Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 46: A Review of As We Are

As We Are

Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”

Blog Article 46: A Review of As We Are

With the news months ago about Anberlin retiring from the music scene, I was personally in musical mourning as they have been one of my most favorite instrumental and lyrically brilliant bands of the past ten years. Their music had meaning for me because back in those days I was just a young high schooler trying to figure out my walk with God. Their lyrics spoke the Gospel in a medium I could understand through complicated guitar chords, bombastic bass and drum rhythms, and philosophical lyrics that challenge the conscience; something an ex-atheist heavy metal kid could understand.

Music is fluid and provides a reflection of society with bands passing this type of mantle from one generation to the next; Christian music is no different. And if one looks out into the Christian music genre in general, many bands of the past decade are aging and exiting the music scene to be with their families, explore new areas of ministries, and are just plain tired. Personally, I believe we are in a period of new birth as new Christian bands arise upon the shoulders of their predecessors. One such band is As We Are.

So will I say it? Absolutely! I believe God is raising up As We Are to become like Anberlin in calling, music, and lyrics.

Do not misinterpret my previous words. Is As We Are, Anberlin? No, but I believe As We Are can become equally great instrumentally and lyrically just like them. Why do I believe this? It is because I can see the same musical hunger and thirst expressed in their music. Already, a fan base is being built and the music speaks for itself as you will hear below in support of my statements.

Founded in 2010 in Mount Vernon, IL, As We Are is an indie pop rock/ punk band comprised of Dale Vaughn (guitar/vocals), Josh Lamczyk (guitar/background vocals), Caden Vaughn (drums), Paul Robinson (bass/background vocals), and Christian Robinson (guitar). Below is a video from Dale Vaugh about his heart for music and what As We Are hopes to accomplish.

My good friend Courtney Stauffer of Death Defeated Music sent me an email saying you gotta check these guys out. So I did and they have become the last blog article of the month for June 2015 and hold the honor of the last article for my 2014-2015 year. These songs are going to newly debut shortly so I thought I would offer my opinion of the pieces early. :p

“The Change” is an inspiring song about becoming the catalyst of change in society. Instrumentally, the song reminded me a bit of Switchfoot and Reliant K. As alluded to in the earlier video narrated by Dale Vaughn, the music of As We Are seeks to be a positive influence in culture and this is best reflected in the song “The Change.” The lyrics provoke the idea that all of us have the capacity to change society for the better with this concept being illustrated in the different scenarios displayed by the band members such as battling depression, pornography addiction, alcoholism, and homelessness.

“Here We Are” is a beautiful worship song illustrating the simple concept of leaving your burdens at the door and honoring Jesus with your voice. As We Are begins the song with simple guitar and then progresses into beautiful worship of the Savior. This song really touched my heart because I could feel the Holy Spirit just moving to and fro in the instruments as the band members just let God play through their talents. If you enjoyed Seventh Day Slumber’s worship album, you will definitely enjoy this song. It is the hardcore rock worship that truly touches the heart.

“This song is about surrendering your will and your desires and your plans for what God has for you,” states Dale Vaughn from a live performance at Connection Festival in Iowa (AWA AsWeAre b, 2015, n.p.). “I Surrender” could not be summed up more well than by Dale’s own statement.

“Kingdom Come” is a powerfully prophetic song declaring this generation rising up in the revival power of Christ. The song begins with a punk entrance that invokes the body to attention and then pause for some simple acoustics as Dale Vaughn begins to sing “let Your kingdom come” right out of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Dale Vaughn’s lyrics also question when such a time will occur and inspire the listener to ponder these same questions. This is one of my favorite song from the collection I was given to review.


What first caught my attention about “The Road Less Traveled” was the hardcore double-bass drums intro hammered out by Caden, then the shift back into a simple punk rock music beat. As the song progressed, the punk sound alternated with nu-metal giving it a harmonious sound dueling with one another. This is definitely one of my favorites, also.

Overall, I was impressed by the variety of the rock genre illustrated by their music. As We Are has both songs that Christians and non-Christians can enjoy and this is reflected in the comments on their social media pages. Their music is awesome and deserves out support in any way possible. My prayer for them is to stay true to their path with Christ at the center of the their music and they will see Him multiple blessings upon them in far greater capacities than they can ever imagine.

So how can you support As We Are? Prayer is always a good place. Lift these men up as the serenade the change with positive music pointing the listener to the grace of Christ. Host them at your next church event or youth ministry camp. These guys can bring the rocking sounds to this generation. Also, keep watch for their next album to release. While you are waiting to purchase these songs, check out some of their older music on ReverbNation. I look forward to looking back in the next decade and being able to confidently say As We Are became the musical mantle by which this generation charged forward to change society for the better through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As We Are’s Pages
Personal Website: http://www.aswearerocks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AsWeAreRocks
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTtX7lhreeIfFKbHDtuxTCA
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/AsWeAreRocks
ReverbNation: https://www.reverbnation.com/aswearerocks
CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/artist/AsWeAre1

