Struggles, this EP is about all sorts of struggles.
"Neon Signs" gets off to a fast and intense start with "We Are Under Attack". W.A.U.A. is speaking directly about how backwards things are in our world and how we are in the midst of a battle of epic proportions whether we know it or not. The song speaks to the fact that people think following Jesus is insane but AJ points out that the true insanity is in not following Jesus.
W.A.U.A. is followed up by "Identity". "Identity" deals with AJ's life pre-Christ as he was sorting a lot of life out and also wrestling with depression, suicidal thoughts and worthlessness. By the end of the song we come to understand that we can only walk in our true Identity by believing in and following Christ. "SwitchPoint" immediately follows and is about the struggles we can encounter as a believer as we wrestle with our flesh/sin. As believers we have a tendency to walk in our old identity, our old self, rather than our new identity, our new self. It is easy to find yourself lost in a cycle and begin to feel overwhelmed, defeated, depressed and confused. The great thing about this EP is that thematically AJ takes us from one place to the next as "SwitchPoint" is followed up "Take The Exit" which is related to 1 Cor 10:13, which states that God is faithful to provide us an exit so that we may endure the temptation we are facing. The thing is, we need to take the exit and flee from the temptation... This is where the battle is most intense... Praise God that we have an advocate in Christ Jesus, and that if we don't take the exit and fail, praise God for His grace that we are in desperate need of. The call here is purity, we are not to cheapen the grace of God but rather strive for holiness, and strive for Christ-likeness.
"Dimensions, Ep 2" is the second part of the saga which got it's start on A.K.A. Fisher's album "Otherworldly Weapons" (if you haven't heard that album you are greatly missing out and need to go check it out immediately... www.tentmakermusic.com/akafisher). Dimensions is following the life of a young man named Ulysses as he is bent on vengeance but God has placed people in his life that are pointing him to a greater end and that is Jesus. After the skit ends we are launched back into the music, AJ comes back in with "From The Dead" which features The Legend of Xero and is hard hitting both in lyrical content but also in beat and style. "From The Dead" makes the gospel clear and challenges people that don't know Jesus to make the decision to follow Him and to not wait as now is the time. This brings us to the final song on the EP "Each Passing Day" which features Jon Payne. "Each Passing Day" picks up right where "From The Dead" Leaves off and is a plea for people to turn from sin and turn to Jesus. "Each Passing Day" shares the reality that each day that passes brings us closer to death and that we need to make a decision about Jesus, that we need to not sleep on Christ but rather examine the claims and pray we see the signs that are all around us. Jon Payne reminds us that we are not to far gone and that we can turn to Jesus no matter what we have done, that we don't need to clean up first but rather we can come as we are scars and all. The EP ends with a powerful call to choose Jesus and to choose Him now.
"Neon Signs" is for sure a journey. Average Joe wants us all to be reminded and to know that there is a God and that through the death and resurrection of Christ we can walk in new life, we can walk in the victory that is only found in Jesus and experience true life. In the words of William Wallace "Every man dies, not every man really lives." True life is only found in Christ.
"Neon Signs" drops February, 26th and will be available on all major digital outlets.
If you’ve ever set out to do something special, something you believe God called you to do, and been disappointed when the result of your efforts fails to meet your expectations, the problem may be with your definition of “success.” This is quite common among Christians, especially Christian artists and ministers, in part because we’ve so often failed to define the word “good” correctly. Because we consider success to be something good, failure to properly define “good” can lead to a confusing conversation. So, let’s go back… back to the beginning…
(insert “flashback” harp here).
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth and called them “good” according to the book of Genesis, perhaps we should have paid closer attention. The step-by-step account of the creation of matter and energy and space and animals and plants and humans described in chapter 1 is so fascinating that the seemingly minor detail of how God defines the word “good” is often overlooked. God, being the all-knowing, omnipresent designer and creator of the universe, would be the only one qualified to say for sure what is most beneficial for creation, so what could be more important for someone who seeks to honor and please God to know than what God considers good.
This is where I think we as Christians so often mess up and create for ourselves sources of disappointment unnecessarily. We take words like “useful” or “convenient” or “prosperous” or “popular” or “celebrated” and we treat these words as synonymous with “good.” And I understand that it is normal to use the word good very loosely in regular conversation. The food is “good,” my day was “good,” that TV show is “good,” that song was “good,” so on and so forth, and I’m certainly not trying to suggest that you are doing anything sinful by using this word in that way. The problem, however, arises when we forget that this “good’ is not identical to God’s standard of or definition for “good” and begin confusing the two. You see, just because something is “useful” for a given purpose does not mean that the omniscient God, the God who created you and knows you better than you know you, considers that thing to be beneficial to you. It all starts with our motivation. Are we serving God’s purposes, or our own?
