How can I say thanks?

I am melancholy  this evening in the fact that a dear dear  friend went to be with Christ this week.  I met Don Beard in  1971.  Don was a member of the CalThe Beard Familyvary Baptist Church in St. Louis where I was called to serve as music man.  I learned quickly that Don was one of those very rare men who was a true friend of  preachers and even ministerial staff members.  He poured himself in to ministry and literally came along side me to hold me up.   Don became a confidant, a mentor, an encourager, a dad, a supporter, a teacher, chauffeur, an example, a shelter, and a dear dear friend.

His wife, Helen, his partner for sixty-eight years, was equally a joy and together they took me, and my family as well, and love us.  We stayed in their home countless times and when I was on the road, the Beard home was my home away from home.  No one would have the time to read all the things I  could write on how the Beards helped us, but the fact is they kept us above water physically and spiritually during those early days of ministry.

Their children were equally family, they were…siblings.  Karen and I were in college together, Donna played the piano for me at Calvary. Charlie was just…there and was especially kind to our children.  Denny was always hot-rodding around and my boys sure looked up to  him.

What is most amazing about Don Beard is that my story is the story of many men in ministry.  If there is a line in heaven, Don will be so far ahead of me and probably all the men he came along side, that we won’t be able to see him.  I know that  Wednesday morning, WELL DONE, MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT rang throughout GLORY.  Thanks, Don, how can I say thanks?


Talk about behind… I haven’t written for two months and so much has happened.  The Level Grove Choir has recorded and wonderful new CD, Dorothy had I traveled to Israel and Palestine with the Sons of Jubal and now I am just two weeks from Christmas Celebration 2015, my thirty-fifth full Christmas musical.  THEN, The Jubals will sing at the Atlanta Fox Theater as guest singers for  The Getty’s JOY OF CHRISTMAS.

Added to the above, Dorothy and I are planning to return to Israel in October of 16.  Yep, we are busy.  “Retired,” well, kinda…

My goal for this weekend is to spend some time at the computer and, if for no one except me, review the details of the above.


Jessica Lynch PromoI haven’t posted for a long time and I have a number of things that I have been learning and look forward to writing.  At the moment, I am very excited to bring Jessica Lynch to Level Grove Baptist Church September 13.  I was honored to meet Jessica on the set of the new motion picture, ONE CHURCH.  She stars in the movie with Jason Fredrick and Tim Ross.  I had the opportunity to play the role of a pastor.

Sunday morning, the 13th, Jessica will tell her story of being the first female POW in American history during the Iraq war, 2003.  She was rescued by American Special Forces.  Her amazing courage and faith brought her through this amazing ordeal.  She was only nineteen at the time, a Private, and basically a normal young woman that was put into an extraordinary situation.  Jessica is a very humble young woman and a pure delight to be around.

That evening, ONE CHURCH will be shown at 6:00.


“Retired” one year… really?

Today marks exactly one year that I have been “retired.”  Well, I did retire…..uh….  Well, uh…. I thought I retired…….uh…  Actually, all I did was retire  from my greatly loved full-time church staff ministry as music man at FBC Statesboro.  I guess I’ll never really retire and to be honest, I hope I never do.  I hope I am so busy that I’m shocked when the Lord calls me home.

This spring has been a “hoot.”  I have the joy of leading the Level Grove Music Ministry each week.  It is a thrill to partner with this marvelous church staff, music team, and church family.  After nine months with Level Grove, I could already write a book; it would be a very good book.

In addition to Level Grove, I have the honor of regularly singing with the Sons of Jubal and leading workshops and conferences, a few solo concerts, and am always eager to go through whatever doors the Lord opens.

This past week I had the joy of leading music along with an amazing choir and music team for the spring revival of Northside Baptist Church in Milledgeville, Georgia.  The guest preacher, Larry Wynn, and I partnered with Pastor, Dr. Jerry Pickard, and Minister of Music, Billy Sutton, along with the rest of the church staff and church family for  four days of revival services. God got all over us.  The house was full each night in most services; so was the altar.    It was wonderful and down the road I plan to write a blog specifically about this week and this amazing church.

