I was born into a Catholic family. My mother, who went to heaven in the fall of 2021, was a very strong Christian lady who taught me and my six brothers and sisters to love the Lord. She would take us to church every Sunday and have us on our knees, certain times of the year, praying with her. I remember the security of her rounding us all in bed and saying our nightly prayers. She was always a beacon of faith and love to us.
I have been singing since I was a tyke. My mom would grab all us kids and teach us Christmas songs, which we would sing at her Mother's Christmas event. She taught us harmony as well. I doubt if I would be singing without her early encouragement. She gave us a love for music. I can still remember hearing her playing her piano and singing during the afternoon when we came home from school. Her voice was as beautiful as her heart. I miss her a lot, but know in a few years I’ll see her again in Heaven.
My dad did not go to church much when I was young, but always made sure we did, and was a moral and upright man and a great father. I remember him smoking when I was young and, finding out it was harmful to his health, he immediately quit and never smoked again. Both my parents never drank, except for an occasional celebratory toast. I remember my dad and mother coming outside during weekends and playing baseball with our family of seven kids and the neighbor's family of nine. We had full baseball games. It was a blast!
At this writing, my dad is a month away from 91, and still beats me all the time in pool. I’m thankful that he is healthy and bright minded. We often spend time in Biblical and theological conversations. Since I was in my twenties, he has always been my best friend. One of the reasons I hope the Rapture comes soon is because I know how hard it will be if he beats me to Heaven. But again, if that happens I know without a doubt that it will be just a few years before I join him, for years here are just passing seconds in the eternal realm.
Spiritually, I first sensed the presence of the Lord at around 7 or 8, when I was an altar boy at St. Roch's Church in Flat Rock, MI. I remember vividly that it was a morning mid-week service and I was quite tired. There were probably about three parishioners, the priest and I. I was kneeling in the back, altar-left section, and suddenly, it got just a little brighter. I had a sense of His love in a way that I knew was Him. It was almost like a moment of suspended time; I saw the priest busy with his tasks, but I felt as if I wasn't completely there. (My wife will tell you that I'm not all there most of the time, but this was a bit different.)
I remember the same sensation when I had my confirmation. The bishop asked me if I renounced the devil. I said "yes" and then he slapped me! (I was supposed to turn the other cheek, at that point.)
My life went on to baseball and that sort of thing, then girls, then drugs. I remember once, during the 70s, after my girlfriend broke up with me that I took some acid and could not come down from a very wicked high. I felt my insides were out and shutting my eyes did nothing to stop the visions of creatures encouraging me to run into a wall. I cried out for God and the next thing I knew, I was awake the next morning, perfectly sane (relatively speaking). At that point, I began searching for God in earnest.
Seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show was the turning point of my musical life. Enlisting the help of my little brothers and sister, I wrote two songs about Paul Revere riding his horse; one upbeat and one slow. I performed them for my mom and dad on a cardboard guitar. They were kind enough to say that I sounded nice but, now that I'm a father (and a grandfather) I can imagine what they said when I left. From there, my mother tried to teach me piano and I made it through a book and a half before the love of baseball overcame the desire to continue. That decision is one of the biggest regrets I have. (I encourage anyone who loves music to learn the piano so that you can gain command of the grand staff.) I learned classical guitar, which shifts the notes around so the music can be scored all on the treble clef, and it messed up me, as far as learning the bass clef. When I taught a Contemporary Choir since my instrument is guitar, I have to constantly shift reading to accommodate the voices and still struggle with the bass clef. I'm forever working with it.
I was 16 when I learned guitar. I spent an entire Summer, day in and day out, teaching myself. I learned all the licks by the Doors and the Led Zeppelin lead solos but couldn't strum for beans. But my fast lead solos impressed a lot of people. I would go to parties and get high but, having no use for the other people because they all acted so idiotic when stoned or drunk, would come home and play the guitar. Though I was messed up with drugs, I still thought about God. My favorite times during that period were going with my brother to a friend's house. We'd get high, go into his friend's room fully loaded with black lights and Jethro Tull and talk about God! We didn't have the slightest idea what we were talking about (neither did Ian Anderson, for that matter) but we knew something was missing.
