Making Progress #1: Why sing, Why rap?

Making Progress #1: Why sing, Why rap?

It was 2010 and my girlfriend had just broken up with me to eventually start going out with another guy a month later(they’re married now).  Plot twist!  I was actually super happy to be free and single in my last year of college.  I began to discover hidden talents in music and hip hop production with my newly found free time.  It was a new season and a new skill that I began to develop slowly.  Very slowly.

Fast forward 4 years later, and I’m standing outside a Starbucks talking to my friends about my dreams and goals like most good millennials do.  I said, “I want to make an EP this year and release it.”  As my passion began to grow I found an insatiable desire to make new and interesting songs.  I began to write incessantly and most of my lyrics came to me in my car on the way to and from work.  Oh yeah, work.  More on that in a future post about how all of my students know I’m a hip hop artist.

As that year went by I began to create my own beats and write my own lyrics in Spanish and English.  Through my mom’s friend I got connected to a reputable and respectable studio producer near East Atlanta.  We met up that January and February and did a free recording session to see if we could work well together.  I showed him some songs that I had on my playlist and some songs that I had created in my home studio a.k.a. my closet and my friend’s garage.  Fast forward to today, and we are still working together as teammates and co-producers to mix and master my first studio EP coming in 2017.  More on that here: Album Update

As the months went by I tried to balance everything.  I stepped out of seminary after two years (pursuing a M.A. in Missions) for a variety of reasons but one of them was the huge burden on my heart to create more music.  I would read textbook assignments for 2-4 hours every Saturday and immediately jump onto my laptop and start making beats on Ableton Live.  I couldn’t resist the call to create and block out the rest of the world in the studio.  I began to ask myself, “What kind of missionary am I?   Am I some world traveling, fundraising, Sunday School teaching, volunteering guy or am I going to make songs that will last far longer and impact much farther than a week long Vacation Bible School in Central America?”  It turns out that I am still both of those people, but I told myself “This season is music season.  The summer of sound, the time in my life to create something beautiful because every song is a sermon that can be played over and over again.”  I realized that churches probably wouldn’t let me preach very often, and I also realized that my songs would preach far better anyways.  That was the deepest “Why?” I could find to keep writing and recording.  The less noble “Why?” honestly involved the coolness factor of getting to spend every moment hanging out with creative artists and gaining popularity in my social circle.  Truth be told it was always nice to make new friends and to express my artistic abilities.  It was always a dopamine/adrenaline rush to get on stage and flow on the mic in front of tons of fans.  Even today I still love getting on stage.  We had the best concert ever back in October for a youth group lock-in.  I finally had a chance to become who I was meant to be in this season of my 20’s.  I became a passionate artist with entrepreneurial aspirations in the music business.

It’s hard for me to explain it all in one post, so this is part 1 of the Making Progress blog post series.  I have a few more posts with more details and funny stories as we go along.  Until then check out my music at the links below, share them and follow me on all social media if you aren’t already to get more updates and personal insights.

My official artist website: http://www.onepilgrimmusic.com

Snapchat: onepilgrim

Instagram: onepilgrim

Facebook: One Pilgrim

Free music at Soundcloud Music: One Pilgrim and Noisetrade: One Pilgrim

Check out my first music video at Pilgrim – El Peregrino (Official Music Video)

Songs:

El Peregrino – Single by Pilgrim
iTunes:
http://apple.co/24voIte
Amazon MP3:
http://amzn.to/1WV4ozL
Google Play:
http://bit.ly/23iWTmh

Mr. Pretender feat. Zackery Robinson & Sofia Hartley – Single by Pilgrim
iTunes:
http://apple.co/25mct1R
Amazon MP3:
http://amzn.to/1X09pY8
Google Play:
http://bit.ly/1sC7NGt

Stream the new singles here:
Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/artist/2X6dTyZTfoyLXKeCqXpePI
Apple Music:
http://apple.co/1ORpCGx

Thank you for reading.  You’re the best!

