Sony’s Thoughts: Mothers are a Blessing

I have a hard time suppressing a big smile when I hear people refer to moms who “don’t work.” Okay I don’t suppress it and often laugh at them but that’s beside the point. I realize that what the person is saying is that the mom doesn’t work outside the home but I’m convinced that any lady who is a mom definitely “works.” (Just ask her!)

Parenting has its challenges and can often seem like a thankless job; however, it is not without its reward. The apostle John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4). For those who have lived to see that day, you have already received a small portion of that reward. For those whose children have strayed from the Faith, this can be a trying time but God can use it to draw you to Himself if you allow Him to do so.

If you have small children, be thankful for them. Tomorrow, they will be teenagers and the next day, they could be married. Not literally, of course, but as fast as time is flying, it seems that way sometimes. Treasure your children while you have them for they truly are a blessing from the Lord.

My thoughts today are twofold:

1) If you are a mom, take time today to thank God for the many blessings He has given you.

2) If you are a child (even an adult child) whose mother is alive, take time to thank her for her many sacrifices and her love in giving you life and raising you for God’s glory. So many times we neglect letting people know how much we love and appreciate them while they’re alive. They’re not going to know what’s said at their funeral.

In closing, I want to thank everyone who reads this blog on a daily basis, and for those who came across the blog for the first time today, welcome. You all are a blessing!

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Sony’s Thoughts: Taking Isaac Up the Mountain

We have some friends who were going through a difficult trial last year. They were suspecting the mom in the family had cancer, and her husband and children didn’t feel ready to part with her. She’s still relatively young, and we weren’t sure what God was going to do but, around that time, I pulled out a CD by the Roy Knight Singers and was listening to a song called “Taking Isaac Up the Mountain.” I would like to quote the chorus in the hopes that it will encourage you regardless of what you are going through.

Taking Isaac up the Mountain
by Sandy Knight

Taking Isaac up the mountain is such a lonely trip
Knowing everything you love you’re on your way to give
Then suddenly you see a sign that God has made a way
Taking Isaac up the mountain is just a test of faith
To see how far that I would go with God
(end of chorus)

We often don’t know God’s plan in things. All we see is a mountain that we don’t feel strong enough to climb. However, we do know that “all things work together for good to them who love God.” That’s not just a cliche. It’s a fact! No matter what we’re facing, let’s determine to go on with God together. There is no mountain too high that He cannot cross it, and we can cross it too with His help!

As it turned out, the mom I mentioned at the beginning of this post found that she does not have cancer and, once again, we are rejoicing in the goodness of God!

“Taking Isaac Up the Mountain” written by Sandy Knight, published by Asheville Music Publishing/BMI, taken from the Greener Pastures CD by the Roy Knight Singers. Lyrics used by permission.

~ Sony Elise

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Sony’s Thoughts: A Heart for the Lost

“So that I may snatch from the jaws of hell someone not so unlike myself.” I first heard these words about 15 years ago in a song the Bishops sang called “More Than My Voice.” Yet that phrase still catches my ears each time I hear it.

I don’t know why but at times I tend to look at the world around me and feel like most people are hopeless. “They’re never going to come to God,” I think. However, God has time and time again reminded me of the fact that I was not born saved. In fact, I’m sure a lot of folks who knew me years ago would be surprised at the fact that I am still alive, let alone serving God. At one time, I think our family would have been voted least likely to succeed basket cases. Thanks to God my past is past! With that reality, how can I not have compassion for those who are where I was all those years ago? God still saves and He can use us to be the Light this world needs to give them a desire to change.

This May will mark 19 years that I’ve been striving to serve God, and I thank Him every day for saving me when He did. Thanks to Him I have a new life and a song to sing. “And my song shall ever be, ‘How marveous! How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!'”

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Sony’s Thoughts: Ready for Heaven

The other day, I was listening to Glen Payne and the Cathedrals sing “Hard Trials Will Soon Be Over,” and I remembered my brother saying, “If anyone was ready for Heaven, it was Glen Payne.” It also occurred to me that Glen had no idea at the time he recorded that how soon his trials really would be over.

My grandma commented a while back that the songs they used to sing about Heaven mean more now that she’s closer to being there. I’m not that old but I can relate. The more loved ones I have who have gone before me, the more homesick I get but I am grateful that God has a purpose for my life and I hope to be faithful to the end so that God can say, like He said to Glen, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” What a day that will be!

~Sony Elise

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CD Review: “Eyes on the Prize” (The Freemans)

Featuring the #5 song of 2007 according to Singing News magazine, “He Chose Me,” the Freemans have put out another great recording with their latest release, Eyes on the Prize. ”

Larry Petree wrote three songs on this CD including the Freemans’ latest single, “Cast in the Sea,” “Cross Fire” (a great song about spiritual warfare), and “Rich As I Can Be,” featuring Darrell, Joe, and Caylon Freeman.

Gerald Crabb wrote “Put Me In That Crowd” and co-wrote the ballad “Grace I Remember” with Niles Borop.

Other songs include “Three Rugged Crosses,” “If God Doesn’t Have It,” and the old spiritual, “Eyes on the Prize,” which features Chris and Misty Freeman, Joyce Martin, Bo Hinson, The Dixie Echoes, and Jason Crabb.

I remember Darrell Freeman saying years ago that they would never put a “filler” song on one of their recordings and they have stayed true to that with this recording.

~Sony Elise

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CD Review: “Journey of Joy” (Karen Peck and New River)

Featuring the recent #1 song, “Last Night,” this is an excellent project. No wonder it’s been nominated for a Grammy! From the upbeat “Hey” to the slower-paced “Where the Dirt Road Stops,” this CD is full of life and hope and joy! I have followed Karen Peck & New River since they started their group in 1991 and, although I’ve loved every lineup they’ve had, they just keep getting better.

