Hymn Sunday at SIWC

Every year, the week of Thanksgiving, we have Hymn Sunday at Southern Illinois Worship Center. It’s a day to reminisce of days gone by and thank the Lord for the heritage we have in the Gospel.
I have many memories of the Old Gospel Hymns. I learned a tremendous amount of biblical doctrine from them as well.
Often, certain songs bring back memories of particular people that I went to church with as a child. The trumpet player was Ruth Holcomb, and the music was “It will be Worth it All.” My Sunday School Teacher Betty Upham would sing “I’ve Never Been Sorry.” My grandmother would sing “Till the Storm Passes Over.” Walter Nicely’s (Junior) song was “I’ve Got a Mansion.” These songs were more than mere words; they exemplified the testimony of each of these individuals.
This year Hymn Sunday took a far different turn, as many have been out of the church building for nearly two years. Yet, the music took us all back to a beautiful time and made this day one of those touching stones of remembrance services.
May the Songs of Zion bring us to a place of remembrance of what the Lord has done in our lives.

Calm After the Storm

Ever had an event, situation, or a night that was so troublesome that even after it, you were still shook?
I can remember after one of my car wrecks. Yes, there were multiple; it was a long time ago. After that wreck, after climbing out of the car. After the police took me home, I was still shaking. Hours after the initial circumstance, I was still feeling the effects of it. Maybe you can recall a similar event. In my life, there are many.

Automobile accidents, near misses, father’s death, many many storms have come, and they have gone. But, if I’m not careful, emotions of the moment, moments of impact, that moment of the storm, can be relived over and over in my mind. The paralyzing fear, stress, shock, and horror of that moment can override even the best days of my life!
I trusted God to take care of the storm. At that moment before impact, I screamed Jesus!! At the death of my father, I called on God! I had faith in the storm; can I have faith after the storm?

Can I have faith after the moment? He calmed the storm, and he spared me in the wreck. I trusted and still trust that he took my father home to Heaven! How about now? When the storm passes and my mind still races, do I still trust? Yes, I still do! Do I struggle? Yes, I do! Do I question? Yes, I do!

Even the disciples had some struggles with life after the storm! You can read it for yourself in Mark 4 in the Bible! Jesus told them we are going to the other side! He didn’t mention anything about a storm; they probably wouldn’t have gone if He had. However, as they are on their way to the other side, a great wind storm blows up, waves are crashing, and they are afraid!

Jesus calmed the storm!

 However, even after the waves and storm were over, and calm was now on the sea, they still feared. They feared exceedingly! That is what the scripture says in Mark 4! Long after the external circumstances are over, our most significant test is the internal test. The external storm may have ceased, but now an inner storm rages. Fear and faithlessness begin to arise; apprehension, stress, and anxiety rule from the inside.

Jesus calmed the external storm, and they still had feared! Jesus calmed the storm that was raging on the outside; He also will calm the one on the inside! So trust Him with the stuff you can see and the stuff you cannot see!
Maybe like me, you trusted at the moment, but you are struggling after. You’re not alone in that struggle. I remind you that Jesus was with you at the moment, and He’s with you after as well!

Remember these words! He will never leave you nor forsake you but will be with you. He doesn’t leave when the storm is over; He’s still walking with you. He took care of you in your moment, and He will take care of you after as well! So turn all that fear, anxiety, stress, and worry over to Him, He calmed the storm, and He can calm you!

A Mind at ease

I’ve had a few days to get away and rejuvenate my mind. Doing this from time to time allows the brain to have a bit of a soft reset. Have you ever noticed that things take on a far different look when you get away from the pace of life that you usually do? 

I am an individual whose mind never completely shuts down. Years ago, doctors would give me medicine to accomplish the task of winding down my mind so that I could sleep. 

Over the last thirteen years of leading a church, I’ve had to relearn many rhythms that I once had and find new rhythms to keep my mind from racing to endless boundaries. 

I have found that creativity flows when my life is in rhythm, and my mind comes to a place of rest. Hobbies, meditating (that’s scriptural), taking drives, walks with my bride, and playing a round of golf all help my mind be at ease. More than ever before, disconnecting from the world by shutting down social media, leaving my phone at home or in another room helps the mind come to a place of rest. We haven’t had “TV” for a long time, and most experts state that television isn’t considered a leisure activity since it stills requires the mind to process. Disconnecting puts my mind at ease, we are more connected than ever before, and all that connection is causing a massive disconnect with ourselves and those closest to us. 

Psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD, states that our “brain is like a sponge, they can only soak up so much information before they’re saturated, then they have to dry out a bit.” I’ve always tried to ring the sponge out to make it dry quicker, then ready for use much faster. But, unfortunately, that isn’t quite how the brain works. (This past year, though, has been quite the ringer.) The mind takes and needs time to recuperate. 

If you feel burned out, falling apart, or stressed out, maybe it’s time to allow the mind to be at peace. Once you’ve brought your mind to a place of peace, then find a rhythm that will help you consistently.

Here are a few practical ways to bring your mind to rest. 