Looking at the next several weeks, I’ll be at Level Grove most Sundays, but I also have the honor of serving as clinician for SSS, Seniors Singing By the Sea at Jekyll Island.  This is an annual choir festival sponsored by the Music and Worship Department of the Georgia Baptist Convention.  In addition, we will attend the graduation of our grandson, Trevor,  at  Georgia Southern University.  Then, I have the opportunity to sing with the Jubals and the Jubalheirs as we record a brand new CD of great hymns and anthems of faith.  The next day, Dorothy and I will attend the first “pre-screening” of the new movie, ONE CHURCH in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  (I had the honor of playing the role of Pastor Robert Young in the film.) The national premier of  ONE CHURCH  will be in Washington DC September 17th.

I return from these events to lead music for the graduation Sunday at Level Grove and then the Level Grove Choir begins serious rehearsal on the music for our new recording.  Of course, very soon we’ll begin preparing music for our Celebration of Freedom and  Christmas Celebration 2015.

God has blessed Dorothy and me beyond measure.  We give Him all the glory.

Yep, I’m retired……. I wonder what the “full-time” guys do…...



An organ…in CHURCH??????

In an earlier blog is a great article by Mike Harland, Director of LifeWay Worship.  He poses the question, “Does the church organ need to go?” This is a real question that I hear time and again.  With the multiple conversations and recent articles on the subject, I think  I’ll write a few words on the subject.  I STILL BELIEVE THE ORGAN HAS A MAJOR ROLE IN THE CHURCH, regardless of musical style.

Over the past ten years or so I have received a number of emails and seen advertisements, ORGAN FREE FOR THE TAKING.  When we were looking for a new organ  a few years ago we learned of numbers of disassembled pipe organs that we could have bought for “a song.”  True, pipe organs are expensive to maintain, yet the maintenance cost for the most part has not been the reason churches are getting rid of them.

For some reason there are  churches who seem to think that an organ has no place in twenty-first century worship and that the organ is the reason young people don’t come to church.  This is silly.  The organ is a TOTALLY CONTEMPORARY INSTRUMENT!!!!  Regardless of the style of music the congregation is singing, the organ strengthens and encourages the crowd to SING.  One of the most traditional and liturgical churches in the Southeast is filled with young adults each Sunday and yes, the music is organ driven.    Time and again over the years, brides from ultra worship band driven churches look for a place for their weddings that have huge organs.  It seems when the really “important” things in life surface, we want to go back to our roots, to our “traditions”……  hmmmmm.

I don’t get it other than the music leaders lack knowledge or just don’t want to do the work it takes to include the organ.  Hear me out.  For the sake of discussion, consider the fact that an organ creates the sounds of the orchestra. Most of us don’t have full orchestras in our churches.    The modern digital organ is like a stack of digital keyboards and has the capability of creating countless sounds, far more than a single or even several keyboards. Organs can blow the plaster off the front of the balcony, yet can play the softest sweetest sounds this side of heaven.  Talk about versatile.  I know the organ console looks ‘old,’ and I accept the fact that the  church digital organ doesn’t fit in the back of a Toyota, but why throw out an instrument that can do so many things. (That’s like throwing grandma out because she has grey hair.)

Every band wants “more bass! ”  (It’s all about that….. that was too easy.)   The organ has at least a 16′ pipe, often a 32′ that will out bass the biggest bass guitar and amp on the planet. There are more percussion sounds on the new digital organs than the biggest acoustic trap set in the country.  Need flutes, clarinets, sax, strings?  Traditional or pure sample sounds are a “stop” away and when you want to really fatten the sound with some brass, you can add as much as the room can handle with the touch of one finger or toe.  Rock and pop bands have figured this out and have included organ sounds on stage and on their recordings, but the church fears that “young people won’t come if they see, much less hear, the organ.”  (As I re-read the previous sentence, I was shaking my head. Are these folks that clueless?)

