Archive for the ‘Musician’ Category

Instead of a Show

Posted: August 30, 2012 in Jesus, Musician, Perspective

As some of you may know, I’m a musician who has sung a lot of songs about God, to God, and for God. Some of those publicly, and many times privately. Growing up in ‘church culture’ I’ve noticed a lot of nuances about the language we use to describe expressions and acts of our faith. One word that is commonly tossed around, and is often directly associated with music, is worship.

Since coming to college, I’ve thought about this topic a great deal. I’ve come to the conclusion that the majority of us in the 21st century American Church haven’t a clue what that word really means from a biblical perspective. Beyond finding a more accurate definition, I’ve pondered how that affects how I worship God. I’ll be honest; my whole perspective has been changed.

In short what I’ve learned is that there are a three main words that refer to worship in the Old Testament. One of them ‘aboda refers to temple worship such as offering sacrifices and keeping Jewish rituals. The word thusia also used referring to temple sacrifices, and Paul used it when refering to Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for all the world’s sins (Ephesians 5:2). The other word used is shachac– which is the physical posture of bowing down, which symbolizes reverent fear, submission, and a commitment to obedience.

In koine Greek, they refer to ‘aboda as latreia. In the New Testament this word was sometimes portrayed in a negative sense, because the then Jewish leaders thought it to be an act of service to God to kill Christians.

In koine Greek, they refer to shachac as proskyneo, and it more or less means the same thing- bowing down, reverent obedience.

Paul, in the New Testament also uses the word leitourgia, which basically means an act of service or sacrifice to God, many times through helping other people (especially Christian brothers and sisters).

Here’s a few sources that explain all the language origins better than I could, and they are written by people who have done A LOT more research and formal study than I have:

Alright now that you have all that information, I’d like to share a bit about what our culture (21st century American church to be specific) tells us.

  • Worship happens on Sundays and Wednesdays, or any other day of the week, right before a sermon is preached.
  • Worship is a synonym for singing songs to and about God.
  • Worship is a genre of music.
  • Worship is confined to a time period and a place.
  • Worship is lead by a Worship Leader- a guy or girl on the church staff or volunteering who picks and leads the songs, often on a stage facing an audience (aka congregation).
  • A worship experience is best when the band is playing well together, there are dramatic but timely light shows coordinated with the songs, Powerpoint slides with the lyrics up on a big screen so you don’t have to memorize them all, and when the crowd is really getting into it (hand-raising, clapping, singing loudly, kneeling, lots of praying, maybe some tongue speaking and dancing if you’re of the Charismatic persuasion).

It doesn’t take a genius to notice the differences. Unfortunately, what I’ve gathered and learned from the Bible, and fellow Bible studiers, there’s a disconnect between what the Bible teaches and what Western Church culture reinforces. Worship in the Bible is clearly about honoring and glorifying God in words, deeds, actions, and thoughts. It is an all-encompassing spiritual posture of humility, acknowledging that we are nothing without God and that he is worthy of all praise and honor and adoration. While the 21st century Western culture does a good job of honoring God with words and lyrics, we do a poor job of honoring God with our thoughts, deeds, and actions (especially outside church walls). And maybe it’s not even about how ‘good a job’ we do, as much as it is about the condition and honesty of our hearts.

Don’t get me wrong. I love singing songs to and for God. And the Bible even says God delights when His children sing songs of praise to Him (Psalm 147). But I am deeply saddened by the extent in which we’ve sold ourselves short on experiencing and living a life of worship. I honestly feel that many of us are missing out on a part of the faith that is not only crucial and necessary, but life changing.

After about a year of staying off the music stage, I acted as the song leader for a local campus ministry at my college last night. It was really fun, and to be honest I was mentally all over the place trying to find my way to praising and thanking God for who He is and the amount of trials he’s brought me through recently. Afterwards, I was met with several congratulatory and encouraging comments- “Good job.” “Hey you did a great job tonight at worship.” “I really enjoyed your singing.” “You had an awesome presence up there.” While I realize everyone who said these things had the best and kindest intentions, I couldn’t help but feel extremely wrong and uncomfortable by these remarks. Like I was getting some kind of undeserved attention. After all if I was really up there to “lead worship”, wouldn’t we be more thankful to God for another opportunity to worship him, and not the singer? Heck I’m not even supposed to be the worship leader. According to the Bible that role belongs to the Holy Spirit. It’d be like someone thanking the grounds crew at an NFL game for the offense scoring so many touchdowns due to mowing the grass and painting the end zone correctly.

