Sunday, August 30, 2009

What is Your Support System

"George" is a big man with a big heart. Outgoing and emotional with a deep faith. George also struggles with mental health issues. He's tried to take his life twice and he knows he is only breathing now by the grace of God. George's disease has affected his life, his family, his work, his friends. He and I have talked often about how God brought him to where he is today.
"Edna" is a lovely woman with a great job and is highly respected by her community. She has a good family, lovely grandchildren, beautiful house with an "it" address. Her husband attends church regularly and is a praying man. Edna heard the 'fanatical' Christians once too often and doesn't need that in her life. She is good and generous and loves the world. She doesn't really need or want anything. Why would she need God?
"Religion is a crutch". After all, as human beings we have the intelligence, the emotions and the sensitivity to treat each other the way we should and to pull ourselves up by our own personal bootstraps should we fall into problems. Human beings are enough in themselves and if they aren't well...survival of the fittest, right? Those who think they need something outside of themselves...some kind of a 'Higher Power'...just haven't tapped into their own strength, right? People really don't need God, right?
Ask the alcoholic who holds the glass in his hand, watching 150 days of sobriety fall to zero. Ask the mother who paces the floor at 3am while her 12-year-old daughter roams the streets. Ask the primary caregiver of an alzheimer's patient who is at their wit's end. Ask the faithful husband whose wife asks for a divorce. Ask the child whose parents have just been killed in a car accident.
Ask me. Ask me about my personal resources - intelligence, education, family, friends, work, etc. etc....and then ask me about getting through the tough times.
Jesus is more than my crutch. He's my life support system. For those who haven't reached the point where they have come to the end of themselves: that point will come. For each of us it is different. I pray when you come to the end of yourself that you reach out to Jesus. He's there.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Freebie: Free bag of Hall's cough drops

Go here and sign up for news and coupons from Halls and they will send you a survey to complete. After completing the simple online survey you'll receive a coupon within a week for a free bag of Halls cough drops ($2.29 value).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why Do You Do What You Do

I saw her again last week. One of the reasons I do what I do. I was walking toward the closest Tim Horton's for a coffee, and from a distance I saw a lovely girl with long dark hair and a beautiful yellow blouse. She was running her fingers through her hair as if to straighten it from a high wind. Only, it wasn't windy.
As she came closer, I realized her actions were jerky, compulsive, almost angry. Her face and arms bore the ravages of the habit that had brought her once more to a high. I don't know if she was still there or coming down. But as I headed into the local coffee shop, my petty annoyances of the day seemed so trivial.
God has given me the opportunity to work in an organization that reaches out to the lost and hurting on the streets of our City. The mandate of the organization is to do this not only with the necessary assistance of food, clothing and shelter, but most importantly with the love of Jesus. He showed us the way when He not only fed the crowds that gathered to hear Him speak with the Bread of Life, but also with the loaves and fishes. The place I work for provides the necessities, the counseling and Jesus.
I need to be reminded of why I do what I do from time to time. I get so caught up in administration details, personality differences, worrying like Mary's sister Martha about the housekeeping of the place, that I can forget the main objective.
We can all get like that no matter what we do. It's easy to recognize if you are in Christian service: Pastors can get overwhelmed by paperwork, artists can lose focus of Who should get the spotlight. But it happens with everyone. Teachers, farmers, cashiers - if we let the cares of the day push out the voice of the Father, we have forgotten why we do what we do.
We are called to be salt and light, no matter where we are placed. To extend the love of Jesus to our coworkers, friends and family. The main reason we are here is to worship God and part of that worship is sharing His love with those around us.
I was glad that God altered my thought patterns that day on my way to get a coffee. They needed His touch and I have to say, that happens more than it should. But a reminder is always good. I need to keep the Main Thing, the main thing. That's why I do what I do.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The Florida Gospel Music Association will celebrate its twentieth anniversary this Labor Day weekend!

The Association will welcome artists and fans, family and friends to the Church of God State Campgrounds in Wimauma, FL beginning Friday September 4th and concluding Sunday evening September 6th. Admission each evening is a $5 per person donation with an offering received during each evening concert that starts at 7 pm EDT.

Activities include the nightly concerts featuring 25 top artists from across the Southeast, a prayer breakfast on Saturday morning, a Sunday morning worship experience and of course, lots of food, fun and fellowship! Randy Perry returns again this year to speak in the worship settings!

The FGMA original founding members Olan Witt and Dean Pickering still remain active today and they along with the FGMA Board of Directors invite all to come and visit with them as they welcome so many historic groups and personalities back to the annual convention to celebrate this milestone anniversary.

