Russ Taff Inspirational Interview on Addiction and Recovery | Dinner Conversations


(instrumental music) (group laughs) – Russ Taff is our guest today, and I’ve known Russ since 1988, when I joined the vocal band, but I knew of Russ long before that. I remember going to hear him in Roanoke when he was with the Imperials, and I was in college at Lynchburg, and I thought, oh man, what a voice, what a great man. He is one of the true friends. I mean if he is your friend, he will go to battle for you. He’s a good guy. – And I think that
loyalty in his friendship comes from a place of a
lot of hardship for Russ. Began with his journey through alcoholism, that he speaks about so eloquently, and is very articulate about how, if the church was able to provide a true place of sanctuary, a place where we can really
confess to each other that we wouldn’t even potentially need recovery programs, so it’s a fascinating conversation. – It is. – To me, and… – And we’ve got one seat open, and it’s yours. Let’s join the conversation. (instrumental music) – My dad was an alcoholic before he became a Christian, and he was saved in a Pentecostal church. He was a welder, and he
got some slag in his eye, that metal that, you know, white hot, that sparks, and it got into his eye. He went to the doctor,
almost lost his eye, and they gave him some
pretty powerful pain meds. He really liked the pain
pills, really liked ’em. – I really like ’em too. (Russ laughs) I’ll be honest with ya. – [Russ] No, no, I, yeah. – When I broke my leg, Lord have mercy, thank God for morphine
drips and pain pills, but, you know, like we’ve
lost Norman and others. – And you can’t stand
there in the pulpit loaded. – No, no, no, no. – Is that how it was? – [Russ] Yeah. It got– – Or how it became? – And then when the, when the pain pills ran out, my dad disappeared. – Was he going to look for more pills? – No, he would buy a big bottle of vodka. Dad carried a lot of pain. It started a pattern of
about every six months. That man loved Jesus,
and such a communicator, and he felt like God was
calling him to preach, and so Dad started pastoring. – Do you think it the preaching became an addiction too? – [Russ] Yeah. – And fed into the other addictions? – Because when he was preaching, he felt like he was really serving Jesus. And he had not a clue what grace was. – So that was legalism on himself. If I’m preaching, that was the only time he probably felt safe with God. – [Russ] And like God likes me right now. – And then he transferred
that to you, right? – Oh, yeah, yeah. So when I was seven, he
didn’t show up to church. And Mom sent me home to look for him, because it was getting
close to preaching time. And I got to the back of the room, and he was sprawled out on the bed, and just drunk out of his mind, and I’d never seen
anybody drunk, you know? And I thought something
horrible had happened. And then the coverup started. You know, we can’t let anybody know. One of my little friends, I was nine. And I had told him that Mom and Dad had an argument, and that was betrayal to them because you don’t tell anybody what goes on in the family. You don’t tell anybody, so she would, when I got home, she was waiting for me. I had spent the night with my friend, and she just blew, took her shoes off, and just started throwing at me, grabbed books and just screaming at me, “You don’t tell anybody “what goes on in this family,” and come over and like started punching me with her fists, just punching me. – [Andrew] This is your mother. – Yeah, and then she started kicking me, and I wound up just in
a ball in the corner, and her just kicking the crap out me, screaming, “You don’t tell anybody “what goes on in this family.” So, you grow up just in chaos. I mean, you… And every day you didn’t know what you were waking up to, and after awhile, it’s survival. It’s not anything but
just flat-out survival. How can I get through another day? – Did anyone ever sit down with you, did an adult ever or come up behind ya and say, “How ya doing, Russ? “How are you feeling?” – No, no. – So no one from the church reached out to you at all? – Oh no. – Oh wow. Isn’t that sad that the church didn’t do that for you? If the church didn’t gossip. I think that’s why God says that slanders will not enter the kingdom of heaven. We always use the big sins. Well hey, gossip. You share your inner most secrets, and they share them? That is a catastrophe. AA would not, we wouldn’t even need AA if the church did what
they’re supposed to do. – Absolutely, absolutely. – ‘Cause AA really is the church. – Yes. (instrumental music) – How can the church be
a better support system, a better, one, an understanding that even though we may define your problem as depression or anxiety, or bipolar disorder, there are normal
fight-or-flight mechanisms. There are still spiritual battles that are a part of that. The church plays a powerful role as burden carriers. If I know that you are walking with me through my experience that I don’t fully understand ’cause my brain and my emotions are going berserk inside me. Your presence not condemning me is a strong comfort. It’s part of carrying
one another’s burdens, but again understanding the problem at the root as a spiritual problem that has very powerful genetic, psychological attributes that are beyond. I’ve done this for 29 years. I still don’t fully understand what drives what’s going on inside. I can’t differentiate, is that physical, is that psychological? It’s both, but more powerfully, there’s a spiritual aspect that trumps, that is more powerful. So understanding that in the church makes carrying burdens,
what we’re called to do, more of what we do and
support one another. – Don’t you think it
would help people also if the pastors would show their scars rather than their trophies? I think you help people by showing, here’s what I deal with. – Sure. Helping us to be free to identify, this is how God is redeeming me. – That’s what I think happens in my world, is then once you get on TV, once you get on the stage,
people look up to you like you got some key to the kingdom. – Sure. – And I tell ’em, look, the only difference between me and you is I got the microphone. We’re all in the same boat. We’re a pack of freaks trying to find our way home, and our big brother has come for us. And I believe that with all my heart. I really do believe Jesus is the answer, but I’m still trying to figure out all the questions. – Lots of questions. (both laugh) (instrumental music) – Dinner Conversations is presented by Project Beautiful, which helps bring young people home from a life of sex trafficking, but before they get into it. This is incredible, and there were five young ladies who were really saved in 2015. – Yeah, that’s right. April 2015, Nepal was
