Sony’s Thoughts: Farewell, Southern Gospel Journal

As I sit down to write my last post for Southern Gospel Journal, I am dealing with so many emotions. I still remember when Daniel asked me to write for this blog nearly 6 1/2 years ago and the excitement I had that God would open this door for me. I don’t consider myself to be a great writer, but I love to write and I hope that, as God continues to teach me and help me to grow, He will use my writings to help others to do the same.

When God closes a door, He often opens another and, this week, after Daniel’s announcement, I was contacted by MusicScribe, asking if I would be interested in continuing to write my devotional there. With Daniel’s blessing, I plan to do so starting next week. If you would like to read more than one writing a week, I would love for you to read my blog, Southern Gospel World, as well. Since there are other blogs who do better at keeping up with Southern Gospel news as soon as it’s out, I focus more on reviews and my inspirational writings. With my schedule, I am unable to post every day, and there are times I can go a while but I try to post several times a week.

I would also like to thank each of you who have read my posts each week and have encouraged me through your comments. There have been times I thought about quitting but, at the perfect time, someone would leave a comment that would inspire me to continue.

Although I am sad to see this blog discontinue, I wish Daniel the best and know that God has even better things in store for Him. It’s been a blessing to see him continually mature and grow in God. Jesus asked the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). I’m so glad there are still faithful men and women who are willing to surrender all and allow God to guide their every step. May we all follow the examples that have been set for us so that we hear those wonderful words, “Welcome Home, my good and faithful servant.” What a day, glorious day that will be!

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Sony’s Thoughts: Jesus is Risen … and He’s Coming Again

I don’t think it’s coincidence that I’m reading through Revelation right now. Right after Jesus’ ascension, “two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10b-11). The story didn’t end with His death. It wasn’t finished with His resurrection and the fact that He is no longer with us in bodily form. He promised to send His Spirit–which He did–and He promised to receive us unto Himself “that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). That is a day we still have to look forward to.

Jesus warned us that, “In the world, you shall have tribulation,” but He also told us to “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We may not know exactly when He’s coming but He definitely will come. Our job is to watch and be ready.

As you think of the cross and everything Jesus went through to offer you forgiveness for your sins, think about your life. Are you living a life of surrender or are you still trying to have your life and Heaven too? It doesn’t work that way. If He is not Lord of all, I daresay He is not Lord at all. He died that you might have eternal life but whether you accept that life is up to you. I pray you will. He loves you so much. Please take time to examine your heart today. It doesn’t matter how many years you have gone to church or how Godly YOU think you are. The question is, “What does God think about the way you’re living your life?” Repent today and find joy and peace like you’ve never known.

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Sony’s Thoughts: Too Busy Serving?

This is conference season for the ministry I work for. From March 1 through last weekend, we were at a different convention every weekend. We now have two weeks off before we hit the road again. Since we’ve been home, I’ve had nights of not sleeping well so I’ve had a lot of sleep to catch up on. In the midst of all this, I’ve been reminded how easy it can be to “serve God” but yet be too busy for Him.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t let one day go by where I don’t pray and, with the app on my phone, I can usually find time to read a chapter from the Bible. It’s not the same, though, as uninterrupted, quality time with my Father. There is a grace on the road. I know I’m doing what God has called me to do, and I acknowledge Him and praise Him as I get a few slow minutes here and there. At the same time, it’s important to remember that God still desires all I have to give Him, and there is no excuse not to make extra time to be alone with Him when I get home.

I share this because I know a lot of ministry leaders read this, but I suppose this really applies to everybody. Whether you are a pastor, singer, evangelist, office worker, housewife, etc., don’t neglect to take the time to hear from your Heavenly Father. He has something He wants to speak to you. It may be a word of encouragement, a caution, some direction, maybe even a rebuke but it is worth listening. We cannot tell others how to live a Godly life if we are not doing everything we can to live Godly as well.

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Sony’s Thoughts: The Secret Place

As I begin this week’s devotional, I am fighting to see the screen through the tears streaming down my face. I just watched the video Daniel posted Friday of The Booth Brothers singing, “The Secret Place.” Wow. Talk about convicting. I’ve heard the song before but I hadn’t heard Ron Booth, Sr.’s testimony. What a powerful reminder that God still saves and delivers.

I expect that the majority of church goers in America have things in their heart that they don’t want anyone to know about. It’s easy to put on nice clothes and a fake smile and make people think, “He is such a Godly man” or “She is such a nice lady.” God knows the truth, dear Brothers and Sisters, and He desires that we live a life wholly surrendered to Him.

I am not immune to temptation but I pray often to be faithful. Scripture says, “To whom much is given, much is required,” and I have been given so much. I also have five younger siblings, and eight nieces and nephews who look up to me. That, plus being in ministry, does not allow me the luxury of having a secret place in my heart, but I daresay you don’t have that luxury either. God has called us to be a set apart people, and it is only the pure in heart that will see Him. You do not want to arrive at Jesus’ feet only to be told, “Depart from me. I never knew you.”

Today, if you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart. The day will come when you will regret the life you lived. When you look into the loving, but sad, eyes of the Savior, all the justification for your sin, which now seems to make sense, will vanish from your mind, and you will wonder why you ever thought that secret life was okay.

Forgive me for preaching. I had planned to write on something else today but I believe this is the message God is speaking. Excuse me while I go examine my heart and repent of the secret things in my heart. I hope you will join me.

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Sony’s Thoughts: A Word Fitly Spoken

The past week has been quite hectic. I’ve been watching children for a mama who just had her eighth baby. Yesterday, several of them developed colds. I’m praying I don’t get it until Mama gets back on her feet.

