In 2012, after a time of preparation that included heart wrenching soul searching and administrational research and ground work, a group of us joined together to unleash Weapons of Our Warfare Records also known as WOOWR (pronounced WAR). WOOWR was birthed out of a desire to re-enter the industry that had been a effective tool against the Kingdom of God in my life and the lives of those I knew in my city. It was not an entirely new record label. I had been operating under a label I called Nod Ya Head Entertainment. NYH began around 2001-2002. It also started with a group of friends and supporters. The goal was to get as many of us out of a life of activity that was destructive. We wanted to change rap music to mirror the lives we lived trying to sort through the images and personas we were captivated and led by by merging what life was really like for us. I was a part of a group called Po’ Folks and we weren’t after the ritzy life of music videos. We wanted something different.
After much prayer and fasting, I decided to change the name of the company and start fresh. I was convinced of the deceptive façade that was purposely being presented to kids like me who were lost in the world. I was sad. Actually, I was extremely sad. I was also confused. Up was down, down was up, and everything in between was blurred. I had come to the end of myself in the process and had no strength of my own. I never really had strength, I had just run out of means to turn to in order to “clean up” and “put myself on the right path”. I desired change. I wanted to know peace, but nothing seemed to bring it. So, WOOWR was established to stand against the lies of sin and its promises. I was as much against the people who acted as puppet masters behind the scenes as I was against the lies they purchased or paid people to present. I bit the bait of Satan and wanted to see God’s gospel message rise to as high a position in the battle for minds (and ultimately hearts and souls) by bringing an alternative to the big stage.
We dreamed of operating in excellence. We wanted to take beats you might hear on the radio and finesse them with as high a quality of skills as the secular market. We wanted to have the most entertaining live shows so I hired dancers, incorporated skits and props, and we networked with anyone that would listen. At the heart of our process was the incorporation of prayer, fasting, and Bible study as a family. That was our up and in reach.
We went wherever we could get to people like me. That was our outreach. I sought people I felt I could relate to in hopes they might feel my urge as my life, broken and messy as it was, resonated with those we reached out to. But also at the core was the belief that there is a real war for souls going on here. Satan and His army desire to kill us, not only that, they desire to do it before people hear the gospel and believe. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 were our guiding verses, not because we most hoped to be defined by a personal war. Instead, our hope was in the power of the gospel and the God who equipped us with it. But we wanted to be reminded and to warn others of the war. We don’t fight like the world does. We left that lifestyle. We fight God’s way, but with just as much tenacity and sweat as when we fought in the world with the world’s tools.
Prayer, Love, Gospel Proclamation, Fasting, and Hearts rooted in Christ’s righteousness were our tools. We desired to stand boldly on the Word and to proclaim the authority of Christ over all creation. We wanted to see captives set free, truly free, by the gospel. What began as an attempt to write a song about the armor of God (in which I failed miserably) turned into a way of life. Let me share the verses and a quote from a commentary I was given around that time with you:
3 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary shares this about the passage (2 CORINTHIANS 10:1-6)
There was no place in which the apostle Paul met with more opposition from false apostles than at Corinth; he had many enemies there. Let not any of the ministers of Christ think it strange if they meet with perils, not only from enemies, but from false brethren; for blessed Paul himself did so. Though he was so blameless and inoffensive in all his carriage, so condescending and useful to all, yet there were those who bore him ill-will, who envied him, and did all they could to undermine him, and lesson his interest and reputation. Therefore he vindicates himself from their imputation, and arms the Corinthians against their insinuations. In this chapter the apostle, in a mild and humble manner, asserts the power of his preaching, and to punish offenders (2 Corinthians 10:1-6). He then proceeds to reason the case with the Corinthians, asserting his relation to Christ, and his authority as an apostle of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:7-11), and refuses to justify himself, or to act by such rules as the false teachers did, but according to the better rules he had fixed for himself (2 Corinthians 10:12 to the end).
