My church, Austin Stone Community Church, released our first Christmas record today. Most of it is live with three new songs we wrote at the end. I really hope that it blesses your family this Christmas. I led one song live (Hallelujah, What A Savior) and wrote another (How Great Is Our Joy). God is doing some wonderful things at our church and I’m so glad we get to share the Christmas season with you. It’s a worship album, not just popular Christmas songs with sleigh bells. Not that there’s anything wrong with sleigh bells. Anyway, I’ll include a link below so you can find it easily.
If you get the record and listen to it, please comment below and let us know what you think. Thanks,
“In shame, we exalt our knowledge of our brokenness over our knowledge of our Father.”
– Jason Gray
What a unique weekend! We started in Henryville, IN, a little north of Louisville, KY. This town had really been torn up by a tornado this spring, and the church brought us in as an encouragement to their people. We had a really great night. Wonderful pastor and great people.
The next day we were in Wabash IN at the Eagles Theater. Cool theater, wonderful hotel across the street. Good night, slightly overshadowed by this strange moment near the end of the night. Jason and I had gotten off on this weird tangent (which, of course, is very rare), and we were talking about recording vocals when you’re sick. At which point, someone in the audience yells out, “Kiss him!” I’m not exactly sure who she was talking to, but regardless, that did not happen. It did win the award for most awkward moment of the tour.
Saturday, we were supposed to play an outdoor show after dark, and it was going to get down into the 30′s. Fortunately they chose to move it indoors, which also helped with the Inferno 2012 theme. Not that it was hot inside, just hotter than freezing. Still, we had a good night with some great people. We got to have dinner with our friend Brenda who was celebrating her birthday.
And Sunday was easily the best night of the tour. We had a sold out show in Liberty Township, Ohio. And the people were wonderful. It was a safe place full of people who had come to encounter Jesus and worship Him. I played a few songs everyone knew and then switched gears and taught them “You Are Good” off H2BL. They jumped in and we had a powerful evening. I also included Sometimes By Step, an old favorite from Rich Mullins. Jason and I both played some really vulnerable songs in the second half of the night. It was a really amazing evening and I am very grateful for all who came, not only that night but all weekend.
We only have one more weekend, but it’s a big one. Five shows, across North Carolina, Virginia, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and ending in Texas. I will be sad to see this tour end, but I’m sure we will have a great weekend. Thanks to everyone who has been a part, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of you this weekend.
Well, it was really good to have a weekend off to be home. Unfortunately I also got sick. While I definitely wasn’t 100%, we did make it through the shows this weekend. Friday, I was actually away from the tour doing a show with the reunited Big Tent Revival in Turlock CA. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful part of the country. Big Tent was also on Ardent the generation before I was. So we spent the day trading stories about the studio and our experiences there. It was a really wonderful time. And I really loved getting to hear them play again. I pulled my own little stunt by closing my set with my favorite Big Tent song, The Ballad of Arlis Richards.
The other great thing about Friday night was that it was a fundraiser for Prodigal Sons & Daughters, which is a recovery ministry there in Turlock. They are a wonderful group of people with an exciting ministry. It was really great getting to know them.
Then Saturday I rejoined Jason and the guys in Tulsa. It was a unique show to say the least. It was the closing of a women’s conference. A first for me, but apparently Jason does it all the time. But it wasn’t actually part of the conference. I think. But most of the rest of Tulsa didn’t know about it. So it was a really intimate show. Also, we were in between two wedding receptions both with blaring DJs. So there was a weird background music behind everything we did. But it was still a neat night with some great people. They were very kind, able to focus on what God was doing amid the distractions.
Looking forward to a great weekend in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio.
Well, 7in7 was tough this year. In case you don’t know, 7in7 is an exercise some of my friends started in which we write seven songs in seven days. You have to start from scratch every day. And you have to finish. It’s a really draining process, but I did better than in years past.
This year was hard because I was leading worship on Sunday, it was my one week home in the middle of tour so I really needed to be plugged in with the family, and I got sick halfway through. Still, I ended up with 5 mediocre songs, two good ones, and one really cool piano part that I’ll save for later.
The interesting thing this year was where the songs came from. One came from studying that I’ve been doing for almost half a year getting ready for this song. So that makes sense. One came straight from the Bible but to finish it, I ended up doing a lot more studying on how the Bible describes a man who is blessed. Another was a worship response to a verse in the Bible. One was a response to a very difficult study my wife and I are doing right now. It ended up digging into topics that I would have never attempted to write a song about. All in all it was once again an awesome experience.
If you’re a songwriter, keep track and we’ll announce the next time we do it. Maybe you can take the journey with us.
Well, today was the first day of 7in7. For those of you new to the idea, each fall many of my friends and I go through the exercise of writing 7 songs in 7 days. You have to start from scratch every day. And you have to finish every day. It’s a really difficult but awesome experience. And it started today.
So I’m not sure how much I’m going to blog about it this year. I think my focus needs to be on writing not blogging. But I’ll try to write at least a couple to keep you in the loop. I started on Day One with a song that’s been simmering for a while. When we were on the Austin Stone Writer’s Retreat, Aaron showed us a Polish short film called Most. It is a commonly told story about a bridge controller whose son wanders into the gears, and the father must sacrifice the son in order to save those on the train. The film is really powerful. And at the time, I really wanted to explore the idea of the grief of God, but felt it was too heavy of a topic to address without preparing both studying and praying. So I’ve been doing that.
But today was the day I dug back into the idea. I really love what came out. I just so often overlook how painful it must have been for God to sacrifice his Son. I don’t think I could do that. I don’t live in recognition of those feelings. I paint God as this selfless, emotionless being. But His selflessness actually came at great emotional cost. And most days I miss that. The song starts, “You gave Him for us, Your only child, only son.” What a huge statement, what a truth.
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