Behind the Music ~ Anything

This song was really years in the making. What started off as an online study turned into a prayer that turned into a lifestyle that turned into a song, a challenge and so much more. In 2013, I did an online study called “Anything” by Jennie Allen with Good Morning Girls. And the prayer that Jennie was challenged with herself and that I started praying was this…”God, whatever You want me to do, I’ll do it. God, I will do anything”. It is one thing to say those words or pray those words, it’s another to mean them, to trust God to say, “well, okay then, here’s what I want you to do”. I even shared this prayer with my husband, and he was like, “no way am I praying that!” (you know I asked him to join me in it) but that was alright, I knew God was moving in my life and wanted more from me and for me.

This post is probably going to be long because this whole “Anything” is such a big part of my life. In September of 2017 I ran across a page of this study (from 2013) and was just in awe of God.

In the Fall of 2013, I started playing the piano and keyboard using chord charts, etc (I had a year and a half of piano lessons as a kid and played by note – less than intermediate) So this new thing, being able to play for myself and sing with myself was a big deal for me. In December of 2013, I went into prison for the first time. In 2014, I was doing jail ministry with the ladies in Pettis County. In 2015, James and I began the process to become VICs (Volunteers in Corrections). In 2015 , I was still saying “yes, Lord, I will still do anything” and taking care of my mother who had “officially” been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. There were many overnights in the hospital, doctor visits, and more. And God gave me joy and peace through all of it. (She is now doing so well, God is so very good). In 2016, I was leading worship in prisons, revivals, worship nights, and women’s retreats. And in the Spring of 2016, Sing for the King Ministries was born. During all of this I was working full time at my church, going to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary online to obtain a Worship Ministry Certificate, doing prison ministry, and I knew the Lord was telling me to quit my job. I knew I was called to more prison ministry and song writing and I hadn’t written a song since our vacation when I wrote the first three (and a few lyrics of another).

I want to give you a glimpse of my heart at that time because our perspective and emotions and feelings change and grow over time. Here’s an old blog post from July 7, 2016.

I quit my job….a job that I’ve had for almost 6 years, a job that provided a substantial amount of my family’s income, a job that I have loved and sometimes complained about but mostly loved.  I am feeling a wide range of emotions, I feel like I need to grieve over leaving yet I’m excited for what the future holds.  I know this is the right decision, God placed this on my heart long ago, but the follow thru has been and is still surreal to me.  I’ve never been more thankful for my faithful and trustworthy God.  He has appointed this time – His timing is perfect and I know this is the next step of obedience for me, the next step in my “anything” journey.

I am still in awe that this Bible study (I was leading the Anything Bible study at this time!) and big act of obedience have coincided like they have, I honestly didn’t plan it that way.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

If I get too caught up in thinking in worldly terms or just fleshly selfish terms, fear and doubt start to creep in and the tears threaten to come.  In fact they haven’t just threatened, I have sobbed over what I have lost.  But who am I to say what’s best for me, God knows far better than I, I just need to be obedient, even when it’s hard.  It’s in those moments that Jesus surrounds me with His peace and reminds me that this world is not my home, that these “things” don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  I am sure thankful that I serve a holy, righteous, transcendent yet near and loving God.  I can put my hope and trust in Him.  I marvel at that, at who God is, how He cares about me, a rotten, self-centered sinner.  I love that word – Marvel.  Jesus used it seeing the centurion’s faith, the Pharisees, His disciples and others used it seeing the wonder and majesty of Jesus.  Marvel at the awesomeness of Jesus Christ, He has great and unthinkable plans for you.  Step out in faith, in obedience to His calling on your life, He is worthy of our trust, our obedience.

Guess what the first song was after I left my job? Yes! Anything! Here’s my scribblings from our Spring vaca, lol! Novice songwriter, remember?

