Revival time

I have been listening to and enjoying Third Day’s music for quite some time now. I have blogged before on how their music speaks out to me, just as I need it the most.

As they are well into their second decade of Christian music, I am always interested when they come out with a new album. Always intrigued by what kind of new twist they are going to bring to their classic southern rock sound.

Over the years they have gone from Rock, to worship, to live albums. Their latest album “Revival” is a throwback to the Gospel sound they all grew up on.

The title track “Revival” grabs you from the start …

“Anybody here looking for revival; In our own hearts and across the land
Anybody looking for a revival; Lift up your voice and say Amen”

As you let the entire album play, you can just feel the Holy Spirit wash over you.

Gonna Be There With Me; Leave This World BehindIn Your Hands

Take your pick, all are filled with the Word of God, and the smooth sounds of Mac Powell’s deep voice.

“Faithful and true” just might be my favorite of the bunch …

“More than I could ever hope for, More than I would ever need
Everything I’ve ever been or ever hoped to be
It’s all because of You, Your love is faithful and true”

Take a moment to listen …

 

Or maybe Let There Be Light

“Let there be light, Where there is darkness
Let there be hope, When there is none
Let there be peace, In the midst of sorrow
Let there be love, To bring us back home
To bring us back home”

 

We live in trying times and are desperately more in need of a Revival than ever before, and here is Third Day with a new message.

I have found over the years that Third Day has a song for just about everything you are going through. From dealing with loss and sorrow, to struggling to find your way through life’s storms, Third Day always seems to hit the right note and find the right words to say.

Or rather God finds a way to deliver his message through them. And He is always Faithful and True.

 

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It’s a GOFF thing, I pray you understand

Two weeks ago, I was heading into church on another beautiful Sunday morning. As the worship songs began to play, I pulled out my phone to mute it, and I opened up Facebook to “check in”and let people know I was feeling blessed to be at church.

As my post cleared, I was about to put my phone away when I saw a post from my cousin Jared, speaking about his Dad, my uncle Mark. I had to read it twice to make sure I understood. As I saw the “RIP” at the end, my heart sank, and I fell to my seat. As I read it again, trying to wrap my head around it, the tears began to fall.

My girlfriend Tonya asked what was going on, I had no words, I just handed her my phone. After the first song it was time for the welcome, and I saw my opportunity and made a break for the door. I was consumed with grief.

As a journalist, when things happen my curiosity takes over and I want answers, but this was a different feeling.

My old friend Art Cobb had followed me out, and prayed with us. I pulled myself together enough to slide back into the service. I sat down in time to hear Pastor Mark Beigle get into his prepared sermon on how when the storms of life come calling, as Christians we need to rely on our Faith in Jesus and His promises. And the darker the storm is when we find out what we really believe.

Sometimes you just have to look to the Heavens say, “I know that was you, God” and give Him a nod for always being on point.

Military and first responders will tell you how they get through the toughest of times is that they rely on their training.

Christian hip hop artist Lecrae says, “when the storm’s brewin’, and when the tide’s high
That’s when I lean into the truth that I abide by.”

I am a member of the Goff Family. Our training that we fall back on is the Word of God.

My Grandfather, Harold Goff preached from the pulpit in churches from Ohio to West Virginia. He raised his seven children on the teachings of Jesus. They went on to raise their kids the same way, and today I watch as my fellow cousins are raising their kids with the same love for God.

I can attest, this family has seen more than it’s share of storms over the years. And in times of trial, we lean on our Faith. It is ingrained in us.

It’s a Goff thing.

So as I reached out to my family on that day, I could not help but rely on my training. I turned to the word for understanding. As I thought of Mark, I thought about what a man’s man he was, but how he was also was a loving man,

I thought of one of my favorite verses. In the past month Pastor Beigle has been going through I Corinthians at Wednesday night prayer meetings. It is one of my favorite books of the Bible.

“Be on the alert, Stand firm in the Faith, Act Like Men, Be Strong” — I Corinthians 16:13

It is a very manly sounding verse. Like a Chuck Knoll or Vince Lombardi halftime speech, it fires you up.

Watch out, be aware of your surroundings. Standing firm, cleats in the ground, gathered together with your brothers in arms, ready for an attack.

Act Like Men — in some translations it says “Be Courageous.” I like that those two phrases are considered synonymous.

Being courageous is not about being fearless. Having fear is part of being human. Being courageous is about having the ability to overcome your fear and do what needs to be done.

Uncle Mark was every bit of that.

I also know that you can’t just cherrypick verses from the Bible to suit you, you have to give it context, and look at the surrounding verses to get the whole story.

In this case you just have to look at the next verse.

“Do All Things in LOVE.” — I Corinthians 16:14

Jesus tells us that if we have Faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. And Paul tells us that if we have Faith that can move mountains, but have not Love, it is useless.  We are commanded to prepare for the storms, to be on the alert for attack, but if we act without Love, we are nothing.

