Bev McCann

MGM

Creekside Gospel Music Convention

Shelly Wilson: Heart of a Servant

Written by Staff on October 4, 2017 – 2:25 pm -

Shelly Wilson: Heart of a Servant

Shelly Wilson: Heart of a Servant

Shelly Wilson resides in East Texas, and though she comes from a small town, she’s always had big dreams. As a young girl she walked the aisle in a church and professed Christ, yet at 30 she realized she was not born again. She says there was quite a battle for her soul as she began to hear the voice of the Lord clearly for the first time.

 

Wilson had no idea the Lord would soon call her and fulfill her dreams. In 2002, she gave birth to her son and a few months later began having health problems. She literally lost her mind for a season.

 

The doctors were unsure why and no one could help her. She was not in church but knew to run to the church. She visited many and the message was the same: “Use your gifts for the Lord.”

 

Wilson suffered terrible panic attacks, nightmares and incredible fear, but in the midst of it all she began to hear clearly the voice of the Lord and surrendered her life to Him. From that moment on, He slowly began to change her desires from partying to reading her Bible. Ephesians 3:20 became her life verse.  Wilson understands the verse and says, “I chose you, you didn’t choose Me. I’m grateful for a loving Savior. Although valleys come and go, He is always there.”

 

Shelly Wilson: Heart of a ServantWilson spent a year learning about the Bible because she knew very little.  She began to sing for the Lord but had terrible stage fright. The Lord had to gently show her that He could be trusted each time she stepped onto any platform.

 

Wilson wasn’t writing songs yet and said she honestly never considered it an option because she plays no instruments, reads no music and harmony is simply not her gifting. Yet one day in her closet the Lord said, “Shelly, you receive not because you ask not,” so with that nudge she asked to become a songwriter.

 

Soon the Lord woke her up with her first lyrics rolling around in her head and she began to receive full melodies with the lyrics.

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Rob Patz asks: Does God care about You?

Written by Staff on September 16, 2017 – 5:50 pm -

Happy September birthday Rob Patz

Happy September birthday Rob Patz

Welcome to the September edition of the Publisher’s Point. I hope everyone had a fantastic summer. Of course, September means we are drawing to the end of the great weather. I have to admit that fall is my favorite time of year, partially because my birthday falls in the fall … September to be exact. That’s what we’re going to talk about this month in the Publisher’s Point. No, not my birthday, though if you want to send birthday cards or gifts, get in contact with me, and I will give you my address … just kidding.

Rob Patz at six weeks

Rob Patz at six weeks

I have been thinking a lot lately about how amazing God is. Not only does He know us before we were even formed in our mother’s womb, but He selected a date for us to enter this world. How amazing is that, that the Creator of the universe thought enough about me to select a date for me to be born and a set of parents for me. If you really think about it, it is pretty incredible.

I know all of us at times struggle with feeling important, or wanted, or special, but if you look at this one point in our existence, how God orchestrated everything in the universe to coincide with our birth, how cool is that to think He loved us so much that He planned the date of our arrival? So, not only does He care for us enough to plan the date of arrival, but He has a plan for our daily life if we are sincere and ask Him for direction.

Rob Patz celebrates his birthday Sept. 24

Rob Patz celebrates his birthday Sept. 24

I also think about the fact that God planned the arrival of His Son. He knew the beginning, He knew the end, and He knew the reason for both. Not unlike His plan for Jesus, He has a plan for your life. He knew your beginning. He knows your middle, and He knows your end. Think of how amazing that is, that the God of the universe, who loves us so much, has planned the date of our birth and planned our life. He has a desire for you to fill His great plan.

So many friends of mine will tell me, “well, I can’t share the gospel,” or, “I can’t be a soul winner, because I have a full-time job.” There’s nothing further from the truth. We all have opportunities daily to live out our faith.

Recently, I heard a story from Jesse Duplantis about how he witnessed to a gentleman at the gas station, and the entire conversation started because of his boots. Let that sink in for a minute. Jesse won this man to Christ by the boots he wore. You stop and think today about what it is that you have in your life that you can use to win others to Christ. Not all of us are going to preach from the stage. Not all of us are going to sing a song that will change someone’s life. Sometime, in the most unusual place, you can be Jesus to someone.

