November 1, 2014 At our last concert Mike, "our drummer", introduced the band saying we weren't professionals. Actually as I thought about it we are. I mean we do receive some money when we play, we spend a good share of time practicing, planning, contacting places to play, purchase needed equipment, instruments, travel expenses. Okay, I know what he meant when he introduced us. I think what's important is that we should be professional Christians. Every day our focus should be on Christ. We should get up in the morning ready to spend the day with our Savior. This should be a full time job. Sometimes I think people think it's a part time job (going to church once or twice a week). REALLY?! we are working for the Creator, the one who gave His life for us! If we just focus on Christ we can see Him in everything we do. I am thankful I live in a country where I can listen to christian music on the radio, CD, or whatever. I can sit and read my Bible without being thrown into jail. I can go to church and worship with other believers, and go to a praise service with Copper Coins..... I had to throw that in. Let's not miss an opportunity to get in a little "overtime" and praise Him whenever we get a chance. The pay is much more than time and a half.
September 4, 2014 I was getting excited about playing at the C.& M. A. Church Sunday. God did not disappoint me. I was looking forward to seeing my nephew and "his gang", and some other ones I had spoken to about the concert. I worshiped with people I hadn't seen or worshiped with for a while. It brought back memories of the youth rallies we used to go to......okay so it's been quite a while. The whole band knew it was going to be special because Satan was at work. Vickie and Mike became sick earlier in the week and we had trouble with the sound system at our last practice. Then the night of the concert our sound board crashed as we were doing a sound check. Sean went into high gear and we were ready to play...early. Was there any doubt it would work out...ABSOLUTELY NOT. We serve an awesome God and we had an awesome night of worship. I would like to thank all those who were there and for those who were praying for us. It is pure joy for me to praise my/our God, praising God together is priceless!
Just my two cents,
- Footer (Donny)
September 1, 2014 Jesus. Just that name. If you know Jesus, then just that name can say it all for you.
Copper Coins recently started working on a cover song called "The Only Name (Yours Will Be)" co-written by Benji Cowart and Mike Weaver. Listen to Big Daddy Weave's version at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnDTDLOM0rY. The song focuses on this idea that it all comes down to just that name... Jesus, the only name that matters to me. It got me thinking about that.
That name, "Jesus," explains or origins, our purpose, our Creator, our Redeemer and our path to eternal life. Jesus taught us how God the Father wants us to live, how he wants us to love and to worship Him. He did this by demonstrating what a perfectly sinless life of unconditional love combined with authority and strength looks like so we would have a pattern to follow not just a concept. He reached out to the lost, the forlorn, the hopeless, the sinners, the prostitutes, poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the lame and, in general, that large swath of society that many of us spend a lifetime trying to avoid.
Jesus willingly gave up a life of deity, became human and then gave his own human life in a humiliating and excruciatingly painful death as the one perfect and final sacrifice that would offer Salvation for hundreds of billions of sinners, should they chose to accept His free gift. He fulfilled thousands of years of prophesy and rose from the dead to prove that he was indeed God. Jesus, the Christ.
Sure, it's easy to sum up your source of strength in those five letters if you do actually already know Jesus. We Christians find great comfort in really knowing what that name means and what it means to us personally.
But, how do we tell others, who don't know Jesus, all that the name really means? That really is the trick, isn't it? Jesus commissioned us all to do this for the rest of our lives after we have receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in our reborn lives. This call to evangelism can seem very daunting because we might think we are supposed to convince someone of something that they may not be interested in like a pushy salesperson. Actually, it is typically just a matter of finding yourself in a situation where you have the opportunity to share the Gospel with someone is genuinely interested in learning more due to some circumstance or point of life they have come to. If they trust your opinion and are interested in knowing more about your source of strength and wisdom you have an opportunity to be light to someone. Will you change the topic of conversation to last night's Mets game or will you take the opportunity to share the Gospel in this moment with this person right then? Perhaps a friend is in financial straits or marital trouble or has contracted sickness, drug addiction or is just lost in some other way. Or maybe they have just begun to seek our answers to life's big questions as a normal part of human maturation. Be alert to these openings and be prepared to be the Christian you are called to be.
This requires preparation. Preparation means read the Bible, know God's story of man's creation, fall and redemption. Each day put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) so you are ready to do battle when the lies of the prince of the world start to attack you or the people you love. Recognize the lies and recognize the needs of others and know the Truth. You need not feel the responsibility of converting people. Just share the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit do the heavy lifting.
Jesus. Just that name. It has a beautiful ring to it, don't you think?
July 22, 2014 As I was reading in Malachi during my devotions last week, I came across this verse: "But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall." (Malachi 4:2 ESV) We have a field next to our side yard that often has cattle in it and right now there are 4 calves. It is so much fun to watch them come playfully jumping, running and leaping out when they make their way to the pasture. As I read this verse it dawned on me, that is how we as God followers should be. Yet, on any given Sunday, we can go to a church service in the US and find congregations worshiping in a fashion that is the exact opposite. We should be excited about our God and what He has done for us. We may be more reserved yes, but our faces should show the love, and joy we have in Christ and we should have the freedom to express our joy in our God. All too often, I fear this is not the case. I pray that we can each find that joy as we worship Christ this week - that we would have the abandon of a young calf just released to the pasture to revel and rejoice in the God we fear and serve. Blessings!
