Go Tell It (for a cappella vocal ensemble)

Here's an arrangement of the popular Christmas song, "Go Tell It On the Mountain" I wrote for this year's upcoming Christmas.  While I was preparing the practice vocal tracks for Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass, I sang each part in a range that fit my voice, which turned it into a 'male' (barbershop) arrangement.  I thought it sounded fun, so I went ahead and mixed it down.

Hope you enjoy!

 

What Child

A very unique version of "What Child Is This", orchestrated from an electronica track I made earlier this year.  Hope you enjoy!

(UTPB Orchestra, directed by Thomas Hohstadt, at the Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center during the UTPB 2012 Christmas Concert.)

You Are My God (I'm jumping off)

(recorded by the Odessa Christian Faith Center music ministry)

Here's a recent song I wrote about trusting God when you step into new territories.   Even when things may be unfamiliar, foreign to us, it's going to be OK when we just learn to trust Him.  He'll keep us safe and He'll guide us, navigate us where we need to go.

Hope you like it.

You Are My God (I'm Jumping off) (©2012 Lowell Hohstadt) 

I’m jumpin’ off into the deep

That’s where my life is truly free

I’m livin’ life eternally

That’s where my heart is meant to be

 

I trust You, You only

I love You, You hold me safe

in all I am and all I do

 

Living my life to love You

Living my life to worship at Your feet

 

You are my God

You are my God

You are my God

You are my God

 

Here I will trust You

Here I am near You

Living my life with You

I’m holding onto You  

Leaning ev’ry part I am to You

 

 

We Win

(recorded by the Odessa Christian Faith Center music ministry)

“And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Col. 2:13-15) 

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:37-39) 

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith.” (I John 5:4) 

It is evident that Christ has won the victory for us, both now and to eternity, in which we can confidently say, “We Win!”

 

We Win (©2011 Lowell Hohstadt)

In the darkness You shine Your light through

In the battle Your ev'ry word comes true

In the chaos You shine Your glorious light

With You on our side, we win the fight!

 

All the victory here

comes from victory there

All the promises here

You brought us the victory hanging on Calvary!

 

Takin' a walk of faith ev'ry day now,

Talkin' talk of grace, as I look in Your face

Set my eyes on things above this world

With You on our side, we win

 

We win, we win,

We win, we win,

We win,

We win the fight!

 

Destroying the Malachi Mindset

There is a mind-set that has unfortunately been pervasive regarding Music Ministry for a number of years.  It's similar to Nathanael’s remarks to Phillip when he said he had found the Messiah, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Our culture, together with many musicians and artists have a similar disdain for the capacity of the Church to produce anything worthwhile, stating, “Can anything good come out of the Church?” 

The viewpoint is: if an artist wants true recognition and success, he or she must find it outside the realm of ministry or Church involvement.   Church ministry is not usually a consideration, and is even disdained by those who are serious about fulfilling their career pursuits and dreams. 

To make matters worse, many of those in Church ministry have accepted the premise that maybe they can’t ‘make it’ in the world, so they just settle for a non-competitive ministry position. 

All of this stems from the general conclusion that local church (or the Church at large) is irrelevant to current culture, even unnecessary.  It certainly is not viewed as a place where high artistic achievement can exist. 

There was a time in Israel’s history that people had a similar mind-set.  The people through whom God chose to carry His Name had come to a place of ambivalence and even neglect of His temple.  It was as if they had grown cold to their calling, nonchalant to the richness of their heritage.  The prophet Malachi wrote to the people of Israel: 

“ ‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master.  Then if I am a father, where is My honor?  And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name.  But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’  You are presenting defiled food upon My altar.  But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’  In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is to be despised.’  But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil?  And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil?  Why not offer it to your governor?  Would he be pleased with you?  Or would he receive you kindly?”  says the Lord of hosts.  “But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us?  With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts…You also say, ‘My, how tiresome it is!’  And you disdainfully sniff at it,” says the Lord of hosts, “and you bring what was taken by robbery, and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering!  Should I receive that from your hand?” says the Lord.” (Mal. 1:6-9,13) 

The priests had grown weary in the administration of temple service, and the people were not bringing their best anymore.  They were giving God their ‘leftovers’.  The temple (which represented God’s presence in their midst) was being shunned for other ‘more important things’ in their lives. 

Today’s artistic community has become a place in which fame, finance and dissipation has supplanted discipline, sacrifice and a desire for integrity (even at the expense of obscurity).

The local church, to today’s artist, has come to represent the death of an otherwise successful career.  The path is an exact reversal of what today’s artist hopes to achieve. 

Our community, much like the Israelite’s in Malachi’s day, has willingly walked away from God’s presence, while still wanting to receive His blessing.

Even many of our priests (those called into the service of the local church) have longingly looked away from the altar of sacrifice, to the approval of pop culture and compromised integrity. 

What does integrity as a dedicated artist look like in today’s world?  What does pure dedication, holiness and honor look like for someone who is ‘sold out’ to God, having a passion for worshiping His Name and exclaiming His excellencies with whole-hearted commitment?  Is it even possible that the phrases: ‘dedicated Christian minister’ and ‘artistic excellence’ can be uttered in the same breath? 

King David, who established a pattern of whole-hearted worship in his reign in Israel, had become a distant memory to the Israelites in Malachi’s day.  His passion would have been distasteful to them.  Had David lived in their time, he may have even been persecuted or killed for his ‘extreme’ views.  (Interestingly, today’s media culture demonizes anyone who is ‘passionate’ in their religious convictions, calling them ‘radicals’ and ‘extremists’.)  

Here is just one of many accounts in David’s life revealing his whole-hearted passion for God’s presence: 

When the Ark of the Covenant had come to Araunah the Jebusite, David wanted to offer a burnt offering.  Araunah offered to give David everything necessary to do so, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what is good in his sight.  Look, the oxen for the burnt offering, the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood.  Everything, O king, Araunah gives to the king.”  But David’s response, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.” (2 Sam. 24:22-24) 

David wanted to give God his very best.  Nothing less would be congruent with his heart of gratitude, respect and honor for all that God was in his life. 