Mrs. Shirley and her son, Rob Patz on his first birthday

Mrs. Shirley and her son, Rob Patz on his first birthday

So, as I celebrate my birthday month, I feel a sense of peace about my relationship with Jesus, knowing that He loves me so much that He had a plan from the very day that I was born, to this very minute as I write this to you.

I know you might be struggling today with loneliness. You might be struggling with feeling unloved, or you might be struggling with a direction in your life. However, I want to tell you this … instead of looking at the problems that you see, put your focus on what Jesus says in the Bible, in Jeremiah 29:11, “for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Just reading that encourages me. I hope it encourages you.

Join Rob Patz at Creekside

Join Rob Patz at Creekside

Join me in October for Creekside as I truly believe this is going to be the best year ever. Creekside Gospel Music Convention is being held in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., from Oct. 30 through Nov. 2 at the Smoky Mountain Convention Center. For more information, check out the Creekside update in this month’s edition.

Until next month, this has been the Publisher’s Point.

Don’t miss the latest issue of SGNScoops Magazine.
Find out more Gospel music here.
For online Gospel music click here.

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Tattoos and the Truth- Michael Lee

Written by scoopsnews on August 26, 2016 – 6:12 am -

Michael Lee

Michael Lee

Last week, Michael Lee met SGNScoops VP of Sales and marketing ,Vonda Easley,  at Christian Country Expo in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Vonda shared with Michael about a young girl, just called into the ministry, who was struggling with having tattoos.  After the conversation, God began to give Michael a song. Here’s a video of Michael singing it last night just after he and a friend had finished the lyrics and melody.

Don’t you just love it when God does something like this? Michael was represented by Red Hen Records at CCX 2016.

Stay tuned! You will be hearing this one on the radio soon….

Find out more about Michael Lee here.


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High Notes by Kelly Nelon Clark: Lessons from Walmart

Written by Staff on June 26, 2015 – 8:15 am -

NelonsI was checking out at Walmart today and noticed the cashier being a bit rude with the customer before me. When it was my turn the same thing happened and maybe a little worse. She was snapping at me to get my items off of the baggage area and into my cart.

My flesh started to take over and say something, but all of a sudden I had the thought to give her kindness instead.

I started getting my things off and I looked at her and said, “How are you doing today?”  She looked at me and replied, “Not good.”

I said, “Can I help you in any way? You seem to be a little preoccupied.” I saw her countenance change.

She said, “My mother is 81 and having surgery tomorrow. I am so worried about her. I can’t think clearly today and I’m short tempered.” She began to tell me of what her mom was going through.

I said, “It’s understandable that your mind and emotions are with your mom.” I told her that maybe God put me in her line to let her know that someone cares. That He especially cares. I told her I would be praying for her and her mom. 

Kelly Nelon

Kelly Nelon

In just a minute I could have chosen to do the wrong thing. Lord knows I’m not perfect and don’t always make the right choices but I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit who guides when we choose to listen. 

By Kelly Nelon Clark of The Nelons

Kelly is a writer, vocalist and actor. She writes monthly for SGN Scoops digital magazine.

This feature was first published in March 2015. For current issues of SGN Scoops magazine, visit the SGN Scoops mainpage. 

 


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Dusty Wells: Finding Rest

Written by Staff on April 8, 2015 – 2:07 pm -

Dusty Wells

Dusty Wells

Psalms 91 has been a lifeline and thread of hope to me for so many years: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall find rest…in the secret place.” Just those honest words starting it out, and talking about refuge, a quiet place, a much needed place for all of us weary road warriors (and those of you who are not weary, or think all is good, great and fine: we all know we have those times of weariness, just watch and see!).  Ahhh, but rest does come; it really does.

Even though my last two secret refuges of rest, writing, meditating and praying places that I have continually escaped to at times, were only a few miles from the hustle and bustle of the city of Nashville, there is something so intimately special about the quiet-peaceful solitude and the lush beautiful surroundings that seem to always bring His ever-loving, His ever-caring. His ever nurturing and restoring Presence even so much more closer to me than what I feel on a daily basis. Now of course that really is not true, since the Word says He is always with us, He never changes, no matter what, no matter where, no matter when. I found myself driving today to one of those places all by myself and sitting there, praying for you, for me, for those whom I love and adore and admire.

