Throwback Thursday: some of my older songs added to ncfmusic.com

I just posted a bunch of my songs to ncfmusic.com. Here’s what I added today:

I wrote Your Presence is Here early in the morning on Easter Sunday in 2008. I remember that because my son was born a few days later, and I had a million contingency plans in place if my wife went into labor at any point during Passion week. The song is about the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus in our regular worship practices. He is risen, and he is present in every worship service. It was kind of a response to the gospel hit that was popular at the time, “The Presence of the Lord is Here.” The song as well as almost all the others on this list are included on my recording, “Guardian Grace”.

Restore Us  was written when I was in college and listening to Coldplay’s first CD a lot. It’s based on Psalm 80. This was one of the first songs that I wrote that really seemed to click with people in worship. We’ve only sung it once at my church even though we have a ministry called “Restore St Louis.”

Rejoice In The Lord  comes from my jazz performance days in college. I was interested in what it would be like to use “Rhythm Changes” to create a song for worship. The verses were inspired by the Steely Dan tune, “Peg” The text is from Philippians 4. It’s a real harmonic work out for all you music nerds out there. I had so much fun arranging the horn parts for the pros I hired on the recording.

New Creation was written after I was living in St Louis for a while. Our church had a large group of Liberian immigrants who were struggling with some pretty serious sin issues in their community that called into question their understanding of what it means to be changed by the gospel. So, I had the idea of writing a song in an African style using the text from 2 Corinthians 5:17. The bridge is composed in the typical African worship fashion where the group repeats a short idea over and over and the leader embellishes/preaches over top.

Walk the Talk was the theme of the 2002 Urban Camp at New City Fellowship in Chattanooga. It was composed for that purpose and a team of African American  high schoolers  (including NCF-Chatt musician Nikki Ellis) helped sell it to the kids. Among the other things that were created at that camp were the “Afro Man” videos and friendship with a certain counselor that would turn into an engagement a year later. Good times.

Greater Is He Who Is In Us was also composed as a song for kids in our ministries at New City Fellowship in Chattanooga. There was another song we were singing by the same title that I was really tired of, so I composed a new one.

To check out all the songs that I have on ncfmusic.com you can hover over the “My Songs” tab at the top of the page.

songs

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You Are My God and King

This weekend at New City Fellowship, I’m introducing a new tune called “You Are My God and King” which I learned last year at the LDR Conference thanks to Michelle Higgins. The song is performed by Donnie McClurkin and it features verses in Spanish and French. How could we pass up on that?

 

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wpid-img_20140529_184624.jpgI might be entering into a phase of life when the basic work of living life takes up all my time such that there’s no time left for contemplative  activities like writing. Living life right now consists of some fun new developments that are part of my calling to follow Jesus. He has invited us into some scary places, but His rod and staff are a comfort and the yoke He has placed on our shoulders is both “the cross” in that it costs everything and yet it is also “the empty tomb” because it gives everlasting life.

Currently, my family is hosting two foster children. One is a 3 year old  boy who is a non-stop flow of questions and energy. He has been with us for 6 months now and he is still wrestling with both the trials of his formal home as well as the loss of his former life.  The other foster placement which we just received last week  is a 4 week old infant who is still a little bit in shock that the womb-home of her mother has been replaced with a loud and crazy home of big kids, dog barking and strange caregivers. Currently, she needs to be held and rocked and swaddled almost constantly when she is awake.

Fostering is a strange life. It’s hard to describe it to people who haven’t lived it. It’s both intensely personal as you become “Daddy” overnight to a stranger and yet it’s intensely impersonal as you are treated with cold, professional indifference by the vast bureaucratic  web that these kids are caught up in. Foster parents are asked to love and nurture a child in their home as one of their own all the while knowing that at any moment a phone call could bring an abrupt end to your relationship with this child.

The other thing that I have going on this summer is a little project in the works that a few of my colleagues and I are cooking up. We have called it the “Worship Ministry Workshop” and it’s a kind of low-key conference to encourage and equip our volunteers. I’m working together with Michelle Higgins and Mary Higgins from South City Community Church and Jules Gikundiro and Adina O’Neal from New City Fellowship – South to put this together. The plan is that we will give our volunteers an time to draw near in intimacy with Christ without rehearsal agendas, to receive gospel-refreshment directed at our particular struggles as worship musicians, and then to share some of our vision for what God can accomplish through our teams.

At this time, I am filled with anticipation for what God is doing  in his musician servants in St Louis right now. The ground is tilled and the season is approaching for a Spirit-filled movement in this city to see a new thing come into being, a new wine-skin of songs and expressions for a new generation of saints. I mean something bigger than the next flavor-of-the-month music trend. I’m talking about a revival of the Holy Spirit working to heal and restore this broken, fractured city into the family of Christ. Of course, he’s always at work, but I just feel like his Spirit is opening the eyes of my heart to see how vast his love is for this community.

