PursuitNYC

Check out the new Pursuit NYC podcast // Episode 24. Sam Won and I share on leadership, character and lessons learned along the way.

Pursuit NYC Podcast

My heart is full of gratitude for the many young adults who contributed, donated and participated in the Covenant House Sleep Out in Newark, NJ! The Quest College Ministry and Young Adults Ministry (Quest/YAM) team donated over $8,000.00 to raise awareness and end teen homelessness.

Check out this NJ.com article recapping the event: http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2016/03/cold_night_on_newark_pavement_raises_awareness_of.html

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Check out my new piece in the Daily Record on Valentine’s Day:

http://www.dailyrecord.com/story/opinion/letters/2016/02/10/valentines-day-can-special-everyone/80057386/

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“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou

Artists on the rise have a greater probability of dealing with adversity from those questioning their motives or raising doubts about their message. These artists have a choice: either wallow in the onslaught of attack or rise above it with their message in tack. I’ve witnessed an artist and a man of God rise above it and ready to release to the world a new sound and message. On February 12, 2016, Datin Berrios will release THE ROAR. I talked to Datin about life, ministry and this new album. This is what he had to say:

RF: If you could describe in one sentence where you are in life right now, what would you say and why?

DATIN: Being still. This is the season where I’m about to jump off the plane and the skydiver instructor is the Lord and waiting when he pushes me. I don’t get to choose on when to jump. When the Lord pushes, I trust and let Him lead me. Right now, I’m putting my all in my art. It can be a nervous time, but I also know the Lord is leading me. He has been dealing with me about going full-time in ministry. I know rappers who are struggling financially and cannot do that. It’s easier to rely on a bi-weekly paycheck but I have to trust Him in every area of my life. Since the age of 14, all I’ve known is work — and I ready to work for His glory! 

It can be nerve-racking, but man — I have God’s peace. That peace has not misled me. Right now, it’s a privilege to hear the voice of God. The same voice is telling me TO GO! I have to go! And may it be for God’s glory! 

RF: You have many around the country who are supporting your work and the message. Who would you consider your biggest supporters/backers?

DATIN: My wife (Johely), Lionel (King), my new family in Florida (who have been extremely supportive) and my Christ Church (New Jersey) family. I can always rely on them to support, to build me up and strengthen me during the most difficult times. I’m thankful bro! 

RF: Every life should be about a cause. You haven’t shied away from that. How would you describe your life’s cause? What are willing to sacrifice for and die for?

DATIN: Dude, that’s a good question. Solely to make disciples and to share the same medicine that saved me. Everything else is secondary. Even the secondary things are for God’s glory. When I serve my wife and my daughter – I want to raise and serve for the glory of God. It’s about His glory. I don’t want to do anything that distracts from that. 

RF: Since signing with God Over Money (GOM is Datin’s label), what has changed?

DATIN: GOM has been good to me. Bizzle (rapper) shares his platform with me. After signing with GOM, it has taken things to a whole new level! It’s not simply a label – it’s a family! Me and Bumps, Selah and Bizzle — we are real friends and family. It’s beyond business. It’s personal. They hold me up, keep me accountable and have helped me along this journey. I’m beyond grateful.

RF: Let’s talk about THE ROAR. ROAR stands for Rise of a Revolution What are most excited about the album?

DATIN: Ryan, you can’t ask me that man! 🙂 I can’t wait for people to hear this. When you’re in the studio and recording, you’re feeling good about the lyrics, music and production. But, when it is done, you start questioning “Is this good enough? It’s time to peel the bandaid. I’m ready for this man!  I want people to be blessed by it. I want to make good art that glorifies the Lord.

There are things on this album that are prophetic. Am I saying this because it raps and rhymes? No. It is speaking to what we are dealign with right now. For example, the single Hallelujah All Day – I talked about persecution and I’m seeing the rise of ISIS. I wrote “HAD” a couple of years back. Or when I talk about baphomet symbolism and devil worship. You then see DRAKE putting out cover art with the devil worship symbolism. Now, the baphomet statue is going on tour. I see how God used the music on THE ROAR to prophetically speak to these issues.

DATIN's THE ROAR cover caused many to raise their eyebrows and celebrated by those who feel it represents his music well.

DATIN’s THE ROAR cover caused many to raise their eyebrows and celebrated by those who feel it represents his music well.

RF: I know there has been some controversy swirling around the shock value of the album cover for THE ROAR. Do you care to address it?

DATIN: At first, I wanted to rebuke it but then received a revelation. God inspired a thought. Bizzle didn’t want it thinking it was a bit too much. But, I knew this was speaking to the core of the music. I wanted The Lion, which symbolizes the Body of Christ starring and roaring at the barrel of the gun, symbolizing the face of death. The guy holding the gun, suited guy like an angel symbolizes persecution. In other words, the world is trying to keep us quiet and cause us to embrace lukewarm Christianity and legalism. It’s an anti-Christ spirit. But, we need to ROAR the gospel everywhere we go! 

