American Idol’s Season 11 finalist Colton Dixon’s powerful and iconic voice quickly earned him a loyal and enthusiastic fan following among the shows 20 million viewers that kept him from placing in the bottom three until his last week in the competition. Following a shocking early elimination, Colton hit the road with the other Idol finalists for the American Idol LIVE! Tour, where he performed in front of over 360,000 fans across the country.
Colton’s musical journey has been a long time in the making, beginning with piano lessons at 7 years old. A lifelong fan of Christian music, he remembers his first concert at age 13 performing “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe. That’s when he knew he had found his calling. With a humble spirit, he answered the call. To be a messenger for a purpose greater than himself.
I caught up with Colton at a recent festival to talk about American Idol, the fast rise to fame, and keeping a mind on Christ.
John: Colton you made it to Hollywood and back. You have a record out called A Messenger.
Colton: A Messenger, yeah.
John: And you are the messenger?
Colton: Well, I mean, it comes from John 13:16. It says that “No servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” So I called the record A Messenger just because it’s not … I don’t want it to be about me. You know?
Colton: God chose people to write down His Word, so His message is already out there. So now it’s just up to us to carry it to my generation and generations to come. And it’s so important, so I just wanted people to connect with that and realize that God’s the priority here, you know, not me. So that’s where A Messenger comes from.
John: Mm-hmm. You’re probably sick and tired of answering this question, but what does your sister feel about all of the success that you’ve had since American Idol?
Colton: That’s a great question. Man, my sister, Schyler, is so mature and so cool.
John: Yeah, I’m sure.
Colton: So she’s really proud and really excited for me. It’s funny. We normally have her out with us whenever we drive and have space. You know?
Colton: We were a little crammed in the van this time, but we bring her along, and she loves it.
John: Yeah. I’ve heard she’s been on stage with you guys a few times.
Colton: Yeah, so she loves meeting artists, just like I do. I was just hanging out with Matthew West a little bit ago, and it still blows my mind. You know? It’s crazy. So she’s loving it, and she’s riding coattails and enjoying it just as much as I am (laughs).
John: Good. Great deal.
John: That’s great. Just a little bit about the idea of going to quote-unquote “Hollywood” and living to tell about it. What was that like? I mean, everybody who is within the body of Christ kind of looks towards the entertainment community and goes, “Wow, it would be really tough to be a believer, an outspoken believer, within that type of culture.” What type of pressures did you experience while you were with American Idol, on tour, with any of those guys? I mean, was it something that was hard to deal with, or …?
Colton: Honestly, it’s like … Let’s take religion out of it for a second.
Colton: Or my faith. It’s like with anything. If you think a different way from somebody else or whatever, it’s about being polite and respecting what they do, and in return, hopefully, they’ll respect you back. Now, let’s plug faith back into it. It should be the exact same way. You know? Don’t get me wrong. I came across people … my heart just broke for them knowing that they’re missing out on something bigger, but the thing I had to realize, too, is some of these people will never crack open a Bible. They’re never going to go to church, so I’m the only Bible that they’re ever going to see just by the way I’m living.
So just realizing that and that I really have to watch everything I say, everything I do, not that I’m necessarily doing or saying anything bad, but just being set apart, which is what Jesus called us all to, in our actions and our speech and everything in between. So that just made things difficult, just that you’re under a really fine microscope. Then, when it finally gets out there that you’re a Christian, like the papers have a heyday, and it’s like Tim Tebow. People are waiting to see him fall, and I’m so thankful he hasn’t. You know? He’s really representing us well.
But he was an inspiration for me while I was on Idol. It’s like, man, if he can do it, I can do it. You know? It’s possible. With God, anything is possible, so … Yeah, I think that was the hardest part, just realizing that, not only if I slip up, Hollywood and the press or whatever are going to have a heyday, but that the people looking at me, it’s like I may be the only Bible that they see. So, God let them see you and me. You know? Let’s use this opportunity for that.
John: Yeah. Would you give the same answer, Colton, to somebody who’s in high school or college that just kind of feels pressure to kind of give in to the world? Maybe they feel like they’re all alone in their faith or in their walk towards Christ. How do you speak to that person who’s not in the limelight, per se, but certainly feels kind of all alone? I mean, they’re here in culture, but they’re just having a hard time living out their faith among people that are so contrary to them.
Colton: Yeah, it’s the exact same thing.
John: Is it the same thing?
