by on Feb.22, 2012, under Life, Music, News

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How Far You Came To Save (Song & Story)

by on Mar.17, 2011, under Life, Music

Some of you will remember me releasing this song as a Christmas gift a couple Decembers ago. We had such a great response, it wasn’t a tough decision to record a fresh version and put it on the new EP. Unlike the other songs on Rescue, this tune took many months to write. The melody came easy, but Doug McKelvey and I went back and forth wrestling with the lyrics in our attempt to accurately describe the incarnation in a fresh way. With songwriting, I sometimes struggle with the feeling (and often the reality) that I’m writing the same song over and over, using an overused vocabulary while not offering much content that will make listeners truly think and genuinely respond in some way. So I pray….and though there are days that get the best of me, this struggle challenges me to keep pushing onward in writing songs that make a difference.

The story behind “How Far You Came To Save” is really the story in the song. The powerful and mysterious story of the Gospel.  You’ll see what I mean when you read Romans 5:6-10.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Humanity separated from God, terminally diseased by our own sin, a perfect & holy Creator, His Savior-Son becoming human to endure the wrath we deserve on the cross, and the amazing resurrection reconciling us to God, crushing death, and forever giving hope and salvation to all who put their faith in Him.

Our goal was to not only describe this(in two verses, a chorus and a bridge:), but also offer words of response to God to thank Him and worship Him.  So we behold his glory, in the wonders of His grace, and our souls will forever sing of the spiritual and physical “distance” He endured to save us.  In our estimation, this truly is the greatest mystery.

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Father God (Song & Story)

by on Dec.03, 2010, under Life, Music

The day Robbie Seay and I sat down at his church(Ecclesia) in Houston to write this song, he was dealing with a situation which involved some friends of his, an orphan from Haiti, the press, and a Congressman’s private plane. (much more important than our song)  In short, a family from Ecclesia adopted a boy named Ronel from Haiti and was trying to get him home.  Ronel and his new father, who traveled to Port Au Prince to pick him up, were held back because of “red tape” on the U.S. side.  If I remember correctly, they had to sleep on the floor of Haiti’s U.S. Embassy  for over a week.  So as we were writing this song, Robbie had to take many calls and answer numerous texts in his effort to do everything he could to help get these guys back to Houston, which included attempts to charter private planes to go pick them up.

In retrospect, it’s amazing to me that any cohesive lyrics, much less a whole song was written that day.  As we were wrapping it up, Robbie received one more call letting him know that Ronel and his dad had been given the green light and were finally on their way to Houston International.  We jumped in the car and met a couple hundred people from Ecclesia and members of the press at the airport.  When the H-town/Haitian duo came into view, the crowd began to cheer and celebrate as Ronel was united with the rest of his new family. The picture below doesn’t do it justice, but I’ll never forget the look on Ronel’s face.  The words that come to mind are relief, safe, rescue, secure, and loved.

As I watched all this unfold, I was struck by all the similarities of God’s story of rescue for us.  “Father God” is a song written to be sung by the Church(the adopted) in response to our Father’s great love.  (Phil.2 and Eph.2)

If you’re interested in learning how to play “Father God,” the chord chart can be found by clicking on the “Chord Charts/Videos” link on the menu above.

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You Rescued Me (song & story)

by on Oct.18, 2010, under Life, Music

Singer/songwriter/producer, Andy Osenga, and I wrote this together at his studio in Nashville.  It’s one of those songs that when we were in the middle of writing it, we got a “this is going to be a cool tune” kind of vibe in the air.  I remember liking it right away because it was refreshing to write something that was different from a lot of songs I write.(melodically and lyrically)  Songs have a way coming to life in the writing process so we just tried to get out of the way and let it breathe.

If you read my last post, I mentioned that 2 Samuel 22 was a chapter in Scripture that spoke deeply to me over the past couple years throughout my recovery and healing.  This chapter in 2 Samuel is a song that David sang about a traumatic experience in his life so reading it was kind of like an old friend counseling, leading, reminding, and walking with me through mine.  Needless to say, this chapter highly influenced the song as it gave us a blueprint for the lyrical structure and story.  Here’s the progression as we saw it:

1. The day of disaster (vs. 5-6)
2. David cries out to God (vs. 7)
3. God’s epic reaction which reveals His heart for us in times of trial and disaster (vs. 8-16)
4. God’s rescue (vs. 17-19)
5. David’s restoration (vs. 18-20)
6. Declaration of God’s faithfulness (vs. 29-51)

There are songs that you write just to write a song and then there are songs that come from the soul.  This one is of the later.  Tell us what you think.  Leave a comment.  Feel free to share your story of rescue.  Share it with a friend.  Be reminded of God’s faithfulness and encouraged that He is still and will always be mighty to rescue and save.

