Embracing “The Girl With The Tiger Eyes” by Kevin Max

I was talking with a friend recently and he brought up the point that radio stations like KLOVE and AIR1, unfortunately, are defining what is considered acceptable in the Christian marketplace by controlling such a large market share, but, exposing such a narrow template that artists who hope to be played must adhere to in order to even have a chance to survive. Because of this fact, artistry in the Christian world is on a very short leash and it is a disturbing reality since, as Christians, we are not called to reach other Christians, but, to reach the world. How can we do that when we encase ourselves in clean, pre-fabricated plastic molded for optimal marketing potential?

I truly appreciate several of the songs that I’ve heard, so far, from the forthcoming Kevin Max album, PLAYING GAMES WITH THE SHADOW, and the fact that Kevin Max is doing what he does.The video for “Girl With The Tiger Eyes,” while it may raise a few eyebrows in some circles, is an articulate metaphor for the demons that so many of us carry around. Whether hidden in a basement or exposed for all to see, the skeletons in our past (and often our present) are most often neither pastel-colored nor family friendly. There is value in remembering and acknowledging the dark that we deal with – a therapeutic aspect. It is only when we stare down our own brokenness and sift through our own ashes that we can submit to grace and let the rebuilding begin because, if we’re only willing to reveal our surface-level, kid-glove veneers – our Sunday best, we’re lying to ourselves, to God, and the world around us. We’re offering no value. If we can’t affect others at a gut-level and reveal the holes and traps that we’ve fallen victim to, ourselves, we may not affect them at all due to our own vain hypocrisy. There’s an entire world full of drunkards, junkies, victims of abuse, prisoners, and thieves out there that Jesus sought out to spend time with. I’m glad that there are Christians like Kevin Max out there ready, willing, and able to bridge the gap between reality, art, and God in a manner that so many out there on the Road Show/KLOVE/Winter Jam/Hits Deep circuits fail to even attempt due to the fact that they know they won’t get played on Christian radio. There is most certainly a place for clean, family friendly lyrics of praise and pastoral landscapes. The bible instructs us to focus on these things in our personal lives. But, we’re also called to tell the truth.

Unlike His followers, God specializes in those with the deepest wounds. I think we’re often scared off by the possibility of becoming uncomfortable or even being inconvenienced behind our white picket fences. As a parent I know that I get very nervous when it comes to thinking about who or what my kids’ attention is being drawn to when they’re not within my reach, so, I get that. But, I also think that there needs to be a distinction drawn between youth group Christianity and mature Christianity. We need to engage the youth demographic in learning to be thoughtful and critical of what they are listening to, watching, doing, who they are spending their time with and why. I don’t want to cut my kids off from exploring various forms of art (whether music, visual, etc.), but, instead I want then to learn to think critically about it instead of rejecting everything they see and hear in a conditioned knee-jerk manner.

I believe that, if I can effectively raise my kids with that perspective, they will be more equipped to be mature Christians that aren’t driven by fear, but, instead, by truth and confidence in faith and so that they can be free to reach out and consistently show love and respect to those who are different and who may not know Christ on a personal level. If Christians could make an effort to do this as a whole, I don’t think there would be a “religious right” in American politics and Donald Trump wouldn’t have the following that he as (not that the religious right and Trump are always one-in-the-same). People tend to love less when they fear more and the current political climate is capitalizing on that fact.

Kevin Max, to me, represents an important aspect of the mature Christianity that I’m talking about. I wouldn’t say that his entire catalog of poetry and music is representative of it, but, who he is and the art that he produces is certainly a part of the spectrum. Life and the potential that each of us has to affect others and live out our faith happens, most often, off church grounds. Our art, our deeds, our thoughts, and actions should, likewise, be rooted in God (and nurtured in devotion privately each day – as well as with other believers), but, focused in an outward direction and articulated in a way that engages those on the fringe and the outside instead of scaring them off with our Christianese clique subculture.

Max’s forthcoming project, PLAYING GAMES WITH THE SHADOW, I believe, is exemplary of the kind of artful, thoughtful music that is well underrepresented in Christian music and, for that matter, music in general. Thankfully, there are enough people who get it and value the role that his music, and other music like it, plays in the real-world daily lives of so many and the potential that it has to engage those just outside in a way that is as relevant and articulate, in not more so, than anything out there, Christian or secular.