Your friend,

Pilgrim

 

 

 

 

 

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At Summer’s End II (The Summer of Sound)

At Summer’s End II (The Summer of Sound)
Photo Shoot(Progress)

Time to write again.  Time to think again.  To process this summer like I did a while back.  My how things have changed since I wrote At Summer’s End two years ago.  Let me throw it back a little bit.  I was living alone having just returned from Honduras on a week long mission trip.  I was about to start my second year of teaching high school Spanish which so far has been my best year ever.  I was about to embark on a journey of musical discovery as I balanced studying Greek and Preaching for my master’s degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary alongside of writing songs for my first EP.  Oh yeah, and I was the head coach of a state level varsity swim team.    Needless to say I was consumed with work.  Needless to say I was pushing myself to new levels of work and efficiency. It might help to say that I was very single and extremely aware of it because my social group was small haha!    But maybe I should say I was dying.  I was thriving in the growth that I found in a new place to live with a solid Christian roommate, but I was dying inside because my life was burdened with too many passions and an acute loneliness.  Too many passions.  Ha, that’s me though.  Some people don’t even have one, but I ended up with three or four haha.  Well, that was two years ago.  With that being said let’s bring that to the here and now.

Two years later I completed those courses, but I left seminary with much pain and frustration.  Two years later I have made tons of new friends and have been on enough dates to know what I don’t want.  Two years later I’ve left the swim team behind to pursue music as a passion and ministry.  And that’s what this summer has been about.  I called it the Summer of Sound.  You see every summer since ’08 when I began to follow Jesus has been defined with the letter S in a certain mnemonic alliteration.  Here they are in case you’re intrigued by that.

Summer of __________
08- Salvation
09- Solitude
10-Sojourning
11- Sending
12-Service
13-Soltero
14-Searching
15-Sound

Who knows what the next summer will bring?  This summer tried me and revealed to me a lot of weaknesses I have in dating, in finances, and in my spiritual life.  But also I learned about my strengths in relationships, in motivation to serve the Lord, and in creative pursuits and faith.  I began to feel like I am one pilgrim amongst many in my city.  I began to see my status as an exile on Earth and a citizen of heaven.  The Lord spoke to me a few times this summer.  Not necessarily audibly, but through moments of deep repentance and tears where I cried out, “I don’t trust You.  Help me to trust You.”  Kind of like the man in the book of Mark who says to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  Well that was me this summer.  Preparing for the future.  Reconciling and forgiving myself of the past.  Anyways, this is where I sign off.  I’ll let you know when my big album drops.  I’m excited to see what the next two years have to offer!

Love you guys,
Pilgrim

stEPone

Yo, it’s your friend Pilgrim and we need to talk.  It’s been a while.  Almost a year actually.  You know what I mean though.  That feeling you get in your stomach after you hear that phrase.  It means that this is serious business.  Family talk even.  🙂  But more importantly I just want to express some things with you who are watching, reading, listening, and above all learning from all that I say, post, or do.
I just finished the last song of my personal indie EP called the Step One EP.  It has been a long long journey, but I know that I can look back and praise God for all that I experienced during this time of my life.

Confession of an overly ambitious and passionate person:
I went through some massive changes in my life path, and I saw some friends come and go in the process.  I made a lot of mistakes, and I battled sin which sometimes defeated me before I could flee.  I was also victorious many more days than I was defeated thanks be to God.  I became a pretender around people for a while and then became myself again.  All the while I was just trying to be like Jesus, but I went about it the wrong way at times.  I also wanted to be real because I value authenticity and honesty, but I usually just wanted to be selfish.  I felt like it was a season of tug of war.  I would press in so hard to get to know God and love people, but then I would fade away from it at times simply out of weakness.  It’s something I’m learning to work on now as I mature.  Well, now that I’ve confessed let me take you back just a second and recap.

