November 24, 2008


We are nearing that time of year when everything goes completely schizophrenic around us and we are somehow drawn into certain chaos. Traffic gets crazier, retailers are desperately clinging to the hope that God will perform the miracle of transforming red ink to black. Starbucks is banking on the fact that all things cinnamon and spice will draw you in. Moms are busying themselves with Turkey dinners and stuffing, dads are hanging lights and inflatable snowmen, and kids can't stop telling you what they want for Christmas. Our lives begin moving at such an increased pace that we rarely have time to just sit down and soak it all in. I'm writing this to remind each of us that if there's ever been a time to stop and savor the moment, that time is now.

"Let us come before (or into) His presence with THANKSGIVING; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He IS our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion." - Psalm 95: 2-8

What I mean by "savoring" or "soaking it in" is by literally making the time to come into the very presence of God almighty. That, as His children, we are not only afforded but offered the right to enter into that heavenly presence. So, as you are going about the insanity of the next few days and weeks, take extra time to consider the God you believe in and have trusted your life to. The same God that made the seas, the mountains and all the earth is the God that welcomes you into His presence. Into the deepest of all depths. I'd even go so far as to say that this passage invites you to take a step further. Rather than just sit on the couch (or in your bed) to talk to the God of the universe, get on your knees. "Submit yourselves to God". Kneel before the Lord your Maker and invite His presence to consume you. Pray that you would hear His voice clearly and that He would enable you with His grace to obey. Pray against the natural tendency of a hardened heart. Pray that you would not withhold your heart against God or against anyone in your life that may have wronged you or vice-versa. Now is the time to go to those people that you may have harbored bitterness towards and ask their forgiveness. Come clean and then as you come into God's presence your heart won't be burdened by the weight of your sinfulness. Invite God to do a work in the last 5 weeks of this year that would radically change the outlook of your life as long as you live. Big things are happening in the world around us and the days are getting shorter. Pray that God would reveal His good and perfect will for your life and that you would have the God-given desire to walk it out.

This is where I am at right now. With every day that goes by in 2008 I realize that I'm that much closer to finishing my time with Tooth & Nail. I'm about to be stepping more fully into the promises of God's provision and calling over my life. Potentially hazardous times lay waiting ahead but there's nothing that can replace the joy in my spirit and the increased faith in my heart to do what God has called me to. We can't even step out in faith without first being caught up in the very Presence of God and then being transformed by it. Let's make God's presence our first stop this Holiday season. Nothing else will suffice and as the world seemingly spins out of control around us, we'll be established by the deep root of God's love for us.

November 20, 2008

Hands Dirty

This week I saw a news article on and headline read "Catholic Church calls For Catholics to repent for voting for Obama." I was so blown away by this. Repent for voting? How confused are we as a body of believers that we really feel as though our vote is so important that it has eternal consequence tied to it? Every Presidential election to which I have paid any attention has consisted of candidates who have campaigned on the back of "moral topics." For Example: How many decades will the republicans campaign against abortion and the democrats campaign for it? How many decades will nothing change?

All of this has made me think about whether or not we really think that voting is all we have to do as believers? The church is obviously saying that there are eternal implications tied to our vote and we all become moral activists when it comes to voting. How does this happen? Do we, as the body of Christ, really believe that our vote is the end all, be all, expression of our allegiance to Jesus? My pastor phrased it in a much more convicting way this past Sunday. He said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "an overwhelming amount of Christians will vote for a republican because said candidate opposes Abortion. But how many of those voting Christians would actually do more than just talk, vote, etc and actually do something about it?" It's really easy to vote for the guy that opposes abortion and it's really easy to protest outside of abortion clinics but what if we all gave those girls considering an abortion an option? What if we said "I hate abortion, and I hate that you are in this position, don't kill your baby, I'll adopt it."

