A Thought On Prayer:

I was reading today on prayer, and a thought really got my attention.  When we pray, we generally take the Mary and Martha approach.  "God if you had been here four days ago, Lazarus wouldn't have died!"  We tell God what we think he should do, and when we think he should do it.

I heard someone pray not too long ago, "God, I know that this [thing] is going to happen and that you have made that very clear...but God....it's just too soon!  I'm not ready!  The people around me aren't ready!"  The man went on to leverage his authority, preferences, and family over the ultimate hand of God.  He even went so far as to question God's leading in the lives of other individuals who were about to make a serious move.

The article I read in correlation with the situation I witnessed scares me to death, because I have done the same thing!  I have even used the authority God has given me to sway people from following God EXACTLY how He wanted them to just because I didn't feel it was the best thing for them or me.

Today I changed the way I pray.  I will continue to let my "requests be made known unto God,"  but now I will change my approach.  "God here are the things I want,  here are the things I think I need, and here is how I think it would be done best...but God,  you're all powerful, all knowing, and all present...so if you decide to lead me and others in a direction contrary to what I (as a student, employee, friend, or even parent) think is best, then change my heart, and prepare me for what you have in store."

Friend, YOU are going to have to ditch your pride, and ALWAYS be ready to admit that you could be wrong.  Even if EVERY sign points in your direction, be humble enough to let God decide and NOT you.  No matter who you are.

Video Challenge: Day 18 - Try Me

Man: "I just...nevermind."
God: "What?"
Man:  "You wouldn't understand!"
God: "I, God - creator of the universe wouldn't understand something one of my children has to say?  Try me."

Experience, emotional, and generational gaps separate our lines of understanding.  Parents look at their children and say, "you just can't understand."  In the same manner, there is not a teen who has not said or thought, "my parents just don't understand me."  Both sides of this equation criticize the other.  Both sides of this equation find reasons as to why their side deserves sympathy.  Both sides are wrong.

Society and culture changes drastically on a consistent basis.  Temptations and pressures that the youth of today face are exponentially more difficult than that of ten years ago, much less twenty to thirty.  Parenting styles have had to adapt to the times, to accommodate and relate to American culture.  To be brutally honest:  Teen, cut your parents some slack...because you don't get it all.  Parent, cut your teen some slack because guess what...you don't get it all either.  That is going to be hard for some of you to stomach because it requires losing some of your pride.

What then allows us to connect?  What source can we tap, to find solutions to "new" problems?  Do we have a common denominator to cross generational lines?  The answer is YES!  Hebrews 4:15 says that we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in ALL points tempted like we are, yet without sin.  On what ground can parents communicate answers to children, and children to parents?  JESUS.  He crosses any boundary line.

I have one BEST FRIEND in the world, who will be my best friend until the day we die.  I can talk to her about ANYTHING without fear of her passing judgement, and when she doesn't understand something I am going through, she points me to Jesus.  I hope that I can be that same influence in her life.  Jesus says he can emotionally and physically relate to anything we are going through.  God and creator of all the universe, our heavenly father will ALWAYS understand.  When no one else can, try Jesus.

Video Challenge: Day 17 - BE

Man:  "LOOK!  I can't be good!"
God:  "You can't be good?  I made you good!  BE good."

I Peter 1:16 presents us with one of the most simplistic commands, yet it seems to be the most misunderstood.  "Be ye holy; for I AM holy."  Be - not an option. Not a request.

I once knew a woman who would ask an impossible question.  She would look at you and say, "Who do you think you are?"  If you quietly waited on her to go on, she would say, "This is not a staring contest."  If you replied, no matter how softly, you would probably receive a smack to your face.  No right answer.  Walking away from this "conversation" you thought, "I just can't be good."

God is a loving, heavenly Father.  A father who loves you so much, he created you in his own image:  The image of a perfect, infallible father.  God, unlike so many of our biological parents, never presents us with an impossible situation.  He never poses a question where an answer cannot be found, because the answer is always Himself.

I have been frustrated over and over at the thought that I just cannot seem to find victory. The world, and even people I loved have told me over and over just how stupid and incapable of good I am.  To this, God responds with the statement "I made you good.  BE good!"  "Be ye holy; for I AM holy."  What causes us to fail?  Our own free will.  What enables us to find victory?  Our own free will.  Holiness, just like sin is our choice.

I'm not presenting you with a prosperity gospel.  I cannot say that if you "name it you can claim it."  I AM telling you that when you reach that point of discouragement, where in desperation you exclaim, "I JUST CAN'T BE GOOD"  God says, I MADE YOU GOOD!  I am carefully and wonderfully made. I can be good.  It is as simple as that.  HE IS so I can BE.  Who have you decided to be?

Video Challenge: Day 16 - Shortcuts

Man:  "I'm thinking maybe..."
God:  "Your thoughts are not my thoughts."
Man:  "If we went another way.."
God:  "Your ways are not my ways."