My last day of work was July 22nd and I finished this song in August. As I sat down to actually write this song I wondered if the songs I wrote in April were a fluke thing and if I could even write another song. It was crazy and I was so overwhelmed and in tears at the result. So many scriptures to point to – John 3:30; 2 Cor. 12:9; Mark 16:5; Isaiah 55:8-9; 1 John 5:1-5; Hebrews 11:6; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Matthew 16:35. I have to talk about some of the lyrics, look up these scriptures and you will see them there. Jesus brings new life when we get brave and share our faith. Christ calls us to more than just being Christians, just going to church and when we trust and obey Him, He will open the doors to walk through. Surrender and sell out to Jesus!

Here are the lyrics and a video from a women’s conference where I had the honor of leading it.

Anything

Verse 1
You become greater, I become less
When I am willing, You do the rest
In my weakness, be glorified
Through my boldness, You bring new life
Chorus
You in me, calls me to more
I will trust, You’ll open the doors
Anything, it’s all for You
Surrender, sell out, that’s what I choose
Verse 2
Your ways are higher, Lord take my thoughts
You paid the price, I have been bought
You call me out to give You away
This world’s not my home, how can I stay?
Bridge
Let my faith, overcome my fear
Bridge 2
Anything, You call me to
Anything, I’m here for Your use
Anything, this life I’ll lose
Anything, how can I refuse?

©2016 Christy Hoagland (ASCAP Sing for the King Publishing)

Behind the Music ~ Great is Your Faithfulness

19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
    the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
    and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:19-26

These precious verses…so much love and mercy. Before I had written even one song I knew I wanted to write a song about God’s faithfulness. The couple years prior to 2016 held heartache and the Lord comforted me with the promises in His Word. We serve a God that is faithful and merciful which means we have hope, we can depend on Him, we can trust Him. So I turned those heartaches over to Him and stood on His promises and He gave me peace over them all.

The first time I led this song at Boonville Correctional Center I heard a gentleman in the congregation yell out “hey! I just read that this morning!”, I smiled to myself and thought again about how wonderful it is to put God’s Word to music. It was at this same service that I shared my testimony, many men came forward to receive Christ and I met a man that told me I needed to meet his sister, she had a tv program in North Carolina. I didn’t think too much about it at the time but a couple months later and I was pulled over on the side of the road talking with this woman I had never met, praying and seeking the Lord’s will regarding us doing any kind of ministry together. Fast forward a few more months and I was on a plane to North Carolina as the guest worship leader for a Women’s Conference and on her local tv show “Iron Sharpens Iron” with several other ladies. They are still sweet friends today. You may be thinking, what does this have to do with God’s faithfulness, well, I met a young man on that trip, he was around my son’s age and he preached at one of the conference sessions. He reminded me of my oldest son. My boys have had struggles with their own faith which put this mama’s heart under much duress. This young man touched me and I was reminded of God’s faithfulness yet again.

No matter what struggles or trials you are going through or how many times you have messed up, God’s mercies are new every day, He sees you and loves you. His love is steadfast and He is faithful.

The lyrics to this song are mostly the above scriptures. The chorus says “Great is your faithfulness, Your holiness we acclaim” The word acclaim comes from the Latin word acclamare, which means to cry out. So it only makes sense that the verb form of acclaim means to offer enthusiastic praise or applause. There is no one else worthy of my enthusiastic praise and applause than the King of kings.

Great is Your Faithfulness
Verse 1
Your steadfast love never ceases
Your mercies never end
Every morning is brand new again
Verse 2
I’ll put my hope in You, Lord
My soul will seek You out
You are good to me so I will wait
Chorus
Great is Your faithfulness
Your holiness we acclaim
Great is Your faithfulness
Your majesty, Your name
(REPEAT)
(Bridge)
Remember me, my wanderings
My soul will bow down
(REPEAT)
(Tag)
Verse 1
Your steadfast love never cease
Your mercies never end
Every morning is brand new again
©2016 Christy Hoagland (ASCAP Sing for the King Publishing)

Behind the Music ~ Sing for the King

Around 30 years ago…I know, I’m telling my age…my family started attending a little country church. This church had a youth choir and asked my sister and I if we’d like to be in it. We said sure and this voice came out. It was totally unexpected – especially to me. When I tell this story about how I started singing I always say that the most amazing part is that I wasn’t afraid to sing. I could stand up there in front of people and sing. I knew, even then at around 15 years old that this voice, this ability to sing was for the Lord alone, for His Glory.