Colton: You know, there were definitely times where I felt alone or whatever, and not just in my faith, but in general (laughs) while on the TV show. There was little communication to anybody except for the other contestants and …
Colton: And after a while … I mean, they’re all phenomenal people. Don’t get me wrong, but you miss your friends and family from back home after a while, so that’s that. But as far as feeling alone in your faith, something that really was a light-bulb moment for me--and it inspired one of my songs called “Never Gone”—is knowing that God’s with you the whole time, and He’s all that you need. You know? Contrary to belief, God is really all that you need to get through a situation. So I would just encourage whoever it is who feels like they’re alone to open their eyes a little bit more, you know? Focus your mind on God, and He’ll reveal to you that He promises in His Word that He’d never leave us nor forsake us. So He’s been with us the whole time. So that was a light-bulb moment for me on the show, and I’m glad I was able to write that song because of it, to answer that question.
John: Let’s change tracks a little bit. Go back to when you were five, six, eight, 10 years old or whatever. Did you ever dream that this is what you would be doing?
Colton: That young, no.
John: (Laughs). At what point in your life did you say, “Okay, I think God is doing something here in me. I kind of want to pursue this.”?
Colton: Yeah, it’s actually younger than most. I was 13, and I knew without a doubt that this is what I was going to do. I didn’t know that Idol was going to be the door, but…
Colton: I sang in public for the first time when I was 13. I’d been taking piano lessons for several years, and my piano teacher just kind of set up a microphone and said, “I think you need to sing tonight.”
John: We’re doing it.
Colton: Cool. So I sat down, and I was supposed to play “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe that night, and instead I played and sang it, which was a very, very difficult song for a kid going through puberty. But I got through it, and it was just the coolest thing because I really just felt the Holy Spirit just telling me deep down, it was like, “This is it. This is what I made you for.” And I gave up sports for music when I was 15. I finally gave in. It took me a couple years, but I just continued to pursue and pursue and pursue, and I got a lot of people telling me, “Nah, you can’t have that sound,” or, “You’re not going to be able to look that way,” or whatever, telling me no over and over and over again. Then, finally, just God just opened the door to American Idol, and, boom, there it was.
John: The rest is history.
John: Colton, if there is one artist that you would love to go on tour with, either you open for them or they open for you, who would that be?
Colton: Oh, look at this. I would have to say Switchfoot.
Colton: And it would feel totally wrong if they opened up for me.
Colton: I would want to open up for them.
John: You never know.
Colton: That would be too strange.
Colton: I don’t think I would allow it. But I would really enjoy that. I met them for the first time a few months ago, and they were great guys. But as far as the rock side of Christian music, they were really one of the first bands that got me into it, and then I just got heavier and heavier as time passed with Skillet and RED and you name it. But I really just enjoyed “Beautiful Letdown” by them, and it seemed like every single song on that record was an anthem at one point in my life, so I really appreciated that record a lot.
Colton Dixon’s musical journey has been a long time in the making, beginning with piano lessons at 7 years old and culminating in his time as a finalist on season 11 of American Idol. A lifelong fan of Christian music, Colton remembers his first concert at age 13, performing "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe. That’s when he knew he had found his calling.
With a humble spirit, Colton answers the call, to be a messenger for a purpose greater than himself. His debut album, A Messenger, carries that message of hope and God’s unyielding love.
“for King and Country were C-R-A-Z-Y onstage and set the bar high opening up the show,” said KSBJ’s Assistant Programming Director and “The Morning Show” co-host, Pam Kelly. “They really gave it their all and the crowd loved it. And such nice guys! Joel stood out in the plaza for hours, in the Houston heat, to take pictures with everyone who wanted one. These guys are going to be around for a long time!”
“Middle of Your Heart” is for KING & COUNTRY’s third single from their debut album, Crave. On January 10, they made their late night debut performing “The Proof of Your Love,” on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” In 2012, for KING & COUNTRY were named as one of Billboard’s 17 acts to watch and were CCM’s best-selling new artist. New Release Tuesday noted that Crave was “One of the Best Debut Projects in Years!” ET’s “The Insider” said the duo, “make music that speaks directly to your heart” and have been “gaining popularity in the alt-rock genre.” American Songwriter commented that “for KING & COUNTRY may just be Australia’s answer to Coldplay.”
After nearly a decade of success as a band, Hawk Nelson has entered a new era: new lead singer, new label, new mission, new music. But as Jonathan Steingard assures us, you can expect the same up-tempo you’ve always gotten from the band… with a slightly deeper meaning.
