MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 24: TENTH AVENUE NORTH

I’m tired, I’m worn, my heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes, I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left
Let me see redemption win, let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn cause I’m worn

Lyrical excerpt from the song ‘Worn’, from Tenth Avenue North’s 2012 album The Struggle

I don’t think I’ve ever begun a blog post with lyrics of a song from the particular artist/band of which I’m to discuss for that week. Either an introductory paragraph to set the scene, or even last week when I was discussing the relevance and necessity of Skillet, I started with a quote from the band. But never lyrics. That is…until now. For so long in the church I believe, I’ve felt, and maybe this is just my surmising and if I do have it wrong, I take it back and apologise, but from just observation, I’ve realised that people in a general sense, especially church goers, don’t like to admit that they are worn. That they are burnt out, or even still, that they even need help with their day-to-day lives. There are songs about praising God. There’re songs about the general Christian walk of life. There’s songs that are fit for radio, songs that are not fit for radio, but within and amongst all the songs that can be placed under the umbrella of CCM (Contemporary Christian music), rarely has there been a song (correct me if I’m wrong!) about being worn and tired, of being just…well, fed up. Not with life itself, but with the general happenings of it. I mean, who really actually, in their right mind, starts off a song with a vulnerable lyric ‘I’m tired, I’m worn, my heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing, I’ve made mistakes, I’ve let my hope fail, my soul feels crushed by the weight of this world’? I mean, who does that? Who lets the whole world know their innermost feelings in a song, from the get-go? Well, Tenth Avenue North of course.

Yes, this week we are delving into CCM band, and quite possibly the band currently in the realms of Christian music, that has pressed the envelope and stretched the boundaries of what it means to be honest and vulnerable. Sadly, the CCM industry is just like any other- one that, just like the mainstream industry, is plagued with a lack of honesty that should really be present. A stigma is attached to the word ‘honesty’ and ‘vulnerability’ in music, and thus, a band like Tenth Avenue North, who in their music, has challenged all those assumptions, is well deserving of being in a prestigious personal list, one that highlights bands and artists that bring something new, interesting, heartfelt, challenging and transformational, to the discussion of what music means for people today. Sure, Tenth Avenue North aren’t popular by ‘mainstream music’ means. But the band itself has never really cared about that- carving out a career more focused on songs being used as vehicles of honesty, rather than songs just being a way to escape it!

Winning countless of Dove Awards, and having multiple No. 1 radio hits throughout their 10+ year career thus far; we as listeners have been blessed to hear one of CCM’s most influential bands, and maybe, just maybe, a band that can and should poke their heads into mainstream sooner rather than later. Speaking of issues that are sadly swept under the rug in CCM, Tenth Avenue North, alongside other artists like Switchfoot, Skillet, Newsboys, For KING AND COUNTRY, needtobreathe and Plumb; have all reminded us what it means to create music that has more of a universal appeal, all the while never comprising on faith and values. The band have reminded us all of the need to have hope, and it is their songs full of emotion backed up with biblical truth, that carves the way for the future of what CCM should be. By writing and recording songs about what people need to hear, rather than what people crave and want; the band has earnt a lot of respect from myself as I am pleased to call myself an avid fan of a group that has defined the 2010s era of  CCM in a way that I believe no other CCM band (aside from For KING AND COUNTRY) has done…period!

Tenth Avenue North have always written songs that are, to put it bluntly, uncomfortable to listen to. I mean, yes, they do deliver to us biblical truths and really state what the gospel is, but when we as flawed humans hear such songs from this Florida band, we can feel inspired, hopeful, encouraged, and maybe even offended. For there have been many songs that Mike Donehey, lead singer, and co.; have released throughout the last 10 years or so, that have tugged at my heart, stirred my soul, and challenged my every being in what it really means to lay down myself and to love unconditionally as Jesus loved us, to sit and listen and hear rather than to be heard, to admit problems rather than to always find solutions to them. Starting in 2008 with the unveiling of Over And Underneath, and then subsequently with chart-topping albums The Light Meets the Dark, The Struggle, Cathedrals and Followers, the band has given to us songs that we as listeners, from varying walks of life and varying degrees of faith, can sink our teeth into. Much of their musical catalogue never fitted into the CCM/pop mould, because the band never really made songs for that category to begin with. Instead, songs like “Worn” show us how a person can still be broken and still cry out to God for mercy and strength, while “The Struggle” reminds us all that we are free to struggle under the grace and acceptance of Christ, wrestling with God about pertinent issues deep to our hearts, rather than struggling to be free, trying to earn something that was already given freely. ‘Losing’, also from the album The Struggle, speaks of the issue of forgiveness, and how, though it feels like we’re losing because we have to extend grace to the person who’ve wronged us when all we feel like doing is to show bitterness and hate, we are nevertheless remind us that as God excused the inexcusable in us through death and resurrection via Jesus Christ; we as Christians are compelled to do the same.

