When in Doubt, Make It a Song
Randall Goodgame admits when he first became a father he was intimidated at the thought of leading his family in devotions. Hear how Randall ultimately started putting Scripture to music as a way to communicate spiritual truth for his children.
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Randall Goodgame admits he was intimidated at the thought of leading his family in devotions. Hear how Randall ultimately started putting Scripture to music as a way to communicate spiritual truth.
When in Doubt, Make It a Song
Bob: Randall Goodgame admits that, as a young father, he was intimidated by the idea of leading his family in family devotions/leading them spiritually.
Randall: The Lord, I feel like, revealed that I was afraid of the hypocrisy that I was feeling. What He helped me to see was, not to be afraid of it, but to acknowledge it so I could talk to my kids—and not say, “You need Jesus, and here's why…”—but to say, “I need Jesus; you need Jesus. Let's lock arms and need Him together, because we're going to prove how much we need Him to each other for the rest of our lives.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, August 24th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You’ll find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. We'll hear today how Randall Goodgame ultimately started putting Scripture to music as a way to communicate spiritual truth to his children. And the rest, as they say, is history. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I've got a quiz to start off with today. [Groaning] Are you ready for a quiz?!
Dave: We never know what he's going to do. [Laughter]
Ann: And I'll probably fail.
Dave: Here comes the quiz.
Bob: Okay; I just want to see how far back you go. I'll give you a cue, and the subject is kids’ TV; okay?
Bob: —or kids’ video.
Dave: Talk to my wife.
Bob: Alright; do you recognize this? “I see Bobby,” “I see Nancy,” “I see Susan,” “I see Lucy,”—does that ring a bell for you?
Ann: Well, it's the readers that we did in like first grade. Is that what you mean?
Bob: No, no, no, no.
Ann: Is it a TV show?
Bob: This is Romper Room—Miss Nancy in Romper Room.
Dave: Bob, we're not that old; sorry! [Laughter]
Ann: No; I did watch Romper Room, but I was really little.
Bob: She'd hold up the magic mirror, and she would see the kids.
Ann: —mirror; yes!
Bob: And she would call them out by name; right?
Ann: Yes, I do remember that.
Bob: Okay; see if you—I bet you'll get this one, Dave.
Dave: Is it the Beatles?
Bob: [Singing] Ching, ching, ching, ching…[Continuing singing]. Does that ring a bell?—does it?
Dave: No, it does not.
Bob: For you?
Ann: I recognize the tune?
Bob: Okay; let me ask our guest, who is joining us. [Laughter]
Bob: Randall Goodgame is here with us. Randall, do you recognize that?
Randall: I do not, but I wish I did.
Bob: Okay; that would just be me. That’s Captain Kangaroo.
Ann: I was going to say the other show was Captain Kangaroo.
Dave: I should have known; that was my favorite show.
Bob: He would come in—that's the music that was playing—he'd have his keys, and the music would keep playing until he hung his keys on the rack. As soon as he hung it, the music would stop like that. The reason I remember it is because there was one show when they must have gotten a little punchy, because he decided to ring toss his keys. That music just kept playing, because he was not hitting the ring at all. [Laughter] It was just over and over, and they left it in for the final show.
Okay; let's go. Let's jump to a new category.
Dave: We're 0 for 2 right now, Bob. [Laughter]
Bob: Do you remember Colby the Singing Computer?
Bob: No, that's Psalty. You remember Psalty?
Ann: Oh no, that’s Psalty; yes.
Bob: Do you remember Colby the Computer?
Bob: You don't remember Colby?
Bob: Do you remember Psalty?
Dave: Yes, a little bit, from my kids.
Bob: Do you remember Antshillvania?
Bob: Okay; these were a part of—first, my childhood and then with our kids. There is something remarkable about music and the imagination that captures a kid's mind and their creativity.
The reason we're talking about that is because of the guest who we've got with us today. Randall Goodgame, who I didn't introduce—but we said, “Hi,” to you. Welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Randall: Thank you so much, Bob.
Bob: I first heard about what you're doing—this was more than a decade ago—I was at an Andrew Peterson concert. I think you must have been—were you in the band back then? Did you play with him on some shows?
