Nov 10, 2009

Phil Joel comes to convocation

by Emily DeFosse

“Life is too short for bad coffee,” Convocation speaker Phil Joel said Monday. The former Newsboys bassist hoped students took away more from his time with them than just those profound (and true) words. Speaking with a thick New Zealand accent, Joel shared his passion for Christians to be deliberate in their relationship with Christ.

Joel and his wife, Heather, first realized their need for intentionality with Christ shortly after the birth of their first child. They began individually meeting with God every morning until one day they looked at each other and simply said, “It’s working.”

This experience led Joel to begin Deliberate People, a ministry which provides Christians with resources to become deliberate in their pursuit of Christ.

“(The Newsboys were very good at) creating great moments … Some would be very deep, revolutionary encounters with God, others would be a night out (to) just have fun,” Joel said. “Unless the moment turns into a movement in someone’s life it is kind of wasted.”

The movement in Joel’s life was fueled by his passion for Christ and the plan he follows.

“I think it is important to have a passion and a plan. One without the other can only go so far,” Joel said.

Joel and his wife both try to get up an hour before their children are awake to meet with the Lord on a daily basis.

“My son is five so he always sort of busts my groove a little bit,” Joel said.

Joel, his wife and their friends all read on the same schedule, keeping them both literally and figuratively on the same page, according to Joel.

“The word talks about iron sharpening iron and we have quite a wonderful (Christian) community,” Joel said. “It is quite a wonderful creative community, too. But I believe that when we are walking with the Lord, and the Lord is showing us things and we are experiencing the joy of the Lord, then we are naturally creative.”

Joel focuses on three elements in his personal time with the Lord — reading the word, prayer and journaling.

“In years gone by, I would have said that is old school, religious and legalistic, but really when I was saying that, it was just me making excuses and being lazy,” Joel said.

Joel has not forgotten his life with the Newsboys and still likes to sing his favorite song, “Entertaining Angels,” in his concerts.

“(Life with the Newsboys) was never dull,” Joel said. “There was always something going on. Always something new being dreamed up, whether it was a spinning drum riser or coming out of the ceiling in a spaceship … I was 21 when I started with the Newsboys. You kind of grow up in that and as you grow different things happen. You get married, have kids and things change. The things that used to be really exciting just sort of lose their shimmer. Not to say they aren’t great, but your focus shifts.”

His marriage is one of his main focuses now, as displayed by the tattoo of his wife’s name where a wedding band is usually found.

“I lost my wedding ring on our anniversary … I came home off the road one day and Heather said ‘I’ve got a surprise’ and she had my name tattooed on her wedding ring finger,” Joel said. “(Then) she said ‘your turn’ and off we went and I got her name tattooed on my finger. It has been fun seeing the response that it gets from people. They see it and say, ‘You do realize that is permanent, don’t you?’ (I respond,) ‘Yea, no kidding, so is the covenant of marriage.’”

His message last week pushed students to become deliberate in their pursuit of Christ.

“(Joel’s message) was down-to-earth and honest,” junior Josie MacInnis said. “Even though his message was simple, it was powerful, and it inspired me to pursue a closer relationship with Christ.”

More than anything, Joel wants students to realize there is an enemy trying to redefine words like “relationship” and “community” within the culture.

“(The enemy) is trying to rob us of what it means to build and sustain real relationships,” Joel said. “Relationship is not meant to be that complicated. It’s just about taking time to nurture it, care for it and enjoy it.”

Contact Emily DeFosse at

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