His presence continually envelops me, and it does you as well. It surrounds me and today I find myself in an unusually quiet and contented place of unashamed surrender (oh, I wish I wasn’t so stubborn and selfish at times!). I am desperately acknowledging and accepting a fresh awareness of His magnificent love for me. WOW! HE STILL LOVES ME, and you, my friend, as well. Yes He does! I find myself listening (striving to put aside all of my worries, doubts, fears and insecurities) for His still small voice. I can feel Him. He is standing right beside me, He is holding my hand and I feel His arm draped around my shoulder, like those good friends of ours do at times.

IMG-20140823-00458It’s nice, it’s comforting, and it’s peaceful. Right now for me, it is so needed. He who dwells in the secret place of the most High, he finds shelter. No, I wish I could say the touch and feelings I am sensing are tangible, but they are not. But emotionally, I know He is with me. And you.

Lately, peace is a word that I have used many times when asked how I am doing, or while answering the age-old question that we are always asked, “are you ok?” Most of us just lie our way through the honesty of that. After all, who wants to hear our scary fears, that torrential downpour of negativity that in all sincerity we might have reason to have in our lives, the overwhelming burden of loss of whatever it is that we each will have to lose at times, and what about the financial difficulties and trials that seem to nearly bury us alive. Oh, and we all have had those times!

And of course dear ones, what about the uncertainty of what is yet to come for our future, amidst the painful separation of someone whom you have loved and have been loved by. Yes, the flame has flickered (for so many reasons), and the embers are barely visible by the human eye.

So you hastily continue to run, earnestly trying to rid yourself of anything that might remotely offer peace.

Or maybe you have been riding the crest of those huge never-ending waves of amazing joy, contentment and peace, then all of a sudden, quickly, abruptly, everything comes to a haunted halt and those wonderful fresh feelings have disappeared. They are gone…diminished. You are struggling with every breath within you to once again get back up. You beg to stand, you have to reach and make every possible effort to gain ground. You race after the peace, the quietness, the hope, and the restoration of whatever it is you have lost.

We all go through those times, every one of us! And those of you that say you don’t, well you are just fibbing to the rest of us! But that’s ok, it really is, because I have done it a few times, just a few….

So today, let me offer you some of my peace, my surrender, my quiet time, and maybe even a little of my contentment. Lean on me, but even more important, please lean on HIM. Let Him lead you to that quiet place, that place that you will find what it is you need to find. Listen really closely; He wants to speak. He wants to hold you. Again I say it: “HE WHO DWELLS IN THE SECRET PLACE.” You can and will find refuge and strength! Ask me…go ahead….ask me…I know!

Written by Dusty Wells.

First published by SGN Scoops digital magazine in February 2015 in the column “Wisdom From Wells.” For current issues of SGN Scoops, visit the main site 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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We’re All Human by Dr. Jeff Steele

Written by Staff on February 20, 2015 – 8:38 am -

file7611265488101Parable of Two Sons

Text: Matthew 21:28-31

This is not a parable that is preached on very often. Here’s the deal: Jesus has had His authority questioned by the religious crowd. These are the bean counters, the rules and regulations guys, and the ones who always question everybody else’s authority. Right, they never question their own authority, just everybody else’s.

Jesus poses a question to them. He says a father had two sons: to the first one he said, “Son, go work today in my vineyard.” The first son says, “I will not!”

Don’t judge him too harshly because that’s what we all say when the Heavenly Father knocks on our heart’s door. We all say, “No… we’re going to set up our own set of rules and regulations and we’re going to keep them and that’s how we’ll be right with You, God.”

The scripture says all we like sheep have gone astray…we’ve turned everyone to his own way! We have all sinned and come short of God’s glory. There is none righteous, no not one.

So that is pretty much the way we all responded when God first came calling.  We just said like the first son here: “No!”  Then the scripture goes on to say that after a while he/we regretted that decision and did go and do the work! That also is what we do. The Father keeps calling, the Holy Spirit keeps wooing us and eventually we realize the truth of the gospel message, realize the futility of trying to do it ourselves and we get saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Jesus continues, “He came to a second son and said the same thing.”  That being, “Son, go work today in my vineyard.” This son said immediately, “Sure I’ll go sir…I’ll do it.”  But he did not go!  No work was done.