Randall: You know, I toured with him a couple of years as an opening artist. I might have played piano with him at the show you went to.
Bob: I think you and Ben Shive and Andrew—I think the three of you were performing together, but he had your—
Dave: Randall, just say, “Yes, yes.” [Laughter]
Dave: “Yes, we were.”
Bob: I bought a copy of The Slugs & Bugs Lullaby CD. Again, is that more than a decade old?
Randall: Oh yes; that came out in 2007.
Bob: Okay; so I bought that because I needed help going to sleep at night, and I wanted—no; it's because I had kids. [Laughter] I thought that would be something that they would enjoy—and they did. That was the first time I was aware of The Slugs & Bugs and what God has put on your heart as a burden for music and kids for many years.
Since that time, our listeners ought to know there are—it feels like there are scores of Slugs & Bugs CDs that have come out. There are books that have now come out. And I watched, this year, some of the first episodes of the new Slugs & Bugs video series—13 episodes that you've done in Season One; right?
Randall: That's right; that's right.
Bob: And it's fun amazing stuff, and we want our listeners to know about what you're doing. You brought—is this a slug or a bug you brought with you?
Randall: Oh, I'm just going to just call her my daughter and keep it safe. [Laughter] This is Livi Goodgame.
Bob: Livi, welcome to FamilyLife.
Livi: Thank you so much.
Bob: You have been a part of the entourage with your dad, really, since—the first time you were on stage, you were like 14?
Livi: The first time on stage, I was nine, at an official concert.
Bob: What did you do when you were nine?
Livi: I played the fiddle, and I remember the venue. It was a small church, and I remember the song I played was Golden Slippers.
Ann: Were you nervous?
Livi: Oh, yes; I was so nervous.
Randall: She got the biggest applause of the night.
Dave: I bet. Dad, it had to be fun to take your daughter up.
Randall: Oh, it's just the best—you know, to get your kids come with you and see what you do—but also watch them to flourish and shine and use God's gifts.
Bob: Every time I've seen you anywhere, you have a bow tie on; so we've just got to ask about the bow tie to start off with. [Laughter] Well, I'm going to ask Livi: “Does he wear a bow tie like around the house?—or when you go swimming out in the back yard?” [Laughter]
Livi: Oh my goodness. [Laughter] No; it's actually a newer thing. I'm sure he can tell you more; but back when Slugs & Bugs wasn't as big, his kind of go-to show outfit was a super hero T-shirt.
Bob: Okay. [Laughter]
Livi: When kids started showing up to the concerts, wearing the Captain AmericaT-shirt, he was like: “Maybe I should find something else so Marvel doesn't come at me.” [Laughter]
Randall: Yes, that's right. I actually did a TV show one time; and I had my Captain Americashirt on, and walked in. They said, “Oh, you're going to have to turn that inside out or something.” I learned quickly; and you know, there's something friendly and fun about a bow tie.
Dave: Now, do kids show up at your show now with bow ties on?
Randall: Oh, totally; they do!
Ann: That's so fun!
Dave: They really do!
Bob: People have often made the comparison between you and Fred Rogers. You've heard that over, and over, and over again.
Randall: I have—which of course, I've always got to stop them and say, “There is only one Fred Rogers,”—I'm just an enormous fan and appreciator of him. I'm sure, by now, lots of your listeners have seen him on YouTube, doing things and speaking up for children's television programming. We watched the movies, both the documentary—and just me and everyone else in the theater—not a dry eye in the place. Certainly an amazing mentor; and someone to look to, and admire, and learn from for this opportunity the Lord's given me.
Bob: Was he a subtle influence; or did you look at him and go, “I want to pattern what I'm doing after what I see him doing”?
Randall: Certain things—his unflinching commitment to the thing he was called to, for sure. He wanted to help kids understand their feelings. There are certain things I feel like the Lord has specifically called me to, and his unflinching commitment to his call has influenced me. You know, sometimes there's something I want to do or want to say that sometimes my team, as incredible and supportive as they are, but they're thinking about different things than I am. They'll sort of try to guide me one way or the other. Having Fred Rogers—sometimes I'll use him, as an example, to say—“Look, if Fred Rogers was called to this aspect of”—you know, he was a believer; he didn't talk about Jesus, but—“if he was called to this, we use his commitment to his calling as a litmus test for us too.”