Here we may observe,
I. The mild and humble manner in which the blessed apostle addresses the Corinthians, and how desirous he is that no occasion may be given him to use severity. 1. He addresses them in a very mild and humble manner: I Paul myself beseech you, 2 Corinthians 10:1. We find, in the introduction to this epistle, he joined Timothy with himself; but now he speaks only for himself, against whom the false apostles had particularly levelled their reproaches; yet in the midst of the greatest provocations he shows humility and mildness, from the consideration of the meekness and gentleness of Christ, and desires this great example may have the same influence on the Corinthians. Note, When we find ourselves tempted or inclined to be rough and severe towards any body, we should think of the meekness and gentleness of Christ, that appeared in him in the days of his flesh, in the design of his undertaking, and in all the acts of his grace towards poor souls. How humbly also does this great apostle speak of himself, as one in presence base among them! So his enemies spoke of him with contempt, and he seems to acknowledge it; while others thought meanly, and spoke scornfully of him, he had low thoughts of himself, and spoke humbly of himself. Note, We should be sensible of our own infirmities, and think humbly of ourselves, even when men reproach us for them.
2. He is desirous that no occasion may be given to use severity, 2 Corinthians 10:2. He beseeches them to give no occasion for him to be bold, or to exercise his authority against them in general, as he had resolved to do against some who unjustly charged him as walking according to the flesh, that is, regulating his conduct, even in his ministerial actions, according to carnal policy or with worldly views. This was what the apostle had renounced, and this is contrary to the spirit and design of the gospel, and was far from being the aim and design of the apostle. Hereupon,
II. He asserts the power of his preaching and his power to punish offenders.
1. The power of his preaching, 2 Corinthians 10:3, 2 Corinthians 10:5. Here observe, (1.) The work of the ministry is a warfare, not after the flesh indeed, for it is a spiritual warfare, with spiritual enemies and for spiritual purposes. And though ministers walk in the flesh, or live in the body, and in the common affairs of life act as other men, yet in their work and warfare they must not go by the maxims of the flesh, nor should they design to please the flesh: this must be crucified with its affections and lusts; it must be mortified and kept under. (2.) The doctrines of the gospel and discipline of the church are the weapons of this warfare; and these are not carnal: outward force, therefore, is not the method of the gospel, but strong persuasions, by the power of truth and the meekness of wisdom. A good argument this is against persecution for conscience' sake: conscience is accountable to God only; and people must be persuaded to God and their duty, not driven by force of arms. And so the weapons of our warfare are mighty, or very powerful; the evidence of truth is convincing and cogent. This indeed is through God, or owing to him, because they are his institutions, and accompanied with his blessing, which makes all opposition to fall before his victorious gospel. We may here observe, [1.] What opposition is made against the gospel by the powers of sin and Satan in the hearts of men. Ignorance, prejudices, beloved lusts, are Satan's strong-holds in the souls of some; vain imaginations, carnal reasonings, and high thoughts, or proud conceits, in others, exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, that is, by these ways the devil endeavours to keep men from faith and obedience to the gospel, and secures his possession of the hearts of men, as his own house or property. But then observe, [2.] The conquest which the word of God gains. These strong-holds are pulled down by the gospel as the means, through the grace and power of God accompanying it as the principal efficient cause. Note, The conversion of the soul is the conquest of Satan in that soul.