I’d like to get back to the heart of worship. And like the well-known Matt Redman song goes, it really is all about Jesus. Not about God fixing our problems. Not about the skill of the musicians and singers on stage. Not about the song choices. Not about an emotional reaction or connection to the event/show. Not about meeting at a specific time or place. It’s just about Jesus. It takes form in pausing to awe and fear and/or actively glorify Him (through service, sacrifice, reverence, prayer, adoration, etc.).

Can worship and praise happen through song? Yeah probably. But to be honest, I’d like to see a little more variation in how we (the church) worship God. The result of us continuing on this path, is believing in a counterfeit view of something God intended to be very authentic and life-changing.

So next time you see someone in emotional or physical need…worship God. Next time you get a moment to pause…worship God. Next time you see someone who is lonely and needs a friend that genuinely cares…worship God. Next time you pray…worship God. Next time you get the opportunity to encourage and hang out with other Jesus-believers…worship God. You don’t have to be in a church gathering setting, and you don’t have to have a musical instrument or a microphone, or even a singing voice to worship God. You just need your heart, which is coincidently the hardest thing to give.

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Jesus (Matthew 15:8-9)


Dear Warrensburg,

Words cannot express the times I have had abiding here. I came to you a naive, confused, self-conscious 18-year-old kid who thought he had his adult life planned out perfectly. I came to you in chains- dragging along my religious, personal, and emotional baggage. It was here, that I gained the closest friends I’ve ever made. It was here that I learned to accept who I am, and be at peace with that.  It was here that the moral-system I upheld so zealously (and blindly) was continually challenged and transformed. It was here that I experienced some of my lowest points. It was here that I realized how utterly broken I was, so that I could accept the grace-rooted life of Jesus Christ. It was here that I laughed, cried, hugged people, ate, played music, sported like 8 different hair cuts, helped people, dated, started protest rallies, drank lots of coffee, philosophized, socialized, made a bazillion Taco Bell runs, and learned how to truly share life with people.

In the last four years there have been a number of people who’ve invested in me and spoke wisdom into my life. These people have had made a difference in my life by how they live and how they interact with others. (Disclaimer: none of these people are perfect, nor would they prefer to be put on any kind of pedestal).  Most notably Roger Brant, Sara Johnson, Mark Bliss, and Carson Conover.

Carson and Roger were one of the first few people I met here at UCM. Carson was a senior and a student leader at the BSU. Roger was the new campus minister at the BSU. (They knew each other before-hand). I always kinda looked up to Carson because he was a few years older than me. It was one of the first times I had met a young Christian who lived the Christian life with a non-judgemental, loving attitude everywhere he went. Not to mention he’s a pretty intelligent dude (though he tries to hide it with quirky humor). Carson, obviously didn’t stick around long because he graduated in 2008. I did however get the chance to hang out with him and chat a handful of times later down the line. Every one-on-one conversation we had was profoundly meaningful and surprisingly casual. This helped set a foundation for many other things to come.

Onto Roger…Roger is a very peculiar man, but one I’ve grown to love and respect. He’s got a lot of deep layers to him, that I’m not even going to begin to tackle. Roger is someone who has seen me from the day I was a freshman to the day I graduated. He saw how I changed, struggled, and grew. He was never someone who tried to spoon feed me all the right answers, but instead tried to ask the right questions. Roger helped me look at my faith seriously and honestly. He is no longer at the BSU, but instead the “leader dude” at Wayfare Church in the Warrensburg. This is another community I’ve gotten the joy of being a part of since Sophomore year (2009). I will dearly miss Roger, and his wisdom, quirky/sarcastic humor, and mandolin skills.

