Opposite Ends of the Artist Spectrum

Last month I had two starkly contrasting artist experiences that left me with a mix of emotions and a call to prayer…

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It was Sunday night and Johanna was about to sit the kids down to eat as I said my goodbyes and began my drive out to a dinner party in Peoria, AZ (a northwest suburb of Phoenix). The party was being hosted in honor of my friend Micah and his band Wild Earth. The purpose of this gathering was to engage Micah’s process of dreaming about the Kingdom impact his band could have in 2017.

Over dinner Micah shared his story with the intimate group of us who were invited to attend the event. Micah explained the calling he felt from the Lord to pursue a different platform for sharing his life and music; far different than the national touring he had done with a band for several years. Micah went on to chronicle how Wild Earth emerged through his desire to pull back out of an active touring lifestyle and to enter into more of a grassroots and localized experience. Micah desires to allow the Lord to open doors for him. Micah also desires to work through his own fears and inhibitions and take steps of faith to direct people’s attention away from him and towards God with his music.

Once Micah finished sharing his story he invited us to speak into his journey. Creative ideas and words of encouragement were shared. Ultimately we surrounded him and prayed blessing over his endeavors to pioneer a different way of stewarding his talents as an artist; different than what the music industry would prescribe. I left the event excited about what the Lord had in store for Micah and brimming over with expectation for a growing number of musicians to embrace the same type of self-sacrifice and surrender that was evident in Micah’s story.

Two nights later the inspiring experience at Micah’s dinner party was starkly contrasted by the experience I had attending a concert in downtown Phoenix. I went to the Crescent Ballroom, a venue I had gone to once before. The previous time was to see Micah perform as a local opening act for a tour that was coming through town. This experience, however, was greatly different. 

I arrived early and found a seat to wait in until the show started. Once the concert began I made my way to the front. Throughout the show the lead singer made several references to his depressing lyrics and talked openly about how his lack of self-confidence clashes with his narcissism. His spirit was heavy and I could sense he was weighed down by years of hardship and disappointment. I drove home with mixed emotions. I was broken hearted for this artist and the life he was living off stage, while also feeling even more grateful for my friendship with Micah and for the experience I’d had at his dinner event two nights prior.

These contrasting experiences left me with a clear call to prayer. If you share my passion to see an awakening of faith, identity, and purpose among musicians then I invite you to pray as I am:

  • Pray for my friend Micah. Pray that the Lord would continue to lead Him into greater arenas of cultural influence, and ask God for a fresh outpouring of creativity as he works to complete his sophomore album with Wild Earth.
  • Pray for the RYFO Phoenix team I’m leading. Pray that together we can bridge the divide between the Church and the musician community, in order to birth a movement of hope within our city’s music scene.

Nudity, shootings, and love.

Halloween. For most it is an evening of dress up. A time to be heroic, scary, or royal. A time to take children out and gather the sugary loot. A time to be silly, different, anyone but ourselves. There is a lighter side to Halloween; it’s fun.

But where there is light, darkness creeps around the edges. For others, Halloween is taken to another level. It’s about idolizing the body, having a fill of pleasure, and being seduced by the mystery of the mask. It’s about drugs, sex, and pixie dust. It’s a night to be anyone but yourself.

In the past, I have viewed Halloween as a nuisance, something to be tolerated but preferably ignored. There have been years when I dressed up; experiences I can count on one hand. I have also taken kids trick or treating, which was enjoyable. But overall, I have been too aware of the underbelly of this holiday to truly enjoy the lighter side of things…

That was until tonight. Tonight, everything changed.

Did you know that on October 31st, 1571, Martin Luther nailed the letter of reformation to his church’s door? That simple act would cause a major uprising and eventual split of the church. This split would birth the Protestant religion which would inevitably lead to centuries of revivals and exponential growth in Christianity.

Tonight we met with an amazing group of passionate Christians who are believing for a new revival and wave of God’s love for Southern California. The meeting place was Hollywood. We worshipped in a small building called The Oasis and then broke into small groups to go out onto the streets and share one simple message to people on the blvd: God loves you.

We weren’t there to judge, we weren’t there to criticize, we weren’t passing out pamphlets or telling people to repent; we were simply asking the Father to show us where He was and who He wanted to love on and allowing Him to do the rest.

The streets were packed with thousands of dressed up, hyped up, and probably drugged up people. But not just people, His children. I had a few opportunities to share God’s love. One woman I met was named Nicole and she had an issue with alcohol and other addictions. The word God gave me for Nicole was that her new name was Forgiven; when she thought of herself, she was to think, “Nicole is forgiven.” We had a chance to pray with her and share with her how valuable she was. Other’s on the team saw people receive healing in their body; pain they felt completely healed and disappeared.

