Songwriting Is My Isaac

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Sometimes, God leads me to give up songwriting… and that’s a good thing.

I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, albeit a very imperfect one. But hopefully the general trend of my life is that I’m becoming a better and more faithful servant of the Lord’s. And if that’s true, He gets all the credit, because I’m WAY too selfish and weak to do any of it on my own.

Songwriting is my Isaac. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the story of Abraham and Isaac from the Bible, but Abraham and his wife were very old and childless when God promised them a son. God kept His promise, and Isaac was born. I was a non-musical lyricist in Arkansas when God graciously promised that music would come and the songs would come (that’s a long story in itself). And God kept His promise. Six years later, I got my first cut- “Monday Morning Church,” by Alan Jackson. Miracle.

But my music-as-Isaac analogy goes deeper. At one point, years after Isaac’s birth, God told Abraham to take Isaac up the mountain and sacrifice him to the Lord. Abraham had to take Isaac, the living promise, the son he loved, up the mountain. Thankfully, God provided a ram and spared Isaac.

Music is my kept-promise.

It’s something I love and am passionate about. But there have been a few times when God has led me to take my Isaac up the mountain. Why would God do that?

Well, honestly, music has been an idol in my life at times. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. Songwriting is an amazing gift, a thrilling career, and a reliable friend. But it is NOT God. So every once in a while, God (in His wisdom), has had me lay it down on the alter. Every other time, He’s let me walk back down the mountain with my Isaac. And I’m very thankful for that.

My Isaac is on the altar again.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I may be allowed to walk back down the mountain with it, or I may have to leave professional songwriting up on that mountain for the rest of my life.  God never told me to trust music for my income- He told me to trust HIM. Whatever He chooses to do will be for His glory, and I hope He gives me the grace to praise Him either way.

I hope you’ll take some time to consider the place songwriting and music holds in your heart. Does it hold the place that should belong to God? Or to your family?

God Bless,

Brent

YOU VS…

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Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Brent is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ray Stevens, and more.  He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

32 thoughts on “Songwriting Is My Isaac”

  1. I love the honesty of you blog. Not sure what your site traffic is but I’d imagine it will continue to grow with honesty like this. I personally hope God has you continue on your song writing adventures and also hopes he keeps you on this “guiding walk” of manvsrow.com. It’s amazing the things God allows us to go through to bring us to some place we never even thought of heading.

  2. Brent,

    If we make money writing songs or not is irrelevant.  Very few people in this world make a living doing what they love doing.  Do people stop playing golf because they can’t get on the PGA tour?  Should I take down the hoop in the back yard because I’m not playing for the Lakers?  If I never sell a painting should I throw away my oils and brushes?  

    I think that most of all, God wants us to be happy.  And if playing golf, shooting hoops, writing songs, or painting a bowl full of apples makes you happy then it’s all good.  How we pay the bills is secondary.   Enjoy your life and you will help other people enjoy their lives as well.  I think that would make God happy.

    Ed.

    ________________________________

  3. As a fellow believer let me just say I’ll lift this situation up in prayer. And also tell you how much I’ve learned from you both thru a mentoring session and this blog. Can’t wait to see what God has in store.

    1. Thanks, Steve! Whatever the future holds, I’ve had a great run and whatever’s next is for God’s glory and my maturation as a believer. So it’s all good, whatever happens.

  4. I imagine those times when your Isaac was on the altar were the most faith-affirming ones in your life. Sounds like you’re in good hands.

  5. It’s a timely word, Brent. I had an old guitar shop friend share with me one time, “Keith, don’t ever start taking money for your songs–it takes all the fun out of it.” Now, if I told you that I didn’t want to get cuts and write a hit, there’s a good chance I would lie about other things too :)–but there’s wisdom for me in my old friend’s comment. If you need a real job to pay the bills, get a real job. It actually frees you up to get back to writing because you love to write songs…because you can’t help writing songs out of some deep well inside of you. The song factory approach–5-6 writing appointments a week…hopping on the bus for a day or two to write a hit with the artists so that the artist and publisher get credit where credit may or may not really be due–might be part of the reason why what we hear on the radio and the CMA’s is so d_ _ _ contrived and unoriginal. I don’t care how well it’s produced–production is just lipstick on a pig when the song’s not a great song. Be that Luke 15 lost son who finds himself off in that far-distant land, but who “comes to himself” and realizes it’s time to go home–whatever that deep, joyful, honest place is for Brent.

    You might recall, God didn’t make Abraham kill Isaac. Just needed to have a priority check.

    Keith

  6. What an honest and REAL Post.. which is refreshing after the ACM’s last night.. but I wont go there 🙂 You’re example of Faith in posting this and willingness to sacrifice doing what you really love, only because that’s what you feel you are being called to do is an amazing testimony, in and of itself. Thanks for your testimony. The Lenten (Easter Prep) season depending on your flavor of Christianity, is indeed a good time for resetting priorities and lots of gut check moments as we go into celebrating our savior dying for our sins. You just went up several notches on the respect scale from me. May all followers have the courage to do what they feel they are being called to do after prayers and discernment. If we are indeed hearing His voice, we will never be led into harm. It worked out OK for Abraham, and Isaac. You have a son named Jacob or Esau…?