You see, I don't think that Christians are really willing to get their hands dirty. I think we all talk a GREAT talk but we definitely don't walk that walk and we DEFINITELY do not take that cross with us. I'm one of them! Shane Claiborne said it best in his book "Irresistible Revolution" when talking about the wealthy in America. He said that most wealthy Christian people don't know how to help the poor. They don't understand poverty. They definitely do not want to get in the trenches and tear down walls and make connections and invest in the poor and destitute and this is why we have The Salvation Army and Goodwill and Soup Kitchens, Shelters, etc. The wealthy can write a check, send some clothes and food and that is ample care. Shane then goes on to say that when we get to heaven, he doesn't imagine Jesus will say, "when I was hungry, you gave food to the pantry to feed me. When I needed clothes, you sent them to the salvation army so they could clothe me. When I need a place to sleep you wrote a check to the local shelter so they could house me."

So how do we live intentionally? I think abortion is murder, but will I adopt a child? I think poverty, homelessness, starvation, etc are all atrocities but will I commit to redistributing wealth, will I live simply, will I open my home to house someone? Will I invest in another life and make sure their most basic needs are met? It's a tough thing picking up my cross. In fact, most days I would like to leave it in the garage. So how do we do it? I want to start doing it. - Mark LaFay (

November 11, 2008

Moving Forward

Hey Everyone,

I've spent over 6 years working with Tooth & Nail and it's been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I've met so many wonderful people that I never would have met otherwise. I've had so many stellar opportunities afforded me. One of the best was without a doubt just the opportunity to serve as an A&R guy. When I sold Takehold Records to T&N I had no idea that I'd end up honing in on A&R. All in all, I believe I've worked with some of the best bands in this business. Over the course of nearly 10 years that list has grown to include over 50 artists and more records than I care to count.

I've always been a firm believer that God's will is PERFECT and He doesn't even have the capacity to mess it up. I, on the other-hand, was in a hole up to my neck when Brandon first showed interest in purchasing the deeply debt-laden Takehold Records. My wife and I had literally been praying that God would bring a miracle. Never would I have guessed that it would come in the shape of a one-liner email that just posed the question "How much would you sell your company for?". Had you been there to see the reaction on my face it would have reminded you of the cartoon character who's eyes just turned to green dollar signs. I was ecstatic. In the end, between three deals struck with T&N, Hopeless and Century Media I was able to pay off my $114K worth of accumulated debt and start anew in Seattle. That was in the spring of 2002. It was snowing when we arrived, but it was a fresh start.

The time has come for me to part ways with Tooth & Nail Records, and at least on a business level, with each of you. It's with a heavy heart that I type this as I'd rather just pick up the phone and express my heart to each one of you individually. Reality is that I'm greatly outnumbered. It's 1 against hundreds. Some of you I've known for well over ten years now. Others I've just begun to discover a relationship with. I consider all of you my friends and a storm of amazing memories flood my mind when I consider the last few years of my life in Seattle. I can think back of snowboarding with the mewithoutYou brothers where Rickie was sacked out for hours with the stomach flu while we enjoyed one of the best days of our lives high in the Cascades. "What if you don't know what the word Traverse means" is what Aaron asked the ski-attendant as we arrived at the Double Black-diamond peak. Her response was "you should not be here!". Little did she know. We came and we conquered, well...sort of. Without a doubt one of my fondest memories was the time that Underoath was going through some personal difficulties and Aaron Gillespie suggested we rent a Pontoon boat and spend the day out on the warm Florida waters. We nearly sunk the boat and the band will never let me live down the fact that I literally dove off the boat as the bow started plunging in the water. I swear it was momentum, dudes!!!
Or I can think of the first time I saw Anberlin play (they were still SAGOH 24-7 at that point). I felt they were so bad that I called Brandon and told him we should not sign them. Thankfully, he ignored me. The phone-calls that I've received over the years of bands deciding it was their own time to call the band quits. Those were never easy conversations. The time that Josh Scogin informed all of Furnace Fest that he was leaving Norma Jean, one would have thought the world had just ended. So many memories. Mostly very fond ones. A few that will remain unmentioned but what a wild ride to be a kid, facing bankruptcy, living in the dirty south, that was given the chance of a life-time. It was a true privilege to work alongside all the wonderful Tooth & Nail staffers and every one of the bands that I've tried to help.