The phrase “Sing for the King” came about several years ago, I used it as my signature line like people use “sincerely” and “yours truly”…I would write:

Sing for the King,

Christy Hoagland

The song began in my car on my way to work, I even have the voice memo somewhere of me saying “Christy, write a song called ‘Sing for the King'”. I know, I’m silly but this is how I song write. A word or phrase or melody pops into my mind or heart and I sing it into my phone. Later when I sit down to write the song I go over my phone notes, anything I’ve written down and spend time in my Bible finding scriptures that correspond with what song I feel I’m supposed to write. Usually that’s how it goes but sometimes I will simply be reading the Word and put the verses to music especially the Psalms.

Sing for the King is about singing praises to our King, He alone with worthy of our praise and adoration. The bridge is taken from Psalm 47:6-7 “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!” I changed the last word ‘psalm’ to ‘song’. God’s Word is the best lyrics, full of truth and hope and who He is.

I wrote this song the day after I wrote Be Still but it transformed musically in the months that followed. I emailed this song to my ministry partner, Johnny and shared it with James and they both thought that it would be a great ministry name. And that’s how “Sing for the King Ministries” got its name. Over the last few years doing prison ministry and seeing the incarcerated pour their hearts out before the Lord in song, the name seems to me to be spot on.

Sing for the King
Verse 1
You are my hope, you are my peace
You are my joy, You are my King
Verse 2
You are my rest, You are my strength
You are my love, the reason I sing
Chorus 1
Sing for the King, Sing for His Glory
In Everything, Jesus is worthy
Sing for the King, All of creation
Exalt Him in praise, He is deserving
Chorus 2
Sing for the King, Sing for His Glory
In Everything, Jesus is worthy
Sing for the King, All of creation
Exalt Him in praise, with adoration
(Bridge)
Sing praises to God, sing praises
Sing praises to our King, sing praises
For God is the King of all the earth
Sing praises with a song
(Tag)
Sing for the King, Sing for His Glory
In Everything, Jesus is worthy
©2016 Christy Hoagland (ASCAP Sing for the King Publishing)

Behind the Music ~ Be Still

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

by Christy Hoagland

Be Still – my first song – well…almost. I did write a song in 2003 when I will still struggling with doubt and assurance about my salvation, before I completely surrendered my life to Christ. I think this is why I always say Be Still is my first song. A relationship with Jesus changes everything, including song writing. Perhaps I will write about that particular song in the future but today is about Be Still.

I began the lyrics in March 2016 while I was sick and forced to “be still”. The verses to the lyrics were the start and I felt God speaking through His Word, through Psalm 46:10. Sometimes I think God looks at me and shakes His head and says “really, Christy? you are concerned with all that, remember who I am”. It is when I am still that He speaks, when I quit striving and busying myself with so many things that I can hear from Him. When I am still and wait on Him He teaches me who He is and the results are knowing Him more and my faith is then strengthened. I am stubborn, so I need reminded again and again…constantly – to abide, rest, and seek Him. He has all the answers if I will just be still and listen.

The chorus is so simple, yet so full of truth… Be still and know that God is in control, that He is making us whole (sanctification), He’s all that we need…. these truths should make us fall at His feet in worship of who He is! The bridge continues with His promises of faithfulness. One of my favorite lines is “You have given me Your peace, Lord, assurance to believe” – the peace we gained when we put our trust in Christ, that supernatural peace that passes all understanding is the assurance we receive when we follow Jesus. He gives us the assurance to believe Him, His Word, what He says! He is truth! This belief should bring us great and wonderful peace.

This song is a favorite among many, especially the incarcerated. When everything around us is in chaos we need to remember who we serve, who is really in control, the great God of the universe. His yoke is easy, His burden is light, cast your cares on Him. If, or when, we start to get caught up in the craziness going on around us, whether it’s the current situation of the coronavirus, or finances, or health issues, or so many other things…just be still and remember who He is. When our perspective changes and we focus on God and the big picture, the cares of this world really do fade away. Be still, chill, God’s in control.