  1. Don’t overcommit – learn the power of a good no so that you can say yes to yourself.  
  2. Schedule time to disconnect. Give yourself a hard cutoff time—for instance, no emails, texts, social media, or outside communication after 5:45 pm. 
  3. If you’re going to stress and worry (I know we aren’t supposed to), then schedule a time and focus on that issue. I believe you’ll find there’s not much you’re going to change about the situation anyway. So, let it go! 
  4. Find your time! I’ve found that my best times are early in the morning; I have zero guilt about taking time for me when no one else is demanding a piece of me. 
  5. Perform the task that has you stressed out. Get it off your plate. Procrastination, in one sense, is a sign of laziness, so is business. You’re hurrying along but accomplishing little. Unfinished business can weigh heavy on the mind. 
  6. You reap what you sow; that is a hard truth. But, unfortunately, if all you’ve planted into your mind is negativity, discord, disunity, and depressing news, that’s precisely what you will get. That’s why I don’t watch a horror film before going to sleep. I’d be running from chainsaws all night and wake up exhausted. 
  7. Find a hobby that doesn’t take mental processing. The mind and brain can only take so much, and it will need rest. I have found my most creative moments in what I do for a career come from doing something completely unrelated to what I do. It’s like trying to find your car keys or phone, the more you think about and stress about it, the worse your searching skills become. You go sit down in the chair and realize they were in your hand, or you were talking on the phone the whole time. 

The people around you will benefit as much as you do if you are in a healthy mental state. Lastly, if you cannot do it alone, ask for help. 

We Are Safe!

Seven Areas of our life where we are safe! 

Proverbs 1:33 (NLT)

 But all who listen to me will live in peace, 

untroubled by fear of harm.” 

We Are Safe in times of adversity!

Psalm 91:3,10-14 (NLT)

3 For he will rescue you from every trap 

and protect you from deadly disease. 

10 no evil will conquer you; 

no plague will come near your home. 

11 For he will order his angels 

to protect you wherever you go. 

12 They will hold you up with their hands 

so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. 

13 You will trample upon lions and cobras; 

you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! 

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. 

I will protect those who trust in my name. 

We Are Safe in the time of need!

Psalm 37:25 (NLT)

25 Once I was young, and now I am old. 

Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned 

or their children begging for bread. 

Psalm 23:1-2 (NLT)

1 The Lord is my shepherd; 

I have all that I need. 

2 He lets me rest in green meadows; 

he leads me beside peaceful streams. 

 We are safe in our traveling!

Psalm 121:7-8 (NLT)

7 The Lord keeps you from all harm 

and watches over your life. 

8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, 

both now and forever. 

 We are safe in the presence of our enemy!

Psalms 23:5 (NLT)

5 You prepare a feast for me 

in the presence of my enemies. 

You honor me by anointing my head with oil. 

My cup overflows with blessings

Proverbs 16:7 (NLT)

7 When people’s lives please the Lord, 

even their enemies are at peace with them. 

 We are safe in times of war!

Proverbs 21:31 (NLT)

31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle, 

but the victory belongs to the Lord. 

Isaiah 54:17 (NLT)

17 But in that coming day 

no weapon turned against you will succeed. 

You will silence every voice 

raised up to accuse you. 

These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; 

their vindication will come from me. 

I, the Lord, have spoken! 

We are safe when we sleep!

Psalm 4:8 (NLT)

8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, 

for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. 

Proverbs 3:24 (NLT)

24 You can go to bed without fear; 

you will lie down and sleep soundly. 

We are safe, eternally! 

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

We are safe! 

Proverbs 18:10

10 The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; 

the godly run to him and are safe. 

 The weapon may be formed, but it won’t prosper. When the darkness falls, it won’t prevail. Cause the God I serve knows only how to triumph. My God will never fail. Oh my God will never fail. I’m gonna see a victory. I’m gonna see a victory. For the battle belongs to you Lord. I’m gonna see a victory. (From Elevation worship song: I’m going to see a victory)

Silent Killer!

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered.

2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,

And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old

Through my groaning all the day long.

4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;

My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.


 The New King James Version. (1982). (Ps 32:1–4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Psalm 32 was written by David after the Bathsheba and Uriah “ordeal.” There is much truth in the text above that we can certainly learn. Not only did David write this, but the Apostle Paul quoted it in Romans 4:7. There has to be some great truth wrapped up in this.

Certainly, it is a beautiful thing to have our transgressions forgiven and that our sins are covered.

There is a difference between a sin and a transgression. Sin means to miss the mark. Try as you might to live life correctly; you just missed the mark. On the other hand, a transgression is willfully and knowingly committing an act of rebellion. David here is admitting that he was both a sinner and a transgressor.

It took David nine months to have this conversation with God. For nine long months, David wasn’t ready to deal with the sin or the transgression he committed with Bathsheba and Uriah.

It wasn’t until the prophet Nathan arrived to tell the parable of the rich man and the poor man that David was forced to deal with the situation. David was incensed by the man in the parable, not realizing that he was the man. That’s how we frequently deal with others; we judge ourselves by our intentions and others by actions.

It’s the next line of the verses that caught my eye. David says, “when I kept silent, my bones grew old.” He knew all along that he had committed a sin and had transgression in his life. For nine months, though, he wasn’t acknowledging it, talking about, or confessing it to God. That silence about his sin caused him to, in his words, grow old. The silence or the cover-up of his sins was destroying him. Instead of turning to God and being free, it was killing him from the inside out. The silence was killing him.

It was when he confessed to God that there was freedom, liberty, and forgiveness. May you learn this lesson from David and not from your own experience. Be quick to repent. The faster you get your sin and transgressions to God, the freer you will be.