The Story Behind Hillsong United’s “Oceans”

One of the songs that was implemented this past summer at CBLI (at least in the Young Adult Community), and one that we plan to use throughout this coming Prayer & Praise Night Season, is Hillsong United’s “Oceans.” It’s an incredible song, one with great lyrical depth. The whole idea of the song is about stepping out in faith and and trusting and depending on God more than ever. Take a look at the two videos above, one from Worship Together, and the other straight from Hillsong United. They both take a behind the scenes look at how the song came together, both in terms of its Biblical foundation, and how they wrote it (and almost didn’t finish it!) as a band.

A Scripture that is referenced in the Worship Together video as the basis for the song is Peter being called out on the water by Jesus in Matthew 14:

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

For me personally, I really find deep connections to 2 Corinthians 9:

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

To listen to a full version of the song, watch this video here:

Gungor’s Long Awaited New Release: I Am Mountain

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been two years since Gungor released a studio album (their last one being “Ghosts Upon The Earth”), and it’s been 4 years since they released “Beautiful Things.” Well, all that waiting you’ve been doing for a new studio album will come to an end soon. That’s right, on September 24, Gungor will release, “I Am Mountain.”

To boost the hype and anticipation, they’ve been releasing a few previews for different tracks via YouTube, AND you can also stream the title track at USA Today / Sound Cloud. Not only have they been busy making this new album, but they’ve been hard at work shooting a music video for the title track. Of course, they haven’t been sitting around for the past two years doing nothing. They released a live liturgical album last year, and they just released a DVD companion to that live album two days ago. The DVD companion looks insane, as it was recorded on location in the caves of N.Ireland, the mountaintops of Colorado, at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, underground in the subways of New York City, and throughout their 2012 Spring tour.

Below you’ll find a shmorgishborg of Gugngor videos for your viewing pleasure, and worship resources:

For more info, head to www.gungormusic.com.

Video: Gungor’s “When Death Dies”

As you may know, the band that brought us “Beautiful Things” and “The Earth Is Yours” recently came out with a new album called “Ghosts Upon The Earth.” If for whatever reason you’ve been living under a rock, or have been neglecting your privilege to listen to Gungor’s new album, you should at least check out this awesome music video of a song off that album called “When Death Dies.”

The video is amazing for a couple of reasons. Number one, it features the world’s first beat boxing cellist! COME ON! Number two, the song is great. The message and the lyrics are loaded with powerful imagery:

“Like the waters flooding the desert
Like the sunrise showing all things

When it comes, flowers grow
Lions sleep, gravestones roll
Where death dies, all things live
When it comes, poor men feast
Kings fall down to their knees
When death dies, all things live
All things live

Like a woman searching and finding love
Like an ocean buried and bursting forth

Where it comes, flowers grow
Lions sleep, gravestones roll
Where death dies, all things come alive
Where it comes, water’s clean
Children fed, all believe
When death dies, all things live
All things live

All things live

Where it comes, flowers grow
Lions sleep, gravestones roll
When death dies, all things live”

If after this video you feel compelled to buy this album, you should. It’s totally worth it! For more info on Gungor, check our their website here.

Erasing Hell

Not too long ago, on July 5th, 2011 actually, Francis Chan released a new book called Erasing Hell.  Among other things, it talks about what the Bible really states when it comes to Hell.  And this is perhaps the best part about the style of Chan’s writing.  He’s very careful, respectful in fact, to make sure he’s not stating what he wants to be true or thinks to be true.  He gathers together the Scriptures on the topic at hand, and lets God speak.  After all, God’s ways our much higher than ours.  Check out the video.  You’ll be glad you did.

New transMission Songs On SoundCloud!

Over the past few days, Marty Mikles of transMission has been releasing songs off of their forthcoming album “Majestic” on SoundCloud via Twitter. I thought we’d give them a shout out, and at the same time, hook you up with some new music.

To check out their new songs (including “Great Are You”, “Holy Spirit, Come”), click here.

To follow Marty Mikles on Twitter, click here.

Goodbye CreativeMYK, Hello CreationSwap

CreationSwap from CreationSwap on Vimeo.

“For years, CreativeMYK has served churches by networking artists and providing access to free downloadable graphics. On January 10, 2011, CreativeMYK will give way to CreationSwap, a new-and-improved offering for Christian creatives. We asked the founders of CreationSwap to tell us a little bit more about what’s in the works.

COLLIDE: CreativeMYK is changing to CreationSwap — what motivated the change?

CreationSwap: We have always been focused on the church artist. CreativeMYK started with several local church designers in Orange County, CA. They all wanted a place to meet other designers and to share design resources freely with other churches on the web…”

Read on @ http://www.collidemagazine.com/article/358/introducing-creationswap

Worship Spotlight: Gungor

Sometimes you stumble upon something that’s just too good to hold onto and not tell everyone you know about it.  Gungor, a self-described liturgical post rock 4 piece, is one of those somethings.  I happened to find these guys by browsing a friend’s church’s Facebook profile.  They posted an acoustic version of the band’s Beautiful Things, the title song off of their new 13 song full length album. I’m not going to describe in detail what their style is like, nor say much about who they are and what they do.  I’ll let the following videos speak for themselves.  But allow me just to bolster, or explain, what was previously mentioned quickly.  Gungor is a liturgical post rock band because their musical style has been self described as a combination of Sigur Ros, Muse and  Sufjan, and they’re liturgical because, well, they write worship music.  If you have a few minutes, take a listen to these videos.  It’s well worth your time.  And, if you like their music so much that you want to play it, well head on over to their website — www.gungormusic.com — and download the chord charts.