When God calls his creation “good,” this suggests that there is no part of the world at this point that is inherently “not good.” Nothing in this universe God has just created is bad in and of itself. This would mean that even the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is right where it is supposed to be. This tree is “good,” but just like the snakes and bats God created which were likewise good, that didn’t mean it was good to eat, even if all three of those things are edible. When we step outside of God’s purpose, we step outside of what is good for us, and things which are not in and of themselves bad, such as money or a well-paying job or new opportunities, become bad things whether they appear to be on the surface or not simply because they are being misused or used by someone they were not meant for. Eve ate of the tree in Genesis chapter 3 not because she knew she should, but because on the surface the fruit looked “good for food,” “pleasing to the eye,” and “desirable to eat.” Clearly, looks are deceiving. And the thing is, it technically was good for food IF your only concern is satisfying physical hunger, and it was pleasing to the eye IF you’re not looking at the consequences that come along with it, and it was desirable to eat IF you desire something tasty more than you desire to live. Would we say the words “desirable,” “pleasing,” and “good” here are synonymous with God’s definition of “good?” If we say “good,” in order to know if we mean that word the way God means it, we must ask, “good for what?”
In speaking with my good friend and Tentmaker Music collaborator Xero, I realized something about the nature of goodness. He reminded me of a film called In Time starring Justin Timberlake. The film is set in a dystopian future where nobody ages past 25 and years of life are used as currency. Run out of this money, and you run out of time and die. When Timberlake’s character is given a huge sum of this money/time, making him incredibly wealthy, he gives a portion of it to his friend Borel. Sounds good right? Money is good. Being given a bunch of money is good… right? Well, as it turns out, being given that much money at one time was simply too much for that friend to handle. This friend gives into temptation, goes on a bender and ends up drinking himself to death, something he would not have even had the opportunity to do if he hadn’t been in possession of so much money at once. This brings us back around to the idea of success. Would we be right to base Borel’s success on his bank account or regard the gift he received as a blessing? Was having a ton of money good? Again, we must ask, “good for what?” For tempting him, yes. For buying excessive amounts of alcohol, yes. But we don’t judge Timberlake too harshly because, he had GOOD intentions, right? He was trying to be helpful, and he couldn’t have possibly known how badly it would turn out for that friend, but God in His omniscience would have known exactly how bad it was for Borel.
Merriam-Webster defines the word “succeed” as “to turn out well” or “to attain a desired object or end.” By “well” we mean the end result is good, and Jeremiah 29:11 tells us about the “end” God has in mind for us.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
In other words, God’s version of success means we follow His plan, and because God can never fail to do anything, that plan inevitably results in the end HE has in mind for us, and that end HE calls “good.” Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” If we have followed His plan, no matter how things may look, the final product will be good as God defines “good,” and that means we have been successful. I want to really emphasize this point because I think that our tendency when things don’t turn out the way we expected is to assume we have not been successful and question whether or not it was really God’s plan we were following. We question whether or not we really heard from God, and on a sea of doubt, like Peter we begin sinking. But hold on a minute… How do you know you weren’t successful? Whose definition of success are you using?
Allow me to explain. Sometimes in our excitement about something God is doing in our lives, we begin to imagine and dream and fantasize about what the end result will be of the wonderful new thing God has started. And along the way, we sometimes make the mistake of mixing up what God ACTUALLY said, with what we IMAGINED was going to happen as a result. Now, all these words and ideas have become tangled together, almost inseparable in our flawed minds. 10 years into ministry when we still aren’t seeing what we imagined, we start to believe that we must not have really heard from God in the first place, or that we failed Him, or WORSE… that God has somehow failed. So, we’ve got to take it back to the start, just the facts… What did God ACTUALLY say? He called you to music ministry? Cool. Did HE say you’d be the music minister at a mega church, or is that how you imagined it would work out? Did HE say you’d go platinum and have a record deal and rock stages in sold-out arenas, or did seeing the experiences of others in music ministry lead you to believe that God had the same in mind for you? If you had all those things happen to you, would it make your purpose in life more important or more meaningful than the one God has for you simply because it would appear bigger and more noticeable to others?
You know who I never hear about? The guy who led Billy Graham to Christ. I don’t even know his name. I suspect that is because his ministry was nowhere NEAR as “big” as Billy Graham’s, and I doubt he was internationally known. Should we say that this man, whoever he was, was less successful than Billy Graham if both of them were simply doing what God asked them to do? Did he fail to live up to his potential then? Was the end God had in mind for both of them not equally “good?” If the ONLY reason God called this person to the ministry was so that they could lead Billy Graham to Christ (resulting in the Billy Graham crusades and thousands being saved), and this person we don’t know was obedient and did just that, he was just as “successful” as Billy Graham EVEN IF he never had a big congregation, EVEN IF he never gained any notoriety or fame as a result of his work, and EVEN IF he never lived to see the result of the Billy Graham crusades. We only fail to see this because we fail to apply God’s definition of success in determining value. We assume bigger means more successful, wealthier means more successful, more popular means more successful. We focus on all the wrong things. No wonder so many Christians so often feel inadequate. No wonder so many ministers become discouraged when everyone around them seems to be wondering why their ministry doesn’t look like so-and-so’s ministry.
