RECREATE


In the presence of Jesus, things have to change. Before the Creator of the Universe, old ways of thinking are confronted with new paradigms. Rugged routine is replaced with fresh perspective. Depression lifts its eyes to hope. Hate transfigures into love. These are the vital signs of drawing near to the real Jesus.

But the inverse is also true. When there's no real change, and hateful dusty thinking remains on the shelves of our hearts - there's warning of Christ's absence. When fear overrides compassion, there's red flares bursting up into the sky for everyone to see, that love is not here. Because the message of the Gospel is that when we get close to the real Jesus, things have to change.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18-19

See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
Isaiah 65:17

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Romans 6:4

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Most of us are afraid of change because it threatens our own personal economy. Drawing near to Jesus is scary. If we were to actually allow Jesus any closer, He might want to shake things up and rearrange our hopes and dreams.

But that kind of fear is not from God, because at the center of God's heart is love, and we know there's nothing to be afraid of in love. The heart of God says, "What I want to re-create in and through your life is far better than what you want to create. My dreams are wilder. Behold I make all things new..."


RECREATE 

Frail from the pain we carry
Pale from the light we bury
All we need is a glimpse of You
All we need is a glimpse of You
Worn by the war the raging
Torn by a world that's breaking
All we need is a glimpse of You
All we need is a glimpse of You
To bring us back to life

Spirit,
Captivate
Resonate
Liberate
Recreate us

Fear runs away and scatters
Time dissipates and shatters
Dead hearts rise in the wake of You
Dead hearts rise in the wake of You
Joy overcomes the sorrow
Hope illuminates tomorrow
Breath of Life we're alive in You
Breath of Life we're alive in YOu
So breathe on us again

Captivate
Resonate
Liberate
Recreate us

I'm coming back to life
I'm coming back to life in You
My future is alive
My future is alive in You

Captivate
Resonate
Liberate
Recreate us

THE UPSIDE TO DOWNSIZING

Authentic worship, the kind that responds in spirit and truth, means thinking less like a consumer (asking “What can I get out of this situation?”) and confronting the harder question, “What can I give out of this situation?” I believe if we paused in the middle of the race towards the American dream, we might discover we’ve been given thousands of beautiful gifts, customly donated to us by God, uniquely designed to give away to others.




Most of us have everything we need. But if we’re honest, most of us have abundantly more than we could ever ask for or imagine. There’s a circulating rumor out there right now that tells us in order to be happy we have to keep buying and accumulating more and more. But this rumor is simply a lie, and incongruent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Did you known every night 51,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles County alone? 40% are women and children. That’s just in my own backyard. (With a stat like this I can hear a milieu of contrarian voices - trust me I’m a songwriter, I hear contrarian voices all the time.) But what if for a moment we took an honest inventory of our actual “needs,” and like the early Church, looked for ways to give compassionately to others...

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” ACTS 32-35

My wife and I will have married five years this November, and are just now peering into the joys (and pains) of what it must have felt like in the early Church. This past week we moved and decided that in this next season of our lives, instead of scaling up into a larger two or three bedroom apartment, we would choose to scale down into one bedroom apartment. We also took the plunge from two cars to one. We even donated our California King mattress, and royally downsized to a Queen. This week we gave away things we never even used before: extra dressers, desks, chairs, plates, linens, clothes, food - even our moving boxes were helpful to people who actually needed them.

The pressure to pursue the American Dream is getting stronger everyday. As Americans we are hard-wired to believe bigger means better. We live in a society that tells us that the more stuff we can accumulate, the happier we’ll become along the way. But like every great dream, the consequences can often have negative side effects.

Songwriter Matt Redman said it best, "Our Father loves us with an extravagant abandon. Passionate, undignified worship is the only reasonable response." No matter your current family configuration, location, or vocation we are all called to respond extravagantly. What if we lived as passionately and undignified as our songs? What if justice and praise were no longer separate entities but began to flow from the same well of gratitude in worship.