I was bummed about losing my girlfriend (because of drugs) and freaked out that God delivered me from an overdose. I wasn't doing too well in school. I walked around with a rosary in my pocket with the crucifix hanging out. I knew the answer was there, somehow. Then, out of nowhere, I was asked by a guy named Dan Davis (now an evangelist) to teach him guitar. He was (and still is) a Pentecostal but was "backslidden". I didn't know what a Pentecostal was but found out I could ask him questions about Jesus. The lessons were few, but the discussions were great. I got a "Good News For Modern Man" New Testament from him and read it, front to back. The most I had read of a Bible before was Genesis and Exodus up to the crossing of the Red Sea. I didn't know those Epistles and Gospels we heard about at church were in the Bible. What a great experience! I couldn't put it down! God began to change me through His Word and I loved the stick art in that book! Both had a great effect on me. I have a burning desire to learn His Word to this day and I use "stick art" to help me convey many messages. If you see the cover of my "We're Gonna Fly" CD or check out a few videos I have on YouTube, you'll get a taste of this "highly developed art".
I'll never forget the 4th of July 1972. I had no desire to do anything but talk about Jesus with my buddy, Dan. My family was going to some event and Dan needed help scraping varnish off chairs for his dad's auction. Because we were going to talk about Jesus, I wanted to scrape chairs. We had no scrapers so we used shards of glass! He told the story about Phillip, sent by the Holy Spirit to lead an Ethiopian eunuch to Christ. He then baptized him and the Spirit took him away. I remember being wowed and then I was "taken away"! The place got bright (like that time as an altar boy) and my heart beat quickly. My soul felt pure. My tongue got all tangled up in my mouth and I wanted to babble like a baby! (I knew nothing about the gift of tongues. My friend had never mentioned it and it got past me during my quick reading of the New Testament.) There was no way I was going to babble in front of my buddy, so I just stood there, looking at him dumb-like. He looked at me and he knew something was up. Finally, when I had my tongue back, I said, "I feel like a little kid!" He said, "The Bible teaches us we must be as children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Then it dawned on me I had just become a child of God!
The next week, I was still in the clouds. I went to my first prayer meeting. There were all these longhaired, scruffy people like us, praising God out loud. I sat there, extremely self-conscious but loved it! Those meetings were the most heart-felt, joyful meetings I have ever experienced! We didn't know a lot, but we knew we loved Jesus!
The speaker, Brother Randy, gave a great message and then mentioned the "tongues stuff". It hit me then that this is what happened to me. He asked if anyone would like to go pray for that gift. I jumped up and went into a room and began praying in tongues! Now, I'm not of the persuasion that all need to speak in tongues. My wife doesn't and she's a "better Christian" than I am. But, if anyone told me tongues weren't for today, I'd have to respectfully disagree. That gift has been such a comfort to me! When I don't know what to pray for or simply cannot pray, I pray in the language He gave me and I see results. I receive peace. I receive answers to the things I could not pray for and He puts me back on my feet.
I definitely became what others at the time called a "Jesus Freak". I carried a Bible to school, drew crosses and stuff on my jeans, wore crosses and talked about Him every chance I got. I found a number of Christians in my school crawling out of the woodwork, and we started a prayer meeting in the school gym. Back then, the teachers encouraged people who loved Jesus. We were much easier to handle than the druggies. I did lose all my druggie friends but one, who seven years later, gave his life to Jesus. We went to every prayer group we could find and denominations meant nothing to us. It was all about Jesus. One of the leaders of the Melvindale meeting became our speaker: Jeff Hlavin. When last I heard, he was a Presbyter in the Assemblies Of God, but back then, he was a 20-year-old kid with hair down his back, who never stopped smiling. I expect he still never stops smiling. God never called me to be a pastor (yet) but I've always felt called to minister in music and the Word of God, which leads to the next years of my testimony.
