One of gospel music's most awarded vocalists and Gospel Music Hall of Famer Guy Penrod is gearing up to deliver a powerful Father's Day concert to encourage men of God to step up in these hard times and lead by example.
Penrod says he hopes Christian men will fight the evils of this world amid the coronavirus pandemic and unrest and injustice in America. And he's inviting families to enter into worship with him on Father's Day for his music special, "Concert On The Couch—A Father's Day Celebration From Franklin Theatre."
The following is an edited transcript of Penrod's interview with The Christian Post where he discusses the live concert and the importance of men and fathers worshiping God from a place of vulnerability that will, in turn, change the world and help others resist the evil in it.
CP: Can you tell us about your Father's Day special, "Concert on the Couch"?
Penrod: We actually just kind of backed into the Father's Day understanding of it. We were going to do it on June 21, and then, as someone got to talking, they were like, "Hey, that's Father's Day." And I said, "What a great day for us to do it, worshiping the Lord, our Heavenly Father, and get to celebrate our earthly fathers.
I have eight kids, seven sons and one little girl. So Father's Day is kind of crazy at our place. I try to play it up as much as I can, get all the good stuff and get them to grill me something good. So we figured that would be a good time for the family to gather around the screens these days. [Families] can sit on the couch, make some popcorn, relax, and worship Jesus together.
CP: Can you speak of the importance of staying encouraged in these times?
Penrod: These are heavy times and we don't make light of that at all. But we read all through history, it's usually in those heavy times when we realize our needs. As humans, I'll speak for myself, I'm so forgetful. In prosperous times and peaceful times, we tend to forget a lot of the needs that we actually have on a daily basis. But oftentimes, I think that I can meet my own needs and I really can't. I have to be dependent on the Father day by day.
It's times like these, with this pandemic and the virus that has just wreaked havoc all over the world. And even here in our country, we're experiencing unrest and injustice and the results of man running things. You know, in the Old Testament, God told the children of Israel, "It'd be best if I don't give you an earthly king; just let me be your King. But they clamored and clamored to have a king, and you see the results all down through history of what happens when men get power, power tends to corrupt. It's part of the fall. It's what happens.
So when we can usher in the Kingdom of God, in the model of prayer, Jesus gave us that good instruction: "Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven."
This is why I said it's exciting times to be alive even though they're heavy times. It was heavy times when Jesus was here and it has been with every generation at one time or another. And it's our good time to shine the bright light of the love of Christ and the hope and the grace that He gives, the mercies that are new every morning, and they can come to Him.
Jesus wipes everything clean. He has paid for everything. He can restore everything. He can bring peace where there is no peace. He can bring comfort where there's troubled hearts. He can mend relationships. He brings dead things to life. So the music and the message, when you couple those things, you've got both sides of the brain working.
So we lift up old hymns in these days, in this time, and then couple it with the new stuff that is worship music that has moved our hearts and souls, and live music as well that we've put into this particular event.
We believe that coupled with some spoken word to lead people to Christ, to encourage believers to tell them, "Jesus loves you. He is for you. He's not against you. He's with you. He's pleased with you. He even likes you; He likes you so much that He came and He reconciled us to the Father. He brought life where we were walking in death. And it's just a fabulous time to be alive and to be lifting up the King in this season and watch Him change the world as we boldly go back and push the gates of Hell backward.
CP: For this concert, you're singing songs like "I Surrender All" and "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." They're pretty vulnerable songs. For fathers, sometimes that can be hard to get to, and it's hard for children to see their fathers in that way. Will you talk about the importance of that vulnerable exchange?
Penrod: It is. As fathers humble themselves before the Lord in front of their children and wives and family, the power of the Holy Spirit fills. It's that type of positioning when we're humbled. We were studying the other day and my wife looked up the word believe, and the posture indicated in the word believe is to bow, to get on your knees. That is accompanied with the word believe, we are to be on our knees.
I just think it's a beautiful time for us to reawaken that, especially as fathers, and lead from that position of humility before our maker. And then to be bold regarding our expression. I think it's been quite some time now that fathers have, and I can include myself, that there's times we abdicate our responsibility, and our wives tend to have to pick up the slack.