For more information on local hotels, camping facilities, concert lineups and all the festivities you may contact the FGMA by calling 615.772.8319 or 407.788.6556. Interested parties may also send an e-mail to

Monday, August 10, 2009

Amazed Wins Diamond Award for “Duet of the Year”

Amazed was awarded the Diamond Award for “Duet of the Year” last month. The SGN Scoops Diamond Awards were handed out in a live program during the week of the Branson Gospel Music Convention on Thursday, July 16, 2009.

“We could not believe that we awarded this again,” mentioned Cathie Marsh of Amazed. “It really was an honor to be nominated alongside so many great artists. God totally took us by surprise again!”

This is Amazed’s third Diamond Award for “Duet of the Year”. The duo was awarded their first Diamond Award in the same category in 2005 and took home their second in 2007.

Tamie Perkins of Amazed said, “There were so many people who have been a part of our ministry this past year that it is impossible to thank all of them. We do appreciate everyone who has partnered with us this past year! The Lord knows we couldn’t have done it without you! Thanks so much for showing your support of our ministry”

Amazed is currently working on an album of Southern Gospel classics. The new album is currently untitled and will be released at a later date. More information on that recording will be forthcoming.


Artist/Songwriter Shelly E. Johnson from Franklin, Tenn. and Jake Brothers from Indianapolis are among several aspiring artists and songwriters who were celebrated by music industry executives and leaders after winning multiple honors at the GMA Artist and Song of 2009 National Competition held last week in Nashville during GMA IMMERSE (, the Christian music industry’s premier training experience and talent competition.

The GMA Academy Artist & Song of 2009 National Competition is the Christian and gospel music community’s premier talent competition for unsigned artists and songwriters that has in recent years seen entrants like Chris Tomlin, Matthew West, Nichole Nordeman, BarlowGirl and American Idol 2007 winner Jordin Sparks go on to successful music careers. Fellow American Idol finalist and another former GMA competition winner Chris Sligh hosted this year’s competition finals. (To watch the Artist Finals which were broadast live at, visit

Hundreds of artist and songwriting contestants from all over the United States and Canada competed for grand prizes which included a record development deal with Centricity Music, a “Disney Best of Show” award and performance slot at Night of Joy at Walt Disney World and a Compassion International ministry trip. Also at stake were GMA’s grand prize titles for Artist and Song 2009 and American Bible Society’s ABS Scripture Song Awards which offered a chance for the winning songs produced by a major Christian music recording label.

At the conclusion of the four-day competition held in conjunction with GMA IMMERSE, Shelly E. Johnson was named GMA’s Artist Solo 2009 for contestants in the 13-24 age category. Centricity Music ( also chose 24-year-old Johnson to receive its recording development deal. Centricity Music, an independent label distributed worldwide by Word Distribution and whose artists include Downhere, Andrew Peterson, Circleslide (previous GMA winner), and Jaime Jamgochian. Johnson’s deal with Centricity will include music and career advice and council, song consultation, demo recordings, and the potential for expansion into an exclusive recording or publishing contract. This was Johnson’s second year in the GMA competition. In 2008, she won songwriting awards which included GMA Song of 2008 for “The Power of the Cross,” the song she performed at the Artist Finals this year.

Jake Brothers, from Indianapolis, Ind., performed as both as solo artist and as the Jake Brothers Band and won in both cases. Jake Brothers Band was chosen as GMA’s Band winner. As a solo artist, Brothers was runner up to Jared Salte of Alberta, Canada in GMA’s Artist Solo 2009 for contestants in the age category 25 and up. He was also the recipient of GMA’s “Disney's Night of Joy Best of Show Award,” which means Brothers will perform at Night of Joy at Walt Disney World (, one of the top Christian music events in the country. Brothers will receive a performance slot at the "Night of Joy” event at the Walt Disney World® Resort, September 11-12, 2009 in Florida, performing on the same stage as Jars of Clay, Chris Tomlin, P.O.D., Superchick, Newsboys, Kutless, Leeland and Flyleaf. The prize also includes a vacation package at Disney World.

Holly Starr, from Quincy, Wash., was recognized for the ministry emphasis of her music by Compassion International (, a Christian child advocacy organization which helps more than one million children in 24 countries. Compassion named her their recipient of the Music & Ministry Experience, an all-expense paid ministry trip to a Compassion International destination.

The Gospel Music Channel (, the 24-hour, all music entertainment network devoted to the uplifting, inspiring and diverse music that is Gospel, was a competition sponsor for the first time this year, choosing Worship Jazz band TC Carter and the Musical Sensations from Martinsville, Virg., as its winner. TC Carter will appear on GMC’s “Joyful Noise,” hosted by Christine Pullara and be featured with its own artist page on

In addition these artists, winners were also honored in several categories defined by musical style and/or age. These winners, too, receive prizes including personal consultation meetings with music industry executives, free tuition to future GMA events, and several other product prizes. The complete list of winners for both the Artist and Song of 2009 are:

GMA Vocal One (ages 13-26)
Winner – Shelly E. Johnson, Franklin, Tenn.,
Runner-up – Matt Knutson, Longview, Texas,

GMA Vocal Two (ages 27 and up)
Winner – Jared Salte, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada
Runner-up – Jake Brothers, Indianapolis, Ind.,

GMA Band
Winner – Jake Brothers Band, Indianapolis, Ind.,
Runner-up – T.C. Carter and the Musical Sensations, Martinsville, Vir.

