Lyrics. Lyrics. Lyrics.

Have not made much happen with the recording lately.  Started a new job and been really busy with many other things.  Was waiting for a part to arrive for my brother’s bass so I can finish that and also waiting for some lyrics to happen.

This week I have also been jamming with a drummer who is learning 5 of the songs so that we can play on October 21st in Cheyenne.  Super stoked on this….but it is going to be a lot a lot a lot a lot of work!

I am currently working on some lyrics.  as in right now.  It’s actually weird…when I write lyrics I just sing fake ones over the top until something sticks out.  And something did.  It is exactly what I needed.  While singing some fake lyrics, in fact singing the final song on the album and the final couple lines even – this line came out:

 “Your love is all I know”  

And since then, I have been working backwards from the end of the song.  It was just the inspiration I needed though to work from.  I think that sums up where I am in life.  I have stepped into many different emotions and many different faces throughout the years…from mini-bouts with depression, to trying to be super outgoing (didn’t work!!), to wanting to me some theological thinker (nope.) , to actually understanding and realizing my need for a savior, to not believing I am worth it to receive grace, and on and on.  All the different emotions, all the different trials.  Through it all.  The one thing I can say – is this Your love is all I know.  Maybe cheesy.  Maybe simple.  But really that is all that counts.  That we know the love of Jesus Christ.  And that is where I want to be with these songs.  I want them to represent some of the emotions I have felt the last couple years…good and bad.  But in the end, the only thing that I can truly, truly stand behind and sing about – is God’s love.

*Update – not the final lyrics, but pretty dang close:

Your Love is all I know

I find my hope in your arms again.
I find my rest in your arms….but confusion asks:

“How strong is your grace?
How deep is your love?”

Here is love, here is what I found.  It is not my works, it is not my strength that counts.
It is Jesus now.  I was Jesus all along.  It is Jesus.  For to the ungraceful I belong.

Sing, because it’s real.  If it is real, then I’ve lived a thousand sins more then grace should speak.
Let it replace the lies, that I have lived.  Let it be my words, be my prayers, be my love.

I walk so blind. So blind, so wrong of what the voice of grace can sing.
If love leads the way, if grace leads the way — these eyes should see and with clarity sing:

“Oh You are love.  You are love.
Oh take my life, take my words, take my songs, take my breath, to be your love.”

-Oh God  —  Be my love.

Your love is all I know.  Your love.
Your grace is all I know. Your grace.

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Published in: on September 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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Lyrics.

I have 2/3 of the guitars done.  Mainly just need to focus on doing lead guitar stuff.  But man….when I am listening to this, especially after hearing the lead stuff I am coming up with – it really moves me.  It puts me into a place where I am desperate to write.  I am not sure if I have written about what these songs will be about, but I am leaning towards calling this thing “A Conversation” or at least a starting place (might be a cheesy title, who knows).  But it is going to flow from a place of wondering what worth (if any) I could even think I have to God….and because of the way I think and act – I have no business even trying to enter the prescence of God.  and then taking that idea, struggling through it, and coming to the realization that I am worth something – not because of me, but because there is grace.  and there is love.

In the song “Author” by My Epic, the singer shares “I’m tired of trying to be, who you already say that I am – I am yours”.  And that sums up the place I am and have been for a couple years – really starting to understand the failures of who I am and at times beating myself up over it and not even wanting to try to accept grace for it all.  All in all, this cd – like much of what I write – will be about Grace.

labeling art. part 1.

I am writing this in response to a small discussion on facebook that I decided to become a part of during my lunch break.  It was started with someone making a comment in jest about how “easy” it is to become a generic Christian rock band…and he used David Crowder as an example.  David Crowder is actually an artist I respect greatly as a songwriter and lyricist.  He has a few very cheesy Christian anthems, but for the most part his cds are solid representations that deal with not only declaring the glory of God, but also questioning and searching.  Similar to the Psalms.

