Emptied All

Some think that Philippians 2:6-11 was an early hymn sung by the church, so I though it would be really cool to write a modern worship song using that section of scripture as the chorus. My exegesis of the surrounding passages led me to an idea that the hymn represented the center of a chiastic structure in Paul’s thought:

.  a Paul’s struggle (Phil 1:20-24)
.      b Paul’s relationship with the Philippians (Phil 1:25-30)
.          c Philippians’ relationships with each other (Phil 2:1-4)
.                d Example of Jesus (Phil 2:5-11)
.           c’ Philippians’ relationships with each other (Phil 2:12-15)
.      b’ Paul’s relationship with the Philippians (Phil 2:16)
.  a’ Paul’s struggle (Phil 2:17-18)

Here is a basic recording of the song.  Below that are the lyrics and a paper that provides more study of the biblical passage.

Emptied All – band demo

Philippians 2, 1-11 – Having the Mindset of Christ – paper


Verse 1
(from Philippians 2:1-5)
All that we’ve been given
Every blessing in Christ
we share
We should be like-minded;
We should be one
No selfish ambition
Putting others above ourselves
We’ll look to Jesus
in our minds

(from Philippians 2:6-11)
Emptied all,
though He was fully divine
To the cross
humbled Himself,
there to die
So exalted be His name,
lifted high
He is Lord
Jesus is Lord
Jesus is Lord

Verse 2
(from Philippians 2:14-18)
So easy to argue
So easy to grumble, but
If we think like Jesus,
we’re gonna shine
Like stars in the heavens,
Holding on to the word of life
Though we be poured out
in sacrifice

Verse 3
(from Philippians 3:13-21)
Forget what’s behind us
Straining forward
to what’s ahead
We’re focused on a
heavenward prize
Not like those around us
Their minds set on
earthly things
We’re waiting for our
heavenly King

Verse 4
(from Philippians 4:4-9)
Be always rejoicing
Believing the Lord is near
And with thanksgiving
we will pray
Peace past understanding
Will be guarding our
hearts and minds
Whatever you think,
think like Christ

I Belong

Hey everyone… happy Monday! We met for church in person yesterday (outdoors) for just the second time since the lockdown over a year ago. It was so great to see everyone, to hear the voice of everybody. There is nothing like being in the Temple of the Lord (which is now the Church). God has taught us new lessons of what it means to be the church over this last year. Our connections to one another have been tested, along with our faith. We have had to work through divisions caused by the pandemic, racial tensions, and political upheaval… and, prayerfully, we have come through it all together in Christ. Thank God for his amazing church, his Holy Temple. There is no where I want to be except with God and with the people of God.

In keeping with this idea I wanted to share a song today called “I Belong,” inspired by Psalm 84. I share in the video a bit about the story behind the song. This video was the opening of a virtual workshop called “Belong 2021” happening today and tomorrow with ministers from our family of churches across the Pacific Islands and Southwest US.

I Belong
(inspired by Psalm 84)

You know all that I’m
Longing for, and my
Being cries out for you
I can’t wait to be
Where you are and see
Everything that you do

Singing praises, onward we go
Through the desert, make water flow
Like a sparrow has found a home
Next to you…
I belong, I belong with you
I’m at home, I’m at home with you

Single day with you
Can’t compare it to
A thousand out in the world
May your son give light
May your spirit guide
Every step, every turn

Hear my prayer
Let me stay here
Close to you, my God
Grant me favor
May I be where

C / G/B / Am / Am
F / C / Gsus / Gsus
C / G/B / Am / Am
F / C / Gsus / Gsus

F / F2 / C / Gsus
F / F2 / C / Gsus
F / F2 / C / Gsus
F2 / F2 / F2 / (break)

C / C / G/B / G/B
Am / Am / F2 / F2

Am / Am / F2 / F2
C / C / G / G
Am / Am / F2 / F2
C / C / G / G
G / (break)

Turning Sorrow into Song: Interview with Michael Aggabao

Michael Aggabao is a great friend of mine who is also a “man of sorrows,” losing his beloved daughter at a young age to a rare genetic disorder, a loss he carries with him every day of his life.  He’s also the most prolific songwriter I know, turning to God with both his joys and his sorrows, much like the authors of the biblical psalms.  He draws often from the language of these ancient songs to communicate and connect with our loving Father and to express his heartache and longing to see his daughter again in paradise someday.  And he writes really catchy songs!  

In this free-ranging interview we talk about songwriting, recording techniques, challenges of a global pandemic (Michael is also a health professional), and turning sorrow into song.

