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Episode #264: I’m Proud of You – Tim Madigan’s Friendship with Mister Rogers

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My guest today on Voices In My Head is Tim Madigan. In a journalism career spanning more than three decades, Tim has written for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Politico, Reader’s Digest, and for thirty years the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Tim’s books included the critically acclaimed The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921; and a novel of the Greatest Generation and the aftermath of World War II, Every Common Sight.

It was a 1995 assignment for the Star-Telegram that led to Tim’s interview with Fred Rogers, the icon of children’s television, and a close friendship between the two men that last until Rogers’ death in 2003. Tim’s memoir, I’m Proud of You: My Friendship With Fred Rogers, is an intimate account of Rogers’ human greatness, and a testament to the healing power of friendship.

That transformative relationship and Tim’s own experiences as seeking and healing human being remain at the heart of his work. More than a decade after it was first published, I’m Proud of You continues to inspire readers around the globe, and Tim continues to speak of Mister Rogers and matters of the heart to varied audiences around the nation.

 Find out more about Tim Madigan and his work at https://www.timmadigan.net/

 

Follow Rick Lee James on Twitter at @RickLeeJames

Follow the Mister Rogers Twitter accoun that Rick Lee James runs at @MisterRogersSay

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Rick Lee James Official Web Site: www.RickLeeJames.com

 

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My guest today on Voices in My Head is The Reverend Dr. William H. Willimon, Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at the Divinity School of Duke University. He served eight years as Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he led 157,000 Methodists and 792 pastors in North Alabama. For twenty years prior to the episcopacy, he was Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

He is the author of over sixty books including Resident Aliens,  Thank God It’s Friday, Word, Water, Bread and Wine, Worship as Pastoral Care (which was selected as one of the ten most useful books for pastors by the Academy of Parish Clergy), and What’s Right with the Church?  In 1996, an international survey conducted by Baylor University named him one of the Twelve Most Effective Preachers in the English-speaking world.

Today we discuss one of his latest and most timely books, Who Lynched Willie Earle? Preaching to Confront Racism.

Donate Now To Rick Lee James New Album at www.RickLeeJames.com/Thunder

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This week Superman Turned 80 and we‘re celebrating with a history of Superman’s real life battles against Populism, Racism, and Religious Discrimination. This is a very special episode of Voices In My Head.

Below are the pictures referenced in this episode.

Hello my friends,

I just wanted to send a quick reminder that have 12 days left to raise $4000 so that I can pay for my time spent in the studio in New York. This doesn’t cover the printing of the new album or any of its promotion, just the studio costs which I’ve already incurred.

I could really use your help in making this happen with your pre-orders and donations on Indiegogo. I just added a new sheet music perk this week that you might want to check out.

Together, by your help in donating, pre-ordering, and sharing this campaign, we can do this.

I can’t wait to share this new music with you.

Thank you for your much needed help.

Blessings,

Rick Lee James

DONATE & PRE-ORDER HERE

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rick-lee-james-new-album-thunder#/

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This week I take some time to talk about Mister Rogers, something I am involved with related to his life and work through the Twitter handle @MisterRogersSay, plus I get into a couple of other news items.

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By the way, my new album is funding on Indiegogo until April 27th. Pre-order the new album today at the link below and get two songs immediately.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rick-lee-james-new-album-thunder#/

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PAUL ZACH RELEASES GOD IS THE FRIEND OF SILENCE TODAY

Debut Solo EP Produced By Isaac Wardell, Distributed By The Fuel Music

 

 

Worship leader and songwriter Paul Zach released his debut solo EP, God Is The Friend Of Silence, on March 23 through The Fuel Music. The five-song EP was recorded live Dec. 2017 at Mason Jar Studio in Brooklyn, NY, and features Liz Vice on backing vocals. Produced Isaac Wardell, founder of The Porter’s Gate and Bifrost Arts, the recording is available now at iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify, Google Play and more digital outlets internationally through http://smarturl.it/GCMpzfos.

 

Zach reconnected with Wardell to record God Is The Friend Of Silence following last fall’s acclaimed The Porter’s Gate debut, Work Songs: The Porter’s Gate Worship Project, which was also produced by Wardell. Zach cowrote five songs and was a featured vocalist on three Work Songs tracks, including “In the Fields of the Lord” with Audrey Assad.

