Interview with Lucas Hoge

Well guys, I’m excited to introduce the third country music artist in my Faith and View More: http://jenwoodphotography.pass.us/lucashoge6Entertainment series, Lucas Hoge!

This guy’s the real deal. After spending roughly 40 minutes with him on the phone I can tell you that there probably isn’t anybody who can get more done in a day and still enjoy some fishing and hunting. He’s highly driven, tightly scheduled, and works hard. But somehow he is also able to recognize his need for breaks in the form of rest and fun.

Enjoy the interview. I sure did.

[Brent] What would you say is the single most challenging part for country music artists to stay strong in their faith?

[Lucas] Well, the business side of things can really screw with your head. Lots of compromise comes at you. So it’s easy to slip into compromising your own goals and boundaries.

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[Brent] When did you first start the Sunday Sessions, and how did that idea develop?

[Lucas] I started recording them for myself at first about two years ago. I grew up singing all these old hymns in church, so I gave them a new twist. God really laid it on my heart to do these and they’ve been receiving a ton of hits online.

[Brent] What would you say is God’s calling on your life?

[Lucas] To somehow use my music for what the Sunday Sessions have become. Something in addition to my current country music platform, to really connect with people on a deep level of faith. And I’m still trying to discover what that actually looks like.

[Brent] What is one of the most helpful pieces of life advice (outside of family) anyone has ever offered to you?

[Lucas] Great question. I mean, a solid one in marriage is to never go to bed angry. You know, resolve your differences before the sun goes down. But also, close friends are always encouraging me to stay authentic, “Be you. Stay grounded and humble.”

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[Brent] What does Lucas Hoge’s personal quiet time look like? How do you best connect with Jesus?

[Lucas] Well, I sure don’t get enough of it. I think that’s probably true for most of us. But for me right before bed works best. It seems like that is the only time where I have total peace and quiet. Other than that, being outdoors in nature centers me. Just being around creation makes it easier for me to pray and hear from God.

[Brent] What advice would you offer to 17 year-old Lucas Hoge?

[Lucas] Easy! Stay focused. Don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s easy to chase the popular thing. That voice needs to stay true. Stay the path, people will listen to the message you have regardless.

[Brent] Do you have any personal boundaries for accountability with so much available to you?

[Lucas] I’ll do meet and greets before and after shows. One thing I never do is invite fans to our tour bus. You simply never know what might happen, or what they might bring with them. I Like to keep it all very public. It’s just a good practice.

Watch for his newest music video in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, be sure to check out two of my personal favorite Lucas Hoge songs.

 

Be sure to connect with Lucas on Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube,

ALSO…check out my recent interviews with Mary Sarah & April Kry.

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April Kry Interview

Today, I had the honor of connecting with country music artist and song writer, April Kry. This is my second interview in a series called ‘Faith and Entertainment.’ Back in May, I sat down with Mary Sarah while visiting Nashville. You can read that interview HERE.

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If you’re not familiar with April Kry, trust me, go check out her music! Here Twitter Bio reads, ‘Tiny girl – Big voice.’ And that’s no joke. I suggest you listen to her covers of Independence Day by Martina McBride and Still The One by Shania Twain. Man, those vocals!

April also produces original music. But first, here’s the interview.

[Brent]:  How do you continue to manage your relationship with Jesus with all the music venues and travel in your schedule?

April Kry 1[April]:  Well, I grew up in church. My Dad was the Assoc. Pastor at our church. This brought certain pressures as a pastor’s kid (PK) that other kids don’t experience. My walk with Jesus has gone through its highs and lows. I think most of us can relate to that at some level. I’ve really had to pause and focus in on God’s purpose for this vocal gift over the past two years after allowing myself to get lost in all the craziness that comes with building a music career. For me, journaling is what keeps me connected and growing with Jesus. I write what I’m feeling to God. I also speak to him throughout the day. Kind of my way of ‘praying without ceasing.’ Simply being out in nature reminds me to thank him. It reminds me of his creation and his endless goodness. 

[Brent]:  What is one of the most helpful pieces of life advice (outside of family) anyone has ever offered to you?

[April]:  Someone on my team once told me, “The person who will work hardest for you is yourself.” And I’ve really found this to be true. People in your personal and professional life will come and go. Some will disappoint and leave you with unfulfilled promises. So, I’ve come to fully rely on nobody other than God and myself.

