“Old Fashioned” In A “Fifty Shades Of Grey” World By Billy Blackwood

I often daydream about living off the grid and living off the land in a cabin in the woods somewhere, the squirrels and birds my friends, growing all I eat, with the sunsets being my daily entertainment. You may share my dream of tranquility or yours may be a tropical island. While we may daydream about such a place I think it would be fair to say that most people in North America live in a culture-saturated world.

We, for the most part, get our groceries, clothes and other necessities from a store, get our emails and Facebook notifications while online on our computers, and spend at least part of our day watching some form of television from a variety of sources. As such, we collectively experience many things in our culture that, while they may not particularly interest us, we are still made aware of.

One such cultural item is the book and subsequent movie, “50 Shades of Grey.” From the reports I’ve read or heard the story is basically one of sexual exploitation. That it became a best selling book and huge success at the box office is a sad statement on our cultural appetite.

But rather than curse the darkness, a very brave and creative young man, Rik Swartzwelder, conceived, directed and stars in a new film called “Old Fashioned.” If you absolutely refuse to go to movies (and who could blame you in this day and age) you owe it to yourself to at least watch the trailer. The storyline is… “A former frat boy and a free-spirited woman together attempt the impossible: an “old-fashioned” courtship in contemporary America.”

The synopsis reads, “A romantic-drama, OLD FASHIONED centers on Clay Walsh, a former frat boy who gives up his reckless carousing and now runs an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town. There, he has become notorious for his lofty and outdated theories on love and romance as well as for his devout belief in God. When Amber Hewson, a free-spirited young woman with a restless soul, drifts into the area and rents the apartment above his shop, she finds herself surprisingly drawn to his strong faith and noble ideas, which are new and intriguing to her. And Clay, though he tries to fight and deny it, simply cannot resist being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life. Ultimately, Clay must step out from behind his relational theories and Amber must overcome her own fears and deep wounds as the two of them, together, attempt the impossible: an “old-fashioned” and God-honoring courtship in contemporary America.” See more at: http://www.oldfashionedmovie.com.

My wife and I rarely go to the movie theatre, in part because there is very little that Hollywood produces that we care to see, in part because it’s so much less expensive to wait ‘til it’s at Redbox, and in part because we rarely seem to have two to three hours to devote to just sitting and observing anything! But, on a recent date night we drove to the only theatre in our city that was showing this little independent film about wholesome values. “50 Shades of Grey”, on the other hand, was in every theatre in town and, in some cases, two screens in the same complex.

The three hours it took to drive there, view the movie and drive home were, in our opinion, well spent. The message is one of reality, regret and redemption. I would love to have my daughters see this film to show them that not all films are about sexploitation, sexual promiscuity, gratuitous sex, etc. Whatever the packaging it seems that ultimately Hollywood’s focus is the same. This film is the proverbial fish swimming upstream against the onslaught of Hollywood’s decadent indulgence in self gratification.

None of us is perfect. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Rik’s character has tremendous baggage from past choices. Am I the only one who can relate to that? He learns from those mistakes and charts a different course. Ultimately, the wisdom of an older person, a great aunt in this case, sets him free from performance to embrace the grace of the Lord’s forgiveness. And he is rewarded with the relationship he has so deeply desired.

There are aspects that don’t line up perfectly with my theology, but the overall message is one our young people, and even us older folks, need to see and hear.

Congratulations, Rik Swartzwelder. Way to go for it and light a candle in the darkness!

The Road To The 2015 Diamond Awards: The J.D. Sumner Living Legend Award

Ed-ONeal.-Living-Legend.-RY-300x300Ed O’Neal. Living Legend 2014

2015 Diamond Awards

The prestigious Diamond Awards have a history of over 20 years, recognizing the best in Gospel Music from coast to coast. Many of today’s top artists have received Diamond nominations and awards, from Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver to the Booth Brothers to the Hoppers. We are pleased to salute Christian artists who strive to use their talent to the best of their ability and to God’s glory.

The Diamond Awards began in 1991, hosted by Allen Smith and the Gospel Voice Magazine. The Awards continue today, hosted by Coastal Media Group and the SGN Scoops digital magazine.

The road to the 2015 Diamond Awards began on January 19, 2015, as the nomination polls opened on the SGN Scoops website. We invite you to watch this site as we continue down this road, introducing the 2014 winners and discussing each category.

Today’s Award: The J.D. Sumner Living Legend Award!