Be Still

Verse 1
How many times have You told me to wait
So I can know You, who You are and be brave
You’ll teach me Your ways and place in me faith
If I’ll just be still

Chorus
Be still and know God’s in control
Be still and know He’s making you whole
Be still and know He’s all that you need
Be still and know and fall at His feet
Oh, Be still

Verse 2
Why do I need Your constant reminder
Abide and rest and call out to You
You reveal Your truth and mercy completely
If I’ll just be still

(Bridge)
You are constant so I will rest
You are faithful, I will trust
You have given me Your peace, Lord, assurance to believe

©2016 Christy Hoagland (ASCAP Sing for the King Publishing)

Blog Series: Behind the Music

I’m going to start a blog series about my original songs; the scriptures, my personal journeys, how they came about, etc. To start things off I want to share a blog post (from my old blogger blog) how it all began.

April 30, 2016

Last week, James and I went on vacation. Originally, we were going to go to Florida with my cousin but things got a little crazy and we decided to go to Branson instead by ourselves. Cameron had other commitments so he stayed home. I was finally going to have enough alone time to do some song writing…I brought my keyboard and all kinds of other notebooks and “stuff” I thought I might need; I really didn’t have high expectations, I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing but on Saturday morning after I unpacked and had my quiet time I sat down and began. I had written some lyrics while I was sick a while back…back when I had a moment to be still. So I poured over the lyrics to a part of a song I had written called “Be Still”; it really was the story of my life, always being distracted and busy and never “still” enough. It was based on Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”. The music – lyrics and chord progressions came pouring out of me and after a few hours I had a complete song. Well, at least a song with all the main parts…I could play it for myself and sing it. I was simply awe struck, God is so good to me. Day 1 and I already had a song. I recorded it and sent it to a couple friends, I played it for James – much to his surprise (because he didn’t expect much either) but no one was as surprised as I was and am. That night a lady I didn’t know texted me about some Alaskan missionaries at her church there in Branson, she said she thought we were supposed to attend her church the next morning and meet them. So, we did. If you read my previous post you know that I bawled through at least half of the service, it was an amazing day. Sunday afternoon I wrote my second song. Tuesday, I wrote another. What was happening to me? God was turning me into a song writer! The song I wrote Tuesday was called “Great is Your Faithfulness”…He really is faithful. Tuesday morning we met with an old friend of James’ from back in high school. She is a songwriter and happened to be in Springfield the week we were in Branson. She is a wealth of knowledge and gave me so much advice and instruction on where to go from here. God’s timing is perfect, He has a plan. It was a wonderful week, I wept a lot and grew closer to my Lord. Below are some things I wrote down each morning.

April 23, 2016
Galatians 1:24 “And they glorified God because of me.”
This is my desire, that people would glorify God because of me. I want God to use me to bring people to faith in Him and to worship Him.
Lord Jesus, help me use the gifts You’ve given me to honor You and to show people who You are that they may fall on their face and glorify You, that they would sell out to You with all that they are. May they glorify You because of me, because I’m living with abandon, following Your will, and pointing them to You. Keep me humble, holy and righteous. May you be first in every area of my life and may I boldly display that. Thank You, Jesus for this opportunity to serve You. You are glorious and worthy of all praise. I love You. Amen
I wrote a song today, it’s called “Be Still”. It’s based on Psalm 46:10 “Be Still and know that I am God”. I am simply in awe that God allows me to serve Him in this way. Singing, playing piano, and now writing music. Incredible, amazing, He is truly wonderful and worthy of much more than anything I have to offer. What a blessing it is to be His child and to serve Him.

April 24, 2016
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
When I surrendered my life to Christ, I gave up living for myself. There are times when the Spirit battles the flesh but my life is no longer ruled by the flesh if I stay in the Word and in close fellowship with Jesus.
Jesus, help me today to live by faith, to put away any selfish ambitions and live for You, for Your will and for Your Glory alone. Thank you for giving Yourself up for me so I could have a relationship with You. Thank You for what You are doing right now in my life. Help me not take one moment for granted and to be constantly in awe and wonder of who You are. Thank you for this journey however short or long it is. You make what seems impossible possible, I am grateful. Praise Your holy name. I love you, Jesus. Amen.