GMA Group/Duet
Winner -- Denwyler, Spokane, Wash., and
Runner-up – Noelle, Raleigh, N.C.,

GMA Amateur Class
“Solid Rock” by Tracey Barker, Round Rock, Texas

GMA Semi-Pro Class
“She Said” by Bev Herrema, Highland Ranch, Colo.

ABS Amateur Class
“Wait,” by Joshua Johnson, Los Angeles,

ABS Semi-Pro Class
“Bless the Memories” by Marc Arthur Pierre-Louis, Charlotte, N.C.,

Jake Brothers, Indianapolis, Ind.,

Shelly E. Johnson, Franklin, Tenn.,

Holly Starr, Quincy, Wash.,

TC Carter and the Musical Sensations, Martinsville, Vir.

More than 600 Christian artists, songwriters, worship leaders – and those that want to be someday – gathered last week in Nashville to IMMERSE in a four-day event presented by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) that is the Christian music industry’s premier training experience and talent competition. The event, held on the campus of Belmont University, offered unparalleled training, professional and personal feedback, one-of-a-kind concerts and a sense of community to uniquely equip creative Christians to impact culture through music both in and out of the church.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Freebie: Free Home Made Simple Coupon Book
This a great coupon book with over $35 worth of coupons in it. Included in is a coupon for free Cascade Crystal Clear Rinse Agent.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

First Assembly Ministries – Naples Welcomes Gospel Group THE NELONS for FREE Performance During August 9th Sunday Service

First Assembly Ministries – Naples invites the public to a special performance with Southern Gospel artists The Nelons. This is a FREE event open to the public (a love offering will be taken). The Nelons will perform starting at 11:00 AM on Sunday, August 9 at the church, located at 3805 The Lord’s Way in Naples . The church office number is 239-774-1165.

Pastor David Mallory, Senior Pastor of First Assembly Ministries – Naples , said “It’s a privilege to be able to bring great Gospel music to our community and we look forward to having The Nelons visit and perform. We know people will be touched and ministered to by this talented group.”

The Nelons accomplished musical career and ministry includes six DOVE Awards, three GRAMMY nominations, several “Number One” songs on the radio charts, a prestigious New York Film Festival Bronze Award, numerous Singing News Fan Awards, and appearances all around the world in various venues. As a family, Jason, Kelly, and Amber continue to sing with a full heart of praise.

Kelly’s father, the late Rex Nelon was the founder of The Nelons, and with such a musical history to their credit, it hardly seems right to say “they are just getting started.” But that’s exactly how Jason & Kelly feel. “We have so many new and exciting opportunities and projects right now…we feel more enthused about the future than ever before!” Audiences of all ages enjoy their innovative ability to harmonize and integrate many styles of music, with each lyric and musical arrangement delivering truth that points everyone to the One & Only, Triune God!


Kenny Sexton, owner and producer of The American Mountain Theater in Elkins, West Virginia announced today that Jeff & Sheri Easter are the first Southern Gospel Group to sell-out a Gospel show at the American Mountain Theater. The American Mountain Theater is a “G” rated, family friendly “Branson-Style” live variety music and comedy show which opened two years ago on July 27, 2007 in the mountain town of Elkins, West Virginia. Now in its 3rd season, as a new addition to its three other shows, AMT is hosting six of the top Southern Gospel groups in the nation as part of their Summer Southern Gospel Concert Series which are on Sunday afternoons at 2:00 P.M. In addition to Jeff & Sheri on August 2nd, the other groups included in the concert series are The Freemans on August 23rd, The Isaacs on September 13th and Jason Crabb on September 20th. Groups who have already appeared include Gold City Quartet on June 21st and the Dove Brothers Quartet on July 19th.

“The Gospel Series seems to be working for us”, says Sexton, “and as an old Southern Gospel music performer, I couldn’t be more thrilled”. Our hats are off to Jeff & Sheri for the fan response that sold-out our theater. Information about the American Mountain Theater is available on their website at: and reservations for tickets by calling 1-800-943-3670.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Highly Successful Branson Gospel Music Convention Announces Additional Plans for 2010

Building on the success of the inaugural Branson Gospel Music Convention, Rod and Kelly Burton, owners of YMR Music Productions, LLC. which produces the Branson Gospel Music Convention, are gearing up for the 2010 convention and making some announcements about expansion to their staff.