[Brent]:  If you were to pass on to heaven tomorrow and all but one of your songs ceased to exist, which one would you want to remain for people to hear and why?

[April]:  Oh boy! Wow…I love this question. It’s a toss-up between a couple songs. I think ‘Perfectly Imperfect‘ has really helped a lot of people. I want to try to inspire, challenge, and encourage people. And I have a lot of young female listeners so I try to reach them the best I can.

April Kry 2[Brent]:  What does April Kry’s personal quiet time look like?

[April]:  I think all of us have high seasons and low seasons, right? Journaling is usually my go-to in my high season. Writing my feelings and questions is my form of prayer and connecting with God in a very personal way.

[Brent]:  We all experience constant hills and valleys, and the seasons in between. Regarding your most recent valley, can you describe how you weathered it? Prayer, scripture, wise counsel, music?

[April]:  I really got caught up in social media for a while. We compare ourselves to other artists online. I had to take a break from social media for roughly a week. This helped me get back to the core of why I’m doing this. I also volunteer for a not-for-profit called Musicians On Call, serving those in hospitals who can really use encouragement. This helped me get outside of my own head and reset my world filter. Social media is only a highlight reel of our lives, it’s not reality!

[Brent]:  What would you say is the single most challenging part for young country music artists to stay strong in their faith?

[April]:  That would be the enemy of comparison. Jealousy is not a good look!

[Brent]:  Looking back, if you could give 18 year old April any advice for the years ahead of her, what would it be?

[April]:  Enjoy the ride. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Don’t compromise on who you are. Don’t forget why you are doing this.

[Brent]:   Do you have any personal boundaries for accountability with so much available to you in the industry?

[April]:  It’s difficult to navigate that. Now that I’m married, I put my marriage first even before my music. Jeremy tries to travel with me as much as possible. We have a huge element of trust. The biggest real key is communication. I feel like boundaries will develop over time the longer we are married.

We talked faith and life challenges for about an hour. I found April to be a soft-spirited, compassionate, and insightful young lady. She’s also incredibly authentic. We had not officially ever met before, outside of Instagram. And yet she seemed to not have a problem sharing about her own spiritual journey (the highs and lows) for the readers of this blog.

 

April and her husband, Jeremy, will celebrate their first wedding Anniversary this coming September. If you’re in the habit of prayer, consider praying for them. If you’ve been married for any length of time like me, you know that marriage is not always a walk in the park. And I would imagine working in the music industry can bring challenges of its own as well.

 

BONUS INFO / You heard it first right hear on LeadRight, folks. April Kry will be touring seven cities in Switzerland soon! Continue checking her official website for a full list of locations, dates, and ticket information.

 

April Kry is most active today on Instagram, but you can also connect with her music on Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Be sure to give her a listen.

 

Comment below if you are enjoying this ‘Faith and Entertainment’ series. Next week, I’ll be talking with Lucas Hoge!

 

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How Worry Distracts Us, And What To Do About It

Are you feeling anxious today? If you’re like me, a more accurate question is ‘When am I NOT anxious?’
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I regularly worry about our ability to pay the bills, my health, retirement, etc, etc, etc.
‘Do not be anxious about your life’ (Mt. 6:25)… this is literally talking about not worrying about tomorrow. The clothing, food, shelter, etc. When we worry about tomorrow we display how weak our faith is (v. 30).
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We have a real enemy, and I’m not going to flatter him by even mentioning his name. worry 3One of his most effective attacks on you and I is to misguide our focus. He wants us to worry about tomorrow and all the what-ifs. Because we make ourselves more vulnerable to his attacks when our faith is weak. He knows that our faith will remain strong when we remain highly focused on all the ways God is blessing, providing, protecting, and using us in our current moment…TODAY.
You know what I really love about God’s Word? That for everything it instructs us NOT to do, it provides a healthy alternative TO DO. Check out verse 33.
‘But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’
‘All these things will be added to you’ – God promises to provide all the things that we worry about if we only focus our concerns on today, and specifically Kingdom issues. The things that God is concerned about. Why? Because Kingdom issues are always things that are bigger than us. They take our eyes off of ourselves and onto a larger, more important purpose.
owrry 4The vast majority of our anxiety is rooted in worrying about the things that God promises to provide for us. So what is it that causes us to doubt him, to lose faith? What does this look like for you?

 

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Celebrating 8 Years on this Blog!