 

“I decided to do the EP after recording with The Porters Gate this past summer and wanted to challenge myself to record an album live with no edits or recording tricks,” says Zach. “It was so much fun in the studio recording these songs live along with an amazing string quartet.”

 

“The combination of Liz Vice and Paul Zach’s soulful vocals with the sophistication of the lyrics and string arrangements make this EP into something more than the sum of its parts,” adds Wardell. “Each of these songs is crafted and performed exquisitely and thoughtfully with the end effect being a simple joy for the listener.”

 

The resulting plaintive, prayerful songs of worship begin with the EP’s title track, which premieres today as the first video from the EP through The Good Christian Music Blog at https://youtu.be/fddNmMhJcT8. The song was inspired by the Mother Teresa quote: “We need to find God and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.”

 

“Prayer has always been difficult for me,” confesses Zach. “I usually feel the absence of God more than His presence. Writing this song was a reminder for me to continue in the discipline even though I find it to be difficult.”

 

God Is The Friend Of Silence further features “Restore Us Again,” a song Zach says is “asking God to break us from our obsession with the easy and comfortable life,” along with the Martin Luther King inspired “I’ll Never Leave You Alone,” which comes against racial injustice and serves as a reminder that God is with the oppressed and will never leave or forsake them.

 

The final two tracks on the EP were inspired by the Psalms, both “For God Alone (Psalm 62)” and “East/West (Psalm 103).”

 

“There are so many great images in the Psalms,” says Zach, “and these songs are my attempt to put those words to music.”

 

About Paul Zach:

In addition to touring with the band Remedy Drive for nine years, writing songs and leading worship at Portico Church, and putting out three acclaimed The Silver Pages EPs that have featured guest appearances by All Sons and Daughters, Phil Joel, Leeland and others, Zach has also written music that has garnered multiple film and TV placements. Those placements have included national and regional commercials for Chevy, PetSmart, University of Oklahoma and more.

 

All the latest Paul Zach and God Is The Friend Of Silence news, can be found at www.PaulZachMusic.com and https://www.facebook.com/PaulZach.

 

About The Fuel Music:

Established in 2008, The Fuel Music & Management, LLC, is a leading artist management and artist solutions company that independently distributes music internationally. Based in Nashville, TN, the Fuel team brings nearly 70 years of combined music industry experience in record label operations, major label distribution and marketing, and artist management for artists ranging from upstart bands to GRAMMY Award nominated, multi-platinum artists. More information on the company can be found at www.thefuelmusic.com.

 

 

 

PLANETSHAKERS BAND RELEASES HEAVEN ON EARTH PART 1 APRIL 6

 

PREMIERES EP LIVE ON DAYSTAR TV IN OVER 180 COUNTRIES

 

Praise EP Recorded Live With Tens Of Thousands Of Worshippers In Asia

 

 

Internationally recognized praise band Planetshakers, with a mission of “empowering generations to win generations,” will independently release Heaven On Earth Part 1 April 6th on iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play and more digital outlets, as well as through Apple Music, Spotify and other streaming sites. Recorded live at Planetshakers’ regional conferences in Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, the EP captures the heart and dynamic praise of Planetshakers Band along with tens of thousands of worshippers.

 

In addition to the new recording, Planetshakers Band will also premiere songs from Heaven On Earth Part 1 during the live Daystar Television Network broadcast of the annual Planetshakers Conference in Melbourne, Australia April 4 – 7 (see local listings for times). This marks the fourth consecutive year that Planetshakers has partnered with Daystar to exclusively air its conference on the network to audiences in over 180 countries around the world.

 

The four-song, nearly 24-minute Heaven On Earth Part 1 is a tangible, intentional expression of worshippers collectively pursuing the presence of God, all led by Planetshakers’ worship leaders Sam EvansJoth Hunt (who also produced and mixed the EP), BJ PridhamChelsi Nikkerud and a full team of musicians, dancers and more. The EP captures the gathering’s “praise-party” atmosphere seasoned with singing, dancing and shouts of praise.