Keep your focus where it needs to be, brothers and sisters, on God’s promises, not on what you thought He meant or on what others expect of you. Forget what man says about how “success” looks. You already know how things will end up for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. It will turn out “well.” It will be ALL GOOD. You maybe just needed a reminder. If you are doing God’s will and following HIS plan for your ministry and not your own, however it looks, however God decides it should go, however long it is intended to continue, it is most assuredly a highly successful ministry.
We were blessed to have some time to catch up with the one and only J-Notez. At Tentmaker we have lots of interactions with beat makers and J-Notez is one that for sure stands out. His production and beat making skills are on point, there is no denying that, but it was his depth of character that really makes him stand out to us. J-Notez loves Jesus and it is evident in how he conducts himself. There is seemingly no separation between his life as a beat maker and his life as a follower of Christ, and we believe that is how it should be. "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
When did you come to know Jesus and start following Him? Can you share a brief bit of your testimony?
"I’ve been following Jesus since the summer of 2010. After graduating high school (literally by the grace of God) I was invited to Church by my best friend and decided I needed to go. Previous to that God was already removing me from a life of selling marijuana along with other things and little did I know he was about to change my whole life from the ground up. The Church I went to was the same Church where I felt God calling me at 14-15 years old but decided to fight at that time to pursues life I thought I wanted. During the service I lost interest extremely quick and decided to step out to smoke a cigarette (something God delivered me from almost 8 years ago, praise Jesus!) then returned after to be unphased by the word. As the weeks went by I was continually invited back to church by my best friend and though I wasn’t interested I kept going back until one day God made it clear and I knew that it was time to trust Jesus with everything! I’ve been walking this faith walk going on 9 years and though it’s been hard I wouldn’t trade it for the world!!"
Wow, praise God! That's awesome! Thanks for sharing!
How long have you been making beats and why is that something you started doing?
"I’ve been making beats for 9 years on and off but 4 years consistently. I got into making beats because I’ve always loved music. I was always that kid in school who would knock on tables to make beats before I was introduced to how the beats on the radio where actually made. Though I never made beats before God saved me, after coming to know Him as Savior God began to stir that desire back up in me. One night while praying, I was asking God what I was to do with my life, and He made it clear that I needed to go to the garage in my moms house, that's where I found a cord I had never seen before that ended up powering my midi keyboard which came with no power source (Thanks a lot eBay )!! After that I knew exactly what I needed to do but it wouldn’t be easy!
What are some of your short term and long term goals as a beat maker or just in general?
"My short term goal is to be a part of the CHH (Christian Hip-Hop) industry as an independent artist and to be able to go full time in my music career using my beats and musical abilities to point people to Jesus. My slogan is Deeper Than Music so that’s what I live out. Also I hope to be home with my family doing music instead of being away due to a 9 to 5!
My long term goal is to use my income from my music to create a ministry to feed the homeless or something of the sort. Not sure of what the details are just yet but I’m trusting God will lead me in this when that time comes. I also hope to be the best father to my kids, husband to my wife, and be continuously leading them to Christ. I long to be the Father I wish I had growing up and Husband I never saw lived out in my parents marriage."
What is something about you that you think people might find to be odd?
"I couldn’t think of anything weird that I do so I asked my wife, probably not the best idea lol. She had to think about it but then eventually she starts roasting me saying I pace back and forth when I’m having a serious conversation on the phone and that I open and close doors, grab things to mess around with and walk in and out of rooms."
That's not to bad, I mean if that's the oddest thing she could think of than you're doing all right! Though we did find it hilarious that your wife started roasting you! Marriage is fantastic!
Who is your favorite musician (artist or band) of all time?
"It’s hard to say a certain musician, artist or band is my favorite. Different artist speak to my life in different seasons. To name a few all time favorites: Lecrae, Trip Lee, Andy Mineo, Scott Storch, Linkin Park, Hans Zimmer, 2pac, Hillsong, NF, KB and so many more."
That's a pretty eclectic list, dope!
If you were to name a Spotify playlist after your life, what would you call it, and what would be 3 songs you would include on that playlist?
"My Spotify playlist name for my life would be called Hills and Valleys and 3 songs on it would be
1. Andy Mineo “Tug Of War”
2. Aaron Cole “Patient With Me”
3. Elevation Worship “Do It Again”"
What would you say is your life verse, and do you have a favorite book in the Bible?
"My life verse is Philippians 4:8 and my favorite book of the Bible is Romans!"
Last question, what is one piece of advice that you would share with an aspiring Christian beat maker?
"Keep God first. If your music is about you then your success will breed selfishness. Also, one practical piece of advice I never hear anyone say but is so crucial, is get out of debt and if your not in debt stay out of it. Then, use that money to further invest into bettering your craft and marketing yourself. So many people focused on buying other things (I’m guilty of this as well though I have improved incredibly) instead of using that money to continue to build their career."