This might be a good spot for me to get into trouble.  Through observation,  much of the contemporary movement in established or traditional churches has been pastor driven.  Well intended Pastors are “afraid we’ll lose the young people” and by pushing their music ministers to attempt to change the DNA of  a congregation by throwing out the choir and organ.  In so doing they often lose their base and to be honest, have driven some great musicians to guys like me who still believe in the choir and organ. People want to use their God given gifts that they have honed to a skill.  They don’t want to sit idle. (I guess I should say, “Thank you.”)  I have led music in at least forty states in the US and in ten or more countries and I have never met a person who actually left the church because there was an organ in the room.

NO, I’m not a dead in the water, closer to seventy than I’ve ever been, out of touch bitter old music man.  I love what I do, probably more than most. I hope I am still at it at ninety.  I love all the marvelous musical languages.   I do, however, LOVE THE GREAT HYMNS AND ANTHEMS OF THE FAITH AND SOME OF THEM SCREAM FOR THE ORGAN.  Still, I often lead my singers to sing/play far newer music than some of the praise bands sing and play.  I love much of the newest praise and worship music. I love praise teams.  I love drums, guitars, brass, winds, keyboard, piano, AND the ORGAN. These all can work together, but it does take work.  (Where I presently serve in North Georgia it is quite common for me to ask our young adult organist to “Play like we are in church!” “If I don’t have at least one person telling me the organ is too loud, I’m disappointed…” I want blue wigs stuck to the back wall and sleeping old men sitting on the edge of their pews.  Our Lord wants and expects His children to praise Him with great energy and volume.  “Let EVERYTHING that has breath PRAISE THE LORD.  The organ has “breath.”)

My comments have mostly been directed to existing and more traditional/blended churches that already have an organ.  There are many extremely effective “new” churches that are in newer contemporary style buildings and to purchase an organ isn’t realistic nor the best stewardship for them. This is a totally different issue and situation.  I will say, however, these new churches shouldn’t just automatically blow off the idea of the organ.  A new style digital organ creates some great sounds and might be just the accompaniment needed when the band “gets a better gig.”    However,  my primary comments are for those churches who have an organ; dust it off and discover the  wonderful instrument that God has used over the centuries.


“Praise Him with the timbrel, the dance, the harp……praise Him with LOUD sounding cymbals, praise Him with stringed instruments and ORGANS.”  (If it makes noise, use it to glorify God! from the Coenian version…)




Great article by Mike Harland

Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship.

Does the Church organ need to go?

It’s a fair question.

With the onset of rhythm-driven worship in many of our churches, many call the use of the organ into question these days. Often the renovation of worship space includes this question.

Some might say, “We don’t use it anymore. Why don’t we just take it out and put the drum cage over there?”

Wait just a second! You might want to rethink the role of the organ.

The organ is one of the oldest instruments ever invented… dating back to 250 BC. It found it’s way into the worship services of Christians in the 1400’s. And for centuries, it was the dominant instrument of the composers of sacred music. In the Baptist tradition, organists and the organ helped develop the rich tradition of hymn singing and defined the splendor of the congregational song.

In the modern era, some would say the organ has been replaced in many churches by a band or even an orchestra. But, personally, I don’t think those instruments have replaced the organ. I think the small vocal team enhancing the choir or congregation has replaced the organ.

How many articles have you read bemoaning the fact that church congregations don’t sing like they used to sing? I’ve read quite a few and written a couple myself. Most would blame it on the newness of the songs or the decline of church choirs. I agree those points are valid, but I would add, for this discussion, that the reduced role of the organ has also contributed to this reality.

Historically, the organ underscored congregational singing back when congregations really sang. I always thought of it as the “voice” of the people, giving the average congregant a place where their voice could “hide” in the awesome sound of resounding hymns. The organ sound is a safe place to put your voice no matter how you sing.