July 2, 2014 This has been a great week for me. I woke up with a case of slight vertigo Saturday morning. We later lost our softball game on Saturday. I attempted to mow the lawn, thought I may run out of gas... nope... I think I burnt a valve. You know what? None of that is very important. I went to a service at a church in Binghamton and heard a testimony from my nephew about how Jesus Christ has delivered him from drug abuse. Did you get it?! JESUS CHRIST has delivered my nephew from drug abuse! He is now a brother in Christ!!! I stopped in to buy pizza at a local shop and heard them playing FLN (Family Life Network) on the radio. They were talking about what group was playing the song on the radio. I told them it was Casting Crowns and I also mentioned I played in a local praise band called Copper Coins. The lady that waited on me said that she and her husband were going to be baptized in two weeks. God is at work! We should all remember to keep our eyes toward heaven and toward our Savior, Jesus Christ!
- Songwriter (lol), guitar player, singer, child of the King - Donny "Footer"
June 22, 2014 On Friday, at 4PM, a tractor trailer loaded with cars for sale flew down an Ithaca hill to slam into Simeon's Restaurant, a high end bar and grill on the Ithaca Commons. More than half the truck was inside the restaurant when it finally came to a halt and the young bartender, mother of a young child, was killed.
Where was God? Present. Why didn't He stop the truck? Only He knows. Not powerful enough? No. Taking a break? No. Blind? No. Distracted? No. Uncaring? No. When everything seems wrong and every dream that was envisioned disappears, when all the plans we make come crashing down, there is one truth that never dies - God's love for us. It never fails. It never ends. It never leaves us. It answers every question left otherwise unanswered.
He rescues, but sometimes that rescue to us appears too late or incomplete; yet, His ways are not our ways. They are higher and greater while ours are lower and smaller. Are we to question God's ways as if ours were more perfect? Where would that lead us? Down a lonely path with a dead end. Trusting God when He appears untrustworthy is a faith that in time proves right.
Pray for this young child, that God's ways will prove to be higher.
June 5, 2014 The kids and I have been reading the book "Reckless Faith" by Beth Guckenberger and it has been a book that has blessed me every time we read it. A chapter we read last week talked about this orphanage in Mexico that was out of food. The director of the orphanage knew there were plenty of organizations they could go to and ask for food for the day, but instead of depending on a "human" solution, the Lord impressed upon him he needed to pray for God's plan. I cannot relate the whole story here, but a precocious 4 year old asked what food they were praying for, so the director asked what he wanted. The little boy said "meat" and asked, "What kind of meat does God provide?" As circumstances had it, the orphanage was blessed with meat - but not just any meat, the finest cut steaks money could buy. If the director had gone to an agency, they would have gotten beans and rice for the day - a typical meal for the kids. Instead, they asked God to provide and they were given the best steaks that money could buy. This whole story is more impactful when read in the book - which I highly recommend, but it got me to thinking. How often do I settle for "beans and rice" when God wants to give me "steak"? How often do I try to solve a problem or go to another source for a "human" solution, when God's solution and answer is so much better? A reminder to me, that My Father always has the best in mind for me and His answers are always the best. Praying that I learn more and more to trust Him, even in the little things and look to Him for answers and not rely on my own problem solving skills. Praying you each learn to trust the Father in each moment!
May 30, 2014 We live only in the present. We think about the past and future but we live only in the exact moment we are in. Everything else to us is either just a memory or an expectation of what will be tomorrow. God is different. He lives at once in the past, present and future and knows all that has taken place and will take place. I read a short devotional by Jill Briscoe at our Copper Coins practice last night that reminds us that God has no uncertainty. He is there for us to hold His hand and be led even though we don't know where exactly He is taking us most of the time.
It was interesting to think that God has really spared us by not allowing us to know the future. We would live in constant fear and worry because we would know when we were going to die, when our kids would be injured, etc. If we think about that, we'll probably agree that it is far better to not know, to just enjoy the present and plan for a bright future.
We live in a world of "maybe" and "what if" and "I hope." But, God lives in the realm of "shall be" and "will be" because He knows things we don't know. He speaks of things in the future as fact.
Revelation 1:11 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last."
Let's stop trying to drive all the time and take rest in the comfort of the hand that knows where it is going and where it is best for us to go, too. Trust God that His plans for you are better than the ones you make without Him. Enjoy God's gift of today and trust in God's promises for your tomorrow.
May 29, 2014 One story from our trip to CMS which none of us have shared about yet was the fact that we almost got the chance to play on stage as a demo band in front of a very large theater class full of other attendees. Tom Jackson, a live music producer from Nashville who has worked with some of the biggest names in music, was teaching two classes... one on the four most important things to focus on when you play live and a second class the following day in which he takes a live band and demonstrates these things. Following the first class several of us were chatting with Tom afterwards and it came up in conversation that the event organizers had not yet found a live band for him to work with. Tom turned to me, knowing we were a band, and asked if our whole band was here at the event. I responded, yes, we were. He then asked if we had our gear with us, to which I reluctantly replied, no, we did not. As I turned to head to my next class I felt, by the look on Tom's face, that his gears might possibly have been spinning on how he could collect some instruments for us to use (which I've seen done before at this event in the past at the Chapel), but I didn't think much about it other than how cool that would have been to have had the chance to play there. As I shared this with the rest of the Coins shortly after, the thoughts and discussions of "what if they ask us" and "maybe we should hunt up some gear to borrow and go back and see if he could still use us" began to fill our chat. For some of us, the idea of the opportunity sounded fun and we actually breifly entertained the thought of which of our original songs we might play. For others of us, the feeling of being caught unprepared and wondering if we were ready for such an opportunity came to the forefront. Eventually, realizing it was a long shot and knowing we probably wouldn't be asked (especially without our gear), we headed out for dinner after the day's classes were done. It was only later after dinner when we returned for the evening concerts that Sallie was told by one of the event organizers they had actually been looking for us but had then decided instead to go with the Blues Counsel, a professional band of veteran musicians who play at CMS every year.