You can learn more and register for the Worship Ministry Workshop here: http://wmw.ticketleap.com/worshipstl/

WorshipMinistryPromo

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Save the Date: August 9, 2014

SAVE THE DATE // August 9, 2014 in Saint Louis

Who: Worship musicians, leaders, and volunteers

What: resource exchange, training, praise, and fellowship

When: Saturday August 9 2014, Daytime workshops ($5 for participants) // Evening concert event open to the public

Why: worship teams from various churches don’t normally have the chance to gather in the same place to be participate in worship events rather than direct them. We will learn together, encourage each other, and share our experiences.

organized by New City Fellowship and South City Church
Contact: kirk@ncfstl.org // michelle@southcitychurch.com

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GAEL on iTunes

GAEL

Adorons L’eternel (aka GAEL) & Alain Moloto are now on iTunes. Their music is the primary source of Congolese worship that I use.  Available for download are several songs that we use: Yahwe Tobelemi, Eh Yahwe, Mwana Na Mpate, Medley (Je Veux N’être Qu’à Toi – Emmanuel), and Schilo. The only one that’s missing is “Jesus Le Prince Glourieux”.

Lingala worship is not just a Congolese thing. This music has spread over the whole continent and the sound of GAEL’s worship has influenced many other artists. I recommend this to any musician as a direct source to learn bass lines, guitar patterns, drum beats and keyboard styles. For American vocalists (especially those at NCF-U city), buy these tracks, make a mix for your car and get these songs in your brain and your spirit to sing without having to focus so much on the language barrier.

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This Sunday: “Mighty To Save” in French AND Spanish

mighty sp&fr

 

Original in English

French translation

Spanish translation

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New songs from Congo and Kenya

Two weeks ago, we had another African worship service at New City Fellowship. I enjoyed working on the service, but Friday night before the rehearsal, I got to experience the stomach bug that’s been going around. So even though I was out for the rest of the weekend, I wanted to share two of the songs that we added to the repertoire that weekend.

Moyo is from Congo and in Lingala, it’s basically saying, “Greetings Mother, Father, Youth” in the chorus. The verses say, “You can’t get to heaven by your riches, wisdom, strength, but you have to be changed by Jesus.”

Amenitendea is supposedly a classic song in Kenya. My wife says she remembers singing the song when she lived there as a missionary kid. In Swahili, it’s saying, “He has done it for me!” and the following verses go into what he’s done: “Saved me, blessed me, etc.” and then  it’s offering praises.

I hope to have charts for both of these up on ncfmusic.com in the near future.

 

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Who’s Missing? Worship Leader Mag. National Worship Leader Conf

 

This email invitation showed up in my inbox. Notice anything missing from this line up of featured speakers and artists?
worshipconference

 

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The Apple Machine Skit

[On the stage there's a box with someone inside that you can't see who has a bag of apples and a bell. Christian is standing by the box]

Christian [with piety]: O Lord, thank you for this apple machine that you have graciously provided for me. I am not worthy of your good gifts but you have seen fit to bless me with it.

[After the prayer, he turns on the machine - the bell rings and an apple pops out of a small hole in the top of the box.]

Christian: Thank you Lord for my apple! You have blessed me SO MUCH!

Neighbor [entering]: Hello friend, I hate to bother you, but I have not had anything to eat all day and I have no money to buy food and no job to earn money. I’m so hungry that I can’t even look for work. Do you have any food to share with me?

Christian: Well, my friend, by God’s grace, I have been blessed with this apple, but in God’s sovereign providence, there’s only enough for me to eat. However, I have learned that prayer works, so why don’t I pray for you to have something to eat. [Closing his eyes] Dear Lord, please provide food for my neighbor.”

[Then the bell rings again and another apple pops out.]

Neighbor: Wow! That is one amazing machine. Now that you have two apples, do you think that you could share one with me?

Christian: [looking at the apple] Hmm, actually, I will need this apple for tomorrow. You see, friend, I can’t give away all my apples and not be ready for tomorrow. Why, if I didn’t have this apple for tomorrow then I might have to go around begging for food, too. That’s just good common sense and faithful stewardship, right?

Neighbor: I guess that makes sense, but I’m so hungry, what can I do?

Christian: Well, maybe you should try praying, that’s what worked for me.

Neighbor: [Closing his eyes] Dear Lord, please give me food for today so that I will have the strength to live and serve and work.

[The bell rings and another apple pops out of the machine]

Neighbor: [With joy] Praise the Lord, my prayer was answered! Now can you share an apple with me?

Christian: [with a patronizing tone] I’m sorry friend, but I need this apple to sell at the market so that I can use that money to make this apple machine a little more productive. See, that’s just good business sense. In fact, when my apple machine starts really producing, then I can have enough apples to share with the whole world! If I give you this apple instead of investing it into improving my apple machine, then I’m really just contributing to world hunger, right?

Neighbor: I guess that makes sense, but honestly I’m so hungry right now that my brain is a little foggy.

[The bell rings again and another apple pops out. With 3 apples, Christian is having trouble holding them all]

Christian [annoyed]: You keep bringing up your hunger and my apples. It’s really starting to become a little offensive to me. I mean, if you understood grace, you would know that I am free from the legal requirements of the law. God loves ME and your constant complaining about how I’m not sharing my food is really just legalism, you see? It’s just adding this burden of the law onto my shoulders.  Don’t you think you’re being a little Pharisaical?