So try this… instead of shutting the organ down in your worship, use a few less singers on microphones and allow the organ to undergird the congregational song – no matter what style of music you sing. You might just rediscover the power of this instrument.

And every once in a while, let your organist lead your congregation is a transcendent worship experience using an instrument that has the range of power unmatched by any other instrument.

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is coming soon. You could mark it early with an awesome organ version of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

Somehow, the guitar can’t touch that one.

Welcome or Not?




One of the things I knew I would miss when we moved from Statesboro was my friends I ate breakfast with each morning, first at Snooky’s and then R.J.’s.  Most of the men didn’t attend FBC, but they became wonderful friends and actually,  brothers.  I still miss them and go back every chance I get.

One of the first things I did when I moved near Cleveland, Georgia was to  begin looking for a  group of men to drink coffee with.  (Every little town has a bunch of “old men” who drink coffee every morning and solve the world’s problems. I used to make fun of the men at the “round table, ” but now I “are one.”)

My daughter suggested a particular popular restaurant and so I eagerly walked in and yep, there they were. I was looking forward to meeting met some new folks in my new town.   Well, I knew no one, but I did get my coffee and sat at a near by table. I smiled and said hello, but wasn’t there five minutes until one of the old men began bumping my chair and eventually about knocked me off my perch and I splashed coffee on my khakis.   In other words, “you aren’t welcome  here, at least not welcome to sit near us. This is our table, our restaurant.  You can come, eat, and sit over there, but we would actually prefer you use the drive-through.”

Of course, they didn’t say that, but that is what it seemed they were saying. I didn’t meet the owner, but the regular customers made their stand.   I’m quite certain these are good folks, but were simply so focused on each other there was no room for another.   Bill, you are too sensitive, grow up.  Yes, maybe I am, but I left asking myself, “I didn’t want to eat  breakfast  here anyway. Did I make the right decision to come to the mountains?”    I moved on and found a group of men who welcomed a “new old man” and we have developed some great friendships.

Some years before all of this, on a very rare occasion, probably the only time in our ministry, Dorothy and I were traveling from Dallas through a large southern city on a Sunday morning. Of course, we were looking for a place to worship.  We checked our GPS and found several near the interstate.  We went to the first one, all do doors were closed, no one around though there were cars in the lot.  No sign as to where to enter, not even “welcome mat.”  We moved on.  We went to several and even drove deep into the city, but it was the same scenario.  We even went by a contemporary AG church figuring they would be bouncing a round looking for guests, still nothing that said, we welcome  you.

Think about it, we deliberately were SEEKING to find a place to worship with believers, but can you imagine what an “outsider”  thinks as he or she drive by those CLOSED UP CHURCHES?  Church after church with closed doors,  no  one stirring outside looking to welcome folks, no directional signs.  We weren’t looking for a “circus,” but we did want to find a warming, welcoming body of believers with which to share Sunday morning worship.

We finally just stopped and went in a church as the folks were gathering.  NOT ONE person said hello as we stood looking in the worship center.  Finally, an usher asked if we would like a seat and we sat near the back.  (And one of them told us “don’t sit here, that’s my seat,” we would have been out the door.

The worship time was a blessing as the crowd sang and God’s man preached. It was really a good experience as we had a parenthesis in our journey home. Since most were in coats and ties and I was in my often worn GSU windbreaker, we stood out and as the service ended folks began visiting with us.  I told no one I was a minister, just a guest passing through.  These were great folks, but just weren’t preparing for guests.

I really hadn’t thought about this for a while, however, the restaurant at home, where the guys ate in every morning, closed and we had to find a new “home.”  We ended up in the very restaurant that had made me feel very unwelcome.  The food is actually very good I think it will work out, but every time I walk in the door, I remember the guy who “didn’t want me sitting in or even near his “pew.”

