from small seeds
come giant trees

Dens is:
Shaun Hypes—Vocals, Guitar
Brandon Osborne—Drums
Josh Tomlinson—Bass
Josh Waltman—Guitar

Additional Instrumentation:
Acoustic­—Shaun Hypes
Bow—Josh Tomlinson
Percussion—Brandon Osborne
Keys—Shaun Hypes, J. Raymond
Bells—Josh Tomlinson
Strings—J. Raymond
Backing Vocals—Brandon Osborne
Additional Vocals—Josh Tomlinson,
Scot Tomlinson, Josh Waltman

Recording:
Survive Studios, Chester, VA
Honest Studios, Nashville, TN

Production and Mixing:
J. Raymond

Mastering:
Sam "Lightning" Moses

Writing:
All words and music by Dens except "Debtpayer (Jesus Paid It All)" by Elvina M. Hall, Public Domain and "Hopebringer (Also, I Love You All)" by Our City Sleeps, Creative Commons

Download/Stream:
iTunes
Spotify
Apple Music
Google Play
Amazon

 
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.
— matthew 13:31-32 esv

Greetings friends,

We wrote this album for you, and for us. It grew out of a need to create something that expresses questions we’ve wrestled with and answers we haven’t always been able to understand. When you hear this record, we hope you hear honesty. We hope you hear a desire to speak frankly. We hope you hear a pursuit for communion with God. 

Jesus once said that the Kingdom of God is like a small seed that turns into a tree. That is, from one rabbi and a few disciples, the entire world will be changed. The Kingdom doesn’t come all at once nor does it come as a foreign army of heaven invading the world with force. But rather the Kingdom is delivered gradually, through expansion of the Church, through renewing the souls of men, and mending the fallenness of creation. Our album, “From Small Seeds Come Giant Trees” is designed to help us think through the identity of the one who ushers in this Kingdom.

We’ve titled each song as an attribute of God. Perhaps you haven’t considered these titles before, but we hope they evoke a real sense of awe as we consider together the depth of the divine. 

Also, we love you all,

Dens

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Lifebreather

Out of nothing you create
from the dust of the earth
You made my frame

You formed my parts
and stitched me together
in my mothers womb

Nothing I do
is hidden from You
You know my soul

You knew the depths of my heart
You knew the depths of my soul
before I knew who I was
before I was formed

Where could I go
from your Spirit
where could I run? 

If I make my bed in hell
You see me
Even darkness is not dark

And if I journey there
to the heavens
Your light warms me

God, your breath is life

 
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
— psalm 139:13-15 esv

When we’re small, most of us learn what is expected of us. We learn to communicate, to empathize, to love, to hate, to interact, to function. We learn to put up barriers, to protect ourselves, and to hide in plain sight. We learn to cloak our inner thoughts in social etiquette and to hush our soul’s desperate cry to be known with the constant noise of banal trivialities. Oh, how we put on a show.

You might say we’re all a bunch of pseudo story-tellers hoping to portray a character that wins the hearts of our audience. Like in the movies, though, the world created by the narrator can never fully satisfy because that world, well, it doesn’t exist. It’s only the one we’ve tried to create on the big screen. It can only transport us into the fantasy for so long before we realize that the feelings the characters evoke are only temporary and a far cry from any real intimacy.
 
Now, we invite you to give pause for introspection. Remove the veneer you have created for the rest of the audience. Consider all that encompasses the core of your being. Consider your proudest moment, your most heinous crime, your hidden intentions, your inner secrets. Consider everywhere you have been and everywhere you will go. Consider your greatest pleasure, greatest pain, and all increments in between. Consider every word you have voiced and ever will utter. 

None of this escapes the one who gave you life. If you find yourself in heaven, he is there. If you find yourself going through hell, he is there. He sees through the many faces falsely portrayed. You, the real you, is known through-and-through. 

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Seasplitter

My hope holds fast to nothing less
than he who can deliver us
The chasm is an ocean wide
and promise lies on the other side

You part the sea

Let water rise from its resting place
with the might of giant rushing gates
A path between on the ocean floor
Safe harbor from shore to shore

And You never let me go

None could ever circumvent
coming tides from heaven sent
Crushing waters of the sea
running back and rescuing

You open up the sea despite our unbelief

 
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
— exodus 14:21 esv

Deliverance is a word that strikes a chord. For some, it is escape from an army of enemies because of full-blown supernatural divine intervention. For others, it is a visceral feeling when we are freed from some dreadful state of things.
 