ravaged by an earthquake, and so these five young ladies, Doma, Fersong, Mia, Tika, and Saig all found themselves in a place or destitution and loneliness, because their village, which was already impoverished, was unable to recover from the trauma of that earthquake, and so they were simply looking for a way to survive, to
provide for themselves. So they were looking across the border for some opportunities, and a trafficker presented them, under the guise of this amazing employment opportunity, in some of the bordering countries. (instrumental music) And so the trafficker asked them to meet them, which we
hear this is common, at the border, so that he could then take them across the border. – Or she. – Or she, that’s right. – A lot of women are doing it too. – He or she, they take
them across the border to their new employment opportunity, but in fact what the trafficker was asking them to do
is to meet them there, so that they could take them over into India to be trafficked. (instrumental music) – So will you partner
with Andrew and me today to help bring the innocent home through Project Beautiful? For just 30 dollars a month, you can save three people a year. Bring ’em home. Go to
http://www.projectbeautiful.org/dinnerconversations. – If we don’t help, who will? Project Beautiful, because every life is beautiful and worth fighting for. How did this, okay,
passed-out pastor daddy from drinking, how does that shape your view and perspective of God? You obviously are already
thinking about God. You’re in your church background. – I loved Jesus. I loved Jesus. – Even then, back then? – I would go down to that church. It started when I was 12, and I would just kneel at the altar, and I just started talking to Jesus, and telling him how scared I was, and I didn’t know what to do, but you know the face of your dad is the face of God, and I knew God wouldn’t like that, what was done it is not right, and then you attach God to that. And it’s confusing as hell. – How did you live through that? – Well something would
happen when I would sing. And I would feel the Holy Spirit, because you know you grow up Pentecostal, and you. – I felt it too, when you sang. – [Russ] Well, but. – Everybody felt it when you sang. – [Russ] But it was. – And we didn’t feel it growing up in a Baptist church. (group laughs) – [Mark] No we didn’t. – But Dad got jealous of me, and Mom would use me as a weapon, and she would say at least somebody’s in this house trying to serve Jesus. And so he would take his anger and rage out on me, so after I would feel the Holy Spirit, and I would feel him when I sang, but I knew I’d pay for it, and so there was just this yin and yang and yin and yang, and God loves me, God hates me. God loves me, God hates me. But the gospel that they presented and the Jesus they presented was so, he judged you, and it was like sinners in the hand of an angry God. And you’re dangling over hell, hanging on by a thread, and he could let you go at any minute. – You said to me one time, you said, “If your Jesus
is a condemning Jesus, “you need to fire him. “You have the wrong one.” – And find one that loves you. – “And find one that loves you, “’cause that’s the right one.” – Yeah, my AA sponsor
told me that years ago, and I thought it was sacrilegious. I thought like, well
you’re blaspheming God. (Russ laughs) – Yeah, I thought the same thing when you said that. But then I started thinking that, you know, he said, I’ll stick closer to you than a brother. I thought my brother wouldn’t wake me up in the night reminding me of everything I’ve done wrong. So I must have the wrong Jesus, and I went by a waterfall
on Center Hill Lake, and wrote a letter to the
one I had been serving, and said, you are fired. Your Jesus with a little j, and you are now fired. I’m going with the real one, the one that rose from the dead, the one that loves me, will be with me, and is encouraging me and applauding me. – [Russ] 2, 3, 4. ♪ Time is filled with swift transition, ♪ ♪ Naught of earth unmoved can stand, ♪ ♪ So build your hopes on things eternal, ♪ ♪ And hold to God’s unchanging hand. ♪ ♪ Hold to God’s unchanging hand. ♪ ♪ Hold to God’s unchanging hand. ♪ ♪ Build your hopes on things eternal, ♪ ♪ Hold to God’s unchanging hand. ♪ ♪ When your journey here is ended, ♪ ♪ If to God you have been true, ♪ ♪ Fair and bright your home in glory, ♪ ♪ Your enraptured soul will view. ♪ ♪ So hold to God’s unchanging hand, ♪ ♪ Hold to God’s unchanging hand, ♪ ♪ Build your hopes on things eternal, ♪ ♪ And hold to God’s unchanging hand. ♪ (group laughs) – You know, a lot of times, especially in ministry,
families that are part, whether their father is a pastor, their mother is a minister, whatever, what I’ve discovered is that oftentimes the children don’t feel like they have a place to go
when the family’s broken, when there’s traumatic circumstances inside their family, their
parents’ relationship. Do you experience that,
have you experienced that children of ministers,
and the tension there? What have you experienced in that realm? – Yes, I think the tension and the sense that they do have to hide whatever’s going on, and so it feels like
they can get lost easily, because there’s this image they’re trying to portray, and sometimes I think the parents inadvertently add to it. I don’t think that’s their heart at all, but there is this sense of, they come in and have to sit in the front, and have to engage in a way, and they’re being watched in a way that for kids, it doesn’t
give them the freedom, even, probably particularly
through adolescence, when so much of their time is about individuating, pushing against their parents, and they don’t have
the freedom to do that, because they are being
watched in this way, and they can either swing towards, you know, what we would always typically think of a
rebellious pastor’s kid that pushes back anyway, or a child who is maybe
typically the oldest and has more of the built-in need to please and perform, and so they go underground with it in a way that I think
