CCM October 1981 Cover
Life Between The Glory & The Flame
By Devlin Donaldson
CCM - October 1981
As Reprinted In The Heart Of The Matter: The Best Of CCM Interviews Vol. 1

This interview was conducted in June of 1981. It took place from about 11:30 p.m. until after 2:00 a.m. After a performance at a festival, Stonehill graciously invited the interviewer back to his room for a hamburger and proceeded to open up. By doing so he allowed us to peek into his past, his hopes and dreams for the future, as well as his struggles. Some of the material dealt with in this interview was painful for Stonehill to talk about and was quite controversial at the time. He also discussed the release of a comeback album of sorts for him, Between The Glory And The Flame.

For space considerations, the text of the full interview was heavily edited and run as the cover story in October 1981. October of 1981 was, incidentally, the month that CCM changed from a tabloid size publication to the 8 X 11 magazine that we know today.

Randy Stonehill is a funny, funny man. You can catch glimpses of that in this interview. But the subjects covered here are often weighty and serious. You can see the thought that Stonehill has put into living his life and the struggle he is engaged in to live a godly life. What is very obvious is how he has tried to do the right thing even when he has stumbled and fallen.

Maybe one of the most honest and soul bearing interviews CCM has ever run, this full text allows time to develop some of the themes and issues more deeply than could be done originally.

Since this interview ran, Stonehill has released seven additional albums, including his most recent in August 1990, Until We Have Wings, which celebrates his 20 years in Christian music. While one of the pioneers of contemporary Christian music, Randy Stonehill is as vital a force today as he was in the beginning.

Randy Stonehill has been called "joyfully crazed." Interviews with him and articles about him seem to focus on the madcap things that he will say on the spur of the moment. However, when I had the chance to interview Randy, I found that he was a thoughtful, cautious, gracious, and genuine person, as well as steady stream of one liners. In this interview I have tried to get a scope on the life of Randy Stonehill-where he has been, where he is, and where he wants to go. I have tried to look past the zany antics of the artist and see what it is that makes Randy Stonehill what he is. I thought that this would be a difficult task. It wasn't. Randy is a very accessible human being who wants to relate to people in a very real and heartfelt manner Hopefully this interview will help you understand Randy as a person. It helped me to do that. Lastly I hope that this interview will be as enjoyable to read as it was to do.

Randy, did you grow up in a Christian family?

No, I was raised in an agnostic home. It was an intellectual atmosphere. My parents did their best to be open. Then again, when you live with someone you catch their attitudes and you hear their conversations about the things they heard on the news and about the church and the state and all of that. You can't help but be prejudiced by all of that. My father grew up in Judaism. When he was 16 he sort of abandoned the faith. He said that it was all ritual and he didn't think that God heard him. His parents were not really dedicated Jews. They sort of liked God when things were going well and they didn't like God when things weren't going well with their business. So that wasn't a very good example for my father. He just walked away from all of that.

My mother grew up in a Portuguese farming community in the San Juan valley. She grew up in a Catholic home. She just couldn't handle the guilt that she felt oppressed by from her experience in that religion. As a matter of emotional survival, she decided that there was no God and that this religion was all hogwash and that she would just go her own way.

She grew up with this feeling that every time you did something you got a black mark on your soul and God kept a list on you. Sort of like the CIA or something. It was really intolerable for her. Both my parents were well educated and they came together with a mutually hostile attitude toward organized religion. As a child growing up they said things to me like, "We don't buy the program. We don't think that there is much substance to this stuff. However, when you are old enough to go to church, if you would like to go look into it yourself you are welcome to."

To them that was as fair as they could be - Needless to say I wasn't interested.

