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have it all

It feels like just yesterday that I did a review of the bethel album we will not be shaken, where I shared that I was pretty much lukewarm on most of the cuts on it. I have everything ever put out from bethel, brian and jenn, ian mcintosh, steffany gretzinger, jeremy riddle etc etc… You get it; pretty much anybody associated with that crew and usually love almost everything until the “we will not be shaken” album and I found myself, unlike the title, kind of shaken as it just would not stick with me. I also feel like I may have been set up for a trap because the marketing forced my brain to have an expectation of it being a cross between tides and loft sessions. It wasn’t.

Then came “Have it All” in my inbox to review a few weeks before it officially came out. I clicked the link and said to myself. “what is this!!??!”. I had no idea there even was another album coming and so unlike the last one I was not boxed into sonic expectation and my mind and ears were open to whatever would meet them. I was ready to press play, give it a few listens and then review it. My plan was to post a review a few weeks ago, but as you can see I failed. Now let me keep this review concise and simple as it will also explain my delay in typing this review in the first place.

This album instantly became a prophetic prayer over my spirit and my circumstances. 
It forced me to wrestle with a new level of surrender.
It reminded me that God doesn’t “give His heart in pieces”
It made my heart pour out “thank you” over the circumstances that I normally should not be.

Every track was dripping with the LIVE groan of the Holy Spirit and as polished as it sounds it is also raw and untamed.
Normally I would go through track by track, but there are 16 tracks and I will get acute carpal tunnel if I share on each one so instead I will just encourage anybody who reads my blog… Go buy this album and let it carry you into worship, challenges you to be more like Jesus, and brings peace as the Holy Spirit washes over you.

Oh the peace that comes
When I’m broken and undone
By Your unfailing grace
I can lift my voice and say
You can have it all, Lord

I can almost guarantee that the peace that passes all understanding dropped on you by just reading those words. It is that powerful of an album. It features Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, William Matthews, Jonathan Helser, Paul and Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, Josh Baldwin and Bethel newcomers Leeland and Cory Asbury. I think it’s ironic that the last two would be called newcomers, but they are to the bethel music. 

Music of course has a ton to do with personal preference. What surprised me as well is that while a few of those leaders stylistically are not my favorite on past albums, on this one there isn’t a voice, a lyric or a song that doesn’t move my spirit.

These 16 tracks are on continual repeat right now. “Have it All” has become a personal meditational prayer each time I listen and now that it still rings in my head an heart all day long.

Brian Johnson said it best ““The sooner we realize life is about surrender, the longer we have to make a real eternal impact here on earth.”.

Don’t buy this album to support Bethel. Don’t buy this album because you think of me as a bearded wise sage that told you to.

Buy it because your spirit, your journey, and the depth of your surrender needs it. 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this album free from Hoganson Media Relations and Bethel to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

shaken_bethel

It seems that every time Bethel music announces a new project I find myself giddy with anticipation. (In the most manly bearded way of course) They have been churning out new music at a rate that rivals the machine we call Hillsong, but it has been refreshingly different as well as being worship that pierces the spirit.

When I heard about “We will not be shaken” and started seeing the promo images of a large crowd on a mountain I was expecting a melding of a “Loft sessions part Duex” with “Tides Live and uncensored”.  I sat on this album for a few weeks now trying to think of the best way to review it because I have, for the most part, walked away from each listen pretty unsatisfied. I am going to try to explain why.

I have said it many times on my blog before but the thing that I am always looking for in a worship album is that feeling of the groan of the Holy Spirit. It is not something that is based on tempo and it is not based on the perfect worship pattern/swell to manipulate the emotions. It is intangible, but you know it when you listen and are wrecked by God and every hair stands up on your body.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” – Romans 8:26

I know much of music is personal and so is this review because what I feel, you might not so please dig in for yourself. I remember when I put in the Jeremy riddle album “furious” and I was hit with songs that seemed to go into my ears and directly into my spirit. The same the first time I heard Steffany-Frizzel Gretzinger sing “closer”. I heard it before it came out because they led it at a service at Bethel and it was put on youtube. I had that video on repeat for what seemed to be 3 days. There was such a desperation, amazing awe, and praise that sprung from the deep.

