

What exactly is it that makes praying so difficult in these last days?

Once I identified my biggest prayer hindrances, it was easier to come up with ammunition to combat those deterrents and win!  I hope you will also find these tips helpful as you pursue a more effective prayer life for truly there is no substitute for the amazing power of consistent, effectual prayer in the life of a Christian.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.“James 5:16

Ten Ways to Have a More Successful, Effective Prayer Life?1.  Pray first.  

Let it begin as soon as you awaken in the morning.  Just get it done!

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33

On days that I don’t pray first, not only does it seem the day falls apart, I also walk around with a continual nagging sense of not having done what I should.  It sets an out-of-sorts tone for the whole day.  Spending those first moments of the day with God in prayer gives a sense of having done my duty and arms me with what I will need to face the unfamiliar challenges of a new day.  As I get older and don’t sleep as soundly as I used to, I find that I am doing a lot of praying during the night, too.  There is nothing more comforting to do when you are tossing and turning than to turn your heart Heavenward and talk it all over with Him.  It is soothing to the soul and gives a sense of refreshed peace when you wake up later.

My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: when I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches.  Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice.”  Psalm 63:5-7

Yet the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.”  Psalm 42:8

My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises.”Psalm 119:148

Most importantly, Jesus, our example, prayed all night long.

And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”  Luke 6:12

The Bible mentions Jesus’ prayer life enough times to reveal His prayer patterns to us, and we would all do well to pay careful attention to those details.  If He needed to pray so often and for such long, extended periods of time, do we really think we can run a successful Christian race doing less?

“The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees.”—-EM Bounds

2.  If you can’t pray first, pray faithfully.

If praying during the first part of the day doesn’t work for you, the main thing is to be intentional about specifying a block of daily time for prayer regardless of the time of day, and then committing to it daily and making it a habit —just like a daily important appointment.  It is actually the most important of all.

3. Establish a designated place to pray.

  Though we can obviously pray from anywhere, it helps to have a particular place to pray. Having a designated prayer spot will associate prayer to that location and become a place that draws and reminds you to pray.  Over time, as you experience God’s anointing in that place, you will begin to regard and cherish it as holy ground.

4.  Be comfortable.

This may sound like an odd prayer strategy, but if you are in an uncomfortable position, you probably won’t want to stay there long.  Again, as I get older, I find that being on my knees isn’t the most comfortable position, and when I start out praying that way, I usually end up moving to my recliner to finish.  It may be just my opinion, but I don’t believe God is nearly as concerned about bodily position while praying as He is in fervency, earnestness, and the condition of the heart.  I will never forget how much it impressed me to read about how Charles Stanley arms himself with the whole armor of God before his feet touch the floor each morning.  This lends support to the point of praying first and gives another reason that it is a good idea.  Praying in bed first thing in the morning brings us into the presence of God and insures that He is the first one we face and talk to.  We never leave an encounter with Him unchanged, and after being with Him, we will find ourselves prepared for every other intersection and interaction that will happen throughout the day.

5.  Keep paper and pen near your prayer spot.

One of my main inhibitors during prayer time is becoming so distracted by the onslaught of meddlesome thoughts that continually stream through my mind as I am trying to pray.  I start thinking of phone calls I need to make, emails I need to write, people I need to reach out to and connect with, chores I need to accomplish, what I will cook for my family, and upcoming occasions for which I need to prepare.  So, to beat the enemy at his distractions game, I started keeping a pad of paper and pen close by.  Now, when those distracting thoughts start invading, I start jotting short little note reminders.  This transfers the task from my mind to paper, and I can let it go to be revisited later in the day.  It’s a winning strategy that works perfectly and enables me to keep right on praying until I am finished!

6.  Allow for listening.  

The fact that a conversation is two-way also applies to prayer, but an often overlooked part of prayer is allowing space for God to speak.  We want to do all the talking and asking and petitioning, but we rush away from prayer after pouring out what we want to say, and we fail to linger long enough to give Him an opportunity to deal with our hearts and reveal His thoughts.  There is much that He will relay to us if we will make the effort to be still before Him.  Reduce noise, and pray in solitude.  Jesus did.

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone.” Matthew 14:23

And when He had sent them away, He departed into a mountain to pray.”  Mark 6:46

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”  Mark 1:35

But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”  Luke 5:16

Just as I am with Justin McLeod7.  Pray on.

