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Jesus in Your Christmas 

Merry Christmas

from

Meadow Lane


Jingle bells, decking the halls, dreaming of a white Christmas, while chestnuts are roasting on an open fire. Ahh the sights, sounds smells, and the feeling of Christmas. Some of my fondest childhood memories and even adult ones too are filled with the memories of past Christmases. I can remember when we used to gather every Christmas Eve at Grandma & Grandpa Epperson's house. I remember being soooo excited. Excited to see family I hadn't seen in a while, excited about what gifts I may receive (all you were this way too), but one of the most fond memories I have of that time was being excited to eat some of Grandma's special biscuits that she only made that time of year. I've never tasted any like them. I can still feel the texture as the perfectly caramelized crust passed across my lips, followed by the buttery deliciousness that was rolled into that soft delectable miracle of dough. Wow I loved those.

(My brother Adam with my Papaw Garland)


Then Christmas Eve was filled with fun as we headed home. I can remember singing Christmas carols all the way home. And when we got home, it was soon to bed. Santa was on his way of course and he wouldn't stop at our house until we were asleep. Funny thing is; any other evening of the year, my brothers slept in their room, and I slept in mine. We never thought of each other as "cool enough' to have a sleep over in each other's rooms any other day of the year, but for some reason, Christmas changed things. That was the one night of the year we could count on being together and excited about that fact.

I can remember not being able to sleep a wink. I remember after we could tell when Santa had finished his work because the banging and sliding and shuffling had concluded. Then, and only then we would slowly and ever so quietly creep open the door to our room and lie in the threshold peering down the hallway towards the den where the Christmas tree was. We would whisper and wonder and speculate what was waiting just down the hallway. It was a time in my life that is a treasure that I will never forget. Oh the innocence of youthful hopes and dreams. Being so excited that sleep was not possible and tomorrow seemed so distant. Just an hour was an eternity, but after a set of eternities, the time would finally come; the time to go wake Mom & Dad. Now 5:00 any other day of the year only shows up on the clock once a day, but for some reason Christmas morning had a 5:00 am in addition to the 5:00 pm so at 5:00 am we figured since Santa had done all the work last night, Mom & Dad should be just as excited to get up. And they usually were.

Christmas day was always such a joy for us as children. Mom, Dad, and Santa always found a way to provide the most awesome experience any child could ever have. From the Christmas morning when Santa brought the Little Tikes ride on train set, to the one where he brought Adam and me the greatest BMX bikes ever!! We never had a bad Christmas. Thank you Mom & Dad for so many wonderful memories of Christmas.

But that's not all the Christmas we received. Before any gifts were exchanged at any of these gatherings, we were soaked in the word of God. The Christmas story was read aloud and there was absolutely no question as to why we were celebrating and exchanging gifts. The old, old story was read and we all listened intently. I have watched as many years my Dad has read that story and the tears would flow down his cheeks. Many times he has had to stop to regain his composure in order to finish the story. It is precious to me and all my family and I cannot imagine a single Christmas where we wouldn't uphold this timeless tradition. As a matter of fact, I believe most of us look forward to this more than any other aspect of Christmas. 

Keeping our mind on Jesus at this time of year is what I have always been taught and I am so thankful to have had this experience growing up. I have tried to keep the same tradition with my little family. Many times I have felt like a complete failure. I could never live up to all the wonderful, unbelievable and inspirational moments my parents provided for me and my brothers, yet I still strive to do the same for my children.

I have been richly and abundantly blessed with a wonderful family of my own. I have a wife that sticks with me through thick and thin (mostly thin). I have two beautiful, healthy children that are just the apple of my eye. They all make me be proud to be alive every day. God has richly blessed me.

How about you? Are your memories of Christmas as joyous? Are they filled with more wonderful stories of your grandparents? Do you remember your favorite Christmas present or your favorite Christmas treat? Can you remember your family sharing the Christmas story before the gifts were exchanged? If not, fear not! Now you know what the true meaning of Christmas is. And that is just this:

Luke 2:1-20 King James Version (KJV) 

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


Keep Jesus in Your Christmas, or Else it Won't be Much

He's the reason for the season, Not the gifts, the toys, and such

Without Him in your Christmas, How empty it will be

Put Jesus in your Christmas, What a Christmas you will see

 

Yet another wonderful treasure my Dad provided for his family. He wrote this song many years ago and it was recorded by the Singing Echoes about 10 years ago. It is one of my favorite Christmas songs. It is the culmination of what our family has always held in their hearts during the Christmas season. It is what Christmas is about. Not the gifts, not the toys, not even the tasty biscuits Grandma makes. Without Him as a centerpiece in your Christmas, your Christmas will be empty and of no use. You see, when you allow Jesus to be the center of all the festivities, it finally has meaning. There is a purpose to all the madness that is carried out during all of the hustle and bustle of the season. With Him, Christmas not only has meaning, but all of your life will soon have meaning and purpose. All at once everything will make perfect sense, and you will be truly joyful this Christmas.

So let your Christmas be merry and bright. Keep Jesus in your Christmas and you will see a Christmas like never before. 

Have a Merry Christmas, from Meadow Lane, to your lane...

 

Christmas Blessings,

Jeremy Epperson

Meadow Lane

P.S. I so wish that I could have included some more photos from my grandparents at Christmas. I found one of my Papaw Garland with my brother, Adam, but alas I was unable to find any in digital format of the Epperson side. Maybe I can update with some of those later.


