Song for Advent: Come Again Lord Jesus

“Advent” is the time of the church calendar when we look for the coming of the Lord Jesus. It has elements of past, present, and future longing for the coming of the Messiah. We read the Messianic passages from the prophets that long for a suffering servant to come, a child who will bring light from darkness. Then we celebrate that Jesus did come as a baby in the time of Caesar Augustus.

In the present, we look for the Messiah to come now in the present into the hearts and lives of broken people, structures, and communities. We cry to the Lord for his Spirit to fill us and to be present in all our thoughts and give us purpose and vision. Then we celebrate that his promise is fulfilled over and over to be the living and ever-present Emmanuel, God with us.

For the future, we look to the coming of the Lord in the full consummation of the story of redemption. All the saints from the past, present, and future, along with the whole universe of creation groans with anticipation that the Lord Jesus will be forever present as the King of Kings in the glorious New City of God. We celebration in Advent that he has always been faithful to his promises and he will not fail to come again.

I wrote this song for Advent that doesn’t have any stable, shepherds, angels, star, or even mention sweet little baby Jesus. However, it does get to the heart of the longing for the Lord Jesus to come again and be our King in the past, present and future.

Come Again Lord Jesus

Come again Lord Jesus
All creation join and sing
Come again Lord Jesus
Come again and be our King
Come again and be our King

To the poor and the forsaken
brokenhearted and alone
Come again and bring us hope
The one true Son of David
Worthy Lamb upon the throne
Come again and bring us peace

As you came before, Jesus come again
Oh, we need you Lord, please come again

To the victim and the prisoner
with no power and no name
Come again and bring us joy
Be the one true Righteous Shepherd
Calling lost sheep to reclaim
Come again and bring us love

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Romans 12:14-21 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

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New Song: “In Jesus Name”

Here’s a new song that we are going to learn this weekend at New City Fellowship.

This song was co-written by Israel Houghton and Darlene Zschech. It’s the single from Israel’s latest recording, “Alive in Asia”  but Zschech seems to have released it earlier with a more HIllsong-y rock vibe. 

What I love about this song:

  • Infectious groove and ear-wormish melody
  • Bold proclamation of God’s commitment to his people and his kingdom (Romans 8)

Stuff that I’m not going to worry about:

  • maintaining Houghton’s EDM pop vibe on the recording (because we’re just not that kind of band)
  • maintaining the recording’s unison only vocals (my people harmonize even when I tell them not to)
  • performing all 6 1/2 minutes from the recording

I went through a period of doing a TON of Houghton’s music. It’s always fun and for the most part, theologically solid despite his  connection to Joel Osteen. For me, his songs have been the bridge between CCM style worship and contemporary gospel which is exactly what a multicultural evangelical church needs. If you haven’t incorporated these yet, you should check out his other songs like:

  • You are Good
  • Friend of God
  • Again I Say Rejoice
  • There’s a Lifting of the Hands
  • Jesus At The Center
  • Saved By Grace
  • Who Is Like The Lord
  • Highly Exalted
  • Moving Forward
  • Deeper

Stuff to remember when attempting Houghton’s songs with a congregation:

  • His voice is at it’s best in the alto range and so his recordings are going to pitch the songs accordingly, so either give the melody to the altos or bring the key down at least a whole step – or push it up a 3rd and drop it an octave. Just be careful about losing all the intensity
  • His songs often work well in a white worship setting or a black worship setting (Friend of God is a good example) so if your group is made up of mostly white, rock musicians, you are going to have to work hard not to lose the gospel vibe.
  • His songs are simple and so to make them more interesting, the recordings throw a lot of stuff into the form to constantly change things up. You have freedom to simplify these song forms to make it more “congregational” if you need to, so don’t let all those hip details from the recording make you over-think things.

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“And Then There Were None” – sinners in the hands of an angry conscience

And_Then_There_Were_None_US_First_Edition_Cover_1940I’m currently reading the classic Agatha Christie novel, “And Then There Were None”.* In the story, 10 people are lured to a large estate on an island by a mysterious host. On their first evening there, they are shocked by the sound of a strange voice coming from the walls. The voice accuses each one of them of a different murder and gives them each a death sentence. Later, they find that the sound of the voice came from a gramophone player in the next room. The novel progresses with each guest dying in strange and cryptic circumstances. (The novel and others like it are the source material for so much parody that as a post modern guy reading it through the filter of “Clue,” I sometimes forget that it’s not a comedy.)

gramophone 1918The picture of a gramophone player behind the wall has stuck with me. It’s a great picture of what goes on in my head sometimes: an accusatory voice-recording that plays over and over, recounting my sins and pronouncing judgement. The voice recalls things that I did today, yesterday and far in the past. Sometimes it even accuses me of things that I might do in the future, things that I have the capacity to do. Then the voice passes judgments like, “You are going to fail, you are going to mess up your kids, you are going to destroy your ministry, you are going to derail God’s mission, you are going to die alone and disgraced.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I think that you probably have a similar voice in your head.

