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chordsmagazine.com WINTER 2013

Is Hip-Hop ready for

FLAME ? Featured Artists:

Dara Maclean Newsboys JJ1 Heller CHORDS


Shining Light Ministries We produce missions-focused television programs at home and engage in relief work with refugees, widows, and orphaned children in the Western Balkans.

www.SLM-Balkans.org CHORDS 2


From the Editor

Sara Rozalina

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ou can’t be in love and in fear. It’s an oxymoron. If you hold on to your fears, you will lose what you love. If you hold on to love, your fears will perish. It’s kind of funny. Love shows you that your destiny is determined by you. Fear makes you think that it isn’t in your power to change your circumstances. Is it that simple? Sometimes it’s really hard to believe that it actually is. For some reason we complicate our situations and don’t really do much to change them. Now you might be thinking, “But my situation is different,” or “You don’t know what I’ve been through.” My answer to you is: You’re right. Your situation is different and I don’t know what you’ve been through. However, it doesn’t change the fact that you can’t be in love and in fear, all at the same time. I remember in 1 John 4:18 it says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” The Bible said it. There is no room in love for fear. One or the other will drive your life. And it’s all up to you.

If you want to know how to walk in this “perfect love,” read and apply God’s Word because the Word is God (John 1:1) and God is Love (1 John 4:8). One day when I was on the phone with a friend of mine Dara Maclean, she explained it perfectly. She said, “Love does not exist apart from God. Anything separate of God will only be a version of it, not the fullness of it.” I was struck by the simplicity of her words. We can change our lives with the aid of love and the absence of

fear. It says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Love enables you to do what you need to do, so that you can fulfill your desires. While you’re at it, remember to align what you do with Deuteronomy 13:4, “Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone.” This fear refers to reverence and obedience to His Word—in all our actions. In doing this, you will have perfect love. ∆

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Inside Chords

Credits Editor-in-Chief: Sara Rozalina

6 Listen To God 8 JJ Heller wants to let you know you are Loved 14 Get Uncomfortable

Writers: Sara Rozalina David Krstevski Hillary Le Ross Jones Rachel Lamb Jonathan DuHamel Jennifer D’Agostino Elizabeth Bovenzi

16 Is Hip-Hop Ready for Flame?

On The Cover: FLAME

20 Speak Life

Interviews: FLAME JJ Heller Dara Maclean

22 Dara Maclean wants to let you know you are Wanted 26 The Free Fall 28 Newsboys | Restart album review

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Copy & Layout Editors: Sara Rozalina

Photographers: Fervent Records Daystar Network Hillary Le Clear Sight Music David Krstevski JJ Heller J. DuHamel Sparrow Records Advertisements Shining Light Ministries Daystar Jamie Grace Casting Crowns Gabriel Mays


Jamie

Grace

Sophomore album online and in stores. January 2014

ready to fly

pre-order now! 5 CHORDS


Listen To God By Hillary Le

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“The heart and mind can work together beautifully the way

God created it, or it can be destructive.”

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he world will tell us to listen to our hearts, or to follow our hearts when it comes to making a decision. Whether it be choosing to change careers or making a relationship decision, following your heart is always the most trusted way to go. After all, we feel with our hearts and not our minds. We want to make the right decision so we go with what makes us feel content or what sounds promising. The problem with this is that our hearts can be misleading. If we trust in what we feel, we are setting ourselves up for hurt and disappointment. When we allow our minds to guide us, we can make good decisions without getting our emotions involved. Some of you are probably thinking, “What is wrong with you? I trusted my heart, and I made the right decision.” The problem with letting your heart be your ONLY guide is that you could make unhealthy decisions. If a

husband commits adultery, he could argue with himself that it was right because he was following his heart. If he were to follow what was true and right, he would have used his mind rather than doing what he felt was right. The Bible says that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). It also says that, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19). Now, I am not saying it is never good to listen to what God has put on your heart. God will speak to our hearts through the Holy Spirit and give us guidance. Sometimes we cannot even trust what we think or feel in our hearts, but what we know God says is true in some cases. God will not answer us directly if we rationalize whether we should go on a missions trip, invite someone to church, or choose to love someone who has been

