SONG STORIES

Commentary by the band on every nationally released album.

 

CATHEDRALS

  1. No Man Is an Island
  2. Stars in the Night
  3. Iesu, Delcis Memoria (feat. Audrey Assad)
  4. Cathedrals
  5. I Need You, I Love You, I Want You
  6. The Spark
  7. Heaven’s Sound
  8. Stay
  9. We Won’t Numb The Pain/Fire
  10. Closer
  11. All The Earth is Holy Ground
  12. Just Getting By (Bonus Track)
  13. For Those Who Can’t Speak (Bonus Track)
  14. Forgive Me (Bonus Track)

THE STRUGGLE

  1. Shadows
  2. The Struggle
  3. Worn
  4. Losing
  5. Don’t Stop the Madness
  6. Where Life Will Never Die
  7. Strangers Here
  8. Grace
  9. All the Same
  10. Hostage of Peace
  11. You Do All Things Well
  12. Lamb of God

THE LIGHT MEETS THE DARK

  1. Healing Begins
  2. Strong Enough to Save
  3. You Are More
  4. The Truth is Who You Are
  5. All The Pretty Things
  6. Any Other Way
  7. On And On
  8. Hearts Safe (A Better Way)
  9. House of Mirrors
  10. Empty My Hands
  11. Oh My Dear

OVER AND UNDERNEATH

  1. Love is Here
  2. Lift Us Up to Fall
  3. By Your Side
  4. Let It Go
  5. Break Me Down
  6. Hold My Heart
  7. Times
  8. Beloved
  9. You Are
  10. Satisfy
  11. Hallelujah

 

 

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND

It’s breathtaking how other-centered Jesus was.
Or should I say, Jesus is.
Even in His last moments on earth,
just before quite possibly the most horrifying event
in all of human history, here we have Jesus praying for us.
Unbelievable.
Jesus, who was about to die, was praying for us.
Take a second and let that get in you.

And how does He do that?
How does Jesus have the ability to think outside Himself,
particularly in the time of His greatest need?
Well, there is an ocean of reasons here, but most poignantly,
I think the answer lies in who God is.

The Trinity.

What?
The Trinity?
I thought the Trinity was just something the church taught to confuse me!
Ha! No my friends, this reality is the proof we need for the nourishment of our souls.
You see, in perfect relationship with the Father and the Spirit, Jesus is other-centered at His core.
God’s nature is love, because God is a relationship.
As the “Three in One,” the Trinity is an overflowing fountain of communal love.

And so, when we muse upon the triune mystery,
Jesus dying for us actually comes as less of a shock.
Laying down His life,He does exactly what we would expect Him to do.
Because He’s been doing it since before time began.

Mind. Blown.

So we, made in His image, are beckoned forth to this divine participation.
Like Father, Son, and Spirit, we are made to be other-centered. We are made to lose ourselves in giving to someone else.

But we don’t necessarily like this calling.
The essence of sin is to rage against this through self-gifting. Cut ties.
Be independent.
Make something of yourself.
We, as fallen image-bearers of The Divine, do not want to be dragged down or kept back.
We do not embrace interruption.
We do not weep with those who weep.
We want to build our brand.
We want to leave a legacy.
We want to grow our sphere of influence.

So when Jesus prays for us to be in perfect unity,
He knows it will take some learning.
He knows it will take some friction.
He knows it will take some loving the very people who don’t deserve it.
Isn’t that, after all, how He loves us?

STARS IN THE NIGHT

Maybe it’s because I just finished Jack London’s epic novel, “The Sea Wolf,” but lately I’ve found my mind drifting to island images of shipwrecked castaways. I imagine a marauded group being rescued by a nameless vessel. Old ropes have been let out, and haggard survivors wearily hoist themselves up over the rails. Cold and exhausted, this group of worn down survivors sit on the deck of the swaying boat. Everyone’s knees are up against their chests. A light rain has their teeth chattering and a stiff winter wind has their arms wrapped tightly around their tattered clothes and heaving chests.
No one is sure of what to say.
They’ve been rescued, but what’s next?
Where are they going? Who’s in charge?

Then an old sea-weathered captain strolls silently across the deck.
His whole face is a mess of white hair, his eyes, wild with kindness.
He takes a puff from his corn-cob pipe, and a gentle cloud of grey smoke emerges from a secret mouth hidden from sight under his billowing beard. He smiles wide and his pipe dangles from his lips as if held up by invisible wires.
He speaks.
“Upward friends.
Upward.”

Under his command, all heads tilt back in perfect unison, and a collective gasp breaks out as they behold the blanket of sparkling light just above their heads!
And oh, how the stars shine!
How the heavens dazzle their senses!
How their hearts are lifted by the glory unfolding above.

And so it is with us isn’t it?
I can’t help but think of God’s promises that way.
Against the black, against the crushing expanse of darkness above and the swirling depths of ocean beneath, His promises are stars.
Constant.
Permanent.
Light.
To our shame they cry, “There is therefore now no condemnation!”
To our anxiety they testify, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God!”

And just as those sailors of old sailed by the light of the constellations, so we too, can lift our gaze and set course through the wild waters of life.
With our eyes fixed above, we can work together until we reach our final shore. We’ll never make it off our islands staring at each other. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery surmised,
“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”

IESU DULCIS MEMORIA

There are no song stories for “Iesu Dulcis Memoria” at the moment.

CATHEDRALS

God’s Spirit no longer dwells in buildings made by man.
He lives in us.
We are His cathedrals.