2. The apostle's power to punish offenders (and that in an extraordinary manner) is asserted in 2 Corinthians 10:6. The apostle was a prime-minister in the kingdom of Christ, and chief officer in his army, and had in readiness (that is, he had power and authority at hand) to revenge all disobedience, or to punish offenders in a most exemplary and extraordinary manner. The apostle speaks not of personal revenge, but of punishing disobedience to the gospel, and disorderly walking among church-members, by inflicting church-censures. Note, Though the apostle showed meekness and gentleness, yet he would not betray his authority; and therefore intimates that when he would commend those whose obedience was fulfilled or manifested others would fall under severe censures
THOUGHTS ON THE PASSAGE:
This way of warning men of the intensity and reality of spiritual warfare was counterintuitive to the culture and knowledge of the people. I remember thinking how oblivious to the reality of spiritual warfare we are today. During the same time, I was wrestling with the implications of Paul’s assertion in Ephesians 6:12 which says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” I was deeply convicted about how I had been lied to by my flesh, the world, and Satan into believing people were my enemies. Then this text hit me deep in my heart. People are pawns in the hands of a greater enemy, Satan. The war that has to be waged, for we are called to suit up into our armor and engage, is against spiritual powers far greater than men. This brought a desire to love my enemies, or those I had previously seen as enemies, as well as those who still believed I was theirs. The war was not against me, but I was being attacked…by people I loved and looked up to.
I was also struck by the power of the weapons we have in our possession, God-given weapons, and the power God releases to free men from Satan’s grasp. A simple prayer was a “smart bomb”. We could ask God to release power anywhere in the world and He desired us to do so because it was His work that put the desire to pray on our hearts in the first place. God wants to destroy evil’s reign and will do so completely one day. Today, we can battle as far as we can pray.
There is also the battlefield, the hearts of men, where the war wages. There is a warning to each of us in this to beware Satan’s power to attack our hearts and minds. He wants to remove our faith, to pluck it and strangle it out. He desires to ruin any remnant of the image of God that springs up in us. We weren’t warring for likes or praise, we were warring to see God’s Holy Word, specifically Jesus, take the seat on every heart we could engage. We wanted to see mind’s washed clean by the blood through Scripture and become fertile fields of love and action to free others and to love Jesus and neighbor. I wanted to see broken homes mended, and if so before divorce and pain came in the way I had experienced it (personally and through my friends’ and family members lives). I ached to see people I loved enjoy peace and hope in Christ. I wanted others to taste what I was beginning to. I say beginning because I was actually saved in the middle of my first Christian mixtape. Praise had begun to flow where hopeless toiling and running had been trading places. The change salvation brought only quickened and enflamed my desire to spread the gospel in rap.
Today I sit in the middle of a desire to preach the good news and to plant a church where I live. I may not be here forever. I also desire to one day plant a church in the middle of my hometown, Little Rock, and see God’s work there. And at the same time, I miss the music and the joy worshipping in song with brothers and sisters who understood the power music, and rappers who fathered us like the O.G.s who put us on did, hold. We desired to see a new generation of father’s, actually brothers, rise up and come speak another way, a better way, the only way which is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ, our blessed God. I still yearn for that, yet I sit in between. For all intents and purposes, my time has likely passed to be the rapper I dreamed of being, before and after Christ’s coming in my life. At the same time, I have no boast or worthiness from my career to yield a listening ear of how to profit in the business. I did a lot of work, but none was especially noteworthy. I am more of an uncle to rappers than brother or father. Yet, I still desire to see the flames of war stoked in the context of rap music. Not just rap, but I do have a special place for rap and still feel it has the most clear potential for explicitly teaching truth by design and structure over any other genre outside of spoken word. And I still desire to write songs and perform them and preach as much as I once did, but in the words of Toby Keith, “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” Or at least I’d hope so.
As I reach out to God’s children in North Minneapolis, I hope to meet and care for rappers. I hope to equip them to provide for their families and to fine tune and pass down their craft for the next generation. I hope to see men speak alternative messages that conflict with the lies Satan has on the airwaves. I still hope to see that, but I haven’t figured out how to do it. WOOWR isn’t functioning, per se, but it is still alive. Maybe one day. In the meantime, please pray God would help us love others who He has in this field for the goal of proclaiming His gospel, edifying the body, maturing the body, and reaching the lost.
Thanks for your prayers.
Oh, and if you wonder why we used a grenade for our logo, it all goes back to the smart bomb and linking to people who idolized war in the way the world sees it. We gave an image people would be drawn to, but hoped to change the meaning and transform it in such a way that it’s earthly power would be lost and it would forever be associated with God’s goodness and grace.