Peace is something so many in the world find elusive. Some protest for peace, some fight wars for peace, some give their lives for peace and others just dream of peace. Ironically, the answer to peace has been looked over for 2000 years. Spoken word/alternative hip-hop artist, TAL, uses his platform well crafting words in order to share the Good News of peace with all.
Are you looking for the perfect Christmas gift under $20 for that family member or friend who is pursuing a career that could potentially bring fame? You might consider sending them a Creating Monsters book, Don’t Feed The Monster t-shirt or both. You can order from our website store or from Amazon.com.
Tune In To Juice TV Live!
Tune in to Juice TV Live (show airs on TBN) Friday December 9:00pm CST as we will be discussing thoughts from Creating Monsters with host Wes Howard & Kat Vazquez. The show will also feature musical performances from About A Mile, Kolby Koloff and Crystal Rome.
If you would like to attend live, Call 615-531-3505 to reserve your seats.
What an incredibly strange year we have experienced with the US Presidential election! I’ve read about crazy elections in our past but the one we just experienced felt a bit like war. While the huge division and disfunction in our country was exposed, something even bigger revealed itself.
I talk a great deal about platforms and stages, with primary focus being on creatives. However, politicians are given some of the biggest platforms. As platforms for presidential candidates grew, the monster was feasting on ego and pride. A handful of candidates professed to be Christians, but as we watched the debates it was difficult to see Jesus as they ripped each other to shreds.
Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed similar behavior amongst Christian artists vying for the top of the charts. While smiles don their faces in public, conversations backstage, in green rooms and on tour buses are laced with jealousy, pride and ego. If we are all on a quest to make Jesus famous shouldn’t we lift one another up as brothers and sisters in Christ? Imagine the size of the platform if everyone joined together, shared success with all and offered a helping hand to the less successful?
There is only room for one at the top and his name is Jesus. Let’s join together and make him famous!
This week is Christian music accolade week or better known as the GMA Dove Awards. Last night, some artists took home a prestigious Dove Award while others went home empty handed and maybe feeling a bit rejected.
Let’s face it, most of us want to be recognized for our achievements and accomplishments? I know I do. The amazing thing is that God recognizes us regardless of whether we have trophies on our wall or not. When we are about his business of carrying out The Great Commission, we are heroes to him. Music is a powerful tool and the Holy Spirit often utilizes it to draw listeners to Jesus.
Today, lets celebrate both the winners & those who didn’t win at last night’s GMA Dove Awards show. When one person finds Jesus through hearing a Christian song, the entire Christian music industry should celebrate. The Christian music industry was originally designed for one common purpose of carrying out The Great Commission!
Please join me in praying specifically for two things this week.
1) For the GMA Dove Winners and that they would be humbled by the recognition, that God would prevent the monster from boosting their ego and that they would be even more energized to continue taking God’s message to the world!
2) For those who didn’t win an award and that God would prevent the monster from making them feel like a failure and fill their heart with jealousy. That God would remind them to recognize that anyone carrying out The Great Commission is a winner in his eyes.
Undoubtedly, we live in the new world order of social media. Most everything we do in life is centered around building kingdoms of Followers and Likes on social media. Even Bible Study groups use Facebook to stay in touch with one another and to quickly deliver messaging. Our daily lives have become so busy that we now depend on social media to keep us connected.
For those who work on a stage, connection is even more important. Music artists, speakers, authors and even pastors have been drawn into the emphasis and importance of one’s following. Record companies, book publishers, booking agents and event programmers demand big followings in order to do business with music artists, authors, speakers and pastors. That in turn can create an unhealthy emphasis on one’s number of followers.
I would encourage all of us to examine our focus. Are we more concerned about following Jesus than we are about building a following? Do we have faith that God will bring the audience he desires to hear the message we are proclaiming? Are we kingdom building or building kingdoms?
Last week I was out on a college tour with two of our artists. The tour is making stops at a number of Christian universities over the next couple of months. During the week I experienced two contrasting scenarios.
