Sony’s Thoughts: Just Thinking

Today I begin yet another year on this earth. When I think about it, it doesn’t seem like long ago that I was a teenager yet a lot of years and miles have gone by since then. Birthdays are a great time to look back at life and thank God where He brought me from and where He’s taking me. There have been a lot of ups and downs through the years but, through it all, He never let go of my hand.

I don’t know where all God will take me this next year–what valleys I may have to go through or what mountains I may have to climb but I know that, through it all, I can trust in God and He will continue to lead me until I finally reach my Home.

I hope you are continuing to move toward God and to hold His hand throughout each day. He didn’t bring us out this far to take us back again. He brought us out to lead us into the Promised Land if we will but follow.

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Sony’s Thoughts: Happy Mother’s Day

It’s interesting to me how easily we take mothers for granted, and I’ve been guilty of this too. Yet, more often than not, they are the ones who stayed by our side through the night waiting for a fever to break. Mom was often the first one at our side after we fell and scraped our knee. When we cried, it was usually Mom who recognized our cry and came running to see what was the matter. I’m sure we appreciated all those things but have you taken the time lately to tell your mother exactly what she means to you? I’m thankful we have a day set aside to do just that but I think it’s sad when often it’s only on the “ordained” days that we think to do that sort of thing. I wonder what your Mom would do if you took her out to eat for “no reason.” The fact that you would want to spend time with her would probably mean the world to her.

For those whose mothers are in Heaven, I am praying for you today, that God will give you the strength you need today. If you know someone who no longer has their mom with them, take some time today to speak a kind word or put your arm around their shoulder to show them you care. There should not be lonely people in the world when the Body of Christ is present.

If you are a mother, I would encourage you to be the best mother you can be. No one is perfect but, with the Spirit of God, you can be what your children need. Take time to thank God for each blessing He has given you and give your children reason to thank God for you.

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Sony’s Thoughts: What Will Your Arrival in Heaven Look Like?

With Priscilla McGruder’s entrance to Heaven this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about her and the legacy she left behind. I wonder if she knew, before she was dying, how many lives she had actually touched. Yet, once word got around that she was dying, many began to wrap their virtual arms around Priscilla and her husband Carroll to let them know what their ministry has meant to them.

This brought to mind the song “Faces” which Greater Vision recorded a couple years back. When I get to Heaven, I wonder what I will see. Will there be people lining up to greet me to tell me how my life on earth influenced their walk with God and helped them on the narrow way, or will I find that my life was inconsequential in the eternal scheme of things? Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus talked in several places about the importance of bearing fruit and I’m at a place in life where I am praying to do just that. I don’t just want to go through my days; I want my life to count for something.

If I can even reach one person who reaches a person who reaches a person, we could begin to see the spark of a revival which would grow and spread until it becomes wildfire.

I may not know until I reach Heaven what kind of impact I’m having but I do know that I don’t want to sit around hoping that I’m somehow leading people to Heaven. I want to actively pursue God to the point that people can’t help but notice and that, because of that, I will be able to give an answer for the hope that lies within me and encourage those who are about ready to jump out of the boat to keep holding on. We’re almost there. Heaven will surely be worth it all!

What will your arrival in Heaven look like?

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Survey: Familiarity with Other Genres: Results

The results are in!

Thank you to the 224 of you who took this survey. Here’s a PDF with the complete results: Summary. For the visually inclined, here’s a graph:

Survey

Highlights:

  • Even though Inspirational Music as a genre essentially no longer exists, at least as it was known from the mid-70s through mid-90s, my hunch was correct: Its numbers are the strongest outside of Southern Gospel itself.
  • There were only four artists with 100% name ID: Gold City, Legacy Five, Sandi Patti, and Carrie Underwood.
  • Over half of the responses came during the first 24 hours. Most of you who answered right off were this site’s loyal readers , before other sites linked here and sent their readers over to join in the fun. I bring that up because, for over 24 hours after the survey’s launch, all seven of the Southern Gospel artists had 100% name ID.
  • Familiarity with CCM was about where I expected. Casting Crowns and Jars of Clay were the only two artists where double digit percentages of you own one or more of their projects. On the other side of the spectrum,  roughly 4/5 of this site’s readers have never heard a song by Francesca Battiselli, who just won a Dove Award for Female Vocalist of the Year (and 68% have never heard of her, at least till now).
  • I had to smile at the remarkably low numbers for Inspirational artist Annie Herring. Her “never heard of” numbers would probably be half as high if I’d mentioned the group she fronted, the 2nd Chapter of Acts. (I named her individually because her solo work was Inspirational, while the group work was early CCM.)
  • This blog has a reader with a complete collection from the infamous rapper Eminem?
  • One figure jumps out from the SG section: Double-digit percentages, more than twice as much as the next closest, have never heard a song by the Collingsworth Family!

