Friday, October 13, 2017

HIGHS & LOWS

Warm, Christian greetings to all of Brotherhood's circle of friends!
 
Fall is fast approaching and then... another year will have come to an end! It seems the older we get, the days, weeks, etc. fly by so much faster than when we were younger. Well, as they say, let's redeem the time that the Lord allows us. Continue to persevere in ALL that we do - at work, at home and at play. I thank the Lord that my valleys are short and my mountain tops are enjoyable and memorable while I'm there. I realize that, as a Christian, I WILL be in either place at any time and that He is with me ALL the time. What a comforting promise God gives to us!
 
My latest joy comes from my oldest grandson, Braden. He's a young teenager, loving, full of energy, starting HS and all the issues with high and lows coming as a teen boy in a new school. Since a toddler, his mom placed him in all sports activities, teams, leagues, etc. Through it all, Braden has learned teamwork, encouragement for others, the need to learn, nutrition, physical conditioning, etc. Football is his first love and he has dedicated hours and hours of practice, viewing games, memorizing plays for offense and defense (he's a 2-way player). He recently played his last freshman team game which ended their season at 5-3. At the final team meeting, the coach announced that some players were being moved up to the varsity team. He read the 9 names... and Braden was one of them!!!! At 14, that's quite an accomplishment for the rest of his HS career. He was so thrilled and excited... and of course, I was so happy and proud of him and for him. I can't explain it but it's similar to the joy you get when a child is born or when they graduate.

Isn't that just like out heavenly father who desires to give us good things. And, when he bestows "gifts" upon us and we use them properly, don't you think He is a proud Heavenly Father? I'm sure He smiles and adores His creation that gives honor, love and respect back! And, that cycle keeps on going and going. It's a definite win-win situation that we ALL should desire and pursue.
 
Wow... ain't that a good thing!!!  I guess the doxology is a fitting way to end right now ..."Praise God from whom all blessing flow..."
 
Until then... be blessed and be a blessing.

Monday, July 10, 2017

RED, WHITE AND NAVY


A happy summer holiday season to all! Just sharing some photos from Brotherhoods' recent concert at Sanctuary Church of God in Orlando, FL. And, a quick story I know you'll enjoy. Photos were provided by our new bass singer, Dennis Martin (the man at the far right) and my cousin Ron Russo. I hadn't seen Ron is approx. 15 years, so this was a special treat for me. It was also great to see our home church friends, John and Val... and Cliff Morales! Cliff briefly sang with us during our inaugural year. And now for the story...

Since our concert came right after July 4th holiday, it was only fitting to include some patriotic music and honor our veterans. We came equipped with some props that I've saved - my fathers' Army shirt (still looks new) and and original Navy P-coat. For those who don't know what that is, it's a very heavy winter, double-breasted jacket. 

This one was given to me when I was a teen and I wore it throughout high school and college during the NYC winter seasons. Now, here's the rub... it belonged to my cousin Ron! I told that story at the concert and then gave that P-coat back to him - after nearly 50 years!! He was quite surprised and grateful for that memento. As the picture shows, the coat still fits him!

Now, back to the concert... Brotherhood has a blast meeting new folks and sharing our brand/style of southern gospel music - always something for everyone. We had them play "Name That Tune" and all joined in singing "Mansion Over The Hilltop". We also had special prayer break that was so evidently needed for healings right in the middle of the concert.

 We look forward to a return visit, Lord willing.

See you "down the road"!!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER

Trust and pray everyone's had a great spring celebrating Easter (Resurrection Sunday), Mother's Day, Father's Day (next week) and graduations. Summer is right around the corner and, believe it or not, half the year is already gone! Hey, don't shoot the messenger - it's true.

The same can be said of those Biblical day messengers heralding Jesus Christ, the coming Messiah. Old testament prophets foretold of His soon appearance and was mocked, ridiculed and considered crazy lunatics. Why would Israels' deliverer come as a baby? They expected a strong, conquering king - a superhero! Well, our God knows what's best/better for us to understand once we embrace the loving Savior. Listen to the lyrics of "Who Would Imagine A King"... and don't shoot the messenger!
 
I guess you shouldn't shoot the messenger when he delivers other news, as well. After nearly 13 years without a change in personnel,Brotherhood bids farewell to our jovial bass man, Mel Hopkins. He and his wife, Barbara, have relocated/retired to the hills of North Carolina! At our "last supper" we remininced sweet moments of Brotherhood's ministry together - laughed and cried in the process. Me's was very light-hearted and full of the joy of the Lord. His gift was sharing with the children at our concerts in such a tender, grandpa/uncle way. He grabbed their attention so that the could easily grasp the gospel message he would share. Always encouraging, always crying, always Mel. We love him and will sorely miss him.
 