One of the universities has a very strict conservative policy about what they allow on stage for concerts during their convocation services. They require their students to dress up, cover any tattoos and remove all nose rings etc. In order to be consistent, they ask any musician entering their stage to do the same. The Dean of Students noticed one of our musicians had a tiny diamond stud nose ring and another was wearing an earring at the top of his ear lobe. The Dean asked me if I could have them removed before our band took the stage. A brief conversation with our artist resulted in instant compliance. I was so proud of our team for acting quickly to acquiesce to the Dean’s wishes without hesitation. I think the Monster (ego, pride) was successfully starved that evening.
At another university stop, we had asked for a local acoustic opener in order to create an opportunity for a student musician. We had limited inputs, limited soundcheck time and our desire was to create an experience that transitioned from acoustic to a fully plugged in band. Discovering they had picked a student band, I had a phone conversation with the leader of the band about the acoustic nature of performance we were looking for. The student didn’t like the acoustic nature as they normally play fully plugged in but he committed to figuring it out. Unfortunately, the student band showed up at soundcheck as a fully plugged in band. While the student was blatantly ignoring our wishes, we let it slide and didn’t address the situation. After sound check, the student approached me to ask if we were all good with his defiance. I explained why we had asked for acoustic and asked him why he didn’t comply. With no real answer, he then committed that they would stay within their 10 minute set time we had agreed on. His band then preceded to go 14 minutes instead of the 10 minutes he had just committed to. While it may seem trivial, this artist broke his commitment twice in an effort to grab what he thought was a better presentation and stage time for his band. After leaving the university, I emailed the student to share our disappointment in his broken commitment and to encourage him to re-think his actions with future music opportunities. The student apparently didn’t appreciate the encouragement and forwarded the email to some of the University staff. Instead of addressing the student’s integrity issue, the university staff, choosing to protect the student’s ego feeding behavior, was upset with me for sending the email. What an incredible teaching opportunity the University staff missed. The Monster (ego, pride, entitlement) was well fed at this university stop.
While it is impossible to get it perfect, our Christian universities certainly have major influence on the Monster that so badly wants to control the next generation of adults. Would you join me in praying for protection and wisdom over our Christian universities as they mold the next generation?
If you are like many Americans, you found yourself glued to your TV over the last couple weeks watching the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. While Americans picked up 121 medals, it was interesting to see winners from multiple countries giving glory to God. Olympic winners are given an incredible platform as every media outlet in the world wants to grab a interview with the winners. We have seen American gold medal gymnast, Gabby Douglas, speak about her faith in Jesus over the last four years and it was nice to see so many others join her in sharing their faith at this year’s Olympic games.
Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman swimmer to win gold – “All Glory to God. Isn’t he awesome!”
American gold medalist Maya Dirado – “I don’t think God really cares about my swimming much. I think God cares about my soul and whether I’m bringing his love and mercy into the world”
Ethiopian gold medalist Almaz Ayana – “I pray to the Lord. The Lord has given me everything. My doping is in Jesus”
American women’s triathlon gold medalist Gwen Jorgenson – “I really think you just have to keep God as your focal point and know that he is always number one. When you do that it will help you gain perspective on everything in life-not just endurance sports”
“We both know our identity is in Christ” – Mens diving silver medalist David Boudia says about he and fellow American diver Steele Johnson
How are you using your platform to make Jesus famous outside the church?
TURN ON THE LIGHTS
As a child, I remember having a fear that a monster lived under my bed or in my bedroom closet. My dad had a solution for squelching my fear, and it proved to work brilliantly every time. Dad would simply turn on the lights and have me look under the bed and in the closet to show me nothing was there.
Walking through life, I sometimes fear the scariest monster of all resides in me. So what do I do with the fear? Using the technique I learned from my dad, I simply turn on the lights. The quickest way I know to turn the lights on is to diligently study God’s Word, spend time in prayer with Him and surround myself with true Jesus followers who hold me accountable. With the lights turned on, God will certainly reveal any sign of a monster. As long as the lights are on, there is no way for the monster to control my mind or actions; but the minute I allow the lights to dim, the monster will begin to surface.
For me, turning the lights on often reveals Dr. Frankenstein at work. While I feel called to work as an artist manager, I struggle with how to walk out the manager role without creating monsters. Despite my best efforts, some monster-driven hearts have slipped through on my watch. Even though it seems like those were mistakes on my part, I can’t help but think God put me in those artists’ lives for a reason. If only for a short season, God can use us to mentor them. While it may be frustrating to see an artist feeding the monster, I continually remind myself that my role is to plant seeds and lead them to the light switch. God is the only one who can illuminate, and ultimately defeat, the monster.
