Uphill Studios - A God Story 

I love telling the story of Uphill Studios, because it’s not a Sean or Crystal story, it’s a God story.  

7 years ago this month, my wife Crystal and I, began a journey that has gone far beyond anything we could have ever asked or imagined. We’ve learned so much about ourselves and God through this journey, and I wanted to capture a Reader’s Digest version of it, before too many years pass. 

The recipe at the beginning, was really ripe for disaster; 

The economy was in a major slump. I had no formal audio engineering training. I had just lost my job. We had never owned a small business. We had a grand total of $2,000 to “start up” the business (average start up cost for a small business is $30,000). We owned about 1/30th of what we needed to be competitive as a recording studio. I had never used ProTools. We had never built a website or made any online content.  We had no marketing experience. And on and on the list went. 

The odds of success were astronomically low. And the excuses list was long.  We told some close friends about our plans to open a studio… in wisdom and love, they cautioned us against a seemingly foolish decision.  

I was continuing to interview in my previous job field, and was receiving offers to go back to what was familiar. Good pay, good benefits. Safety. But God was revealing to us a different plan for our lives, and going back to what was familiar was actually disobedience. At the time, it would have been very easy to ignore His whisper of a voice.  He didn’t come down on a cloud and shake our house with thunder.  It was that still small urging on a spiritual level that you often hear people talking about.  Ignoring it would have been scarily easy. 

Eventually, however, we mustered up the faith to not only listen, but take action on how we felt God was leading us.  We decided it was time to decline the job offers coming in, stop interviewing, and chase what God wanted for our lives, instead of what we wanted.  

So there we were.  Newlyweds.  We had been married for all of 6 months.  I’m jobless.   And God is calling us to build a recording studio from the ground up in a bonus room above the garage of our house. Nuts, right?  Only God could get the glory for building something from those circumstances.  But, after all, a couple loaves and fishes in His hands can go a very long way. 

Although the odds of us starting a successful recording studio were around .000000000314%, obedience to the voice of God will always yield a 100% success rate.  Obedience isn’t a sexy/trendy word in our church culture, but each step of obedience moves you deeper into the will of God.  And in the will of God, there is no lack.

We knew we needed a few basic pieces of gear.  Our only flexible savings at the time was what I had put into my 401k while employed. A humble $2000.  So we took the small financial penalty and withdrew my 401k (sorry financial planners), and bought a refurbished iMac, interface, and a $100 midi keyboard. From being a musician growing up, I had drums and a guitar rig and a few cheap microphones to start with. That was it.  No reference monitors, no nice microphones, no outboard gear, nor a treated space. 

Looking back we can see that one of the biggest hurdles to ever becoming anything, is starting something. Because at the beginning, you don’t have it all figured out.  And trust me, we did not. Still feel like we don’t. We didn’t know what to charge.  So we made it up.  We didn’t know how to manage a project.  So we made it up. Most days, in the beginning, I felt like I was just hanging on for dear life. Long hours. Little pay. And lots of hard-learned lessons about owning a business. 

Despite the fact that we were basically clueless about what we were doing, we were taking steps.  God orders steps, but we have to be taking them first.  It's much easier for God to steer someone who is taking steps than it is for Him to move someone who is standing completely flat footed.  So we were stepping... the best we knew how.

Song after song.  Project after project.  Client after client seemingly flew by. 

And before we realized it, we had been “in business” for several years.   God had brought people from all over the country, and even some international clients, to record in our little bonus room studio. 

We’ve come a long way since those beginning years.  But our mission stays the same from the very conception of the studio when we first heard God speak.  We believe in advancing the Kingdom of God one song at a time.  And everything flows through that mission statement.  We know in our hearts, straying from that mission would remove God’s hand and blessing from it.  So until God says otherwise, we will continue to drive towards that goal. 

We know that God sustains it, because He spoke it.  But if He were to call us elsewhere today, we would go in a heartbeat.  Because we know His plans are better than our, his thoughts are better than ours.  So whatever He says goes.

Looking back now, I would gladly decline the job offers with more confidence. Gladly spend the $2,000 in start up costs without fear. Gladly put in the long hours to learn and grow the business sure that it was all going to pan out. In the moment, those things seemed like struggles. Because we hadn’t fully learned the art of trusting in God. When you fully trust God, when he asks something of you, you just do it. You don’t count the costs, or wrestle with the decisions... because He’s God. And His plans for you are still to prosper you and not to harm you. He wants to give you a hope and a future.  

Most days we still feel like we are making it up, but God’s hand is on it, and He’s sure of what He has said.  And in the meantime, God continues to bring people to our couch to talk about a project. 

We’ve been firsthand witnesses to God’s faithfulness and goodness. I sit down behind the desk in the studio everyday and I’m reminded of what a miracle looks like.  I’m reminded it’s nothing we’ve built, but something God has built through our obedience. His Word to us has not come back void. We are honored to share His story in our lives, because we know it encourages and inspires faith in others.  

What is it God is calling you to do? Where can you choose to be obedient today? What step is God urging you to take big or small?  I believe God is a miracle working God, and I’ve been a witness to it in more ways than this.

Heart Revival - Writing Better Lyrics 

Place your hand on your heart.  Do you feel it beating?  Well, of course you do.  You’re alive, and that qualifies you to do everything you do with HEART.  Our heart is what believes, mourns, loves, fights, dreams, and desires. It’s what drives us, what motivates us, what cautions us, what inspires us, and what takes our breath away. Through our heart we experience joy, pain, triumph, struggle, faith, fear, hope, doubt, and more. It’s the core of who we are. The center of our being.  It’s our beliefs and values that make each of us unique. 

But too often as songwriters, and more specifically lyric writers, we are THINKING our heart out of the process.  By doing this, we are removing the very life blood, emotion, passion, and breath from our music. But, time and again, we make creatively damaging decisions letting what we know override what we feel. 

The heart is a messy place.  It doesn’t always lend itself to the perfect rhyme or following the unwritten songwriting rules.  It doesn’t always lend itself to mass appeal or a radio single.  It doesn’t always mean the song form will be V-C-V-C-B-C-C.   

We are desperate for a revival of heart in our songs.  We are desperate for a revival of honesty and purity of lyric.  Music and melody can only go so far, but the message a song carries is what pierces through the noise.  What message are we wanting to leave on the lips of our generation? 

We can no longer afford lyrics about vague struggles being a mountain in our lives.  Get real.  “Gut wrenching” is our only option.  And I’m not pointing a finger, I’m guilty.  Collectively, we’ve written more than enough safe songs.  It’s time we write about how God is meeting us in our lives so specifically that you are simultaneously excited and scared to show someone else.   

