An Open Letter To An Artist
Criticism should be private, and praise a public affair. Unfortunately, in our modern day milieu, the opposite is more likely to occur. We can be guilty of what the Apostles rightly lamented in Acts, “They have beaten and imprisoned us publicly, yet want to release us privately?”
Affirmation is often a concealed matter, as though it were something of which to be embarrassed. Perhaps, this is because our culture often regards cynicism more highly than sincerity. At any rate, I felt compelled this morning to offer a public word of gratitude to a young couple for whom I am deeply thankful en lieu of a personal note.
Marcus, better known by his performing name FLAME, along with his wife Crystal, took an inordinate amount of time out of their busy schedule to minister at the Campus Church last night. I would like to take this opportunity to fulfill a biblical imperative of giving honor to whom honor is due.
In order to maintain brevity, I will offer only a few points of appreciation that I have for Marcus and Crystal and their ministry.
1.) As a fellow Christian leader, I admire Marcus’ commitment to Christ and His Church. I respect the fact that he has brought his international ministry under the authority of the leadership team of his local church (Immanuel Baptist Church) here in Louisville, KY. This is a wonderful model for all believers.
2.) Marcus and Crystal provide a great example of biblical marriage, even though they are young. Whenever and wherever FLAME is in concert, you will find Crystal serving behind the scenes. The fact that she has a Ph.D. doesn’t keep her from ministering to the crowds clamoring for her husband’s attention. The reality that Marcus married way over his head is a tribute to the grace of God.
3.) As a professor at Southern Seminary, I have had the privilege of seeing Marcus in the classroom. In the midst of a busy travel schedule and the production of a new album, he has carved out time for graduate studies on a trajectory towards earning a Ph.D. of his own. One day I will no longer be able to joke that Crystal is the only Doctor in the family.
4.) Many have accurately commented on the lack of artistic originality and biblical content within contemporary Christian music. Such critiques are not true of the emerging hymn writers and the new brand of gospel-centered hip-hop artists. I have been blessed by the robust theological content on FLAME’s albums. From taking on modern day heresies, battling naturalistic ideologies, and standing for absolute truth, Marcus’ music packs a theological punch and exalts in the glory of a Sovereign God.
5.) Beyond his music and his ministry, I have a great deal of respect for Marcus as a friend. He and Crystal drove all the way from St. Louis, Missouri, for a one-hour concert only to head straight back to the “314” to finish the production of the forthcoming FLAME album. This was a great sacrifice of time and energy. This was a labor of love.
Marcus and Crystal, thank you. Eternity will reveal that your ministry is not in vain. You both were a major encouragement for me personally and in my ministry at the University of Louisville. I pray that God continues to bless your marriage and your ministry as you seek to spread God’s fame among the nations.
Your Partner In The Gospel,