Gungor’s “Beautiful Things” (Acoustic Version) on Relevant.tv

Gungor Explains Gungor

(photo courtesy of fujimatt.)

“Ain’t No Grave” – An Awesome End Note to the Life of An American Artist.

Most of you don’t know who Nick Hornby is, but I’d just like to take this opportunity to publicly thank him to introducing me, in earnest, to the mythology and music of the great Johnny Cash. You see, when I was in high school I saw a movie called High Fidelity and read the novel of the same name which the movie was based off of. The book and film each center around the life of a world weary record store owner who can’t stop reliving the pain of his past heartbreaks. In one portion of the movie (I can’t remember if it’s in the novel or not) the protagonist is defending himself, explaining that he understands the complex male-female relationship because he’s read classic literature… and he even understood it! He then states, for the record, that his all-time favorite book is Cash by Johnny Cash.

That joke intrigued me. Mostly because I thought it was a funny idea–that a person’s favorite book could be an autobiography. I went to the library and checked out a copy and was so moved by his life story. To come from such humble means and through much struggle to become a huge star, only to be followed by his demons and see them take on new forms (drug addiction, marital problems). Yet along the entire path of his life, no matter how far he strayed (even to the point of attempted suicide), God wrestled with Johnny and never relented his love. It’s easy to see why he was always standing up for something besides himself, because he was so often unsure of who he was or what he was really worth. But the one constant through it all, and his eventual redemption, was Jesus Christ. If you’re not familiar with Johnny Cash’s story, I recommend reading his autobiography!

This all happened circa 2002, which also happened to be the moment in history that Johnny Cash was proving his worth to a new generation. He was already two albums into his American Recording series, which found him partnered with producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Slayer). The two had been busy crafting sparsely instrumented, layered albums which mixed Johnny Cash’s signature country and gospel sound with a more modern flavor. Rubin also had a big hand in song selection for the albums, taking Cash’s original songs and traditional country & western covers and enlisting him for covers of modern, decidedly not country songs: “Thirteen” by Danzig, “One” by U2, numerous songs by Tom Petty, and his huge hit, “Hurt” (originally by the nu-metal forefathers Nine Inch Nails).

Released this past month, Ain’t No Grave is the sixth (and supposedly the final) installment in the series. It’s composed of material that was recorded during the sessions for American V: A Hundred Highways but was yet unreleased. The arrangements are typical of the series, with Cash’s aged and sometimes cracking voice prominently featured atop his acoustic strummings, light piano and organ work, sparse guitar overdub, and little percussion. Much of the material was recorded shortly after the death of Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash, and not long before his own passing. The theme of mortality runs through each of the records in the American series and is especially present on Ain’t No Grave.

That’s not to say that the record is morbid; the view of death on this album is one of beginnings rather than ends. Over the slide guitar and rustling chains of the title track, Cash sings the old Spiritual, “There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down /  When you hear that trumpet sound / Gonna’ get up out of the ground / There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down.” “1 Corinthians 15:55” is the only Cash original, and also another of the stand out tracks. “O Death, where is thy sting? / O Grief, where is thy victory?” He sings, “O Life, you are a shining path / And hope springs eternal, just over the rise / When I see my redeemer beckoning me.” Another song that I really enjoyed right from the first spin (even after finding out it was a Sheryl Crow original) was, “Redemption Day”.

There are a few slumps, which are understandable considering the material was left over from an earlier session, but as a whole the album is an incredible reminder of the man and the music that have left such an indelible mark on American culture. Johnny Cash is an icon not only because he produced unforgettable music for practically half a century, but because his life was, and will continue to be a testament to the grace of God and the transforming power of the cross. If you have the means and the opportunity, check out Ain’t No Grave and the other albums in the American Recording series (they’re a great entry into the immense catalog of Johnny Cash’s work) and read Cash. You’ll be moved and hopefully inspired to remember God’s love for you and to rely on him to take you over each hurdle, through each valley and eventually to Glory!

