Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock

This is a book review of sorts. I just finishing reading Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock by Gregory Thornbury. It’s the first real biography of Larry Norman that I’m aware of.

Yes, I was a big fan of Larry’s music while not always being such a big fan of Larry himself. Besides not being on the same page as he was on many issues, Larry was a very controversial figure and over the years I found that very off putting.

However none of that changed my love for his music. I still love it, dated though most of it is. So I was excited to read a book that was written with full access to all his papers and material given to the author by the Norman family.

It’s a good read for the most part. I did get the impression that the author wasn’t much on the church in general and I couldn’t quite figure out where he stood on the Gospel itself. You might think that shouldn’t matter, but it does to me. Larry spent most of his life trying to communicate the Gospel and if you don’t understand it I doubt you can really understand Larry.

I’m sure a lot of people won’t like the book. It shows Larry warts and all. It also shows those around him warts and all. I was disturbed by the way the author talked about some other Christian musicians I’m also fond of. Randy Stonehill comes off in a particularly bad light. If the book is true then it’s sad that they never really reconciled completely as I had thought they had.

I also felt the author didn’t investigate the allegations that came very late in Larry’s life that he had fathered a child out of wedlock. He does talk about it but I wish he had interviewed those still living who are involved in this. Perhaps he tried and couldn’t, I don’t know.

All in all this is a picture of a man who was far from perfect. He loved Jesus, music and wanted to be a huge player in an alternative to the “church world” as it existed in the 1960’s and ’70’s. Like everyone else Larry Norman has plenty of faults and struggled to live up to what he preached. In the end he might have had as many successes as failures in that regard. But how many of us can do better? We aren’t all paragon’s of virtue like Billy Graham.

When the dust has settled on Norman’s life what’s left for those of us who never knew him is his body of work. That stands the test of time. In 2014 his signature album, Only Visiting This Planet, was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry as one of the best rock albums ever made.

I doubt Larry Norman could have ever asked for much more than that for his work. He is gone but his work lives on. If you’d like to know more about the man behind the music, I encourage you to check this book out.

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Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock

Billy Graham & the Gospel

Billy-Graham

Isn’t it funny that even when you know things will happen it’s seems to always be at least a bit of shock when they do? That’s how I felt this morning when I saw the new that Billy Graham had died at the ripe old age of 99.

What a life and what a man!

As far back as I can remember in my walk of faith Billy Graham was there. I had heard of him and knew that he was the most famous evangelist in the world. He didn’t have anything to do with my decision to believe the Gospel and follow Jesus but I knew about him.

In our Youth Group (embarrassingly enough called the “Key Teens”) we watched several of the movies the Billy Graham Association put out. They always ended the same way too – the star of the movie would go to one of his crusades, hear him preach and then give their life to Christ.

Sure enough that’s a good ending for a movie intended to be evangelistic, but I always wished they would have followed the character to see how he or she did in their new Christian life. I was probably secretly hoping they would have some of the struggles I had with understanding and living out my faith.

Billy was a fantastic role model for anyone in the ministry. I am tempted to say the role model given how most famous “evangelists” act and live today. But of course that’s not true. There are thousands of good people in the ministry out there and I hope God blesses them all. Hopefully I can number myself among them.

Still I can’t help but wish we had more Billy Grahams.

But we don’t and we won’t. He was a one of a kind. A man called to minister to a specific time in world history. That time has passed and so has Billy Graham. Let us remember him warts and all and learn all we can from him.

I’ve decided that I’m going to devote next weeks edition of Disciple Up to Remembering Billy Graham, I hope you’ll check out the episode when it drops next Wednesday morning. Listening to people talk about him on TV made me realize how most of them don’t understand the Gospel that the Bible teaches and that Billy preached. I want to talk about that and some personal memories of him as well.

Thanks Billy, God bless as you enter into your rest and the presence of your Lord Jesus.

#BillyGraham  #RIPBillyGraham  #Welldonegoodandfaithfulservant  #BillyGrahamandtheGospel

 

 

Billy Graham & the Gospel

Doctors, Tests & Pushing On – All Glory To God!

Docs office

I snapped this picture this morning at the doctors office. It pretty well summarizes what I like so much about him and his office. They are laid back, very personal, yet offer the best of care. Hopefully he’ll last at least as long as I do so I won’t have to find a new one again!

I went in at 8:30 AM, turned in my 24 hour heart monitor. Waited and then had an echo cardiogram. No one told me not to eat so it took a bit longer but we got what was needed. Then after much more waiting I did the “stress” test on the treadmill.

Through the years I’ve heard a lot about how hard and strenuous this test is and I was a bit apprehensive about it since I’ve lost so much of my conditioning in the last few months. Well they’ve either lowered the standards quite a bit or I have a lot of out of shape friends – because it was a breeze!

The fastest the treadmill went was 2.5 miles an hour. Anyone in the distance walking/hiking community will tell you that speed, on flat terrain, is really slow! I mean Poky McSlowville kind of slow!  I didn’t even breath hard for the 15 minutes it took, much less work up a sweat.

I need to listen to myself more often when I teach on how fear always magnifies things far beyond what they really are.