If you’re in Los Angeles, Door of Hope is a Christ-centered ministry based in LA that serves homeless families and children. And if you want to take the conversation even further, please check out @doorofhope #doorofhope #endfamilyhomelessness #endhomelessness

IN THE CHAOS YOU SEE GLORY

“I want to see what you see, come and rearrange me
Let your love be my kaleidoscope.” 

Life has a way of throwing unpredictable circumstances at us that we can’t control. We experience loss, broken hearts, and pain beyond words. When I was in junior high, my parents got a divorce. Most people on the outside thought everything was fine, but I remember most days coming home and feeling like I had to walk on eggshells just to get to my room. Home was the last place I wanted to be. So when a friend invited me to youth group with him, I was more than eager to go. And I loved it. I experienced musical worship that would go on for hours at a time, and found it was healing to my heart. It was in those sacred moments that I discovered the real God. A God who cared for me, a God who wasn’t going anywhere, a God in pursuit of my heart.

But did I mention life is unpredictable? Shortly after, my mom was diagnosed with leukemia. And it was as I watched her go through recovery that my faith started to become desperate. Worship through music became my lifeline, the center of gravity for my whole being. Each lyric actually meant something to me. I began to develop intimacy of God, understand and know the compassion of God, and step into the full realization that God was and is my heavenly Father. And that’s where new songs began to flow out of me; cries for help, cries for healing, anthems of restoration.

Remember when you were a kid and you looked through a kaleidoscope and every time you turned it the colors and shapes would change? That’s what worship did for me during a season where it felt like landscape of my life was being ripped up and rearranged. It took what the world saw as broken, and let me see it through the redemptive eyes of God. And that’s what the song ‘Kaleidoscope’ is about— looking at the messed up parts of our lives and seeing hope.

There’s something child-like about faith in general. It takes willingness to look through the lens in the first place, and belief that things can be beautiful again. We need a new perspective, to see the world as God sees it. Somehow in the midst of our pain and brokenness we need eyes to see God’s redemptive plan.

We worship a God who comes down to us. Who walks with us, suffered for us, and let his heart break for us. Worship creates an arena for us to lift that lens to our weary eyes and let the brilliance of God’s redemptive plan in.

Buy ‘Kaleidoscope’

iTunes: http://smarturl.it/URKaleidoscope
Amazon Music: http://smarturl.it/URKaleidoscopeAM
Google Play: http://smarturl.it/URKaleidoscopeGP
Spotify: http://smarturl.it/KaleidoscopeSpotify
Apple Music: http://smarturl.it/URKaleidoscopeAPL

5 Bits of Unsolicited Advice From One Artist to Another

1. Love the 5%


I was once told music is about 10% making and performing music, and 90% everything else. I would say it’s actually more like 5%.  As an indie musician I’ve made music exclusively on my own for the past ten years during which I’ve fundraised $20,000 through Kickstarter, filmed and edited and produced nearly 100 videos on Youtube, designed, printed and sold everything from tank tops to light-up bracelets to wristwatches to bumper stickers to my own track-by-track devotional journal, created all the artwork associated with my branding on virtually all platforms, written hundreds of blogs, traveled thousands of miles, and met too many people to count. Yet all these things have been completely separate from actually making and performing music. I suppose my point is that if you want to make music for a living, you have to love the 5% enough to eat, sleep, and breath the 95%.

2. Embrace the X-Factor


I’m a hardwired skeptic. I’m the person that needs to see it from every angle to make an informed decision. If you’re anything like me you’ll wait till the right opportunity comes your way, even if it takes ten years. The only problem with waiting is that big doors don’t typically open before we actually jump into the unknown. The best careers in music are the ones based on some element of risk, or chance, or fate – that x factor variable lingering around like an unsolved math equation. No matter how strategic or calculated your future may be, don’t miss your greatest life’s calling by playing it safe on the sidelines. You may never have that opportunity again.

3. Family Over Fame


This will be the one truth in your life that propels you forward, or absolutely destroys everything you have. If you can’t honestly say to yourself at night, “I love my family and my friends more than music” or “I’d happily give all this up to save my marriage” then you need to remix your priorities. Take a week off, unplug, and get back in touch with your loved-ones. You may experience deep loss and even lose career “momentum,” but music can never take priority over people. If he/she doesn’t know that they come first in your life, then that means they probably don’t. If you're stuck between family and fame, always choose family.