“Imagine yourself as a living house.
God comes in to rebuild that house.
At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing.
He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof;
you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.
Presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts
abominably and does not seem to make sense.
What on earth is He up to?
The explanation…He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of-
a new wing, an extra floor, making courtyards…
You thought you were being made into a little cottage:
but He is building a palace.
He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
-C.S. Lewis

When I think of myself as a palace of God’s presence,
it changes the way I look at a lot of things.
It changes my view on life.
It changes my view on calling.
It changes my view on sin.

I realize I think of sin in a way God never meant me to.
Like Adam and Eve,
I think of it as stuff I want to do, but am not allowed.
As if God were the ultimate kill-joy.
But that is not what Jesus says.
He says, “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy,
but I have come to give you life,
and life to the full!” (John 10:10)

FULL!

When I realize I’m a cathedral of his Spirit,
I think less about not doing bad things,
and more on how to enjoy God more.
Fill the space. Let it overflow.
Let joy take temptation’s place.

Also, in those great cathedrals of old,
people on the run would cry out for refuge!
“SANCTUARY!” They would scream.
They would hide away in their time
of greatest need within the cathedral’s walls.
Oh could it be that way with us!?!?

My heart swells at the thought of God’s people
basking in this two-fold glory He’s bestowed on us.
As His cathedrals,
we are invited to commune with Him with immeasurable joy,
and to become a place of refuge for sinners.
We have been redeemed to be a sanctuary of His Spirit,
and a safe place for all.

I NEED YOU, I LOVE YOU, I WANT YOU

I suppose there are two different types of conversions.
I’m sure some theologians will argue with me on this point,
but I can’t help but notice some people come to Jesus like Paul,
and some come like Peter.
Yes, there are many more people in the Bible we could use as
archetypes, but my point is some come in a flash of wonder
and blinding light, and others come like a slow, clumsy, meandering fool.

Me?
I was more like Peter than Paul.
Paul was Saul.
Name changed.
Eyes changed.
Mission changed.
Boom. Bang. Pow.
Next we see him, he’s changing the world.

Peter?
He walked on water.
He sank.
He defended with sword and fervor.
He denied.
He preached at Pentecost.
He was afraid of the religious leaders.

Now, that’s a guy who sounds like me.
I feel like every step I take forward to Christ,
I’m always taking two steps back.
Sound familiar?
Take heart.

We need Him,
and when He meets our needs, we love Him.
Once we begin to love Him, we will want more of Him.
Need.
Love.
Want.
Or to say it another way.
Savior.
Lord.
Treasure.

How about you?
Do you know you need Him?
Great.
Do you actually love Him?
Awesome.
Now, have you gotten a taste of His sweetness,
and has it left you wanting more of Him?
I think those are good questions for all of us.
Are we part of the hillside thousands who merely heard His words,
or are we one of the burning hearts touched by His hands?
Saviour. Lord. Treasure.
I need you.
I love you.
I want you.
No one else can make us new.

THE SPARK

Growing up in the church,
I always heard things like, “Fight the good fight.”
“Run with perseverance.” “Make every effort…”
But I also heard, “Be still and know.”
“My yoke is easy.” “I have quieted my soul.”
Well, which was it? I thought.
Am I supposed to fight?
Or am I allowed to rest?

I wish I understood then,
what I’m just beginning to get now:
It’s both.
We fight, and we rest, but we fight to rest.
You got that right.
We fight to rest.
We do battle with our minds and deceptive hearts,
so we might lay our souls down upon the grace of God.

A few months ago,
with that simple thought in mind,
I grabbed my guitar,
sat in our dressing room shower,
(The acoustics are amazing)
and I wept these words:

“You are where my soul finds rest.
You are where I lay my head.
Your grace lets me catch my breath.
Let’s me fall into your arms again.”

What about you?
Are you working hard to earn what’s already given?
Are you worn out?
Does your soul feel see-through?

Dallas Willard once said,
“God is not opposed to our effort, He is opposed to earning.”
I think that’s the distinction we need to understand.
We don’t fight to earn.
We fight to rest.

Lay your deadly doing down.
Lay your head upon His chest.
Catch your breath.
Throw yourself into His arms.
Hear His words from Matthew 11:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary
and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”

HEAVEN’S SOUND

A nagging fear springs up on me from time to time.
It’s the one I just can’t seem to shake.
A little voice seems to perpetually creep its way back into my mind,
“If He truly knew you, He wouldn’t love you.”
And yes, I know it’s a lie, because I am fully known and fully loved
by a God whose very essence is love, but still, I battle.
I fall to my fears.

But there is a passage I have clung to of late.
The opening of Hebrews 12 lifts the crushing weight of accusation, and gives me room to breathe. I heard a sermon once talking about who those witnesses are. His proposal shocked me.

Imagine yourself running the spiritual race which is your life.
You’re exhausted. You’re worn. You’re about to lay down in defeat. But as you limp closer to the victory tape, the congregation surrounding the finish line comes into focus, and they’re going absolutely crazy.
Your eyes narrow and you begin to recognize faces in the throng.
David is among them, and he’s yelling,
“I committed adultery! I killed a man! Keep going!”
Peter is beside him screaming, “I denied Him three times! Get back up!”
Jonah is proclaiming, “I was used in spite of myself! You can be redeemed!” Noah reminds you of his drunken state. Moses recounts his fear and pride. The faces and stories go on forever singing, “We are known yet we are loved for all eternity!”

