So for about a year now I’ve been saying that phrase in reference to my own struggles with ADD and the realities of me being a bit of a loose canon. At first it just flew out of my mouth kind of non chalantly and people just cracked up when I said it… so as with anything that comes with performance… if it works you keep it. So every night when I would walk on stage and share a bit of my heart with people I would basically have fun at my own expense and then finish the thought off with the phrase that inevitably led to a good laugh for everyone in the audience. Obviously that’s what we strive for; interaction, comedy, fun, honesty. Before long Michael, being the marketing wizard that he, is came up with a great idea….. “That needs to be a shirt man“. At first I doubted that it was possible that a shirt like that would work, but then after a bit of coaxing Michael finally convinced me that we needed to try it and so we did.
It’s amazing to me the differences between people. So many lines that define us that are constantly being twisted around to benefit the line drawers. You walk into church on Sunday morning you see all of God’s creation, in all of their splendor, and some in their shame. To be true not everybody knows every bodies business, but most people think they do. Lines get drawn on so many levels that it’s almost impossible not to at least feel them.
A family goes through a divorce and people think they know all the inside information and lines get drawn. Who’s on his side and who’s on hers… and above all else: where does the church stand?? Another may get caught drinking a beer at the local pub and the lines get drawn again…. who’s for it, and who’s against it. There are Conventions that make their #1 talking point the decision about women and whether they should be allowed to teach or not. I’m a member of one of those conventions and I think they do AMAZING things around the globe, but really??? That’s what you want the world to talk about when they talk about you?? The line you’ve drawn. Tell that to Beth Moore… who has had a HUGE impact in my life. I understand lines… I understand sin and the consequences of it… I understand that Jesus said turn from your wicked ways…. but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about STUPID LINES that are completely unimportant when people are dying and going to HELL.
Contemporary or Traditional
Rich or Poor
Sinner or Saint
Black or White
Male or Female
Baptist or Methodist
(Seeker friendly) or (Tell em’ the truth) church
NOT A CHANCE.
How do we make the lines disappear?
So yesterday Building429 had a day off in Albuquerque, NM. My wife and I are kind of on a rampage trying to find cool and out of the way things to do for our family, so sitting around a shopping area was out of the question. Not to mention that my wife is a full on Cross Fit girl and wants to get exercise any time she possible can… which generally means that like it or not, we’re gonna do something outdoorsy. The first three days of our tour with the Newsboys had been full of adventure (the bus broke down and we had to go on a wild goose chase to try to make the shows) so we had our minds set that we were going to make our off day count. What ended up happening was scary, fun, exciting, and in the end, filled with God’s presence.
Cortni had heard about this tram that you could ride to the top of the Sandia Mountain… and we really wanted to make it happen. 2nd longest lift in the world up to an elevation of about 10,000 feet seemed cool enough to us. We brought our winter clothes because we figure it would be cold at the top of the mountain, but we had no idea how cold. 16 degrees without counting the windchill coming off of 30-40mph wind gusts….. so it was literally below zero when the wind blew. When we were on the way up the tram the lady who was pointing out spectacular scenery all around us drew our attention to a tiny rock cabin at the very top of the mountain that had been built for the workers when they were building the attractions so that wouldn’t have to be flown by helicopter down from the mountain every day after work. She went on to say it was a 1 hour hike each way, and that seemed like something cool to consider, until we stepped out of the tram at the top. The wind was flying around us and it felt like we might get blown off the mountain at any second. The cool thing about the tram ride is that is leads you to ski slopes and a restaurant, so we figured agh, lets get some food at least for lunch and then head back down.
We sat down to eat a lunch and Cortni said …. “let’s try to make it to the cabin”. Now mind you there is frozen snow everywhere… not the kind you would ski on, no, the kind that you avoid skiing on cause it’s like concrete…. and I was about to argue, when I figured we’ll just try a little bit of it and see how it goes. So we finished our lunch bundled the kids up and headed out into the freezing temperatures to find the cabin.
All was well at first….. the kids found walking sticks and we were avoiding all of the shaded ares where the snow was frozen on the tiny little path, but after about 1/4 a mile it became apparent that this wasn’t going to be easy. There was a tiny little path with a HUGE incline covered by frozen snow…. (remember we’re literally walking the edge of the peak of a mountain). I found my way up it and turned around to instruct my son and daughter what to do to get to the top….. and looked at Cortni like “are we really trying to do this with OUR kids“?? She looked at me as if to say “WE’RE MAKING MEMORIES, SO LET’S GO” and I decided to push on.