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions, and I also want to thank those of you who have taken the time to read this! Till the next time, God Bless!
Check out "Rebel" by J-Notes. You can listen to all his beats at jnotez.com
For those of us that have been following Christ we should seek to know the Word, and strive to share the truth in love. Though this can be hard, we are called to share it and to not be an offense because the gospel is offense. Telling someone or a group of people that what they are doing or saying is wrong according to the Word of God is no easy task and it is to be done with the utmost care and love both outside the church and in the church (the body of Christ). The reality, you are likely going to upset people, they are likely to be offended, and something I have experienced in the past, they may resort to name calling and subtle yet evident character bashing. These are not uncommon responses. The key in these situations is to not allow your emotions to control or dictate your response. If this is happening on social media or email it is easy for people to assume and apply tone, motive and emotion to what they are reading, sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly. We are all guilty of this and need to fight against the urge. It is important, especially when we disagree with someone that we demonstrate a Philippians 4:8 mindset and approach, "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." It is vital that we think on what is true and assume the best of someone rather than ascribing motive or intent to them.
In the reckless love blog I took an extreme amount of care in not pretending to know the authors motives or bashing them as brothers in Christ. I took great care in making sure that the blog was simply dealing with the theology presented in the song as well as in their descriptions as to why they went with the word reckless. The unfortunate piece in this is that people took offense and assumed I was bashing the authors, this couldn't have been further from the truth. To ensure this I had the blog proof read and had a couple of people make sure that I was clearly dealing with the theology and not attacking the men. This is very important in sharing hard truths with people. We have a tendency to take things personal, and we hate to admit we might be wrong about something, so we seek to defend our stance rather than being teachable and humbling ourselves. It is very important in sharing hard truth that you check yourself first, you examine your motives, and most importantly, you must make sure your claims are true. In sharing hard truth, especially with people involved, you need to make sure you are not bearing false witness and that what you are saying is in complete alignment with the Word of God. It is vital that you make sure that you are teachable, that you are willing to concede if you are incorrect, and that you are willing to adjust if you are wrong, I can not stress this part enough, it is so very important!! When we find ourselves being argumentative it should be a sign that we are more concerned with proving our point and saving face. When we are allowing the Spirit of God to move, and we are submitted to God and His Word, we will operate in the fruits of the Spirit and point to Jesus. It is so essential for us as believers to be about pointing to Jesus and not our point. When you are trying to prove your point you are going to do so no matter the cost, you will shut down any possibility you may be wrong and you will make all sorts of assumptions about the person or people telling you otherwise. When being led by the Spirit of God, you will seek to honor others, hear them out, and put what they are saying up against the Word of God, this will determine if what they are saying is true or not and we need to be praying that God make it clear. Again, we all need to be teachable realizing we don't know everything and that maybe our brothers and sisters have something of value to add to the conversation.
Because it is seemingly so complicated to share hard truth as it pertains to the Word of God people either shy away from it or go to the other extreme and become angry and over zealous. There is compromise on both sides. One lands itself close to what I call graceism (all grace, no obedience or change required, confrontation free), and the other legalism (no grace, all law and judgement). Both of these in there extreme are incorrect according to the Scripture. Believe it or not, the line is smack dab in the middle. When we realize that we are to hold each other accountable and to confront fellow believers concerning sin, and doctrinal matters, we must also realize that we are to do so graciously and in love. Again, you are going to upset or offend someone, but it should be the Word that divides, not you or I. Again, the gospel, the Word of God is offensive to people and this is why we are not to be an offense. Stand firm on the truth, hide behind God's Word and allow Him to speak.
"Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left..." Joshua 23:6
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." 2 Thessalonians 2:15
"I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" Galatians 1:6-8
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
I spent a long time this week evaluating things after posting the reckless love blog due to the comments and various conversations. I spent time in prayer, in the Word, in conversation, more prayer, more study and more conversations. It was a draining few days for sure but the more I would study, pray, and talk with people the more energized and excited I would get. I was very blessed and encouraged by many people who came alongside me and held up my arms in this. God used the blog and the conversations in my life (and others it would seem) as an opportunity for growth and deeper dependence on Him. Praise God!
What has been your experience when sharing hard truths concerning God and what His Word has to say? I would love to continue the conversation, and as always, lets keep things Christ-Centered as we seek to bring glory and honor to God in all that we do!! God Bless!!
1 Corinthians 10:13 states "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."
"Take The Exit" is a song that challenges us as believers to walk in the righteousness of Christ. The song acknowledges our struggle with sin and the chorus is a prayer/plea that incorporates Psalm 119:9, James 4:7 and 1 Corinthians 10:13. The reality is, God is faithful to provide a way out so that we can endure the temptation we are facing, the thing is, on our end, we need to take the exit. If you choose not to it's not because the exit wasn't there, it's because you made a conscious decision to rebel against God and not take the exit He provided. The more we take the exit, the more we say yes to Jesus, the less we willingly rebel against Him.
