Song Highlight: Our Blessed Redeemer
With the first mix sent back for the next round of post-production edits, we are getting more and more excited about the pending relesase of our new family album. The texts for the songs contained on the album have been written by the Lord’s people in many different times and situations. One in particular, “Our Blessed Redeemer,” was adapted from Fanny Crosby’s classic gospel song, “Praise Him! Praise Him!” Truly, the Lord is our Great Shepherd, our Blessed Redeemer, and the One Who rules forever.
This arrangement features a lovely SAT trio offset by children’s choir, all supported and enhanced by a dual-piano accompaniment. We can’t wait to share it with you!
New Family Recording!
We are excited and grateful to announce that the Lord has opened the opportunity for our family to be in the recording studio once again! It’s been many years, but we are thrilled to be able to offer a sacrifice of praise that will exalt our God and encourage His people. There will be updates posted in the coming days as we work through the post-production process and anticipate the release of the new album later this year. We look forward to sharing it upon completion!
The recording features the entire Neely Team in a series of vocals that includes SATB, SSA, solos, children, and more. We pulled from our years of ministry to include old family favorites, some newer compositions, and several original titles to create a musical tapestry that we pray will lift the heart, encourage the soul, and praise the Lord.
“Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto Him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto Him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise. For the word of the LORD is right…” -Psalm 33:1-4a
The Lord is Good to All
It had been a long day, yet as we travelled home my mind found such sweet rest in the verses of Psalm 145.
My Bible has to divide the chapter onto two pages. Looking at the latter portion of this Psalm, I was noting how often absolutes were used. “The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest Thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.” Each verse seemed so comforting, so full of hope, so rich in promise.
Then I turned the page back to the earlier part of the Psalm. “The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works.” The Lord is good to all. All. That doesn’t exclude anyone. That all includes me. Me, who is so prone to doubt and fear. His goodness extends to me.
I knew that. But that night traveling home this powerful truth ministered to me freshly. I think I was unconsciously doubting God’s goodness to me because His path for my life was different than the path He has for other people around me. My expectations weren’t becoming reality (danger alert: setting expectations and comparing yourself to others is never a good idea). But does that mean that God isn’t good to me? Absolutely not! I didn’t know I was doubting God’s goodness, but as I pondered this verse, the Holy Spirit convicted me. And then there’s the second part of the verse. “His tender mercies are over all His works.” It is because of the tender mercies of the Lord and His great goodness that He has specifically chosen this path for me. It’s not because He isn’t good, and it’s not because His merciful kindness doesn’t reach to me. Quite the opposite! Realizing this (or re-realizing this) brought such hope and joy to my heart! Verse 17 reminds me again “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works.” That word “holy” can also be translated as “kind.”
Truly, it was the Lord’s kindness to me and His bountiful goodness that revealed the sin in my heart of not trusting His plan for my life to be good, and thus doubting His goodness. And since then, this verse has continued to be a feast for my soul as I meditate on the fact that “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.”
Let this truth be a balm to your heart. The Lord knows your needs. He sees all. He is always good, and always merciful, and always kind.
Meditation on Ps. 146
Praise ye the LORD! What a striking entrance to a passage. There can be no better way to open a conversation with another believer (or group of believers) than with praise to the One who has placed us on earth for His glory and pleasure. One thought runs on to another and I am deeply awed by the realization that He created us for His own pleasure. (Revelation 4:11) The truth that the all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign Lord of the universe would create mankind in His own image for His own pleasure is beyond comprehension.
Further down in the Psalm there is a series of phrases stating what the LORD does for certain people. Not what He will do, nor what He has done, but what He does. These statements are really beautiful when you pause to examine them, but they are striking when you observe for whom the actions contained therein are made.
- executeth judgment for the oppressed
- giveth food to the hungry
- looseth the prisoners
- openeth the eyes of the blind
- raiseth them that are bowed down
Who wants to be oppressed, hungry, in prison, blind, or bowed down (depressed or afflicted in other ways)? Who desires to undergo all the trials that life on earth could possibly offer? Who yearns to be in the category of those who struggle most with the most basic needs of life? Yet those who are in the lowest places possible receive the LORD’s most tender attention. It really isn’t a matter of desiring trouble, but of thirsting for the presence of and communion with the loving Savior. As we pursue the Lord, we may be sure that He will reward our efforts (Jeremiah 29:13) and the result will be transformation in our thinking so that the mind of Christ may be more fully manifested in us. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
Do you sense an emptiness in your soul where you have previously enjoyed fullness of joy? Do you hunger where once you were satisfied? Do you feel bound where once you were free? Do you feel blind to the beautiful truths upon which you once gazed in wonder? Are you depressed by seemingly fruitless attempts to come to Christ? Friend, you are exactly where the Lord desires you to be: in the place where He has said He will meet you. Do not seek to heal yourself with efforts as insufficient as a band-aid on a gaping wound. Rather, accept the fact that you are broken, unable, and inadequate. Your very brokenness is what places you in the category of those who receive the most from their loving heavenly Father. Lay yourself down at the feet of the Lord and allow Him to minister to your need. He will, for He has promised and all the promises of God in Christ are yea. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Truly, the LORD is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:9) Praise ye the LORD.