April 25, 2016
Galatians 3:28-29 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for You are all one in Christ Jesus. And if You are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Do the offenders in prison really know how loved they are, how God wants to free them with the power of the gospel and have an intimate relationship with them? I want them to know this, I want them to see that they/we are all one in Christ.
Lord, use me in this mission field to show Your love for these, incarcerated men and women. Humble me, give me words when I have none, silence when none are needed and love so powerful that it cannot be denied it’s from You. Help me stay focused and not let the world crowd in and distract me from this calling. All for Your glory, Lord. Thank You, Jesus, for this time, this journey, this incredible way to serve You and to make You known. I love You, Jesus. Amen. Let our lives reflect You.

April 26, 2016
Galatians 5:16-17 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
Spirit vs. Flesh – this is sometimes a tough battle. I find myself sold out to the Spirit and ready to jump off a cliff into unknown possibilities and then other times find myself desiring comfort and “so called” stability. And I forget, I forget that God’s ways are higher than my ways, that He has this all figured out and that His plan is the best plan. I simply need to trust Him more, rely on His strength, there’s real stability in following His will and an overwhelming peace.
Lord Jesus, Save me from myself, keep me focused on Your plan for me, lead me by Your Spirit. When I am tempted to chicken out, remind me of Your mission, remind me that people need to hear about Your saving grace, remind me that time is fleeting and this world is not my home. May Your Spirit that lives in me overcome my flesh and win out in every decision, thought, and circumstance. Use me for Your glory, Lord. I love You, Jesus. Amen.

April 27, 2016
Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Don’t give up! We will reap what we sow. Some may see that as wordly gain but I see it as lives changed. Do not grow weary in doing good! I don’t ever want to tire of sharing the gospel with the lost and hopeless. What is the cost of one human life/soul? It is priceless.
Lord, Use me to share Your truth and hope, help me stay focused on Your plan and not get side-tracked with my own personal interests, help Your interests always be my interests. Give me strength when I start to get weary, give me a greater, more supernatural love for the lost. I love You, Jesus. Amen.

April 28, 2016
Hebrews 11 “Faith”
This chapter is all about faith in action. These men and women had faith in an invisible God to lead them to something better and they didn’t have the Holy Spirit!   Lord, I want to put my faith into action; I want  to so fully rely on You that even when people say I’m crazy I will have Your overwhelming peace and joy, knowing that I’m doing Your will and what You’ve called me to do.  Thank You, Jesus, for Your faithfulness, Your peace, and for continual sanctification.  Make me who You want me to be.  I love you, Jesus.  Amen.

Sing for the King,

Christy

SOCIAL DISTANCING & THE INCARCERATED

by Christy Hoagland

The current state of the world brings on a whole new meaning when it comes to the incarcerated. These are a group of people who are already made to be “socially distant” due to being in prison and now the few gifts of contact and more has been stripped away as well.

I stated last week on social media that the Department of Corrections was still letting us “VICs” Volunteers in Corrections come into prisons and hold services. We are considered nonpaid staff, we’ve had training, TB tests, etc. And as of last week, we were still going full steam ahead to all of our services. As of just this morning, a couple services are suspended for a couple weeks and then they will reevaluate. Our team has been in agreement that if we are allowed to come, we will. We have taken extra precautions such as no handshakes and maintaining social distances to make offenders feel safe. We take their well being very seriously, their Spiritual well being is also at stake and we know that the Gospel is the greatest hope we can give them.

Last Friday night at the end of the service I asked the men at Algoa what affect this has had on them, what has changed, and what, if anything, were they doing differently. On March 12th offender visits were suspended other than attorney visits. So, for the past 12 days, no contact with family or friends other than the telephone. They are concerned for their families, what the world is even going to look like when they are able to leave prison, and so much more. As our discussion began on Friday, some things I hadn’t thought about surfaced. Parole hearings have been changed or delayed, out dates have been postponed, and some reentry home plans are not allowing anyone to come at this time. Imagine being in prison for years maybe and not being able to leave after your sentence was completed.

