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30 Years of Memories-Mark Schultz

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30 Years of Memories-Mark Schultz

Just follow me. We’ll go down this hallway and turn right onto the stage. Watch your step. It gets a bit dark back here behind the curtain. Be careful of the cables, it takes a lot of those to give our audience the best sound we can give them in a concert setting. Here, you can sit on this piano bench, that’s the same one he sat on during the concert. Ok, now to answer your question.

Well, it was like this. I have to tell you, at first I didn’t believe it. It began one afternoon. I got a call from Greg Lucid. Greg Lucid– I’m thinking, who is Greg Lucid? That day the name didn’t ring bells in my brain. Greg refreshed my memory and explained that he was the manager for Mark Schultz. Now that name rang a bell. We had had so many wonderful experiences with Mark, first at the Aldersgate Methodist church on August 14th, 2001. If you were there for the first one you’ll remember Mark breaking down emotionally because so many people were singing his songs back to him. That’s not always something that happens on the road for the artist. Many places people watch a concert; here our people seem to be a part of the concert. Anyway, Greg gave me the usual ‘niceties’ and then asked me a question I was not prepared for. ‘Do you think you could get a crowd together if Mark Schultz wanted to film a live concert DVD at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center?’ I was shocked, a bit speechless actually, and to be honest with you, I did not believe that this was the real Greg Lucid. My first thoughts were I was being pranked. A national recording artist who could choose any town or city in America to video a concert and Marion is the choice. Greg, I think, sensing my hesitation to reply as though his suggestion was real, began to explain that the record company had suggested a couple of sites, both large cities, for Mark to record in, but Mark indicated that he’d like to do it in Marion. Greg told me he would have Mark call me and talk about it, also mentioned that I’d also hear from the recording company to confirm certainty that we really could ‘deliver’ a full crowd for the video filming.

Well, it happened just like that. I received Mark’s phone call while he was on a flight back from, if I remember correctly, a concert in Alaska. Mark’s a teaser, I’m a teaser, so the first few minutes were smiling moments and then it turned serious. He was under pretty heavy pressure to go to one of the other locations (I think one in California and the other in Ohio) to perform for the filming. Mark, and a display of my confidence, eventually convinced the recording company that we could give him a special event. Mark and I both knew in our hearts that what happens here wasn’t like anything that happened in other venues. The authentic, genuine sharing Mark did here and the intensity of the response from our audience was unique and something that hopefully would come across on video. On May 6, 2005, we had a full film crew from Nashville record two concerts that day. If you look closely on the DVD you can see the crowd changing because some of the songs on the finished DVD came from the first concert and others from the second. I find that easy since a friend of mine was in the front row in the first and someone else is seen in his chair occasionally in the video. By the way, you folks that came were great. There are no words to express the integrity of those two events; an artist and an audience giving all the emotional and loving response possible. I still tear up at the thought, the memories, and the honest worship of Jesus in that moment. It was special for Mark, Greg, me, the crew and I’m sure you if you were there.

It was special in another way also. The live DVD, ‘A Night Of Stories and Songs’ won the video Dove award that next spring. Listen, that’s a big deal, that’s indicative of how ‘real’ the evening with Mark showed up on the finished product. It included the concert, interviews, photos and, of course, 6 of Mark’s #1 songs. Mark was kind enough to have a Dove award plaque made just for WBVN; it still hangs in our office area.
Well, that’s about it. That was a long answer to the simple question, ‘How did you get Mark Schultz to film a DVD in Marion?’ I hope this helps explain that we didn’t get Mark here, he brought us to him to film that video. That piano bench you’re sitting on right now is the one he sat on and did two shows in one day. That’s amazing; to sing and share for two events is not an easy thing to do. Mark made it charming just the same. Let me tell you about something you didn’t ask. Sometimes Mark and I have speculated about how did this all happen. What’s so special here? I, and I know Mark, believes something has happened here that’s simply a gift to him, to the station and the community here. We both believe God has provided the mix of artist, radio station and wonderful people to respond specifically to the care he and we have for our listeners. Mark has just been a part of God’s hand on all our lives here. Let me illustrate that with a couple facts: we did not plan or try to have Mark Schultz as our 200th event, but we counted it up one day and that’s exactly what happened; just a neat blessing for us. Another concert, without our planning, happened on Mark and Kate’s wedding anniversary. We got to surprise Mark that night while he was performing. To his surprise, he looked up and saw Kate sitting in the audience. That caused a nice look on Mark’s face and created a moment where Mark jumped off the stage and gave Kate an anniversary hug. And most recently, the last concert we have been able to provide, was Mark’s on March 14th this spring. It’s unique in that immediately after that concert the venue was closed due to the pandemic, and in some unique way, Mark Schultz was exactly who we would have wanted to spend an evening with if we had known that that concert would be the last for what has turned out to be a long time.