When I gave my life to Jesus, I dove into the Word of God. I figured that if this is what He's said to us, I'd better learn it, so memorizing His Word has been a constant thing for me. At one point in my life, I got to thinking that the scriptures I remembered the longest were the ones I sang, so I put two and two together and started putting full books into music. And it worked! I can quote full passages of scripture just by thinking of the songs. I would love to spend the rest of my life just recording the rest of them on CDs for people to learn. I've also found that if you learn things bit by bit, a little at a time, you can memorize a lot, quickly. That's the basic principle of my "Bible Solitaire" book.
Musically, about a year after I became a believer, I finally realized that I could sing a little. I leaned on my buddy, Mike Goshorn, to do the singing while I backed him up on the guitar. He sang a lot like Ricky Nelson (for those 60s people out there). I'll never forget my first solo. I sang "Outlaw" by Larry Norman. I was really nervous and toward the end, my voice cracked! Believe it or not, instead of being embarrassed, I thought I couldn't do any worse, so I continued to sing. I guess I got better, but my voice still cracks occasionally. I've learned that getting better isn't necessarily improving skills but also covering up mistakes with a straight face! As my life progressed, I grew in the Word but still had that rebellious spirit when it came to organized church. I could not bring myself to be in the church, which I thought had missed the point. I felt it was just a social club and they used Jesus as their mascot. (Honestly, that wasn't too far from the truth for many of them.)
Though we loved Jesus, we weren't too disciplined and many in the Jesus Movement got led astray and made many stupid mistakes because of it. I found that some of my closest brothers and sisters grew cold and entered back into the shadow land. They are still there, after all these years.
Our leader, Jeff, became a bona fide minister for the Assemblies and was asked to take over a dying church in Rockwood, Michigan. He loaded up the prayer group and we officially joined the Assemblies of God. For us, it was great, just an actual building of our own and some new brothers and sister. I also met a girl who'd become a Christian and we were married. After a couple of years, I realized I'd become pretty good with the guitar, and with my friends, Bruce Labadie and Peggy Taylor, formed a band. We began to sing at places and a producer, Mike Kuzma, recorded us on an album (yes, vinyl back then). We opened for Daniel Amos and Petra at an Allen Park concert. We liked Daniel Amos but Petra took all the warm-up time and we never got to have a sound check! I wish I could say that all went well from that point on, and it did for many years, but things changed. Peggy left for school. Bruce and I played many places within the area and had an opportunity to travel but, with kids and needing insurance to take care of them, I couldn't afford the risk. I also had a hard time leaving my family for any real length of time. So we stayed within a two-hour radius and our friend, Linda Kish, joined us. During that time, we made "First John" together.
I went through a very self-righteous period during that time. I would snub most Christian Rock and wrote a song called, "O Please Don't Let Me Make The Christian Top Ten". I felt that Christians were getting extremely commercialized (still do) and I felt the songs on the radio became cookie-cutter for mass appeal (still do). But God has a reason for everything and many have been won to Him in spite of the commercial interests of the music industry. I learned a lot about self-righteousness and God rebuked me, although it can still grab me if I'm not careful. I do miss the heartfelt expression of the 70s Christian music; Love Song, Larry Norman (especially), Paul Clark, Phil Keaggy, etc. I think some of the music started getting back to this (finally) and I'm really enjoyed some of the stuff by Jars of Clay, Third Day and Michael W. Smith, but my favorite is Robin Mark. (If you don't know who he is, look him up.) My favorite worship album is the Revival at Belfast.
At the moment of this update (2022) I think the music back-tracked again, but who am I to judge? It’s probably because I’ve gotten older. I’m thankful for media like Pandora so I can hear the stuff from my generation.