I welcome your comments below. Tell me about your favorite Christmas. Tell me what Christmas means to you. What is your favorite holiday treat? Most of all let's give all the praise to Jesus!

Thankfulness 

Thankfulness, and What it Means

 

As we approach the season we lable as Thanksgiving, a time when we pause to be thankful for all of our bountiful blessings, I find myself as usual, pondering what I am thankful for and what I am blessed with. I believe we all find ourselves in that place this time of year, and for good cause. We have been blessed far beyond what we deserve.

This year, like I have for many years, I began making a daily list of what I am thankful for. When I first began this list years ago, I only listed one thing per day, but as the years have progressed, I have found that logging only one-a-day would never come close to telling all of the blessings God has given me. So I decided to up the ante by 1 extra per day per year. This year I am up to listing 5 things I am thankful for each day of November, and I'll have to say that I could still list more. I have truly been abundantly blessed beyond all measure and I know that if you were being honest you would say the same. 


 But if we are all so abundantly blessed like we say and believe, how can we as Christians be so down and out? How can we act so defeated and discouraged? Do we truly believe that we are blessed like we say we are and if so are we truly thankful for those blessings? I would contend that we are in fact blessed, but we aren't as thankful as we should be. 

 

Psalms 107:1 O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.

 

When I think of how He came so far from glory

Came and dwelt among the lowly such as I

To suffer shame and such disgrace

On Mt. Calvary took my place

Then I ask myself this question: Who am I?

 

At the very least we should be thankful for His love towards us as sinners. 

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 

I have all the reasons in the world to be thankful just because of that verse, because if it were not for the truth in that verse we would have no hope in this world whatsoever. I am forever in debt to He that loved me. He paid a debt that He did not owe, because I owed a debt that I could not pay. That alone is worth being thankful for.

For I know the thoughts  that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

The Lord has given me so many other things to be thankful for. I am thankful for the talent God has given me. I thank him for His continuing favor in my ministry and that He would think enough of my feeble efforts to trust me enough to present His message in song. I am not worthy, but I am so glad He empowers me to do His will. He has been faithful when He could have turned His back on me. He has shown me mercy when I should have died in my sin. He has loved me when I was un-lovable. He saved me when no one else could have. I am thankful to be serving a risen Savior today.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband Ephesians 5:33

I have a loving wife of 24 years that has stood beside me through thick and thin. When it was thick, it was really thick and when it was thin, it was probably so thin you could see through it. She has always been faithful and I never have to wonder where she stands on things pertaining to our ministry; she is a firm supporter and a true confidant. She pretty much single-handedly raised our two beautiful children in their early years while I was on the road singing for Jesus and she did a fairly fabulous job of it if I may say so my self. I am proud of her and her efforts to teach our kids about Jesus from an early age. She has loved them, scolded them, cheered for them, nursed them when they were sick and did most all of that while I was on the road, but most of all she has prayed for them. That alone is the single most precious and important thing a mother could do for her children. I could not ask for a better help mate. I am thankful for you Amanda and your continuing efforts to help this family become better servants of the Lord.

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. Psalms 127:3

I have the best daughter in the world. Anais, whom I still consistently call Jordan since she was born Jordan Anais Epperson, but she always said it sounded like a boys name, she is the apple of my eye. She loves to sing just as much as I do and her God-given talent is nothing short of amazing to me. She has a love for our music: Southern Gospel Music, and she cares nothing about "the new stuff". As a child she was nurtured and encouraged to sing her little heart out, only to land in the kindergarten class of a teacher that wanted to steal her song. She persevered through elementary and things began to get better in middle school, but it wasn't until high school that she truly felt like she could make any friends because of the first half of her year in kindergarten. What a remarkable young lady you have become Anais. I love you and I am thankful for you. It is an honor to stand on the stage and sing with you.

I am thankful for Bryson, my son whom I love and admire. Many of our fans have no clue that he is an amazingly accomplished actor. For the second year in a row Bryson has landed a lead roll in the fall musical at our high school. His abilities on the stage are absolutely mesmerizing. His instincts are uncanny, and he is hilarious. If you have never seen him on stage in the theatre you have missed a real treat, but more than just his performance in the high school musicals, his stage presence with Meadow Lane has come a long way as well. It thrills my heart to see how he has grown both vocally and spiritually. It is not surprising for me to look downstage at any given moment and to see him raising his hand in praise. Makes me proud to be his dad, and makes me feel as if though I have done something right. I am proud and thankful for you Bryson, and happy about the man you are becoming.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

I am thankful for loving parents that have prayed for their boys, and their families. They have been the biggest supporters of Meadow Lane and have been there to encourage us from the beginning. From the very first stages of our group trying to find places to sing, to being there to cheer us on for those first few dates, to Dad actually being on stage and singing with us. Mom and Dad have been a huge inspiration to our ministry. These two have spent long nights worrying, crying, and praying for me and my brothers. We would not be the men we are today if it weren't for the prayers and concern of Mom and Dad. Their leadership and guiding hands have instilled a desire to treat everyone we meet with respect and integrity. Their faithfulness to God has been an excellent template to follow as we navigate life and its many twists and turns. I am thankful for my parents who did not spare the rod and spoil the child, because there's no telling what I would have turned out to be otherwise.

