Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Unto Us (Wonderful Counselor)

I wrote this song a number of months ago now, but as will become evident when you read the lyrics... it's more of a seasonal song than the others I have written up to this point.

As we're in the advent season, I thought this was the appropriate time to introduce the song to my church, and we've sung it the past few weeks for our morning worship. It tied in especially well with a message one of my pastors preached two Sundays ago, "When Hope Gets Stumped".

This song came out of a time when I was reading the book of Isaiah, and was moved specifically by the messianic prophecies in chapter 9 and 11.

(...I included a little seasonal musical touch to the recording... hope you like it)

Verse: A D E F#m7 / A D Esus E
Wonderful Counselor, I love your name O Jesus
Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Your name alone can save us

Pre-chorus: D F#m7 E / A D F#m7 E
From the stump of Jesse's house
A root will come to reign

Chorus: A E Bm7 D
Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given
And the government will be on His shoulders
He will reign on David's throne, He will usher in his kingdom
And establish it with justice forever

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Than Watchmen (Psalm 130)

I wrote this song a few weeks ago, also in response to one of my pastors' request for "hope songs" for us to sing in worship on Sunday mornings (He's doing a sermon series on hope). Most songs take at least a week or a few days of coming back to it a number of times for me to finish them, but this was one of the rare ones that came rather quickly, probably because the theme of hope resonates so strongly with me, and because Psalm 130 has been one of my favorite Psalms for years. I have been especially moved by its description of waiting on the Lord:

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

I heard a story yesterday about a navy chaplain who was visiting soldiers who were standing guard through the night on the frontlines of a battlefield. He described the incredible tension, as a moving camel in the distance seemed so certainly to look like an enemy soldier, and a twinkle of light would set the whole camp on alarm. In the final hours of night, everyone was desperate to see the morning light, longing for the clarity of vision it would bring. These words from Psalm 130 became all the more real to the chaplain after this experience.

I have written below about how the Christian is always, in this life, waiting. For every answered prayer, there are many unanswered ones. And the ultimate fulfillment for what we can best desire will always remain unfulfilled until Christ returns. But we can still wait with confidence, believing that the morning will come and that the God who is in the business of making things new, will finally, one day, make all things new in Christ.

Verse 1: Bm7 G D A
Out of the depths I call to You
Listen to my plea
Out of the depths I cry the name of Jesus
Battered by my circumstance
Broken at Your feet
But voice enough to sigh the name of Jesus

Pre-Chorus: Em7 D/F# G A
Where else would I go
You're my only hope

Chorus: Bm7 G D A
More than watchmen wait for morning
I will wait for You, my God
In Your promise I will glory
All my hope is in Your love

Verse 2:
If you kept a record of
All our sinful ways
Who, O Lord, could stand to face Your glory
But full of mercy, rich in love
You have come to save
So in my weary bones I whisper, "worthy"

Bridge: Bm7 A/C# G Bm7 A
My soul waits for the break of day
You will surely come as the rising sun
Bm7 A/C# G A
My soul longs for the coming dawn
You will surely come to us

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Faithful One

I wrote this song a few weeks ago in response to a request from my pastor. He sent me a list of scriptures, revolving around the them of hope, which he'll be preaching on for the next few months, and he asked me to start writing songs! This one came originally from Psalm 147:11. As I thought about the verse, I wanted to write a song that was full of praise for the riches of God's love, his faithful, unfailing love. We can have such confidence in his love, knowing that He who was, who is and who is to come, is love, and will always look on us with love.

(the recording is in E, but I frequently play it in D when leading this song at church)
Chorus: D G D A (x2) Bm7 G D A Em7 G A
Faithful One
We will hope in Your unfailing love
From the rising to the setting sun
We will hope in Jesus' name
You have never failed us

Verse: D Em7 G A
Rich in Compassion, lavish in love
Hope of the nations, beautiful God
Full of new mercy day after day
You come to save me, Lamb who was slain

Bridge: Bm7 A/C# G
And for eternity we'll sing this song
Our God is love, Our God is love
The One who was and is and is to come
Our God is love, Our God is love
Em7 A
Our God is love Our God is love

Ending: Em7 G (x3) Em7 G A D...
You have never failed us
You have never failed us
You will never fail us
You will never fail us

Monday, October 18, 2010

We Are Waiting (2)

I know I already did a blog post for this song, but I was helping with worship at a conference this weekend, and this song sort of came to the forefront because it tied in so well with the theme that emerged: waiting on God. (Plus, I got a new mic recently and felt like re-recording it).

