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

The Gospel Greats Weekly Newsletter
Published September 19, 2017

In This Edition

Paul's Epistle
"Under Construction"

Ruth Graham, the wife of evangelist Billy Graham, passed away a decade ago at the age of 87. Before her passing, she suggested an epitaph for herself. It recalled those highway signs that generally accompany road work. She said this inscription should be on her tombstone: "End of construction. Thank you for your patience."

We are all — each one of us — under construction.

It's an important Biblical concept. As Christians, we are part of the church that Christ said he would build. In fact, the first use of the term "church," at least as recorded in Scripture, was associated with "building." In Billy Graham's book, "Peace With God," he explained it this way: "The word church as applied to the Christian society was first used by Jesus Himself when He told Peter, ‘Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' (Matt 16:18.) Thus, Jesus Christ Himself founded the church. He is the great cornerstone upon which the church is built. He is the foundation for all Christian experience, and the church is founded upon Him."

The Greek Lexicon says the word translated "build" in that passage comes from the Greek oikodomeo. Although defined as "to build a house, erect a building," it's also a metaphor "to promote growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness." In all of those things, I don't think any of us could say the construction work has been completed.

The Apostle Paul uses the term "edify," "edification" or a related word no fewer than 15 times in his epistles. That comes from the Latin aedificare, which means to "build or construct." And there are at least two forms of "construction" involved in his use of that term.

First, Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:12 that ministers (pastors) should be equipped "for the edifying of the body of Christ..." Pastors, Bible teachers, Sunday School teachers and the like have an important role to play in helping to build up (to edify) believers. Every sermon, every Sunday School lesson, should help improve the believer's "construction" – firming the walls, improving the systems, repairing damage. It's part of what's called "sanctification."

But the second point affects each of us even more directly. In 1 Thess. 5:11, Paul says that when we come together to worship – or for whatever reason – we should "comfort each other and edify one another..." That means we, in our relationships with other Christians, are responsible for helping build them up in the faith. How? By affirming them. By joining with them in small group Bible studies. By prayer. In fact, in 1 Cor. 14:26, Paul says, "Let all things be done for edification." All things! No opportunity should be missed to help build someone's faith on the church's one foundation, which is Christ.

Of course, Christ has a direct role in this construction activity, too, through the Holy Spirit. He does this in several ways. Elwell's Evangelical Dictionary notes that "Paul taught that the Holy the creator of new life in the believer and that unifying force by which God in Christ is ‘building together' the Christians into the body of Christ (Rom. 5:5; 2 Cor. 5:17, Eph. 2:22.)" How does He do this? The Holy Spirit will dwell in the believers (John 7:39) and will guide them into all truth (16:13), teaching them "all things" and bringing them "to remembrance of all that (Jesus) said to them (14:26). The construction work is ongoing.

Back in the late 1970s, Joel Hemphill was in a hunter's deer stand very early one morning. As he looked up at the moon and stars in the pre-dawn darkness, he marveled at the works of God's hands. Reflecting on that, he realized that he, personally, was still a work in progress. That thought —that he was still "under construction" — inspired this song:*

     There really ought to be a sign upon my heart,
     ‘Don't judge me yet, there's an unfinished part.'
     But I'll be perfect just according to His plan,
     Finished by the Master's loving hand.

     He's still working on me
     To make me what I ought to be.
     It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
     The sea and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
     How loving and patient He must be.
     He's still working on me.

The Potter is still at work on this clay. Each of us is under construction, each and every day of our lives — until, as Ruth Graham noted, that day when the construction finally ends.

- Paul

*"He's Still Working On Me," Joel Hemphill, Bridge Building Music/ Family & Friends Music, BMI. Use by permission of author.

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Coming on the broadcast the weekend of Sept.23rd & 24th, 2017:

All Quartets Edition!   All of the music on this edition will be by quartets, coming as it does just before the start of the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee — Southern Gospel music's largest annual event. You'll hear some of today's best quartet songs and some classics from the great quartets of yesteryear. Please join us for this special edition of The Gospel Greats.

Featured Artists:   Our Featured Artists on this edition will be the Mark Trammell Quartet with songs from a brand new CD of theirs entitled "Great Moments." You'll find out the significance of that title. You'll hear some of their brand new renditions of some Southern Gospel quartet classics. We'll visit with Mark and Nick Trammell, Randy Byrd and Blake Buffin as we discuss some of these great songs. Please join us for our visit with the Mark Trammell Quartet.

Artist Spotlight:   Few quartets today can boast of singing for 60 years, but the Bibletones do. In fact, they have a new CD out called "60 Years Strong," as they celebrate six decades of singing. You'll hear four of their latest songs. You'll find out about some of the well-known names who have been members of this group in years past. And you'll find out why their current radio single is so significant. Don't miss our visit with Jack Armstrong and the Bibletones.

Other Guests: Scott Fowler (Legacy Five); Joseph Habedank; Josh Singletary (Tribute Quartet); Casey Rivers and Tim Duncan (Canton Junction); more.

Who can YOU invite to listen this weekend?
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Click here to find a local station carrying The Gospel Greats program.

From the broadcast the weekend of Sept. 16th & 17th, 2017:

Our Featured Artist of the week, Charlotte Ritchie, has been a familiar face and voice to Southern Gospel music lovers for many years. She sang with the Nelons 1991-1992 and again 1994-1996. She later sang with Jeff & Sheri Easter. In recent years, she's been best known as part of the Gaither Homecoming concert family. She's recorded several solo CDs over the years, the latest of which is her brand new one called "Praises From A Grateful Heart." As you heard, Charlotte pulled together some of her all-time favorite songs for this one, including her favorite song of all, "Because He Lives." As you heard her say on the air, her dad sang that song in church with Charlotte in his arms just a week after she was born. You can find out more about Charlotte on her website.

