Have you ever seen a river current change directions? It can easily happen. Erosion, tidal effects and shifts in the earths tectonic plates can cause a river to change its direction. This can be a subtle development that happens over a period of time or a sudden change that causes drastic redirection. We have all witnessed the footage of catastrophic weather related events that forever change the landscape of a city or a nation. But it can be surprising to realize that it is often the slow moving things underneath the river(the small quakes, the slow erosion, etc), the things we don’t see, that can have the greatest impact on the course of our lives.
For me this idea of changing currents has direct parallels to my life right. Since the album photo shoot for the Bethel Music Tides album. (April 2013), I started to feel an internal shift happening, a “turning tides” so to speak in my own heart. Fast forward a year later, those many internal shifts along the way ultimately led me to one really big conclusion.
I decided that after 6 years of living in Redding California, serving and working on staff at Bethel Church, it was time for me to move. This decision was no easy one to make, but I begin to feel the Lord inviting me into a new journey of faith. As amazing as Bethel Redding had been in my life, I sensed it was time to stand on my own and explore my creativity in a new setting. It was also time to leave the comfort of my current season and move in a new direction, even one that may be uncharted for me. So two months ago(May 2014) I packed up my life and moved to Los Angeles California.
There aren’t a lot of details to give at this point as this is such a recent move, but I would love everyone to know that I have a great relationship with Bethel Church & the Bethel Music Leadership team and as of now I am still apart of the Bethel Music family and will stay relationally connected. I just finished taking a short 2 month break from leading worship/traveling so I can give myself time to adjust to the new move and to get some much needed rest. I will resume itinerate traveling around mid July.
Resigning as a staff member of Bethel Church and moving to Los Angeles has afforded me with the time to begin to grow deeper with my writing and creativity. Currently I am finishing up a book i’ve been writing over the last year, writing blogs that will be released over the next few months, started a new podcast show, and working on lots of new worship and non worship music. I am also hoping to record another album either late this year early 2015.
Many have asked if I will be leading worship consistently at another church in the Los Angeles area and at the moment I have no plans to come on staff at another church or to lead worship here anytime soon. Further down the line I may be open to leading consistently in the Los Angeles area. I do plan to attend a local church regularly while I am here, but haven’t publicly identified which church that will be.
Words could not express what Bethel has meant to me over these last 6-7 years. Bethel Music gave me a platform to operate in my calling and allowed me lead worship week after week and to record music that has and is inspiring people all over the world. Their investment in me spiritually and practically has forever indebted me to them. I am privileged to have been apart of, in my opinion, one of the greatest churches in all the world. Bethel is more than a church to me, it is an extension of my family. A family that I will continue to walk with in heart and believe for, now in a new way.
I made a choice a long time ago to follow the river of God, wherever it led me. That river led me to Bethel many years ago, that river led me to write “Deep Cries Out” & “Hope’s Anthem” and now that same current is moving me on. I don’t claim to know or understand the currents and where it’s all going, but I do know that I will choose to lean and trust.
This election season like many others before I decided to dive right into the thick of it. I started watching as much cable news, read as many articles as I could find and most importantly listen to as many viewpoints as I could. One conversation came on flight to Vancouver Canada from San Francisco. I sat next to a accomplished and educated Korean woman from Los Angeles who wanted to pick my brain about politics. She was warm, funny, quick witted and a strong democrat. We talked for two hours about the economy, taxes, abortion, gay marriage, etc. It was wonderful! Such exchanges are life giving for me. Especially when both parties seek to understand and share versus convince and condemn. I walked off of that plane with more understanding and more compassion.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
See, I myself come from a politically moderate to liberal background. I remember the first time I asked my father the difference between republican and democrats and which were we. He never told me exactly what view I should hold but he spoke very plainly about the pro’s and cons of both. I believe I will take this moderate approach with my children as well.