Family Christian: Ok Jon, before we get into the really tough “Barbara Walters style” questions, I sent out a message online and a mutual friend of ours responded by asking the question “do you have any pet chickens?” Does that ring a bell?
Jonathan Steingard: The only thing I think that would be referencing is that our manager, Ryan, has six chickens and we did a photo shoot recently where we actually were holding some of the chickens. It was pretty random. (laughs) So no, I don’t have any pet chickens but Ryan does.
FC: Alright. Ok, second question is from Twitter today… “When will Hawk Mart re-open”?
Jonathan: Oh, that’s a good question. So Hawk Mart is how we branded our online store. We’ve been going through a bunch of changes as a band the last year or so, and I think somewhere during that time we took it down. It may go up as a re-branded thing at some point. I think the biggest trick with that is finding someone to run it. Not a very interesting answer, I know… (laughs) so, I don’t know exactly when that will be back up, but hopefully sometime in the new year.
FC: Ok, now on to the ‘fun’ questions. Did you join the band right when they signed with Tooth and Nail Records, or did you join a couple of years after they were running?
Jonathan: I joined just after they signed. They recorded [the first] record with Aaron Sprinkle in Seattle in 2004 and then I joined mid-2004, so I joined right around the time that record was coming out. So I wasn’t on the record, but I toured for it and I was involved with every record after that.
FC: As a band they were doing some stuff before they signed, so they’ve been together about 10 years, which is pretty remarkable.
Jonathan: Yeah! Definitely, and that’s one of the things we’ve talked about recently. We feel pretty blessed to have had that much time. It’s not lost on us that a lot of bands don’t get to be around for that period of time. So that’s kind of special to begin with and then now we feel like we have a new lease on life in this new season…
FC: I was reading something in your bio that Daniel Biro, your bassist said “This time around we’re going through all this emotional and physical change and God breathed some new songs that channeled all those feelings and doubts and emotions into the lyrics.” So Jason Dunn, the former lead singer, is on his own now. Two-part question… Why did he leave? And what changes can we expect from Hawk Nelson?
Jonathan: I’ll try not to give you the super long answer. Basically when you start a band that young (right out of high school), there’s not necessarily a plan in place, ya know? You’re making music, having fun and it’s a great adventure. And all of that stuff is true and good. But as things progressed and we were getting older, I think we started to feel like we were growing apart. It definitely felt like Dan and Justin (who drums for us now, he joined us in 2007), the 3 of us were on the same page and we always found ourselves kind of on a different page than Jay [Jason] a lot of times musically, business-wise, spiritually sometimes, just not always seeing things the same way. But a band is like a marriage and so we were always trying to find as much common ground as we could. I think, about a year and a half ago it kinda became apparent that it just wasn’t going to work anymore. He knew it and we all knew it, but we didn’t know what to do with that, so we’re like, “what does that mean, what do we do with it?” So Jason I think decided to take the initiative – because he really wasn’t very happy – I think he wasn’t really where he wanted to be, and so he took the initiative and told us he was going to move on and do his own solo thing. I think he just wanted something that was his, where he could have the freedom to have it be whatever he wanted it to be.
FC: Was it hard for you guys to accept?
Jonathan: Oh, it was really difficult! I mean, we had been together for almost a decade. On so many levels it was all we knew. So now it was just this big unknown, like well, “what now?” For the most part if you’ve been in a band for a decade and your singer leaves, you’re done. I mean, there can be life for a band beyond that, but it’s very difficult. So we were processing all of that stuff. We had a little time off last Christmas to process this and figure out, “do we still want to be a band, or do we move on to other things?” We really felt like the answer to that question when we prayed about it was that we still really wanted to be a band and the idea of moving forward without some of that tension internally – to all be on the same page – was really exciting. Like what’s possible if we all actually want the same thing? So once we decided to move on as a band, that just meant finding a singer. We were talking to three different guys, and I think any one of those guys would have done a good job and I think it would have been great, but it just didn’t feel like it was ‘it.’
Jonathan: (laughs) Yeah, he would have been a good one.
FC: Kidding, of course.
Jonathan: So yeah, we were just kind of in this weird spot where we really felt like this was what God wanted us to do, and we just didn’t know who it was going to be with. We were so caught up in the notion that we had to bring someone in that it didn’t occur to us that maybe we didn’t, until we were on tour with MercyMe, Tenth Avenue North, Lecrae and a few others on Rock and Worship Road Show this spring.