Ann: Randall, take us back to your call, like you're talking about Fred Rogers' call: “Did you always think this was what you'd be doing?”
Randall: Oh, goodness; no! [Laughter] Ann, no way! In fact, even a year before I started doing Slugs & Bugs, if you had told me I'll be doing children's concerts—I would have just laughed and thought you were crazy. Andrew and I had made The Slugs & Bugs and Lullaby CD just as a side project.
Ann: And why Slugs & Bugs?
Randall: That just came from a song lyric. There's a song called, God Made Me, that starts off, “God made slugs and bugs, and rats and bats, and nasty bees that don't say please. They'll sting your elbows and your knees if you chase them,”—clap, clap, clap.
[Laughter] So just like you do, when you're looking for a title for your record, we titled it after a song lyric that seemed fun: Slugs & Bugs.
And then, fast forward three years—I had been the worship pastor at our church for a couple of years and thought, for a while, I might go to seminary. The Lord just kind of led me out of that; I realized I didn't need to be doing that anymore. I was really on the hunt for what the Lord was calling me to.
I did a concert at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. My old buddy, Brian Long, was driving me back to the airport and said, “Hey, when are you and Andrew going to do another one of those kids’ CDs with the slugs and the bugs? My kids love it.” I told him then: “You know, I actually really enjoyed parts of that, and maybe could do another one; but I just know I couldn't see myself as a clown. I think, if I was going to do children's music, I would just have to be a clown; and I just don't think I could do it.”
And he said, “You wouldn't have to be a clown. You could just get my buddy, Scott, to make you some fun videos. You could just be the fun, folky host of the Randall Goodgame Show with some kids’ songs.” Literally, I got his buddy, Scott's, number. It was like getting hit by a bat in the face—but like a gentle bat/a nice bat. [Laughter] In the car, on the way to the airport, began this vision; because I thought, “I could do that.” The joke is on me; because 10 years later, through the process of becoming a full-time children's musician/artist, I wear the red shoes, and I am a clown for Jesus. [Laughter] The Lord—I can look back and see all the different ways He was preparing me, but it started right then.
Then also, just having my own kids, realizing that there are aspects of parenting that were just a particular struggle for me. Specifically, one thing I talk about a lot is: “So often, parenting my kids, whenever I want to talk to them about the gospel/talk about Jesus, I would just feel this discomfort in my spirit about it. I would pray and seek the Lord and talk to my wife, ‘I don't feel comfortable talking to them about the gospel. What is the problem?’”
Ann: —because it made you feel what?
Randall: I didn't know. Eventually, the Lord, I feel like, revealed that I was afraid of the hypocrisy that I was feeling. What He helped me to see was, not to be afraid of it, but to acknowledge it; so I could talk to my kids—and not say, “You need Jesus, and here's why…”—but to say: “I have lived so long, and I know how bad I need Jesus,” and “Part of my job is to help you to get to know Him, because you need Him too.” It's: “I need Jesus; you need Jesus. Let's lock arms and need Him together, because we're going to prove how much we need Him to each other for the rest of our lives.”
Bob: When we were working on The Art of Parenting® video series, one of the people we interviewed for that series was a mom in California, who said, “Kind of on repeat at our house is…”—parents saying to their kids, “I'm a sinner just like you,” in the correction process/in the discipling process just to remind: “Look, I'm in the same boat you're in,”— rather than—“I'm the parent; you're the kid. I do it right; you do it wrong.”
I think there's something powerful about moms and dads—all of us saying to one another—“Look, I mess up like you mess up. I need Jesus just like you do.”
Randall: Right; yes, there's something that—it resonates with me in all the passages of Scripture about freedom that just start to jump out—where that discomfort that I was feeling is bondage—“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” I can be fully myself in front of anyone; because whatever sin I reveal, the Lord has taken care of; and whatever light that I shine, He gets the credit for. I am free then just to be His in front of you guys, or in front of my kids, with my wife.