When asked what they might be doing differently, one man jokingly said ‘taking more naps’, others said praying more. We have been encouraging them that now, more than ever, is the time when the light of Jesus needs to shine through them. And isn’t that the same for all of us? Now, in these uncertain and strange times with things changing day by day, is the time to share the Gospel of Jesus to those around us – or not so closely around us, like, 6 feet away :).

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Counting Your Blessings in the Midst of Sorrow

by Christy Hoagland

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Really, Lord? Is this possible? To give thanks in all circumstances?

My family has been going through some trials, great sorrow, sadness…

It is during these times of grief that we often try to gain answers to so many questions…let’s look to scripture for hope, for peace, for joy and perhaps get a glimpse of the whys. What does God’s Word say to give us comfort, what does He tells us to do during these times of great struggle, and how can this be used in my life for good? There are three things the Lord has brought to my heart during this current hardship.

Affliction and Suffering Strengthens Our Faith

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 This scripture tells us that these trials will show how genuine our faith is and that there is wonderful joy ahead and that our fire-tested faith is more precious than gold. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3 It seems rather ludicrous to count suffering as joy but if these trials produce strength, steadfastness, and a closer relationship with Jesus because we have to rely on Him to help us through it then it is worth it. This strengthened faith and trust in the Lord will give us peace. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 I have this on a post-it note on my computer monitor as a reminder to keep my mind on Jesus. It is easy to dwell on the difficult things in life rather than trusting in the One who is completely in control. Although it is hard to see God’s plan in the midst of suffering we can trust Him and His Word. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 God has a purpose even in the hardest things in life. It may take time before we see or know what that purpose is but we can trust the only One who is trustworthy and faithful. ” And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 And just maybe the trial you are in is preparing you to help someone else. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Focus on Eternal Things

This world is temporary, this life is so so short compared with eternity. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 What a time to look forward to! Let’s keep our eyes on eternity and in the meantime carry out what we are called to do, to redeem this short time. Ephesians 5:16 tells us to make the best use of time while we are here. We must share the precious Gospel of Jesus with those around us. “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7 So many people walk by us everyday who have no hope, no peace. We are called to love the lost and share our hope with them. We are called to proclaim who He is. “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted.” Isaiah 12:4 “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:15–16

Cherish What You Have, Count Your Blessings

Trials make me thankful for what God has given me. I have a beautiful family, a sweet and amazing ministry, the gift of music and so much more. But most importantly I am thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32 He is on our side, He gives us good gifts, He loves us so much more than we can imagine, He gave His Son for us! “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

Let us shift our focus, our hearts and our minds to Jesus when we are hurting. He is the only comfort, only peace, only joy when we are suffering. He is good, He is faithful.

“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22


*image – YouVersion

Just Say Yes

by Christy Hoagland

I was standing in a prison gymnasium last Saturday quietly playing while man after man left their seats to repent, believe, and profess faith in Jesus at the back of the room and as they were gathering around to pray I was overcome with the faithfulness and goodness of God. And I said to myself “Christy, you could’ve missed this.”

I could’ve been content just singing on the worship team at my church, leading a song here and there and doing Bible studies and many other “good” things but… still missed out on the best things God has for me to see and to witness and to experience. Don’t get me wrong, going to church, preaching, leading worship, serving, it is all part of what God calls us to but that is only the beginning and if that is all we do then we stay stuck, we stay in our places and don’t venture out to share our faith, love the unlovable, and go to where God has called us and do what God has called us.

