Homecoming Friends tell of everyday moments in their lives when they are reminded of the miracle of our Lord's resurrection.
How often do you take your shoes off? I don’t know about you, but I put my shoes on at least once a day. If you put them on you have got to take them off at some point. While sitting around over the Christmas holidays taking in all the blessings of family and friends the story of Joshua and the Commander of the Lord’s army burned in me like a hot white charcoal that had been touched by mistake. Like that piece of charcoal the thought of Joshua taking off his shoes gripped me. “And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:15) By the grace of God I have been blessed to spread the good news of the gospel all over this world through song. Oftentimes I am asked what drives me to be on stage and sing and pour my heart out in front of millions of people. I found the answer: God’s grace and mercy. When I think of the goodness of Jesus and all He has done for me, my soul rejoices. By grace through faith I take my shoes off every time I sing God’s word. The exciting thing about standing on the stage each night is the mere fact that I am standing on Holy Ground each time I sing at a Gaither Concert. Just knowing that God has placed me in such an organization that is based and grounded on spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ puts me in a Holy Ground state of mind. It also reminds me that each person who attends our concerts has taken the time to take their shoes off and recognize that God is holy and He is worthy to be praised. God honors those who take the time out to worship in His name. With the Easter season approaching, we as Christians can rejoice in knowing that God died for all of our sins and has left us with the knowledge that we have a comforter in the Holy Spirit. So the next time you take your shoes off, send up a word of praise. God is holy and worthy to be praised.
Over the past few weeks God has really come alive to me in my life. I’ve been really trying to focus on my college — and traveling and doing schoolwork sometimes can be hard to juggle. I started praying that God would help me to be diligent.
I think my favorite hymn to sing is “My Savior’s Love.” The words are simply beautiful and it ministers to me every time.
At times life can be crazy but if we stop and look around us, we can see God’s hand of grace and mercy. “God moments” happen every day. When my husband Rickey was diagnosed with cancer, we were devastated. Life became a whirlwind. One day he was lying in the bed so sick that he could barely raise his head off the pillow. Holding back tears I walked into the kitchen, looked out of the window and the sun came out from behind the clouds. Right then the Lord gave me a ray of hope. I could literally feel Him lifting my spirits and confirming what I already knew deep down. He is with us. He will never leave us. He will carry us through. What a precious God moment! Only one of many. In my later years I have begun to realize that singing under the power of the Holy Spirit is where it is. I also realize that the day the Lord saved me, He gave me the anointing. So when I pray, “Lord, give me a greater anointing,” it is already there. I just have to understand how to tap into it. What I am finding is that the closer I am getting to the Lord, the more I’m experiencing His anointing in a more powerful way. And when I sing the songs under the anointing and the power of the Holy Spirit, God gets the job done. Now, more than ever, I have had this burning desire in my heart for God to manifest His POWER of the anointing in my life.
I have always loved the Lord. There have been many times in my life that I have questioned Him but even then, I still loved Him. Every year KPNR joins our home church, Free Chapel, on a 21-day fast. Usually I have a list of things that I pray and believe God for. However over the past couple of years, I mostly pray to draw closer to Him. The Bible says that the anointing breaks the yoke and lifts the burdens. How wonderful it would be for people to be saved, healed and set free while we are singing the songs! That way no one could ever question who did it. Hands down, it was Jesus! I am finding that when I lift Him up, He will draw me closer. And when He shows up, I usually know it. Hopefully and prayerfully all of us Christians can recognize His presence immediately. And that same anointing/presence is what will save the lost, set the captives free, and encourage believers to keep pressing forward! I want to spend the rest of my life learning how to walk in His presence more. God is so good and faithful!
As a little girl, while wearing my new Easter dress and new black patent-leather shoes, I always loved to hear the church congregation sing “Christ Arose.” The verses were usually sung very soft but when we got to the chorus, everyone sang at the top of their lungs. It made me so happy as I bellowed out those lyrics. I couldn’t wait to get to the choruses! And it still makes me happy to sing “He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”
“The Old Rugged Cross” will also always be a favorite of mine. It is so personal and so sacred. I cherish the Lord for what He did on the cross for me. “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suff’ring and shame; and I love that old cross where the dearest and best, For a world of lost sinners was slain.”
I have always been amazed at how all my being is because of a true God. My life is just a small refection of His magnificent Glory. I’ve had the privilege of being in the delivery room when four of my grandchildren have been born. I’m still amazed at that miracle of life! My youngest grandson, Gatlyn Solomon Yeary, is one month old. Just being present when he entered this world, took his first breath and cried for the first time is an experience I will never get over. It’s a miracle indeed and it certainly reminds me of how sacred and fragile life is. Gatlyn’s birth once again reminded me that there is a living God. This baby is such a gift. I am grateful that the Living Christ does live in me and I feel His presence in everything I do. The recent birth of my grandson just reminded me again!
