IF MY PEOPLE…

This has been a frustrating year so far. The pandemic and the economic downturn it has created has brought our country to it’s knees.

The virus is killing tens of thousands of us. Cops are murdering our citizens. Protests have turned to riots in the streets. Everything we thought our country stands for is being questioned and the gulf between the conservative Right and the liberal Left is growing larger.

If there was ever a time we need to come to the table determined to find common ground with the goal of finding solutions that will bring understanding and peace, it is now.

As a God fearing person and one who believes the solutions we need will come only from Him, I’m looking inward and asking God to show me the error of my ways. What can I do to bring change and Light to my circle of influence?

I wasn’t raised in a racist household. I didn’t live in an area where there were other races represented until I went into the seventh grade. I went to a Junior High school in California where nearly every nationality was represented. It was certainly culture shock at first, but I didn’t hate anyone.

I grew up during the 60’s so I remember the civil rights marches and how the black community struggled for equal rights. I remember the powerful speeches and sermons Rev. Martin Luther King delivered. I was in the Missouri National Guard during that time and the week Rev. King was assassinated, my unit was called up to help police the riots in Kansas City. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Like most of us, I thought those days were over and that our nation had made great progress. But if we’ve learned anything the last few weeks, it’s become painfully evident that racism is still deeply imbedded in our society.

It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even like to watch the news. It’s painful to see our country burning, to watch as looting and anarchy takes place before our eyes.

People are searching for answers. How can we have peace? How do we bring healing to our land. How do we restore love for our neighbors and our fellow man?

Social media is a platform that could be used to bring understanding and unity, but for the most part it’s become a place to point fingers and further exacerbate the problem. Come on people! Enough is enough!

We must quit trying to find someone to blame. Finger pointing is not the answer. If we keep doing the same things we will keep having the same results. So what is the answer? We’ve got to quit looking outward and start looking inward!

Certainly, I don’t have all the answers but here is what I believe.

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land”.  2 Chronicles 7:14, New Living Bible

If we are called by His name we must humble ourselves. We must pray. We must seek His face. We must turn from our wicked ways. Then He will hear from heaven. He will forgive us. He will restore our land.

This verse is often quoted, but now we must do it. I must do it. This is my resolve. Starting now, I will do this. Please join me. The future of our country depends on us doing this. Let’s be doers of this word.

2 Chronicles 7:14. Pray on this. Cogitate on this…

 

ENERGIZER OAKS……

Everyone remembers the old commercials about the Energizer Bunny. This blog is about the Energizer Oaks. Oak Ridge Boys, that is.

Recently, I drove from Yuma, AZ to Laughlin, NV to see my friends the Oak Ridge Boys perform at the Riverside Casino. It’s an annual gig for them. They did something like 13 shows in 10 days.

About 15 years ago the OAK’s tenor singer Joe Bonsall, did an interview on my Bluegrass radio show, Believers Bluegrass. We struck up a friendship from that interview and have stayed in touch since then.

When I texted Joe and told him I was coming to see them in Laughlin, he generously left a ticket for me at the box office. The tour manager met me there and promptly ushered me backstage where all four of the OAKS took pictures with me. We had a great visit and I was able to tell them how much the Oak Ridge Boys had meant to my life. I never dreamed I’d ever get to do that. It was a God thing and I’m so thankful I had that opportunity.

I’ve seen the OAKS in concert many times since I was about 8 years old. Every performance is great but this night was special. I sat enthralled as they sang hit after hit. Joe, Duane, William and Richard performed with the energy common to a thirty year old. The truth is however, they are all, with one exception, over 70 years old! William Lee is the exception, he’s 81! As my late friend Grandpa Jones would have said, ” the energizer bunny ain’t nothin’!” They never seem to slow down! They are still performing 150 dates a year with no end in sight. I asked William Lee about it and he said, ” we’re just trying to keep the Oak Ridge Boys name alive!” Let me tell you, they are alive and kickin’!

