Monday, February 25, 2008

Star of Hope

A week or so ago, I sang at the annual Star of Hope Gala here in Houston.

Star of Hope is one of the oldest, longest operating missions of its kind in the nation.
I had been their guest several years ago, and remember saying at the time, “Star of Hope is one of the only operations that would like nothing more than to go out of business – to simply not be necessary anymore.”

Well, all these years later, there is a greater need than ever for Star of Hope and the wonderful work they do for this city.

In 2007, they housed 5,060 homeless people in their shelter. 25% of these were children, 26% were women and 49% were men. The average client stayed 47 nights with Star of Hope.

They served 523,746 meals!

They provided 82,780 articles of clothing to the needy.

Star of Hope assisted 4,103 clients with employment counseling. 736 enrolled in school or on the job training. 288 found employment.

1,035 people confessed Christ as Savior – people that before had no relationship with Jesus.

I could go on and on.

I’m thankful that the city of Houston has such a light to its people. It makes a difference in lives – those that are helped and those that reach out to help.

It’s not just the homeless and endangered that are helped in a place like Star of Hope. The people that give of their funds to support it, the people that volunteer their time to make it run and the full-time staff that operate the mission from day to day all receive from the blessing of giving themselves.

My invitation to play there that night came at the last minute – schedule mix-ups or something and since I live here and was off that evening, it worked out perfectly.

Look around you. What is happening where you live? What are the needs?
Your town might be small or you might be in a large city. God will use you to pour into the lives in your world. Will you do it?


In the last few days, I’ve been made aware of the passing of two incredible musicians.

Gary Driskell wrote magnificent songs of truth and praise. I sang one of his very best with Sandi Patty some time ago – “Another Time and Another Place”. On my second album, I recorded the song "New Lives for Old". Later, the song "Born in Zion" was on the list. Gary just kept them coming. He will be missed. What a great loss.

This morning, I got an email that said Larry Norman had passed away. Some people, after this many years, consider me one of the early pioneers in Christian music. Compared to Larry and others of his era, I’m a pup.

I was on a panel to discuss songwriting with Larry several years ago at Estes Park, Colorado. It was a fascinating mix of personalities. While I might have not seen eye to eye with Larry on a few issues, I always respected his heart for songs about God that rocked! He hated soft songs. He said God was a big God – a rockin’ God, “Sing big rockin’ songs,” he said.

I said, “There are all kinds of ways to express ourselves about the limitless God we serve.” He sheepishly said, “Well, yeah.” It was classic.

So all that to say, if you think you’ve got forever to get you stuff together and one day you’ll serve, one day you’ll help somebody else – when you’re more on top of things – let me tell you, time is flying and you just never, never know.

Bless you.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This is why I Still Love doing what I do . . .

This is a letter I received from Phil Hamblin, the pastor at Rhea's Mill Baptist Church outside of Dallas. I'm so thankful to be used this way.


I just can’t express with adequate words how much we enjoyed—how much I enjoyed your visit with us. God has given you a talent not just to sing, but to communicate through your brokenness.

It was a big step forward for our church, believe it or not. I shared with you a little about our history while we were at lunch. While it was a big step forward, it has been fun hearing all the really positive feedback from our members, young and old. Like I said, you have an ability to connect even (especially?) through your brokenness.

I think brokenness is the theme that so many Christian leaders miss. We somehow have been led to believe that just because Christ gives us strength, that the only way to demonstrate His glory is to appear strong, that just because He makes us overcomers then we can’t show places in our lives we haven’t overcome. We have this list of things that have to go perfectly in our lives otherwise we lose some kind of anointing. The problem is that most things on that list are dependent on other people. Our children make their own decisions because they are not robots. Our spouses do the same. What part we play in things only God knows fully. I’m convinced we don’t always know fully.

What made the disciples so influential was not their perfection, but their brokenness. Peter wasn’t really used until after he betrayed Christ. Paul wasn’t really used until God struck him down on the Damascus road. There is something really powerful in our brokenness. For someone that people generally look up to to be able to take the pain, disappointment, betrayal and shortcomings of their own lives and not varnish it with Christian-ese, but also not glorify it, but share it as a reason for hope is really powerful. It may not be conventional wisdom, especially considering the body of your work, but I believe your greatest influence may be ahead of you. God gave you this gift for life, not just till people could see you aren’t perfect.

You touched our church. Thanks for your ministry, and please keep up the good work.

Grace and peace,


Phil M. Hamblin, pastor, The Mill

Rhea's Mill Baptist Church :: 5733 N. Custer Rd. :: McKinney, TX 75071 :: 972.562.6772 ::