My favorite Easter song is one that my daughters Sonya and Rebecca, along with Ronnie Bowman, wrote called “You’re the One I’m Dying For.” It is on our Big Sky Project. It’s written from Barabbas’ perspective on the cross right beside Jesus’ cross. It is a powerful song and the lyrics are so enlightening.
God comes alive to me most through my boy and with my wife. I think of Christmas and the birth of Jesus where everything begins and that relationship with that God Gloria talked about on the South African Homecoming video, where she says God sent Him, because He had to be flesh for us to touch him and hold him. I think that’s one of the biggest things for me—that once you have a child, then you know what that touch meant. You can see why God had to send something tangible, something touchable, in order for us to understand it.
When I think of Easter songs, the first tune that pops up in my head is: In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, from “Easter Parade.” A nostalgic moment. But a song on the Vocal Band’s newest album is “The Night Before Easter.” I love it and am certain it will become one of my favorites.
In Him we live and move and have our being. I’m amazed when I look back over my life to see how He has navigated and orchestrated my entire life’s journey. Even my mistakes, He has used for my well-being. I can only imagine the emotions of those who witnessed Him dying on the cross. How heartbroken they must have been. But all things work together for the good of them who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose — and yes, this does include our crosses! Never give up, keep moving! He knows the plans He has for you. Yes! I am alive, and I am moving with Him, and my being is full of purpose ... His purpose! I love Him! I trust Him!
One of my favorite songs of the church celebrating the Resurrection of Christ is “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.” My favorite line is: “The Blood that gives me strength from day to day, it will never lose its power.” This line brings Him, or should I say takes me closer to Him daily.
The necessity of the washing away of sin was important enough for our Lord to come and lay down His life. Therefore let us lay down our lives for Him, that His will be done in us, proving His Blood has never lost its power!
Looking back on the past few years, I’ve seen Him come alive in me helping me to do what I couldn’t do for myself. I became convicted that too often I judged someone by their opinions that were different from mine, and judged harshly. I think I felt entitled to my beliefs and convictions, but to be honest, I wasn’t doing too well in handling how I related to those folks who didn’t think as I did on everything. God is truly changing my heart and helping me to accept someone as a person even if I don’t agree with some of their beliefs.
My favorite lyrics have to be from the hymn, “Lead Me To Calvary”:
King of my life I crown Thee now
Thine shall the glory be
Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow
Lead me to Calvary.
Lest I forget Gethsemane
Lest I forget Thine agony
Lest I forget Thy love for me
Lead me to Calvary.
The longer I live and the more our friends go home to be with the Lord, the more I think about the resurrection. This brings me to Matthew 27 and a description of the resurrection power of Christ’s death: But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last … At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.) (Matthew 27:50-54 The Message)
The power of the cross caused believers to be raised from the dead on that afternoon. And it will happen again.
I met Keith Getty in Belfast in 1996. I was struck by his youth and the fact that the music he and his friend Stuart Townend were writing sounded to me like “hymns for the 21st century.” One of the first songs I heard was “The Power of the Cross.”
Now the daylight flees, now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head
Curtain torn in two, dead are raised to life
Finished the victory cry
This, the power of the cross
Christ became sin for us
He took the blame and bore the wrath
We stand forgiven at the cross.
I love Easter. However, I am still putting away the stuff from His birthday celebration! But this is a poem I wrote based on the description of the resurrection in John 20…
An empty shelf.
Only grave clothes.
But near the door we found
the napkin from Your head.
Perhaps You wound it ’round Your hand
as you s tood there ~ thinking ~ what?
And then, You dropped it
as You strode out ~ victorious ~
into the sunshine.
As I get older, I find I’m most aware of His presence more in the everyday, mundane moments in life. When we’re younger, we tend to look for the dramatic revelations, and there were several of those. But as we become older (and, hopefully, wiser), we realize very little in life is truly mundane. In fact, His faithfulness in those “little” things is what makes life so rich. And when you have a relationship with Him, you see Him everywhere!
I see (and feel) Him in my family and the love we share. I see Him in the mountains I enjoy looking at every day. And I see Him in the love of my dog. He’s a 100-plus pound pit bull, but so gentle and loving. When I talk to him, he looks into my eyes and then puts his face up against my face, and we share a moment of pure love. The dogs I’ve had throughout my life have taught me more about unconditional love, and about complete trust, than I ever knew.
