If this website feels aged or dated, then it has accomplished its purpose. The goal is not to “fit in” with the modern-day life style – but rather attempt to go back in time a bit and reflect on the simple days gone by, the simple faith, and the simple life.
Nostalgia, vintage, and rustic becoming fashionable once more let me know that I am not alone in sensing that I somehow do not belong in today’s society. There is a longing to once again feel the passion of deep-routed genuine love, grace, and contentment (I believe it was called old-time religion).
I find myself woolgathering about tent revivals, homecomings, and all-night Gospel singings – where you “dressed for the occasion” because you were going to God’s place. These folks knew something about taking your burdens to the Cross and leaving them there.
THERE IS A GOD IN HEAVEN! Really? With the preacher’s long finger always pointing upward, such a simple phrase would thunder through the canvas and bounce off of the metal poles of the old Gospel tent revivals. A simple phrase that would scare the living daylights out of me each and every time, as a child. Add that to a summer thunderstorm wind clanging the tie-down hooks against the metal poles and the dancing lightning were something right out of a Benjamin Franklin experiment.
I am no stranger to the hell-fire and brimstone way of life. This was my life. I, so well, remember my very tall dad carrying me in his arms across sawdust floors with my head grazing the flaps on the tent. This was faith in its simplest of forms to these folks. I can still recall some of the names of the tent evangelist greats: T.L. Lowery, H. Richard Hall, Rudy Teague, and John Todd. I know there were so many more, but these are the great revivalists that stand apart for me.
Open-air tent revivals were more of a spring/summer thing. Another great preacher in their day was W. Earl Armstrong who built the Armstrong Tabernacle to host many traveling evangelists at all other times of the year. The tabernacle was really a huge auditorium – complete with sloped flooring and a massive high stage. The “tabernacle” was an amazing structure for such a small town in the 1950’s and 60’s.
One of the above greats came to hold revival at the tabernacle. No set dates, as these could start out as a week event and go into two, three, or even four weeks depending on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Predictably my family was among the multitudes who found their way here night after night.
On this given night, when it came time for the evening offering, folks were asked to bring their offering and lay it on the platform. For those who could not reach the platform, a couple of tall men would take the offering and place it there for them.
Putting a few crumpled dollars in my hand, dad said, “Go, take this to the front.” Walking down the slanted floor, I became much smaller and the stage much bigger. Almost at the front, the evangelist stopped the music to a dead silence and calmly requested, “Pick her up and bring her to me.” One of the tall gentlemen did just that. With the offering over, I found myself in the arms of a slick-backed dark hair and black-suited stranger – face-to-face with the most comforting smile that I remember to this day.
I believe the evangelist was trying to make the point of “coming as a little child”. However, he needed to close the service and I am not sure that he knew what to do with me. The tall men were seated and dangling me from the high stage would seem a bit “off”. Still in his arms like a doll and still in the air, the evangelist asked of the congregation,
Within that same breath, he pitched me from the stage to land in the soft cushioned laps of three ladies sitting on the front row. From the pitch, to the cement floor, to the connecting metal chairs and all in between could have gone badly in so many ways. But, it didn’t. After the closing prayer, dad came down front and collected me from the ladies as if nothing had ever happened.
Many revivals and many years following, I literally grew up to standing eye-to-eye with this no longer scary evangelist. Still, to him and perhaps even to myself, I remained that little child.
From that little child, the transition from his arms to standing on a piano bench to sing somehow seemed natural. So deeply rooted in old time religion has served me well. The smell of sawdust, the prayer lines that lined the entire tent circle, the amazing, echoing sound of the Hammond B3 Organ (Donnie Warren, Herb Winegar, and Hank Amos), along with the Sunday river baptizings have all served to lay the foundation for who I am today. No matter where I go or to whom I go, my song is firmly grounded in the humble of yesterday.
Furthermore, I know something about a God in heaven. I know something about a place called Calvary. I know something about a Savior who gave his life for me. I know something about His walking with me day by day. I know something about travelling a life’s journey. I know something about that glorious day when Christ returns and all past is forever past.
My journey has certainly not been a bed of roses, but rather shady, green pastures where I find rest, peace, grace, and the courage to run the race that God has personally set before me. No two journeys and no two races are the same. Yes, we, all are on a journey. Oh, what a journey and oh, how it ends.
My journey has taken to me to the heights of beauty and grace, as well as to the depths of places that I am not sure that I could ever travel again. Down through the years and in the middle of so many long, dark nights; this is the place where each bitter tear arose into a hallelujah note.
My Journey, the song, is not just a song, but rather a life-story, lived. Just one of God’s countless gifts in penning music and writing after a weathered storm. Will be forever eternally grateful that God allowed this song to rest in the Cashbox/Southern Gospel Music charts top 100 for nine straight months.
This is what sharing the Gospel is all about. This is me. If there be any gifts, graces, or talents that God has bestowed to me; they are freely shared. My all is in Christ and Christ is my all. For your glory, I would do anything.
So, feel free to ask, be it music, writing, or whatever of me that proclaims Christ. Here I am. I’ll go.
THERE IS A GOD IN HEAVEN! Yes, really! And, He loves you and I more that we could ever know.
It is my prayer that some or all of this has been captured in my music, my writings, and my life. So, feel free to snuggle up, take your shoes off, and bring to mind your personal moment of remembrance from days gone by.
May you find your place of warmth and refuge here.
ALL BOOKS ARE BY REQUEST. SIMPLY Contact US FOR A PRINTED COPY.
Show Me, The Beauty Of The Cross, One Drop Of Blood, I Choose To Believe, I’ve Got To Reach Jesus, Lord Have Mercy, My Journey, There Is Peace, Holy Spirit Flow Down, All That Matters, I’ll See You At Home
I Cry Jesus/What A Lovely Name, Goodbye World Goodbye, The Anchor Holds, It’s About The Cross, Heaven Only Knows It’s About Time, Home In A Heartbeat, Is That The New Jerusalem, The Blood Is Still Flowing, Where No One Wants To Be, The Battle Is The Lord’s, Amazing Grace, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, How Great Thou Art, The Old Rugged Cross, I Have A New Song
The First Noel, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, Silent Night, Away In A Manger, O Holy Night, Go Tell It On The Mountain, What CHRISTmas Means
Deborah “Dobby” Baliles – Author, Singer, Songwriter, & Publisher
Richard Putnam – Music, Arranger, & Producer
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