Defintion: A once-in-a-lifetime honor to recognize the living performer for whom the fans feel has made the greatest contribution to Southern Gospel music over a career spanning 25 years or more. Previous winners are not eligible.

The 2014 Diamond Award winner of the J.D. Sumner Award was Mr. Ed O’Neal of the Dixie Melody Boys (pictured).

The 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are open on the SGN Scoops website. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category.

The list of nominees will be posted, and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

The Dominion Agency Signs The Hyssongs

hyssongsWaynesville, NC (Feb. 16th, 2015) – The Dominion Agency is pleased to announce the signing of Singing News Fan Awards’ New Trio Of The Year, The Hyssongs.

The Southern Gospel family trio travels full-time sharing music and ministry all over the country. They are made up of Dell, Susan, and Richard Hyssong (which is a dad, mom, and son).

President and CEO of the Dominion Agency, Michael Davis, expresses, “It’s always an honor to represent a group that is both talented and ministry driven. The Dominion Agency looks forward to working with this great family trio as God continues to open more and more doors for them to share the hope of Jesus in song.”

“Our ministry has been expanding so rapidly that we felt it was time to sign with an agency that could help manage our bookings and schedule,” shares Dell Hyssong. “We have known Michael Davis and the Dominion Agency for several years and, after prayerful consideration, we knew this was a perfect fit for our family. Their standard of excellence gives us great confidence in their abilty to represent and manage this wonderful season of growth for our family.

Mosie Lister’s Life Celebrated

mosie-lister-celebrationA “Homegoing Celebration” honoring the life of Southern Gospel songwriter Mosie Lister was held today at The People’s Church in Franklin, Tennessee. Thomas Mosie Lister was born on September 8, 1921. He passed from this life on February 12, 2015.

In a sense, Mosie Lister preached his own funeral today through the lyrics of many of his songs. The Booth Brothers performed several “Mosie Lister” songs, as did the Homecoming Choir, which was led by Bill Gaither.

Songs included, “How Long Has It Been?” “Feeling Mighty Fine,” “Still Feelin’ Fine,” “ Where No One Stands Alone,” “Goodbye World, Goodbye,” “Then I Met The Master,” “Til The Storm Passes By,” “While The Ages Roll.” Also performed was “I Can Feel His Hand In Mine,” a Mosie Lister song that was recorded by Elvis Presley.

Pallbearers included Steve Mauldin, Michael Booth, Ronnie Booth, Jim Brady, Josh Butterworth and Jake Sammons. Honorary pallbearers were Bill Gaither, Joe Huffman, Ron Booth, David Williams and Jimmie Vann.

Mosie Lister was laid to rest in a private graveside service at Williamson Memorial Gardens.

Open Letter From Jimmy Reno

jimmyJimmy and Christa Reno

Birmingham, AL- Over the past few years I have had the privilege of traveling the U.S. and meeting many gospel music fans in my two tenures with Mark209. The support, love and encouragement I have encountered has been overwhelming during this period of time.

After a very successful Christmas tour with the group, I returned home to find some health issues with my daughter that required us to focus on her and her health. As my wife and I have dealt with these issues, we have earnestly sought through prayer the best decision for our family and the direction of my calling in fulltime music ministry.

As of February 2015, my wife, Christa and I have prayerfully reached the decision that I will retire from fulltime travel on the road. We have been seeking God and wise counsel about this decision and feel that this is the best option for our family moving forward.

I want to thank all of the gospel music fans who have embraced my family and lifted us up in prayer during this trying time. We ask for your continued support and prayers for my family and for Mark209 as they move forward. My wife and I look forward to the new doors the Lord opens for us and our family and we look forward to continuing sharing the gospel through those avenues.

The Sharps release new single, “His Love and Grace”

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Fort Payne, AL (February 25, 2015) LGMA multi-nominated quartet, The Sharps are proud to release their second single “His Love and Grace” from their latest project Someday I Will. This single is a follow up to the group’s last single “He Built a Bridge” that was released in August 2014. The single “His Love and Grace” reminds us that God’s love is faithful and everlasting. The single is set to be released this week with Adam Knight, owner of AOK Promotions.

“His Love and Grace” was written by one of the group’s longtime family friend, Dewayne Taylor, who suddenly passed away in 2011. This tragic event inspired The Sharps to take the song and shape it into what is heard today.