hurt. God already tells us to do all that in the Bible. He says to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). He does not say pray about whether or not we should speak about Him and see what He says. We have to trust in God before we ever listen to our minds and our hearts. Without following and seeking God first, we will be lost in confusion and make foolish decisions. In God’s Word it says, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:16). We have to trust God to speak to our hearts and give us wisdom, and not believe in ourselves. The heart and mind can work together beautifully the way God created it, or it can be destructive. It is up to us to have faith in God to guide us, to think wisely, and to trust what He has put on our hearts. ∆

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JJ Heller Loved

you are

wants to let you know

By Elizabeth Bovenzi

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“Some (songwriters) write about the light, and some write about what they see because of the light.” -JJ Heller

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s the curtain draws back, a soft voice breaks the rustling and chatter of the audience just beyond the cusp of the stage. Notes begin to dance in response to the aria’s melodious enchantment. JJ Heller eloquently utters the lyrics: “… and now that you’re listening, I’ll tell you, I’ll love you for you, not for what you have done, or what you’ll become.” In accordance with her most recent album Loved which debuted this year, her earlier well-known single “What Love Really Means,” is a beautiful portrayal of the heart of Christ. As a whole, this is JJ’s mission in her ministry. “A friend once told me that there are two types of Christian songwriters. Some write about the light, and some write about what they see because of the light,” JJ said. “Most of the time, I fall neatly into the second category. My relationship with Jesus CHORDS 10

is in all of my songs, even if they aren’t specifically about Him.” What we see in the world today is a place that is devoid of the knowledge of what love is. An escalated amount of news reports involving lawsuits, robberies, and killings of a most deranged nature has become commonplace in daily media. Betwixt the storms of chaos and self-worship, JJ remains a beacon of truth in her generation. “The truth is the truth and is therefore relevant in any environment. It’s the way it’s communicated that can get a little tricky,” JJ said. It is not a secret that popular Christian music in the last 40 years has been difficult for those outside of the church, and even those within, to get into without feeling the taste of cheese in their mouth after encountering it. However, along with other artists of this decade, JJ and David Heller aim to connect

with every possible soul. “My husband and I do our best to avoid clichés (overused phrases) in Christian culture,” JJ said. “We want our music to be accessible to everyone: even people who have never set foot in a church.” Becoming an accomplished singer and songwriter is not an overnight event. It takes many sunsets and sunrises to reach a level at which you can establish the music business as your career. In JJ’s case, she attributes her support to her husband, gushing, “I love that we can write songs, travel and share the stage together. There’s no way I’d be doing this without him.” They fittingly complement each other’s personality. “He brings logic, organization and editing to the table (areas in which I am severely lacking).” It takes a great coach, to make a great team. And so,


“The truth is the truth and is therefore relevant in any environment. It’s the way it’s communicated that can get a little tricky.” -JJ Heller

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it is the same professionally, in regards to having the right producer to bring out the unique qualities of a musical artist. For Dave and JJ, that individual is Mitch Dane. He helped her find her voca natura, or “natural voice,” in which she sounds the best for her range. “That first record with Mitch is called Only Love Remains, and it was really the birth of my signature style. Mitch is a genius when it comes to pointing new artists in the right direction and honing in on their strong suits,” JJ said. “He made me realize that my voice sounds much better when I sing quietly instead of trying to belt things out.” Oftentimes, during the journey of finding one’s musicality, contentment proves to be challenging in-between career stages. Looking ahead, and then seeing the present amount of improvement needed, tends

to stir disappointment. We tell ourselves that we should already be in this situation, or have this expanse of notoriety, and ultimately lose appreciation for how far God has brought us to get to the current. JJ gives this advice, “Don’t make the mistake of thinking you won’t be happy until you make it to the ‘next level,’ whatever the next level might be. Enjoy where you are and the opportunities God gives you.” So now that you’re listening, I will tell you that love is fulfilled in the very nature of Jesus Christ. Everything He did was an outpouring of His close relationship with the Father. Our Savior is still in the business of redemption. Thus, that is the theme of JJ’s album, Loved. Old to new, shattered to whole, cast out to reconciled, “He’s always finding ways to turn our brokenness, and suffering, into beautiful things.” ∆

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Get Uncomfortable CHORDS 14

By: Jonathan DuHamel


“In order to be moving forward, we must get uncomfortable.”