I was reminded this weekend that waiting is such a crucial aspect of the believer's identity. We wait in confidence because we know that He who did not spare his only Son but gave Him up willingly, will not withhold anything good from His children (Romans 8:31-32). And we wait with a strong hope because of the coming Kingdom, where we will know Love personified in all His fullness.

P.S. I kind of went to town on this recording... I couldn't help myself... but I hope I'm not setting a precedent... I would still like this to be a place where I can throw up (very) rough recordings of songs I'm writing...

Verse: (C Dm7 F Gsus)
Pre-chorus: (F C Gsus)
Chorus & Bridge: (F C Gsus Dm7)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All My Life (At the Cross)

I wrote this song about a few months ago, around the same time as "This World Has Nothing for Me". Both songs are centered around the theme of losing all things for the Lord, being crucified with Christ, but this song sprang more out of a meditation on the first part of Galatians 6:14, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..."

And I stole a line from a great old hymn... I'll let you figure out which one.

(I've also included the chords for this one, in case you care to play along)

(C F G C Am G F C)
All my life I will live
At the cross
At the place you loved me
With all my strength
I will boast in the cross
For the way you loved me there

(Am G F C)
And I am crucified with Christ
And I have found new life
At the cross at the place you loved me

(F Am G C F Am G)
Riches I will heed not, nor man's empty praise
You will be my first love now and always
I will ever praise you, see your hands and feet
You have won my love for eternity

Monday, September 27, 2010


I wrote this song probably four years ago now. I had a crisis of faith toward the end of my junior year of college, after which the Lord got me by myself for a little while. I felt like Jonah in the belly of the big fish. Anyway, I think I'll let the lyrics speak for themselves.

I am Jonah and I am sailing on the sea
And you sent a storm because you wanted me
So throw me over, come and throw me overboard
I have a long awaited appointment with the Lord

I am Jonah in the belly of the deep
But it is in this place I can hear you clearly
And although its dark and cold, this I have come to know
It is my only hope

'Cause you had to get me into the secret place
You had to draw me out and get us face to face
You have my attention, and I know it's been a while
But I am all ears now

I am Jonah, and it has been three days
I've been waiting and praying here with no escape
Are you about to spit me out, 'cause Lord, I could use another hour
Just to be here with you

One thing I ask and I would seek
To meet you Jesus here in the deep
In lowly places my heart is weary
But you are near me, Lord

Monday, August 23, 2010

Strong and Loving

I love the passage in Psalms where David says, "One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving."

I have needed this image of God, who is both strong - able to save me and take my daily burdens upon himself - and loving - willing to save me and take my burdens.

This song is an effort to understand who God is as strong and loving in the context of Christ's death and resurrection. The One who died in weakness displayed greater strength than any man ever has. He who loved his enemies unto death arose in strength and power to make salvation available to all who come in faith.

Other passages that I had in mind when writing were Proverbs 18:10 and 1 Corinthians 1:27-29.

You are love, You are strong
You are good all day long

Your love is a strong tower
We run in and we are saved

You are our burden bearer
You are our sin forgiver
You were the man on the cross
You are our strong redeemer
You are our king forever
The risen ruler of all

You are God come in flesh
Knowing pain, drinking death

What strength displayed in weakness
What love conquered o'er the grave

Dead and risen, You have conquered
Strong and loving, What a Savior!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thank You For Taking

I wrote this song recently, inspired by a time of prayer at my church. A friend of mine prayed a prayer that really struck me, and knowing a little bit about what had recently transpired in his life, it was all the more striking.