Ben Sharp stated “His Love and Grace is a song that we hold close to our hearts. It’s a blessing each time we are able to sing this song because of the great picture that the song paints. Dewayne really must have had God’s touch when writing this great upbeat song. We believe God allows special people like Dewayne to be apart of your life for very special reasons, even if the effects are not seen until farther down the road. We are eager to see what God has planned for The Sharps and this song, we pray sincerely that it becomes as much as a blessing to those who hear it, as it is for us to sing it.”

The song “His Love and Grace” simply states that God’s love still amazes us each day. Encouraging others to find his grace that will last throughout eternity.

If you would like to interview The Sharps contact Adam Knight, AOK Promotions 1(423) 388-5459

To learn more about The Sharps go to www.thesharpsquartet.com or any of these social media sites: www.facebook.com/thesharpsquartet OR www.twitter.com/thesharpsqt

Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards: Dottie Rambo Songwriter of the Year

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Jeff Steele, 2014 Dottie Rambo Songwriter Of The Year

Dottie Rambo was a much-loved and awarded singer/songwriter of Christian music who was killed in a bus accident in May 2008. She is said to have written over 2500 songs, many of which are sung regularly in churches, recorded often by artists and loved by millions. Dottie wrote such songs as “He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs,” “In the Valley He Restoreth My Soul,” and “We Shall Behold Him.”

We are traveling the Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards during this nomination period, by highlighting the definition of each award category. The Dottie Rambo Songwriter of the Year is a nationally-charting songwriter in Southern, Country or Bluegrass Christian music whose songs are recorded by Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel artists.


RebaDottieFINALDARKER_1Reba Rambo-McGuire and her mother, Dottie Rambo

On November 4th, 2014, the Diamond Awards were held at the 2014 Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge. The winner of the 2014 Diamond Award Dottie Rambo Songwriter of the Year was Jeff Steele. Jeff has written many songs that have touched hearts and his family group, The Steeles, have often charted his songs. These songs include, “But God,” “We Want America Back,” and “On The Road to Emmaus.” He is also an author, speaker and pastor. Jeff has had songs recorded by almost every group in Southern Gospel and is much loved by the fans who voted for him for the 2014 Diamond Award winner.

The 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are now open on the SGN Scoops website until March 31. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category. You can vote today from the link below!

Who will you decide to nominate this year?


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Be sure to vote for your favorite nominees today.

The list of nominees will be posted on the site and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In
this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/

The Diamond Awards are hosted by SGN Scoops digital magazine and Coastal Media Group.

Beyond The Ashes Sign Booking Agreement With Beckie Simmons Agency

beyond-the-ashes5 Nashville, Tenn (February 26, 2015) Beckie Simmons is announcing today that talented young Gospel trio, Beyond the Ashes has reached a booking agreement withBSA/Beckie Simmons Agency of Nashville, TN, effective immediately. Beyond The Ashes consists of Anthony Facello, Dustin Doyle, and Tyler Vestal.

Known as a group who is ministry minded, yet having some of the smoothest sounds in Gospel music, Beyond The Ashes fits well in just about any setting from churches to large concert venues.

Concerning this new agreement Anthony Facello commented, “I have been fortunate enough to know Beckie for many years. Like I felt about working with Wayne Haun I feel the same about Beckie Simmons Agency.” Continuing he said, “I always wanted to work side-by-side with such talented and driven people. I am honored to be a part of BSA. We look forward to the future and what God has in store! Thank you Beckie for believing in BTA.”

Beckie Simmons adds, “I have loved Beyond The Ashes music since their inception and have admired their work ethics for quite some time. I have long been a fan and applaud their passion for God and Ministry. All of us at BSA are excited to be a part of their Team.”

If you would like to interview Beyond The Ashes contact

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To learn more about Beyond The Ashes go to http://www.beyondtheashesonline.com or https://www.facebook.com/beyondtheashes . Twitter them at https://twitter.com/www.twitter.com/beyondtheashes1 .

To book Beyond The Ashes contact Beckie Simmons Agency at http://www.bsaworld.com or call 615-595-7500 .
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About Beyond The Ashes
Beyond our plans, beyond our own abilities, beyond our failures, beyond our own God-given talents, above and beyond anything we could ask or even imagine. God has a plan for each of us, to rise above the ashes and to live powerfully for Him.

When three different people come from three completely different parts of the United States and share the same strong desire and sincere call to worship and minister, then those plans, which are beyond our own, begin to come to fruition.