John Lanier – God Is His Refuge, Part Two

John Lanier
John Lanier

John Lanier has a name and face that is recognizable to Gospel music fans across the nation. He has been singing and preaching the Word of God for almost 25 years and even through the midst of challenging circumstances, he still proclaims, “God Is My Refuge”. This CD title and single release is the testimony of an artist who has been through many trials and can verify the faithfulness of God. In Part One, Lanier talked about his ministry with Riversong and Tony Gore and Majesty as well as his solo career. In this concluding feature, Lanier shares about his family, his influences, and how he keeps standing on the Rock of Ages.  [Editor’s note: This feature was first published in April 2013 in SGN Scoops magazine.]

Lanier’s first musical influences were his family, as Gospel songs were the soundtracks for his earliest memories. “I was raised in a Christian home where gospel music was the norm,” Lanier explains. “When I was a little boy, my parents sang in a gospel quartet together. From the late 1960’s through the late 1970’s, my mother wrote a lot of Country and Gospel songs. She sang background vocals on several Country artists’ recordings and later toured with a Southern Gospel trio formed by Herbert Sanders, the father of Steve Sanders, of Oak Ridge Boys fame. By the early 1980’s she had left the road and began a career in the medical profession, confining her musical interests mostly inside our home church, while continuing to write songs.”

“My childhood is filled with fond memories of singing with my family, going to gospel concerts, and meeting some of the musical heroes of the day.” Lanier says these artists included The Happy Goodmans, The Hinsons, The Downings, The Gaithers, The Sego Brothers & Naomi and others. “It was through my mom’s involvement in the music business that I personally met some of these artists,” Lanier shares. “In fact, many of them stayed in our home over the years when I was a child. The Segos were one of those groups, and it was that group, especially Naomi, that made a profound imprint on an eight-year-old boy’s heart.” jl gospel music showcase

“To me, there was no group better than The Sego Brothers & Naomi,” admits Lanier. “I loved their campmeeting-style and, back then, they had the best kickin’ band in the business. But more than anything, I remember being drawn to the anointing that rested on Naomi, both on stage and off. As a young child, I didn’t recognize at the time that’s what it was (the anointing), but there were so many times when watching them on stage that I just wanted to raise my hands and shout in praise. And I do remember many times how the tears would flood down my cheeks as the Spirit of God flowed through Naomi. What a joy and privilege it was for me to join her group and travel with her later in my life.” 

Naomi and The Segos 1992
Naomi and The Segos 1992

Naomi Sego remains one of John Lanier’s favorite people. “That’s where I got my start in full-time gospel music ministry in 1989. That lady is the real deal. And I know first-hand what kind of prayer warrior she is. She has won numerous awards and accolades in her 55-year career; she has sung on some of the most prestigious stages in the nation and abroad; she has appeared on television, had hit songs on the radio, and has sold millions of recordings. Yet, she is the most down to earth, humble lady you’ll ever meet. I learned the virtues of humility and gratitude by her example. That is probably the best advice I could ever receive.” Lanier was influenced by other Gospel greats including the Rambos, The Goodmans, LuLu Roman and John Starnes.

After departing from Naomi and the Segos, John was a member of Tony Gore and Majesty for several years before entering a solo ministry. Now as he works occasionally with Majesty as well as performing solo dates, he says he enjoys both types of ministry. “My favorite thing about working with a group is the interaction on stage, the harmony, and the fellowship we enjoy while traveling together,” says Lanier. “My favorite thing about traveling as a soloist is simply being my own boss. Seriously, I do have more control over my schedule, but the responsibilities are greater in many aspects. There are obviously advantages and disadvantages to traveling with a group and traveling solo. But I enjoy both and I am blessed to have the best of both worlds.” 