 

“While worship and praise can simultaneously co-exist, they are not synonymous,” says Russell Evans, Senior Pastor of Planetshakers Church. “Where true worship of God is essentially a matter of the heart and spirit rooted in the knowledge of the Word of God, praiseis the outward expression of what is in the heart. With Heaven On Earth Part 1, Planetshakers joyously praises the One we worship and invites God’s presence on Earth, longing for Him to establish his Kingdom here, as it is in Heaven.”

 

Everywhere Planetshakers traveled in Asia, they found a passionate hunger for worship and an unmatched boldness in praise and longing for God’s Kingdom to be established. Even in areas where promoters cautioned Planetshakers not to go, suggesting that people might attend a concert but not a full conference, people turned out in droves.

 

In the Philippine capital of Manila, crowds gathered at 3 am on January 13, 2018, waiting in long lines outside SMART Araneta Coliseum to experience the conference. Pastor Russell Evans greeted the crowds, and promoters opened 2,000 extra standing-room-only passes since the 16,500-seat auditorium was already filled to capacity.

 

“When praising God, we are declaring who He is and what He has done, which creates an atmosphere for Him to move,” says Hunt. “We may not be able to change circumstances, but we can change the atmosphere and help people get through them.”

 

  

 

  

 

Pictured during the Planetshakers event in Manila, Philippines at SMART Araneta Coliseum are Pastor Russell Evans (upper left), Pastor Sam Evans (upper right) and Joth Hunt (lower left), as well as worshippers and Planetshakers dancers.

 

In addition to the EP, four exclusive videos featuring a multi-camera visual experience captured at the events will be revealed. The full Heaven On Earth Part 1 tracks are as follows:

 

1) “There Is No One Like You (Live In Asia)”

2) “The Greatest (Live In Asia)”

3) “Above All Names (Live In Asia)”

4) “No Alone (Live In Asia)”

 

Sharing the new music from Heaven On Earth Part 1 along with favorites like “The Anthem,” “Endless Praise” and “Nothing Is Impossible” while on tour, Planetshakers Band is scheduled to be in India and Europe May 12-20, the USA and South America June 21- July 1, South Africa July 13-22 and back in Asia August 3-19.

 

For all the latest Planetshakers tour, music and conference news, visit Planetshakers.comTwitterYouTubeInstagram and Facebook, where Planetshakers has over 1.3 million followers.

 

About Planetshakers:

Since its inaugural gathering in 1997, Planetshakers has gone on to become a global movement through its annual conferences, international church campuses and numerous live recordings, including multiple Dove Award-nominated projects. The Australia-based collective, led by Senior Pastors Russell and Sam Evans, has hosted gatherings in cities around the world while also launching Planetshakers Church in 2004. With over 14,000 members in Australia, Planetshakers Church is one of the fastest growing churches in that nation’s history, stretching across five campuses in Melbourne with additional locations in Singapore; Cape Town, South Africa; Geneva, Switzerland and Austin, TX.

 

Celebrating 20 years of ministry, Planetshakers’ latest CD/DVD project, Legacy, honors the countless ways God has used the ministry and music of Planetshakers over the past two decades to raise up a generation of Christ followers with a clear vision of taking the Gospel to nations… “empowering generations to win generations.”

In Stillness Earth Awaits Resurrection

by Rick Lee James

Holy Saturday is sometimes called the great Sabbath. On this day Jesus rested in the tomb. It is a day of silence and uncertainty.

When we face the tragic death of someone we love it takes us to an in-between place.

When dealing with such a loss, our existence feels like non-existence. We don’t know what the next move is. We aren’t sure where to go. We just want to hide away somewhere with our grief, hoping that the world will stop moving for a while.

Do we eat? Do we sleep? Do we take a walk? What are we to do with ourselves in all of this grief?

How do we pray when hope has abandoned us? Our beloved is sealed in the tomb, how can it be?

When the heartbeat of our beloved cannot be found, our own hearts seem to stop as well.

How did Mary feel as they lay Jesus in the tomb? A parent isn’t supposed to watch her child die.

How does a parent go on when they lose a child, their most treasured possession?

This is where we are called on holy Saturday.

Allow yourself the time to grieve today, because there has been a great loss. The light of the world has been snuffed out and even the daylight seems like darkness.

