October Worship Sets


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Why Adopt Little D?

Kirk Ward:

More good stuff from my wife’s blog.

Originally posted on Life on Maple:

Someone recently asked me why we have chosen to adopt Little D.  Kirk had said something to me, a “tongue in cheek” prayer.  “May God continue to bless D with new levels of maturity and peace so that his presence in the house does not slowly kill my wife.”  Though it was said somewhat sarcastically, it is a real prayer of our hearts that we pray humbly and desperately before the Lord.  This person asked me why we would choose to adopt a kiddo that we felt was slowly killing me.

This past summer was nearly impossible.  Five kids is a lot!  Balancing the needs of older kids and little kids is hard.  Balancing the needs of kids who want to chill without structure at home and a kid who needs specific structure and constant activity away from home is hard.  Carrying a 30 pound infant everywhere while chasing a…

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Father of Lights

We had a very satisfying worship service yesterday. By that I mean, as we sang, listened and prayed together, we drank deep of God’s grace in the gospel, the kingdom, and the power of the Spirit. Amen!

We sang a new song yesterday called “Father of Lights” by Josh Davis, the head of Proskuneo Ministries. Here’s their mission statement: “Proskuneo Ministries exists to glorify God promote unity in the body of Christ through multilingual multicultural worship gatherings, worship resources, and training of believers…”

“Father of Lights” was recorded by Nikki Lerner’s church, Bridgeway Community in Maryland. We based our performance on that recording. The song is based on James 1:17 and has a theme of Thanksgiving. It also features phrases in Swahili, Spanish, Arabic, and Korean. This was my first time singing in Korean, and a Korean friend after church told me that we actually sang the phrase correctly! I give all the credit to copying Nikki singing it correctly on the recording because I just copied her.

Here’s the place to buy the recording. If you would like the music, you should contact Josh Davis via

We also sang a medley of “I Give Myself Away” and “I Surrender All” which came off very well. My friend, Rich Rankin had the idea and requested that we sing it that way. Rich has a son who was born with severe defects to his throat and they are talking him to see a specialist this week. These songs have been a bit of a theme in Rich’s life these days.

Here’s a PDF of “I Surrender All” in Bb with the chords from “I Give Myself Away

I Surrender All (I Give Myslef Away Med)

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Behold Your King

I was reading in John 19 this morning where Pilate is interviewing Jesus. There was a phrase that struck me this time reading it. Pilate brings Jesus out to the crowd and sarcastically says, “Behold Your King.” All of a sudden I had “O Holy Night” in my head which uses that phrase in a much different way. It started me on the process of writing a song about the humiliation of Jesus, in his ministry, his trial and his death. He is our king and we follow him into that same process of humiliation.

Side note: I was using a thesaurus website at points to get different ideas and I found that Christians have a very different understanding of the words humble or meek. I often take it for granted that these are positive qualities even in our culture. However, the synonyms for these words reveal that our culture hates these qualities. No wonder this world despised and rejected Christ Jesus as well.

Here’s the song in the 1st draft form. No music for it yet.

Behold your king
Behold your king
Impoverished and despised
His kingdom is not recognized
By the Spirit’s power he’s led
With no place to lay his head
Born into our suffering
Behold your king

Behold your king
Behold your king
Arrested and abused
Now falsely he’s accused
He stands refugee from
A kingdom yet to come
But now stripped of everything
Behold your king

Behold your king
Behold your king
Tortured and alone
A suffering servant to atone
He exhales his final breath
The sun is shrouded in his death
His blood becomes our offering
Behold you king

Behold your king
Behold your king
Vindicated, glorified
He has risen! He’s alive!
His kingdom now reality
Death has lost it’s victory
Hear the nations stand to sing
Behold your king

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A (Sun)Day in the Life

Kirk Ward:

My wife’s perspective on an average Sunday morning…

Originally posted on Life on Maple:

Sundays are one of the hardest, least “sabbath” days of my week. Kirk and I have a unique situation in our family dynamic due to his job, as well as our choices in growing our family (i.e. adding three kids in the space of 1 year through foster care). Before I make some observations about our “sabbath” I need to make some disclaimers…
1. I LOVE my husband and I am so thankful that he has a job that supports our family, that he loves, and that he is gifted in.
2. I LOVE my children. I love my big girl and her helpful, big sister attitude. I love my big boy and his extreme patience with his little siblings. I love my middle child and his charming nature. I love my giggly little girl. And I love my chunky ball of baby joy.

Having said that, Sundays are the…

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Conference Highlights and Thoughts from @NewCityMusic #MusiCon15

I’ve had a few days to rest (play with my kids, talk with my wife, stare at the walls, etc.) and now that I’m back in the office, I’m ready to think a little bit about the conference we just hosted. I want to especially thank Carrie Jones, Michelle Higgins, Adina O’Neal, Lisa St. Pierre, and Sara Ward who did the bulk of the back end logistics to make the whole conference work. simple_graphic


We had some good times playing music together and sharing our worship expressions. This year, there was a much stronger representation of original songs and arrangements. I brought some of my stuff, but there was also the creative work of Michelle Higgins, Michael Kendall, and Matthew Monticchio. New City Music is becoming more and more of a movement of original songs and expressions through the work of the Spirit in our communities. These songs came off to me as much stronger than the “radio” stuff in our times of worship. The open mic time was also full of original songs and ideas. God is moving and working in this generation, y’all.