Vocally they may be a little past their prime because of their age, but the average fan could never tell it. They are still singing great! That Oak Ridge Boy harmony is intact and oh so good!

As I listened and watched, I felt like I did when I was a teenager watching them at the municipal auditorium in San Jose, CA, or the Shrine Mosque in Springfield, MO. That stirring in my soul from the harmony and energy still feels the same.

I have so much respect for their commitment to their craft. Most could not stay on the road and deal with everything road life brings, but the Oak Ridge Boys have, for more than fifty years. It’s an amazing thing to contemplate.

They sang one of their older songs called, Did I Make A Difference? I had just told them in the dressing room how they had made such a difference in my life. When Duane sang that song I got really emotional. Indeed, the Oak Ridge Boys have made a difference. They’ve made the world a better place. They have made my world a better place.

I told Duane Allen how as a kid I used to stand for hours in front of the Hi Fi set and listen to Oak Ridge Boy records. I would listen to every part until I could sing those parts. It’s how I learned to sing harmony! Duane told me he believed me, because he did the same thing when he was a kid!

I was thrilled a couple years ago when they were inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame. And more recently they were added to the Grand Ole Opry family. Worthy rewards for their labors.

If you’ve never seen the OAKS in concert or if it’s been a while since you have, you should make plans to go see them. They will be coming your way soon. They are not slowing down, they are everywhere!

By the way, they have not abandoned their Gospel roots. They do lots of Gospel and right in that Casino the other night, Joe remarked that our country is moving away from God. He told the crowd, we need to move back toward God. There were many shouts of AMEN! They immediately rendered a rousing Have A Little Talk With Jesus, which brought the house down!

Here is the best thing about the OAKS. After 40 million records sold, many number one hits and all the accolades that go with it, they are still good, God fearing, down to earth men. They appreciate their fans and in spite of their age, they have embraced social media. They are in touch with their fans through Facebook ,Twitter and other platforms. It’s not hard to follow them and communicate with them.

Thank you Oak Ridge Boys for all you’re doing! Thanks for being my friends.

Energizer Bunny? Check out the Oak Ridge Boys. They are the ENERGIZER OAKS! They are runnin’ hard and there’s no end in sight!

Cogitate on this…

 

LOVIN’ FIDO…

Pets are a big deal in our society. Billions of dollars are spent on the care and maintenance of pets. It’s an industry of considerable significance. 

We get so attached to our pets they become part of the family. Dogs and cats being the most common, can often live with us for 10- 15 years or more. They provide companionship, friendship, protection and love. Pets are comforting to the elderly, relieving the stress of loneliness and boredom. Pets can play an important role in our children’s daily lives.

I see and hear comments frequently from those who say losing a pet or “fur baby”, is as bad as losing a human. My question is, when did we come to the place where animal life is more important than human life?

The best example of this is the legalizing of abortion. Millions of babies have been slaughtered the last few decades with no sense of shame or remorse. Preserving bugs, spiders, birds and whales are other examples of animal life being as important or more important than human life.

I’m not saying taking care of our environment and conserving wildlife isn’t important. It is. But human life is by far more important. 

I’m certainly not an expert on this topic but it just frustrates me when I hear folks put more significance on pets than people.

I read a comment recently that stated, losing a fur baby is sometimes harder than losing a human! Are you kidding me?! I’ve had to put down a couple of pets through the years and believe me it’s not pleasant and it is difficult. I’ve also lost a daughter a few years back and when I hear you say losing the dog is harder…..well, you’ve lost your other mind! There is no comparison. I know….I’ve lived it. You will get over losing a pet, but never will you get over losing a loved one, especially a child or a spouse.

Come on! Wise up people!

Pet the dog and…

Cogitate on this…..

REACT WITH COMPASSION

I want to comment on reactions by the Christian community to the recent remarks made by NFL star, Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, on Danika Patrick’s podcast.