I did not get involved in the postings as a result of that though.  I got involved when the discussion moved past that and into a very quick and uninformed labeling of art.  I am going to try my best to wrap my mind around the idea that art is not always what we want it to be.  (and in saying art – I am more generally talking about music)  It is about expression and connection.  Sometimes there is one part, sometimes there is both, and sometimes there is neither…at which point is it not art?  Does it need to connect to people to be art or does it only need to be an expression of the artist?  What if it has neither parts – would it even have been created?

When I was in high school I was very narrow minded in my music tastes.  I listened to punk and not very many songs that were not in that genre could move me.  At the time I considered everything else to be boring. lame. and in thinking in that frame of mind I started to consider music that did not appeal to me to be bad.

Ten years later I still deal with this at time, but have been moving towards a very open view of music.  So many times we try to label a band as good or bad, amazing or generic, and even christian or non-christian, but by what standards do we make those assumptions about music?  I played in a band for six years during which time I really honed my skills as a songwriter.  I also got to see many, many bands play. A majority of these bands were very young and inexperienced bands.  Much of what they wrote was very similar to bands they listened to and was nothing new to my ears.  But they were always so excited to be playing with a “touring” band and they played with everything that they had in them.  It may have been their first and last show (as high school bands come and go), but in the way they played they taught me about what it means to be an artist.

To be an artist we do not need to create a masterpiece every time we create something.  At least masterpiece as defined by the rest of the world.  I have seen some very amazing music (in my opinion) during the last few years.  Some of it was littered with wrong notes, out of tune vocals, and even forgotten words…but at times these performances have been masterpieces in my eyes. Not because the song was amazing, not because the guitar parts were great, not even because the singer was amazing…but instead they were masterpieces because I could see the passion of the songwriter coming out of the guitar and out of the voice.  I could see the hurt and the joy.  I could see into the songwriter’s heart.  And I connected with it.  Art does not always have to be in tune, in the right color, or have the correct shapes…but it should be an outpouring of what is inside of the artist. Does that mean I would want to buy a cd knowing there would be out of tune notes or music that sounded like the same cd I bought last week? No.  I am just trying to express my thoughts that music/art can be more than outward perfection.

Sometimes the finished results are not the most stellar, but if an artist is representing and expressing themselves it can be a masterpiece.  That is what I enjoyed about seeing so many young bands perform – they were doing what they love and although it may not have been done well – they expressed themselves through it.

More to come…

Published in: on September 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hope.

Life is hard. decisions are hard. Looking into the watery eyes of a lonely teenager and telling him that he will not have a place to hang out anymore is hard.  Accepting the will of God is hard.

But there is hope.

John 16:3 – In this life you will face many trials, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.

We lose.  We grieve.  We sin.  We fail. 

One of my favorite thrice songs:

For Miles

I know one day, all our scars will disappear, like the stars at dawn
And all of our pain, will fade away when morning comes
And on that day when we look backwards We will see, that everything is changed
And all of our trials, will be as milestones on the way

And as long as we live, every scar is a bridge to someone’s broken heart
And there’s no greater love, than that one shed his blood for his friends

On that day all of the scales will swing to set all the wrongs to right
All our tears, and all of our fears will take to flight
But until then all of our scars will still remain, but we’ve learned that if we’ll
Open the wounds and share them then soon they start to heal

(As long as we live, we are bridges to someone broken heart
There’s no greater love, shed your blood for your friends)

We must see that every scar is a bridge, and as long as we live
We must open up these wounds
When some one stands in your shoes and will shed his own blood
There’s no greater love. we must open up our wounds

We are not consumed.  For his great love never fails.  There is hope in the love of the Lord.

God can see deeper and farther than we can.  God can take faith the size of a mustard seed and move mountains. 

God’s love and faithfullness will prevail.

Published in: on October 15, 2009 at 9:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Wow.

Yesterday I started writing an essay which will become my philosophy of worship.  I am going to be going on staff part-time with my church as a the Director of Worship, and so I really wanted to write a bit as writing is how I process things.  Many of my friends open their e-mails to find that I have sent them a long e-mail of rambling greatness…two reasons for this…1.  I work in a study hall tutoring students, so I have time.  2.  I love to write and that is how I will process and organize my thoughts.