Tony Gore and Majesty
Tony Gore and Majesty

Through the years, many artists have influenced Lanier musically, but he says there are others, as well as Naomi Sego, that have had a profound impact specifically upon his spiritual life. “Of course, my dad is a devout, conservative Christian man who has always been consistent.” Lanier shares, “I am so thankful for his guidance and influence, and he is mostly responsible for the development of Christian character in me. I would have to say he has been the best model of Christ in my life. I also have a Godly grandmother who taught me so much by word and example. Other spiritual mentors include Jimmy Swaggart, the late B.H. Clendennen, and my pastor, Rev. B.R. Hicks. Each of these three have remained true to the Biblical gospel. Their message has never changed or compromised to follow doctrinal trends of the day, nor have they ever watered the message down with new age, prosperity, social gospel, or user-friendly philosophy. They’ve kept the main thing the main thing, pointing only to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross as the only means of salvation, justification and sanctification.” 

John and Jordan Lanier
John and Jordan Lanier

As Lanier mentions the effect of his parents on his musical and spiritual development, it is easy to see the strong ties within his family. Within the last few years, Lanier’s family has grown to embrace another member, John’s son Jordan. “Of course, by now most people know the story of how I became an adoptive, single parent of a five-year-old little boy,” says Lanier. “He is truly one of the greatest joys of my life. When he was little, he used to love to travel with me and would even sing a song or two with me on stage. He is now a 13-year-old in the eighth grade, and has lost interest in traveling. His interest has turned from singing to playing music.” 

Lanier laughs, “Jordan’s bedroom resembles a recording studio! He has a keyboard, saxophone, mandolin, violin, and almost every type of guitar available – bass, acoustic, and a couple of different kinds of electric guitars. He is learning to play them all, but excels in acoustic guitar and mandolin. He plays the saxophone with his school band, now in his third year. He is very actively involved with the youth group at church, and he plays guitar with the church band during worship services. While I enjoy having him on the road with me, I am extremely grateful for his commitment to church and being actively involved in the music and youth. It makes me proud.”

Lanier talks about the joys of parenthood and his pride in his son is evident. “I’ve always heard that the teen years are generally the most challenging for parents as their little children slowly make the transition to young men and women and want to be more independent, and I’m sure I may face some challenges ahead as Jordan grows. But, so far it’s been an awesome experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better child. He seems to be well focused with a good sense of judgment in making right choices; he’s well mannered and well behaved; and he’s a bright, handsome young fellow who easily makes friends and does very well in school. I am so thankful for the positive direction that Jordan seems to be headed, and for the Godly character he is developing.”

“As I do my best to raise Jordan with Biblical morals, values and principles, and teach him to keep Christ in the center of all his endeavors, I want him to be a young man of conviction, standing faithful and strong on the Biblical foundation and never compromising the absolute truth; to maintain a high standard of righteousness and holiness, and never be ashamed of the Gospel; to learn the meaning of sacrifice, honor and integrity,” Lanier explains. “Yet, while not being shaken from this foundation, I pray he becomes a man of deep compassion and charity, extending grace and mercy to others, loving everyone and treating them with respect, not standing in judgment or condemnation of others who may not share his own convictions and values. Although I am human and often fail, I have tried to live this kind of life before him and that’s the way I hope he remembers his dad when I’m gone.”

Lanier continues, “The reality that a parent’s example can and does impact his child struck me during a recent conversation with Jordan. He told me of a discussion he had with a friend at school about a sensitive situation and how he responded to his friend about the matter. Jordan’s response was thoughtful and appropriate, which made me proud. But I asked him, ‘Why did you say such a thing? What caused you to respond that way?’ Without a second thought, he looked at me and replied, ‘Because I knew that’s what you’d say.’ That was an eye-opening moment for me and I thought, ‘Wow…he has been paying attention!’”

