Category Archives: Denny Brownlee

Be Bold – The Musical

By Denny Brownlee

As we all seek to creatively express God in our stories, He just might be creatively writing us into His….

Recently a local playwright/producer/musical type guy called.  A mutual acquaintance had told him I could act and sing, and do a wide range of characters.  This was apparently just what he needed for a play he had written and scored.  And when he asked about my vocal range, and I answered, “I’m a tenor,” his response was, “Oh praise Jesus!” … I’m guessing he needed a tenor.

He immediately emailed me the script and arranged to meet with us.  Well, I was about to take Sandy to the doctor, so the meeting would have to wait a couple hours.  That was fine.  “By the way,” I ask, “What’s this musical about?”

“The life of Jesus,” he answered, “Especially the part we don’t hear much about – from ages 12 to 29.”  “Hmm,” I think, “…interesting.”  As he told me a little about himself, I thought, “Wow – this guy is impressive – what if I’m not nearly as good as he thinks I am… Lord, what if I’m not good enough for this major role in a musical – in a town like Nashville?”

In my spirit I hear, “Go ahead, be bold.”  Okay, fine.  I arrange to call him after Sandy’s appointment.  But when I called him back and asked, “Ready to meet?”  He responded:

“Funny thing…a lot has transpired since we last talked.  I spoke with my director, and she sort of had a meltdown.  She was overwhelmed and decided she couldn’t direct.  No director – no musical.  The show’s cancelled.”


“But if you’d like we can still meet,” he says, “I’d love to get to know you.”

“Sure – we’ll see you in a few at Panera’s…”  Moments later, we converge on coffee, sweet rolls and pleasant conversation.

We met a fascinating, gregarious guy – about 70, but with energy that belied his birth certificate.  He’d been in Show Bizz since he was little.  Had been in movies with Elvis, been on stage with John Denver and others – impressive.  Then he asked about us – we told him of our stage, radio and TV exploits from days gone by, and he seemed genuinely interested.  I admit, it felt good to feel significant.

And Sandy, true to being a long-time Gideon attendee, and never one to shy away from a soapbox, boldly proclaimed her desire that we, the church, take back what is rightfully ours – that is – rightfully God’s: The Arts.  To which our new friend proclaimed we were “definitely on the same team.”

As we got acquainted with him, and his musical, he said a few curious things about the life of Jesus, that didn’t quite match what I remembered from the gospels.  I tried not to dwell on it.  But, he mentioned a book about Jesus that had really influenced his writing: “The Seven Faces of Christ.” Hmm, how come I’ve never heard of this book…?

Then, toward the end of our chat, he referred to God as, “That spark inside all of us…”

[Insert sound FX:   squealing brakes]

Whoa!  God’s a Person – not a “spark.”  Not wanting to ruin the conversation – but not being able to let that slide, I knew I had to say something.  As we adjourned, he said he’d love to chat again, and let us meet his wife.  I said, “Sounds good – though I must say – I’m not sure I agree with all you’ve said today.”  He nodded, we exchanged closing pleasantries, and went our separate ways.

Sandy looked up his favorite Jesus reference book… uh-huh… not the Jesus I’ve ever heard of.  As she read the description of the book, it became obvious – it was steeped in New Age philosophy.  Big time.  Quickly, I knew I wanted no part in his play.  Arriving home I flew to my inbox, and began reading his script.  I didn’t finish it… didn’t need to.  What I read, I’d label as “fantastical blasphemy.”

So why did God tell me to “be bold” about being in such a play?  Here’s what I think happened.  This gent thought he had the guy he needed.  He excitedly called his director – who became overwhelmed by a monumental task she wasn’t really up to, so she had a meltdown… and the play was scrapped….  God wanted that damnable heresy shut down before it started.  And He allowed me to be a small part of His grand plan to defend the Name of Jesus, His only begotten.

The lesson for me – was, if God tells you to be bold, you can trust that He not only has it under control – but you might just get to play a part in …the real story!

Gideon friends, we’ve a story to tell to the nations… let’s be bold.


Men of God

by Francine Locke

“He was the Heartbeat of our family..We enjoyed choir practice and prayer meeting together on this earth for the last time last night..but today He is enjoying Heavens Jubilee…He was the greatest husband. dad. friend my world has ever known.”        Jackie Carpenter

What a legacy for a father to leave behind, having touched his daughter so deeply. My friend, Jackie Carpenter, lost her father last night, and when I learned that, I cried. I cried not so much for her loss, but for the realization that I, and so many others, would never experience the wonderful memories, closeness and feelings she shared with her father.  Men, this one’s for you!

I grew up with out my dad being around much, he had a territory he traveled, and frankly, we were not unhappy when he was away. Life was much more peaceful in his absence, no late nights, no drinking, no arguments. I eventually married a man so similar to my own father, that when I look back I’m amazed. I learned from what I was surrounded by in my childhood, and many of those lessons were far from positive.

I became fiercely independent after my divorce when my son was 1 year old. I knew I could raise him better alone than with the influence his father would provide. After all, I also had the past experiences of my own father. For 12 years I was a single parent, but the friends I naturally gravitated towards were those who had healthy, secure marriages. Even in my singleness I knew I wanted better for my son. And eventually, I realized God wanted better for both of us.

A father’s impact has been so downplayed by our society, dads and men in general, are regularly dumbed down on tv and in film or made into pretty undesirable characters. Is it any wonder men who may not have had the gift themselves of a loving, supportive male role model, have no idea how to be the father they should be?

How does this tie in to the Gideon? At the Gideon I have found relationships; true, authentic relationships with all sorts of real people. Not the cookie cutter perfect Christians who may be portrayed in the media, or even hyped in church. But people with  joy, pain, difficulties, divorce, abuse. People like you and me, who have lived through life & survived to tell about it.

There are some people here that will remind me of Jackies father, Jack. Strong, gentle, laughing, loving family men of God. There are also men here who may not realize the impact they can have on the lives of others. There are men to mentor, and men who need mentoring.  I’m guessing you are one or the other, or maybe one who can just benefit from the exposure to right relationships. I’m thinking of Denny, Rodney, Torry, Kyle, and so many others who will share their experiences with you. Not all positive, but all with the potential to help you see another perspective, to learn how to be more the man God created you to be. And yes, more the woman too!

Any way you look at it, going to the Gideon is a win win situation. I treasure the relationships I have made here with both men and women. It’s a safe environment, you will be brought in to the fold & held as close as you need to be. I truly hope to see you there, amazing long term relationships can happen in a week! And how incredible that it’s all tied in to a visual, dramatic, artistic, musical arts conference! See you there!