HMJ or Robbo Part 2

When I moved to America I saw myself as a singer-songwriter/bluesy guitar player. My songs were about life…. some were about brokenness, others had my slant on the gospel and some were inspirational (hymns). I came here to play clubs and theaters etc to share my blend of “peace and goodwill to all”….. but when Broken Records folded I was vacuumed into another label and placed in a box…. labeled worship….. and though this form of expression has played an important role in my life, I found this recording industry experience quite suffocating.

Of course I have always been the smart ass at the back of the class room throwing jibes and asking rhetorical questions and it wasn’t long before I landed in various forms of hot water (and or quick sand).

When you chain up a dog….. have you noticed that most of it’s energy is used on trying to escape?

I guess I was that dog!

And, I was none too silent about it…… (…. oh how often I’d hear wisdom calling out…. “Chris….. don’t say it?”……”keep your thoughts to yourself”…… “shut the #$%^ up!”……. ……. but me….. listen?)

My bands have always consisted of musicians who ‘get me’…. rather than people who believe what I believe. I would rather have someone working alongside of me that shares an interest in exploring the unknown…. or following the yellow brick road no matter where it leads…. than people who profess the same core beliefs.

And, I like to include people in my life….. you know…. for better or worse…… If this is real….. then you should be able to sense it too.

My friend Brian Davenport says it best (and you have to put on a Texan accent to get it right).

“If they can’t see it, they can’t buy it”.

And so….. though I was the flavor of the month there for a while (in the gospel-worship scene) it was not long before word got out about some of my ‘heathen’ band members….. and soon I was black listed by most of the agents etc…. which in the end was wonderful…. because I could go ‘into all the world’….. bars, clubs etc….. and escape the claustrophobia and exclusivity of the christian music scene (phew!).

If you read the previous blog, I was leaving Robbo’s house and heading back to the conference….. where…. in several hours I was due to perform a concert.

So now Robbo, his 4 year old son and me are driving along in this old truck and I say…. “So are you ready to sing and play a little blues harp tonight Robbo?”

Robbo…. “Well I was thinking it’s getting late and I should be getting this young fella into bed”.

Robbo “… and also I am not really a Church person and it would be weird for everyone if I came in”

Robbo “….. and hey I don’t think God would approve of me singing with you at this ministers conference…. do you?”

“Look Robbo I don’t want to make you do anything you don’t want to do but it would mean a lot to me if you could come and join me…. I mean the band isn’t too good…… and I could really do with some help”

I wasn’t trying to trick him….. he was my friend…. but I had a sneaky suspicion that he really did want to come and check this new ‘priest‘ thing out in my life.

So we are driving along, we are few miles away from the Church when Robbo says…… very sheepishly…. “I’ve been praying to God lately“

“You have? What do you say to him?”

“Well it’s not a very good prayer and so I don’t think he really listens…. But I say it to him all the time“

“Well what do you say?”

“Ah….. it sounds stupid ……but I just say Help me Jesus….. Hep me Jesus….. Help me Jesus”

Smiling, I told Robbo that…… in my opinion…… this was quite possibly God’s favorite kind of prayer.”

Robbo…. “Really?……. are you sure”

“Hey I’m a priest aren’t I”…… and we both laughed.

Now the ministers conference was…… shall we say…… hmmmmm conservative?….. and could easily have passed as a convention for life insurance salesmen.

People had traveled far and wide to attend and though they had assured me it was to be casual dress ……. it looked to me that everyone was in their Sunday best…. All except me of course. Well actually I was in my my Sunday best it’s just that my idea of dressing for Church is…… well…… casual…… and so to make an extra special effort I may don a clean ironed pair of Jeans….. and maybe….. if I am feeling pressured….. a collared shirt.

Fortunately much grace was given me…. I was after all a musician…. But how come all the other musicians were wearing suits? This is surely against the union code of dress for any musician…. Except for weddings and funerals and maybe if you’re playing in a Big band in Vegas.

Anyway I say all this, because if people had a hard time with my appearance, then they had yet to observe Robbo in all his messy, post-hippie, aging rock-star splendor.

So now we drive up to the back of the Church and the three of us walk into the stage area. The leader of the conference comes over and tries not to look awkwardly at Robbo.

He pulls me aside and says ‘….. ahh (with a hint of fear)…. who is that‘…. “Oh this is a friend of mine and he will be playing and singing with me during tonights concert.”

I know what the minister is thinking…. “I don’t just let anyone on my stage……. and look at him…. his jeans have holes in them….. and he smells of smoke…. and….. and…. ”.

The minister then shakes his head and says….. “never mind…….. ahhh…… do what you have to do…. I just don’t want to know about it.“

This sounded like a yes to me!

And what am I about to do?

Well…. I am including someone in my life…… and letting him experience a little of what I hold to be precious.

And….. I am making a decision to love Robbo, and not make a rule that says “only the sanctified, the clean, the well behaved, the non smoker etc can stand on this platform and worship“.