This week I’m celebrating 8 years blogging at LeadRight.me!
198 Posts
122 WordPress Followers
35 Email Subscribers
To commemorate this personal accomplishment, I’m sharing 8 of my most popular posts below! Let me know which ones are YOUR favorites. (simply ‘click’ on each picture title)
Keeping the faith in the country music industryMary Sarah
The incredible legacy one person can leave behind when they leave us early
Jutila
Suggestions for those dark seasons of life
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God is active even if you don’t feel Him
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How to keep circumstances from taking our joy awayjoy

Putting healthier focus on all that you are balancing pause

 

A simple approach to personal Soul Care practice

How to genuinely express gratitude to your teamsappreciation

Thanks SO MUCH for stopping by!

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Interview with Mary Sarah on Living Your Faith as a Country Music Artist

Recently, Mary Sarah (widely known from The Voice and KidZBop) graciously agreed to Mary Sarah 6have coffee with me while I was passing through Nashville on family business. If you are a person of faith or if you love country music, you WILL WANT to read this interview.
Now, before she entered the coffee shop I was honestly concerned that I might become a bit star-struck. But when she arrived none of that was an issue. And mostly due to her demeanor. Mary Sarah is a born and raised, down home Southern girl. That popular Southern hospitality shines through loudly in this young lady, greeting me with a hug and a smile.
Starting up our visit was so easy. In fact, after spending just over an hour getting to know her I left feeling like I had just gained a new friend.
The interview answers that follow below come directly from the heart of someone who follows Jesus and has been in the music and performing industry for roughly 12 years…and she’s still just 23 years old!

[Brent]: What would you say is the single most challenging part for young country music artists to stay strong in their faith?

 

[Mary Sarah]: “It’s the ones who don’t give up who make it. There are so many no’s. You simply can’t let people in the industry crush your dreams and stop you from doing what you truly love. It comes back to not finding your identity in what others think…your identity is in the Lord.”Mary Sarah 5

[Brent]: Looking back, if you could give 12 year old Mary Sarah any advice for the years ahead of her, what would it be?  (I think she enjoyed pondering this question)

[Mary Sarah]: “Remember to never forget where your ‘true’ joy comes from. It comes from the Lord.”
[Brent]: How do we practically do that?
[Mary Sarah]: “Pursue the giver of joy. Take the time and sit in silence with God. Don’t fear the silence.”

She told me one of her all-time favorite verses is Psalm 46:10, Be still, and know that I am God.” She emphasized the word ‘know.’ When we know something there isn’t any question about it. When we know that God really is all he says he is we can rest in that hope. 

“Never forget where your ‘true’ joy comes from.” If I’m being honest and not careful, my joy can be found in the number of followers and comments I get online. Or in how happy I can make others around me. And especially around the positions/accomplishments I’ve accumulated in my life. How about you? Mary Sarah’s first answer didn’t include the word ‘true,’ but she quickly added it. She clarified that true joy can only be rooted in Jesus. Joy in anything else is just a counterfeit hope. 

Then she said these word about the giver of joy. “Don’t fear the silence.” This is proof that us older adults (I’m not OLD, just older) can definitely learn spiritual truths from some who are younger. I’m not sure about you, but I do occasionally fear the silence when I’m sitting with God in prayer. Why? Honestly, because I might not really want to hear what loving challenge or new direction he might be calling me into. Fearing the silence, however, leads to avoidance. And avoiding time with him actually hinders our relationship with him. 

 