Sara Johnson was my Residence Hall Director/Boss in Fitzgerald Hall and Nickerson Hall, while I was a CA in those buildings. I can’t honestly say that I was always completely open with Sara (til the last month lol). But her humble, hard-working, optimistic characteristics were an inspiration for me. I admire her persevering faith. She taught me to “Choose my ‘tude” daily. She taught me to not overload myself, but to roll with my creative inspirations. She was always a great listener and always someone I viewed as a friend just as much as a boss.

And Mark Bliss…Oh Mark. Dude, I’m gonna miss you. Jam sessions. Waiting on you to show up somewhere. Sociology classes. Solving the universe’s problems inside Java Junction. Though you may not be the most organized person, you are definitely a friend I can count on to lend a helping hand (as long as I call you spontaneously and not ahead of time lol). I admire your heart and respect you like crazy man. Best of luck to you on whatever you end up doing in life.

…like I said there are a TON of other people who’ve invested in me, loved on me, and been a huge part of my life. Every year here (and almost every semester) has been different. It’s been a blast. So thank you to everyone else. It was the people at UCM that made my college experience special and memorable.

So long UCM! So long Warrensburg! I’m gonna miss you like crazy. Seriously.

Next time I return I’ll be Alum… Weird.

Here’s a few updates in my life right now. (for the 2 or 3 of you who actually read this lol)

  • I graduate from college in a few weeks. In case I haven’t previously mentioned it I’ll be getting a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. I also minored in Graphics. It feels good to be nearing this milestone.
  • I also just celebrated being with my girlfriend, Melissa, for 6 months. Which surprisingly marks the longest I’ve ever been with someone. She graduates next May (2012). She’s a pretty cool gal, and if I haven’t introduced you to her I’d be glad to do so. **Shameless plug she JUST started a new blog–> (ananeo is the koine greek transliteration which roughly translates to, “to renew in the mind”).
  • Which brings on the most common question I get these days…What am I doing post-graduation career-wise? Well I’m not entirely sure. I’ve kinda realized that the things that make my heart pound are not necessarily things that will get the bills paid. For instance, I’ve developed a passion for helping people realize the truth about who God really is, exterior of the lies they’ve been told. And I’m not exactly feeling a sense that this is supposed to be through a paid-pastoral role. My experience shows that “I don’t need a three-piece suit to argue the truth” (Bret Dennen). I also don’t want to just start spitting out answers, as if to say I have it all figured out. I just need to follow Christ in my every day life and point to his big picture for wisdom.
  • I have a rough draft plan for the next year, based on the previous bullet point. I’d like to explain in the next couple paragraphs (bear with me).

Since coming back from El Salvador, and announcing to my friends and coworkers (in University Housing) that I would not be going into the Student Affairs profession or going to grad school in the fall;   I’ve been in a perpetual state of waiting for God to reveal the next step for me. Some days were harder than others, but in waiting I learned a number of lessons about who God is and how He is working on me.  I learned the true meaning of allowing God to unveil things to me in His perfect timing, and trusting that His timing is a lot better than mine. Specifically I realized that some things God has for me to accomplish for His Kingdom are better introduced when my heart is mature enough to receive them with courage and zeal, rather than fear and apathy. God knows that if anything is revealed to me too early I either tend to forget about it or tend to get too worked up about it. Along that same line of thinking, I also learned that God won’t reveal it all to me at once. It looks more like minute to minute, conversation to conversation. The more I think about God and the life He is teaching me to live, the more I am put in situations were I’m given the opportunity to live it. I could go on and on and on about many more things I have learned in the last semester about the nature of God.

So here’s my tentative plan for the next year. (I am careful to not set anything in stone, because I can hardly predict the next steps God has for me. I am also satisfied in knowing that He has the end in sight, and that if I follow Him I will finish the race.) The glorious plan is to move in with my parents in Lawrenceburg, TN for the summer. I’m working on getting a part-time summer job, so I can make a little money and save up for the fall. Sounds like a genius plan eh…

The next step is Nashville in August. I am currently job searching for 9-5ish jobs in the Nashville area, specifically in (but not limited to) graphic design. The goal is to start a job by August and save up enough money to eventually get my own little place. At night in Nashville (from 5pm-12am) I will try to network and play music anywhere I can. And that’s it. Get a job, and play music at night. Sounds so ingenious and original doesn’t it? Someone of you may be thinking, “Jordan, your just going to become another starving Nashville-bound musician. This doesn’t sound all that great.”