For John Lanier to positively affect his family and his world with the love of Christ, he continuously turns to the Word for power and wisdom. “I like learning new things,” says Lanier. “God is infinite, therefore His Word is infinite and there is always something new to learn as we draw closer to Him. The more I learn about Him, His Name and His Nature, the more I want to know. As we learn of God’s precious truths, ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’ (Isaiah 28:9,10), we ‘grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ’ (2nd Peter 3:18), thereby ultimately coming into the full measure of Christ’s stature (Ephesians 4:13). That said, I’m always seeking a closer walk with God through prayer and study of scripture to gain new understanding and fresh revelation. There are always higher heights and deeper depths to discover and that is what is exciting to me and motivates me to never stop seeking. It’s almost like enjoying a thrilling mystery novel that never ends; there is always another layer of truth God wants to reveal, and it’s exciting.”

John Lanier’s study of the Word at the time of this interview had brought him to 1st Samuel chapter 30. That specific scripture contains some powerful truths that spoke to Lanier. He explains, “An Israelite city had been destroyed and when David and his army arrived on the scene, they ‘lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep,’ for their wives and children had been taken captive by the enemy (vs. 2-5).”

bio-pic“As every man grieved his loss they began to speak of stoning their leader. They blamed David for the tragedy. How often have we blamed God for the ‘bad’ things that happen in our lives? It has been said (and I believe it) that trials can make you bitter or they can make you better. While the scripture tells us that their wives and children were taken captive, David and his army had no way of knowing whether or not their families were dead or alive at this point. It appears they feared that their loved ones had died in the fiery invasion. Already grieving his own loss, David now feared for his life. The Bible says he was ‘greatly distressed.’ Lonely, fearful and heartbroken, David could have continued down the destructive path of hopelessness and despair. Instead, however, the Bible says, ‘David encouraged himself in the Lord his God (vs. 6).’”

“Sometimes, you’ve just got to encourage yourself in the Lord,” Lanier says. “Even when it seems you’ve lost everything you love; when it seems like everything God gave you has been stolen or destroyed, and like David and his army, you’ve cried until you don’t even have enough strength to shed one more tear. God knows I’ve been there.

When circumstances appear hopeless and everyone else around you is saying, ‘I told you so,’ remember what God said; remember His promises and claim them, ‘being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.’ (Philippians 1:6)”

Lanier continues,“In other words, it ain’t over ‘til God says it’s over. God doesn’t start something He can’t finish! If He begins a good work in your life, He IS faithful to perfect it and bring it to full completion. God will perfect (mature, complete) what He began! THIS is my expectation. THIS is the promise God made to me (and to you). And the end shall be like the beginning… “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)”

“God’s will…His plans for your life…may seem to be interrupted or on hold,” shares Lanier. “But what the enemy meant for your harm, God is using for His purpose and working all things for your good. God is head over all things and nothing happens in your life without His approval. Even that which has been stolen and seemingly gone forever, God can restore.”

“As David encouraged himself in the Lord, he also inquired of the Lord’s will in such hopeless circumstances (vs. 7-8). He had nothing left but God and that was more than enough to start again,” Lanier states. “Sometimes, when we pray, the answer may be ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘wait.’ In this case, God told David yes, to pursue the enemy and recover all that had been stolen (vs. 8)!”

“David recovered ALL! Everything that he lost, everything he loved, everything that God had blessed him with was fully restored!” Lanier concludes, “Don’t give up…don’t lose hope…. encourage yourself in the Lord, inquire of Him. God’s perfect will shall be accomplished in your life according to HIS plan. I will recover “ALL”…in Jesus’ name!

The powerful scripture that speaks through John Lanier, whether on stage or in print, is one of the main influences in the life of a man surrounded by music and family. He holds fast to his trust in God as His shelter and the One who will complete the plans He has for his life. As a man who has experienced both the joys and sorrows of life, John Lanier can truly say, “God Is My Refuge.”

Lorraine Walker and John Lanier
Lorraine Walker and John Lanier

 

For more information on John Lanier visit http://www.johnlanier.com/

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/JohnLanierMinistries

 

 

 

 

First published in SGN Scoops April 2013 issue http://www.sgnscoops.com

Written by Lorraine Walker

Questions or comments? Write to Lorraine Walker at sgmradio.lorrainewalker@gmail.com

Lorraine Walker
Lorraine Walker