One illustration I use when preaching on this topic is one of being trapped inside a burning building. We know from the Scriptures that sin equals death, so lets refer to the fire as sin and ultimate consumption by the fire would result in death. You are going to fight for your life, you are going to do everything it takes to try and get out of that building. You are not going down without a fight. I contend that we need to have this sort of mentality when we are facing temptation, we need to fight for our lives. Here is what's awesome about this, God is faithful to provide as an exit, He graciously gives us a way out. It may look different each time but it will for sure be there, look for the exit and take it. This may mean getting up and going to do something, answering a phone call, reading the Word, praying, calling someone, etc... There is always a way out and if you can't find one remember this... Submit to God, that is how we resist the devil, submit to resist. That is the best exit available.
May we be a people who take the exit and walk in the righteousness, the victory that we have in Christ.
I have heard it said that a person has 2 worldviews, the one they say they hold, and the one they live out. It is so much easier for us to say we believe something than it is for us to actually live that belief out. I have said it often when I preach but it is one of the most convicting thoughts to me, and it is simply that your life will reflect what you truly believe. If we are being honest with ourselves, our lives don't always reflect what we say we believe. For me it is easier to say I trust God than it is to live that out when I am on an airplane as my fear of heights seems to over ride my trust. Even deeper still, it's not the flying that is the issue, it's lack of control, it's the "what if the plane crashes" thoughts, it unfortunately boils down to a fear of death. This is a bit of a conundrum for me as a believer in Jesus, wouldn't you agree? However, before you cast your stones at me please take a minute to examine your own life. What fears do you have? Maybe it's of spiders, or public speaking, or you are constantly worried about your children, etc... It is super easy for us to point fingers, it is also super easy to say we aren't afraid of things. The truth comes out when we are in situations that test that. I have gone back and forth with my fear of heights, of crossing high bridges, or of flying, and it keeps coming back to a lack of trust in God and belief that He is in control of my life and my death.
If it is true that everyone has 2 worldviews then we have an interesting conundrum to sort out as Christians. See it is easy to say you’re a Christian, but our lives will always reflect what we truly believe. I hope this convicts you as much as is does me… When I look at my life, I have to ask the question, am I worshiping God by how I am living? Sadly, more often than not, I find myself answering that question with a no. If I am being honest, when I examine my life I see disconnects all over. I examine my Word life, what I mean here is my quiet time of reading the Bible, my Word life, and I find that it isn’t as consistent as it needs to be, I have the weird gifting of memorization and a lot of time I use that gift to justify not studying or simply reading as much as a should because I can recall sections of Scripture, maybe not word for word but for sure the general idea/concept being presented. This is both a blessing and a curse for me, but when I look at giving God my undivided attention in His word, I am lacking. I examine my Prayer life, am I praying as I should? How often do you tell someone you are going to pray for them and then it becomes and after thought, or just simply praising God through prayer, or most importantly, the listening part of prayer… I examine my Service life, not necessarily what and how much I am doing but why am I doing what I’m doing, what is the heart behind my service, is it to bring glory to God or is it just to get it done or is it to get something out of it for my benefit? I examine my Home life, I look at how I am leading family because the way I see it as a husband and a father you are always leading the question is where. I also examine my Work life and my Evangelism life, and Fellowship and Community life & I examine my Discipleship life, my Faith life, etc... Please note that when I say I examine my life in these areas I am referring more to my heart than I am the tasks though the tasks have their importance and place.
Bottom line, I examine my life but I broke it down here on purpose, I think examining these things in a whole and individually begins to help us see how the worldview we say we have translates to the worldview we live out. We are to worship God with our lives, and our lives will reflect what we truly believe.
"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:1-2
Something we have been discussing for a bit at Tentmaker Music is what we call The Gatekeepers. The Gatekeepers are individuals (or a system) that make the music industry nearly impossible to break into unless you are willing to jump through their hoops or "play the game". Much of this is a driving force behind why we started Tentmaker Music. We know that there are some amazing bands and artists in the Christian underground that aren't getting the recognition they should and we have watched them grind for years. Sadly, one of the hoops people need to jump through is watering down their material or following the current trend. The industry has a way of shaping and molding artists into what they want and the artists end up sacrificing creative integrity to simply catch a break. Now, I am speaking in generalities and surely there are exceptions to the rule but they are few and far between.
While I was casually scrolling through Facebook the other day I came across some wise words from Matt Hanna. Matt is formally of the band Lastwatch and has experienced the realities of the industry first hand.
Here is what Matt had to say...
"After being In the music industry and seeing how it’s run mostly by bands having to act like they’re bigger than they are I get a good hearty chuckle out of spotting it now.
Be humble. Act your wage.
It’s an impossible industry with impossible to reach goals. I get that everyone wants to be the next Skillet or RED, but there’s a reason nobody has been able to get to that level in 10 years now...
