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Clay Crosse - Becoming A Different Man

  • Updated Feb 01, 2002
Clay Crosse - Becoming A Different Man

For extensive coverage of Clay's new CD, A Different Man - click here!

During a routine plane ride home from a concert in 1998, Clay Crosse finally came face to face with the fact he had a problem. While careening thousands of feet above the ground, Clay says "I was broken, and I realized 'You need to quit, and you need to do something because if you keep living your life like you're living it now, your career and your marriage and everything God has blessed you with is going to all go away.'"

That realization began a life-changing healing for Clay. It was a rededication to Jesus that Clay says makes his prior Christian life seem so pale in comparison, it's almost like he met God for the first time in 1998.

Flashback to 1977.

"Hey Wally, check this out!"

Ten-year-old Walter Crossnoe turned to see what his buddy was looking at. The year was 1977, and Wally was over at a friend's house, just hanging out. Before long, this elementary school pal had pulled out a stack of his dad's Playboy magazines and the two boys were thumbing through the pages, taking in scene after scene of sexually suggestive photos. It was Walter's first exposure to the world of pornography

"It was very appealing to my eyes, even at that age - even before puberty," Wally says today. "It was fascinatingAnd over the years I would see it here and there. It never really got to the point where I was buying any, but I would just see it at a friend's house or [wherever]. It's just amazing where you can find that type of thing."

At the age of thirteen, Walter had a different kind of encounter - a meeting with God Himself. Wally was part of a youth choir that went "on tour" through Missouri. By this time, the boy had spent lots of time in church and knew all about the story of Jesus and His death and resurrection. But something about that tour, something about the way the Holy Spirit was pursuing his heart, made this trip different. After the show one night, the young teenager stepped out of his place in the choir and walked down to the altar.

"That night," Walter says, "I just completely said 'the sinner's prayer' and asked Christ into my heart and turned my life over to HimIt was a personal thing and it really affected me."

And Walter Crossnoe lived happily ever after?

Well, not exactly - although there have been plenty of happy times in this boy's life. For instance, that day in 1990 when he married his high school sweetheart, Renna. Or when he released his first album in 1994, now going by the more manageable moniker of {{Clay Crosse}}. Or when he received the Dove Award for New Artist of the Year soon after. Or when he was subsequently nominated (more than once!) for the Male Vocalist of the Year award. Or when he watched his eight songs from his first four albums streak to the top of Christian music charts. And the list goes on.

But if you could fast-forward Clay's life to 1998, to that fateful plane ride from Seattle back to Nashville, Tennessee, you'd see a troubled man. Clay explains: "I had been [in Seattle] singing at a chapel service for the World Vision organizationand I was pretty upset about my performance. I didn't like the way I soundedAnd at the same time, I was very convicted about my thought life and the lust that I was allowing into my life."

You see, even though Wally Crossnoe had grown into a fine, upstanding Christian man, little Wally's forays into the world of pornography still held a grip on the mind of the now-famous Christian singer, Clay Crosse.

"They're incredibly powerful, the images that you see in [pornographic] magazines," Clay says today. "And that was the case with meI can still pull up those images - and I don't want to - but at times they still flash into my mindIt's very powerful and I can see how Satan uses it to screw people up."

Fortunately for Clay, his struggles never took him to a dangerous place. But it was a subtle shift of focus - met with an awareness that the direction he was heading was not very healthy.

But Clay explains, "I just started to loosen my guard on certain things that I would allow into my life - not pornography, but just normal TV shows and moviesI kind of lowered my standard and eventually some pornography crept back into my life to the point where lust became a problem."

When he got home from that plane trip in 1998, Clay and Renna had a long, painful talk about his secret sin and shadowed past. And even though their marriage had never really been in danger, they both sensed a healthy, new beginning in their life together. From there, Clay started anew, even surrounding himself with men who could keep him accountable, guys like his vocal coach, Chris Beatty, and others.

Now, most people would be content to leave it at that, but not Clay. When it came time to record his newest album, ==A Different Man==, he purposed to make it one that told the world about the change he experienced in 1998. Laying himself bare, he recorded song after song that revealed his struggles - and told listeners about the healing he'd found in Jesus.

"This project is my personal testimony," he says "and it has three testimonial songs. The songs are '98,' 'Arms of Jesus,' and 'Sinner's Prayer.' Sinner's Prayer is an honest statement about my rededication to Christ in 1998'98' is a testimony of my 1998 - quite honestly the most difficult year of my life[And] 'Arms of Jesus' states that at low times in my life I have, and still can, fall into God's arms of fatherly love and forgiveness."

After the dramatic change that Clay's experienced through his battles, many people would be tempted to say this struggle is all behind the artist formerly known as Walter Crossnoe. But not Clay.

"Oh, I wish!" he chuckles. "It's just not that way." Acknowledging that he lives in a sex-obsessed society, he admits, "I still have to avoid certain areas, and avoid letting my eyes look directly in certain areas, avoid what channels on TV I watch, or what magazine articles [I read}, everything. I would hope that over the months and years it will get easier, and I think it will. But it's still a challenge."

The conversation drifts back to his new album, and Clay closes out our time by saying, "For the rest of my life when I look at this album, I am going to remember 1998 and the painful realization that I wasn't walking with Him. The title is ==A Different Man==, and that's a challenge because here today I ask myself, 'Am I a different man?'I want to continue to be even more of a different man than I was in '98."

For extensive coverage of Clay's new CD, A Different Man - click here!