What a year it has already been! As we are sitting here writing this during the first week of May, the forecast for tonight is upper 30s -- possible record breaking low temperatures for this time of year in our area. I think Punxsutawney Phil has probably taken his own life by now. We have had a tremendous amount of concerts and travel already and the concert forecast for us the rest of this year will break some records as well, as we go from 110 concerts last year to a projected 130 this year. There's a lot to talk about, so let's get going!
- I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite artists who I featured back at homecoming 2012, Mark Bishop. Check it out on the SGM Radio blog.
- Since the last newsletter, I also interviewed a new friend of mine, and very well known name in the Southern and Country Gospel music fields. He and his brother, Greg, wrote the major hit "Midnight Cry." You can read about it on the SGM Radio blog.
- There are about 200 new entries into the newsletter mailout this time around, so here's a link to the devotional that Martha and I wrote for our last newsletter. The devotionals we write for our newsletters were picked up by SGM Radio Blog and are titled "Pike's Point."
- I had a surprise email a few weeks ago from a gospel music website called BreatheCast.com. One of their CD reviewers wanted to review some of my newest work. He started with "Walk Through The Pages" and will be reviewing "Blood Kin" in the next few weeks.
- We posted several new video clips from my sixth annual homecoming concert online a few weeks ago. Here they are, as seen on the video page on my website. Three of the videos feature the choir that backed me up. More details about how the event went below.
- We also had some great shots from the event and we shared them in an online gallery on my website.
May 12, 6PM - First Baptist Church, Flint, TX
May 16, 11:30AM - Friendly Baptist Church, Tyler, TX
May 18, 7PM - Cowhorn Creek, Texarkana, TX
May 19, 10AM - Rose Hill Church of God in Christ, Texarkana, TX
May 20, 3PM - Cornerstone, Texarkana, TX
May 21, 7PM - Andover Place, Little Rock, AR
May 23, 7PM - Gardens at Arkanshire, Springdale, AR
May 24, 1:45PM - Apple Blossom, Rogers, AR
May 27-June 14 - Vacation!
June 16, 10:30AM - Henderson Church of the Nazarene, Henderson, TX
June 16, 6PM - University Christian Church, Tyler, TX
June 23, 10:30AM - Maud First United Methodist, Maud, TX
June 23, 5PM - Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Pittsburg, TX
June 30, 10:30AM - Gloryway Church, Dodson, LA
July 7, 6PM - Dogwood Hills Baptist Church, Palestine, TX
July 12, 6PM - First United Methodist Church, Mineola, TX
July 14, 8:30AM - St Luke's United Methodist Church, Kilgore, TX
July 14, 10:30AM - St Luke's United Methodist Church, Kilgore, TX
July 14, 6PM - Martin's Chapel Nazarene Church, Troup, TX
July 21, 6PM - Diboll Prison Concert
July 25, 6:15PM - Senior Care, Jacksonville, TX
July 30, 11AM - Silver Arrow Estates, Broken Arrow, OK
July 31, 2PM - The Cambridge, Springfield, MO
August 1-3, International Country Gospel Music Association, West Plains, MO
Check the website periodically as events are confirmed and added to our calendar.
10 Days In Dallas Traffic = Lots Of Prayer Time
Since the beginning of the year, 45 concerts have already blown past, and our first larger tour of the year took us to the Dallas metroplex for 9 days of concerts. We visited some places we've been to before, and a few new ones as well. It was great to see some familiar friends and new faces. One of our midweek activities took us back to UA Network, where I filmed another segment for Southern Gospel Praise, hosted by Mary Faye Jackson. If you happened to miss it when it aired, keep an eye out via their website, www.uanetwork.tv, and I'm sure it will repeat at some point. Martha and I enjoyed a day off in the Dallas area and took in the Dallas Arboretum on White Rock Lake. If you have never been there, we highly recommend it. We went, not quite knowing what to expect, but left with our minds amazed at the vast beauty of God's creation on display. This year's calendar is already full, so we won't be back to the Dallas area this year, but be on the lookout for our Dallas dates in 2014, and let us know if you want us to come sing for your church or venue, so we can work that in.