So Bart Millard [lead singer of MercyMe] had gotten a hold of a record I had done on my own 5 or 6 years ago. I had put out the record mostly because I started producing and I needed something to work on. I had really no aspirations to be a full-time artist on my own, I love being in a band. So he was playing it in his dressing room and he hauled me in there and he’s like “Why are you not the singer?” And I was like, “I just don’t think that’s my role, I’m more of a support role” and he was like “Dude, you don’t need to bring in a singer, you’re the guy.” I argued with him for awhile and eventually he kinda persuaded me to consider it. So I started talking to the guys about it and all the guys were like, “this is brilliant.” It was this idea of starting a band with guys you’re already in a band with. Because we’d already talked about how much unity we felt between the three of us and that idea that we didn’t have to bring another unknown into that was amazing. So we started doing rehearsals as a three piece kinda secretly backstage while on tour still. We’d find little dressing rooms that weren’t being used and we’d set up a little tiny recording rig and just go through songs as a three piece… and it didn’t feel weird! It felt totally natural, which was just bizarre to us. So that’s how we got to this lineup. And then we started writing for this record. I think everything that had been pent up just came out. A bunch of the songs are just really fun pop songs, there are a few rock songs on the record, but there are also a few really aching, heartfelt God-what-are-You-doing type songs. I actually wrote a song with Mike Donehey from Tenth Avenue North called “Through The Fire” that will be on the record. It’s one of those songs that basically says “God I know that You’re there and I know you love me, but I don’t see that right this second, and I want to.”
FC: So you touched on the songwriting process for this new record. How is that different than the previous process with Jason involved?
Jonathan: Well, in the old Hawk, Jay was the main songwriter and so much of the personality of the band came from his personality, sort of goofy and quirky. Those who know him know he sometimes has a hard time being serious and that’s part of his charm. That sort of quirky thing he’s really great at. So a lot times when we sat down to write a record, the rest of us would kind of search for ways to go beyond that, and that was one of the things that was difficult. On this record there was so much going on in our lives. Sometimes I really feel like (for people that write) God uses those times to really do things that are redeeming. So when Jay left the band I moved into the role of the singer and the main songwriter. I’ve written a ton for this record. I actually did a count the other night and I’ve written fifty songs for this record. (laughs) Part of that was [because] for the first 20 or 30 songs we didn’t know what we were! We are rediscovering who we are as a band. Ya know, we’ve always been a really fun band and we still really love that. This record has tons of songs that are just a blast. But we were also sort of going through this really difficult time and God was shifting things in our lives and in our hearts that were heavy. I know that we’re not alone in that feeling. I don’t know why but I feel like the last 3 or 4 years with the recession… there’s been something about 2012. I have so many friends who are just going through massive life changes this year and I don’t know what God’s up to, but I feel like we can all identify with that. Times when the tables just turn in our lives and we go through stuff that we never saw coming. In those moments it’s like, God what are you doing!? But then you look back and go, wow God, You really had a plan and I just didn’t see it. So I think all of those feelings are pretty injected into this record for sure.
FC: So, would you say you guys are growing up?
Jonathan: I think we’ve been in the process of growing up for the last few years and this is a big part of it. I think this is a period of accelerated growth – we’re relearning some things, we’re learning things that we didn’t know before. Justin’s wife just had their first baby in May, the first Hawk Nelson baby, so that’s a new phase of life for us. Justin’s a dad and Dan and I are honorary uncles.
FC: So, would you say that Hawk is still a youth group band?
Jonathan: Definitely. We’ve been playing under the new line-up for about 20 or so shows, we’ve been mostly writing and recording this record, but we’ve been playing a few shows this year. Ya know, we’re still the band youth groups will book when they want to have fun night where they can let loose. Or if we’re playing conferences or festivals. We still are that band. The way I kinda look at it is the DNA of the band is still the same. [But] when the record comes out and people hear it, it definitely sounds different. Ya know, my voice is different than Jay’s and I think that a lot of the substance is a bit more grown up but I still think it’s something our audience will connect with. There are moments that are really fun that you can crank in your car and then there are moments that will hopefully connect in a way that we haven’t before.
FC: So, not only are you going through a lot of transition as a band, you’re also on a new label. How has the transition from Tooth and Nail to Fair Trade Services been for you guys? They’re local to where guys live as opposed to in Seattle where Tooth and Nail are located. Do you find yourselves interacting with them more?
