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About the Album- Wide Open EP
December 13th, 2016
Valleys to Mountains
For the past couple of months, I’ve been working on a very special project. It’s been on my new album, called Wide Open. It’s all original songs from my season and journey for the past couple of years. If any of you know me, you heard me announce another album (out of this valley) a couple of year’s back that was never released. Those couple of years was some of the hardest times I’ve walked through, and I just felt an unsettled feeling of releasing those songs at that time, in that season. Well, coming soon, I’ll be releasing some of those songs as well as some new ones!
Sometimes, being on the other side of trial and pain brings about new light and perspective on where you were. It’s easy to think in the moment of trial, “where is God?” or “why is He letting this happen?” That surely was the case for me. Now, I’m happily married and in one of the best seasons I’ve been in for long time, and can totally see how God was at work through those hard times.
On reflecting on the past couple of seasons of life, it’s got me thinking. I wonder how we can go from these valleys to the mountaintop moments? How can we navigate through or how do we deal with the ups and downs that life throws? That is the whole heart behind this album, because no matter who you are, you’re dealing with something that’s got you in a valley or you just came out of it and are at a brief pause on the mountaintop.
In my reflection and time with God and writing these songs, I’ve found it’s never been about how fast I can get out of the valley or how long I can stay at the mountaintop, but it’s been about my posture, or how I carry myself through the seasons, and what God is wanting to teach me in those moments.
Here are a couple of verses that inspired the songs of the album and that carried me through the ups and downs in life.
Romans 5 (MSG)
5 1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
9-11 Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!
The introduction is the culmination of all of the lyrics and ideas of this album smashed into one song.
YOUR LOVE IS CHASING ME
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
THROUGH THE TRIAL
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
1 Corinthians 8:6
Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
FROM THE BEGINNING
Colossians 1:18-20 (MSG)
Christ Holds It All Together
15-18 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
18-20 He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13
Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!
No matter where on the spectrum you find yourself, whether deep in a valley or high on the mountaintop, be encouraged that the way your hold yourself matters. There will be a time when you’ll be on the other side, and you’ll be able to see how God was at work and what He wanted to teach you. Keep developing, learning, growing, and leaning on God and those placed around you. I hope these songs encourage you and push you to keep going.
We'll have physical copies here at Watermarks in January 2017 along with shirts for sale ($10 Album, $15 Shirt) and the album will be on all online platforms by January 1st, 2017! So excited for all this album is and hope you enjoy!
High Rise Live Album
July 7th, 2014
Today marks a very special day for us as a band. We’re back to dreaming and going after crazy ideas and calls. A
We’ve been right in the middle of summer camp, playing 9 weeks for the youth at Watermarks. We at the end of the summer will have done 300+ worship sets and have already seen thousands enter the presence of God and hundreds make a decision for Him for the first time. This summer has been one of the most powerful ever for us as a band as we are right in the heart of what God is doing through us and back to the original heart of what we do. We don’t want to miss any opportunities, so this is the new announcement.
Throughout the summer, we’ve been recording all of the songs and gathering footage from all of the weeks of camp. At the end of week 10 of summer camp, we will be working to put together our very first live album, called High Rise Live. This is all the songs we’ve been doing this summer and along with that, we will be releasing a live DVD partnered with it. They will be available hopefully by Fall 2014, as we want to share what God has done all summer long through Watermarks and our own journey. We hope that you enjoy this and get to take a look into what we’ve been doing for the past couple of months, and overall the past couple of years.
Also, we have a new line of apparel coming in as well, our new Indian style line. So we have a buffalo tee and a dream catcher tee on the way, so be ready to order those through the high rise store, off the website at highriseworship.com under music.
PART OF THE PROCESS
FEB 4th, 2014
So many of us are caught up in the end result. We see Katy Perry now and want to be where she is, but never have we considered all the battles she conquered and thoughts she had to get over that she wasn’t good enough. We see bands like NeedtoBreathe, and say man I wish I had what they had, but haven’t considered their 12 years of touring, fights and breakups that got them to where they are. It’s so easy to look at others success and judge how they got there, but have you ever considered the work it takes to get there? That might explain where you are still in the place you are, or not in the place where you want to be. For one, you will never get where you want to be if that place is where someone else is. Do your own thing and it will get you much further than copying someone else.
Carl Rogers, an American Psychologist stated, “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.” Today maybe you’re discouraged from where you are and here is some encouragement. Fall in love with the process of getting to where you want to be. Become who you need to be to sustain that growth. If you want to act, fall in love with acting, not becoming an actor. If you love music, fall in love with playing, not becoming a big musician. You will find that the process is a whole lot more fun than the end result. Some of the best times in my life were just simply going somewhere, on the car rides to places, or learning something new. I am a very task oriented person, so usually I find myself trying to get to the destination, finish the project and get the job done, and I can only imagine what I’ve missed out on the journey there, the process of getting to where I want to be. Today I encourage you, be a part of the process, and fall in love with it.
