We are of course all praying for our many dear brothers and sisters at this dark hour. This is a video of us singing “Be with Me, Lord” at a leadership conference in Kiev years ago. As I watch this now it brings tears to my eyes thinking about how much the Russian and Ukrainian brothers in the Kingdom love one another so dearly, and how the “Beasts” of worldly powers seek domination via violent means. Praying desperately for peace. Praying for our Lord to be with our brothers and sisters and to hear their prayers.
The second verse is in Russian. I jumped in with these great Russian and Ukrainian musicians and it’s a mix of local and American singers on stage. The bulk of the audience was singing the whole thing in Russian (there were about 5,000 people there).
Hello everyone and happy Monday! I mostly share original songs on this blog but once in a while I might share one by another artist. This is one our church loves to sing by Rend Collective. I have written before about having different kinds of songs at church (like guy-type songs) besides deep and intimate worship ones (which I love). I believe a good worship service has a good mix of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs–different styles, upbeat and joyous and well as down-tempo and introspective. This is one of the upbeat, fun, party-at-church ones! Sunday should be fun as well as spiritually meaty, in my opinion. And banjo helps.
Hey everybody, happy Monday! Wanted to share a new worship song I wrote this past year while in quarantine, called “Wait for the Lord My Soul.” The lyrics are taken from Psalm 130. This was our second time singing it with the church, and yesterday it was fun to have Alex lead it instead of me (first time I sang it was on our livestream a day after writing it). What a blessing to hear the voices singing it now in person.
We are just beginning an eight-week season as a church going through a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and a companion book Day by Day. Learning to wait, to be still, to trust in God’s forgiveness and salvation are coming up again and again in the materials we are going through. It’s hard for me to slow down, to breathe, to even spend two minutes in silence (as we are doing several times a day). I just want to do and do, go and go, keep producing, keep busy —tempted to value myself by what I get done. Yet I serve a God who rested —he knew when to say enough, when to stop (inferred by the very word Sabbath). The words of this psalm and new song are helping me to learn to stop, slow down, teaching my soul to wait for the Lord.
WAIT FOR THE LORD MY SOUL
(based on Psalm 130)
Wait for the Lord, my soul
Wait for the Lord, my soul
Like the morning
I put my hope
in Him, in Him
Redeem me from
my sin, my sin
His Name, His love
His word, His word
We cry, we hope
We serve, we serve
Israel, put your hope
in the Lord
For his love never fails
Will redeem our sin
We wait for him
We wait for him
WAIT FOR THE LORD MY SOUL
D/F# G2 / Bm A
D/F# G2 / A
Em / Bm A
Em / G A
F#m7 / GM7 / Bm7 / A
GM7 / D A / Em / Em
A / break
Hey everybody, happy Monday! Hope you had a great holidays. Yours might have been marked with sickness, like ours. I ended up with Covid myself and stuck in quarantine for a few days. Thankfully my symptoms were mild and I spend some time making some simple music videos for some of my Ties to the Light songs (and one for my daughter Cora). I thought I’d share one today called “Wonder Why.”
Songs like this I try to keep kind of general enough in lyric for people to be able to own them and apply them to their own life and situation. But I’ll share with you guys a bit more detail. In this case the song was inspired by a specific campus conversion story. The person was praying that God would show them his way and his people (it’s it so cool how often that is part of people’s stories). They looked out their window and literally saw a sign for where the church was meeting. They came to church, studied the Bible and became a disciple of Jesus.
I love the idea that God allows different things in our lives to lead up to decision moments — turning points that make all the difference for the rest of our lives. Even difficult things, failures, or hardships… “life led regrets up to this moment.” God is there all along –in countless lives and spiritual journeys. God knows every heartbreak, hears every whispered prayer as we go through the ups and downs of life. If only everyone would turn to him. If only everyone would recognize, as this person did, “Love was looking out for you all along.”