My one church experience was a classic failure. It must have been one of my mother's relatives who came to town and we went to a Catholic service as a sort of formal thing. It must have been a holiday. I was little five-year-old dressed up in a little suit. I couldn't stand it. At that time Catholic services were still in Latin. I couldn't understand anything they were saying. When everyone stood up I stood up. When everybody sat down, I sat down. I kept on looking out the window or this little church into this field thinking to myself, "I know that there must be some magnificent lizards out there that I could be playing with. Instead I am sweating in this little suit and standing up with all these tall people and I hate this." So that was my only church experience.

How did your parents view your conversion when it occured? There must have been a radical lifestyle change.

Oh yeah, yeah! [Pause] Their view was mixed. First of all, they thought it was just a fad that I would get over; but after 11 years I think they figured out that it's not. Second of all, they were pleased to see that I seemed to be in an atmosphere where my music was developing. I also was not taking drugs anymore. You know, I was not just chasing any attractive girl that I would see. I am sure they were always terrified some outraged father would come and blow me away with a shotgun. Drive right by my bedroom window and "Bang!" So I think that they were happy to see some of those changes.

But then they were concerned that I would become some sort of radical. What would they call it? A "radical religious nut!" So they were sort of concerned but basically they saw that I seemed to keep my humanity intact. I still spoke in English to them and I still had a sense of humor and my brain still seemed to be functioning.

Are they Christians now?

No. Neither of them are. That is a great source of concern for me and also a matter of constant prayer. I have had some interesting conversations with them and I just don't know what to make of it. I mean [pause] they are very supportive of my music. They are very happy to see me doing music full time and that I am making a good living and that I have an international audience.

Many Christians think that conversion is an instantaneous event. Although it is that, there are many things that lead a person up to that moment. In reading about your conversion, it seems that Larry Norman really put the pressure on you for quite a time to make a decision. It wasn't a quick journey. He was persistent in his message to you.

Yes that's true, and I know the general public's view of my new life in Christ has been that I became a Christian through Larry Norman. It just seems, as you said, that the instantaneous moment of conversion is a quick miracle of God. But many things led up to it.

It is the working of the Spirit to lead the person to the point of Conversion that is really the most important thing. It's getting to the line to step across it that is important.

Yeah, that's really the essential journey that needs to take place. I just don't think that it is totally accurate to say that Larry Norman came to me in a blaze of light and led me to the Lord. I can look at my life and see that Larry was instrumental in planting seeds and being there in the final moment. But I can also see how the Lord sort of dropped crumbs in my path that led me to that moment of conversion where Larry happened to participate. There was a lot of subconscious stuff that went on.

It was a matter of getting out of high school and being confronted with manhood and being on my own and living out my dream of freedom and independence as I had always dreamed of it. All this stuff was sort of going on, an undercurrent of sorting out who I was and what was right and wrong and what was real and what wasn't. All of that was taking place and building over a two year period. I met Larry when I was 16 and I did have his input. He wrote to me and told me what he was doing He was very open about his faith and proud to be a Christian and that gave me a distinctly different slant on what I had always termed "religion!" It changed my stereotype about the church and religion because he was living such a committed daily existence.

My pretty picture of life then got blown away. I got the rug pulled out from underneath my feet. Drugs became a little less romantic when I got handcuffed and taken to Watsonville County Jail. These things were sort of shaking my insulated foundation. I grew up in a safe suburbia and lived on my dreams. I was more interested in getting high and writing songs and falling in love than in anything else.

Then there was this girl that I was very attached to emotionally. I even made plans for her to come to L.A. with me. When I went to visit Larry, she went on a camping trip where she happened to meet the man she ended up marrying. So she called me in L.A. She called and said, "I don't want to come to L.A. It's hot and smoggy. I really don't know about the whole thing. You're a likable sort but I don't know if you are really my cup of tea." I was really shaken by that. I was in a new situation and hearing about Jesus. I was kinda shaky.