[The bell rings and another apple pops out of the machine]

Neighbor: [starts to cry] I just don’t know what to do. I prayed to God for food and I know that he is good and he hears my prayer. I don’t know how much longer I can survive like this.

Christian: [sympathetically] Wow, you really are hungry. And you did pray, but it seems like God didn’t hear you.

[The bell rings and another apple pops out of the machine]

Christian: Or maybe God did hear, but he just doesn’t care

[The bell rings and another apple pops out of the machine]

Neighbor: Don’t say that. I know that God is good. I know that every day, I am able to find food somehow. I have never seen God fail.

Christian: I’m impressed with your faith. I wish I had faith like that. Lately, it’s hard to believe that God actually cares about the suffering in the world or… that he even exists.

[The bell rings 3 times and 3 more apples pop out of the machine]

Neighbor: Look at that! Of course God exists! How do you think that you got all those apples?

Christian: Well, friend, I have a more enlightened view of things then you do. I once shared your super-spiritual view of reality but you’ll soon learn that that way of thinking is just prosperity gospel. Name-it-and-claim-it! Clearly, there are physical laws in the universe that we can learn about, and use to our advantage to create wonderful things…things like…well, this apple machine for example.

Neighbor [looking more distressed]:  You mean this apple machine is something that you created by yourself?

Christian: [with pride] That’s right, good ol’ fashioned ingenuity, that’s the key to your hunger problem. Friend, the potential for you to have this many apples in your hands is within your grasp, too. You just have to believe in yourself and reach for the stars! That’s what I did, and look at me now. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if you didn’t get yourself into this whole apple-less predicament on your own because of your lack or self worth.

[The bell rings and another apple pops out of the machine]

Neighbor [grasping their gut, grimacing]: Please, I don’t mean to sound rude, but don’t you and I worship the same God and can’t you have a little compassion? Do you really need so many apples? I’m so hungry.

[The bell rings and another apple pops out of the machine]

Christian: Ah-ha! Now the truth comes out! You’re just jealous of my success. You are some kind of whiny, socialist who doesn’t know the meaning of hard work! I’m not going to enable your laziness or subsidize your selfish, materialistic, loser persona. Get a job and quit playing the victim.

Neighbor: Victim?

Christian: Yeah, you heard me. Beat it!

[Neighbor slinks off stage grasping their gut]

Christian: [closes his eyes] Lord, thank you for blessings. I am so glad that have shown your favor to me.  In fact, this whole “hunger” conversation has really made me appreciate what you have given to me. In fact, I think I’m going to tweet about this right now.

[Pulls out phone]

Christian: [dictating as they text] Feeling (hashtag)blessed. Anything is possible if you have (hastag)faith. God is good! LOL. (hastag)love (hashtag)grace (hastag)Jesusismycopilot

[The bell rings and another apple pops out of the machine]

Christian: Seriously? Is there any way to turn this thing off? I’m kind of in the middle of something.

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Church Musician Madlibs as filled out by sister’s kids

In response to my post from last week, my sister gave her kids the task of filling in the blanks. It’s actually kind of therapeutic to read the results.

Josiah, age 11

This weekend, I was approached by one of the STUPID members of our congregation. They loved the number of VIOLENT style songs we sing but they wished that there were more HAPPY style songs. This made me feel MAD despite the fact that the worship that Sunday made me feel MAD.

When I came in to work that week, the pastor told me that music was really HORRIBLE and the Spirit really DESTROYED but  he received an email from a BUBBLY person who thought that the music was too SHORT. I DEADILY thanked him for this feedback and then when he left the office I VIOLENTLY closed the door and said,”BUTTER!”

At rehearsal that Saturday, most of the volunteers were GLOOMY but some were ANNOYING. This made me feel JOYFUL and I GRATEFULLY reminded them that rehearsal was NOTHING. When I went home to my PUNK family  that afternoon, I felt very SICK and was not very PRETTY to them as a result.

By the time Sunday morning came back around, I was ready to FLIP and couldn’t contain my HAPPINESS. If you had asked me that morning, I would have said that my church is SMALL and that Jesus is BUTTERY.

Eden, age 8

 This weekend, I was approached by one of the OLD members of our congregation. They loved the number of WEIRD style songs we sing but they wished that there were more  SLOW songs. This made me feel FUNNY despite the fact that the worship that Sunday made me feel PRETTY.

When I came in to work that week, the pastor told me that music was really LUMPY and the Spirit really BARFED, but  he received an email from a TINY person who thought that the music was too GRUMPY. I BUBBILY thanked him for this feedback and then when he left the office I SADLY closed the door and said, ” TACO,”

At rehearsal that Saturday, most of the volunteers were ANNOYING but some were LUMPY. This made me feel HUNGRY and I GRACEFULLY reminded them that rehearsal was OLD. When I went home to my UGLY family  that afternoon, I felt very MAD and was not very BEAUTIFUL to them as a result.

By the time Sunday morning came back around, I was ready to THROW UP and couldn’t contain my SADNESS. If you had asked me that morning, I would have said that my church is MEAN and that Jesus is SALTY.

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