Here is your weekly newsletter created for listeners and friends of
Paul Heil's "The Gospel Greats" syndicated radio program.

Published August 19, 2014

In This Edition...

Paul's Epistle...
"To Hell And Back"

Occasionally, we'll hear dramatic testimonies from individuals who have physically died, have "seen" heaven or hell, and then have been revived – enabling them to share their testimonies. Such testimonies have had a profoundly positive effect on many people whose faith has been strengthened – or they've found faith for the first time. But such testimonies are often criticized, and one denomination recently condemned such reports as doubtful because, they said, everything we need to know about the afterlife can be found in the Bible.

While I certainly agree with the last part of that argument, I don't think we can dismiss such accounts out-of-hand — because who would want to limit God and the way He can work in individual lives today? And it's especially true when the individual involved is someone you know.

For example, consider John McCall of the trio Steve Hess & Southern Salvation. Some weeks ago you heard on my broadcast a very abbreviated version of his life-changing testimony. I asked him later to share additional details that we didn't have time for on the broadcast, and he graciously sent me his amazing testimony.

John grew up with Christian parents in the Assemblies of God church. But when he hit about thirteen years of age he turned away from everything he had learned growing up. Two different relatives had molested him when he was just 9 years of age. "That is when my rebellion started, because I could not understand how a loving God would ever allow this to happen if He was really alive and real... That is when the drug addictions started and I really started not to believe in God, heaven or hell and decided to start a rock band to make my parents mad." Worldly success followed with a successful rock band in Chicago and offers to fly to New York City for a major label record deal.

John told his mother he "did not want anything to do with her, church or God." As he recalls, he had "played church for 17 years of my life and was a hypocritical jerk. I had lost hope and faith..."

But just three days after confronting his mother in 1989, tragedy struck. John was riding his motorcycle when "a drunk 16 year old pulled out in front of me, trying to make a left turn, and just stopped. I flew off her windshield into a Cube truck that hit me 50 feet back over the scene at this busy intersection. It dislocated my left hip and severed my bones in my right wrist. The ambulance lost me a few times on the way to the hospital and the doctors at the hospital gave up on me after 45 minutes of unsuccessful attempts to get my heart back to normal."

Medically, John was soon dead. Doctors "called" him -- pronounced him dead. Absolutely ... physically ... dead.

The doctor summoned John's mother and father into the room, shook his head, pulled his surgical mask down and told them to say goodbye. John's mother, though, wasn't ready for that. Speaking in faith, she boldly told the doctor, "But you did not pray." So, "My mom prayed over me for one hour after [doctors] had given up on what medical procedures they could have done. I had a mom with a direct line to God! Thank God for praying moms and thank God for second chances!"

Obviously, since John is telling the story, he's alive today. And the Lord graciously and purposefully enabled him to remember much of what he experienced during the hour when he was medically, legally dead. Here's John's amazing account:

"I ended up in the pit of hell the day I died, because that is what I deserved. While standing in complete darkness, every now and then I could see bodies just slamming into each other right in front of me. I felt complete loneliness and emptiness like I never did before, and the smell of sulphur was beyond disgusting! In the moments to come, everything I had done bad in my life would torment me for what seemed like forever.

"It was at that time that Christ Jesus appeared to me in the pit of hell, and I fell to my knees in fear. Christ Jesus opened His arms and spoke these words to me: ‘My child, I have given you the keys to my Kingdom and you have lost them along the way. You know the truth, yet you still deny everything you know to be of my Father. With everything you have learned, this is where you belong. But I have other plans for you, John. You will tell the world of My truth — Heaven and Hell and its existence. You were chosen before time to be a witness of Truth, but you did not know because of your disobedience to my call. Your time has come to be that witness. I have loved you before time, and now I will be coming back for my children very soon.'

"It was at this point that Christ stood me up to my feet and allowed me to feel a pain, an emptiness, a feeling I will never forget. Christ then put His arms around me and told me, ‘Go and sin no more. I love you as I love all my children. I have the Keys and your voice and testimony is my gift to you. Now go and use your talents for Me and tell the world. Live every second of your life for my glory, not yours. Be a light where it is dark and share My love, My mercy and My grace. For there is a day coming quickly when the Earth will know My wrath and My protection will be no more.'