4. Let Them In


There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel a sense of great isolation and detachment from other people. As an artist, the enemy would love nothing more than to tell you that everything you’re doing is in vain, that you’re ultimately alone, and you should probably call it quits. Unfortunately, I know this voice far too well. Get in a real community of people who not only cheer you on, but know the real you, pray for you, and ask the hard questions. The other day after church a lady at church prayed over me specifically for the heavy touring I’m about to embark on next year, but in order for that to happen I had to let her in. I had to confess to her I wasn’t strong enough, that I was scared, and afraid to reveal my true heart. There’s people in your life that are ready right now to hold you, pray for you, and lift you up – but you have to let them in.

5. You Are Living the Dream



The reality is we live in a big world with over seven billion people, and your job as a musician is one of the most coveted vocations out there.  So many people would trade anything to sing or play or even just make art (and have art pay their bills) on some basic level. The reality is that there should be an innate sense of immense joy in the knowledge you’ve given a rare, beautiful, precious gift that nobody else has. You may not be as successful as other people, but in the words of skateboarder Tony Hawk, “I’m not talking about financial success. I’m talking about loving what you do. If you love art and you do art, and maybe you get a little bit of success at it, you are living the dream.”

REVIVAL IN THE PRESENT TENSE


Photo by Ryan Longnecker

My number one strength on the Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment is Futuristic. It basically means I’m most inspired by the future and all the wild possibilities of what tomorrow holds. For example, while making coffee this morning I categorized a list in my head of all the artists I would love to collaborate with, and considered how to practically make it happen. In my world the future is an ongoing reality of things to come. It’s real goal setting. It’s diligent strategic planning. It’s high practicality, coupled with high risk, shooting for big results. It’s exhilarating, adventurous, and life-giving.

Post-college I realized the power of my own internal hardwiring could produce real results for my family. I found that I could do anything I put my mind to, and be somewhat successful at it. With enough will power and vision I discovered my life could unfold into anything I wanted. Perhaps the most critical path I found my mind set being used was ministry. I viewed the Church as breeding ground for new ideas and new inventions, a place for creativity and passion – with the caveat of course that these ideas would be the means towards the chief end of loving God and His people.

Sunday after Sunday I witnessed first hand so many successful worship services and events brimming with powerful presentations and spiritual forethought. People continually would come up to me and affirm just what an amazing service it was. And as worship leader, what more could I ask for? Job well done. Let’s work on next Sunday!

“But there is a completely different story to tell. Beneath all the great accomplishments of our time there is a deep current of despair. While efficiency and control are the great aspirations of our society, the loneliness, isolation, lack of friendship and intimacy, broken relationships, boredom, feeling of emptiness and desperation, and a deep sense of uselessness fill the hearts of millions of people in our success-oriented world.” – Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus

This week in New York I sensed a shift in my heart. While our band led worship in high schools and churches in Queens, Union Square, and Flushing I quickly realized a restlessness inside of me. What does real success look like for Urban Rescue? Does it mean a flawless performance? A louder applause? Or does it mean transformation? Spiritual liberation? Revival?

As I sat in Central Park with Brandon, Nolan, and our road manager Geron I wanted to share a window into what I felt like the Holy Spirit was saying to me, “I am the God of the present tense. Be present. Don’t lose sight of the here and now.” So I simply asked the question, “What does it look like for our band to be present?” I went on to share my own difficulty with actually being present, and confessed that lately I’ve had a hard time even meaning the words I sing on stage.

That night as we took the stage in front of a couple thousand people, and felt very confident about our preparation. The first two songs went off without a hitch and the people were loving it. Then as I introduced the third song I heard myself say, “We’re a revival band from Los Angeles…” (Something I didn’t know I was planning on saying, or thought of up until that point.) Then as I finished setting everything up…. Nothing (after I was done speaking I waited for our drummer to start the song. Nothing happened). Literally no sound. Our programming had malfunctioned and it was dead silent in a packed house at St George’s Church in Union Square. I looked at Brandon, I looked at Nolan, and then Spirit spoke, “Be present.”