In the midst of all this, I received an email out of the blue from someone encouraging me, if I begin to feel overwhelmed, to stop and ask God for strength. In closing, he included the chorus of the hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” Praise God for friends and family who are always ready to encourage me when I need it.

I used to do better at sending random notes to people just to lift them up. I’m reminded how important it is. One can feel encouraged during the most discouraging times if someone would take a moment to give them a kind word.

Wise King Solomon said, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). An encouraging word at just the right moment will be remembered for a long time, and it only takes a moment of our time. Take that time to encourage someone today.

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Sony’s Thoughts: Fulfill My Joy

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:1-4).

The above is one of my favorite admonishing passages of Scripture. My favorite passages change from time to time but I love the way Paul admonishes the Philippians to be of one mind. Easier said than done but so vital. I don’t think being of one mind always means completely agreeing but we are to be of one Spirit, preferring others as better than ourselves, being willing to admit that my way may not always be the right way and, even if it is, to back up at times and be willing to let others make mistakes.

Humility is not an easy thing but it is one of the things that Jesus modeled perfectly for us. He was always ready to teach but, if they didn’t want to listen, He would let it go.

So much of what divides the Body of Christ is petty. We have lost site of the core of Christ’s teaching which was love–for God and for others. There are issues worth dying for but not everything is. Hear the heart of Jesus as He says, “The greatest commandment is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.” That is the greatest Commandment. Let’s show the world (and the Church) that we really do love them and will continue to do so as Christ shows us how.

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Sony’s Thoughts: He’s Leading the Way

The title of this post reflects my theme song this year. After a couple months of being off the road, we start traveling again next weekend. At times life can be overwhelming but I’m so grateful that God continues to lead and to guide.

I have experienced the quiet times where I couldn’t hear God’s voice to know which way He was leading but He has been faithful, at just the right time, to let me know what direction He wants me to take. My responsibility then is to follow Him in complete obedience, knowing that the path He takes me down will bring Him glory, and that is why I am here.

If you feel like God is changing your direction but you don’t know where He is leading, don’t fear. Keep patiently waiting. In His time, He will show you the new path He has laid out for your life. Then you can say with me, “Thank You, Lord, for leading the way! Wherever You lead me, I will follow.”

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Sony’s Thoughts: Reflecting and Looking Ahead

I was just reading through some of the news posts Daniel posted the last few days, and I am feeling so blessed to have the privilege of writing for this blog. I think it’s been about six years now that I have been writing regularly, and I’m not sure why Daniel hasn’t fired me yet but I’m glad that he hasn’t. I keep a busy schedule, am often on the road and not always able to post, but I love being able to share what God lays on my heart. It always blesses me to hear from different ones who read my posts. I thank God for each and every one of you.

As you know, if you’ve been reading my posts for any length of time, the last few years of my life have been riddled with more trials than victories (or so it seemed). I knew God was doing something in my life, and I prayed daily to be faithful, but I could not see light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve never experienced depression like I did at points during that time. This past year, I finally received some much-needed direction and a renewed awareness of God’s presence. I knew He was with me but I have really missed feeling Him holding my hand.

Sometimes Christians speak what they know to be true because God’s Word is true but I can tell you from experience that God will not leave you during your darkest trial. Everything happens for a reason and, many times, that reason is to further the work that He has begun in you.

Things in the world are not going to get better. At least not to the degree that I’d like them to. I do know who is ultimately in control, however. He is my King, and He will continue to direct the events in my life. He’ll continue to guide me over mountains and through valleys until I am resting in His arms forevermore. Hold on to that no matter what this year holds. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Make it a daily practice so it will not be difficult if you find yourself in the valley of despair. Each day, it is more vital than ever that we learn to hear God’s voice and obey.

Don’t forget to praise God daily as well. It’s easy to neglect that in the hecticity of life but many battles can be won by that simple act of obedience whether you feel like it or not.

I pray this year finds you even closer to our Savior. What a wonderful God we serve. I’m so thankful I serve a God who will never let go of my hand. I love You, Father!

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Sony’s Thoughts: Through Joy and Sorrow, God is There

It’s hard to believe Christmas is only ten days away! My sister is flying in today to be with us for nearly two weeks. Amid the excitement and preparation for her arrival, I am sad for a friend whose wife is going Home very soon. A glad day for her but sad for him who will need extra strength from God to endure the lonely, quiet house without her. Then I’m also thinking of my cousin who is in the hospital today with what they think are gall stones.

It seems like each day is full of joys or sorrows–sometimes both. Rarely is there much middle ground (at least for me); yet, we know the One who controls everything, and He is the One we look to for strength to get through each day. I sometimes wonder how people get through life without God but, when I think about it, they don’t get through it very well. In the words of Ronnie Hinson, I’m so glad He found me! Life may be hard but God is so good! I pray that is your testimony as well.

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Sony’s Thoughts: Flee Temptation

“There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

This world is full of temptations. Gluttony, lust, coveting, and many other temptations are present every day. Many think they have no choice but to give in to those temptations since God knows we are human but Scripture tells us that God has provided a way of escape. We only need to take it.

We cannot help the fact that we live in a fallen world but we can refuse to fall with it. During times of intense temptation, draw close to God. Walk away from whatever sin is calling to you and ask God to change your heart. Worship Him. Thank Him for being an ever present help in time of trouble. The more you choose to do right, the easier it will become. The opposite is also true though. The more you give in to temptation, the easier it will be. You do not want the ravages of sin to consume you. Allow God to fill you with His Spirit and keep you from falling. Then you can live the victorious, joyful life that God has for you, and you will be more effective to help others find this victory as well.

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