He states be basically no longer believes in the God his parents taught him about growing up. He had an active life in church, and church sponsored youth activities. But now he says he can’t accept that a loving God would send someone to eternal damnation for not believing in Jesus.

It’s a common story. Religious theologies are shoved down the throats of our youth and if they yield to the temptations of the enemy, they oftentimes will abandon the fundementals of the Gospel they were taught. I have experienced that with some of my children, and I expect some of you have as well.

What I want to address is reaction to Aaron Rodger’s remarks. It’s already blowing up on social media. Christians are attacking him by telling him he is going straight to hell. They are saying he doesn’t deserve to be in the NFL Hall of Fame and doesn’t deserve the adoration of his fans. They are saying hateful things. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I’m not here as an Aaron Rodgers fan, I’m a Patrick Mahomes guy! But I am here to say, as believers we must approach this with love,compassion and prayer. It’s obvious the man is deceived. There is a lot of hurt and misunderstanding here. His relationship with his parents has been severed since 2014. Bridges have been burned and the result is separation, total deception and hurt.

Bottom line is this. Let’s not condemn the man. Lets react with compassion and love him with the love of God. What will happen if we all pray for him to have a God encounter resulting in peace and forgiveness. Lets pray for his family relationships to be restored and his Faith to be renewed.

Jesus is waiting for us to do this. Lets make Jesus smile today.

Cogitate on this….

STREET PREACHIN’, LOVE OR HATE…

I admire folks who are passionate about spreading the Gospel and witnessing for Christ. Most of us are too timid to approach someone about Jesus and we often miss opportunities to witness. 

In years gone by, it wasn’t uncommon to see people preaching on the streets, especially in the seedy parts of our larger cities. You would see someone on the street corner or in front of a bar, preaching hellfire and brimstone.

Street preaching is no longer common. It’s a different culture today. Information comes to us from so many different sources, with social media and digital platforms leading the way. As time moves on our methods evolve and change as we navigate through life. Our message is also changing and adapting to the culture. The challenge is to be careful not to compromise the message, but to deliver the true message in a way that will attract people and not scare them away.

A few weeks ago I was blessed to cross something off my bucket list. I’m a NASCAR fan and I finally got to go to the Daytona 500 race in Daytona Beach, Florida.  The racetrack there is a 2.5 mile track so the entire facility is immense. Just over 100,000 people poured into the monstrous stadium surrounding the track. As we were entering we began to hear something I haven’t heard in a long while. Street preaching.

Scattered randomly throughout the stadium, especially where the fans were entering and exiting, were men with portable PA systems, preaching to the tens of thousands of people coming and going.

We passed by several of these preachers and as I listened to them I was quite disturbed by the content and the tone of their message. Don’t misunderstand me, I admired their boldness but I certainly question the message they were putting out. It was almost like they were mad at the unbeliever. The message was very judgmental and condemning. It was prideful, with no love in it. God was being presented as an angry, vengeful God who is all too happy to send folks to hell.

The amazing thing I observed was that nobody was stopping to listen. People picked up their pace so they could pass by the preacher more quickly. I overheard more than one person utter unkind remarks and insults toward the preachers. It was offensive to people, to say the least. As a believer, I was offended by the attitude of the preaching. It was very embarassing. It was all about God being mad at them for their sin. No mention of God loving them, that they can come to him just as they are.

I was raised on hell-fire and brimstone preaching. I understand that way of thinking. But in today’s world that message is no longer effective. Jesus must be portrayed as he really is. Full of love, compassion and forgiveness. In the Gospels, we always see Jesus loving people, reaching out to them with open arms. Even the story of the prodigal son shows the Father running toward the wayward son to embrace him, giving him a robe and a ring and throwing a party that lasted for days. That’s the message the world needs to hear and they need to hear it with love, not condemnation and hate.

That day at Daytona I felt like those well meaning folks were doing the Kingdom great damage and instead of drawing people to Jesus they were pushing them away. They made the Gospel something for people to laugh at and make fun of.

