Published November 2, 2010

Paul's Epistle...
"Your Turn"

I always love hearing from you, especially in response to the things we write in this newsletter and, of course, in response to things you hear on our broadcast. So instead of my usual devotional this week, let me ask for your input in three specific ways.

#1.  For a special part of our Christmas programming this year, I'd like to hear your special personal Christmas story. I think just about everybody has a favorite Christmas memory – about some time or some circumstance or some person who was extra special in some way during the Christmas season. Or it could be why Christmas is such a blessing to you each year. Or how you taught your children to know and appreciate the true meaning of Christmas (or the first time you knew that they really knew). Or your compelling thoughts about why Christmas is so special to you – and becomes more so each year.  Or anything like that.

If you have such a personal story to share, please write it up and mail it to me. Please keep it short and concise. We'll choose several that meet our criteria. For those selected, we will arrange with you to record your story over the phone for use Christmas weekend on our broadcast. So, please, when you write, include your name and phone number.

If your story involves a particular Christmas song – such as why it is special to you for some reason – we will attempt to play that song after your recorded story. In fact, a song-related story is preferred, but certainly not necessary.

Note that when read, the story should be no more than about a minute in length, although an exceptionally compelling story may warrant a little more time. Other than that, I don't want to put too many restrictions on you that would stifle your creativity.

Additionally, some of these submissions may be posted on our website during the Christmas season, whether or not they are among those used on the air. Please let me know if you would prefer your name not be included, although we would prefer to identify the story by name and hometown.

Please send your submission to me at and put "Christmas Story" in the subject line. I would like to have these by November 15th.

#2:  Over the years, I have received several accounts from listeners who tell me they accepted Christ because of a song or testimony they heard on my broadcast. There can be no higher reward in this life than hearing of such a thing.

So, now I am looking for stories in writing about how Southern Gospel music played a role in winning someone to Christ. It could be a loved one, someone you know, or you. The story does not have to involve The Gospel Greats program, although that would be nice if, in fact, that was the case. If I receive enough such accounts, I'd like to share some of them here in the newsletter. Just send them to me at and put "Salvation Story" in the subject line.

#3:  I saw a blog the other day from someone who's now a big Southern Gospel music fan. He said that until some years ago, whenever someone mentioned Southern Gospel music, the mental image of the music was stereotypically negative. So, he "didn't like it," even though he didn't really know what it was. Later, when he was actually exposed to it, he found something totally different than the stereotype he had expected – and loved it. In fact, it quickly replaced his previous favorite style of Christian music.

So, my question is, did this (or something similar) happen to you? Or to someone you know? Before you ever heard the actual music, what came to mind when you heard the term "Southern Gospel?" Why is the stereotype apparently so negative by default? Have you ever had to "set someone straight" about what it actually is? How is the music actually different from what you first expected? How has it "grown on you?" What do you like about the style's message content? How big an influence is that (the message content) on you? How can we get "the world" to know what Southern Gospel music really is? Any related personal stories?

Now, you certainly don't have to answer all of those questions – they're just to get you thinking. Just pull your thoughts together and send them to me at with the subject line "Southern Gospel Stereotype." I'll try to pull together some of these responses for a future column.

By the way, you're welcome to respond to all three of the above requests, if you wish (it's certainly not required). But please send them separately. I'm looking forward to your responses. Thanks!

- Paul

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