It was interesting to see God opening my eyes to some of the realities of life and stripping me of some of my security blankets. There was also the romantic edge to my freedom and independence which I felt was challenged by Jesus the more I heard from Larry and others. I thought, "Here I am, away from my parents living my life the way I want to. Now if I am really gonna be a man and do this right then I should meet this challenge. I should fmd out if Jesus is who He says He is or if He is just some sort of a dream of desperate men, A fantasy made up by someone who needed an emotional crutch." I felt like if I was going to take the bull by the horns I couldn't sidestep this issue. I had to find out. It was interesting to see how God put all of the pieces of the puzzle together.

Did Larry share with you the struggles he was experiencing the Christian community at that time in regards to his music? It seems he was really put upon at the time and I was wondering if that affected your thinking about the faith? Did you want to be involved with something like Christianity where you could be fairly sure that your music would come under attack?

Yeah, he did. But I never viewed it that way. As a matter of fact think that I viewed it a lot more romantically than that. It was sort of like we were pioneering something. I had always loved rock 'n' roll. It has always been the form of music that got to my heart. I mean I could appreciate jazz or classical music for the technical expertise with which it was executed, but after 15 minutes you lose me. It doesn't connect with me at the soul level that rock and roll does.

This incredible combination of the medium that spoke to me and the subject matter that had become so central to my existence was just irresistible. I was sure that everybody wasn't going to like it, but then again, everybody doesn't like everything so that's okay. There will be certain people who will be spoken to. I will wager that those are the people who are like me. The ones who came out of the sort of cultural background that I did. Those are the people who grew out of hippiedom and that whole era. Those are the people that I long to reach the most because I feel a kindredship with them, so an extra concern also. So I thought if Christians, the more conservative elements of the church, didn't dig what I was doing, I really couldn't be bothered with that. It's nice to have the support of the Body of Christ but you have to be true to what you feel you are called to do. Besides, most of them are already saved anyway so I would rather speak to those who are like I was before I became a Christian.

So your music career began to develop before you became a Christian? You wanted to be a rock star all your life?

Oh yeah! When I was ten I began playing guitar and before that I always had dreams of having a folk trio or something. I was singing folk songs and Harry Belafonte sort of calypso stuff when I was four and five. After I started to play guitar, I had my first romantic heart throb and I started writing. That was at 13. I got into some rock and roll bands in high school. Really it was after I saw the Beatles. I saw them on television when I was twelve and I knew that that was what I wanted to do.

Were your high school bands anything to speak of?

Probably not. We did some original material and I was in one band in San Jose for a two or three month period which was one of the more prominent high school heavies. I started a few of my own bands. Some of the names were so terrible that we probably should leave them out. Nothing to speak of. Just good fun.

Come on. Give us a name!

Okay. I was in one band that came up with several different names but we finally settled on Greasy Pig. [Laughter] "Ladies and Gentlemen, would you welcome Greasy Pig?" What do you think of it? [Laughter]

I noticed that you are left handed but you play the guitar right handed. why is that?

When you are first learning to play the guitar you don't have any natural prejudice in terms of your dexterity on one hand or the other Even though I was left handed, it really didn't matter because the guitar was totally foreign to me. That is why some people can learn to play upside down or with their teeth. Because it is totally foreign, my parents thought it was better when I first started taking lessons that I learn how to play right handed so I could trade off with other musicians.

Because of this, I had my foiled moment in rock and roll history. I had a chance to sit in on the Paul McCartney sessions for Red Rose Speedway. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I had just finished my first record for Phonogram. I thought, "Ah, this is the opportunity I have been waiting for." I wanted to play him a song but his guitar was a left handed guitar. I was relegated to watching the sessions and listen- ing to what he did, and of course that was a major thrill.

Did you ever play any of your music for him?

No I didn't. I thought that I would send him a copy of the album but actually I was pretty disappointed with it [the album]. So I never sent him the record because I wasn't proud of it. As I listen back to it, it is sort of interesting. Maybe some people who are familiar with my music today would be interested in it as an early days timepiece. It does have a few good moments on it, but it is amazingly green. It was called Get Me Out Of Hollywood. I did that for a while, but when I came back to Hollywood I had no money, no car, and no place to stay. I had to start all over again.