In case you’ve forgotten,
heaven will be full of redeemed people.
Have you thought about that lately?
Everyone in heaven will be there,
because of someone else’s righteousness.

Today, let’s offer praise to God.
He deserves it for loving low-lives like us.
Let’s join in heaven’s sound;
the strong and weak lifting their voices together in earth-shaking harmony.
As songwriter Derek Webb once so eloquently understood,
“The strong, the tempted, and the weak are one in Jesus now.”

I dream of a day when the failing and the faithful can stand side by side praising our Savior together.
The weak will glory in His grace,
the godly will revel in His enabling strength.
If the songs we sing in corporate worship can only be sung by one of these groups, I wonder at its power.
May we lift up one voice together.

STAY

Malachai 2:16 used to confuse me.
I questioned, “So God hates divorced people?
I thought God loved everybody!”
But when I turned the ripe old age of 30,
this text began to make a lot more sense.

I don’t know if there’s something about this age in particular,
or maybe this was just the first time in my life I had a lot of married friends, but entering the fourth decade of my life, I noticed the sparks began to fly. Suddenly, divorce was everywhere. Marriages began crumbling all around me. Lines were drawn, harsh words were spoken, and over and over, I watched friends and loved ones throw in the towel.

Now, this text in Malachi becomes clear.
God isn’t hating on divorced people,
He simply agrees with everyone who’s ever suffered from the fallout.
He’s saying, “I hate divorce,
because marriage is a picture of how I love the church,
so when you divorce, you make me look bad!”
Again, it isn’t because He hates divorced people.
God hates divorce, because He hates brokenness.
He hates the disintegration of love,
and if we’re honest, we hate it too.

So hear me clearly.
I pray everyone who has ever suffered through divorce would know God’s love is fierce and forever for them still.
In fact, Him hating it, reminds us his love will never waiver for us.
That’s the point.
And when I think of His unwavering love,
it gives me new strength to fight for mine.
It lead me to write this lyric,
“Oh my love, I will fight my heart to keep you safe here,
all my life, I will stay.
Oh my love, we are a light, a mirror of love eternal.
So how could I, walk away?”

I know it sounds strange to say,
“I will fight my heart to keep you safe,”
but that’s exactly what Jesus did in the garden for us.
He fought his self-preserving,
isolating self-concern to love His bride, the church.
May we follow Him to this end.
Stay.

Stay through the doubt.
Stay through the hurt.
Stay through the lure of greener grass on the other side.
We may find the old saying to be true,
“The grass is greener where you water it.”

WE WON’T NUMB THE PAIN

When our hearts are breaking,
don’t we all tend to numb the pain, instead of dealing with it?
We don’t “pour our hearts out to the Lord,”
we rant on our Instagram.
When we’re tempted and restless,
we don’t wait in the wilderness,
we reach for the lowest-hanging fruit.

And so, we miss out on the very comfort we’re looking for.
The Holy Spirit never even has a chance to heal our deepest wounds,
because we won’t slow down long enough to even know they’re there.

I remember the first time I actually let God comfort me.
When I was dating my wife just a few weeks, we broke up.
It was the first time I recall truly waiting for the comfort of Christ.
I didn’t do what I had always done.
I didn’t distract myself with entertainment.
I didn’t try to quickly get over her by dating someone else.
I didn’t numb the pain.
Instead,
for ten days or so,
I drove my car to a field behind my house every night around sunset.
I pulled up to the edge of the field, cranked some worship tunes,
opened the windows, climbed up out onto the roof,
and proceeded to cry my face off.
Yeah I know…real men cry.

And you know what happened?
Nothing at first.
But slowly, over hours, and days, and then weeks,
I began to feel a steadiness in my soul.
There was a peace gradually moving in on my soul.
Was I still heartbroken? Absolutely.
Was I still an emotional mess? You bet.
But over time, I began to understand what Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians 1:4.
There was a comfort knowing Christ suffered with me.
There was a relief when I cried out to Him.
Even when I didn’t necessarily feel like He even said anything,
there was a certainty I felt knowing I had given Him the chance to.

So my friends,
pour out your heart to Him.
He can take it.
After all, He knows you better than you know yourself.
You can’t surprise Him.
You can’t shock Him.
So…
Run to Him.
Rant to Him.
Complain to Him.
Cry out to Him.
Wrestle with Him.
Wait on Him.

He will hear.
He will come.
He will comfort.

We want the cure, not the medication.

On “Fire”:

Christ knows we are made for enjoyment.
We are made by Him and for Him, and nothing except Him will ever do.
Until we have Him, we will be wild with desire for the taste of Him.
In fact, Blaise Pascal argued this search for divine happiness is what fuels every decision we make.
“This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.” Whether it’s doing what we know we should, or doing what we know we will soon regret, we make decisions every day based on what we think will make us happiest.
It’s no wonder we’re commanded to delight in God.

What we believe will make us happy is a matter of life and death.
If we don’t find our joy in God, we will turn to whatever will make us feel,
even if those things end up killing us.
So the command to delight in Him
is perhaps the one imperative all temptation seeks to usurp.
But how do we resist when we’re hungry for a God-sized satisfaction?
How do we wait for the joy found in God
when we’re incessantly bombarded by the easy bite of the apple?
How can we believe Jesus isn’t trying to ruin our good time,
when all our good times are built on the very things killing us?