For me it has been a process in my Christian walk, obedience to say yes when prompted and no to other things. And I have done both; the “nos” to obedience to God keep us stuck and the “yeses” set us free and help us focus on what really matters. Obedience to Jesus keeps us from settling, as Jennie Allen would say “I almost settled for a wasted life” (Johnny quotes that all the time now); if we are honest we have all been in seasons where we look back and wonder where the last month, year or years went and if there was any meaning or significance in it. This is what I fear most, living a life of insignificance as a follower of Jesus. As myself, I am insignificant but in Christ – so much more. Thankfully I serve a pursuing God that has given me His Spirit to prod my heart to a better way to live.

I’d like to share just a few of the promptings God put in my heart that has led me to today – to this precious ministry of worshiping with and leading the incarcerated in music, the Word, and so much more.

2013 – My “anything prayer” *(Anything You want me to do, Lord, I’ll do it for You) and the challenge to risk… honestly, the details don’t really matter but I took a risk and said yes to something and God started growing me into a worship leader.

2013 – A simple meeting in a church hallway with an ex-offender. From this point on God would use this ex-offender to become my encourager, my friend, my ministry partner and more

2013 (December) – First prison concert at Algoa Correctional Center

2014 – Ladies Jail Ministry at Pettis County Jail

2015 – Began courses at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for a certificate in Worship Ministry.

2015 (November) – First service at Algoa Correctional Center with my husband (we then started the Volunteer process)

2016 (March/April) – First songs written (Be Still, Sing for the King, Great is Your Faithfulness)

2016 (May) – Sing for the King Ministries was born

2016 (July) – Quit my full time job to do ministry full time. This was a big yes, a difficult thing to lay down because it required faith for God to provide for us.

2016 – Present – God has taken the yes of serving the incarcerated from a once a week and a handful of services here and there to close to 200 services inside prisons and other services outside prison walls.

If you are tired and weary and wondering if there’s more to life than what you’ve been living, let me tell you that there is and so much more than you could possibly imagine. Just say yes to Jesus and He will show you great and marvelous things, He will give your life meaning and purpose and you will never be the same. Surrendered and sold out is the best way to live life. All it really takes is one yes after another, the first being surrendering your life to Jesus and then trusting Him to lead the way. Then the next yes and the next and sometimes a no along the way to keep you on your “yes path” of obedience.

Serving my Creator, life-sustainer, Savior and King is my greatest joy and sometimes I get overwhelmed that He would call me and use me like He is. Can’t wait to see what’s next…

In the meantime, I’ll just say yes.

(I hadn’t intended to use this song but as I was writing this post this song popped in my head so I have to share. It brings tears almost every time I hear it.)

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8


Photo at top – Photo Credit: Taylor Hoos

*Anything by Jennie Allen

BREAKING THE CYCLE

by Christy Hoagland

In the few short years of being involved in prison ministry we have seen generations of families incarcerated. At one institution we had the grandfather, father, and son all in one service. Right now, a young man in one of our weekly services has been in and out of prison (mostly in) since he was 17 years old and both of his parents are currently doing time in the Department of Corrections. Most of these offenders don’t know any other way to live.

A couple of years ago, “Willy”, brought his friend, “Stan” to the chapel on a Friday night. Willy was excited about coming to church each week and tried to save a seat for his friend. Stan would come pretty regularly but kept to himself and was not very talkative. Over time, Stan began to open up but then found himself in some trouble and was sent to Administrative Segregation (aka “the hole”) for several long months. We tried to visit him but they weren’t allowing him to have visitors and he was later transferred to another prison.

More time passed and we were doing one of our quarterly services in another institution and in walks Stan, smiling as he came into the chapel because he saw a familiar face, faces 🙂 We were overjoyed to see him and talk to him for a few minutes before the service started. He said he thought he would be transferred again but didn’t know when or where.

Fast forward a few more months on a Friday night and in waltzes Stan. We are thankful he’s back for weekly services instead of every three months. He begins attending regularly again and talks to us more and more each week. One night I remember him telling us how he is involved with some “people” and he has to keep his “status” with them. He was trying to play both sides…church and thug life. But Stan keeps coming to church and God continues working on his heart.