Anyway – bottom line the old heart is fine. I’m officially cleared to do what I want. So I’m keeping up the hiking to rebuild my strength and endurance. I will also be starting to diet and get rid of this 40 pounds of blubber I picked up over the last year starting January 2nd. I hope to enjoy Christmas and New Years but not too much on the food side. Then in January it’s on!

I want to say that I’m so grateful to God for allowing me to do this at this stage of my life. I know plenty of people who can’t, and by all rights I should be one of them. Most of my adult life I’ve been sedentary and overweight. Somehow through all that my heart has held up. I am a blessed man and believe me I know it and am grateful to God for it.

Thanks for your prayers and concern. Now start praying God will kick me hard in the booty and these slabs of fat will fall of starting in the new year!

 

Doctors, Tests & Pushing On – All Glory To God!

Starting Over

Me hiking 11-18-17

Yep, I’m starting over. Not quite from the very beginning but pretty close. After missing my planned hike on the Arizona Trail due to sky high blood pressure I’m nearly back to where I started.

About 3 years ago I started hiking and losing weight. It culminated in 2016 by hiking in and out of the Grand Canyon in one day, and then hiking the first 200 miles of the Camino.  What amazing experiences. I came home firmly focused on doing more long range hikes.

But my blood pressure intervened and after a more than a three month battle it’s almost back where it should be.  However having to take all that time off has taken it’s toll. I’ve gained mucho weight and my hiking stamina is waaaaaay down!

I just got in from walking 2.47 miles in the desert. It took longer than it should have, but I managed to finish without being totally exhausted. So that’s a good sign. When I starting hiking a few years ago I couldn’t even do two miles, and was wiped out in the effort. So I’ve lost lots of ground but I’m still better off than when I started.

For all of that I’m grateful. I’ll be 65 by the end of the year and am also grateful I’m able to do what I can do at this age. I am also determined to get back what I lost and get back to where I want and need to be.

So yes, I’m starting over, by the grace of God, and am looking forward to where this new road will take me. Will I finally get to the Arizona Trail?

Stay tuned…film when I get it!!

 

 

Starting Over

What I’m About To Do On My Fall Vacation

Once upon a time school teachers actually had students stand up and talk about what they did on their vacation. These presentations were usually accompanied by some sort of props either illustrating their trip or some bought while on it. I’m not sure if I ever did anything like that as a kid. I seem to have some vague memories of it but nothing for sure.

So I thought I’d do a report on what I’m going to do before I actually do it, just to give me something to write about on this blog. Here goes…

Just over a year ago I took two weeks off, went to Spain and walked the first two hundred miles (approximately) of the Camino De Santiago. I came home realizing I couldn’t afford to make two more trips to complete it, and aside from a couple of very special people, it hadn’t been the experience I thought it would be anyway.

So I began searching for something like it but not it and hopefully a lot closer to home. Turns out there really isn’t anything like it. I began to realize that, like it or not – and I didn’t, I was going to have to do the camping thing if I was going to continue to do any long form hiking.

Sigh – but then I stumbled upon the Arizona Trail and was a bit happier. Yes, I’m going to be camping, etc. But at least it’s pretty close to home. So starting on October 10th I’ll be hitting the Arizona Trail for two weeks, hoping to do a little more than 200 miles in that time. It’s a lot rougher than the Camino and I’ll only have two chances during that time to get a shower and bed, so it’s really going to be different.

The Arizona Trail (AZT) is a fairly new trail that runs from our border with Mexico to the border with the state of Utah. It runs through a lot of mountains and of course goes through the Grand Canyon. For more information visit the official site here.

at_map

Obviously I won’t be able to get anywhere near finished in just two weeks. But I’m hoping to get from from the start to the little town or Oracle, which is a little bit north and east of Tucson.

AZT Southern map There’s a close up for you.

I’ll probably post more later, and will do a pre-trip video on what I’m taking etc. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to post while on the AZT. But when I get home I’ll be posting what I hope will be a lot of videos.

Till next time.

What I’m About To Do On My Fall Vacation

A Much Needed Reminder For Those In Ministry

I just read an article over at Christianity Today that is really excellent and makes a fantastic that applies to everyone in the Ministry or who has been trained for it. Here’s the quote:

We as trained exegetes and theologians can and should also have this posture, but honest self-reflection reveals that for most of us, our learning often creates layers of distance between us and hearing the Bible as God’s Word to us. Although it was obtained for the supposed goal of bridging the gap between us and the biblical text, our training in fact often creates in our hearts and minds an elaborate structure of paper walls and divisions that create a maze of distance between us and Scripture. Relegating meaning to the sensus historicus, obtained through the employment of an elaborate skill set, and making understanding and application secondary steps only opens the door for this deferral more widely. Instead, we can learn from our faithful mothers-in-law that to read Scripture is to seek to hear and obey God now in very practical ways. Anything less is not reading Holy Scripture according to its purpose.

His point is that over focusing on the historical, historical, language side of things we under focus on what a passage means to us right here and right now.

That’s a real issue for many of us and I find it happening to myself all too often. It’s something to be very aware of so we can make sure it isn’t happening to us. You can read the whole thing here and I hope you do.

A Much Needed Reminder For Those In Ministry