Remember John 10:10?
It’s crazy how the tables have turned.
Jesus, many believe, is against our pleasure.
He is always ruining our good time, while the thief is offering life to the full.
Do you see it? The problem is, Jesus isn’t against our pleasure,
He wants us to learn to wait for the best pleasure.
Meanwhile, the thief is perpetually offering instant pleasure.
(Or as Ephesians 4:22 calls them, “deceitful desires.”)
Sadly too, we’ve all traded in the better for the quicker, haven’t we?
If we’re honest, we have found Jesus’ words to be true.
Though the thief offers life, in the end his roads lead to death.

So let us pray for an overwhelming sense of God’s sweetness today.
May our souls be dazzled and wooed by his great grace and beauty.
May his commands not feel burdensome, but rather,
may we know they are the precious paths to life.

CLOSER

“When we sing, ‘Draw me near, nearer, blessed Lord,’
we are not thinking of the nearness of place, but of the nearness of relationship. It is for increasing degrees of awareness that we pray, for a more perfect consciousness of the divine Presence. We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”
-A.W. Tozer

I’m a bit embarrassed by the number of times I’ve cried out to God, “Be near,” and I didn’t understand in the least what I was asking for.
Growing up, I was always confused by Psalm 139 when David says
God is everywhere.
“If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”

I was confused because I’d go to church and we would beg and plead for God to come. I found myself thinking, “I thought He already did! I thought God was everywhere!”
I think I went cross-eyed a few times thinking about it.

But this Tozer quote helps me considerably. When we ask God to draw near, what we’re really asking is for Him to make us aware of Him. I don’t know where you are on scientific matters, but I like to think of the spiritual realm as a fifth dimension. We live aware of three presently, with time being the fourth.
So what if when people have an encounter with God or when they see angels in the Bible, it’s just God allowing the angels, who were already there, to become perceptible in our human dimensions? Like I said, I don’t know if this is even scientifically plausible, but it does help me understand what I’m saying to God when I ask Him to draw near.

So let’s not ask God to do something He’s already done.
He is closer than our thoughts, so let’s pray to be increasingly more aware of Him.
Expand our spiritual vision, God.
Crowd out the lies.
Push away the fears.

ALL THE EARTH IS HOLY GROUND

Now that the veil has been torn,
I feel as though God is saying these same words to us.
Except now, with The Sacred inside us,
all the earth is holy ground.

There is no longer a fight between the secular and the sacred.
If the Spirit dwells in us, then whether it be at school or Starbucks,
we make the world sacred, just by walking through the door.
It’s all sacred.
It’s all holy.

Martin Luther once said,
“The milk maid has just as holy of a calling as the clergy.”
Many theologians have since surmised that being a living temple of God is not necessarily about what we do, but why we do it. Whether a plumber or a rocket scientist, every leak we fix, or equation we solve, we do all unto the glory of God.
And perhaps the greatest call any of us will ever receive is to simply bring Jesus with us to our vocation.

The dreams we dream
and the goals we accomplish will come and go,
but we will always have His Spirit inside us.
We will always be His children.
We will always be His dwelling place.
We will always be on holy ground.

JUST GETTING BY

“Resolved to live with all my might while I do live.”
-Jonathan Edwards

“The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people,
from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ;
in the poor brother Christ is knocking at the door.”
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Maybe this is melodramatic, but I firmly believe if we want deep friendships it will cost us more than a quick glance at our phone. Yes of course, the internet and online friendships have their place and can be used in incredible ways, but at some point, to love like Jesus we will have to embrace the ministry being interrupted. We will need to let ourselves be intruded upon. We will be asked to waste time with people who don’t boost our public profile. It will cost more than a text, and more than an email. It will require our entire life.

But who wants that?
Who wants to “bear with one another’s faults?”
Who wants to weep with the weeping, especially when we feel like rejoicing? Who wants to rejoice with the rejoicing, especially when we feel like weeping? Who wants to throw a party and invite the weak, sick, and awkward? (Jesus said to invite the people who can’t pay you back.)
Friendship’s not really worth all that effort is it?
After all, online friendships are easier to manage.
We can come and go as we please.
We can give and take as we see fit.
People can be blocked, followed, or disregarded with the stroke of a key.
Best of all, no one can infringe upon our sacred independence.

But here’s the rub my friends.
Jesus partied with the prominent and spent time with the outsiders.
No one was too high, no one was too low.
He invited us to life when we had nothing to offer in return.
So if we’re going to learn to love like He does,
we will have to open ourselves up to more than a tweet.
We will be asked to hang with people who might actually bring us
down the social ladder a couple rungs.
But hey,
“When I become the servant of all,
there’s no further place to fall.”
-Mewithoutyou

FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T SPEAK

I’ve been studying Jesus lately.
It’s always amazing to watch Him in action isn’t it?
What amazes me most is who He used His voice for.
He didn’t cheer on the victorious,
He campaigned for the powerless.
He was the ultimate anti-band-wagoner.
As an avid sports fan, I’m confused and in awe.
We don’t campaign for the team with the losing record,
we jump on with the champions.
We remove our affiliation with the losers
and make winners our new BFF.

But Jesus never did.
Jesus was attracted to winners and losers alike.
Pharisees and tax-collectors both ate meals by his side,
and He was the greatest at noticing the unnoticeable.
Think of the woman in the crowd.
“Who touched me!?!?” Jesus cried.
In the swarm of humanity, Jesus sees every one of us,
and He seems especially concerned with the weak and underprivileged.
He even began his ministry by reading from the book of Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor,
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

I love it.

