Tri-State Local Gospel Artist Spotlight #42
One of the most highly regarded gospel choir leaders of our time, Alice Martin is also a gospel singer, songwriter, and musical instructor. Martin has served as group musical instructor for the Marion Williams Singers, the acclaimed Bryn Mawr Haverford Gospel Choir, and as a music faculty member for the B.M. Oakley Memorial Temple in Philadelphia. Alice Martin conducts choral workshops, teaches choir singing, and performs locally and abroad.
Tri-State Local Gospel Artist Spotlight #41
Internationally acclaimed soloist and pianist in the world-famous Harlem Gospel Singers, Reverend Charles Lyles began playing the piano at age 4. Shortly afterwards, he composed his own music and became organist for a small band, The Star Dusters, later known as The Charles Lyles Trio. Rev. Lyles performed in nightclubs and cabarets until he was convicted by God to dedicate his music to spreading God’s message. He traveled nationally and internationally with the Caravans served as a New Jersey pastor since 1981. Rev. Lyles has shared the stage with many gospel greats from the late Rev. James Cleveland to Bishop TD Jakes.
Tri-State Local Gospel Artist Spotlight #40
Out of Williamstown, New Jersey, Deanna Ransom is an anointed evangelist, award-winning gospel recording artist, songwriter and arranger. She is a graduate of Camden County College and Rowan University. Ransom has been singing since age 5, and is a humanitarian and advocate for charitable causes. She is the Founder and Director of the Virtuous Women of Destiny Women’s Ministry, and is a speaker and workshop teacher. Ransom has shared the stage with many gospel greats from Dorinda Clark Cole to Marvin Sapp, and travels extensively spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tri-State Local Gospel Artist Spotlight #39
The Tri-State Mass Choir consists of singers from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. They are a successful traditional black gospel choir made popular during the mid 1990’s. Aided by contemporary gospel great Edwin Hawkins, he also produced their first four albums. The Tri-State Mass choir was popular from the beginning, with each of their four projects appearing on Top 40 Gospel Charts.
Entry 42 Praying that our Bane becomes our Boon
We are often conditioned to throw away what is considered useless or flawed. But God specializes in using ordinary people with extraordinary hang-ups. In fact He chooses the most unlikely people to do a great and might work for Him so that He can get the glory out of their lives. Imperfect items are often valuable because of their unique characteristics. Assembly line mass produced products sometimes have less value because there are so many of them out there. It is the trick of the enemy to get us to follow the crowd and denounce our God-given uniqueness. He hates believers because we stand out from the world. Being peculiar makes us a target for Satan’s fiery darts; but when we put on the whole armor of God, we will be able to stand against them. Satan magnifies our bane to discourage us and keep us from our destiny. Our bane in life is the people or things that ruin us, and what we consider a hindrance or a stumbling block to our progress. God will either move it if interferes with His plan for us. Or He may leave it and help us overcome it to teach us and make us stronger in faith. Either way, we are never alone. God promised to always be with us. He does not throw us away when we are flawed or have a bad past. God will use the bad in our past as a testimony to others of His faithfulness when we submit our lives to Him. What the Devil meant to harm us, God turns it around for our good. What Satan meant to destroy us, God turns it into out boon, a timely benefit, favor or blessing. For all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord, to all of us who are the called according to His purpose. So praying that our bane becomes are boon is trusting in the divine plan of God for us which is perfect and flawless in every way.
Entry 41 Praying to be a son of God
We are all children of God when we accept Jesus as our Savior. We become heirs and joint heirs in the holy family of God when we receive His gift of love, grace and salvation. God cares about all of His children; even the hairs on our heads are numbered. He went so far as to say that if someone offends even the least of His little ones, it would be better for them if they are drowned in the depths of the sea with a milestone around their neck. We cannot even enter the kingdom of heaven unless we become as little children. Yes, God takes care of His children, but He also corrects and disciplines us. Whom the Lord loves and accepts as His sons He chastens. We should not despise His correction. The Lord disciplines us because he loves us, and wants us to have the best abundant life on this earth. But we only become the sons of God when we grow up, mature, and receive a deeper revelation of who God is. God is happy that we became His beloved children, but He wants us to stop drinking milk like babies and begin to eat the meat of His holy word. Exploring the higher heights and deeper depths of God’s love and grace not only enriches our walk with God, but it also gives Him pleasure to reveal Himself to us. God desires for us to have more than a superficial understanding of who He is; He wants to show Himself to us in a spiritual and intimate way. Jesus desires to be more than just our Savoir, but also Lord of our lives. The Holy Spirit doesn’t just want to be on us or around us; He wants to live and abide inside of us, leading and guiding us daily. Once we began to seek God and hunger and thirst for Him, we develop a father and son relationship, whereby we can call Him Abba Father. And as an earthly father knows how to give good gifts to his children, how much more does our Heavenly Father give what is good to us when we ask Him. Now are we the sons of God and it do not yet appear what we shall be, for when He returns for us we shall be like Him, and see Him as He is. So praying to be a son of God is seeking to develop an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father so that we can become more and more like Him.