I am thankful for two of the best brothers a man could ever ask for. They have both become wonderful men of God. Both have surrendered their call to preach the word of God and do so with such fervor and zeal. They both use their talents to the best of their abilities in efforts to encourage others to follow Him. Adam is pretty much a Jack of all trades. If I ever need to know how to fix a thingamabob using a whatchamadigit he's the man to call. By the way he makes some great road cases too. He too has been a great supporter in our ministry through words of encouragement and through prayer. Matthew helps with anything media oriented. From CD duplication to album art, to helping us determine what songs to single. I am proud of my brothers. Their support and prayers have been felt and have affected us more than you can imagine.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

I am thankful for you. Our dedicated fan and friend that makes it possible for our group to travel across this great country of ours and proclaim the Gospel. Without you my friend, it would not be possible. Without the DJs that work late hours to play good old fashioned Southern Gospel Music for folks to hear out there in radio land, our song might never reach that one that doesn't even know what he is searching for. But his radio lands on that station, the song catches his ear, and he listens. The seed is then planted and he comes to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Your efforts are of paramount importance. We are ever indebted to you for the countless hours you spend and the tireless nights you spend away from your families. God bless you and your efforts.

So you see friend, there is so much to be thankful for. David said in Psalms 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. He is worthy of all praise and glory. By His stripes we are healed. We owe everything, even our very existence to Him.

What does it mean to be truly thankful?

I believe to be truly thankful you must live your life daily as if it were your last moment. No, not like the song that talks about skydiving, or Rocky Mountain climbing, but as if each opportunity you have to witness, or spread kindness, or to help someone who is down on their luck, to give that stranded traveler a lift, or to spare some loose bills to give that homeless man his only meal for the day is the last chance you will get to do so. You never know when you will take your last breath. God has you where you are for a purpose. He may be keeping you here just for the purpose of witnessing to that one last person. Being truly thankful is to be so in love with God and in love with the plan He has in your life that you never stop telling about Him and living for Him. Never stop being different in other's eyes, stand out. It is your testimony that people see that causes them to grow their trust and faith in God. Be truly thankful, thankful for His blood, thankful for His promise, thankful for his faithfulness and mercy. You see being thankful isn't just being glad you have enough to eat or being happy that your family is together. It is about truly having a heartfelt and meaningful relationship with Jesus, because without Him, what could we ever be thankful for? 

 

Sincerely thankful,

Jeremy Epperson

Meadow Lane

I welcome your comments below. What are you thankful for?

The Ax Head 

The Ax Head

Occasionally we as Christians slip. We mess it up, or we just completely fall off the track. Maybe its because of years of service and our hearts just aren't in it, or maybe we have strayed. Whatever the case we often times may find ourselves not where we need to be with God. Sometimes we lose track of what we should be doing to build the kingdom. In this case we have lost sight of our goal. 

How many times have you felt that your walk with Christ wasn't as close as it once was? You don't desire the fellowship with him like you used to or your joy is gone. Church has became a chore and a procedure rather than something your heart longs for. Don't feel alone, we all have fallen upon times like these and it is completely normal for this to take place. In generations past this used to be called complacency. It is what happens to Christians when they get stale and stagnant. They continue to go to church and they do what they always have done, but the thing that they have not continued to do is to grow in Christ. 

Many times we work so hard for the cause of Christ that we experience a season of burn-out; a time when we do what is expected of us by our church and what man wants, but we fail to follow the leadership of God in our lives because we have found comfort in repeating what we have always done or in doing something God never meant for us to do in the first place. 

Please take time to read and digest the following scripture:

2 Kings 6:1-7

1. And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too straight for us.

2. Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, go ye.

3. And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with my servants. And he answered, I will go.

4. So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.

5. But as one was felling a beam, the ax head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.

6. And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.

7. Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.

 

In this story pulled from 2 Kings, the people wanted to build another place to dwell, they wanted a home that suited them. So they asked to go to Jordan to clear the land to make a place there to live. They of course needed to clear the land and do the work necessary to make the land suitable for them to inhabit. So they began to cut trees, each man chopping his own tree, when one who was chopping lost his ax in the water. He was fearful and upset because he was using a borrowed ax. He looked to his master in fright and expressed his torment. Then the master cut down a stick, threw it in the water, and the ax floated to the top of the water.

 Many times we as Christians are doing our work, building the kingdom and we drop our ax along the way. Without the ax the labor would be considerably less difficult since we no longer carry the weight of the tool, but also without our ax we can no longer build the kingdom and clear the land. 

So how do we get our ax back? Well... We must go back to where we dropped it, ask for God's forgiveness for our laziness, and pick it up and get back to work. 

Sometimes we may still have our ax in our hands, but the blade has grown dull. In that case we must take the blade back to the blacksmith for sharpening. Go back to the one who supplied the blade because he is the one who knows about the alloys that were put together to compose the materials that make up the blade. He alone knows best about how to put just the right edge on the blade to achieve the best performance of your tool.

You see, God has a specific plan and design for each and every born again child of God. He knows exactly what you should be doing and what tools to provide you with to get that job done. So many times we desire to do work for the Lord, but we want to do it on our own terms, with our own tools. We may even start with the tool He designed for us and then later decide that we like someone else's tool better. We try, and we try hard, but we are never able to achieve the level of success God intended even when we put forth much more effort than we would have by using His plan and His tools. Things always work much better and go much smoother when God is allowed to be in control.

Have you lost your ax?

Where did you drop it? Or are you using a dull blade? Stop carrying around the wrong tool or a dull blade. Go back to where you dropped it, or where you sunk it into the rock instead of the wood, or where you stole someone else's tool. Pick up your tool, take it to the smith sharpen it and get back to work. Your life will be much easier and God will bless you far more for your efforts.