Jonathan: Definitely. It wasn’t a bad parting of ways with Tooth and Nail at all. We had a five record deal and we fulfilled that record on our last album. It was honestly just when Jay decided to leave and we decided to move forward with the sort of newversion of Hawk Nelson, it was just a natural turning point to have a clean slate in a few different areas – and one of those was the label area. We always had a great relationship with Tooth and Nail, but we had sort of been getting to know some of the people at Fair Trade casually over the last little while and we really just love the way they operate. They’re all about people; they’re relational, thoughtful and very purposeful. They’re a small company, independent – just really smart and purposeful about what they do. They really believe in the power of music to influence lives for the better. It just has been a really productive relationship. I would say they are more involved in the process than we’ve experienced with a label before, but because of who they are I really enjoy that involvement honestly. The A&R guy, James, he and I are talking probably every other day or so. We’re just in constant communication about how the record’s progressing. I can’t say enough good things about them honestly.
FC: So besides the new record being available on April 2nd, what else are you guys most excited about this year?
Jonathan: We are just really excited [in general]. It feels kind of bizarre because we’re technically on our 6th album, but it feels like our first in a lot of ways. We kinda have that honeymoon phase thing going on right now. The three of us have always enjoyed hanging out – we’re not one of those bands that don’t like each other. We love hanging out – we’re best friends. We really genuinely are. We’re going to do a tour in the spring. We’re taking Hyland and The Wrecking so we’re excited about that, but honestly, I think we’re just really excited to get this music in people’s hands. We’ve been crafting it for almost a year now. There’s so much going on behind the scenes that we can’t wait to get out there. The record is called Made and that comes from the title track. It’s basically this idea that when something is fashioned intentionally instead of just sort of happening and everything about it is on purpose – it comes back to the way that God made us. If something is created with purpose, the only appropriate response to that is to live with that same amount of purpose. On a personal level that is true, and then also as a band, it’s really what we feel right now. More than ever we are really enjoying having a purpose behind what we do and I think the record will show that. We’re also reaching out to a few people that we haven’t worked with before to maybe do some cool things we haven’t done before. It’s not official yet (I don’t think), but we have been talking with Food for the Hungry about getting involved with them to help build infrastructure in a specific community, probably in Central America. The cool thing is that they work through a child sponsorship model, but that money doesn’t go directly to that child, it goes to the community [they live in], and Food for the Hungry has a 10-year plan to build up infrastructure so that the community is completely self-sustaining by the time they leave. It’s a pretty cool process and the idea that we could partner with them to help one specific community and maybe over the course of a year see the funding go from start to finish is pretty cool.
Also, I told you the story of Bart encouraging me to step up and be the singer, so we asked him to sing on our first single. It’s called “Words” and we’re really excited about it. It was kind of a function of us wanting him to be a part of it because he was such a big part of really encouraging us to move in this direction and he’s been a huge part of our lives this year. It’s really a special thing for us.
FC: That’s great. We’ve heard the track and it’s awesome. So knowing your audience, when you’re up on stage, what are you hoping they see? What’s your goal as a band?
Jonathan: Mmm, that’s a good question. I feel like on any given night it might change in small ways but more than anything, man, I just want people to know that they are loved and that right where they are God has a plan for their lives. That even if it doesn’t look like it right this second, God is always working behind the scenes. And that they could just take a step forward in life joyfully and confidently knowing that God goes before and behind them. That purpose might look a little different each night, some nights the show is just an absolute party and those nights I wonder if maybe God uses those times to just give people a night to let loose and remember that life is full of joy. And other nights… There was a show recently where we did an encore acoustic song and we’re not a band that normally does worship music – we love to partner with other events that have that element in them, but it’s not usually what we do – but on this particular night, for whatever reason, I just felt super prompted that we were supposed to have a moment of worship and so we did that… and it was awesome. It was unplanned and we just sang through a couple of songs and it was a special moment for me, maybe because it was unplanned. We all grew up in youth group and I see a massive amount of value there, it’s such a crucial point in the lives of people that grow up in the church. There’s so much to figure out because not everyone’s church experiences are all that awesome, sometimes they’re scarring, so I love getting to know youth pastors and coming into churches and serving them in a unique way where we’re hopefully able to bring something new to what they do. I really think that youth groups are an area we feel pretty passionate about. We’ve always kinda connected with a younger audience and we haven’t always been good at growing with that audience. We’ve always sort of been that fun band that does that punk rock song or whatever, and while we still are that band, we are keen to really grow with our audience. A lot of songs on this record will connect on that level hopefully.
