That’s how this story goes… but we can’t start or finish there. That moment was simply the cumulative effect of my desire to be a STAR, and the Catalyst that caused me to be the telescope from that point on. So let’s back up about 15-20 years and figure out how I got to that moment, and how I was changed by that moment.
I was a basketball player at one time, and a pretty darn good one to boot. Back in the day my entire identity was consumed with the thought of basketball. I lived it, breathed it, slept it, and I never allowed my identity to be anything other than the sport that I loved. Now looking back I know why I played basketball. Yes, I loved the feeling of the perfect shot, the feeling of the DUNK….. yeah I loved the pace and the strategy…. But much more than any of those things I loved that people respected me because what I could do on the court. I loved that I was introduced as the STARTING GUARD, AT 6’ 1” JASON ROY.
Put me on a playground basketball court, I would always be the leader of the pack. Put me in an organized game, I’d do my best to find a way to win. If someone talked trash, it became my mission in life to shut them down. Most of the time I did, in fact 99% of the time I did, but what about that 1%???? Well, here’s my 1% of the time story:
Be the telescope not the STAR
At the time I lived at NC State and I was struggling with purpose in life. School was just a way for me to keep my parents believing that I was going to turn out ok, but if I’m honest I knew that God had something else for me…. I just couldn’t figure out what. Aimless, would be the perfect word to describe who I was while I was in college.
The one bright light in my life was my beautiful and Godly girlfriend Cortni who lived 4 hours away at Mars Hill College. The night that changed my life started with a brief call to her. I remember the conversation ended with me saying …. “I’m gonna go play some ball at the student center now….. Hey, if I break my leg would you come see me?” Cortni laughingly and replied, “Oh shut up, just go have some fun and I’ll talk to you tomorrow!” With that I hung up the phone never knowing how much foreshadowing was in that phone call.
So I went to the student center and immediately walked into the biggest game on the court. Within seconds I figured out who the “big dog” was on the court and began analyzing his game. As soon as I could I switched up on defense so I could guard him and in turn he did the same on his end. That’s when I went to work. He was talking trash, I was talking trash and the game got serious. After a big play on the defensive end I stole the ball and ran up the court on the right sideline, I had a man open on the baseline and I passed the ball and then took a hard cut across the top of the key and then……… BLACK.
That’s it…. Blackness……………
I woke up in a ambulance covered in blood.
I couldn’t remember my name, who I was, where I was or why I was in an ambulance. When I got to the hospital they put me in a wheel chair and rolled me down to hall to sit in the darkness by myself. I remember sitting there for hours trying to figure out my name and my phone number. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t figure it out, and minute-by-minute the pain was getting worse as the shock wore off. I had no idea that I had a broken nose, or that I had lacerations from the inside of my eye to the front of my nose…. And a huge gash under my eye as well. I was just lost… with no way out.
It was literally the darkest few hours of my life. I felt completely trapped inside my own body for what seemed like an eternity. Suddenly the door flew open in slow motion and I saw someone I thought I knew running to me… and when I looked up and saw his face I finally remembered who I was. That’s when the lights came back on. My roommate Josh had come to the rescue.
To make a long story short, I had to live with a disfigured face for 6 weeks until the swelling went down and then they took me back in to re-break everything and put it all back together.
But those 6 weeks of disfigurement taught me a lot:
People who are in it for the glory always end up being one of two things:
and in my case it ended up being both. For 6 weeks I had time to think about my life, who I was and where I was going, and I’ve got to be honest I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. You see up until that point I had lived for my fame, my glory and God, while a part of my life, was not the center of it. The unfortunate by-product of seeking Glory is the danger inherent to the famous. There are so many other people seeking it too. You want all the riches and all the fame?? Well so do other people who are more vicious and less concerned about consequences than you.
What kinds of things come from seeking Glory? Wickedness like: Murder, corruption, contempt, false gods, false doctrine…. Etc. Have you ever read anything out of the book of KINGS? GLORY was all those guys wanted and it led to HORRIBLE THINGS. I figured it out the hardest way possible, but in reality that’s the way this world works. If you want to chase the Glory, be aware that there will be other people who will do ANYTHING to achieve what you want. The greater issue is that you will find yourself willing to do uncharacteristic and ungodly things in your pursuits as well.
So what then was the lesson? For me it became simple. POINT TO JESUS. I had lived 19 years for me and I realized that I couldn’t handle the pursuit of Glory and Fame, but I knew the one who could. In fact I could be a part of a GLORIOUS STORY about a FAMOUS ONE who can handle all challengers. When I realized that I just needed to point to HIM, I finally figured out what my life was about.
Just like my friend who walked into the hospital and jarred the memory of who I was, Jesus looks into our eyes and reminded us who we are. Jesus looked into my eyes and said, you could make so much more of ME if you’d play the music that I’ve gifted you with. When I felt that calling on my life I took a crazy chance, I started a band called Building429 and decided that it was time that I did something that mattered…. Like Magnify my God who is worthy of Glory, AND can handle all challengers.