References
As We Are. Band Portrait. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/AsWeAreRocks/photos/pb.109663339100177.-2207520000.1435295485./904267522973084/?type=3&theater (accessed June 25, 2015)
As We Are. Third EP. Copyright 2015 by Death Defeated Music, WAV.
AWA AsWeAre Introduction EPK Video, YouTube, 4:24, posted by AWA AsWeAre, July 15, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GBuZhuUe28 (accessed June 25, 2015)
As We Are- I surrender- Live at Connection Festival, YouTube, 3:28, posted by AWA AsWeAre, June 6, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GBuZhuUe28 (accessed June 25, 2015)
AWA AsWeAre THE CHANGE (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO), YouTube, 3:32, posted by AWA AsWeAre, March 13, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4og2QJ82gwo (accessed June 25, 2015)
As We Are- The Road Less Traveled- Live at Connection Festival, YouTube, 2:43, posted by AWA AsWeAre, June 6, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zX9y-h53hI (accessed June 25, 2015)

Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 45: Email Interview with Cinematographer and Vlogger Ryan Walters

ryan walters
Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”

Blog Article 45: Email Interview with Cinematographer and Vlogger Ryan Walters

Film, television, and video in general are powerful tools to spread a message to the masses. The concept of honoring God through film was once celebrated by our culture decades long ago but this reverence has become lost to the pages of history. But where the Christians of past generations would look upon our time in history with sorrow, a remnant of Christian cinematographers is arising with a tenacious storytelling ability unseen in the arts community. These men and women are sold out to the Gospel message and will use their ability to share the Gospel with as little as one person or as many as millions through the use of film, not seeking glory for themselves. One such man of God is cinematographer and vlogger Ryan Walters.

I met Ryan Walters while chatting with another fellow blogger at a human trafficking awareness event hosted by REST in Bellevue, WA this past spring. Walters knew some of the staff of REST and having learned about his accomplishments with his video series and film projects, I felt the Lord place passion upon my heart to hear his story. Divine appointments are awesome!!! :). Anyway below is a transcript of our email interview as well as videos from his film project.

The Interview

Barry Irwin Brophy: For those who may not know about you, could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started writing and shooting videos?

Ryan Walters: For starters, I am a die-hard New Englander. I carry a lot of pride in my roots hailing from the Northeast. Spending twenty-three years of your initial stages of life development will do that to you, I guess. I’m drawn to the outdoors, sports and the arts. I have a Bachelors in Science in Social Work and am currently pursuing my Masters in Social work as well. I don’t think of myself as much more than a mere mortal, full of victories and failures, daily investing in the practice of worship and what that looks like for a follower of Jesus Christ.

A repetitive theme that pressed me to enter into the blogging community is a biblical concept known as lukewarm Christianity. It’s kind of like the holy discontent, so to speak, that was laid on my heart that seemed to have thrown things into motion for me mid-way through 2013. The ‘in-road’ to writing scripts for short films initiated from a year’s worth of writing these weekly blogs. I figured, “Blogs are swell and all and everyone’s got one, but short three to five minutes clips are the powerful trend now-a-days to thrust hearts into action”.

Barry Irwin Brophy: How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ?

Ryan Walters: Being born and raised in a religious environment, I was saturated in spiritual matters from the get-go. Let’s be real for a moment though: authoritarian approaches to religion do not usually result in authentic understandings of the Gospel. My family’s historic legacy of legalistic religious practices dictated Sunday morning attendances, brief surface-level prayers before meals, and Christian education throughout grade school. My upbringing was harsh and unforgiving; nonetheless, it’s the major catalyst that led me to Christ. Romans 5:3-5 is one of my life verses and for good reason. I harbor no regret intended for God or others for past misfortunes that sequentially steered me to rock bottom. It wasn’t until I realized I was alone and hopeless experiencing familial trauma that I cried out to Jesus to come to my aid. It was at that valley-like instant when I acknowledged Christ as my immovable rock and foundation. The rest is history.

Barry Irwin Brophy: Tell us a bit about your blog and videos you’ve contributed to? Any other projects you’re currently working on?

Ryan Walters: The theme I felt my blog 98.6 Too Cold should be recognized by is “Challenging Lukewarm Christianity.” 98.6 degrees is the estimated temperature of water recognized as lukewarm. It is also man’s average body temperature. But lukewarm is NOT what Jesus-seekers and Jesus-followers are called to be. We’re not called to be average men and women or follow along with who every other person in the world is or what they are doing. I say ‘too cold’ because it’s clear we need to set our hearts and lives on fire for God! Hebrews 12:29 says, “for our God is a consuming fire”. I strongly believe He has a plan for the writers and readers of my blog as well as myself to be consumed by that same fire.

I’ve had the privilege to be featured on Bold&Unashamed.com as a guest blogger on several occasions and I’ve been under the Nyack College Alumni spotlight.

