Good for Us to Be Here

Sharing a song today inspired by the moment Jesus has on a mountaintop with his disciples that marks a transition from his active earthly ministry to his journey to the Cross.  He meets with Moses and Elijah on the mountain (note these are two prophets who both prefigure Jesus in different ways and also have key mountaintop moments) and speak about “his departure.”  In my mind (and in my song) I thought about the metaphysical aspects of the transfiguration and how similarly our corporate worship is both transformational and “transportive” (if that is a word), making us more aware of heavenly realities and our own spiritual identity and destiny. 

(based on Luke 9:33)

Lord it is good for us to be here
To stay a while until we’re
Close enough to see clearly
Who you are

Lord it is good for us to be here
“Two or more” and you’re near
Sanctify us till we
Are where you are

It’s good to be
Here with you
Here with you
Here with you, Jesus

Lord it is good for us to be here
Your glory we proclaim here
Death you overcame and
You’ll come again

Lord it is good for us to be here
Gathered in your name here
You promised to remain near
Until the end

It’s good to be
Here with you
Here with you
Here with you, Jesus

It’s good to be
Here with you
Here with you
Here with you, Jesus

Holy face
Radiant grace
Knowing our place
In this world
Till you return
Help us learn
Sharing your word
Till the end

[Alternative Communion-themed lyrics for the bridge:
Bread and wine
Love divine
A Holy time
This is
Body given
Blood was spilled
Sins forgiven
Now we live]

Lord it is good for us to be here
To stay a while until we’re
Close enough to see clearly
Who you are

To Whom Shall I Go

Hello everyone and happy Monday morning! Been a long time since I published in this space but hoping to get back to regular blog postings. Lots to share. Since my last posting of 2022 I fell very ill over the holidays, turns out I had an aggressive brain tumor and I needed immediate surgery. I have been in recovery since then—radiation, which I completed, and chemotherapy, which will be ongoing. This kind of cancer is considered stage 4 and there is no cure. But I am utilizing a therapy which is my best option right now in which I wear on my head day and night and it creates an electromagnetic field which slows (or prayerfully completely stops) cancerous cell division. I am praying for many more years with my family and church, but I am also surrendered to God’s will and I trust him. Thank you so much to those of you who follow my music and ministry and who have been praying for me. It has been very encouraging, humbling, and even a little overwhelming to hear about disciples all over the world who have been praying for my progress.

As I said above I am hoping to get back to regular postings and also releasing a bunch of worship songs I had been working on over the last decade or so but had not yet been able to put out there. There are some new catchy, easy-to-sing congregational songs (which I of course have a passion for sharing) but first I want to share one that is more of a personal reflection song. I am not sure exactly when I wrote this, I have a .doc file with the lyrics from 2007 but it may have been before that. The vocals and guitars on this recording were captured in 2014 and then I just filled in the other parts recently. The words are of course based on John 6, Peter’s words to Jesus, which have always been foundational to me in times of trial (like the one I’m going through right now).

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:66-69

For whatever reason, the human experience (for now) is one of testing and trial. But thank God that we are given an eternal, enduring hope, an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. We are promised not to be tested more than we can bear. And we are promised by our Lord that we will never be alone, but that he is with us always, even until the very end of the age. I certainly don’t have all the answers to life’s difficult questions, but I know and trust in He who both has the answers and in fact IS the very answer.


Unfolding mystery where you take me
Like the wind that blows where you please
I don’t often know how you’re making me
Only try to trust and believe
I have no life within me except for
the daily bread you give me to eat
So what you ask is what I must do, and
You give the truth that will set me free

You lift me up and bring me low
At times a fire, sometimes a glow
You have the answers, this I know
Lord to whom shall I go

There are the times when so many leave you
When times of testing come they give up
These are the times that can take me deeper
If through the storm I cling to your love
It doesn’t matter how many join me
I know you have the words I believe
Only you can transform my weakness
Through your touch my blind eyes can see

You lift me up and bring me low
At times a fire, sometimes a glow
You have the answers, this I know
O Lord to whom shall I go

When I bleed or am in need
Is when I see what I believe
When I bleed or am in need
Is when I see what you’ve done for me

You lift me up and make me soar
You never leave me wanting more
Hold my hand and take me there
Show your glory everywhere
Teach me which way I should go
Water me and I will grow
You have the answers, this I know
Lord to whom shall I go

Lord to whom shall I go

New Album Song Background 

In this video I sing a few bars and share background behind some of my favorite songs on the new album, “wait for the lord my soul.”