This son is a picture of religion. This is the crowd that says “I’ll do it…just put me in charge. Make me the head of the committee; make me the boss, the chief over the whole thing. You do that and I’m ready to go.”

The problem is that when people have that mentality they spend their whole life not working but rather protecting their new position of authority. They can’t turn loose of it and they work the rest of their life to protect the position they now have and the WORK goes undone.

Do you wonder why attendance in churches is down? Why is giving down? Why is the overall level of excitement and enthusiasm down? Quite frankly it’s because the second son has taken over and everybody has a title, position and their name on the sign but nobody is doing the work.

jeff steele

Dr. Jeff Steele

Religion has taken over the church and religion won’t ever save you…only Jesus will.  Religion is not the answer; it is the problem!  So Jesus asked the religious bean counters: “Which of the two sons did the will of his father?” And the religious crowd said, “Why, the one who first refused and then later went and did the work.”

Jesus said, “You’re right and I tell you that tax collectors, prostitutes, robbers, crooks and thieves will enter the kingdom of God before you religious bean counters.”              Isn’t that amazing? Religion will give you an upset stomach, send your blood pressure sky high, make you stew at home over what “others” are doing down at the church…ultimately it’ll kill you!  Then at the end of the way it will not deliver you into God’s Heaven.  Religion won’t save you…only Jesus will!

First published October 2014 in SGN Scoops digital magazine.

For current articles by Jeff Steele, see the latest edition of SGN Scoops on http://www.sgnscoops.com/

 


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Unopened Gifts

Written by Staff on December 24, 2014 – 9:11 am -

presents wrapped editBy Scott Rhoades

 

It was a cold, January night in the valley of coal. A fresh coating of snow covered the hills and glistened brightly in the light of the full moon, as tiny plumes of smoke wafted skyward from the chimneys in the valley below. For a moment, time stood still, as if the entire universe wanted me to know I was a part of something larger. The silence would have been deafening had it not been for the crunching and squeaking coming from beneath my partner’s boots. “Nice night, but it’s cold, and we have work to do,” he said, as he grasped my shoulder. I nodded, turned, and opened the door of the ambulance to retrieve a rescue bag and a bottle of oxygen.

 

Now there were numerous ways one could contribute to the needs of our small community. We had our share of non-profit organizations, religious charities, ethnic and social clubs, and the volunteer fire department or ambulance service. My father was a volunteer firefighter, but since my idea of adventure did not include imitating a roasted hot dog, I opted to invest my efforts as part of the local emergency medical squad.

 

Three o’clock A.M. calls weren’t uncommon, especially during the extremes of weather, and so here we were again. My partner and I made our way up the unshoveled walk and onto the front porch of a tiny home; an old company row house left over from the big mining era that swept through the valley decades earlier. We knocked at the door and let ourselves in, because everyone made themselves at home with Miss Annie Krinksy.

 

Annie Krinsky was an elderly lady, a retired elementary school teacher who never married and she was without a family. Her parents, John and Beulah, had immigrated to the United States in the 1920s and came to our town in search of what everyone else had come for – work! Her father was a coal miner, and her two brothers, John and Jack, soon joined him in the mines after completing the eighth grade. While they labored to survive the Great Depression, they soon succumbed to the dangers of the earth below. Annie quit school and took a job at the local company store in order to keep the house where she and her mother would live out their days. After a long day at work, Annie would visit Sister Maria Theresa Coppelo, a local teacher who would tutor her for the purposes of obtaining a teaching certificate. Annie soon became a teacher.

 

Annie met us at the door and offered us the usual coffee and cookies. She was a frail woman, bent at the shoulders and joints. I looked at her hands in amazement and wondered how she could care for herself. The years of hard labor and coping had left a mark and while 3:00 A.M. calls weren’t uncommon, 3:00 A.M. calls to Annie Krinsky’s house usually meant one thing – she was lonely.