It went something like this...

"Lord, thank you for taking [...] out of my life;
Thank you for what you have given to me;
Thank you for what you have left in my life.
You are my portion forever. Amen"

So I wrote a song about it (and added a little something that might remind you of Neil Young...).

Thank you for taking
Thank you for giving
Thank you for leaving behind
What you have taken
What you have given
What you have left in my life

You are my portion forevermore
Your ways are higher than mine
You are my lot in the land, O Lord
Your love is better than life

Thank you for making
Thank you for changing
Thank you for taking control
What you have made me
How you have changed me
O what a love I can know

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Please, God

This is yet another song I wrote in response to a sermon series one of my pastors did on ASKing. There are a few different ways I approach song-writing, and this one came first as the melody and first few lines of a verse... I figured out the guitar part later.

When thinking about what we should ask God for in worship, it seemed most obvious to me that we should ask that He be more greatly glorified on the earth. Our primary motivation in worship should be to make his "name and renown" the desire of our hearts (Isaiah 26:8).

James tells us that we have not because we ask not, and that when we do ask, we frequently ask with wrong motives and therefore receive nothing. But if we are firstly motivated by a humble desire for God's "name and renown," then our requests have a solid foundation.

Please, God, build Your kingdom
Please, God, send Your rain
Hear, God, us Your children
Asking please, God, have Your way

We have not for we ask not
So we ask now
We are wretched, blind, and poor

Send Your Spirit, come down
And let every nation bow
For Your name and renown
We are asking, God
Holy Jesus we pray
Be exalted in our day
For Your glory and fame
We are asking God

Please, God, have a harvest
Have a people for your praise
Save, God, those in darkness
Teach our hearts to love Your grace

We have not
For we ask not
We ask now O God

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One Thing I Ask

I wrote this song a few weeks ago. One of my pastors has been studying Psalm 27 lately and encouraged me to write a few songs for corporate worship based on some of its themes.

Having music ministry as a part of my job, I have appreciated the time and opportunity to grow as a song-writer. The vast majority of songs I have written in the past have come out of a very personal place of worship. Some of these songs have been suitable for a congregation (i.e. they have a melody that can be followed by most and lyrics that can be sung by different people in different seasons of life), but the original meditations that prompted these songs have been very personal in nature. I am now trying to learn how to come at song-writing from a different angle. Rather than just asking, "What am I learning?" I am asking the question, "What is my church learning?"

Interestingly enough, some of the songs I have introduced at church lately have been better received initially by fellow worshippers than they have been by my own soul. But as I continue to use these songs in worship, they grow on me, becoming more and more a sincere declaration of worship born out of my own personal experience. Only after sharing these songs with others do I learn to own them myself.

Anyway... this is one of those songs. I wasn't even the one to introduce it the first time it was led at my church; a very capable fellow worship leader did! I pray this song motivates worship and praise in your own heart.

One thing I ask, this I would seek
That I might gaze upon Your beauty
One thing I want, this I desire
O just a tast of You and Your glory

Heaven rain down
Glory pour out

I am confident of this
I will see Your goodness
In the land of the living
In the land of the living

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We Are Waiting

One of my pastors has been doing a sermon series over the past number of months on prayer and of the fundamental role ASKING should play in a Christian's prayer life. It has been an incredibly fruitful season for our church in which many individuals have experienced a revitalization of their prayer lives and intimacy with God (myself included).

About two months ago he preached specifically on the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. But the point he stressed (or which came across most strongly to me) was the excruciating delay which Jesus allowed himself, once hearing the news, before traveling to see Lazarus and his family. The practical application for our lives is that we often find ourselves, like those who loved Lazarus, in a state of waiting which we are powerless to change. And yet God will accomplish something good in the end of it all. Even if Lazarus should die, Jesus will show himself to be the resurrection and the life. We can wait patiently and pray fervently... these two are not mutually exclusive.

So these thoughts are what prompted this song...