As far as videos are concerned, I have been involved in three thus far to date. My first short, “Noahzite Nation”, was an experiment released in February of 2014. I say experiment because I was looking to test out the cinematography waters on whether it would be a fitting avenue to get my message across. Noahzite Nation was a script based off one of my earlier blogs. I received encouraging praises and criticisms and within one month I was already on the grind to prepare the way for a second short; thus began the setting of the stage for “Going Through The Motions,” my most prevalent production yet.

“Going Through the Motions” (GTTM) also started as a piece derived from a blog of mine. However, the script was refined and nailed down to the most minute of details. A production team of four was established, casting calls for actors/actresses and extras were being held, expensive production equipment was being rented and venues were being locked down for diverse scenes. This project blew up more than I could have ever imagined! A nationwide screening event took place this past January and seven hosts across the country participated (churches, colleges, non-profit ministries). Since its release, GTTM has been accepted to several film festivals including the Florida Film Festival, Grace Film Festival (CA), Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival (GA), Glory Reelz Christian Film Festival (MI), and most notably the UK Christian Film Festival (London).

During the production process of GTTM, I had gone off course just a tad to film a rough piece separate from the lukewarm Christianity theme. It was entitled “Father To The Fatherless” and it was my first personal auto-biographical piece. It was written not so much as myself speaking to my father but rather to be the voice of others who consider themselves victims of broken earthly fathers. The beauty of this short simple film was its level of relevance for any age person who has experienced pain & suffering because of their dad. Of course, its purpose was to bring hope: hope of a Father in heaven who is the only perfect, faultless Father anyone could ever have.

I’m currently putting together a team for an additional project (“Imago Dei”) that is also set apart from the topic of lukewarm Christianity. The film’s concentration is the subject of juvenile delinquents. The script homes in on how they are mistreated, the need for mentorship and chaplaincy, and most importantly the call to reach for compassion and eliminate judgement. This will be my first attempt at developing and producing a short film independently; that is, if all goes accordingly.

Barry Irwin Brophy: How has God been using your videos to spread His Gospel message? Any stories?

Ryan Walters: I firmly believe with all my heart, soul and mind that God has been utilizing my short films to challenge present day believers to pursue a more authentic walk with Christ, to live life more abundantly as Jesus Himself has called us to. I’ve also witnessed God draw runaways of the faith back to His loving arms; even people affiliated with the production processes. However, as it is with blogging you just never know the transformation of lives that is going on behind the scenes through the arts.

Barry Irwin Brophy: What do you think are the biggest obstacles within the American Christian Church institution? How can they change to be more effective in preaching the Gospel?

Ryan Walters: Obstacles that I have noticed as of recently are conversations the church is having that are current distractions. Instead of our eyes being fixed on Jesus, they’re fixed on spiritual debates that get us nowhere. Our hearts should be compelled to act as ambassadors of Christ but all we’re devoted to is Facebook rebuttals and hurling insults over text messages. These conversations I speak of are with both fellow believers as well as the greater society of nonbelievers. The American Christian Church seems to care more right now about refusing to bake cakes for the LGBT community then feeding our homeless sister on the corner of 8th and Cherry St. The American church seems to care more right now about protesting ’50 Shades’ then seeking out the fading face of street youth. Jeremy Vallerand says, “If every church, one family per church, adopted one of the 1,300 eligible foster care children in our state of Washington, they’d all have homes and families.”

So, what in the world is hindering us from responding to the cries of the voiceless? What barriers have come into play that have belittled the command to evangelize and disciple? Personally, I think we’ve let media become our modern day Bible. We listen to it, we read it, we get convicted by it and we respond to it. Joshua 1:8 states, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Seems to me that media has become an uncontrollable idol. In recent years, it has been a deafening tool of Satan that has removed our acquiring of peace. Media is now a vice in our spiritual walks and thus leading believers one by one to uselessness in advancing the Kingdom of Heaven. Honestly, if we don’t snap out of it soon we’re in deep trouble.

Barry Irwin Brophy: Where do you see the future of the Christian Church heading given our current environment politically, socially, and economically? What about our generation of millennials given that our generation is the first generation to be leaving Christianity in the U.S.?

Ryan Walters: This is a fascinating question and one I have been struck with time and time again lately. My answer however, is not as fascinating as I have not arrived to a conclusion of my own pondering thoughts quite yet. There has been some talk of a ‘restart of the church’. Public figures in Christian culture have come out to say they believe we’re actually on the right track despite recent downfalls (Mars Hill, LGBT conflict, etc). The peculiar idea that has arisen goes something like this: the more power deflating from the institution of church, the more impact the church will gain. What a strange theory, huh?

Rachel Held Evans says this in her interview with RELEVANT magazine, “It’s become popular in recent years for folks to fret about the “impending death of Christianity,” based on statistics that show a decline in church attendance here in the U.S. and Europe. But death is something empires worry about, not something resurrection people worry about. Maybe this is an opportunity to die to the old ways of dominance and control and be reborn into the way of the Cross, the way of sacrifice and service.”

Who knows what will happen. All I do know is that we don’t need a ‘restart’ per se, we just need reform to return to the basics. The American church is desperate for fragmented hearts to be transformed by the renewal of people’s minds. We’re a hungry generation. Question is, are we hungry for spiritual food or not? Are we really seeking that Bread of Life?

