A weekend full of inspiration, a road to further personal challenge – contemplations after Song Summit 2012

Well.  Where to begin?  Song Summit 2012 run by APRA/AMCOS here in Sydney,  was possibly the most eye opening conference I have been to.  It wasn’t just the amazing guest speakers or the fantastic new muso contacts I made.  That was all fab.  And it wasn’t just the incredible performances by up and coming artists as well as seasoned professionals that made your hair stand on end with the eloquence of their lyrics. I will never forget those masters who have brought me to tears over the past few days, as I sat and heard their songs for the first time (such as Imogen Heap and Kev Carmody – my new favourite lyricists!)

No. It was more than all that.

For me, Song Summit was a moment in time that I will make note of – a time when my eyes have been opened up and my mind stretched, to realise that I have been living in a lovely but small bubble of influence and that there is so much more ‘out there’ for me to explore, to impact and to be a part of.

A little more detail may be of use here.

I’ve been ‘working’ in the church music scene for a number of years now and have been incredibly satisfied with the roles I have undertaken and with the level of influence I have been exposed to, and that I have had opportunity to create.  I have been more than privileged to participate in some wonderful and inspirational music and encountered the presence of God in ways that have really changed my life.  And I’ve been super blessed to watch others become transformed in those moments too.

But recently I’ve come to feel that there is more.  Not necessarily more for me to receive…but more for me to give.  And not just to give to those in Christian circles, but to anyone who desires to hear.  ‘He who has an ear, let him hear‘ comes to mind 🙂

I’ve realised that as much as I am satisfied with the path of my life, I am not satisfied with the level of impact I feel I am pursuing.  Why do I feel this way?

Simple.  Jesus says ‘Go out into all the world…’  ALL.

Now please hear my heart.  There are many who are called to serve the church and to minister to the church specifically.  I am one who is called to minister to the church and I actively pursue this mandate because I know that it is the heart of God to see all who love him become transformed.

But I’m also beginning to really see that it is so easy for musicians in the church, to kind of forget, or perhaps just not think about the opportunities that we have to reach those outside the church, with the music and the spiritual influence that this music has and impact their lives too.

I know that the Bible also says to be ‘in the world but not of the world’ and that many may feel that this is about being totally ‘set apart’ from worldly environments, however, my personal perspective on this (and no, I’ve not done an exegesis on it, but am speaking purely from my heart here) is that we are to be the salt and light that the world needs (the ‘world’ being those who have not yet encountered a personal relationship with God).

So, question: how can we be salt and light – be those who carry the Answer to the world – and not carry it out to those who’ve not yet heard or understood about a God who loved them first?

How will they ever know if we don’t go?

Sorry, got a bit carried away with the rhyme there, but you know what I’m talking about here.

I know this post is a longish one, but please bear with me.  My heart is to see the world revolutionised and I can see that much of what we have been called to do, as Christians, is being done by people who may not even know or understand who God is.  I do see Christians doing a lot, working hard to bring people into the Kingdom, to be a part of restoring the lives of others and in helping people find their gifts, talents and destiny in God.  So I am not suggesting that Christians are doing nothing.

What I am suggesting, is that there is more.  And this is where I am speaking more directly to those who are called into Creative ministries, who are musicians, singers, dancers, artists, poets, writers, etc.

I’m going to push the envelope just a little more here and suggest that we (yes, me included) are a lot more comfortable with being actively utilised within the safe confines of church life than in the thought of going ‘out’ of church circles and taking what revelation we have and giving it out to a world that could potentially crush our hopes and dreams.  I know that I have had a misconception for a long time, that it’s ‘dangerous’ out there, that I’ll get swallowed up by some big recording label shark and spat out once they are bored with my style.

I formally apologise to the music industry for holding on to such a devastatingly destructive mindset and for allowing that mindset to control the use of my gifts and talents and ultimately, the revelation that I have been given, being squashed by a religious and faulty paradigm.

And so all this to say, that I have come to some new conclusions as a result of my exposure to a myriad of amazing, supportive and genuine people at Song Summit.  I’ve been living in that bubble and even though I am still convinced I am meant to continue my journey within church communities, I now also see that I am wasting a very precious gift that is not in fact mine to hoard, but to give away to those who need it most.

So.  This is where I stand on the matter of being a worship leader and minister in church circles and also being a public performer and ‘minister’ of hope, love and restoration (because really that’s what being salt and light is in action) in the ‘world’ – I am both.  It’s not an either/or choice for me.  I know that for some, it is and I respect that.  I am in no way condemning those who do not feel called to minister outside the church.

But I will raise you to this same challenge – consider this: What impact might you have on the ‘world’  if you were to deliver, even in a covert style, the beautiful and supernatural gift that is in your hands?