FC: So what do you guys do to get ready for a show?
Jonathan: (laughs) Well I’ve started warming up vocally which I didn’t used to do because now I’m the singer and I’m terrified of getting sick. When it didn’t used to be a big deal I was the guy that if I had the flu, would just put a bucket on the side of the stage and rock it… but now it matters. (laughs) So I have a few vocal exercises that I do. Justin does some rudimental exercises on a drum pad and Dan mostly just hangs out with people. (laughs) We do have a coffee road case and we told our road manager that it’s the most important road case in the whole lot, so he knows to keep it around so we can make coffee whenever we need to.
FC: Have you turned into a coffee snob?
Jonathan: I’m not a snob necessarily; I still do Starbucks and some of my friends who are coffee snobs feel more like that’s a corporate offense. Mostly it will be right before the show that we’ll connect with the youth pastor of the church we’re at or the promoter who may have brought us in. That’s a lot of times where the more personal connections and meeting people will be, right before the show.
FC: Well Jonathan, thank you so much for talking with us today. We’re just thrilled for you guys and know that good things are ahead. We hope you guys have a great
Dekalb High School Choir from Waterloo, IL performs Hawk Nelson's "The Show"
We thought it would be fun to ask four questions to some of your favorite artists.
Question 4: What has God been teaching you lately?
David Zach (lead singer from Remedy Drive) - The biggest thing that I've been paying attention to lately is the idea of continually being born. I keep on making the mistake that a list of steps or a formula will be the way to renew my soul - but then I keep realizing that the only chance I have to be made new again is through a redemption that's already been set in motion. It's really easy for me to look to ritual or 'doing the right thing' rather then dependence upon the voice of a King that turned on stars in the sky just by speaking. The biggest thing God has been teaching me lately is that salvation is an exciting, dynamic and essential thing. Remembering that I'm blood bought, loved more than anything and a prince of a Kingdom behind the skies makes me want to run after this hope that I can't see - makes me want to let God reshape and repair this heart of mine and renew a right spirit within me.
Jekob Washington (from The Washington Projects) - Patience, & giving up control. I've always been one to hold on tightly to my desire to hear something a certain way, or see a vision develop the way I'd like it to. God has been teaching me that it's not about what I want, it's about what He wants from me.
Jason Gray - To be led by the Holy Spirit in a level I haven’t given myself to before. For instance, my mentor has helped me to see that when I’m headed into a conversation, I may be tempted to speculate about what I might say, or to prepare myself for whatever the other person might say so I’m ready for anything. I make these speculations based on past conversations. So I’m always projecting into the future based on my past, which in essence means I’m only ever talking to myself. But the Holy Spirit only speaks in real-time, and when I abandon all my speculating (which is really a form of damage control and trying to have an edge), his voice emerges. This is why Jesus says in Matt 10:19 - 20 to not worry about what to say when we stand before the authorities, because we will be given the words we need. To be tuned into the spirit this way—in real time—invites the voice of the Spirit into all of my interactions, my ministry from the stage, my songwriting, and every moment.
Andrew Peterson - Not to trust people at church camp who promise you free Snickers bars for every snipe you catch.
Phil Vischer (VeggieTales and What's In the Bible creator) - Just because it isn't easy doesn't mean it isn't valuable. We always look for great results to show us we're in God's will. But God's will is more about obedience than results. VeggieTales was a massive success - a success on a numerical scale I may never see again. But numbers can be a dangerous way to look for God's will. Or, as Albert Einstein once said, "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." It isn't about numbers. It's about obedience.
Jon Micah (from Kutless) - Trust Him completely. When things seem out of control I can always be reminded that HE is in control. There is no challenge too great for God, I must simply put my faith and trust in His strength and not my own.
KJ-52 -Be myself! Be exactly who God has created me to be and never be embarrassed or insecure about it...
Jason Atkins (from Harbinger Media) - Joy is a choice married to faith, supported by hope, and governed by love.
Barry Graul (from MercyMe) - God is always in control. There are however circumstances in life that I want to control, but know that I have to rely and wait on God. He is now teaching me patience.
Laura Story - He's teaching me that I'm not a big deal. I read the first chapter of John this morning, the part where John the baptist tells the pharisees that he not only is NOT the Christ, but he's not even worthy of untying Jesus' smelly sneaker (my translation). As someone who plays a lot of concerts these days, stands on a lot of stages with spotlights and has my name and face on posters, its easy to lose sight of the fact that I am not the main attraction here. I know its the simplest of prayers but one I must return to daily: "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30).