I found peace and hope in the midst of the darkness, because for the first time in my life, I realized that I am meant to be the telescope, not the star. Maybe that’s what you need to remember too…. We are all telescopes, not stars… the Glory is in the star, not the one that magnifies the star. As long as we point to the Star, the one worthy of Glory, people always end up amazed.
How can you become the telescope??? Think about that for a minute… and then ask the Lord to help you become that very thing,
Most days start with a simple conversation… “Hey Kiddo’s what do you want for breakfast?” The response is very innocent but it speaks volumes to what we as parents hear at least 100 times from that point on every single day. “I want ………” fill in the blanks. Now fast forward throughout your day… Something about that phrase permeates everything that we do with our kids doesn’t it? My son is in a constant state of bombardment with all the things that he needs…. And it’s hilarious how a simple IPOD, or XBOX that somehow finds it’s way to the core of his being. He is desperate for the next upgrade, or update which of course costs him allowance money, which always leaves him in a constant state of financial loss… and momentary gain. My daughter is the same way. American girl doll, clothing, gymnastics accessories… it’s a non stop thing. I’d love to say that they’re the ones who are childish and naïve, but funny enough, that sounds a lot like me too. I know “WORSHIP PASTOR ROY” should have it all together, but if I’m being honest I feel like such a fool chasing temporary pleasure all the time. After all, it’s not my children’s fault that they act just like me huh? Wouldn’t we love to turn it all off? That’s exactly what happened on a recent trip to Guatemala that radically changed the core of my families existence, purpose, mission.
You see… I’ve been on a ton of mission trips throughout my life, and every one always leaves me the same, hyped up about getting home and turning this world upside down for the kingdom of God (and regretfully getting my starbucks fix again). This mission trip was different. My children…. The selfish little sweeties that they are were accompanying myself and my wife to a 3rd world country for the first time in their lives. To be honest I was scared to death. What we’re they going to do without their precious Xboxes and Ipods? What about the long drives into the wilderness and no air conditioning? What were they going to do when there was nothing to pacify them, and no one their age that spoke their language? What would happen when they encountered extreme poverty for the first time in their lives? What were they going to do????
….SHOCK US ALL
They were going to love.
They were going to serve.
They were going to forget their own needs and put others first.
They were going to have compassion.
They were going to hold dirty hands.
They were going to hold crying babies.
They were going to sweat and not complain.
They were going to play games they’d never heard of before because of the joy it brought other people.
They were going to fall down and laugh at themselves… get back up and play again.
They were going to sit in a smoke filled room where their eyes would hurt so they could hang out with children who were hungry.
They were going to be everything that I never thought they could be.
They were going to be …. The hands and feet of Jesus.
Leading Delmi home from school
There is something inside of us all that wonders if we could stand in the gap and somehow do something outside of ourselves that is heroic. I know this because for years I’ve felt a pull that I can’t explain every time I meet a child in need, or a parent who’s struggling to provide. Every time I step foot into a mud hut and look at living conditions that are appalling I’m reminded that there is something in all of us that dares to love, to reach and touch, to hug people that we’d consider unlovable. I just didn’t know that it existed in my children.
I watched in amazement as my children embraced hardship to help those who I thought they might try to ignore, but that is the truth of poverty… once you see it face to face, you don’t get a choice… you’re gonna go all in. As a believer it’s fundamental to our faith… Faith without works is dead… In as much as you have done to the least of these…. Religion that is pure and faultless… the problem is that we don’t take the time to see it. We’re busy in our own little worlds… and we also have this haunting thought in the back of our minds: “What if I see it and I still don’t care?” After watching my beloved children, who truly are the love of my life (and also the most selfish people I know) I am more sure than I have ever been that when we encounter injustice… all of us, even the most selfish, will become the hands and feet. Our lives have become so insulated that we don’t have to face the injustices of the world, and therefore we can keep the debauchery of our lives justified as normal. I know… tough word right?? Debauchery… I’m not saying you are doing anything wrong, but I am saying this…. Don’t feel blessed??? Don’t have enough??? Don’t have time??? I dare you to go see it face to face. Check out this video of my children’s perspective of what they saw… and while it’s a moment for me to proud, remember this…. I didn’t know such compassion existed in them until they themselves were face to face with the depths of despair in Guatemala.
So what you may not know about me is that while in my blog posts and on stage I seem like one of the most positive people you’ve ever heard from… the truth is that in a lot of ways I tend to be the antithesis to some of my writings. I am by nature a somewhat negative person. Driven to the core, I tend to find what is wrong and harp on it way more than I ever see what is right and what is going well. I have used that to propel myself forward toward insanity for a very long time with the constant thought… that I’m not negative, I’m just a perfectionist. Just recently my son has brought to my attention some of the new songs by one of the manics of music Eminem.. in which he raps… “I’m friends with the monsters under my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head, you think you can change me, stop holding your breath… you think I’m crazy… but that’s not fair.” To be honest… it scared me how honest and truthful Eminem was being in this song. Not to mention that many of his other new songs speak to the insanity of trying to keep up and keep being relevant… rapping, “I’m a slave to the very thing that’s killing me”. Upon first listen I felt sorry for him… but then it occurred to me… THAT GUY IS ME! Oh NO… that guy is me. Wait… that guy is the American Dream. That guy is 95% of the people in my life who are constantly trying to get ahead. That guy is all of us. The song is a HIT… and why shouldn’t it be… we all relate to it. But Status Quo is not something I’m cool with…. so I thought I’d share 5 simple things that i try to do on a daily basis to keep myself from becoming friends with the monsters inside of my head.