2019 WV FEW Conference
With praise to the Lord we look back on the 2019 WV FEW Conference, hearts full with treasured memories and lessons learned. Families from around the area and regions beyond made their way to hear from the Scriptures and fellowship with one another, and we rejoice in how the Lord worked over our time together.
What a joy it is to be refreshed by the SESSIONS year after year!
The seed boxes presented the message of the CHILDREN’S HOUR in an ultra-memorable way!
The Lord provided beautiful weather (again!) for the GAME TIME activities.
It is always a joy to meet with others who love Lord. Praise the LORD for raising up FAMILIES who desire to follow Christ!
What a beautiful privilege to worship the LORD together in SONG.
Praise to the LORD for His work in each life!
The Lord Reigns!
“The Lord reigneth…” – Psalm 97:1
This precious verse encourages me everytime I think of it. It comes in great majesty with unspeakable comfort. It comes as a truth the Lord wants me to absorb.
When faced with temptations to fret and despair, it comes as a reproof to show me where I am wrong. What have I to do with melancholy thoughts when the Lord reigns?
It comes as correction, setting my crooked ways straight. It is not for me to plan the future, nor to take credit for past successes. It is the Lord who reigns.
With a day-by-day practicality, it comes as as instruction in righteousness to show me how to proceed rightly. The Lord reigns: let us rejoice with all the earth! Let us say with Peter when facing disappointment and a sea of trouble in our lives, “It is the Lord!” In all things let us esteem His sovereign will above our desires, for He does all things well.
What further need have we? The Lord reigns!
Wishing you a blessed Independence Day as we celebrate and remember the bountiful blessings God has bestowed upon the United States of America.
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
A Profound Statement of Hope
I’m sitting on the front porch of the RV Park office, enjoying the warm air and complementing breeze. I moved my office work out of doors today – it’s easier to think. The hum of lawnmowers fills my ears, sometimes louder, sometimes more distant, as the lawn crew cuts the ever-growing grass at Peachtree Cove.
I’ve been mulling over a verse in my mind for some time now, meditating on its incredible implications. I title this post, then stop to look up the word “profound” to be sure I’m using it correctly. I’m not. I thought it could be equated with “straightforward, plain, obvious, unmistakeable,” and other such words. What I find instead is that it is nothing so surface, but quite the opposite. In some contexts, “intense, deep, extreme” are synonyms; in others, “wise, learned, clever, intelligent.” Not what I expected to find, but I like the meaning even better. I leave the post title alone. Now for the verse and its more-than-surface beauty.
“Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” -Psalm 97:11
I like to break verses apart into parts of speech; it helps make the meaning clearer. “For the righteous,” “for the upright,” and “in heart” are the prepositional phrases. “Light” and “gladness” are the subjects. The words “Is” and “sown” comprise the verb.
Light and gladness. At first glance, these two seem to be very similar. They both have a shiny aspect, at least in my mind. But light, in a scientific sense, is essential for life, and gladness is not. The Hebrew definition for the word “light” here allows for either a natural or a spiritual interpretation. Looking at the surrounding verses, it seems that this light does not have much to do with the sun or other natural light. This light pertains to the souls and futures of the righteous; it is the direction provided by the Word of God and the blessed presence of God’s Son. (Psalm 119:105; Revelation 21:23)
Light and gladness. Gladness is not just the state of being “calmly happy” found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16. No, no, this gladness is high glee and lightheartedness.
Is sown. This is figurative, and refers to planting. There are not immediate results perhaps, but after a time fruit will be born. It is the promise of future blessing.
Light and gladness are sown – these two are set before us as sure elements in the futures of the righteous and the upright in heart. Ultimately, the only ones who fit into these categories are those redeemed by the blood of Christ, but it doesn’t stop there. ALL who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ are included in this beautiful statement, for Christ has imputed to us His own perfect righteousness. (Romans 3:21-22)
I am still sitting on the porch of the Park office. Much has happened since I opened at the beginning. By now my attention has been splintered between Park concerns and the care of a skittish gray and white kitten. I have fetched needed articles from the office for the landscape crew. I am currently keeping watch over a bag of dead duck remains, and the hum of lawnmowers still rings steadily in my ears. But my heart is full of the goodness of the Lord. Light and gladness are being sown every day for me. This is truly a profound statement of hope.