RF: You’ve heard the criticisms and read the posts about your music, tone and even demeanor appearing demonic or angry? You responded through your music to those criticism. But how does that make you feel when you are trying to rep Christ?

DATIN: Ryan, it’s about the love we share. It bothered me because it’s not who I am. Like on the song HAD ENOUGH, I’m here saying, “you’re not out here. You’re behind a keyboard. We out here representing the Kingdom!” When the put out OFF THE LEASH and we heard the criticisms – my first reaction was laughter. I couldn’t believe it because God had a plan already in the works. We had already planned to send out HAD ENOUGH featuring Bizzle and it was a revenant rebuke! God knows my heart and he provided a prophetic flow. I’ll let the music speak.

RF: What do you think is the state of CHH now?

Here’s what I like: That’s its growing and opening up doors for artists. Artists like JGivens, who I know he has a heart for Jesus, given a great platform.

Here’s what I hate: I hate that it is becoming an idol (too many false motives). CHH (Christian Hip-Hop) is becoming the pastor and church rather than becoming discipled. CHH has their own followers. This is not how it’s supposed to be. We need more discipleship and more accountability. Every rapper should have church covering. I hate that Jesus is being removed from it.

When I say this, most may misunderstand and automatically point to well known artists like Andy Mineo & Lecrae. Here’s the thing – they are doing what they are prompted to do by God. I want to make sure all of our motives are pure. For example, that’s why I like to lay down my track first when collaborating. I don’t want body anybody on a song. PRIDE – It’s the elephant in the room. When I see it, I just say “Stay right there in the corner, pride!” Otherwsie, I will be on my back.

RF: For those who are watching your career and hearing your music and are inspired to do the same, what would say to them?

DATIN: Don’t be stupid – don’t think you can get around God’s truth. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be added (reference: Matthew 6:33) There is nothing I have done but where God has told me to do and go. I didn’t make these deals. God supernaturally orchestrated it! My salvation and my walk is divinely orchestrated! 

Seek God in prayer, read His Word and obey! It ain’t all pretty. But, it is always a privilege to serve the Master.

DATIN is signed to God Over Money (GOM).

DATIN is signed to God Over Money (GOM).

 

 

 

DATIN’s new album, THE ROAR, is available on Friday, February 12th on God Over Money. 

 

In our culture today, we are witnessing the splintering of peoples amongst class, race, ethnicity, geography, education and gender. Here are my thoughts on division and the spirit behind it.
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“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:17-22 (ESV)

The aftermath of recent tragic events in Paris, Colorado Springs, and San Bernardino have solicited the thoughts and prayers of millions of people around the world. When such needless events happen, human reasoning and explanations fall flat in the face of grief and indescribable pain. Thoughts and prayers seem to be the immediate response to senseless tragedy as families heal and communities rebuild. After hearing the breaking news, I’ve offered my thoughts and prayers, taking to social media to join my heart with others that I may never meet but are connected to around a common cause.

But, the thoughts and prayers offered have caused media outlets such as the NY Daily Post to make a declarative statement on their front page: “GOD’S NOT FIXING THIS”. I read the responses of Christians as they railed against the media and how dare they make such a statement. The “godless” media strikes again. However, I read the title quite differently. Rather than an indictment on faith, I found it to be an invitation of faith to rise up — with the ones offering thoughts and prayers.

As I wrestled with the headline and the responses from all corners, I had to ask myself some tough questions:

For those offering thoughts and prayers, have they received answers from God to the problems we face?

If they have, why has there been too many silenced after the “smoke” settles? Where are the solutions beyond political posturing? 

Why are people of faith offended when this should be opportunity to share the joy of being in relationship with God?

It’s during times of pain and confusion that many are asking questions about faith, prayer and God’s involvement. The immediate disdain for opposing views and even demonizing others for their position has prevented meaningful conversation and dialogue. I believe God is fixing matters – if only we would not only be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. The Book of James tells us in the same passage to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. If an opposing view or a challenge to your faith causes you to be incensed, the question is — why so angry? What is causing that response?

I believe the world is calling out those who offer thoughts and prayers. And rightfully so. We are living in a time when cliches and quick memes won’t do. Irregardless of your position on the use of guns in this country (USA), we should be open to having a conversation of how we can prevent guns in the wrong hands. We are all interested in the safety and security of our communities. Before vilifying another person for their views, we could offer an opportunity to discover why they have that opinion. They could possibly be persuaded to see another viewpoint if the atmosphere was not so toxic. We’re choking as a country because the air is poisoned with division. As a result, the voices with vision are being silenced or talked over. This has to change for the sake of this generation and future generations.

I challenge all those who rightfully offer thoughts and prayers after a tragedy. If you are unwilling to listen to someone who doesn’t agree with you, how are you open to hear God in prayer as He offers His wisdom? Let’s be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. Let’s produce righteousness in the midst of contentious issues with the sensitivity and discernment only God can provide. I look forward to when we can collectively take our thoughts and prayers and provide ideas and answered prayers. – REF