Barry Irwin Brophy: In Washington state, our area is experiencing quite a Christian renaissance revival in the arts. How do you think your writings and videos will influence the coming revival?

Ryan Walters: I am so inspired, refreshed and encouraged by the Renaissance in the arts. However, I don’t see myself as being a part of that movement. I don’t say that to sound humble. I honestly do not consider myself to be well-gifted in the arts whether that be music, poetry, spoken word, photography, cinematography and so on. I would commend my siblings for their skills in that area, but I simply didn’t receive that gene. My writing isn’t meant to be extraordinary by any degree. In fact, I ran into theological and grammatical issues when attempting to blog as someone I wasn’t. Perhaps, it is time for myself and others to learn that influential power starts not with us, but with someone much greater living within us. I suppose Going Through The Motions measured out to be a high quality narrative, but only by means of team members with expertise in a plethora of departments. As I said above, my prayer is that my writings and videos will prompt believers to remove their masks and to stop going through the motions.

Barry Irwin Brophy: What advice would you like to give to future Christian writers, authors, bloggers, and cinematographers just getting started?

Ryan Walters: Do not stick to the cliché phrase ‘Be Yourself’. Don’t get sapped because of it. By the power of God, be far more than yourself. Be who God called you to be. 2 Timothy 1:9 says, “God who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began”. Catch that? We’ve been called with a holy calling, a calling of the all-knowing sovereign Father. If this is true, we are not to run off into the sunset with our own jumbled and emotionally-based thoughts. No, no. We’re to home in on the Word of God which in it of itself is holy.

Colossians 3:23 states, “and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Jesus never settled for anything less than what God called Him to and we should follow suit. Strive for producing art that has been deeply bathed not only in Scripture but also in revision. What I mean is, establish a ‘support team’: a joint group of fellow like-minded brothers and sisters who will take healthy stabs and inquiries of your work. What you should aim for is a team who will hold you accountable for your grammar, word flow, level of professionalism and theology. You also should search for people who have a firm comprehension that a larger audience will be engaging in some form with your art; that way, they’ll keep context in mind and who is receiving your message.

Barry Irwin Brophy: I’ve also encounter many struggling Christian writer’s who’ve just giving up on their calling either through circumstance, unmet expectations, or just downright hardships that prevent them for continuing in their callings. If you were speaking with them one on one what encouraging words would you say to them?

Ryan Walters: I’d first quote one of my best friends and say that ‘frustration equals breakthrough’. For what it’s worth, we can grow exponentially as people when faced with turmoil and discontentment. I’m a firm believer that true wisdom comes from consistent practice in the trenches of life. We have the opportunity to better ourselves by trial and error and you don’t want to miss out on those lessons that can be learned. I’d also add Romans 5:3-5 and 2 Timothy 4:7-8 to the mix to encourage perseverance. I would offer the words of Pastor Brenda McNeil from Quest Church of Seattle: “The antonym of peace isn’t anxiety, its self-reliance”. You lose touch with God the most when your eyes turn away from Him. Thankfully, He provides long lasting peace in the darkest of times if we’re willing to keep our eyes fixed. Bumps in the road are not given to destroy, they are there to deliver triumph.

Barry Irwin Brophy: Any helpful tips or practical disciplines that you have learned in your walk with Christ that other followers could benefit from?

Ryan Walters: Discipline yourself to remain in a posture of worship and prayer at all hours around the clock. This can be achieved at work, at the gym, in your home, with your spouse, while watching a football game or during celebratory occasions. If this posture becomes sustainable, you’ll reap imperishable rewards in heaven. If you attain this posture, you’ll get a sense of what it means to live life abundantly. God is truly glorified when His children are constantly placing Him at the forefront of all that they do and say. Worship does not have to strictly be reading the Bible, being in church or blasting Christian music. Worship can be the recognition of God’s hand in your life through the mundane and simplistic orders we carry out. Worship can be a smile, a laugh, a hug or a cheer. Let God know that you acknowledge each day is a gift from Him, a day to choose laying down your life for the sake of gaining it.

Barry Irwin Brophy’s Closing Thoughts
If I could describe Walters in one phrase it would be “a man on fire” and by fire I mean consumed with the passion, anointed with the power of God to accomplish this task, and commissioned with such a cloud of witnesses watching him run his race. Walters videos are but a rallying cry of my millennial generation looking around at the society we have inherited and saying we can do better with our presentation of the Gospel message.

Going Through the Motions is powerfully convicting, spoken with such tenacity, and a refreshing example of the millennials arising within this eleventh hour period in humanity’s history to take the Gospel message into the pillars of our society. Having learned that some of this videos were entered into film festivals, I pray the blessing of the Lord upon them.