At a time, historically, when numerous artists are struggling to be heard above the myriads of voices in the world, a time when community for the artist seems to be closing in with greater isolation and fewer opportunities, perhaps the long forgotten venue of the community of the local Church is prime for renewed artistic expression. 

Perhaps the hollowness of today’s secular ‘success’ will give way to a new generation of artists who are ‘sold out’ to a higher purpose of extreme spirituality, commitment, dedication and sacrifice, those who are willing to be motivated by the approval of God rather than the approval of man, willing to release the pursuit of fame for the motivation of pure craftsmanship in His Name rather than their own.

Perhaps the true prophetic role of the artist will return to those whom God can trust, vessels of honor through whom Almighty God will speak, artists who have become instruments in His hand, through whom He changes the course of human culture, yet are incapable of being changed by that culture.

Such artists are fearless among men, highly esteemed in secret places.

 

(for more, see The Three Uses of Music and the Arts)

 

7 Attributes of a Complete Contemporary Musician- Part 5

Attribute #5: In earlier blogs, we have seen that a complete contemporary musician will have a meaningful purpose for his work (Attribute #1).  He is open to cultural influences, learning from those who have come before him (Attribute #2).  He is willing to embrace the creativity of other contemporary artists (Attribute #3), and he is able to both improvise as well as read music (Attribute #4).  In addition to these, the complete musician/artist must be willing to participate in new innovation, utilizing and expanding current tools available to him.

Every society and time period has its own ‘cutting edge’ innovation, whether it is artistic, philosophical, governmental or industrial.  Perhaps the greatest innovation in our modern day is the advent of electronic technology, i.e. the computer (and internet/communication possibilities).  It continues to shape not only the development of music and art, but also its dissemination around the world.

The ‘stage’ an artist performed upon didn’t change much from the Greek amphitheater to the Wagner opera house (representing about two-thousand years), but all of that rapidly changed just in the last (less than) one hundred years.  Music’s ‘stage’ has moved from the concert hall, to radio and television, then to the recording industry and finally to the home studio via You Tube and the internet.  With much of the world embracing technological interactivity, the Internet is now music’s stage, and its performers are the world’s population.  Talent and skills developed upon past ‘stage’ paradigms may or may not have a role in success.  Rather, it’s about innovation and creativity.

Here’s a short list of some of the areas easily available to the musician/artist today: 1) Multi-track recording, 2) MIDI Sequencing, 3) Sampling, 4) Looping, 5) Micro-tonality, 6) Synchronization to other media (lighting, video, etc.).  This is just on the creative side of things.  There’s another arsenal of tools on the distribution/marketing side: 1) Pod-casts, 2) Forums, 3) Blogs, 4) Facebook, 5) You Tube, 6) I-Tunes, 7) Personal web-sites, 8) Digital distribution in so many ways it’s almost ridiculous to try to enumerate them.

One can become so involved in the technological tools, however, that he can lose objectivity.  This is a real danger for today’s electronically savvy artist.  I believe it is critically important for the artist (as shown in Attribute #1) to have a firm grasp of history so that he can objectively navigate his future.

I had a conversation with a co-worker one day, as I was making a photocopied ‘archive’ of a report.  When he asked me what I was doing, I said, “I’m all about archiving.  If you don’t know where you’ve been, then you don’t know where you’re going.”  His smart reply to me was, “…unless you have a map.”  But a map does no good if one doesn’t know his location on it!

Knowing history, combined with a comprehensive knowledge of currently available tools will give the artist an awareness of ‘where he is on the map’. 

It’s not good to be stuck in the past, but it’s equally detrimental to be so immersed in contemporary ideologies that one loses objectivity.  When the artist loses objectivity, he also loses direction and motivation.  Objectivity, however, can be regained by reviewing history.

Here’s a simple example of what I’m trying to say.  When I begin writing a song, I generally have a ‘seed’ idea that just came to me.  It could be one short phrase, or a measure of music.  When I begin to think of that phrase over and over again, something miraculous happens: it grows out of itself!  I wonder what I will do next.  I might even get a little nervous that I don’t know what to do (there are so many possibilities).  But then I remember to go back to the beginning and think about the material that’s already there.  When I do this, yet another miracle happens: it grows out of itself again!

Through this process of ‘organic growth’, all of my creativity comes.  It comes by thinking about what has already been given to me.  The same is true for the artist, as he endeavors to discover his destiny and future.  If he feels lost or overwhelmed by all the possibilities, he should go back and review his artistic roots.  He should study historic examples of others, seeing how they overcame unique obstacles in their day, as this can directly relate to current struggles he may be facing.  (The tools of today are new, but human nature is the same!)

“The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way.” (Prov. 14:8)

Having a secure sense of artistic direction is the best foundation to stand upon as the artist forges ahead with the newest and latest technological tools, establishing new creativity and artistic paradigms.

Who knows, if he's successful, perhaps he too will one day be studied.



7 Attributes of a Complete Contemporary Musician- Part 4

Attribute #4:  We have established the fact that to be a complete contemporary musician one must have a worthy purpose for his life and art (Attribute #1), he must learn from those who have come before him (Attribute #2), and he must be willing to embrace the creativity of other contemporary artists and stay abreast of the times (Attribute #3).  The skilled and successful musician must also be able to function both creatively and responsively in the process of making music, that is, he must be able to improvise as well as read music.

The improviser, to a certain degree, becomes the composer.  He spontaneously creates the music at the moment.  The music reader, however, is responsive to the one who has created the work already, endeavoring to bring the ideas into completion as carefully and accurately as possible.  Both scenarios have merit.  They are ‘two sides of the same coin’. 

Improvisation lends itself to freely expressed emotion-inspired creativity, while reading notation yields a more accurate, carefully constructed and pre-meditated order.