Hazards were everywhere, and of course my son being the boy that he is, began doing what every boy does when its 0 degrees on the side of a mountain with dangerous cliffs and inclines all around….. goofing off. He decided he was on his own adventure and didn’t really want to listen to me at all. I get it… I was the same kid, but man it was frustrating. He’d jump right in the middle of an ice patch and slide for fun, he’d throw his walking stick like a spear and then have to climb up a small ridge to get it. As dad I was constantly calling out to him, “don’t do that, focus on walking the path, THAT’S ICE, YOU’RE GONNA FALL“, but it didn’t matter… he was having his fun. Of course he was lolly gagging and it was slowing us WAY down… and the trail wasn’t marked very well so it was taking longer than I wanted it to, after all it was below freezing up there. We finally made our way to the final ascent and then came the complaints… “dad how much longer, I can’t breathe, I’m tired” to which my response was of course, “if you’d stop jacking around and walk we’d already be there“. Man do I sound like a parent huh? HAHA.
Regardless of all that, we made it to the top of our Everest…. I can’t tell you what an accomplishment it was, because there were some crazy intense climbs on that path, through ice. We got to the top and we were all so excited about the view, but the wind was unbelievable and so it was time to make a quick descent. Before we left I pointed out the Restaurant now a thousand feet below us and what seemed like forever away down the ridge line… and the kids both grumbled because they knew how hard getting back was going to be.
The descent started out fine, everything was going well but of course Avery, being Avery, decided he would make it a bit more of an adventure by jumping from boulder to boulder, and seeing how far he could jump between the patches of ice. He would try to slide down inclines for fun….. and I was the ever present dad “No, Avery stop it…. you’re gonna get hurt… please…….” and then it happened.
He jumped from a snow drift down to the path and when he landed, and time slowed down as Cortni and I watched both of his feet fly straight up in the air…. the first thing to hit the ice was the back of his head. Cortni and I gasped, and I jumped down as fast as I could to grab him in case he lost control. He had his huge coat on and both eyes closed and I jumped down onto the path and threw my arms around him. Any parent knows that your first job when you’re children get hurt is to talk them out of believing that it’s bad and so I started whispering urgently into his ear: ”You’re ok son, you’re fine, I know it hurts, don’t worry…. I’m right here…. Don’t worry I’m right here….. you’re safe… daddy’s got you…. son listen to me, I’ve got you….. I’VE GOT YOU…. YOU’RE OK…. I’VE GOT YOU.”
There we were on the top side of a 1 hour climb at 10,000 feet in freezing temperature with my son laying in the middle of an ice path. As a father everything goes through your mind…. Concussion, no I’ve fallen like that before… maybe he’s ok, I guess I’m going to carry him down… what about those steep inclines… I barely made it up by myself… Lord let him be ok. After a few minutes of sitting on ice he had calmed down enough to move so I carried him over to a fallen tree and sat him down and looked him over. He was fine… no concussion, and that’s when I got serious. ”Son, we’ve got a long way to go and I’m going to get you down this mountain…. but it’s time for you to stop jacking around and DO EXACTLY WHAT I SAY…. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?” Through his little water eyes he whispered, “Yes Sir” and we gathered up ourselves. Cortni and Haven, now sure that Avery wasn’t in fact going to die, gathered themselves and we started back down the mountain. But this time it was different. Avery was holding my hand. In fact he wouldn’t let go… at all. That’s when I realized what an amazing teaching moment God had given me…. so I jumped in.
I said “Avery, do you know that God has rules too? You know that the bible has rules that we’re supposed to follow… just like the rules that daddy had on this path. Some people don’t like the rules, they want to do whatever pleases them, but there are some very dangerous things out there that most people just don’t see. For instance…. you never thought that you might get hurt did you??” Avery’s shaky voice mumbled “No Sir“. ”Did you know, son, that the reason I kept telling you to hurry up and stay close is because there are bears out here“? Avery looked up as though what I did shook him a bit. ”That’s right son, you might’ve missed the signs, but they said stay together, do not feed the bears, avoid them if possible. I wanted you close so I could keep you safe. God is just like that son, the rules are not to take away our fun, they are to keep us safe.”
Like any child would, Avery had few questions…”Dad if God wants us to keep the rules why doesn’t he just make us keep the rules… he’s God right?” ”Avery“, I whispered, “Why are you holding my hand?? Because I’m making you or because you want to?” He said, “I want to daddy.” ”And God wants you to want to hold his hand too. Do you think you’re daddy wanted you to fall like you did???” “No” ” When you fell where was you’re daddy, son?” I could hear his answer through his tears as he though about what I had done when he fell….
