Please continue to Pray for Cecil

03.25.13 | Cecil Van Houten | Comments[1]

Prayer

Medical update:  First things first.  If you would pray for Connie's brother, Tim, and his family it would be an encouragement to them.  Tim is in hospice care and resting peacefully.  He'll soon be going Home.  May God's peace be with them all.

For my part, we are moving closer to a determination on what steps will be next.  Transplant is still the goal but we're doing another series of tests this coming week to determine the current viability of that option.  As I've said before there are complications that can develop while a patient is waiting for a donor heart that have a direct impact on the outcome of the surgery and recovery.  After five months we are seeing more of those issues develop.  We'll be trying to analyze them and come to the best decision as to how to proceed.  I ask you to pray for clarity and discernment that we would know God's will as we move forward.  Thanks.

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(Quite a few people have asked about the answers to the foreign ownership question in the last blog.  The answers may be found at the end of this blog.)

Have you ever wondered how God uses certain ordinary people to do extraordinary things?  Throughout the ages He has called gifted people to be instruments of change, innovation, artistry and creativity.  The impact of their life and work reaches beyond the present and far into the future.  Yet ironically, their greatest significance may be their ordinariness.  They don’t stand out; they don’t seek the spotlight; the best thing they do is simply be themselves. 

Bill and Gloria Gaither are two such people.  It began when Bill was teaching high school English in Alexandria, the small Indiana town where he was born.  (In addition to teaching, he picked up a few extra dollars by teaching drivers ed.  I don’t know whose driving would scare me more – his or the students.)  He grew up loving gospel music and was a budding songwriter.  He, his younger brother Danny and sister, Mary Ann, began singing in churches and people began responding to the lyrics and music.  Several years later Bill married Gloria, the high school French teacher (ooh la la), and two years later she replaced Mary Ann, singing alto.  For the next twelve years this was The Bill Gaither Trio. 

The songs kept coming and their traveling reached to wider circles.  By the late sixties Bill and Gloria left teaching to pursue their dream of writing and performing gospel music.  There was no big publishing deal, no marketing plan, no national touring schedule.  It was just the next logical step. 

If you weren’t around then you have to understand the entire landscape was very different.  There was ‘church music’, which ranged from hymns to newer writers like John Peterson and Ralph Carmichael.  (When you play their music for people today they ask, "Really?  That was contemporary?"  It was then.)  ‘Gospel music’ usually referred to traditional black church music.  And there was ‘southern gospel’ which emerged in the early 20th century and was more popular in the south, hence the name.  Oh, and there were some ex-hippies in California making something called ‘Jesus Music’.  (Don’t worry, it’ll never catch on.)

The Christian music ‘industry’ was just beginning to find its legs.  There were only three major record labels: Zondervan/Singspiration, which held the traditional church music, choral and mature inspirational market; Word Records, which was the most progressive label group, covering all genres and the Benson Company, which recorded many southern gospel and inspo artists.  A new record might sell 5,000 copies.  And if you didn’t buy them from the groups when they came to your area you could find a limited selection at your local Christian bookstore. No Amazon, no MP3s, no iTunes.        

Against this background came the songs written by Bill and Gloria.  Their early ‘hits’ like “He Touched Me”, “Because He Lives”, “There’s Something About That Name” and “The King Is Coming” made a powerful connection with people and secured them a foothold in the nascent industry.  And the songs kept coming.  What they were writing in the mid 70s was the precursor to today’s ‘praise and worship’ music.  Many of their songs were so popular that there was hardly a week when one or more Gaither songs didn’t top the charts.  Just about every group and soloist routinely waited for the newest Gaither song to record.  From songbooks to hymnals to records and on the radio, the penetration of their music was much deeper than any writer’s today. 

By the 80’s Danny had left to pursue a solo career and various lead singers rotated in and out of the Trio.  In order to maintain a contemporary sound Bill and Gloria often paired with co-writers from different genres of music, not as an artistic compromise but as a means of staying connected to a changing marketplace.  That decade also saw the creation of the Gaither Vocal Band which has grown to become one of the most popular groups in Christian music.  Then in 1991 an impromptu sing-a-long with a group of gospel music legends following a recording session was captured on video and evolved into the Homecoming Video series which was followed by the popular Homecoming Concerts.  Along the way, Bill became a successful publisher, innovator, mentor and entrepreneur. 

The first time I met him was in 1974 following a Trio concert.  I had been listening to his music for several years and was interested in his philosophy of writing.  He had a reputation for taking an interest in new writers and we talked for over an hour.  He asked me almost as many questions as I asked him.  Most of all, he listened.  That conversation turned out to be the first of many over the years.  I’ve learned a lot from his example.  And one thing is readily apparent – Bill has remained a teacher his entire life.    

He’s going to be 77 this Thursday.  A career that has spanned almost fifty years is something to be recognized under any circumstance.  But the impact he and Gloria have made on countless thousands – probably millions – of lives is inestimable.  Their songs have stood the test of time.  Because they were the best writers?  No.  Because they’ve been on the leading edge of innovation?  No.  It’s because they listened carefully to the call on their lives and simply said “Yes”.          

I’ve talked with a lot of people in the last few months who are dealing with loss – of a job, of a home, of a relationship, of a loved one.  It’s closer to us than we ever care to admit.  While so many strive for the future and try to grasp everything they can in this life, the truth is there is no future without Christ – and the promise of today, which in itself is an amazing thing, is all we’re given.  Cherish it.  Embrace it.  Live it to the fullest.  Because we have this moment – today.

Hold tight to the sound of the music of living,
Happy songs from the laughter of children at play;
Hold my hand as we run through the sweet fragrant meadows,
Making memories of what was today.

We have this moment to hold in our hands
and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;
Yesterday's gone and tomorrow may never come,
But we have this moment today.

Tender words, gentle touch and a good cup of coffee,
And someone who loves me and wants me to stay;
Hold them near while they're here and don't wait for tomorrow,
To look back and wish for today.

We have this moment to hold in our hands

and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;

Yesterday's gone and tomorrow may never come,

But we have this moment today.

Take the blue of the sky and the green of the forest,

and the gold and the brown of the freshly mown hay;

Add the pale shades of spring and the circus of autumn,

And weave you a lovely today.

We have this moment to hold in our hands,

and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;

Yesterday's gone and tomorrow may never come

But we have this moment today.

 

Words and Music (C) 1975 William J. Gaither.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission of Gaither Copyright Management (ASCAP)

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American brands and their foreign owners:

Budweiser                      InBev (Belgium and Brazil)

Ben & Jerry's                  Unilever (Netherlands and Britain)

7-Eleven                         Seven & 1 (Japan)

The Chrysler Building      Abu Dhabi Investment Council (Abu Dhabi)

Holiday Inns/Express      IHG (Britain)

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on 03.25.13 Deb~ commented

Continued prayers for this brother in Christ and his family.

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