      1. Too cool! I had a mini “binding of Isaac” moment.. just a couple of hours after replying to this blog post, actually. I went to settle up some property taxes, found out I owed a lot more than I thought, and way more than I had available for the deadline next Monday. I thought of this post and did a little click click zoom personal loan application with my bank for a personal loan.. and got a dreadful, “our system can’t automatically approve this loan, you will hear back from an officer soon”. Well, I didn’t get a warm fuzzy from the “soon” so I grabbed a couple of guitars and an accordion and headed to Guitar Center to sell what I needed to, to make the deadline. They beat me up pretty bad, getting what I paid for 1 guitar in exchange for selling them TWO.. but hey, a house without guitars beats guitars without a house, the way I play life’s poker! I only call it an Abraham moment.. because as I drove off, thanking God to have come up with the needed $$.. I get a call from the Bank, they approved me for WAY more than I need and give me longer than expected to pay back, AND, I don’t have to even go to the bank, just log in, click click, and they load the money in an account. I turn around go back to GC and they tell me they’ll stop payment on the check, the one I handed back to them (they wanted to make sure I didn’t do the take a pic with my phone deposit thing) and once that’s confirmed, they’ll give me back the guitars. I’m in no way comparing a couple of decent guitars to sacrificing a child or giving up a career that is loved, but at the same time.. I am 100% convinced it was a priority check test indeed. There must definitely be a song in this “binding of Isaac” theme! Have an awesome weekend!

        1. Fantastic story brother! God is amazing, and He never ceases to leave me in awe of His care and willingness to provide for His children. Hope you are blessed in some way that equals the blessing I received from reading your post…😉🙏

  7. thank you brent that is the best thing iv heard from any singersongwriter star like yourself im no star but i do no without jesus i would be still alive sence my accident in 1991 that did leave me in a coma they say 5months im no longer walking without my walker but im still into country music dont sing like i do but i still write new songs is there anyway you could help me with my songs maybe find the right country singer for them you can find them on clays country radio.on the net and vote for me allso the winner gonna ce to 6 pm this evening please pass it around THANKS TERRY IN TENNESSEE

  8. “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” You have done exactly that with this blog and He will now do His part and direct your paths. Personally I don’t think it always means He will show us the path…it means we follow Him by faith and He directs us and we end up where we need to be. Like sheep guided by a shepherd – the Shepherd knows where he is going and where he wants you to be, we just trust and follow. Thank you for sharing your Isaac.

  9. Wow !!!…….one of your best posts, if not the best…..and in general one of the best I have ever read. Incredibly insightful, true, and honest……especially the last sentence….Don’t forsake God, or your family/friends for this dream of songwriting….. I have heard my wife say on more than one occasion, that I paid more attention to my music than to her or our children that day. And I knew she was right. Priorities were not in proper place.
    I need to rely on HIM more for direction and purpose.
    A great post that really hit home for me.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your heart so openly. It was so on time for me and hit me where I am wrestling now. We are studying Genesis and just recently looked at Abraham and Isaac. I have recently been wondering if I need to lay songwriting down…I guess the heart of it all is being willing to let go and be okay with whatever God decides. It is really hard but knowing that God has my best at heart helps. I pray that God would provide that ram in the thicket for us both but either way God is good. Thanks again for your honesty!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your heart so openly. It was so on time for me and hit me where I am wrestling now. We are studying Genesis and just recently looked at Abraham and Isaac. I have recently been wondering if I need to lay songwriting down…I guess the heart of it all is being willing to let go and be okay with whatever God decides. It is really hard but knowing that God has my best at heart helps. I pray that God would provide that ram in the thicket for us both but either way God is good. Thanks again for your honesty!

  12. Brent, I wanted to post something great and inspiring but I don’t think I can. A lot of other people have done a great job doing that. But reading your post, reminds me of where I was a few years ago. I don’t think you remember me just by me writing here but if I did say I sold my left nut on ebay you might remember me. Anyways, a few yrs ago I went down to see you and RC Bannon. With RC, I told him I want this to be my last time at the plate, I would like to quit but can’t so if I suck I would like to know. Out of the three songs he listened to he liked one chorus. He said that is a cute little chorus. His other comments on the other songs was lie to them they don’t want the truth, and I don’t know who would ever sing that,(LOL) In the end he said you can write but you are not ready for Nashville…before I left his office I asked once more think I should give this up, he shook my hand and said you can’t. Here we are now, about two yrs later, I am still writing. I am still going over your man vs. row clips I still check my email in the morning to see if you gave me anything to think about all day. I try hard now not just to write for myself but to write commercially for myself to write young to be upbeat to be positive to be picky with your co-writers. I have been writing (or trying to write) since roughly 1977 when Elvis died. Or trying to quit since 1977. I still have that cute little chorus that Bob D. better known as Evaluator #6 also said was very catchy. It’s right up the alley for a co-writer who has a lot of faith. Oh, and by the way I do have some songs on youtube (just trying to get a plug in here)(mark westendorf) if anyone out there would listen and give me feed back I would appreciate it. Brent Good luck, this post didn’t go where I was hoping( and now I’m rambling) I wish I could have been more inspiring for you because you have inspired me……….. to keep writing