Hey guys happy Monday! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Wrote a new song over the weekend, thought I’d share with you. Some of you are songwriters, and others are interested in the process of songwriting so I thought I’d share how this one came about since it just happened. This was one where the whole song just kinda pops out in like 1/2 and hour of working on it and I love those ones! (Other times its week or months of working on something and I still don’t like what I’ve got!). This is not a great recording of the song, I made it right after I wrote it, and my living room guitar happened to be in DADGAD tuning, kinda low key for me, but whatever – I’m trying to be less filtering of just sharing creative stuff out there. So, here’s how the song came about.
Sat morning I was listening to Taylor Swift’s album Folklore in the background while I was reading (I’m a big fan of that genre, love Bon Iver who helped out). The song “August” has these chord changes on the chorus that shortly after were rolling around in my head. The sentiment of the song (and a lot of Taylor’s music) is sad to me: the instability of dating relationships in the world, the pain of breakups (not meaning to be judge-y or anything but just listen to her songs). I was contemplating what an amazing thing it is to have a relationship with the Creator – he never lets me down. He’ll never ever break up with me. He deserves all of my heart. And the chorus melody and lyric just came to me (both together), “all of my heart belongs to you” –really catchy, kind of similar vibe and sentiment to the song “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever.” Then the melody for the verses (which you could hear is pretty influenced by the Taylor Swift song) and lyrics for the verses I just took down right as the melody was coming. Then for the bridge I wanted something kind of climbing, something kind of similar to like the bridge in “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever,” since the song was already sounding a bit like that one, and I really like how the bridge turned out and sets up the final choruses.
Anyway, I share these influences and song similarities because long ago I was a composition major in college for a time and had this view about music (and art school in general can have this idea) like I had to come up with something totally original, totally new, never been done before. So that caused me to be tentative, self-censoring, afraid to just make art. Thing is, does anything truly original even exist? Everything is a re-mix (see this Ted talk with that name)! Don’t be afraid to have songs you hear inspire new songs (or things you read art you see, etc)–don’t plagiarize, but allow your influences to be contributors to new art. That is godly gardening—as I have spoken about elsewhere—using already existing materials and weaving/shaping/molding them into something new and beautiful that glorifies our Maker. Anyway, if you have a thought about music or art or the creative process feel free to drop a comment below!
A world divided
Storms and violence
Fools deny the truth
Meet me in silence
Still my soul
Make me whole in you
**All of my heart belongs to you**
In your story
For your glory
Ever more we
See you shining through
Hope and freedom
Life and kingdom
Love and meaning
All is found in you
**All of my heart belongs to you**
All these other things
Asking for my love
Not where I belong
Will never be enough
But loving you is like clean water
Take me down into your river
Where you are I wanna be there
On into forever
**All of my heart belongs to you**
We recently had a marriage retreat with quite a few couples in attendance from various congregations of the LA Church of Christ (a network of a bunch of ICOC churches in the LA area). We had close to 500 people there and it was so fun and amazing to hear that many people sing (especially after so much social isolation)!
This opening medley of three songs was focused on our security in God – “a mountain, firm beneath my feet,” “forever God is faithful,” an “anchor for the soul.” The first two songs are written by a couple of my church songwriting “mentors,” Brenton Brown and Chris Tomlin. (Both write songs that are simple, easy to sing for congregational participation — something I most often aim for with my worship songs.) I hope this song medley in the key of G reminds you of God’s ever-present faithfulness and fills you with Gratitude on this Thanksgiving week!
I love chatting with and learning from worship leaders who are younger than me. Joshua Taliaferro and I have had a few great conversations through the years (hear an earlier one here) about worship ministry. He contacted me recently asking for my thoughts on some of the challenges of building an eclectic worship set, having disparate styles of music that reach multiple generations of Christians and still have it flow well. We decided to record the conversation so that others might listen and join in with their thoughts or input. Please feel free to comment, share, let us know what you think.
We ended up also talking about Joshua’s personal story, and how for each of us, our spiritual journey has so much impact on how we view worship. We spoke about generational challenges in worship ministry, Joshua’s perspective on ICOC past, present, and future, a bit of what he is doing to build worship teams in his congregation in San Antonio. We end with the perspective of learning to enjoy operating in an eclectic and diverse worship space, enjoying the process of serving those in our congregations, like giving a gift to someone that we know they will enjoy (even if it’s not our own personal taste). Good gift givers have the recipient in mind and enjoy watching them unwrap it. Hopefully we can have a similar experience on Sundays as we roll out the worship service we have worked to prepare.