So how can you support Walters? Prayer, prayer, and more prayer for starters. Why not even connect with him on some of his social media sites, too? Follow his blogs and make sure to leave likes, reviews, and recommendations to others about the work he is accomplishing. Do you work with film too? Why not reach out to him about possible collaboration opportunities (I know I will 🙂 )!!! If you are a minister looking for a speaker for your next event or youth group, book him! Walters represents such a shift occurring in modern Christianity that I look forward to witnessing how my generation will steward the mantle of leadership in Christendom. History will honor Walters through the purity of the Gospel message he preaches.

Ryan Walters’ Pages
Personal Website: http://ryanjwalters.com/
Twitter: @ryanjwalters
Instagram: @ryanjwalters
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ryan.walters.925
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/SaabHb01
Bold & Unashamed Blog: http://boldandunashamed.com/author/ryanwalters/

References
Going Through the Motions | Ryan Walters, YouTube, 6:05, posted by Ryan Walters, January 24, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOQ3EYDtHUI (accessed June 16, 2015)
Noahzite Nation | Lukewarm Christianity Exposed, YouTube, 3:33, posted by Ryan Walters, February 9, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4p8fzg7h_c (accessed June 16, 2015)
Walters, Ryan, email message to author, May, 26, 2015.
Walters, Ryan. Portrait. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153726274583452&set=t.562348451&type=3&theater (accessed June 21, 2015)

Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 44: A Review of Foreverlin’s album Still After

foreverlin still after

Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”

Blog Article 44: A Review of Foreverlin’s album Still After

Echoing through the canyons of Wyoming reverberates the sounds of Foreverlin’s new album Still After as these musical warriors of instrument and word wow the music industry once again. Still After looks to continue this musical dynasty of theres as by adding to the momentum of the indie rock scene bursting out of Laramie and Cheyenne. As I watch Foreverlin continue to blossom and develop their music, Still After continues in the philosophical tradition of tugging at your thoughts and opinions through captivating lyrics of vocalists Peter and Caleb Blomberg and their gritty guitars, bombastic bass playing of Anthony Riedl, and the ever present anthem of drummer Burke Florom.

foreverlin band photo

Still After is just as emotionally gripping as Blueprints. Many songs such as “Speak,” “Rest,” and “Morning” just make you weep with the balanced exchange of instruments and vocals that penetrate the inner most being of the soul. I mentioned that Blueprints felt like musical perfection when I reviewed it in Blog Article 17, but Still After has transcended this position exponentially in the album’s entirety. As I listen again and again, all I want to do is scream atop the highest mountain “there has to be more” because the magnetic nature of Still After keeps drawing me back. I have been playing this album over and over again.

“Above” is the first song to indulge your ears with is melodic beauty. “Above” is one of three interludes that begins with a simple classical piano. As I continued to listen, my senses were heightened to the anticipation being built by a brilliant harmony of additional guitar, bass, and drums, into their first song with lyrics entitled “Pathways.”

“Pathways” felt heartwarming to me as it reminded me of the my current season of life of just being stuck in a rut. The lyrics spoke to this position and reminded the listener to press forward and persevere. If God were singing over me, “Escape” would be the lyrics by which He does this; much like “Pathways”, “Escape” also spoke about not giving up despite set backs you may endure.

“Speak” is an incredibly powerful prophetic song that has captivated my attention the most on their album. I cannot get enough of this song. Ever time I reflect on the lyrics, I am reminded of my own personal sin battles and failures in my own life and how one feels afterwards; that tangible feeling of devastation snuffing out any amount of hope. But the listener is not left in their own devastation of failure as Blomberg sings the words of God speaking directly to the listener. “Speak” ministers in such a powerful way while ending with an organic epic guitar solo.

If “Speak” has a part two to its song, “Rest” would be it. The instrumentals begin in “Speak” but are further explored in “Rest”. This song continues to call the listener back to the truths God speaks over us as doubt clouds our judgment. “Rest” leaves the listener with a sense of melancholy only to be addressed within the lyrics and composition of “Broken Lines.”

“Life is the poetry of broken lines and misspelled words, each one, making us stronger.” Foreverlin has such a way with sifting out philosophical gold from their lyrics, especially in “Broken Lines.” The writer in me rejoiced at this song as I drank deeply of the beauty if the lyrical composition. I mean really…what more could I say about this song? I am personally lost for words as Foreverlin weaves a tapestry reflecting on how the trials of life make one stronger. You have to experience it for yourself.

Next, is the song “It Was You” which begins with an earthy acoustic introduction. The song examines the personal insecurities one has by paralleling a love song while hinting at dependability of God. Near the end of the song, the vocalist sacrifices these insecurities for a higher gain of knowing God while reflecting on how He was seen moving with compassion within these insecurities. As “It Was You” ends, the listener is gifted with a second musical interlude in “Alaska.”

“Alaska” is the second instrumental interlude on their album. All of the musicians are naturally talented and it is always a privilege to allow them to express this creativity through instrumentals alone. The song starts off humble in composition then progresses through various highs and lows of drums, guitar, and bass. Halfway through Florom slows the pace down with a simple marching cadence on drums while Caleb Blomberg’s harmonic guitar pushes chords to their twanging highest. As the song begins to end, a choir of simple vocal harmonies is heard from both Peter and Caleb Blomberg while a melodic violin brings tears to your eyes as one realities this musical Elysium must end as the album transitions to the song “Morning.”