My final thought for today on this, is that every person –  with no exceptions – in the world, is searching.  We are searching to know the answer to the most basic and simple of questions:  am I worth something to someone?  Am I worthy of love?

I have that answer.  You have that answer.  And for the record, I intend to make sure anyone I meet gets to hear it in some form or another, whether it be in my songs, my instrumental music, my poems, blogs or face to face.

How about you?

The days that fashion us

These are the days of our lives… ha, sorry, I’ve always wanted to say that 😛

But seriously, the phrase is an interesting one – it’s the day to day that fashions us, that forms our character and our mindsets, our attitudes and our capacity to influence.  So how do you cope with those kinds of days?  You know, the ones that you look back on and struggle to find where the gold was?

Sometimes I fight those days and win.  I come out on top, crashing into bed from the sheer effort of maintaining my ‘posture’ – my attitude, my character, my atmosphere shifting tongue – but full of a sense of satisfaction that I broke through whatever that wall happened to be on that day.

But there are days when I collapse into bed, still feeling the struggle, still fighting the archaic mindsets and feeling the fight trickle out from my weary mind and body.  On these days, despite all my best efforts, the score doesn’t settle in my favour… or does it?

Is it possible, that despite the seemingly damaging blow to my equilibrium, that these ‘bad’ days are in fact a blessing in disguise?  Is it, I dare say, a privilege to have the opportunity to push myself beyond what I am able to cope with… and fail?

Is it plausible that where I feel I am teetering between breaking through the wall and collapsing beside it,  that in fact, these times of struggle, of defeat and failure (as we often view it, be it right or wrong), are part of my birthright to walk through?

Now stay with me.  I’m not suggesting that we are to go looking for bad days, or that we allow defeat to rob us of all we have the right to experience in life.  I am not suggesting that we live with a poverty mentality or that we get out the cloak of self-wounding false humility to wrap ourselves in.

No.  What I am suggesting is that I’ve noticed that at times, for example,  I have had to make decisions as a parent, that have caused an outcome that seems unfavourable to my children: where they have not gained the ground they wanted to – be it to acquire some new material possession or simply stay up another 1/2 hour . Or perhaps it’s been something more serious, such as navigating relationships as they forge their own paths through adolescence and make mistakes along the way, where I do not intervene to help them through but allow them to walk that path alone, despite their requests for me to step in.

Now, what if I put myself in the position of the child, and God in the position of the parent in a similar scenario as above?

How about we take the example of transitioning from being an amateur in my field, to stepping out and becoming a professional in my field?  At some point, He’s not going to hold my hand every day, giving me little 2 minute pep talks every 10 minutes to keep me from flailing around like a headless chook 🙂  No.  At some point, the hand holding becomes less regular and the voice of encouragement a little more quiet – not gone, just more restrained until really needed.

So, if this was my scenario, and I am having one of those ‘days of our lives’ days, how can I bring that day to a close and feel satisfied that I have had a decent bash at that brick wall, whether it falls down or not?

My conclusion so far, is that there is no such thing as a ‘days of our lives’ day that cannot be transformed in some way, to draw me into a deeper relationship with God and those around me, or that becomes a part of the solid foundations of my character, my mindset and my attitudes that strengthen me to hit that wall harder next time.

I do believe that despite how flat-line I might feel, or lack lustre my day may seem to be, I am in a privileged situation.  Like those Choose Your Own Adventure stories that we read in primary school, there are always multiple choices that govern the next step in the journey.  Which step I take will determine if I am building that good foundation of increased patience, maturity, wisdom, grace, and so on or if I am allowing that opportunity to become more of the best ‘me’ I can be, to slip though my fingers for another day.

So the question was: is it a privilege to have the opportunity to push myself beyond what I am able to cope with… and fail?  My answer?  Yes.  It is a privilege.  As I watch my children struggle through certain trials in their day to day, I choose, as a parent, to restrain, to hold back what I know I could easily give them.  I do this because I love them.  And I know that they are completely capable of breaking down that wall all by themselves.  They need me to hold back. It is for their good.  And when it’s needed, I give them everything I can to help.  I don’t hold back.

So please be encouraged.  If you are going through a day or even a season of ‘days of our lives’ days, know that there is alwasys something that you can take away from them, use that knew found knowledge or experience to build your foundations and know that the next time, you will be all the more stronger to deal with that challenge.



Up and Coming Musical Excitement :D

Good morning!

I am very excited to let you all know that I will be performing in Sydney at a Singer/Songwriter evening in Darlinghurst on Wednesday 16th May.  I will also be performing on 18th May at the Berowra Baptist Noodle Markets so it’s an exciting week full of promise and release!  Yay!