1) GO TO BED ON TIME
How can you ever expect to get up the next day with a patient, gentle spirit if you stayed up till 2am staring endlessly at Facebook walls?? Come on guys you should know this one… you can’t be effective if you’re constantly exhausted. Self control is a must on this one. (BTW… this coming from a night owl… I used to work until 2am every night chasing the voices inside of my head and I was a horrible help to my wife and kids…. my wife challenged and I have effectively moved that back to 11:30pm every night…. which still leaves a way to go, but you wouldn’t believe how much better I feel in the morning. You also wouldn’t believe how much more I can get done during the day than the night)
2) Get UP EARLY
How many mornings have you woke up late and had to run through the shower… scream at someone to help you find your keys and then dash out the door just to leave your family in a wake of chaos and destruction for the rest of the day. Again you get to set the day up how you’d like… so get up early… get some coffee…. get a few moments of perspective and prayer and be ready to say “I love you” first not…. ”OH MY GOSH WHY DID YOU LET ME SLEEP THIS LATE??
(Editors note…. my wife is the bomb at this one… thanks babe for teaching me to get up!)
3) List what you are Grateful for ON PAPER.
I have been given a lot… A TON… MORE THAN I SHOULD HAVE… but it’s only “not enough” when I start measuring what I have against what others have. So I try to start my day with this thought…. What am I grateful for?? Answer (My beautiful wife, my amazing kids, my church family, my friends in B429, my family)
4) Pray for someone else and keep a list on PAPER
I know people all around me who I am in the act of intercession for their needs. Why not actually pray for them and their needs??? Because I don’t have enough??? That’s lame….. it’s easy to be thankful and gracious when you are consistently in a state of prayer for those around us who are actually in need.
5) Start the morning with a cheerful “I LOVE YOU” and a hug!
Amazing how your first words to the ones you love literally set up how their day and your day will go. We get a choice here. Start with a simple “I love you” and a hug watch how the day changes. Seriously… try it and see how your day goes. Your loved ones will find a different frame of mind when they are operating from a place of acknowledged LOVE.
Ok so they are simple things, but these things help me to calm the monsters under my bed so that I can be more invested in the people that I love than the jobs that I could literally chase 24 hours a day straight into a STRAIGHT JACKET if I chose to.
Can’t wait to hear some of your thoughts on this as I’m still learning. Bring the suggestions my way!!!
It’s a common thread in everyone’s life. We start out innocent, unaware of the good and the bad that we are capable of. Children who are so unafraid of consequence and unaware of reason that we will climb a house to the roof just to say we did it and then leap off as if superman to find that we aren’t. Our proverbial broken limbs and bloodied noses proving to us once again that we are and forever will be imperfect, and sometimes prone to doing really dumb things. It’s not like we always mean to screw things up, sometimes it’s as simple as saying the wrong thing at the wrong time just to find that someone is standing there ready to pounce at the opportunity to make you feel like an idiot. Thus our insecurity grows and grows until it makes us a people burdened by the memories and paralyzed by the fears of mistakes.
Basketball has always been my favorite sport by far, nothing makes me happier than watching a good Carolina/ Duke game or a great NBA finals. Something about the sight of a thunderous dunk or a great buzzer beater shot lights my fire… makes me want to go pull out my high-school jersey and head down to the local park to take on the world. That said, I was really serious about basketball in high-school my Junior and Senior years. It was my LIFE. I mean I lived and breathed for game day when the time would come for the few individuals on the basketball team to get up and leave class early while the rest of the students had to stay and listen to Mrs. Ferguson lecture on Biology. (I practically mocked them as I was walking out of the room) I lived to get on that bus and ride in a quiet anticipation of the game. To arrive at our rival’s gym (Texarkana’s Texas High) head to the locker room…. Put on the uniform, listen to our coaches game plan and then fly onto the court. I lived for the warm up music. Honestly I lived for it all. But I remember a time before that when I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the game… I had every Jordan video that ever came out, I studied it I practiced hard… nobody wanted to win more than me ever. But I was scared to death to shoot the ball. That’s right, I loved to handle it… loved to take the ball to the hole, but I hated to shoot the jumper and I hated to shoot the three… why??? Well I wasn’t very good at it. The problem was that I had a few people tell me that I wasn’t very good at it and that I probably should just remember that I would be a good point guard who ran the offense for the shooters.