Though you have an allocated prayer spot and time, it is important to also remember to stay in a spirit of prayer after you finish and as you continue throughout the entirety of your day.  I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.”  We obviously cannot stay in our designated prayer spot and preferred prayer position 24/7, but we can continually call on the Lord and pray unceasingly as we go about our day and perform our duties, keeping our minds in a continual state of communion with Jesus.  He is always there with us, as close as the slightest whisper, and every time we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.  “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.”  James 4:8  I have found that my daily duties, i.e., homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, laundry, and even errands have become springboards from which prayer wells up, and things that would otherwise be mundane and laborious are transformed into opportunities for deep conversation with my Lord.

8.  Shed toxic influences.

Shed people who continually hinder and dampen the audaciousness of your faith.  Stop listening to those who quench your inspiration.  When Jesus was on the earth, and He was faced with an impossibility to pray through, He sent all doubters away and dispelled hindering spirits from the atmosphere.  They were not allowed access into His inner circle.  In fact, in particular situations and circumstances, Jesus ONLY permitted a select three of His twelve disciples to go with Him.

In the case of raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead, He allowed only Peter, James, John, and the girl’s parents to stay in the room as He performed the miracle.  (Luke 8:50-55)

When Jesus was going to the mountain to be miraculously transfigured, (Matthew 17:1-2), He only took Peter, James, and John.  When He entered the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His crucifixion, He only invited Peter, James, and John to go farthest into the garden with Him to pray.

There was no place for doubt, fear, or unbelief in Jesus’ realm.  When opposing spirits were present, He removed them.  Why?  Because fear, doubt, and unbelief can hinder the miracle from manifesting.  It can also deeply influence and injure the faith of others who DO believe God is going to answer prayer.  If you are praying with someone who does not believe for what you are asking, that spirit of unbelief can absolutely hinder the answer from coming through and can start to cause you to start doubting God’s ability to do what you are asking Him to.  Doubt is toxic to faith.  Get rid of it, and shed those who inject it into your prayer life.  It may sound cruel and heartless, but it is just that necessary.

9.  Surround yourself with Godly influencers of faith.

  Surround yourself with those who unfailingly believe that God is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6

Ask the Lord to send earnest, relentless prayer partners into your life.  Seek out those who speak life into the situations you are praying about.  Abraham had faith in “Him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.‘  Romans 4:17

THAT is the God we serve.  He has not lost one bit of His power, and “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8

Just as Jesus chose those whom He knew believed with all their hearts and placed them in His inmost inner circle, we have the free will to choose the people we allow in ours.  None of us want to hurt another, but when it comes to running a successful Christian race, and knowing the main tool to make that happen is the maintaining of a strong, faith-filled prayer life, it is imperative that the people we permit access to our closest companionship are those who possess a resolute, unshakable faith in God.  It took me a long time to realize the depth of wisdom in expending the necessary effort it took to develop an encirclement of stalwart faith-filled prayer warriors around me.  When a need arises, I want to know that the people I ask to pray will fervently pray and that they will do so with zero doubt in the God they are praying to.

Don’t you?

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

Cheryl Smith, author of the Inner Views and Homespun Devotions

10.  Keep prayer commitments. 

Just as you want to know you and your prayer requests are being faithfully prayed for, be careful to pray for those for whom you have promised to pray.  If you tell someone you will pray for them, honor your word and be committed to keeping your promise to carry their needs to the Father.  I find it is very helpful to keep a prayer book where I record the names of those I have made a commitment to pray for.  Life is busy and full of care, and it is easy for me to become so absorbed in all that is going on in my own life and completely forget to keep my promise to pray for others.  I have also learned to drop what I am doing and pray instantly with/for those who ask for prayer, if at all possible.

As always, if anyone who reads this needs prayer, please always feel free to email me through this site.  When I tell you I will be praying for you, by God’s grace, I will keep my word!

God bless you as you pursue an ever-deepening prayer life, and may He send people into your life who will reinforce your faith, support your determination, and powerfully enhance the strength of your prayers.

First published on Homespun Devotions at https://www.homespundevotions.com/2019/08/ten-ways-to-have-more-successful.html

By Cheryl Smith
Blessed & Grateful Wifeto Kevin and Homeschool Mamato Zach
Prayer Action Leader for Concerned Women for America

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