 

snow footprints editedThis wasn’t my first visit to Annie’s house. In fact, everyone on the rescue squad knew her by name and she knew them. Responding to an emergency call at Annie Krinsky’s was like visiting an old friend. She never had a real complaint. We would simply check her vital signs, call the doctor at the emergency room with report to get signed off, and then radio the dispatch of our availability while we stayed a few moments to chat. Her house was amazing considering her condition; it was spotless and smelled of Pine-sol and Lemon Pledge. But there was one thing I will never forget about Annie’s home – someone had given her an artificial Christmas tree, and she never put it away. In fact, she would turn on the lights at any given time (even in July), and you could always see unopened packages underneath the tree.

 

I remember the last call to Annie Krinsky’s house. A neighbor had reported that she would not answer the door and called for help. Albert, the town police chief arrived and led us inside where we found her in her favorite rocking chair facing the Christmas tree. She was covered with a puffy, homemade quilt, but it could not keep her from the chilling arms that enveloped her body. Annie Krinsky had died.

 

tree edit 2014It’s Christmas Eve, and as I look at our tree and the wrapped gifts underneath, I am reminded of Annie and her oddities. I’m not sure what happened to her home, her possessions, or to her tree. I am curious as to what and for whom those unopened packages were intended. I never asked, but I am saddened to think she had gifts to share that will never be known.

 

Perhaps you and I have unopened gifts under our Tree of Life; talents, abilities, and spiritual fruits all waiting to be consumed by a world in need. Perhaps we hold back because of fear, guilt, unforgiveness, or other circumstances that make the joy of giving seem like an impossible feat. During this Christmas, I hope you will resolve to empty your tree of unopened packages as I will. The world is waiting for us!

 

*My life and experiences are real, but I have used artistic license in the telling of this story. Names, persons, and situations have been changed or combined with other personalities or events to offer you some perspectives of my life and community while protecting the identities of those involved.

 

About The Author

               Scott Rhoades is an Inspirational Writer, Speaker & Storyteller. For more information on Scott, please visit www.scottrhoades.net

 


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After-Christmas Sales

Written by Staff on December 23, 2014 – 1:17 pm -

Santa hat edited

By Jennifer Campbell

If you’re like me, your e-mail inbox is likely already inundated with an endless flood of after-Christmas sales. Take 50% off of this pair of shoes or save $20 on that new smartphone. Millions of people celebrate Christmas and many of them open gifts on Christmas morning. Yet, the moment after we receive these gifts especially chosen for us by our loved ones, we often rush out to get the latest and greatest items we can afford. While I certainly enjoy shopping, I do find it disappointing that Christmas has become so commercialized. Since when has a holiday meant to celebrate the birthday of a King turned into a holiday filled with questions of “what did you get?” Why should we focus on what we received instead of realizing the overwhelming need to give to others? Giving goes beyond a present tied with a fancy little bow, tucked beneath the tree. We can give love, joy, happiness, and so much more. The very heart of Christmas has nothing to do with something purchased at a store. The very heart of Christmas centers on the One I’m living for, Jesus Christ.

Hamilton 2-20140101-00346Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. I love every part of this glorious holiday, from the cookies that tame my sweet tooth to the trees that are so beautifully adorned. I also like the fact that I can walk into a store, be greeted with Christmas music and receive a friendly, “Merry Christmas!” from the store clerk. But the greatest part of Christmas is not the twinkling lights or the neatly wrapped gifts under the tree. It’s not even the time I am able to spend in New York City with my dad. Without question, the most impressive aspect of this holiday season is the fact that God sent His Son to be born in a manger. This gift didn’t need to be wrapped or sent via UPS. It was a gift filled with love. It was the gift of eternal life.

baby JesusWhen God thought about what to give us for Christmas, He didn’t send us the latest technological gadget or fashion forward outfit for Christmas. Instead, He sent us a gift that had eternal value. God gave us the best Christmas gift ever: Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He knew that we didn’t need another pair of socks in our drawer or another dust catcher on our shelf. And while this gift had the greatest price tag of all, His Son’s life, this gift was freely given to the world. God has granted eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ, to all who confess their sins and believe. This gift is offered not just on Christmas, but 365 days a year.   A relationship with Jesus Christ will change your life. I encourage you to put your trust in Jesus Christ today. For tomorrow may be too late.