So, what's my point in sharing this story? Well, I got thinking the other day about how this "opportunity" is not much different than the opportunities we get on a regular basis to be witnesses for Christ. Each of us as Christians have the obligation to take a stand for what we believe in and represent our Savior and Lord on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. Yet how many of us miss the chance, ignore the moment, shy away, or waste it by being unprepared? In 1 Peter 3:13-17 we read "13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil." As Christians, we need to always be prepared to stand up and speak, giving an answer to anyone who asks about our faith and why we live our lives as we do. Most importantly, we need to be able to point them to our Savior because he is the real answer. We can't be weak, fearful, or unprepared or we will either miss or damage the chance we have to witness to others and point them to Christ. I hope that's something for you and I to think about as we go about our daily business, whether at work or play.
All in all, everything turned out for the good in Tom's demonstration class at CMS. Truth be told, although we were all willing to play and would have made the best of our opportunity, we were probably a bit unprepared to play "spur of the moment" in front of a room of several hundred of our peer musicians. We needed to see the demo ourselves from the audience's perspective first anyway and Tom was able to work with a very good live band so all of us attendees could watch and learn. And, on an equally positive note, we Coins were able to see that even longtime professional musicians have weaknesses and issues when communicating from stage so it gave us confidence that we can keep working on it and do it well with more practice and preparation. If a similar opportunity ever presents itself again in the future, and it's in God's will and timing, I am sure we'll be more prepared and confident in the abilities He has given us to use for His glory and it will be a fun and enjoyable time. Until then, we'll just keep focused on worshiping and following Him and lifting up His name while we practice and improve our playing/singing skills.
May 23, 2014 Here we are now three weeks after the 2014 CMS event. In some ways it doesn't seem like it was more than yesterday that we arrived home and yet in other ways it seems like it has been forever already and I am eager for another year to fly by so we can hit the road north again. We all go through this every year it seems, at least I do. The Christian Musician Summit (northeast edition) is such a treat and a blessing that it has become and has been a highlight of my year since my first one in 2008. It's one of those events that I mark the passage of months by... only eleven more months until CMS 2015! I can hardly begin to adequately tell how much Copper Coins enjoys the privilege of being able to attend each year together, how much we grow spiritually from the excellent keynote messages and devotionals from Pastor Jerry Gillis and other speakers, the great music training from various talented artists, the tips on songwriting, the incredible times of corporate worship with so many fellow musicians and worship leaders, etc, etc! So, where do I begin?
I'd have to say without a doubt that the first blessing of each CMS weekend every year is our gracious host, Cheryl Boser (Mike's sister-in-law). We owe her a debt of thanks for allowing our entire band to crash her place annually for the duration of the event. She has become such a good friend and getting to visit with her each May has become a real part of the fun on our trip. Thank you so much, Cheryl, for being you and for loving all of us like you do! Even if we didn't stay at your place, the annual weekend event wouldn't be the same without you!
Secondly, for me, I'd have to say that this year's CMS event did not surprise or disappoint me in the least. I sometimes wonder if there will come a time when I'll grow tired of attending this event and I'm sure there are some of you out there (even fellow musicians, strangely) who probably scratch your heads in wonder trying to figure out what any of us could possibly find so interesting and useful that we have to keep going back year after year. I can only say that if you haven't been there yourself then there's no way I can explain it to you. I love music. I listen to music every day. I also love playing music and I play my bass(es) as often as I can - both alone at home as well as at church on the praise team and, of course, everywhere I go with Copper Coins. It is a part of who I am because it is a part of who God made me to be. As a result, I have a strong desire to use what He's given me to turn back and give it to Him for His glory. I may not be the best bass player, singer, worship leader, band member, artist by any stretch of the imagination but I do want to use what I've been given and invest in it so I can return it to Him with interest. That is one of the biggest reasons I return to CMS every year. It's also at the core of who we are in Copper Coins!
Each day at CMS starts off with morning worship with all attendees in the main sanctuary of the Chapel. We were privileged this year to be lead by Brenton Brown and the Worship Republic on Friday and Benji and Jenna Cowart on Saturday. Following that is the keynote message devotional for the day, which is always a powerful and refreshing (and often convicting) way to kick off each day of training and growth before heading to classes. Pastor Jerry Gillis spoke both days this year and his messages were excellent as always. He spoke on the importance of "growing up" in Christ and not allowing yourself to remain an immature Christian who just slides along, filling a church pew on Sunday, never becoming who God made you to be because you never reach a point where you're willing to surrender to Him, especially in tough times when He tests you. Maturity comes through perseverence and perseverence comes through adversity. In the midst of adversity we must surrender to God and trust Him and get rid of the things that take our focus off of Him and what He wants us to be doing.
