When you get to be my age, you reminisce about your life and wonder how many more years the Lord will give you to make a difference. My journey with music began when I was 8 years old the day the famous violinist, Dave Rubinoff, visited my 2nd grade classroom in the small Minnesota town where I grew up. Dave played “The Hot Canary” and made his violin do funny things. I went home that afternoon and told my mother and father I wanted to play the violin…all because this guy had made me laugh. We had no idea then how music would eventually become the central mission of my life.
During my teen and early adult years I made several attempts to run from music. But, one night I woke up at 3am with a very strong impression to read Psalm 40:3. It says, “I have put a new song in your mouth, a song of praise to God. Many will see it and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” That 3am wake-up call became a life-defining moment for me. I sat there stunned and spiritually awakened to the clear call on my life to lead people into praise and worship.
In my 20’s I traveled with a Christian music band out of Oral Roberts University called Living Sound. In 1982, the wife of Living Sound’s founder, Terry Law, was tragically killed in a car crash. Terry was devastated but eventually learned to find comfort and healing through praise in worship. As David said in Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Prior to Jan’s death, which impacted all of Living Sound, our music was very evangelistic in nature. We played concerts around the world leading people to Jesus. Through her death, the Lord taught us how to enter into his presence through praise and worship. When we made this shift, amazing new things began to happen in our meetings.
Once, for example, I was leading worship at a church service and Terry Law preached. During worship, I was just singing away and all of a sudden I had a sense that God had walked into the room but I didn’t dare open my eyes. This incredible presence filled the room and in those moments I stopped playing. Everybody knew we were in the awesome presence of God. When I finally looked everybody was either on their face or their knees. A 13-year-old girl who was deaf felt her ears open up in the middle of that meeting. Nobody prayed for her and she could hear.
Just as seasons change, my time leading praise and worship with Terry Law ended and I went to work with Integrity Music based in Mobile, Alabama. We did many great things at Integrity over the 20 years I was there. We produced wonderful music, touched the world through praise and worship and helped a lot of young musicians in their careers. Some of my favorite albums came out of my time with Integrity: God With Us, Give Thanks, God Will Make a Way, Thank You Lord and many others. I still sing these songs in my concerts. They’re like old friends.
There came a point, though, in 2007 when my heart was quite unsettled about my career at Integrity. I felt the Lord wanted to move me into something different, but it scared me. Laura and I were happily settled in Mobile. We had five children, three in college, who depended on me. However, the whisper in me continued to grow and became so strong I knew if I didn’t respond to it, I would be living in disobedience to God. Seasons change, as I had learned with Living Sound. If I didn’t change when the Holy Spirit wanted me to change, I would have missed out on some of the best days God had ahead for me. I needed to pay more attention to what God had originally called me to be…a worship leader and songwriter. I needed to follow my heart, not my head.
If you ask me what I want to do most with my life, my answer is to be a good husband and father to my family. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to have been married to my best friend for 40 years, to be Dad to five incredible kids, and now Grandpa to the cutest little girl in the world. God has been good! Had you asked me five years ago, however, I would have said the same words…but in my alone times with the Lord, I wondered when he would make a way for me as I had sung for thousands of other hurting people through the years. You see, when I walked away from Integrity, the transition wasn’t all a bed of roses. In fact, it was quite a struggle for me. My family relocated to Nashville, the music capital of America and an obvious choice for one in my industry. We went through many ups and downs, struggling to keep our heads above water. During that time we produced a new album called I Believe There Is More. I sang those words to myself countless times to encourage myself to believe and to trust in the Lord.
It feels as if life has come full-circle for me since my days traveling with Living Sound. Laura and I went on our first overseas trip to South Africa with Living Sound when we were college students. I proposed to her in South Africa and have always carried a special place in my heart for the entire continent of Africa. In recent years, the Lord has opened doors for me to perform concerts in Africa, as well as in Asia and the Americas. We regularly pack large venues as believers in those lands join together in praise and worship. I have great joy in these later days of my life because I am living my purpose, calling and dreams!
Many people see me as an artist and songwriter–and I love to write songs and lead worship. But let me tell you why I do what I do. God has given me a large platform or a sphere of influence through my songs and worship leading. Those gifts have opened up many opportunities to bring hope to people who have lost hope. One of my greatest joys in life is being able to touch people with God’s presence in practical and tangible ways, like providing food and shelter. Worship is more than the songs we sing. Don’t get me wrong. I love leading worship and singing songs of praise, but it cannot stop there. Reaching out to a person in need can be the sweetest song of worship ever heard!
Ghana is a place where I feel compelled to urge the church to do something to make a difference for others. Worship is so much more than a song. It is a lifestyle. Gifty, a little girl I met when visiting Royal Seed Home, just outside Accra, Ghana, reminded me of this truth. In fact, Gifty was one of the main inspirations to move forward with Worship In Action. Her story is one of tragedy turned to hope because of Royal Seed Home.
Concerts are wonderful. We depend on the presence of God and desire above all else to reside in his courts. Yet, I believe there is more for us to do. I believe if we are willing, we can have a big part to play in bringing hope to a hurting world. I believe we are called to put our worship into action. Will you consider joining us? We need your prayers and your financial partnership. Please become a partner of Worship In Action today. God bless you.