Fast forward to present day, I am a registered independent. I have chosen to not be politically aligned with any one party. At one point in time I was a democrat, at another point, a republican. Now, I am independent. This evolution into becoming an independent came about after a season of strong religious/political fervor. I used to have a strong belief that a vote for a conservative candidate meant a vote for Jesus. It didn’t matter if they were smart or well rounded. It didn’t matter if they cared for every part of America just as long as they didn’t love or endorse the parts that disgusted me. It didn’t matter if they cared for the poor or perpetuated fear and slander to get elected, just as long as they “claimed to be pro-life” and wouldn’t let the “gays” marry.
“I hope to challenge the assumption that finding the right political path has anything to do with advancing the kingdom of God.” -Greg Boyd
What i’ve begun to discover is the ambiguity and moral complexities of many of these issues. For instance, many studies have shown that economics is the driving reason behind abortion. Could legislation and programs to take care of the poor decrease the number of abortions in America then? Click Here for an article in support of that view. As well, if electing a pro-life president could simply bring an end to abortion then why hasn’t it been done in over 30 years? We’ve had plenty of Pro Life presidents since Roe Vs. Wade. It doesn’t seem as simple and black and white as most Christians like to believe it is.
This isn’t to suggest that there hasn’t been anything done by a president to bring about change for the “pro-life” agenda. It is to say that the real change we want to see must be done grassroots from the bottom up. We can’t solely expect it from the top down. Isn’t that the Jesus way though? He didn’t comment on the politically heated debates of his day like many of his representatives do today and he was the ultimate cultural reformer. Did not our Lord tell Caesar that his kingdom is not of this world otherwise his disciples would be fighting?
Thankfully we live in a society(unlike the early church) that allows us to elect our leaders and what matters most to us. With that said in this election season I chose to vote on the Romney/Ryan ticket. For me, this was not a matter of standing on biblical principles. If that were the case then I would have wanted to vote for both candidates. After much thought and consideration I voted according to my conscience and my conscience felt like Romney was the better candidate. I was not fully impressed with Obama’s presidency the last four year so i decided to go another route. As well I felt that this election boiled down to the economy and my heart told me that Romney would do a better job. Now after a clear Obama win I do not regret my decision. I felt it was the right one for me. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was the best for every true blue American.
“While all the versions of the kingdom of the world acquire and exercise power over others, the kingdom of God, incarnated and modeled in the person of Jesus Christ, advances only by exercising power under others. It expands by manifesting the power of self-sacrificial, Calvary-like love.” -Greg Boyd
Every nail you hammer into your brothers hand keeps you on the cross
What scares me about our current political system is our ability to vilify and idolize entire groups of people in one fail swoop. We easily play into a “us versus them” mentality without recognizing our essential oneness as humans. We praise one party as morally superior than another and demonize the rest. Yet the people we so easily turn into villains are our own brothers and sisters. Isn’t this the sin of Cain? Isn’t this the very thing that keeps us in bondage to sin and death? That we do not look upon on men and women with tender compassion, kindness and empathy but in our hearts and thoughts we isolate and murder them day after day.
“There are a number of perspectives for those of us with a heart to see abortion become less and less frequent and to create viable options to abortion to those who might otherwise seek it. Some will vote for Obama towards this end and others will vote for Romney. Others of us will not vote at all. Please don’t let this issue divide us any longer.” - Unknown
I am not my brother’s keeper, I am my brother- Iyanla Vanzant
When I hear conservative Christian friends of mine villainizing or speaking negatively about other Christians who voted for President Obama it makes me sick to my stomach. I come from a long line of godly and hard working men and women who are Democrats. I understand if you truly do not understand a view or position some may have. But to claim your view alone as “God’s” view alienates the very people you are called to influence and indirectly points the finger at other well meaning Christians who may see things differently from you.
Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. -Proverbs 4:7
Since going on this journey of discovering my own view or voice when it comes to politics I cannot say that I have come to many strong on conclusions. But one thing I have come to is a greater understanding. And I believe that is the point. I do not know if we should ever come to a place of perfect “rightness” with our political beliefs. We are mortal beings with limited perspective. We are barely able to fathom our own lives and the impact they have let alone the lives of 300 million Americans. That is the plight of our political system; That is the continual inadequacy of government. Instead of accusing and belittling, let’s seek to understand each other. Even people you fundamentally disagree with. You’ll never lose if seek to understand!
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