Whenever Jesus stood in front of a crowd, over and over in the gospels we hear this:
“And Jesus, looked out on the crowd, and was moved with compassion.” Here you have the one man, more famous than anyone who will ever live, the one through whom all things and people were created, the one person who truly deserved world-wide notoriety, didn’t care much for accolades.
Or maybe we could say, He didn’t need them.
In fact, it seems to me Jesus never sought to be seen, rather, He sought to see. The only one worthy of adoration used his life for those who were dying. He used his influence for the very ones who could never return the investment.

So how will you use your platform today?
How will you use your money?
Your influence?
Who will you point to?
Who will you serve?

Let’s use our voices for those who can’t speak for themselves.

FORGIVE ME

SHAME.

It paralyzes. It lies. It keeps us from each other.

Worst of all, shame deafens our spiritual ears. When it rolls over us like a fog over the sea, it has a way of stifling Jesus’ voice crying out, “The healthy don’t need a doctor but the sick do! I came to save sinners!” It shuts out Paul proclaiming, “This saying is trustworthy and true, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the chief!!!” Even though Jesus made a point of hanging out with tax-collectors, drunks, and prostitutes, shame echoes in the hallways of our soul, reverberating our fears until we’re convinced what we’ve done is worse than the thief on the cross. Our infidelity is worse than the woman at the well. Somehow, our cheating and lying is worse than Zacchaeus’.

My friends, do not let your shame push you into isolation. Do you not see this is exactly what the enemy wants. He wants you hopeless. He wants your mistakes to define you. He wants to keep you from the blazing center of God’s fierce, ferocious, and unquenchable love.

You don’t have to do this life alone.

You don’t.

Have you considered you can’t be too weak for a Redeemer, only too strong? Have you ever dared to imagine Jesus is actually attracted to your weakness? Why do you think He came down here in the first place?

Talk to somebody. God not only wants us to confess to Him, He wants us to expose our weakness to our community. I know it’s terrifying. People will judge. People will condemn. People will be unmerciful. But our God not only wants us forgiven, He wants to see us healed. When you find a gospel-believing person who hears your transgression and looks back at you with the eyes of Christ and audibly says, “Your sins are forgiven,” I promise you, the healing will begin. Take the chance…today. You may just be amazed at the healing you could give someone else when you let them in on the secret, and they realize they aren’t the only ones who struggle.

Jesus, don’t let shame drive us to our islands. Give us new eyes to see your mercy and new eyes to see each other. Amen.

SHADOWS

We have no song stories for “Shadows” at the moment.

THE STRUGGLE

Mike: I actually wrote a song for our next record called The Struggle, which basically says, “Hallelujah, we are free to struggle, we’re not struggling to be free.” And a lot of times it’s almost like the church doesn’t give people permission to struggle with things. Even though in the Scriptures, we’re called Israel. We’ve been grafted in Israel. Israel means “Struggles with God” or “Wrestles with God.” And a lot of my songwriting comes out of the struggle between what I believe is God’s truth and then where my heart’s at, and how there’s always a collision process that takes place of the truth trying to win out over my emotions. And my emotions having to meld to what truth says.

Mike: I’ve heard multiple pastors and speakers say this idea that, “In Christ we’re not struggling to be free, we’re free to struggle.” So it just worked out that we were able to put that in the chorus of the song. Our very first record, or our first record on a label, we were asked what our mission is as a band, and in one of our very first interviews I just said, “I really feel like we’re supposed to articulate truth and the struggle to believe it.” We were looking at the themes of the songs on this record we said, “Wow, that’s actually running through all of these sings.” There’s an element of going, “Let’s give people permission to feel how hard this is.” Because sometimes Christian music can just be, “This is true, this is true, this is true” and people are like, “I can’t live up to that, I know it’s true, but what about how I feel? How hard it is?” And this is running through the song. Like, “Yeah, this is really hard,” but also calling them, “You’re free to struggle, you’re free to fail.” But you’re also not struggling to be free. Or to say it this way, that in Christ there’s a grace that’s strong enough not only to forgive us, but also to heal us from our struggles.

WORN

We have no song stories for “Worn” at the moment.

LOSING

Mike: This is a song about forgiveness, and how anytime you’re forced to forgive, I know that it feels like losing. We’ve all been there, we’ve all had that moment or that thing where it hurts, and we don’t want to take the pain and give back grace, we want to hold it against them. But the tricky thing about bitterness is that it’s sort of like swallowing poison, hoping the other person dies. At the end of the day, even C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because, after all, God has forgiven the inexcusable in us.” So even though it feels like losing, I hope this song urges you to forgive even the unforgivable. Because that’s what Christ has done for us.

Ruben: We got contacted by WAY-FM radio during the release of our last record. We had a lot of people talking to us about the things they were going through, the way that the dark in their life was meeting light. So WAY-FM challenged their listeners to send in stories about things they were going through or had been through. They picked a bunch of them and they sent them to us and we would write a song based on a story or two. So we started getting these submissions and stuff and there was an overarching theme in all of them, which was: “I’ve been through this horrible thing” or “This awful thing has happened to me and this is how I’m dealing with it” or “I don’t know how to get past this grudge that I’m holding” or “I’m not able to forgive this person or myself for whatever happened.” So instead of writing this one song about a story, we just wrote a song about this general theme that people had. And it seemed like they were struggling with the fact of holding on to something and not being able to let go of it. So that’s where “Losing” came from.