Tobymac - To continue to trust in God and the promises He has for me.
Danny Riley (from Gold City) - I am learning that I should look at the trials in my life as opportunities to watch God work, knowing that He is making me the man He wants me to be. I'm learning to trust Him. I was involved in an accident one time, Bus vs. Ford Ranger. The 2 girls in the truck were drunk. The bus had little damage, but the truck... Wow. I was amazed that the girls were alive. They were both ejected from the vehicle and walked away practically injury free. Why? Because they were so drunk their reaction time was yesterday. When the accident occurred, they didn't resist it, they just went with it. When trials come, we shouldn't resist, we need to yield. God is our strength. He will fight our battles on one condition... Get out of the way and allow Him to take control.
We thought it would be fun to ask four questions to some of your favorite artists.
Questions 3: Have you ever gone cow-tipping or snipe-hunting? If not, would you be willing to go with some of the Family Christian folks?
David Zach (lead singer from Remedy Drive) - Neither. I would love to go cow-tipping or snipe-hunting with the Family Christian folks.
Jekob Washington (from The Washington Projects) - Wow. I've only eaten cows, I've never tipped them, & I'm not even sure I know what snipe-hunting is. But in both cases the answer is "Yes" I'd love to go with the Family Christian folk.
Jason Gray - I did go snipe hunting once as a kid with my uncle and cousins. However, I’d be happy to go again with the Family Christian folks :-) Not cow tipping, though. That’s just mean.
Andrew Peterson - This question is perpetuating a lie and I refuse to answer it. Both cow-tipping and snipe-hunting are fake. No matter how hard you try, you can't push a cow over, and if you walk in the woods for seven hours looking for snipes you'll probably get seven ticks and a spider bite, then your friends at church camp will ridicule you for the rest of the week. Or so I've heard.
Phil Vischer (VeggieTales and What's In the Bible creator) - No, neither of those. I once, however, led a late night bear hunt with Mike Nawrocki on the campus of our Bible college. Since all bears like puppets, we put a puppet inside a bag and dragged him around as bait as we traipsed through the woods. Sure enough, a large, furry creature rushed out of a marsh toward us with something in it's mouth. We figured it was a bear carrying a fish. Turns out it was someone's dog, carrying a stick. We named the dog "bear," declared his stick a "fish stick," and he joined us for the rest of the bear hunt. 25 years later I still have that puppet, and his last name is still "Bearbait."
Jon Micah (from Kutless) - I've done my fair share of Snipe hunting. I actually used to be a Snipe hunting guide!
KJ-52 -Yes... At our FCA retreat my senior year of high school we took a bunch of the cheerleaders snipe hunting in the swamp... lets just say they didnt ever catch one but they did scream loudly when we busted out the swamp and scared them..
Jason Atkins (from Harbinger Media) - Not yet. We have cows all around us at the farm and talk about it regularly. It would be fun and an honor to hunt snipes with the folks from Family Christian.
Barry Graul (from MercyMe) - Have tried the cow tipping, almost got stampeded. What is a snipe? I wanna see one.
I could be coaxed to ride in a safari jeep with night vision glasses and watch the Family Christian folks cow tip and snipe hunt, for, say, some double stuff Oreos? Oh, and I will be wearing running shoes in case I have to exit quickly, not looking back. You understand.
Laura Story -I have never gone cow tipping but I'm always up for an adventure. :)
Tobymac - Yes, I have been both cow tipping and snipe hunting. The cow tipping was unsuccessful because we couldn't find any cows. The snipe hunting trip was crazy. I was totally bamboozled by the whole process. Convinced that we would find a snipe. Of course, I came up empty handed.
Danny Riley (from Gold City) - I have, unfortunately, been snipe-hunting. I won't be falling for that one again. I would love to go cow-tipping though... Call me
We thought it would be fun to ask four questions to some of your favorite artists.
Favorite Place to Eat
Questions 2: What is the best restaurant you have ever been to?
David Zach (lead singer from Remedy Drive) - Emilio's in downtown Chicago. It's a Spanish tappas place. The dishes are very small - almost like a whole meal of appetizers (tappas) but it's great for a date because you can try each thing together and then wait for the next one to come out. The caramelized fried bananas are the best at the end. Plantains actually.
Jekob Washington (from The Washington Projects) - Fleming's Steak House in San Diego.
