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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The God Who is Able (Take 2 the Stevie Remix)

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The God Who Is Able

I wrote this today. Its based on Jude 24-25. It’s kind of got a 90′s worship vibe – like Alvin Slaughter or Ron Kenoly.

The God Who is Able

The God who is able to keep you from falling
The God who is able to keep you from falling
The God who is able to keep you from falling
Is worthy of all our praise

Chorus
Now to the only God, our Savior
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Now to the only God, our Savior
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Be glory, majesty, dominion, authority
Be glory, majesty, dominion, authority
Both now and forever, Amen!

The God who is able to present you as faultless
The God who is able to present you as faultless
The God who is able to present you as faultless
Is worthy of all our praise          To Chorus

The God who is able to give you joy in his presence
The God who is able to give you joy in his presence
The God who is able to give you joy in his presence
Is worthy of all our praise

©2013 Kirk Ward Music. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Church Musician “Madlibs”

The following is a fairly typical experience for most of us who serve as musicians in the church:

This weekend, I was approached by one of the ____________(adjective) members of our congregation. They loved the number of _____________(genre) style songs we sing but they wished that there were more__________(genre) style songs. This made me feel _________(emotion) despite the fact that the worship that Sunday made me feel __________(emotion).

When I came in to work that week, the pastor told me that music was really ______________(adjective) and the Spirit really ____________(past-tense verb) but  he received an email from a __________(adjective) person who thought that the music was too _______________(adjective). I ___________(adverb) thanked him for this feedback and then when he left the office I ________(adverb) closed the door and said ___________(expletive).

At rehearsal that Saturday, most of the volunteers were __________(adjective) but some were__________(adjective). This made me feel________________(emotion) and I ___________(adverb) reminded them that rehearsal was _____________(adjective). When I went home to my _________(adjective) family  that afternoon, I felt very __________(emotion) and was not very _____________(adjective) to them as a result.

By the time Sunday morning came back around, I was ready to _____________(verb) and couldn’t contain my ______________(emotion). If you had asked me that morning, I would have said that my church is ________________(adjective) and that Jesus is _____________(adjective).

Fellow church musicians, how would you fill out this madlib this week? Is there any doubt that Spiritual warfare is a REAL struggle for church musicians and volunteers? When you get to the final sentence, what is your state of mind? Who is filling in the blanks for you? The blanks will be filled in by either the promises of God and the fruit of His Spirit or by the lies of the flesh, the devil and the world. Lord, lead us!

 

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God Spoke

The pastor at our South City worship site, Kevin Vanden Brink led Staff Prayer this morning and he talked about the meaning of the creation narrative in our theology. We talked afterward about the need for good creation songs. So I wrote one.

God Spoke

God spoke to the darkness, let there be light
The Sun in the day, moon and stars in the night
Let there be waters, mountains and sky
With creatures that swim, run, crawl and fly

Chorus: What God has spoken shall come to pass
His word is faithful; his promises last
If you are broken; if you are weak
Restoration’s coming for your King and Creator will speak

God spoke to the ashes, “You are my son
You are the masterpiece of all I have done
Become my image, become alive
I bless you to live and I bless you to thrive

God spoke through his prophets; my cup of wrath will pour
For the hands you stretch in prayer, bring oppression to the poor
So my arm will work salvation and restore what was lost
My blood will bring atonement to pay the ransom cost

God spoke to this sinner, let grace abound
Let all creation now sing and resound
Let there be justice; let there be peace
That the praises of creation shall begin and never cease

Kirk Ward 2014

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Everything is Broken

I’m going to do a psalmist thing and complain for a minute.

Everything is broken. I’m surrounded by malfunctions, glitches, short circuits, cracks, wear, tear, and all-consuming entropy.  Can I just give you a brief list? My dishwasher leaks, my clothes-washer is making a loud grinding noise, there’s a gutter falling off the side of my house, the front storm door is warped and can only stay closed by being locked, the power locks in my van’s door don’t work, the CD player in my car is broken, the speedometer/odometer in my car is broken, my acoustic guitar neck is warped and it’s “fretting out”, our laptop runs too slow, our home stereo speaker has a short and cuts in and out, even my dog has a malfunctioning pancreas and he has to have enzymes in his food or he would get “the runs” so bad that he would starve to death…you get the picture. I bet you have a similar list in your head that you can review of everything that’s broken in your life.