can be really damaging. – In trying to keep up with that pressure, do they, I mean it seems like human nature so we find our vices to deal with whatever it is that we’re having, whatever we feel like
we’re having to mantle, or some perception
we’re having to keep up. It seems like, at least in my life, I saw how that resulted
in addictive behavior, compulsive behavior. Where do you see
addiction, you know, begin? Like that’s a curious thing to me. It seems like we deal with addiction and recovery as adults. – Right. – But it’s gotta start
somewhere sooner, right? – Right, right, and the tricky thing is when we’re dealing with it as adults, we’re typically naming it, and we’re wanting to work through it, and so for, I mean I
would say it starts young. In a lot of different ways, and maybe our personalities, we could talk about the Enneagram, but our personalities kind of drive us one direction or the other. I mean, Gerald May talks about how we all have
some kind of addiction. That just gets reinforced and reinforced through adolescence, because typically they’re
not looking at it, and not even looking at
what’s driving me to it, and so until they will do that, until we will do that, we can’t get to a place of health, which is why I’m so glad that more kids probably than ever before are seeking counseling, are talking to people, trying to process their emotions, and more parents are
helping them get there. (instrumental music) – Dinner Conversations is presented by Project Beautiful. – And Project Beautiful has saved over 12,000
lives from sex trafficking around the world, and what I love about Project Beautiful is that they intercept them before they get into it, and you’ve gotta go to their website and see how it’s done. – If you go to https://www.projectbeautiful.org/dinnerconversations, you can find out how to partner with us in bringing home vulnerable lives today. – If we don’t help, who will? Project Beautiful, because every life is beautiful and worth fighting for. (instrumental music) When did the alcoholism
for you come in to play? How did that happen? – With the Imperials. They had been away from
Elvis for two years. – Elvis Presley, just to be clear. (group laughs) For all the Millennials
that may be watching. – Elvis (mumbles). – This was a singer in the 70s. And you joined them, and then what, was that a good experience? – For a little bit. I built this image of this young man that was humble, which I was. But I was terrified, and so this image gets all the love, gets all the praise, but standing behind that image, you’re an Auschwitz survivor, and you’re starving to death. Because that love doesn’t get to you. – I remember you telling me, after some concerts, how you would just go do a concert, then go
drink yourself to sleep. Is that right? – Mm-hmm. – What was that process like? – [Andrew] How did you get there? – How did you get there? – It was one Friday, and again I never drank, but Tori and her brother,
and our sister-in-law, they would have like wine with dinner. They lived on the fifth
floor in the Village. There were three Heinekens
in the refrigerator. I thought, well, I’ll just, I’m hot. I’ll just have one of these. Tori drinks ’em sometimes. And I drank it, and I started feeling something. And so I drank another one. And within 30 minutes I had drank all three of ’em, and Mark, I thought a
miracle was happening. All the pain went away. And I remember praying, saying, thank you Jesus, thank you. It doesn’t hurt anymore. And the chaos is at a distance. When things would start
getting real painful, a lot of these memories would come up, and I remember being in therapy, and every time they would start talking about family,
I would just wig out. I don’t wanna go there, don’t wanna talk about it. I’m acting like it didn’t happen, but it’s tearing me up inside, because growing up that way, it rewires your brain. I mean, it, you know, circuits connect to this circuits. – Did alcohol kind of align the chaos. – [Russ] Yes. – Did it kind of like, everything felt like it made sense now. – And it’s okay, you know. The fear is gone, and
then after two years, before that, it turned on me, I mean, it had me in its clutches. – Did Tori see it? – Did you become scared of it at that point, or did you recognize it? – You’re scared of it, but you have used it for a crutch so long, you’re scared to let it go, ’cause you don’t know what’s gonna happen. – [Andrew] Old friend, yeah. – You know, it may just,
your brain may blow up. And the whole time I was crying out, help me, God, somebody help me. I don’t know what to do
with all of this pain. I don’t know what to do with it. – Uh huh, and this is the one thing. – And this anger and this rage, and you’re singing about Jesus, and people are coming to Christ, and you go back to the hotel, and there’s chaos in your head. – I mean, did that produce this kind of tension that? – The hypocrisy? – Did you feel, yeah, what did you feel of that? – It split my personality. It split it. – Which goes back to
the one that was loved, and the one that’s not. – People don’t understand that you can be an alcoholic and be madly in love with Jesus. – [Russ] Absolutely. – How do you, in your own mental and
emotional processes, work through that feeling
that I think sometimes is projected on us of the dualism? Like Mark has told me before, Russ is one of the most Christ-like men I’ve ever known, and at the same time knowing that the weaknesses that we carry, that seeming dualism? How do you, just in your world internally, how do you process that? Because the world and the church is telling us we should look and act, and certain things are taboo. But we’re having to survive. We have to confess on a daily basis. – If you tell on yourself. You’ve told on yourself. There’s no secrets with you. You know, I think that’s
what I’ve seen you do. When you tell all your secrets, nobody can hold it against you, right? – Yeah, yeah. – And you don’t have that far to fall when you’ve already
climbed down the ladder. If you have a secret, I wouldn’t have a clue what it is, ’cause you’ve told me stuff about yourself that you did not need to tell me, but you did. – But I knew that you
would hold it for me. – To the grave. – And I have always wanted to be that for you too. – And you have been. – There is no judgment, you know. We’re all just people
trying to figure this out. And trying to let Jesus change us. – If you need to judge somebody, grab a mirror. – There you go, there you go. – Well, and the acceptance