God, thank You for loving me and calling me into the role You designed specifically for me. I pray You would give me wisdom as I help manage the ministries and careers of artists You have called for Your purpose. Please help us recognize the monsters present in our flesh as a result of the fall. We ask for Your help. Thank You for giving us a way to overcome the monsters. I pray You would use us to help spread the news of Your son, Jesus, as He is the only one we are called to make famous. Please kill the monsters in all of us and let Your glory shine!
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows
to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
(Galatians 6:7-8, ESV)
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Study Guide VISIT
KILLING THE MONSTER
So we know the monster lives. Now what? A well-fed monster can gain enormous influence over the person it dwells within—an influence so strong that outside voices of reason, and even the voice of God, can often go unheard. Feeling responsible for feeding and creating the monster, we become determined to find a way to break through. We must find a way to kill the monster!
I have found the task of dismantling the monster an extremely difficult and seemingly impossible undertaking. As egos grow, the monster raises a massive defense shield to protect his or her ego from outside intruders. The defense shield repels even the closest friends and loved ones as it perceives them as enemies. The monster surrounds itself with “yes” men and women who are plentiful and standing in line just to get the opportunity to hang out with the monster. Monsters like to hang out with other monsters, and anyone who speaks truth and wisdom quickly becomes the enemy.
When I married my wife over a decade ago, I entered into a celebrity family. My step-daughter is a multi-Platinum selling, GRAMMY®- nominated artist who was mentored by some of the best Dr. Frankensteins in the music industry. She found herself worshipped by millions of fans at a very young age. In her case, becoming a celebrity at fifteen years old wasn’t planned. She simply wanted to sing. I think it’s impossible for anyone under twenty- five to even begin to comprehend the implications of becoming famous. A quick look at the lives of most childhood stars shows the negative effects being worshipped often leaves behind. Their adult life is filled with trouble as they attempt to fill the emptiness the childhood stardom leaves within them. None of us were designed by God to be worshipped, so it would be ridiculous to expect a young person to walk through a celebrity experience perfectly unscathed.
Watching my step-daughter struggle with an ego that was planted and fertilized by the music industry helped me understand some of the difficulty artists encounter. Thankfully, Diana was by her side to help protect her from some of the craziness. Even so, the struggle to maturity was enormous. When one is surrounded by people willing to attend to one’s every need, basic survival skills become skewed. As with any human, if someone serves our every need, then it’s impossible to realize our true dependence on God. What happens when the “yes” people disappear? Complete emptiness is inevitable. In the case of my step-daughter, she was abandoned by many of her “yes” people the minute she encountered a difficult time in her life. Many in the Christian music industry abandoned and shunned her at a time when she needed their love the most. Thankfully, she had a mom and grandmother who cared for her way beyond any success she had achieved. Many prayers were lifted to God on her behalf; and as He promises, God was there to fill her emptiness. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a childhood celebrity who doesn’t know God or who doesn’t have friends and family who lead them in His direction and intercede with prayer. Interestingly, today if you asked Diana if she could travel back in time, would she have allowed her fifteen- year-old daughter to enter the music industry at such a young age, her reply would be a resounding “no.”
God gives us great examples in nature. One of the greatest is watching a mother bird with her babies. She feeds them and attends their every need while they are younglings. Once they begin to show signs of strength, she pushes them out of the nest in order to teach them to fly, which is similar to our role as artist managers. I not only want to see artists fly, I want to see see them fly with the integrity and the purpose God created them for. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing an artist live their lives according to God’s plan.
My struggle with helping artists build platforms is similar to that of parenting. No matter how intentional we are with mentoring, it is impossible to control the outcome. I’m often reminded of the old saying, “You can buy them books and send them to school, but you can’t make them learn.” As much as I would like to tame every monster I encounter, the only one I can directly control is the one that desires to reside in me. Maybe my personal experience in battling the flesh can be used to help artists realize and understand the existence of the monster that fights to control their minds and actions. While it may be a daunting task, it’s one I feel called by God to take on. Exposing the monster early on and encouraging artists to allow God’s Word to be their manual for living life will significantly impact the monster survival rate. After all, God is the ultimate monster slayer.