Well remember when I said that my motives for the next step were not entirely based on my career choice. Here’s how. God has been writing things on my heart rigorously for the past few months. In doing so, He’s placed people in my life to express these amazing epiphanies to (mainly to Melissa, I must admit). The rhythms of learning who God is and what He is about has made me more compassionate to the people I come in contact with and eager to share pieces of God’s love story with them. I’ve realized that I have a passion for the streets. For proclaiming truth in the way I live my life, in my words, and in the lyrics of my songs. I believe God is leading me to a city (possibly Nashville?) to help people see who God is and what He is doing. I’m not going there to become a famous musician. I’m not necessarily going there to start this big social movement that will mark me as a hero and a saint. I’m going there to love. I’m going there to be a friend. I’m going there to grow and to help others grow and/or join the journey of Christ; so that they too can experience the grace I have experienced which has changed my life and so many others.

To backtrack, there are also a few opportunities brewing for this summer, which explains why I’m gonna be in Lawrenceburg. I am planning on taking a second trip to El Salvador from June 18-24th. This time Melissa gets to come with me!! 😀 Also I might be helping out with a few events with my dad’s church family, New Prospect Baptist, like Youth Camp and Music Camp.

There a number of reasons behind this decision to which I’m not at total liberty revealing online (although I totally would in person). So for all you planners out there, this decision was not random or spontaneous. For once, I put a lot of patient thought behind my decisions. (Just ask Melissa…for real)

Anywho, that’s my post-graduate tentative plan. Nothing seemingly life-altering. Just the next step…and a step I can get excited about!


Posted: November 3, 2010 in Jesus, Musician

So I’m goin to the Lecrae concert in KC with Melissa on Friday. I’m pretty pumped. Lecrae is my 2nd favorite artist in the game. Switchfoot would be #1, and I just saw them live a for the first time a few weeks ago. I pretty stoked. My 2 favorite artists in a span of 1 months! So in reaction to the upcoming concert, I wanna share some of my favorite Lecrae rhymes.

“All they rhyme about is guns, money, sex, and drugs. 80% of these dudes is fictional thugs.” Unashamed (After the Music Stops)

“What if life ain’t supposed to be gravy. Fulla hurt, pain, death, rape, murder, and craziness. If God made everything good, then why you still gotta live in the hood? What’s really good?” Change (Rebel)

“Jesus felt the pain. He was hated, hurt, slandered, and slain. But his death brought (change). Be a slave to your sin. Hate God, love money, love lies, Christ died so you can be (changed).” Change (Rebel)

“But why would ya die for me? My whole life I’ve been working for Satan, while He fed lies to me.” Take Me As I Am (Real Talk)

“I said I’ll never leave you, but I’m so left. I ain’t right, Lord I’m sleeping with death. I am cheating with death.” Breathin to Death (Rebel)

“It’s like I’m outside in the ice cold weather. The rains coming down and I keep getting wetter. I know I’m getting sick and I could die any second, but still I refuse to let your truth make me better.” Breathin to Death (Rebel)

“The world is so tempting. Satan is a beast! He hypnotizes my eyes to say the least. But Jesus be my treasure to know you is live. I am here dying trying everything there is.” Breathin to Death (Rebel)

“All these rappers say they got guns that spray off 16. I got a Luke 9 that can take all 16”  Truth (Rebel)

“You go to school, get ya degrees, and get a job. So you can make a whole lot of cheese, cuz life’s hard. You never thought of livin to please a real God. And that’s the reason He made you.” Truth (Rebel)

“What is evil though man? It’s anything that’s against God. It’s anything morally bad or wrong. It’s murder, rape, stealing, lying, cheating. But if we want God to stop evil, do we want Him to stop it all or just a little bit of it? If He stops us from doing evil things, what about lying, or what about our evil thoughts? I mean, where do you stop, the murder level, the lying level, or the thinking level? If we want Him to stop evil, we gotta be consistent, we can’t just pick and choose. That means you and I would be eliminated right? Because we think evil stuff. If that’s true, we should be eliminated! But thanks be to God that Jesus stepped in to save us from our sin! Christ died for all evilness! Repent, turn to Jesus man!” Truth (Rebel)

There are soooo many more lines and bars that inspire me. But I think you get the point: this dude is SERIOUS. Lecrae don’t play. That’s why I love him (not to mention that fact that his beats are dope).