Improvisation many times marks the burgeoning of a new historic style.  As the style continues to work its way through history, however, notation begins to document it so that others can appreciate and participate in its established patterns.

Take, for example, Rag-time music.  It wasn’t until Scott Joplin put the music into notation that its wide-spread influence could happen.  A similar process occurred in 19th Century Europe with the Gypsy musicians who improvised profusely.  Skilled composers brought much of the creativity into notation, historically cementing the music for others to enjoy and play. 

Throughout history, there has always been interplay between improvisation and notation, the creative expressiveness of improvisation together with the careful preparation, pre-meditation and design of notation.  Take Bela Bartok, for example, who took the un-notated Hungarian melodies as themes for his classical compositions.  Another example is George Gershwin, who took jazz motifs and raised them into a sophisticated symphonic structure.  J.S. Bach merged the two worlds of improvisation and composition simultaneously, as he was able to create a multi-part fugue in his mind as he improvised!  (He literally improvised as he composed, and he composed as he improvised.  The process was one and the same to him.)

I once had to arbitrate in a great debate between people in my music ministry team who could only read music while straining to improvise, on one hand; while on the other hand, there were those who could only improvise and had no desire to read notation.

The music readers argued their points about the benefits of reading notation, and chided those who lacked that ability.

The improvisers, however, mocked those who couldn’t ‘play by ear’, citing the benefits to knowing how to ‘flow’ when given only a chord progression, at most.

I pondered how to solve this dilemma, and one day, as I was reading my Bible, a scripture popped out at me that said it all: “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made both of them.” (Prov. 20:12)  I knew then, as the leader of the group, that I must expect everyone to improvise (or ‘play by ear’), as well as knowing how to read notation.  Once the entire group felt comfortable with both, I knew we would have a winning combination.

One of the main benefits of reading music lies in the fact that it doesn’t exist as sound, but rather as ideas.  It leaves room for interpretation from the participant’s imagination.  It is not subject to the flaws of a human performance, but rather exists on a higher plane of ‘pure ideology’.  (For more on this, see “My Vision- The Technique”)

Another benefit is that it structurally allows more than a few people to participate, giving clear and concise direction to all who join the plan.  When dealing with larger groups of people, a more specific plan becomes necessary.  Take for example traffic in a big city versus a small town.  In one situation there have been multiple engineers who have designed highways and clover-leafs for huge volumes of traffic; whereas, in the other situation you might have a single policeman to direct a few vehicles.

The same hold true with music creativity: more people, more planning; fewer people, less planning (or easier improvisation).

The complete contemporary musician should be able to function proficiently in either situation, able to both read fluidly and improvise freely, to intellectually and accurately follow a chart, as well as participate creatively with others in a small consort.  He must know how to live successfully in high structure, as well as in little or no structure.

Perhaps someday, even as J.S. Bach, the one who is skilled in both areas will experience the simultaneous merging of both worlds!



7 Attributes of a Complete Contemporary Musician- Part 3

Attribute #3: The Complete Contemporary Musician, along with having a meaningful purpose for his life and art (Attribute #1), and having a solid understanding of those who came before him, with the ability to perform their works (Attribute #2), must also be familiar with the current styles of the day, not only of his own geographical and philosophical region, but of those regions beyond.  He should desire to be relevant to the times in which he lives, yet not at the expense of excellence.

Having a firm grasp of past historically successful artists gives him ‘food for thought’ and creativity, but the modern artist must not be stuck in the past if he intends to successfully connect with a contemporary audience.  Being aware of cultural trends, the likes and interests of his current day should be like a whetstone, sharpening his own artistic edge.  “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17)

It is important that the artist have a solid understanding of his artistic direction, being firmly established in his own unique giftedness, while looking about the landscape at the works of others.  Otherwise, he will be tempted to abandon the inner-plan of his heart to chase after someone else’s success.  An artist who has no grounding in his own predetermined pursuits will be invariably “tossed about by every wind of doctrine” he sees coming his way. 

There is a successful balance, or ratio, that must be struck between identity and cultural relevance.  If an artist becomes so aware of all the cultural swirlings of ideas and ideologies that he loses his sense of personal destiny, then he must back-up and regain his equilibrium of who God has created him to be. “For we are His workmanship (lit. work of art), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10) (for more on this see, “My Vision- the Community- History”)

While firmly grounded, the artist must not be afraid to step beyond the familiar, to see what others are doing.  The very nature of artistic endeavors is to focus on creativity and innovation; however, if the artist stays in that state of focus and creativity, he may realize that the world has passed him by if he doesn’t look up (and out) from time to time.  Whether we like to admit it or not, we artists are not an island unto ourselves.  We are ultimately not independent at all, but are dynamically involved in the flow of history and community, having relationship within our own lives, those around us, and God himself. 

Not being aware of the surrounding culture would be like trying to drive a car through the city blind-folded.  It doesn’t matter how pretty or powerful your vehicle is, at some point, you’re gonna crash!

The artist should not only be aware of his surrounding culture, but also challenge himself to move beyond his own levels of comfort, into new areas of knowledge and study, not just of past artists (as was discussed in Attribute #2), but of new geographical and philosophical possibilities.  For example, one who is familiar with the latest advances in American techno-pop genres could look into what is currently happening in Bali music or tribal rhythms from Africa.  It’s about having a curiosity of life and a sincere appreciation for the successful creativity of others.

Technological advances are changing at a fever-pace, and this opens another wide door for new possibilities, challenging our very paradigm of how the creative process functions.

Igor Stravinsky is a great example of navigating change.  He went through several stages of artistic development, starting with large orchestral works for the Russian Dance Theater, then developing Neo-Classicism through works of smaller scale.  He went through periods of experimentation with jazz and serialism but somehow he always sounded like ‘Stravinsky’.  His unique giftedness never swayed as he moved through these vastly divergent musical styles.