‘Love is Here’, from their debut album Over and Underneath, encourages us to believe into the fact that it is God’s love that pours out and is given freely, that ‘…love is here, love is now, love is pouring from His head, from His brow…’, as we’re reminded that Jesus’ death and sacrifice, and thus His subsequent resurrection, was all motivated and out of an undeniable and unending love for His creation; while ‘Hold My Heart’ presents this issue of longing to be held in difficulties and asking the Lord why pain is present in this life, even to the point of questioning whether pain is even necessary to further what God wants to accomplish in our lives. ‘By Your Side’, quite possibly the band’s biggest hit, is sung from the Lord’s point of view, as we as Christians, and even we as people, are given comfort to know that God is by our sides, championing us in this life, and walking alongside us in every aspect; while songs like ‘Healing Begins’, ‘Strong Enough to Save’ and ‘You are More’, all anchor the band’s second album The Light Meets the Dark thematically and lyrically, as all three discuss themes relevant and prevalent to the society of today. ‘Healing Begins’ speaks of breaking our walls down by the way of admitting our struggles, faults and sins to each other, thereby giving gravity and weight to them and realising our desperate need for a Saviour; while ‘Strong Enough to Save’ reminds us of the strength of God and that God is enough for what we want and desire, or even to be direct, He is the answer of what we need to be saved from. ‘You are More’ is the band’s most meaningful track, for me (alongside ‘Worn’), and shows the band in a vulnerable state than ever- giving us a perspective I’m sure the world won’t do- that our choices we make do not make us who we are. Let that sink in for a bit- that what we do and what we don’t do, how we act and how we behave, what we accomplish, or even what we don’t; do not define us. Rather, we are called as sons and daughters of God. That is our identity- sure, whatever we do will have consequences and will direct us to the places where we will end up and the road our choices will lead down, but the choices themselves won’t define us. Who we are isn’t in the doing, but it is in the believing and knowing that He who made the world, loved us to the point of even coming as God incarnate to die the death we deserve and conquer the very thing, death, that’s separating us from God in the first place. That is who we are- sanctified, redeemed, loved unconditionally. And that is why ‘You are More’ has so much emotion and weight- a song that has inspired my own walk with Christ over the last 5-6 years, and a song that has stood out amongst the sea of radio singles by the band, a song that has redefined the structure and definition of grace for a generation that feels like they need to put in more works, for whatever reason.

And so there it is- Tenth Avenue North’s early discography, comprising of the albums Over and Underneath, The Struggle and The Light Meets the Dark, and showcasing standout songs from each of the three albums. Mike and co. continued to bring to us album after album of hits, and from their 2014 album Cathedrals and onward, the band started to focus upon a theme/topic that the album is addressing- sort of more of a focussed approach as we understand that the band want to divulge and remind us of a certain thing that much of the album wants to address. Cathedrals brings to the fore the theme of community and our own need for coming together in a way that allows us to set aside our differences as we all focus on our Saviour. Anchored thematically by songs like ‘No Man is An Island’, ‘For Those Who Can’t Speak’ and’ ‘Stars in the Night’, Mike Donehey reminds us, not only through their first single ‘No Man is an Island’ but for the album as a whole, that no one in the world ought to be alone.