“You ran and held me close”…..
“That’s right son, and that’s what God does every time we fall. Love isn’t love if it’s just because you have to… you wouldn’t be enjoying holding my hand if I made you hold it, but because you want to hold my hand I AM SO HAPPY. Just like God is. ”
Avery’s little heart was so soft as he was holding back his tears. That’s when he did something I never expected…. he confessed. “Daddy, I did something really bad a long time ago and I need to tell you about it” ”Ok son, go ahead” ” One time, when I was at a friends house I said that I thought Satan was C… C… COO….”
He was full on crying when he let it out….” I SAID I THOUGHT SATAN WAS COOOOOOL DADDY…. I feel so bad… I didn’t know better I promise” My heart broke for him because he felt so bad, so I stopped him in his tracks and looked into his eyes….. “Son, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH… I’m so proud of you… and do you know what’s so awesome…… The Holy Spirit is alive in you!!! It tells us to confess our sins and that we will be saved, and do you know what else…. the bible says if you will confess your sins that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” Then I pointed out to the right and asked him to look out over the valley to east… we could literally see 100 miles to the next mountain range…. then I pointed out to the west, over Albuquerque toward Arizona… another 100 miles to the next range….. and said “The bible says that He casts our sins as far away as the east is from the west” Avery looked up at me with astonishment in his eyes and said…..“That’s a looooooong way”. My reply??? “So forget it… it’s over. I love you so much son…. So does God….” and with that we finally made it back to the tram station.
This morning I woke up and my beautiful wife told me to check out the reading for the day….. day 4 of the tour leads us to Proverbs 4… and so I did:
“Listen my sons to a father’s instructions
pay attention and gain understanding.
I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a boy in my fathers’s house, still tender,
and an only child of my mother,
he taught me and said, “Lay hold of my words
with all your heart; keep my commands and
you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or swerve from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have
Esteem her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will set a garland of grace on your head
and present you with a crown of splendor.
Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you
along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not
be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble….”
God loves you… he wants you to want him… and he wants you safe in his arms. Sometimes the only way for us to run into his arms is calamity. Does he want us to fall???? Heck NO…… but God always makes something beautiful out of something that hurts. I dare say that if we lived by his “rules” we’d make it to the top of many an amazing mountain safely, but that is not the way we as humans learn. We learn by failure… and God loves us so much that He’s willing to let us do what we want…. He’s willing to let us fall…. and let us HATE Him for letting us fall… if it means there’s even the slightest chance that we will run into His arms freely. He’s willing to allow this because love isn’t love its forced…. If Avery doesn’t want to hold my hand…. I don’t want him to hold my hand….. But man it was so AWESOME when my 9 year old son decided he wanted me. And so God waits for you…. waiting for the day when you’ll want to hold His hand, talk with Him, walk with Him, and find out how much He really does desperately love YOU.
What would you attempt if you weren’t afraid to fail?
It’s a placard on my managers desk. Every time I walk in his office I stare at for a few seconds and then try to make an honest evaluation of if I’m living by that creed. It was right after we had finished the Winter Jam 2012 tour. Arguably the most successful tour that Building429 had ever been a part of. 48 cities in sold out arena’s all around the country…. And we had the blessing of being on the tour as our song “Where I Belong” began to take the country by storm. Pretty awesome to watch God move like that. Yet, coming off of that tour didn’t feel like we were in a chill mode at all. In fact in the early part of that tour I had already had a few conversations with people about the possibility of us writing for a new record.
I’ve got to be honest… I used to write around the clock… 24/7, 365 days a year. It left me empty… it left me in a place of constantly chasing the next big song. It honestly hurt my ability to focus on my family… it was as frustrating and irritating as someone who keeps updating their twitter/facebook status in the middle of a date. I constantly had to tell myself… “come on Jason, be here, now…. The songs aren’t from you anyway.” Seriously…. I would run to my guitar any time any crazy idea came to mind out of some obligation to capture every thought… often times hushing children who just wanted to be with daddy while I’d try to write out an idea. Then one day I came to the idea that maybe I needed to trust this great God that I was writing songs about with the writing of the songs. That’s when I finally became a real writer. I got rid of all the noise and stopped writing with every Joe Blow songwriter in a frantic and hopeless effort to write the big song, and started writing with just 2 people and ONLY when it was time for Building to record a new record. It was the best decision of my life.
Freedom had come in the form of simplicity.