Recap:
Jan. ‘13 – set out to make my own Christian rap album
Jul. ‘13 – wrote the first song “Song for My Mom” and recorded some demo songs in my friend’s garage (people loved it)
Aug. ‘13 – found a new roommate and tons of encouragement and motivation
Sep. ‘13 – Dec. ‘14 – took a bunch of masters degree courses in seminary while always feeling conflicted between finding time to write songs, study textbooks(Greek), and do my regular 45+hr work week
Jan. ‘15 – picked up some skills with audio engineering so I begin to mix and record my own songs, met and began working with a professional producer(not on this EP though)
Feb. ‘15 – The EP was in full production mode as I released 5 songs up until June
Jun. 7, ‘15 – The last song All of This was released on
soundcloud.com/onepilgrim
reverbnation.com/onepilgrim
theonepilgrim.bandcamp.com
and youtube.com

You see…2 years and 6 months until I really decided to aim at this mission in life.  2.5 years until I said…do this or you will not be happy with yourself.  2.5 years to develop all of the skills necessary to make this happen besides the actual skill of writing lyrics and rapping verses.  But really it was a lifetime.  It took 20 something years for me to find out that I am an artist…and it may take 20 something more to make an impact.  All I know is that the first step was the hardest, and I had to step out on the water with the fear of drowning all around me.  But now I’m trying to keep my eyes on Jesus and float with him on the surface.  May he open our eyes that we may not fall…may he lift us up…to steal a few lines from Jars of Clay.  What a blessing.  Thanks for reading this far.  You make me feel like I am one pilgrim amongst many in my city and all the cities around me.

All my love
-Pilgrim
Follow my progress in music on
Twitter: @one_pilgrim
Facebook:  Pilgrim
Instagram: One Pilgrim

P.S. A new project is already a quarter of the way finished.  Let’s just say I’m making a lot of #progress.

The World Cup, a Rooster, and the Gospel

The world cup, a rooster, and the gospel.

I was sitting in a humble house in Central America. It was more like a shack according to U.S. standards, and I began to think about how to describe it and capture the moment in words.
I was sitting in a plastic chair a.k.a. decent furniture when a faint smell floated through the open door as the pre-rain winds began to blow. It reminded me of every Latin American home I’ve ever visited. It was not strange to hear the rooster crow outside the front door or to see a mangy puppy sleeping on the front porch. It felt like home to me strangely enough. So as the rain began to hit the sheet metal roof I noticed that it wasn’t leaking which was my first concern as I saw the rain clouds coming. But on the other hand as the weather grew worse the T.V. satellite signal blanked out. You see, I had been invited to watch La Copa Mundial at a local neighborhood house. This was a special occasion seeing as after three years of visiting Honduras I had never been invited to enter the modest properties of the local people. Arnold and Javi are two young boys who live in this small wooden house where the bathroom is outside and the street is made of dirt and rocks. They invited me and two of my American friends, Wes and Elijah, so we bought a 3 liter Pepsi, cookies and chips to celebrate our little house party. Their father also named Javier and our bodyguard/friend Juanca sat in with us as well as we watched Germany defeat Argentina in extra time. It was a blessing to simply sit and talk about soccer and nothing at all really in Spanish. It’s the simple things that matter the most you know. That’s why spending time with people helps build a long lasting friendship, and that was what we were doing there. Because you see, Javi and Arnold continue to come to Bible Club every week and continue to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ thanks to the ministry of the missionaries known as Doña Vicky and Don Alan. What a blessing it is to see children interested in learning about God! And hopefully our little visit made an impact that will help continue the long lasting connections which in turn will open up opportunities to spread the Gospel thru word of mouth and example.

Summary:
This summer I spent 4 weeks in La Ceiba, Honduras. That means I had 4 weeks to make a difference in someone else’s life. That also means that I have 48 other weeks to make a difference in my home country.
What I learned this summer was that mission work is hard and secondly that people don’t need handouts. They need friends. They need someone to buy their meal sure, but also they need you to sit with them and talk about Jesus. Are you willing to do that today American Christian? To break out of your solo world to sit and talk to a stranger or a neighbor about Jesus Christ? You think you are socially networked but you are not. You think you are real, but you are mostly digital now and the only real is the sin in your life and the pain of death knocking at your door as you grow older. But you can change that by prayer and petition to God. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind! Oh Holy Spirit come and make our friendships real and make us people persons again. Amen!

