What are Convictions? What are your Convictions?
You have no idea how excited I am to present this lesson on convictions to all of you. As you well know by now, besides Skip Lowe, John Cooper is one of my favorite musicians and one of my spiritual role models. I can relate with John’s lyrics, upbringing and how he’s got to where he’s at today in his convictions and walk with the Lord…just haven’t navigated into the tattoos yet – they look much better on him than they would me. His words on convictions below blew me away and I didn’t want to hesitate to type this out for y’all to benefit and grow from as well. Enjoy and mull / pray over this message for the remainder of this week and next. I pray you’ll at least read through this message, or at least view/listen to the links, and see what God would have you to do with the content before settling in your mind where you stand on any of it. I’m not planning on posting another devotional until maybe the 18th of November (though I will post Brian Conway’s follow-up notes from Ox Strong on Monday of next week).
Before we get started, I’d like for us to at least consider this question – is there a difference between Convictions & Standards?
Joey Papa interviewing John Cooper, the lead singer for Skillet, for just a little over 14 minutes. Full YouTube Interview
Beginning at about the 2:45 minute mark: Joey was talking to John about starting up his band Skillet and the trials that came with that, so Joey asked John what kept him going, and John replied, “you know truthfully I just felt called to do it…there were lots of times when I thought…this is going nowhere, we’re making no money…we’re paying bills, but it’s very difficult to pay the bills…It was just an instance of praying, feeling this is what we were still called to do – meant to be here, and that there was greater purpose in it, even if there was only fifty thousand people buying the record – a hundred thousand people – two hundred thousand people. Even at that point you’re paying bills, but you’re not making a lot of money, and you’re doing a lot of the work yourselves, because you can’t afford to pay people. So it became an issue of what is feeding my soul, rather than fame or good business even. So I think the short answer is, I felt that’s what God called me to do…Still what drives me is knowing that my life is counting for something. And I think more and more people want that in their lives. You’re seeing culture people go, ‘maybe I don’t make the most money doing that, but I enjoy this…I feel like I’m helping other people.’ That is certainly the case in my life…One of the things…I’ve re-learned is you just have to be who you are – just simply that. And when you try too much to please other people…I think I’m always very much interested to know people’s opinions…between the label and management and producer, I want that input and I find it challenging and it sharpens me, but when it comes down to that…this feels wrong in my gut…‘I hear what you’re saying, it feels wrong to me.’ I think you have to know that what you have to say, hopefully has merit and is special and is uniquely you. And I’m re-learning, ‘okay, it’s okay for me to say no to people.’…It might not make the most business sense, it might not be what they’re used to hearing, but it’s who I am. And so I’m kind of finding my way back to that again…I’m writing a new record, going ‘hey, this is what I have to say.’ And it won’t be the first time that people said, ‘no that’s not good,’ or ‘no that doesn’t make sense.’ And some of my biggest songs in my career were songs that people were like, ‘nah,’ you know, ‘thumbs down.’”
Beginning at about the 6:36 minute mark: Joey points out and then asked John, “Going back to what you were talking about before, kind of like that intuition, or that inner voice, or that inner guiding, you know, talking about songwriting and people may not like this one or that one. On Joey Talks we really try to focus on everyday life and making everyday life count, making it be more meaningful, really living from that depth of who you are. Ok, that’s kind of what you’re describing. I think one word that’s used to describe that is conviction. To you, how much has conviction played a part – a role in your songwriting, in how you do business, and how you make decisions?”
John states and answers this about Conviction: “For some people they might not know what we mean when we say conviction. They might think that means commitment or…an opinion. But conviction to me has always had a connotation of something that I believe to the point that it causes a reaction in my soul…in my decisions. Something that I believe enough that it requires an action. Like for instance…someone that says, ‘I believe that killing animals is completely wrong.’ You don’t expect that person to eat meat…you believe it to the point that meat is out of your diet, if they do eat meat then that’s what we call hypocrisy. I think a great example is marriage…there are days and there have been [roller coaster]…times in life, in your marriage, that you feel happier and not as happy. There are times when you’re like, ‘alright…I love my wife, but I see why people get divorced, I understand how this happens.’ Because it can be frustrating. You can be committed to something and then give up like a diet…I’ve been committed to not eating any cookies, and I do really really good at my commitment to no cookies, and after about five days, I’m like, ‘I think I deserve at least three.’ You know, a commitment can only last for so long. I think what it is, is it’s the conviction that we are married for life, and I believe that it’s right that we are married for life. I believe that it’s even a sacred…in terms of actual God to man, it is a sacred promise that you made. So our conviction is, ‘we will not get divorced, we will work it out.’”
