Michael W. Smith, 2005: Not for the Comfortable

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Last night's Louisville leg of the Healing Rain Tour featured a very different Michael W. Smith.

In concert Smith does not perform, he ministers, and his fans have become accustomed to an uplifting and inspiring ministry. Sometimes, however, the word from a prophet challenges and unsettles. With haunting visions and messages of Columbine, 9/11, homelessness, alcoholism, and African children dying of AIDS this was clearly not a comfortable, "feel good" event.

Smith is 50, and for the first time in a concert setting, all 50 of those years were showing. In one of the background videos, a pocketwatch was featured. During one freeze-frame the time showing on the watch was 11:45 ... 15 more minutes of fame before midnight? The entire concert was a series of "If I could share just one more thing with you," thoughts.

The first time I saw Michael W. Smith in concert was on his "Big Picture" tour back in 1987! Well, actually in 1985, the band I was in in college performed with Smith at a Christian Music Convention in Indianapolis. Smith has undergone quite a metamorphosis since then.

Coming out of "Big Picture" Smith was an entertainer. Aside from Amy Grant, Christian Music lacked quality, so Michael was a welcome new star. Shortly after that however, came "Go West Young Man," and Smith's flirtation with the pop music charts. For a while Smith offered shallow music and shallow theology.

Then one day I heard "Live the Life," ... Smith had re-acquired his musical stride and combined it with an uncompromising message. He's been my favorite artist ever since.

It's hard for me to watch a hero on the downside of his time in the spotlight. But it is reassuring to watch Michael W. Smith remain true to his passion for ministry, right to the end.


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