This past year has been a "breakout" year for our Artist Spotlight guest, soloist Jason Davidson. He's made quite a few major concert appearances, has been nominated for a Diamond Award as "Sunrise Artist," and had his first Singing News Top 40 song, "He Came Searching For Me." That's the title of his current CD, from which you heard three songs on this segment. Jason's been on staff at a hometown church, but when he recorded his CD he immediately began hearing from people who were touched by his songs. So he knew God was expanding his ministry. Of course, I especially liked to hear that when he was just three years old, his mother would stand him on a "little brick hearth" in their home, give him a microphone, and he would sing along with the songs he heard on The Gospel Greats program on the radio. You can find out much more about Jason on his website.

For the song list from this broadcast, click on the link below.   (PDF viewer required.)
Hear last weekend's Headline Update report about your favorite artists by clicking on this link.

New items available this week from

  • Collingsworth Family "That Day Is Coming" (DVD)
  • Mark Trammell Quartet "Great Moments" (CD)

Click here to view those Southern Gospel music items in the current Springside Music Update newsletter — including 20 percent discounts on the week's new releases. Or get the Springside Music Update newsletter by email directly each Thursday morning. Details can be found here. Or call 800 38 MUSIC during weekday office hours to ask about current specials or to order. Your purchases from Springside help support The Gospel Greats program.

Shelia Shares

Garden Spot was promoting a three day concert event in Lancaster. We were there to interview the artists that you hear on The Gospel Greats program. It was in our home area and we were blessed to have such top artists performing and available to chat.

Paul was waiting to do his last interview and the promoter and staff were busy with attendees, selling tickets and helping guests before the evening performance. So, I went to the area where food was available to the stage/audio/lighting crew and artists to see if I could help out. I knew it was supper time, so I set out the array of prepared sandwiches, fruit, salad and dessert. It was a pretty simple task.

On the program that evening was Larry Gatlin. Now, I am very familiar with the name, of course. I know he is a legend in country music. But, I had never met the man in person. How would this "star" act off stage?

That first impression is so important.

I remember meeting a Christian lady 40 years ago. She was speaking at a college and because she needed help, I was sent. I was young and didn't have a depth of experience. I was a big fan and had heard her tremendous testimony. However, I didn't do something as well as she wanted and she tore me down with cynical and demeaning remarks. Although hers is a name most churched people would recognize even today, I still remember how she treated me. I believe her testimony is true and hope she was simply having a terrible day when she met me.

On the other hand, when Paul and I and our family met the late radio icon Paul Harvey at his offices in Chicago some years ago, he took time for us. He sat and spoke with us. He was gracious to us, speaking directly and kindly to each of our sons. He was always warm on the radio, but my impression of him was enhanced by the way his character and kindness showed through in person.

Back to our recent local concert... Our interview room was close to Larry Gatlin's dressing room. As he came up the stairs to his room, I had invited him down to the backstage "green room" for some food. He said a kind and simple "thank you."

When he came into the food area, I smiled and invited him to help himself, just as I had greeted everyone who came in. He held out his hand and introduced himself to me. I introduced myself and shook hands. My name meant nothing to him. I'm sure I was simply "the lady in charge of the artists' food."

As he ate, every time he spoke to me, he called me "Shelia." He took time to remember my name. He was inclusive to everyone in the room, whether it was the crew or other artists.

Without anyone questioning him, he spoke about his church. It's a church where the preacher preaches the Bible. He talked about the little lady in the choir who raises her hands and shouts and shows Jesus all over. He looks forward to seeing her each Sunday.

To say I was impressed is an understatement. He is a legend but presented himself so humbly. When I asked to get a picture with him, there was no hesitation. "Come on, Shelia. Let's do it."

How do we present ourselves? Are we too big to have time for those who aren't helping us climb the ladder? How do we interact with the "little" people? Are we too important to consider others? First impressions are important, but so are second impressions. Let's be sure we actually care about others, so our words are gracious and kind and loving.

- Shelia

Comments on this?
(To ensure that we get your comments, please use that address and do not simply hit "reply" on your email program.)
A printable version of the "Shelia Shares" above is linked from our newsletter archive page.
Note: That same page includes a link to the audio version of this "Shelia Shares" and a "Share" button for sharing this column on Facebook.

On the Lighter Side

Number Our Daze

My father was completely lost in the kitchen and never ate unless someone prepared a meal for him. When Mother was ill, however, he volunteered to go to the supermarket for her. She sent him off with a carefully numbered list of seven items. Dad returned shortly, very proud of himself, and proceeded to unpack the grocery bags. He had one bag of sugar, two dozen eggs, three hams, four boxes of detergent, five boxes of crackers, six eggplants, and seven green peppers.

Aging Shorts

War & Peace

The Social Studies teacher had just finished a unit on World War II and had spent some time on the differences between war and peace. "How many of you," she asked her class, "would say that you are against war?" Not surprisingly, every hand in the room went up. The teacher then asked, "Who can give us a reason for being against war?" A rather large, bored-looking boy toward the back of the class raised his hand. "Sammy?" the teacher called upon him. "I'm against war," he said, "because wars make history. And I HATE history!"

Random Thoughts

Good Deal

A man and his ten-year-old son were on a fishing trip miles from home. At the boy's insistence, they decided to attend the Sunday worship service at a small rural church. The father forgot to bring any cash, so he reached in his pocket and gave his son a dime to drop in the offering plate as it was passed. As they walked back to their car after the service, the father complained. "The service was too long," he lamented. "The sermon was boring, and the singing was off key." Finally the boy said, "Daddy, I thought it was pretty good for a dime."

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!