We are waiting God for You to respond
We are asking in Your name
We will stand and knock 'till your kingdom comes
'Till the nations know Your praise

And O to hear You say the final "Amen"
When You renew us unto life without end
But even now we pray Your kingdom come down

Holy King of love reigning over us
Jesus You will come again
Let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven

We are waiting, we are waiting for You...
We are asking, we are asking for You...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This World Has Nothing For Me

A lot of songs I've been writing recently have been about the idea of being "crucified with Christ." What does it mean to be crucified with him, or to be crucified to the world? What does this look like? For me it has seemed to look like a gradually decreasing desire to find my life in this world or to fulfill myself here. This song is a very simple one, and most of the words are not my own, but taken almost directly from scriptures that have prompted this meditation (Galatians 2:20; 6:14; Philippians 1:21-24).

This world has nothing for me
I am crucified with Christ
This world has nothing for me
Since that glorious day I died

My will it is to know him
My longing is to see his face
In waiting I will love him
Now to live is Christ, to die is gain

Monday, April 26, 2010

With Us

This is another old song... so far this blog has been mostly useful for sharing some old songs that didn't make it onto the CD I'm working on. Maybe I'll put some of these on future projects... not sure.

Anyway, I was meditating in the Psalms for a good number of months a couple of years ago, and this song came out of Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kindgoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
"Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (verses 1-7,10-11)

I needed to know that God would help "at break of day," and that there was a stream that could "make glad" one who was in distress [me].

Also, the words "Lord Almighty" are translated "Lord of Hosts" in other translations. I like the latter, as it speaks to me of a mighty God with a host of angel armies at his command, ready to fight for me.

But most of all, I needed to know that in the midst of my circumstances I could just "Be still" and know that my God was faithful, that his love was constant and unchanging, and that there was no circumstance that could rob me of the hope He offers in Jesus.

Oceans roar, mountains quake
But here in You, I am saved
Kingdoms fall, nations rage
But You will come at break of day

You are an ever-present help
in times of trouble
Though all the earth is giving way
We will not fear

The Lord of Hosts is with us
He is the God of Jacob
And ever-faithful He has been
The Lord of Hosts is with us
He is a mighty fortress
And ever-faithful He has been

Though all the earth should shake
I will be still
Knowing that You remain
I will be still
Though all the nations rage
I will be still
'Cause You are my hope and strength
I will be still

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

He Is the Image

I wrote this song probably about a year and a half ago, and there isn't as much of a story behind it... but I was meditating in Colossians at the time, and this song came out of it. The lyrics are mainly inspired by the first chapter, specifically verses 15-20...

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. for God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blod, shed on the cross."

I also love to remind myself what Jesus' name means: God Saves. What a wonderful declaration to make in worship. Hence the last line of the chorus: "Forever we will love the God who saves." Glory! Hallelujah!

He is the image of the, of the invisible God
He is the Word come in flesh
He is the resurrection, the way, the truth, the life and
The love of God manifest

He is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Fully God, He bore our shame
He is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Reconciled us through his pain
And forever we will love the God who saves

He is the man of sorrows, acquainted with our suff'ring
Obedient unto death
He is the humble, holy, exalted Lord of Glory
The firstborn up from the dead

Forever we will love You...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Love and Justice

I wrote this song a couple of months ago in response to a study that one of my pastors encouraged me to do on the connection between worship and justice, that is, the necessary integration of justice into the lives of those who claim to worship God. As Christians, we are called to live lives that are concerned with justice for those who are oppressed, and this should be the natural outflow and expression of our worship, especially as we consider the character of God, who's love and justice are displayed perfectly and simultaneously at the cross. In order to appreciate God's justice, however, I believe we need to first understand our own personal injustice against God and his justified indignation against our sin.