Give it a listen on all music streaming platforms or digital download.  If you like it please pass it along!

Here’s a link to various places to find it:

Let Me Rest (second posting)

This past summer I was asked to help teach a class at a conference for church leaders on training and investing in the next generation. There are different approaches and opinions when it comes to this topic in the family of churches I’m a part of (and in Christian churches in general).

One of the things I chose to talk about was when Jesus describes himself as a leader/trainer (using rabbinical language which the use of the term “yoke” denotes), he called himself “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29). This is something I feel we missed in our church leadership for a long time. Instead we had an ethic of being “forceful men,” a complete misinterpretation of the passage a few verses earlier (Matt 11:12; NIV translation has since been updated). To confess our sins as I see them, I feel that too often we were not like Jesus in our ministry training. Good was done in the name of Jesus but often we missed his character – gentle and humble in heart, self-giving, foot-washing. Jesus was concerned with SOUL-LEVEL spiritual health. Not simply behavior modification. Jesus’ leadership keeps first things first. Holistic. Spiritually/emotionally healthy.

I want rest for my soul. I want those I lead to have rest for their souls. This song reflects my own desire to follow Jesus, to rest in his presence, to learn from his leadership and character. [Below is the recording from my new album. I also posted a live recording of this song a few years ago here, shortly after writing it.]

I Don’t Understand

In my time of meditation and prayer the other day, wresting with loss, I felt the Spirit whispering to me, “When are you going to learn to let go of things you can’t control?” So much of our human experience, even as believers, is filled with adversity or difficult circumstances we don’t understand.

There is a story of a situation like this in 2 Chronicles 20. King Jehoshaphat is facing a “vast army” coming against Judah that they have “no power to face.” The way he responds is great example for us when we encounter uncertain and troubled times. His powerful prayer to God about the situation concludes, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chron 20:12).

I wrote and recorded this song during the long months of lockdown, inspired by this biblical story. As I recorded the various tracks I used my iPad to record video. The song appeared on my recent album and yesterday I finally got a chance to edit the iPad videos together with it. (So this video is the footage of the actual recording of the song.)

I DON’T UNDERSTAND (2 Chron 20:1-2)

I don’t understand
But I know you love me
All is in your hands
even if I don’t know what to do
On your Word I stand
To your will surrender
Gonna keep my eyes on you

Like a mighty army
Coming down upon me
If what they say is true
But I’ve seen your glory
Yeah I know the stories
So I’m standing here with you

I can face the problems
Knowing you can solve them
When the war belongs to you
Lord you will deliver
You love is forever
So I stand and worship you

Your love endures forever
Your glory we praise
Your love endures forever
You’re coming to save us

Copyright J. Brian Craig, October 2020
CCLI #7206911

Nothing Else (1996 Album)

Hey there, happy Monday! If you’re interested to hear some of the tunes I was writing in my late teens and early twenties, my first album is now available on streaming services. These songs were written over the five or six years leading up to 1996 when I recorded this in a campus recording studio. Many of the songs still stand up well and some of the synth programming and the Alesis HR16 drum machine still sound great, I think.

Nothing Else, Recorded in 1996

The title track, Nothing Else, comes from psalm 73, one of my favorites psalms as a teen (still is, actually). I related so much to the struggle of the psalmist with envying the world at times, yet when “entering the sanctuary” gaining an entirely different perspective of how wonderful it is to belong to God:

I’m always with you
You take my hand, you’re walking with me
You’ll take me with you, in glory
Whom have I in heaven, heaven but you
And being with you I desire nothing else.
(Psalm 73:23-25)

Let me know what you think of the album!