So, the purpose of starting that essay was to organize and solidify my beliefs about what worship his, how it should be used in a church service, and basic thoughts about what a team would look like.  Much of it is focused on musical worship as that is much of the focus of my job…but I have made it clear that worship is our life..not just music on Sunday mornings.  Everything we do can be worship if our motives our fixed on Jesus Christ.  I will most likely post parts of that essay in a couple days after I finish and proof it. 

This morning I was looking and reading.  I was trying to find a quote by either Matt Redman or Chris Tomlin about being a lead worshiper…not a worship leader.  I could not find it, but I found this one:

We cannot even offer a simple song of praise without using the breath God first gave to us. -Matt Redman

What an amazing thought!  Worship is a response…we think about the grace of God, the beauty of creation, the love of Christ, and the incomprability of God…and we respond with awe.  We praise him for being amazing!  And when you think about what Matt Redman is saying…it is amazing.  We cannot even praise him except that he gives us the breath to do so. 

Live your life in worship.  Not just corporate music on Sunday mornings…but in your thoughts as you are working…in the way you serve others…respond to the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross by comitting every moment you have to him. 

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed
Isaiah 53:5 NIV

Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 7:54 am  Comments (2)  

Romans 12 cont.

I think that Romans 12 is inspiring.  I continue to need to be reminded of what God desires me to be and how he desires me to live. 

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I printed out this whole chapter and have been studying it manuscript style.  I think I enjoy that style the most. I have the freedom to fill up all the edges of the page with thoughts and questions.  Here are a few:

1.  What is the pattern of this world?  What is it that we no longer should conform to? 

I decided to look up what that might have meant in the original…and what I found was that world refers to the current age – including the thoughts, motives, opinions, and aspirations.  Which could be obvious to most people, but I wanted to look it up.  So basically, do not conform to the way the world thinks.  Well…that could bring up more questions!  How does the world think?  I imagine that Paul was refering to our motives.  In verse one, Paul urges us to offers our bodies as living sacrifices…and calls it our “spiritual act of worship”.  I looked up spiritual and the greek refers to our our inner motives and desires.  It is talkings about the worship that takes place in our minds.  Which fits very well with talking about not conforming to the world’s thoughts and motives.  Instead we are to have our minds fixed on the Lord…in worship to him.  Our actions need to be true and without selfish motive as it is not worship if our minds are not in it.

Paul continues to write and tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.  This goes hand in hand with everything written about already.  We need to be transformed from thinking like the world thinks…to instead think like God thinks.  And as a result of that – we will know God’s will!

I have more questions about the ending of the passage…knowing God’s will…pleasing? and perfect will.  But for now…

I just think the whole theme of this passage is beautiful.  telling us to consider and think about what Jesus Christ did for us, and respond to it!  Respond by focusing our thoughts on him.  Every action we do is in response and with the motive that we are serving Christ.  In order for this to happen…we need to be transformed – our minds need to be transformed.  For me, this needs to be a daily transformation!  Actually…more than daily! 

So whatever we are doing…it needs to be for Christ!  Be joyful in serving in all that we can.  He wants us to be alive, holy, and pleasing to him. 

My question of the day is this:

What needs to be renewed in my mind?  Are parts of my thoughts already conformed to the patterns of this world?

Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 9:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Romans 12:1.

Seven years ago a friend and the worship leader from my church, opened up our meeting time before practice with this verse:

(NIV)
Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 

I had heard this verse before, but had never really taken the time to look into what it meant.  We discussed it for a while, and it became what I wanted to live my life by.  I used to have the view that the term worship was talking about music on Sunday mornings.  It was a very narrow view of what worship truly is.  After digging into this verse, and also reading through The Purpose Driven Life, I realized that worship is so much more than music.  Music is a way I connect with God at times and declare how great he is through song, question him, and tell him where I want to be…but worship is so much more.

