Denny Carleton’s Witness For  Christ

    I have almost always felt the call of the Holy Spirit in my life .My mother told me my first word was Jesus . At my confirmation  in the 8th grade I remember the Priest telling us how many sins we should avoid , and me saying a quite prayer to the Lord ,I’m not sure I will be perfect but I’ll try to follow you.

I got in 60s bands the Lost Souls, The Choir and Moses ,great times good people successful locally and even beyond . I remember thinking maybe in my first year of college maybe I could cooperate with the Holy Spirit and let my music  inspire people to do good,

When I got in the band Moses in 1969  I I believe this was the beginning of my community involvement. We organized a chartered bus tour to Pennsylvania for our Moses' fans, styled after the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. We also recruited the Eastlake North High School Choir to accompany us. We had a Wednesday before Thanksgiving gig and we invited local musicians who didn’t play as much as us to so people could hear them in a bigger venue.

When the 60’s ended, the music and culture began to morph into something different, and I felt an emptiness inside .As the band fell apart, my relationship with my girlfriend Vicky was changing also. I was hungry for God and had started to read the scriptures. It was during this time I accepted Christ as my savior. I went to this little bookstore where a person was talking about accepting Christ as your savior. I didn’t really know what that meant, but it sounded pretty good to me.

I had been raised Catholic and there was a lot of God’s grace already working inside me. I said “Jesus, you can run my life” and that’s when the band broke up. We were scheduled to make about $450.00 per week which was a lot of money back then and virtually every job got cancelled.

I have thought through my own relationship experiences with Jesus  many times. I believe that, through my Baptism and Confirmation, I already did have a personal relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit. So, what happened to me that was different when I accepted Christ?

I think what happened is that I came to realize I wanted Him to be the center of my life one hundred percent of the time. Christ wants full custody not weekend visitations.

To me, I believe it is a matter of degree ,something like looking at the ocean and seeing its beauty and power ,but if you don’t actually go into the water, you won’t experience it fully. If you are given a present and don't open it, you will still have the present, but not the benefit. Also, if you have a new technological gadget, but do not read the instructions, like reading the Bible ,you will not be able to take advantage of the power of that tool.

  Within a few weeks of giving my life to the Lord I attended an interdenominational prayer group. Vic, a minister, prayed over me so that I might have a deeper walk with the Holy Spirit. I know I received from that experience a power and presence of God and a hunger for the scriptures and a desire  to  witness. From that day forward, my desire has been to share with people the love of God and his message through the gospel in a non-condemning way.

 Soon after this deeper indwelling of  the  Holy Spirit, I dreamed that I lost all my friends.   In real life   I was struggling because I did not  fit  in  with  the bands anymore  and  I  had  broken  up  with  Vickie.  The dream shook me up and I went down to the  lake  to pray, and while there, I wept. After the release I experienced from crying, there was a comforting from the Holy Spirit that was so obvious. Then the words to a song came to me:

                          Jesus Will Bring You Home

Here’s a song for the broken    hearted lover  in a broken love affair And for those  meek Who just won’t let their hearts grow cold And for all the confused, criticized and abused Don’t worry, Jesus will  bring  you home .

Looking back on it I think I had experienced a fusion of my songwriting with the comfort of the Holy Spirit  and Inspiration.

For a few months, I went to hear Vic at his bible study.As good as a bible teacher that Vic was, I needed to connect with some people my own age who shared a similar experience.

I thought my experience was foreign to the Catholic Church, but I was wrong. God in his sovereignty brought me to some college students who were Catholic and struggling to understand this Holy Spirit experience.

I ran into a guy named David and shared my experience. David told me there were about seven Catholic young men meeting and praying at Cleveland State University each week. I joined that group and began praying with them once a week.

 During the early 1970’s, I was church hopping, attending different prayer groups with different denominational backgrounds. I loved the ecumenical experience, but I was most comfortable in the Catholic Church having been raised Catholic My worship experience is more fulfilled in the Catholic Church, but I believe the Lord dwells in all the faithful churches.

  I thought of a good metaphor of how I see the different branches of Christianity.  I used to live close to Lake Erie in Cleveland and  one  of  my  favorite  views of the lake is from Wildwood  Park  by  Neff  Road. It has a Marina,  walking  and  biking  trails,  ducks and birds, four or  five  fishing  piers  that  you  can walk for hundreds of yards into Lake Erie and is connected to Euclid  Creek.

 No matter  how  many times I go there, I see another perspective of the park and most  importantly  the  lake.  There is  another  park about three miles away called Sims Park. There are only benches there from where the lake  is  visible.