Planning Conference Worship: Ross Lippencott

Ross Lippencott is a gifted singer, songwriter, guitar player who has also worked in church ministry for a long time. He was instrumental in planning much of the worship at the recent “World Discipleship Summit” in which around 11 thousand Christians from around the world participated. We have an interesting conversation about his personal history in music as well as all that went into planning the congregational singing for the conference. We discuss such things as:

  • Key objectives he considered in planning the conference music
  • Important values we should hold to in our worship teams
  • Ways we can bring the gospel to artsy people
  • How generational dynamics can play into worship ministry

Wait for the Lord My Soul (second posting)

Happy Monday everyone! I posted about this song earlier this year. Here I’m posting an updated recording since I have now released an album with this as the title track (more about that below).

Starting in April, my wife and I took a three-month sabbatical from our ministry duties at the church we work for. (I spoke here to our church about the concept of sabbath and sabbatical just before we went.) Even though I had studied and learned the logical idea of sabbath, I feel like it was something in my head and maybe just a bit of my heart but certainly not yet in my body and my bones. It was so hard for me to stop! (The very word sabbath is derived from the Hebrew word for stopping.) As God was just beginning to form for himself a people-group unique in the world, Sabbath was given as a gift to this group of former slaves, whose very identity had been in their production value, the number of bricks they could bake on a daily basis. God says to them you have to stop! Stop and remember who you are. Stop and know you can trust in me. Stop and know that I am enough for you. All the festivals and feasts that defined the identity of the people were built on top of sabbath rhythms. Even the origin story of the cosmos had sabbath as its crowing moment and key literary organizing feature (the Bema and Bible Project podcasts have much more to say about this if you’re interested).

I realized that even though I had taken vacations before, it had been at least 25 years since I had let a Sunday or two roll by without being deeply involved in all the workings of the church. Even though I might leave town and worship with another congregation, I would set everything up for my local church, remaining intimately involved in everything going on while I was away. But taking three months away meant I had to let go. I set up a sermon series and preaching rotation for our time away and delegated various responsibilities and then I had to just step away. It was so good for me (and so good for the church). It was good for me to spend hours and hours in reading, prayer, meditation, listening to spiritual podcasts, taking long hikes in nature. And I also spent time recording music!

One of the books I read, This Beautiful Truth, has as its thesis that beauty and art and creativity is one of the answers to the question of theodicy. Like the mystics taught, God is so big, so vast, so endless that he can never be understood through purely rational and logical means. He has to be encountered in ways that go beyond–into areas of artistic expression and delight. (God’s own answer to Job is not to rationally explain but rather to point to aspects of his amazing creation.) When approached this way art can become an act of worship. As I meditated on this I realized I had become so hampered from releasing new music by perfectionism. This quote from the book rang true, and both inspired me and really hit me hard:

Every work of art reaches out across the centuries, and each is a vision that casts a flame into the darkness. The wonder is that one great light wakes another. The song of one wakens the story of another. The story she told became the poem he made that kindled the painting in yet another’s hands. Each is a work of obedience. No artist can cast their flame of vision without a twinge of fear that it will simply fade or even pass unseen. But each is also a work of generosity: precious, private worlds offered in a self-forgetfulness that pushes aside vanity, insecurity, and perfectionistic pride.