All three of the plenary sessions were fun, moving, and thought provoking. I was not at all the breakouts (i have to rest some time, right?) but I am looking forward to listening to them online. Ruth Naomi Floyd was my personal highlight. Her voice could move mountains. She has incredible control over her instrument making each “clip” of a spiritual that she presented deeply expressive and poignant. Many of the songs she shared, I’d heard before, but I’d never really listened to what the song was saying until she “unpacked it” for us. Edem Dzunu was both hopeful about the power of the gospel to reconcile people, but also didn’t downplay the hard truth that it ain’t easy. It’s always encouraging to know that the struggle that I’m experiencing is not unique to me because there’s something I’m doing wrong, but the struggle is the only path we can walk in order to see the kingdom advance. My dad, James Ward, was his usual entertaining self and I always enjoy his presentations. He’s my mentor so nothing he brought was new to me, but I was thankful that he was able to share about his rehearsal experiences with this larger audience.


I am so thankful for the friendships that are born out of these events. We also grow closer and share more about each other with each passing year. I was especially appreciative of the St Louis community of musicians who stepped up to help. When we hosted in 2011, I felt like I had to “do it all” without much help, but this time, I had a team of friends who had my back and brought gifts that I didn’t even imagine were possible. I was encouraged to see people connecting with each other departing with new connections.

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Healing in Worship: the Chemotherapy approach

I have a good friend whose wife is currently in treatment for breast cancer. She goes in for chemotherapy treatments every 3 weeks. As you have probably heard before from other cancer survivors, chemotherapy is a process that involves weeks when you feel good and weeks when you feel awful. It changes your physical appearance. It’s a kind of poison that you take in order to kill this part of your body that is trying to kill you. Chemo is only part of the treatment which includes a cocktail of drugs as well as surgeries that can sometimes leave you deeply scarred. Healing isn’t always pretty, but it’s the only way to bring new life and restoration into your body.

The church has been redeemed by the Lamb and lives a resurrected life. Yet, we still have the curse of sin living in us like a tumor. It doesn’t belong there and if we leave sin alone it will ultimately destroy our communities. In worship, we enter into a form of chemotherapy for the soul. Often, we feel fine when we walk away from grace and the law of righteousness. Sometimes, it feels so good and right that we believe that the sin-tumor is not there or is something healthy for us. Worship reorders our perspective and exposes the lie of sin. In the light of God’s holiness, we experience the death of the “old nature” or the “flesh”. By singing together, by hearing the law, by remembering the gospel, and by confessing the truth, we do what Paul encourages in Ephesians 4:22-24

“…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and … be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and … put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Like Chemotherapy, worship kills the old self and brings new life into us. As a result, worship should be painful at times. It should make us feel a kind of sickness that leaves us changed and even feeling weak or broken.

What needs to die in our hearts when we come to worship?

  • Idolatry to self-fulfillment, power, or cultural heritage.
  • The comfortable predictability of fear and anxiety or cynicism and apathy.
  • The love of money and security (Don’t miss the meaning of taking up the offering!)
  • The narcotic appeal of being popular.

What other “sin-tumors” come to mind for you?

Are there any of you who have gone to war with cancer who can elaborate on how worship looks like chemo?


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What is the relationship between healing and worship?

“The Healing of the Nations” is the theme for New City Music’c #MusiCon15. This phrase comes from Revelation 22 in which John describes the new city of God where a river flows from the throne of the Lamb. Along the banks of the river are the trees of life and John tells us that the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations.

If you don’t see a need for healing in our communities, our congregations, our families, or your own heart, then you are probably not paying attention. Worship is a time to listen to God’s voice and to be changed in the process. He is present in our worship and He is holy. Like the woman who only needed to touch the hem of His garment, we come into the presence of Jesus in worship, broken and desperate. The wonderful now/not-yet vision of the New City is that the tree of life grows like a weed. The church is the New City where Jesus glory dwells and where the nations stream up to the throne needing this healing.

Here are a few questions that I have for you to consider in preparation for our conference.

  • How have you personally experienced physical or emotional healing through worshiping Jesus?
  • How has music, whether in worship or not, brought you some form of healing?
  • How have you witnessed healing in whole communities through singing together in worship?
  • What does healing look like in music? To say it another way, what active steps do you take to experience healing?

I’d love to read your answers to one of more of these questions in the comments.

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Come to #MusiCon15

simple_graphicNew City Music Conference 2015 is shaping up. We are getting registrations slowly but I fully expect 2/3 of the conference to register at the last minute. I’m so thrilled to have our line up of speakers and breakout leaders. It seems to get better and better every time we pull one of these together. If you haven’t done it yet, please check out the conference details and register at www.ncfmusic.com/conference/

Carrie Jones is the conference director this time. Carrie was involved in the 2011 conference we had here in St. Louis as the graphic designer and she created the conference notebook which was so full of information and resources that people wanted to get the notebook even though they couldn’t attend the conference. Carrie is also a long time member of NCF (@NCFStLouis) and as well as a highly qualified musician on our team.

The conference steering committee was made up of myself (@kirkwardmusic), my dad (@jcalvinward), and my long time friend, Michelle Higgins (@fast_foodie). We went out to lunch when my dad was here in March and hammered out the rough outline of who and what will be featured at this year’s conference.

I hope that you consider coming. If you are from the local region, we would love to meet you or connect again with you to be able to encourage each other in the struggle. If you are from out of town, we would to meet and connect as well and to hear what is going on in other communities. So much has happened in our nation this year that has served to break down our facades and to reveal the areas where we are divided and broken. The gospel has the power to heal communities when it is planted in soil that will let it thrive and produce fruit. Let’s live the gospel of reconciliation and justice that is available to us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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New City Music Conference 2015 in St Louis MO July 23-26

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