I know I’m a music man and am supposed to lead the choir, the orchestra, and keep the crowd singing, and keep my mouth shut,  but there is little that we on the platform can do to make up for an unwelcoming church family.  I’m sure most churches truly do want to grow and meet new folks, but it is so easy to be friendly to friends and quickly ignore  a guest and he leaves  saying, “I really didn’t want to go to church today anyway.”

I have been blessed in that most of the churches I have served over the years  have been eager to welcome new folks, however, it must be a deliberate action on the part of the pastor, staff, AND church family.  Greeters don’t need to be dressed in matching blazers or like hotel doormen, but they do need to be friendly, focused on  the people driving by and coming in. (Years ago I served a church where the greeter would all gather under the big oak for a smoke as people came in.  They were out there, but missed the point.)
Putting my “music man hat” back on, if the greeters “get it” and guestss make it in the door, the choir had better be focused on the crowd as well, being that conduit of God’s love and grace to saint and sinner alike.

It is exciting read about and see churches that are taking deliberate action.  FBC Stateboro and Level Grove are constantly seeking fresh ways to let outsiders know they are welcome inside.  Of course, that is done by going out and “bringing them” in.  Closed doors and close people on Sunday mornings are a huge turn-off to the timid seeker.  Signage is important, but nothing replaces a godly man or woman with a confident warm smile reaching out, “Glad you’re here.”


By the way, the  biscuits are great at…..


They “Get It.”

Since I last wrote in this venue, I have had the honor of singing in eight  Sons of Jubal concerts within the state of Georgia.  Each February, directed by Dr. Jon Duncan,  the SoJ’s present regional concerts of praise in some of our smaller churches.  However, the attendance of both Jubals and crowds demand two concerts in each church; it is amazing.  The Lord is glorified, the singeSoJ Logors and players are edified, strengthened musically and spiritually.  The crowds and communities are not only  challenged and blessed as the Jubals “Lift up Jesus,” but unbelievers are drawn to Christ.  The Jubals sing challenging and effective music, yet it really isn’t about the music, it is about the Savior.  Of course we want people to enjoy our music, but when leaving a concert our desire is that their words aren’t, “What a great concert,” but “What a great God.”  The Sons of Jubal “get it.”

Earlier Rick and Wanda Jenovesethis month I had the honor of leading a workshop/choir retreat with the excellent choir of FBC Social Circle, Georgia, a beautiful little city east of Atlanta.  The music man, Rick Jenovese, his lovely wife, Wanda,  and the church family were marvelous hosts.  Our focus, as is always the case when I lead, is not only to    sing good music well, but do so to literally connect with the crowd, to be three-dimensional, a worship leading choir.  Striving to be  ultra “professional” or on the other extreme, ultra “cool,” for the sole purpose of being professional or cool, misses the mark.    Too many professional, academic, and even church choirs are excellent musically, but the focus is only the music and not the crowd. (When speaking of gospel music, my friend, Jack Price, would say, “Everyone hates it except the people.”)

The church choir must be a a conduit of God’s love and grace to the folks in the chairs, the pews.  It must be done with outstanding music and it has to be intentional.   When directors and singers grasp this truth, a whole new world of joy and effectiveness emerges.  Lofts become full and volunteer choir members grieve when they have to miss rehearsal or worship service.   This kind of choir not only honors the Lord and touches lives, but draws people to want to be part of the choir.  Church choir is not dead for those who are willing to do the work. 

Rick and FBC Social Circle Choir “get it,” they understand their role as leaders of worship, not simply singers of song.  (I know of a growing number of such choirs in the state of Georgia directed by Godly men.  I get to sing with them in the Sons of Jubal.)Level Grove Logo 2

Speaking of choirs that “get it,”  The Level Grove Baptist Church Choir, of which I am honored to direct, gets it as well.  WOW! What a  powerful and effective, three denominational worship-leading choir!  They sing a wide variety of styles, musical languages, and they sing each well.  This choir motivates me and keeps me on my toes and on my knees.   (I could write pages on the  effective ministry of LG, but I’ll move on for now…)

 Recently, justTruett McConnell Logo 2 before their tour of England and Scotland, LG hosted the Truett McConnell College Chorale.  What a worshipful experience!   My good friends, Dr. Ben Caston, Dr. Becky Lombard, and Dennis Allen “get it.” This evening of powerful music proved again that  great classical music  and warm songs of the faith can merge together in one marvelous experience of music that  “connects with the crowd,” and virtually        draws the people to the altar of  praise.   I know there are a number of great schools with outstanding music programs out there, but I believe        Truett McConnell is right at the top.  These committed professors and students are amazing.