 

Sincerely,

Jeremy Epperson

Meadow Lane

 

I welcome your thoughts and comments below. Please leave your thoughts below.

If I Could Just Touch Him.... 

If I Could Just Touch Him I Know I'd Be Whole

 

There is an old song I can remember from years back. Its message often comes across as cliche' in this modern day, but the message speaks volumes those who are truly born again; If I could just touch Him I know I'd be whole. I know that song has been sung for many years and it is a favorite for many, but I fear that even though this song creates much emotion, when all is said and done, some have not truly touched him. 

The issue is that many know about Jesus, they know who Jesus was historically and they believe that they know who He is currently and they know what He has done for them. They go to church and profess to be Christians and they live a hollow life because they have missed one very important thing. They don't have a personal relationship with the Savior.

Jesus said in John 6:44: No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.  

The experience many people never have with God is the true moment when the Holy Spirit convicts their heart and they confess their sins and they accept Jesus as their personal Savior. Why are there so many that never have that experience you may ask. I believe it is because they have believed the lies that the world has fed them for years. You know those lies about "God is a loving God, and if He is such a loving God He would never send you to Hell" and "Hell isn't a literal place, it's more like a figure of speech" or how about the lie about "If you live a good life and give to the poor and give tithes to the church God will honor you and love you and will not send you to Hell"  

The bible says in Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;

If you are attending church where the pastor is telling you that God loves you, he is telling you the truth. If he says he wants to help you in your walk of life that is also true. He might tell you that we have all sinned and we all continue to sin daily, that is true too, but if he is telling you that you may continue in your sin and everything is fine as long as you drop your contribution into the plate at the end of the service then he is a liar and you had better for the sake of your eternal and undying soul and the sake of your family,  run, don't just walk away, from that church.

1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Yes we do sin daily. We all do, but that is not to say that we should willfully do so, because to do so is to trample on the blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross. 

All this aside, there is a large number of people who truly believe that they are okay with God, and they're not. They have not touched the hem of His garment, they haven't truly began a real relationship with Jesus. They rely upon their parents, or their pastor, or their social status, or their works at the church as their only basis for salvation and friend there is only one way to explain what will happen to them at the judgement seat of Christ. They will die in their sin and instead of hearing "Enter in thy good and faithful servant" they will hear "Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you". My what an awful thought. To live your life as a Christian, but only in classification and not in spirit.

The Bottom Line

If you have not had a personal experience with Jesus, that is to say that you have felt conviction upon your heart, (Matthew 7:21" Not every one who saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father in heaven."  there must be conviction upon your heart) and answered by confessing your sins (1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness) and believed upon Jesus as your Savior and began a daily relationship with Him where you are constantly and consistently reminded of your duties as a Christian by a still small voice then you have likely been walking down the path many others have chosen. There is no short-cut and no easy way through. The shed blood of Jesus is the only way. Accepting Him in the free pardon of sin is necessary and not an option, but a standard feature in God's plan of salvation. 

You see, If you never have had that personal relationship with Him, you have never truly known Him. You know about Him, but He doesn't know you, and that is of paramount importance. Just reach out and touch Him, He will save, He will heal, He will forgive.... 

A woman one day tried many physcians  
But daily grew worse in the Bible we're told  
But when she had heard, she came to Jesus  
And she found what she needed for her body and soul  

Chorus: If I could just touch the hem of His garment  
If I could just touch some part of His clothes  
I know I'd be healed, my sins are forgiven  
If I could just touch Him, I know I'd be whole  

Blind Bartimus sat by the wayside begging  
Nobody to help him down life's weary way  
Then Jesus passed by and He heard His sad crying  
He reached down His hand and He healed Him that day  

One day I sat by the wayside begging  
Nobody to help me down life's weary way  
Then Jesus came by and He heard my sad crying  
He reached down His hand and He saved me that day

 

Sincerely,

Jeremy Epperson

Meadow Lane

I would welcome your thoughts. Please comment below.

Taking a Stand 

Taking a stand

 

There are times in our lives when we feel empowered to take a stand. We for whatever reason feel compelled at that moment to stand for what we believe is correct, to do the right thing. Many times in our lives we feel convicted in some way and fail to make the stand that God intended for us to take. We instead of standing for the right, and voicing our opinion on certain matters, choose to stand aside and let what someone else thinks or doesn't care about take control of what God intended to be a victory in our lives. 

Ephesians 6:14-16 says: Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

 

By now I'm sure you are wondering why we are talking about taking a stand. I have, as you may expect, been in the position of being compelled to take a stand and the stand I took was so worth what scrutiny I could have fallen under after the fact. Nonetheless I was nervous about what outcome might await after the stand, but I found that by following the leadership of the Holy Spirit the reward was tremendous.

Many do not know that I have the honor of being the co-director of our high school's fall musical in which I handle all things music. I have been serving in this capacity for 3 years now. From selecting the vocalists and coaching them to editing music and also corroborating with the band members and coaching them as well. This year is a first for our drama department that we lovingly call Bradley Drama Central. Our director, Mrs Lindsey Bell, has written the entire production which is called "Cinders & Ella". It is our interpretation of Cinderella. One of the biggest hurdles we had to cross for this production was to select music that would be pertinent and that wouldn't break the bank to perform because of rights and royalties.

