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Published: Saturday, 11/23/2002

Author to join stars of worship tour on stage

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR

Max Lucado won't be strumming a guitar or singing harmony, but he'll be sharing the stage tonight with Christian music stars Michael W. Smith and Third Day.

“The last thing out of me they need is to play a guitar,” Mr. Lucado said with a laugh.

He said he will welcome the crowd to tonight's “Come Together and Worship” concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills, north of Detroit, return for a short sermon at the show's midway point, and offer a closing prayer.

Best known as a writer of folksy inspirational books, having sold more than 28 million copies, Mr. Lucado said his latest book, A Love Worth Giving (W Publishing, $22.99) came from counseling at Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, Tex., where he is pastor.

The theme of the book is found in 1 Corinthians 13, the “love” chapter of the Bible that is often quoted at weddings. Mr. Lucado said he wanted people to soak up Apostle Paul's words and put his advice to use in their lives.

“I've seen how people get themselves in difficult situations in a relationship and I'm trying to give them hope,” he said in a recent interview from Pennsylvania. “I want to give them some resources. The basic idea is that it's easier to love people when I love God more.”

High-volume concerts in front of crowds of 15,000 people are not Mr. Lucado's usual format, but he said he signed up after hearing what the artists were trying to accomplish.

Mr. Smith, one of the most famous names in contemporary Christian music, released two top-selling CDs, “Worship” in 2001 followed by “Worship Again,” and a live Worship video on DVD and VHS this fall.

The latest release of Atlanta's Third Day, “Come Together,” put the emphasis on worship music.

Joining the two distinct musical artists together and adding a sermonette and prayer by Mr. Lucado was an inspired move, industry insiders said.

“They said they wanted to create an evening of worship, not entertainment,” Mr. Lucado said. “Michael W. Smith's word is that it's `vertical' - and it really is. It's all about God. ... From beginning to end, it's really an encounter with heaven, encouraging people to get in touch with God.”

Mr. Lucado, 47, said he's “sort of an introvert” by nature, which suits a writer. But as a pastor and preacher, it's more challenging.

“I love the people, but I have to work myself up to meet all of them.”

His books are based on his sermons, but he “takes them up a another notch” with a lot of revisions.

Mr. Lucado, whom the Rev. Jerry Falwell called his favorite author during a Toledo visit this week, said he was inspired by the “almost irreverent” writing style of Frederick Buchner. He said he likes to use humor because “we religious guys tend to be so serious ... and I think people just need to laugh. When I'm talking to people, if I can bring a little laughter, then it softens their heart to receive a truth.”

The Come Together and Worship concert starts at 7 tonight at the Palace of Auburn Hills, in Auburn Hills, Mich. Tickets are $29, available from Ticketmaster. Information: 248-377-0100.



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