of others, right? The open acceptance of others, when we literally confess everything, and they accept us as we are, that quiets our internal
voices, doesn’t it some? – Oh yeah. – Internal judgment, that. Because we have all these inside voices. I think that’s what I was thinking about earlier is, how do you quiet the inside voices? But as I’m listening to you, this is part of it. Confessing to others. – Tell ’em to shut up. – And them receiving us exactly as we are. – When you find a few people in your life like Mark, that you feel completely safe with, that’s all you need, you know. But with somebody that you trust so much, and that you can tell your story to, and you’re not judged, you know. – Not even seen differently, right? – [Russ] Yeah. – Not even viewed differently. – Because they know your love for Jesus, because they have that love for Jesus, and they know the weakness, because they’ve
experienced both, you know, and so these days, if you haven’t been broken in some way, I really don’t have any time to sit and talk to you. (Mark and Andrew laugh) – Are there times you still feel, we were talking about this earlier, and I have addiction
and recovery background, and there are times I
feel safer as a person and as an individual, and as a spiritual person
in my recovery meeting, still, even years of recovery, than I do in the– – ‘Cause I’m not judged. They understand me. – And you can talk, right? – And you talk about it, because they know what you’re thinking. They know what you’re going through. – [Mark] They’ve been there. – They know why your head is in this spot. – And we’re all confessing. – Absolutely, and in that confession, the Holy Spirit’s opening
doors, opening doors, opening doors, of all of these cubicles that’s in your head that you put there to survive, just to survive. – Chains fall off when you confess. – Yes. – It’s literal freedom. (instrumental music) We were talking about this. Mark, you, and I were talking about how we don’t know how to confess. Are there practical things we can do as the church, like the
broader church, you know? Not just this congregation
or this congregation. To really encourage people to confess? I mean you were saying we wouldn’t even need counselors, right? – Yeah. Larry Crabb says that, that if the body of Christ was doing what we’re called to do, we wouldn’t need counselors, because we would love each other in a way that brings healing. – How do you do that? – Yeah, no, exactly. And I don’t, I mean I think as much as we can create safe spaces, I think that’s the thing, and what we were talking about– – Sanctuary. – Yeah, yeah, a sanctuary where people feel like they’re free to talk about what’s really going on in deeper places, and I think we’ve got a problem in that social media is pulling the opposite of that. For us as adults. – Because we’re just putting perception. – Yes, I think it’s becoming less safe, because it becomes so image oriented that, then if everybody else looks like their life’s so amazing, I sure can’t talk about how hard mine is. (instrumental music) – [Andrew] Where did you get your glimpses of grace? – When did the grace movement really hit? – Well I know for me,
it was Chuck Swindoll, the Grace Awakening. – Yes, that book was, yes. – And Henri Nouwen, the
Life of the Beloved, those two books. – Yeah, and then it just exploded, I mean where all of us started getting like, oh my God, oh my God. – [Mark] He likes us. He not only loves us, he likes us. Isn’t that a revelation? – [Russ] That changed my world. – ‘Cause it’s the love of God will constrain you. The fear of God will get your attention, but it will never constrain you. Because I’ve done some of my best sinning when I was fearful of God. – Right. – But when you fall in love with him, like Vestal Goodman used to say, “I just don’t wanna hurt his feelings.” – But, you know, it’s like these last ten years, I feel like I finally crossed over, and I’m living in the positive. And I’m not trying to repair the past, because it’s been repaired. When something like this happens, I know what to do now, you know, and when the old tapes start playing in your head, or you know the devil trying to make you feel guilty for something you did 20 years ago. – What do you do? – [Russ] What do I do? – [Andrew] Yeah. – I laugh. – What tools do you use? You laugh at it? – I laugh at it, and I remind myself, he separates as far as
the east from the west. He has no clue what
you’re even talking about. – Yes. – That’s my dad. – [Andrew] Why bring it up? – That’s my dad. – And he will not wallow
with you in your past, or worry with you about your future, because he’s only in
the present, I believe. – Yes, yes. – Living in the present
– In the present – Is hard to do. Didn’t you have an inkling
that it could be true? – Yes. – There’s something in you that kept you running after Jesus even when everything was telling you in your
world he hates you. – Absolutely. – But you knew. – Yeah. – Something deep down, you just know, he’s crazy about you somehow, I think. – That he loves us so much that repairs those tiny little cracks, you know, and maybe the vessel’s
not broken all the way, but there’s cracks, there’s cracks, there’s cracks. And you’re frayed, but he comes and he begins to heal,
first that little crack, and that little crack,
and that little crack, and now, I didn’t know
he loved me that much. That he would come in and heal those deep, deep things that just tears our lives apart, but he loves us so much, and he never stops, he
never gives up, you know? He’s right back there
the next day, you know? Are you willing to listen to me now? Yes sir. I had to beat my head against the wall four times, you know, but I’m ready now. I’ll do it your way. But Mark. ♪ Oh how I love Jesus, ♪ ♪ Oh how I love Jesus, ♪ – Sing with me. ♪ Oh how I love Jesus, ♪ ♪ Because he first loved me. ♪ – That is great. – Well your dream came true. – Yeah, that’s right! Right here. – He said, “Please, “it’d be great for me to get to sing “with Russ Taff.” I said okay, my Lord. I sing with him all the time. To learn more about Dinner Conversations, go to http://dinner-conversations.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel. That’ll allow you to get
a new episode every week. Like us, or don’t like us, and leave a comment, good or constructively criticism. – And if it’s really, really, really mean criticism, we can delete you. (Andrew laughs)