Let me say one more thing, we’ve spent 30 years trying not to be just a ‘juke box’ but a ministry of relationships. We have made that with Mark and we’ve been blessed enough to have made relationships with you. That’s the most pleasant thing we’ve experienced in those thirty years. You might call that friendships, fellowship, community, but whatever you call it, it’s simply caring about others and being cared about. Those are good memories.

August Newsletter: Focus

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Dan 7:14-And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom which shall not be destroyed.

It was 1985. Saturday afternoon. I was sitting at my work desk at the time. It was a slow afternoon customer wise with only an occasional person coming into the business that day. And, as I did sometimes when business was slow, I began to read a book. This Saturday, it was a C.S. Lewis book, titled God In The Dock. It was my practice back then, when alone, to read out loud because I seemed to remember the material better. As I was reading a paragraph, out of my mouth (I know this sounds a bit different than most of our general life experiences) came the words, ‘You shall……”. I’m going to leave the rest of that blank. Those were words not written on the page of that book. The words were unrelated to the subject of the book material. It was personal and private. Words that didn’t relate to anything I had been thinking about. The truth is, it was so astounding to me I’ve only shared the exact words that came out of my mouth with Jane. No need for the detail here but it was a spontaneous, significant moment. Recently, I was texting someone and giving them the usual generic, business as usual information, and at the end I typed: ‘I see Jesus in you’. As I hit the send button it was almost like watching me do that rather than me being in control of doing it. People that know me well know I seldom express myself like that in an email or actually any time. I hit the send almost in a hurry, knowing that if I paused very long I’d probably erase that thought. It literally was like I watched myself say that, observed the process rather than planned it. Similarly, while on the phone I recently expressed how much ‘we’ loved them. That, to a man I only know by the heart; not the flesh. Those are samples of things that I didn’t generate in my brain, they came from someplace in my heart. I believe that the Spirit of Christ is buried in there and He speaks through us sometimes. I use those illustrations to simply mention a few of many hundreds of little things that I’ve experience in my Faith Journey that has created ‘steadfastness’ about the Love of God and the personal interest He has in our personal lives.

I hear many people saying that we’re in a special time, special brokenness and hurt. When I hear that I’m reminded of the things my father and mother went through in World War II, being separated for almost 3 years and life threatening day by day danger that my father lived with while landing on Utah Beach in France and marching for 26 months to Yugoslavia. In crises like those and the ones we face today, Faith in Christ is a necessity focus for us. Today, rather than growing less secure, less confident of God’s presence, I’m strengthened and more aware of His presence than at any other time in my life. In March, 2012, when Jane was paralyzed head to toe, when we spent 11 weeks in Chicago, her in a hospital bed on a ventilator and me sleeping and snacking in a chair next to her, the one characteristic we both experienced was the very presence of God and His willingness to be there with us. In some sense we were the center of His focus. Those days we do not live by sight but by Faith. Everyday looked terrible and even hopeless by most definitions. But, we were in the middle of a Kingdom that seemed to surround the terrible with Comfort.

When I type that, I’m aware of how that must sound to unbelievers and perhaps some believers that just find it that hard to understand such an expression. God with us, in our hospital room, paying attention to our problem? And at the same time, God, by His Spirit, everywhere else and involved around the world. But, it was true.