I had a great marriage for 16 years and four beautiful kids but as my wife and I both backslid, it led to the eventual ruin of our marriage. It is amazing how slowly and insidiously the devil can work on your lusts and tempt you. It took a little while before I realized that I was truly away from the Lord; about three years. One of the signs was the gradual diminishing of the Christian friends and the gaining of worldly ones. I think it started when Pastor Jeff was promoted to a larger church. The new pastor and I just did not seem to click, so we left and held small meetings with Bud Bihl (also a memorizer through music) which was good, but it was "home church" and so had little discipline and accountability. That's why I always stress to find a stable church with a network of brothers and sisters who care and that you can be accountable to. We became our own little island and finally left the church altogether. We got into a lot of partying with my wife's side of the family and, to me, it seemed that these people were much more helpful and generous than many of the stuffy Christians I knew. But it was a deception and a rationalization because I knew I was doing things that Christians like me should know better than to do. I would justify it by being around those who didn't have the moral integrity the believers had. Because of my Bible knowledge, I could twist scriptures to justify practically everything I did and I could out-argue many of my friends who knew less scripture than I did.
I remember putting all my Christian books into a small room in our basement. Occasionally, I would find myself down there, crying. I found that, though I was backslidden, the Holy Spirit was still present with me and I understood what grieving the Holy Spirit meant. I realized that I was in a trap and I could not get myself out. One night, sitting in a tub, I sensed a voice telling me that, if I did not change, I would not go to Heaven! Now, for a person who believes in eternal security of the believer (I still do) it was a big blow! I cannot coincide what I read in the Bible with those words but I can't deny that I was terrified. I walked the streets that night, crying out for God to deliver me because I knew I was trapped.
I now understand that when someone backslides, his ears become dimmer to the call of the Spirit and he loses that sense of assurance. But Jesus always finds His lost sheep and brings them back. Sometimes it can be quite painful, but in the end we receive His love, forgiveness, and everlasting joy. And the assurance returns.
Providentially, the next morning, my brother called me about some Christian talent show going on in a few weeks. I'd not sung Christian music in over a year and I hardly remembered the songs I wrote. You must understand, I had already put 17 books of the Bible to music at that time and had made a number of albums. You'd think I would have known better, but I understand plainly the words of Jesus in John 3, where He gives the reason for our uncanny ability to reject Him for the world. "Men love darkness rather than light." I think about that. People on their way to Hell do not want Heaven. They want the darkness they hold to, no matter where it leads them. They are blinded by their own sin. We need to pray God opens their eye but many are willfully blind and fight every revelation. Our battle as intercessors is to pray that He gets every opportunity to reveal Himself to those who are lost.
I resolved to go to the talent show with one of the songs I could remember. I made it through a few cuts, but lost in the finals. But, at the time, it didn't matter. I tasted the Heavenly gift again and I had hope. A few weeks later, my old singing partner, Bruce, called me from his home in Florida and told me that there was going to be a reunion concert for a place we used to sing at called "Shalom House". He had arranged for us to sing. He came all the way from Florida for a concert a few miles from where I lived, so we put together a few songs and played. When we sang a song I wrote called "Trust In The Lord" from Proverbs 3, my heart was pumping. I felt that Presence. Jesus was calling me home. I almost didn't make it through the song. Then the emcee, Johnny Mozug, asked if we could sing it again. Well, I tried, but could not. I broke down in tears. Many of my old brothers in the Lord prayed with me and I re-committed my life to Jesus.
My good friend Paul Brown invited me invited me to his church and I was healed again. (Paul just recently went to Heaven) I must tell you: one of the reasons I was in tears was because I felt that if I returned to the Lord, I would lose my wife. I knew she did not want to return to the way we were before but I also knew I could not live my life with Jesus as the center of it. Four years later, we were divorced. I do not blame the divorce on her. It was the poor choices we both made that destroyed our marriage and, though I wanted it to work, too much damage had been done. Besides, it is the husband who is accountable to God in a marriage, and I was not the husband I should have been.
