Jesus’ Heart for Children
About the Guest
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Randall GoodgameRandall Goodgame is an American singer-songwriter of contemporary Christian music and the creative force behind the family music brand, Slugs & Bugs. Goodgame has recorded eight solo albums and contributed to numerous others. He has written songs for Caedmon's Call, Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, Jill Phillips, and Eric Peters. He is also a frequent collaborator of Andrew Peterson, including the 2006 music album, Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies.
Randall Goodgame has never gotten over the fact that Jesus has a special place in His heart for children, no matter the age. Hear him talk about kids and music, and the power of the gospel.
Jesus’ Heart for Children
Bob: Randall Goodgame has never gotten over the fact that Jesus has a special place in His heart for children, no matter what age they are.
Randall: One of the verses that I go back to all the time, when I’m thinking about what I am doing, is the passage—actually, it’s in three of the four Gospels—where Jesus says, “If you don’t come to Me like a child, you can’t come to the kingdom of heaven.” It reminds me of how much of a child I am in front of the Lord.
That verse is an invitation to remember that we don’t have to hide anything from the Lord; we get to be His kids in the same way that our kids, all covered in peanut butter and jelly, want to run up and grab us on our pants; you know? The Lord wants all of that mess from us in the same way.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 25th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You’ll find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Randall Goodgame joins us today to talk about kids, and music, and the power of the gospel. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I wish our listeners could have been here five minutes ago; don’t you?
Dave: I don’t know; that was ah—[Laughter]
Ann: Yes! Yes! They would’ve loved it!
Dave: It was joyful.
Bob: —in getting warmed up to be with Randall Goodgame, again, on FamilyLife Today. Randall, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Randall: Thank you, Bob; so great.
Bob: Warming up, we decided to revisit some of the hits of the ‘60s, which—you weren’t even around in the ‘60s; how do you even know these songs?
Randall: Like I was just telling you—The Monkees was my very first concert, ever! It was their reunion tour. [Laughter]
Bob: You’re hurting my feelings. [Laughter]
Ann: And your daughter Livi even knew some of the lyrics.
Livi: —only because of Shrek. [Laughter]
Ann: Oh, yes! That’s right.
Dave: Bob knows every single lyric; it’s a little scary.
Bob: It is a little scary. Although, this ties in with what we’re talking about.
First of all, for our listeners who don’t know, Randall Goodgame is the creative force/the energy behind The Slugs & Bugs audio CDs, the books, the new TV series—13 episodes that are now available on DVD. He’s been doing kids music for more than a decade now. It’s one of the things we wanted our listeners to know about.
The way this ties in—when you were trying to help your kids memorize Scripture—we talked about this this week—when all you’re doing is teaching them words, it kind of is semi-sticky. When you add a melody to it—how many Bible verses do all of us know today because there’s a melody that we learned, singing in a chorus somewhere or whatever? You put music to lyric, and it sticks at a deeper level; doesn’t it?
Randall: There is something undeniable about the power of music to help us remember things—things sometimes maybe we don’t want to remember. [Laughter] But the Bible is full of things we want to remember.
Yes, early on with my kids, we were homeschooling. I stumbled onto it as a way to remember Scripture. It’s been, for me, the most powerful tool for Scripture memory, personally, that I’ve found.
Ann: Randall and Livi, have you had a time—especially you, Livi, because you grew up memorizing Scripture through song—has there been a time in your life that you can recall that you’re in a circumstance, and that Scripture came to mind through that song that you memorized?
Livi: Yes; a lot of the time it would be when I was in Sunday school—or even at school; we had chapel every week and things like that—when a Bible verse would come up and I would find myself not being able to say it without singing. I was like, “Oh, I know this!” because it’s this song. Sometimes I couldn’t even help myself—I would start to say it if I had to read it out loud or something—I would have to very forcibly just talk it and not sing it.
Bob: We need parents to recognize—if you’ve got kids who are at home—who are three, four, five, seven, eight, nine—in those pre-elementary and elementary years—these kids are amazing sponges, who when—I was thinking about the parable of the sower. I was thinking the good soil is where you get 30-, 60-, 100-fold. Kids at age four, and five, and six—that’s good soil—I mean, that may be the best soil for planting gospel seeds in the life of a kid; don’t you think?