"With His hands on my head and on my chest, Christ told me, ‘I love you, John.' That is when my breath came back into my earthly body and I gave that [attending] nurse the scare of her life!"

John says that since his encounter with Christ, he's told his story to every doctor he encounters. And, because he was brain-dead at the time (no oxygen to his brain for an hour), they always say something to this effect: "There's no way you could have just dreamed that."

As you can imagine, this first-hand experience, however you choose to understand it, was so powerful that it changed John's life radically and completely. "I will never forget that day — ever! That was the ‘wake-up call' I needed to change my thought process. Christ Jesus, His Word...the Truth and everything that is written was NOT just some fairytale people believed. Christ Jesus, Heaven, Hell and His Word are as real as the device you are reading this testimony on right now!!! He is alive and well!"

Today John shares his testimony whenever he can, and countless souls have been touched by John's encounter – and the truth it was meant to emphasize. Many have come to Christ as a result.

I didn't ask John specifically, but I don't think he'd want you to have to go through what he went through to accept the Lord's call on your life. So, consider carefully, prayerfully – what does the Lord want you to do for Him?

- Paul

PS: After the above was published, John McCall responded to my last paragraph and added the following:

"Thank you, Paul! Yes, you are very correct in saying that I would never want anyone to have to go through what I have been through. But God knew that it was the only thing that would cause me to come back Home to Him. I had so many regrets and so many things that I did wrong back then... Christ saved me when I could not save myself. Christ stepped in when I had truly lost my way, and I now thank Him daily for all the pain I went through. It is nothing compared to what he did for us all. 25 years later, I still have reminders of what He did for me. My wrist still pains, and my hip still hurts, but it's a reminder to me of what Christ did for me."

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Hear last weekend's Headline Update report about your favorite artists by clicking here.

Coming on the broadcast the weekend of August 23rd & 24th, 2014:

Featured Artists:   Our Featured Artists on this program will be the Down East Boys, celebrating more than a quarter-century of singing! They'll share some songs from their new "Beyond The Blue" CD, including that title song and their very popular current radio song, "If I Know Him." We'll visit with Ricky Carden, Tony Jarmin, Daryl Paschal and Joe Brinkley. Join us for our visit one of today's best-sounding quartets, the Down East Boys.

Artist Spotlight:   We'll have an Artist Spotlight visit with the Hoskins Family, who recently returned to the concert circuit after a seven-year absence from the road. They explain why they left — and why they came back. We'll talk with Rick & Reva Hoskins and their daughter, Angie Aldridge. You'll hear three songs from their current "A Gathering" CD. Please join us for this visit.

Other Guests:   Get to meet the Tim Thomas Trio from Romeo, Michigan, talking with Tim and Deanna Thomas; Richard Hyssong (Hyssongs); Rod Treme (Paul's Journey); Mark Lowry.

Who can YOU invite to listen this weekend?

From the broadcast the weekend of August 16th & 17th, 2014:

Not many Southern Gospel groups can say they've been actively singing for 50 years without interruption. But the Inspirations, our Featured Artists on this program, can. You heard the story on the program (and perhaps many times previously) about how Martin Cook was a science teacher in North Carolina and found that several of his students loved to sing. Informal singing sessions at his home begat the formation of the Inspirations as a quartet. Martin is still very much a part of the group, serving as emcee and pianist.

The Inspirations' new songs on this program were from their new "God's Word Will Stand" CD (official release date: August 19th). You've been hearing the CD's title song on the radio for some time now as their first radio single. This is one of their strongest recordings in some time. Also on this program — because of the group's 50th anniversary — I included four classic Inspirations songs, mostly, as it turned out, from the 1970s when the Inspirations were really hitting their stride on the Gospel circuit.

The Inspirations' CD featured on this program, "God's Word Will Stand," is available from our mailorder service, Springside. Just call 1-800-38-MUSIC to order. Call by Friday, August 22, 2014, ask for the "Featured Artist Discount," and get 20 percent off this item. You can order easily from our webstore by using this link to go directly to this item. Note, too, that our "Featured Artist Discount" applies to any other currently in-stock recordings by this artist. While ordering online, when you get to the "Checkout" page, find the "Special Instructions" lines near the bottom, type in "Featured Artist Discount - 20 percent" to get the discount. Note that the discounted price will not be reflected online or in your first confirmation e-mail, but it will be applied here when the order is processed and before it is charged or shipped.