After all these years, it still affects our children and those around us. The pain of divorce never really goes away but God has used this to show me His mercy. I never understood mercy before divorce. I was very aloof and looked very superficially at the passages about divorce in the Scripture, as many in the church still do, until it happens to one of them. Then, one sees more and more things in the scriptures about the subject.
God has made beauty of the ashes of this sin, however. I was able to teach Divorce Recovery for many years, which gave me the opportunity to bring hope to those caught up in it. I have also been able to be re-married to a wonderful Christian lady who is a true friend, helpmate and lover of Jesus. With her by my side, I have grown so much closer to Jesus. That is my best advice to any who think of marriage. If the person you're with is not sold out to Jesus, don't marry him or her. Don't put on your spouse what belongs to Jesus. You can only love your spouse completely when you love Jesus completely. He is your main Counselor and help in time of trouble and only He can bring you the fullness of joy. Spouses are just as prone to sin and selfishness we are and our job is to hold together as a couple and cry out to Jesus.
I was blessed at First Presbyterian of Trenton, Michigan, to be their Contemporary Arts Director for many years. I now have moved on to Community Bible Church in Trenton, and I have probably learned more in a few years there than I have in all the years prior to my becoming a member.
My goal is to write music, books, memorize God's Word, win souls, be a testimony, be a mentor, be a good husband, father, grandfather, son and, most of all, to love Jesus with all my heart. I have a great longing for Heaven. In fact, I've written a cantata called "A Glimpse of Heaven". I believe that we are to be Colossians 3 people: seek those things which are above, set our affections on things above, not on things of the earth. We are too worldly-minded to be any Heavenly good, contrary to what others say. I know very few "Heavenly-minded" people. The more I think of Heaven, the more excited I get. The more I tell people about my Heavenly home and especially about the Master of the House, the more I see their need for my Master and Savior and the more I want to tell them. People need to get out of the Land of the Shadow and into the Land of Light. I look for Him to come at any time and I want to be ready!
I have recently put Revelation to music, which is about 100 songs in the ESV. I’m hoping, with the help of my wonderful friend and webmaster Rhonda Hanson, to put it all out in YouTube videos so everyone can learn about this fantastic book, and memorize it by singing songs. It took a year for me to memorize it, and I go over one chapter a day as a devotional to perfect my trouble spots.
Since I am a futurist in my eschatological thinking, I think Revelation is one of the most important books to know well, for it keeps you looking up, where your head should be.
Elsewhere on this site, I will attempt to explain why I recorded or wrote the songs I have and then you will get to know a little more about how I think. I hope it will encourage you to forget about yourself and to look at Jesus for true joy and your only real hope, your comfort, your strength and your true love.
I want to leave you with my life scripture, taken from Proverbs 24:16. "A righteous man falls seven times but rises up again." My advice to all who hear is this: If you fall, reach out to Jesus. He will pick you up and make you whole again.
Since I was about 8, music has been a huge part of my life. I mentioned in my testimony that my mother has always been a talented vocalist and pianist and I inherited her love of music. She was self-taught. I would hear her playing many classical and show tunes all of my life. She encouraged us to learn but I preferred baseball.
My journey began with the influence of secular music. When the Beatles hit the Ed Sullivan Show, my musical life was changed forever, as was true for so many of my generation. I fell in love with their harmony (my mom was shocked that they could actually harmonize well!) and grew to love other groups such as Herman's Hermits, the Beach Boys, the Zombies, etc. I always hated the Stones, in general, though "As Tears Go By" is one of my favorite songs of that time. Still, I felt the Stones were obnoxious, vulgar and a very poor contrast to the Beatles. Later, the Beatles displayed vulgarity as well, unfortunately, and many of us followed them into the drug culture.
Later, I got into the guitar and my favorite bands were all guitar-oriented: Hendrix, Zeppelin, Jethro Tull and especially the Doors. I still can't listen to some of these records because of the negative emotional impact they had on my life. I know music does something to the soul. Anyone who says they only listen to the music and not the words is deceiving himself or herself. It drives deep within you and sticks with you. That's why I am so into the Scripture song system of memorization. Nothing works better in long-term memory than the Scripture song. Your mind looks for something unique and music has much in that regard: pitch, lyrics, rhythm, phrasing, mood, short bits to grasp quickly, etc. God prepared me, in spite of myself, to learn this well.