Randall: Sure; one of the verses that I go back to all the time, when I’m thinking about what I am doing, is the passage—actually, it’s in three of the four Gospels—where Jesus says, “If you don’t come to Me like a child, you can’t come to the kingdom of heaven.” People reference that verse a lot, because it’s “Let the children come to Me; do not hinder them,”—right?—that happens first as if to say, “Let the kids come!”
That next part, where it says, “If you don’t come to Me like this, then you can’t come.” It reminds me of how much of a child I am in front of the Lord, completely dependent. All the ways that we try to correct our children—all their misbehavior/all the things that we see plainly and are trying to correct—the Lord is saying, “No; I need you to be that way, fully, in front of Me.” That verse is an invitation to remember that we don’t have to hide anything from the Lord. We get to be His kids in the same way that our kids, all covered in peanut butter and jelly, want to run up and grab us on our pants: you know? The Lord wants all of that mess from us in the same way.
I see myself in kids—they’re a constant reminder of how the Lord sees me—so I’m always grateful.
Dave: I bet you’re standing on stages now, and you’ve got a whole bunch of kids singing your songs. What’s the experience, seeing little kids literally singing your songs, which are Scripture, but your songs.
Randall: Yes, Dave, it’s just—I can’t hardly keep it together. There’s this one song from Isaiah 40: “Do you not know, have you not heard, the Lord is the everlasting God.”
Dave: You might have to sing it.
Randall: [Laughing] I’ll sing a little of it, just a cappella here. [Singing the verse]
As I’m singing that, and watching the kids and their parents all singing that back to me, I have to remember, “You’re doing your job. You can’t lose it here on stage.” Watching them sing this sweet reminder of the truth of who God is for them and for me—it sometimes is all too much.
Dave: As recording artists are up there, watching people sing their lyrics; but you’re watching people sing God’s lyrics—how powerful.
Randall: Yes; personally, it’s incredible for me. I grew up, as a musician, in Nashville as a lyricist; that’s how I wound up making a living for a bunch of years, as a songwriter for other people. I got a lot of glory out of that and a lot of joy out of it, too. It’s a gift God gave me—it was Christian songs—I was using it for His glory.
I was, for sure, always a bit double-minded. Looking back, I know that I had pride in it. There were aspects of songwriting that weren’t pure for me. I was always striving to do my best and be my best, but there was always a pride attached to it that the Lord has freed me from with calling me into writing Scripture songs. That is just a sweet gift to me on a personal level.
Bob: Livi, one of the things I remember hearing about was Mister Rogers—we talked a little about Mister Rogers earlier—people said he was the same when the camera was on as he was when the camera was off. When the camera was off, and there was a group of kids, he wanted to go talk to the kids.
Is your dad like that?—does he go where the kids are and want to sit down and talk to them?
Livi: It’s more that the kids are drawn to him. [Laughter] He can’t escape them. [Laughter]
Randall: It’s the bow tie.
Livi: It’s the bow tie. But he never dismisses them; he’s always happy to talk to kids and never talking down to them—always talking to them like they’re a whole person, just like him—talking to them in the way that they relate, which I think is really cool.
Bob: Transitioning from songwriting to creating a 13-episode TV series—you’re telling stories in each episode of the TV series. What’s the starting place for these stories? How do you begin to sit down and imagine the stories you’re going to tell?
Randall: For me, the show is built to help model what it looks like for people to walk around, actually trusting Jesus with their lives. What’s wonderful for us is most people walk around their lives, not at church. Since we’re not at church, we have this opportunity to workshop on the show. I’m the host, and I present as the guide/you know, the sage I suppose, which isn’t so hard when you’ve just got puppets around. [Laughter] I’m the smartest guy in the room.
With the two raccoons, and the slug, and the bug, they get into conflicts; and go on adventures; and things happen between them and with the guests, where the job is to always figure out how we navigate this, loving one another—thinking of each other more than we think of ourselves: dealing with injustice or someone’s heartbreak.
I think about the episode we did on adoption, where the storyline we created was the two raccoons are adopted into this other raccoon home. They get to talk about some of the difficulties there are with being adopted. The raccoon girl wonders, out loud, about her biological parents: “Were they fast like me?” “Is it okay that sometimes I’m sad when I think about them? Is that mean to my new parents?”