What happened next was the highlight of our entire set. The whole cathedral started singing along with us the exact words for what truth was happening in that moment,


Your love is holding me

Your love is holding me now

Closer

Your heart is calling me

Your heart is calling me now

Higher and higher


I could sense God fulfilling the prompting He spoke in Central Park. I could see Brandon setting his drum sticks down and lifting his hands up. I could hear Nolan singing right along with us. No video. No words. Just the presence of God.

“It is here that the need for a new Christian leadership becomes clear. The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success, and bring the light of Jesus there.” Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus

Christian revival is increased spiritual interest or renewal in the life of a church congregation or society, with a local, national or global effect. It can’t be planned or manufactured or controlled. It’s the unique work of God in the present tense. Not in the future, but now. So I suppose it’s an appropriate time to say it again: Urban Rescue is a revival band from Los Angeles. Our only mission is to marinate in the presence of God and allow our ministry to overflow from that place of union with God in prayer.

God, send revival to Los Angeles. Send revival to New York City. Send revival to our families. Send revival to our workplaces. Send revival to our schools. Send revival to this next generation. Give us the courage to fight the temptation to be relevant, powerful, and spectacular in the 21st century, and give us instead our daily bread. We refuse to live for tomorrow, and bask in Your grace for today.

- Jordan

June 3, 2015

MEET THE RE-IMAGINERS

LARK

LARK IS A NASHVILLE BASED REMIXER OF HILLSONG UNITED'S "OCEANS," AS WELL AS REMIXES FOR EDISON GLASS AND SEAN MCDONALD. RICH. COMPLEX STYLINGS HALT THE LISTENER TOWARD COMPLETE ATTENTION, LEAVING YOU BREATHLESS. (SEE MUSIC VIDEO BELOW)







NEON FEATHER

NEON FEATHER IS A RARE BREAD. HIS CRAFT IS UNBELIEVABLE YET HIS SPIRIT, HUMBLE. HAS REMIXED FOR ARTISTS SUCH AS SWITCHFOOT, TOBY MAC, MANDISA, CAPITOL KINGS, BRIT NICOLE, AND MORE. 




DONNY CARMA

DONNY CARMA IS A BRILLIANT MIND WITH A TASTE FOR HIP HOP AND MUSICAL SUNSETS. DRUMMER/PRODUCER/WRITER FOR THE BAND WILDCAT! WILDCAT!, DONNY CARMA SETS HIS LISTENERS IN A HEAD BOBBING TRANCE.



SUHONEN

SUHONEN IS A MAD SCIENTIST, GENUIS, AND SOUL SEARCHER FOR SOMETHING REAL. AS URBAN RESCUE'S PRODUCER SUHONEN IS IN A WORD, FAMILY. HE'S ALSO WORKED ON VARIOUS PROJECTS WITH O TOWN, CHRIS TOMLIN, JEREMY CAMP, LOVELITE, MATTHEW WEST, HILLSONG, CHRIST AUGUST, BETHEL, GUNGOR (JUST TO NAME A FEW)



LOWERCASE NOISES

AMBIENT. BEAUTIFUL. HOLY.  THIS IS THE SOUNDSCAPE ART OF LOWERCASE NOISES. ANDY OTHLING IS A PRODUCER/GUITARIST FROM NEW MEXICO WITH A CALM COLLECTED OFFERING OF SONGS YOU CAN DREAM ABOUT ON SPOTIFY AND iTUNES.


BRANDON ZEDAKER

A COMBINATION OF FLAVORS: DAFT PUNK, SUCRE, CHVRCHES, AND JAMES BLAKE. URBAN RESCUE'S VERY OWN PROGRAMMER/BASSIST/KEYBOARD PLAYER, BZ TAKES US A JOURNEY OF IMAGINATION.




A NEW NORMAL

KNOWN FOR HIS ELECTRONIC AMBIENT MUSIC, A NEW NORMAL IS A FUSION OF PULSATING BACKGROUND ORCHESTRA'S IN THE FORM OF SYNTH PATTERNS. MATHEMATICAL. NARRATIVE. HIS REMIX OF "PROVIDER" IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF HIS OWN IMAGINATION RUN WILD SET COMPLETELY FREE TO ROAM AND EXPLORE THE TERRAIN.