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n my first year of Bible college I will never forget an experience I had with God while on a solitude retreat. I was lying out on the grass in front of a river, snuggled in a blanket wearing jeans and a hoodie. I was questioning God as I read through Moses’ life. If the same God I serve would meet with Moses in such an intimate, personal way, why could He not do this with me? As I was thinking this through I felt the need to get out of the comfort of the blanket in the cool 10 degree Celsius weather and go into the water. I rolled up my jeans and went as deep as I could. As I stood out in the freezing water I closed my eyes, and never have I experienced the presence of God in such a powerful way. In this moment, God was teaching me something that I wouldn’t understand until I preached my first sermon on Psalm 1. He was teaching me how I could be moving forward in

my relationship with God. The opening line to this passage is critical to understand the true meaning of the passage. It starts with “Blessed is man.” The original Hebrew word used for “blessed,” is used to wish someone success and is derived from the root word meaning to move forward. It is instructions for how we as believers can move forward in our relationship with God. There is then a progression of comfort. The progression of walking, to standing to sitting, is illustrating to us how we become comfortable in our own sin, yet God wants us to be uncomfortable for Him. What does this mean? In football I played for one of the top teams in Ontario at the time. We went undefeated and won our final game 54-6. Our coaches did something key. They never let us be comfortable. They had a high standard of discipline. We were never able to walk, stand or sit and we were al-

ways striving to be better. In order to be moving forward, we must be uncomfortable. In verse two, it states that in order to be the one moving forward, we must “delight in the law of the Lord,” and we must meditate on it day and night. This is stating that we must have spiritual discipline. If I were to run a marathon, even with the perfect genetics, if I did not train I would not be successful. As an athlete I would not be moving forward. Verse three then tells us that when we do this we are like a tree that produces good fruit. Trees produce fruit for others. Christ gave us the call to go into the world and make disciples. When we are sharing Christ’s love (fruit), only then are we moving forward. So what does living uncomfortably look like for you? In order to have success, in order to be moving forward, get uncomfortable. ∆

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Is Hip-Hop ready for

? FLAME By: Ross Jones

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very forest fire begins with one little flame. This flame touches one thing, which then sets fire to another thing, until eventually the entire forest is set ablaze. Such is the life and ministry of Marcus Gray, the Christian rapper known as Flame. Fires do not randomly start without a source: there has to be a cause or foundation from which the fire came. Flame’s career began with his desire to tell stories and comment on his surroundings. In the first grade, he would rap about simple things like school and recess, not knowing that these were small flickers that would eventually grow into a flame of success that includes seven studio albums and multiple Grammy, Stellar and Dove nominations. His creative passion for music was developed through attending a visual and performing arts academy from grade school to high school. “The older you get, the way you process life is different,” said Flame. “The way you view life and subject matter changes.” CHORDS 18

As a fire gets larger, it begins to appear in a variety of colors and hues. Flame has grown both spiritually and musically since he began his career, for multiple reasons. His marriage to Crystal Gray for six years has definitely had an impact on his musicality and spiritual content, as Flame sees his wife as his greatest support system in life. Flame has devoted himself to be a lifelong student of the Bible, and he studies constantly to ensure that he is presenting a precise Gospel through his music, while at the same time adapting to the changing sounds of culture. “The sole intention of my music is to introduce people to God through Christ, not to just put out inspirational music,” Flame said. The greatest fires always carry with it the potential to start other fires, which begins a never-ending cycle of fire starters. Flame seeks to reach people with the Gospel of Christ through his music, which in turn would cause them to reach others, until eventually the Gospel spreads like wildfire. Flame encourages future artists to strive for excellence in what

