Contend for the Promise.

[Read Genesis 32 for context.]

There is a promise from God for Your life.

You may not know it. You may not have a big concept of who God is right now. But I’m telling you, there is a promise on Your life, and it’s straight from the Most High God.

But it’s not going to fall into your lap; you’re going to have to fight for it. The fight of your life.

The ONLY way you’re going to get the promise is after going through THIS thing first.

Jacob had a promise on his life; a promise that God would make his descendants numerous. Yet, he faced possible death at the hand of his brother Esau. So he cried out to God, “please don’t forget what you promised!”

The answer: a wrestling match with who some translations call a “man” or “an angel of the Lord”. They wrestled all night long, even after the man uses one single finger to pop Jacob’s hipbone right out of the socket; even still the fight persists.

To the point that this man says, “let me go! The day is breaking!”

Note Jacob’s response: “I won’t let go until you bless me!”

I believe Jacob knew this “man” was an angel or the Lord Himself, because only a person higher than oneself had the authority to ‘bless’ a person. In any case, because he was willing to fight all night long, even through excruciating pain, to receive the promise God had promised, the Lord deemed him eligible to receive and, right then and there, declared him “Israel.”

We give up too easily because we aren’t seeing what we’re supposed to see. Don’t give up. Don’t stop. Don’t let your expectation dry up. Don’t stop believing God for encounters. Don’t stop believing for revival. Bring it back to God and remind Him of His promise. He might test you to see how bad you want it. Are you willing to engage in the fight of your life to get it?

Contend for the promise. It’s yours, but how bad do you want it?

-SJ

revival.is.here.now Part 2 – Deeper Fellowship Church

Revival is a concept I have studied for the past 12 years. And it has become apparent to me that the Body of Christ is in need of it. Badly. The Bible makes it clear that we cannot truly reach our true potential as believers in Christ without the supernatural, dynamic power of His Holy Spirit. Otherwise, our programs, services, and attempts at outreach are mostly fleshly efforts at best.

I have read about the ‘great revivals of old’, and they have always inspired me. But a church that has hugely inspired me for the past 3 years is Deeper Fellowship Church in Orlando, Florida.

Pastored by William McDowell, the culture of this church screams revival. Manifestations of the power of God are commonplace there. Last I heard, they’d experienced over 150+ documented miracles within the last year or so. Miracles. Things that many of us dream to see in our lifetime; they’ve seen within a short period of time.

But not without sacrifice. I am a witness to this; having visited twice. Each service (or ‘river’, as they term them) starts with a long line of people hungry for God standing outside the front door. Praise and worship does not follow the modern day, ‘church in an hour’ format that many churches do these days. It is truly a laborious, yet uplifting experience. And total service times usually go ‘UNTIL’…in an effort to allow the Holy Spirit to do everything He intends. Though totally unconventional, the methodology of this church is undoubtedly reaping a harvest…this is truly a sowing church.

The podcasts have changed…my…life. PERIOD. They have fueled my pursuit of God in such a specific way that it’s almost scary. Access them easily by clicking here.

revival.is.here.now. Part 1

revival – restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc.,

Dictionary.com – revival (definition)

Until 2003, my definition of revival was a 3-5 night series of church services in which the choir would sing, a traveling preacher would deliver sermons, and a special offering was taken.

After 2003, my definition of revival would grow to become MUCH, much more.

Long story short…I had an encounter with God.

I won’t go into the details now, but it changed my life forever. I had been a ‘by the book’ Christian and was proud of it, but all of that went out of the window after my encounter.

This is resonating with someone right now.

You love the Lord. You even like your church. But you’ve become disillusioned. Church services have become routine; you leave the same way you entered. Not that you want to…it just…happens.

You want to know the God you keep singing about; hearing sermons about; praying to.

You don’t crave the material things. You don’t want a nicer car. You don’t feel the driving desire to pray for millions of dollars.

You crave MORE of Him.

If that’s you, comment below. Let’s start a discussion. Let’s go deeper together.

revival.is.here.now.

God is Real.

church-1081718_1280
By now, you probably know that I make music about my relationship with God. It doesn’t always sound like politically correct evangelism, but I’m unapologetic about that because I believe it’s impossible to encourage someone else to have a relationship with God, through Christ, without a personal relationship with Him.

With that, I just want to share an abridged version of a story of an experience I had with God some years ago that changed my life forever.