Wanna pay 10 grand to tour with a bigger band and get nowhere? Cool. 👍
Wanna pay 50 grand for a top ten single on secular radio? Cool.
Wanna hop on a tour with 10 other bands because nobody is pulling numbers? Cool.
Wanna pay to win an award? Cool.
Dead industry is dead.
Rant over. Sorry if this offends anyone but it’s the truth. Just tired of seeing people getting destroyed over the industry which is collapsing in on itself. Secular rock included. Maybe one day some young band is gonna figure out a way around this with some sort of new fresh “build” that sticks it to the labels.
We shall see. Dare to be different. Be unique.
But seriously, engage your fans, stay humble."
In-conclusion, we at Tentmaker Music believe that in this day in age it is possible to play by a new set of rules. The reality is, The Gatekeepers only have power if we continue to give it to them. It's a new day, and there are ways to get your music out in front of people without having to compromise your message or your sound. Let's strive for excellence, and make music with the intention of bringing glory to God, may He be our audience and our standard. Tentmaker Music hopes to be a part of that new "build" Matt mentioned. It's a grind but it doesn't have to be for not and your labor doesn't have to be in vain. There is so much more and the time is now. Let's Get It!
Though Lastwatch is no longer together you can check out their music on Spotify (https://spoti.fi/2SwbWth) and all other major digital outlets. I really enjoy their music and it's for sure worth checking out!
Till the next time, God bless!
In the current climate of our country I have been praying, reading, and seeking my place in it all as a Christian. With all the conversation about rights, freedoms, guns, privacy, the president, and the like, there are a lot of things to sort out. It seems as though there is a drive and push for us as the body of Christ to separate our life in Christ from our life as an American. From my perspective this is super problematic. Is it possible that we have lost our focus? As Christians, our sole purpose is to bring glory to God with our lives. When we begin to put our rights or our earthly freedoms before God or when we find ourselves fighting for our rights and earthly freedoms (sometimes no matter the cost), it would seem that our priorities might be out of order. We are called to be representatives of Jesus Christ, and as a result, how we live matters. The things we say and do matter as we are to represent Jesus in the best possible light. When we focus so intensely on our earthly freedoms and comforts we may start to panic, or start to react poorly, or become so caught up that we forget we are representing Jesus to those that we think are trying to change or remove those freedoms from us. "And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."Colossians 3:17
This is also a matter of trust. Do we trust God regardless of the outcome? Do we trust God even in the midst of what may result in hardship? Do we trust God even though evil may seem to be prevailing?
The challenge for us as believers is to put Jesus first in all circumstances and situations. If you don't agree with someone it is okay to disagree, how you disagree maters greatly. Disagree in love. As a believer in Jesus you are commanded by God to love others, and Jesus made it clear that this includes your enemies.
"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him." Colossians 3:1-10
Want to continue the conversation? Leave me a comment, I would love to chat more about it!
Pornography addiction is no small thing, and for many men and women the struggle is real. Pornography addiction can leave a person feeling broken, desperate, isolated and simply put, imprisoned. For those struggling with this addiction they are constantly being told that there is hope and that freedom available but they never seem to be able experience it and as a result they feel even worse. The truth of the matter though is that there is in fact hope, there is a way to experience freedom from this bondage. I started watching pornography when I was 9 years old, I always knew that it was something I shouldn't be watching but I began to crave it. By the time I was a teenager I was a full blown porn addict, and I was also beginning to have actual sexual experiences which heightened the watching of porn. This carried well into my adult life. I came to Christ when I was 27, I had many addictions prior to my turning to Jesus from drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, to sex and pornography, and when I came to Christ, 4 of those things immediately dealt with. I stopped smoking, doing drugs, drinking, and I stopped engaging in sexual activity. For some reason the one that stuck around was the pornography. It had become a way of life for me, it was normal and I couldn't stop watching it. In the beginning of my walk I would seek to hide it as I felt ashamed but then in reading the Gospel of John I came across John 3 verses 20 and 21 which state "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” These verses shook me, I had to ask myself the question, "am I practicing the truth and coming to the Light or am I hiding my sin?" Clearly I was hiding my sin. This convicted me and I began to reach out. I kept my circle tight but I made sure that I had a couple guys I could share my struggle with, and this began the process of me getting the help I needed to walk in the freedom that Christ offers.
Lets get into some practical steps on how to deal with pornography addiction. (Please note that though they aren't directly listed in the steps below, fervent prayer and Bible study are a must in and through this process.) (Also, this blog will be a little longer than normal and that's okay!)
Step 1, Admit you have an issue and need help. This might seem obvious but pride can be a beast and a lot of times we think we can handle these issues on our own. Porn addiction is not an issue that you can handle by yourself, it will require the help of the Holy Spirit and the help of the body of Christ. This is so vital to beating this addiction!