We decided to perform "public-domain" music of which there is a plethora to choose from. There are some very popular songs that belong to no one and that do not require any licensing or royalties to perform. Did you know the old Beatles tune "Love, Love Me Do" and Elvis' "That's Alright Mama" are both public domain? We searched through hundreds of songs for countless hours to find songs that fit our production. You might imagine my surprise when Lindsey, a very liberal minded person, suggested one of our possible songs to be "It is Well With My Soul". I of course agreed that it would fit the "mood" of the scene  and eagerly awaited what would happen when the scene was blocked. That is to say when everyone is put into places on stage and their lines are delivered for the first time and the music is performed. Well that day was yesterday, and I am still beside myself with overwhelming joy about that moment.

First we began to put actors in places and then to find the preferred version of the song. Then the kids began to sing this beautiful old song. We sang it through a couple of times and as I looked at the stage I saw students weeping, raising their hands in praise, on their knees, all of this unrehearsed and undirected. Lindsey was weeping. I was long past the weeping state. It was an absolutely beautiful moment that I cannot wait for others to see.

One of the verses we have chosen to perform (there are about 5 total written verses) has a line that says: "That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul". After letting the lines soak in for a bit Lindsey came to me and said: "What can we replace Christ with?" I began to ponder and I knew the answer in my heart already. I didn't want to strip the meaning from this beautiful song, and I didn't want to take "God" out of this experience, but I knew that I could say just one wrong thing causing her to strike the song from the list and forever forget the beautiful moment we had just had. But I felt compelled... I felt that this was the moment to stand... It was time to stand for Christ. After a moment I turned to Lindsey and said at the risk of my position and the placement of this song " Lindsey, we can't change Christ to anything... There is no replacement for Him. He has done more for any of us than we will ever know and there is no other person who has given their own blood for our souls." I don't know where it came from. I don't know how I realized this wonderful truth so eloquently, so fast, but I believe the Lord was pleased with my answer. She then turned to me and said "You're right! That's all I needed to hear. I agree, It stays." 

What about you?

Have you replaced Christ with something or someone else? 

Who else is worthy of that place? No thing and no one else is worthy of that position.

Have you had a time in your life when you felt compelled to stand for Christ?

Did you have the strength to stand, or did you sit quietly? Were you a lion or a lamb? How far did the blessings outweigh the foreseen consequences?

Remember Jesus said:  

 "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Mark 8:38

 

I want my Lord to be satisfied with me

I want my life to be what He'd have it be

And when I come to that great eternity

His smile will say He's satisfied with me

 

In many ways I feel that the stand we take for the cause of Christ is like another form of worship. It is proclaiming His name and standing for Him in the midst of wherever you may be no matter what is going on. I have found in my life that His presence and Spirit are most powerful in places we may never expect. Case in point; I love to visit a popular amusement park in our area called Dollywood which is owned in part by Dolly Parton. Dollywood is one such place that I have never failed to feel His presence. I know this may sound odd, but for those of you who do not know, Dollywood houses the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum and it is the home of one of my favorite Southern Gospel groups: The Kingdom Heirs. I make it a point every time I visit to take in at least one Kingdom Heirs performance. I will have to say that in the midst of this secular amusement park, the theatre where they perform has never failed to show me that God's presence can be anywhere. The setting is definitely one of advantage for those looking to minister to the lost. Many people stumble into the theatre just expecting another show, but they are introduced to Jesus. I can't tell you a time I have left their performance in the park without having tears in my eyes and feeling like I have been to church. 

You see, sometimes a huge blessing awaits us that we will only see if we just forget about our surroundings and acknowledge Him no matter where we are,  who is there, what time it is, or worry about what others may think. "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:6 

He is faithful and where He guides you, He will provide for you. That isn't just monetarily, it is emotionally, socially and physically. He will bless you for your efforts and when you are willing to step out on faith and do what He has told you to do, even when it seems that you may fall under great scrutiny, He will bless you far more than you could ever imagine.

This production is now seeing great success even before it has started because the word of its content is getting around and Christians in our area are beginning to contribute to the program by supporting it in principle and standing behind us. In some cases they are supporting it monetarily. I have told Lindsey that all God wants is for us to be a willing vessel, and He will bless our efforts and He has. 

Are you ready to begin enjoying God's blessing He has waiting for you? All He asks is for you to be a willing vessel and take a stand for Him. That stand that you take could bring great blessing in your life and ministry. 

 

I Welcome your opinions and comments below.

 

Sincerely, 

Jeremy Epperson

Meadow Lane

Do Your Duty  


I have often heard people talk about what they will be or would like to be doing when the trumpet sounds and the Lord returns.

Some talk about their past and are grateful that they are not living the same sinful life they used to live and they are glad that when He calls they will be ready. Some, unfortunately, are still living a sinful life and fear His return, but even worse than that is a Christian who is saved and not doing what the Lord wants him to do. How awful would it be to know that you are saved, but not in the will of the Lord when He comes back. What a terrible thought. 

Just how fast will the Lord return? 

1 Corinthians 15:52 says: 

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. That’s pretty fast!! The Bible also says that no man knows the day nor the hour. Jesus himself stated in Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 

I have no idea when He will return, and if you are listening to someone who says that they know a definitive date and time just point them to Matthew 24:36. Even Jesus himself doesn’t know when the Father will call us home. I do know one thing though; I want to be ready. I want to be doing what God has called me to do in the time He has allotted for me to be here on earth. 