After the morning message, each day is split up into four separate class sessions with countless different subjects and instructors/clinicians to choose from. You can learn about playing your instrument better, getting better tone, working on timing, learning proper vocal techniques and singing exercises, how to run sound, work the lights, take effective video shots, songwriting tips and tricks, melody creation, speaking, seminars on the topic of worship, what is worship, how to live a life of worship, how to work in a group setting, how to mentor and invest in others, and the list goes on and on and on. Among the classes I attended this year were "Arranging Songs As A Worship Band" taught by Brenton Brown and the Worship Republic (which several of us attended), "More Than Just The Notes" bass clinic with Adam Nitti, "The Four Most Important Things" with Tom Jackson (on what things you need to keep in mind and work on for when you play/sing for others), "Worship and the Church Calendar" taught by Matt Maher (an interesting class for Donny, Claudine, and I), "The Art of Co-writing" given by Leslie Satcher (which Sallie and I thoroughly enjoyed and plan to put to good use), "Bass Bass-ics" with Rick Cua (my original inspiration for picking up the bass), "Live Music Production Demo" presented by Tom Jackson (a very beneficial class for us which we all attended together), and "The Pre-requisite for a Great Mix: Arranging the Band" taught by Doug Gould. Afternoon and evening worship concerts were the Blues Counsel, Phil Keaggy, Songwriters in the Round (Brenton Brown, Ian Eskelin, Benji Cowart, and Leslie Satcher)), Mark Schultz, The Neverclaim, Benji & Jenna Cowart, Ceili Rain, and Matt Maher.
Obviously I could go on quite a bit longer and still not tell half of what we experienced, how exciting it was, what a blessing and inspiration, how God changed us and much more. I would not have the time or the space... but I will leave you with this thought... Regardless of whether you are a musician, singer, or neither... What are you doing to use the gifts and abilities God has given you? How are you serving Him and giving glory back to Him? Is it enough or can/should you be doing more? I know for myself, I feel there is always more I could/should be doing and I want to keep striving to do it, whatever it is. Music is just one area I can give back to Him and CMS is a place to go and learn how I can use it and improve on it for His greater glory and to serve and minister to others. I look forward to coming to your church or event with the rest of the Coins to worship Him with you!
May 22, 2014 This year's CMS was for me the best one so far. I learned something in every class I attended, enjoyed every concert, socked away many memories and as always had a great time with the Coins crew. The one thing I have learned in the vast amount of years I have been alive is to surround myself with smart people and try to be wise enough to listen. At CMS there are so many things to learn and you have people there who are all excellent in their field. The messages we heard from Pastor Jerry Gillis of the Chapel at Crosspoint were incredible. In my life God speaks to me through music most of the time. You might say I was on worship overload. My cup was not overflowing, it was shattered. I go to CMS to share time with friends, learn more about music, listen to people proclaim God's Word, hear some great music, but the biggest reason is to worship GOD... mission accomplished!
- Footer (Donny)
May 21, 2014 Once again, for my 4th year in a row, I returned from the Christian Musician Summit at the Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville, NY (Buffalo) feeling very spiritually filled up. If one could bottle that and sell it on a street corner they'd be a zillionaire in no time. I always attend the breakout sessions put on by the professional guitarists there. They tell me tricks of the trade they use and then I watch them do this stuff live in concert. The artists and their messages were extremely inspirational. The Spirit had this old picker crying a few times with the Joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as my redeemer and savior as the artists wove their creative imagery. As a band, we all picked some additional insights from Tom Jackson on how we can present our music in live performance with more visual impact and how to create moments that our audiences will remember because they stirred up emotions so vividly.
All in all, I came away remembering why I come back every year. How often do you feel your cup is so full the Holy Spirit is spilling out over the top? Yes, if only we could bottle that feeling and pull it off the shelf when we are going through the dark valleys that we all face some times. Knowing Jesus full well helps us feel that way more often than those who do not know Him. Maybe my guitar playing will even be a little better with new insights! :)
May 20, 2014 The first weekend of May is always one of the highlights of the year for me. The Christian Musician Summit at the Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville (Buffalo) offers a wide range of experiences both personally and as a band. Besides the technical skills that are learned, such as how to sing a high note (reach down, not up for it), how to build a worship song from the foundation up, how to create a mix for worship as opposed to a concert, what is most satisfying to me is the experience of worship itself with hundreds of worshippers from a variety of churches. There is unity that is not experienced in most places. If there's anything the church needs today, it is unity in the Spirit to combat an enemy that is all too frequently pleased with Christ's church. Brenton Brown said, the Kingdom of God is an "upside down kingdom." The servants are the leaders; the leaders are the feet washers. When we come together to worship, those of us who lead should make others feel comfortable, like we're sitting down in our living room and sharing about God. We are those who serve and ultimately, to worship, all we need is God. We don't need the perfect mix; we don't need the perfect songs; we don't need the perfect vocalists; we don't need the perfect sound board; we don't need the best instruments. We need God. Yes, we pursue excellence! But, we pursue excellence not for the worshippers, but for God. As Nathan Salter said in a class with him, "Things don't have to be perfect for the Holy Spirit to move. You give Christ two fish (or two copper coins) and he'll multiply it." Of course, the fish weren't smelly fish that had gone bad. They were fish packed by a mother for her son - the best she had I would imagine. But, as Nathan said, "God's way will be nothing you expect and will be done in a way unexpected." Worship means service, hence we have "worship services", right? So, when we gather to worship, let us be moved by the Holy Spirit to be servants of his people.
May 19, 2014 On May 2-3, the Copper Coins crew were privileged to again attend CMS (the Christian Musician Summit) at the Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville, NY (near Buffalo). Here now begins our annual "after event" report series on the things we learned, experienced, were blessed by, and how God ministered to us through the speaking, demonstrations, and musical training. We'll start with Claudine's report. Enjoy! - Dale
Once again, it was a privilege and a joy to be at the Christian Musician Summit with the other members of Copper Coins. There was so much my heart and head took in, it would be impossible to relay it all to you. The key note messages by Pastor Jerry Gillis were both convicting and inspiring. I don't want to live my life in Christ in immaturity. I want to grow spiritually and be used by him. I am thankful to go each year and learn something new - not just about music, but about growing my relationship with God. This leads to true worship.