FRIDAY 7pm could not get here soon enough!!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the crescendoing academic buzz on social media, texting, and other means of technological communication. We’ve talked about it on more than one occasion in Sociology and Philosophy classes. I’m not gonna lie. I’m very social media-ified. I have Facebook, a MySpace Music page, An Official Music Website, A Facebook Music Page, a Twitter, and a WordPress account. Wow, writing all that down seems a little much. But that is the culture I’ve been engulfed in. Not gonna lie though; I think I use all of these (except for maybe Twitter) as a means for promotions for events I am involved in (my Music, UCM Housing, etc.). As much as I loath the inauthentic cyber-reality of social media, I recognize that it can be pretty useful in advertising for events. Call me old school, but I often long for the return of word of mouth. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that telling someone word-of-mouth about an event or activity creates a MUCH higher likelihood that they will attend.

But beyond promotional endeavors, why do we like social media? I know all the conventional answers- “Because it helps me communicate with my friends better”, “I get to keep up with my long distance friends”, blah blah blah etc. But is that really the answer? Or is our American culture just increasingly becoming more standoffish. Our physical comfort zones, as big as they are seem to keep expanding. Even though we long for personal interaction, we settle for cyber interaction (including text) because it’s convenient, and because we (for some odd reason) feel more at liberty to say whatever we want behind the cover of a computer screen or a cell phone.

Quite hypocritically, I have noticed myself becoming increasingly engulfed in generating cyber-popularity- having lots of Texts, Tweetbacks, WordPress stats, Facebook notifications, etc. I don’t like to talk about it, because it’s really quite pathetic. It’s almost like the inner-high-school Jordan, that was uber concerned with impressing people and getting attention, is being sneakily brought out in the cyber world. There are days, where I won’t get a notification or a text, and I get this strange guilty feeling of loneliness. This is getting really pathetic, writing all this down (I hate vulnerability). I’m really tempted just delete all of it (again…yes I’ve done this before), and live as un-cybernetic as possible. I wonder how many people are also (un)secretly obsessed with their cyber popularity. I wonder how many people would be willing to admit it, and take the steps to fix it.

So, do I hate technology? No. I have a Mac. I just don’t like how my generation is becoming increasingly communicatively relient on it.

Am I becoming Amish? No, but I do admire them.

Here’s the continued delemna, and connection to the first paragraph. I keep needing social media and texting for promotional endeavors. I keep telling myself, it pays numerical (unfortunately not financial) dividends. So I press on, and I pray that I, and furthermore my friends, start becoming (de)progressively concerned with other people’s ‘actual lives’ than our cyber popularity.

“The authentic self is the soul made visible.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach

just a few thoughts I’ve been having lately:

– Tennessee barbeque rules. well actually, pretty much any food here rules.

– I never want to live in Montgomery, AL. Too much racism there…on both sides.

– I feel like I have an explosion of words to say, but no way to eloquently and cohesively saying them.

– Everyday for the past month seems like a new set of crossroads. All kinds of decisions being made that could potentially be life changing. That is both exciting and scary. I’m  sure most everyone around my age goes through something similar.

– I feel like I’m just continuing down one path (Student Affairs, working with college students as a career), just waiting for God to snatch me up and thow me on a new path. I mean I like college students and student life stuff. Just don’t know if I’m cut out for it long-term. I’d rather be playing music for a living and doing mission work in foreign countries and making t-shirts that raise money for kids in Africa. blah….but I continue on, with a blindfold over my eyes and a forceful hand on my back and an eager ear waiting for the whispering voice of direction.