Uncle Mark was every bit of that verse too.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean your life is going to be perfect, it means you will be better prepared when the storms come.

I will be traveling to Ohio this weekend, as the Goff family will gathers together at Country View Baptist Church to say our goodbyes (for now) to Mark Goff, beloved son, father, uncle. We will once again weather the storm together. We will fall back on our training. And on the Word of God.

Third Day does a great version of the old Rich Mullins song, “Creed.” The chorus goes, “I believe what I believe in, it’s what makes me what I am.”

As Goffs, that is what we believe.

And we will find God’s Love, Grace, Kindness and Mercy waiting for us, as it always has.

 

 

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How can I help you today?

In time of uncertainty, we all have something we fall back on.

If you ask military types or first responders, they will tell you to “always remember your training.”

For me, that takes me back to things I learned from my parents.

A lot of people have stories about their Dad that involve things he said. “Dad always said …”

My Dad was  more a man of action. So when I find myself at a crossroads, or a time of crisis, I try to think of the things my Dad did. As I look back, Dad was always praying. My fondest memories include him sitting at the kitchen table in the morning eating a bowl of Cherrios and reading his Bible.

As my life becomes more complicated, and I edge closer to some major changes — professionally and personally — I have been following my Father’s example and praying to find the correct path to take.

But in my experience, as the walls start to close in on you, sometimes you need to take a step back and take the focus off of yourself.

The other thing you would always find my Dad doing was helping others. Even during his biggest struggles in life, he would always be finding ways he could help you, any way he could.

As I have been pondering all of this, I received my daily email from Air1 Radio, with their Bible Verse of the Day.  Sometimes I open it and take a look, other times I can get busy and not see what they send me. Today I looked …

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them, intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them” — I Timothy 2:1

Sometimes God is not so subtle with his message.

The Bible calls for us to be subject to one another, to serve one another. So in setting aside all of my own drama and worries … what can I do to help you.

I am not quite the handy man my Dad was, but I can still help. What do you need today? Do you need lifted up in prayer, someone to lean on, a shoulder to cry on, or just an ear to listen. I am here for you.

A while back I had a friend call, with some personal family issues that were getting out of control. He was not a “religious” person, but he knows where I am with things, so he spilled all of the family drama to me, not really looking for advice, so much, as someone to just listen, and say a prayer.

Sometimes it seems like that is not doing much, but for a person in need, it can make all the difference in the world.

I am here for you. If we all took time to set aside our own drama and unselfishly help one another, maybe we come to realize our own problems aren’t so big.

As usual, I have a song in mind. Toby Mac’s “I’m for You” where he asks to “let me be the voice through all the noise”

“Whatever I gotta be, I’ll be for you. Whatever you need from me, To see you through …”

“I know the feeling
I know it’s real when the drama’s all in your face
You see a mountain
I hear a promise – it’s never more than we can take
Well it ain’t over, ’til it’s over
We can learn from our mistakes
So let me be the voice through all the noise”

I am praying for you all, and giving thanks …

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Eddie Ray!

As I get older and begin new experiences in my life, the more I find myself saying things and behaving in ways my Father did.

As I reflect on the life of Edward Ray Goff on what would have been his 67th birthday, nearly 10 years after his passing, I begin to realize just how many things I learned over the years. Every thing from history, to mechanics and mannerisms to relying on my Faith in God..

I have been spending a lot of time with my girlfriend Tonya and her three boys, and I find myself pointing things out to them. Teaching them things from the history of certain places to how things work.

On trip to Las Vegas we stopped off at the Hoover Dam. While the boys (who are 13, 11 and 8) didn’t seem impressed at all, I continued pointing out how the whole thing worked. Telling them how the water turns the turbines, creating electricity, which powers places like Las Vegas and in Arizona.

Sometimes they are impressed with what I know, other times not so much.

Dad had a mechanics mind. He was the builder of The Living Christmas Tree at Magnolia Avenue Baptist Church. He knew how all the pieces fit together so that it not only looked great, but was structurally sound and safe for the kids to climb on and perform.

He didn’t have a college degree, but he had a lifetime of experiences in figuring how things worked, and loved to share his knowledge.

Whether it was changing the oil in our cars, or trips to places like Hoover Dam or the state capital, Dad loved to explain how things worked, and I always took notice.

He wasn’t very athletic, but he taught me how to play baseball, how to golf and how to bowl. If there were mechanics involved, he could break it down and show you how to do it.

But there were plenty of other things that he didn’t have to teach, because he showed you be example, especially when it came to his Faith.

One of my clearest memories is of him sitting at the kitchen table, eating his Cheerios, reading his Bible. That was how he started every day. In good times and bad, and there were plenty of both, he was never far from the Word.