In this little parable the lake symbolizes the living water of the Holy Spirit. The lake is visible from both parks, but in  one   park,  the   lake   is  straight   ahead  of you; therefore, you are seeing one perspective or view of the lake. In other words, I like looking at the lake from Neff Road with all its angles, but I also enjoy the other views, and see worth and beauty from those views as well. I love praying and worshiping with any believer, but I also love the sacraments, Mary, the Saints, history and wisdom of the Magisterium.

During this period, which was like a honeymoon period, the Word became alive to me  and  I  couldn’t get enough.I also had this overwhelming love and a desire to tell people.  I literally wanted to hug trees.   We are made for this experience with the Holy Spirit.  St. Augustine said “Restless is the heart until it finds rest in you.” Maybe that’s why people get high or fill themselves up with so many activities; they know instinctively that they are designed  for  something other  than  humdrum

  I went on  a weekend retreat with the guys from Cleveland State who I had been praying with. Father Summers coordinated the retreat. He asked us if we would be interested   in   living   together if he could get a  house. We all thought it was a good idea  and then a  house became available on Clifton Boulevard in Lakewood, Ohio. We had about eight or nine guys living there. We met every morning for prayer and in the evenings, we had meals together. We shared household chores. Eventually, there were four households living side by side.

There were quite a few changes for me at that time. I had a pastoral counselor named Mike Elizabeth, a Marianist brother, who later would become a priest. He counseled me through a lot of changes. We both agreed that it was good for a season to not play music. After putting my music down for a while, we both discerned that playing music, or doing anything for that matter, had to be something truly from the heart. In other words, almost anything you engage in can be done with a desire to glorify the Lord.

 It is so much easier today for Christian musicians because there is actually a Christian music business. In the 70’s there wasn’t even Christian rock music yet and when it was introduced, many people had a real problem with the beat of rock and roll in the Church.

  At some point, we both , Mike Elizabeth and I decided I should go back and play music. I was compelled to return to  the  same  people I was once felt led  to leave. In hindsight, it seems a little like Abraham  offering  up  his  son  only to  see God give  him back.

Since that time I have not always , certainly not perfect ,and plain sinful and selfish at times ,tried to use my gifts in secular music and in church and Christian Music . To me both are good . Having said I do not see myself as only a musician . I try to build and shape my life around God , and people first then music .That was not always the case but it it is now .

 I pray every day , journal to write down what inspirations come to me in prayer .I truly believe getting right with God through Jesus Christ is what will bring healing and bring all who believe in Jesus Christ  to everlasting life and on earth to become all we were created to be . I believe Jesus is the hope  for this country and the world.I don’t believe politics is the solution.

 My memoir Welcome To My World available on Amazon goes in great detail about my music career and past and current Christian activities. It also has  many stories of God’s continuing Grace being poured out . I am  not special just open to receive his Grace like a child really .

 Speaking of child like , years later as an adult, I worked at a Christian bookstore and had the opportunity to take home and read many books. My favorite book, by far, was The Gospel According to Peanuts. It explains in this book that Charles Shultz was a Christian and his entire comic strip was a parable. The format of the book was to show a comic strip from Peanuts such as a castle made of sand being washed away and then Linus looking at his foundation ruined exclaiming, “There must be a message in here somewhere.”

 Another example would be one of the different characters proclaiming to anyone who will hear; “Believe in me, believe in me, believe in me.” Then he would say “I just can’t get anyone to believe in me.” The dissertation would then explain the comic strip or parable to say that this is, at times, how the churches approached evangelism. No attempts to actually explain, just chant “Believe.”

In each discussion of the Peanuts parables, they would cite scriptures, theologians, artists, philosophers and entertainers. Ah! a great book; helping me to shape my thinking using humor in a comic strip to proclaim the gospel in an entertaining way.

In the 1990s I wrote music for a play the Phantom Tollbooth for the The Fine Arts Association in Willoughby . It’s a  children’s play where the characters have lost rhyme and reason and have become hopelessly  confused . I sent along with music and extensive bio to another theatre director

The director said he was not interested in the play, but my extensive bio was almost interesting enough to be used as a play,but not quite interesting enough because he identified “making it” in the music industry to be my highest priority, and that my goal of being successful in music was not enough to be interesting. He told me if I stood for a higher purpose, like wanting to change or save the world, it would be a great story. I thought I did (stand for something greater than just myself). Perhaps I have not been clear enough about what inspires me and fuels me and is the center of my life. So here it is .

I believe that Jesus Christ Is the Way the Truth and the Life . CS Lewis in Mere Christianity says you have to believe either that Jesus is who he say He Is , or don’t believe in him. You can’t have it both ways . He was not just another prophet or a good guy . As it says in the Book Of John.

For God so loved the world that he gave* his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.     For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn* the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

  I pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to your heart and lead you into all truth in Jesus name . Amen

In many of my song lyrics on this website you can get a witness to my call and devotion to the Lord .