[Brent]: What is one of the most helpful pieces of life advice (outside of family) anyone has ever offered to you?
[Mary Sarah]: “I’d say that would probably have come from working with Ray Price – At age 16 he shared these encouraging words with me and my parents. ‘Know your audience, tailor your show to them. Give them their own personal show. Also, don’t be too sexy. Know who you are (in person and online) and don’t use your body to advance your career.’ I still reflect on those words today.”
After getting to know Mary Sarah, I can honestly say she is the same person off stage as when she’s performing. The young lady I met with was the same person we all watched on cheered for on The Voice. 
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[Brent]: Do you have any personal boundaries in place for accountability with so much available to you?
[Mary Sarah]: “Alcoholism…it has been passed down through my family. I’ve had to develop a mindset that re-enforces the fact that I really don’t need to do whatever everyone else is doing around me. Also, I never drink heavy at all before a show. I have a job to do and that responsibility to my audience is taken seriously.”
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[Brent]: What does Mary Sarah’s personal quiet time generally look like?
[Mary Sarah]: “Quiet time with Jesus every day is a necessity for me. Waking up and realizing that God loves me and that I have value in that day is something I try to focus on each day before my feet hit the floor. Also, Prayer is a natural lifestyle for me. It reminds me that I’m not alone and keeps me grounded. My most favorite thing is to sit in quiet in the morning, just my Bible, coffee, and Jesus. We  make time because the Lord makes time for us.”
[Brent]: How do you continue to cultivate your relationship with Jesus with all the music venues and travel on your calendar?
[Mary Sarah]: “Well, it’s definitely harder on the road. I look at flying as an excuse to shut myself off from the world. I also actively journal, which has really become a precious conversation with the Lord. Surrounding myself with others for loving accountability is critical for me. But this is on me. I’m responsible to ask for this.”
I want to wrap up this post by highlighting a pivotal moment in Mary Sarah’s life. Just a few months ago she posted on Instagram that she was going off-line for a few days. And she did! She got out of town to a beach somewhere with her Mom for about a week. There was no work, no writing music, no social media engagement. In essence, she took an extended Sabbath rest. She got quite authentic and told me that she felt a nudge in her spirit. A tugging on her heart to get away and reflect on her personal life, career, and walk with Jesus. And this proved to be beneficial. She returned to life as usual with a renewed vision and clarity for the direction her life needed to head. I love that she practices what she said earlier, that we make time for God because he makes time for us.

 

Her beautiful vocals and ability are found to be similar to that of Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. Mary Sarah’s music can be streamed on Spotify, and the best ways to keep up with her online is by following her on Instagram and Twitter. I highly recommend you give her a follow.

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Discovering Every Day Just How UnGodly I Really Am

Godliness. It’s one of those words/traits in the Bible that feels vague, a bit self-righteous, and unattainable. Don’t you think?

Our level of ‘Godliness’ actually consists of our personal knowledge of him. How much of God’s revealed knowledge, truth, and wisdom do we have? How much of this have we experienced? This is what it means to be Godly. How much of all truth of God do we really know?

With that in mind, some might assume that Bible scholars, theologians, and veteran pastors might be some of the most Godly people. This is definitely not the case.

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Godliness is not attained by perfect Biblical behavior or simply memorizing scripture. While those things are good to aim for, it is the actual experienced character of God that makes us Godly.

For example, I can read in the Psalms all day long that God is my protection and my strength. But that stops at head knowledge if I’m only believing what I read about him. To truly know that he protects and strengthens me is to personally experience it.

Now, in 1 Timothy we learn that there is one additional component to be added to Godliness.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain,  for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” 1 Tim. 6:6

So, having an experiential knowledge of God paired with being content with how he has chosen to bless and provide for us is great gain!

How about it? Let’s strive for Godliness and legit contentment today.

 

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Same Blog…New Focus!

Guys, I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now. I started in the early days with a blog I called ‘Brain Gum, spiritual thoughts to chew on.’ I miss that one. Then after some church leadership experiences, Lead Right was born. This blog had a few posts about scripture and faith, but it largely focused on healthy leadership.

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As my blog needs to adequately reflect my personal season of life, it is now transitioning back to a more ‘devotional-type’ of blog.

My wife, Cailey, and I co-pastor a Missional Community in Yakima, WA. This endeavor has been completely new and invigorating for us. It’s an approach to living and spreading the Gospel, while making disciples, that we’ve never experienced before.

I’m keeping all prior posts on this blog. But as a transitional post, here are a few of the more popular leadership writings I’ve shared.

‘Godly’ Doesn’t Always Equate to a Good Leader  //  Why Churches Should Be In The Habit Of Spilling The Beans  //  Leadership Burnout: 4 Signs To Watch For  //  3 Things To Always And Never Do In Leadership  //  6 ‘Easy’ Ways To Begin Leading Your Home Spiritually  //  4 Ways To Embrace Failure  //  The One Commandment Most Church Leaders Break Often  //  4 Food Groups of Leadership  //  Church Health – an Oxymoron?

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And for those of you who are looking forward to future reflections on Scripture and living out our faith, here are a few past posts that readers have liked.

4 Keys to a Successful Devotional Time  //  3 Things to Avoid When God Begins to Speak  //  Why You’re Being Attacked  //  3 Ways To Find Real Joy  //  How To Listen When God Begins To Speak  //  God Is Working On Your Behalf This Very Moment 

Before I let you go, can you do me a favor? Please let me know what > TOPICS < you are most interested in so I can focus on those.

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