Put your inner-diary on display.  Being horrified and exhilarated to show someone a new song should be a prerequisite for songwriters. Because if you aren’t petrified and about to explode in revealing something, your heart isn’t truly in it and it doesn't mean EVERYTHING to you.  Put your soul out there for everyone to see. Share your story.  Own it, and watch it empower others. 

Too often, we are hoping to speak to someone else in our lyric content.  It’s time we learn to truly speak for ourselves, again.  The struggle you are going through WILL SPEAK to someone who is also going through that struggle.  The fear you face, is the fear someone else is facing.  When you begin to speak from the heart, you will see your songs begin to connect with other’s hearts. 

After all, songs without your heart in it, are just manufactured phrases. They are just processed and re-processed muck.  It’s recycled lyrics adorned with worn-out phrases.  Without your heart, songs are just thoughts and information.  

Ok.  Fair enough, Sean, but HOW do we get back to being “heartfelt”? 

Tell your mind to shut up and let your heart bleed. Silence your critic that immediately compares every lyric to another popular one, and let your heart run wild. Don’t fence it in. Let it wander. Take the rule book, and just burn it.  The rules that governed yesterday, won’t usher in a new tomorrow.  Take RISKS. Forget about judging eyes. Follow what God has seared on your heart with undying passion. Reveal your innermost feelings, and inspire someone with transparency. 

And in the process you will write bad songs.  And you’ll write embarrassing lyrics.  BUT, you will never break through to anything new by playing it safe.  Growing as a lyric writer is a conscious decision that you can make at any time.  So it’s always worth the risk of saying something stupid in the pursuit of getting better. 

When you are finally able to get past your critical mind and put your heart out on the line, you are starting to venture in to TRUE CREATIVITY.  True creativity is born in risk, not in safety.   

But how do you start? 

What moves you?  What breaks your heart?  What do you struggle with?  What has brought your heart joy?  Don’t speak for anyone else.  Speak for yourself.  It’s not hard once you break the levee that has been holding the flood inside your heart.  Smash the levee, and flood your work. 

I used to call myself strictly a melody person.  I had convinced myself that music, arrangement, production, and melody were my mission.  But that is absolutely false, and frankly, lazy.  What qualifies us all to be inspiring lyric writers? Our life, our experiences, and our encounters with the Lord.  Surely, there are some that are more gifted at putting words together in a poetic fashion, but just because you don’t have that skill doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be pouring your heart into the lyric.  Your heartbeat qualifies you to risk writing great lyrics. 

You possess something so unique, so dynamic, and so wildly inspiring… Your heart.  We can no longer afford to hide it.  This generation is desperate for people who are not afraid or ashamed to play from it, lead from it, sing from it, write from it, and create from it. 

Learn how to bleed on everything you do with it. 

Then you have found something truly rare and inspiring, authenticity.

Starting From The Bottom 

I love to watch documentaries about the lives of world changers.  The Steve Jobs, the Bill Gates, the Albert Einstein, the Walt Disney, the Thomas Edison kinds of people.  Their stories are always inspiring.  If you watch enough of these documentaries, you start to see a common theme in their stories: They all started from the bottom.  Usually they were low on money.  They failed A LOT.  And every indication showed that they should give up.  At one point, Steve Jobs was building computers with a friend in a garage by hand, one at a time.  A far cry from how Apple now has global influence.  Jobs, however, didn’t allow his momentary circumstance deter him from his mission.  That’s inspiration for all of us! 

  

So many of us will miss our calling in life because we are unwilling to start at the bottom.  We are unwilling to put in all those unnoticed and unappreciated hours day-in and day-out.  We are unwilling to do the dirty part of the job.  Or we do try but quit because it’s not the kind of glamour that comes from years of hard earned promotion. 

  

We can’t be afraid of starting at the bottom.  There is no other place to start.  You have to have day 1 on the job.  And day 1 will look very different than day 2,564.  But our time at the bottom will shape us, much like our documentary heroes, preparing us for what is coming.  And I truly believe starting at the bottom doesn’t have to be as painful as we think if we know HOW to start at the bottom: 

  

SHUT DOWN THE FEAR OF INITIAL FAILURE

It’s natural to measure/compare your initial outcomes against the BEST or STANDARD outcomes in your field.  For me, as I started songwriting and recording, I was measuring my songs and recordings against THE BEST in the world.  It was discouraging because I realized the large gap between where I was and where “they” were.  It felt like failure in many cases.  BUT we have to silence that voice that’s telling us “it’s not good enough, so just quit”.  “Not good enough” right now, doesn’t mean it will never be good enough.  There is no “overnight success”.  EVENTUALLY we will grow in our craft and begin to create things on a higher level as we remain diligent and disciplined.  Yes, in the beginning it’s likely that it’s not “world class”.  But if the fear of the initial outcomes crush us into submission, our eventual potential will never be realized.  True failure is in never trying, not in trying with bad results. Shut out the fear and try... and be okay with some bad results. 

 

START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE 

The biggest enemy to getting to where we want to go is starting where we are.  A lot of us are only willing to “start” once we get the right equipment, or the professional tools, or connect with the right people. But don’t wait to start.  Start RIGHT NOW.  Yes, we might appear “amateur” because of what little we have to work with, but unless we are going to take out a massive loan to get going, we have to start with virtually nothing!  If we are putting off the start of pursuing our dreams and goals it’s probably because we really don’t want it like we say we do.  If we are REALLY hungry for the goals and dreams in our lives, we will figure out every work-a-round possible just to get going.  Conditions for our success are great right now if we are willing to start with what we have.  Don’t pin success on what we hope to eventually obtain.  Things that I thought in the beginning would be “game-changer” items turned out to be pretty tiny pieces to the overall puzzle.  We are the game-changers if we are willing to jump in where we are.   

  

THE VALUE IS IN THE EXPERIENCE OF THE JOURNEY 

The time we spend working on things at the bottom become invaluable to us and others as we progress.  The experience we gain in those early years “at the bottom” make us valuable to others because we’ve “been there” and know how to do it.  Hands-on experience trumps knowledge in almost every creative or entrepreneurial environment.  Would we trust someone who has successfully done something 500 times, or someone who says they “know how to do it, but have never done it before”?  So while we are in the trenches working on things we know and feel aren’t THE BEST in the world, we are actually in our training ground of success.  Don’t avoid the experience at the bottom just because we don’t feel we are “changing the world”, because those experiences are what shapes us for what is to come.  If we could get a glimpse into the years of experience and know-how that goes into creating something “world class”, we’d begin to understand the value in the journey, and not just the “right now” results. 