If you’re interested in learning how to play “You Rescued Me,” the chord chart can be found by clicking on the “Chord Charts/Videos” link on the menu above.

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The Story Behind RESCUE

by on Sep.30, 2010, under Life, Music

Last year, John Mayer posted some videos chronicling the creation of his new album.  One of the videos was an interview where he was asked about how on earth he could ever follow up and fill the shoes of his previous album, Continuum.  Instead of defending his new songs or leaning on the success of Continuum, I remember him saying something along the lines of, “You don’t follow it at all. Continuum was Continuum.  You leave it and step aside to create something completely new.”  And that’s what he did.  Mayer bought a house in L.A. and transformed it into a studio customizing every room for a different instrument to write and produce “the house record” or what would become, Battle Studies.

As I was in the dreaming stages of my new album, I was inspired by this because after all that I had been through with my accident, I needed a fresh start with my music.  Since I needed to re-learn how to play the guitar, I literally and physically needed a new musical way to express my experiences that wasn’t like I had done in the past.  If you know my music at all, you may not even be able to tell a big difference when you hear the new songs, but the process of creating and producing RESCUE was very different for me.

This EP is a collection of 4 songs that were written in this season.  It may sound weird, but it’s a musical declaration of the many ways that God rescued me through the accident.  The word RESCUE came from 2 Samuel 22.  This chapter in Scripture is a song that David wrote after God rescued him from a traumatic experience.  In verse 20, David sang, “He rescued me because He delighted in me.”  Hearing God’s heart through this song was my life-line during my recovery and healing.

Here are a few musings of what the word RESCUE has meant to me and what I’ve learned (and am still learning) through the past 1.5 years.

– During the first few weeks after the accident, I was forced to be completely dependent on my wife Sue to take care of me as I healed and recovered from two surgeries. I have found that there is always another level of love that we can experience with our loved ones than we are currently experiencing.  I’m not talking about an emotion or feeling necessarily, though it’s nice when those happen to be by-products.  I’m talking about the kind of love that empties itself and doesn’t expect anything in return. A love that won’t leave when things get hard and that ultimately comes from a Source greater than us.  Love is a mystery in how it works.  The hard times that our relationships endure are like gates that if both parties have the courage to walk through them, they somehow rescue us from ourselves and bring freedom, strength, and maturity.  When I look at my finger now I don’t think about the accident.  It’s now a reminder of how much Sue loves me.

– I was rescued from myself and falling into the lie that my identity is found in anything (music, career, successes, failures, etc…) other than the fact that He created me, loves me and has given me a greater purpose in life than living for myself.  Even though imperfect in so many ways, for unto Him does my life exist.

– God is more concerned about my heart for Him than he is about my ability to write, sing, or play my guitar.  God could have told us ANYTHING as the greatest commandment above all others, but He said, “Love me with everything that you are (heart, soul, strength) and everything that you have.”(talents, money, family, time)  He is jealous for our hearts when we love ourselves, careers, people or stuff above Him.  He always has been.  Once again, I have been rescued from the emptiness of worshiping me.

“He rescued me because He delighted in me.” 2 Samuel 22:20

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The RESCUE Idea Awards

by on Aug.27, 2010, under Life, Music

First of all, THANK YOU for responding with all your creative ideas and thoughts on Rescue.  Out of all the responses, I was most inspired by this collection of “The Most Ridiculous Album Covers Of All Time.” If you haven’t seen this yet, please stop reading for a second to check them out.  You will not be dissapointed!  My two favorites were “Getting Down To Business” by Gary and “Ratt On” by Swamp Dogg. (Thanks Don Linnen!)

OK, now on a more serious note, I need to explain that “The Rescue Idea Awards” was not planned when I first sent out the request.  Since only after I received so many great ideas, I decided to do an impromptu virtual awards ceremony to celebrate. 

Two Disclaimers: 1. This is all on the fly….go with me here folks  2. virtual = virtual.

I received over 100 inspiring ideas and have chosen only a select few.  Authors are anonymous.