Current Radio Single Update
After three months on the charts, my debut radio single, "October Harvest," from my new CD, "Blood Kin," is #21 on the Top 100 Country Gospel charts for the month of June. If you haven't heard it on your local station, call and request it. If they don't have it, I will be glad to get it to them. Contact me at email@example.com for information. As you hear it on the airwaves, I'm happy that my Aunt Sheila and my Mom, Kim, are singing the background vocals to provide that element of family harmony. It is the story of my Aunt Sheila and Uncle Alton, so I'm thrilled to see people responding to this very personal message. If you haven't heard it, here's a link to a video of me performing it at the homecoming concert in March.
2013 Homecoming Recap
After spending a year in preparation for this year's homecoming, it is hard to believe we are already two months past it and in full swing preparing for the 2014 homecoming. My guest this year, Larry Ford, was a huge hit and inspiration to those who attended. I hope to work with him again in coming years. A definite highlight of the evening was the multi-denominational choir that backed up Larry and myself on several songs. The choir suffered a large cutback in numbers due to this year's flu and eperzutis season, but we were still 40 voices strong, and we've heard nothing but wonderful comments about their performance. They made the evening more than memorable. As you may know, this was the first year to move the event from my home town of Jacksonville, TX to Tyler, TX. Last year we outgrew one of the largest venues in Jacksonville with 350 in attendance, and this year we doubled to 700 in attendance. I don't know that I have ever sung to a happier, more worshipful crowd. Special thanks to the church and staff of Colonial Hills Baptist Church for providing such above and beyond support and the use of their beautiful facility.
Mark Your Calendars For March 1, 2014!
I'm very pleased to announce that next year's homecoming guest will be none other than Don Francisco. For those of you not familiar with the name, you will probably be familiar with some of his songs. My Dad was the one that introduced him to me back years ago, and I have been a fan ever since. Here's a link to his full biography. Also, take a moment to watch this Gaither Homecoming video that features Don singing one of his most well known songs, "He's Alive." Mark your calendars now for my 7th Annual Homecoming at 6PM on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at Colonial Hills Baptist Church. We'll be posting more information online as it is available.
New Recording In The Works
Though still in the planning stages, we will be packing up and heading to Nashville during the first part of October to begin work on another CD project. Many of you have requested another installment to my hymns collection, "Timeless Songs: For Times Like These." Your requests have been duly noted; but to be honest, had no one asked for it, I was going to do it anyways! It was just a matter of when. This hymns CD will step back at least 200 years for almost every song. I have already picked out more songs than I will need, and will have to narrow them down, but if you would like, take a moment and email me your favorite hymns that are 200+ years old, and I will add them to the list that I will consider. The new hymns CD, "Timeless Truth: For Times Like These" will be available in early 2014.
Attention All Music Students
With summer approaching and school out soon, we just wanted to remind all of our students who may wish to take during the summer months to go ahead and get your names on our schedule so you can take advantage of the time that we are home to teach. For more information about our piano and voice lessons, visit this page.
(To be read with the voice of Ted Koppel.)
A two year study presented at the National Academy of Sciences has determined it'shard to learn anything if you try to study with the TV on. It would have been a one year study, but they had the TV on.
The company that makes Teflon coating was found guilty of making environmental hazards and fined $10 million? The people at Teflon are shocked because they thought the charges would never stick.
This coming Mother's Day, a real dilemma for some people is - do you spend the $100 to get Mom a dozen roses, or do you spend the $100 to fill the car with gas to visit Mom?
According to a new survey, 77% of women said they had a good time while on a blind date. The other 23% are missing.
Japanese scientists have for the first time captured on film a rare and elusive giant squid from the bottom of the ocean, 3,000 feet down. They described the creature as "delicious."