In the days we’re now experiencing, there seems to be days when there simply are no words to express our hearts. I recently said on the radio that sometimes our silent prayers are more powerful than our screaming them. I hesitated when I said it because I didn’t want to give the wrong impression with those words. The silent prayers I was referring to were prayers of confidence, hope and peace. They’re things that are on the inside of us that might just need to stay there instead of being spoken. In the middle of the loud, in the presence of even this worldly demonstration of anger and strife, silence does not always mean voiceless. I’m reminded of the simplicity of Jesus’ response to the questioning of Pilate. Jesus being pushed to declare His authority as King of the Jews simply answered: thou sayest. (Mark 15:2) Few words, two words! Said it all. Matthew (12:17-19) described how Jesus refused to raise his voice in the street. Zechariah 4:6 comes to mind, ‘not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.’ That’s a confidence abiding inside Christ and now in us that does not necessarily need expression.

Silence can be the voice of: I know something, something that doesn’t show up in the newspapers, on television and on social media. God is alive, not dead. God is eagerly focused on me and my life, aware of my life. Christ, according to Rev. 1, is King in a present Kingdom not seen with our eyes. Worldly success, political power, and self-righteous behavior modification are not the showcases of His Kingdom. Paul teaches that the Kingdom of God is not fleshly or a physical kingdom but is Righteousness, Peace and Joy all in the Spirit. (Romans 14:17)

It’s a journey to get to that point. Sometimes finding freshness to God’s Gospel means we have to subtract some of what we’ve focused on previously on our journey. We grow, we increase in understanding, and we simply discover that Jesus’ ministry focus changed from the early Gospels chapters to the later Gospels chapters. He moved from sharing and healing into a concentration of parables on eternal/everlasting life and the Kingdom that had come.

I think this is a profound and necessary discovery on our part. In John 10:10, Jesus simplified the Gospel into just a few assuring words: I have come so that you might have Life and have it more abundantly. That was the purpose of the pre-genesis action of God before creation. He came so that you, and you is everyone whosoever, will accept God’s explanation of why! It’s not political, not economic, not simply religious law that caused Him, the Father and the Spirit (They all were present during Jesus’ ministry.) to come across the other side of Genesis to earth. It is simply He came that you might have what Life the Father, Son and Spirit would have for you. It’s encompassed in the words Peace, Joy, Free, and Love. That kind of Life is present in moments of cultural upheaval, during hospital visits, on bad news days, actually all the time. The leaving Heaven, the suffering, the whole incarnation was for you to experience their kind of Life. Not just human life but Life as God experiences: mutual caring, mutual sharing and relationship.

So much of the time we’re focused on trying to be like Jesus. And, we should be like Jesus. However, there’s a bit of a caveat on how to get that result. Much of the time, what we believe is that the Gospel is designed to change who we are and make us Messiah version 2.0. My little caveat is that we actually fail at being like He is. It’s not that we’re turned into little ‘Jesuses’; rather, the Gospel was designed to let Him live through us. The destination to be as He is is real; just the mode to get there is a bit different. It’s not that we become perfect like Him but that we permit Him to pour out His Spirit (through us) on people around us. It’s similar to my email and phone conversation mentioned early on in this letter. He used my typing and my voice to tell someone a message for their hearts. If I had been thinking about it I don’t know that I would have expressed it in that way. But having it come through me was as real as real can be from me. Sometimes I’ve used the expression ‘I didn’t know I knew that’, but what resides in us is resident there and eager to express itself through us.

The Spirit of God came to live in you so that He could ‘leak’ out and change the world around you. ‘I see Jesus in you’, ‘we love you’ after I thought about it was very appropriate to be said to each of those people, not because they’re pristine or perfect but because they, as much as anyone I know, let Jesus flow out of their sharing as well. I don’t see them as being made into Jesus 2.0, but I see the evidence of Jesus coming from out of their human ‘being’. When Jesus said that he was going away to prepare a place for you, that does not have to be limited to just places in Heaven. Jesus was also preparing a place for us to live now, in a new ‘kingdom come’ He established. To be free in Christ, to experience rivers of living water, to learn to trust, to permit our hearts to become vulnerable permitting us to care deeply, to be fearless, to walk in hope, are places prepared for us by the crucifixion/resurrection of Jesus. This life and the next are characterized by His Kingdom of Righteousness, Peace and Joy, now in this mess and forever more. As Daniel prophesied, His Kingdom will never be destroyed. The Love of God cast out all fear that we can experience the Kingdom of God right in the middle of this mess.