Faith replaced fear and on our record “Listen to the Sound” God showed me what He could do with my willingness to truth him as a songwriter. That doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes freak out though. Honestly at the beginning of the newest record my confidence was a bit shaken just by the daunting task of writing a new batch of songs and getting it whittled down to 10 that would be the new record. Song selection is like pouring your heart out on 20 canvasses and then allowing your closest friends fire buck shot at the ones they don’t like until there are 10 left. It’s brutal to say the least because as I say “The writer loves all of his children/song equally”. That’s a weird way of saying that you pour everything you have into every song and you have to be prepared to hear that your amazing thought processes may not actually be that amazing.
So there I was at Gabe’s (my manager) office when he brought it up. “Sooooooo”, he said, “What are you thinking about the next record??” What was I thinking??? I was thinking can’t I have a little more time to enjoy our brand new #1 song?? Haha. That little placard was staring me in the face and I couldn’t help but think….. that’s it…. Whatever THAT is… I want to do that. “What would I attempt to do if I weren’t afraid that I would fail?” What kind of songs would I write. What sounds would we try? How far could we push the envelope while staying true to the form that brought us to this dance? How far could we walk the tight rope???
Then this thought popped in my head. What if we wrote a record about who we are in Christ instead of constantly recounting who we were before?? What if we wrote a record out of confidence in what God’s plans are? What if we stopped cowering because of our weakness and began to stand confidently because of His strength in us?
My mom always said I was born to be a flame…. Maybe she was on to something… maybe… wait… she was right I was born to be a flame… but I want to…. do something bigger…. be a connector, an initiator, be the spark plug that moves the pistons….. I want to… Yeah!!!
Well then I want to light a BONFIRE!
In fact….. I’m gonna light a bonfire!! No, WE’RE GONNA LIGHT ONE TOGETHER!!!
This record is meant to energize the masses. It’s meant to be a bold statement of faith and confidence in a God who isn’t a fable. He isn’t an imaginary figure. He’s not something that we made up to make ourselves feel good about our lives. He’s spent 10 years making us ready for this moment. We we’re meant to lead… so we’re going to… the cost is irrelevent… the truth must go forth. So we’re going to incite a little bravado, a little confidence… maybe start a Holy revolution. That’s the idea and we’d love to invite you to be the Revolution with us. The meek, the mild, the weak, the lonely, the desperate….. that doesn’t begin to describe the 12 people that Jesus surrounded himself with. The disciples were strong, courageous…. outspoken, daring men…. And they got A LOT done for the kingdom. They made mistakes, but they were powerful men of God. We feel that it’s time for this generation to reclaim the banner of courage and remember that our God is able. So with that we introduce the title of our new record:
We Won’t be Shaken
Our new record and in my opinion in represents the pinnacle achievement to date of Building429. We stretched ourselves in ways that felt like natural progressions…. But with new sounds that would’ve been completely foreign on any of our first 4 records. We feel that we’ve brought the best parts of Building429 into this new record whilst leaving some of the extra noise behind. Some will say “Well Jason, I’ve heard you say that before and we’ll just have to wait and see if it’s your best.” I understand your skepticism, but in a career that has stretched longer than anyone thought it would we have never been so supremely confident in God’s plans for Building429 to LEAD. This year will be a banner year for us. I am sure of it, but it will only be that because of what God has done… not us. In fact, there is 1 song on the record that may seem a bit out of place at first, but I encourage you to pay close attention to it. It’s the very last song of the record and it says this:
ALL THE GLORY
Turn my world upside down
Turn it all inside out
You take the least, and make them first
Pour yourself on those who thirst
You use us when we are weak
You use me because I am weak
Its Here I find
You lift me up Just to lift you high
This never was about me
You get all the glory
You get all the glory
If I stand
It’s only that I’m in your hands
It never was about me
You get all the glory
You get all the glory
You’re the author of it all
And so I live to make you known
You take the last, you take the low
You make something beautiful
You use me because I am weak
You’re ways are higher
You’re will above my own
Your glory is greater
You’re story will be told
God wants to turn your world upside down, as He has ours, for His glory. But He can’t do that if don’t consistently lay it all on the line. You can’t be lazy and you can’t be scared. God can do amazing things through people with faith the size of a Mustard Seed. So what will you do?
What WOULD you attempt if you weren’t afraid to fail?
What would YOU do??
A Night of Hope and Healing: From the inside
There is no doubt that every artist in the arena felt called to be there. The list was amazing. Building429 was just one band in a HUGE lineup of artists who decided to go and do whatever we could to try to bring some light into extreme darkness. We were told when it was over that 75,000 people had watched the livestream along side the 10,000 people in the arena. The Lord’s will was done… that much was obvious as the night went on.