There is, however, a form of deliverance that is even greater.
 
Deliverance of the spiritual sort is much more far-reaching than a triumph over an Egyptian dictator. This is because deliverance from sin is transformative to our very souls. It has the power to create a heart when there was none and pay a debt that was unpayable otherwise. It has the power to reconcile the alienated family, restore sensitivity to the Spirit, and give the cynic a place at the family table. The parting of a sea pales in comparison.

For Moses, the sea was a picture. He experienced God’s deliverance which is always rooted in his own faithfulness. After all, how far will the Lord go to complete the promises he gives? What man can circumvent the will of God? What sword can overtake an ocean?

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Headlifter

These fields are fallow, deserted, kept down
still I sow to the ground
My heart runs shallow, robbed by the time
I’ve wasted in pride
 
Lift my head, I see the famine tamed the swagger
Hope awaits to bring me home

My heart is pounding, I’ve longed for your return
to give you more than you deserve
Redemption resounding, no longer deprived
you were dead, now alive

Lift your head, I see the famine tamed the swagger
Hope awaits to bring you home

 
Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.
— luke 15:13-14 esv

People say the eyes are windows into the soul of us. This seems to be true. When we witness something especially beautiful, our eyes cannot hide our awe. The innocent candor of a child’s laugh forces us to look at them with soft eyes. When we stare at our lover, we do so with wild eyes that cling furiously to the conviction of true love. 

We cannot hide our eyes, not in times of plenty nor in times of famine. Famine is that place of desolation that creeps up within us, whether stealthily or in full view, and removes all shimmering hope from our sight. It is the place in which we find ourselves when we are confronted with our choices, feel their weight, and realize they have stripped us of life. It is the place where the swagger in our step is brought to a halt because we’re on our knees. It is the place when we’ve hurt ourselves so badly our eyes can no longer convince others that we are ok. 

It is in those moments—instances of famine—that perhaps we discover grace all the more. If we would only lift our heads. Then, we will discover one with longing eyes awaiting our return. 

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Hopebringer

The wrong is in me, there is nothing wrong with You

I am a dead man walking
No breath in my lungs, I’m nothing but bones
I walk alone through the darkness  
Digging my grave, preparing my home
I know nothing of peace
I’ve got blood on my hands and I lie through my teeth
So why do I blame you? 

Where is hope? Is all lost? 
Is there peace, some relief? I need to see 

You are good in the pain when my heart is heavy
Rest for my soul, You’re the refuge I need
You are good, giving life, though I don’t deserve it
Just in your ways by your mercy and grace

It was I who was wrong and blamed everything on You
Still you looked down with love, You looked down with love
Oh my God that you’d hold back the waters from me
Flood my soul with your grace, flood me with your love
Oh my God that’d you’d save a vagrant like me  
There is hope, You are hope for a man such as I  

There is hope, I am found (the wrong is in me) 
You are peace, my relief, I’ve tasted and seen 

You are good to me

 
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.
— mark 7:21-23 esv

Pain and suffering are twin realities. These come for all of us sooner or later—the laws of our universe mandate it. 

The more sobering truth is that suffering is deserved given the extent of our depravity. 

It is the cause of our suffering we must not confuse. Shall we shake our fist at God as if he is responsible? Should we bristle-up in knowing that it is an inherited “gift” given to us by our grandfather Adam? Or might we find solace in the fact that suffering was the instrument by which the greater Adam redeemed us? We know not a savior that cannot relate to suffering. And it is during suffering that our exclamations of his goodness are all the more profoundly worshipful.

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Peacemaker

I see the skies open up, revealing Zion
and One whose presence shakes foundations
I see the fullness of your reign
usher justice on every living thing
Oh, the reckoning

Peacemaker
When it feels like all the world’s turned upside down
You’re on the throne

Come fire or stormy gale
No power can overthrow the King
the Cornerstone, the Giver of life 

As fire burns a forest
As flames set the mountains ablaze
The earth declares the glory of Your name
 
Peacemaker
When it feels like I am cornered and outgunned
You’re on the throne

 
And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder.
— revelation 4:3-5a esv

Do we submit to any authority greater than ourselves? The cold and hard truth is if we are steering the ship of humanity, we are all in a hell of a lot of trouble. There would be no story greater than ourselves to be told, no final destination to which we are headed.

It is the throne room of heaven that brings us warmth in times of chaos. Our finite perspective limits our view. It keeps us from comprehending the complex interworkings of the divine plan. But the entire picture of the puzzle cannot be ignored because we have but one small piece by which to judge. In the same way, our one piece must be known within the larger picture of the eternal reign of God.
 