Jeff: A radio station had asked us to write a song based on fans submitting stories. It was kind of like “Submit your story and Tenth Ave will write a song about it.” And we got all these stories, and they were all pretty much about the same thing, about people having a hard time forgiving someone, something, or a situation that had happened to them, and letting go of that. So we wrote the song “Losing” about that. About how you’re being offended twice, almost, but that doesn’t necessarily let us off the hook. In writing that song, we were like, “This isn’t going to go on the record, it’s just going to go to this one radio station for a spell and then it’ll be done, so let’s just have fun.” So we were like, “What have we always wanted? A big gospel choir. You just modulated that rap into a minor key, let’s keep it!” We weren’t necessarily like, “This should come in here, and radio’s gonna want this, and radio’s gonna want that. Let’s just have fun.” And I guess it turned out for the better, because we got to keep it on the record, and everyone wanted it as a single, so that was pretty encouraging.

DON’T STOP THE MADNESS

Jeff: I think “Don’t Stop The Madness” is a band favorite. That was actually the first song we had all written together, and I guess it was in January 2011. I think musically, sonically, the way it turned out on the record, and what the song says, it just feels like the perfect storm to everyone’s personal preference in the band. It’s basically a prayer, “God, whatever it takes, bring me closer to you.” Because, I guess, so many people will expect God to work in certain ways, and when things aren’t going well, they’re like, “It’s not in God’s will and something’s wrong with your faith, and you need to try harder, and do this and do that, and God will bless you.” But sometimes, how do you explain when a strong believer gets cancer, you know? Or when someone in your congregation’s faith goes through a trial? I mean, look at Job, it’s all over that God works to His glory. Although we may not understand those things, the point is that we have an alternate ending in Christ. And as you sanctify in His workings, it may not all make sense, but in the end, it will. So if it draws us closer to the Lord, then that’s what He’s going to do. He’s going to strip us of our idols. So anyway, that song’s just important to the band, and we just love it, and we’re playing it live on the tour, and it’s going over really well, so we’re just stoked about that one.

WHERE LIFE WILL NEVER DIE

Jeff: We have a song on this new record called Where Life Will Never Die. It’s based out of Hebrews 11. Faith is confidence that God is making us a city where life will never die. Moses considered disgrace better than all the wealth of Egypt because he was looking ahead to his reward. One day all that is wrong will be made right. This promise, this grand play that we are in will have an ending. That ending is eternal life where there will be no more tears, and no more pain. So know that God is ever present making himself known so that we may depend on Him until He comes.

Jason: When we recorded “Where Life Will Never Die”, there was an amp in our bathroom.

STRANGERS HERE

Mike: We almost named the record, “Strangers Here.”

GRACE

Mike: I started penning the chorus to that song because my mom and sister were in a fight and they were being a bit unreasonable. So, I wrote that chorus in hopes just to remind them that, “Look, as long as you’re both worried about getting what you deserve and being treated fairly, this is never going to work out. At some point, you need to remind yourselves that the only way you really change someone’s heart is through kindness.” Romans 2 says that it’s the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance, not the judgment of the Lord that leads us to repentance. Interesting. So, that’s just a call to remind them and remind all of us that grace is the way we’re going to change people, not a judgment.

ALL THE SAME

We have no song stories for “All The Same” at the moment.

HOSTAGE OF PEACE

We have no song stories for “Hostage of Peace” at the moment.

YOU DO ALL THINGS WELL

We have no song stories for “You Do All Things Well” at the moment.

LAMB OF GOD

We have no song stories for “Lamb of God” at the moment.

HEALING BEGINS

Mike: This is a call to let your walls fall down, let your masks fall down, let your pretense fall down, because guess what? Your walls are glass anyway. We can see through them. You are fighting a losing battle and this is where the healing begins, when you let the light expose the darkness.

Jason: True joy and true life is found when we can let the light expose our darkness and really be comfortable with that…because we are a new creation, not because of anything that we’ve done, but because of what Christ has done for us. That should free us to be able to say “Look, I don’t have to put on a front. I don’t have to have a masquerade and act like I have it all together; in fact, just the opposite is true. I want to expose shortcomings and my weakness into the light and really experience the fullness of Christ in that because when you are weak then you’re strong.” I think where the light meets the dark is the place that this record kind of deals with.

STRONG ENOUGH TO SAVE

Jeff: Strong Enough To Save” is really fun live. That one isn’t quite as heavy as other songs can be, lyrically speaking, but it’s still very powerful. It’s upbeat, exciting and really catchy.

YOU ARE MORE

Jeff: Every time we play it, people come up to us and say that’s the first time they’ve ever heard anything like what the song says: ‘You are more than the problems you’ve made, the sum of your past mistakes.’ People don’t believe that. They believe the choices that they’ve made make them who they are and who they will continue to be until the day they die. The gospel doesn’t work on that scale and that’s what a lot of non-believers and believers don’t know about the gospel – that Christ has made you a new creation and you are known as a child of God. That song has been really powerful and so we’re excited.

Mike: This song might have the most important message of the whole album. It says: “This is not about what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you, and it’s not about where you’ve been, but where you’re brokenness brings you.” This is not about what you feel. In a world where our validation and our acceptance is based upon what we do, how well we perform, what we feel, I feel like that is just a really special statement to sort of negate all those false ideas that are going around. It’s not about what we do, or what we feel, it’s about what He did and what He felt. It’s about what Christ has done for us.