It’s easy on a night like this to see the darkness. We were surrounded by drugs, prostitutes, pimps, nudity, and an overwhelming sense of animosity, hatred, and fear. It’s more difficult to see the light. To see what God wants to do and where He is moving required us to be listening and following. We had to set ourselves aside and ask Jesus what His plan was.

Tonight, I watched as God honored and loved others through us. I was amazed that I wasn’t afraid or intimidated by what surrounded us; instead I was fired up to share God’s love in a simple, yet deep way.

While we were on the streets, a shooting occurred just a block away. People began running and eventually the riot police showed up. This would have been a perfect time to feel fear, but instead I felt overwhelmed with God’s protection and love over me.

There is so much more to say about tonight. I feel as if I learned eternal lessons about God that will, and are, transforming my heart and mind. I have done street ministry before, and honestly I had been so focused on thoughts like, “what will God give me? How can I be used tonight? What will I give to others?” that I I wasn’t really free to love…

how incredibly selfish and focused on me..

Ministry is about loving the Father, knowing the Father, and sharing the deep simplicity of His love with others. It’s not about me, my gifts, or what I bring to the table. It’s all about him..

And to tonight I got to see the Father love and honor half naked, under the influence, dressed up people who love to celebrate Halloween. I love that about His heart; it’s the true picture of love founded on grace, rooted in forgiveness. God is love.

Imagine that.

P&P Jars!

P&P Jars!

Tonight was one of the first nights in a long time that me and Sim didn’t have any plans. So, our plan was to spend quality time together where we talked and caught up with each other on a deeper, more intentional level. Our favorite question to ask each other is, “how is your heart?” this typically brings things to the surface that we would not normally talk about. As we mused this question tonight, an idea was birthed from our conversation. That idea was P&P Jars! We have created Pray and praise jars to request and remember what the Lord has done. Tonight, we created a new family tradition where once a month we will sit down, add prayer requests, and put praises in the jars. Our goal is to do this monthly until New Year’s where we can “ring in the new year” by reading all of the entries and praising God for what He has done!

Join us!
P&P Jars are really easy to make. I simply cut up some scrap paper and added our praises and prayers from this month (and we used this time to reflect on the lat 6 months). I then folded them and put them in the jar. The Green labeled jar is for prayers and the verse inside says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:6). The purple labeled jar is for praises and the inside message is, “He has caused His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate.” (Ps 111:4).

So, let our prayers turn to praises Lord!

Excited to see these P&P jars be filled!

P&P Jars!

Tonight was one of the first nights in a long time that me and Sim didn’t have any plans. So, our plan was to spend quality time together where we talked and caught up with each other on a deeper, more intentional level. Our favorite question to ask each other is, “how is your heart?” this typically brings things to the surface that we would not normally talk about. As we mused this question tonight, an idea was birthed from our conversation. That idea was P&P Jars! We have created Prayer and praise jars to request and remember what the Lord has done. Tonight, we created a new family tradition where once a month we will sit down, add prayer requests, and put praises in the jars. Our goal is to do this monthly until New Year’s where we can “ring in the new year” by reading all of the entries and praising God for what He has done!

Join us!
P&P Jars are really easy to make. I simply cut up some scrap paper and added our praises and prayers from this month (and we used this time to reflect on the lat 6 months). I then folded them and put them in the jar. The Green labeled jar is for prayers and the verse inside says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:6). The purple labeled jar is for praises and the inside message is, “He has caused His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate.” (Ps 111:4).

So, let our prayers turn to praises Lord!

Excited to see these P&P jars be filled!

I woke up in a dream

I had a dream a couple nights ago that I have had a few times before. It’s a friendship reunion. A conversation I wish I could have. I should mention that I rarely remember my dreams unless I wake up out of one, which is what happened in this case.

If you could sit across the table from an old friend, what would you ask them? 

I know what I would want to ask. How is your heart? Are you satisfied? What is the sources of joy in your life? Are you at peace? What do value most highly? How can I pray for you?

The dream ended in this way. I had a chance to pray for this friend that, in reality, I have been disconnected from for many years now. At times I find myself wondering what this friend’s life looks like today, the reality is – I may never know. In fact, it is likely that we may never reconnect the way I dreamed. I am saddened by this thought, hopeful that it is not the reality; yet more importantly I am challenged by this dream.

Why haven’t I been praying for my friend? Sure I have said a few words to God about this friend over the years, but I have never made a commitment to lift him up in prayer with any regularity. Through God’s omnipresence and loving pursuit of my friend- I know that my prayers can reach him, even if I cannot pray for him in person.

So, I am committing to pray weekly for this friend. Thank you Lord for this dream, and thank you that your presence can reach my friend. 

Who do you wish you could reconnect with? Is that longing a call to prayer? It is for me.

-Sim