Change is good... so I've been told. Brotherhood now enters a new phase of ministry with the same purpose! We will continue as a trio or, Lord willing, as a new-look quartet. As you know, the Lord allows doors to open and close for our good. He also brings people into our lives for different purposes, as well. In the past year, Dennis Martin is one such person whom Brotherhood considers a dear friend. He's a fun loving, Godly man who does weekly outreach ministry and recently completed an Israel mission trip. And, by the way, I learned that he sang bass in the choir, with The 4th Man Quartet... and loves southern gospel music! Hmm.....

On occasion, Dennis has admirably filled in for Mel, so he's no stranger to us. We consider this a smooth transition and welcome Dennis to complete Brotherhood's roster, praise God! Attached are some "welcome photos" of Dennis, as well!  It's a big accomplishment, in short time, because filling a quartet need with the right person can be challenging. Brotherhood's unique sound, unity of spirit, along with mindset and focus to minister through music, resounds with this new 4-man team! We're excited and look forward to seeing you at a Brotherhood concert real soon. 

Concert notes: More doors opening for Brotherhood this year! In July, we head back to Sanctuary Church of God in Orlando, FL after a long time absence - look for details shortly. We trust and pray for greater things that are still to come!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

HIS TRUTH IS MARCHING ON

Our God is an awesome, invinsible, loving God! We trust and pray that your year is going well as we move into the 2Q of 2017. Time keeps marching on no matter what we say or do. Our Lord controls everything and we just need to put our entire trust in His hands.
 
After our January concert trip to Naples, FL, Brotherhood continued with God's work "back home". Our baritone/pianist, Dan and his wife, were back on the mission field the entire month of February. He's part of the translation team with the Jesus Film Project and travelled to the South Pacific region of the world. Brotherhood supports that ministry and, when you come to our concerts, pick up a free DVD copy of the Jesus Film Project.
 
Phil, our lead singer, has been active with Campus Crusade For Christ (Cru). Every week, he visits the Full Sail University campus in Winter Park, FL distributing free chips, cookies, water, etc. At the same time, Phil has the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ one on one and there have been many prayers for salvation. In a 2- week period, there were 17 decisions made to accept Jesus Christ into their lives! According to Phil, that's "off the charts"! We give God all the glory.

 
Bass man Mel, has been super busy with preparing his home for sale. It's tough enough when you do spring cleaning, so imagine getting an entire house ready to vacate. He's updating our Facebook site with current photos, upcoming concert dates and information. Make sure to visit and be friends with us!
 
As for myself, this tenor man has been excessively busy at his "real job". During audit season, it not unusual to put in 50-60 hours per week to accomplish the task. It is understood & respected at the office that Sundays is not a day to work. Although the scriptures state in Genesis that it's a day of rest, I see it as a time of praise & worship to our Lord. Not that we shouldn't praise Him daily, but it's a carved-out day set aside for that purpose every week and gather with other believers. I thank God for the strength He gives to do my work, take time for my wife and family, write new music, make booking contacts, search/rehearse new material and minister with Brotherhood. Quite a busy schedule but oh so enjoyable. 
 
Upon our return, the March concert date was at New Tribes Mission in Sanford, FL. They are a non-denominational organization that takes the gospel all around the work with their missionaries to church plant, disciple new believers and partner with other faith-based ministries. Brotherhood ministered to these dear folks that mainly consisted of seasoned missionaries & pastors (active and retired). We were honored to minister in music to them and they were so blessed with the mixture of old and new gospel songs. many lingered afterwards to talk about Brotherhood, evangelism and the Jesus Film Project. Dan even met some ministry friends from his home state of Nebraska. It was so good seeing some of our fans, too (Art and Eloise).
 
We closed with "We Will Stand Our Ground" which spoke volumes to these people. We encouraged them to continue with this good work at New Tribes Mission as they evangelize the world. We know that no matter the circumstances or obstacles, His truth will keep marching on!

