More than Entertainment

So many different types of music and artists have played in the background of my life. Songs seem to document the best and worst of times for me. I like listening to the melodies of happier times. They bring back sweet memories and make me smile.

Music also plays a big role in our worship. The old, standard hymns are so much a part of my church services and I love the way they seem to anchor the reverence I have for God.
Yet, contemporary Christian music is something that speaks to me in a more intimate way. It can lift me up in a spirit of praise and adoration of my Lord, or it can sing a song of healing.

I’d like to share a few special artists who have made a difference in my life. Their messages are more than entertainment … they sing of our joys and struggles in the “reality of living our faith.”

Sometimes, Christian artists never become mega-stars with numerous music awards. Yet, there are some who touch more hearts and lives because of their message and their commitment to a ministry that extends beyond music. David Meece is just such an artist. I first became familiar when David performed at our church in southeastern Arizona. His lyrics and music spoke to a broken area of my life and I realized this guy was for real. His first music was released back in 1976 and he’s been recording ever since. His distinguished career actually began at the age of 10, when he began touring as a concert pianist and distinguished child prodigy and, as such, performed all over the world. Some may be familiar with his more popular songs, “We are the Reason” and “One Small Child,” a Christmas classic. But, the song that most touched my heart is, “My Father’s Chair.” David grew up in an abusive home and this song is autobiographical. You can visit his web site and discover how talented and dedicated this Christian man is. And while I don’t have all his CDs, I can recommend Once in a Lifetime, which includes “My Father’s Chair,” and Odyssey. The thing I like most about David is that he has such variety in his music you’re bound to find something you like. David’s website is http://www.davidmeece.com.

If you’ve never listened to Kim Hill, you’re missing a wonderful opportunity to just worship. She too is another one of those real people, singing about real life.” After two years of participation in Focus on the Family’s Renewing the Heart national women’s conference, Kim, along with participants Lisa Harper and Eva Whittington Self, continue to teach and lead services through their own concert series, “Every Woman’s Hope." She’s been nominated for a Grammy and received multiple Dove Awards with her distinctive voice. If you are looking for renewal of your spirit from a realistic perspective, her two CDs, Arms of Mercy, and The Fire Again, will leave you more than satisfied. One song in particular, “I Can’t Believe,” speaks to the human side of being obedient and faithful. Visit her website and find out more about appearances and conference schedules, http://www.kimhillmusic.com.

With the hit song, “I Can Only Imagine,” which garnered several Dove Awards, the group MercyMe, was one of Christian’s fastest selling bands in 2001. This particular song illustrates what happens when we take the focus off our circumstances and place it on Jesus. Some of you may be more than familiar with their music but their CD Almost There, really touched my heart. And apparently, I’m not alone. The group appeals to both devout Christians and young teens. While their more upbeat tempo may not appeal to some, their music really has been a blessing. When Christian artists can reach outside the Christian arena, then they are making a real difference in the world.

There is one artist whom I can’t leave off this list. Rich Mullins. If you know the song, “Awesome God,” or “Step by Step,” then you know Rich Mullins because these have become popular songs in praise and worship services. He wasn’t your ordinary kind of person – certainly not when it comes to successful musicians. Instead, he took a vow of poverty and taught music to children on a Navajo reservation until his death in 1997. I still remember where I was on that evening when the news hit that he’d been killed in an automobile accident. Because he was a wonderfully prolific songwriter and performer, I’m only going to mention two CDs, The World as Best as I Remember It, – volumes one and two (released in 1991 and 1992, respectively). Within the twenty-one songs on these CDs, Rich paints pictures that stick in your mind. Pictures of the badlands and deserts, Jesus, friends, and a deep devotion to God. I think his words and music can be summed up by something he said: “Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.” That’s about as real as you can get. There are various sites about Rich Mullins and his ministry on the internet.

Finally, if there’s one thing we as Christians don’t do enough, it’s taking the time to laugh. And, there’s one man who can do that with wholesome, realistic humor that will leave you rolling on the floor. Mark Lowry has been in the business for more than twenty years and has been performing since he was eleven. Not only is Mark a gifted comedienne, he’s also a talented singer and songwriter. If you are familiar with the Christmas song, “Mary Did you Know,” then you “know” just how gifted he is. And, if you watch any of the Gaither Vocal Band’s “Homecoming” videos or television programs, you’ll see how God has perfectly meshed Mark's gifts into a wonderfully mischievous package. Just visiting his web site at http://www.marklowry.com makes you laugh.

I do pray that you might find encouragement in these dedicated Christians and something more than just entertainment in their words and songs.

As always, blessings, Francine

2 comments:

    On 5:00 AM Cami said...

    I remember where I was when I heard about Rich Mullins, too...I'll have to share it with you sometime. And, I love good entertainment reviews! Thanks for the fun and heartwarming facts.

     
    On 11:14 PM Francine said...

    Cami ... music can sometimes speak to through heartache and pain when nothing else does. It's done that for me during some of those darkest times. Maybe others will find the same to be true.

     
 
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