Just like those limited-time, after-Christmas bargains, our lives will not last forever. James 4:14 clearly states, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14 NIV)   Life is the greatest gift that we have ever been given. We need to use each and every moment to our best ability, ensuring that we do not waste even one millisecond of it. Having lost many people close to me, including my mom, I can tell you that life truly is a vapor that only remains for a short time. We have no guarantee of tomorrow. So embrace today. Don’t worry about whether or not that new gadget needs new batteries. And that sweater that’s too big can be exchanged another day. Instead, spend time with your family and friends, not knowing how many more dinners you’ll enjoy together or how many more meaningful conversations you’ll have.

presents under tree editCherish each moment you have with your loved ones, especially in the New Year. Give them something more than a gift, wrapped in a box or bag. Give them more than a once-a-year present at Christmastime. Give them time with you, give them a listening ear, and give them the one thing we all need: love. Even on that first Christmas night, God Himself knew that we needed love. God knew what the world needed most of all. He knew that we needed a gift that would carry us through every day of the year, not just in the month of December. And despite the commercialization of Christmas, not one single thing has changed. We still need unconditional love. We still need a Savior. We still need Jesus Christ.

By Jennifer Campbell

December 2014 SGNScoops Magazine

December 2014 SGNScoops Magazine

For more articles by Jennifer Campbell and other monthly SGN Scoops columnists, read the latest SGN Scoops digital magazine found at http://www.sgnscoops.com

 


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All I Want For Christmas …

Written by Staff on December 12, 2014 – 8:04 am -

presents under tree

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of weeks ago, SGN Scoops asked our Social Media friends what they wanted for Christmas.

Here are some of the answers…

 

My prodigal children to come home and for their salvation! ~Debbie Stemmer

 

A Jacuzzi! But I don’t think it can fit in Santa’s sleigh. Oh, and world peace. ~ Lorraine Walker

 

I just want my son to be happy and understand that Christmas isn’t about gifts. This year has been rough and I’ve told him we aren’t gonna have Christmas ‘til after I can find a job – but it’s hard for a nine-year-old to understand that. Although, when I ask him why we celebrate Christmas, he knows it’s Jesus’ birthday. So happiness is what I want for Christmas. ~ pamelarjar@yahoo.com

 

For Christmas, I would love to be able to go back to my childhood in Minnesota and go out in the snow, and cut down a live tree, just like I did in third grade. ~ Rob Patz

 

001-ferrari-laferrari-1362484808Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward men. Or perhaps something more realistic … a new Ferrari. ~ Stephen Ash

 

All I want for Christmas is that we would all learn and accept the importance of   “all of us” sharing hope, love and the truth of Jesus to all we come in contact with. Love people right where they are and show them His love! ~ Dusty Wells

 

Ummm, I love Turtles! ~ Sue Barnett

 

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DeMet’s_TURTLES®_Hero

All I want for Christmas is good health for my family and friends, joy and peace for us all. ~ Joan Walker

All I want for Christmas is the opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ with someone who has never received this priceless gift of grace. The most glorious thing that we can do on this earth is to share the Good News with everyone we encounter. Eternal hope can only be found through Jesus Christ. May we all freely share this hope with others, not just at Christmastime, but the whole year through. Of course, I also want to cherish the time I have with family and friends as we enjoy being together this Christmas. I pray we all enjoy good health and happiness as we reflect the love of Jesus to each other and everyone we meet! ~ Jennifer Campbell

 

All I want for Christmas is more of Jesus and less of me! If I have Jesus at the center of it all, everything else will fall into place! ~ Paige Givens

 

creche in parkAll I want for Christmas is for my family and friends to be well. I want to see people focus on what’s truly important instead of giving and receiving gifts. Christmas is not about “presents”, but about His “presence” in our hearts. ~ Vonda Easley

 

Peace in our hearts, minds…and souls; that peace which surpasses all understanding and that can only come from knowing that Christ is truly Lord and Savior…born, crucified and resurrected– the Hope of Glory! Peace on earth can only begin with us. ~ Sherry Anne

 

starI pray this Christmas my life will radiate Jesus’ love and like the Star of Bethlehem, I can lead someone to Him. ~ Dixie Phillips

 

What do you want for Christmas? Email us at sgnscoops@gmail.com …we may not be Santa but you will find a listening ear.


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