Bible Believer's Dictionary
By James L. Pike
Family: brothers and sisters joined by a common strain of Blood, (1 John 1:7; Revelation 7:14)
And bound together with unbreakable bounds of Love. (Colossians 2:2; John 15:9-12; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; I John 3:11, 14, 16-18, 23)
All those who one Father claim,
And who answer when the Father calls their name. (1 Samuel 3:10; John 10:27; Acts 2:39)
Miles & Mar's Devotional - Volume VIII
The overarching theme of my annual homecoming concert this year became unity in the body of Christ. As I stated that night, the event was not trying to start some new movement or trying to make some new thing happen, and it wasn't even trying to revive an old idea. My intent for homecoming this year was to remind us of something that already is and has been, so that we will begin to live accordingly. It was a wonderfully sweet time with 700 believers from dozens of different churches and denominations, all worshipping the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For those there, it was a powerful reminder of the unity and the diversity that the body of Christ shares. A multidenominational choir backed me up on one of my favorite songs from my "Blood Kin" album -- 'His Blood Has Made Us One.' The chorus is, "His blood has made us one; the blood of God's own Son. One in purpose. One in power. His blood has made us one." Here's the link to the "His Blood Has Made Us One" video from homecoming. This song is heavily based on 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, and Martha and I want to share a few thoughts about this passage that have been on our hearts since that time.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
The unifying element of the church is the Spirit. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is one of the most undermined and understated doctrines of the Trinity. The Spirit convicts of sin (John 16:8-11), therefore He is the instigator of salvation (John 3:5-8). After salvation, He is the indwelling presence of Christ, and enables every believer to live a righteous life. He is the one who seals us to the day of redemption -- the day when all believers will rise by His power and be forever with the Lord. Regardless of where you were saved, what your background is, or what denomination the pastor was that may have led you in a prayer, we have all been saved into one Spirit and into one body, and every Christian lives spiritually by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,”
it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.
And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,”
it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.
This section of the passage reminds me of conversations I've had through the years with audience members who, after a concert, tell me, "I wish I could do what you do," or "I wish I could sing like that." While I appreciate the compliment, if that is not their gift or their calling, then they are in effect wishing that they were something they are not -- valuing another calling or another gift more highly than the calling and gifts that they have themselves received. I sense sometimes that they feel this way because they are unaware of what their part actually is in the body. But if someone is a 'foot,' and thinks it is unimportant because it is not a 'hand', that does not diminish its importance to the body. The body needs both of its feet! It doesn't need three hands. So there is not a single part of the body that is less important than another. There are internal parts of the body that are vitally important -- way more important to life than, say, the eyes -- but nobody ever sees those parts. If someone does see them, you might want to call 911! Most of the parts of the body that are highly visible are not strictly necessary to live. Some of us have proved that we can live without hair. I'm learning this slowly. You can live without perfect vision. I've never known what most people see. But if you lose your internal organs that are never seen, you die. That's true with the body of Christ too. The unseen and unsung members of the body of Christ are truly more vital than the parts that the whole world sees. The vast majority of the body of Christ are not the up front, public, on TV, book-writing, song-singing Christians that everybody sees. The vast majority of Christians are the inner workings of the body of Christ: those who pray, work, fast, love, witness, serve, give, stand fast, and support. Now, please understand, there is no Christian more 'important' than another, but the internal, unseen members are truly more vital to the survival and health of the body of Christ. If I stop singing, the televangelist stops broadcasting, the Christian DJ stops talking, the theologian stops writing, the church lives and goes on. But without you who are reading this, I have no one to sing to, and no support.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?
If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
But in fact God has placed the parts in the body,
every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
If they were all one part, where would the body be?