Ergo, when the world is upside down and we find ourselves overwhelmed with the evil before us, we respond with an even deeper commitment to a recognition of the king’s reign. To this higher calling we submit, lest we mistake his eternal actions for apathy or his longsuffering for non-existence.

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Warender

Why do you hide your face? 
Why are you so far away when wicked men
bend low to press their will with thrones? 
Why don’t you intercede? 
Why don’t you come with speed
to wreck the tyrant’s scheme?
 
You lift me up from the darkest hollow
You took the weight around my neck
that was keeping me down
You pull me up to see Your empire
where wars expire and your kingdom knows rest

I’m at the end of my rope
I’m at the end of all hope
Darkness rushes me with fearless mockery
Pretension, my old friend, vying for recompense
Messiah come descend!

I found rest in Your borders
uncovered peace in Your kingdom
We’ve found rest in Your borders
endowed with peace in Your kingdom

 
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
— john 18:36-37 esv

Where is God when men with power shatter the lives of those with less than them? It cannot be fair that some crimes, whether large or small, never reach the light of day. And too often justice is the very thing that escapes the imperfect courtrooms of men.
 
What makes this worse is the mockery that good often endures. It is the constant temptation to be bullied by the crowd in order to be more like them. It is the pain of feeling shackled by our own crimes, when others walk the streets guilty but guilt-free.
 
The good news is that we find ourselves in a time of transition. There is something coming. On that day, all wrongs will be righted. All evil will be accounted for. Justice will be done… because the Messiah has returned.

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Debtpayer

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small
Child of weakness, watch and pray
Find in Me thine all in all”

White as snow

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt this heart of stone

Jesus paid it all
and all to Him I owe
My sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
“Jesus died my soul to save”
my lips shall still repeat

Oh, praise the One
who paid my debt
and raised this life
up from the dead

 
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
— colossians 1:13-14 esv

We’re all standing at the precipice of a high peak with half our feet already off the edge. At any time, the slightest gust of wind could be our demise. The smallest move could send us hurling toward our doom. And there’s no one to call, no help on their way. Such is the state of weakness of being human.

We stand before the judge in the cosmic court room. Our lives are the evidence produced. The gavel has swung. The verdict is unquestionably correct. We are guilty of breaking the Law. We are guilty of crimes against the Creator. Such is the state of weakness of being human.
 
Enter our all-in-all. When we were close to the edge and when our demise was inevitable, help came for us. When we were completely guilty and tasted shame, he paid our debt. We were washed of our transgressions and made… Clean. Pure. Unblemished. Righteous. White.

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Teethbreaker

Oh Lord, my enemies
sprouting up like weeds
Roaring their mockery
casting stones on me

(Selah)

Your thunder breaks the dawn
Your fist hard in their teeth
I’m stretched but standing tall
fearless though I’m weak

You shield me
ground beneath my feet
My only
lifter of my head

Arise!
Save me, oh God!

 
Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
— psalm 3:7 esv

There are times when we need to remove the eloquent words in order to speak with freedom and honesty. There is no time for formalities. It feels like life and death. These are times when it feels like the walls are closing in and we need the God of heaven to reach down with his mighty hand to fight the battle we cannot.
 
While we trust not in our own sense of justice, we do appeal to the one who exercises it perfectly. It is he who has the right to break the teeth of the wicked. And it is he, the greatest of fathers, who protects his family.

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Safekeeper

I’m a tired soul
I want to bed these burdens down
I’m a wanderer
no place to lay my head 

This place is not my home
my hope is sure
I long for Your return

I will wait for you to come
with the morning sun
You will redeem
with your steadfast love
You are my love  

Come rising Son
with healing in your wing

 
But for you who fear my name,
the sun of righteousness shall rise
with healing in its wings…
— malachi 4:2 esv

It takes thirty years to buy a house. And yet, the building is never what makes it a home. What makes a home cannot be described with descriptions of brick and mortar. Instead, love, faith, and truth are the foundations of a home. And for us, a greater home is on the horizon. We are nomads passing through temporary shelters, for now. Though weary, it is the prospect of our home to come that gets us through.
 
There will be no enemies to defeat and our debt will have been paid. The good will no longer be mocked and the throne will no longer be questioned. Suffering will be no more, our eyes will reflect heaven, and deliverance will be a continued reality. We will be known in the household, the living room, and the dens of God.

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