Friday, November 18, 2016

THANKS FOR GIVING

November is that time of year for harvest and Thanksgiving holiday with family & friends. Let's not wait for special times to thank those around us and especially offer thanks to our heavenly Father. May we daily give heartfelt praise and sincere thanks to Him for all His provisions. Thank you Lord for giving! Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, as the sacrificial Lamb for us all. Thank you for America, the land of freedom we can take so likely at times. Thank you for our families, a place to worship, our jobs, our homes, plentiful food, etc. etc. Brotherhood is so grateful for ALL He's ever done for us and allowed us to do. He is always foremost in our concert ministries and our Oct./Nov events have been precious.
 
We were the special musical guests for a widows/widowers banquet at Central Baptist Church in Sanford. I've known churches to hold a wide variety of special occasions, but this was was a first for me! We considered it an honor and privilege to be part of remembering/honoring these folks. My mom was part of that category, so I could relate to their situations. Brotherhood had a grand old time bringing back some "oldies but goodies" that connected  so well with them. Looking forward to a return visit!
 
Got to see some fans at our Night of Worship min-concert at Church Alive, as well. This monthly event provides a wide variety and styles of gospel music. It includes current contemporary, well-known P&W songs, old hymnal favorites and "stump the piano player" requests. Brotherhood entwined a variety of these samples in our playlist set. It never fails that our doo-wop song, "Jesus You're So Wonderful", was enthusiastically received. Some of the guys wearing sunglasses added to the "reflective mood" created. Who says you can't have fun in church?
 
Well, time to close and wish everyone a blessed Happy Thanksgiving. Continue to pray for our country as we are in transition. And remember this... "Prayers don't expire".
 
See you down the road!!!

Friday, October 7, 2016

EXTENDED NY FRIENDS & FAMILY

We pray that everyone in FL is safe and sound during the recent hurricane. Just received a few more photos from Brotherhood's recent NYC weekend tour. They were from Sunday PM concert at Ossining Assembly which is a short distance north of the NYC limits. I guess you could say it's the extreme suburbs and moving towards beautiful country living. The church sanctuary had some remodeling and looked great. Some of the guests included John's cousin (photo below) whose ex-military husband recently passed away. Also, Brotherhood's oldest fan, Sis. Petrina, who is 104 years old was there and I had to take a photo with her! She was accompanied by her daughter Frances whom John has known since their church youth days (still remember her 16th birthday party). 

Despite the unusual heavy traffic on a Sunday, we arrived later than expected but did not let that hinder nor dampen a wonderful evening of gospel music ministry. These dear folks were so gracious and patiently waited for us arrive - it didn't matter. It was great to see, young and old, rejoice and sing praises to the Lord! They joined right in with songs they knew such as "Mansion Over The Hilltop", "How Great Is Our God" and "Through It All".  And when we sang a fan favorite, "Roll Away", we discovered that some young ladies had created an accompaniment routine! Sitting in one row, this crew had motions to go with the chorus echo they provided - good job!! We enjoy it so much when everyone can participate and have fun in church. It's a win-win and encourages Brotherhood to give their very best.

It was a special night that ended our tour. In all churches, we witnessed the sweet spirit of God among His people who came expecting and received salvation, refreshing, renewal, rededication and calls into ministry. And His people include the pastors and staff who constantly give but also need to receive. These NY churches are reaching their communities through love and meeting their needs where they are.

As we always say, it's all for the kingdom and God's glory - lest any man should boast. Our prayer should always be that they see more of Him and less of me. God continues to open doors for Brotherhood and we appreciate your prayerful support. We look forward to seeing you "down the road" sometime real soon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

SWEET BIG APPLE

Brotherhood's back home! We had a tremendous weekend tour in the NYC/NJ area starting out with a Friday PM casual concert in Bronx, NY (my hometown). The 4 church concerts in 3 days was truly a blessed time to minister to pastors and their congregation.

Bronx Christian Assembly hosted the Friday evening concert which is typically youth emphasized and ministry outreach - what a great event to be part of! Every Friday, the church feeds the needy in their community. Brotherhood was part of that time, singing a few accapella songs and John provided a brief share/testimony before the meal was served. Dan, Mel, Phil and I all had time to speak with these guests as they ate and many stayed for the concert, praise God! 

The concert was wonderful and blessed - full of a variety of gospel music enjoyed by all. By special request, we had to insert a few "oldies" that they all joined in. They sang and clapped along with "Give It Away" and "Roll Away" quite loud and energetic! Phil gave a brief but pointed message followed by altar work which saw many come forward for salvation, rededication, healing and calls to ministry! It was God's perfect timing; we did not know that Sunday was Water Baptism at that church. Getting hugs from the "little ones" was a precious moment and seeing old friends including my youth buddy, David, who took photos.

More news to come - blessings!!