CHURCH: RE-IMAGINED

Finding a home-church can be difficult. Where do I belong? Where do I fit in? These basic faith-questions stem from a greater desire to know and be known by a community, and by God Himself. Unfortunately there are still many, including us, who have attended and "tried out" so many churches that the quest for something "real" has become an abstract spiritual myth. 

Yet when in our search for "something real" we actually mean in our hearts, "Longing for something perfect," imagining Church will continue to remain an abstract myth. And here's the simple reason why: 

Perfect Church does not exist. The Church is made of broken, dishonest, unfaithful, disloyal, fickle, and often fake people like you and me. Yet as Christians we gather and celebrate the good news of the Gospel: That God continues to faithfully love, and move, and work through (and often times despite) people like you and me. 

Our home-church is a place in Los Angeles called Fellowship Monrovia. It's imperfect, flawed, and only three years old. However this week mark's the celebration of our 3-Year Anniversary as a community of faith. Fellowship Monrovia has just released one of the most powerful, honest, breathtaking videos telling our story this past year, and you NEED to watch it and celebrate God's grace with us! (Link below and in Profile). Our song "Provider" is also featured throughout as Jordan shares his own personal experience of re-imagining Church. Enjoy! http://vimeo.com/118453649 [BEGINS AT 3:12]




Renewed Imagination

“In a society in which the thesaurus of metaphor and symbol has been ransacked by cynical advertisers, faithless artists, and indulgent entertainers to condition us to a maniacal but brainless devotion to me and now, how can the imagination be renewed so that we can say, honestly and personally, without necessarily raising our voices, who God is and what eternity means?” - Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder 


Often literal, linear, and self-explanatory images or stories or songs can help us better understand the world around us. They clearly paint in large brushstrokes a certain truth about who we are, and provide solutions for the condition of things we may not understand.

Then there's the work of Jackson Pollock. 

Metaphorical, non-linear, and un-explanatory. There's a deeply profound truth to be discovered within, yet without engagement, without a renewed sense of imagination, there remains to most a colorful canvas of utter mystery.

I wonder as a writer if the Church has lost to some degree that sense of imagination in worship. Have our songs become so linear, so literal, so self-explanatory that we've forgotten that sense of mystery, awe, and wonder about the One to whom we sing?

Eugene Peterson acknowledges that even the use of metaphor can be shipped out packaged in such a way that it loses its divine call. The "faithless artist" Peterson alludes, uses poetic form to make others feel safe and comfortable in the here and now, while the renewed artist helps people see the world beyond the now and into eternity.

In the same way a Pollock gives rise to the imagination, I want to write songs that lead people to the eternal, other, and utterly unexplainable God who in one moment is the Peace that stills the raging sea, and in the same breath burns like a wildfire - dangerously contagious and wholly uncontainable. 

My prayer is that in this next season the work of Urban Rescue helps renew your holy imagination and creates a new posture of worship, awakened by the eternal mystery of our God.

Dear Joel,


Dear Joel,

First of all, thank you!

It's my belief artists can either choose to cut, critique, and complain about the conditions of the world in which they live, or they can engage it, be a part of it, and strive to be the change they wish to see within it.

I couldn't agree more with your "refusal" to the idea that creativity and accessibility are not, or rather do not have to be, at odds. This tension within the question itself is exactly the reason our band exists, and continue to push forward. In fact, creativity and accessibility in the arts has always been one of the great cornerstones of the Christian tradition. Like the many painters, poets, and preachers who have gone before us, art in the Church has been used in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes.

But let's take the conversation a step further. What if this question of "creative" art was actually defined by the most universal, understandable, and transformational expression an artist could make? What if the actual challenge for the artist is fought in the trenches of bridging the gap between real people and the art that inevitably seems keeps those same people at arm's length?


Last night my wife and I went to the Staples Center here in Los Angles to see Macklemore and Ryan Lewis perform for a nearly sold-out stadium of people. But the thing that surprised me the most wasn't the incredible performance (which it was, absolutely incredible), or the production value (fire, yes, lots of fire), or the phenomenally creative music itself. Out of everything I loved about last night's show, the thing that touched me the most were the people...