The Book of Eli, And Truth

Media remains to be such a predominant influence in our culture.  As young people, we have no choice but to be immersed in this media influence, especially when it comes to MOVIES! It seems to me that finding the balance between upholding moral Christian standards and engaging in modern cinema is becoming more and more difficult.  The only real options are to cut off this part of culture (almost) entirely, or (lets face it, the more probable option) is to engage in cinema. I am not saying there are no dangers to this, there are plenty. Nor am I commanding people to watch movies.  I am simply saying that it is part of our culture and movies may not always be a negative thing to indulge in.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a friend about the movie The Da Vinci Code.  I asked her if she thought that this movie, and movies like it, are dangerous.  She replied, “I don’t really find the movie dangerous other than the pseudo-facts it presents.”  Pseudo-facts of Christianity exist everywhere in media, and movies are no different.  Pseudo-facts are ideas presented in movies that are perceived as true when in reality they are false. In fact, the word pseudo literally means “false.”  Seems to be an ironic phrase to use (“false-facts”). Take The Da Vinci code for example. In this movie the characters are on the quest to find the “Holy Grail” only to find out that the it was the lineage of Jesus, claiming that Jesus had children with Mary Magdalene.  Of course as Christians we know that this is not true, but by presenting a story with this “Holy Grail” being found by clues left through out history, one may perceive it as true.  The danger comes when the perception of the viewer assumes these pseudo-facts as truth.

The Da Vinci code is not the only movie that has this effect.  A more recent movie was just released in theaters about God wiping out humans by sending angels to destroy them because he had “lost faith in humanity.”  This does not seem to make much sense for God to condone this action since he sent Christ to be the hope for humanity.  I’m talking about the new movie Legion staring Denis Quaid.  Of course this movie is meant to entertain with stylized action.  To quote my roommate, “It was like Noah and the flood, but cooler.”  But the misconception still remains. Denis Quaid even said in an interview about the movie that, “It’s more Old Testament than New Testament with God’s wrath and all that” (foxnews.com).  Even this quote about the movie gives the misconception that God’s judgement/ justice is different from the Old testament and New Testament (as if God had somehow changed or that there is a different God from the Old and New Testament).  Another recent movie in the past couple of years would be There Will Be Blood in which the Church is seen as a capitalistic exploitation to gain money, not a new misconception (unfortunately) of the Church of God.  But we as Christians know that this is not what the Church is about!  Even the new movie, The Book of Eli, is getting a ton of attention for it themes of Christianity, but has the main character, a man of faith, slicing off his opponents heads. Not only that, but this character, Eli, is thought to be under the guidance of God yet engages in the work of God through violence.  It raises the pseudo-fact that it is ok to do the work of God through violence and murder.  Those are just a couple of examples of pseudo-facts seen on the screen.

So how, as Christians, do we handle the pseudo-facts presented in movies?  I prefer to take a more passive approach to this issue.  We have to understand that movies are pieces of literature and that these movies, unless they are a documentary or an absolutely honest movie “based on a true story,” are works of fiction. THEY ARE NOT TRUE!  It is the viewer who makes the assumption that the so-called “facts” are truth.  There will always be misconceptions about Christianity.  There has been ever since the beginning of the Church.  Our job as the viewer is to understand that this fiction is not truth and that our truth comes from the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God.

Are Christians then to judge movies as merely entertainment, a “waste of time?” As a connoisseur of movies, I would beg to differ.  Although some movies present pseudo-facts, this is not the case with every movie.  Some don’t even tell you the exact statements or facts and leave much of the film up for interpretation.  These movies raise questions and get us to ask questions about our beliefs. Cinema can even deal philosophical questions about faith in Christ.

Let’s bring it back to the previously mentioned movie The Book of Eli.  (Now I apologize for this, but I will include a few spoilers of the movie.)  The setting of is a post apocalyptic world in which war has destroyed civilization over 30 year ago.  Eli is a man heading west and carrying a book in which he is willing to do whatever it takes to protect it.  The villain, Carnegie, finds out about Eli’s possession of this book and wants the book for his own manipulative power.  Thus, the excitement begins.

Now if you haven’t guessed it, the book Eli is carrying is the Bible (all the Bibles were destroyed during the war in a massive book burning).  So Eli carries the one known written Word of God.  Through out the movie you see how the word of God affects the characters, especially those who are under the age of 30 and have never heard of the Bible, and how Eli’s guidance by faith helps him accomplish the task God has set out for him.  This movie raises questions about the power of the Bible, the extension of God’s Word, the place of prevenient grace and the need for faith to carry God’s will.  Although the pseudo-fact of violence (as mentioned earlier) remains, it allows the viewer to think and interpret these aspects subtly presented in the film.

Now in no way am I condoning any teenager to watch this movie.  It gets its well deserved rated R for strong violence and language.  So I am not suggesting that you young people go out to the theaters and watch The Book of Eli.  Movie restrictions on the teenager are based on the decision between the parents and the teenager. I only use it for its recent relevancy on the point I am trying to make.  There are plenty of movies that allow viewers to think about faith and Christianity that receive a PG-13 rating and under.  Some might include: Prince Caspian, Signs, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, We’re Back (Yeah I mention my childhood movie in this!) and dare I say it… Saved!

My hope in writing this is that we Christians can view movies that help us build our philosophy in God.  Not all movies bring this about, but they do exist out there.  It is also important to understand that movies are meant to entertain and not be a sermon.  They only present ideas and don’t preach or proclaim the direct Word of God.  But I do propose that we can watch certain movies that raise questions to help us build discussion of faith amongst each other, and maybe understand God a little more through the imaginative fictional literature that is cinema.