Learn more about how you can support Max’s new project,  and get eight new songs including “Girl With The Tiger Eyes”, here: PLAYING GAMES WITH THE SHADOW.

Trump, Evangelicals, and the Road Ahead

David F. Watson

In 1934, at the age of 28, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a letter to a friend about an upcoming conference that would involve members of churches from several countries and denominations. In this letter, he wrote, “We must make it clear—fearful as it is—that the time is very near when we shall have to decide between National Socialism and Christianity. It may be fearfully hard and difficult for us all, but we must get right to the root of things, with open Christian speaking and no diplomacy. And in prayer together we will find the way.”[1] This was before the Holocaust began, before WWII began. But Bonhoeffer saw that one could not embrace the Christian faith and embrace the political tide of his nation that was so enamored with the Nazi party. The two simply were not compatible. On April 9th, 1945, he was executed for his part in the…

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The Prodigal’s Black Box

The matter lost
In the slow concussion
Gentle and steadfast
At the rate of age
And inevitably sure
Is that gravity leaves
A downturn In
The arc of your high
Fireball trajectory
Surely a light against
The sky burned bright
Then out leaving soil
In a barren field scarred
With ashes and debris
To reflect another
Light that still lands
Upon the consequences
Of lessons unlearned
Inadequacy unconfessed
And peace unfound
Tired of feeding pigs, yet
You never made it home

Jesus Freak: 20 Years Later

Wow. 20 years of Jesus Freak.

decentchristiantalk

It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years since the groundbreaking Jesus Freak record. It’s fun to look back and see the impact that Jesus Freak had. Let’s go back 20 years and hear from those that had a hand in one of the biggest successes in CCM history.

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Dan Brock (former Forefront Records President): 1995 was quite an exciting time for us at ForeFront Records. We were a small independent label that had grown quickly. We had recently received our first Platinum Album award for dcTalk’s Free at Last release. The group was back in the studio recording and we were preparing our plan for the biggest release in our company’s history – ‘Jesus Freak’.
In August of that year we released the AVCD single of Jesus Freak which also featured the Gotee Bros. Freaked Out Remix, I Wish We’d All Been Ready, and a Jesus Is Just…

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To American Christians Who Reject Refugees

A point well-worth considering for every single one of us who consider ourselves Christians.

Merely Me

To the American Christians who are rejecting refugees from our Country:

Do you remember a couple of months ago when we saw images of the little boy named Aylan who had washed up on the beach? He and his family had escaped from Syria and were trying to make their way to Canada. Sadly, he never made it. We were all heart-broken when we saw his picture. Many of you said that you would have opened up your home to him and his family if you had been able to.

But then the attacks in Paris and Beirut happened.

Now you are signing petitions asking your governor to close your State’s border to refugees. You are frightened by the images of terror attacks you’ve seen on the news. I know that you mean well, because you think that you are protecting your families and your country from harm. But my heart breaks when…

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Music Review: STARRY EYES SURPRISE by Kevin Max

Songs of the night: STARRY EYES SURPRISE by Kevin Max

Kevin Max’s vocal dexterity is well matched by his penchant for playing hopscotch from one musical genre to another. From R&B/hip-hop to alternative, modern rock and radio-friendly pop, Kevin Max has done it all well and with relative ease. It was just a few months ago that he released BROKEN TEMPLES, a critically acclaimed showcase of his personal faith and love of new wave. But, with his new album, he’s focused his attention exclusively on the music and ably delved into the magic of mid-twentieth century speakeasies and Hollywood in a manner that exudes deep reverence for the character of each song while simultaneously flirting with each track’s creative potential. It’s as if Max found a seam in time to sing his way through leaving, intertwined in his wake, a series of revitalized crooning standards (e.g., “Nature Boy”) and lavishly reimagined modern songs of the night (e.g., “Sunglasses At Night”) that are each ready stand on their own and, now, are all collected for the listener’s convenience and pleasure as STARRY EYES SURPRISE. A solid soundtrack for a quiet evening without the kids.