Long story short, I was 19 and attending a conference with my dad, brother, and several men from my church. Up until that point, I was what you might call a ‘follow all the rules’ type of guy. I did as was told because I liked staying out of trouble. I knew all of the bible stories and could regurgitate information at request. I was active at my church.

But one particular night of the conference, during a time of prayer, the presence of God consumed me. It was REAL. It was tangible. It was overwhelming. It was HEAVY. It was warm and intense. It felt so good. It wasn’t emotion, but I did respond emotionally because of how it felt.

Most of all, it totally changed my life.

For that reason, I no longer go to church because it’s ‘right’…I go to church to seek more of God. The Bible is no longer just a book of good morals. It’s a living, breathing document.

Once you find out that God is real, it changes EVERYTHING. Don’t knock Him until you try Him. Take it from me.

It’s not worth it to do the ‘Christian’ thing just to feel good about yourself or to please someone else. When I tell you there is more to it, I PROMISE you, there is MORE.

He’s real.

-SJ

Nah, man.

31 years old, and I’ve had more antibiotics in the past year than I’ve had in my entire life.

I’ve had more needles stuck in my arm to draw blood…

I’ve been to the doctor in the past two years more than ever…

NAH, man.

My first passion (aside from the presence of God) is music. But one of my second-most strongest passions is health and nutrition. Whoever said ‘the greatest wealth is health’ was nearly a genius, in my opinion. But you don’t realize it usually until your health has been compromised.

I won’t go into details about the ordeal I’ve been through over the past (nearly) two years, but I’ll just say that things had to change. I have always considered myself a relatively healthy person. I eat a lot of vegetables, I drink mostly water, and I am in the gym fairly consistently. I even run the odd 5k every once in a while.

DON’T wait until you have a health crisis before you decide to ‘really do it this time’. That may be too late. I’ve heard that sometimes, the first symptom of a heart attack is death.

No piece of fried chicken, chocolate chip cookie, or plate of nachos is worth me losing quality and quantity of life to spend with my wife and daughter, and however many other kids we end up having. I hope to inspire the same sobering thought in your own mind.

And with that, don’t hate on me when you see my carrot juice.

-SJ

Review: To Pimp a Butterfly

As an artist, I am inspired by good art…period. Music, painting, dance, etc., you name it.

In the 21st century, good art seems harder to come by. The era of the ‘hit record’ has all but gone away, and often times, music seems more cookie cutter than ever. Personally, it’s difficult for me to really enjoy it if it doesn’t speak to my heart.

Introducing Kendrick Lamar.

Kendrick-lamar-1360479601

Now I understand that this is a non-typical review for me. Kendrick Lamar is obviously not a gospel recording artist, and the content of his music is not always something that I would be cool with my daughter listening to.

But I was honestly attracted to his music for one reason…I could feel it. There was something about it that made me feel his heart and his passion…for his city, the friends left behind and the regrets that followed his rise to fame.

So I bought “To Pimp a Butterfly.”
The edited version.

To Pimp a Butterfly is a sprawling mix of funk and jazz with tons of emotion sprinkled throughout. Kendrick Lamar is obviously very passionate about Compton, and in this album he displays a very obvious conflict of interest between his family and friends back home, and the myriad opportunities presented by his success in the music industry. The most popular single, “Alright”, speaks directly to the complicated relationship of young black men and law enforcement from the eyes of the former. It’s a controversial point of view, but let’s face it. The story needs to be heard.

Kendrick’s ability to use lyrics to bring the listener into the story is exceptional.

Which brings me to the real point I wanted to get to.

I often wonder if my music comes across in a way that someone can understand and feel deep in their inner man. I keep wondering what would happen if all music from the body of Christ had a similar impact.

Can I be very honest?

I’ve gotten discouraged sometimes when I’m looking for music to edify my spirit, and when I turn on the radio, I hear the same old cliches with the same old format, seemingly copied and pasted together with the hit record format. The ‘artist’ side of me gets frustrated, because I truly believe that the Lord created music as an art form and gives us gifts to use it, not just for hit records, but so that our music can change the world.

Now I’m not here to worship Kendrick Lamar or even personally condone every single lyric, but I admire the dude. I admire anyone who takes something they’ve been gifted with, pushes creative boundaries with it, and uses it to the best of their ability and ultimately for the good of their community.

Shouldn’t we do the same with our own gifts?

As a consideration for all readers, I am not necessarily encouraging you to buy this album or any music that might be offensive to you. I’d encourage you to do whatever you feel is okay and right for you. The point of this review is merely to challenge musicians and artists like myself to dig deeper with our own craft. Thank you.