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Comments

  1. So thankful to have tripped upon this!! Subscribed, hit the bell for notifications, and now commented. Praise the Lord!!

  2. Powerfully Honest Show! Most powerful thing I took from this (5:00) "We wouldn't even need AA if the church did what they were supposed to do". I have been praying about this for a little over a year now. I recently faced my problem with pornography head on, confessed to my wife & found the "Celebrate Recovery" group in town. After joining the group, I discovered others with hurts, habits & hang-ups, like the program says. But as I went through, I realized, "I just need to get right with God & stay in His Word & walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh". I agree with you, Mark Lowry, if the church did what was commanded by Jesus, we could solve much of these problems. We used to call it a "sanctuary" right? I have found support and started attending church regularly again. Thank You, Russ Taff, for your open & honest interview. Your music continues to bless me to this day. Thank You, Mark Lowry, for all the years of laughter, song & honesty about living the Christian life. God Bless!!

  3. Enjoying the conversation with Russ Taff. He has a great voice and great testimony. I Enjoy always whenever Mark sings or talks!! Great lesson!!!

  4. Russ ….think about all the many people you have helped by being transparent. God bless you, brother!

  5. I loves me some old school Russ Taff and Thank You for this killer interview!! Heck , it almost seems we walk ed win the same shoes growing up……
    Shalom from Lakeside, MONTANA !!

  6. This was so awesome! Thank you so much 🙂 there's nothing better to a woman's heart, then to see humble men, not afraid to shed a tear and talk about the love of God!

  7. Russ I know how you feel about the church not checking on you, I lost my eldest daughter when she was 10. I was divorced from her mother but we attended the same church a United Methodist Church. After my childs sudden unexpected death. I was put out in the cold. They refused to care for me. counsel me. 18 years later I am still affected by her death. I am very depressed and suffering from PTSD. in 2007 my new wife of one month was killed suddenly by a drunk driver. And I faced that alone also. I fight suicide daily. but knowing God would never accept that. It keeps me from doing as such.

  8. Russ is pouring his heart out, and the fellow on the right just sits there grinning. Very confusing to watch his facial expressions.

  9. Sadly I’ve bin through that only it was my Dad who was the abuser and he was real mean and at times INSAIN WITH A TEMPER TO MATCH IT ALL. IT MADE MY LIFE HELL FOR MANY YEARS

  10. Thank you so much. When I see RUSS sing he sings with so much deep Love for JESUS.So emotional, now I know why. your one of my favorite singers. Now I can learn from you & stop my addiction.

  11. I am from Brazil/Rio de Janeiro.
    I am not speak english.
    Acompanho vocês através do youtube. A música de cantam é admirável. Gostaria muito de ouvi-los pessoalmente, mas ainda não foi possível. Um dia, quem sabe.
    Deixo meu abraço para o Russ.
    Ele é uma grande pessoa. Homem de Deus.

  12. We need more of these kinds of conversations within the church, don't we….. <3 The bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, YET Jesus says all who believe in Him are his brothers. I believe if Jesus visited all of our houses, he'd sit on the couch with us and just talk REAL. Those are the only kinds of conversations I've had with God and Jesus that have changed me, made me be a better person, made me want to try hard to be the kind of friend He would want. When I actually tell Him all the ugly things I feel and think at times, He helps me to find where they come from and why. I'm so thankful he's such a friend. Thanks so much, Mark, Russ and Andrew for a special, heart-felt talk about your journeys. I hope I can meet you face to face one day and give you a hug. I appreciate the ministry God brings through your music and talks.

  13. WOW! WOW! WOW! Finally, someone understands the daily struggles of Christians who love JESUS and has the balls to say it! Thank you Russ Taff, Mark Lowry and Andrew Greer for being 100% REAL!!! I love you JESUS, I really do!!!

  14. This is my 1st Dinner Conversation & I LOVE it! Love these gentlemen, they share their hearts & love so eloquently. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH & GOD BLESS Y'ALL!!!!
    Now I have to watch more, lol. 🙏😇😂👍💗

  15. Man I love Russ Taff. I saw him sing when I was in the middle of my mercury poisoning. I was eyeball with him. I said, "Your music has blessed my socks off." tears in my eyes. He just said, "Thanks" and continued to just look me in the eyes. Man.

  16. Enjoyed this video. Thank you all for your transparency! The testimony of others inspire me, and help me to see I'm not alone.

  17. I watched this again because I lived through this in my marriage. I not only eventually lost my marriage, but we were thrown out of a church because my husband had addictions that the Pastor couldn't handle

  18. I’m one of these Christian who has experienced this same road with all the pains and sufferings. Took years of AA meetings, study, and prayer to heal and truelly feel loved by God. What a truelly powerful blessing you have been my life. Love you brothers in Christ.

  19. My heart went out to Russ. I have loved hearing him on the Gaither Homecoming DVD's. I have always felt that he had been hurt bad at so time. God gave him a wonderful gift we love him. I will be joining you Mark by sending $30.00 dollars a month. I wish it could be more.God bless you for all you do for others Mark. Patty

  20. Thank you Russ Taff for your testimony. It really touched home with me.Alcohol made my childhood a tragedy and made me fearful from the abuse I suffered at the hands of my mom. So good to know and be reminded that God holds my hand and doesn't change. I so needed to know that I am not alone.

  21. What a testimony of the Love of God! Russ Taft is the real deal! Hearing him share how he would go to the church late at night and talk to Jesus was so precious. God always knew Russ's heart and never let Him go. This is the real Gospel of Jesus.

  22. Right off the bat…. I’ve said the same thing for years! People don’t confess their faults to one another because we (the church) prefer to gossip than to bear one another’s burdens. I used to have pastors come to me with their darkest secrets because they couldn’t go to other pastors for fear that their secret would be political leverage used against them. Heck, Tony Robbins does a better job of this than most of the Church, at least in the western world. I’ve been treated better by atheists than some church leaders….

    So good. Glad I stumbled across this.