When did you do Born Twice? After Get Me Out Of Hollywood?

Oh no. I did Born Twice in about 1971 or 1972. I did Get Me Out Of Hollywood in 1973.

Was Get Me Out Of Hollywood ever released?

No. It became a tax write-off for the Phillips Company.

Have you ever thought about making Born Twice available again?

Larry and I have discussed the possibility of re-releasing portions of it within the context of an auto-biographical album we are thinking of doing. I am not even sure if he still owns the masters. I don't know if that will ever be done now simply because for the time being we are going our separate ways as business partners and artists. So a project of that nature is something we put on the back burner for a while.

On your first major album, Welcome To Paradise, it says that you sang with Rod Stewart, Robert Plant, and Ringo Starr. When were you doing that kind of stuff? Were you singing in sessions with them?

Let me put this as diplomatically as possible. When I went to England Larry saw me getting involved with that whole strata of rock and roll. You know, the stars of the day. I think he just wanted to hint at some of my musical associations by mentioning that. I look back at some of those little write-ups with some amount of embarrassment. I feel they were very misleading. They were sort of half truths. I mean, I did meet those people at a party once and I did do some singing there and fooling around but it was totally casual.

I met Rod Stewart's, band but I never met him. I met Todd Rundgren once in the early '70s and he suggested that my voice might be good for one of his songs. Little things like that happened. But again, I don't want to pick on Larry or blame him. He is such a romantic that he thought, "Well, this is sort of true so we'll put it down." And I really trusted him as my spiritual elder. I really trusted his judgement. I thought, "Well okay. If you don't think this is bogus then we'll go with it." He said, "NO, it won't hurt anything!" and this and that. But now, if I had my own way, I would say, "No. Look, I think that I can command enough interest just based on what I do musically. I don't have to drum up any vague connections with these people to be an artist that will attract interest." I feel like my writing is good and what I do on stage is real. I really give my heart and people seem to respond to it and that's good enough.

A lot of Eagles influence can be heard in your music. Is that a professional tribute or is it something you did on the spur of the moment for some friends who aren't Christians?

It is more of a professional tribute but I want to clarify that. It is a tipping of the hat in respect but it is also a mention of concern for them. I felt that they were so excellent at mapping out or portraying or nailing down the questions of life and human bewilderment. Questions about why the world goes around and who we are. They seem to be very eloquent at stating the questions and really hitting home the human condition but they didn't have any of the answers. So I admired that ability, but it is also just by the nature of their music that I was concerned. They seem quietly desperate.

What precipitated your leaving Solid Rock? Was there a time when both you and Larry thought it was time to go your own ways? There are lots of people who are no longer with Solid Rock such as Daniel Amos and Tom Howard. The image of Solid Rock was "We are all good friends and family and this is a great time?" Then all of a sudden much of the nucleus exploded away.

Well, there are a dozen ways to approach this. Just to make things clear and simple, this is what I should say. I think that it is Scriptural that things come in seasons of time. It is also typical of human nature to say, "Well, things are going well and this is the way things are always going to be." But that limits what God wants to do.

I think Solid Rock was good and constructive initially for most everyone's career and ministry. Larry is a man of real vision and fervor to do things. But that is a minus as well as a plus because he spreads himself so thin that it is hard to get things accomplished at a pace that serves everyone. When I spoke with Larry a few months ago about the whole thing, he said that he had come to see Solid Rock as a springboard company for young artists. That is really his first love, to take people who need to get a start with the recording aspect of their ministry and do one album and then not have to worry about their second or third albums. Not to take on the role of personal manager and build their career because Larry has a lot of irons in the fire and his own career, and that is a full time job in itself.