Hipster people. Gangster people. Business people. Asian people. Black people. White people. Hispanic people. Young people. Old people. Gay people. Straight people. I literally saw a white single mother with her two kids that each looked no older than 12 years old. They were standing in line next to what appeared to be a various assortment of men in their mid-40's all wearing Seattle Seahawk jerseys. The football guys were behind a pack of girls who appeared more appropriately dressed for the Beyonce concert the night before. That was the point. There was not an exclusive and specific kind of person there. The art itself drew people in, rather than marginalize people away.



How much more so should music in the Church should draw people in? Is this not the divine call of the creative? Is this not the heart of the artist? Sometimes I think the whole art-for-art's sake argument comes down to a simplistic inward focus that creates a mini-kingdom within the Kingdom, rather than using one's gifts and talents to be a part of something more beautiful greater than themselves. 

Perhaps the most profound thought that has occurred to me over the years in this discussion over art and accessibility is the gradual and continual understanding that God Himself is no respecter of persons. I believe God's own personality, thoughts, and opinions on the matter should be the primary shaper of our artistic goals as His creation. When Peter (in Acts 10) had this realization, that God doesn't play favorites but is actually after the heart of every individual regardless of differences (in this context race), it compelled him to engage the world. He discovered God's love was not not just for Peter's people, but for all people - people outside of Peter's own sphere of influence. It was a matter of access.

Does accessibility compromise creativity? Of course not. Art doesn't exist in a vacuum. Art by nature is meant to be shared. Therein lays it's power, it's holy rite, it's tradition, it's sacredness, it's gospel. Creative to me doesn't mean someone used a synthesizer, or has a droney voice, or splattered paint at random on a blank canvas. Rather creativity is embodied in the Killer's ability to connect emotionally with an audience, Lorde's unique gift at telling her own story, and Jackson Pollack's fits of rage that continues to reach people where they are emotionally. When it comes to the act artistic expression in the Church, there's no reason why we as artists shouldn't be the most creative, inventive, inspired, and influential creators in the world.

Rather than complaining and critiquing the conditions of the world in which we live, let's do the hard work, the good work of engaging it, using every ounce of our creativity in providing the greatest access for all people to enter in. 

Jordan

WHY URBAN RESCUE?

Over the past eight years I've been asked more times than I can count, "Why Urban Rescue?"


Photo Credit: Matt Kjorvestad

To be honest, I've walked a bit blindly into the full understanding of the name, as it was originally inherited by my father as a clothing brand he started in the mid 80's. I chose the name in part to carry on my dad's creative legacy, but there was always something else that seemed to grab me conceptually.

Sometimes art begins with a specific concept in mind; a big goal or target. Yet other times art evolves and morphs and becomes whatever it becomes as it infects and is infected by its surroundings. Urban Rescue, at least from my perspective, has been a journey of the latter.

As a kid I would write songs and record ideas on my guitar using a $15 narration mic I bought from Office Depot that I hooked into "Recorder" on my mom's PC. I would race home everyday after school and just record. I found that people connected to the sounds I made. They even liked them. Sometimes they would copy them, or share them with friends or people I'd never met before. I discovered at a very early age the transcendent power of music. Songs had a way of engaging that a lesson or a book or a sermon couldn't. It was this kind of uncontrollable x-factor. To this day, I'm completely driven by that stark and often very ambiguous x.


But to better understand the project of Urban Rescue there's another piece that goes side by side with the music. It's embedded deep in a story Jesus tells in Matthew Chapter 22.

“God’s kingdom,” he said, “is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out servants to call in all the invited guests. And they wouldn’t come! He sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, ‘Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast! They only shrugged their shoulders and went off, one to weed his garden, another to work in his shop. The rest, with nothing better to do, beat up on the messengers and then killed them. The king was outraged and sent his soldiers to destroy those thugs and level their city. Then he told his servants, ‘We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited weren’t up to it. Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.’ The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And so the banquet was on—every place filled."