Sarah Clarkson, This Beautiful Truth (p. 187)

I realized I had around 20 worship songs I had written over several years I hadn’t released because I wanted them to be so perfect, I wanted to get my amazing musician and singer friends to help me work on them and was always too busy to make it all happen. My own voice has limitations, especially as I age. My own recording abilities are not as good as other stuff out there. But my heart was not in the right place. Sabbatical reflection helped me to surrender and realize how I just want to be like a flower or a tree or a mountain that reflects the worship and God and witnesses to his amazing grace. Who cares if there are better or more professional ways to perform or release these songs. Who knows how God can use my “fishes and loaves” and do something better or bigger with them. So I decided to spend some of my sabbatical time recording the first batch of these songs–the ones that had been written during times of waiting or spiritual struggle, wrestling surrender to God’s plan and my own limitations. Many of these were written were written simply enough to be congregational songs, but also they were borne of journeys through darkness and coming through to the light of the other side.

The posture of waiting is the posture of worship. It is interested that the book of Acts starts that way–Jesus is talking about the kingdom of God and his followers want to know how it’s all going to unfold. Yet his answer? To WAIT. His Spirit is going to be the central character in the narrative to follow. Our job is just to wait and witness. We don’t have to have it all figured out, we don’t have to direct all the action. We can trust in his goodness and guidance and enjoy the ride. Yes we will need to speak up, to act in boldness and courage while participating in God’s mission in the world. But it all starts with our souls patiently waiting on him.

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;

    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.

I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love
    and with him is full redemption.

He himself will redeem Israel
    from all their sins.

Psalm 130

Go for Excellence – Interview with Travis Moore

Travis is a great songwriter, producer, and worship leader (part of the Denver Church of Christ). We talk about his current projects, how he sees the relationship between faith and art, has some great advice for worship ministries (especially in small churches): Go for excellence, have a good work ethic, play to your strengths, and create a culture where it’s fun! Get yourself out of the way. Here are relevant links to our discussion:

Travis Moore Website: 

Wild Goose Chase: 

Always on My Mind:

Tuff Tuff: 

Denver Church Quarantine Worship Videos:

Ties to the Light music: 

This Beautiful Truth by Sarah Clarkson

Yebba Tiny Desk Concert (warning: some explicit lyrics)

ICOC Worship Collective

I haven’t posted in this space for quite a while. My wife and I were able to take a three-month sabbatical after 22 years of full-time ministry, and as part of that I stepped back from leading worship, speaking and writing engagements, and so I took a break from the blog as well. I hope to write more soon here about the concept of sabbatical and share a bit of what I learned. (I was also able to use part of that time to do some “devotional recording,” and here is an album I released of what I recorded; look forward to sharing more of that in the months ahead.)

After our sabbatical came to a close we ramped back up in preparation for an international gathering of the ICOC family of churches, the World Discipleship Summit, entitled “Renewed Vision.” (The Vision Conference in Orlando was originally supposed to have taken place in 2020, and we all know what happened with large gatherings that year.) Renewed Vision was an incredibly inspiring time together, like a festival of 9 days or so of joining in worship and prayer, sharing stories and scriptures. Towards the tail end of that week we had a get together for anyone involved in worship ministry that was there at that the conference. Around 200 worship leaders from around the world joined together for a time of singing, encouragement, and talking about the future of working together in the worship ministry of the ICOC fellowship of churches. What an amazing time! There is nothing like singing together with a room full of singers! We made a little fun of ourselves, sang a medley of songs written by members of ICOC, and had a time of trying out some new songs written by people in the group. (Thanks to Khalid James for recording this audio on his phone!) I think anyone who visits this blog would really enjoy listening to the whole two-hour session. Please add any comments below to join in the conversation as well.

As part of that time together we were able to introduce a few new congregational songs that are presently being written and shared among our congregations. Here are videos of these songs being introduced (videos courtesy of Erika Tan):

Guilt to Glory – Jahson and Noelle Saunders (Broward Worship) | ICOC Worship Collective
Wait for the Lord My Soul – J. Brian Craig | ICOC Worship Collective
Your Voice – Tina Crawley and Joshua Taliaferro | ICOC Worship Collective
Psalm for the Soul (Hopeful) – Jahson and Noelle Saunders | ICOC Worship Collective
You Come to Us – Ross Lippencott | ICOC Worship Collective