What wasn’t so obvious??? What were we supposed to say? What would be too much, and what would be too little? Backstage there was a sense of togetherness. We were all confident that God would show up, but no one knew exactly how. I remember when we found out that we were going to be the first band on. 10,000 people still mourning the loss of such precious lives only a month after the tragedy…. How would they respond? How should we approach it?
There were pretty much no sound checks at all that day. It was a line check… “can you hear the click track and a little bit of everything??? Good… moving on”. Michael got there just in time for us to play “We Won’t Be Shaken” our brand new song 1 time and then sound check was done. We literally rehearsed it in the dressing room the rest of the day preparing for the first time that we would share a song that we felt was meant for the night.
Numerous conversations throughout the day with our friends left us somewhat confident, but to be honest everyone was shaking in their boots (even the big, BIG dogs were obviously tense). We prayed a lot, asked for a lot of advice… and then there we were side stage watching Max Lucado and the Mayor of the City pray for the Lords will to be done. That was the longest prayer of my life… listening intently to the words of his prayer…. Lost in thought and in my own prayer that God would use me.
Were we nervous???? I admit it… I’m never nervous… but I was literally quoting the lines to “We Won’t Be Shaken” over and over again in my head until the second that we were announced. Which then posed another problem… what were the words to “Listen to the Sound”? That’s right after all these years… when we were about to play a song called “We won’t be shaken” we were all shaking to our core.
Funny the way that God works though. We think we have to have the answers…. But that’s where we mess up. It’s not about planning the perfect sermon it’s about getting out of the way and allowing Him to move. “Seek and you will find, Knock and the door will be opened” that was my biggest prayer for an area that is deeply non-religious. “Lord let them have open hearts…. Let them be willing to knock tonight”
I know it was no mistake that we were the first on…. It was God’s design for me to feel small and insignificant. It was God’s design for us to lead the charge…. He knew that our first show of 2013 needed to be about HIM…. And it was. Was it perfect… nope…. But it didn’t have to be.
Our 3 songs were literally a blur…. It was over as fast as it started. All I remember was that the first 2.5 minutes of “Listen to the Sound” were really intense and then we hit “Amazing Grace” and the room lifted… the lyrics started penetrating hearts and the whole room seemed to relax a little. Where I Belong was AMAZING and then came the song we’d never played in a concert or rehearsal hall together. Psalm 62:2 on our hearts, we just went for it. It felt huge, and when we walked off the stage we knew we had accomplished something…. we opened the gates and the spirit came walking through.
BTW, I’m told some of the artists didn’t sound that good online…. Give them all a break. All of us were just trying to keep it together out there… the emotions we all felt were unbelievably intense. I tend to tow the tough guy line…. But when we walked off the stage I was in tears…. And I know that everyone else fought that same knot in their throat all night.
That said… don’t ever doubt your ability to be a vessel that God uses even in the darkest moments of another persons life. Just remember that we are told to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto our own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your path straight” Proverbs 3:5-6.
Maybe you don’t understand, but you can trust. Maybe your afraid to sit and cry with the broken hearted, but you can submit to his will. It’s not about you….. your answers, or your thoughts…. His are so much higher than ours….. so TRUST HIM and be what He’s called you to be. His Hands and Feet.
We’ll never forget that night as long as we live… we hope and pray that the effects are lingering still. For those of you who joined us online, we honestly wish you could’ve been in the room. For Newtown, CT our prayers continue and though we still don’t have all the answers… we know the one who does. Stand firm in your faith…. Fight for what is right and true… Never lay down, never give up…. Our God will have the final victory. Our battle cry is this:
The Lord is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress and I will NEVER BE SHAKEN.
This world has nothing for me
This life is not my own
I know you go before me
And I am not alone
The mountain rises higher
The way seems so unclear
I know that you go with me
I will never fear
I will trust in you
Whatever will come our way
Through fire or pouring rain
We wont be shaken
Whatever tomorrow brings
Together we’ll rise and sing
We won’t be shaken
You know my every longing
You’ve heard my every prayer
You’ve held me in my weakness
You were always there
So I’ll stand in full surrender
It’s your way and not my own
My mind is set on nothing less
Than you and you alone
I will not be moved
Whatever will come our way
Through fire or pouring rain
We wont be shaken
Whatever tomorrow brings
Together we’ll rise and sing
We won’t be shaken
We will trust in you
We will not be moved
We will trust in you
And we won’t be shaken