So for about 2 years I just accepted it as truth… as unchangeable truth and I became a guy who was in the game… but not IN the game. By my sophomore year I started to notice something. When the ball came to me the guys guarding me would simply back off because they knew I didn’t want to shoot. Oh occasionally I would shoot, and if I made it I would shoot again, but the first time that I missed a jumper was the last time I would take a shot in that game. I managed to have a couple of high scoring games, but for the most part I was a non-factor. Suddenly the other team could double team as much as they wanted because I wasn’t a big enough threat. Because of that I started to spend more and more time on the bench. I was faced with a huge decision… keep doing the same thing and end up riding the bench for the rest of my days, or change.
One day my step-father said something that really opened up my eyes. He said “Jason even the pro’s miss 60 percent of the shots they take.” Of course I was 15 years old and I didn’t believe him, but then I decided to check out the stats… and do you know what?? He was right. With that knowledge I went to summer camp that year at Campbell Universty in Buies Creek, NC. They had a guest “shooting Coach” in that year who told us that if we really wanted to be great shooters we would have to “shoot 200 shots a day” for the rest of the summer and that if we did that we would be different players by the time basketball season came around… so you know what I did?? I shot 200 shots a day for the rest of the summer. I didn’t care if it was 100 degrees outside… every day I’d catch a ride to Roland-Grise Middle School and I’d fire away. My poor sister, God bless her beautiful soul was my rebounder and we worked our tails off. Guess what happened?? When I got back to Texas the next year I was a different player. In pre-season games people tried the whole “we’ll back off of him” trick only to have me drain shot after shot on them. My coach was excited, I was excited and for the first time I felt like I was really gonna kick some tail that year. The next season was a whole different world for me… and for my team. Suddenly if I was open the three ball was going up and I was going to hit quite a few. I flew back into the starting lineup and even noticed that our BIG scorers were getting open a lot easier and scoring a lot of points because the other team had to cover me… if not I was going to make them pay.
That was a long aside story, but isn’t it interesting how many of us are in the game, but not really IN the game. For some reason we are all extremely insecure people…maybe because we should be. After all God’s picture of who we were supposed to be was shattered long ago, and ever since the first time that Adam and Eve recognized their nakedness we have been a race plagued by insecurities because perfection is unattainable. So now that we’ve stated that… I want all of you big dogs out there who are reading this book to raise your hand and say this aloud “I AM INSECURE”. It’s ok, because if anyone dares to ask you what your problem is you can honestly say “my problem is the exact same problem that you have, but won’t admit.” So say it out loud… I AM INSECURE. Yes, you are insecure, about many things. That is a very normal admission, but the question is…. Have you been taken out of the game because of your insecurities??
What voices do you hear in the back of your head when you are about to step out on faith to follow the Lord’s calling on your life? Let me open up my heart and share with you some of the voices I hear… and maybe they will help you recognize all the untruths that you’ve accepted in your life.
Jason, your voice is worn out and if you don’t slow down all this touring and singing so hard, your gonna lose it completely… you better cancel tonight’s show.
Jason, seriously man, do you really think that a guy from Mt. Pleasant, TX with no background in music should ever sing on the same stage as Skillet, the Newsboys, and SCC… come on man that’s stupid.
Jason, what are you gonna do if someone asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to?? You’ve got to have all the answers to be in a Christian rock band. You’re not good enough to do this.
Jason, your son is sitting at home wondering where you are right now… your daughter looks different every time you see her. You’re missing moments that you only get to live once. You’re gonna have to stop this soon. Are you a good dad??
Jason, you can’t write anything new under the sun… there’s nothing left to be said that isn’t already being said by more eloquent people than you’ll ever be. Just admit it, you can’t write songs.
Jason, your tired tonight, and it’s understandable… your voice is shaky and you haven’t even hit the stage yet… and brother, worst of all you’ve got nothing to say. Just go up there and play your little songs and don’t talk… just play the songs and get off the stage, we don’t need any more talk about Jesus at this festival.
Jason, no matter what you say in the media you will always have people who say you’re wrong and that you’re an idiot… so just be quiet.
These are some of the voices I hear as I wait in the wings of every stage that I take or get ready for an important interview with a large media outlet. Sometimes admittedly I am extremely confident, but many days I have these thoughts run through my mind… and lets be honest, those thoughts are enough to paralyze me. They are… if I accept these thoughts as truth then I’m done… cruise control comes on and I become a bystander in my own life. Kind of reminds me of what it would be like to live out the MATRIX. Accepted as reality, these thought processes would change not only my history, but the history of those who come to Building429 shows. How do I not accept those as truth??? Because I know something, a secret that Satan would do anything to keep you from knowing.
“Your life is a series of attacks from the evil one who knows how powerful you can be, and fears you”.