Live, Laugh, Obey

Below is an excerpt from a sermon manuscript that I wrote as a final exam grade at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  I hope that it would encourage you and help you to grow deeper in your love for Jesus Christ. – Pilgrim

Good morning!  Let’s open to the letter of Second John, in between First John and Third John and we will begin our reading of the Scriptures in chapter one verses 4-6. “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.  And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.  And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

What is love?  A question we can all answer in our own special way.  A question posed by one of the most popular international songs of the 90’s by the artist Haddaway saying, “What is love?  Baby, don’t hurt me.  Don’t hurt me no more.”  Many of us by the age of 18 have experienced heartbreak in what we felt was love or something like it.  Many of us by the age of 25 have lost a loved one and it grieved us deeply.  Many of us by the age of 40 have married and invested in a loving relationship only to see it collapse under the weight of divorce or disease or a variety of other factors.  And yet there are those of us who do not know what love is at all.  Our hearts are cold and numb to the idea of caring for someone or being cared for by someone else.  And this is a tragic thing.  Is love a feeling or an action some may ask.  As we dig into John’s letter today we will see that the answer is “Yes!”; it is both emotion and action.  We will see that love is knowing God and that knowing God is following his commands in the Scriptures.

In the letter John writes to a Christian woman most likely because of her name in Greek.  Some say that it may be a nickname for a church body, but most likely he is writing to a person who is connected to a church body.  He starts in verse 4 saying that he is joyful to hear about the young ones growing in their faith and walking in the truth.  In our community today we have major access to the truth and many of you here have your children in our kids’ classes learning more and more about the truth.  You even take time out of your day to train and disciple your children.  Wow, what a blessing to have a parent that spends time training and developing their children!  You see John knew God’s command was to walk in the truth, so he welcomes this news with joy.  

As we look at this verse today we too must ask ourselves, “Am I walking in the truth?”  I want to clarify that the truth is Jesus whom we proclaim today.  So really we are asking, “Am I walking with Jesus?”  I want to clarify that the teachings of the Bible are truthful and the more we study it the more our lives are covered in it.  Walking in the truth of the Scripture and walking with Jesus is like stepping in a rain puddle and splashing around.  Except you are excited about it like a kid again!  You choose to step in it and immerse yourself in it because instead of muddying you up it actually cleanses you and refreshes your mind.  It noticeably changes you from head to toe and people around you wonder where it all came from.  The benefit of this is that our lives begin to change and we are filled with joy because the deeper we know Jesus the more we can impact the world around us for him.  You see it enables us to understand and follow God’s commands which in the end fill us with joy and peace and life.    

Looking at verse 5 we see that John introduces the command to love one another, but he emphasizes that it was not new or different from before.  Jesus once said that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and secondly to love your neighbor as yourself.  So how do we do that?  These verses do not carry much weight with us if we do not answer the question, “So what?”.  First we must start with God and see that he loved us first before we could ever love him.  The song “Jesus Loves Me” is so accurate and so theologically profound that every child should grow up learning it no matter how simple it is.  As we go out with this knowledge of God loving us from the very beginning of creation, from the days of the Israelites and the days of Jesus to the days of the early Christians to the days of the medieval Christians to the days of the Protestant Christians to the days of Christians fifty years ago and up to now God has been showing his love towards us by patiently saving us each and everyday from the judgment to come!  So what do we do with that knowledge?  We begin to live our lives centered around serving Christ by serving other people, but let me stress that this does not mean that you let yourself decay because you do not rest and your family decay because of your absence or neglect.  No this means that whenever possible and with sound judgment you step out of your way to sacrifice time, money, talents, etc. to make a difference for the kingdom of God!  

A photo I saw recently by a Christian artist named Andy Mineo had a quote in it that said, “A friend once told me, ‘Here’s how I know humanity is fallen.  The things that shouldn’t surprise us do (sin, failure, people’s mistakes).  And the thing that SHOULD surprise us every time we think about it often doesn’t(God’s love for us in spite of our failures).’”  What I mean by that is that true “agape” love does not come naturally, and our recognition of God’s love is only because we are awakened to see it when we are saved from sin.  When we start to see God and know God we are able to help a stranger in need.  We are able to bring people back to life from their darkest moments.  When they are caught up in adultery or pornography we forgive them and counsel them on how to flee from lust.  When they are verbally abusive to their husbands or wives we are able to counsel them on self-control and anger management.  When we ourselves hold regrets deep in our hearts and cannot seem to forget our mistakes of the past we are able to confess them and be free from them.  We are able to look past people’s mistakes and drop our grudges.  WE ARE ABLE TO FORGIVE WHAT SEEMS UNFORGIVABLE!  God’s love is the motivator then for our obedience.