The idea of Urban (meaning city-life) Rescue (meaning liberate or set free) is allowing songs to reach those boundary lines and touch people that might never hear, or want to hear the Gospel. Music is in that sense is like God's grace. It has no limitations, it is no respecter of persons, and is by nature for everyone willing to listen. I feel called as a servant to go to the "busiest streets and intersections" of life, with the ambiguous x of music. Jesus is essentially saying in this parable that the Kingdom of God is for everyone; the good, the bad, without precondition or special qualification - people who need it. People like me. 

To take the logic of Matthew 22 even further is to actually believe in the idea of equality. This is something I feel is lacking, especially in Church culture today. From issues of poverty, to racism, to sexism, to nationalism, I'm not entirely convinced most Christians believe (or perhaps understand the extent) of equality. Often in the simple ways I hear Christians converse about God or God's love, there seems to be very much an exclusive speech that's tied in - that somehow the good people are in, and the bad people are out, or the religious people "get it," and the non-religious people don't.

Yet the heart of God is clear in Matthew, ‘We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited weren’t up to it. Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.’ The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And the banquet was on-every place filled."

Worship music is about conveying the radically foreign nature of God's love to all. It is our desire to write songs that reflect the unstoppable love of God, and draw worshippers into His boundary-less love.

At the end of Matthew 22 a religious scholar speaks up:

"Teacher which command in God's Law is the most important?" Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: Love others well as you love yourself. These two commands are pegs; everything God's law and the Prophets hangs from them."


On a similar note, I just stumbled upon a lecture Bono presented in a recent TedTalk, and was struck by his enthused vision to continue the march for equality. I believe as we continue to know and experience the full extent of God's love, worship must and will overflow into action to actually loving others as we love ourselves. It's exciting to hear real rescue happening around the world and I'm excited to be a part of that movement in any way I can.

BUSYNESS TO PEACE (BY GUEST WRITER BRYAN ECKERT)


Busyness is an illusion.  Its a fabrication.  Its an exaggeration.  It isn’t real!

Each one of us has 24 hours in a day.  Not a minute more, not a minute less.  24 hours.  Not one of us can be busier than another person, for we are all equally busy — busy with the 24 hours that has been allotted to us.

So if it is not busyness, then what is it?

Well… It is a feeling of busyness, which isn’t busyness at all!  What we are actually talking about is a culmination of stress and responsibility.  When people say, “I am so busy right now.”  What they are actually saying is, I am real stressed with all the responsibilities I have right now.

A care-free person sipping a cold lemonade on the beach is just as busy as someone holding down two jobs and going to school full-time.  He/she is busy sipping lemonade and relaxing   The difference is that one has a high amount of responsibility and stress, while the other one doesn’t.

The reality of life is that responsibility and stress are like a growing weed that continues to grow larger as we get older.  We take on more and more stress, and more and more responsibility — this makes us feel busier and more worried about the things in this life.  College, homework, tests, papers, graduation, degrees, relationships, jobs, marriage, kids, bills, business, more bills, more kids…etc..

The key then, is how we handle the stress and we responsibility that we have been given. one of my favorite verses:  John 14:1, ”Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me (Jesus).

What is a troubled heart? What is stress?  What is anxiety?  It is ultimately fear!  A troubled heart is a heart that fails to trust. It does not put hope and faith in God.  It worries about what might be.  It is fearful of the unknown.  A troubled heart lacks confidence and conviction, and only relies upon that which is unreliable — his or herself.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).  Fear is crippling and leads to a troubled heart.

However, peace is achieved only through belief in God and his Son Jesus Christ!  The antidote to a stressful, troubled heart, is belief in our great God: “Trust in the Lord forever,  for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4). ”The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble” (Psalm 37:39).  Lets put our hope and trust in something that is eternal, rock sold and strong — lets put our trust in the Lord!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6).

Check out Bryan's blog at 
http://bryaneckert.wordpress.com/

Bryan is the College Pastor at College Avenue Baptist Church in San Diego where he lives with his wife Veronica. Bryan graduated from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing, leading worship, gardening, and currently learning the cello. He also did his undergrad work at Point Loma Nazarene University with Jordan and caused much mischief together in Greek III...