  23. Powerful interview. I’m a middle-aged PKWB (Preacher kid with baggage) myself, Saved by Grace 15 years, sober 15 years…as SOON as I got saved, I download Priority. I still listen to various songs almost daily in my random music play. Thank you Mr. Taff, for allowing God to use you so that your voice and lyrics would reach my wounded soul from childhood to this morning. I look forward to hearing what you can do when your voice is harmonizing with Angels. 💕

  24. Oftentimes, poverty is a blessing. I could afford a Margarita once a month at the most. They were lovely. I could sit in the restaurant with my 1/large Mar___ with all the luscious salt on the rim. Just me and my Mar___. and let the world pass by–without me. Like Russ, I thanked my Heavenly Father for that brief respite. I didn't feel compelled to formulate opinions on important matters, make conversation with strangers around me. I just picked up my feet and unabashedly, solitarily enjoyed..
    And, then that moment in time passed away, most likely because my last tasted like kerosene. But. I drank the w-h-o-l-e thing — since I'd paid for it. Being poor, I was frugal to a fault.

  25. Cindy Cobb commented, Russ has always been a very special person. It must be so…a few weeks back I was watching a Gaithers YouTube video filmed some years previous. As Russ sang, tears began pouring for no explicable reason. I very rarely cry. It wasn't the lyrics; not even the music, per se. For lack of a better explanation, I'm attributing it to God's created harmonics.
    Ooooo, tough love: I believe I've gone through times of brokenness, but, Russ, you wouldn't have time for me.We don't all deal with brokenness in the same way and how we come out the other end may not be the familiar broken, end result others recognize. The only person who understood or will understand the affects my divorce had on me was my beautiful, earthly dad. It became apparent to him as he sat across from me in the restaurant–and he didn't know what to do. I loved him for trying.

  26. One more comment and I'm moving on: why the church can't replace psychiatrists….the fear that the hearers will turn our confessions against us; the fear that they'll gossip about us; the fear that we'll see our names involuntarily appear in the "Intercessory Prayer" section of the bulletin; the fear they'll pull a "gotcha". Well, it boils down to TRUST.
    As Bett Midler said: "Enough about me. What do you think about me?"

  27. Put on a happy face
    Don’t let anyone know you’re dying inside
    This is pride
    This will keep us from healing I
    Who cares if real life is less than appealing
    It’s your peace and joy that you’re stealing
    God already knows what you hide in your heart
    Christians we don’t have to Live in the dark

    We should be able to share our burdens with one another without being judged and without judging we don’t need to smother
    Under a perfect Christian cover
    Nobody is flawless and without care
    So when you see what’s broken in me
    Try not to stare
    Time to lay it on the line
    I won’t judge your sin
    And you don’t judge mine
    Church should be a safe place
    Not just a race
    To try to save face
    Too many suffer in shame
    Too often we have placed the blame
    Too many rules and regulations
    Laced with cruel expectations
    We are only human we need each other
    We are on the same team
    We are sisters and we are brothers
    They will know we are His if we have love for one another
    By Michelle Williams

  28. Rus that was an amazing testimony of Gods Grace and Peace, very inspirational and uplifting , your Brother in Christ from CANADA …Ron

  29. THIS IS INCREDIBLE TESTIMONY. RUSS TAFF, MY LOVE FOR YOUR MUSIC AND MINISTRY ARE STRENGTHENED, HEARING THIS OF YOUR LIFE. AMAZING GRACE INDEED .

  30. It all go back to the bible not today's church with all the false teaching we are in the last days look what is going on in Hollywood and the music business we can be healed by reading the word and seeking GOD in prayer and repentance Jesus will set us free don't look to any man only Jesus can set us free .

  31. When God has chosen you, nobody can stand against the plans God has for you. My life has been similar to yours in many ways, but one thing we have in common for sure, Jesus has lead us every step of the way. Every day was a struggle for me too when I was a child and I have healed over the past two years. We love Him Bacause He first loved us is soo true. It is Jesus who has pursued me. Thank you for sharing.

  32. Thanks RUSS TAFF, my dad was a head deacon in a church, he would beat up on my mother, he always had a bottle of Brandy under the bed, we lived in a nine by twelve house, many kids and we slept on the floor. there were so many things that happen before I was fifteen when i had a vision at school, ran home just in,time to stop him from killing my mom. The secrets, enmity between siblings, Church folks gossips, half brothers and sisters, Most of my brothers and sister are not saved today. I remember once I knelled in the yard and wish my parents had died. I asked Gods forgiveness since. My mother asked my forgiveness for the way she treated me. I have been working on my forgiveness list. I tried everything till God said: "I will teach you and He is really showing me that it is easier than I think, was already taken care of at the cross when Jesus said : 'Father for give them they know not, what they did
    included what anyone could have ever done or will ever do to me. I really love God and grateful that He thinks well of me. Roz

  33. This was very powerful and really spoke to me. I was in tears by the end of it when they sang, "Oh How I Love Jesus" I can really relate to what Russ says. As I listened to him, I just wanted to yell out…"Yes!! Yes….that is how I feel!!" I really needed to hear this. I realize that even with my problems, I am still God's child and he loves me even though I am not perfect and I have issues I need to resolve (with his help). I fall so short so many times but I am never giving up on trying to do better and be better and I know that God will never give up on me.

  34. I love Russ Taff-his voice and his spirit have blessed my life for many many years-thank you for your honesty and your love of Jesus Russ!