I'm not one who listens only to Christian music, but I am very particular about what I do listen to. I no longer listen to many of my old favorite albums, not because they are necessarily bad, but because there is no life in them. I believe that we all have vestiges of what the Lord has blessed us with, believer or non-believer, though we have corrupted a lot of what God has given us. That is one way I look at the parable of the talents. Mankind has been given gifts by God and what they do with them is a determining factor for their eternity. As of this writing, what I listen to mostly is soft Celtic music, the Beatles' first two albums, the Andrews Sisters, Jars of Clay's "Good Monsters", Robin Mark's "Revival At Belfast", Phil Keaggy, Lamb III, an assortment of early Bee Gees, Herman's Hermits, Beach Boys, Zombies and Eric Clapton's later music. I can't forget Jazz guitarist Pat Martino and my buddy Rufus Harris (nobody better in the Detroit Area), Rhonda Hanson, Paul Dozier, Bluegrass singer Suzie Glaze and James and 2nd Timothy.
My greatest musical influences were definitely the Doors, Jethro Tull, the Beatles, Clapton and the Zombies. As much of a moron (to quote a friend) as Jim Morrison was, he could grab the soul with his voice. I hope he didn't grab too many. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull is probably the greatest genius to come out of the rock world (as far as I am concerned) but his ideas of God in his Aqualung album were just plain nonsense. I hope he knows better now. (But he sure knew how to make an album!)
Vocally, the Zombies were my greatest influence (other than mom). "A Rose For Emily" from the Odyssey and Oracle album is probably the model I strive for in singing a beautiful song. If you have never heard that album, get it. It is, in my opinion, one of the best albums ever made.
Here are some other favorite secular songs marked my musical journey. The Beatles: "Michelle", "Because" (the harmony is fantastic, especially when they restructured it without instruments on the Love album), "Penny Lane" (all time favorite; I know of no other song that conveys musical happiness than this one), "Julia" (I sense a deep longing in this song and whenever I hear it, I pray that John turned to Christ before he died), "She's Leaving Home" (I pray for children when I hear this song and think of how I could have been a better father), "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" (simply the most invigorating song I've heard and the memories that song brings are all good). Herman's Hermits: "Mrs. Brown", "A Kind Of Hush", "Dandy". The Beach Boys: "Good Vibrations" (one of the best developed songs I've ever heard). Otis Redding: "Dock Of The Bay". Stevie Wonder: "Love's In Need Of Love Today". Scott McKenzie: "San Francisco". A few more songs, just as they come to mind: "Rover, One Brown Mouse, Heavy Horses, Do You Believe In The Day (on Thick As A Brick), Flyingdale Flyer by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull; Little Wing, Angel, Red House by Jimi Hendrix (other than Phil Keaggy, the best lead guitarist ever); Black Mountainside, Tangerine, Baby, I'm Gonna Leave You by Led Zeppelin (though I do not recommend listening to them, since I think they're a bit demented), anything by the Four Tops, the Temptations, Supremes, Marvin Gaye's "Through The Grapevine" and "You Can Feel It All Over" by Stevie Wonder.
One of my favorite albums was "Please To See The King" by Steeleye Span, especially their versions of "The Blacksmith", "Lovely On The Water" and "Gaudete". Before I get off the subject of the secular music influence, I want to mention that one of the neatest things that happened to me when I was born again was that I didn't have to be cool, anymore. I found that the innocent music from my childhood was just as fun and heartwarming as it was then, before I went toward evil. I still sense that joy and innocence from the early stuff and shun the stuff that led me away from God.
