At any one of Abraham Productions’ events, like the Gatlinburg Gathering, there’s always something going on! Once the afternoon showcase ended, we strolled down the street, had a burger at Five Guys (my first experience at that particular establishment. *wink*) and then hiked back to the convention center to see the other free showcase in the exhibit hall. The singing there was hosted by Greg Cook and Victoria Huggins. Some of the artists I heard sing were Ashley Yoder, the Nehrkorns and the Whisnants. Soon the doors opened for the evening concert and when I heard the Wilmington Celebration Choir singing inside, I knew it was time to go find my seat!
The Celebration Choir was singing O Happy Day when I walked in and Ray committed the evening to the Lord in prayer when the song ended. “We try to make our concerts more like church,” he said, “and see people come to know Him…and once you know Him, there’s nothing like Him.” The choir went on to sing two more numbers, one being Jesus Is Alive and Well.
“That’s one way to get it kicked off tonight,” said Greg, as Michael Booth and another guy came up on stage to remove the choir mics. “These gentlemen who are coming to sing tonight were with the Chuckwagon Gang…I mean the Cathedrals!” (Speaking of Mark Trammell.) As Michael darted in front of Greg one last time Greg called out to him, “How many Pollock’s does it take to move three choir mics?” LOL Anyway, the Mark Trammell Quartet was first to sing for us that night and they did so with How Long Has It Been. As the background turned to a bright purple, their second song, Meet Me Over On the Other Side, began. Mark greeted the crowd and introduced the group. Pat Barker was last to be introduced and the next song featured him also, Wonderful Time Up There. Way Past Ready followed. Mark explained that many folks came by their product table and asked for a particular song called I Want To Know – as they sang it, it quickly received a standing ovation. “I’ll leave you with this,” said Mark, “If we could sing one song to the entire world, we’d have to sing this one.” If you guessed The King Is Coming, you were right! And if you’re wondering if the crowd could stay in their seats, I assure you, they couldn’t!
“Isaiah 40:28,” Greg announced, “’Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding?’ Ladies and gentlemen, please make welcome, the Perrys.” As Bryan, David and Libbi walked out on stage, the crowd stood to their feet, bringing tears to Libbi’s eyes. They took a moment and then began singing Plan Of Salvation; when they came to the first verse the screen behind them lit up and a video of Tracy singing the verse appeared. (What a captivating moment!) Bryan asked everyone to clap along as they went into I Got A Hold Of God This Morning. “Well, how is everybody doing tonight,” he questioned, “It is an absolute privilege to be at the Gatlinburg Gathering again and a joy to see all your smiling faces…well, most of you.” LOL During the introductions while he spoke about Libbi, the crowd rose to their feet and then she sang Through the Night. Afterwards, Libbi thanked the crowd for praying, sending cards, messages, etc. “There is no way I can stand here tonight without thanking Jesus Christ,” she said, and went on to explain how easy it is to stand on stage and say you have faith and then when tragedy comes, you realize how much faith and trust you really have. “You know what I’ve found, the verse that says ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ is true.” Then she quoted Isaiah 41:10 and shared how that verse “creeps” up on her every day. *wink* They closed with two songs that just say it all: Great Is Thy Faithfulness and If You Knew Him. Bryan sang Great Is Thy Faithfulness accapella with a conviction and power that once again, held the audience captive. David closed with If You Knew Him and I must say, the audience hung on every word. Standing Ovation!!!
“This family right here will absolutely take you to the throne of God,” Greg exclaimed, “The Bowlings!” I’ll Be Alright As Soon As I Touch Calvary and Sweet Is The Victory kicked off their set. “Didn’t we have a time this afternoon?” Mike stated as he asked how many made it out to the afternoon matinee. After introductions, Kelly stepped forward and said, “When you see Libbi tonight you’re seeing a picture of grace,” and went on to recount the story of their bus accident, again, as photos flashed across the screen. Your Cries Have Awoken The Master and I Never Shall Forget the Day followed. (That last one received a standing ovation.) “How many are thankful for the cross?” Mike asked. The ballad I Still Glory In the Cross ended their set and they sang a little of The Old Rugged Cross as the podium was set up for the preaching.