Dave: Well, the good thing is we have one of your kids here.
Randall: Yes, that's right.
Dave: So we could ask her—[Laughter]
Randall: She's going to say, “He is…”[Laughter]
Dave: Well, let's find out. So did you see that? Your mom and dad—we've obviously got your dad here—in terms of, actually, he talked about being a little awkward sharing the gospel. Did you feel any of that, or did you see him being a sinner? Let's talk about your dad's sins. [Laughter]
Livi: Let me just dish out all the dirt; no! When I was in sixth grade, and my brother Jonah was in fourth grade, we homeschooled for a year. Mom kind of took over the reading and history part of it; we did the math part online on a program; and then Dad did little music lessons, and Bible teachings, and stuff like that.
He would get us to memorize verses, and that was kind of his way to talk about the Bible with us or, you know, to get us into verse memorization. The way he would get us to memorize them was to create little melodies for the songs. Some of the melodies for the verses that he created are now Slugs & Bugs songs, which is cool.
Ann: Do you remember one of the songs, Livi? Could you sing one right now?
Livi: [Singing] “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”
Bob: That's pretty good!
Ann: That is really impressive.
Bob: You said that was the first?
Randall: That was the first one.
Dave: —that you wrote?
Dave: Oh, really? That was like at home.
Randall: Right; to help the kids learn it.
Randall: It wasn't until about three or four weeks of completely unsuccessful [Laughter] Scripture memorization—except for/Livi would remember—but three or four weeks later—
Ann: —it was gone.
Randall: —it was gone. That's when I started writing melodies, and then they stuck.
Bob: There is something—I've heard you talk about this—there's something about music that there's a relational component to music being shared. There's something that happens in relationships when we gather around music. Can you explain what that is all about?
Randall: I doubt it. [Laughter] But, you know, if you think about just being called to worship. For sure, in this time of quarantine, you know, my family gets together and watches our service online every Sunday. I want to turn up the TV, so I can hear the congregation that's there—you know, social distanced—singing along with us; because there is something that's super valuable about affirming the truth that we believe together—that's Scripture singing.
Of course, there is something wondrous—and the little bit that we know about heaven—there's a lot of singing. Some people are singing, and that's all they ever do. I remember talking with our old friend, Andrew Peterson, about this: “Wouldn't that get boring to just sing the same song over and over?” What we know is that we're human; they're not. We can only presume that it's not, so how incredible must it be to be able to never stop singing to the Lord?
Bob: I don't know that we understand it, but there's something about the gift of music and what it does to connect head and heart/what it does to connect people as we sing together; it's like we're joining together in a common activity that unites us. We can share a meal, and there's great social interaction there; but there's something when both of our voices are aligned, and we're singing together. I don't know that I understand the mystery of it, but what a gift of God to give us music.
Dave: And it's a beautiful mystery, I think, because in some ways—even as a preacher and teacher, you know that if you can get your audience engaged in what you're teaching, the memory and the actions are going to go up. If I just preach, and they sit and listen—good! But if I have them participate: have them stand up even and do something, everybody knows, you know—I put stuff on the screen.
Same thing with music—the more senses involved, the better memory, which you've obviously tapped into. If you say it, that's one thing; you sing it—now you've got a whole other thing going on—brain's engaged. Maybe there's a stand up and you clap—all those extra senses; right? Is that's what's going on, because it stuck!—right?
Randall: Oh, sure. And then if you compound it with children learning these things—and how so many things that I experienced as a kid—songs, let's say—I still remember at 46 years of age.
Randall: The opportunity that the Lord has presented to be called to something that just feels—I just feel like there's nothing more important I could be doing with my time when it's contributing to children and engaging with Scripture/engaging with stories from the Bible in a way that will help them remember it; so that, when the Holy Spirit in times/when it's the right time for Him to bring it to mind, it's there.
Bob: In the last year, you have transitioned from writing songs and doing CDs. You've added to your repertoire a 13-episode video series and storybooks for kids. You're bringing video and visual into the whole mix. Talk about what that's been like for you in the creative process and how you've had to think differently about what it is you're trying to communicate.