He could have easily been so enamored with Gershwin, that he ‘copied’ his style, or so impressed by Schoenberg that he mimicked his every stroke, but rather, he stayed true to his own uniqueness at the expense of ‘caving’ to the pressures of what was ‘hot’ at that particular moment in history.  He included the cultural leanings without compromising who he was as an artist.  This is what prioritizing excellence above relevance successfully looks like.  Success as an artist is the ability to give the world uniquely who you are, while using the current cultural language to do it.

Could there be any greater example than Jesus, who identified with His culture on every level, yet brought a revolutionary message that transcended that culture.  He was intrinsically woven within the fabric of the culture’s history, yet He stood out from it, pointing to a new destiny.  This is the goal of the successful artist, to touch culture, yet to transcend culture, to excel in the midst of the mortal weaknesses of that culture’s communication tools.

The complete contemporary musician must be willing to ride the edge of these truths, constantly navigating and negotiating: 1) Who God has made him to be, 2) What he can learn from others, and 3) How he can speak truth to an audience that understands his message. 

This is the sojourn of the one who hungers and thirsts to fulfill his destiny as a successful artist in both relevance and excellence.



7 Attributes of a Complete Contemporary Musician- Part 2

Attribute #2:  The Complete Contemporary Musician, in addition to having a meaningful purpose for his music and art (Attribute #1), will have a solid understanding of artists who have come before him, along with the ability to perform their works.

A “know-it-all” attitude is not a flattering characteristic in a world replete with opportunities in the acquisition of knowledge and understanding.  If an artist is unwilling to admit that he doesn’t “have it all together” in every aspect of his life and art, he ultimately is a shallow person, with a shallow future of productivity.  Only by realizing that there has always been, and will always be, someone else better at some skill or some knowledge, can the artist have enough hunger to grow in new areas.

“My son, if you will receive my saying, and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God.” (Prov. 2:1-5)

Treasure is wealth, and the wealth we are talking about is: wisdom, knowledge and understanding.  Knowledge is the gaining of facts, understanding is the arranging of those facts, and wisdom is the proper application of the understanding gained.  (Many people have knowledge, but they are completely lost when it comes to applying that knowledge or even understanding what it means in a larger context.)

No matter what artistic genre the artist may be involved in, perhaps even having been skillfully involved for a number of years, there is still room for growth.  There is still time to ‘step out of the box’ to consider something never yet seen or experienced.

For example, a pop/rock drummer could set a goal to be able to read through a score of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, or to conduct through parts of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.  A classical musician could take some time to transcribe a Miles Davis or Led Zeppelin solo and practice it on his instrument.  There are numerous possible examples, but the main stream of thought here is: expand the normal borders of your art!  Don’t just stay in familiar territory, try something new to you.  Make personal history.  It may have already been done, but not by you!

There is a vast reservoir of knowledge just waiting for the taking in the history of Western Art Music (or Classical Music, as we have commonly called it).  The lessons we can learn, however, have somehow gotten buried by the glamour and glitter of our current-day pop-culture’s examples of quick fame and fortune (and ‘throw-away’ art). But the lessons are still there, nonetheless.

Many contemporary musicians, even if they have spent some time studying the Great Masters of old, have unfortunately been content to simply leave that history in the past, missing the opportunity to use the gained revelation as fuel for rich, dynamic creativity today.

History is a little like the dinosaurs of yesteryear, having decayed, yet now useful as fossil fuel for our modern-day automobiles.  The process of transforming the creativity of yesterday into fuel for today is what will bring meaningful richness to today’s art.  To put it bluntly, if the artist has no historical knowledge, his art will have no power.

Just studying history is not enough, though.  The artist must immerse himself in the best possible way: through performance.  There’s something profound about giving one’s time and energy into the recreation of historic art.  Through performance, the lessons get inside of the artist, becoming a part of his inner-consciousness.  As he goes through the process of bringing the art to life for today’s audience, he ultimately plants seeds of greatness into his own life, as well.

Honoring history is a little like the Scriptural admonition, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” (Eph. 6:1-3)

If you want your art and creativity to live long and prosper, learn to honor those who have come before you, be willing to ‘go digging’ for hidden treasure in fields you haven’t yet seen.  Through the process you will discover riches beyond comparison, deep rivers of inspiration, when everyone else has run dry!

7 Attributes of a Complete Contemporary Musician- Part 1

To be an artist in today’s fast-paced, highly competitive society is a daunting challenge, to say the least.  The artist/musician must have a tenacity and inner strength that can withstand the criticism of his new ideas, the charisma to reach a new audience and the technique to rise above the average.

When considering ‘success’, an artist must grapple with the question as to what ‘success’ really is for his own life.  It’s a little like the Peanuts Cartoon of Charlie Brown shooting an arrow at the fence and subsequently drawing a circle around where the arrow stuck.  When asked by Lucy what he was doing, he replied that this was the way he knew he would always have a Bulls-eye.

As artists, instead of justifying our lives, living in a dream-world of ego-centrism and unrealistic expectations of an audience’s recognition just because we consider ourselves to be ‘great’, there should rather be some concrete and measurable standards to which we hold our lives and our art.

In this series of blogs, I am outlining what I believe are definitive characteristics of a successful contemporary musician/artist, attributes of ‘character’ (if you will) of a complete and mature artist, who will be truly beneficial to society.

 

Attribute #1:  The Complete Contemporary Musician/artist, before anything else, must have a meaningful purpose for his art.

If the artist has a purpose that is anything less than compelling, his art will suffer for it.  The motivation of the art defines the art itself.  The art emanates from within its purpose. 

For example, if the artist’s intention is to simply ‘make lots of money’, then his art will be crassly commercial, artificial and superficial.  This kind of art lasts long enough to titillate an immature and naïve audience, then quickly falls into obscurity and obsolescence.

If the artist’s purpose is to ‘become famous’, then his art will revolve around ‘self’ instead of anything of higher meaning.  Flamboyancy and a wide palette of extreme attention-getting techniques are typical to this kind of motivation.  Unfortunately, the self-made artist is, in the end, a disappointing object of worship.  Once the shock-value of the display wears off, his audience is acutely aware of his ordinary humanity, and even resents the fact that he spent more time on ‘marketing himself’ than on developing something of lasting value. 