  

TALENT ISN’T EVERYTHING 

There are so many talented people in the world.  They are simply better than you and me.  I see it everyday.  It’s awesome!  And humbling!  But that doesn’t disqualify us from being great at what we do.  There are so many other characteristics that can make us great at what we do when coupled with even small amounts of talent.  To name a few: work ethic, commitment to excellence, humility, tenacity, good attitude, drive, passion, heart, and so on.  It takes a large portion of all of those things to be successful in any field.  Talent certainly helps, but I’ve seen it time and again, pure talent is only part of the battle.  We can develop our talent as we go, but don’t let the lack of it (in comparison to others around us) stop us.  Talent is a gift that can be trained and developed, but our mindset about how we work and behave is a choice that we can make right now. 

  

TREAT TODAY LIKE WE WILL TREAT TOMORROW

A lot of us tend to work less inspired because it’s not the “big project” or the “big names” or the “big budget”.  We won’t prepare the same, perform the same, put in the same hours, or try as hard.  But unfortunately working in that manner actually prevents us from ever reaching higher levels.  We must treat everything we do like it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done.  100% goes into everything, always.  It’s EXHAUSTING!  But that will build us a reputation of excellence.  To me, we are training ourselves that everything always matters, even when it doesn’t.  And that becomes a huge deal when we get to the point where everything always matters.  Be willing to treat today like it’s a huge deal, even if it may not be.  So if tomorrow becomes a huge deal, we already know how to handle it. 

 

CREDIBILITY ISN'T SOMETHING SOMEONE BESTOWS UPON US, WE BUILD IT 

We aren’t going to start Day 1 on the cover of Forbes magazine or accepting an award.  A lot of us come out of the gate looking for those kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that would seem to give us some sense of credibility. Credibility, however, is built in how we work and treat people "at the bottom" when it seems like no one sees.  We can spend our lives running around trying to position ourselves to be struck by a huge lightning bolt of success that proves our "awesomeness", but those attempts will fail.  We have to get in there and grind our way towards BEING the lightening bolt of success.  Our credibility is in our control, so take on each day with that mindset.

  

Starting at the bottom takes a lot of humility.  Especially if those around you have already spent their season there.  Remember the bottom is temporary, but necessary. It will shape us in so many ways for the future if we are willing to get in there and get dirty.  Don’t forsake the bottom, because without the bottom there is no foundation to build on.  The foundation is necessary to hold the eventual weight that will be put on you.  The deeper the foundation, the more weight can be held.  Dig your foundations deep.

I Can Play The Background by Crystal Hill 

Let me start by saying how much I love being married to a musician. I love the creative energy. I love the quirky antics that go along with being artistic. I love that my children will grow up immersed in music. Even more so, I love being married to a Christian musician that uses his talents to advance the Kingdom of God. I love the tone this sets in my home. I love the atmosphere of worship that constantly surrounds me. I love the legacy he leaves behind. 

HOWEVER, I wanted to offer some perspective from a Christian music producer’s wife. For the past several years, I have lost my identity as “Crystal”. My introductions always include the caveat “I am the worship pastor’s wife or I am Sean’s wife.” Don’t get me wrong, I do get a little giddy when I get to say “I’m with him”, but it does strip me of who I am apart from him. It minimizes what I have to offer the world when I can’t just be “Crystal”. 

That caveat always leads to the following questions: 

Do you sing? Do you play an instrument? Do you write music? Are you even artistic? What skills do you bring to the table… Dance pony, dance! 

I have to be honest, when I am hit with this barrage of questions, I immediately feel deflated. My skills and accolades immediately become reduced to pity for myself, because my skill set is not as easily recognized. I don’t have a talent that makes people say “oh cool” or “I have always wanted to do that” or, my favorite one, “are you famous?” Hah. 

After I recover from my pity party, I realize that I have a lot to contribute. God created me with the exact talents and natural ability I need to advance His cause. My job is to discover these traits and figure out where I fit in the puzzle. 

I used to make the mistake of thinking that if I can’t contribute to the creative content of my husband’s music, then I just could not be a part of it. I have learned that my role is much more important than writing a melody or giving lyrical suggestions. 

The Bible says “The wisest of women builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1) I want to encourage the spouses of those in the Christian music industry to discover what part you play in being an influence. You have the power to either build up your spouse or tear him down. Therefore, I have compiled a list of five things that I can do to “be involved” in my spouses’ ministry and to “build him up”. 

Pray 

Understanding the purpose of your spouse’s affinity for music begins when you posture your heart to align with God’s plan. When we first opened the studio, the only thing I really knew was that Sean was good at music and he could make money doing it. I did not understand the magnitude of what God had called him to until I really began to pray for him. God revealed to me that He gave Sean these talents and He wanted to use them for His good. It was not about “making a living” or Sean getting to do what he loved. It was about building up another soldier in God’s army. Once, I fully grasped the importance of Sean’s career in music, it became more and more crucial to pray for him. If you do not do so already, I would like to encourage you to pray these simple prayers over your spouse. 

Father, may the favor of the Lord rest on my husband. Bless and establish the work of his hands and his heart. (Psalm 90:17) 

Father, give my husband the mind of Christ, saturate it with godly wisdom. (1 Corinthians 2:16) 

Encourage 

“Do you see a man skillful in his work?  He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” (Proverbs 22:29) 

We must first recognize the skill that God has given to our spouses. Scripture says that skillful men will stand before kings. God will give a platform to the “called” if they would only humbly and freely use their talents for the purpose of spreading the Gospel. I believe it is our job as a spouse to encourage our husbands to continue maturing in their craft. We need to speak life over the works of their hands and push them to pursue all that God has for them. 

Here is a starting place for you to start breathing life into your spouse. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:1-2) The power of life and death is in the tongue. Are you using yours to spring forth life or to kill and destroy? 

Time And Space 

I have a note in my phone from May 2014 that says “I empower you to do what God has called you to do. Release Sean to do what he is called to do.” 

Now this was three years after we followed God’s instruction to open a Christian recording studio out of our home. It took me THREE YEARS to fully understand that God called Sean to create music to advance the Kingdom of God. To be honest, there were times that I just felt like he was up in the studio playing around and I was jealous. He got to spend all day everyday doing what he loved. So I was constantly trying to pull his attention back to me. 