Let’s get together in the morning at the sanctuary and we will see together where we go from here.

Andrew Peterson’s Resurrection Letters

By Doug McKelvey

On paper Resurrection Letters, Vol. I is a project that shouldn’t exist. The math doesn’t add up. After ten years of putting it off, ten years of feeling too intimidated and inadequate to write and record the project he instinctively knew could be the most important and personally meaningful of his career, Andrew Peterson wrestled a growing sense he could put it off no longer. After all, we’re only given so many years in this life.

 

Peterson’s twenty years of creative output as a songwriter and novelist had already served to articulate and shape the longings of hundreds of thousands of fans, turning and training their desires towards eternal things. His poetic and theologically rich expressions have been always honest, sometimes painful, ever restless, ever hopeful, ever human. He is the rare artist who clearly sees his talent, not as a reason for pride and self-promotion, but as a thing he is given primarily to steward in the service of others. And it was because of that posture of humility—and despite all his recent successes as a recording artist, novelist, filmmaker, and non-profit organizer—that the unfinished Resurrection Letters project was always present somewhere in the back of his mind unsettling him like a splinter under skin.

 

“Listeners asked me again and again about when I would record Resurrection Letters, Volume One,” Andrew remembers, “and I would wince every time.”

 

To put all of this another way, there are many artists who are gifted, and then there are a small handful of artists who are gifts. And Andrew Peterson is a gift to the Body of Christ. He has not pursued a career by asking what would sell well and seeking to cash in on that. Instead he has pursued a calling by asking what would serve well and then laboring to bring those expressions of beauty and comfort and longing into being. When he creates, he creates with a measure of fear and trembling, because he begins in the knowledge of his own limitations, never presuming he will be able to bring his work to any meaningful completion. So it makes sense that the project he saw as most necessary would also be the project he would feel most unprepared, even unworthy, to pursue.

 

“Honestly, as the centrality of the resurrection became clearer and clearer to me from a theological standpoint,” he says, “the less I felt up to the task.”

 

A decade ago Peterson had been so stirred by implications of the resurrection expressed in N.T. Wright’s Surprised By Hope and C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce that he penned an album’s worth of songs unpacking those epiphanies. For the intervening decade since the release of Resurrection Letters, Vol. II though, he’s found himself mumbling ambiguous and reluctant answers to that obvious, repeated question: “When are you going to go back and record Volume I?”

 

“The songs I wrote for Volume II traced the ripple effects of the resurrection,” Andrew explains. “They explored how it impacted my own life and hopes rather than being specifically about Jesus. I called itVolume II because I knew there was a more fundamental part of that story still to tell. The whole church, the whole history of our faith, hinges on Christ’s resurrection. But I didn’t feel adequate to the task of communicating that, so for ten years I’ve carried that insecurity along with the sense that I needed to bring it to completion at some point.”

 

Eventually, that time came. In the fall of 2017 Andrew met with his label Centricity Music and together they agreed on a deadline three short months away so the project could release in time for Easter of 2018. Now Resurrection Letters, Vol. I was on the calendar. The gears were turning and time and money from the label were being invested in anticipation of the pending release, so one way or another Andrew was going to have to deliver something. Problem was, those three months spanned a quarter year which was shaping up to be the most unlikely recording season of Andrew Peterson’s career.

 

“I came into the process with only two songs written,” Andrew explains, “and during those three months I had two trips to England scheduled, a trip to Israel, a deadline to complete the Wingfeather Saga animated film, and a deadline to finish writing a nonfiction book. I was also staging the Rich Mullins tribute concert, staging the Rabbit Room Live show, hosting the annualHutchmoot Conference, and coordinating and touring the Behold the Lamb of God Christmas concert. It really didn’t make sense that we could record Resurrection Letters, Vol. I during those same three months, but somehow, on odd days when I was home in Nashville, it happened.”

 

Happened is perhaps a slight understatement. Three months later Peterson had managed to record fourteen new songs. At that point a decision was made to split the project into a five-song EP and a nine-song album, partly because of the number of songs, and partly because of the subject matter. Most of the songs were about Christ’s resurrection, but a handful centered instead on his crucifixion.