Another unfortunate result of this kind of artistic purpose is the fact that men are simply unable to withstand the pressure of being ‘worshipped’.  They self-implode.  The psychology behind all of it is too much to bear when they find themselves living a lie. The subconscious awareness that they are not really able to live up to everyone’s expectations of ‘deity’ drives them to strange and various dissipations, which all end in further emptiness and un-fulfillment.

Having a purpose of ‘societal benefit’ is compelling to many artists.  Some find fulfillment in promoting a ‘Green Earth’, or to help raise funds to ‘Fight AIDS’ or some other societal ill.

Some artists simply like to ‘bring beauty’ into the world, or to ‘make people think’ about politics or societal dilemmas.

Every artist is on a journey to answer the question of meaning in his life and work.  It is not a stagnate, life-long rut that he endures, but rather a constantly evolving paradigm-changing awareness of ‘reality’.   What he was involved in a year ago may seem to be ‘silly’ to him today.  Most artists are adept at raising these questions, and are constantly searching for new answers to meaningful awareness.

In my journey, I have come to believe that the highest expression of music and art are in the worship of God. 

I’m not alone in this belief.  One of the greatest musicians to have ever lived believed that “Music’s only purpose should be for the glory of God and the recreation of the human spirit.” (J.S. Bach) [for more on this, see 10 Lessons J.S. Bach Taught Me]

The Bible is replete with thousands of years of historical records showing the use of music in worship to God. 

In my personal experience, having lived through most of the above-mentioned examples of artistic purpose and motivation, I have come to sense a vastly greater peace and contentment in this pursuit, knowing that I don’t have to ‘measure up’ to society’s varied and ever-changing whims and ‘hoops’ to jump through.  I simply have ‘an audience of One’, and He is already pleased with me by the forgiveness He offers through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ.  

Regardless as to where you might be in your pursuit of meaningful artistic creativity, I encourage you to continue to ask the question: “What is the purpose of my life and art?” 

When you ask it sincerely, you will undoubtedly be on course for a life of true meaning and authentic success.

 



Put Your Hand In My Hand

Here's a song I wrote a few years ago that my good friend Trevin Woods gave a beautiful piano rendition of.  We were just finishing up our weekly praise and worship team rehearsal, and I pulled out this song, turned on the recording computer and sang around the piano with friends.  It was a special moment for all of us!

"Put Your Hand In My Hand" is not a worship song, but rather a song in which God is talking to us.  I might call it a 'prophetic song'.  The song's message is God Himself encouraging us to put all our trust in Him.  (Prov. 3:5-6)

Hope you enjoy!

Purchase MP3 or Lead Sheet

What About Fame?

As a Christian musician and artist, what is the right attitude we should have regarding the subject of fame?

Whether we admit it or not, every artist wants to know that their art matters.  We all want to know that we are making (and have made) a difference in the lives of those to whom we have given our gift.

Possibly one of the greatest pressures in the life of an artist is the process of going through the desert of anonymity.  As we continue to develop our craft, preparing for its unveiling to the masses, or even when we have been serving over a number of years without much recognition, the nagging question in the back of our consciousness is “Have I really made a difference, and does anyone really care?”

When a shred of recognition comes along, it’s like an opiate, quenching the thirst for this desperate need.

The danger this poses, however, is sinister.  Once public attention begins to soothe the nagging need for recognition, if the artist isn’t grounded in something greater, he will allow his life (and art) to be driven along by the continued need for this hunger to be quenched by his audience.

Unfortunately, the truth is that the very audience that gives promotion will invariably be the one that crucifies him, because no human being (even the most gifted) has the ability within himself to continually gratify an audience. 

“Sheol (the nether world) and Abaddon (the place of destruction) are never satisfied, nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.” (Prov. 27:20)

People simply cannot be satisfied with an artist’s gifting perpetually.  Instead, something happens in people’s hearts once they have lifted up a ‘hero’ in ‘hero-worship’.  Initially, they want to get as close as possible to the person.  Then, once they get close enough, they begin to see their flaws.  Once the flaws are seen, the illusion of the ‘hero’ is destroyed and they realize that they have just elevated a lie.  They simultaneously begin to reject their first ‘hero’ while searching for a replacement, and the process starts all over again.  Society continues to search for the ‘messiah’ artist, elevating him to ‘deity’, ultimately ‘crucifying’ him, only to search for the next artist.  (Those who have lived long enough to see this heinous cycle know exactly what I’m talking about!)  

The only problem with this ‘crucifixion’ metaphor is that most artists who have lived through this cycle never see a ‘resurrection’.  They simply live an empty shell of a life trying to figure out what went wrong, endlessly pursuing a way to ‘get back’ what they think they once had.

Hopefully, when they ‘wake up’ to the futility of the above scenario, understanding the frailty of the human condition and the pitfalls of ‘fame’, they then begin a journey of true selfless artistic productivity.

Only when an artist begins to bring forth that which God has placed inside of him, regardless of human acceptance, does he step into the true ‘prophetic’ role of an artist.

Look at the prophets of the Old Testament.  They were all artists.  Many were poets, musicians, actors, bringing forth the Word of God to their community.  They were thrown down wells, stuck in mud and left to die.  They were both ridiculed, while at the same time secretly respected by kings.  They were slapped in the face, publicly humiliated and even murdered.  But their art ‘split’ history wide open.  Their voice is still heard, echoing through the ages.

Look at the life of Jesus, the Son of God.  If anyone had the right motivation and understanding of fame, it would be the creator of all things: God Himself, right?  After all, he wanted everyone to hear the message of truth and Good News.  Did Jesus have a global ministry?  No.  Did He go after every available opportunity to promote Himself?  No.