I am not sure why, but I feel like this album is lacking in this area.

“We will not be Shaken” is sung beautifully, but the lyrics call for a sound that is a war cry. We WILL NOT!!!! I do like this song and It reminds me so much of brian and Jenn’s “we believe” album, but I feel the lyrical content doesn’t match the sound.

“Ever Be” Is a nice track that feels like two distinct songs somehow mashed together, but the chorus unites it nicely. This one I can see many churches doing and the hook gets stuck in your head.

The McClures have a nice track with “Jesus, We Love You”.

“Nearness” with Jenn Johnson has a nice feel and gets really awesome musically in the chorus. I love the unique driving section to it. The lyrics are great even though “Comforter You are to me” would sound really funny saying it to somebody.

There is, what can be best described as a modern hymn, in “Seas of Crimson” by Johnson and Bashta. At first it was hard to like this one even though I am a huge fan of hymns, but this one is growing on me quickly.

The HUGE standout is “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan Helser. As a matter of fact I started leading this one in my church a week ago. I think the Helsers are a brilliant addition to the Bethel family and this song oozes of authenticity and passion. This is what I wish the rest of the album felt like. Again I am not talking tempo. Steffany Gretzinger’s “undoing” was crazy slow, but still felt like this because it was raw and drew you in.

So here is the deal: Should you buy this album? Because I am a fanboy and also because I don’t buy singles I would have bought this one for sure, but there are only a few tracks on here I like and the rest I’m lukewarm to. When I look at the videos and see the photos of the large crowd on the mountain it makes me wonder why that wasn’t more prevalent in the audio. There are a few moments when you can hear the mass of people, but in most cases this feels like a studio album. What I think is interesting is the visuals seem to represent a declaration over their city and a breathing life into dry bones. The music however seems so much more introspective and personal. There is a disconnect for me there and it’s possibly because of my artistic side.

I think you need to listen to this with no preconceived notions. Walking into this with expectations that it would be a Loft Sessions meets Tides concoction of amazingness was most likely not the best plan.

My personal requests for the next two albums:
1. Record an album with Jenn Johnson, Jonathan Helser, and amanda cook. I think this mix would bring power, brilliant lyrical content, and a prophetic edge
2. Record a double CD of Jeremy Riddle and Steffany Gretzinger together. Maybe some new tracks and some old and the rest no plan other than letting those two take us to church!

Love Came Down

July 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

Bethel Church came out with a song a few years ago called “Love came down”. It was written by Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, and Iam Mcintosh.

We are singing it this week at church and not only am I excited to lead it, but I have also enjoyed digging into it’s theology. All of a sudden something jumped out at me.

At first glance/sing you can look at this through the lens of Lament. It is a song that lyrically expresses the idea that when you are downhearted or in the valley that God is right by your side. It is an amazing thought. It is a thought that is comforting in times of trouble much like Psalm 23.

Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

As I dug deeper into the song something struck me in the chorus.

“I remind myself of all that You’ve done
And the life I have because Your Son
Love came down and rescued me”

Let me break that down to the essentials

“I remind myself…Love came down and rescued me”

 

This section is speaking about the cross. While it is referencing psalm 23 that God will never leave us and is with us in the valley of life it is also speaking a more AMAZING truth.

God was IN that valley before you got there.

Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

The Lord goes before us. Not in the way we always view that verse, like he is walking and we follow behind. Instead it is saying He has already been there! He bore the weight of sin and all of our pain before we even went through it.

This is a mind-blowing perspective to be aware of while singing this.

We are claiming:

Nothing surprises God

Jesus bore all our pain before we even experienced it

Not only is God with us in our valleys and mountains he was waiting there before we got there

The Cross changes our perspective on our current situation in life.