I think that the biggest question to wrestle with in this verse is:
What is exactly is a living sacrifice!? 
At the time, it was the name of a metal band that I listened to a lot and destroyed me at a concert back in high school. 

Thinking about being a living sacrifice is a beautiful, but hard picture of what God desires us to be.  It is a picture of us crawling onto a dirty altar, built of stones and sticks and mud.  It is a picture of us dying to our sinful nature and living for the glory of God.  It is a picture of us living every moment for the sake of Jesus Christ.  Pleasing God through our thoughts, our words, and our actions.  It says that this is our spiritual act of worship.  When we are living for the cross we are worshiping God. 

If we take a hold of that idea of being living sacrifices…holy and pleasing to God…it can change the way we live.  We will be transformed.  And through that others will see God’s mercy and God’s love.

*I am adding more thoughts today just from this first verse.  I think it is a very powerful chapter of scripture and has a lot of easy things in terms of understanding…but a little harder to put into action as it is a call to commit every moment to be holy and pleasing to God.*  

Paul says at the beggining…”I urge you”.  Urge means to recommend or suggest or give force to an action.  He saying that he strongly suggests we do this.  Do what?  and Why?  Right away he gives us the why.  “in view of God’s mercy”.  I don’t think it could be put better than that.  We do these things because Jesus Christ offered himself up for us and granted us the grace to be in relationship with him.  This makes the rest of the verse a response to what God did for us through Jesus Christ.  In thinking about it, we respond by making our lives an action of worship.  

I looked up a few translations of this verse…and the translation I had left our a word in the middle of the verse.  “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, alive, holy, and pleasing to God”  I think that word is important.  It creates a beautiful contradiction between a sacrifice and our own lives.  The idea of a living sacrifice is a hard thing to wrap my mind around.  How can I be a sacrifice but still be living?  How can I be alive?  

I feel like I could keep writing and writing, but that I would be writing the same thing over and over again.  It all comes down to this:

 God grants us mercy through his son Jesus Christ…as a response to that…we are transformed…our old self dies…but we are made alive…we respond and worship the Father through everything that we do.  Our thoughts, our words, and our actions.  Everything we do should be pleasing to the Lord.  That is worship.  It encompasses our life and we live lives of worship.

I think a question that could be asked…is “how do I live this out?”    For people it is easier than others.  My parents taught me from an early age that we are to be examples wherever we go.  That God is watching us and our actions need to please him. 

In practical terms…we may need to think a little more before we say something.  Does it glorify God?  This is a hard thing.  Getting caught up with friends and joking around…it is hard to keep everything we say holy and pleasing to God. 

Serving people.  We can act out a life of worship by putting others first and being willing to give our time up for others. 

There are many more ways..I will think and add more later as I have to move to the next classroom here! 

Add your own thoughts on how we live this out.  That means you Jon Kelly.

Published in: on September 15, 2009 at 7:29 am  Leave a Comment  

How amazing.

I was going to write a bit about Philippians 2 as I have just been reading that over and over again for the last 4 months. but not today.

I think the message of the cross is amazing.  The whole story is amazing.  Phillip Yancey in his book The Jesus I Never Knew compares his tank of fish with the coming of Jesus.  (ha).  He tells about how he would go to feed his fish, or clean out their tank and all of his fish would scatter and hide whenever he came around.  Even though he was supplying for their needs and taking care of them…he was just too big and out of their mind’s understanding.  He decided, that the only way he could even make his fish understand and accept him would be to actually shrink down and become a fish himself.  In the same way, Jesus Christ…God…is far too big for us to understand and many times he is hard to relate to.  So Jesus Christ did not come down in all the glory of God…but instead came to earth like us.  as a child.  as a man.  He stepped into our world so that we could begin to see how we can have a relationship with him. 

Amazing.

I think that is what the world needed then and still needs today.  People who are willing to step into the worlds of others and be in their lives.  Not people who put of the walls of a church around themselves and lock themselves into its threshold…but people who are willing to step outside of it and dig into the lives of others.  That is why Jesus was so desirable for the poor, the broken, and the outcast.  He met them where they were at. 