Subscribe to Michael’s youtube channel to hear new songs he is writing all the time:

Hear his albums on Spotify, Apple Music, or Youtube Music:

Holy Temple – Michael Aggabao

Hey everybody, happy Monday!  Today I’m sharing a song from my friend Michael Aggabao – singer/songwriter, worship leader. Had the privilege of studying the Bible with him many years ago and he always encourages me.  I’d been spending some time thinking about the concept of the Temple, which represents God’s presence.  Solomon’s prayer of dedication in I Kings 8 is really so amazing if you think about all the Temple represents (and how now in the New Covenant we–the family of Christare the temple).  Also been battling some anxiety with all we’ve been going through.  And then I got this song and message from Michael and it ministered to me, and tied in to what I had been thinking about in terms of God’s presence.  Hope it encourages you too.  If you’re not familiar with Michael’s work please check out his channel on YouTube and his music on streaming platforms.

From Michael:

“I was filled with grief and anxiety yesterday, just glued to the bed, thinking of my daughter Katrina and my son Jared. One of Jared’s FA friend is now on hospice care which added more to my anxieties. But our ‘Papa/Daddy’ was quick to save and pointed me to Jonah 2:7 then I was awaken with this tune…so grateful to our Father, that He has a song for each one of us….

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
                        – Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

“When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord. And my earnest prayer went to you in your holy Temple.”
                        – Jonah 2:7 Living Bible


Holy Temple (original 2/9/21)

verse 1
My mind is racing, O Lord.
I can’t control my thoughts.
I’m sinking in fear, O Lord.
Help me clear my thoughts.

When I had lost all hope.
I turned my thoughts to you, Lord.
My earnest prayers went out to you.
In your Holy Temple

verse 2
I know you hear my prayers, Lord
So I lay it all before you.
All my fears and failures.
O Lord lift me up.

Where are you sending me?
I’m lost in the vastness of the sea.
Where should I go from here?
When my fears and doubts overwhelms.

I remember you Lord.
I remember you Lord.
You are faithful.
I remember you Lord
I remember you Lord.
Your my Savior.
Your my salvation, my deliverer.
Your my healer, my protector…….

Breakthrough featuring Betty Collins

Happy New Year!

Today I’m sharing another song from our Better Haiti Concert.  Years ago I wrote this song for a conference (I share the story here) but it has taken on new meaning through the year 2020!  We used the song for a virtual choir video over the summer as we were experiencing the dual challenges of wrestling with racial injustice as well as the global pandemic.  We added the new ending and prayer section as a time of calling on God as a congregation.

Here is the rendition from our concert, featuring my good friend and fellow worship leader Betty Collins on lead vocal.  Love singing with Betty.  And today’s her birthday — happy birthday, Betty!



You hung the sun and moon
a universe in tune
Caused the dry earth to bloom
brought it to life
Gave men your spirit’s spark
turned them to light from dark
By your blood set apart
made us to shine

Give us a breakthrough
There’s so much more to do
Your kingdom come through us
Your will be done in us
Give us your heart
Give us a breakthrough
It’s gotta come from you
You are unstoppable
Everything’s possible
Almighty God
Give us a breakthrough

You set the captives free
You split apart the sea
Told us to watch and see
all you would do
Brought water from a stone
gave those exiled a home
Your Holy One enthroned
King of all kings

Fill every heart with love
Teach us to overcome
Lead us with power from
your Spirit’s fire
We sing your praises loud
sing to the stumbling crowd
Till all the whole world ’round
knows who you are


E / E / Bsus / Bsus
A2 / A2 / E / E
E / E / Bsus / Bsus
A2 / A2 / Bsus / B

E / B/E / C#m / B/C#m
F#m7 / A / Bsus / B
E / B/E / C#m / B/C#m
F#m7 / A / Bsus / B
E / E

F#m / Asus / E / Bsus (repeating)

Praises Heard Around the World (live recording 2020)

Happy Monday!  Merry Christmas!  Happy New Year!  What a crazy year it’s been.  Things are really bad right now in my area (Los Angeles County) so we are still in lock down mode, even tighter now.  Glad we have vaccines and better times on the way.  One cool thing from 2020 was doing a fundraiser concert for Better Haiti, with some of my popular church tunes they asked me to sing.  The audio turned out pretty well, so I decided to release it as a live album (now available on streaming platforms or for download).  Over the next several weeks I’ll post one video at a time from the concert.

