Festival Blog: Friday Night Live!

By filed by Janet Chismar   •   April 25, 2008

6:15 p.m. – The Thompson-Boling Arena at the University of Tennessee is buzzing with excitement in advance of tonight’s event. Close to 400 volunteer ushers, 1200 counselors, and approximately 1500 choir members are in place and ready to roll. The choir is unique in that it is comprised of a network of 478 local churches from various denominations. Most of the singers have never met before tonight, but their voices are raised in perfect harmony! We will be going live with web streaming in 15 minutes. Be sure to check back.

7 p.m. – The doors are open and people are pouring in!

Dennis Agajanian has just taken the stage. Agajanian has been performing for over 35 years and has been in Christian music since 1967. At the young age of 15, he taught himself to play the guitar. From early on in his career, Agajanian’s versatile guitar style and musicianship have amazed many. He is recognized as one of the best acoustic guitar players of his time. He is also an alumnus of the “Guinness Book of World Records” as the fastest flat picker. Whether playing Country, Bluegrass, Classical or Rock, audiences often find themselves wondering at his gifted ability to play the guitar. His fame as a Christan recording artist and performer is wide spread and he has ministered with BGEA for more than 20 years.

7:15 p.m. – Inhabited is up next

All this week, the group has been playing at area high schools. Listening to Inhabited in concert is amazing. Sara Acker has a great voice and cool way of interacting with her youthful audience. Check out this video for more info about this up-and-coming group.

7:30 p.m. – Dove-award winning trio Austins Bridge is rocking out!

They just received the news last night that “He’s in Control” was named Bluegrass Song of the Year. Learn more here.

8 p.m. – Few can remain seated now that Israel Houghton and New Breed are on stage.

“All the time you are good” is hitting the rafters. People have turned to one another, saying: “God is not angry with you. He is not mad at you. He is madly in love with you.”

And, yes, we have another Dove winner in the house! Israel and New Breed took home two awards Wednesday night during the 39th Annual GMA Dove Awards ceremony held at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. The group received an award for Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year for their latest CD, A Deeper Level. They also took home a Dove Award for Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song of the Year for “Say So.”

8:30 p.m. – In the hallowed University of Tennessee basketball arena in Knoxville, Franklin Graham related his message of hope and salvation to the Southern, sports-loving audience of approximately 7,200.

“We live in the South where it is culturally accepted to go to church, but often, something is missing. People don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Graham talked about his own “cultural Chistianity.” Even though he is Billy Graham’s son, he still had to find his own way to God. In his early years, said Graham, he went through the motions of just attending church.

Graham asked the crowd, “How many of you like to tailgate?” He then told them about the Bible’s “greatest tailgater,” King Belshazzar from Daniel 5. Challenging people to examine their own tailgating tendencies, Graham pointed out that drinking, drugs and casual sex may seem like fun, but lead to destruction.

Pleasure seeking can become a god, said Graham. “Also, our cars, our homes, our businesses and – I’ll step on a few toes here – sports can become gods.” But there is only one true God and one way to salvation. “That is through Jesus Christ.”

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