Because we know the gospel, we get to frame everything—all of our answers/all the ways we help kids navigate through this—or help the puppets navigate through it—we get to frame it with an understanding of Jesus at the center of it. Every relational issue we come across in the Slugs & Bugs show finds its roots/its solid foundation in Jesus’ love for us.
Dave: I think most Christian parents know that they need to bring their children up—well, here you go: Ephesians 6:4—“Fathers, don’t exasperate your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” I think a lot of Christian parents maybe even sit in church—and they hear that—“That’s my job. I’m supposed to do that. It isn’t just the school or church’s [responsibility]. I, as a mom and dad, that is my call.”
Yet, that’s where we get stuck; it’s like, “Okay; how? How do I do that?” There’s a fear sometimes/even a paralysis: “I don’t know how to do it. I’m not good at it; so I’ll send them to school,” or “I’ll send them to a Christian school,” “I’ll send them to church. They’ll take care of that.”
Yet, as a parent, I know that’s my job; so I’m looking: “How can I do this?” and “What can help me?” You’ve offered a tool. You have a tool; because you want something that can help you, as a parent; but also, you want it fun! The worst thing you can do, as a parent, is make God, and religion, and Jesus boring: “That was the worst thing. I never want to do that again.”
Yours is joyful, fun, memorable; right? What a gift you are to the Christian parent! Seriously, you really are!
Ann: Really. We may not be able to write a song, or Scripture song, but you’ve already done it.
Randall: Thank you. It makes me think/I relate so much to what you just said—that paralysis of being a parent and going, “How do I raise my kids?” I still ask that question all the time. What the Lord always brings me back to is—there’s three things I think about with my kids.
One: “I always want to be the chief apologizer. I want to model repentance.” I’ve got to never be afraid—I’ve been doing this, what? —19 years?—I still am; sometimes, I still don’t want to apologize; I think, “What they did was worse!” So much of what we think about God begins with what a relationship was like with my parents. So I want to be as good of a doorway into what God is like, or what it’s like to trust God, to my kids as I possibly can; so I want to be the chief apologizer.
Hand in glove with that is: “I want to claim and own the authority that the Lord has given me.” Even though I get to apologize whenever I’ve done wrong—to model that and show—“This is what it means: ‘I’m sorry with no strings attached. I’m a sinner: I need Jesus,’”—but also, “You are grounded; because this is also my authority, given to me by the Lord to be your dad right now.” Those two things go together.
Where I run afoul of that is either I don’t apologize because my pride doesn’t let me; or I don’t maybe sometimes discipline in ways that I should, because I don’t want to rock the boat or don’t want to get in the mess of another argument. Nobody does it perfectly; Lord knows I don’t.
For me, what’s so powerful about getting to make these materials—that all reflect how we trust God—is how we trust God in the midst of relationships is the central question of my experience/my life. Always, every day: “How am I going to trust God in this thing?” I fail all the time. I need as many resources around me as I possibly can; it’s a joy and privilege to get to try to make some too.
Ann: I do love, too—I think, as parents, it is easy to think: “Oh, these Sunday school teachers know a lot more than I do,” “The teachers know a lot more than I do.” So they’ll kind of pawn their kids off, hoping that will happen. But that’s our responsibility as parents; God’s given us that role.
I think, as parents, if we don’t know what to do—or if we feel like we don’t have enough training or Bible knowledge—they can sit down, and listen, or watch these things, and learn with their kids—to say to your kids/to be honest—like, “I don’t know all this, but let’s learn together.” That’s a first step of being honest and open.
Randall: That’s so great, Ann. That’s what we want; I want to feel free enough in who God has called me to be and who He hasn’t called me to be. He hasn’t called me to be perfect. I want to be free enough to invite my children into the journey with me and say: “You all are at the beginning. I got a little bit of a head start, so there are some things I know that you don’t. But everything/all of it, I need reminding all the time.”
Dave: Well, you’ve got a guitar—
Bob: —and you’ve got a background vocalist with you. [Laughter]
Dave: We’ve got to hear a little music.
Dave: Help our parents understand what they can be doing with their kids.
Ann: I’m excited!
Ann: I’m excited to hear you guys together.
Bob: What’s the song you’re going to sing?
Randall: This is called I Am the Way; it’s a couple of verses from John.