 

“My dream was always that Resurrection Letters, Vol. Iwould be a record you would listen to on Easter Sunday,” Andrew says, “so I wanted it to feel like a celebration. Early on I imagined a three-part structure following the line from the Anglican liturgy ‘Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.’ But once everything was recorded it just didn’t feel right to open the project with “Last Words (Tenebrae)”(a song based on Christ’s final utterances on the cross) and then to spend five songs contemplating his death. So we split it. The Prologue EP (Resurrection Letters: Prologue), honors the necessary darkness of the cross and becomes a musical meditation for Passion Week and Good Friday, allowing Resurrection Letters, Vol. I to be the pure Easter celebration we envisioned.”

 

Much of the credit for the prolific song output during those three months, Peterson says, goes to producer Ben Shive (Ellie Holcomb, Colony House, Mercy Me). Shive stepped up to shepherd the project through Andrew’s frequent absences. Having produced Resurrection Letters, Vol. II a decade earlier and toured for years with Andrew, Ben was the obvious choice. “He understood more than anyone else what we were trying to do,” Andrew says. “Plus, Ben Shive knows scripture better than any friend I have, which is essential for a project like this. He even wrote two of the songs and co-wrote another three.”

 

Shive had also split production credits on Peterson’s last two studio projects, Light for the Lost Boy andThe Burning Edge of Dawn. Those albums were autobiographical, dealing in large part with Andrew’s “long, dark journey” through a three-year depression.

 

“One of the reasons I love doing the Behold the Lamb of God tour every year,” Andrew says, “is that it feels really good to spend a month of the year not singing about me and my story, but instead singing words from scripture about the Lamb of God. After four years spent writing and singing songs about my own struggles, to spend this season writing and singing about the death and resurrection of Jesus felt like a culmination of that hard journey. When I die, I’m not interested in people saying that I told my own story well, except in how the telling of my own journey might have drawn them to a deeper understanding of the gospel.Resurrection Letters, Vol. I is a distillation of that hope.”

 

Such hope is articulated most clearly in the first single and video “Is He Worthy?” Drawn from the fifth chapter of Revelation, the song is structured as a sort of liturgy set to music, utilizing a call and response format that invites listeners to become participants. It isn’t difficult to imagine that “Is He Worthy?” might be printed in hymnals 200 years from now. The poetic, catechismal lyric begins in a recognition of the world’s brokenness and builds to a hope-filled and worshipful proclamation of Christ’s worthiness.

 

“When I sing those words from scripture, I can hardly believe they’re true,” Andrew says. “‘From every people and tribe, every nation and tongue, he has made us a kingdom and priests to God who reign with the Son.’ We’re told that we will actually reign with Christ. That is a mind-blowing promise. How can we even wrap our thoughts around it?”

 

The album’s upbeat, anthemic opener, “His Heart Beats,” likewise deals with an incomprehensible reality: that the resurrection of Jesus wasn’t only a spiritual event, but involved a dead physical body being restored to life; that a heart which had been silent for three days suddenly contracted and began to beat again; that the blood which had stilled and pooled in Christ’s veins suddenly began to flow again. “His Heart Beats” is a joyful meditation and triumphant declaration likely to be incorporated into many Easter sunrise services.

 

A third song that could similarly serve the church for generations is the psalm-like “Always Good,” written when a friend suddenly and unexpectedly lost his wife. Perhaps more than any other song on the record, “Always Good” is a hard-won confession of faith that lives in that expectant tension between the hurts of this life and the hopes of what is to come.

 

“I never cried so much making a record,” Andrew reflects. “What it really means to ponder and pray and write about the significance of the centrality of the resurrection is that the whole album is about Jesus. It’s about the person of Christ. Through that creative process I found myself loving him more. IfBehold the Lamb of God is about dusting cobwebs off the Christmas story to remind people it’s about the incarnation and the atonement for sin, then Resurrection Letters, Vol. I is the next chapter in the story, a celebration of what Christ saved us for. My hope is that these songs kindle a new longing not only in hearts, but down to our very bones and sinews—a tangible longing that we were made for this, for this coming redemption, for God dwelling with his people in a more profound way than he did even in the garden.”

 

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