Dr. Phil Hoskins was the pastor that spoke Friday night and his message was very moving. He spoke on “Revival” and based his sermon from 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called y my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” When he began speaking he said, “America’s biggest enemy is sin…” (Basically saying that America’s largest enemy is herself.) “Revival, begins with the people of God (we see that in the verse from 2 Chronicles) because that’s where the judgment of God begins. Revival is for the saint – not the sinner. (The sinner needs regeneration.) We live as if we’re depending on the world to get right – as if politics were the answer, as if alcoholism is the problem and as if abortion is the issue. Every one of those statements are good and true, but America is waiting for the church to get right! We have more of the world in the church than the church in the world. Jesus prayed (John 17) that He would take the world out of the church – not the church out of the world. It’s not pagan America that needs revival, it is the lazy, lifeless, lukewarm church that needs revival tonight.” The second point in his sermon was that pride deters revival. “The Bible says God’s people are to humble themselves. Humility is key to revival. Psalm 34:18 says, ‘The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.’ Do you know why people are rejecting the Word of God? It’s pride. The man who does not pray says (through his actions) that he can do fine without God. Pride is hindering revival and deters the spirit of revival. His third point was that prayer demands revival. “In the family of God there is only one star and His name is Jesus! The church is dying on its feet because it’s not bending on its knees. We don’t pray anymore, we don’t have a praying meeting anymore! You can pray and doubt and do without or you can pray, believe and receive.” (He told a story about a lady that visited his church once. At his church, they do things a little differently. Before the service starts everyone goes down to the front and prays. Well, afterwards the lady visitor went up to him and said how that made her nervous because she couldn’t understand what anyone was saying. He told her, “Good! They weren’t talking to you – they were talking to Him! 🙂 His fourth point was a purity that demonstrates revival. “Prayer alone does not move the heart of God, it’s not enough to pray, they (speaking of the verse in 2 Chronicles again) must also turn from their wicked ways. Charles Finney once said, ‘Revival is nothing more than a new beginning of obedience to God.’ God hears and God heals or God confronts and God condemns.”
Dr. Hoskins turned to one side of the stage and asked Gerald to come up and softly play on the keyboard and then he called his daughter (who is nine years old, I believe) to come up also. “You know why I want revival?” Phil asked as he knelt down next to his daughter. Putting his arm around her shoulder he gave us the answer, “Right here.” Then he asked, “Who will come down here and pray with me?” Phil had no longer spoken those words and folks were out of their seats and moving down the aisles. He only had to ask the question once, and half of those in the audience were coming to pray. Minutes later the front was full and the aisles overflowed with praying Believers. For 5-10 minutes the room was filled with voices lifted up to the throne. What a poignant moment. When Greg dismissed us to go back to our seats, it was time for Greater Vision to sing.
That moment was special. There were a lot of people trying to get back to their seats, but they were all so quiet, no one was in a hurry and no one made a lot of noise. The Spirit of the Lord was heavy and really had everyone’s attention. If you can picture that moment and the sweet reverence that clung to everyone in the room, then you’ll grasp how precious it was to hear the lyrics sung softly and worshipfully, “He was seeking for me; Jesus was seeking for me – though I knew Him not, still loved me and was seeking for me…” A lady next to me whispered, “Hallelujah.” (The transition was seamless and the message impeccable.) He’d Still Been God and Come Unto Me followed. “Well, it’s great to be back in Gatlinburg,” said Gerald, “I have heard Hoskins preach many times for 30 years, but tonight he was on! That was something we needed to hear.” Setting up the next song, he explained, “If you like the truth of the Gospel you are going to love this song.” It was a song that would encourage pastors entitled Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is. They sang My Name Is Lazarus and Gerald smiled for the lady who was the event photographer. “Thank you,” Gerald said smiling, “I was told we wouldn’t be allowed to leave the building if we didn’t sing that song.” Stepping back to take a seat at his keyboard, he spotted the photographer again, “Are you gonna’ take my picture? Do you want an action shot like…” and then raised his hand like he was playing a wild song on the piano and made a silly face. LOL They ended their part of the program with I Know A Man Who Can and received a standing O.
“Wasn’t that good?” asked Ray, “It seems like every night has grew stronger and stronger.” He went on to say that with the move they didn’t sell as many tickets as they did when the Gathering was in September, but in faith they set up 50% more chairs compared to the tickets that were sold for this year, and that night, every seat was sold! “God is greater than our faith,” Ray went on, “The presence of God has been in this building and we need that old fashion revival again.”
“Keep your hands together and welcome now…the Booth Brothers!” exclaimed Greg. Castles In the Sand opened the BB’s set and Michael introduced their second song with these words, “Here is the reason we have so much hope!” Because He Lives followed along with Since Jesus Came, We Believe and Feeling Mighty Fine. (We Believe had a standing ovation!) Michael took a moment and told the audience that there was a time they use to run around the stage on that song. “Now,” Michael went on, “we think, ‘Do we want to run, jump or sing…cause we can’t do both! Speaking of old…where is Gerald? We just love piano players and the best kind are free ones.” Giving Gerald’s forearm a good shake Michael added, “YOU are one of the best ones!” LOL On a serious note, Michael shared how critical he is of altar calls because sometimes emotions get manipulated through the moment, but of what we just experienced he said, “What we saw tonight was the real deal.” With Gerald accompanying him, he sang Look For Me At Jesus’ Feet in closing.
Conclusion: Before I forget! The dates for the Gatlinburg Gathering next year are July 2-5th. There are so many things I could say about each group that crossed the stage Friday night, but the most important thing that happened that evening came in the message of Phil Hoskins and the prayer afterwards. Like Michael said, there was no “emotional experience,” rather, the Lord just spoke to our souls and said, “Go pray,” and most everyone did. The way Greater Vision began their set with Seeking For Me was the classiest thing I saw all week. We hear artists talk all the time about changing their song selection on the spot to match the spirit in the room and they executed that with the utmost precision. I’m so glad that we have folks on stage who don’t mind stepping out of the spot light to keep the focus on the Lord.