they do, because people will not listen to them if their art isn’t good. A fire will eventually die out if it isn’t properly fed. Flame has recently released his latest album Royal Flush, which contains a message that every Christian needs to hear. The message behind the title comes from 2 Peter 2:3, which teaches that God has given his children everything they need morally and spiritually to have a holy and successful Christian lifestyle. In a game of poker, a royal flush is the highest hand to be dealt in order to win. No other hand can beat a royal flush. His album serves to proclaim that Christians have already been given the “royal flush” in life, and that non-Christians can be redealt their hand by receiving Jesus into their hearts. Flame’s career is a symbol for discipleship in the body of Christ. His fire started out small, but now it has escalated to an eternal flame, that has created little fires after him. If you haven’t listened to his music before, all it takes is one song and you might find yourself catching fire as well. ∆


“The sole intention of my music is to introduce people to God through Christ, not to just put out inspirational music.” -FLAME

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Speak Life By: David Krstevski

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“The words you speak... will carry over... into your results.”

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ave you ever asked yourself, “Lord when is my blessing coming?” You know a lot of the time we go around walking in self-pity, watching other people live in what we call the “blessing,” reminiscing on the fact that we do not have what they have. Now you may be sitting at home in your living room reading this and asking yourself, what separates them from me, what is different about them, what do they possess within their innate capabilities that I do not? Now before you rack your brain thinking of this secret answer for hours on end, let me spill the beans for you. It is a resounding NOTHING. They are in no way more blessed than you. They are in no measure, by any means, more capable than you are. The blessings of heaven are available for us all. In Deuteronomy 28:3-4 we read just that, “You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestockthe calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.”

But how can we get this blessing? Where can it be found? We all know that God is the provider and that He is the blessing. But how do we bring that into physical manifestation into our lives? I am here to tell you that you already have all the blessings of God within you. You just have to channel it into physical reality, and that has everything to do with the words that we speak. Let’s look to the first verse in the book of Genesis. Here we witness the first thing that God did. “In the beginning God created…” God said “Let there be light,” and there was light. The first thing that our Lord did was create with His words. This immediately reveals to us that our “words” are not meant to be passive. We read in Proverbs 18:21 that our tongues have “the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” I want you to take a look around you. First look at what your life looks like – look at where you are. And then look at the words you are speaking, look at the seeds that you are planting. Those seeds are directly re-

lated to what you are harvesting. If you aren’t happy with your life and feel like you’re not getting anywhere it’s most likely because of your mindset. The biggest motivator and the biggest obstacle in your life is YOU. Use your words for good, not for evil; use them to build, not to destroy. Don’t you think that the person who wakes up in the morning stating, “This is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it,” will have a better day than the person who is negative? Of course, the words you speak in the morning will carry over into your attitude and into your results. There is so much power in your tongue. Why do you think a football team or any collective sports team cheers in the huddle before a game? It is because that cheering, those words that they speak are the words that empowers them. It brings out that ability that they had within themselves, but only through their tongues were able to bring it out into physical manifestation. So speak life today. ∆

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Dara Maclean wants to let you know

you are

Wanted By Jennifer D’Agostino

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“I surrendered this sound to God. I decided to not treat it like a talent, but a gift that I give back to Him.” -Dara Maclean

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ara Maclean knew as a little girl that God had a specific plan for her, and in 2011 the world knew it as well when she released her debut studio album, You Got My Attention. Maclean is back with her latest release, Wanted, which sends the message that no matter who you are, you are wanted. “I believe that regardless of demographic, age, or gender there is this need in our hearts to know that you’re not a face in the crowd,” Dara said. “God has adopted you into His family eternally. God has the pursuit of you, so you’re wanted and worth it.” Wanted has been well received by critics and showcases Maclean’s strong belief that everything you do is done through God. “I surrendered this sound to God. I decided to not treat it like a talent, but a gift that I give back to Him,” Dara explained. “The first production leaned on the pop side of things, but now we are goCHORDS 24