I chose to walk out of T&N's doors, not out of a spirit of bitterness, anger, resentfulness or of a hardened heart, but because I've felt God's call so clearly on my life to move into a full-time Ministry role. I was afforded many amazing opportunities to share and live my faith as an A&R guy but most of my time was operating as a business man. Although God enabled me for the tasks at hand, I don't know that I was ever cut out to be much of a business man. I feel more like a simple peasant that's been blessed by God's favor than a savvy employee that always made the right calls. My heart just doesn't beat for conventional music business anymore. When I really started thinking about all of this, I discovered how passionately alive I was about helping others discover a deeper connection to Jesus. As it stands today, I really do not know what exactly God's will is going to look like for myself or my family's future. I do know that God has asked me to step out in the kind of faith that will either prove me the idiot of all idiots or prove God to be the great provider who is worthy of being trusted at all times (even when the economy is retreating and music business is turbulent, at best). In the Old Testament, the Israelites were not given the promise land without having to first walk into a raging river. It wasn't until the water was knee deep that the Lord pulled the water back for them to pass through. The waters I'm about to walk into might be allowed to reach my neck but I know that God has not, nor ever will, let any of us down when we chose to obey His call. If I were to do it all over again, I would have tried even harder to have reflected Jesus more brightly in everything I did. There were the early years at T&N where I was more focused on my pride and selfish flesh fulfillment then anything that would bring glory to God. It wasn't until 2005 that God really grabbed hold of my heart (or that I allowed Him to). Reading Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life" was the beginning of the end for me. I'm learning to be a better friend, stronger husband, a devoted daddy and a more focused believer of the hope I've found in Jesus. I recognize that all of my life would be worthless had it not been for the obvious extension of grace offered me. The same grace is always extended to each of us. Not because of anything we've done but as the gift from God that surpasses a whole lifetime of presents found under any tree.

This is my act of surrender to follow God's will alone, with a purposeful commitment and an eager expectation of what is to come.

My final day at Tooth & Nail will be January 5th, 2009 and I will do my absolute best to end strong and cover any needs that will arise over the next few weeks. You should also know that T&N is working diligently to find the right replacement for me.

Thanks to everyone of you for allowing me to be a part of your lives, for trusting me with your business, for listening to my silly ideas, for just being friends.

I love you all so much and look forward to how our lives continue to intersect. My prayer is that God grows us all into the depth that pleases him most.


John 15: 16 - You have not chosen me, I have chosen you. And appointed you to bear fruit - fruit that will last. Whatever you ask of the father in my name it will be given to you!

P.S. For the sake of my own nostalgia, here's a list that compiles each of the bands I've been completely blessed to have worked with over the years:

Takehold Records

1. The Backups
2. Withstand FTHC
3. Twothirtyeight
4. Underoath
5. Not Waving But Drowning
6. Few Left Standing
7. Stairwell
8. Hopesfall
9. The Operation
10. Tantrum Of the Muse
11. Sleeping By the Riverside
12. Chalice
13. Fable
14. My Spacecoaster
15. Carry The Dead
16. Narcissus
17. Further Seems Forever
18. Recess Theory
19. Through The Eyes of Katelyn

Tooth & Nail/Solid State Records

1. Anberlin
2. And Then There Were None
3. As Cities Burn
4. Dead Poetic
5. mewithoutYou
6. The Almost
7. Beloved
8. Watashi Wa
9. twothirtyeight
10. Spoken
11. Life In Your Way
12. The Chariot
13. He Is Legend
14. Showbread
15. Mae
16. Corey Crowder
17. Destroy The Runner
18. Haste The Day
19. Inhale Exhale
20. Ivoryline
21. Jonezetta
22. The Death Campaign
24. Oh, Sleeper
25. Further Seems Forever
26. Once Nothing
27. The Classic Crime
28. Sever Your Ties
29. Trenches
30. Discover America
31. Waking Ashland
32. Terminal
33. The Fighting Jacks
34. Sullivan
35. Secret & Whisper
36. The Glorious Unseen
37. The River Bends
38. Underoath

November 10, 2008

Down with the Dream!

(Note: This is a post written by my friend Mark LaFay, who manages several artists and who God has redeemed from wasting time. In case you hadn't heard yesterday was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted church. I'd strongly encourage you to bookmark and read it at least once a week. It's humbling. I believe what Mark has written here is totally prophetic in terms of what we living in western or developed countries experience as "persecution" or "trials". God's been working overtime lately to allow us to see just how empty the American "dream" is. Just take a look at our economy and see where the dream is taking us. God give us the strength to endure such foolishness as is offered to us daily. I renounce a dream that is only available to a select few and not to all of our brothers & sisters through-out the world.)