  35. Being fooled by a false jesus appears to be more common for our generation than I would have guessed. My experience was one of power and control, where no one would dare touch me because I 'knew God'…until one evening when I was startled awake by night terrors, there was a foreboding hooded figure at the foot of my bed that said it would kill me and to my right side was a cage large enough for a person to crawl around in. Inside the cage was another figure of a beaten and starved man with long stringy hair. Its clothing hung loosely over its skeletal body and I knew it was an evil spirit in the form of a type of Jesus. I was so terrified that I could not even call out to God and I was pinned to the bed. The tall spirit that was standing over me appeared to be annoyed at the presence of the cage and the other spirit, and both instantly vanished from my room and I sat up. That was a Sunday morning, back around 1989. When I went to service that morning and approached the alter for prayer, nearly all of the congregation rose and met me there to pray. Whatever spirits that had been oppressing me, their names were revealed to my pastor and I found our true Lord and Savior that day. Now I put on the garment of praise that cushions the armor of God…as we are all called to worship the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth!!

  36. "I didn't know he loved me that much". It is so scary that we can sing and preach about the love of God but not believe it for ourselves. The world may turn it's back on us, but God never will. For His love is based upon His grace and mercy given to us through the Cross and our faith in Jesus as Savior.

  37. So powerful! I have so much on my mind, and this touched me. Thank you! ❤️ that song through it all is playing in my head right now, just trust in Jesus! Hugs for what your doing!

  38. Oh to be a student of God's Word BUT I WANT to REALLY know Jesus! To have HIM come and mended my cracks…thanks for saving me a spot at the table.

  39. This is an amazing interview revealing the love of Jesus and HIS transformative power… Grace, Grace… God's grace is sufficient! I love Russ Taff and appreciative his transparency!

  40. Thank you. This ministered to me. There were a lot of elements that were very helpful. I would agree that the sound was too soft at times. A church in our town is showing the movie with Russ in it in a few days. I was interested and found this dinner conversation interview. What a great format. I look forward to more of these. It was different and felt like a kitchen conversation with a little "Mr. Rogers goes and talks to experts " on the side. Back to Russ Taff. The movie is titled, "I Still Believe." Keep believing Russ. We all are in this journey and sometimes we need someone who has walked the path to pick us up when we fall down. Your testimony does that. I pray from that we see in your example and life story we can help others who may encounter similar circumstances.

  41. Amen Mark! So glad to hear you be honest on this subject. Really blows my mind how the so-called church treats people. No, I don't look at the church as a crutch, because I love God. I will say this though, when I was going through some of the hardest times in my life, the church condemned me instead of helping me. Now, I travel across the country singing about my God and His Son Jesus! When I quit looking to the church for help, and started looking to Jesus from where my true help comes from, my Lord, He blew the doors off of my life! I saw you once at a taping of The Music City Show in Nashville. I was a guest in the audience. I didn't get to meet you personally, but man, you have been an inspiration in my life. Then, I missed you at NQC this year. Hopefully soon, you'll be in Northeast Alabama for an event. God bless you my brother! Russ, keep singing my brother. You are also an inspiration!

  42. Whatever the hurts of Russ’ past were, the truth must be acknowledged: his amazing vocal talent was offered to Christian Contemporary Music. When that commercial market crashed, Russ Taff – and many other Christian musicians – were forgotten, no matter how gifted they might have been.

  43. I did not get to watch this when it was first posted, but as I watch it today – Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving – I have to tell you that I've had the song "Hold To God's Unchanging Hand" pop up in my life several times in the past month. Considering that this is not one of the hymns we hear very often today, I can't help but feel there is a message in there that I need to be reminded of. Thank you all for singing it on this broadcast. God doesn't change . . . no matter how we try to change him to fit our current world . . . and I'm so thankful for that! Blessings to you all.

  44. And the conversations!! WOW! So much depth there to mull over. I love the relationship Mark and Russ have — acceptance, love, non-judgmental. I saw Russ's movie on his life — it's a powerful, powerful story. There was so much truth in this interview from everyone.

  45. No one 'gets' Grace like one who know they're really messed up. In 1988/89 Russ' music helped me understand the reality of God when I was just one mistake away from suicide.(I knew the Bible but I was temporarily blinded) Now that I hear the back story I. have even more respect. Thank you Brother Russ.

  46. Wow! You know my first marriage was to an alcoholic and abusive but I went to church whenever the church was open with my two children and guess who we listened to all the way there and back. Yep the Imperials!. Oh my you brought me through so much those songs. Thank you so much for being apart of my life. Blessed by my Lord, Debbie

  47. Thank you so very much Russ Taff for being so vulnerable and so real and so honest to tell YOUR story, What a redemption story of how God can take such a broken heart and broken life that started with such horrible abuse and now you have the victory, Russ because of Jesus love for you and HIS redemptive power. I just pictured and imagined just how this must have broken your Heavenly Father's heart watching you as a little boy sing your heart out for Jesus and then to be beaten up for it later by your own biological parents. It was like the enemy was driving them to steal that powerful anointing that was not only on your voice, but on your life. Now All of the chains are broken off and you are FREE, TOTALLY FREE. What the enemy meant for harm, God ALWAYS turns around for GOOD!!!! <3 <3 <3 We love you Russ Taff. Always have and always will <3 <3 <3

  48. Life tried to take him down, but God had Russ in His plans. I have to thank God for His mercy and forgiveness. When you try to serve Him with all your heart and walk in Jesus path then the devil wants to bring your past back up. When that happens to me, I go to His word that’s says in John1:9 If we confess sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Russ you have been bless God has given you a beautiful talent your voice and you have honored Jesus with it. Your in my 🙏🏻.

  49. Russ your songs have had a deep effect on my walk with the lover of my soul. Christ's finger–prints are all over your life! Bless ya mate!