Here are some examples:

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 15:24) 

“Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand.  His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing.  For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly.  If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”  For not even His brothers were believing in Him.  Jesus therefore said to them, “My time is not yet at hand, but your time is always opportune.  The world cannot hate you; but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.  Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.” (Jn. 7:2-8)

“As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore.  Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “Do you want to go away also?” (Jn. 6:66-67)

“Do you now believe?  Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” (Jn. 16:31-32)

He was just as confident with the multitudes following Him (between 5-10,000 people at a time), as He was being by Himself, left alone.  The number of people and what they thought about Him didn’t seem to matter to Him.  What did matter was fulfilling His God-given destiny.  He knew the timing, the circles of influence and the right communication skills to reach those specific circles.  To His disciples, He communicated one way, yet to the multitudes, He presented His message another way.  (for more on this, see: Current and Future Worship Trends: My Vision, the Community)

“And He was saying to them (His disciples), “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but those who are outside get everything in parables, in order that while seeing, they may not see and not perceive; and while hearing, they may not understand lest they return and be forgiven.” (Mk. 4:11-12)

He didn’t travel to the farthest reaches of the known world at that time, but simply stayed around the regions of Judea.  He didn’t ‘modify’ His message to try to gain a greater audience, but rather to ‘prick their consciences’ to move them closer to a certain goal.

When He was ultimately crucified by those who were jealous of His ‘fame’, nobody was with Him except His mother and the youngest, most insignificant of His disciples.  Everyone else ran away, afraid for their lives.  This was the end of the life of The Greatest Artist, the One Who compromised His art none at all.

But the story doesn’t end there.

The resurrection!

God Himself took the sacrifice, the pure sacrifice, and raised it up out of death.  He exalted it even above death.  Every death in Christ, every sacrifice in faith must have a resurrection.

God raised Him from the dead.  “Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.” (Rom. 6:9)

The artist who uncompromisingly follows in these steps will also have a resurrection.  Take the life of Bach, for example.  He died in obscurity, having given his art into the hands of God.  Within a century later, Felix Mendelssohn put on a concert of his works and Bach was ‘reborn’ to influence music for generations to come.  Study the life of Bach: what motivated him?  It was his love of God, and his passion to follow his life’s destiny and purpose.  He knew his audience (who often didn’t accept or understand what he was about), but he gave his best in faith and God gave his work resurrection beyond fame, to the highest level of cultural influence.

The choice is clear: 1) live to please men’s whims and desires, which ultimately ends up empty, or 2) live to please God, which may be painful for a short time, but ultimately ends in resurrected power.

“The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” (Prov. 29:25)

What are you after: the quick and easy way, or the way of everlasting greatness?

The choice is yours: short-lived fame or eternal prophetic power.



When Is a gift a Gift?

Does a gift become a gift when the giver gives it, or when it is received by the one given to?

Have you ever received a gift from a distant relative that meant well, but truly missed the mark?  You want to get rid of the 'gift' as fast as you received it!

A gift is something that is unique both to the giver as well as the recipient.  It's almost like a covenant or special place of agreement with one another.

In terms of the arts, people are called 'gifted' in certain areas of performance and creativity.  There have been many artists who have given highly crafted gifts to an unaccepting audience, while others with less creativity and ingenuity gave gifts to an audience that went 'crazy' over their mediocre production.

So what makes a gift a Gift?

Here are a few catagories of gifts to ponder:

1) The pre-mature gift.  The giver's gift may be highly creative and thoughtful, but the recipient simply isn't ready for it.  The giver sees the potential of what the recipient could do with the gift, how it would benefit them, but they can't yet see it for themselves.  These gifts may be received reluctantly and set on the shelf for a while. Then one day, the recipient has become mature enough to appreciate the gift and it becomes relevant to them, at which point they become truly grateful.

2) The late gift.  Here's a gift that is usually given out of reluctance, procrastination or obligation.  The giver knows that it would be appropriate to give, but lacks the motivation to get the job done 'on time'. Or maybe they were unaware of the due date, or had forgotten it, then hastily they scramble to put something together. It's truly a missed opportunity.  It's a failure to properly assess the potential of the moment.  A gift too late is like over-ripe and bruised fruit that's really only good for the trash can.

3) The timely gift.  This is one that uniquely perceives the recipient's desires and accurately assesses the time-frame of the moment to give it.  Enough time and insight went into the preparation and it just 'hit's the mark'. The giver, in this situation, has been willing to listen to the desires and needs of the recipient well before the gift's giving date.  It's a 'win win' situation, where the giver and the receiver are both rewarded.

4) The over-appreciated gift.  Here is a gift that is given to meet the fleshly, selfish desires of the recipient.  It's only goal is to get instant appreciation.  The one who gives this kind of gift usually doesn't care much about the gift itself and doesn't put a lot of thought, energy or time into the process.  He simply gives out of a prior knowledge that this is what the recipient wants.  In this case, the recipient is happy for a little while, but the lasting results of a mutual relationship in the gift was never there to begin with.

5) The under-appreciated gift.  This gift is given by the gift-giver with a great amount of thought, preparation and anticipation.  They endeavor to give what they would want for themselves, regardless as to whether or not the recipient is really at all interested.  Many times the recipient feels a little awkward in this situation, trying to 'gin up' a response to the giver's obvious sacrifice and love.  This gift may become more appreciated in a matter of time, and ultimately will last in the recipient's memory as a token of the giver's good-intentions.

6) The unanimously appreciated gift.  When both the giver and the recipient are 'on the same page' the gift becomes more than the gift itself.  It becomes a symbol of their relationship.  The gift opens a door to something higher than itself, a celebration of the mutual love and understanding of the giver and the receiver towards one another.

7) The unanimous and timely gift.  The best of all worlds.  It's a gift that hits the heart of the recipient at the right time and the right place.  It may be expensive, or it may be inexpensive, but if it 'hits the mark' it is never considered 'cheap'.  This gift brings mutual satisfaction to both the recipient as well as the giver and heightens their friendship, strengthens their love toward one another and unites them in commonality.