In Scripture, James 2 instructs us to act on our faith. We can lift our spouse up in prayer and encourage him with our words, but if we do not also act on our faith in what God is doing through them, then we are useless. What this meant for me was that I needed to give Sean time and space to invest in this career. Sometimes this meant I had to entertain myself while he worked late. Other times it meant I had to agree to spending hard earned money on upgrading studio gear instead of taking vacation. Whatever it was, I had to make sacrifices and lay down the selfish desires of my flesh to allow God to work in and through Sean. We, as spouses, have the power to either propel our husbands/wives into God’s plan or to be a road block that they have to work around to answer the call on their lives. I chose to help rather than hinder and I hope you will join me. 

An Alternative Perspective 

I enjoy music. Because I am not a musician, I don’t have the curse of “having” to listen to music. I just “get” to listen to music. With this, I am able to offer perspective from the vast majority of the world. It is so easy for musicians to get bogged down in the chord progression, BPMs or rhyme scheme of a song. I just know what sounds and feels good to me. If a song is too hard to sing or the lyrics are not memorable, I say so. Giving this feedback has really influenced the way Sean writes worship music. Most of the people in the congregation are not musically inclined, so if the song is too difficult to learn or sing, it makes it hard to worship from the heart. We are so busy reading the lyrics from the screens and trying to learn the melody, that we don’t let the actual “truth” of the lyrics sink in. (That is a topic for a different day.) My point is, you don’t have to be a trained musician to offer input on the songs being created for the Church. Luckily, I have a spouse that welcomes this input and I pray that yours will too. 

Change The Subject 

Have your own interests, your own passions, your own hobbies. This allows him an escape from the perpetual ideas swirling around in his head. It is so important to be able to offer a distraction from time to time to a creative mind. If Sean were left to his own devices, he would never stop thinking about music. He must be able to turn that part of his brain off in order to recharge. That’s where I come in. Because I am not a recording client or a co-writer, he is forced to explore other topics of conversation. In these various discussions with me, he discovers different truths and perspectives to use in his song writing…. Or not. Sometimes it is good to stop thinking about work and to just be in the moment. 

We recently went to the beach and Sean and I had the EXTREMELY RARE opportunity to go on a date without our two babies. After dinner, we went for a walk on the beach and discussed life. We talked about our kids, our future, our finances and of course our jobs. We were all dressed up for our date and certainly not prepared to go for a swim. Sean is much more cautious than I am, so I decided to remind him what it feels like to be carefree and I just ran into the ocean fully clothed in my best dress. I yelled for him to come and join me and after a few minutes of hesitation, he reluctantly followed. It was so nice to just stop thinking about the responsibilities of life and just enjoy each other’s company. Now I know that this little escapade did not inspire any ground-breaking song ideas, but what it did was allow Sean to remember that although God called him to be a songwriter and leader in the Church, He called Him to be a husband first. 

I believe God ordained the marriages of His people and by no accident gave me a spouse that has a high calling on his life. He knew that I have the capacity to sharpen my husband and help inspire him. I know my role. I know what I am supposed to do. I know that it is not about me and I am ok with that. I find great solace in Lecrae’s song “Background”… 

Yeah, so if you need me I'll be stage right 

Praying the whole world will start embracing stage fright 

So let me fall back, stop giving my suggestions 

'Cause when I follow my obsessions, I end up confessing 

That I'm not that impressive, matter of fact 

I'm who I are, a trail of stardust leading to the superstar 

I could play the background 

I could play the background 

Cause I know sometimes I get in the way 

So won't You take the lead, lead, lead? 

So won't You take the lead, lead, lead? 

And I could play the background, background 

And you could take the lead






 

I Still Believe In Christian Music 

Over the past several months I’ve read an increasing amount of blogs and articles that are detailing what bloggers would say is the decline and ultimate demise of Christian music.  In particular these articles take square aim at songs sung within The Church.  Each article takes different aim at “modern worship”.  Some articles attack the skinny jean wearing worship leaders.  Some fault the Christian worship “industry”.  Some blame the major “superstar” worship artists that carry the songs.  Some attack songs themselves.  Some try to convince you that congregations aren’t singing for a myriad of trivial reasons.  While others attack lights, sound, and church production.  Whatever their particular angle, their main premise is the same… Christian music is dead or dying. 

Then I scroll down and see the subsequent stone throwing in the comment sections these articles tend to stir up.  People are seemingly being forced to take sides in a fictional “worship war” started by bloggers that are merely hoping to increase their readership with their provocative articles. 

And not just for bloggers, but for a people that believe “the power of life and death is in the tongue” we sure find it fashionable, as of late, to really speak negatively about our worship music. 

Why would we write that kind of script for ourselves? Why would we willingly want to speak DEATH over one of the most powerful gifts God has given us to express ourselves back to Him??? 

I’ll be honest.  At first this “bash worship” mindset that seems increasingly popular made me angry.  I was mad at the writers.   I was mad at the comments.  I was mad at the supporters jumping on the bandwagons.   

But slowly my anger turned to sorrow.  This whole situation truly started to break my heart.  How shameful that we’ve taken a gift as beautiful as music and made a sport out of speaking ill of it.  We’ve made it a debate of style and preference.  All the while, we run about trying to believe worship is more than just songs. 

In the current world of chaos we live in, people look to us as Christians for answers and for hope, but oftentimes we are too busy bickering!  They see heaps of opinions being volleyed at each other in an endless match where no one will ever win. How could the world look at us and not see a conflicted church that would rather argue over the appearance of a worship leader and song selection than serve their community? 

But I’m hopeful, because I know there is still a silent contingent out there that is ready to move passed the squabbling.  Me included.  And hopefully you too.  I believe we are the ones to end this war.  We can slowly show people that we are not in a tug of war against each other, but we are on the same side of the rope pulling together to take music back for the Kingdom of God. 

Because we need to admit that modern worship music is not dead or dying.  Maybe we can all concede it’s not glimmering perfection, but there is no perfect song.  The sum of the greatest hymns of all time fall wildly short of giving God the glory He is due. 

Whether you want modern worship music to die or not, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.  No amount of bloggers are going to change the mind of thousands and thousands of churches who have collectively chosen to use modern worship as a staple in the worship gatherings.  Modern worship music is sung all over the world… daily.  It is simply a part of church culture. 

So I have come up with a simple set of challenges that I think may be useful no matter which part of the spectrum you find yourself on in this dilemma. 

Challenge 1: If you believe something is fundamentally “wrong” with our current paradigm of worship music, start writing worship music.  Don’t run first to find a stone to throw at your church, worship leader, or worship songs.  Use your energy as fuel to write and be creative.  Try to influence worship music (from the inside) in the way you feel God is showing you.  Trying to throw peanuts (and encourage others to throw peanuts) from the grandstands is a real waste of good breath that could be used instead to sing and write songs. 