What a mighty God we serve; and His loving presence is all around us, if we’ll only look with our eyes open!
I’m not sure if it’s my age, or the fact that Kim and I have been married for 27 years, or even that one of my children is an adult and the other is now tall enough to ride the BIG roller coasters, but growing up and working on the farm, I was just SURE Dad had broken things so I would have more than a day’s work to finish after I got home from school but before supper. These were good days that I wouldn’t change for anything, but often I wondered if those days would ever end!
“Do all things as unto the Lord!” Lately, God has reminded me to nurture the moments as they come into my path, whether with family or friends. He wants to be involved in everything we do. Far too often I find myself caught in the “hurry up and wait” syndrome. Or it’s, “I can’t wait for tomorrow or next week so we can do this or that!”—just hurrying precious time along. But with past and our most recent family experiences, God’s getting my attention in ways that drive me toward Him! That is reassuring and redirecting me to live NOW, to live in my daily purpose and in His daily presence.
Our song, “Something’s Happening,” is definitely a Risen Savior/Easter celebration tune. Even more so, it revives that same feeling in those of us singing it as well as those in the audience each night. My mom recites pieces of scripture that the late Lari Goss had her compose in her own words, to tie each verse of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection together, completing the story, until the final chorus... “Come and feast your eyes on an empty tomb, come and smell the fragrance where Sharon bloomed. Then, The Lamb, resurrected, will come into view. And something will happen deep inside of you!”
For many years the greeting I use all day on Easter Sunday to everyone I come in contact with is, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” I say it with joy, because the resurrection was real, is real. When the disciples learned that Jesus had indeed risen, their sadness was taken away and they were filled with joy, as it did validate who Jesus said He was.
Recently I wanted to record a CD of hymns and spiritual songs. So along with many familiar ones such as “The Old Rugged Cross,” I wanted a new song about the resurrection. I contacted a great songwriter—Gerald Crabb—and told him what I wanted. When I received his song, “Living In Me,” I loved it! It said to me, as Colossians 1:27 reads, that the resurrected life of Jesus lives in us when we know Him as Lord and Savior and Satan is unable to prevail in our lives. As John 4:4 assures that—“Greater is He who lives in us than he who is in the world.” This song has brought a fresh, greater revelation to my everyday thinking: as I prepare to minister, I focus on Christ in me, and that He wants to flow through me to give that same revelation to others. Each day I am amazed and thankful that the creator of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is actually living in Lillie—living in us!
Jesus did conquer death through His own resurrection. This is expressed beautifully in two of my favorite Easter songs, “Christ Arose” (I get so excited when I sing that majestic chorus, “Up from the grave He arose…”) and of course, Bill and Gloria’s beautifully inspired “Because He Lives.”
The resurrection didn’t just happen; it is happening to this day. Because Jesus has defeated death by rising from the grave and ascending to the Father, and the Holy Spirit has come with power to a believing and receiving church (i.e. at Pentecost), everything is different. The great reversal —aka, the new creation—has begun! A new age has arrived, Satan and death have been defeated, and we who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit get to become resurrection people, God’s agents in the great resistance movement called the kingdom of God. That’s exactly what the book of Acts attests to as we see those early believers advancing with kingdom purpose across the Mediterranean world. And they’ve continued to advance as history has unrolled over these last two millennia. Consider the 16th-century reformers, or the 19th-century abolitionists or the 20th-century civil rights marchers. And it’s not only the acts of famous historical figures that attest to this resurrection power at work in the world. Consider the nameless monks who transcribed the scriptures, the parish priests, the missionaries, the artists, poets, painters, craftsmen, cathedral builders, homemakers, teachers, farmers, scientists, doctors, moms and dads, and all who have worked, waited, and looked forward to the day when Christ will return and put all things right. Being resurrection people in a resurrection age is what I believe Jesus meant when He said, “You will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) God is reclaiming, restoring, renewing, re-creating all things through His resurrected son Jesus Christ, and we, as His resurrection people, get to be in on it. Talk about purpose! Count me in!
Old hymns like “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” and “Christ Arose” remain big-time favorites. “Easter Song,” made popular by the 2nd Chapter of Acts during the Jesus Movement, is such an emotional release on Easter morning, especially when sung with a full congregation. I’ve found that “Be Ye Glad” by Michael Kelly Blanchard, from that same era, to be a great song of benediction on an Easter morning. A more recent contribution, by Keith & Kristyn Getty, is “Christ Is Risen, He’s Risen Indeed”—proof that great hymns are still being written.