That’s right he fears you. I’ll say it again… even Satan knows how powerful you could be… and fears You. What power does satan have in your life… he comes to “steal kill and destroy” and one of the best ways that he knows to keep you out of God’s will for your life is to keep you in the game as a secondary player, and off of the front lines where you can really hurt him. You know what I’m saying… he desires to have you become the “yes” man so that you’ll feel good about what your doing for the “kingdom” while never truly doing anything that will have a lasting impact. He knows that if you are a passive person who is afraid to truly dive fully into the mission then you are a non-factor and you can’t hurt his divisive plans for this earth. Satan loves to see you living comfortably, in fact that is his biggest mission… to make you comfortable. Which begs the question, are you living a comfy life? Do you have everything mapped out in front of yourself the way you want it?? Are you passed those bygone years of taking risks and doing crazy things? If you are, I’ll submit to you that you might not be where the Lord wants you to be. In my brief life I’ve found that the moments when you find yourself attempting to do something outside the box are the moments when God begins to stretch and build your character.
So check this out: Are you a card carrying member of the monster Church in your town where the programs are the same every year, yielding the same results every year, which is just enough to keep everyone from the elders to the deacons happy and the the tithers tithing?? Hmmmmm. Is your church living inside the boat where in fear of the stormy waters that Jesus is walking on?? Are you living inside the boat in fear of the stormy waters that Jesus is calling you to walk on?? Just some questions to ponder.
Let me share with you what I think God would like to do with your insecurities. I think God would like to use your insecurities as a basis for powerful Godly relationships. That’s right I think that the one thing you hide from every person you meet, could well be the one thing that takes your relationships to a new level beyond that which you have attained on your own. Why?? I believe that God, in His infinite power had a backup plan for the day after Adam and Eve sinned against Him. I believe that our God is so powerful that even our biggest mistakes/misconceptions/miscues are still redeemable for his purposes and plans. So you have a hard time speaking because you stutter. That is your humanity, but your God would have you lead millions of people to the promised land just like a man named Moses who stuttered as well. Maybe you’ve got a past that allows satan to tell you “You’re not good enough, don’t forget what you used to be”. Hey guess what, you’ve got a God who knows who you ARE, and doesn’t see who you WERE. We’re talking about the same God who chose Paul, the persecuter and murderer of Christians, to become the most influential man since Jesus.
I believe that God would have us as His church to be in a communion so deep that our darkest secrets and most intimate insecurities would be on display for all to see. Why?? Just for everyone to see them?? NO. So that you and I would have a multitude of people who constantly lift us up when the voices start ringing in our heads. So that you and I would understand what it means to be in deep committed relationships powered by the love, grace, and mercy of our God. I believe that God showed us through His son Jesus, what it looks like to be in deep and meaningful friendships that empower us to live out our mission with God and face the fears that rob us of action. Notice, Jesus had 12 disciples in whom he confided in and trusted deeply. He had 12 of His closest friends by his side almost constantly… by his side in prayer, by his side in speech, and by his side in action. Jesus’ relationship with his disciples was one that was a constant growing pain… One second they were wild and crazy and prone to angry outbursts. The next they were humble servants. One second they were strong and confident in the face of danger, the next they were denying their savior… because they like you and I battled insecurities and fears. Isn’t that great news??? That even thought we are a mess most of the time… so were they!! Man I’m glad I’m not alone! You aren’t either.
Today I challenge you to recognize the voices in your head and the fears that come with them as the things of Satan. “the Lord has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, and joy, and peace, and sound mind”. Today I challenge you to remember that everything you have, and everything you could gain still pales in comparison to know the Lord Jesus. Today I challenge you to begin the search for Godly men/women who would become your inner circle of brothers who would walk with you in recognition of your fears, and insecurities. Today I tell you again that you were born to do great and powerful things in the name of Jesus Christ. No matter where you’ve been, where you’ve come from, or the severity of the sin in your life, I want you to know that you are called to throw off all of those things in your past to strive toward the Goal for which Christ has called you heavenward. No matter what stands in your way, I want you to remember a boy who killed a giant, a murdered who led multitudes to the Lord, a man who could speak that lead a nation of believers out of bondage, and that God incarnate in Jesus Christ chose insecure, messed up, fearful dudes to walk with, teach, and ultimately toe You too, are called heavenward. You too, are born to lead.
So I’ll end with this statement again.
“Your life is a series of attacks from the evil one who knows how powerful you can be, and fears you”.
So yesterday Building429 had a day off in Albuquerque, NM. My wife and I are kind of on a rampage trying to find cool and out of the way things to do for our family, so sitting around a shopping area was out of the question. Not to mention that my wife is a full on Cross Fit girl and wants to get exercise any time she possible can… which generally means that like it or not, we’re gonna do something outdoorsy. The first three days of our tour with the Newsboys had been full of adventure (the bus broke down and we had to go on a wild goose chase to try to make the shows) so we had our minds set that we were going to make our off day count. What ended up happening was scary, fun, exciting, and in the end, filled with God’s presence.
