under the influence...

I enjoy being able to be a part of lively and proper conversation. It seems especially to happen a lot when I share a thought or two on my Facebook and Myspace pages. I've noticed lately that some very hurtful and distasteful words are being thrown around, and too many of them claim to be inspired by and in the name of Jesus. The reckless attitudes and overly loud arguments, supposedly supported by scripture, as far as I can tell, do nothing to edify God, properly explain who He is, and cause no one to want to know Him, but in fact make Him appear pretty heartless and ugly. Who'd want such a God?

Saying, "Jesus didn't sugar coat sin," and calling out other humans as sluts and pedophiles and declaring them evil in the name of Jesus does tremendous disservice to God's original love, and demeans His creation in ways that I'm not sure He appreciates. Who, in the Scripture, did Jesus convince of God's good intentions by beating them and emotionally accosting them? Why would we inflict emotional, even physical pain on ones He chooses to heal? It was Jesus, by the way, who said he'd been sent to love the world and not condemn it. He didn't say so of the "church."

A couple of years ago I did a record that was very purposefully and strategically planned to highlight God's real grace. The record company, the publicist, the producer, the writers and everyone involved understood that this would be a collection of songs about the deepest emotion in God's heart. It has turned out to be a remarkable thing for a lot of people - people who had pretty much written off anything religious because every example of religion they knew was either hypocritical or mean, hateful even.

Woody Wright produced the record (shout out!!), and he wrote several of the songs. My favorite is, "More Than Amazing." It reminds me of the enormity of God's grace. I sing it to myself a lot. There's another Woody song on the project though that, because it's a light and happy arrangement, comes across as fun and not so deep. In fact, it's very introspective and could even be convicting if a receptive ear would notice. I share it here and now hoping that some of my friends who prefer easy and distant judgement will consider a more compassionate approach.


When a brother fell and broke the Lord's command, I was quick to judge and slow to understand. When a sister had a struggle, I said, "You're reaping what you've sown." But then I found some trouble of my own.

Now I'm under the influence of mercy. My perception has been altered by His grace. I see things in a different light. I walk by faith and not by sight. If you notice something different about me. I am under the influence of mercy.

These days I'm more inclined to lend a hand. And try to make a difference when I can. Through the tests and trials I won't grumble or complain. I'll count it joy and I will gladly say.

I am under the influence of mercy. My perception has been altered by His grace. I see things in a different light. I walk by faith and not by sight. If you notice something different about me. I am under the influence of mercy.

I've been given unconditional love. I will never be the same.

I am under the influence of mercy. My perception has been altered by His grace. I see things in a different light. I walk by faith and not by sight. If you notice something different about me. I am under the influence of mercy.

Under The Influence Of Mercy - Woody Wright © 2006 Would He Write Songs, SESAC
(administered by Gaither Copyright Management)

too many rips

It's been a difficult week in Hollywood. The lovers of Ed, Farrah and Michael have been in the streets, on the phone (texting and talking) and glued to their televisions to learn what they can, and relive some of the great memories and moments that were made happier because of the laughs and the scenes and the songs we all enjoyed through these remarkable talents.

Who can not like Ed McMahon? The man sat on Johnny Carson's couch, hung in there all night with Jerry Lewis and delivered schzillion dollar checks courtesy of the sweepstakes people. No good reason not to like Ed.

Farrah was my first crush. She was an angel, and if kids my age had the money, we'd have bought her shampoo just to see what she smelled like. I didn't worship her like some have accused me, but I did sit beneath her poster and pray she'd come to life.

I wasn't allowed to dance as a kid. But gosh, it was hard not to when Michael Jackson was singing. I didn't know much about his story. I knew I LOVED his music. As we both got older I noticed that he started changing in lots of ways - some of them sorta weird. His music only got better though, and I finally gave up the notion that God didn't give us legs just to kneel on. I never quite mastered the moon walk, but my good and godly brother did.

It's sad to see these folks leave us. Some people don't think so though. To me that is even more sad.

john 4 - religer version

So Jesus the condemner was forced to go through Samaria and came to a heathen little town called Sychar. It was near the piece of ground that the cheating liar Jacob had given to his one good son Joseph. As it turns out, Jacob's well was there.

It was about noon, and Jesus was tired, so he sat down for a bit. At some point a local, half-breed woman came to the well to get some water for the day. Jesus said, "Oh man! Of all people... Oh well, a thirsty guy has to drink. Hey slut, give me some water."

The filthy harlot said, "Um, our kinds don't talk to each other, remember? As much as I truly do desire to walk in your shadow and be in your presence and learn from your word and eat from your table and bask in your love, I'm afraid I've been too bad. I'm unworthy. I'm a whore. You're a really righteous, God fearing church goer. Your church might call a committee and have a hearing and remove you from leadership or take your Sunday school class or your choir robe. You don't want them to find out we were talking. I'm not worth it, so, thank you for asking, but for your own sake, no."