As an artist, there will be many different people who will be given the opportunity to receive your gift. Some will accept it, some will reject it.  Some will be overly enthusiastic and others only mildly.  The Carpenter's song, "Sing" from the 1970's, conveys the thought that "it doesn't matter if it's not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song."

The creative flow, like a river, must get to its destination.  If a rock or some other obstruction gets in its way, it just flows around it, moving on towards its goal.  

Let the creative flow move through you to benefit and bless those around you.  As you are sensitive to the needs, desires, gift 'arrival dates', and your own perception of what will be a lasting contribution to their lives, surely you will have success in a mutually enjoyed relationship.

Let's not forget the greatest example and role-model of giving: God through Jesus Christ.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (Jn. 3:16)  

My Philosophy of Creativity

What is it that makes a creative success?  What is it that will touch people's lives in our music and art?  These are good questions that any sincere artist will ask, not just once, but throughout his life of creativity.

Regardless of whether or not one's art reaches the masses or touches just one soul at the right moment, a creator has to know that it was worth the effort to give his time and his talent in bringing forth beauty.

Whether or not his work is seen by others as a success or failure is not really the point, but rather the boldness to 'catch the wind' with the 'sail' of his imagination.  This is what brings meaning to the creative process. 

It doesn't matter if it's good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song...

Sing a Song

 

Who Was the First Musician?

(We don’t know, for certain, that this was the very first musician to have ever lived, but he is the first person mentioned in the Bible who was highly influential in music.)

“And Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.  And his brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.” (Gen. 4:20)

Jubal was the father of all the musicians in that day and age.

Jubal’s name is very interesting.  It means: “a stream, or watercourse, to carry.”  It fascinates me that the name of the father of the musicians had a name like this.   A name in the ancient Biblical world had meaning and carried a sense of the destiny of its recipient.

When I think of a river, I think of several things: 1) Nourishment, 2) Refreshment, 3) Flowing, and 4) Cleansing.

Those who either listen to or participate in music, to any degree, would attest to the fact that good music brings nourishment to our souls.  It refreshes us.  

As a musician, I am particularly interested in the flowing nature of the melodic lines and the general direction or flow of the composition.  As a worshiper, I am endeavoring to always be aware of where the flow of the service is going, what direction it’s taking.  The ability to ‘flow’ in music and worship may ultimately be the most important thing for the musician to learn.

The current of the river carries you.  You don’t manufacture it.  You can’t change its flow; it would futile to try.  You simply relax and allow yourself to be carried from one destination to another by the river’s pervasive power.

Sometimes the river is ‘wild’, impassioned and driving, while at other times it is peaceful, tranquil, and serene.  One who is traveling its path cannot dictate when or where these things might happen, he must simply ‘go with the flow’.

In creativity, whether spontaneous improvisation or meditative pre-planned composition and arranging, there is a flow that is already there, just waiting to be ‘tapped into’.  It is when we step into this River that we have the most rewarding times of bringing forth the new.  That which will be created flows out of that which already is.

Fourthly, a river brings cleansing.  We should be listening to and participating in the refreshing waters of music and worship, rather than the murky waters of stagnate pools.  If a music or worship experience leaves you feeling empty or dry, it’s probably because the River was not in it.  However, when you participate in the flow of the River, you always come out knowing it.  You feel refreshed, nourished and clean.

We should always endeavor to tap into the source of this flow, the flow that is already happening…a flow which cannot be controlled or manipulated.  (Oh, we can navigate, but we cannot ultimately control its onward momentum.)  We must simply ‘connect’ to it and participate, not fighting against the current, but relaxing in it, as we are carried to our next destination.

Perhaps Jubal is not only the father of ancient Biblical musicians, but also of all those who enjoy participating in the same River from which he himself flowed.

10 Lessons I've Learned from J.S. Bach (part 9)

The ninth lesson I learned  from J.S. Bach is to actively serve the local church.

Bach's dream and vision from God for his life's work was to produce music of the highest quality in the worship of God.  He was employed by the local church, but his heart led him to be there.  Many other opportunities were available to him for his career path, but he chose the community of the local church.

Many contemporary musicians think that serving in the local church is beneath them.  They think the constraints that are put upon them by the leadership are too hard to bear, and that they need greater freedom of creativity in order to flourish as an artist.

Bach, in his situation, may have felt that way at times, but he was willing to stick it out.  As a result, the pressures of relational tensions/resolutions, the 'buffetting' that he endured, actually caused him to excel in his creativity more than if he had been left to himself with endless freedoms.

The simple fact is that community is good for us.  "Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Prov. 27:17)  In a church scenario, there will be moments of 'grinding' that happen, but if we're willing to endure it, we will end up much 'sharper' (i.e. more powerful) for having been willing to go through the process.

Contemporary musicians are afraid that submitting their art to the authorities in the local church will somehow be too constricting, and that it boils down to the "Word" versus "Worship", with the music and worship always getting pushed to a lesser place.

Bach, however, found that 'boundaries' are good.  Without boundaries in our lives, we cannot ultimately succeed.  The American concept of 'freedom' for every aspect of our lives has led to our country's moral decadence and decay.  If we don't exercise self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit, by the way (Gal. 5:23), we will end up being controlled.  "The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor." (Prov. 12:24)  Submitting our artistic lives to the 'constraints' of the local church is probably one of the best things we could do for our continued artistic growth.  Bach proved this to be true.  As he willingly worked through the 'parameters' of needs, desires and demands of the situation that he worked in, he ultimately created one of the greatest outpourings of music the world has ever seen.

You think he would have succeeded anywhere, just because of his talent and ability?  Take a look at people groups all over the world, throughout the course of human history that have endured affliction of one kind or another.  They always come out of it a powerful nation.  The oppression created higher discipline.  The high 'structure' brought out the untapped power of the people.  Just look at those who come to America from foreign lands, places that don't have our opportunities.  Once they are given the opportunities, their work ethic causes them to rise to great heights, while the average American-born citizen is selfish and lazy by comparison.  A little 'buffetting' would do us all some good!