“Morning” begins with vocals and gentle piano. It reminded me of one of those songs that you would see in the credits of a movie and just want to say to yourself “can I just stay in this moment, I don’t want it to end.” “Morning” strikes something deep within the listener’s spirit as that sense of “being in the moment” engulfs every comprehensible sense imaginable. Like I stated before in the beginning of this post, songs like “Morning” you just do not want to end.

“Below” is the third instrumental interlude that reminds me of the peace of God. It is a gentle song transitioning the listener to what one has known all along this emotional roller coaster journey: it must eventually end.

“Sanguine” ends the Still After album with a song about trying to recognize the voice of God when one has fallen. There is hope and grace found in God.

And so Still After comes to an end. Foreverlin has sent me on an emotional journey of self-examination that stirs questions of purpose and meaning in my own life. How I wish other musicians would stir these deep thoughts within humanity as Foreverlin is so phenomenal at doing. Still After was much more than I originally anticipated in the brilliance of lyrics and instruments. Everything just “works” within the album and I am once again captivated by the gifts God has so richly deposited in their lives. May this album be the one that catapults Foreverlin further in their musical journey.

Foreverlin’s Pages
Official Website: http://www.foreverlin.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ForeverlinBand
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/BandForeverlin
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/foreverlinband
Instagram: http://instagram.com/foreverlinband/
Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/foreverlin
Booking/Management: Caleb Blomberg blomby86@hotmail.com

References
Broken Lines, YouTube, 3:06, posted by Foreverlin Band, April 20, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAnkFx72jD8 (accessed June 9, 2015).
Foreverlin – Speak, YouTube, 3:32, posted by Foreverlin Band, April 10, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4IRU34EpKk (accessed June 9, 2015).
Foreverlin. Still After. Copyright 2015 by Pando Records, Warner Music Group, and Word Distribution, MP3.
Foreverlin. Still After Album Cover. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/ForeverlinBand/photos/pb.132751653481952.-2207520000.1433952772./811621428928301/?type=3&theater (accessed May 19, 2015)
Foreverlin. Band Portrait. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/ForeverlinBand/photos/pb.132751653481952.-2207520000.1433952772./811339528956491/?type=3&theater (accessed June 9, 2015)

Creative Christian Moments – Blog Article 43: Email Interview with Courtney Stauffer and Death Defeated Music

CourtneyStauffer_DeathDefeatedMusic

Creative Christian Moments

“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”

Blog Article 43: Email Interview with Courtney Stauffer and Death Defeated Music

“The light of Christ shines the brightest in the darkest of places” is a common phrase Christian use to illustrate the power of the Gospel message in a society engrossed in sin and immorality. It is often an encouraging word to Christians suffering for the their faith or trail blazing in unfamiliar missionary territory. But much like the torchbearers that have gone before her, Courtney Stauffer of Death Defeated Music from Portland, Oregon, continues this time honored tradition in Christianity by bringing the light of the Gospel message into the often dark realm of rock and heavy metal.

“To the Jews I became a like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like on under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak, I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessing.”

I have preached on this passage before and I will preach on it again when it comes to evangelistic callings such as Stauffer’s from 1st Corinthians 9:19-23. Much like Paul’s soapbox sermon in 1st Corinthians, Christians were never called to withdraw from society but rather to engross themselves into the lives of others to win them for the Gospel with the same love, compassion, and uncompromising Biblical principles illustrated by Jesus Christ. It is a process of living in the world but not conforming to the thought patterns of the world’s spheres of influence illustrated in Romans 12:2. We become light bearers in societies encased in darkness. Below is our email interview discussing how Stauffer will accomplish this task in her mission field.

The Interview

Barry Irwin Brophy: Tell us a bit about yourself and some of the current ministry/music projects you are working on.

Courtney Stauffer: Currently I am working on building my independent record label, Death, Defeated and am serving pretty regularly as a volunteer for my church’s media ministry. I can do anything from stage set up to recording and running the board, lights, cameras, and U-stream. This is really where I cut my adult teeth, as I like to call them, in behind the stage work.

I was always involved in music growing up and was fortunate enough to sing in California, Oregon, and Washington with my High School choir but after graduation I hardly touched music until I was pregnant with my daughter and my husband was working actively with the same media ministry I am now. If you ever had to wait for your spouse (or anyone) who was serving in ministry then you know how bored you can get being the last one out, all the time. I can chalk it up to nesting or crazy pregnancy hormone fluxes but I felt the need to do something so I was shown how to wrap cables (and of course told to take it easy).

As a musician (I use that term loosely) I love to sing, play piano and am currently teaching myself guitar and drums.

Barry Irwin Brophy: How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ?