ing to go deeper.” Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas Maclean started singing when she was seven years old and started playing the guitar at 13 years old. But music became an integral part of her life once she started writing songs, finding inspiration through God and contemporary artists like Lauryn Hill. Her parents always encouraged her to find her own way to her path in life. “[My parents] always said God has a specific plan for you and we will hold your hand until you are able to hear from the Lord yourself,” Dara said. “My parents led me to discover what I was created for- music and ministry.” Maclean, newly married to Pastor Donnie Petty, shows her growth as a Christian and human being. She believes that looking to the Gospel is key in order to grow. She blurs the lines between Christian and mainstream music, but her com-

mitment to the Word shines through her contemporary songs. “It seems so natural that I don’t even think about it,” Dara said. “Everyone is in search for truth and love, that is what drives humanity. I just want to speak about love and that God is the only one that can fulfill that need.” In her downtime, Dara works with International Justice Mission, who work to end slavery and abuse of all kinds. She recently helped declare October 1st as International Justice Mission Day in Nashville, Tennessee with a performance at City Hall. Dara is currently touring the United States and finds inspiration through her husband, family and God. “God is the author and definition of life. God is love,” said Maclean. “Love does not exist apart from God. Anything separate of God will only be a version of it, not the fullness of it. I want to get to the source.” ∆


Dara Maclean and Donnie Petty married May 11, 2013.

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o often we find ourselves disappointed in people. It’s as if they couldn’t do “this” good enough and there’s “that,” which is just way out of line. We get so upset and find that the let down can be overwhelming. Why do people constantly seem to let us down? I have found that no matter the “who” or the “what” we deal with, each carries undeniable levels of expectations. Our boyfriend or girlfriend should be a certain way; our pastors another; and our families, well they carry obvious responsibilities. However, we can only blame ourselves for the disappointment we feel, as we are guilty of assigning people certain degrees we expect them to live up to. When they don’t, and most of the time they won’t, the resulting emotion is extremely unsettling. No matter how great someone is, no matter the esteem we hold them to, no matter what they’ve done, or even where they’ve been, puts them above our expectations. The higher you put someone on a pedestal, the harder the fall, not only for you but for the other person. You are essentially setting yourself up for a most certain heartache when you have expectations for people. No one is perfect and as surely as they stand, they too can fall. Sometimes we can be so quick to judge that we forget that just as easily it could have been us. So, if you want to help alleviate the pain, take people off the pedestal you’ve created for them, and replace them with the one person that has never fallen and never will. ∆ CHORDS 26


The Free Fall By Rachel Lamb

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he Christian band from Australia, Newsboys have released their highly anticipated 16th album titled Restart. Having come together in 1985, with this album Newsboys depart slightly from their signature pop-rock sound and mingle it with electronic and dub-step influences. The band members know that it’s these little changes that will expand their reach to the new generation of believers. Like their opening song says, “That’s How You Change The World,” really showcases the new direction of their music. The album opened up successfully at No. 1 on the Billboard Christian Album charts and No. 38 on the Billboard 200. With a different sound, the lyrics are still very much Christcentered, enveloped by the theme of God reshaping our lives. In their song “Restart,” the lyrics say, “I was lost, I was fallin’ apart, But You came along, and You hit the restart.” It talks about a forgiving God and a God of second chances. For over 20 years this band has managed to remain relevant and fresh in an industry that is constantly changing. This album had four seasoned producers, and this resulted in an album filled with electrifying beats rivaling mainstream artists. The album’s lead single, “Live With Abandon,” broke into the Top 20 on Christian radio. Its lyrics inspire the listener to a higher calling than self, “There’s gotta be so much more to life than this,
A higher calling that I missed,
I want my life to count.” There is something here for longtime Newsboys fans and also for those who are looking for something new. The lyrical positivity and new direction of sound ensure the continued success of Newsboys. It’s a worth a listen. 4 out of 5 stars. ∆

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NEWSBOYS

RESTART album

review

By Sara Rozalina

By Sara Rozalina

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pre-order now!

January 2014

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Flame | Winter 2013 | Chords Magazine