Jesus answered, "You're right. What was I thinking? You don't deserve my time or anything else. I'd rather die of thirst than take a drop from the likes of you. You're a dirty human. Besides, what kind of respectable person comes hauling water at noon? You're not only a skank, you're stupid."

Jesus dusted off his feet, and the woman died and went to Hell.




According to the bible, to be a Bishop a person must be, "blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, just, holy, temperate, not a novice or a striker, be of good behavior, a lover of hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, not greedy of filthy lucre, patient, not a brawler, not covetous; He must be an effective ruler of his own house with children who are not unruly but are faithful and under his subjection; He must have a good report, be a steward of God, not self-willed or easily angered, a lover of good men, and always remember the lessons he's learned..." I don't think I qualify.

Several years ago Dad, Mark and I were singing at a big outdoor festival over in western Virginia. I try to drink a lot of water before I go on stage, 'cause singers sweat and spit a lot when they're performing. That usually means though that I start feeling the urge too soon before those last couple of long, long tunes. With no backstage accommodations at this particular venue, that meant a quick dash to the public restrooms as soon as our part of the set was over.

There I am facing the wall wondering if twelve ounces will be sufficient next time. A man standing next to me asks, "What makes you think you're qualified to be a Bishop?" As awkward as it was, I was grateful for the kid behind me asking for the autograph. "Hang on little man. I'll sign your CD when..."

The inquisitive man followed me to the sink, waited for me to wash my hands, watched me write my name on another band's CD, then shadowed me out the door. "What makes you think you're qualified to be a Bishop?"

I'd been to seminary. My ministerial credentials required that I study and know the Old, the New, the history, the apologetics and the validity of the Scriptures. I knew what he was talking about, and even if I didn't the attitude on his face told me he did - or thought he did, and where he was going. He started down the list: "Blameless, just, holy, temperate, patient; not covetous, greedy, self-willed or easily angered." That last one, as it turns out, was becoming the biggie at the moment.

I honestly don't think the guy knew a thing about me. I know he didn't. All he knew was that when the emcee brought us to the stage he called us the Bishops. When the man followed me to the bus and kept pushing the point and asking why I felt Bishop qualified, it was like an invisible wall when I finally turned and confessed that I didn't. I don't qualify, not according to the biblical criterion. But my daddy, Mr. Bishop, his blood, verified by his love, says differently.

So, thanks Dad. Happy Father's Day.


sixteen christian candles

Sixteen years minus one day ago it was Father's Day 1993. I remember it, at least most of it, very well. In the very early Sunday morning hours the big blue Bishops touring bus drove past the corporate office in Waco and dead-headed to my little house in Ravenna, Kentucky. That's where Debra and my mom were waiting with suitcases sitting at the door. Before the bus even stopped moving I was out the door, down the walk, onto the porch and into the house. Without even a greeting, I grabbed the bags and the wife and together we made a dash for the hospital. My boy was on his way!

Several weeks before this day the doctor had informed us that our family was going to be blessed with a little man-child. This would round our little home out perfectly since our baby girl, Casie, was already settled in. A girl for every boy in the house seemed fair. Since we'd gotten word that a he-name was necessary, Debra and I went to work trying to decide on what to call him. I'd always liked the name Nicholas, and Debra ended up liking it too. It was settled.

A few months before the big birthday (literally), the Bishops were working on a new record. As was the custom, each member of our group jotted a few lines of thanks and kudos to include in the liner notes. Knowing that the record would not hit the shelves until after my boy was several months into his eating, sleeping and pooping routine, I mentioned what wonderful joy little Nic had brought into my life. I knew his effect even before he was born.

On the day "Nicholas" arrived in the flesh Debra and I changed our minds. Maybe it was because it was Sunday. Maybe it was because I'd recently been reading about Moses and the Hebrew's wilderness adventures and the spies that had been sent to check out the Promised Land and the disappointing report when they returned and all. I became a fan of Joshua and Caleb, two of the twelve undercover agents who'd slipped in and out of the country. They disagreed with the consensus view that the land couldn't be taken. They saw opportunities instead of obstacles. I was inspired by their optimistic view. Besides, to me their names worked well together.

I suggested to Debra that we name our son Joshua Caleb Bishop. She said if we're gonna do Bible, she'd like to use a New and an Old Testament name. I agreed. Within a couple of minutes we decided on the name Christian Caleb Bishop.

BTW, a few years later, after the record with the liner notes was old news, I got a very kind and sympathetic note from a sweet lady who shared with me her story of losing a child. She referred to my mention Nicholas and deduced that since I never spoke of him again that something tragic must have happened. She just wanted to let me know that she understood and knew the pain of our loss. It was a very kind gesture on her part, and I made sure to thank her for it. I didn't explain any further.

When our family was still traveling and singing, I used to tell people that my young and prone-to-break-things-and-lie-about-it son, Christian, was very much like a lot of other Christians I know. And also like them, he should have no doubt that his daddy would love him regardless. It's been going on like that for sixteen years now - and counting. Happy birthday Pal!