Step 2. Have a couple people that you can openly talk to about your struggles, your failures and your successes. There are a few things to draw out here that are important to mention. Fist, again, our pride can be a beast. If we have those people in our life we need to make sure we exercise the option to contact them and not only contact them but contact them before and not after a failure. This point is so important because it is often the hardest. We get embarrassed or we think they will be mad at us for struggling, or we just messaged them a couple of hours ago, or the day before etc... The enemy is crafty in these moments and our flesh starts to take over, we need to get out ahead of things before they get out of hand (and if we are honest they can get out of hand quickly). You need to have people in your life that will walk through this with you and that you can be open and honest with. I tell my friends that I am accountability partners for that even if I don't pick up leave a message or text me, I will respond and know that I will ask so they will have to answer, I tell them that I expect honesty as that is what they will get from me, and I want them to walk in the victory they have in Christ.
Step 3, Have an escape plan. This follows step 2 as they go hand in hand. This plan should be known by your accountability partners as they are a key part of the plan and holding you to the plan laid out. This plan should include contacting your accountability partners, prayer, Bible reading (specific Scriptures that you have found powerful or remind you of Gods goodness), something or a series of somethings you can do instead (this is where having a hobby is huge, for me it is writing or making music, this helps me focus on something different and is very helpful). If you are alone, sometimes you might have to leave the house and go somewhere public or just get in your car, crank some worship music (or just Christian music in general) and just drive. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a great verse to memorize for those that struggle with lust or pornography "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." This is a fantastic verse to remember, it's one of those verses that removes our excuses. Do we believe and trust that God is faithful and that He will show us a way out so that we can endure the temptation(s) before us? Think of it this way, if you were in a burning building you would do anything and everything to get out, to save your life. You wouldn't just sit in the middle of a room and say "well the building is burning so I guess I am just going to sit here and die." You would fight for your life. I would like to develop this illustration a bit. Let's say that the fire represents temptation and allowing it to consume you would represent you sinning. God gives us an ax in one of those glass cases that says "break glass in the event of an emergency." Jesus is always our exit, we need to choose Him rather than sit in the temptation, allow it to consume us and rebel against Him. Jesus died so we may have life, in Him we have victory over sin and death, we fight for our life by choosing Jesus in the moments when we feel the weakest. This brings me to step 4.
Step 4, Submit to resist. James 4:7 states "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." We have a tendency to read a verse like this and think we resist by fighting and by fighting I mean take things on in our own strength or flesh, when we do this we fail because we can only fight the temptation for so long, we can only resist for so long, eventually we give in. Here is the thing, when we submit to God we are resisting the devil, we are choosing Jesus over sin. So how does this play out in reality, how do we submit to God and resist the devil in real time, we do so by implementing steps 1-3. We get serious about walking in righteousness, we take God serious, we pray, we begin to practice holding our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, we call or text our accountability partners, we implement our escape plan, we get out of the building before the fire consumes us.
Something very important to remember is that we are all in process. When we put our faith in Jesus we begin the process of learning to be more like Him, we are being molded, and shaped into Christ-likeness. Something equally important for us to remember is that we are not hide behind the process, meaning, we can't settle for our sin or justify our sin, we need to be discontent with our sin and long to be freed from those things that hold us in bondage, we should be growing!
One final thing to wrap this all up. The thing that was a game changer for me was when one of my accountability partners, best friends, and brothers in Christ shared something so simple yet so profound. I want to bring you to the account of Esau and him trading away his birthright for a bowl of soup. Esau traded everything, he traded his blessing, all for a bowl of soup. We read in Hebrews 12 verses 16 and 17 "that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears." What my buddy said next was a major eye opener for me, lets look at pornography as a bowl of soup. Are you willing to trade everything, to trade away your blessings for a bowl of soup? I am not speaking about matters of salvation, however, we are looking at the fact that God isn't going to be mocked, He isn't okay with sin in the life of a believer. Everything you have is a blessing, your very life is a blessing, you might have a family, you might be a pastor or a part of a ministry, all of that can be gone in the blink of an eye. Pornography in general has a crazy destructive ability, it steals your joy, it distorts your view of others, it destroys families, it ruins future relationships, it simply wrecks things. For me, this was huge, and so when I am faced with temptation, I say "no soup for me", this is the first step in my escape plan, it reminds me that i don't want to trade everything for this temporary moment of sin against God. God has provided me, and I'm sure you, with more than we deserve, He has done so much for us and it is time we take Him serious and take Him at His word. He is in fact faithful to provide a way out, the question is will we take the exit.
This blog is by no means extensive, there is so much more conversation to have, with that, we would love to hear from you. Let us know what works for you, let us know how we can pray for you specifically. If you are struggling with this issue we would love to help so please don't hesitate to email us or if your comfortable leave a comment. Thank you so much for your time in reading this and we hope you found it worth your time and helpful. God bless!!