Many Christians walk through life almost aimlessly, never fulfilling the plans that God has for them in their life. They are gloriously saved by God’s marvelous grace one Sunday morning or one Wednesday night, or maybe they stumbled into the tent revival on a Friday evening. They had a true and genuine experience with the Lord and give their heart and life to Christ and have begun a relationship with Him, but time has made a change. Although they will never forget the feeling of their sins being washed away, they have instead of seeking a closer relationship with the Lord, they have gotten more distant. They don’t desire to have a close relationship with God and as a result they also do not wish to truly work to build His kingdom. 

So what has God called you to do?

What talent(s) has he given you? Do you know that God has a plan for you? He has purposed and pre-determined what you are to accomplish for His plan. Jeremiah 29:11 says For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. You are important and a critical part of His plan. That is not to say that you are irreplaceable, because God’s will shall be done whether you contribute or not, but how dreadful would it be to know that you were given the greatest gift ever to be given, accepted it, and never used it? 

You see, when you were saved, God gave you a gift. That gift was eternal. He will not take it away, but He expects you to use it. So how do you use your salvation? That’s easy: 2 Timothy 1:8-9 says: Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. This means that we should be happy to tell others about Jesus and use and develop the talent that God has given us to promote the up-building of His kingdom. He knew what He needed you to do before the foundations of the world were laid. 

Remember: God doesn’t always call the qualified, but He always qualifies the called.

If He has called you to do something, the outcome has been pre-determined according to His plan, be it good or bad. It is not for us to decide whether we are good enough to do the task set before us. God will empower you to do exactly what will cause His plan to be fulfilled. Sometimes we may feel that we fail miserably, but if we do what we feel God has called us to do, we should fell a sense of completion of our duties. I will admit there are times I get frustrated and I feel that all I am trying to do in my ministry is falling on deaf ears. I often forget that everything works out to the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. There is no reason for me to question whether what I am doing is as affective as it should be because if I listen to His guidance and yield to His still small voice, I will always be doing just what He wants me to do. So that means when someone else tells me that I am not doing what they feel God wants me to do I can just laugh and say ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs funny that God filled you in about what He wants me to do, but He hasn‚Äôt filled me in about it yet‚ÄĚ. Let me say that you are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to tell someone about your opinion, especially when it is about what you would rather they be doing. God‚Äôs plan for us is not always what others, even our family, wants for us. It is often not what we want for ourselves. Be sure you are doing His wishes and not those of your own or the wishes of what someone else finds favor with you for.¬†

When all is said and done, I want to be found in the center of His will. I want to work for His purpose and not my own. Will you work for Jesus? Will you use the talent(s) He has given you to build His kingdom and not your own? He has called you for a purpose. He expects you to do a mighty work for His kingdom and it is up to Him, and only Him to determine what that occupation or task is and the level of affect your contribution will have. Do not worry about what others may think or say because they do not determine the outcome nor the benefit of the outcome. Bottom line is that you just need to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit in all endeavors. My greatest efforts may be very minimal, but I want to do all I can for my Lord. I hope you will do the same.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Epperson

Meadow Lane

I would welcome your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.

 

Gates 

This week's blog is not as controversial as last week's entry about the secularization of the church, but I feel it is a meaningful part of life that Christians should consider.  

My wife and I have been visiting my brother's home church and we are very seriously considering joining. It is a small church that seats about 100 people, but there is liberty and the Spirit has been welcome in every service I have been in there. A couple of weeks ago the pastor, brother Todd Collins, brought a message about "Gates". The basis of this segment is patterned thereof.  

The pastor began his message by explaining his day. Todd started his day by closing the gate at his home. Later, while at work, he was made to take his work vehicle through several gates having to drive to the gate, park the truck (parking brake does not work so he had to shut it off every time), open the gate, start the truck back, drive through the gate, park the truck, shut it off again, lock the gate and then finally drive to the next gate repeating the procedure for about 5 different gates. When he arrived at the other end of all the gates, he then did his job and had to turn around and do all of this in reverse.  

Opening and closing all of these gates made Todd think about the gates mentioned in the Bible and how they apply to our everyday lives. There are many to choose from. Some of these gates we go through every day. Some gates we may only go through every once in a while. Some gates we only go through once. Some gates we go through and leave them open. Some gates are important to shut. Some of them we can choose to go through, others choose us. Some of them are wide, others are narrow, some short, some tall you get the picture. So with the preliminaries out of the way, let's take a look at some gates shall we? 

‚ÄúBecause strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.‚Ä̬†

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:14‬ ‭KJV‬‬ 

Jesus said these words speaking about a gate that every Christian must pass through. If you haven't passed through the straight gate, in effect having a personal relationship with Jesus, and are not walking on the narrow way, that is to say that you are patterning your life to look like Jesus' example then you are not alone. There are few that truly find and walk in that pathway. It's not a pleasant thing to hear, but these are not my words or the words of a scholar, they are the words of Jesus. He realized that many will fall into the influence of the world and the influence of their friends or family. News flash; Those around you are not always right. It's best to seek Jesus and His will for your life. Only then will you be bale to walk through this gate in perfect peace and happiness as God intended. 