Cortni had heard about this tram that you could ride to the top of the Sandia Mountain… and we really wanted to make it happen. 2nd longest lift in the world up to an elevation of about 10,000 feet seemed cool enough to us. We brought our winter clothes because we figure it would be cold at the top of the mountain, but we had no idea how cold. 16 degrees without counting the windchill coming off of 30-40mph wind gusts….. so it was literally below zero when the wind blew. When we were on the way up the tram the lady who was pointing out spectacular scenery all around us drew our attention to a tiny rock cabin at the very top of the mountain that had been built for the workers when they were building the attractions so that wouldn’t have to be flown by helicopter down from the mountain every day after work. She went on to say it was a 1 hour hike each way, and that seemed like something cool to consider, until we stepped out of the tram at the top. The wind was flying around us and it felt like we might get blown off the mountain at any second. The cool thing about the tram ride is that is leads you to ski slopes and a restaurant, so we figured agh, lets get some food at least for lunch and then head back down.
We sat down to eat a lunch and Cortni said …. “let’s try to make it to the cabin”. Now mind you there is frozen snow everywhere… not the kind you would ski on, no, the kind that you avoid skiing on cause it’s like concrete…. and I was about to argue, when I figured we’ll just try a little bit of it and see how it goes. So we finished our lunch bundled the kids up and headed out into the freezing temperatures to find the cabin.
All was well at first….. the kids found walking sticks and we were avoiding all of the shaded ares where the snow was frozen on the tiny little path, but after about 1/4 a mile it became apparent that this wasn’t going to be easy. There was a tiny little path with a HUGE incline covered by frozen snow…. (remember we’re literally walking the edge of the peak of a mountain). I found my way up it and turned around to instruct my son and daughter what to do to get to the top….. and looked at Cortni like “are we really trying to do this with OUR kids“?? She looked at me as if to say “WE’RE MAKING MEMORIES, SO LET’S GO” and I decided to push on.
Hazards were everywhere, and of course my son being the boy that he is, began doing what every boy does when its 0 degrees on the side of a mountain with dangerous cliffs and inclines all around….. goofing off. He decided he was on his own adventure and didn’t really want to listen to me at all. I get it… I was the same kid, but man it was frustrating. He’d jump right in the middle of an ice patch and slide for fun, he’d throw his walking stick like a spear and then have to climb up a small ridge to get it. As dad I was constantly calling out to him, “don’t do that, focus on walking the path, THAT’S ICE, YOU’RE GONNA FALL“, but it didn’t matter… he was having his fun. Of course he was lolly gagging and it was slowing us WAY down… and the trail wasn’t marked very well so it was taking longer than I wanted it to, after all it was below freezing up there. We finally made our way to the final ascent and then came the complaints… “dad how much longer, I can’t breathe, I’m tired” to which my response was of course, “if you’d stop jacking around and walk we’d already be there“. Man do I sound like a parent huh? HAHA.
Regardless of all that, we made it to the top of our Everest…. I can’t tell you what an accomplishment it was, because there were some crazy intense climbs on that path, through ice. We got to the top and we were all so excited about the view, but the wind was unbelievable and so it was time to make a quick descent. Before we left I pointed out the Restaurant now a thousand feet below us and what seemed like forever away down the ridge line… and the kids both grumbled because they knew how hard getting back was going to be.
The descent started out fine, everything was going well but of course Avery, being Avery, decided he would make it a bit more of an adventure by jumping from boulder to boulder, and seeing how far he could jump between the patches of ice. He would try to slide down inclines for fun….. and I was the ever present dad “No, Avery stop it…. you’re gonna get hurt… please…….” and then it happened.
He jumped from a snow drift down to the path and when he landed, and time slowed down as Cortni and I watched both of his feet fly straight up in the air…. the first thing to hit the ice was the back of his head. Cortni and I gasped, and I jumped down as fast as I could to grab him in case he lost control. He had his huge coat on and both eyes closed and I jumped down onto the path and threw my arms around him. Any parent knows that your first job when you’re children get hurt is to talk them out of believing that it’s bad and so I started whispering urgently into his ear: “You’re ok son, you’re fine, I know it hurts, don’t worry…. I’m right here…. Don’t worry I’m right here….. you’re safe… daddy’s got you…. son listen to me, I’ve got you….. I’VE GOT YOU…. YOU’RE OK…. I’VE GOT YOU.”
There we were on the top side of a 1 hour climb at 10,000 feet in freezing temperature with my son laying in the middle of an ice path. As a father everything goes through your mind…. Concussion, no I’ve fallen like that before… maybe he’s ok, I guess I’m going to carry him down… what about those steep inclines… I barely made it up by myself… Lord let him be ok. After a few minutes of sitting on ice he had calmed down enough to move so I carried him over to a fallen tree and sat him down and looked him over. He was fine… no concussion, and that’s when I got serious. “Son, we’ve got a long way to go and I’m going to get you down this mountain…. but it’s time for you to stop jacking around and DO EXACTLY WHAT I SAY…. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?” Through his little water eyes he whispered, “Yes Sir” and we gathered up ourselves. Cortni and Haven, now sure that Avery wasn’t in fact going to die, gathered themselves and we started back down the mountain. But this time it was different. Avery was holding my hand. In fact he wouldn’t let go… at all. That’s when I realized what an amazing teaching moment God had given me…. so I jumped in.