Whether it’s family, friends or God, we ought to have someone else in our lives we can commune with. We as humans are made in the image of God, and since God is a community (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), we as being mirrors and echoes of God’s character, are also longing to be in community- with God and with others. We aren’t meant to be alone, which is one of the reasons we as Christians long to, and ought to, commune and fellowship with each other during Sunday church time. Sure, we can worship God and listen to encouraging and poignant sermons right from the comfort of your own home, and sure it may be comfortable, but we must remember- no man is an island. We can’t travel through life without letting people in. Though it could seem scary to unveil our true selves to the people we think know us, and ought to know us, the most, the converse is something we should avoid. To stay within our bubbles may be enticing- it’s cosy, fun, and a lot easier than fellowshipping with friends and family. Because once we unveil ourselves to others around us and try to make the human connection and step off our islands, the moment comes where we have to be real, and at times, being real and vulnerable may be the hardest thing we may need to do. To say ‘here is the real me, with all my faults’. And we wonder, would our friends, family, or even God, accept us if they only knew our hearts? It is then that I myself remember- God takes care of sparrows, as it says in the book of Matthew. So how much more will he take care of us? “No Man is an Island” the song, and by extension, Cathedrals the album, speaks about coming off our individual islands and entering into a community, sharing our joys and triumphs, but also sharing our hurts and pain as well. It is in the fellowship of one another than we can find encouragement, hope, love, acceptance, and even the courage and motivation to live each day, not for ourselves, but for God and others. ‘For Those Who Can’t Speak’, a collaboration between Tenth Avenue North and rappers KB and Derek Minor, takes the community aspect of the album further, reminding us all that being part of a community and sharing our highs and lows with people also come with a responsibility- to speak up and defend the people that need defending but can’t do it themselves. The platform we have as men and women of God need to be exercised to bring about positive change, as we’re reminded that to speak up for the oppressed and to be a voice for those who have none is what I’m sure God really commends as good practical Christianity.

What I love about Tenth Avenue North and their songs is that they have a real-world practicality to them. Much of CCM discusses biblical truths, and things that we are reminded to believe upon again and again, and that’s great. But for a band to come in and write and deliver things in a raw way, to allow us to contemplate and mull over the songs, picking apart things about our own lives that need relearning or even refocusing and realigning, takes a bit of an effort. And for the band to come in and present albums that are confronting can be a bit of a confrontation to the band themselves- not knowing how the public is going to receive such a vulnerable album, but nevertheless, undertaking such a feat anyway. Followers released in 2016, and for me, was in fact one of my favourite albums of that particular year. The theme of the album as a whole…yep, you guessed it, being a good follower of Jesus. And while the theme of the album be seen as a little general upon first listen (from start to finish), what each of the songs impart to us all, is all tied up into this word called ‘follower’. But if I am completely honest and candid, we as humans aren’t really good followers. Because let’s face it- and be honest. We were always told by our parents, friends, and family, that being leaders were what we were born to do. From the moment before time, man has always wanted to lead from the front. To have all the ideas, and implement them with style, grace, poise, and to encourage others to join us on our quest. Leading is something championed in this society…but to follow? Whenever we discuss the word ‘follow’, I’m not sure what conjures up in my mind, but in mine, I immediately think of sheep. I know, that isn’t the most endearing thing to initially think about when you think of the word follow, but isn’t that what sheep do all the time? Follow? We always associate follow with us just blindly accepting others ideas, to never think for ourselves and allow people in power to determine the course of action we the ‘plebs’ are taking. In fact, dare I say that in modern society, it’s become so bad that I reckon we all, and I do mean all, want to lead, and never follow? To follow someone else and abandon the plans we have for ourselves can seem to be a life subjected to uncertainty and chaos, but herein lies the point, expressed ever so eloquently in the band’s song from 2016, ‘What You Want’, and maybe even to a further extension of the theme, through ‘Control’ as well.

Giving up being the leader and being humble enough to follow cannot be undertaken by anyone easily, myself included. Because whether we accept it or not, we all have a streak inside of us that longs to be the leader. Yet what I’ve realised, is that Jesus Himself was never a leader- He always listened to what God the Father was telling Him. So what does that mean if we’re in the image of God? Sure, we’ll have the leadership ability within us because we’re made in the image of Him, yet we have to let go- of our pride, of our expectations, of our ability to control often things beyond our control, and to say, ‘ok, Lord, I know that I may want certain situations and outcomes to occur. Yet what I’m willing to do is to lay everything down at Your feet, to acknowledge that what You want for my life is far beyond what I could ever dream or imagine for it to be’. ‘What You Want’ touches on these issues that I have delved into, and reminds us all that if we are made in the image of God, what we want and ache for, what makes our own blood boil, our hopes, desires, dreams, things we champion and things we dislike, these all come from God as well. But then we have to ask ourselves- d o we even know what it is that God wants? Or what He loves? What is on the mind of God the Father? What is burning in His being that He wants to see on earth as it is in heaven? Well- we all know God’s heart for the poor, the orphans and the widows. We know His heart for those lost and deep in sin and shame. And His heart for those with unrealised potential in their lives. But whatever the case, we have to be willing enough to open our own hearts and ask Him to impress upon us what He longs for us to accomplish in this life- because if we’re made in His image, chances are if we’re wrestling with something and feeling that this is something we need to change because we don’t like the status quo; then God is also feeling the same way too.