They're not supposed to have to lead like that. Fathers are supposed to do these sorts of things, and children tend to respond, especially in worship. I noticed as I go into different settings, if the men sing, everybody else is singing — the kids, the ladies, everyone joins in. But if the men are standing there silent, and they're spectating, watching someone else sing, then the participation is much less.
I don't do it perfectly, but for men to be transparent, and we've lived that way, the mistakes I've made, I make them pretty well right out in the open. The successes and the good decisions are right alongside and we try to show our kids as we've raised them: this is life; it tends to have messes all around.
Gloria Gaither explained this way one time, she said, "Kids' life is a lot like a tapestry. And if you're looking at a tapestry, and most of the tapestries I've seen are just exquisite works of art, just beautiful. But if you turn a tapestry around and look at the back of it, it's a mess. It's a bunch of strings just dangling at the back, you can't make heads or tails of what the strings represent. But when you turn it around, you see the picture. That's a lot like our lives, they're kind of like that.
But the Lord says, His mercies are new every morning. He did all the work. He took the performance part out. So man, hear the word of the Lord, the performance has already been done and Jesus did it. He did it perfectly!
Then He said, yes, this truth is so incredible. It's going to take faith to believe that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, even in the middle of our messes. That's faith.
Whereas, if you trust in your work yourself, like, "Well, I'm so good, therefore, I've done a good job, therefore, I am righteous." That's going to be a miserable place to be because you cannot perform that, nobody can, only one could, Jesus. So He's just kind enough to say, I'm going to credit you with that. I'm going to take all the junk, I'm going to pay for it and give you my righteousness. Now get out there and love people.
CP: What would you say to those who don't have an earthly father to look to, but this special is just as much for them as it is for anyone else?
Penrod: We love, period. Even the challenges that we face, we know our Heavenly Father loves. Even when we, as earthly fathers, don't love perfectly, He does. He doesn't fail you, He's not angry.
But sometimes we earthly fathers imprint our kids with an image of God because they look to Him when we call Him Father. They think, "Oh, well, you're a father and you yell at me sometimes," or "you're a father and you told me a lie," or "I bet the Heavenly Father would do the same thing." Not so! His word says He cannot lie.
He says, "My ways are not your ways. He says trust in me and I will lead you into all truth. Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest. Cast your cares upon me my burden is light, my yoke is easy. Ask anything in my name and I will do it, you have not because you ask not." I mean, it is just on and on and on the love of the Father.
So even when we fall short as fathers, and if you happen to be listening and you had a father who was not a good father, a good person to you, understand your Heavenly Father is perfect and perfectly loving. He's all love. So come to Him and humble yourself in your need. All you have to do is see your needs. It doesn't take long to see that and then realize where the source is to fill that need, end of story.
We know everybody that's out there breathing has a father. So let's just turn the tides even if it was a difficult one and let's thank God for our fathers. Because you wouldn't be here if there wasn't a father out there somewhere. He may not have been a good one; he may have been more of a surrogate in some ways. But trust me, your Heavenly Father will move into that void and fill it, and you'll be surprised at the short time it takes for His spirit to fill you with love, even when you don't understand it. That's the work of the Lord.
CP: Is there anything else you want to share about the Father's Day special that we can look forward to?
Penrod: In this day and time you can't gather in large groups. So we tried to figure out how to do it. I have a good friend who came up with a wonderful platform for doing this with beautiful audio. With all these fancy stereos we have these days hooked up to the TV, it works well. It sounds just like you're at a concert and the picture is beautiful, and what better seat than your couch.
So I would go to guypenrod.com and click on the link "concert on the couch." There's a picture of my ol' head on there. There's no cost to attend this concert. So you just reserve your online viewing and then come back on June 21 to the site you're directed to, and click in the virtual doors open at 5 p.m. and the concert begins at 6 p.m. Central time.
There's also an opportunity for you to donate. We've given you that capacity on those pages to click around and donate if you are capable. We know that the times have been tough, so we wanted to make it available to everybody regardless of their ability to pay.
But all this stuff costs money, so we encourage you to donate if you can and we're busy getting the word of Jesus out with new music, new artists, new books, new films, ideas, all sorts of things coming that we're just launching into right now. And we're kind of using this as an impetus to get that word out there. So let's join, link arms, and push the gates of Hell backward so that we can set the captives free, in Jesus name.