I said “Avery, do you know that God has rules too? You know that the bible has rules that we’re supposed to follow… just like the rules that daddy had on this path. Some people don’t like the rules, they want to do whatever pleases them, but there are some very dangerous things out there that most people just don’t see. For instance…. you never thought that you might get hurt did you??” Avery’s shaky voice mumbled “No Sir“. “Did you know, son, that the reason I kept telling you to hurry up and stay close is because there are bears out here“? Avery looked up as though what I did shook him a bit. “That’s right son, you might’ve missed the signs, but they said stay together, do not feed the bears, avoid them if possible. I wanted you close so I could keep you safe. God is just like that son, the rules are not to take away our fun, they are to keep us safe.”
Like any child would, Avery had few questions…”Dad if God wants us to keep the rules why doesn’t he just make us keep the rules… he’s God right?” “Avery“, I whispered, “Why are you holding my hand?? Because I’m making you or because you want to?” He said, “I want to daddy.” “And God wants you to want to hold his hand too. Do you think you’re daddy wanted you to fall like you did???” “No” ” When you fell where was you’re daddy, son?” I could hear his answer through his tears as he though about what I had done when he fell….
“You ran and held me close”…..
“That’s right son, and that’s what God does every time we fall. Love isn’t love if it’s just because you have to… you wouldn’t be enjoying holding my hand if I made you hold it, but because you want to hold my hand I AM SO HAPPY. Just like God is. ”
Avery’s little heart was so soft as he was holding back his tears. That’s when he did something I never expected…. he confessed. “Daddy, I did something really bad a long time ago and I need to tell you about it” “Ok son, go ahead” ” One time, when I was at a friends house I said that I thought Satan was C… C… COO….”
He was full on crying when he let it out….” I SAID I THOUGHT SATAN WAS COOOOOOL DADDY…. I feel so bad… I didn’t know better I promise” My heart broke for him because he felt so bad, so I stopped him in his tracks and looked into his eyes….. “Son, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH… I’m so proud of you… and do you know what’s so awesome…… The Holy Spirit is alive in you!!! It tells us to confess our sins and that we will be saved, and do you know what else…. the bible says if you will confess your sins that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” Then I pointed out to the right and asked him to look out over the valley to east… we could literally see 100 miles to the next mountain range…. then I pointed out to the west, over Albuquerque toward Arizona… another 100 miles to the next range….. and said “The bible says that He casts our sins as far away as the east is from the west” Avery looked up at me with astonishment in his eyes and said…..“That’s a looooooong way”. My reply??? “So forget it… it’s over. I love you so much son…. So does God….” and with that we finally made it back to the tram station.
This morning I woke up and my beautiful wife told me to check out the reading for the day….. day 4 of the tour leads us to Proverbs 4… and so I did:
“Listen my sons to a father’s instructions
pay attention and gain understanding.
I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a boy in my fathers’s house, still tender,
and an only child of my mother,
he taught me and said, “Lay hold of my words
with all your heart; keep my commands and
you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or swerve from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have
Esteem her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will set a garland of grace on your head
and present you with a crown of splendor.
Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you
along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not
be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble….”
God loves you… he wants you to want him… and he wants you safe in his arms. Sometimes the only way for us to run into his arms is calamity. Does he want us to fall???? Heck NO…… but God always makes something beautiful out of something that hurts. I dare say that if we lived by his “rules” we’d make it to the top of many an amazing mountain safely, but that is not the way we as humans learn. We learn by failure… and God loves us so much that He’s willing to let us do what we want…. He’s willing to let us fall…. and let us HATE Him for letting us fall… if it means there’s even the slightest chance that we will run into His arms freely. He’s willing to allow this because love isn’t love its forced…. If Avery doesn’t want to hold my hand…. I don’t want him to hold my hand….. But man it was so AWESOME when my 9 year old son decided he wanted me. And so God waits for you…. waiting for the day when you’ll want to hold His hand, talk with Him, walk with Him, and find out how much He really does desperately love YOU.
What would you attempt if you weren’t afraid to fail?
It’s a placard on my managers desk. Every time I walk in his office I stare at for a few seconds and then try to make an honest evaluation of if I’m living by that creed. It was right after we had finished the Winter Jam 2012 tour. Arguably the most successful tour that Building429 had ever been a part of. 48 cities in sold out arena’s all around the country…. And we had the blessing of being on the tour as our song “Where I Belong” began to take the country by storm. Pretty awesome to watch God move like that. Yet, coming off of that tour didn’t feel like we were in a chill mode at all. In fact in the early part of that tour I had already had a few conversations with people about the possibility of us writing for a new record.
