Tenth Avenue North Talks Struggle

From financial burdens to health issues, we often want to avoid difficult times. Even when we are going through a trial, it can be hard for us to share the burden with others. But healing and redemption can be found through sharing our struggles. The band, Tenth Avenue North, has become known for their thought-provoking lyrics that let people know that they are free to struggle in Christ. In 2009, they were awarded the Dove Award New Artist of the Year and have won several awards for their songs throughout the years. Risen interviewed the band in 2012 and talked to them about how they worship God even when they are going through a difficult time and how they maintain their intimacy with God.

Mike Donehey shares how people can worship God in spite of their circumstances or through their circumstances.

“The biggest thing I see is the question of identity…you cut, you are bulimic, you got pregnant, you didn’t make the soccer team, you are a straight ‘A’ student, or you didn’t get the scholarship…we are all fighting to build our identity into something. One of the most powerful things is being able to say, ‘You’ve done all those things good or bad, but they don’t define you.’ It’s a lie to say that the choices you make, make you who you are. It’s true that the choices you make have consequences, but the Gospel is the glorious message that in spite of all those choices, in spite of mistakes, you are a child of God, who happens to do those things. A girl came up to our table the other day. She was on the verge of tears. She was probably about 20 years old. She said, ‘I just want to thank you for writing music that gives me permission…’ she got choked up and started crying. She didn’t say anything after that. I said, ‘To struggle?’ She nodded yes. I think that has been a powerful thing for me in my own life, and for other people, to say it’s okay to struggle with these things. It is not about how much faith you have, it is about whom your faith is in. It is not about a competition over who is the best Christian, it’s about a celebration of what’s been done for us. That’s going to be the whole message of our next album, the struggle through this life, the battle of heaven, the hope of redemption. We’re not home yet, but that’s okay.”

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:12

Jeff Owens opens up about how they balance their personal intimacy with Christ alongside ministry for his glory.

“I was talking to a friend the other day and he said the darkest times he had when he was touring with Christian music. He had mistaken his main objective of pursuing God passionately with the accolades he received while touring. He shared, ‘We could be playing onstage and people could be saying, ‘You guys are doing great things for the Lord,’ and we could mistake that for our journey with Christ rather than an intimate, personal pursuit. We could go through this day after day and have people tell us that we are doing a good job. We may even legitimately think we are doing a good job, but inside we are not pursuing Christ on our own everyday.’ So for me I think about my friend’s experience a lot. In my personal relationship with God, I don’t want to mistake what we are doing for my personal involvement.”

Risen Reflections

Share your struggle. God doesn’t want us to go through our trial or hard time alone. Share your struggle with a friend, small group or pastor. Ask them if they would be willing to pray with you. They might have ideas for resources to help you overcome what you are going through. Through sharing, you might find others who are going through or who have gone through something similar and you can hold each other accountable and encourage one another.

Take time to worship. Worshipping God isn’t just for Sundays during church. God wants us to worship Him throughout our day and whatever we are going through. If you are experiencing a tough season or trial, pray and ask God for strength to worship. Share what you are going through with a close friend or pastor. Whether it is putting some worship music on in the car while we drive to work, listening to our favorite songs while we study or clean, we can incorporate worship into all aspects of our life.

Don’t confuse ministry with intimacy. God wants us to put our relationship with him as our first priority. Whether you serve in full-time ministry or just volunteer occasionally at church, we shouldn’t confuse serving with spending time with God. Before you serve, take a step back and pray, read a devotional or Bible study and reflect on what you learned. Ask a pastor or ministry leader for practical ways that they practice this in their own lives.


To read our entire interview with Tenth Avenue North, click here.

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