As we come to the last verse we see that John emphasized that love is obedience and obedience is love.  This seems quizzical, but it makes you think about how we express love towards God.  He’s not here in human form.  You cannot hug him or hold him physically.  You cannot smell him or touch him physically.  But you can speak to him.  You can listen to him.  You can read what he says in the Scriptures.  You can be like Jesus was towards the Father and obey him.  In First John 4:10 it says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  What a statement! It does not contradict the previous statement in verse 6 because what God did was send an obedient Son to love us by following God’s command to go to the cross and die as the atoning sacrifice for our sins!  That was how God said, “I love you!”.

Saying “I love you” is a big step in most relationships.  It is a horrible thing for your words and your actions to be out of sync.  No healthy person says, “I love you” and then abuses the one they love.  A healthy person says, “I love you” and then proceeds to act upon those words as their infinite bond.  They pick you up when you are sick at work.  They stay with you in the hospital.  They hold your hand when you are scared.  They tuck you in at night showing their affection towards you.  They play ball with you and befriend you.  They defend you and brag about you.  Unfortunately sin is what disconnects us from the truth of love.  What can we do to love God more and love people more?  Think on these three simple tasks this week and keep track of them daily for seven days.  See how it makes you feel and how the people around you feel because of it.  Watch how it changes your actions and your thoughts.  Do not just live haphazardly.  Live a life of love on purpose!  These are the three ways to love God and love people more: 1. Study Scriptures. 2. Develop a prayer life with God. 3. Humbly serve others in need around you.  

In the end what is love? It is both an action and a feeling.  It is what God did for us on the cross through his sacrificial act.  It is the emotion we feel when we realize that God’s grace was meant for us!  It is the action we take to better others around us.  It is the emotion we feel when we have a deep sense of appreciation towards others.  “Agape” love is sacrificial love first from God towards us and then from us towards God.  This is a beautiful thing and the way life was meant to be originally.  Lastly, loving God is obeying God.  You must obey God in your response to his love.  It is not an obligatory dreadful thing to love Him.  It is something you must rejoice in even when times are hard and God seems far away.  So this week I want you to try those three things and see how far it will take you.  You won’t regret it.  Let’s pray.

Father, please allow us to experience this love afresh each day.  Let us show up to work and remember that people are hurting.  Let us remember that you experienced hurt for us so that we wouldn’t have to anymore.  Thank you Father God for showing us the way to love like no one else.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What Kind Of Guy Culture Tells Us To Be And Why Ryan Gosling Isn’t That Great

Gospelistic

I’ve narrowed it down to three different types of guys our culture predominantly tells us we should be like.

Image

The Prolonged Adolescent: The Hangover

The prolonged adolescent is depicted very well in the movie, The Hangover. This guy is, according to Mark Driscoll, “A boy that can shave.” He is a man that is trying to prolong taking responsibility as long as possible so that he can remain young and have fun. Historically, there’s always been two stages in a man’s life; childhood and manhood. This had nothing to do with physical shape. It had to do with responsibility. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” In today’s culture there is this middle stage of life between being a child and…

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Confessions of a High School Spanish Teacher

I can relate as a teacher myself…

Misty Gatlin Fitch

This topic has been on my mind for a while lately, but I’ve wondered if my readers would be the least bit interested.  I mean, the majority of you are in your teens and twenties, so why would you want to know what happens in the mind of your teacher?  Then, I heard God reminding me that his perspective is bigger than mine.

I began teaching in 2002 and have taught 8th-12th graders.  People look at me with pity when I tell them I teach teens.  It’s funny because that’s the same way I look at elementary teachers.  I love what I do, and I love the ages I get to work with everyday.

Confession #1

I enjoy being known as the hard teacher.  Yes I said it.  I know I have past students who will read this and know exactly what I’m talking about.  That first day of school when we…

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