The great captain left in a rage. How dare the prophet not honor him with some great miracle of healing? There was not even a face-to-face meeting; only a message carried by an ordinary servant, in which was the prescription necessary to obtain the desired healing. The entire situation was an insult to the foreign dignitary. Who did this prophet think he was, anyway?*
The story of Naaman planted itself in my mind during a conversation with a sister in the Lord several weeks ago. In the course of catching up (we hadn’t talked in quite some time!), we had spent a bit of time sharing about the various trials the Lord had sent each of us in the past few months. Tears started as each of us felt the other’s pain, yet we both knew that no matter the difficulty, the Lord had been more than faithful and we by His grace were triumphant.
Moving through the timeline of our lives, though, we began to share about where we were then: on relative mountain tops enjoying the view of the past roads traveled and determined to keep pressing forward without care for what obstacles may be set before us. Somehow, though, in spite of everything going well in my life, I was conscious of a worm in my emotions, eating away at the joy that had been reigning.
I became aware, though only dimly at first, of a desire for something, but what?
Somehow in the midst of the storm I had been in I began equating trials with the Lord’s care for me. Large difficulties? He really cares a lot. Smooth sailing? I must have been forgotten. This thinking led me to hunger for more and more of the Lord’s attention. I wanted to feel that His hand was still at work in my life: that I had not been forgotten.
It is true that trials are evidence of God’s love for His children. (Hebrews 12:5-13, Job 5:17, Psalm 94:12) However, they are not the only way in which the Lord chooses to communicate His love for us (Romans 5:8, Jeremiah 31:3), and it would be a sad mistake to assume that if we are not in the midst of spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical difficulty that He has forsaken us. (Hebrews 13:5) This just simply isn’t the case at all!
With these two truths firmly established, there was now a fork in the road of my thinking, just as there was a choice for the Syrian captain. I could believe that my loving heavenly Father had stopped caring for my soul and the rest of my well-being, or I could believe all He has said in the Scriptures, even if the way He set before me brought nothing that appeared significant, important, or glamorously challenging.
It may be that the Lord’s will for our earthly lives consists of doing the same two or three things again and again, or as in Naaman’s case, the same one thing again and again. Without regard for the particulars of each situation (they’re all unique!), the ultimate question is mine, and yours, today. Are we willing to persist in doing the simple things set before us, faithfully choosing to believe that His love is unchanging?
*To read the Biblical account of the miracle of Naaman’s healing, see 2 Kings 5:1-14.
Count Your Many Blessings
It was a busy, tiring day, and there were piles of laundry to do, loads of things to pack, and lots of projects wanting to be attended to. It would have been very easy to get grumpy and stop working, but the LORD reminded me that His grace is sufficient for whatever He brings into my day, and that He is my strength. Through Him, I can do whatever He wants me to do.
Nothing during that particular day had been unmanageably hard, it was just that continuing to do the same things all day long got tiring. Running up stairs to lay out clothes for a trip, running downstairs to check the laundry. Running upstairs to pack my brothers’ clothes. Running back downstairs to load the clothes in the trailer. Running upstairs again to gather my sisters’ clothes. Downstairs to load them. Back upstairs for the next load. Back downstairs. Over and over again.
Okay, it doesn’t sound like much, but for me, it was tiring.
I began to give thanks for the little blessings that the LORD had given me, and it was amazing the new energy He would give as I thanked Him.
Blessing Number One: I was getting exercise. No, I was not at the gym working out, but I was carrying weights in the form of piles and piles of clothes, and walking quickly. (Not on a treadmill, but up and down the stairs.)
Blessing Number 2: We get to go on a trip! This particular trip includes over six hours in the car during which we can read, catch up on sleep, or work on projects. Time in the car is a much looked-forward-to time in our family.
On one of my many trips to the laundry room, I opened the dryer for yet another load of laundry to be folded.
Blessing Number 3: We have sheets to fold. That means we have sheets and comfy beds to sleep in at night.
I reached my hand into the lint screen, not knowing exactly what I might find. Sometimes it is dirty gray lint, sometimes mostly dried grass clippings from lawn-mowing clothes the day before, and sometimes it is simply empty. But not on this load. It was full of beautiful pink fluffiness. At least beautiful for being dryer lint.
Blessing Number 4: Pink dryer lint. What a blessing this little wad of pretty trash was to me at that moment. It was a wonderful reminder that God cares even about the small things in our lives, and that His love for me is everlasting. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
After folding the laundry, I continued to gather my family’s clothes from throughout the house to load in the trailer and realized….
Blessing Number 5: I have a family to gather clothes for! How grateful I am for each one of the people the LORD has put in my family! Life is short, and I do not ever want to take for granted the fact that I have each one of my precious siblings and my two dear parents.
What are the blessings that the LORD has given YOU today? May we all “Count our many blessings” that HE has given us.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
-Johnson Oatman, 1897