Jason Gray - I have to name two, both in the Twin Cities: Chino Latino—a fun and trendy urban hotspot that blends foods from the hot zones: Indian, Mexican, Asian. I also love Punch Pizza—one of only a handful of officially certified Napoli pizza joints in North America. With super fresh ingredients, a wood burning oven that bakes your pizza in 90 seconds, a fun atmosphere, they make a distinctive pizza that pleases my kids as well as my foodie friends I take there.
Andrew Peterson - That one that served chocolate chip cookies.
Phil Vischer (VeggieTales and What's In the Bible creator) - I recently had the opportunity to take my 15 year-old daughter to Club 33, the private dinner club inside Disneyland. While it isn't necessarily the best restaurant I've ever eaten at, it is really, really good and the experience is very unique since you have to walk through Disneyland to New Orleans Square, find an unmarked door, ring a buzzer for admittance, then ride a small glass elevator up to the restaurant on the second floor. Way cool!
Jon Micah (from Kutless) - Without a doubt, Fogo de Chao.
KJ-52 -I can't name the "Best" but the Columbia restaurant in Ybor City (TAMPA) is one of my favorites because my dad did all the tile work on the outside of the building and it's very historic restaurant (over 100 years old) and reminds me of growing up in Ybor City.
Jason Atkins (from Harbinger Media) - Le 58 Tour Eiffel. (The food is likely not the best ever but not far from it. Regardless, how many times can you eat from an observation deck in the Parisian landmark - Eiffel Tower? Second Choice - Scalinatella in New York's Upper East Side - best food ever in my mouth.
Barry Graul (from MercyMe) - I don't remember the name but there's an Italian place in NYC that serves a white sauce pasta dish and I'm pretty sure the noodles have been bathed in butter. So yummy!
Laura Story - Easy. its a place in Banff, Canada called Nourish. we went there for our 5 year anniversary and ate there about 3 times in 5 days.
Tobymac - The Red Pony in Franklin TN. If you have never been, you will never understand. Amazing food.
Danny Riley (from Gold City) - I've been to a lot of great places, but oddly enough, the best is a restaurant called "Classic On Noble" in Anniston, AL. They have a fried green tomato salad (that was not a typo) that is incredible. Their shrimp and grits are life altering.
We thought it would be fun to ask four questions to some of your favorite artists.
The Best Cookie
Question 1: What is your favorite kind of cookie and what do you like about it?
David Zach (lead singer from Remedy Drive) - I like the oatmeal raisin cookie. It's a desert but I get the sense that I'm still getting something positive for my body with the iron from the raisins and whatever makes oatmeal healthy.
Jekob Washington (from The Washington Projects) - Chips ahoy (Regular). The prefect milk dipping cookie.
Jason Gray - I’ve always been a big fan of the classic chocolate chip cookie, but these days I’m more inclined to enjoy a delicious shortbread cookie, especially if it’s thick and crumbly. It’s perfect for dipping in my coffee.
Andrew Peterson - Chocolate chip. What do I like about it? Well, the taste, I guess.
Phil Vischer (VeggieTales and What's In the Bible creator) - I love a good sugar cookie. And the very BEST sugar cookie can be found at my favorite sandwich restaurant, Potbelly. Yum!
Jon Micah (from Kutless) - I have to eat gluten free which makes cookies difficult. There is a shop in Lake Oswego, OR called Crave that makes the most amazing gluten free deserts I've ever had. They were featured on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars and won in their competition against regular cupcakes with their gluten free cupcake. Any cookie from their shop is a pretty solid choice.
KJ-52 - The kind that my wife makes... Before we stared dating she used to do all the baking at this Bible study we used to go to... She won me over with her baking ha ha... It just reminds me how much I love her.
Jason Atkins (from Harbinger Media) - My bride Shannon's version of a Neiman Marcus cookie (Oatmeal Chocolate Chip with both white and milk chocolate chunks). First, I like that it is a Christmas tradition. Second, seriously they are Heaven's gift to the taste bud (textures - crunch, creamy, chewy; taste with salty sweetness from the chopped nuts mixed with chocolate) I sometimes wonder if Jesus whipped up a batch when nobody was looking.
Barry Graul (from MercyMe) - Double stuff Oreos
Laura Story - Those big monster cookies with oatmeal and M&M's and all kinds of goodness.
Tobymac - Peanut Butter cookies with the Hershey's Kiss on the top. The bomb.
Danny Riley (from Gold City) - Chocolate Chip... That is the classic cookie, you just can't beat it. And, I LOVE chocolate.