This first song has become a favorite among International Churches of Christ, as it celebrates our family of churches “all around the world.”  The melody and lyrics for the chorus of this song were written by my friend Tony Martin for a small worship leader conference we both helped to put on around 15 years ago.  It was kind of a catchy “jingle” he came up with to celebrate the praises we were singing at this international gathering.  He asked me to help turn the tune into a congregational song that our churches could sing.  I worked on orchestrating a groove, harmony parts, and verses for the song.  The acoustic part was influenced by a Jack Johnson style of playing, who I was probably listening to at the time, and kind of an island type groove.  It really caught on right away — it’s fun and celebratory, inspiring, and motiving to think about the ways God is moving through all the nations of the earth.   It reminds us we are heading towards a future together with God along with a family of brothers and sisters of every nation, tongue, tribe, and language (Revelation 7).  (By the way, check out this video of disciples from around the world singing the song in their own native languages.)


Christmas Songs 2020

Wow, who would have thought this year would be this crazy. One of the biggest losses for us has been being able to meet together as a church for worship. Christmas time especially is one of those seasons I love coming together and singing timeless carols and new arrangements of traditional worship songs.  This year I took some of the arrangements I had put together for our Christmas Regional Service last year, and produced some new digital editing projects to be able to sing all together again (at least with the worship team).  It is fun to listen to each person’s individual video and then see the multiplying effect of all the performances coming together.  From the feedback we’ve gotten, these songs really brought some Christmas cheer and “good news of great tidings” to the brothers and sisters worshipping along at home over our live stream. Praying next Christmas we can be back all together again!  Or maybe we’ll have to do a Christmas sing-along in July this year if we don’t want to wait that long.

Here is a 20+ min playlist of Christmas worship music from our live stream. Feel free to use it for worship services – just message me for a download link for a song(s) you want. These were put together by singers and musicians from our church Region and teens from our local ministry. Marshall Craig and Sam Matthew did the video editing and I did the music production and audio mixing. They turned out great. Therapeutic listening!


Just Enjoy the Sunset

I wrote this song years back when we were going through a really tough time. One thing I learned was how important it was to take a deep breath, stop and appreciate little moments of good. “Each day has enough trouble of its own” —so stop worrying about the future (or even the present) for a minute and “for now let’s just enjoy the sunset.” Take time to BE THANKFUL. I’m kind of singing to myself here, but also to you, if you’re having a rough time right now. There is beauty all around us and gifts that we get to open and enjoy— take a minute to recognize them. Just enjoy the sunset.

This is one of the songs I’ve recorded under my band name TIES TO THE LIGHT. Get the rest of the songs at https://linktr.ee/TTTL

Plus a new EP coming soon!



Everything’s gonna be ok
I keep saying
Throw your worries and fears away
While we’re here
In the light of a brand new day
You’ll be smiling
C’mon don’t let it go to waste

Gotta enjoy this beautiful day
The shadow long across your face
Everything’s gonna be ok
The dawn will bring another day
For now let’s just enjoy the sunset

Sand and surf and ocean breeze
Are the gifts and
Lets unwrap them and we will see
What we got
I know life is a mystery
That we open
But right now, its just you and me

C’mon and fill your lungs up with air
The sky is glowing everywhere
Take a breath and exhale your cares
Tomorrow climb another stair
For now let’s just enjoy the sunset

Gotta enjoy this beautiful day
We can make another way
Everything’s gonna be ok
The dawn will bring another day
For now let’s just enjoy the sunset

Using Technology in Today’s Worship Setting

The worship leaders from Nigeria and West Africa ICOC churches had a virtual conference recently and asked me to share about “The pivotal role of technology in an effective worship,” as well as some general teaching about the challenges of leading the church in worship during a global pandemic and social distancing scenario. I weave a couple songs in here as well. And walk you through how we make “virtual choir” videos.

I thought I would share it with you as well, in case it is helpful for your ministry or worship team.

Three things I cover in this video with regard to this topic:

How can we lead worship that is….
– All for God
– Grounded in your strengths
– Conquering new territory


Let the Light Shine Down on Me


We’ve been streaming live Sunday services out of my garage for a while now, but still use produced videos of songs here and there. It’s been a good way to include some singers who haven’t been able to be here in person.  Lindsay has a couple little kids and hasn’t been able to join us, but I made a track and asked her to add all the parts.  This is a great worship song by my friend Geoff Fawcett.  Words have new meaning in our present context.  Hope it ministers to you and feel free to use it for your streaming worship service.  By the way I’ll also post an older recording of this song I made many years ago below.

Sheet music is here (and FYI the arrangement in this video we pitched a third low for Lindsay’s performance — she can sing it in the original key but it sounds a little warmer in key of C).


Let the Light Shine Down  – version I recorded back in 2008