Ron Blackwood of The Legendary Blackwood Quartet has been retained to oversee handling National Talent Bookings and serve as Marketing Advisor. Blackwood has been known to have vast proven experience in these areas. He will report directly to Rod Burton. With several decades of experience in the Southern Gospel genre, his expertise will be called upon in securing national level artists and coordinating marketing efforts.

“Ron was a tremendous asset to us at the 2009 convention, not only for his knowledge and expertise, but also his faith and understanding of the magnificent grace of God. His testimony and willingness to share his heart to see God get the glory has ministered to us this year. We’re excited to have his experience on board to help us make contacts that will improve our convention in years to come,” commented Rod Burton, co-owner and President of YMR Music Productions.

“It's an honor and a blessing to be associated with Rod and Kelly,” Ron says. “I believe in the vision of this convention and the team God is putting together behind it.”

Also effective immediately, Brenda Denney of the Missouri-based trio 2nd Generation will take the position of Director of On-site Relations for YMR Music Productions. Brenda served on the advisory board for the 2009 event and will continue in much the same role for the coming year.

“Brenda called us the day after the 2009 convention was announced to ask how she could help,” says Kelly Burton, CEO of YMR Music Productions. “From that point, she was making local contacts in Branson, spreading the word to others in ministry, and there whenever we needed her. During this year’s convention, she was essential to keeping the backstage running smoothly and a constant encouragement to us and others. We are proud to have her strong work ethic, contagious enthusiasm, and heart for ministry on our team.”

Brenda says, “I had such a great time with all the artists at the Branson GMC 2009. Wow…what talent, what ministry, groups helping each other, praying together, laughing together, and encouraging each other. I can't wait for Branson GMC 2010, and I am thrilled to be part of the team putting it together.”

As the convention team readies itself to expand and improve upon the inaugural 2009 event, Rod wants to assure those participating that the heart and mission of the convention will remain.

“Our credo still stands,” Rod says. “Branson GMC will be an event that joins legendary and contemporary artists as well as regional with national artists. The reason 2009 was so successful was because of the community among the artists and the unity of our focus on the Gospel message. While we strive to make the convention as fruitful as possible for our participants and as enjoyable as possible for our audience, that will not change.”

An advisory board consisting of artists and industry insiders will remain in place, and YMR Music Productions is happy to retain Southern Spin Entertainment and Sky Angel Faith & Family Television as Official Sponsors of Branson Gospel Music Convention.

The 2nd Annual Branson Gospel Music Convention will take place June 28 – July 2, 2010 at the Branson Convention Center in Branson, Missouri. Information about ticket sales and artist registration can be found at

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Eternity in Their Hearts

“Bob” stopped in to his favorite coffee shop on a lovely summer evening. At 8:00pm it was still bright and warm, and many patrons were milling around, shooting the breeze. As he headed out the door, he bumped into a stranger, excused himself and tried to continue to his car. The stranger and his buddy took exception to Bob and a one-sided fight ensued.

Bob, a 28-year old father of two, has been in the hospital now for the last two weeks. They were able to save his life and do plastic surgery to fix his facial injuries. Bob is still very confused and disoriented. The doctors are hoping that eventually Bob will completely heal but the road will be long and hard.

Bob’s mother works in my agency. We aren’t close, but she is a sweet lady who is always there to help others. She and her mother have been by Bob’s side since that horrible night. What must it have been like for her to answer that fateful phone call that sent her rushing to the Emergency Room?

We just never know what is around the corner. In a blink of an eye, we could begin the rest of our lives. Will we spend it in the presence of the Almighty God, or forever in the torment of His absence? As quickly as the screech of breaks, the crushing pain in the chest, the slip of a surgeon’s scalpel, we could step into the hereafter.

On a lovely warm summer morning, it seems morbid to be thinking these thoughts. However, I believe that God does want us to consider the things that really matter. Not money or belongings, but our relationship with the Lord, our family, our friends and whether we have offered that cup of cold water to someone in need.

I recently watched The Bucket List and it reminded me that I do get my priorities messed up occasionally. I don’t always live in the light of eternity. Sometimes when I see the lives of those who don’t know the Lord, I wonder what will happen when they step over to the other side. What if they’ve never been told?

The Bible states clearly that we humans have no excuses. Creation around us screams the presence of an almighty Creator. Plus, He has placed “eternity in our hearts”. Our soul testifies within us that we are immortal. Long after our earthly bodies have come and gone from this world, our Spirits will live on. There is a part of us that knows this, whether we chose to accept it or not.

Do you know where you will be when you step from this life to the next? My prayer is that you will be in the presence of the Almighty God, and His Son who holds the keys to Death and Hell, so that you would not have to go there. He has placed eternity in your heart. Chose to spend it with Him.