As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
This is really just too good to pass up. To me, Paul's somewhat sarcastic picture here is one of the comical passages of Scripture. Can you imagine an eyeball, rolling around, trying to win someone to Jesus? Or a leg hopping around trying to proclaim the wonders of God without a mouth? How about a mouth lying on the ground proclaiming the Gospel loudly, but with no way to see, hear, or get to an audience? Maybe it's the kid in me, but I can't help snickering a little at those mind pictures. The idea is, these are all important parts, but without ALL the rest of the body to support, compliment, and work with, it is a pitiful excuse for a witness. The Holy Spirit points out through Paul's wording, "God has placed the parts in the body," and then he adds for emphasis, "every one of them, just as he wanted them to be." It strikes me that this is a past tense statement. If you are saved, you have been placed. You don't sign up later as a volunteer and have God ask you what you would like to do, "Yes, Sir, I would like to be put on a waiting list until the next time you need an eye." God is a wee bit smarter than we are (note the sarcasm) and is much more aware of what he has equipped us for. Don't wish you had another job in the body when you haven't yet recognized the vital nature of the job you have already been commissioned to do. Personally, I don't want everyone to have my call, because it would be kinda awkward with 100 singers on stage and 2 people in the audience. And split that many ways, I don't think the love offering would manage to pay the bills!
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”
And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!"
I love these two comparisons. Paul is now making a gear shift from those that feel inadequate and unimportant in the body, to warning those who would be tempted to have a condescending attitude toward those who are not as visible or as recognized. In this beautiful picture he warns the people with highly visible gifts and callings not to despise or look down upon those whose gifts are not as visible. Hand-eye coordination is part of his first comparison. The hand may say to the eyes "I can do my work without you," but they would just grope around in blindness. The eye might say to the hands, "I can see without you," but though you may see your goal, you will never attain it. His second picture of the head versus the feet takes us to the extreme ends of the human body; the head being the highest point of the body, and the feet the lowest. Here is a scolding against those who would say "I am above you and therefore I am more important." In that day the feet were certainly not the most appealing part of the body. They were the mode of transportation: if lucky, they were sandaled; they were exposed to the elements; they were rough, unappealing, and covered in camel droppings. But even with all the ruggedness of the feet, a head would be hard pressed to roll its way to the needed point of ministry without the unique and important function that God created feet for.
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.
And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
While we may give no great thought day to day with regard to our inner workings, our hidden parts, our involuntary functions, there's not a day goes by that they aren't of supreme importance to the health and function of our being. If your stomach has food poisoning, is not your whole body aware of it? If you have a migraine, you don't have to force your feet to take you to the bed. Isn't it abundantly obvious if the steady rhythm of your heart starts being erratic? God has put the Church together in such a perfect and meticulous way that Paul points out, if one part is in pain, every part knows about it, and if one part rejoices, the whole body shares in the joy. In Philippians 2 Paul outlines the attitude that the Church should have toward the Church: "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
God has placed you where you are, so when you wonder what you are called to do, look first at where you live -- at the people who are in closest proximity to you. If you are a child, you are called to minister to your parents. If you are a husband, you are called to minister to your wife. If you are a wife, you are called to minister to your husband. If you are parents, you are called to raise and minister to your children. Not often looked upon as serious bases of ministry are the workplace, or where you go to school, but wherever you are, you are called to "be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life" (Philippians 2:15). Then you have the laundry list of the callings of those who are the hands and the feet of the church: those who take care of widows and orphans and the poor, those who pray without ceasing, those who give of their money and their time, those who take care of the sick and visit the nursing homes, those who show hospitality, those who vacuum the church, and those who take a pie to a shut in. Can you imagine the church without these? This is the majority of the church. This is the heartbeat of a healthy church. These are all vital callings, and the New Testament is full of instruction as to how to fulfill these callings and in so doing to bring glory to God and edify His Church. I'm sure we are not the only ones who can testify to this, but when the two of us list the people who have most influenced us down through the years, the most notable and memorable were not the televangelist, the megachurch pastor, the Grammy-award winning Gospel recording artist, but were the steadfast, humble, servants of God's people, who thought no job too small and no ministry too insignificant to support. At this point I cannot help thinking of our two sets of parents, who raised both of us up to love Jesus. What an amazing blessing, and what a powerful ministry, we realize more fully now.
All of these callings are just as intentional on God's part and just as vital in the body of Christ as the calling He gives the full time evangelist, or the pastor, or whatever person you think of when you think "ministry."
So the next time you get up in the middle of the night and you stub your toe on the coffee table, take special note of how long it takes for your head to know it, and how long it takes for that toe to become one of the most protected and treasured parts of your body.
See you down the road,