Challenge 2: Run from the temptation to speak death over worship music.  Refuse to get involved in comment sections.  Don’t entertain the people out there hoping to pick a fight… especially a theological one.  It IS POSSIBLE to read something and then quietly move on, even if you disagree.  Don’t perpetuate the very thing you are hoping to shut down.  Whether that be online, in a green room, or in a coffee shop with friends, have the maturity to walk away from conversations that are not life giving.  Start praying and speaking life over Christian music.  ‘Pray????  What a ghastly suggestion’.  Pray for the people who write it.  And to those who record it, lead it or perform it, start praying.  God has a way of changing your heart through prayer. 

Challenge 3: Have HEALTHY debates (not in a public forum).  Find people close to you to debate and wrestle down thoughts, ideas, and criticisms.  Sit around a fire.  Cook up some s'mores.  Stay up til 3AM debating til you pass out.  Voice your opinions.  Get them on the table.  See how people respond.  Discover the HEART and MOTIVATION behind things.  Some of my all-time favorite and most life-giving conversations about God and worship have been around a fire pit with friends in my backyard… not online.  Call it a “small group” if you need to be formalized.  The point is, get around in a circle with people (who hopefully have some differing opinions from you) and just wrestle things together.  Iron sharpens iron, right? 

I still believe in Christian music.  Maybe that’s not the popular eye-catching kind of blog title that gets a rise out of people.  But I believe in the people God has promoted to places of influence.  I have had the honor to talk with  many publishers, labels and artists during my relatively short music career thus far, and I truly feel that they are chasing what God is putting in their hearts.  Worship songs are springing forth from more churches and writers than ever.  Churches are finding their voices.  The Bride is singing.  And it’s beautiful.  Let Her sing. 

And so, Gungor with the closing thought. 
 

"Church Bells" 

Let church bells ring 
Let children sing 
Even if they don’t know why let them sing 
Why drown their joy 
Stifle their voice 
Just because you’ve lost yours 

May our jaded hearts be healed 

Amen 


Let old men dance 
Lift up their hands 
Even if they are naïve, let them dance 
You’ve seen it all
You watch them fall 
Wash off your face and dance 

May our weary hearts be filled with hope 

Amen 

- Gungor










 

Confessions Of A 30 Year-Old 

Today I'm 30! 

What a crazy journey it has been so far!  Many highs and many lows.  Many successes and many failures.  I now have two beautiful baby girls Rylynn and Paisley.  And of course my beautiful bride - Crystal.  But as the dust settles on these numbers... 3-0, I feel like, with God’s help, I’m just starting to get life into proper perspective. 

My personality is one of an observer.  I quietly watch people.  Constantly.  Creepy, right?  I literally watched people PROFESSIONALLY for seven years employed by retailers… I caught shoplifters. 

But as I watch us, and see how we live in our modern world, I’m concerned.  I see how easy it is to give our short lives in devotion to so many of the wrong things.  I’ve certainly seen it in myself and many others.  Whether it is a pursuit of wealth, career, status, or the ever-exhausting “opportunity”, it is challenging to keep our devotion FOCUSED on the things that truly matter. 

Wealth, career, status, opportunity, and the like, all have this great ability to mask themselves in what are seemingly good things; “financial security”, “job security”, or “career advancement”.  So we trick ourselves into thinking we are doing noble things for our future.  But the danger is that those “noble” things will silently lure us into many awful realities when left unchecked; 

- Working 70 hours a week and placing great strain on the family unit 
- Foregoing vacations with our family for years on end
- Leaving little to no room for personal faith and personal growth 
- No sabbath day of rest 
- Spending way too much time and money chasing fruitless ventures 
- Allowing stress and the demands of work to guide how you live 

And that’s just a short list of my own failings.  You certainly have your own you can add. 

We convince ourselves that these harsh realities of “today” are okay for a season, in hopes that tomorrow will be different.  We are comforted by the fact that so many of us are in the same boat, but we fail to see that boat is heading for a 500ft waterfall. 

So, what if this utopian tomorrow we are committing our lives to doesn’t ever arrive?  What if the life we’ve spent way too much time imagining just seems to keep pushing off into the distance?  Are we able to sustain living like this for years on end?  Burnout is a very real possibility operating under the pressure of a “perfect” tomorrow.  I’ve been very close to total burnout. 

We seem to fall in love with what could happen in our idea of tomorrow instead of realizing and appreciating the gifts God has blessed us with today.  We continuously trade our “now” for “tomorrow”.  And what a devastating trade that can be when you arrive at the end and realize you never truly lived in any moment. 

Our days are numbered, folks.  We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.  Continually exchanging the hope of tomorrow for the reality of today will not pay off in the long run.  Because eventually in the endless chase for “tomorrow” you run out of “todays”. 

At times, I’ve stupidly prioritized career over family, opportunity over faith, and tomorrow over today.  I’ve been there.  I’m still fighting it.  I’m among the top offenders. 

But God has been waking me up from a work-induced coma. 

One major jolt from my life defibrillator came when I was somehow watching Rylynn smash her cake at her first birthday.  How did we get her so fast?  Life seemed to be flying right by me. How can I slow it down?  She had teeth, smiled, and could say “daddy”.  Where had I been?  I was “here” but still somehow missed it.   

You hear this same story over and over from people in all walks of life.  But for some reason I feel like so many of us refuse to make a change and take charge over our time again.  We keep filling our schedules and keep grinding it out with things that are ultimately fleeting.   And if we refuse to make a change, life will continue to feel like it is just passing us by. 

I don’t know about you.  But I want to get on the train where my life is already headed.   I don’t want to stand by and wave as it passes by. 

I have been blessed with a beautiful family to love… right now.  I have a Savior who loves me, even as broken as I can be.  What more could I want?  I’m done chasing things that will never love me back.  

Career, money, accolades, awards, houses, cars, hobbies, etc... they will never love you back.

I still have great hope for what God is doing in my tomorrow and I will certainly continue to work hard to build a future for my family.  But with perspective, purpose, and intentionality this time. 

I will love my wife as Christ loved the church and try to be a great father to my girls and bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  And I will gladly lay down my life for my family, including giving up career "opportunities".  Because when I lay on my deathbed, those “opportunities” aren’t going to be standing there comforting me as I pass into the next life. 

It may have taken all 30 years thus far to arrive here, but I’m thankful it was now and not another year later. 