March 19-21 I have the honor of leading the music for the Georgia Gideon  International Convention.  Several hundred business men will gather in Augusta to worship, report, and strategize about sharing God’s Word around the world.  These  men are bold,  unapologetic believers that know that God’s Word “never returns void” and thousands of people each year come to know Christ through in a hotel room, by a copy of the Scriptures handed out at a county fair or even a school.  Literally today I learned of a man void of any faith was given a little Bible and on his own, without any preacher or church, found Christ simply by reading.  The Gideons “get it.”Gideon Logo


Finally, and on a personal note, over the past few weeks my eyes have been opened.  My sight had gradually become rather dim and my cataract clouded lenses have been replaced with new Toric lenses, one eye for reading my music and the other for distance; pretty cool.  For the first time in nearly sixty years, I can function without glasses.  It is a hoot.  Though I’m really glad eveEyes 2ry thing is much brighter and clearer, I thought I would look “younger.”  Actually, my glasses were hiding the bags under my eyes and the wrinkles of my temples. I believe we ought to look as good as we can, but  you can’t hide “old;” those who try usually look silly.    I’ll still wear glasses for really close up work, but as the song says, “It’s a whole new world.” 

“I’m gonna keep on singing….”


Awaiting the Shout!


We are well into 2015

WOW!  Did January go by fast or what?  I have intended to write a full blog for several weeks, but the pace of “retirement” is faster than I expected; of course, I love it.  As a youngster I learned of Jesus being “about the Father’s business” and I made the assumption that is what I was to be throughout my life.  I celebrate and certainly don’t judge my minister friends who actually retire, but to be honest, I hope I am so busy that when I die I am surprised.

The ministry at Level Grove where I serve as ‘Temporary-Part-Time Minister of Music” is going strong.  Yes, the music ministry is growing, but so is everything else.  God is working and so are His folks.  Brian James lives in the “real world,” but has “real faith” as he leads not only from the pulpit, but in his daily activity.  He has set the pace and his staff and church family are following his lead.

I continue to sing regularly with about 250 of my closest friends, the Sons of Jubal, the Georgia Baptist Men’s Chorus,  conduct workshops, and sing a few concerts along the way.  My 2015 calendar is filling up and I am grateful.

I actually have written two other blogs this month, but am not quite ready to publish either.  One has to do with my thirty-five Christmas Celebrations, I’m counting the one I am writing now, and the other about corp0rate worship.  I want to spend some more time with each.  I realize only a handful of people read my blogs, yet if it is going to be in print, I want it to say what I really….want it to say.  God has so bless Dorothy and me and our ministry these  fifty years of ministry.   (Dot and I started dating just as I was beginning ministry.) I want my words to reflect what He has put deep within my “gut.” (I won’t use the OT word….) I hope to get to those writings soon.

In the mean time, “I’m gonna keep on singin’…….”



Last Sunday of 2014

It has been weeks since I wrote my last blog and the things on my mind and heart today will take a two or three posts.  However, my thoughts on this Lord’s Day afternoon are focused on several specific things:

1.  TODAY, the last Sunday of the year.  Generally, this Sunday, about everywhere, is an “off-Sunday.”  People are away, traveling with family.  Some are just plain sick, mostly because of exhaustion in the name of family celebrations. Those that do attend worship are often bogged down by a  a carbohydrate hangover.  So often, leaders forget things that normally they wouldn’t think of forgetting.  Many times over the past fifty years, I walk in and leftovers from the Christmas Eve service are still on the platform. Oh, the room has been cleaned, but “stuff” is out of place.   I don’t criticize because I  totally understand everyone is eager to leave the traditional candlelight communion services to go home to be with family;  it is just part of church life.  As the singer, I just expect on the last morning to do a little “house cleaning” before the first worship service and I often expect to lead a weary crowd of worshipers.

Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced many wonderful “last Sundays of the year.”  These services can be very intimate and family oriented,  HOWEVER, this year was “markably”  different.   There were no chairs to rearrange, no manger to move or mics to reconnect; the room was in order.  The instrumental, vocal, and media lead team came in on time and eager to lead worship.  There was great energy, even at the 8:30 service, and still greater energy at 11:00.  People were happy and anxious to gather in praise.  When it came time for the choir to gather for the 11:00 service, the singers were there.  Soloists and choir sang so very well.  The crowd sang with enthusiasm and the young guest speaker powerfully preached the mantra of  my life, “Salvation is by grace through Christ Jesus,” and God added to the Body. 


2.  TODAY, I looked back on 2014.  It began with my wife, Dorothy, recovering from major surgery, me facing retirement and leaving a staff and church family we served for thirteen years and loved from the depths of our hearts, retiring also from fifty years as a “music man,” and getting hit with a major medical issue that forced me to miss the first morning worship service due to health in fifty years; pretty dramatic stuff and that was just the first four months.

YET, this year has brought overwhelming blessings. During those first four months, even with physical pain, God allowed me to lead the marvelous FBC Statesboro Celebration Choir, Orchestra, and church family.  We  experienced the best retirement celebration anyone could image with our beloved church family as well as children, grandchildren, and friends from all over. We’ve heard from friends and partners in ministry from literally all over the world. Dorothy and I were humbled and overwhelmed.

This year has also brought physical recovery and though we aren’t quite at full speed, we see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

This year took  us also from Southeast Georgia to North Georgia at the foot of Mt. Yonah and the Blue Ridge Mountains.  To be totally honest, I didn’t want to move “North,” I had always planned to move back to the coast, yet God had another plan.  (OK, it is a tough admission, but  I am enjoying living in the mountains, though we go to the coast every chance we get.)  We now live closer to family and God has opened new doors of ministry.  I assumed that in my retirement I would stay busy, but I didn’t expect Him to lead me to a ministry like I enjoy at Level Grove in Cornelia. I have talked about LG in previous blogs, but as  “temporary part-time” minister of music, I am having a blast.  Dorothy and I love the church family and  the ministry God has given us.  It is so much fun serving with a young staff with great passion for ministry.  They don’t know “you can’t do things….” 

This year we have spent more time with our children and grandchildren than we have in many years and if for no other reason all the tough and great events of the past year have been totally worth it. 

This year brought our great grandson, William Carl Coen, IV and this week, our son-in-law’s son and wife will have their second daughter, giving us two wonderful great granddaughters as well. 


3. TODAY, I thought about 2015, “what in the world is it going to bring?” Assuming the Lord tarries, I will serve as Minister of Music at Level Grove for the next twelve months.  I am mapping out the master plan of ministry this week.  Dorothy and I will celebrate our forty-nineth wedding anniversary in April.  There will be solo concerts, concerts with the Sons of Jubal, workshops, and our eighth trip to Israel, this time with the Sons of Jubal in October.  

Obviously, I don’t know what all will transpire in 2015, but I am planning like I’ll live to be 150, but seeking to live as if Christ will call me home tomorrow.  Retirement?  Well, though it seems I am am as busy, or more so, than I was when  I was “full-time,” this time in life offers far more flexibility.  Still, I don’t believe God “un-calls.”  He called me, He set a path for me, when I was a child. I knew it then and I know it now.  I have been blessed with a marvelous wife, “help-mate,” partner and we are celebrating our past, but always anticipating the next opportunity.  We serve a risen, living Savior.