WRITING THE JOURNAL


Passion should always overflow into action. I've always been a believer that art is at its core the expression of belief - that inner feeling stirring within, screaming to be heard. 

Many of you may not know that the phrase, "listen empty" was originally coined by my wife. The saying embodied the idea that communication and conversation requires sacrifice; an "emptying" of preconceived notions or judgements. Listen Empty revolves around the thought of entering into dialog free from criticism - like an empty cup eager to be filled.

One evening I visited her ballet class to watch her rehearse and practice her steps. It was at that exact moment when "listen empty" finally made sense to me. I began to cry watching her leap in time with the other students to the rhythm of the classical music exuding from a small radio in the corner of the studio. There was something spiritual about it. I wasn't checking my email. I wasn't worried about paying the bills or feeding the dog. I wasn't preoccupied with everything that usually preoccupies me. I was empty, and being filled with utter mystery and beauty. It was like breathing for the first time.

In that moment I knew "Listen Empty" was to be the conceptual title of Urban Rescue's forthcoming album. But on some level I felt the record needed a partner, a guide, or just another vantage point to ruly understand the heart of the matter. So, putting action to those inner promptings, I began writing, blogging, and hashing out the concept for myself. A year later, with the help of two fantastic editors, and an incredible illustrator, the Listen Empty Journal was born.




This little pocket-sized book goes hand in hand with the album, track-by-track. It's a compilation of my personal story behind each song, interwoven with experiences and insights from Scripture. Ultimately, this is a devotional journal for anybody desiring to follow Jesus more deeply; a guide to listening more closely to the voice of God.

www.listenempty.com/merch

Pre-order + New Song + Holiday Gifts

We have some very exciting news to share with you. Our debut full-length studio album entitled, "Listen Empty" will be officially released Tuesday, December 18. The album is now available for pre-order exclusively on iTunes. You can also stream our brand new single "These Limbs" below.
We feel so strongly about this project that we actually made a song-by-song devotional journal to go along with it! This little pocket-sized journal is written by Jordan and provides a window into the heart and soul behind the music, with insights from Scripture woven together with Jordan's personal story. You can pre-order the Listen Empty Journal, an 11x17 Urban Rescue Poster, a physical copy of Listen Empty CD, & lots of other holiday bundles) starting today at ListenEmpty.com.

*Type in the discount code: LISTEN at checkout for 10% OFF your order. Each purchase made within the next 14 days will ship out from Los Angeles, CA around Dec 12. That way your journal, poster, or CD bundle will arrive at your doorstep on or before Dec 18 - just in time for the holidays!

**Code expires 01.01.2013

Faithful...

Yesterday was overwhelming. Urban Rescue was invited to lead worship at Point Loma Nazarene University - the very place where my faith was challenged, broken, and rebuilt as a college student. Every moment seemed to catch me off guard somehow. So many memories; familiar and brand new faces. Greek III, Sunset Cliffs, Hendricks Hall, meeting my wife for the first time... it all flooded back and I guess I wasn't ready for it. I just kept whispering under my breath, "Thank You, God, thank You..." 



I spent so many hours in school fretting about this or that, anxious about the future, my education, wondering where was I going, or who I'd "become." But there I was, standing on the other side looking back - sensing His grace; feeling the same love I felt as a freshman. I confess, five years later I still struggle with the same doubts and fight the same insecurities - but yesterday was a reminder, an  "Ebenezer" in my life, that He's still faithful.



"Morning by morning I wake up to find 
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine 
Season by season I watch Him, amazed 
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways 
All I have need of, His hand will provide 
He’s always been faithful to me. 

I can’t remember a trial or a pain 
He did not recycle to bring me gain 
I can’t remember one single regret 
In serving God only, and trusting His hand 
All I have need of, His hand will provide 
He’s always been faithful to me. 

This is my anthem, this is my song 
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long 
God has been faithful, He will be again 
His loving compassion, it knows no end 
All I have need of, His hand will provide 
He’s always been faithful, 
He’s always been faithful 
He’s always been faithful to me."

- Sara Groves