One of the most dynamic classes I took was with Nathan Salter whose class title was "Worship that Makes God Smile". He is a gifted communicator and I would encourage anyone who has a chance to hear him speak, to do so. From the title of the class, one would think he would be talking about what we consider worship - our Sunday morning services. That was not the case at all. Nathan spoke about our obedience to Christ and the Holy Spirit during the week - using the gifts he has given us - is truly what God craves and is true worship to Him. I am reminded of a simple children's song I learned long ago - "Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. Doing exactly what the Lord commands... doing it happily. Action is the key do it immediately..." How often do I put off that still small voice because I am too busy or what I am being prompted to do is uncomfortable to me? The prayer of my heart after not only this weekend, but the past few months as God has again and again brought this area to my attention, is to hear God's voice and respond in obedience immediately.
I guess you could say, I went to a Musicians Conference and came away convicted in my heart of spiritual things. I went to a few classes that were specifically music related and learned wonderful things, but what will be the most long lasting and allowing me to lead in worship are the areas that are growing me spiritually in my relationship with Him.
April 23, 2014 Last week Mike shared a video for Easter. We hope you enjoy it!
April 13, 2014Blessing scriptures from Sallie
Genesis 27:46-Genesis 28:1-4 Rebekah said to Isaac, "The Hittite women sicken me to death. If Jacob were to marry a Hittite woman like these, one of the local women, what would there be left in life for me?" So Isaac summoned Jacob and blessed him; and he gave him this order: "You are not to marry any of the Canaanite women. Go off to Paddan-Aram, the home of Bethuel your mother's father, and there choose a wife for yourself from the daughters of Laban your mother's brother (a cousin). May El Shaddai bless you; may He make you fruitful and make you multiply so that you become a group of nations. May He grant you the blessing of Abraham, you and your descendants after you, so that one day you may own the country where you are now living as a stranger—which God gave to Abraham." Rebekah sounds selfish in this scripture—concerned about her own life—and yet is correct to be sickened by the pagans and wanting her (favorite) son to not marry one of them. There is no indication that she cares who Esau marries, only Jacob. How strange. God works through us and others even when motives are not pure to do His will. In fact, He uses our warped and weak character to accomplish His will. He is truly sovereign. Father, thank You that You are sovereign over all. I do not need to worry about whether Your will is accomplished because of my or others' failures. You will do it! Children, other family members, friends for whom we pray and witness to though as flawed children of God ourselves, will come to Christ even though we have failed and we are weak. In fact, You will use our failures and weaknesses to work Your salvation for others. Your love is not deterred by our lack.
April 11, 2014Blessing scriptures from Sallie
Genesis 22:15-18 The angel of Yahweh called Abraham a second time from heaven. "I swear by my own self, Yahweh declares, that because you have done this, because you have not refused me your own beloved son, I will shower blessings on you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All nations on earth will bless themselves by your descendants, because you have obeyed my command." Others are blessed because Abraham was obedient. Nations and future generations in his line would be blessed because of his obedience. Nations will be blessed by his descendants, and namely Christ. All of this is contingent upon Abraham's willingness to sacrifice to God the promise God gave him and the very avenue by which this blessing would be given, Isaac. We must be willing to give up that which we most desire, our most prized possessions, which are in themselves sometimes the very promises from God and answers to prayer, in order to receive the countless blessings God has for us and in turn to bless countless others.
April 10, 2014Blessing scriptures from Sallie
Genesis 12:1-2 Yahweh said to Abram, "Leave your country, your kindred and your father's house for a country which I shall show you; and I shall make you a great nation, I shall bless you and make your name famous; you are to be a blessing! I shall bless those who bless you, and shall curse those who curse you, and all clans on earth will bless themselves by you." Abram followed God blindly with the eyes of faith. He had no examples to follow of godly men and women who had this kind of faith before him. He was confident in what God revealed to him. There is no evidence in scripture that he wavered, that he questioned his revelation. He simply obeyed. Lord, make us confident in the revelations You give us, may we walk so closely with You each day that when You call us, we hear You, we listen and understand and obey without doubting, without wavering, with confidence that You have spoken because we know Your voice. God said that Abram was to be a blessing! God, how can we be blessings at work, at home, and in the community to those who treat us unfairly, who question our intentions, who doubt your existence? Please give us wisdom, make us humble enough to admit when we're wrong and strong enough to stick to our guns when needed and to know when we should push and when we should pull back. We want to do our kingdom work effectively and to show your love. Father, we need you. We need your wisdom. We need to hear from You more than anyone else.
April 2, 2014 We're all looking forward to attending another year together at the Christian Musician Summit in Buffalo coming up May 2-3! It has been such an important part of what God has been doing with us as a band these last few years that we can't help but talk about it and hope that some of you fellow musicians and singers will be inspired to attend as well! Check out this quick video we filmed last night at our weekly practice! Check out http://www.christianmusiciansummit.com/northeast/ for more information!
March 29, 2014 I thank God that he never stops speaking to me. If I get caught up in the problems of the world (how do I pay these bills, why do people do the things they do, why does this hurt or why does that hurt – I know, I'm old) God always reminds me that He is there and the things I am worrying about are really not that important. I can be going over a song we are going to do and I find myself crying..... I mean really crying out to God and thanking Him for what He has done for me and continues to do for me every day. I can be reading a part of scripture I have read many times before and I will discover something I never saw before... that is God speaking to me. I only wish I could find an easy way to share my faith. Copper Coins has helped me a great deal. I always get nervous speaking in front of people, but when I sing and play in front of people ... nothing... I guess it's because I am just worshiping my God, my Lord, my Savior, my friend.