  13. Brent, I just missed a song pitch with 3 ring circus Jeffery Steeles publishing company in Nashville. (I have written with him and Danny Myrick.) Do to circumstances beyond my control. I was frustrated and bummed. I too talk with God often and said well I guess you don’t want me to write or maybe I should give up. I left a email to them and started checking my other emails and clicked on your blog about Isaac. It made me feel a whole bunch better to know that I’m not alone when it comes to God and the songs I write. Thanks for the words that helped me feel better about my day. Regards J Morley

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  14. Awesomely stated. Oddly enough, I was feeling some of this very same guilt you were speaking of here just this past week! I was thinking about how much time I put into my music and how much time I don’t give to God. And I was wondering if God would consider my passion for music as “idolic”? Do I put too much faith in my music, when my faith should be in God? Then I wondered if perhaps he is mad at me because of this passion that is not about Him? Disappointed? Jealous? But then I rationed that music IS God’s communication …. and in many places in the bible, it speaks of God’s people being instructed to learn to praise him through song …. so as not to forget his message (i.e., song of Moses). So this music fixation, is a mixed blessing. And yes, you know it when it’s divinely appointed. And no, not everyone hears God. But then, not everyone seeks him. Blessed are you if you do both. Everything is secondary to God the father … even our music. I believe that if you truly wish to follow his teachings, you will color your writings to reflect all that is basically good, and you should not write and/or promote anything that might be an abomination to him. His nature can shine through you. We all know right from wrong. This is why I personally refuse to write about certain offensive subject matters, just as I wouldn’t patronize a movie that I knew was just wrong. I’m not Jesus, but I’d like to try to be more like him.

  15. Mr Baxter,

    It is so refreshing to hear a person in the entertainment industry discuss faith at a real world level. I have heard several do so and am thankful for all of them.

    I am a hopefull, not entirely committed (due to my priority of family) songwriter. I am slowly, frustatingly, learning the craff, working on building connections and look forward to the day of my ‘first cut’. Reading your post today makes me feel like Isaac was born on the altar and I am waiting for him to get off for the first time. I was given a promise many years ago and still feel like I am waiting. But is also makes me realize the treasure I have in my wife and daughters, and the wisdom of God in His timing for release of any blessing in our lives.

    Be Blessed, Leon.

  16. Really loved this post! I found it moving and brimming with honesty. It applies to the whole blog, really. Good luck.

  17. Wow. I just read this, having a moment away from homework. Thank you Brent!! Who can stop the mind of God?? He wants to prosper you~ that is His joy!! Every seed planted from a true blood, bears much fruit:-) Can’t loose:-)

  18. Brent, thank you so much for sharing this. I so identify with music being idol vs. Isaac. There have been seasons where it’s been both. Vulnerably-speaking, I’ve recently come out of a year and a half season of idolatry with music & songwriting. The pursuit and progress can be intoxicating. For a husband and father of 4, that mindset is not where I need to be. So I’m currently writing as He allows AFTER the needs of my family are met. God is faithfully multiplying my time and I’m so much more at peace. Thank you for sharing, Brent. Your insight and wisdom are appreciated greatly.

    1. Thanks, Paul. And thanks to everyone – you guys have been so supportive. And it means a lot that some of you are finding some use and value in these posts. It’s good to know we’re not alone, isn’t it?

  19. Brent my brother, this spoke to me big time! I know I have been feeling like this over the last few weeks, and I have resisted going to the alter. I try to keep it to myself. But God is opening my eyes through this experience. I need to stop chasing, and I need to stop being so worried and remember who is in charge.

  20. Amazing you inspired me to write even more now, knowing our Isaac is on the edge . Faith in God and priority checks I like it. Peace be upon Abraham and his household and to Brent!

  21. Seasons of life… we forget that His purpose is our character development and relationship to Him above everything else. Moses- 40 years tending sheep in the middle of nowhere, AFTER he had been a Prince, and was told he would lead his people. But I guess he needed it…

  22. This is exactly what turned me toward Manvsrow and you Brent! I noted that you spoke of God and I have been completely tuned in ever since. It’s obvious here Brent, that you’re doing God’s work. You’re helping shape souls and turning them to God. This post and the various responses are proof. You’re definitely shaping souls here Brent. Way to go! -Absolutely impressive! I’m going to be keeping up with Brent Baxter, whichever way God directs you. –Thanks so much!

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