‚ÄúThere was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.‚Ä̬†

‭‭Luke‬ ‭16:19-21‬ ‭KJV‬‬ 

How many of us have felt like a Lazarus? I can say that I have never went to bed hungry. Well, if I did it was by choice. I can't speak from experience on the extreme of being a beggar or homeless in any way. God has always provided and my family has always been blessed. This parable is much deeper than being poor physically. It speaks of someone who is poor spiritually. We as Christians are persecuted, and scorned in our walk of life. We are not always given the easiest road or the clearest access to what we need or want. We suffer things that others don't, but one day our suffering will be over when we pass through that final gate. When we pass through that gate, those scoffers, the mockers and the ones who ridiculed us in our Christian walk of life will be as the rich man; begging for a drop of water. 

‚ÄúAnd the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.‚Ä̬†

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:21‬ ‭KJV‬‬ 

‚ÄúHave the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?‚Ä̬†

‭‭Job‬ ‭38:17‬ ‭KJV‬‬ 

That gate that is made of pearl is much more attainable than the gate of the rich man's home. It is a gate that all Christians will pass through one day. Many fear that gate because they fear what they conceive as the unknown, but for a true child of God that gate is a gate that is not to be feared. It is a gate we will only pass through once and on the other side of this gate will be no parting, no sorrow and no pain. Most of all Jesus waits for us on the other side of this gate. It is a gate that you don't want to miss.  

Now... There are many gates I haven't mentioned here. There are many gates we will pass through as Christians. Consider every trial in your life, every burden and every care. All of those are gates as well. Some of those gates are gates that you will pass through again and will need to leave open. On the other hand, some of those you should shut and keep them shut. Unfortunately sometimes there are relationship gates that should remain shut. Then there are those that we should have left open. There are some times that we make decisions to close those gates in haste, sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of anger. It is best to seek God's guidance when approaching these and any other gate. I am sad to say that I  have had to close some of those relationship gates behind me and lock them tight. Even though it grieves us to have to do that, sometimes it is necessary. Sometimes, other people make us make the decision to close those gates as a friend of mine recently told me when dealing with a difficult relationship gate. When this happens we have no other choice but to close the gate and lock it tight.  

Consider the gates in your life. Think about points in your life when you have passed through a gate. Did you close it behind you? Should you have? Sometimes we make the wrong decision when approaching a gate, but sometimes we make the wrong decision when leaving a gate. Every gate you approach is an opportunity for you to grow as a Christian. Remember; These gates have been placed in your life by God for a reason. Some gates are a challenge, some are a trial, some are a burden and some are triumphs. Use each gate in your life to the glory of God and for His purpose because He sent them to you for a reason, He knew you needed that gate for one reason or another. Use every gate He places before as an opportunity to grow.  

There have been gates in my life that I wish I didn't go through, but there have been others that I am proud to have been through. Some gates God put there to see if I would pass through or go around. Some He meant for me to go through, others He meant for me to go around. Some He meant for me to go through and lock, some He meant to leave open. You too pass through gates in your life. Trust God for wisdom in passing through each one. Remember; The gates He sends you through are for a reason. Every reason He has in your life is for the up building of His kingdom and everything works together for the good to those who love the Lord.  

God bless you. 

Sincerely,  

Jeremy Epperson   

Meadow Lane Ministries

 

What gates have you passed through in life? I welcome your comments below.  

Secularization of the Church 

As a disclaimer, I realize that this post is likely to offend some of the people on my "friends list". However; I am prepared to embrace a decrease of "friends" because I believe the BIBLE. 

Let me begin by explaining something that happened to my daughter a couple of weeks ago. My wonderful baby girl Anais received an invitation to attend a special Wednesday night youth service at one of our local churches called "Way-Back Wednesday" She of course accepted the invitation and went dressed as one of her favorite 80's characters. Upon entering the church facilities, she told me that it was very dark. There were lights on the stage that resembled that of a Hollywood production set and there was a light show. She said that in the audience you could barely make out faces and she continually had a problem discerning whether she was standing with her friends or with someone she didn't know. All of this may seem a bit odd at a church service, but the real oddity began at the opening of the service. This is where I am sorry, but I cannot approve of their mindset. Things started with music of course. The worship leader asked the congregation if they were ready to ride the "Crazy Train", to which my daughter's friend turned to her and said, "This is going to be exactly what you think it is". Then my daughter stood in horror and amazement as from the speakers of one of the largest churches in Cleveland came Ozzy Osborne's "Crazy Train". Thankfully my daughter knew she was out of place and did not wish to remain in the "service". She will never attend there again, not by my request, but by her choice. 

I felt the need to address this issue by writing an email to the church about the event. I discussed in a very calm and unoffensive manner what I felt was an inappropriate choice in music for a church gathering. So far, I have received no correspondence. This is concerning to me because of the obvious no-concern attitude from one of the largest churches in our hometown. 

So where did we go wrong?

First, look at where we stand. We are in Cleveland, TN - the middle of the so-called Bible-belt, which is also the headquarters of the Church of God and the Church of God of Prophecy. If you would have been standing in that very church 30 years ago you would have found members with their hair up in buns, no jewelry or makeup, and all the ladies would have been in dresses. 90% of the gentlemen would have worn 3 piece suits with ties and patten-leather shoes. Now let's talk about where we are, not physically, but socially in today's church. We now enter churches that have a come as you are mentality that has set up a platform of expectation with far less inferior moral values, all in the name of contemporary worship. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those who would take a stand and bicker over something as petty as whether a woman should wear pants to church. That is a topic for a later date and it is first and foremost YOUR conviction, not mine you should worry about. There is however; a standard that we should strive to uphold in our churches and unfortunately those standards are sinking rapidly into the abyss of history. 

So, what does the Bible say about how we should worship?

