Someday / Trials Dark

somedaySeems like we’ve been singing more songs about heaven lately since our friend Kevin’s passing.  This is a recording from our worship team rehearsal of a song we sang at church a couple weeks ago.  It’s a mashup of two songs actually, Someday and When the Morning Comes (otherwise known as “Trials Dark“).  Someday we don’t know where came from (it’s been sung in our fellowship for a couple decades or so), and Trials Dark is an old time song written by Charles Tindley back in 1905.  We start with doing Someday adding one part at a time, then go to the verses of Trials Dark with using Someday as the chorus.  They work really well together with a message of where we are all headed.  Lyrics and chords are below.

Someday – Trials Dark – rehearsal recording


soprano, alto, basses:
Someday, someday, someday

Got to be ready when he calls my name
Got to be ready when he calls my name
Got to be ready when he calls my name

Trials dark on every hand
And we cannot understand
All the ways that God will lead us
To that promised land.
But He’ll guide us with his eye
And we’ll follow ‘till we die.
We will overcome it all
And see Him someday, singing

We are sometimes destitute
Of the things that life demands
Want of shelter and of food
In a barren land.
But we’re trusting in the Lord
And according to his word
We will overcome it all
And see Him someday, singing

Temptations, hidden snares
Often take us unaware
And our hearts are made to bleed
For each word or deed
And we wonder why the test
When we try to do our best
We will overcome it all
And see Him someday, singing

(The recording is in E:  chords  E   /    B    /  A   /   E   – you can also do it as high as G:  chords G  /  D   /  C   /  G)

Breakthrough – I Need Thee Every Hour

Happy Monday, fellow worshippers!  I really it’s been a long time since I posted on a Monday, but hoping to get back in the swing of it.  Been really feeling the need for God lately, how about you?  Lost a good friend to a heart attack recently, there has been lots of sickness, troubles in our nation… raising teenagers, building the church, being back in grad school… all this making me feel good and desperate for God!  I’m posting a recording from our first worship service of the year in South Bay, calling out for God’s help, reaffirming these prayers that God would be with us, help us, strengthen us, and that he would be glorified through us and what we offer to him.  May these songs, offered in faith, encourage your own heart to trust in God.


PS. See the chords page and the lyrics page for chords and lyrics for these songs.  By the way, I added a bunch more chords from the last year or two to the chord page, so check that out for newer songs.  Or you can always search the site for something you might be looking for.

Let Me Understand

letmeunderstandWe just got back from a great marriage retreat weekend with the Coastal LA family of churches.  Rick and Heather Mekemson were our guest speakers and did an amazing job of vulnerably sharing their journey of marital struggle and the miracle story of God healing their marriage and making it stronger than ever before.  It was all topped off with the close of the sermon yesterday when Rick shared powerfully about Jesus in our lives as our advocate (I John 2:1); speaking in our defense even now.  After he prayed for communion he showed a slide show of 35 messages from God to us – it was so encouraging and really ministered to all of us, daily assaulted by Satan’s accusations (Revelation 12:10).

It reminded me of this song, “Let Me Understand,” and I thought I’d share it today.  It’s from an album I put tother several years back of songs all from the perspective of Jesus speaking to his followers.  This song in particular is from his perspective as the advocate, speaking up for us, able to “empathize with us in our weakness” (Hebrews 4:15).  Hope it encourages you!

Let Me Understand



Hush little child
No need to cry now
You’re crushed and you’re tired
Take my peace
Cause now and always
I’m with you and I’ve been through
The ups and downs you’re feeling
Be strong, carry on
The struggle will only make you stronger

Daily I speak in your defense
I’m with you even when you
don’t feel me with you
And though you may be put to the test
Here I am – let me understand

Whatever you might be feeling
If ever your heart is bleeding
Whenever your soul needs healing
Here I am, let me understand

The road is long
The path is narrow
But in me you’re strong
My yoke is easy
And if you only really knew
What lies in store for you
It’s better, and it’s brighter
And it’s fuller than you’d ever imagine

Daily I speak in your defense
I’m with you even when you
don’t think you see me
And though you may be put to the test
Here I am – let me understand

Whatever you might be feeling
If ever your heart is bleeding
Whenever your soul needs healing
Here I am, let me understand

Sometimes you deny
My love by your actions
In guilt, think that I
Would give up on you
But at your very worst
I love you
Though you cost me all I am
Your love is worth it to me

Daily I speak in your defense
I’m with you even when you
are starting over
And though you may be put to the test
Here I am – let me understand

Just a Little Talk with Jesus

just-a-little-talkFeeling in a country mood this Monday after attending a friend’s weekend wedding in Pioneertown, CA. Thought I would post something today with some “twang!”