Hey Guys, so I have not sent one of these in a LONG time. Sorry about that. I am going to try to get back on a regular schedule of doing these again.

So this Sunday at church we heard a lot about missions and our mission partners and our mission trip headed to India and at the heart of it all was a message about the persecuted Church. Persecution for following the way of Jesus. We heard some startling statistics regarding martyrdom, governmental oppression and more. Christians all over the world are still persecuted for their belief and the crazy thing is that the Word says that this is a blessing (Mathew 5:10).

This Sunday really brought forth some personal revelations. Here in the US and Canada we are very sheltered. We don't deal with persecution in the form of bodily harm or imprisonment. We live a part of the world that actually legislates "Christian Morality." In America, you can't be elected president unless you fly the banner of Christianity. We fight for things like keeping "In God We Trust" on our coins and paper notes.

During His time on earth, Jesus preached about the poor and the persecuted and the downcast because all they had nothing else than to trust in His good news. Mathew 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." Jesus' way was and is so opposite to the way of the world that he knew persecution would come to those that took up his yoke. If persecution didn't come, then you probably weren't doing something right!

In modern North America there isn't that type of persecution. So does that mean we should sell everything and go move to the hood or be homeless and seek it out? I think not. I think though we do need to put aside the distractions and really listen for the Holy Spirit to guide. Jesus doesn't call us to be reckless but he does ask us to have a willing heart so that he can use us. I think in our lives, persecution comes in a completely different form. I think it looks like consumerism, capitalism, the American Dream. If we don't buy into it then we will miss out on something. If we don't fight to be the biggest fish then we will be swallowed whole. If we don't have the latest and the greatest in technology and amenities then we aren't good enough.

Persecution in OUR hometowns is complacency because our basic needs are covered by our jobs, insurance, etc. Why cry out for God and I mean REALLY cry out for God every day when we really have no need for Him? In a lot of ways I think we have replaced God with our own ability. I think Jesus is no longer our lifeline, he's our band-aid.

I'll end with this Scripture: 2 Cor 12:9-10

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

And a few questions:

What are the distractions in my life? What things do I never give God credit for? How often do i rely on my own ability rather than trusting in the power of Jesus? Why is it so hard to believe that i am more precious than the flowers in the fields to Jesus and that he will always provide?

Feel free to post a comment or hit up Mark at

November 4, 2008

Old School Journal Entry - November 4th, 1994

"You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house." - Matthew 5:14&15

Here's the 2nd in an on-going series of "Old-School Entries" from my college days. This one was written on Nov. 4th of 1994.

My Lord Jesus,

I give all thanks and praise to you because you alone are worthy of it. I lift Your name on high. You are the king that stands higher than any king (or President), the prince that rules over all other princes! I need your peace, your love and your joy Lord Jesus. I have no reason to live apart from you. Thank you, my God, for having changed my empty and totally unfulfilled life! You have given me a heart that only wants to know you.....I pant as the deer and I tremble like the demons - because you, O God, are alive and you alone are my deep satisfying well. Please use me tonight Jesus (I led a Bible study called "Jesus in the House" on our campus every Tuesday night which is what this prayer is regarding), I have no reason to be working in this world unless it is to bring glory to you.

Wrap your arms around those I love because you love them all the more.

Note: It's quite appropriate, even after 14 years, to be sharing a prayer that claims God's deity above any King, Prince or President. As much as we are told to "vote" for this country's future president, I would challenge us to cast our allegiance wholly on the President of all presidents. The President that will never fail us, never leave us hanging, never forsake us, never do wrong, never make a foolish move. The kind of President that calls every single one of us by our names. A President that knows everything there is to know about each one of our seemingly insignificant lives and then invites us into a life of glorious significance. We are brilliant lights even able to cast down shadows in the dark as we follow a President that doesn't just take office, but has, is and forever will be owning office.

P.S. Illustration by Mike Maihack (