So my situation was one, I think, of God saying, "It is time to move and time to stretch your artistic muscles in a new direction and experiment. . ." and that is fine and as it should be.

I worked with Larry for 12 years and whenever you are in a situation where an old relationship changes there is always an emotional edge to it, but nothing to write home about. Larry said, "Well, if you are feeling that you have to do this then it is up to you to do as you feel God leads you. I would rather that you stayed and I would try to accommodate your needs as best as possible." But I really knew in my heart it was time to move, time to work with different people and do things on my own. So it was not a matter ot "Can you match this deal or not, Larry?" It was just not a matter of that. My primary concern became getting my product, my music, my statements to the audience and doing it in a more streanflined and consistent fashion.

A large consideration for you then was the time between releases?

Yeah, that really did become my main concern. I just felt that I wasn't being a good steward anymore if I clung to an old situation because it was familiar. I also would not be a good steward if I stayed in a position where I sort of let Larry be my buffer zone with the record company [and] my buffer zone with a lot of other artistic responsibilities in terms of things in the studio. It is like the guy that is 35 years old and still lives at home. You just gotta move, You still love mom and mom still loves you, but you just have to move. The two central issues were that I saw I had a backlog of material built up and I wanted to get it to the audience consistently. That is when Word Records contacted me.

So you are hoping for an album a year now?

Yeah. I have a two album, two year deal with an option for a third if both parties are interested. And that about suits me because any more than that would be a bit of overkill.

Also the chemistry with Daniel Amos and Terry Taylor has been so encouraging to me that I want to go ahead and keep the momentum that has welled up in doing the new album and go do some commercial things. Obviously I am not going to sing about anything that compromises my faith, but I am talking about some high energy rock and roll that represents my world view as a Christian and go and take it to a major label. I guess I just want to run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes. I have the freedom within the guidelines of my Word contract to sign a secular contract.

And still maintain your contract with Word?

Yes. I really don't suspect that I would have a lot of trouble with a major label about that because they tend to view the markets as two separate worlds. So I think it is something that could happen.

You said that you are already planning to do something for a secular label?

Yes. I have aready set up time in the studio for the middle of August [1981] to go back in and record some things. As a matter of fact, there are one or two things on this new album that I think have a great deal of potential for that type of commercial airplay. So I would even think about doing them again. Now that is the one place that I might have a problem with a major label because they might say, "You have this same song on Between The Glory And The Flame and we feel like we are giving Word Records a free ride on your commercial success with us." That would be a delicate area that would have to be negotiated.

This next question is basically a tough one to ask in a tactful way.

I hope there is a tactful way for me to answer it.

There has been a lot of talk about the situation at Solid Rock. It seems those artists have had more than their share of marriage problems. Rumor has it that you also have had marriage problems and I wanted to give you a chance to speak to that issue and clear the air.

This is such a big can of worms. I just don't know how much to say about it. I feel like saying, "Darn it, by the very nature of my work I don't have very much of my life that is my own." So I try and keep my personal life just that: personal. My personal life is one thing that I can say is mine and it is no one else's business, unless it affects my ability to minister I had to wrestle with all of those questions you mentioned at that time.

I would like to be candid about this but it is one area that is so explosive in our culture. First, it's the one area that Christians seem to have a real blind spot about. The public does lift you up to be larger than life. It's not fair; but they are going to do it anyway. Secondly, they consider divorce a blacker sin than others yet the thing that goes fight along with that, which the Scriptures have likened to murder, is gossip. Instead of praying for someone in a situation when they get wind of a rumor, they will sort of make up the rest of the story in their heads and they will talk it up and judge you way before they will pray for you. Anybody who has doubts about who I am or what has happened in my life, I think has to make their assessment of me and my ministry based on what I do on stage and what my records say. Does the Holy Spifit minister to them? I actually want to let the Holy Spirit be my defender. It's just nobody's business what I have gone through in my life. But I will say for the record right now... All I feel I need to say is that I am now a very happily married man and I am also going to be a daddy in February [1982].