No matter what was going on in his life he always showed the Love that his God had showed him. Never judging, never assuming, he just Loved on people.

As I carry out my days on this Earth, I try to live up to the bar that he set. I try to live up to his legacy, always showing people kindness and respect,  whether they deserved it or not. Help people in need, and – above all else – Love one another.

In an ever threatening world, sometimes the simplest things seem the hardest to do, but they usually are the only things that will make a difference.

I miss you Dad, every day. Thank you for the example that you left behind. Happy Birthday!

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Favorite Christmas Story

This time of year has always been special. Family and friends gathering together, with lots of food, music and fun.

And let’s not forget the storytelling. The sharing of Christmas’ gone by. Over the years stories get told, embellished and re-told to new faces.

They are the stories that you may have heard a thousand tomes, but they bring a smile to your face each and every time you hear them, and you look forward to getting a chance to share them with someone new.

I was reminded of this recently, when a certain 8-year-old was upset that his older brothers had told an embarrassing story about him. I told him that was common among siblings, and proceeded to tell him a story from my childhood.

Probably my favorite Christmas Story … which is commonly known in the family as “The Waffle Maker Story.”

It was Christmas 1977 (I think, or maybe ’76), we were living in Ohio. I was just 2 or 3 years old. Some of my earliest memories are of our house on Bagley Road, which had a big bay window in front, and I remember looking out that window at all of the snow piling up outside (which was also a big reason we wound up back in sunny Southern California).

This particular Christmas, Mom had made it clear she wanted a waffle maker. And I don’t mean one of those little plastic things they sell now, I am talking about the heavy, cast-iron deals from Sears and Roebuck. Someone else had one she had borrowed and she really wanted one of her own.

One day while she was out of the house, Dad pulled out some stuff he had gotten for Christmas and began wrapping them and putting them under the tree, including a big box with a waffle maker in it.

As We were wrapping it up, I saw Mom coming up the walk. Dad grabbed all of the wrapping supplies and the waffle maker and headed for the bedroom. I jumped about like one of the three stooges, then followed him.

Mom came through the door in time to see us heading up the hallway. Dad put the stuff on the bed and told me to keep the door closed and not let Mom in until he had finished wrapping.

Mom was knocking on the door and wanted it, Dad was telling me not to. Mom asked what we were doing, and in the chaos, I blurted out, “You can’t come in Mom, we’re wrapping your waffle maker!”

Dad gave me his best, “You’re killing me, smalls” look and told me to open the door. When I did, I found my Mom sitting in the floor, head in her hands, laughing so hard she was crying.

And on Christmas morning she acted surprised when she tore the paper off of her new waffle maker. And we had waffles for breakfast.

To this day my sister and I will use the “Don’t come in” line when it is needed.

It is my favorite Christmas Story because it shows the kind of loving, joyful, caring house that I grew up in. It reminds me of my parents, who are no longer around, and how much they loved the holidays.

As I told this story to 8-year-old Trevor, he busted up laughing, which got me laughing. And that is what sharing your old stories are all about.

At our Christmas party a few days ago, my old friend Andrea told her favorite Christmas story, one that also included my Dad.

One Christmas Eve she was just about to set out some cookies for Santa, when there was a big knock at the door, and a hefty, “Ho, Ho, Ho!”

She threw the cookies in the air and sprinted off to bed, only to find out it was my Dad and Uncle Marv, coming to pick up a Christmas gift they had hidden in their garage. My uncle had won a three-wheel motor bike. They wound up running it around the neighborhood before bringing it home.

My addition to the story was that once they brought it home, one of my cousins wound up running it over the embankment behind our house.

As you go throughout this holiday season be sure to share your favorite Christmas story.

At the Cross: Music and Lyrics

At any given time I have any number of songs playing in my head. Over the years I have listened to a large variety of music.

I was raised on Country (Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Oak Ridge Boys, etc.), but I grew up in Southern California in the 80s, and that means rap/hip hop to go with some rock and roll. I am a white kid from the suburbs, actually I grew up in the countryside outside the suburbs. But I love me some good rap/ hip hop. And am so excited that the Christian music scene is now filled with artists like Lecrae and TobyMac who can deliver God’s word in a whole different light.

I always love it when I hear someone talking, and memories and music pop into my head that goes along with the conversation.

Last week Pastor Tom Lance was giving his message at The Grove on the meaning of the Cross, and it being much more than a symbol.

As I was listening and taking notes, some song lyrics popped into my head. He was talking about how Jesus dying on the Cross was the plan the entire time. And Lecrae popped into my head.

 

“Without the Cross there’s only condemnation; If Jesus wasn’t executed, there’s no celebration.” — from ‘Boasting’

I simple, true statement if there ever was one.

