Popularized by the movie of the same name, for a number of years now people have been talking about their “bucket list.” I have several items yet unexperienced in my bucket list, too. God gave us such an incredible anniversary week at Global Advance. Almost 500 people attended the Friday evening dinner. We sensed the Lord’s smile throughout the week. It was culminated in a wonderful evening of celebrating a quarter century of gospel victories. May Jesus Christ be praised!
Driving home from the dinner I told Naomi I felt numb, happy, exhausted and energized, all at the same time. We finally had time to breathe – and breathe we did as we spent last week on our annual fall retreat. We drove through seven states and drank in the beauty of the changing season. And last Tuesday night (although I was probably around 30 years late!), I did something I’d wanted to do for decades. . . .
Naomi and I attended the Dove Awards in Nashville. I had prepped myself ahead of time to just appreciate the talent and not be judgmental of the spirituality (or lack of it) from the artists. I must say I was happily surprised. The different genres of Christian music are remarkably diverse, ranging from Christian “rap” (I don’t get it – but some do!) to Southern gospel to traditional to urban gospel to contemporary. And the list goes on.
Almost all the songs nominated for Song of the Year had strong, biblical messages. And to the delight of this old guy, it seems that melody and harmony are back in style. Casting Crowns, Crowder, and others took old lyrics from hymns and breathed new life into them with fresh melodies. And Bill Gaither and Matt Maher’s old/new combination of “Because He Lives” – wow! I left encouraged.
There’s great creativity today among Christian artists, and a lot of terrific young talent. There was also a sense of appreciation for the past. Michael W. Smith acknowledged the giant contributions of Billy Ray Hearn and Andrae Crouch. Both recently went to be with the Lord.
I reminded myself – we were teenagers and college students throughout the Jesus Movement. We pushed the envelope and a whole new style of music was born. It was rightly termed “Jesus music.” He was the theme of it all. Yet some in the church weren’t always pleased with what they heard. So let’s give today’s new Christian artists some slack.
Last week I deliberately left my laptop at home. I reveled in God’s creation, was nourished by friends, and had long talks with my wife. I’m refreshed. And thankful. I drank in hope last week. God’s not through with America yet. And, as Robert Frost wrote, I too have “miles to go before I sleep.”