I guess I can talk about the situation a little bit. As a person who is a music minister, I got extensive counseling about this whole thing when I was going through it. I had no idea what it meant. I was a little confused. I didn't know if this meant I would go to hell or that I couldn't minister any more or what. I didn't even know if it meant that I couldn't remarry. I talked with several Christian elders and I got several different opinions. I sald to them, "Don't tickle my ears now. You are marriage counselors and pastors. I want you to tell it like it is because I need to know!" I don't get much of a straight scoop from Christians about this subject. It is just the great black sin and then "that's it for you buddy" and then eternal penance has to be done.

It has been said that theology is largely based on pragmatic issues. Did you have a theology about divorce that went soft as you were going through it? Did you rethink your whole position?

Well, I would say that I had a hazy ignorance about the issue based on a lack of Scriptural knowledge. It seems that this is, unfortunately, a very difficult area for a lot of people who are a lot better read than I am. So when I was confronted with this in my life, I really didn't know what it meant.

The counselor then explained to me the wonderful and harmonious relationship between the Law and Grace. The Law is to be taken very seriously and with reverence and awe. But when we do fall, as some- times we will, that is when we realize that we are not doomed to eternal penance. Our lives are not over. We are not shunned by God. But that is when we can reach out to our God in failure and pain and ask for the power of Grace to be active in our lives. That is when we can be forgiven and we can then go on.

And it is interesting because I had noticed that my concerts since my divorce and since my new marriage seem to be the best I have ever done. It was like I was giving my life more freely I talked to the counselor about that. He said, "Randy, you have just recently experienced God's grace and His personal love in one of the most deep and painful areas in a man's life. Broken people Randy, broken people, are the ones who can share God's love more than anybody else because they have been broken and hurt. They experience God's grace anew and they find that their lives are not over and that they are not abandoned so they have a new fervor with which to share because they are talking about first hand experience. They are not talking about some vague conversion experience that they have sort of forgotten about. They aren't just mouthing things. Broken people Randy, and you are a broken person."

I said, "That's so weird but I guess that it's true because I have a new lease on life and I feel extra in love with God. I am so sure of His reality and His grace because of what I went through and that He got me through it and I didn't lose my mind. My life isn't over and I don't have to shave my head and go into the desert forever. I have that newness like a new convert."

I also feel like, though I don't want to pinpoint one thing like divorce or whatever, I want to approach this question by saying one thing. I can't answer the question as a matter of principle because I don't think anybody has a ministry based on a perfect track record. If that was a prerequisite for being in the public eye or being an elder in the church, then buddy, we all flunk. Billy Graham or anybody else you could mention couldn't make it.

The thing is that we are all saved by grace, day by day. Yes, I have had personal problems and tragedies in my life just like anybody else. But I also know that I have done everything I can as a man of God to deal with whatever difficulties I have come across in my life, and that is to submit myself to God and have Him speak to me and help and heal me. I know whatever failures I've had in my life, that I am a free and forgiven man before God.

The purpose of this was to be positive. It seems that this has happened to you and you have survived successfully. But a lot of questions arise. For instance, how can you continue to sing "Sarah," which is a love song about your ex-wife?

Well, I sing that song because it was never written about "Sarah," and even if it was it is still a valid song. The song is really about the need to accept God's love so that we can put the rest of our lives in perspective. That song was written for someone else, but Sarah was a bibhcal name and very lyrical so that is the one that I used. When people ask me if I wrote that song for a girl named Sarah, I say, "Well I know a girl named Sarah," which is the truth but not the whole truth. I don't say, "Yeah, and she was my wife and we were married for five years." I knew a girl named Sarah, but it was written for anyone who needs to know that they don't have to settle for second best in the most critical area of life.

