Granger Smith and TobyMac

Former country music singer Granger Smith shared his testimony to Liberty University students during the Sept. 6 Convocation of leaving the music industry to pursue a life of full-time ministry, emphasizing the importance of denying oneself for God’s kingdom.

Smith shed some light on his own struggles, including losing his young son and struggling with pride as a testament to how he had to truly deny himself before he could feel the peace that comes with obedience to the Lord. 

Smith began by reading from Mark 8, setting the stage for his message to the students about what it truly means to deny oneself for Christ. 

Smith said that when he was younger, he went to church, was part of campus ministries and felt as though he was an active believer, yet he admits he was not denying himself. 

“The slope downward is deceivingly gradual into the stagnant pit of an unforgiving American cultural Christianity,” Smith said. 

This phrase, “cultural Christianity” was emphasized throughout Smith’s speech, as he called for Liberty students to not deceive themselves into believing they have truly denied themselves if they have not.

“A way to know whether or not you have fallen into this is to ask, ‘Who gets the credit in your life?’” Smith said. 

Smith recalled a time when he threw an industry party for his first number one song. 

“I told the crowd that this happened because we worked hard, … but that wasn’t denying myself,” Smith said.  

Smith shared the story of losing his three-year-old son, River, stating that “cultural Christianity” did not comfort him through that loss. It wasn’t until a life-changing moment when he was listening to a sermon out of John 14 that he felt truly changed by the conviction of the love of Christ. 

“From that day on, I wanted to keep his word,” Smith said. 

This led to Smith realizing that his music career was getting in the way of his relationship with God. 

“We have to give up things that aren’t sins themselves; anything can become sin when it hinders our walk with Jesus,” Smith said. 

Smith left the stage after explaining that Jesus has overcome the world, and so in the midst of suffering, there is still joy. 

“Nothing in this world can satisfy you with the fullness of joy like Christ alone,” Smith said. 

In an interview-style Convocation, Christian hip-hop artist TobyMac joined Chancellor Jonathan Falwell onstage Sept. 8 to talk about his time attending Liberty University and the doors that the Lord opened while he was there. TobyMac, a 1988
Liberty alumnus, shared a message of walking through the doors God opens. 

Isaac Mather, a student singer and songwriter from Liberty, opened Friday’s Convocation with his new song “Goodbye.” Mather’s genres include rap and pop, and his music is a tribute to the mental and physical health challenges he has overcome. Despite numerous obstacles, Mather is back to performing music and doing the things he loves.

The interview began with Falwell and TobyMac reminiscing about their time at Liberty together, as they graduated only a year apart. The conversation included memories of the pair going to parties at the Falwell residence and playing football together. 

TobyMac then explained how he originally intended to play professional golf or become a real estate agent after college, but God had other plans. The Lord opened doors for TobyMac to begin rapping and singing at school and local events, leading him to move to Nashville and pursue a music career after graduating from Liberty. 

After leaving the university, he began to wait on the Lord. 

“I told God, ‘I’m going to wait for you to open (doors). I’m not going to kick down any doors to walk through them,’ TobyMac said. 

TobyMac challenged the students to not force their own wills by “kicking down doors,” but rather to wait patiently on God in a spirit of servitude. 

“If we dare call him our Lord, there is one position for us: we are servants. And a servant’s job is to wait,” TobyMac said. 

He then explained how he sincerely believed that his gift of songwriting was from God and should be used only to
glorify him. 

“God doesn’t give us gifts for us, … and if God gives us a gift, … he didn’t give it for your self-indulgence,” TobyMac said. 

TobyMac concluded his conversation by quoting a verse from Acts in which “curiosity about Paul developed into reverence for the master Jesus.” 

Tobymac closed out with this concept, saying, “Wherever you go, whatever you do, make them curious.” 

Reza is a news reporter for the Liberty Champion

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