In today’s seeker friendly, politically correct world, we have to be wise in the way we present the Gospel. I believe we can share Jesus in a non-compromising way, with love and compassion that draws people to Him and doesn’t push them away.

Wise as serpents, harmless as doves. Cogitate on that….


WHAT ARE WE MISSING?

The worst thing about getting older is, your friends start dying around you and you find yourself going to funerals regularly. I’ve lost several good friends lately, and most of them weren’t old enough to die.

Someone gets diagnosed with a “non-curable” disease and treatment is started. Some refuse treatment, preferring to enjoy what time they have left with their family, without being constantly sick from the treatment. But usually the outcome is the same. In a few months they die and the declaration is made, “they finally got their ultimate healing!”

But wait a minute! What about God? How does he figure in all this? Why didn’t he heal them so they could live another decade or so?

Many of these who die believed that God is a god of miracles and is able to heal us. They even have hands laid on, make their confessions of faith, meditate healing scriptures daily but in the end they die not having received healing.

Miracles of healing are the exception and not the norm. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? We preach healing is part of redemption, but still see very little healing. We don’t seem to have a problem believing for salvation, multitudes of people are coming to Jesus for forgiveness of sin but physical healing still happens rarely. Most believers die sick. Is this really the way it is supposed to be? Are we missing something here? I believe so.

I know God is a healer. I do believe Jesus took 39 stripes on his back for our healing. But why is it so difficult for most of us to receive that? Why do we accept the diagnosis of our doctor over what Jesus did for us? What are we missing here?

We believe salvation is for all but healing is up to God. Really? So he picks and chooses who gets healed and who doesn’t? How does he do that? Do we have to qualify for our healing? Is it based on how much money we give to the church, how many people we witness to each day? What do we have to do to be healed?

Do you really believe God withholds from some and gives healing to others? That’s just to hard for me to swallow.

I don’t have all the answers but I believe one thing. I believe the problem is with us. It’s with the way we’re believing and the way we’re talking. We are missing something and we need to find out what it is.

I’m tired of going to funerals of friends who are 56 years of age like I did last week. I’m tired of cancer and heart disease destroying the lives of Bible believing people when He said, “healing is the children’s bread.” When he said, “by his stripes ye were healed.”

I’m going back to the Word. I’m getting back on my knees because I want to know what we’re missing.

Healing…can we have it?

Other than redemption, the most important thing in life is our health. When we’re not healthy we can’t function to our maximum potential.

Like most of us I was raised to believe that God can heal, if it’s his will. That was a tag that was added to our prayers for healing, “if it be your will”. The really religious sounding one was, “if you see fit.”

Much of our theology concerning healing was based on our experiences and not on the Word of God. Consequently, when healing didn’t come, our theology was that sometimes we don’t get healed. It just depends on what God chooses to do.

Our dependency on medical science grew and our reliance on God to heal us, diminished. If not for medical science most of us would be dead already!

Back in the 70’s I was exposed to teaching on divine healing that was totally new to me. This revelation taught me that it’s always God’s will to heal but due to our lack of knowledge of what the Word says concerning healing, most of us don’t have it.

Over the last few months so many of my friends have died and some are struggling now with diseases threatening their lives. It’s seems young people who have years of life ahead of them are dying suddenly with heart attacks, cancer, strokes and other attacks from the enemy. I’m growing weary of death. I’ve gone to more funerals lately than I care to count. Many of these deaths could have been prevented if only the individuals would have had revelation concerning healing as a part of Gods redemption plan.

I’ve come to realize that there are two parts of redemption. Salvation from sin, and healing of our bodies. The stripes that Jesus took on his back, paid for our healing! It’s a done deal! The blood from his side washed our sin away. We have preached the salvation part but have neglected, for the most part, the healing part.