The concert goes okay…. Actually…. it was (bloody) hard work. The musicians, dressed in their nice suits were a mite timid. I gave Robbo a few blues harp solos which he fumbled badly. I could tell he was nervous….. probably hoping that Scotty would beam him up and take him home for a nice cold beer…… or a joint.

I finished the set with one of my gospel songs “Wash my Sins Away“ I led the people in the refrain singing ‘let it wash, let it wash, let it wash my sins away, for just one drop, one precious drop will wash my sins away’.

During this ‘sing-along’ the leader of the conference came up on stage, took my microphone and began to build a prayer upon the chorus. He then spoke to the audience about confessing sins and asked for ministers to come forward for prayer….for any minister who wanted to confess sins and be unburdened etc.

He then asked for the band to continue singing the song while he and others prayed for the ministers.

Well…… the minister had taken my microphone…… and the only other microphone on stage at that time was Robbo’s.

Without skipping a beat Robbo, the professional just started singing the song and people started following him. I couldn’t believe it. He was actually leading them in worship….. all the ministers…. Thousands of ministers in fact…. were following his leading and singing the song as a prayer.

Now it was my turn to shake my head….. and smile….. and then laugh.

If the ministers had known who Robbo was they would never have listened…..or followed along….. let alone invite him onto the Church platform.

But ignorance is bliss.

And truth….. no matter who says (or sings it) is still truth.

And Robbo….. well…. he was just doing what came natural to him. He was a singer after all…. and though the platform was a tad foreign to him….. something made him feel comfortable enough to be himself….. and ….. he was doing what he was actually born to do.

I like God’s sense of humor….. I like that “unless you come to the Father as a child you’ll never understand the kingdom of God”.

And I think God may find it refreshing to hear simple honest prayers like “Help me Jesus, Help me Jesus, Help me Jesus”.
Maybe I’ll make another T-Shirt.

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  1. That’s great. The British Anglican vicar Mike Breen (in the States these days, I believe) used to tell a wonderful story about when he was vicar in a parish with a worship band. One day, the rough teenage boy next door began questioning him over the garden fence about music. He’d heard the church had a band, and asked if he could join it and play guitar. Breen was nervous: they only allowed committed Christians into the band. But he sensed this was like Luke 10, where Jesus sends out the seventy-two, and they are to look for a ‘man of peace’. Maybe the teenager was a man of peace. So he took the lad to church on Sunday morning, and introduced him to the band. “Who’s that?”, they asked. “Your new guitarist,” replied Breen. The teenager stood at the back, virtually hidden, and played.

    Some years later, Breen had moved to another parish but returned to preach on a special occasion. You can guess who was now leading the worship band. He’d found Christ, and was going to study music at university.

  2. Mate, I can’t even begin to say how this speaks to me. I’m in the middle of trying to get a four-piece country gospel band together to record a CD and play a festival, and I’m the only confessing Christian in the bunch. Strange days indeed…


  3. Dear Dr. Falson, my problem is a 9 year old daughter who is obsessed by a ‘pop’ star called Sam Sparro (I don’t know whether you have heard of him as he is British). I know that as a pop star yourself, you must have come across teenyboppers asking arkward questions and being a bit obsessive. I was a minor pop star, a long time ago, and used to get asked strange questions such as “What strings do you use on your guitar” and I would answer “most of them but not always at the same time”, to which they would say “No! I mean which are your favorite strings”, so I would say “I’m partial to the B, G and bottom E”, but in the end they would walk away shaking their heads. So as you can see I was never fully ‘in tune’ with the ‘kids’. Do you recommend anything less tuneful and maybe more Christian that I could let her listen to instead?

  4. Hey Falson – can I step up and play with you again sometime, with Robbo too if he’s around and any of your other friends…. (?) Think of you often. Your Twerly friend.

  5. Go Robbo i say.. !! LOL.. HOw ya doin now Robbo..? And he’s right.. we all need the “Help Me Jesus”.

    I wouldve loved to have been there and seen all those Pastors and people worship God to Robbo leading.. yaaaaaaaaaaye.. LOL

  6. Debbie Davenport told me about your website. Do not know if your remember Steve and I from COTR days? A lot has changed and needed to change. It was good to read on your blogs of someone who seems like they have shifted in the right direction as we have. Have you read “Destined to Reign” by Joseph Prince? Do not know anything about him other than his material has really changed us. Finally feel like we are crossing over the Old Testament, legal way of trying to walk out Christianity to a free life style of grace where the no condemnation thing allows you to finally have enough strength to not hide from Jesus, allowing HIM to do the changing you have never been able to do on the other side of condemnation. That was a pretty long run-on-sentence but hope it truly encourages you and your dear wife to keep trekking. The exit from what did not work is worth it… if you keep on going to enter into what does really, really work. Finally can sign off, IN Christ, Ruth Lester

  7. Chris,
    Loving that story almost more than the Halloween story in England. So thankful the Lord has placed you in all our lives. Do you still have the pub in the valley?
    Miss you brother.

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