‘Control’, just like songs ‘You are More’, ‘Worn’ and ‘By Your Side’, has impacted my own heart over the last few years. In a similar vein to ‘What You Want’, the song reminds us all that it is God’s way that is ultimately the best for our lives, and that as we give up control to Him, it gives us the freedom to just be and bask in His presence. It allows us to have the rest we really, really need, but never quite have because we’re so busy wanting to be in control, because we believe, somewhere down the line, that to be in control is to have everything together, and to be a ‘good’ Christian. But herein lies the point- to hold onto control says more about us than it does about God. It shows everyone around us that we are not secure in our identity in Christ, and we want to hold onto something that we should’ve let go into the hands of God a long time before. And in all seriousness, we do need those times to just sit back and rest, if nothing else than to marvel at the fact that the Lord our God gave us this life and everything in it, that whatever we do and say, however we act and whatever we accomplish, is a reflection of what we believe in our hearts, and that when people see us, it ought to be what we believe about ourselves and about God Himself as well.

It is in me realising this poignant fact that God doesn’t need any of us to accomplish what He longs to see in fruition, but rather, chooses us to be stewards of His love to the world, the burden comes off. We don’t have to perform. We don’t have to do more so that people will see the change inside of us. It is after all, the power and love of God that draws people towards Himself, not by what we say or even do. Sure how we act will reflect upon what we ultimately believe. But if we believe that what we do, and what our performance is like, is good enough for people to come to Christ? Then we’re really missing the plot. The idea of rest is as much important, maybe even more so, than accomplishments. Because it is in the moments of stillness and rest when all the clutter comes out of our lives, we can hear the Lord much more clearly. Sure we will hear the Lord in the chaos (in fact, He is speaking all the time) and He will bring to us people that He wants to speak through so that He can get our attention, but often than not, what comes with the silence is the worry. The worry that our own innermost thoughts may be the ones we don’t seem to like ourselves. Often that’s why we surround ourselves with busyness, to distract us from hearing what we ultimately think, about love, life, ourselves, even God. We have been given a mandate to rest, by our Father in heaven. To not worry about outcomes and situations, to give up control to the One who is in control. And ‘Control’, just like ‘What You Want’, gives us the comfort to know that whatever we strive for on our own is always going to fall short, and that once we surrender and let go of our futile plans we hold to our chest, then the weights come off and we can live freer than before and just like how God intended for us to be.

Mike Donehey and co. have shown us to this point, songs that influence far and wide, songs that really remind us all that to be influential doesn’t mean to be popular in the world’s eyes, but rather, influential in the hearts of the people who hear such truth with poignancy and heart. The band’s career is a testament to the very fact, that vulnerability in Christian music is a must, and something that a lot of CCM bands should aspire to, but sadly don’t, either to compromise for radio sales, singles, whatever else the case may be. Nevertheless, Mike and co. still power on to this day, giving us messages of hope and encouragement, and for me, it is their 2 most recent projects that really open the door and have quickly made them to become, alongside Andrew Peterson, one of CCM’s most influential artists of the modern era of CCM music (post 2000!).

The Things We’ve Been Afraid to Say released in the end of 2018, and No Shame dropped just this last week, and both albums speak of things that are hardly ever spoken about within CCM. Released as a collection of 6 songs, The Things We’ve Been Afraid to Say is a musical offering that I’m sure anyone who is anyone who is human being, can relate to. Songs that discuss heavy topics like being attracted to someone who isn’t your spouse, politics and religion, sexual abuse, lust and pornography, loving the person and speaking up against the action, being faithful to family when we’re in the process of being led astray, the shame the comes with keeping a secret and wanting the light to desperately come in and unveil the secret before it weighs heavily on you; all is heavy stuff, and all these themes require us all to sit and focus and listen. To be blunt, this 2018 EP has now allowed us such a space to discuss heavy issues amongst ourselves, and have given us a platform and a way forward, as we think, ‘gee, if a singer as highly respected as Mike is singing about a struggle like ___, then yes, it is ok if we have such struggles also’. An EP like this shows us that vulnerability isn’t something to be ashamed about, nor is it something to shy away from. But rather, when we open up and be honest, real and speak the truth, we are encouraged through love and grace that we have the permission to be honest also, and to not be judged or shunned because of it. A must-have if you are a fan of Tenth Avenue North, or if you’re a fan of music in general, this is a musical moment that you don’t want to skip. Listen, every word, every line, no skipping, from start to finish.