Don’t waste every “today” trying to reach an unreachable “paradise” of tomorrow, or you will never live a single day in your life.  God has given all of us so much to be thankful for… right now.  Don’t miss the opportunity you have every single day to count your blessings.  Don’t get distracted endlessly pursuing the one thing you don’t yet have.  God has been so faithful and good to all of us.  It just takes living in today and living in the moment to see it, realize it, and thank Him for it.

What if we SLOW DOWN? 

The greatest pieces of art we have globally come to know, love, and respect all share a common thread.  Think about the Great Pyramids of Giza.  The Sistine Chapel.  The Sagrada Familia.  The wonders of the ancient and modern worlds.  Great pieces of literature and famous paintings.  The great cityscapes of the world.  Any lasting piece of art you can think of; they all share one critical piece of commonality.   

Great art requires great lengths of devotion.  Great devotion doesn’t happen overnight.  None of those masterpieces were created by happenstance in a small moment.  There is no “I guess I got lucky”.  These masterpieces were crafted by artists who had an innate ability to capture inspiration then channel it into a methodical and purposeful process. And in many cases, these artists spent their lifetimes devoted to creating a small handful of pieces. 

Man, what a great chasm between those masterpieces and much of what we see and consume out there in the world today, specifically in music.  From beginning to end, it is a rush.  From the 3 hour co-write window, to “how fast will you have my mixes back?”.  “I want to get this up on iTunes ASAP”.  The entire recording process is constructed on the ideas of speed and efficiency.  Every part of the creation process is slave to a single idea: how fast can we get it done? 

But I’m concerned because I feel like, in many cases, the rush is killing us.  It’s killing our art.  It’s killing our creative expression.  It’s killing our song and our voice. 

I want to take a moment of your overly busy day and explore what I believe we are unknowingly forfeiting by being in such a rush.  I don’t necessarily have answers to propose, but I want to get us thinking and considering what slowing down COULD mean for us creatives and ideators. 
 

TIME TO TINKER: 

When was the last time it was okay to try something and fail?  Do we “try” stuff anymore?  Do we have time to “tinker”?  Do we go back and re-write, re-vise, and re-think?  Do we audition more than one idea?  When was the last time you trashed the entire chorus and started over?  Are we just attempting to land on the first thing that works and keep moving?  Most of us, if we are being honest, are looking for the first thing that “works”. And we confuse “it works” with “it’s done”. 

I love to hear stories of great modern masterpieces that took extreme measures of persistence and devotion to birth.  Edison failed to create a “successful” lightbulb over 1,000 times. Most of what he called “failures” still emitted light.  Ford’s first “successful” car was the Model T, because models A through S had failed, but surely A-S started up and could be driven.   

This is the tenacity it takes to create a masterpiece.  When was the last time we went through so many ideas we discovered our “Model T”?  Or are we just so used to the feeling of riding in a Model C car that we’ve forgotten what “T” would be like?  I’m afraid that if we don’t slow down, no more great lightbulb ideas exist because we stop working at the first sign of light in the bulb.  Light in the bulb is NOT the point of success. 

Specifically in songwriting, I hear stories of a song like In Christ Alone, where the writers penned many more verses than were necessary.  They did this to be able to choose the strongest collection of verses in the end.  I think they succeeded. 

Look at the richness of hymn lyrics.  Verse upon verse upon verse of amazingly beautiful lyrics.  My money says, those lyrics weren’t forged in three hour co-writes, they were life-songs. 

Compare that to our co-writes where we are often struggling to get a verse 2, let alone verse 3, 4, or 5. 

Is a masterpiece really just a matter of being willing to stay in the creative fires longer?  Is it a matter of wrestling with the ideas longer?  I’m starting to think “yes”. 
 

THE END GOAL MODEL: 

The model of burning through the creation process to arrive at a final product as fast as possible is broken.  I’d venture a guess that Michelangelo's goal wasn’t to simply paint a ceiling, but rather, create an inspiring piece of art... which took 4 years of his life.  Would he have made different creative decisions day-in and day-out if he was working simply just to get to the end goal as quickly as possible?  Absolutely.  Man, if we are honest, we’ve barely spent more than a few days on any project in our creative lives.  Imagine 4 years... I literally can’t.  Sorry goal oriented people, but working towards something just to reach the end is not sufficient.  Creativity has no definitive end goal and no timeline, it is simply an approach. 

What if our approach shifted?  What if the end goal was not to simply “write a song”, no matter how noble the cause?  What if our goal was always to “leave our legacy”?  That puts a different weight on things for me.  The little things that bug me in the verse, I can no longer let slide.  I have to keep digging until it feels “right”.  It forces me to fight and push back with my co-writers until the “ifs”, “ands” and “buts” all mean exactly what we hope to convey.  What if we allowed creativity to outweigh our deadlines?  How would that impact our final product?  If you ask me, it would revolutionize everything about it. 

I laugh to imagine the response to a text where I say, “Hey, let’s get together for one week, and work on writing just one really solid song”. 


LEAVING A LEGACY: 

Maybe it’s because I’m a dad now of two baby girls, but the idea of legacy has really been rattling around in my head quite often.  And in this context of slowing down, maybe it’s time we operate from the frame of mind of being people of legacy.   

I think oftentimes, we operate thinking in the immediate present. We think about which producer to use and how the instruments should sound.  We think about the gang vocals and guitar hooks.  We think about how producing it will “make it”.  We think about the first chance we can to introduce it at church.  We think about how to release it and get other churches singing it.  We think in the “now”. 

But what if we thought about the future?  What if we considered what our children, grandchildren and future generations will be singing.  We have a chance to influence and impact their songs directly and indirectly with what we do here and now.  The question is, will we slow down to do that with intentionality? 

I think about the impact the Psalms have made on the world.  Bible scholars will certainly laugh at my brief internet search, but I read that the book took “many centuries” to write in its entirety.  That’s leaving a legacy.  And that legacy permeates our culture and song lyrics every week in our churches still today.  There’s no way David and the other credited writers of the Psalms were out to “write a hit we can use on Sunday” to try and gain leverage in their day and time.  They were documenting their interactions with God for the people coming after them.  The legacy they left is still inspiring and alive today. 

A legacy mindset will help us all avoid chasing trends and “worship hit” pitfalls.  It will hopefully help us to chronicle our lives in a meaningful way so that future generations can see the love and faithfulness of God that He displayed to us in our lifetimes. 


CLOSING THOUGHTS: 

This blog is for me as much as it is for anyone else (as they all generally are). I’m still very much in process, but I’m starting to realize the power in SLOW.  Slow is so contradictory to the nature of our fast paced world.  Everyone’s schedule is nuts, I get it.  But I’m starting to see that great art doesn’t allow for anything to be rushed.   