Any other observations from these numbers?

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Line of the Day: Cody McVey

Kingsmen Pianist Cody McVey posted this on his Facebook yesterday:

Can’t cross the interstate to the bus because Obama is coming through town… What’s the big deal? The way everyone is acting you’d think it was Gerald Wolfe!

There’s someone with his sense of celebrity properly adjusted!

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Surveys, continued

First, David Bruce Murray is running another interesting survey at Musicscribe, Song of the Decade – 1990s. If you took my familiarity with other genres survey yesterday, then please go over to his site and take his today. 🙂 [EDIT, 6/6/12: Broken link removed.]

Second, if you haven’t taken my familiarity with other genres survey yet, it’s here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/X57CNHH.

Last time I hosted a survey with SurveyMonkey, they collected responses until 100, then stopped. Then I saved the data and started afresh (same questions). This time, they kept collecting past 100 and informed me that they would charge $19.99 to show all replies past 100. I will not be using them again—I’d also encourage you to go elsewhere—but in the meantime, I may as well get my money’s worth. There are 128 responses so far, and I’d love to see 200 or more.

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Survey: Familiarity with Other Genres

Every now and then, a commenter here raises the question of how familiar Southern Gospel fans are with other genres.

Let’s find out.

Here’s a survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/X57CNHH

The survey takes seven genres’ most prominent artists and asks how familiar you are with their music.

With one exception, the seven artists representing each genre were drawn from the nominees in that genre’s leading awards show (Grammy, Dove, IBMA, Singing News). The one exception is Inspirational, since the genre as defined from ~1975-~1995  no longer exists as an industry. I included it out of curiosity whether any significant number of Southern Gospel fans have come to this genre after Inspirational as we knew it faded away.

Spread the word, email your friends—and don’t forget to take it yourself.

Thank you!

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Sony’s Thoughts: Stay Fueled Up

It occurred to me a while back that, although I’m constantly praying to be a blessing and encouragement to others and, although (and maybe because) so much of what I do is minister to people, it is very hard for me to receive spiritual enrichment and encouragement from others. Scripture says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) and I prefer to be on the giving side of ministry but I find that if I never take time to receive from the Lord, in reality, I have nothing left to give. You cannot continue to drive without refilling with fuel from time to time. So it is in the Christian life.

Even with this realization, it is still a struggle for me. When I am at a conference or a concert, I almost feel guilty just going to receive from God for myself but it could also be an element of pride which hesitates to admit that I need God as much as anyone else does. The truth, however, is that I do–so much so!

I don’t know how most people feel but I would like to encourage you today, especially if you are in a ministry of some kind, to make sure you receive the fuel you need for the work God’s given you to do. If you don’t already have someone, pray for someone who can be there for you to lift you up when you’re down, to encourage you when you’re discouraged, to challenge you when you begin to lose focus. That is what the Body is for. I know how hard it can be to find someone you can trust and who will be the right person for you but God knows what you need and He will bring that person. Burnout is a real thing and, without someone feeding into you, you will eventually become ineffective if you continue to try to do it on your own. Your time with God is what’s most important but He has designed the Body to be His hands and feet and voice at times. Don’t distance yourself from that when it’s available to you. If it’s not available right now, take extra time to be quiet and sit at His feet and hear what He would speak. Those who are looking to us for guidance need to know we’ve been with God ourselves. Let’s not take that responsibility for granted.

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Adding your picture

I’ve enabled Gravatars on this site, which means that a little picture will appear next to the name of each commenter. You don’t need an account on this site to have one; it is connected to your email address and will display on all gravatar-enabled sites (which include Gospeleer, Nate’s Southern Gospel Blog, Coomer Cove, Musicscribe, Phil on Southern Gospel, and, today, Burke’s Brainwork).

It is a fairly simple process to sign up for a gravatar; visit www.gravatar.com and follow the instructions there.

If you’d prefer a step by step video, there’s a handy one on Lauren Talley’s site, http://www.laurentalleyonline.com/gravatar-howto/. (And, naturally, the gravatar would also work there.)

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