I realize that in this short blog there is no way to teach enough about healing that would change your life. I want to encourage you to open your heart to what God’s word says about healing. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and give you life changing revelation so that you can take advantage of healing that already belongs to you. I’m stirring myself up to reinforce faith for my own healing. It’s got to be a daily regimine of meditating the healing scriptures.

We have come up with religious sounding declarations about sickness and healing that are based on the fact that we never get healed, therefore it must be God’s will to withhold healing from us. One of the statements that I get so tired of hearing is, “well, he went to heaven today and got his ultimate healing!” Really?

This is reality. There is no healing in heaven! Is that shocking to you? Think about it. There is no healing in heaven because there is no sickness there. There is no need for healing in heaven! Healing is for us here! Sickness and disease is in the earth!

Friends, I want to urge you to get into the Word and study the healing scriptures. Study the three year ministry of Jesus and study all the miracles he did. Pay close attention to statements about his will to heal.

Jesus paid an awful price on the cross for our healing. It belongs to us and we should be taking advantage of it. He wants us well!

Cogitate on these things…..

Gene Reasoner

REACTING…

Never in the history of the world has knowledge and information been so abundant and easily accessible. We are educated by many sources and whether we seek it out or not, information comes to us from everywhere.

The media is a constant source of information. However, the disturbing thing to me is that at some point the media decided to influence our sensibilities of right and wrong. It seems they have an agenda to make wrong become right, and right becomes wrong and when there is resistance to that, to judge those resisting to be intolerant and hateful. Morality is constantly being re-defined and our life principles questioned and ridiculed.

In recent years I’ve struggled to sort out my personal feelings and emotions concerning some of these issues. I’ve never been a hater and I’ve become increasingly annoyed at Evangelicals who lash out hatefully at the LBGTQ community. I recognize the utter failure of the Church to show God’s love to those people.

Social media is constantly flooded with haters who condemn anyone to hell who doesn’t believe like they do. How do I react? Should I speak out?

Recently on one of the Sunday morning television shows, I watched a story about a Hollywood star who is producing a movie about a husband and wife raising a young transgender son. This producer in real life is a gay man married to a man. The director was born a girl and later became a man and of course the movie is portraying the story as perfectly normal life in America. Really? C’mon man!

I’m trying not to let my emotions motivate my feelings here. I’m a seeker of truth and I’m trying to figure out how to react in love and at the same time not let my moral compass be disoriented. I’d rather not have to deal with any of this but it’s a reality I have to face.

I have many questions. Should I speak out? Is it time to draw a line in the sand? There’s a lot of things I don’t have figured out but I feel I need to reaffirm a few things.

I am a man.

I was born a man, in God’s image.

I’m attracted to a woman, not a man. God made me that way.

I know the difference in right and wrong.

I love God, family, and country.

I want everyone to know God loves them as they are.

I believe when we accept His love it changes us.

It’s God’s job to change people not mine.

My responsibility is to love, not judge.

I don’t let my feelings control me.

When things stress me I rest in Him. Stress goes away.

When I’ve done all to stand, I stand.

If you don’t agree with me I’m ok with that. I’m not right about everything. I have many flaws and imperfections. In the end, I believe the truth will prevail. The truth will set us all free and bring perfect peace. We have that to look forward to.

Peace.

Cogitate on these things……

LEGACY

A famous song says, “time changes everything”. The older I get I’m realizing how true that is. It seems time affects every aspect of life. The older we get the more we recognize change. There are changes in society, changes in relationships, changes in government and changes in the weather. For better or worse our bodies change over time. We can do things to slow it down but we can’t stop it.

As I get older I particularly notice I’ve changed in the way I think. I’m thinking more on important matters than the frivolous things I spent so much time meditating on in my youth.

Youth can be very deceptive. When you’re young mortality is not a subject you study about very much. It’s all about being bullet proof and living forever. Life as a vapor fading quickly just doesn’t dawn on us when we’re young.

