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.

chorus
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.

Bridge
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.

Tag
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!

 

BREAKTHROUGH

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

BREAKTHROUGH (in E)

Verse:
E / E / Bsus / Bsus
A2 / A2 / E / E
E / E / Bsus / Bsus
A2 / A2 / Bsus / B

Chorus
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

Outro
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!

https://tinyurl.com/ChristmasWorship2020


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!

 

JUST ENJOY THE SUNSET

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

 


Poor Wayfaring Stranger

My friend Zoe Tolton and I have done many songs together through the years (see him here rapping on one of my tunes). He has been working on putting together some music for a worship midweek and asked if I had a version of “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.” My mom is a trained opera singer and used to sing a powerful and moving version of this song, so it always reminds me of her. When I think about how old this song is (dating back to the civil war and perhaps beyond, many variations), I think of the many struggles different Christians have experienced through the ages, and the comfort these words may have brought them. Times can be tough, but “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor 4:17).

I am a poor wayfaring stranger
A’wandering through this world of woe
Yet there’s no sickness, toil, or danger
In that bright land to which I go

I’m going there to see my Savior
I’m going there no more to roam
I’m only going over Jordan
I’m only going over home

I know dark clouds will gather ’round me
I know my way is rough and steep
But beauteous fields lie just before me
Where souls redeemed, their vigil keep


Spark Become a Fire

We had guest speaker Tony Fernandez (from Broward County FL) preach for us yesterday.  He gave an inspiring lesson from Jesus’ short story of the yeast and the dough (Matt 13:33).  At the climax of his lesson, as he spoke about how small slice of the kingdom can change the whole world:

You end the suffering by being a shoulder for people to cry on
You end crime by teaching people the ways of Jesus
You bring peace by becoming a peacemaker in a world of hurt
You show justice by admitting your own need for repentance
You rush into a world and become leaven…YOU CHANGE IT from the inside out.
 – Tony Fernandez

It was really cool lesson thinking about the ways that small things can add up to big things that bring real change in the world.  Reminded me of a song I wrote a couple years ago I thought I’d share today called “Spark Become a Fire.”  It’s one of my “Ties to the Light” songs — these are songs that aren’t necessarily the ones that I write for my church but rather songs that are designed to hopefully find uses outside the circle of God’s people and bring a bit of light to wherever they end up.  I have more of these songs to release soon, and I need to make more music videos to get the songs out there.  [By the way if you are reading this and you want to support these songs and you have any idea for a music video for one of the songs on this album –like make one yourself or some idea, please comment below or message me.]

I love the idea that we can bring peace and justice to whatever situation we’re in because of the love and example of Jesus, and the working of the Holy Spirit.  I have a hopeful view of the future.   Like Martin Luther King said (quoting nineteenth-century abolitionist Theodore Parker), “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”   I want to help with that in any way I can.


Only in the Cross – Resources

It’s been a strange, unique, unprecedented time for the body of Christ weekly gathering around the Table in fellowship and Communion in a “virtual way.” Some have been using Zoom, others using live stream or simply premiering a video. Thank God for these tool

s, but for those who are still not able to meet in person I know it is really getting old and we so miss being together. Personally it has been a blessing to be able to produce and stream a worship service weekly from out of our garage “studio” many months now, with a small team of about 10 or so, and join in Communion together. We just upgraded to adding one small group at a time in our alley behind the garage, so that was great yesterday to have a few more people join us. I have heard this streaming worship service has been a lifeline and weekly highlight for disciples quarantining in their homes. Through whatever medium we are using, what must remain central is why we gather on the Lord’s Day: to remember Jesus.

A year or two ago I begin thinking that we needed more Communion songs that directly reflect on the body and blood of Christ. There some great old hymns that do this, but not as many new songs (Jesus Messiah is a good example of a newer one). As I had been ruminating on this, one morning this song just popped into my head –fully formed! All at once! I seriously wrote it in about 10 min. Those usually turn out to be the best congregational songs, because I feel like they are gifts from the Holy Spirit. We have enjoyed singing this song in my congregation (here’s a video of introducing it), and I plan to release a finalized version of this song for an upcoming worship album, but for now, here are resources if you’d like to use this song with your team. (I’ve been having trouble making time to finish the new album with all of the extra editing and media work making videos and prepping media for our weekly services!)

I hope this song blesses your Communion Fellowship!


Demo
https://jbriancraig.wordpress.com/sunday-service-resources/only-in-the-cross-demo/

Chord chart
https://jbriancraig.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/only-in-the-cross.pdf

Sheet music
https://jbriancraig.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/only-in-the-cross-sheet-music.pdf

Teaching recording
https://jbriancraig.wordpress.com/sunday-service-resources/only-in-the-cross-teaching-recording/

ONLY IN THE CROSS

Only in the cross
Can I be set free
Only by your body
Given up for me
Only in the blood
Falling from your hands
Only in the cross
We begin again

We take this bread
As we gather here
We remember you
We take this cup
And commit our souls
The covenant made new

We the church
Worship you alone
You our God and King
We serve and witness
All you’ve done
Praises we will sing

“It is finished!”
Was your cry
You’re coming back
Some day
Now in heaven
Exalted high
Forever you will reign

Glory – Glory!