I have a lot of respect for the band. Not that I didn’t have any respect for them before, it’s just that now, there’s a much more admiration as I watch Mike and co. deliver songs that are in fact taboo, as we’re reminded that as Christians, we ought to be in a space where it is ok to speak up about things that tug at our hearts, be it heavy topics, taboo topics, topics where we could be judged. And know that even if people judge us, it’s ok, because we know ourselves that by unveiling things and topics that aren’t necessarily ‘mainstream’, we are giving permission for others to come forward with courage and speak about things as well. Songs like these on The Things We’ve Been Afraid to Say don’t come every so often, and when they do, we ought to sit up and take notice. For a band to discuss the topics they have, and for it be with such grace, allows everyone who hears it to champion them as well, and to move alongside the band and welcome in a new era, where we aren’t afraid to unveil things about ourselves that we consider ugly, different, dare I say unlovable! Being attracted to people that aren’t our spouses (‘Covenant’), the burden and the hassle of secrets, and our desire to want to be rid of them (‘Secrets’),  the struggle with pornography addiction (‘Counterfeits’), the ability to love and not pass any kind of judgement in an age where everyone seems to be political and break relationships based upon people’s political beliefs and hidden agendas (‘Love Anyway’), and the ever so delicate topic of sexual abuse (‘I’m Listening’) and the fear felt by many affected when coming to the public with their own stories; are all on the band’s 2018 EP, and all need time for us to understand the weight and gravity of these themes- frankly, a space that CCM sadly doesn’t give.

Nevertheless, Mike himself reminds us all that the direction the band is going in- speaking about these issues in The Things We’ve Been Afraid to Say, and the holistic topic of shame in No Shame (my brother Josh wrote his thoughts on the album here), has been on his heart for a while. As said by Mike himself, ‘…in the Christian industry people want to hear about our struggles, as long as they are past tense because it’s too complicated to say, ‘Jesus doesn’t always redeem us from our struggles, sometimes he redeems us through our struggles,’ That’s scary for some because a lot of people don’t actually come to Jesus just to get Jesus. They come to Jesus to get Jesus to do something for them and so if I stand there and go, ‘I get up and I sing about Jesus every night and my life still isn’t perfect,’ that can be unnerving for some people. I was talking to a guy at the label and told him, ‘It’s the first time that I’m not scared if the art that we made isn’t successful.’ He said, ‘No, you just redefined success,’ and it’s true. I realized I want to get back to when I first started writing songs, and that was to help people get released from their burdens and shame and to find a deeper sense of truth. But in order to do that we’ve got to be honest about how messy it really is sometimes…’

Tenth Avenue North have redefined success and what it means to have influence in CCM as their own years in the music industry have ticked by. From their humble beginnings in 2008, to now releasing their brand new album in 2019, all the while cutting down their live shows to be with their families (a decision that was propagated by the composition and recording of ‘Control’); Mike and the band are at a place now where they can write about what’s tugging their heart, and remind us all that radio sales aren’t always everything. Their career, as storied as it is, has been redefined for the better, quite possibly because of The Things We’ve Been Afraid to Say. And maybe that’s a good thing. And it is in light of the band cutting back their touring schedule that regret started to form for Mike- he realised that the transition between touring full-time to part-time was so seamless, that it could’ve happened ages ago- …I was filled with regret. I could have made this decision a long time ago. I could have missed less birthday parties and less recitals. I could have been there, and I was beating myself up. I really felt like I heard God just whisper in my ear, ‘Hey Mike, it’s okay. I’m greater than all your regrets.’ That song has been really helpful for me dealing with my own personal regrets…’ ‘Greater Than All My Regrets’, arguably one of my favourite songs of the year thus far, speaks about regrets, and the universality of just longing for what once was, but then realising that God is bigger than every lost dream or untapped potential. God is greater than every failure and regret, in a song that I’m sure is very much needed in this economic and political climate at the moment.