  50. I just love how any moving song or chorus that comes up is something from the past not this modern…………..stuff.

  51. Wow y'all are talking about my life right now I am in tears! I know the family life that Russ is talking about and I call it the stain glass masquerade! I am the oldest child of a Baptist pastor who is battling addiction so I can't believe the things I am hearing thank you for posting this. Oh to clarify I am battling addiction not my Father he is addicted to food lol

  52. Excellent conversation! So needed in our world today. Whom do you serve? I serve a loving and forgiving God through the blood sacrifice of his son, Jesus The Christ. Thank you Holy Spirit for your presence until he returns. ❤️
    James 5:16 – Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

  53. I love these guys.their spirit breathed music has helped me so much.thankyou guys.but most importantly……….thank you Jesus.

  54. My heart goes out to Russ Taff the child n children around the world who suffer in similar situations. Having a child is a responsibility that shouldn't be taken lightly.
    However he has blessed us with his beautiful voice when he sings so soulfully. Thank you Pastor Mark Lowry for this meaningful program.
    One little criticism tho when the psychology is being presented could they wear more powerful mics. When they drop their voices its like a whisper n at the precise time of emphasis which leaves us clueless as to what is being said.

  55. I love how real and raw and deep you all are in your revelations of what you've had to deal with in your lives. Then I love how you reveal how God has reached down and brought you through (and is still doing it). It makes me love and appreciate you so much. And I don't really know any of you personally; we've never met really. I only met Mark at a concert he did in So. Portland, Maine several years ago, but, of course, you don't really get to know anybody that way. Thank you for this little window into your worlds. What an encouragement.

  56. Just try holding on to God's hand…being human, I'll let go, BUT HE HOLDS ON TO ME, HE WON'T LET GO OF ME, HE'S FAITHFUL AND NEVER, NEVER LETS GO. THROUGH CHRIST JESUS, WE'RE FAMILY. HE TAKES US FOR WHO WE ARE, BROKENHEARTED, ABUSED, BEATEN, BITTER, ALL HURTS…WE CAN'T LIVE UP TO WHAT WE PRECEIVE HIM TO BE, WE HAVE IMAGES OF WHO WE THINK HE IS LIKE, NOT ABLE REALLY TO KNOW HIM, BUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME, HE BEGINS TO REVEAL THAT THOUGHT ABOUT HIS LOVE, ALL BY REVELATION OF HIM .AND HIS TENDER MERCIES AND LOVE IN SPITE OF OURSELVES, ALL BECAUSE HE LOVES US SO VERY MUCH!!! IT'S WONDERFUL!!

  57. Sometimes we have to overcome an abusive childhood by ourselves with the help of Jesus. The Church is not responsible. I still struggle with feelings of self-hate. The Church can never understand. Only Jesus does. He is my Healer.

  58. Thank you so much.. I needed to hear this.. and I am in tears and this has helped me in a BIG way.. Thank you Jesus

  59. I was a PK's kid as well. My father was an alcoholic. He eventually became sober, but never admitted to being an alcoholic. We are all broken vessels, needing our Lord Jesus. Thank you for sharing your story.

  60. Anyone listening, please pray that I would find such precious trusted ones in my life. Sadly, they are not easily found in the church at large

  61. SO THANKFUL TO FIND 'DINNER- CONVERSATIONS'! THIS MEANS SO MUCH TO ME 🙂 THANK YOU LORD ~ THANK YOU GUYS ~ LOVE YOU ALL. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING RUSS, MARK AND ANDREW ~ HEART, HEART, HEART, LOVE, LOVES ~ (((BIG HUGS))) AND GOD CONTINUALLY BLESS YOU ALL 🙂

  62. I grew up in that type of chaos and abuse and no one knew my Dad was an atheists. So at 11 I joined the Catholic church because it felt clean and safe. I got save as a young adult. When giving my testimony at my church's woman's group I was told I should not glorify sin. That was the end of my testimony. As an older adult I know that the pastor was wrong and can let GOD handle that. But, at the time I was discouraged. The Church should support us not regulate us! Thanks for sharing. WOW This is so powerful. My drink/drug was the people pleaser trying to measure up not to God, but people. All you said is so so true .

  63. I grew up in a similar situation to Russ. My husband took me to see his documentary. It brought back a flood of horrible memories for me. I am back in counseling now, but it has been rough. Addiction is a problem I am struggling with for too many years now. Please pray for me.

  64. I am so grateful for you all showing the realities of our struggles, our human experience within the framework of our relationship with Jesus. I loved this segment! Thank you for transparency, vulnerability and humility. Keep telling the stories…keep showing the way!

  65. Such a sad story about Russ parents. I can’t imagine my parents punching me. Russ is the type of person whose not only talented but also very likeable. My favourite album is “under their influence” love ya brother. From NZ.

  66. how true about the church, if they had the place you could really confess your problems. another thing that i think the church fails at is, those who think they want to kill them selves

  67. I lift up your ministry to the Lord…this is so needful…I am praying for your ministry and the end to human trafficking. Our Congress needs to help with our own immigration laws…so much human trafficking goes on between America and Mexico and visa versa…we need to stop the problem in our own country which is involved with the cartels and the drug business and illegals going over our border.

  68. "You don't have that far to fall when you've already climbed down the ladder." — so insightful. In other words, "humble yourself", right? Otherwise that fall from prideful hiding is humiliating, but humbling oneself is noble and leaves us with dignity and a right kind of self-respect.

  69. Russ could rock with the best of them back in the day and should be in the rockin hall of fame. I still love to listen to "The Way Home" album.

  70. MUCH MUCH MUCH appreciation for this Video from Melbourne, Australia 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  71. Thank you Mark and Andrew for the dinner conversations. Experiencing God's love and amazing grace with each shared segment. Bringing us closer to the Father's heart in ways you cannot imagine. God bless you, and Glory to Jesus.
    Regards from Uganda.

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