Beginning at about the 9:20 mark in the interview, John was asked, “So then on the band side of things, how has conviction help guide the decisions you make.” John replied, that “It’s been very important to us because most people know the saying, ‘sex, drugs, rock-n-roll,’…they seem to go hand-in-hand. To some people they have found it strange that Skillet is not a band that has the sex and drugs aspect…It’s so a part of rock-n-roll today that it seems very strange that you’re not involved in it. It almost feels like, ‘well then maybe you’re not really into rock-n-roll,’ because you can’t take it. Well my conviction is the opposite…my conviction is about the music, it wasn’t about this [the sex and drugs] when it started…it was about singing something that you believed in. If music is indeed something created by God, [then] I believe it has power to change people’s perspectives…to save lives, and so my conviction has always been that that stuff [sex and drugs] is not who I am, and even though there have been, I think a lot of labels, especially radio, say, ‘we’re not gonna play your song if you’re not gonna be involved, if you’re not gonna come party with us [then] we’re not gonna play your song,’ which is crazy. They’ve kind of been like, ‘you’re kind of raining on our parade.’ I don’t know if you’ve ever been invited, like when I was in high school I was a Christian, and I didn’t party, but I was fun. I’m hyperactive and I’m crazy, and people would be surprised to find out that I was not on any sort of medication, and I was really fun at parties. Well, I stopped getting invited to parties, and I was still class president, but all of the sudden I realized we were 17 and if you want to drink and do whatever it is else you want to do and there’s somebody that’s not doing it, it’s a little bit like, ‘’you’re no fun.’ So sometimes these radio stations, they want you to come play at their event and have fun, but you’re kind of spoiling it, and if you would be a more part of us [then] we’d play your song. And for us, it kind of came down to…I don’t care that much that you play my song. I would love it, maybe it could even ‘change’ my life [by becoming more popular]…I could make more money, help my business, but that’s not something that we’ve wanted to do. The worst thing you can do is to be a hypocrite to your own convictions, like the Meat Is Murder Person that is chewing on steak all the time. It’s a lot easier to fail someone else than to fail yourself…so I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”
Beginning at about the 12:18 mark in the interview, Joey brought up the fact that, “ironically sometimes we find more conviction – people being more committed to [for example]…terrorism….they’re not wishy-washy in their conviction. They’re a hundred percent committed to that conviction and they’re going to do whatever it takes to see that played out, but ironically those of us who are committed to the conviction that is based in love, sometimes you meet people who are just kind of like half in / half out and you can see the difference. If we could only be committed and have conviction in the service to other people and in love, [then] what a difference that would make in the world – in people’s lives and impacting other people…other people’s lives.” John agrees by stating that, “I think you’re right. I think that some of it could come down to…we don’t always know what’s at stake, so if I could give people watching some sort of encouragement, there it is, know who you are, live by those convictions, and if those convictions are based in love – making the world a better place [then] I just think you can’t lose.” Full YouTube Interview
John’s 4 Main Points:
Part 2 of 8.
Part 3 of 8.
Another Video and Article describing Skillet’s Convictions concerning Music and Alcohol:
Part 4 of 8.
Part 5 of 8.
Party.0 – What advice would you give to sober students?
John Cooper – For those who want to stay true to themselves and still want to make friends and have fun without getting into drinking or drug use… I think there’s something so wonderful about standing up for who you are but not preaching or judging others for living differently. I have friends today that are starkly different than me and would never want to live like I do. But you can be friends and hang out. Be strong, be yourself, love other people, and don’t judge. No one probably even cares about you not drinking, it might just be pressure you’re putting on yourself. So again, just go and have fun, be yourself and have a good time.” https://www.party0.org/inside-interview-john-cooper-lead-singer-for-skillet/
Part 6 of 8.
About judging, Jesus isn’t saying, “Never help with the speck your friend has in their eye.”
Jesus is saying, “Everyone can find God. Perfection isn’t a prerequisite to find God. Don’t demand someone else be perfect to find God and all the while you’re missing him too.”
Really, judging is rooted in jealousy. The other person has something you want. So we will judge them to drag them down in our minds to make ourselves feel better.
The antidote to judgement is seeing that God is our Heavenly Father. And when we see God as our Heavenly Father, we see him as someone who gives good gifts. And if he is someone who gives good gifts, then we go to him to ask for what we want, not judge someone else because they have what we want.
Instead of using your energy judging someone else, use your energy to ask, seek, knock on the throne of heaven to ask our Father about what we think we need. Incidentally, we may come to find out that we really don’t need what we think we need.
The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ handbook for Hearing & Following him. I believe that if we’re faced with people knocking on our doors to confiscate every Bible we own, tearing out the pages of the Sermon on the Mount would be the best thing to do before handing over our Bibles.
Because Jesus tells us that if we live this way, we will live a solid life. A life that will be able to handle the storms of life all the while staying strong.
It is the marriage of the Old and New Testaments. It is how we live a righteous life without being a spiritual snob. It is how we trust in God for everything we need. It is how we live an inwardly strong life.
God does demand perfection in righteousness. But he gives us this righteousness through faith. Faith that says we can never do it ourselves. This is why we don’t need to judge others…because it isn’t us that gives us righteousness.
Find the strong life God wants you to have by being broken before him.
Today’s reading is from Matthew 7. http://crosspointfellowship.net/we-judge-because-were-jealous/
Part 7 of 8.
Part 8 of 8.
Practicing His Presence,
Nate Smith is a college baseball and football coach, a husband, a father of 6 girls, grandpa to 3 granddaughters, a police chaplain, a pastor, and has a passion to see men grow in Christ.
#girldad including granddaughter