This is a teaching recording (that goes through all the vocal parts) and demo I made a few years back of a good ol’ song I grew up with in church called “Just a Little Talk with Jesus.”  I loved singing the bass part as a young man learning to sing different parts in the congregation –it’s a fun one.  As I got older I grew to appreciate the sentiment of the lyrics as well.  Whatever it is, taking it to Jesus makes all the difference.  Just last night my wife and I were discussing something, and I was wresting with emotions about it.  And just a little talk with Jesus made it right.  I felt such a burden lifted as I prayed it through with the Lord late last night and this morning.  We are promised that whatever we’re anxious about, we can present it to God (with thanksgiving), and the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds (Phil 4:6-7).

Have a great week, and God bless you all!

Just a Little Talk with Jesus – demo

Just a Little Talk with Jesus – teaching recording


I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in
And then a little light from heaven filled my soul
It bathed my heart in love and wrote my name above
And just a little talk with Jesus made me whole

(Now let us) have a little talk with Jesus
(Let us) tell Him all about our troubles
(He will) hear our faintest cry (and He will) answer by and by
(Now when you) feel a little prayerful yearning
(As your) heart unto heaven is turning
(You will) find a little talk with Jesus makes it right (it makes it right)

Sometimes my path seems drear, without a ray of cheer
And then a cloud of doubt may hide the light of day
The mists of sins may rise and hide the starry skies
But just a little talk with Jesus clears the way

I may have doubts and fears my eyes be filled with tears
But Jesus is a Friend who watches day and night
I go to Him in prayer He knows my ev’ry care
And just a little talk with Jesus makes it right

A   / A   / D   / A
A   / A   / E   / E7
A   / A   / D   / A
F#m / E   / A D A

A   / A   / A   / A
E   / E   / A   / A
D   / D   / A   / A
F#m / E   / A D A

He’s Got the Future In His Hands

hes-got-the-future-002Happy Monday!

I wanted to share one of the songs from my new album, “He’s Got the Future.”  I wrote this song a number of years back just for fun, to try something with a traditional 12-bar blues form.  I was reading the story of the rich fool from Luke 12, and came up with the chorus and verse from that story.  Then I thought about other passages from the Bible with a similar message and wrote the other verses.  Here it is:

He’s Got the Future

In addition the song I thought I’d share a few related resources…

I preached a sermon on the stories from this song a year or so ago and used this song to tie them all together.  The lesson was called “Ungenerous.”

Here are my lesson notes, in case you would want to use the song for a Bible Talk or lesson and this would be helpful.


By the way, in the sermon I played a clip of this fantastic TED Talk by Paul Piff, “Does Money Make You Mean?”  Here is the link.



He’s got the future in his hands.

He’s got the future in his hands.

All He knows, understands,

He’s got the future in his hands.

It don’t matter what you planned,

He’s got the future in his hands.


There once was a king who ruled Babylon,

Drank from the goblets he took from God.

He saw a hand that wrote on the wall,

“This very night you gonna lose it all.”

“You think you’re something,” said the prophet Dan,

“But He’s got the future in his hands.”


There was a wealthy farmer – too much to store.

Rich towards himself but not to the Lord.

Said “Bigger barns will store all my hay.”

“Then I can take it easy, eat, drink and play.”

God said, “You fool, you got your own plan,”

“But I got the future in my hands.”


There was a rich man who couldn’t care less

About the poor man laying at his steps.

But on the same night both passed away,

One to the saints and one to the flame.

“Please tell my family,” said the rich man,

“He’s got the future in his hands!”


Now listen you who say that today

“Gonna go here and there and this and that-a-way.”

“Gonna make some money and live in style.”

But you’re just a mist that’s here for a while.

Why not submit to the master plan?

Cause He’s got the future in his hands!

The Other Side – Music Samples

The Other Side - CDHello everyone, here are some samples of what I have been working on the last few years, coming together in this new release called “The Other Side.”  For a limited time you can help fund the project and receive an autographed copy by clicking on my Go Fund Me project here:

Here are samples of most of the songs on the project.  Do a right-click of the file name to save to your computer, or you should be able to click the play button and stream the audio on your phone or computer.

The Other Side – music samples

Here is what the play list will be on the CD.  Most of these were written for congregational singing.  A couple (“Bent on Conquest,” and “Breakthrough”) were written for conferences.  One is a congregational song written by my good friend Betty Collins, “You Are My Everything.”  Several are in the new “Songs of the Kingdom” book, but I hadn’t released any recordings of these yet.  The versions on the CD aren’t the only way to do these songs by any means, but I had fun recording them the last few years.  (Side note, one of my biggest grins is in hearing how different song leaders or worship teams interpret different songs I’ve written!)