You talk about singing from a Christian world view. A world view starts with presuppositions. It has also been said that every man needs to be a theologian. How have you reached your theology and how does it affect your song writing?

My role in Christian music seems to be one of an encourager to living a more committed life. In terms of my ministry to the body, I find that I stick to the basics. I find that I don't have to wrestle with the finer points of theological debate. I don't do it to avoid those questions, I just don't seem to have to deal with them. My role seems to be a simple one in terms of the body. And with the unsaved it seems to be one of seed planter. I just talk about the basics. I try to be careful with the songs I write. If there is a question that I am not sure of, I try and pinpoint the area I'm dealing with and research it Scripturally. I really don't have a problem that often. Just look at my song material. It doesn't deal with faith and theology on that level. It is much more of a gut level basic message.

Do you consciously write certain types of songs for each record?

What I try to do is go through the body of my work and pick out songs that just seem to fit together somehow. That is a little bit hard to describe. I look for songs that I feel are valid pieces of art and make valid statements. There's not necessarily a conceptual thread that runs through every album, and in this new one there isn't. Well, there is a very broad one in that the album which is titled "Between The Glory And The Flame" and it is very descriptive of this strange twilight zone that we live in between heaven and hell and the tightrope that we walk. It's about that whole tension.

Within that framework I try to pick songs that deal with God's grace, God's reality, God's love, our pain, and what kind of confusion we are experiencing in our culture and all of those things. I hope that the overall statement is that God is concerned with real people and can deal with real problems and is truly present and can help us in this precarious position that we are in and that He can lead us out of this jungle. He can take us from glory to glory. It is a statement about life on this earth and the alternatives that we have. We are not immune but we do have hope and power.

If you could tell all of your fans anything about yourself, what would you tell them? What do you want the world to know about Randy Stonehill?

That's a head spinner. Well I think maybe one of the most difficult aspects of what I do, and perhaps one of the most special, is the fact of having tried to, and continue to try to, be vulnerable to God. Be vulnerable to where He wants to take me and what He wants to do with me. I also try to remain vulnerable to the audience. I believe people forgive you a multitude of sins or flat notes if they feel they are getting something genuine from you. It is really a naked, scary feeling to walk out on stage or in the studio and sing and write personal, honest things. It is also a real fulfilling experience to do that.

I think people know that when I am on stage I am not just talking down to them. I am not just singing at them. But I really want to be there 100 percent in that moment of time. I feel that it is my responsibility to them and although there is always a certain amount of theatrics and entertainment and performance in what I do on stage, those are secondary elements to the heart of the matter which is to share who I am as a Christian and to share God's love.

I think it is my responsibility to remain vulnerable to them so they know that they see a real person who knows a real God, who lives a real life. They are not just seeing a slick act. All of my songs and all of my timing and all of my raps are not pre-fabbed. I just think that is my responsibility to them. It gives God the breathing room for the Holy Spirit to do what he wants to accomplish that night.

But I am open to suggestions about that. I think that keeps it vital and real. And it does that for me too. It keeps me from getting bored or dried out. Because, though it is scary, it is very fulfilling to feel that you have had a genuine interaction with the audience. They feel like they have gotten to know you and they are right. You almost get to know them in a little way because we are all basically the same and have the same problems. That keeps it alive and interesting to me. That keeps my work vital. That's what I want them to know about me and I think that they sense that.

That is what is important to me because as a Christian the central issue or the main thing we are called to is to be submitted to God, one day at a time. Lay your life down so that God can really raise it up and make it what it is supposed to be. The heart of Christianity is being vulnerable and submitted to God. They can always count on me for that. And if sometimes I wince on stage, it doesn't necessarily mean I got soul, ya know. It means I am being real. I got heart! [Laughter]

Originally published in the October, 1981 issue of CCM MAGAZINE, copyright 1981, 1991 CCM Communications. Used with permission. For a free sample issue of CCM MAGAZINE, visit their Web site at