A couple of passages were in my mind as I wrote the lyrics for this song. The first was Isaiah 53, where it says that It was God's will to crush "him" (the coming messiah), and to lay upon "him" the iniquity of us all. This convinces me of how seriously God takes sin, and how justified He is in punishing it. Yet he chose to bear the punishment himself in Christ. This leads me to the second passage I had in mind... Luke 7:36-50, where Jesus is annointed by a "sinful" woman. This woman had a very real sense of her need for grace, and it is her acknowledgement of that need that leads her to worship Jesus, the source of that grace. Jesus goes on to tell a parable about two men who had different quantities of debt, both of which were forgiven by their master. When Jesus' audience is asked which one will love the master more, the obvious answer follows: "...the one who had the bigger debt cancelled." So in writing this song I wanted to own this truth and to personally ackowledge that I had a great debt cancelled at the cross. I wanted to say with Paul, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience." (1 Timothy 1:15-16) Hence the lyrics for the bridge: Mine was the greatest debt forgiven...

We must have a clear appreciation of the seriousness of our sin in order to appreciate God's forgiveness of it. But we must also take God seriously and understand that He cannot simply forget our sin...it must be punished for his holiness to hold legitimacy. But glory to God! He satisfied both his desire to love and his need to punish sin by bearing the punishment himself on the cross. So we see both God's hatred of sin (in crushing Jesus) and his extravagent forgiveness (in bearing our sin for us in Christ) displayed perfectly at the cross. I want this to always remain at the center of my worship, and to say with Paul, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Galatians 6:14)

Just One, You were crucified for us
O sinless savior You were beaten You were crushed
Unto death our God has loved us
Unto death which we deserved
Into life our God has called us
Into love forevermore

Here where love and justice meet
I will bow and kiss your feet
You who suffered violently, I love You
Here my sinless Savior dies
In three days I see Him rise
Now exalted in my eyes, I love You Lord

Mine was the greatest debt forgiven...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Love Came

I wrote this song... can't quite remember how long ago, maybe a year. I had been spending a lot of time reading 1 John, a book of the Bible which stands out for its strong emphasis on the love of God and the love we are called to display in our own lives. This song came together as I was also thinking about the famous "love chapter" in 1 Corinthians, in which Paul gives and exhaustive list of what love is...

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

All of these things are perfectly fulfilled and modeled in Jesus, who enables us to love by following his example. Thank God that He chose to love us so, and graciously enables us to love him and others in response.

Love is patient, love is kind
He does not envy but He's got a jealous eye
Love is patient, love is kind
He's never arrogant but He's always right

Thank God He's never quick to anger
Thank God He chose to be a savior
Thank God, Thank God love came down
Thank God He looks upon the lowly
Thank God He came to make us holy
Thank God, Thank God love came down

Love is humble, love is meek
He did not seek his own but he bore all things
He bore all things

Thank God...

We love because He first loved us
Because He loves we love...
Because He first loved us

Thank God...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hope of Glory

The first song I've posted here (see the playlist to the side) is titled "Hope of Glory," and I actually wrote it a year and a few months ago. I was walking through a very difficult season of life, and wanted to write something that communicated my honest feelings to the Lord as well as encourage me (and others) to find hope in Him. The chorus is pretty directly taken from Philippians 3:12-14...

"...I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Coincidentally, this scripture was the theme for my church's men's ministry for the next year, so I have ended up playing it frequently to close our monthly breakfast meetings.

I can't see more than a foot in front of my face
I can't stand but for the hope of your mercy
I can't run 'cause the devil's gettin' in my way
O for feet fitted with the gospel of your peace

I will press on to take hold
Of that for which You, You won my soul
I'm not looking back behind me
I've got my eyes fixed on my Hope of Glory

I can't feel more than a heartbeat of love
I can't speak much louder than this weak whisper
How many times have I said I've had enough
O for the day I am gonna see my savior

I will press on...


Hey friends and family,

I have been thinking recently about ways to be open-handed with the gifts God has given me for worship leading and song writing. So I thought of the idea of having a blog where I can post new songs, even rough recordings, to make available to the Church and anyone else interested in listening. I'll probably be accompanying these with thoughts and meditations on what has prompted the songs and lyrics. My hope and prayer is that you are encouraged in your own life. If the music isn't your cup of tea, thanks at least for giving it a listen, and be blessed.