Never, No Never, No Never Forsake.

Yesterday morning at church, we were singing one of the grand old hymns of the faith.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

The song was keyed low enough that I was singing an alto harmony. I heard a voice in the row behind me joining in. I didn’t have to look back to know who it was. There is a precious elderly saint in our church who, years ago, sang alto in a local Southern Gospel quartet. When I started attending this church, she was on the worship team.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

She had to step down from the worship team when she came down with Alzheimer’s. The brilliance that made her a high school valedictorian has faded away. Yet she still remembers the old hymns, and on this one at least, the alto part.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of grief shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

Then I realized what I was hearing. She has been called to go through the deep waters. Yet she still sings this song.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

She knows a promise. I say “knows”; whether or not her mind remembers, her heart still knows: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).

That’s why she can sing:

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

I’ll admit, I cried through the last few verses. I don’t know if I sang a word.

But it was just as well, because it meant that I could just listen to her sing. It was one of those moments that I will never forget—unless, of course I am someday called to walk through those same deep waters. But hearing her sing this song reminds me that should that day come, I have the same promise that was made to her: Nothing can pluck one of Jesus’ sheep out of His Father’s hand.

Not even Alzheimer’s.

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Joy O’Neal recovering from stroke

The Dixie Melody Boys are run by Ed O’Neal; his wife, Joy, who travels with the group, suffered a mild stroke on Saturday. She was taken to the hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thankfully, the stroke was mild, and she was released from the hospital and is recovering. In a statement sent out by group tenor and publicist Matt Felts, he commented:

As many of you know, Ed O’Neal’s wife, Joy, travels with the Dixie Melody Boys. We affectionately call her Mama Joy because she is like a mother to us. On Saturday, she suffered a mild stroke and was rushed to the hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ed O’Neal made the right decision and stayed with her at the hospital while she was treated and as a result had to miss the performance later that night at The Assembly in Broken Arrow. The guys all stepped up to fill Ed’s shoes the best we could and we had a great concert. We want to thank everyone last night including Peter Enns for their understanding and prayers for the O’Neal family. Miss Joy was released from the hospital and is recovering. She will receive additional treatment this week back in North Carolina. Ed was able to be back on stage with us on Sunday morning and does not expect to miss any future dates. We covet your prayers for Mama Joy and for Ed.

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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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Friday News Roundup #221

Worth Knowing

  • Tribute Quartet bass singer Anthony Davis is graduating from Bethel University in Mckenzie, Tennessee, with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Notably, he maintained a 4.0 GPA through his baccalaureate studies.
  • The McKameys were scheduled to appear at Oak Bowery Baptist Church in Saltillo Community, Arkansas on Saturday, May 10th. That church’s sanctuary has suffered tornado damage so severe that the concert has been postponed to February.
  • Old Paths tenor Jeremy Peace and his wife Jennifer welcomed their third daughter, Elizabeth, yesterday morning. Mother and baby are both healthy and doing well.

Worth Watching

To commemorate Mark Trammell Quartet bass singer Pat Barker’s final weekend on the road:

Also worth watching: Matt Fouch interviews Ronnie Booth.

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