The Pharisee card, I have seen it used a lot these days and it is breaking my heart. Unfortunately, most of the time the card is being played it is played as sort of a Christian trump card intended to discredit the person it is being played against, this can be very problematic. We see the Pharisee card being played in conversations that challenge our previous held beliefs or ideas, and instead of engaging in Christ honoring conversation we assume the person is being Pharisaical and we dismiss them as not having anything to offer us, so we shut them down by calling them Pharisees or Religious Leaders. I want to look at the Pharisees for a minute and dive into how they were responding to Jesus and His disciples. As a bit of a disclaimer, this may be hard to swallow because it should challenge us to look at how we respond to people when they challenge the things we believe.
Lets state the obvious first, the Pharisees were self-righteous hypocrites. Sadly, this is where we tend to stop and often why we use the Pharisee card out of context and incorrectly, and we certainly don't apply the card to ourselves because we are not self-righteous hypocrites (please insert any level of sarcasm you see fit). There is so much more to this picture than meets the eye, and this is where we can find our self acting like the Pharisees if we are not careful. The Pharisees refused to listen to the truth of God's Word, they refused to admit that they might not have it all figured out, they refused to examine the claims of Jesus, the figured they had all the answers and no one could tell them otherwise. With that, when Jesus brought them a truth claim about Himself or the Scripture they rejected it immediately, they had already come to the conclusion that they were right and He was wrong. This is where we can be much like the Pharisees. When a brother or sister brings something to us or challenges something said or that we have held on to as a belief, instead of examining if what they are saying is true, we reject their claims, and we seek to discredit them, this is exactly what the Pharisees did. We as people have a problem when the facts don't align with our previously held beliefs and with that, we have a couple of options. We can either approach the topic presented with an open mind and an open Bible examining the claim(s) that is being made, or we can cling to our presuppositions and assume the person is wrong and dismiss what they are saying. In my mind, the first approach is the wise approach and the more Biblical approach. (Now, there are certain doctrines that you are going to rightly cling to, for example; Salvation through faith alone, the person of Christ (the hypostatic union (two complete natures, Jesus was fully human and fully God during His time on earth), and others.)
We look an awful lot like the Pharisees when refuse to examine a claim being brought to our attention. Even if the person is way out of bounds in their thinking, we should still be willing to hear them out, take the time to examine the Biblical reality of the claim and have a conversation. The problem is that that option is harder, longer, and requires our attention and time, it is way easier for us to dismiss things. I am reminded of a time when I was young in my faith and a buddy of mine whom I had come to trust had shared that the music I was listening to was problematic and certainly didn't glorify God. My initial response wasn't the kindest, I thought in my mind that they were some religious nut and I said "music is just art, it's fine for me to listen to these things." That friend shared a series called "They Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll" by Good Fight Ministries with me, and I didn't want to watch it. I thought it was just going to be some over the top, crazy religious stuff that was seeking to condem me for my listening habits. However, because I had come to know this brother in Christ I chose to watch it. The video series was 10 hours long and after the first half of video 1 I was wrecked, I was in tears and I realized I was wrong, God did a mighty work. Later that week I gathered up all my music and I threw it in the dumpster, it took everything for me not to jump in and fish it all out but I knew that God had made it clear that it needed to go. My point is this, my previously held belief was that my music was fine, but in reality, it wasn't and through careful examination of my buddies claim according the to the Word of God I saw that I was wrong. I could have fought for what I thought was right, I could have called him a Pharisee, I could have dismissed him or sought to discredit him but instead I reluctantly listened, and examined the claim and my life changed as a result.
One of the hardest things for us to do as humans is to admit when we are wrong, or to entertain the possibility we could be wrong or even deceived.
We need to be teachable and realize we aren't always right, and that it is possible that we can be deceived and go around thinking we are right when we are in fact wrong. It is important for us to study, to examine the evidence and when we are wrong, we need to adjust. Sadly, with the way the Pharisee card is being used today, Jesus, the disciples and especially Paul would be likely to be called Pharisees, that should trouble us and shake us awake.
The final thing I will mention about the Pharisees is not an item that is spoke about much but it is so important!! The Pharisees were heretics, they were false teachers, this also plays greatly into their self-righteousness and rejection of the Truth. The Pharisees were more concerned with what the Tradition of the Elders taught then they were what the Word of God taught. They were more concerned with what the Talmud had to say then the Word, they were teaching and holding people to extra-Biblical material, that is not okay. I wont spend much time here but just know it is important and maybe do some study on it, you might be surprised what you find.
The bottom line is this, before you play the Pharisee card examine your heart, examine your thoughts, examine the claims, and make sure you are properly using the card. There are for sure times when playing the Pharisee card makes sense, however it is not as often as you think and unfortunately we have abused it's usage. May we be careful to examine what is being said by our brothers and sisters in Christ, even if we don't agree with them we need to have the conversation in love, not ascribe motive or intention to them, and always represent Jesus in all situations, even the ones where it makes sense to play the card.
We would love to hear from you about this, please leave a comment and continue the conversation, and as always lets keep the conversation Christ-centered and Christ-like. Thank you so much for taking the time!!