THE TRUTH IS WHO YOU ARE

Jason: On the first record, our favorite song was “Times”, and on this record, I think our favorite song is “The Truth Is Who You Are.” In Christian circles, you run into a lot of people that know a lot about Christ and they know a lot about Christianity and hot topics. They want to soak up knowledge and read books and at the end of the day, Jesus said “I am the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” So we have to realize that Christ Jesus himself is truth, something that we can hold onto. A lot of times we search for truth in scriptures, but don’t come to Jesus. It’s just the idea that Jesus is really what sustains us. Jesus is the truth we’re searching for. So unless we run to Him first, all our knowledge and all the stuff we learn is just sort of puffing ourselves up. I love the message of that song. I think it’s such a freeing thing when people can realize that Jesus isn’t some mystical person or something that you read about in a book or some kind of idea, but He’s actually a person and He wants to have a relationship with you and walk with you through these dark times. I’m really excited about that song.

ALL THE PRETTY THINGS

Jeff: This song is an exciting song live. It’s upbeat and has a lot of crowd participation moments that are made available by just the way that we recorded it. We’re looking forward to doing that one live.

Mike: “All The Pretty Things,” “The Truth Is Who You Are” and “Oh My Dear” are going to be three songs that I feel are going to be really different for people. It was really exciting to see our music progress.

ANY OTHER WAY

Jason: Even in relationships with each other, like in a marriage relationship, if you don’t understand your spouse or even in friendships, if you don’t understand the hurt and pain that someone is going through, if you try to mask that and try to act like you’re okay, it’s really not a love relationship. This was a call of God saying to us ‘I need your pain and I need your hurt’ and being able to express that to God and not just to mask it. We’re allowed to wrestle with God. We’re allowed to question and we’re allowed to get mad and say, ‘I’m really hurt right now and this is what I’m going through.’ I think that is a really huge part of what it means to be in a love relationship with someone because you are completely naked and exposed before them. This is who I am, this is what I’m going through and this is how I feel. Here it is! When someone can then love in return, then that’s when it’s true love. So that’s what the lyric is calling us to in this song.

ON AND ON

Jeff: I wrote that with Mike and our producer Jason Ingram, and that one was funny because it started out as an upbeat worship song and then all of a sudden it took this twist and turned into this love ballad of Christ and the church, which is closest to our song “Beloved” from our first record. “On and On” is a really deep relationship story of Christ and the church. And musically it’s kind of cool.

HEARTS SAFE (A BETTER WAY)

Jeff: To be honest, the song is really a personal Psalm of sorts. Hearts Safe ends completely unresolved, and it’s more a prayer of confusion and pain.

Mike: Jeff came to me and said “Man, I had this conversation with this friend of mine that I grew up with and he just doesn’t have any desire to follow God at all.” He said “It’s weird, I don’t get it.” I had a similar experience. A good friend who I thought loved the Lord just fell away. So Jeff had written that riff and we sat down and started writing. What’s fun about that song is that it’s a really heavy lyric put to this really happy music, which I think is the beauty of pop music. You can get away with that. A lot of people won’t ever get what we’re saying in that song, but that’s okay. It was very healing for me just to write that song.

HOUSE OF MIRRORS

Jason: “House Of Mirrors” is actually the only song on the record that we wrote together as a band. We just kind of got in a room and sat down and just started creating music and Mike started writing lyrics on top of it. We don’t have the liberty to do that because we just don’t have the time. So it was actually a luxury to sit down and do that together. The song says “Man is made for mountains, not for mirrors.” It’s just the whole idea we have to get beyond ourselves and so often I find myself so consumed with my needs and my comforts, and we’re stuck in a house that is full of mirrors. We’re just constantly looking at ourselves. The song encourages us to throw our mirrors down, to break them and to get beyond ourselves, step outside of that house of mirrors and gaze on the beauty of Christ, because really that’s the only way you have to see how magnificent and huge God is.

Mike: The call of the gospel is not for me to think highly or lowly of myself. The call of the gospel is to stop thinking about myself all together and that’s something that I feel like I’m just now really getting.

EMPTY MY HANDS

Jason: “Empty My Hands” is kind of the same concept as “Pretty Things”, but it’s the whole idea that we don’t have anything that Christ hasn’t already given us. We hold so tight and we kind of grasp onto so many things in this world. “Empty My Hands” is a prayer to God to let go of these things, take these things from us so that we can be completely satisfied in Him. It’s a prayer for us to not be clinging to things in this world, to things that aren’t going to satisfy. I think it’s a daily struggle in the Christian walk–how to become completely satisfied in Christ. There are so many things to distract us.

Mike: “Empty My Hands” is just a confessional prayer of mine. I have thoughts in my head that scare me. I think we all do. It’s my own selfishness and my own entitlement issues. The things you are most likely to idolize aren’t necessarily bad things, they are usually blessings that you cannot let go of and what we all need help realizing is the true freedom.

OH MY DEAR

Mike: The last song on the album is actually a story song, which is pretty exciting because I’ve never written a story song before. It’s actually a story about something that happened between my wife and me; some secrets that she was so afraid to tell anybody. So it’s kind of the practical application of the first song, “Healing Begins”, and what’s incredible is this thing that she was so scared to tell me, when she finally just told me, I was like, “That’s it?” And the weight just fell off her that she carried for so long, and then that led to her mom confessing something to her that she had never confessed. It’s just amazing when you start confessing to other people, there’s this snowball of healing that just starts taking place.

