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.

Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock

Billy Graham & the Gospel


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

Walk Against Drugs


This morning I got to do two things at once. I did the long walk I like to do on Saturday mornings and took part in a walk against drugs & alcohol in our community.  This event was in memory of Cynthia Williams who died on March 9th this year.

Like just about everywhere in this country drugs and especially alcohol (it’s cheap) are a huge problem here on the River. I was happy to help raise our voices today. So I left home and walked to Walmart (just shy of 5 miles), then once we got organized we walked (strolled I would say) about a a mile to the Casino. After a while there I took off to walk back home.

A total of just over 11 miles. Not bad!

I was happy to see my friend and attender of CCR, Lisa Parten there. 


Here’s a couple of more pics of the event.


Banner group



Walk Against Drugs

Remembering MLK At Work

I’m remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today just like I always do, by doing ministry. That’s what I’ve been called to do so today I’ll just keep trying to bring more light into a very dark world. Given how he lived his life I’m pretty sure Dr. King would much rather we do that than take another day to goof off and entertain ourselves.


I’m actually old enough to remember Dr. King. Of course I never saw him in person or spoke to him, but I did see him on the TV. Even through that medium you could feel the impact of his personality and faith. I remembering hearing part of his “I Have a Dream Speech” and even at that age being moved.

He wasn’t perfect. Far from it in fact as we now know. But no one’s perfect and his lack of perfection doesn’t in anyway diminish what he tried to do. 

Sadly today we’ve wandered far from what he spoke of. Instead of ignoring color and focusing on the “content of our character” we are move focused on race, color and creed than ever before. Most of those who tried to take up Dr. King’s mantle of leadership have either failed to understand him or just aren’t listening. So we focus on race and then wonder why racial tension is rising?

The answer is obvious and I believe Dr. King would have called us out on it if he were still here. You become what you focus on. By focusing on our differences we only divide ourselves from ourselves. This Greek Tragedy that’s being played out today in America doesn’t have to happen. If we’d only listen to the prophetic voice of Dr. King we could still find that promised land he spoke of at the end of his life.


If only…  

Rest in Peace Dr. King. God willing we’ll still find our way to the Land you now inhabit. Amen. 


Remembering MLK At Work

Assisted Suicide?

I just read a very moving and well written article over at HotAir that I found touching and puzzling at the same time. 

In the course of this article he talks about his father suicide and how it changed his mother for the rest of her life after she found his body. He believes he’s going to end up like his mom with Alzheimer’s disease and has vowed he won’t die like she did.

Having seen my own mother go that route a few years ago I completely understand his not wanting to die that way. I sure don’t. Yet as a Christian I’m a firm opponent of suicide and know from personal experience how it devastates the survivors. So I can see a little of each side here.

But here’s my big question when it comes to this very personal issue: Why do the proponents of assisted suicide need the approval and cooperation of everyone else in society to do this?

If you want to die it’s not that hard to do. Why do you insist that everyone else not just approve your choice but actually help you do it?   We’re told how personal and painful this is – and I agree with that – but then we’re told we have to be “compassionate” and agree with those choosing to do this and even help them do it (by changing the laws in many states, etc.).

If it’s so personal why do you need my approval? Just do it and shut up about it. I can’t stop you. In the end we’ll all stand before God and answer for what we’ve done and haven’t done. So why do you insist I abandon my own beliefs and morality and approve your own?

If this is what you really want then do it and leave me and the rest of society out of it. I’m not going to approve of suicide even in the rare occasions when I understand why it was done. However I’m also not going to try and run your life for you either.

This is one place where the old traditional American culture of the “rugged individual” would come in handy. Everyone gets to make their choices and then has to live (or in this case not live) with the results.  

What you choose to do it up to you. God gave you free will so use it. But leave me out of it and leave the laws alone. I don’t want my tax dollars going towards something I find offensive and in certain cases evil. 

Bottom Line: Do what you want just leave me alone and I’ll do the same for you.

Assisted Suicide?