So now that I have more sunrises behind me than I do ahead of me, things are rapidly coming into perspective. From time to time there are seminal moments that occur to bring revelation and reality in focus. I just experienced one of those moments at our Reasoner Family Christmas Celebration 2017.

A family tradition we have is for me to read the Christmas story before we open gifts. This year right before I read the story our oldest grandchild Kylan Reasoner age 20, had a couple songs he wanted to do. Kylan is a great musician, singer songwriter. (Yep the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!) He wrote a very clever song about how our family celebrates Christmas and it produced many smiles and laughs from everyone. And then he dropped the bombshell.

He blew me away by starting to sing He Didn’t Throw The Clay Away, my signature song I wrote many years ago. He is 20 years old and though he is an incredible grandson I didn’t know if he even knew my music or cared about it. His musical taste and style is typical of his generation and frankly is not the style that trips my trigger. But what he did with my song was quite remarkable. He totally changed it to fit his style. He made modifications to the melody, the chord structure and tempo. He totally made it his own and I loved it!

As he performed the song it dawned on me the importance of what was happening. I was witnessing my own grandson respecting and honoring me by performing the song that was birthed out of my spirit. I realized at that moment that this indeed is my legacy. Something that was created through me has not only impacted the world but also impacted my own offspring. It was a seminal moment. It is a blessing to be sure and a moment I’ll never forget.

As a young boy I had a special relationship with my grandfathers. I looked up to them. They were my heroes. They were just my favorite people in the world. As I listened to Kylan sing my song I couldn’t help thinking maybe he has some of the same kinds of feelings for me I have about my grandfathers. It’s just so humbling to know that maybe I have indeed made a positive, meaningful impact on him and the rest of my grandchildren. Thats something money can’t buy. I thank God for that.

Legacy. It’s important. Whats your legacy?

Cogitate on this. Peace.

Turn up the volume!

WHAT CHRISTIAN COUNTRY NEEDS THE MOST…

There is plenty of debate about how to make our Christian Country Music Industry grow. Many hours of discussion have been rendered on this subject. To some degree, this debate has produced growth here and there but it never seems to be enough. 

Artists struggle to book dates that pay enough, struggle to get radio to play their music and have trouble budgeting for quality recordings. 

If there were only a formula or a magic wand to wave that would cause this on-going struggle to go away so we could concentrate on ministry! Who wouldn’t want that?

So what is the answer? What do we need the most?

There are obvious answers. Make sure we are in the perfect will of God. Keep Jesus first in our music and our industry. Walk in love. Be givers. 

I believe what our industry needs the most is UNITY.

Many have fallen into the trap of competition. When having a number one record, or the most listened to radio station, or winning awards becomes the driving force of what we do then I believe our priorities are out of order. 

REALITY CHECK! The Christian Country Industry is not that big of a deal! Christian Country Music is barely a tiny speck on the music horizon. We are tiny! Too many of us think we are a big deal. But we’re not! So what’s my point?

My point is this: GET OVER YOURSELF. If you think God can’t get the gospel out without this music you are wrong. Sorry to shock you but God can make it just fine without us. Especially when we can’t get along with each other.

We wonder sometimes why we don’t see more people come to Jesus when we sing and many times it’s because they don’t want to be like us. When they see jealousy, hear us bad mouthing each other and in general not getting along, they don’t want anything to do with that. Number one songs don’t mean anything if we can’t get along. Awards mean nothing if we don’t walk in love. Artists need to get along. Radio stations need to get along. Record labels need to get along. The love of God is the answer.

Frankly, I’m tired of the conflict among us. I’m ashamed of it and will not be part of it. Let this be a wake-up call!

What we need most in Christian Country Music is UNITY. We all work for the same Jesus. Let’s act like it. Let’s help each other. All of us are different but we work for one cause, the cause of Christ. We can do this….it’s the only way our industry will grow and have the intended effect on those that hear our music.

PEACE & UNITY to all.

Cogitate on this….

Gene Reasoner