Did you ever hear an athlete say that they were glad ALL the work they had done has paid off or that they have been working REAL hard to get were they were. Really... they are playing baseball or basketball or something else they really enjoy doing and are getting paid a great deal of money doing... all the work? Our band practices, learning/writing songs, we spend a lot of time together preparing. Working? .....I don't thing so.... We share how God is working in our lives, we sing praises to our God, we pray together. We have already received our pay (blessing). We would just like to share it with you.
Okay, here is my want list. I want to play at least twice a month, I want all the places to be packed, I want a trailer to haul all our equipment, I want roadies to haul and set up all our equipment. No, what I really want is for everyone to pray for us. We can not make this band a success, only God can reach the hearts of people. I hope to see you at one of our events so we can worship together!
- Footer (Donny)
March 25, 2014 My Moment of Belief - Many people may have been raised in strong Christian families and were taught what to believe from the start. They learned that Jesus loved them when they were 3 or 4, that he died and came back to life when they were 6 or 7, and a little later they learned what that actually meant. Eventually in their teens some experiences and increasing intelligence allowed them to really believe it to their core so that it guides their lives in every way and the Holy Spirit has been there for them their whole life. If this is you, you are very blessed and loved by your Savior, Jesus Christ who has given you the gift of eternal life through his own sacrificial love and grace.
Some people did not start out life knowing Christ but came to him in some way and at some time later, committing themselves to Jesus Christ and began living their lives differently than they had been. Some change dramatically in a short time while others begin a long slow journey coming to Christ. If this is you, you are very blessed and loved by your Savior, Jesus Christ who has given you the gift of eternal life through his own sacrificial love and grace.
I did both.
I was raised by solid believers and I regularly attended Messiah Lutheran Church in South Williamsport, PA with my younger brother. Sunday School, church services, summer Bible School, catechism classes, confirmation, first communion, youth groups, weekend retreats. Still, somehow, as I went to college and found my beliefs challenged I realized that it seemed like little more than a hundred interesting short stories that I could not see as scenes in one overreaching story of God's plan for the salvation of mankind and a plan for how I should lead my life. I fell away and was a self-professed atheist until around age 33.
Throughout a period of renewed introspection of self and universe, I began to sift through the various sorts of religions and philosophies about creation and existence and eventually sifted it down to the one I thought made most sense. Funny how suddenly Mom and Dad may have been on the right track all along.
I won't go into the chain of events that got me to the point of accepting Jesus as the Son of God who came to Earth in human form to tell us how God wans us to live and what His plans for us are. I'll just say that getting me from point A to point B was no accident or a few coincidences. It was a plan orchestrated for my life by my Creator.
So, how are we saved? Not by works but by grace. By accepting the gift He has given to us on the cross. By believing Jesus Christ was who he said he was. Simple, right? Yes. Easy, right. No.
It is hard because a thinking modern man raised in a world that makes sense in math, science, exploration and discovery seemingly cannot simply believe something so incredible just because someone says "BELIEVE AND YOU WILL BE SAVED!!!" In fact, it seemed to me at age 20 that doing this was about the most unintelligent thing I could imagine. I compared it to ancient peoples who danced, worshipped the moon, and tossed virgins into volcanoes to appease their made up gods.
Getting from A to B took some time, instruction, knowledge and EXPERIENCE. But the Holy Spirit is very persistent if your name is written in the Book of the Lamb. He will get you where you need to be but you need to be seeking him. He promises to be found when you do this.
But, there is still something very striking about how I got to the very moment of my re-birth in Christ. In order to believe that Jesus was who He said He was, in order to be able to say this out loud without it sounding ridiculous to me, it came down to one single point.
Did I actually believe, as a educated thinking man of science and the modern world, that Jesus hung on that cross until he was dead in any sense of the word, and that three days later he came back to life? That's it. Did he do that or not? Did he really endure that horrific beating and slaying to the point of actual death, knowing and willingly – FOR ME – then lie in a dark cold cave dead for a couple of days, then wake up and walk out of that tomb as a living being? Did hundreds of people who knew him to be dead hear him speak and interact with him over the next 40 days until he want back to His Father in Heaven? Really? Did this really happen or is it a collection of great short stories about a very enlightened man who got a little crazy at the end and so did his band of followers?
It was a crossroad I had boiled all of my thinking on the subject down to. One little sticking point I had to decide I believed or I did not believe. One Sunday morning in May 1991 as I sat reading some material my father had sent me something happened. My wife had taken my two very young children to church as usual while I sat and read and thought about it. Suddenly, as I looked up from my reading and said right out loud to an empty house something very close to "I can't believe I am saying this, but, I guess I really believe Jesus rose from the dead days after He hung on that cross until he was dead. And if that is true, believing He is who He said He is is pretty easy and now makes logical sense. Dear Lord, I am going to trust that this is Truth and trust You to lead my life."
Our belief system really can't be in conflict with our logical mind or we won't really believe it. God gave us that logical mind and likes us to use it to figure out that it is indeed intelligent and rational thought that allows us to compare this story to all else that mankind has come up with. This ranges from voo-doo to the great religions of the world. We can still conclude that the Bible actually does make more sense than anything else. We can argue the details. I still believe in a universe that is billions of years old and evolution and other points that cause disagreement and I may eventually decide I was wrong about those as well, who knows. I don't think my salvation depends on me believing anything other than Jesus is God who lived, died and lives to this day. He loves me and wants me to know him and draw others toward Him through me in the same way people in my life drew me to Him through them. He'll explain all the details when HE is teaching my Sunday School class in person every day.