LOVE IS HERE

Mike: “Love is Here” is a song that was written in response to frustration of just hearing kid after kid after kid and adult after adult after adult just saying, “You know I would know that God loves me if…” Fill in the blank with whatever, but we run a dangerous game if we start asking God to prove things that he’s already proven. Romans 5:8 says God demonstrates present tense, his love, in how, while we are still sinners Christ died, past tense, died for us and basically with that verse he’s saying, “Look, God is proving his love for you today.” Christ died on the cross and our responsibility is to simply fix our eyes on Jesus. Love is here. Everything we are longing for, whether we would say it this way or not, is really Jesus. Our hearts are made for him and are hearts are restless until they rest in him. That’s what St. Augustine said, so that song is just a call to anyone everywhere that the thing you want is here in the name of Jesus.

LIFT US UP TO FALL

Mike: “Lift Us Up To Fall” is a prayer song that sort of takes a turn from where most people would go. At the end of the chorus it says, “Lift us up to fall before everything you are.” God loves people and wants to have relationships with people in order that He might glorify himself for his name’s sake. It says “God, we want you to heal us. We want you to fill us and satisfy us so that we might fall down and worship you.”

BY YOUR SIDE

Mike: There are a couple of lines in “By Your Side” that to me really encapsulate the whole song. One is in the second verse that says, “Why are you looking for love? Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough? To where will you go child? To where will you run?” And the last verse says, “Look at these hands and my side, they swallowed the grave on that night, when I drank the world’s sin so that I could carry you in and give you life.” “By Your Side” is just a call to anyone who’s struggling or fighting against God thinking they have to work to earn it. It’s calling them to stop looking for what you can do for God and fix your gaze upon what God has done for you. Let that motivate you. We love because He first loved us.

LET IT GO

Mike: The Bible says some really strange things and one of those things is when Jesus basically appeals to the people and he says, “You don’t want to lose your life, do you? Well lose it and then you’ll find it.” It’s a very strange sort of argument that Jesus makes, but “Let It Go” is a song about struggling to let go of being the captain of my own ship, of my own faith, which I think we all struggle with. A line in the chorus says, “Life is waiting for the ones who lose control.” It’s a call to say, “Man, if only I would really trust God, I would have far fewer aneurisms and stress than I put on myself.”

BREAK ME DOWN

Mike: “Break Me Down” is a call to say, “Look God, you need to change my heart because I’ve tried and I can’t.” Sometimes the Holy Spirit haunts us, and I love that God is the one that moves, that God is the one that changes people’s hearts, that the spirit is the one who sanctified people and that’s just a song to say, “Lord, I’m done, you’ve got to come and do this or I’m going to stay right where I’m at.”

HOLD MY HEART

Mike: I wrote “Hold My Heart” with two friends, Phillip LaRue and Jason Ingram. Phillip and I at the time were both going through separate situations, but a really rough time. We were just grappling to understand why God would let certain things happen. We had lunch that day and we were talking about it and the conclusion we came to is really what the bridge says. It says, “There’s so many questions without answers, but your promises remain.” Basically what that is saying is you know what? Sometimes we aren’t going to get the answers we want, but we still have God’s promises and the tough part of that is when Jesus said to us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” but your whole world feels like he’s done exactly that, it is no small thing to hold onto the truth and cling to that truth. “Hold My Heart” is a psalm. It’s like Psalm 13, it’s saying, God I’m clinging and holding on and I just don’t know how much longer I can go, so come and hold my heart.

TIMES

Mike: “Times” is a song reminding us that the Bible is a story about failures. It’s not a story about a bunch of moral heroes. Look at David and you look at Peter and you look at Abraham. These are failures that God has redeemed. So the song “Times” is just a prayer because we’re all struggling. Then God just speaks his answer and says, “You know what, my love is going to carry you through. I began this good work in you and I will be faithful to carry it out in completion.”

BELOVED

Mike: The Bible is filled with wedding metaphors. When it talks about Christ and his church, it uses the analogy of a husband and a wife. In fact you could even argue that the reason marriage exists is to point to the greater reality of Christ. Over and over and over again, Christ calls the church, not just his wife, but his wayward wife. I was thinking one day, I wondered what it would sound like if Christ gave his wedding vows to me, as his church, as his bride and what those would sound like. So “Beloved” is Jesus making vows to a wayward wife and the beautiful thing about Jesus is that when you’re his bride, divorce is not an option.

YOU ARE

Mike: I wrote the chorus of “You Are” during a worship time at a little house worship gathering. I sang this chorus, “I give you all of me for all you are, here I am, take me apart,” which isn’t a reference to amputation, it’s just a metaphor. I just started thinking, “I give you all of me for all you are.” Then I thought, “Well who is God?” So the rest of the song is just saying, this is who God is and in light of that reality, do whatever you want with me because the more I believe that God is who He says He is, the more eager I will be to come to him and say, “Do whatever you want because I believe.” The caring father will never cause his child a needless tear.

SATISFY

Mike: “The song ‘Satisfy’ is a prayer. It’s saying, ‘Look God, you need to satisfy me because everything I want, whether I realize it or not, is you. If you don’t come and satisfy me, I’m afraid that I’m going to do exactly what I don’t want to do which is I’m going to run to other things.’ That’s what the second verse says. It says, ‘I just might run back to the things I hate, unless you satisfy me.’ So that’s the prayer.”

HALLELUJAH

Mike: “Hallelujah,” for me, is a need to understand the gospel. The chorus is a phrase in Revelations that says, “The church will sing for ever and ever” which is hallelujah for the blood of the lamb that was slain. The very end of the bridge says, “Inside your wounds we hide away.” So this song is just a reminder that if God is who He says He is, if He’s holy, we should be really scared, unless someone gets in between the glory of God and us little simple humans. The beauty of that song is we have a savior that has come in between the wrath of God and us.