Greater Worth Than Gold
Home with You
You Are My Everything
Shadow of Your Wings
White as Snow
Shine Your Light
Even Greater Things
Bent on Conquest
Lord of Heaven’s Armies
The Other Side
We Make It Our Goal to Please Him
He’s Got the Future
God Our Father


My Worship-Planning Spreadsheet (and a little about planning worship services)

worship team rehearsal


In the last several months I’ve had four or five different people ask me for this, and I’ve shared it with other over the years, so I thought I would post this today.  This is a copy of a spreadsheet I use for all my worship service planning.  It has schedules from all the way back to the end of 2006 and also includes various conferences and concerts.  So there must be around 500 worship sets on here.  (Don’t try to print it!)  Every Sunday I copy the set of what we are doing out of this spreadsheet and paste it onto a blank page for that week’s schedule.  I like doing it this way because I can easily click on the tab from a previous year and see what we did last Mother’s Day, or the year before.  I can scroll back and forth and see several weeks at a glance really quickly (much more easily than in Planning Center – although that is also a great tool).

A few things you might notice as you look through this.

1. We try to keep the list of songs we are singing fairly restricted.  I’ve seen situations where the introduction of too many varied songs hinders the church from really connecting.  As I mention many times to worship leaders, we tire of songs long before the congregation does.  For every one time they hear/ sing the song we have probably heard or sung it a half a dozen times, with all the prep and rehearsal that we do.  Plus musicians tend to have shorter attention spans musically.  So while I enjoy lots of other songs, we keep a pretty tight repertoire of songs that we keep recycling.

2.  We sometimes retire songs we love for a while.  So even given what I said above, there comes a time when you just a sense a song is done for a while.  So there are many songs that I have even written personally (like “Be with Me Lord” or “I Need Your Love”, even “Praises Heard Around the World” or lately, “Anchor for the Soul”) that right now we aren’t singing.  Doesn’t mean we won’t bring them back.  I don’t mind “Sanctuary” any more, after we took about a decade off of singing it 🙂

3.  We like a mix of types of songs.  Every group is different, and different groups work for every group.  My local congregation, the South Bay Church (part of the greater LA Church of Christ) has a little under 300 in attendance on Sundays.  We are pretty diverse group in age, ethnicity, economic class, and spiritual age.  We try to have a little gospel, a little contemporary Christian, some of our own songs, some hymns, and even some country once in a while.  Other congregations may like one genre and stick to it.  There is no right way to do it!  I would imagine if we were to hear a worship service from the time of David circa 1000BC, even though the messages of the psalms are amazing – we wouldn’t understand them and the music might sound awful to our western-music-ears.  I used to get a bit tripped up by trying to do it just right.  But it’s like parenting:  just when you think you have it figured out, everything changes and you have to try to figure it out again.  Anyway, we like a mix.  And we still try to make it flow.

4.  When we intro a new song, we keep singing it.  If it’s brand new, we might sing it a couple weeks in a row.  Later, maybe once a month.  There’s no rule to it, you just feel it out with your team.  I make decisions but get lots of feedback.  We talk in rehearsals about what is working and what is not.  While I’d like to be democratic with the song choices, I think one person has to be making the final decisions as far as the service flow and overall objectives, and it’s just too hard if it becomes “committee based.” What I do is have people send me suggestions, I put them in my planning document, and sometimes we end up doing them at some point and sometimes we don’t.  So you might see some suggestions or notes scattered through there.   Finally, we almost never use new songs to open or close a worship time. We usually sandwich those in between familiar songs. Even catchy ones.

If you look at the last few Sundays you’ll see we are working on some of the stuff we are doing at the Reach Conference coming up in a few weeks.  We have been trying out the flow of moving into some songs from others and things like that.  Kind of test-driving a few things.  If it works with my local worship team and my church of 300 it will probably work with the house band at Reach, the singers from around the North American churches, and the huge group of 20K people!

Finally I’ll say as I share this, that I’ve been feeling lately the desire to do more simple songs. The space that we are currently in is pretty dry acoustically, so it’s best suited for full band stuff. But I don’t want to lose some of the simple hymns and stripped-down singing. So I’m gonna probably work on writing more of those and incorporating more that others have written. It seems like we’ve been doing a lot of contemporary Christian songs lately, which is cool but I just want to keep a balance.  I also want to do more to support the congregation singing in harmony.  We do a midweek about once a year where we teach parts.  I want to do more with that – there is something so powerful about hearing the congregation (not just the part-singers) sing in harmony!

So, without further ado, here it is – my planning spreadsheet!  (I use Numbers, but I’ve posted it here in Excel form, hoping everyone will be able to open it that would like to.)


Sunday Services Planning Matrix