Maybe we’ve been approaching it incorrectly and are rarely reaching our Model T ideas.  Maybe the end goal should be more about content than a deadline.  Maybe considering our legacy will give us the inspiration to say something worth saying.  Maybe there is something to be learned in the art that has withstood generation after generation. 

Wouldn't it be nice to just breathe every once and a while?  Now how do we do that? I suppose that’s what we each must discover.















 

What I Wish I Knew 5 Years Ago 

The turn of this new year marks the start of year 5 for me as a full-time music person.  And dude, I have learned so much on this journey.  Starting out, I had so many misconceptions and disillusions about what it meant to truly create music everyday.  So I’ve been compiling a list in my phone of things I have gleaned so far that I thought would be helpful to communicate to my 5-years-ago self.  If I could have had this insight in my hands on day one, I would have run into much less heartache along the way! 

I have done some serious trimming to narrow it down to the top 5 thoughts.  And I couldn’t resist making a list of honorable mentions to the top 5.  I could have easily included so much more content in this, but I wanted to prioritize what I felt were the most premium concepts I have observed and learned. 


 

1. BE A JACK OF ALL TRADES 

I decided on day one that I needed to specialize in one area and just become the best I could be at one thing to become a music career person.  Boy, was that a folley.  Drumming, giving drum lessons, and recording drums was barely enough to put gas in my car and maintain my ever eroding gear.  To survive in today’s music world, you have to be a jack of all trades.  You have to have an “I can do that” attitude, even if it means you have to learn something.  Only a select few of the content creators that I know in the music industry do just ONE THING.  They all teach, lead worship, play several instruments, produce, take photos, do graphics, write songs, etc.  And maybe only 1 or 2 of those things is what they REALLY LOVE to do.  So diversify.  Don’t be just a guitar player.  Be a guitar player that sings, writes, and engineers.  Don’t get too laser focused too early in your journey that you miss out on opportunities to do some really cool things and meet some really awesome people!  You never know when an engineering gig turns out to be re-writing a bridge and laying down the guitar parts!    Eventually, if you have the patience to endure the journey, you will be able to focus a lot more on what you really love. 






2. YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE 

THE LONE WOLF - One of my biggest mistakes starting out was deciding I had to do everything myself.  I foolishly thought that to get it done right I had to do it myself.  I even played keys on some of the very first records I was making… and I don’t know how to play keys.  I was unknowingly choking creativity TO DEATH by trying to control everything.  But true creativity is discovered in collaboration.  Don’t lock your peers out of your creative process.  Let them IN!  As hard as this was to do, when I allowed more people into the music I was working on, my world dramatically matured for the better.  The more talented people with great ideas I involved, the better it ALL became.  Once I opened their creative faucets, I didn’t have a bucket big enough to capture the great ideas.  Their collective creativity far outweighed my best attempts.  So kill your inner control freak, and allow creativity to spring up from multiple sources.  Capture as much as you can, compile it in a meaningful way, and then you may be knocking on the door of some truly inspirational material.   

MENTORS - Develop relationships (naturally) with the people “ahead of you” on the journey. Allow them to mentor you… and not necessarily in a formal way.  Watch what they do and how they do it.  Study how they approach their craft.  Allow them to grow and shape you, even if from a distance. Pay attention to the feedback you receive from them as a trusted opinion. Show them songs and let them rip it up and tell you why. If you are intentional with this, it will build and shape you into who you are trying to become.  The people who have gone before you have paid some serious dues. It would serve you well to listen to and value what they have to say. 
 




3. THE DREAM IS WHERE YOU ARE   

Music capitals like LA, Nashville, New York, etc. are cities of normal people.  They are not places you move to because you have one ounce of talent and magically your dreams come true. The reason someone succeeds in music is because they understand the dream they have is achievable RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE.  Yes, “music cities” are places where music is more “welcomed”, but in this highly connected world, your location is really of no concern. Too often I watch people desperately trying to be “noticed” by the industry folks, so they decide proximity is a key to that reality.  BUT you and the people around you ARE the next generation of content creators if you choose to be.  Gather the people around you.  Create content together.  Become a movement.  Become an inevitability.  Don’t attach your dreams to moving to a city, or attach them to people you hope to one day know.  Chase it right here, right now, the best you can, with the best people you have around you. 






4. REAL RELATIONSHIPS 

If you attempt to leverage relationships purely for the strategy of advancing your career, you will quickly box yourself into a very lonely place.  No one in the music industry is interested in being used for your personal gain.  If you go to conferences in hopes to rub elbows with gurus and impress “big players”, your approach is sorely misguided.  Stop handing out your CDs and leading off with your best name drop. I promise you, no one cares.  Legit people in the music industry work with big names all day, every day.  You will not be able to impress them with your rolodex because, next to theirs, yours is very thin. Genuine connection and nurturing REAL relationships with REAL people is the key.  Ask about people’s families, genuinely attempt to become a friend… not out of what can be gained, but out of a heart for people.  Hang out.  Have fun.  And don’t necessarily talk about music… remember that’s their job.  The music industry is very small and very connected, and if you begin to build a reputation of being out for yourself, your strategy, and your best interest, you will quickly find how doors will close all around you.  Instead of trying to be the best networker, become someone they can call a friend. 



 


5. POSSESS A LONG TERM MINDSET 

Nothing happens quickly.  Songs can take years to be recorded and released… I’ve heard stories of 10-15 year old songs finally being recorded for the first time.  Productions may take months or years to be released.  Building genuine relationship takes years.  Creating a song catalog of substance can take years and years.  You get the picture.  If you want to be involved in the music industry, you have to have a long term mindset.  The Voice and American Idol are TV shows… they are not reality.  You don’t write an awesome song and achieve instant notoriety.  The industry is full of very awesome songs.  Having a career in music means you keep your head down and plow the field… always.  Keep your eye on a “where would I like to be in 5 years?” kind of question.  Set realistic expectations and figure out the actual steps to get you there.  For example, “I want to record an album in the next two years”.  Start with setting up co-writes, and reach out to some producers to begin to get a feel for pricing.  Look at how you will fund it.  Record it.  Figure out a promotional strategy for release.  Be methodical about tackling your goals.  Don’t set goals that seem to just float in the clouds.  Don’t know the next step???  Ask.  Everyone in this industry tends to be a fount of wisdom, and generally they are not afraid to share it.  Stay thirsty on your quest for knowledge, and stay focused on your “eventuals”. 






