Integrity is a difficult concept for many people to understand.  Some people claim it, even though they can’t define it.  You can’t go down to the corner store and get it, but you can lose it at the corner store.  You can’t get a degree in integrity, but you can lose integrity getting a degree.  It is more than what you say.  It is more than what you do.  However, it is directly connected to what you say and do.  Proverbs 10:9 tells us, “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”

When I attended the US Air Force Academy we had an honor code, “We will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate among us those who do.”  This may not be a textbook definition of integrity, but it is a pretty good working definition.  It embodies the two key principles of integrity. What you say and what you do are consistent and they are honorable.

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For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.  Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.  (Romans 10:2-3)

Here’s a good stuffy, scholarly-sounding quote to throw around next time you get into a discussion about Karl Marx’s theory of economics: “The relative values of commodities are, therefore, determined by the respective quantities or amounts of labor, worked up, realized, fixed in them.” 

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vaughan_james_davidIt seems only fitting that since this year marks the 100th anniversary of Southern Gospel Music that I feature the founder of Southern Gospel Music who was James D. Vaughn. America had been torn asunder by the Civil War. Atlanta lay in smoldering ruins and General Sherman and 60,000 Union troops were approaching Savannah, cutting a fifty-mile-wide swath through the Georgia countryside from Atlanta to the sea. The entire South was devastated by the war. On the evening of December 14, 1864, with Sherman only a week out of Savannah, a baby boy was born to George Washington and Eliza Vaughn in Giles County, Tennessee. The boy’s parents named him James David Vaughn. His life spanned 77 years, ending February 9, 1941, ten months before Pearl Harbor. What happened to James D. Vaughn between the burning of Atlanta and the bombing of Pearl Harbor was significant in the annals of American music. He helped develop and popularize a new folk form of American music known today as Southern Gospel Music.

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Kenny-Gates-2This week’s article takes a somewhat different direction that most weeks. My wife, Charlene, and I had the honor of attending a birthday party for Kenny Gates on Saturday of last week. Kenny turned 80 on November 3rd. Of course, if you have been reading my articles and know anything about Southern Gospel Music you have heard of Kenny. He was the piano player for the famed Blue Ridge Quartet for many years beginning in 1949. There were many stories told about Kenny and his experiences on the road. I certainly do not have space to begin to recount these stories but there is a part of his birthday party that I think bears telling, so here goes.

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Can We Learn from History?

Spanish- born philosopher and essayist George Santayana (1865-1952), in his 1905 volume, Reason in Common Sense, is especially remembered for these words: “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”  This is often phrased more pointedly: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

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Several thousand Christians from more than a dozen nations joined together with several thousand Israelis recently in the small Samarian Jewish town of Revava to mark the end of the self-imposed Israeli building freeze in the so-called West Bank.

The Christians were in Israel to participate in the annual International Christian Embassy's Feast of Tabernacles celebration. The theme of this year's feast was Genesis 22:17, where God promised Abraham that "his seed shall possess the gates of their enemies."

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blueridgeqt1960This week’s article is about one of the legendary groups in Southern Gospel Music and also a group, which was based in the upstate of South Carolina. The group I am referring to is The Blue Ridge Quartet and this month one the original members of the group will be inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall Of Fame, none other than Elmo Fagg. A year or so ago I had the honor of spending the afternoon with one of the longtime members of the quartet, Bill Crowe (no relation as far as we know) who is a nephew of Elmo Fagg. Let’s began with a little background to set the stage for what would be one of the most successful groups to come along in gospel music.

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