Yesterday was monumental for me. Last night I rapped at Hip Hop Sunday in Austin and for the first time in a while I felt like the old me...before the record label, the music videos, the TV and radio appearances, the constant requests to minister, booking processes, etc. Yesterday I just felt like that dude who was rapping with nothing to lose. I felt like I was speaking what God put in my heart to say - and I enjoyed it.
While I was driving up to Austin, I found myself reflecting on my ministry thus far. Recently God has put it in my heart to spend more time in preparation with him before I get up and say anything to anybody. I feel like before I say anything, me and God need to have a conversation about how the ministry time is gonna go. Even if I'm not the main person doing ministry and I'm a part of a larger schedule, I feel like God can tell me what the overall atmosphere will be like and how He wants to use me to strengthen or even change that atmosphere. If He decides to tell me, "Jarrell, just open your mouth and I'll fill it" then I will be totally fine with that. But we need to be in one accord about what ministry time is gonna look like. This requires consecration.
I remember, as recently as 7 or 8 months back, when I was so afraid to minister if I felt like the Lord wasn't with me. I remember a time before a particular concert when I said, "Lord if you're not going up there on stage with me then I refuse to go. I have no problem telling these people that I'm not prepared to minister." And in my heart I really would have cancelled. But somewhere in there I must admit...I began to believe the lie that people wanted good music with a message instead of the presence of God. God (in His grace) still showed up to concerts and people were blessed...but it wasn't the same. I felt God there but I didn't feel him taking complete control of the ministry time. I had control. It's during times of reflection like this that I have to ask myself, "What is the goal of ministry?" I had a guy prophesy over me once. He warned me never to forget why I'm doing what I'm doing. So when I get up there to minister, what exactly is it that people should experience? For me, I want people to experience the reality of God's power. I also want to speak the heart of God and watch it strike a chord with those who are in tune to His voice. I want to impact a generation with the voice of truth and a passion that reflects the reality of that truth. I know that God has called the ministry that I'm connected with to be marked by a John-the-Baptist-style of doing things (hence "Johnny's iPod", etc). Really radical and passionate. Really prophetic. But this kind of ministry demands some serious consecration. I've said this before and I'll say it again - I am not the greatest rapper. The only thing that sets me apart from other ministers has been my time with God. That's all. I've tried incorporating different styles in my rap and I've come to know my natural limitations. But there's just something about the Holy Spirit that reaches beyond the known boundaries and into the soul. By the time you're done ministering, people who don't know what happened will come up to you and say stuff like, "Your words are encouraging" "you're really good" "you, you, you". But after the concert is over and you retreat back to the quiet place to thank the Lord, you know that it was by His grace that anything good was shared through you.
That's what happened last night. I didn't want to go on stage unless God was with me...so I prayed. God gave me some direction as to what I was to say and do. I did it. I left the stage and went back to thank God. I came back out and talked with the people. I went home rejoicing over what God had done that night. One guy really encouraged me when he said, "You rapped really good. And you were really passionate and I could see in your eyes that you really believed what you were saying." That is how it should be.
The moral of the story...I need more of Jesus. Yes, I need to practice my craft and do all of the label stuff. But what is the overall spirit of the organization? I'm striving for raw, passionate, Jesus-loving, people-loving ministry.
There are more things that play into me being distracted from staying before God's face! I'll talk about those distractions later and how God is solving these issues. I think that it will definitely help people put a few things in perspective. But it comes down to one thing - ferocious passion is contagious. If I devote myself to being a wildfire, then my whole ministry will catch on fire. And everyone who comes in contact with it will either catch on fire or watch me burn. It starts with me though. I have to be even more passionate about removing things that hinder me from being fully immersed in the reality of God and His power. Killing sin must be a crime of passion. At the end of the day, my goal is not good music. It's revival. It's preparing the way for the Lord. Pray that God strengthens me to guard the flame.