BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#407 - "Pursuit" by Jesus Culture
Kim Walker-Smith and Daniel Bashta share their impressions and inspirations with NRT's Kevin Davis.
 


Jesus Culture worship was formed organically through the momentum of a movement whose focus is to equip a generation to transform society by bringing people into an encounter with God's love through worship and discipleship. Their albums capture the heart of this movement of young people who are passionate for God and seeking an encounter with His presence. 
 
The seventh full-length recording from Jesus Culture, Jesus Culture With Martin Smith: Live From New York, recently released amidst acclaim. Recorded live during Jesus Culture's conference at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New York June 28-30, 2012, this new double-album captures a dynamic collaboration of voices who have helped shape, and continue to inspire, generations of worshippers. 
 
Known as one of the most influential youth and young adult movements around the world, Jesus Culture's new album features Kim Walker-Smith and Chris Quilala, joined by Martin Smith (Delirious?), singing Smith's classics and new favorites combined with Quilala originals, "Forevermore" and "Alleluia," Walker-Smith singing Daniel Bashta's "Pursuit," and a bonus track, "I Belong To You," written and sung by Derek Johnson (Jesus Culture's Emerging Voices).

Jesus Culture With Martin Smith: Live From New York also captures Jesus Culture's signature call to intimate worship and bold praise along with thousands of worshippers' voices representing an international community of believers gathered in New York. 
 
 I had the great opportunity to interview both Daniel Bashta and Jesus Culture's Kim Walker-Smith about "Pursuit."  
 
Daniel, Please tell me the personal story and message behind the song "Pursuit."

Daniel: There's a few different Scriptures that inspired this song. Moses in the Old Testament says to God, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here." For me, I think about how powerful that is. With all of the miracles that Moses witnessed, it was the Presence of God that brought those things about--a cloud by day, a fire by night.

I was thinking about the manifest presence of God. I think this generation longs for the presence of God, beyond a production, beyond a stage, beyond laser lights and LED walls. All of those things aren't bad, but when the Presence of God shows up, none of those things matters. None of those things compare to a glimpse of God's presence. This generation has seen the glitz, we've seen the gatherings with all of the production.

We've been able to boil it down to this one defining thing--we can't live without God's presence. I feel like that statement by Moses should be in our churches, our personal lives, our workplaces, our schools. That can be our statement, prayer to God and mandate of our lives: don't send us anywhere unless Your Presence goes with us. If people can encounter the real Jesus, and His Presence, that will fascinate the world. That's the original Creator of creativity and power. If our culture can see Jesus, that will captivate the world. It will show people how beautiful and creative Jesus is.
 
Kim, What's the message to you personally?

Kim: The first time I heard "Pursuit," Daniel asked me if I would sing it with him. I immediately loved the song. I have this rule I try to stick to as best I can. I only sing songs that I believe in--every word I'm saying. The songs I want to sing, I believe every single word, and mean everything I'm singing with all of my heart. This song is exactly that for me. I was really happy to sing it.

The part that really resounded with me was, "I can't live without Your presence." Over and over, singing that has been my cry and my passion my entire life. That's how I feel about my walk with God every single day. People ask me if I still get nervous when I sing in front of people. I tell them I don't get nervous about messing up. I've fallen off of stages, and tripped and sang the wrong words. Once you've done that, you just laugh and move on.

What keeps me on my toes, and gives me a nervous excitement is I really want Jesus to show up. I just want to honor Him. My heart and my cry is that He will be there, and I would please Him--that everything I do brings glory to Jesus. I'm so keenly aware of my need for Him, and I love that. I don't ever want to be so comfortable or confident that I forget how much I need Him. I can't and I don't want to do anything in my life apart from God's Presence.

When we decided to perform the song for the Jesus Culture album with Martin Smith, different parts stand out more. For this season of my life, the part that stood out was "open my eyes, search me inside." That has been my prayer. I want God to open my eyes to anything in my life that's keeping me from Him. That is such a vulnerable line to sing. You're asking God to come and search every corner of your heart. 
 
Daniel, Please tell me about which Bible verses connect to the message of the song.  

Exodus 33:15: "Then he said to Him, 'If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.'"
 
...Psalm 95:2: "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms."
 
Hebrews 4:14-16: "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
 
Jude 1:24-25: "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,  To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen."
 
Daniel, What do you consider to be the takeaway message for listeners for this song? 

Daniel: If people sincerely pray, "Strip everything away, ‘til all I have is You, Undo the veils so all I see is You" then they will enter the Holy of holies. We know God tore the veil at the Cross, and for me we have this access and we can come boldly to the Throne of God now. We have the access to be in His Presence. David in the Psalms prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God." We're all full of sin. Sin is sin, and the beauty of God is when He shows up in our lives, He forgives and forgets our sin, and there's no limit to holiness. Once God makes us holy, we're holy and we have that access to be in His Presence. It's a daily prayer, "God I can't live without Your presence." We are the carriers of God's presence. That's the beauty of it. It's up to us to be Jesus to everyone we meet. God longs for us to come after Him. Like the Prodigal son story. The son was running for his father's presence, and at the same time the father was running to be with his son. God is so faithful. When He sees our relentless pursuit of Him, He shows up and changes everything.
 
Lyrics:
Strip everything away, ‘til all I have is You
Undo the veils so all I see is You

I will pursue You, I will pursue Your presence
I will pursue You, I will pursue Your presence

I'm pressing into You, so do not pass me by
I'm breaking through the boundaries, I will not be denied

I will pursue You, I will pursue Your presence
I will pursue You, I will pursue Your presence
I'm coming after You

Open my eyes, search me inside
I can't live without Your presence
I can't live without Your presence

I can't live without Your presence
I can't live without Your presence

I will pursue, I will pursue, I will pursue, I will pursue You 
I will pursue, I will pursue, I will pursue
 
We can all have confidence when we approach anything holding us back due to our fear. God tells us to not live in fear or shame or regret because we will find mercy and grace in the presence of God. Jesus is our High Priest and He will help us in our time of need. What an amazing Truth that we can approach God with confidence and He'll overcome our fears.
 
"Pursuit" has become my personal worship anthem and keeps the cohesive theme going with the gorgeous and prayerful offering reflecting the yearnings of my heart: "I'm pressing into You, so do not pass me by / I'm breaking through the boundaries, I will not be denied." There is incredible comfort and biblical Truth in this song and Kim's passionate vocals will have you hanging on every word, especially during the lyrics which wreck me—"Open my eyes, search me inside / I can't live without Your presence, I can't live without Your presence." What an incredible prayer to our King and Savior. There is great comfort in knowing Jesus and being known by Him in every detail of our lives.
 
I love the sincerity and humility of this song. I sing it at the top of my lungs in praise and awe of my Savior and King, Jesus. Worship is really about submission and our roles as worshippers are really defined in this song, which is to just be amazed and in awe of the power of the Cross, and pray fervently for the God's presence. All we can do is submit to Him and give everything we have to Him. "Pursuit" brings me to tears as I pray along with the compelling and moving lyrics. Thank you Daniel and Kim for this offering of praise to our Savior and for blessing us with your voices. 
 
"Pursuit" offers an invitation for worshippers and the song reflects my hearts cry to be in the presence of Jesus. This is an amazing song of worship to our King and Savior Jesus, and leading up to Easter, I  consistently prayed the words to "Pursuit." I love the lyrics of this song—"I will pursue You, I will pursue Your presence, Jesus…I can't live without Your presence." "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." What an amazing Truth! Happy Easter. He is Risen! 
 
(Here's a video of the song.)

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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