– Life is hard. For Everyone. Why not ease the load for someone else?…that is if you can handle carrying anymore yourself.

– There are many days when I doubt whether people truly love me. I can see it in their eyes. Hear it in their voice. It’s not hard to tell if someone authentically loves you for who you are. Whether out of pride or shyness, I’m not one to beg for friendship. But, community and friendship so valuable. It provides a sense of home and belonging. I don’t really have a “home”. I’ve moved around from place to place all my life. They say home is where the heart is. Well, I’m not really sure where my heart is.

– I don’t plan on dating this year. Not enough time. I’m leaving town for who-knows-where in a year. Not to mention I’m broke. Ladies, I’m off-limits. Sorry.

– I want to start writing songs again. Unfortunatley, I have writers block (refer back to bullet point 3).

– I want to learn more Blues chords

-I need to read my Bible more. seriously.

-I also need to excercise more. Me and Sam are going to do P90X this semester. Sixpack? naah.

– Sometimes I get frustrated when no one reads this blog. I see the stats. But then, I think “Well, I really hate promoting this blog. Promoting is so vain, and overrated. Plus, I’m more vulnerable on this blog than I am in real life. What to do..”

-Thank God for music, and how it can communicate volumes to me every day. And thank God for skilled lyricists.

So I just got back from Tennessee. I went there to see my family, and meet their new church- New Prospect Baptist Church in Lawrenceburg, TN. Awesome people. I had a blast getting to know them. I also came back with a bit of a southern twang, that will take me about a week to get rid of. Here are some things I learned, saw, and experienced this week…

1. God still loves me.

2. I saw some awesome examples of how I can be a Saintly man…and how to be a good father. Now, I have no intentions of knockin’ up any girl any time soon (much less getting married); but it was valuable to observe.

3. I am now physically stronger than my dad. He doesn’t seem to thrilled about accepting that fact.

4. I like to play little pranks on people….especially my dad. All in good fun of course.(ex: I egged him on the head, and dunked him in the pool a few times)

5. I saw my old Florida buddy, Caleb Gindl. He is playing AA Baseball in Huntsville, AL right now. Look out for him, because he may get traded to the Royals soon. And if he does, he’ll likely be playing in the Majors by the Fall.

6. It is a LOOOOOONG drive from Huntsville, AL to Emporia, KS. 13 hours to be exact….plus how many ever times we stopped for food, gas, or sleep.

7. It’s time to let go of my past and move forward. Starting now.

8. I love playing music, but I’m not sure if I’m cut out to be a live performing artist. I may just stick to praise music and private writings on the side. Which means the EP Bridge of New that was scheduled for release this Fall may be pushed back again indefinitely.

9. I’ve discovered that I’ve got a lot of scatterbrained dreams and ambitions, with no real plans to carry them out. So, if I try to follow my own plans and dreams, I’ll likely fall on my face. I also discovered that God has a daily-plan for my life, and I need to ask him DAILY to fill me with his Spirit. Therefore, I don’t need to worrying about where I’ll be a year from now, because He’s got it under control.

10. I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing post-graduation….grad school in ResLife, foreign missions, music, domestic missions, or something not on this list. I sure hope God reveals it to me. And I sure hope I’m listening.

11. If I’m truly honest with myself I’ll have to admit that I’m not that reliable and I’m not very disciplined. I know I’ve frustrated, aggravated, and offended the heart of God countless time. All the while, I have acted as if I got it all together….which is a load of bull. All the while God still loves me. And he WANTS to get through to me….Me a stubborn foolish preacher’s kid with bad grammar and a wayfaring heart. I can’t quite figure Him out. But the thought of a holy, uncontested, merciful God is intoxicating. And I want to get to know him. I need change. A change only possible through surrender.

12. If I want to truly surrender to God (i.e. Make him the “President of my life”), then I need help. I can’t do it on my own yet. I need a friend that will hold me accountable, and I the same to him (no girls). I need to be in a community of believers that is encouraging and passionate about living the gospel. I wouldn’t mind moving to Tennessee to be honest.

13. Oh, and I may be going to Africa next summer. (!!!!!!!!!)