Courtney Stauffer: I fell in love with Christ Jesus my senior year of high school. I don’t remember ever discounting His existence before then but I was very resistant to going to church until my senior year of high school. For two years prior, two girls, who are two of my closest friends and are sisters to me, kept inviting me to church. Finally I relented and went to their high school youth group with them and the rest is history. I walked in to this bay that was converted into a hang out space and nearly was hit in the face with a stray ball from a game of bump. I sat through the message and first heard someone teach the Bible verse by verse. We were in 1st Corinthians 1 and one of my sweet friends made sure I brought a Bible (my super awesome camouflage print kids adventure Bible – coolest 18 year old around). The Lord did something in me that day. I wouldn’t confess Jesus is Lord until August that year but I knew that this was home and home it has been for the past five years.

I was forced to grow up very quickly in my walk. After marrying my best friend in 2012, we conceived our first and currently only child. Everything was going great with my pregnancy until our 20 week ultrasound. Our sweet little baby girl was created to spend a very short amount of time with us. Bilateral Renal Agensis was a whole new medical term I had never heard of. Basically what it is is the absence of one (lateral) or both (bilateral) kidneys and related structures. The bilateral presentation is almost always fatal because of the role that kidneys play in development of lungs and preparation for life outside the womb. I remember that after that appointment I felt someone or something say to me “you can either choose to follow Christ now or you can turn your back on Him.” To me that was the defining point in my walk.

Barry Irwin Brophy: How has God been using the your record label to spread His Gospel message? Any stories?

Courtney Stauffer: God has been showing me that my role in this industry and His plan for me are deeply connected and not exactly easy to label. Here you have this 20 something girl running around, teaching, playing, producing, and managing in one of the darkest areas of the industry and she has a cross hanging on her neck. What? I’ll meet people and start to work with them and usually I’m asked where I learned my trades or why I don’t meet Sunday morning and then its like a light goes off when they realize that I do things my way because of my faith and convictions. I like to believe that my presence in scene is shinning light in the darkness. It’s sad to see a lot of the girls at concerts and hanging around bands allow themselves to be taken advantage in sad ways.

Barry Irwin Brophy: There is such resistance I’ve encountered from Christians at entering the rock or heavy metal community for ministry. I interviewed a Christian metal band last year doing this with so much success and their was quite a backlash from even some ministers. What would you say to those individuals holding the opinion that you cannot reach this subculture with the Gospel message through a medium they understand?

Courtney Stauffer: If this subculture cannot be reached then I cannot exist because I am the teenage girl in the mosh pit grinding against whatever guy would let me. I am the girl behind the MySpace profile with heavy metal on my profile and provocative pictures chatting with the older band guys. Thankfully I belong to a church that has always supported me and understands that not every person can go out into the world and be a light (even if I don’t shine it into others eyes) but some are called to less than typical ministries that may not even look like a ministry. While it was my sweet friends who convinced me to come back to church I had been hearing the Gospel through bands like Flyleaf. The songs I thought were love songs about two people were really love songs about Christ and His bride.

Barry Irwin Brophy: What do you think are the biggest obstacles within the American Christian Church institution? How can they change to be more effective in preaching the Gospel?

Courtney Stauffer: Remove the plank from you eye before you pick the speck out of mine. I don’t dress like a stereotypical married Christian woman. My clothing learns towards neo-goth hispter-esque, I have visible tattoos, multiple facial piercings, and usually some freestyle hair tattoo. Making the sermons less about ones outward appearance and more about how the Lord sees you through His eyes makes all the difference and I am blessed to belong in a church that teaches this.

Barry Irwin Brophy: In Washington state, our area is experiencing quite a Christian renaissance revival in the arts. How do you think your music label will influence the coming revival?

Courtney Stauffer: I hope I can be a part of it. I don’t plan on working solely within the Christian music scene but branching out and being a light in places where I don’t see a lot of kindness towards bands and individuals who are outspoken about wanting to evangelize. I want to be someone that people can look at and see that not every Christian is the kind that makes the 6 o’clock news for protesting something.

Barry Irwin Brophy: What advice would you like to give to future Christian writers, authors, and poets just getting started? Please provide any helpful tips or painful lessons of what not to do.

Courtney Stauffer: If God is with you, no one can stand against you. It may not be what you think should be happening but God’s plan is greater than our own. Have a group of knowledgeable people to hold yourself accountable to, listen to what they have to say and pray about it, stay in the Word, and work your butt off. My artists will talk to me from as early as 5 A.M. my time to as late as 1 A.M. and I am no stranger to the 3 A.M. email reply. I currently work a forty hour week in a totally unrelated industry and have my personal life to devote time to. It’s doable but its hard. Just shoot.

Barry Irwin Brophy: I’ve also encounter many struggling Christian writer’s who’ve just giving up on their calling either through circumstance, unmet expectations, or just downright hardships that prevent them for continuing in their callings. These guys and girls are really in the fire right now and have been severely burned. If you were speaking with them one on one what encouraging words would you say to them?

Courtney Stauffer: The Lord’s timeline is different than ours. If you are struggling He is probably trying to show you something and will use this time to make your ministry stronger. You have to pay bills, its not easy, but it can be done and the Lord is using you for something.

Barry Irwin Brophy: Any helpful tips or practical disciplines that you have learned in your walk with Christ that other followers could benefit from?

