As I sat waiting for Shaun Groves to start his concert tonight, I realized that this is the fourth time I’ve seen him play, and each time has been in a different city. The first time was in Cleveland, TN, just after I started reading his blog (the primary impetus for my starting a blog). The second time I saw him play was at his home church in Franklin, TN, for the release party of White Flag, his CD based on the Beatitudes. The third time was for the taping of his newest CD, One Night in Knoxville, for which some friends and I made the drive over to Knoxville. And the concert tonight was in Lebanon, TN. This was also the first time I’ve seen him since his brother-in-law, Brain Seay, stepped down as road manager (to work as “artist liaison” for Compassion International), and was replaced by Brody (nice to meet you, Brody).
The concert was, as always, enjoyable, although I did forget to request the inclusion of Heaven Hang On, my second favorite song of his, in the setlist. He did perform Jesus, which I think is his best song. And while the introductions of most of his songs stay the same from concert to concert, his mention in the setup for Twilight of reading Left Behind for Toddlers to his daughter makes me laugh every time. (A better option, Shaun, might be to read Randy Alcorn’s Heaven – for Kids to her so she’ll know exactly what Heaven will be like, down to what type of music will be there).
Shaun also talked at length about a topic that has occupied my thoughts often over the last several months and on which I have several posts simmering on the burner. After recounting his childhood experience of going to the alter to ‘get saved from hell’, he pointed out the stark contrast between the focal point of 20th century American Evangelicalism and the first century teachings of Christ. All too often, it seems Evangelicalism’s main purpose is to provide ‘fire insurance’, to convince you of what you need to be saved from, while Christ’s teachings centered on what you are saved for, a new life and an invitation into the Kingdom of God. I’m looking forward to reading the book that Shaun is writing on the Beatitudes, and the thought provoking questions that are sure to be included.
To end this post, I’ll quote the lyrics for Heaven Hang On, a song that includes a needed challenge for the Church today.
He yells through the night / With a face full of fight / Stepping over the ring that she wore / She runs for the car / But she doesn’t get far / His boots kicks her hand from the door / And there on her back / She let’s go of the last / Remnant of hope that she’s held //
Heaven hang on / She can’t hang on anymore / Heaven hang on / She can’t hang on anymore //
Two houses down / There’s a man pulling out / With a pistol pushed under the seat / And he’s waving good by / To his boys and his wife / And ends that are too far to meet / He’s got a plan / The insurance man / Sold him the way out they need //
Heaven hang on / He can’t hang on anymore / Heaven hang on / He can’t hang on anymore //
Lord, surround them with angels / And send out Your saints / Shake us all loose / From our pulpits and pews / To hold and to help up the faint //
Heaven hang on. (Use my hands, Jesus) / We can’t hang on anymore / Heaven hang on (Use my hands, Jesus) / We can’t hang on anymore / We can’t hang on anymore / We can’t hang on anymore //