Of course, people are broken as well. We have fears, anxiety, pet peeves, grudges, prejudices, blind-spots, disorders, dysfunctions, and disagreements. Our hearts seem to constantly go back to the same sins and the same idols. We can’t ever seem to get over these persistent dysfunctions and move on with our lives.

Our culture also has systemic brokenness that we live with everyday and take for granted. The problem of racism, the system of prejudice and inequality based on race, comes to mind as a brokenness that many of us passively endorse without doing anything to fix it. We let the brokenness remain and throw up our hands in defeat as if to say, “I didn’t break this, so why should I have to fix it?”

This morning, my complaint about the little things that are broken in my life (the locks, appliances, etc.) made me think about why we allow brokenness like racism to persist, year after year, without doing anything to fix it.

  • It’s too expensive to fix. My family has a lot of broken stuff but the most frequent response to the problem is that it would cost way too much to fix. The solution is there but we don’t have the resources to put the solution into action.
  • It’s permanently broken. Usually, this is a cheap toy that happens to become one of our kid’s favorite things to play with. Then inevitably, it breaks so bad that no super-glue or tape or whatever could fix it. It has to go in the trash forever because it’s just too far gone. Just get over it!
  • It doesn’t bother me, so why should I fix it. We have a light switch in our bathroom that is wired wrong. It turns on when it’s down and off when it’s up. Of course, this is not really a problem to me at all.  Why risk electrocuting myself when it’s not really an issue?
  • If I’m honest, I prefer the brokenness. My CD player is broken in my car and that really was a bother at first. I couldn’t stand rolling around town in silence listening to the weird engine noises (probably more brokenness). Then I started listening to podcasts with an iPod and little portable speaker. I found that I much preferred this to listening to the radio or my CD collection. Let the CD player stay broken because now I have “This American Life” whenever I desire.

These excuses for brokenness are also at the root of why I allow sin to persist in my heart or we allow oppression to persist in our culture.

Now, it’s time to stop complaining. I can stop complaining because in Christ, all things are being made new. The brokenness will not become LORD over all because there is already a LORD over all who is in the business of restoration and redemption. The promises in scripture are the antidote to all our excuses to allow brokenness to persist.

  • There is nothing that is too expensive. I can’t change this because I don’t have the resources. I can’t even stop my own sin, so how can I ever expect to bring cultural change. However, we have in the riches of Christ all that we need for life and godliness. He has paid the full price, and in him, we have access to resurrection power. We have an overflowing bank account of grace and peace that we can access at anytime. We might have to give up our life in the process but even in that, to die is gain because of the riches of Christ.
  • There is nothing that is permanently broken. I want to give up on the brokenness. Many times, I would rather throw away a broken relationship rather than do what is necessary to fix it. But, Christ will never give up on any brokenness. We have a promise that there will one day be a new heavens and a new earth. There is nothing in this world that Christ cannot redeem by the power of the gospel. The kingdoms of the world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. Jesus is the ultimate in “green” living. There’s nothing broken that he won’t recycle into a new creation. There’s no trash in the kingdom.
  • There is nothing that I can ignore because it doesn’t bother me. I might be able to close myself off from oppression or down-play my sin through denial. But, the Lord promises to discipline those that he loves. He has promised that though injustice seems to go unchecked, there is a righteous judge in heaven who will bring vindication to the meek and reckoning to the wicked. The Lord is committed enough to righteousness and loves me enough as his child that he will not allow me to remain comfortable with my sin or comfortable with oppression. Any branches that do not produce fruit will be pruned and thrown into the fire.
  • There is no brokenness that will actually benefit me. I can’t always say that I despise my sin. There are times when it feels so easy and right to give my heart over to sin. Also, I can’t always say that I despise oppression. In fact, as a white person in the US, I receive many benefits that I didn’t even work for as a result of racism. This brokenness appears to benefit, protect, and advance my personal well-being. However, I can trust that the Lord Jesus has promised that his Spirit will transform and renew my mind to be able to discern his perfect and pleasing will. He has promised that he will lead me into paths of righteous for his names sake. In the light of His word, I will know all truth and wisdom and the scales will fall from eyes to behold the wretched vanity of sin and glorious beauty of grace and peace.

Everything is broken, but in Christ all things are made new.

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I Give You Glory (Te Doy La Gloria)

This is one of my favorite tunes – I’m not a fan of how the vocals were altered from the Times Square Church original, but I’m enjoying the band’s intensity…

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