Belief in the song and belief in the artists for singing the song is paramount for me, and Tenth Avenue North is the very embodiment of singing songs that is believed as much as it is sung, and so, what better way to sound off this post, than to hear from Mike himself? And so as we carry about our weeks, let us be immersed in the music of our lives that ask us questions, that challenge us to think outside the box, and believe that rest is not as evil or as unnecessary as we may think. That often it is the taboo topics we discuss that will bring people together in a healthy respectful way, as we humble ourselves, never judging but always loving people who are different from us. And so, let us sit back and enjoy Tenth Avenue North and their music, and what they have to offer. And be reminded that influential need not be the same as popular. In the band’s case, they are both popular and influential in the realms of CCM…in terms of everything else, not necessarily- and that’s very much ok!

Does Tenth Avenue North make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Best Influential Artists of All Time’ list? Is there any song that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far? Has the band delivered music that can transcend walks of life and maybe even walks of religion as well? Has there been some songs that have spoken to you about yourself or maybe God Almighty in the process? Famous for songs like ‘Worn’, ‘By Your Side’, ‘Control’ and ‘No Man is an Island’ (to name a few); is there are song that has connected with you that is a little lesser known to the public? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

I am the chief among sinners. I’ve stolen. I’ve lied. I’ve cheated. I’ve committed adultery in my heart and murdered in my mind. I am a disgrace, a convict in need of pardon, an orphan in need of a Father. And yet, Christ saw me, loved me, and gave Himself for me. He lived the life I could never live, died the death that I deserved, and rose again over all I could never conquer on my own.  He breathed His Spirit into me.  He broke through the stone walls of my heart and gave me a heart of flesh. He bought me. He won me. He called me His own. So now, I give all that I am to Him.  I am His and He is mine.  He is my life and in Him I live and move and have my being.  I am not who I once was.  I’ve been remade.  I no longer come to the world with clenched fists, I come with open hands.  I do not come with a swinging gavel, I come with a life laid down. Servant to all, friend to sinners, I come the way Jesus came to me. Which means I get to embrace everyone.
If they complained that Jesus hung out with sinners than I hope the same will be said of me.  Homosexuals, chief justices, prostitutes, picketers, preachers; there is no one beneath my service. There is no one beneath my love.  I love those who disagree with me. I love those who boycott me. I love those who tell me I need to stand for truth and I love those who tell me my truth is not theirs. I get to love everybody. Of course, the question remains, how do I do that? I mean, practically speaking, how do I truly love people? What does that even mean?  What does it look like?  Does loving someone mean agreeing with everything they do and everything they are? Can you even love a culture who feels hated if they’re disagreed with? How do I love the souls with differing beliefs, especially when minds are made up on two opposing sides? How do I build bridges to Jesus and to others? And in what ways could I be unknowingly burning those bridges down?
Maybe the biggest thing I’ve had a hard time with today, is the sentiment that it’s my job to tell the whole world how to live.  Maybe it has to do with growing up in a Capitalistic society, or maybe it’s just a result of the digital revolution where something can be seen and shared by hundreds of millions of people in a few hours, but either way, I firmly believe it isn’t my calling to steward the morality of mankind.  I’m simply called to make disciples.  And that, is a down and dirty, one person at a time kind of a calling.  It’s small, often times thankless, and it’s not a campaign.  It’s a kingdom. LIke Paul said, I’m not called to judge the world, I’m called to love the world. I’m not even called to change the world, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job.  I’m to simply introduce people to Jesus, and let Him do the rest.  If He is life, my job should be to bring others to His arms, and let the power of His love shift their thinking.  I make the introduction, but Jesus wins their heart.
So, with that, let me remind you of a few last things.
If you follow Jesus, He hasn’t promised you a government, but He has promised you a kingdom.  He hasn’t promised you freedom from persecution, but He has promised you His presence in the middle of it.  He hasn’t promised you fame, money or prestige, but He has given you the treasure of Himself, and a whole world to share with.  So let’s share Him like we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Let’s share Him by sharing ourselves, and that starts with our ears.   I bet when we put down our megaphones, we’ll find a world out there, waiting to be heard.  And when they know we truly want to hear, they just might be interested in what we have to say.

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