Bob: I recognize that; yes—John 14; right?
Randall: Okay. One, two—one, two, three [Singing] [Applause]
Bob: That was great!
Ann: That was so good!
Bob: If you heard a little djembe in the background, that was Dave Wilson on our table top.
Dave: We need a djembe in here! [Laughter]
Randall: Nice, man! Keeping the rhythm.
Ann: That is so good.
Bob: Again, just the amazing thing of music is, now, you’ve got God’s Word right there, accessible in the crevices of your heart. God brings His Word back in those moments when we need it and applies it in our lives.
Ann: I’m just going to remind parents: “When you’re in the car, you have a captive audience.” When you’re driving—I remember when our kids turned 16, I was so disappointed; because I never had that captive audience anymore. [Laughter] Because they want to listen to great things, especially when they’re young; these are great songs/lyrics. It’s God’s Word to remember; then the Holy Spirit can bring that up and remind those kids, in certain situations, of the power and application of God’s Word.
Dave: Here’s what I just thought: “I mean, we’re singing; it’s hard to sing that song without a smile. It’s just full of joy! The way you wrote it is joyful”; that’s why the drums had to come out. But think about this: “If you’re singing that with your kids, you’re taking one of the most powerful statements ever made in the history of the universe by the Son of God: ‘I am the way, the truth.’”
You talk about the gospel—your children are learning the gospel with a smile on their face. That truth—that Jesus is the way—is the most important truth they’ll ever have to remember their whole life. You’ve stuck it in their brain in a way that it’s probably never going to go away. When they’re in a dark valley, and they’re struggling—at 30 or 35 or 18—God could bring that to them and say, “I am your way out; I am the truth; I am it!”
Ann: Wouldn’t it be great to have a conversation of what that Scripture means: “What does it mean when Jesus says, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’?” and “What do you think?—does the world agree with that? What does the world say?” There are great conversations to be had as we look at Scripture together with our kids.
Randall: Yes; that’s some of the fun feedback I get from families all the time.
First of all, you said people listen to it in the car. They send us videos all the time of their kids singing songs and often getting them wrong, singing some cute little kid version. I also get notes/emails from families about amazing conversations that they’ve had in the car about, “What does that mean?” They’ve been singing these words from the Bible for weeks and weeks and never really knew what they meant. Then suddenly, the kid asks! Parents are having to engage with what they believe, with their kid in front of them. Sometimes, I’ve had parents joke; and they say, “Thanks a lot. I had to have this really hard conversation,” but really grateful for what came out of it.
That song—one of the reasons why I paired that John 14:27 verse with it is because, a few verses later, He says, “I give to you not as the world gives.” It’s a whole different message, like you were saying.
Bob: You guys are kind to come here and let us spend a little time with you and sing a song with us. We’re grateful for you being here with us today. Thanks for being on FamilyLife Today.
Randall: Thank you, Bob. What a great opportunity; we appreciate it.
Livi: Yes, thank you; it’s been so fun.
Bob: Our listeners are also going to get an opportunity to save a little money because the folks at Slugs & Bugs are making a special offer to FamilyLife Today listeners today. Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com; click on the link to their website. There are books there; there’s the video series; there are audio CDs available; music that can be downloaded. Anything you want to get, you just fill up your shopping cart; at the end, write “FamilyLife25”—the number, 25. That will give you 25 percent off anything you buy from them today. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for link to the Slugs & Bugs website. Go on a little shopping spree and save some money with the folks from Slugs & Bugs.
We also want to send out to FamilyLife Today listeners three episodes from Season 1 of the Slugs & Bugs video series. We’re making this available to those of you, who are regular FamilyLife Today listeners, who are ready to join the Legacy Partner team. Legacy Partners are those folks who contribute to the ministry of FamilyLife® every month. Your monthly financial support, whatever the amount, helps provide the financial stability we need to be able to reach hundreds of thousands of people every day through FamilyLife Today. You make that possible. If you’re ready to join that team and become a Legacy Partner, we will send you, as a thank-you gift, three episodes from the Slugs & Bugs Season 1 video series.
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Tomorrow, we’re going to introduce you to a wife and a mother [of] a young daughter, Rachel Gilson, who experienced same-sex attraction when she was in high school and in college until she stole a book that changed her life. She shares her story with us tomorrow. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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