Courtney Stauffer: Just because one person has this calling on their life doesn’t mean you have to as well. A lot of the girls who helped me in my walk are married, mommies or about to be and they are called to be stay-at-home moms and wives. I tried that. I tried hard at it. It took me to a dark place. While thats what is usually expected of a married Christian woman, I am not designed for this and it took me a long time to understand that. What I am saying is to trust the Lord and what His plans are for you despite what others might think.

Barry Irwin Brophy’s Closing Thoughts
Stauffer said it best when she discussed the importance of Christian rock “While it was my sweet friends who convinced me to come back to church I had been hearing the Gospel through bands like Flyleaf. The songs I thought were love songs about two people were really love songs about Christ and His bride.” And that is the discussion that is constantly taking place between the fans of these bands.

For the skeptical Christian reader I would challenge you to check out a music video or two from a well known Christian rock band. If you scroll down to the comments section, just smile at the amount of Biblical discussion occurring. On the Christian metal music videos, the debates and discussion are even more intense and abundant. THE GOSPEL MESSAGE IS TRULY REACHING OUT TO EVERY CORNER OF SOCIETY within the eleventh hour generational time period. Praise God!!!

Christian rock is a powerful medium by which the Lord is raising up as a method of evangelism. Just converse with the artists themselves and you will hear of stories during concerts or on social media sites where fans of the music have given their life to Christ through this form of evangelism. It is truly amazing and adds one more beautiful section to the Christian Church. But it takes individuals like Stauffer to be the bridges by which the Gospel message travels by her boldness to step out into unchartered ministry territories and say “Hear I am Lord, us me.”

One of the most powerful videos of evangelism I have ever witnessed was watching Korn members Brian “Head” Welch, Reginald “Fieldy” Arizu, and evangelist Todd White minister the Gospel message through prayer at a heavy metal concert. When I was a young Christian in the early mid 2000s, I would day dream about evangelistic events like this, praying, fasting, and hoping, that God would raise up men and women with this type of compassionate love to walk the dark areas of society with the Gospel message. In 2015, others and myself are now witnessing our prayers being answered in this regard and many of us have even had the privilege of being our own answers to these prayers.

As I watched this video clip preview from Holy Ghost movie, I wept because like Stauffer and myself it is the overwhelming compassion from individuals like White that convince us of the reality of the Gospel message. Stauffer shares a similar unique calling as expressed in her own words above and when I even attempt to discuss these types of evangelistic opportunities I experience such heavy resistance from Christians: including pastors who are unwilling to even try and reach this subculture of our society. If the Christian Church is to see revival within the United States of America, it is going to take bold measures of evangelism as illustrated by revivalists of the past like John Wesley, Charles Finney, and Billy Graham just to name a few. More importantly, Stauffer’s interview also depicts the most common concept of spreading the Gospel that you and I will ever experience: the mission field of the workplace.

Christians always hype overseas missions, which is good because they are needed, but often equal emphasis is not placed on using this same passion, energy, and resources to reach the local community. Ask the question, what can I do to present the Gospel message in my profession? If you are a construction worker, build houses and buildings as though Jesus Himself would be using them. Are you a janitor at a school? Clean the halls and classrooms as if Jesus Himself would be using them next. Are you an artist? Contribute your artistic medium to glorifying the Gospel message whether it be through music, painting, photography, writing, or cooking. Do you work in sales? Honor Jesus Christ by selling products to customers that they need to meet their goals at fair prices. Would Jesus purchase the product you are pitching to them? The list goes on and on but what is most important is that the characteristics of Christ are seen by your professional colleagues regardless of occupation because the workplace is where most of us Christians will make the most impact in sharing the Gospel message.

Support Stauffer and Death Defeated Music through prayer. They will need a ton of it and I am calling upon my fellow intercessors to accomplish this task. If you are a musician, reach out to Stauffer and Death Defeated Music if you are looking for local label to help promote your music. As I close with this blog post I look forward to watching Death Defeated Music blossom and rapidly grow as Stauffer continues to honor the Lord by demonstrating this same Christ like compassion and professionalism with the musicians she serves in her business: both Christian and secular.

Courtney Stauffer’s Pages/Contact Info
Death Defeated Music: http://www.facebook.com/DeathDefeatedMusic
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-stauffer/54/a57/267
Phone: (503) 867-1124
Email: courtneystauffer@gmail.com

References
Death Defeated Music. Logo Picture. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/DeathDefeatedMusic/photos/a.501187143260557.111907.501184843260787/591538680892069/?type=1&theater (accessed June 1, 2015)
Stauffer, Courtney, email message to author, May, 18, 2015.
Stauffer, Courtney. Profile Picture. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=821100731313876&set=a.109595512464405.18995.100002418717606&type=1&theater (accessed June 2, 2015)
Holy Ghost Deluxe – Brian “Head” Welch from Korn and Todd White, YouTube, 1:33, posted by WP Films, September 7, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY9wBUnbgnM (accessed June 1, 2015).