OCT, 27th 2013
Have you ever had an idea and you felt so strongly about it, but then when you share it, it all goes downhill? Have you ever been in church and leading your ministry and the people you are leading don’t like where you are going? I read this story this week, and it really caught my attention in a new way.
It’s in Acts 7 and it says this: 54When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
This story always used to be so simple to me. That people that follow Jesus could get persecuted, etc, etc. After working in the church for a while and in ministry forever, this story takes on a whole new meaning for me. While in church, I experienced this over and over again. You seek Jesus and you feel that you see Him, you have a vision for what you want, you spend the time, and then the people you’re leading don’t trust it, don’t like it, or simply don’t like you and disagree. This ruins every bit of the creative process. It turns into pleasing people instead of pleasing God and seeking Him. Maybe at some point you’ve been the one throwing the stones. I don’t know what role you play, but sadly both are unfortunate. The church and following Jesus is supposed to be one of the most free, and creative places to work in, because we have the best message to tell people about. In my years of ministry, I have found that getting rid of the religious people in my life, the ones who love rules and can’t think outside of the box, has been the best for me. Now when I come up with an idea, it’s not stones that are thrown, but realistic ideas, love and energy. That’s how church should be, and that’s how life should be. If you are a stone-thrower, today is your day to grow up and support people and understand that things can be done differently and they have to, because the message has to be told differently, because everyone hears differently.
The way Stephen handles this gives us the textbook way to handle this, even though mostly it is so hard, so unfortunate for the human race.
"59While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep." Always pray for help, and pray for forgiveness.
Communication with God is essential, largely because most of the time you can’t trust people around you (pastors apparently don’t struggle to most congregation members), but also he can help guide and direct you. Most of us can't pray for Jesus to take our spirit, if so I'll give you Zoloft, it'll be ok, but we can pray for patience in the midst of what we're facing. Church will always be the same, there will always be someone, so if you decided to work in ministry, welcome to it! He also prayed for their forgiveness in the midst of this moment when they are against him. Never be the one to pick up the other stone and throw back, as hard as it is. Your character is more important than your idea. On the other hand, sometimes your people and leaders can be creatively rearranged to make your life better. Lead well and let your ideas flourish and I guarantee some around you won’t support it, but continue anyways and live life with those who want to be there and support you.
FEB 10th, 2013
When is the last time you did something fun? Or at least spontaneous? This has been my new lifestyle, living life to the fullest, and quite honestly I think most ministry leaders have missed out on it. There is something I have found about ministry, both full and part time is that it takes your whole life. Your day off is never "off". There is always an email to be sent, a student to talk to, a song to learn, a graphic to make, to make the church or organization move forward, or at least have your duties checked off to avoid confrontation. This is so disheartening because these are the people, pastors, leaders, that are supposed to be pouring into people, not just doing tasks and when they don't have their time off, how can we expect them to pour into us? Being out of "church leadership" now, I reflect back now and see how far gone I was. I never got rest, and when I did I was nervous about Sunday or a conversation I had to have or have already had. There was always a last minute meeting you have to attend and this one was "special" but it happened all the time. For me in this season, I have set better boundaries, though I am still heavily in ministry I have found that being outside of a paid position in the church that life is much better. I can have a day off, where I get to rest and hangout with others. I feel like I have no stress, even though I work in one of the most stressful jobs, summer camp! Leaders, you have to take time for you. Though you may feel high and mighty, that feeling wears off and you will find your passion being robbed and your joy no longer present. Time take for yourself, away from work. There will always be work to do, always another job or meeting. Time will not let you take a break if you don't make it. This week, take a moment for yourself, even if it's not made for you, make it. I encourage you because I have seen so many leaders go down this burnout path, including myself and it's hard to get back on track without totally quitting it all. Don't get too far gone, don't let others rob your passion and joy all the time. Take the time for yourself and then deal with others. There will always be another problem, conversation, meeting, etc., but never another moment for you. Go do something crazy, that you've never done before. Do something you've always wanted to while you can.
CREATIVITY IN THE CHURCH
FEB 21st, 2012
One sad thing about the Church, is that we're so far behind. In putting loads of administrative weekly tasks on creative leaders, we limit their time or ability to create due to the stress of the "tasks". As a creative leader myself, I have to carve out time to get alone to dream and create, if not, I never will. You can get so overwhelmed with meeting deadlines, or get so drained that you don't feel like trying to make anything else new, you're just maintaining what you have. Creative personalities rarely enjoy managing, they enjoy creating. This is where it gets dangerous. We start managing and not creating and this leads us to burn out, not feeling like we're in our calling, and eventually leads to us leaving where we are in search of the new thing. In order for creative people to stay in the church, continue dreaming, creating, moving and shaking the areas they need to be around new and progressive things. Without progress and change, we can push ourselves directly to our demise. I encourage you, take time aside and create something, regardless of what it is. The church needs to be ahead of the game, not following behind what others do. Continue to learn new things, try methods that have never been used, regardless if the congregation doesn't get it or like it, you're shaping the future church whether you use it or not. There will always be someone who complains or doesn't like it, but if you don't continue pushing creativity forward, your church and life will stay the same.