We had a memorial service yesterday afternoon for Mia Steburg, a dear sister in our fellowship who passed away from leukemia a short time ago. Her husband requested we sing this song, which was one of her favorites. It had been a long time sing I sang this song, and I was struck anew by its powerful words, especially during times of grief, hardship, and struggle. The way I play it I attribute to Kevin Darby, who a recorded a version similar to this years ago with his team on an album of the same name (I’m playing it in E but I think he did it in G… I notice my keys are dropping as I get older). I hope in any struggle you may be going through, the words and melody of this classic hymn may minister to you. Chord charts and lyrics are below.
BE STILL MY SOUL
Be still, my soul, the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide.
In every change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul, thy best, thy heav’nly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul, thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul, the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below
Be still, my soul, the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul, when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall be at last.
E / A / A / E
E / A / A / E
E / C#m / C#m / F#m / A
E / F#m / G# / C#m / C#m
C#m / F#m / A / E / B
E / A / E / A
I posted this song around a decade ago (and I’m not sure how much older that video was) but I thought I would share it again today with a new video recording. It’s going to fit the theme of our worship service this Sunday so we plan to sing it this week. It was originally written for a campus ministry conference many years ago with the theme “The Whole World Will Know.” I had two musical ideas and this was one of them (the other was from the David/Goliath story, which is where that phrase originates–see a music video I made of that song here).
I like the some of the theology of this song and singing it today was a reminder of God’s patience, “not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). I want to continue to join him in his mission, in whatever way I can.
EVERY KNEE WILL BOW
The whole world will know
We’ll sing it loud
We give all to crown you now
The whole world will see
As we see you now
One day every knee will bow
O God you make us sing
You’ve giv’n us everything
To you our all we bring in royal praise
In this dark world we’ll shine
Until the end of time
We’ll tell the world to find your saving grace
To seek your face
Since Adam’s ground was cursed
Children of Eve been birthed
The dragon to the earth in fury hurled
But still you had a way
Your only son you gave
Your kingdom here to save, so loved the world
The whole world
Now give us strength to tell
Push back the gates of Hell
By your love we are compelled the gospel preach
Now make us brave and bold
Help us achieve the goal
That one day every soul your grace will reach
Your word we speak…
Hey everyone, happy Monday! I met someone this morning who is a rapper; we were talking about music and positive rap, and our conversation reminded me of some work by an awesome rapper from our sister congregation in San Diego, Rayshon Roberts (see rayshonmusic.com –please follow his music he has some great stuff). He contributed to a song of mine I’ll share today, called “Don’t Travel Alone.” I wrote this song back in 2013, around an infectious synth riff and some thoughts about friendship in the church, and some who had decided to leave our circle of fellowship, cutting off some of those that loved them the most (or at least it felt that way to me). Sin can separate us. So can tribalism and ideology, loyalty to movements of men rather than the kingdom of God. It’s frustrating to me that lately some have allowed their party politics or social ideas to come between them and their brothers and sisters in Christ. We need each other. We need community. We need spiritual friendships. No other way to make it on the journey. Here is the somewhat cheesy rap that I wrote for this song (no longer on the recording, it was replaced by Rayshon’s lyrics):
The best of us is a mess, but trust
that on the road long
You need someone to hold on for the journey
I think its tragic
when losing friends is symptomatic
Recovering addicts need a sponsor
–think its time you had it
Life instead, marrow deep and red
Gotta re-tread, and be led
back to where your warm and well-fed
Travel back to our time
Draw a clean line and you’ll find
We’ll be waiting
This is outside the norm for this space where I mostly share congregational worship songs. But this song is fun and I especially love how the music video turned out — The amazing Joshua Strauther let me use his fun skating videos to make this. (Joshua is himself an amazing musician and worship leader for the Westside Church congregation here in LA and we used to do music for conferences and camps together years ago.) “Wherever you’re going… don’t travel, don’t travel alone!”