I hate to say it but much of the Christian music is just plain cookie-cutter or bad. But I have to also say that it is far better than the secular music of this generation. I have trouble listening to any radio station too long and probably enjoy instrumental and talk stations better than music stations. I think most music industries have sold out to mammon and I'm pretty sure most musicians agree with me. As a leader of a Contemporary Praise team, I rely heavily on the church to let me know what blesses them and leads them into worship. I know how snobby I am when it comes to music and I've come to find many gems within the Christian music world, thanks to my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I have my favorites, especially Phil Keaggy, Larry Norman, Lamb, Robin Mark, Michael W. Smith's Worship, Kemper Crabb (his Vigil album was the influence for my learning to play the recorder), some Third Day, some Mercy Me and many other musicians, as you will see. I just fell in love with Brandon Heath's "Give Me Your Eyes". I do not keep the church praise limited to the latest music, but include everything from hymns, to Gaither, Love Song, Larry Norman, Mercy Me, Jars Of Clay, Newsboys and Brandon Heath. I believe that good music is eternal and you can find it in any generation.
In 1972, when I became a believer, my greatest fear was that I had no music to listen to, anymore. I knew the effect much of that music had on me and I didn't want to go back to it. Larry Norman was a Godsend! I consider Larry Norman's "Only Visiting This Planet" the defining album of the Jesus People generation. Larry showed me that I could still rock and serve Jesus. I loved him for it! Then came Love Song, whose lovely harmonies sounded like converted Beatles' music. But Phil Keaggy's first album "What A Day" was the best! He's definitely the best all-around guitarist I've ever heard, hands down. No one in my opinion has come close to his heart, his versatility and his expression of joy. "I can't wait to see You, Jesus, face to face" are household words to many who have had the privilege to listen to Phil's music. I remember going to a concert with my daughters and one of my sons to see Phil Keaggy for my birthday. My friend Bruce Labadie happened to find out and called Phil, who called my name in the audience to wish me a happy birthday. We introduced ourselves to him afterward then he went to get a glass of water for my daughters. My little (at the time) son, Phillip, said to him, "When I grow up, I'm going to learn guitar like you, but I'm going to play it with all five of my fingers." (For those who don't know, Phil lost a finger on his right hand.) He cracked up! The next day, we found that he was in the motel room next to us and, as he was getting ready to leave, we had a good conversation. It was one of the best moments of my life and one day, I would love to play alongside him.
Lamb III probably expresses the longing of the completed Jew and, for that matter, all believers better than anything I've ever heard. I strive to convey that longing in some of my music but I don't think I'll ever be able to convey it like that album. If you can find it, get it. The closest I've ever come to that longing in recent times is the first "Revival At Belfast" album featuring Robin Mark. You can't find a better live album than that to worship with, in my opinion. He sang "Be Unto Your Name" by Lynn DeShaza and I get so choked up, even now, I almost weep for longing when I think of that song.
Finally, I have to mention that one of my favorite Christian singers is Rhonda Hanson, who has become a great friend and sister in the Lord. She conveys the raw reality of a Christian; what they say at night all alone before God. She brings the reality of the Christian life; that life, for a believer, is not a bed of roses but we still live in a dark world and have real pain and suffering, yet we know without a doubt that God is our Father. I told her that her music makes me think of times when my eyes were dry but my heart was weeping. Dry eyes, because I still sin and fall prey to my desires and I know that no matter what, without Father, I am lost. Yet, my heart weeps because of those very sinful desires and I long for Him to clothe and comfort me and take this sinful fleshly desire away. Rhonda Hanson is kind of a Romans 7 singer with a Romans 8 ending. If you haven't heard her, you're missing a true blessing!
In closing, I'll just give you a little insight into my own music. The first song I wrote as a believer was taken from Psalms 31, "In Thee, O Lord". I improved it a few years later. I remember writing "It's Been A Long, Long Time" and "As I See His Life" (that one is not yet recorded) in Florida when I took my brother Clayton to my sister's house. I was probably 18. "All Things" was written when I had lost a girlfriend who ended up being my first wife. Psalm 121 was put to music about that time, after I saw "The Sound Of Music" and was my first full word-for-word Psalm put to music. When I shared an apartment with Bruce Labadie, I went crazy writing songs. I always wrote in twos back then and I think I have the 45-RPM record concept still in my head (for those who don't know what I'm talking about, look it up).