I am still getting great comments about our all-hymns program several weeks ago. That's why I was happy to be able to have an Artist Spotlight visit on this program with the Chuck Wagon Gang, with songs from their new "Timeless Hymns, Vol. 2" CD. You were probably singing along with them, right? Their CD, of course, is available through our service. Another hymns recording — Gold City's "Hymn Revival" CD — will be featured soon on the program when it releases.

By the way, if you're interested in that Chuck Wagon Gang river cruise out of Knoxville, TN, during the nearby National Quartet Convention, more details can be found on the Gang's website using this link.

On the Headline Update I mentioned the new website Pat Barker has created to share testimonies about God's greatness in our lives. Here's the link for more info.

For the song list from this broadcast, click here. (PDF viewer required.)

Click here to view this week's Southern Gospel music specials in the Springside Music Update newsletter — including 20 percent discounts on this week's new Southern Gospel releases. Or get the Springside Music Update newsletter by email each Monday. Details can be found here. Or call 800 38 MUSIC during weekday office hours to ask about this week's specials.

Shelia Shares....
"What Matters – And What Doesn't"

"He was funny. He made me laugh. I know he's in heaven."

I was surprised by the remark. I was confused by the remark. Was there a connection between the first two sentences and the third?

They were referring to the recent death of Robin Williams. Now, I am not here to discuss whether or not he is in heaven. I am not here to discuss whether or not he lived a good life. His relationship with God is not for me to determine, and there have been conflicting accounts in the media about that anyway. But I do know that the time that any one of us could have made a difference in Robin's life was before he died. His relationship with the Lord was final when he breathed his last breath. The same is true for you and me when we breathe our last breath. After that final breath, no one can impact where our eternity will be spent.

I do know that my going to heaven is dependent upon whether I have accepted Jesus as Savior and whether His blood has been applied to my sins. The same is true for you.

If I think someone was funny and made me laugh, it doesn't mean they are going to heaven. If I think someone was nasty and made me cry, it doesn't mean they are going to hell.

Just because "she was beautiful" doesn't mean she is going to heaven. "He didn't have much in the looks department" doesn't mean he is going to hell.

"They were successful in everything they tried" doesn't ensure heaven. "They just couldn't seem to succeed" doesn't ensure hell.

"They were the most generous people I have ever known." It doesn't mean they are bound for heaven. Nor does being stingy with their resources mean they are bound for hell.

We tend to look at earthly "positives" and translate them to mean Godly. But, the only thing that makes a person Godly is their relationship with God. There is only one way to that relationship — and that is through Jesus Christ.

When we die, it is final. We are not guaranteed tomorrow or even the next hour. What is your relationship to God?

"You made me laugh" isn't going to matter in eternity. "You were a good person" doesn't work for your salvation. You can never be good enough. In fact, that is why Jesus died for you and for me.

I've made my decision. I've sealed my relationship with God through Jesus. Have you? Now is the hour of decision — before people start to eulogize you.


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On the Lighter Side...

The Bonus

Faced with hard times, the company offered a bonus of one thousand dollars to any employee who could come up with a way of saving money. The bonus went to a young woman in accounting who suggested limiting future bonuses to ten dollars.

Knowing Noah

My sister's youngest boy liked nothing better than to sit on his grandfather's knee and have stories read to him. One day after a story about Noah's ark and how Noah led pairs of animals to the safety of the ark the little boy asked, "Granddad, you are very old, were you in Noah's ark?" "Oh, no", said Granddad. "In that case, how come you didn't drown when the flood came?"

Try Twiddling

I called to make airline reservations and was put on hold. After several minutes of taped music, a recorded voice came on: "If you have been waiting longer than ten minutes, you may press eight. If your call is not answered within five more minutes, you may press seven. This will not speed up your call, but it will give you something to do while you wait."

The Doctor's Story

Several years ago, I was having one of those days when I wondered whether I should have stayed in bed. I was running late and had a headache and I entered the next examining room with a little less than my usual enthusiasm only to find that my next patient had set me up. He had stretched out on my examining table and taken the sheet we provided and pulled it right over his body. He then stuck a sign on his chest that simply stated: "TOO LATE!"

Are You Ready?
1 Thess. 5:2-10; Matt. 24:44; Luke 21:34,36
Free Gift
Pray for the President!
Until next Week...Keep Looking Up!

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