This Friday, a film opens in select theaters called “NOT TODAY.” The story follows the surprising journey of a college student who decides to DO SOMETHING about the problem of human trafficking. I met the film makers a few years ago as their journey was just beginning. This Friday, a song that I co-wrote with Aaron Blanton will appear during the closing credits of their film.
When I met the film makers, I had just returned from a trip to Northern India to work with a people group referred to as Dalits, broken people that represent the “untouchable” caste in the Hindu religion. Higher-caste Hindus will even avoid the shadow of a Dalit person as they pass by. Over the centuries, they have been victims of a thousand atrocities. The film “NOT TODAY” tells one of those stories.
On my first trip to Delhi, Lucknow, and Agra, I was asked to teach at a conference for Dalit church leaders and to assist a medical team providing mobile clinics in Dalit schools. The Dalits I met were beautiful children and hard-working adults. They were passionate church leaders. They were earnest and full of hope. The work was organized by DALIT FREEDOM NETWORK, and I met the film makers when I was leading worship at DFN’s annual conference a few weeks after my return from India.
The film wasn’t made because it’s a great story that would sell tickets. It was not made because the film makers knew they could make money from the idea. “NOT TODAY” came to life with the hope that your ticket in might someone’s ticket out. For the film makers, learning about the growing problem of human trafficking among Dalits meant they HAD TO FIND A WAY to use their skills to shine a light on this dark problem. When your heart begins to break for the broken-hearted, you have to use the skills and talents YOU have in the fight for hope and healing.
My way of responding has been to write songs like “We Are the Hands” and “What Love Can Do” which Kari Jobe recorded for the film. What can you do to break the deadly cycle of human trafficking that keeps growing around the world? Perhaps the folks at the END IT MOVEMENT can help you find a way into the story. Or maybe my friends at ONELIFE can be your front-door into world-change.
As long as one of us is enslaved, none of us are free.
I’ve given my songwriting class at Truett-McConnell an assignment this week. It’s an exercise I intend on practicing this week personally and want to invite you to join us. We will be doing some timed, “Sense-Bound” creative writing. It’s an idea I first heard about from Berklee professor, Pat Pattison, in his books Writing Better Lyrics and Songwriting Without Boundaries. You can find out more about the unique approach of sense-bound writing from THIS EXCERPT FROM PAT’S BOOK. Taking a moment to read this brief excerpt will help make sense of all this.
Our version of this exercise involves only 5 minutes of writing per exercise (I intend on doing 2 a day). Limiting yourself to the time allotted is valuable because it keeps you from treating this like HOMEWORK. You are not writing a speach, a song, or a sermon (although your writing may inspire one or more of these). At it’s core, Sense-Bound Writing is creative writing where, for the allotted time, you allow your senses to drive the bus. The goal is to draw your reader into a sensory experience of the object, moment, or place you are describing. As a writer it forces you to reach for rich and stirring language. For five minutes at a time you are forced to stretch your lyrical muscles.
For our topic each day we will use one of 15 Stations of the Cross. They are listed below. I will start on the Sunday before Easter doing 2 sense bound writing exercises a day and will finish with The Resurrection on Easter Sunday morning.
You will be surprised how LITTLE ground you can cover in five minutes of focused writing; barely more than a paragraph. The goal is not the Quantity of content you can generate but the Quality of language you can tap into while inviting your readers into an experience of the moment you are describing.
If you decide to join our journey, why not share what you write in the comments section of this post. I WILL NOT be grading your submissions!
STATIONS OF THE CROSS
- Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
- Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested
- Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin
- Jesus is denied by Peter
- Jesus is judged by Pilate
- Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
- Jesus takes up his cross
- Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross
- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
- Jesus is crucified
- Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief
- Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other
- Jesus dies on the cross
- Jesus is laid in the tomb
- The Resurrection
After years of writing songs that no one ever heard, my wife gave me the greatest gift I could imagine. She signed me up for a workshop. Not exactly a new car I know. To feed the songwriter in my soul, she signed me up for a songwriting conference in another city. It was her way of investing in my creativity. That weekend became the front door to a rewarding 10 year (so far) career as a professional songwriter.
Do you a songwriter or worship leader? What if you invested in their gifts the same way my wife did signed them up for some training, encouragement, and inspiration? There are 2 ways coming up that you could give that remarkable gift to the quiet songwriters in your world.
1. ALLABOUTWORSHIP – This is the easiest! AllAboutWorship.com is offering a series of weekly webinars that can be viewed from your own home. Even if there are time conflicts, all of the webinars will be available to registrants whenever they can watch them. I’ll teach one of the four webinars being offered along with Dustin Smith, Chris McClarney, and Daniel Bashta. Even the budget option of choosing ONE webinar to give as a gift for only $30 would be a remarkable way to invest in the talent of someone you care about. FIND OUT MORE BY CLICKING HERE.
2. GMA IMMERSE – The event my wife originally signed me up for has changed names over the years and is now called Immerse and happens here in Nashville May 26-29, 2013. Being here in Nashville means event registrants have access to an amazing list of artists, writers, and music industry leaders. I wish there were churches that would give registration to this event as a gift to a talented staff member. My experience at what was then called GMA Academy changed everything for me and I think the registration is FULLY worth the price. FIND OUT MORE BY CLICKING HERE.
It’s time for some new tunes. In the last few months, Markus, Jeremy, Dave, and I joined together with friend and cowriter Brian Hitt (and a crew of students from Carson-Newman College) to record some of the worship songs we’ve been using this year. You can find the new EP here: iTUNES
And find charts, lyric videos, theology behind the songs and more here: HallelujahAlways
Kari Jobe’s “Where I Find You,” including her hit recording of the song “We Are” has been nominated for a Grammy. Having the first single from a grammy nominated project is exciting. The song has also been included on the WOW 2013 compilation CD. “Where I Find You” released with chart topping street week numbers at No. 1 and No. 10 on Billboard’s National Christian and Top 200 Charts.
Read my story behind the song and watch for the release of my own version of the song coming in by February 2013.