Freedom is never free.  Somewhere along the line, someone (including yourself) must pay its price.  Jesus paid the price for our salvation and paved the way for our success in every area of life.  But He also said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.  For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  (Lk. 9:23-26)

Bach willingly followed this path of unselfish sacrifice, allowing himself to be 'sharpened' in his skills, as well as his personal growth.  This also may be one of the reasons that, compared to later classical composers, he had a balanced and successful life, not falling prey to the moral failures we witness in the succeeding generations of classical musicians.  His ability to stay balanced in life caused him to create more music with increasingly higher quality over a successful and productive career.

His dream to serve the local church, the way the Bible outlines, produced success for him.  It also set him up as the teacher and role model for great art and musical creation for generations to come.

Application: When you do things God's way, it always works.  Honoring Him through a humble attitude, being willing to submit your life and your gifting to godly community and godly authority, according to the promise of Scripture, will bring results beyond what you think you can achieve doing it some other way.  There are no short-cuts to success, and there are no shabby rewards, when it comes to God's blessings!

(for more on this subject, see my article from "Current and Future Worship Trends": "My Vision- The Motivation")

Current and Future Worship Trends- The Motivation

What does it mean to be a responsible artist and musician for the Church in today’s world?  There are so many different voices, strategies, paradigms, whims, and desires.  Which direction is the right one, if there is a right one?

The Church is facing either its finest hour, or its darkest, depending on how we respond in our hearts to the call of God for this generation.  The decisions we make right now could either marginalize us for years to come, or thrust us into the next ‘Great Awakening’.  There is so much at stake, and it has all to do with Why we’re doing what we’re doing.  Our heart attitude is what is central to this.  What is our core motivation, not just the surface clichés we like to throw around, but what really are our core values, or what should they be?

Come see my article, "My Vision- The Motivation", as I outline the power and necessity of worship, music and the arts in community.

10 Lessons I've Learned from J.S. Bach (part 6)

The sixth lesson Bach taught me is to be persistent, even in the face of opposition and misunderstanding.

I've already enumerated several of the trials and tribulations Bach had to endure in previous blogs, but let me just sum it up by saying that it wasn't an easy ride for him.   Most people think that if you're talented enough, then you can just sail through life on easy street.  Obviously, that concept doesn't work in the real world.  At some point all of us are going to have to fight our way through the difficulties life throws at us.  The Apostle Paul admonished his student Timothy to "fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience". (I Tim. 1:19)  Again, the Apostle Paul writes, in his letter to the church at Ephesus, "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Stand firm therefore... (Eph. 6:13)

Bach, a Bible student, had undoubtedly read these passages.  To whatever extent he meditated upon them, I don't know.  What I do know is that he lived them in the life-decisions he made.  He always seemed to 'weather the storm', even when it looked like the odds were stacked against him.

He probably knew the Bible story of Nehemiah, who fought against insurmountable difficulties and persecutions from people who were trying to stop him from achieving his dream: re-building the walls around Jerusalem.  There is a Scripture passage that says, "Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon." (Neh. 4:17)  His team of volunteers had to both build and be ready to fight while they were standing against the enemy, pursuing their vision.  

Bach patiently, and almost defiantly stood against the numerous misunderstandings he had to endure.  I don't know what his personality make-up was, but based upon my study of him, I would guess that he was what I refer to as a Melancholy-Phlegmatic.  In other words, he was detailed, yet stable, not wanting to 'rock the boat', unwilling to be moved from his convictions.  One weakness of this type of personality mix is that they hate to be misunderstood.  They will do almost anything within their power to help others understand why they do what they do.  This seems congruent with Bach's high motivation to teach and train those around him, through the music book 'teaching tools' he created and his daily schedule of training his family and community.

Yet he was constantly plagued by situations of misunderstanding, those who really didn't care about the whys.

As artists, we deal with materials that cannot be easily understood.  Take sound, for instance.  It's a subject that can be scientifically measured, but yet it's unseen.  Everyone has a different set of ears, and different life-experiences which cause them to 'hear' (psycho-acoustically) a little differently from someone else.  The subject is fraught with subjectivity.  And yet for those of us who have spent our lives working in music and sound design, there are foundational truths that we have come to rely upon in our creative processes.  But these things are not easily explained, especially to someone who really doesn't want that much information in the first place.

It's easy for people to make knee-jerk assessments of what is good or bad, whether they know what they are talking about or not.  Everyone has an opinion.  Many opinions, unfortunately, are driven by popular culture, peer-pressure and a desire to 'fit in', rather than careful perception of excellence.  Pop culture changes like the wind, but that which is excellent withstands the forces of nature.  It takes on its own stability, even beyond the control of its creator.  It stands undaunted by the whims of culture and takes on an almost 'eternal' quality.  Why?  Because it is standing on Truth.  Truth doesn't move.  (I know I'm speaking contrary to popular situational ethics in these concepts.)  Nevertheless, Truth, Integrity, Character...these things can be, and are, present in the works of art that have been handed down to us through the ages.  The depth of these characteristics that are present in the works are directly proportional to their lasting nature.  A little compromise here and there will mean a shorter life-span of historical impact.

Bach knew, created and lived these principles unmoved by the situations, murmurings and antagonistic attitudes around him.  "Having done all to stand, stand therefore..."  He just kept standing.  He just kept creating and living a life of integrity to the best of his ability, because he knew it was the right thing to do.  He knew that if he continued to stand on the Truth, that the Truth would eventually defend him.  And you know what?  It did! 

In conclusion: Don't allow people's misunderstandings and negativity to 'get under your skin'.  Just know that they can't see what you see.  Just stay steady, keep 'building the wall' with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other.  Keep fighting the good fight of faith. (I Tim. 6:12)  As you stay steady, weathering the storms, God will bring you to the other side victoriously.