Randall: Well, to hear you say it, it sounds exhausting! [Laughter] It’s also just/I'm delighted; because I never could have, even a couple of years ago, have foreseen all that the Lord has brought about. It was amazing getting to start to write books. Some of my favorite books—just period—are children's books.
Ann: I just read one a few minutes ago. I just read Jesus and the Very Big Surprise, and it's amazing. Every parent should buy this book, and it's just one of five. Is that correct?
Randall: That's right. Thank you, Ann! [Laughter] That book, for example, is a paraphrase of a parable, where Jesus says to His disciples: “It will be good for the servants, who are waiting for the master, when he returns for his banquet. It will be good for them, who are found waiting when he returns; because when he returns, the master opens the door; he will tell them to go recline at his table. He will dress himself to serve, and he will come and wait on them.”
I always loved that because it paints this amazing picture of Jesus saying, “This is what God is like.” He is like the last person you'd ever think would ever put on a robe and come serve you. That's the person that is going to come serve us.
Getting into writing books was such a joy, because I just love having fun. I started—that book doesn't rhyme—but the four other books are Doug and Sparky books. Doug the slug and Sparky the lightning bug are kind of the stars of the Slugs & Bugs universe; they're best friends. They're rhyming books, like Dr. Seuss-type books: “Once upon a sunny day, Doug the slug came out to play,” —that kind of thing.
What I tried to do is—and it's the same kind of thing I've been trying to do with the music and the TV show, frankly—is paint a picture of a situation for children to where they can see a situation in life that they could maybe see themselves in; and “What difference does it make that Jesus is real?” “What is Jesus' existence and truth in our life? How does it really matter?” “Why do I/why would I do anything differently than somebody else?”—“Because Jesus is real.”
Dave: That's not just a kid question.
Dave: Every single adult has the same question. Keep going; that's good.
Randall: That's right. That's why it's easy to stay engaged and be excited about it all the time; because as I am studying and wrestling with these questions, it's hitting me right in the heart all the time.
Writing the books and then getting into the TV show—it just felt like more different sources/different kinds of media to get to ask that question and present that question for all us to wrestle with.
Bob: We've got, on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, a link to the Slugs & Bugs website, where people can hear and see and find out more about the books, and the videos, and the CDs that you've put together. In fact, Randall's team is making a special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners this week. You can go to their website, and whatever you'd like to purchase—if you enter the code, FamilyLife25, all as one word—you'll save 25 percent on anything you order from their site. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com; and the link is located there.
We are making available, this week, three episodes from the Slugs & Bugs video series. We're sending this out to FamilyLife Today listeners, who can join us as new Legacy Partners. Those of you, who are long-time listeners to FamilyLife Today, you may know that it's our monthly Legacy Partners, who provide the financial underpinning so that this program can reach hundreds of thousands of people every day on radio, on the web, even on your Alexa® device. Lots of people, who are connecting with us—you make that possible when you become a monthly Legacy Partner/make a monthly donation to FamilyLife Today.
We've had some friends of the ministry, who have come to us recently and they have agreed that, here in the last week in August, any new Legacy Partner, who joins with us—these friends are going to match your donation for the next 12 months, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $25,000. We're excited about that; we’re hoping that you will consider becoming a new Legacy Partner. In addition to your donations being doubled, we'll send you the three episodes of the Slugs & Bugs video series. We'll send you a copy of my new book, which is called Love Like You Mean It, all about marriage and how to strengthen your marriage relationship. And we'll send you a gift card so that you and your spouse, or another couple you know, can attend, as our guests, a Weekend to Remember®getaway. As soon as we get the “All clear,” to start those getaways again, you will be welcome to attend as one of our guests.
Find out more about becoming a Legacy Partner; or sign up, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, “Tell me more about being a Legacy Partner. I want to join the team.” Again, the number is 1-800-358-6329—1-800-”F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, tomorrow, we're going to hear more about the power of music to connect with a child's heart around spiritual issues. Maybe we'll even get Randall Goodgame and his daughter to sing a song for us tomorrow. I hope you can tune in for all of 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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