I’ve got to be honest… I used to write around the clock… 24/7, 365 days a year. It left me empty… it left me in a place of constantly chasing the next big song. It honestly hurt my ability to focus on my family… it was as frustrating and irritating as someone who keeps updating their twitter/facebook status in the middle of a date. I constantly had to tell myself… “come on Jason, be here, now…. The songs aren’t from you anyway.” Seriously…. I would run to my guitar any time any crazy idea came to mind out of some obligation to capture every thought… often times hushing children who just wanted to be with daddy while I’d try to write out an idea. Then one day I came to the idea that maybe I needed to trust this great God that I was writing songs about with the writing of the songs. That’s when I finally became a real writer. I got rid of all the noise and stopped writing with every Joe Blow songwriter in a frantic and hopeless effort to write the big song, and started writing with just 2 people and ONLY when it was time for Building to record a new record. It was the best decision of my life.
Freedom had come in the form of simplicity.
Faith replaced fear and on our record “Listen to the Sound” God showed me what He could do with my willingness to truth him as a songwriter. That doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes freak out though. Honestly at the beginning of the newest record my confidence was a bit shaken just by the daunting task of writing a new batch of songs and getting it whittled down to 10 that would be the new record. Song selection is like pouring your heart out on 20 canvasses and then allowing your closest friends fire buck shot at the ones they don’t like until there are 10 left. It’s brutal to say the least because as I say “The writer loves all of his children/song equally”. That’s a weird way of saying that you pour everything you have into every song and you have to be prepared to hear that your amazing thought processes may not actually be that amazing.
So there I was at Gabe’s (my manager) office when he brought it up. “Sooooooo”, he said, “What are you thinking about the next record??” What was I thinking??? I was thinking can’t I have a little more time to enjoy our brand new #1 song?? Haha. That little placard was staring me in the face and I couldn’t help but think….. that’s it…. Whatever THAT is… I want to do that. “What would I attempt to do if I weren’t afraid that I would fail?” What kind of songs would I write. What sounds would we try? How far could we push the envelope while staying true to the form that brought us to this dance? How far could we walk the tight rope???
Then this thought popped in my head. What if we wrote a record about who we are in Christ instead of constantly recounting who we were before?? What if we wrote a record out of confidence in what God’s plans are? What if we stopped cowering because of our weakness and began to stand confidently because of His strength in us?
My mom always said I was born to be a flame…. Maybe she was on to something… maybe… wait… she was right I was born to be a flame… but I want to…. do something bigger…. be a connector, an initiator, be the spark plug that moves the pistons….. I want to… Yeah!!!
Well then I want to light a BONFIRE!
In fact….. I’m gonna light a bonfire!! No, WE’RE GONNA LIGHT ONE TOGETHER!!!
This record is meant to energize the masses. It’s meant to be a bold statement of faith and confidence in a God who isn’t a fable. He isn’t an imaginary figure. He’s not something that we made up to make ourselves feel good about our lives. He’s spent 10 years making us ready for this moment. We we’re meant to lead… so we’re going to… the cost is irrelevent… the truth must go forth. So we’re going to incite a little bravado, a little confidence… maybe start a Holy revolution. That’s the idea and we’d love to invite you to be the Revolution with us. The meek, the mild, the weak, the lonely, the desperate….. that doesn’t begin to describe the 12 people that Jesus surrounded himself with. The disciples were strong, courageous…. outspoken, daring men…. And they got A LOT done for the kingdom. They made mistakes, but they were powerful men of God. We feel that it’s time for this generation to reclaim the banner of courage and remember that our God is able. So with that we introduce the title of our new record:
We Won’t be Shaken
Our new record and in my opinion in represents the pinnacle achievement to date of Building429. We stretched ourselves in ways that felt like natural progressions…. But with new sounds that would’ve been completely foreign on any of our first 4 records. We feel that we’ve brought the best parts of Building429 into this new record whilst leaving some of the extra noise behind. Some will say “Well Jason, I’ve heard you say that before and we’ll just have to wait and see if it’s your best.” I understand your skepticism, but in a career that has stretched longer than anyone thought it would we have never been so supremely confident in God’s plans for Building429 to LEAD. This year will be a banner year for us. I am sure of it, but it will only be that because of what God has done… not us. In fact, there is 1 song on the record that may seem a bit out of place at first, but I encourage you to pay close attention to it. It’s the very last song of the record and it says this:
ALL THE GLORY
Turn my world upside down
Turn it all inside out
You take the least, and make them first
Pour yourself on those who thirst
You use us when we are weak
You use me because I am weak
Its Here I find
You lift me up Just to lift you high
This never was about me
You get all the glory
You get all the glory
If I stand
It’s only that I’m in your hands
It never was about me
You get all the glory
You get all the glory
You’re the author of it all
And so I live to make you known
You take the last, you take the low
You make something beautiful
You use me because I am weak
You’re ways are higher
You’re will above my own
Your glory is greater
You’re story will be told
God wants to turn your world upside down, as He has ours, for His glory. But He can’t do that if don’t consistently lay it all on the line. You can’t be lazy and you can’t be scared. God can do amazing things through people with faith the size of a Mustard Seed. So what will you do?
What WOULD you attempt if you weren’t afraid to fail?