I definitely write my Scripture albums with the LP in mind! Each chapter I picture as a side of a record album and many times, try to have some sort of musical link between each song. I couldn't tell you the chronological order of each song. I've written hundreds and have written over a thousand Scripture songs. Our Shekinah album was the first one we made and the only one that ended up on vinyl. This was with Bruce Labadie and Peggy Taylor, produced by Mike Kuzma and recorded by Solid Sound and Tony Amore. It was quite an experience for us and one of the best things about it was meeting a great guitarist named Carl Robinson. He'd teach me lead licks and I'd teach him a little Classical. He was the mellowest guy I ever met. He was even late for his wedding!
My thought that others my be interested in full books put to music came at around this time and Linda Kish joined Bruce and I to record First John In Song. We used to go places and have people call about a particular chapter from books we had to music like 1 John, Romans, Ephesians and James and then we would sing them. It was a great time. Unfortunately, our band broke up and I started doing some solo stuff. "In The Son" was my first solo work; a compilation of the songs people always asked me to sing. Somewhere around this time, I put together "Hallel: Passover Psalms 113-118" when my friend, Richard Elmore, wanted me to do a Seder Meal.
Some time after this point, I began to go through a slow period of "backsliding". We had a group called Promise, which was a beefed-up Shekinah with Carl, Linda, Bruce and a great drummer named Roy Horton. The band was good and innovative but it didn't last and my wife and I slowly but surely fell away. When I returned to the Lord, I began to understand the horrors of abortion, thanks to a tape by Franky Shaeffer. This inspired me to write an album called "Inconveniently Alive", which, when I sell, results in half the price being donated either to a crisis pregnancy center or to a Right To Life chapter. I would picket the clinic by my house on Saturday mornings and play anywhere I could to wake up our still apathetic church to the destruction of 4000 babies a day, here in the land of the "free". I was divorced during this time frame and it was also then that I produced my "Trust In The Lord" album. At this time, my daughter lost her child at childbirth, spending 17 hours in labor, knowing her baby was dead. It was awful and heart wrenching and probably the toughest part of my sheltered life. She sang, "O God" with me on this album and played flute for "Brand New Day". Through this album, the Lord brought great healing.
At this time, all of my music was on cassette tape, since CD burners and that sort of thing were still out of the question, financially. I also made a few story/music cassettes (not yet on CD) called "Annie" and "The Old Man". Maybe some day, I'll get them released.
From this point, I got remarried to Julie, the love of my life. I made the "Take Me Home" project, which is a potpourri of stuff I write, from rock to mellow. This was the time when I began leading worship, a new experience for me, since most of my life; I simply performed my own works. It was a transition for me but it has been a great learning experience, as well. Being in a traditional/contemporary church where services are separate but the fellowship is the same, I grew to love the hymns. I wrote "Hymns And Spiritual Songs" and then "Rest Beyond The River". Between them, I finally got "James In Song" in decent condition. I almost had "Ephesians" done but scrapped it. I plan to return to that as soon as I can. I think the music on "Ephesians" and "First Peter" is my most heartfelt, so I hope to complete these in the next few years.
Because of my divorce experience, I see how much hurting people need comfort and hope, which only God can give. I know that just as the Holy Spirit used David to calm Saul, music can be of great healing for those hurting. This inspired me to make "Songs For Healing". I picked songs that have greatly soothed my soul and put them on this album with the prayer that the Lord would use them to touch others in the same way.
Finally, as I grow older, I desire more than ever to be in Heaven with my Creator. "We're Gonna Fly" was made with that intent, as well as "A Glimpse Of Heaven", a cantata that we hope to publish.
My musical journey, then and now... and continuing until He calls me home.