In the Bible, there’s a great story about a voice of accusation. The prophet Zechariah has a vision of Satan accusing one of the High Priests named Joshua.

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” – Zechariah 3:1-3

The LORD uses HIS more powerful voice to rebuke Satan and to undo these accusations. Then He removes the filthy clothes which represent his guilt and his failures and then the LORD replaces them with clean clothes which represent a restored record of conduct and new identity. Then the LORD commands Joshua to listen.

“‘Listen, High Priest Joshua…I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day. – Zechariah 3:8b-9

He is going to speak a new word that will not only remove the sins of Joshua but also pronounce the death sentence of all the sin in the whole land. The death sentence will be carried out by the LORD’s servant, the Branch, the stone with seven eyes (representing wisdom and insight). Today we know the servant/branch/stone by the name Jesus. He has removed the guilt and the accusations and has silenced the voice of accusation.

Through Jesus my guilt has been removed, but I still sometimes listen to the gramophone in the wall. In response to that voice, I have to make a daily practice of “preaching the gospel to myself” over and over again. It’s a major part of my ministry of worship music leading, too. Our songs are weapons against the voice of accusations. We sing them over and over to assure our hearts that the voice of the LORD has spoken his judgment with greater power and efficacy. HIS judgment is:




*Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that the original British versions of this novel used an old racist poem, “Ten Little N******s” as the title of this novel. Yuck! Later publications scrubbed the racist elements of the poem to be “Ten Little Soldiers” which is the edition that I’m reading. Since the racist content had no bearing on the actual story, I think they made a wise choice in changing it – not to mention the fact that racism sucks. If you think about it, the changes to the novel represent a similar removal of “filthy garments,” that was described in Zechariah.

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Imagine that you and your family are traveling through space in a house shaped rocket. Everyone is moving together within the rocket and getting stuff done. Things are in their places and the people inside are thriving. A new baby is added to the family, but because the baby grows in the mother’s womb, the baby doesn’t affect the trajectory of the rocket.

Now imagine a 3 year old joining the rocket family. The 3 year old arrives by riding an asteroid that slams into the side of the rocket. Everyone and everything is tossed around and mixed up. Life in the rocket gets completely disorganized and chaotic. Within the first days of the traumatic event, the family gets things stabilized. Meals resume. Sleep happens. Emotions return to normal. Within the next few months, they slowly get stuff put back in it’s place and they start to thrive again. The addition of a new family member creates some new logistical challenges that have to get worked out. Can they make these changes work in the limited space and resources of the rocket?

How did the asteroid happen to strike the rocket? The child and his asteroid were traveling through space in one direction when they met the rocket moving in another direction. Their life immediately took a new turn when they slammed into the rocket. They have a lot to learn on the rocket about how things work and who does what job. Life on the asteroid was very different. Now they are on the rocket and they have to adapt in order to thrive.

Big brother demonstrating the proper way to count a blast off

A photo posted by Kirk Ward (@kirkwardmusic) on

A reality starts to set in for the rocket family and their new child. The rocket is now on a different course because of the impact of the asteroid. They were heading one way and now they are heading in a new direction. How do they get back on course? How long will it take? Do they even need to return to the old direction? What has been lost as a result of this change?

About 2 years ago, my family and our “rocket” was struck by an asteroid with a crazy 3 year old ball of chaos and questions and fears and giggles and songs. Our family was thriving and doing our thing, but when we got hit by this change, the trajectory of our lives was forever altered. Even 2 years later, we are still trying to put our lives back together into some form of order. But, it’s not really going to ever go back to what it was. Especially because in a few weeks, we are going to legally adopt this asteroid baby. Then we are going to baptize him into the covenant family with a new name and a new trajectory for his life and ours.


A photo posted by Kirk Ward (@kirkwardmusic) on



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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