HONORABLE MENTIONS - Here are a few short thoughts that I felt didn’t quite make it to the Top 5, but are worth noting! 

1. Don’t lead off with excuses about your content.  Let your content speak for itself without trying to justify things that you feel self-conscious about.  It makes you look bad and unprepared. 

2. Focus more on content than social media/networking.  If you spend more time strategizing and trying to gain a following than you are creating good content… you have it backwards.  The best way to gain a following is having engaging content. 

3. You get one first impression.  You can never get back wasting your first impression on a sad worktape.  Do things with excellence, and when you get an opportunity to walk through a door, walk through with something polished! 

4. Invest in yourself.  If you aren’t willing to put everything you have into “you”, don’t expect someone else to see you as a reasonable investment. 

5. Don’t let “gear” become a distraction.  Don’t get too caught up in gear world.  It’s an endless black hole of opinions and audiophiles.  Find what sounds good to you and go with it.  Don’t waste too much of your creative energy “tinkering”.  Make music, not sounds. 

6. Music is just the vehicle.  Don’t fall too far in love with music that you forget it is just a means to promote a message.  Your message is what people will ultimately identify with and attach. 

7. Humility opens doors, pride locks them. Yeah…. enough said. 

8. A music dream will continue to be only a dream when you take no steps to make it a reality.










 

Songs For Such A Time As This 

What story does a song tell if it is never heard?  How does a lyric speak to someone’s situation if the message is never spoken?  When does a melody have a chance to embed God’s truth on a heart if the notes are never sung?

 

These are questions I’ve been wrestling with over the past few years as I have continued to collect songs on a “shelf”.  I call the unheard songs my “dust collectors”.  And in many conversations with others like me, I’m coming to find out, I’m not the only one writing and burying songs.  There are others who have “God songs” ornamenting a secret music shrine that no one is allowed access.

 

So much worship, so much revelation, so much GOD, sitting on a “bookshelf” atop our demo studios.

 

It has begun to haunt me… and I can’t shake it.

 

Many of the songs of this generation are locked up.  They sit in the faint whistles of melodies on voice memos, and in the often lost lyrics on scraps of napkins.  They scream silently in the hearts and minds of worship leaders and musicians that stand in front of the very people thirsty for a taste of something fresh.  Oh! The irony of it all.

 

These “buried” songs are locked up in excuses.  Excuses that feel very real to the often introverted nature of the creative.  Excuses like “I’m afraid to fail, it’s not my calling, I’m afraid of criticism, I’m afraid of rejection, I’m not good enough to do it, my platform is too small, this isn’t worthy of a worthy God, etc.”  All very real feelings in the moment.  But also, all deep rooted lies that I believe the devil himself has convinced us of believing. 

 

Recently I have felt God challenging me to a place of faith and courage.  It stands in direct opposition to the lies that I myself have believed for quite some time that have led me to bury the vast majority of my music. I think many of you who bury your songs like me, will be challenged by this as well.

 

3 principles that confront the lies that make us bury our songs:

  1. Stewardship: Are you being a good steward of God’s gifting to never provide opportunity for your music to be more than a “dust collector”?
  2. Urgency: Is it possible that God has a “here and now” plan for that song that you have buried?  Is their some person in desperate need of your message?
  3. Excuses: Is it possible that your list of excuses are actually taking you out of the will of God? (insert one of 500,000 possible excuses here: i.e. lack of talent, lack of recording gear, lack of following, lack of industry contacts, lack of platform, etc)

 

This challenge for me springs right from Esther 4:14.

 

It reads:

 

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

 

I don’t have the time to unpack the entire context of this story.  I encourage you to read Esther in its entirety.  Quickly, Mordecai is challenging Esther with this question when he sees God has positioned her in such a way that she has influence with the king to save her people. 

 

But I feel Mordecai’s words have immediacy for us as worship leaders, as worship writers, and as creative types still today.  And it uniquely speaks to all 3 challenges of stewardship, urgency, and excuses from above.

 

1.  Stewardship:  I think it’s key in the verse above to see that if Esther remained silent “relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place.”  I truly believe (Sean’s theology here) that if we aren’t willing to listen to God’s voice, write the songs He inspires to the best of our ability, and strategize about how to share them with excellence, God will find another person more willing to do it.  God’s plan will be accomplished with or without us... we just get the honor of participating in it.  We aren't accomplishing His will when we write songs and file them away.  Stewardship calls for more.  I believe, that if you prove yourself faithful in stewarding well, there wouldn't be a bucket deep enough to contain all that God wants to pour out in your life and ministry.

 

2.  Urgency:  God has positioned you in such a way to do something for His kingdom, as he positioned Esther as the queen to help deliver her people.  His timing in the situation was perfect, as it is in yours.  Maybe you stand up in front of 20 people, 200 people, 2,000 people, or 20,000 people every week.  As it was for Esther, it is for us now, “for such a time as this”.  We are encountering people inside and outside of the church walls that are desperate to hear about God's character, and that are desperate to worship Him in spirit and in truth.  Our time is now.  

 

3.  Excuses:  Esther needed two things for success in her story: faith and courage.  Not gobs of talent and recording gear.  Faith and courage.  So I feel it’s time we take our excuses and burn them in the fire of faith and courage.  Stop distracting yourself with all the label, publishing, copyrighting, CCLI, and industry non-sense.  Stand up in faith and courage and deliver the message you feel God impressing on your heart.  Don't fall into the trap of letting your excuses drown out what God is calling you to do.

 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get to heaven and God ask me why I hid this generation’s songs on my shelf.  I don’t want to have to see the impact I could have made for His Kingdom in regretful hindsight as He shows me how he positioned me exactly where He needed me to be effective.  

 

Too often we are looking right past the very people God wants us to serve because it’s not BIG enough… It’s not STADIUM enough.  We like to live in some future overly dramatic dream, when our “for such a time is this” is a congregation standing in front of us ready to worship God… right now.

 

Help them worship.  Help them sing their song.  Don’t miss a chance to give someone the song that will carry them through a dark hour.  Don’t miss a chance to give someone the lyrics that will sustain them when their hope runs out.  Don’t forget the power in an opportunity to point someone to Jesus.  Songs have great purpose for advancing the Kingdom of God, but that purpose isn't fully realized when the song is just a shadow on your wall at home.

 

Free your song.  Release it with excellence.  Stand in faith and courage in what God is stirring in your heart.

 

The person I hope to light a fire under is me.  The person who has become okay with allowing dust to collect on what God has inspired.

 

Dust off… for such a time as this.