Do you believe Jesus died and rose again to provide a path by which you can be washed clean of your sins and be worthy of spending eternity with Him in Heaven? If you do, no matter what path in life took you there, you are very blessed and loved by your Savior, Jesus Christ who has given you the gift of eternal life through his own sacrificial love and grace.
My Savior Lives. I am forever grateful that he made it so clear that even I was eventually able to figure that out. If I did, so can anyone who seeks Him with their whole heart, mind and soul. It occurs to me that if God were in a job interview and had to answer that one dreaded question "tell me something you are not good at", He would scratch his chin and say "Well, I'm not very good at playing hide and seek." Seek Him. You will find Him. It's just one of the many things He has told us that we can believe.
February 24, 2014 Love and Forgiveness — a topic that I'm writing about not because I have it figured out but because I need to figure it out. This past week the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about love and forgiveness. Let me start with the conclusion I came to:
Without love, there is no forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there is no love.
Here's one of the questions I've had about forgiveness:
Is forgiveness contingent upon confession? Should I or can I or do I have to forgive someone even if she doesn't confess? What if someone never admits he's hurt me or someone I love deeply? What if he dies and never has admitted to it? Guess what, I'm still dragging that hurt around and it just keeps getting heavier and heavier like anything else you carry for a long time. At first, it doesn't bother much, and in fact might even feel good. But after awhile, it starts feeling heavy. After a few years? It's unbearable. So, who will it benefit to finally throw it off and forgive? Me or the guy who hurt me? It's a no brainer. Me.
If we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all our evil. Aramaic Plain English Bible
Forgiveness also cleans the other person. It cleans me when God forgives me. It cleans the other person when I forgive him. Why would I want to do that? Well, maybe if he gets cleaned up he won't hurt me again or someone else.
Will God forgive me if I don't confess? Nope. So, isn't that a contradiction? The one I forgive doesn't need to admit what he's done, but I do? That's not fair.
Here's the difference:
Yes, to receive His forgiveness we must confess. But, our act of confession is not a pleading for forgiveness, but an acceptance of the forgiveness that He's already made available by the sacrifice of Christ; however, when we forgive, we are offering a supernatural, God-given gift to another person, even if that person isn't around anymore to receive it.
What is the point of this, of forgiving those who can no longer accept it? It is for you. Forgiveness changes you because you have allowed God to add a supernatural gift of love to you to pass on to another person. Love is not a commodity. It never passes through you to another without also staying in you and therefore changing you.
What kind of change do you think that makes? If you love more people are you happier for it? Of course.
I know I struggle with forgiving others, especially those who have hurt my children or my husband, but that only hurts me and makes me less lovable, less loving.
My next question is, what does forgiveness look like? How do I know that I've forgiven someone else? An old friend once told me that he knew he had forgiven someone if when he saw that person or thought about him and the offense didn't cross his mind and he had no negative response, no bad feelings in his gut, he knew he had forgiven him. That's the beginning. Christ said, "But I say to you who are hearing, Love your enemies and do what is wonderful to those who hate you." 28"Bless those who curse you, and pray over those who take you away by force." 29"And to him who strikes you on your cheek, offer the other, and from whoever takes away your cloak, withhold not your coat also." 30"Give to everyone who asks you and do not demand from him who takes what is yours." 31"And just as you desire people to do for you, do also for them." 32"For if you love those who love you, what goodness do you have? Even sinners love those who love them." 33"And if you are doing good to those who treat you well, what goodness do you have? For even sinners do likewise." 34"And if you lend to him from whom you expect to be repaid, what goodness do you have? For even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid likewise." 35"But love your enemies and treat them well and lend and do not cut off the hope of any person, and your reward shall be great and you shall be the children of The Highest because he is kind toward the evil and toward the unbelievers." 36"Be therefore merciful, just as also your Father is merciful."
Did you see the list of offenses in those verses that someone else could do to you?
- Someone hates you
- Someone curses you
- Someone kidnapped you
- Someone physically attacked you
- Someone robbed you
- Someone borrowed from you and never paid you back
- Someone mistreated you
How did Christ say to respond to such an offender? "Do what is wonderful for him", "Bless him, pray for him, turn the other literal cheek, give him what he hasn't stolen and what he's taken, don't ask for it back. And, "don't cut off the hope of any person." That's powerful. Here's the kicker. God wants to bless us, so what's His motivation to ask us to be so loving? He said, "Your reward will be great and you shall be the children of The Highest because He is kind toward the evil and toward the unbelievers."
So here we are back to the conclusion:
Without love, there is no forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there is no love.
This means first, you can't forgive someone without loving him. And, you can't say you love someone and withhold forgiveness. And more important, if you have someone you haven't forgiven, it's hard to be the loving person you want to be toward those you want to love. So, it benefits you and your loved ones to forgive and love those who have hurt you the most.
I'm convicted. I always knew I needed to forgive some people who have really done damage to me and to my family. Now, I want to. God forgive them through me—flow your love through me to pass on to each of them so that I can let go of the burden of their offenses that I have chosen to carry. Bless each of their lives.