Entry 40 Praying to Feel Good
God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. Many believers go to church to be beat up on spiritually, and put down emotionally. They subconsciously want the preacher to tell them how awful and sinful they are, and how they are going to hell if they don’t get right. Some feel that if they are not wounded in the church service, that somehow sound doctrine has not gone forth. There is a place in the church experience for challenging behaviors, admonishing faults, and edifying the saints. But that should not be our only church experience. We should also come to church to be reminded of God’s everlasting love for us, and to learn more about His grace, mercy, and favor, and to discover how to continually develop and intimate relationship with Him. Many people already know what they are doing wrong. Preaching harshly for people to live right is often not very effective long term. We need to teach people how to believe right; for if believers believe right, they will live right. We need to teach people to believe that Jesus died for all of our sins, past, present and future, and that the Holy Spirit desires to abide in us daily to lead us into a path of holiness and righteousness. People need to be reminded that we are justified by grace through faith, not by our works, and that our just standing before God is forever settled in heaven. Our standing will never change because of the finished work of Jesus Christ, but we may choose to change our state or position. When we decide to not be committed to building God’s kingdom, to engage in the lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life, or to try to earn God’s gift of salvation or blessings with the works of the flesh, we alter righteous state before God. Our free choice has nothing to do with what God settled in heaven for us from the foundations of the world. Even in a fallen state, we must still confess that we are the righteousness of God, and that His favor and mercy rests on us continually. It may take time for the right behavior to catch up with the correct confession, but that is what God expects us to do as His children. As long as we maintain a pure heart toward God, He will help us get to the place we need to be. Religion and church systems have been notorious for demanding works from people in order to gain God’s grace. The opposite is true. Comprehending the depths of God’s unending love for us, will prompt us to want to serve and please Him. It’s like beating a child for fighting. The very message that the church is trying to get across is getting lost because the truth of God’s grace is not fully being proclaimed. God is good, and He wants us to feel good mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Satan tries to pervert everything God made good into something vile and wicked. He wants us to feel bad about everything; ourselves, our lives, our surroundings, and our situations. But God wants us to wake up with abundant joy, go through our day with peace and happiness, and to go to bed feeling good on a regular basis. It is a trick of the enemy to have us feeling bad all of the time, especially when we have done something wrong. The Holy Spirit will convict not condemn us when we do wrong. But God wants us to come to him boldly with meekness, petitioning Him for help, forgiveness and guidance. So praying to feel good is praying to experience the revelation of a good God in a real and intimate way.
Entry 39 Using Prayer as a Time Saver
God already knows what we have need of, but He still wants us to pray to Him. Prayer can give us clear, timely direction in an emergency. It can prevent us from making wrong decisions. Prayer can help eliminate worry and anxiety, and produce a sense of peacefulness and calmness. It makes us more productive, while inviting God’s presence into our activities. Prayer gives us confidence by eliminating fear, and making our decisions more productive and enjoyable. And as we enjoy the things God has given us, prayer keeps us from neglecting the Gift Giver. Our discernment is sharpened through prayer, and we develop God’s point of view. Prayer brings us energy and prevents us from being easily distracted. It reminds us of our need to act, and also how frail and dependent on God we really are. We could save a lot of time and energy going to God in prayer first, instead of using it as a last resort. If we pray before we do things, we won’t need to pray as hard for God to get us out of so many other things later. We have to be selective of what we spend our time and attention on. Once time is wasted, we can never get it back. But time well spend always has lasting results. There is a time and a season for everything under the heavens. God doesn’t live in time; He abides in eternity. One day is as a thousand years to Him. God wants us to redeem the time because the last days are evil. Every problem is a prayer problem that God already had a solution for since the foundation of the world. Since our physical bodies live in time; past, present and future, we have to respect the gift of time. Our spirits and souls live in eternity, just as Jesus was, is, and is to come all at the same time. Since our time and energy is better spent on positive things, prayer can be the time-saver that keeps us on track.