Cue dramatic music/lights…..Here are the six categories and winners:

1. Most Interesting : “How about a picture of you and your band slipping on Mount Rushmore, but it’s your faces instead of the presidents.  Your slipping while chiseling and the hand of God reaches down to offer you a lift.  The hand could look like Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” of the Sistine Chapel with your hand reaching also.”

2. Most Honest : “A very sexy fireman”

3. Most Funny : “Tax Refund”

4. Most Real :  “When I think of RESCUE, I think of water and someone being saved from drowning. I don’t know if this is because I am a trained lifeguard or because I often describe myself as “drowning” in life.  I am in desperate need of God to rescue me from myself and this world.  As a Christian, I know I am saved, but I am in constant need of my Savior to rescue me.  It often feels like a struggle, but it is a beautiful thing to be in the midst of struggle and feel God’s hand “rescue” me from myself, by changing my perspective, changing my circumstances or hopefully changing me.   So there you go…not the princess at the top of the tower rescue, but there it is. ”

5. Most Close To Home : “Katrina”

6. Most “We’re Not That Cool” :  “My vision for the cover would have a rescue helicopter sitting in field grass, with the sides open, the band members in hip looking attire inspired by rescue uniforms posed in a contemporary way around the opening on the side of the helicopter, and Jon posed in a cool way slightly closer to the camera. They could have a patch similar to the red cross logo, on their sleeve, except shaping it more like a Christian cross; white cross, red background. The helicopter is facing right, with the front slightly closer than the tail to give it perspective. If the shot includes instruments, the drummer would be set up to the left of the tail, a bit more distant than the others for proper perspective. The guitarist would be sitting in the side opening of the helicopter. The keyboardist could be more forward set up in the grass. Any other members posed in like manner around the opening. All of that further back, and Jon the star. I see different combinations of the uniform inspired clothing on different members. Dark aviator pants, white T-shirt on one, maybe jeans and cool jacket with the patch on another, and so on.”

….And that concludes “The Rescue Idea Awards.” Thank you again for all your submissions!

We’re getting close to deciding what the actual cover will be.  If we do use your idea, you will get a free copy of the new album delivered by your very own United States Postal Service.

Ratt On Everybody!!  What!?

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RESCUE ep coming Fall 2010

by on Aug.25, 2010, under Life, News

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Worship Matters

by on Feb.10, 2010, under Life

I’ve been reading a great book the last few weeks called “Worship Matters” by Bob Kauflin. It has been both encouraging and convicting in many ways. He writes, “If our doctrine is accurate but our hearts are cold toward God himself, our corporate worship will be true but lifeless. Or if we express fervent love for God but present vague, inaccurate, or incomplete ideas of Him to those we’re leading, our worship will be emotional but misleading–and possibly idolatrous. Neither option brings God glory.” Good stuff!

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Jon’s Accident and Merry Christmas

by on Feb.10, 2010, under Life

Merry Christmas !

I hope you are doing well! You might be wondering what the title of this post is all about. Let me explain. A few days before Thanksgiving I had an accident while fixing my lawn mower and without going into the details, I lost part of my ring finger on my left hand. (I know…..not good for guitar players!) Now on the other side of two surgeries, I will continue physical therapy over the next couple months so that I can regain full use of my hand and continue playing music. The picture is of me and my two boys, Thomas and Connor, and what became known as “The Club” or my cast after the first operation. We laughed because it was as big as Connor’s head.

As you might imagine, this has been a challenging season to go through on many levels, but God has been very present with me through my family, our Church, faithful friends, and in times of my new found solitude as I haven’t been able to do much since the accident. Knowing that God is good and sovereign, it has been my prayer that I would not miss what He would want to teach me and accomplish through this. He has never let us go or never not made good come out of our troubles, mistakes, and sufferings. In fact, He humbly chose to become a child to pursue, redeem, and love us in the midst of them.

Have an amazing Christmas!

Jon

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DR Bound!

by on Feb.10, 2010, under Life

For the past few years, I’ve been looking for an organization that I could partner with who truly serves, loves and defends the poor, voiceless, and needy. As as touring artist and worship leader, i’ve been given a small platform, through my music, to be a voice for those who can’t speak out against their injustices. Compassion International is a ministry that I have grown to respect and trust, and at the end of this month I’ll be going with Compassion to the Domincan Republic to see the minisry in action and learn how I/we can help through sponsoring children in need in DR and around the world. I can’t wait to share more with you next month!!

If you’re interested in learning more about Compassion International and how you can help, please click the link below.

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