February 12, 2014 The Lord has been driving this thought into my head for a few weeks now. Sometimes as believers we get caught up in what we think the scriptures mean that we miss the point. I'll just give you an example of what I mean. In the book of Judges 6:36 through 7:25 there is the story of Gideon. (No, not the guy who leaves Bibles in the motel rooms.) It talks about how God spoke to Gideon and told him He would give him victory over the Midianites. First God tells him he has too many men and to send home the ones that were scared. Then God tells him he still has too many men. He tells Gideon to take them to the water to drink. God said the men who lap the water up with their tongues "like a dog" send them home and keep the ones who scoop it up and drink from their hand. That left only 300 men... and because Gideon did as God told him they were victorious.
One of the great christian authors, McArthur, believes it did not matter how the men were selected to fight the battle. It was done just to cut down on the number of men. I believe the way they were chosen had two purposes. One was to shrink the size of the army so everyone would know it was God that gave them victory. I also think God chose those who weren't afraid to fight and, by the way they drank the water, were aware of what was going on around them which would make good warriors. The thing that concerns me is we can get caught up in what we believe and miss what God is trying to show us.
Once we stop trying to convince everyone we know everything, our minds will be open for God to show us all the things He wants us to know. I think I remember someone saying "God will do great things... if we just get out of the way." Okay, that's my two cents... or should I say Copper Coins..... OOOHHH that was bad.
- Footer (Donny)
January 31, 2014Why is it so hard for human beings to be submissive?
What does it mean to submit one's own will to be subservient to another? Think about it for a second. What is the very first base instinct twinge reaction you get somewhere inside that is uncomfortable with that notion? We often can think, even way in the back of our minds briefly of masters whipping poor abused servants or slaves or a demeaning and demanding boss yelling at an employee or an abused wife getting through another day under the demanding tone of an unappreciative husband. We think of the oppressor and the oppressed. We don't want to be oppressed.
What makes some acts of submissiveness completely in-line with God's will for us? Why do women get repulsed at the notion that they are supposed to be submissive to their husbands? Why do men balk at spending a Saturday cleaning out the garage for their wives? Why do we find it so hard to respect and submit to our employers? Why is it so hard to stop trying to run our own lives and those around us and submit our lives to God's? We are terrified at the thought of being oppressed or viewed as such.
It seems to me that it is the replacement of domination with love in the relationship between the parties involved that makes all the difference.
God loves us and therefore wants us to submit to Him, not so He can keep us pressed down in the mud, but so we can be lifted up with Him. He wants us to learn and experience the fact that His ways are simply the best ways for us to live in harmony with Him, our fellow man and the world around us. He wants us to submit to Him and His ways. When we faithfully submit our will to His, He will faithfully lead us to lie down beside still waters and rest in His outstretched arms and mighty hands.
Jesus washed the feet of His apostles to show that even the greatest should be submissive in love to the least and to each other. Was Jesus weak in his submissive act or showing strength in character that seems extraordinary to most of us? Oh, and let's not forget about that bit of submission Jesus displayed at the hands of the Jewish and Roman courts as well as the Roman soldiers who needed him to lay his battered and bloodied body down on that piece of lumber so they could drive a metal spike through his hands. Far more than submitting to those thugs, Jesus was submitting to his Father God... and to us... in an unbelievable act of courage, love and submission.
How are we asked to submit? Fortunately, not as hard as when Jesus went to bat for us on the cross, thank GOD!! We are just asked to put ourselves aside for others so they are drawn to us so they can see Jesus living inside us.
To live in God's will, we are told to submit to those in authority over us, such as our bosses and our political leaders. Also we are told to submit ourselves to our spouses, and the duties we have committed to perform to sustain our families. Yes, specifically wives are to submit to the husband as head of the household, but the husband, by the command to love his wife, is also in submission to her in the acts of love he must perform or he would find other things to do that are more self gratifying.
Giving up of ourselves for the greater good, the greater love, the greater gain and the greater Kingdom of God is deeply engrained in the teachings of the Jesus.
Does submission make us weaker?
Men, do you feel weaker after you spend the day doing a project at home that your wife really wants you to do? It surely depends on whether you did it because she nagged you to death until you begrudgingly gave up your golf day or whether you still love to see that look in her eye when she gives you a hug of appreciation and tells you what a great job you did. When love replaces domination you feel ten feet tall.
Women, do you feel weaker after you spend two hours preparing a nice dinner for your family? It probably depends on whether you see people shovel it down, burp and bolt out the door or whether you get to hear the appreciation from your family as they tell you how delicious it tastes as you enjoy time in conversation and connection with them?
It's the love! It's the love! It makes all the difference! Our Holy God and Jesus Christ, his son, are so all about the love!!
Do we have to love our bosses? In the sense that Jesus wants us to love all of humankind as ourselves, yes. In the sense that you love the fact that there is an organization of which your boss is a part and offers you a place to be employed so you can serve your family and others with the resources you are paid, yes, love your boss. If saying "appreciate" makes you feel more comfortable there, at least do that. Appreciation is part of love. It makes submission to your boss and your job so much easier and the relationship stronger and you more valuable to them in return.
So, by agreeing to submit to God, we agree to submit to others as well because that is His will for us. It takes strength and character, not weakness, to submit to God's will or anyone else's will. Base human nature is so self-centered that it requires conscious decisions in order for us to be submissive to others.
God's love holds the key to making it work.
Jesus Christ is the one person who can get us off this planet alive. Why would we not want to submit everything to Him who is, who was, who ever shall be? For if you really know Him, you know that without submitting ourselves fully to Him in the context of his everlasting and faithful agape love for us, we are nothing. When we lay it all down at his feet, asking for his forgiveness, love and guidance we become children of the living God.