A few Fridays later, Stan gave his life to Jesus and things began to change! He was overflowing with joy! He was smiling from ear to ear every single time we saw him. Now, Stan was bringing men with him to the chapel, he was talking to them about Jesus! Stan has cousins in this same institution, he brought them to the chapel and both of them received new life in Christ and all three of them were baptized shortly later at an amazing prison baptism service! As Stan was getting ready to be baptized he said “I can’t believe it took me so long to figure out that I was on the wrong side!” On the night of the baptism we were visiting with the three of them afterwards and Stan was talking about how they thought they had to go to prison to become men, their fathers, grandfathers, and uncles had all been in prison. These three men are the cycle breakers in their families!

Just last Friday, they brought another friend with them that came to see them be baptized. This man told me he came back because of the love and care Johnny Allen showed him at the baptism service. He has been in prison for the last 12 years and had never been to the chapel… he received Jesus as his Lord and Savior through many tears last Friday night. Hallelujah! It seems we are on the cusp of something great and we have a front row seat.

God is on the move inside the razor wire!

SEEING GOD MOVE

By Christy Hoagland

There are so many wonderful things, services, happenings, divine appointments Sing for the King encountered recently that it is hard to know how to start or where to begin. Seeing God move never gets old.

Let’s start with a sweet baptism service at Algoa Correctional the Wednesday before Easter.  36 men were baptized this night, yes, 36!  Every one of them was special but one that was especially precious was a short little man, a little older in years with a cane that hobbled up to the baptismal.  The chaplain and some others helped him climb the stairs to get into the water and then afterwards 4 fellow offenders lifted him out and set him on the floor, it reminded me of the men that lowered their crippled friend down through the roof so Jesus could heal him.  What love!  That same love was evident in these men who lifted our friend out and in all of the men in attendance at the baptism.

   A couple days later we were back at Algoa for our regular Friday night service but today was not just another Friday, it was Good Friday.  Two of the chapel workers (offenders who work in the chapel and help with our service) presented the crucifixion scientifically and with scripture.  It was so beautiful and so moving and so heartbreaking all at the same time.  Men were weeping at the altar during and throughout the rest of the night.  As our chapel workers walked back to the back I sang “Lamb of God” and it was considerably silent especially compared to how these 100 men worship and praise the Lord in song.  They were thoughtful and intently thinking about this Jesus who came, who died, who rose again so they could live.  Meanwhile our chapel guys in the sound booth who spoke clung to each other and wept.  It was a night to remember.

Two more days later – it was Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday!  We go to JCCC every third Sunday and this month just happened to fall on Easter.  We arrived almost a half hour earlier than normal and Johnny stated, ‘we are here early for a reason, I believe there’s someone in the lobby that we need to talk to’.  Well, it turns out that there was.  Two women who had just finished visits with their loved ones were chatting in one corner of the lobby.  A conversation was struck and as Johnny began to share these ladies poured their hearts out to us.  One woman was the wife of a man that Johnny had been incarcerated with, so Johnny told her to let him know that Johnny was praying for him and to sign up for our chapel service.  She said he hadn’t wanted to attend any chapel services but that she would tell him and meanwhile we would all be praying for him.  The other lady had come to visit her son, she beamed through tears that today was the first day she was able to physically touch her son, to wrap her arms around him in 8 years.  He had been in trouble and in the hole and all of her previous visits were behind glass.  She was rejoicing in this sweet embrace that we so often take for granted.  We circled up with our new friends and prayed Spirit-filled powerful prayers interceding for these men and their loved ones.

The next day was Monday and we were asked to come hold a Community Celebrate Recovery service in Golden, MO.  If you don’t know where that is…it’s a stone’s throw away from Arkansas.  You can actually see Arkansas from the church.  A six hour drive to spend a few hours with these precious people.  I sang, James preached a powerful message, Johnny testified and God moved.  God was moving before, during and after this event!  People at the altar throughout and at the invitation 2 women and 1 man surrendered their lives to Jesus.  Another man rededicated his life, stating how he had let things get in the way of his walk with the Lord.  We were gleeful all the way home knowing that this 10 hours of our day spent doing God’s work is so worth every minute, every hour, every mile.  And we are thankful and grateful for the next chance, the next opportunity to see Him move.