Review for the “Make a Difference Tour” – tobyMac and Third Day

            When author Max Lucado began work on his newest book, “Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference,” he wanted to put to use the principles he encouraged others to uphold. Thus, the Make a Difference Tour was born. Lucado partnered with World Vision and dedicated 100% of his book royalties to the organization. Top Christian acts Michael W. Smith and Third Day signed on to be part of the line-up for the tour and tobyMac joined them soon afterward.

            The Make a Difference Tour rolled into Austin, TX and the “Live Music Capitol of the World” was in for a night of outstanding music, inspiring speakers, and praise & worship.

            Jason Gray opened the act with three songs off of his new album, “Everything Sad is Coming Untrue.” The first of these was his single, “More Like Falling in Love,” which is a catchy, acoustic pop tune that is doing quite well on the Christian radio charts right now.  Next was the title track, “Everything Sad is Coming Untrue,” which Gray performed with a “full-band” via his magical guitar pedal. He closed his set with “I Am New,” a song about embracing the newness of life Christ gives us when we surrender our lives to Him.

            tobyMac was up next and everyone could tell they were in for a treat by one look at the stage: neon lights, DJ table, Bongo drums, and trampolines. tobyMac emerged from smoke on the dark stage and blasted into “Tonight,” a great opener to his set. Next up were the usual suspects to Toby’s live show, “I’m For You,” “No Ordinary Love,” and “J-Train.” The band briefly paused as Toby discussed the meaning behind the next song, “Lose My Soul.” He said, “We may fall away, but we will never lose our soul.” Shortened versions of “Made to Love” and “Irene” followed. Then the band hit full force with a loud and strobe-light induced “Boomin’.” Things slowed down a bit as Toby, Tim Rose, and GabeReal came out onto the island jutting from center stage and played some acoustic songs: “Catchafire” and “Gone,” with an amusing nod to “Pants on the Ground.” Toby laughed, “Texas belt buckles should hold up your pants” but then quickly changed his mind, “…or pull them down since they’re so heavy!” The band then regrouped and played the only other new songs of the night, “Get Back Up” and “Funky Jesus Music.” And, of course, they closed the show with the ever popular and powerful “Jesus Freak.”

            Shortly after tobyMac and the Diverse City Band left the stage, everyone’s attention turned to the other side of the auditorium where a spotlight shone on Michael W. Smith sitting at his piano and Third Day’s Mac Powell with acoustic guitar in hand. Many left their seats to get a closer look as the duo launched into a parade of worship songs including, “God of Wonders,” “The Stand,” and “Draw Me Close.” Toby then joined them on stage to read out of 1 John 1:6-7. They then sang, “In The Light” by Toby’s former band dcTalk. That night was Michael’s birthday, so Max Lucado surprised him with a chocolate birthday cake and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to him. Toby and Mac then left the stage and Michael lead the crowd in signing the choruses to “Awesome God” and “How Great is Our God.”

            Third Day was next to take the stage. They opened their set with a new song from their forthcoming album, “Move,” called “Lift Up Your Face.” “Sing a Song” and “Call My Name” were next. Then, they livened things up with “Otherside.” Mac asked, “We’re gonna play some Southern Rock for y’all tonight, is that alright?” The band played another new song called “Gone” and then asked everyone to sit down for a moment. They transitioned into a very old Third Day song, “Thief.” It was one of my favorite performances of the night. The tech crew created a powerful atmosphere as they enveloped the crowd with deep red lights while the band sang about the thief on the cross. Mac’s vocals sounded really strong during the performance. After the song, Mac talked about how the band’s long career and how many things have changed, except one: their love for and relationship with Jesus Christ. He sang a few lines from “Cry Out to Jesus” and then played a full version of “Revelation.” For the final song of the night, Third Day closed with another new track, “Children of God.” Mac enlisted the help of the crowd in singing the bridge, “We are the saints, we are the children.  We’ve been redeemed, we’ve been forgiven. We are the sons and daughters of our God.” In the background, images and video of children in Africa and other poor countries played on a big screen as part of the World Vision outreach program. Third Day ended their set with a bang and made way for the special speaker of the night.

            Max Lucado is a pastor in San Antonio, TX. After the video faded to black, he said, “I don’t know how anyone can watch those children and not be moved.” He preached a short sermon about compassion towards those who are less fortunate than us and used Matthew 25:31-40 as his main passage. He said that as a Christian we are responsible for helping those who are in need. He said, “We are not saved by our works but by the work Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross. And although we aren’t saved by works, those who are saved…work.” He then introduced the volunteers for World Vision and explained how someone could sponsor a child if they felt lead to. He concluded his sermon with a prayer and left everyone with a lot to think about.

            The Make a Difference Tour is more than a music tour, in my mind. It’s a night where Christians can gather together and be a part of something bigger. Something heavenly. The artists involved with the tour all have compassionate hearts and strong faiths. They speak to the wonders and love of God through their music and bring glory to Him at any chance they get. Max Lucado should be commended for the creation of this tour and the selflessness he is exhibiting by donating all of his book proceeds to World Vision. The men and women involved in this tour are not just talking the talk, they are walking the walk. We can all learn something from their dedication and servant hood.

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