At age 15 I took off to work for the summer at Camp Victory.  This place changed my life, and began to shape who I am today.  If you know me, you know I am a people watcher, and camp provided me an outlet for my hobby.  One guy I loved to watch was named Robert, the king of shortcuts.  Dr. Griffis had given Robert charge of collecting some guys to transport a large water tank from the top of the hill to down by the gymnasium during the morning service.  As I sat at the piano singing "The Lighthouse" all of a sudden I saw a large water tank rolling down the hill past the tabernacle with Robert and three guys chasing after it.  Robert saw a "shortcut" of rolling the tank, and ended up creating MORE work for himself and the others by having to chase it down and carry it back to its destination after damaging the tank.

In the book of Genesis, God reveals to Abraham that he and his wife will indeed bear a son, and begin a chosen nation.  Impatiently, Abraham's wife pushes her servant, Hagar on her husband to help fulfill the prophecy and promise of God.  Mutually they decided to take this shortcut instead of just following and patiently waiting on God.  Hagar bears a son, but not the chosen seed of God.  Instead, this shortcut produces an eternal enemy of the chosen people of God.

God has placed a call on our lives.  To each of us he has given a purpose, and he unfolds his plan.  But, how many times do we say, "God, lets take a shortcut."  Sometimes the road ahead looks so long and trying.  At times, we cannot even see the next step and we must blindly trust God.  From someone who has been there, I beg you, do not take the "shortcuts" no matter how easy they look!  God's ways are not our ways.  God's thoughts are not our thoughts.  He is the almighty, all-knowing God, and we are children seeking direction.  To realize who He is, we must realize who we are.

Conquerors Quartet - CD REVIEW

The Conquerors Quartet
By His Grace - Still Standing
Review on behalf of "Absolutely Gospel"

To the classic Southern Gospel lover, this CD is definitely for you!  Upon hitting play, the perfect piano intro anticipates a great experience.  “Oh Come Along” takes time to appreciate the tight quartet blend, along with a some great piano fill!  The tempo may slow down for “Welcome Home,” but the excitement does not.  This song, written by group member David Goldman, escorts you right to the feet of Jesus. 

You can hear the sincerity and joy as the Conquerors cover “Heaven” by Bill and Gloria Gaither.  The record also features “Oh What A Savior.”

One feature that makes this CD enjoyable is that it is largely mid-tempo to fast tempo songs.  “I’m On My Way,” “I Have a New Song to Sing,” “Sunshine of Today,” and “When We Make It To The Other Side” complete this list.  These songs feature some great, clean piano playing to complete that classic sound. 

The vocals on this project were tight and well mixed through its entirety.  The music was unmistakably classic Southern at its best.  The song selection was upbeat, well placed, and conveyed with excitement.  Great driving music!  You would hard pressed to find a problem with this project.  While no one can replace the “gospel greats” in our minds and hearts, The Conquerors Quartet does a five star job and continuing the legacy.

Wilburn and Wilburn: Feature Article

“First, I would have chuckled, since it was never a plan to do this. Then, I would have probably said you were out of your mind since it would never work for a duo to go on the road and sing – but that was myself talking.”

Jonathan Wilburn of “Wilburn & Wilburn” went on to explain how a duet could have never worked had God not laid the foundation.  For many years Jonathan has strived to be a leader in gospel music, singing with groups like Gold City and the Wilburns.  “I tried to do the right things, release the right songs, wear the right clothes, and even do my hair the right way.”  In essence, Jonathan was saying “OK God, follow me around and show up when I need you.” One of the biggest changes in Jonathan’s life has been allowing God full control, and following Him wherever He leads.

Over a year ago, God led father and son, Jonathan and Jordan to begin a ministry to tell the world about THE Father and Son.  “Jordan had developed the desire a year earlier.  I would come home and he was driving me crazy, constantly listening to Gold City, the Kingdom Heirs, the Wilburns, and watching every Gaither video.  He began to study it, and I told him we weren’t even going to look at it until he graduated college.  I just didn’t see it happening.”  Then one day while working at Ford in Gadsden, Alabama God spoke to Jonathan and told him it was time to get back to work.  “Jordan and I were both “all in” from day one.”

Wilburn & Wilburn is an all-in, all-out blend of the old and new.  “I don’t want Jordan to be anything else except Jordan Wilburn.”  While Jonathan has been a pacesetter in Southern Gospel for years, he has not forced his son into that mold.  With sincerity, realness, and a progressive twist, Jordan pours into the lives of a younger demographic, allowing this duo to minister to all ages.  To put a label or a genre on this dynamic sound would be impossible.  It is not country, bluegrass, or even progressive southern gospel. It can only be described as “Wilburn & Wilburn” thanks to producer Ben Isaacs who produced Daywind record “Family Ties.” 

 In the midst of being “Breakthrough Artist of the Year,” Dove nominations, and So Gospel awards, Wilburn & Wilburn are keeping their eye on the goal, “to follow the Lord, and minister to the needs of the people we sing to.”  With chart-topping songs like “Jesus Will” you will hear a simple message for today. “It’s real, honest, and truthful.  It’s encouraging for the discouraged. It’s a father and son telling folks about THE Father and Son.”  It’s Wilburn & Wilburn.