Jesus said: God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." John 4:24 KJV 

One of the most important and pertinent words to study here is the word TRUTH. So how do we worship Him in truth? I'm so glad you asked. 

Thus, saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.‚Ä̬†Jeremiah 6:16 KJV¬†

You see, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What He did back then, He can still do today. The go-to argument for most sympathetic to the contemporary mindset is that our contemporary music is what is drawing youth to the church or more people come to the church if you have contemporary services. If you are drawn by anything other than Christ then you are probably motivated by the wrong thing.

Jesus said in John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

The thing is that God is the same today as He was back then. Fact is that He could still send conviction through the worship music that they had back in the Bible days. God can use absolutely anything He wants to in able to minister to the lost, but Ozzy Osborne and the Crazy Train may be a bit of a stretch. The argument is this; God can still use traditional music to convict a young heart. He is still the same. He has not changed. We have. We have allowed our churches to be filled with worldly examples rather than Godly examples. 

This is not a bitter diatribe about how a certain style of music is tearing our churches apart and sending people to hell.

It is, however: a heartfelt belief in what God has said would happen in His word about the last days, and the Devil has used the guise of contemporary worship and the contemporary mindset to fulfill this. You see the music is not the only thing that has changed, because the pastors of these churches are now preparing their messages and tip-toeing around what they believe will offend their new-found larger crowd. 

Friends, you can't have your cake and eat it too. A line from one of my favorite Barry McDonald songs says: You can't hang on to Jesus and hold the Devil's hand. The world has infiltrated our churches and we don't even realize the magnitude or the significance of this bombardment. We have ushered aside the beliefs and the standards that our parents and grandparents have abided by for years, pushed them under the rug and disregarded these morals as "old hat". The secularization of the church has caused its members to see and believe in an alternate reality in our church services. We have mistaken entertainment for spiritual movement. We use lighting and effects to trick our minds into believing that we have had a spiritual experience. We have replaced old fashioned conviction with a slap on the back and a handshake with an underdressed loosely termed Christian counselor who tells us everything is alright because Jesus loves us and He would never send us to hell. They never preach against sin, they don't even try to avoid it because we are under grace and not law. Folks Jesus' blood covered all the sins the world could ever commit and then some, but what a shame it is to trample on His sacrifice. 

You can call it secularization, you can call it contemporary services, modern services or any other whimsical sounding names, but let's just call it what it is. Simply put; it’s a shiny nice sounding name for the Devil's work. 

For hundreds of years our local churches and synagogues have been the pillar of which society has rested upon and they have been the anchor of morals in our society. In earlier years, even the rock & roll music scene was somewhat limited by the example that the church set forth because the church also set forth the expectations of the norm for society. Society will inevitably follow fairly closely to the limitations of the church. Even if there is a small number that deviates greatly from the norm, most of society has always adhered for the most part to the example of the church. But look at what we have today as an example. The morals in our churches are now more commonly dictated by outside influence than by the Word of God. Our church platforms are looking more and more like the stages of the same secular acts that once were somewhat controlled by the church's limitations, but now the tables have turned and our churches are now taking notes from their favorite rock stars. Somehow, I don't believe that Jesus intended it to be this way. As a matter of fact, Jesus said: 

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you " Matthew 6:33 KJV 

This means that we should be constantly spiritually minded. The world should be the furthest thing from our minds. Unfortunately, we would rather adhere to the world's interests instead of listening to what thus sayeth the Lord 

But in the last days the Bible says: 

‚ÄúFor men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.‚ÄĚ 2 Timothy 3:2-7 KJV¬†

These are those last days my friend. Make no mistake about it. It is time for the true Christians to take a stand for what is right and to once again rebuke what is wrong. If the Bible says it's right, then it's right. If the Bible says it's wrong, then it's wrong. I for one am tired of being told that my beliefs, values, morals and principles are wrong and I should repress them and keep them silent. I am tired of seeing the cross trampled upon and our houses of worship being turned into social clubs. I am tired of hearing how much God loves me, but not hearing how much God hates the sin in my life. I am tired of people playing church and using church as leverage for their financial and business endeavors. 

I'm tired of seeing just church members and I want to see Christ worshippers. Lastly, I am tired of going to churches and wondering if it is somewhere where the Holy Spirit is welcome and liberty is given to worshippers. 

Christians, it's time to take a stand for the right. It's time to stop playing church and time to be about the Father's business. If you attend one such church my advice to you would be to pray for God's direction in your life. Pray that He would reveal to you what TRUE worship looks and feels like. It is not hollow, it's not something that you dread or fear. It is something that you as a Christian should deeply desire. It is not like the mindset of some of these modern worship centers where their slogan reads "You'll never even know you were at church". I'm sorry, but I want to feel like I have been to church, there's no other feeling like it. 

God bless you all.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Epperson

Meadow Lane Ministries

I would welcome your thoughts on this subject. Please leave a comment below.

 

Name: Jeremy Lynn Epperson

Winner of  the 2017 SGM Fan Award for Favorite Male Vocalist of the year

Birthday: January 1, 19XX (I'm 29 and holding)

Favorite Food: I will try about anything.  Bar-b-que, Sushi, Pizza, and Seafood

Hobbies: Camping, Trail Riding (in my Jeep), Target Shooting, Hunting

Email: jeremy@meadowlaneministries.com

Favorite Verse(s): Psalms 150 

 

1. Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

2. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

3. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

4. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

5. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

6. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.