Karen and John Darin Rowsey co-wrote “Hey” and “Faith,” and Joel Lindsey teamed with Karen and John Darin to write “When the Stone Rolled Away.” Susan Peck Jackson and Rebecca Peck wrote the title song, “Journey of Joy.” Other songwriters who contributed to this project were Ronny Hinson, Jeff Steele, Kyla Rowland, and Gerald Crabb.

My favorite song on the project is “Then He Moved,” written by Jeff Steele and Cindi Ballard. Devin does an excellent job conveying the message of that song in the way he sings it. If that song was released as a single, I think it would easily make its way to the top of the charts. Other favorites include “Whispered Prayers” (also co-written by Jeff Steele), “Faith,” and “Behind the Line of Grace.” Thirty-second clips can be listened to on their website: www.karenpeckandnewriver.com.

~Sony Elise

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Concert Review: The Freemans

I have been listening to the Freemans for over 20 years but I have never been to one of their concerts … until this past Saturday. We got there 1 1/2 hours ahead of time so we were able to sit close to the front and then had plenty of time to check out the product table before the concert started.

The service began with the pastor saying a few words and then the congregation sang “I’m Going That Way,” “Looking for a City,” and “What a Day That Will Be.” Then the offering was taken and the Freemans were introduced.

They started the concert with their current radio single, “Cast in the Sea,” followed by “Hello in Heaven,” “The Next Step,” and then Joe Freeman sang, “Sing Hallelujah.”

At times during the concert, I was close to tears as I thought of how the Freemans have had a hard couple years with multiple deaths in the family, Chris being in an accident in early 2007 and, most recently, Misty’s miscarriage but watching them sing about God’s goodness and faithfulness, you would never know the heartache they’ve experienced. Chris was right on when she said, “Sometimes it’s hard to praise the Lord but that’s when we need to praise Him the most.”

They then sang “In Spite of the Storm.” On the original recording, Chris sang both verses but lately Misty has been singing the second verse in concert and it brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. “Rise Up” was next and then they introduced the group members.

After that, Darrell & Chris took a break while Misty sang “Cinderella,” which she co-wrote with Kim McLean. It’s a great song and is on a CD that’s not out yet but is scheduled to be released in late January or February. Misty then sang a bluegrass-sounding song with Joe and Chris backing her up called “Walking Through the Fire.” Then she called her dad up to sing “I Need a Drink.” She said she originally wrote the song for herself to sing, but Darrell does a great job and I love Misty’s background vocals on that song. Her voice continues to mature and her sweet nature makes her a blessing to listen to.

The last song on that set was their former #1 song, “He Chose Me” which is scheduled to be included on an upcoming Gaither Homecoming DVD.

After that, the pastor got up and preached a message on pleasure and how we should not strive for worldly pleasure but we need to keep God at the center of everything we do. There were several who went forward for the altar call afterwards.

The Freemans then went back to the stage and ended the service with “Children of the Dust.”

What impressed me the most in watching them afterwards is how they can be in a room full of people and yet make each person feel like they are the only one in the room. That is a trait I want to learn, and I love watching people who have mastered that.

~Sony Elise

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CD Review: “We Need a Little Christmas” (Triumphant Quartet)

I recently had the blessing of hearing Triumphant Quartet’s latest Christmas CD. It starts with “Jesus, What a Wonderful Child” which the Talley Trio included on their project a while back. Two songs I hadn’t heard before were “Hope Has Hands” and “Mary’s Christmas,” the latter of which was sung by Clayton Inman who did a terrific job.

When I first started listening to “Christmas Shoes,” I really wasn’t sure how a bass singer would do but Eric Bennett did a great solo.

They repeated the Cathedrals’ acapella arrangement of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and then David Sutton sang a really neat song called “Jesus is Lord.”

As I listened to Jeff Stice do a piano solo of “O Holy Night,” I thought, “I’d love to see him do that in concert.” I love the song anyway but Jeff is one talented musician!

Probably the neatest song on the project is the title song, “We Need a Little Christmas,” which Legacy Five also recorded earlier this year. However, on Triumphant’s version the families of the group members join in and sing. It was introduced by Paul Heil. Upbeat and fun, this song is definitely a winner!

Closing the project is a “Medley of Fun” which includes “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (another piano solo).

One thing that added to the project was, between each song, Jeff would play a short piano solo of a carol. Then it would go into the next song. I’ve never heard a group do that before but it gave it more of a Christmasy feel.

If you like Triumphant Quartet, you will like this project!

~Sony Elise

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Twelve Days of Christmas, Day 6: The Freemans

The Freemans are one of those groups who have been around a long time but don’t get a lot of recognition. Yet they continue going out and serving no matter what trials they are facing on a personal level.

In thinking over what I could do for The Freemans, I would give them more concerts in 2008. For a group of their caliber and the focus of their ministry, they really should have a concert most weekends except for an occasional week or so off to refuel so they can more effectively minister to people.

~Sony Elise

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Twelve Days of Christmas, Day 5: The Inspirations

Thank you so much for the welcome, Daniel. You’ve definitely helped one of my Christmas wishes to come true and I am so looking forward to contributing to this blog.

In thinking over groups I’d like to bless this Christmas, I would love to do something wonderful for The Inspirations. After serving the Lord for over forty years, they deserve a special treat. This year, there are two gifts I would give to them. 1) I would bring Matt’s nephew home from Iraq and 2) I would give Archie completely healed vocal chords and the strength to serve the Lord another forty years.

~Sony Elise

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