Tom went on to talk about how the Cross was God’s Plan A. Jesus suffering a slow, agonizing death was the whole point. He took the weight of the world on his shoulder and paid the price for all mankind.

Over the years I have heard people talk about how it went down, saying that if only Judas had remained loyal, if only Pilate had stood up to the crowds, things wold have been different.

But if those things play out differently then we miss the whole point. Those people played the role God needed them to, in order for his plan to come to fruition. Max Lucado wrote, “When Eve took a bite of the apple, the Cross was on the horizon.”

Tom went on to talk about how the real message of the Cross should rock us to our core. What Jesus did for us, the brutality of it all. The plan was executed, the points carried out … eliminate sin, overcome Hell, make Heaven possible.

And that we should respond to that with thanksgiving and gratitude. Strive to put others first, Love unconditionally, make a bold commitment.

After listening to the message, some other Lecrae lyrics came to mind.

“God has never been obligated to give us life; if we fought for our rights, we would be in Hell tonight” — Boasting

“When it gets hot, it boils down to sin, if Heaven ain’t a gift, then I ain’t getting in” — Gotta Know

After listening to these songs over and over again, you get to know the lyrics and can sing along, if you will. But when you take a closer look, you can see the depth of these words.

As a writer and general lover of the written word, I have a great appreciation for the ability to put the right words together to say exactly what you want to say. Which is why I feel a drawing to rap and hip hop music.

Even if I don’t agree with the message of someone like Eminem, I can certainly appreciate the craft and his ability to arrange words together.

Which is why my love for Christian artists like Lecrae and TobyMac is so deep. They can take God’s word and lay it out for you in new way.

“Every day that I lie, every moment I covet
I’m deserving to die, I’m just earning your judgment.
I, without the cross there’s only condemnation.
If Jesus wasn’t executed there’s no celebration.
So in times that are good, in times that are bad
For any times that I’ve had it all I will be glad.
And I will boast in the cross. I’ll boast in my pains.
I will boast in the sunshine, boast in his reign.”

Take a listen and read the words on the screen, let God’s Word wash over you.

 

 

 

 

Friends are Friends Forever

 

In the late 1980s Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant had a hit song that stated:

“Friends are friends forever, if the Lord is Lord of them; And a Friend will not say never, and the welcome will not end.”

It sounds corny but I have found that it could not be more true.

As I get older I find that I don’t have as many close friends as I used to. I have golf buddies and fantasy sports buddies, colleagues that are close, but the ones I feel closest to are the old friends. Those ties from years past can be the strongest.

The most traumatic time in my life was when I was 13, and I lost my mother to cancer. I have spoken about this often on this blog and on other venues, but here I have a different take, on the aftermath.

The loss of my mother left me devastated and I always look back at that as a dark time in my life, it changed everything.

In the last year of her life you could track her health and my grades on the same line. I went from being a straight-A student to ditching class because I hadn’t finished my project. The following spring I quit playing baseball for the first time in eight years.

A few years back, on the anniversary of my Mom’s death, I was speaking to my group at The Grove Men’s Bible study. I was bemoaning her loss and how my life had changed, and one of the men spoke up.

He said, “Your grades went into the tank, you quit sports, so substance abuse was probably next, right?” He was surprised when I said, “No.”

He is a retired police officer and had spend a great deal of time working with kids in juvenile hall. He said that better than 90 percent of their stories started just like mine; loss of a parent or loved one, bad grades, quitting things they loved; which led to alcohol, smoking, drugs; which led to criminal activity, then violent crimes; which always led to imprisonment or death.

He asked, “So how did you manage to avoid the tail end of that story?”

I answered with, “God’s grace.” And he followed with, “How did that manifest itself?”

I thought about it and answered, “I had people who loved me and weren’t going to let that happen. Particularly a good group of friends.”

I said, “I don’t know if they ever had an intervention meeting where they asked each other ‘what are we going to do about Brian?’ But each of them did their thing and kept me going, propped me up until I got my legs under me again.”

He asked if I was still friends with those people. I was thankful that I could say yes. Brad, Rob, Kristi, Andrea, Tonya, I am still in touch with all of them. I went to all of their weddings, and know the names of their kids. We have been spread out over the years, but when we meet up it is just like old times.

After I lost my mother I was pretty much a functioning zombie. I went around doing stuff, but was numb inside. I quit caring about everything I used to love, and became very apathetic about life.

They made sure I stayed involved and didn’t drop out of life. They showed me love when I needed it, whether I deserved it or not, as well as patience when I would resist. There were others who helped along the way, parents, teachers, etc., but this core group were the best.

I am forever in their debt. And there isn’t anything I would not do for them in a time of need. I can only hope to repay them for their kindness and loyalty.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I take that to heart.

As we move around in life those true friendships can be some of the only certainty we find. I’m glad I still have mine.