30 Years of Memories-Rich Mullins

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30 Years of Memories-Rich Mullins

September 19th, 1997, Rich Mullins died in a car accident near Peoria, IL. Rich had been in concert for us three times over the years. Still today, much of his music rotates in our highest rotations library of music. Even gone, Rich is still sharing the Gospel in his unique way. During the last couple years of Rich’s life he had moved to Window Rock, Arizona, to teach music o Navajo children. He had taken a vow to live the lifestyle of the average wage in America and had no information about all the financial results of his music career, leaving that to others. Rich Mullins was more than a musician who wrote song lyrics, he was a ‘thinker’ of the Gospel who was transparent about his struggles with and the wonder of God’s Love. A good weekend read might be Rich’s biography written by James Bryan Smith, An Arrow Pointing to Heaven. The Rich Mullins of our first concert with him in 1990 was not the same Rich Mullins in his last in 1996. Smith’s book narrates Rich’s Gospel journey.

Another one of the things that he did was to write a monthly column for Release Magazine. I stumbled across a couple of those in my desk recently and I thought it might be interesting and perhaps trigger memories of one of CCM’s most influential artists if we reprinted one of those articles. This appeared in the fall issue of Release in 1993. It’s a true story of Rich living in at attic in a friend’s house in Wichita, Kansas. My favorite picture of Rich that we have from one of his concerts was him barefooted, a diet Coke sitting next to his feet, a pair of frayed blue jeans, and wearing a white wrinkled t-shirt. That was Rich. Common, no pretense, no wasted words. This short column fits his image: a hammer, nails, his room a mess.

‘My new apartment is in the attic of Jim and Megan’s house. It’s a big old one-roomer with a mind of its own – a cacophony of lines that occur at approximately 45 to 90 degree angles, with floors that sort of redefine ‘level.’ This attic has its own idea of what ‘square’ means; its studs have their own interpretation of the classic 24-inch on center.

Its walls are loosely vertical and the whole thing is about two weeks away from being much more than a lot of potential. Right now it is resistant to change – openly hostile to my ideas of what it ought to be. But slowly, surely, occasionally even patiently, I am (with the help of some friends, a hammer, a saw, some nails and a wrecking bar) enlightening it, changing its self-concept, convincing it that it is not merely an ugly, old attic – it’s a great space full of promise and beauty and order and life.

I suspect that it wants to cooperate, but it’s hard and I must be patient. Whoever it was that shaped the attic before me did so with some pretty big nails, deep cuts, hard hammers and rough saws. The considered the attic to be a wasted space – distance between the roof and the ceiling – a buffer zone and not much else. Someone else came along and closed it in for a smoking room; a place for ignoble activities that would be inappropriate in the ‘house proper.’ They slopped over the walls with cheap, nasty paneling and put in a bathroom, covered the floors with ugly carpet and stunk it up with a tobacco habit.

Sometimes in the heat of the toil of my labor I give in to fits of self rage –frustration more over my lack of skill than over my apartment’s progress. But, late at night when I look over the piles of dust and drywall and the knee-deep debris that remain during this reconstructive effort, I am strangely moved by the place and I proclaim the Gospel to it softly. I say, ‘I know how it hurts to be torn up. I am often choked on the litter left by my own remodeling. I know what it’s like to settle (by the grave act of a strong will) into the despair of believing that you are wasted space. I have felt the blows of heavy hammers that nailed me to a sense of uselessness. I have been shaped by some pretty careless workers who came to the task of making me and lacked any craftsmanship or artistry. I know the pain of wanting to be changed and yet distrustful of changes, of wanting to be worked on, but being suspicious of the intentions of the Worker. But here is some good news: He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. However messy it may be now, however confusing and scary it appears, however endless the task may seem, we will someday be glorious, beautiful, alive! There is much tearing out to do – a lot to give up. No thin coat of new paint, no shallow, petty piety will do. It’s not good to cover up imperfection, it must be corrected. Art, beauty, functions – these things take time. They may take until the day of Christ Jesus.

But we are not wasted space, we are temples of a Being greater than ourselves, temples being built to be inhabited and brought to life. Though we may not understand the process, our Rebuilder does. We are His workmanship and the place where He lives. Little attic, do not despair! I’m being made by a Master Carpenter. I’m learning a little about building, too.’