I think that is the most amazing and beautiful thing about Jesus.  The dirty people of society were drawn to him.  He stood for truth and he stood for righteousness, but he did not go about reaching that with a finger of condemnation.  He met the lies and the unrighteous of this world with love.  He loved all and served all.  So instead of condemning an aldultress woman to death, he instead taught us a valuable lesson by loving her and reminding us that none of us are perfect.  We all have stains on our heart.  The beauty of the cross and the story of Jesus Christ is that he reaches out with loving arms to forgive us of our sins and wash those stains away. 

my scattered thoughts.

.How marvelous,
How wonderful,
and my song shall ever be,
How marvelous,
How wonderful,
is my savior’s love for me.

Published in: on September 10, 2009 at 12:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Are you Alive.

I wrote this 9-10 months ago at a conference in Nashville.  Thought I would share it-

David Crowder has a song that starts off with the lines “And he set me on fire, and I’m burning alive” I had never heard this song before about a week ago when I was in Nashville for a conference and David Crowder and his band was actually there.  As I watched and listened to this song, my friend Jon started telling me how he loves the first verse—mostly because he almost never feels that way.  I agree fully.  How many times am I at a place where I feel so overcome with God, so caught up by his presence that I can say that “I am burning alive”?  It seems that I find myself in the corner opposite a furnace, legs curled to my chest, with my head pulled to my knees.  Am I hiding under a blanket? Enjoying the cold, enjoying the light of a lighter as it is safer than the bright piercing light from the flames.   Through this blanket, I can see a faint light and feel a faint warmth, but many times I stay in the corner—close enough to feel some of the heat, and see some of the light, but far enough away that I will not get burned.  Far enough away that I can still walk away if I need to.  There have been times where I have been close enough to the fire and have intentioned to jump into it and be as close as I can to God, but those intentions get pulled back, just as if I was doing one of those carnival games where they attach a bungee cord to a harness and you run with that harness on as far as you can until you hit a point and it snaps you back.  My desire to let God engulf me with his spirit gets pulled back by my doubts and worldly desires and “what if’s”. 

What if God makes me give all my money away? 
What if this fire is not God?
Is God really there?  Is he real?
What if God sends me to Africa for the rest of my life?
What if God makes me live in poverty?

These doubts and questions pull me back from the flames, they pull me away from God until I am no longer standing on the brick ornation of a deep fireplace, but instead I am once again in the corner.  Close enough to be warm.  Close enough to see light.  Distance enough to be safe.

But what if I was different?  What if I actually jumped into the flames and allowed the flames of God to consume me to the point that I was not longer the same person.   Fire can do some horrible things to people; someone who has been through an accident or a fire many times will never be the same or look the same again.  Spiritually I want to be that way.  I want God to change me; I want God to make me into a completely different person.  This has its cost.  I must let my old self die; I must let it be completely wiped away.  This is risky.  Everything changes.  You no longer are living for this world or for your own self.  That part of you is gone!  Instead you are living for the purpose of the kingdom. 

Following God is risky.  Following God is not by any means safe.  But what else is there?

Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 9:45 pm  Comments (1)  

Better is One Day??? Really?

 

Honesty in Worship-

 

Better Is One Day

How lovely is Your dwelling place
Oh Lord Almighty,
For my soul doth long And even faint for You
Oh, here my heart is satisfied (is satisfied)
Within Your presence I see beneath the shadow of your wings

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

One thing I ask, And I would seek,
To see Your beauty to find You in
The place Your glory dwells
One thing I ask And I would seek,
To see Your beauty to find You in
The place Your glory dwells

My heart and flesh cry out for You, the Living God
Your Spirit’s water to my soul
I’ve tasted, and I’ve seen come once again to me
I will draw near to You

 

I cannot remember the first time I actually heard this song, but it has always been awkward for me.   For many years I absolutely did not like when a band would play this song during a church service or camp meeting I was attending.  I just could not get into it.  I loved the melody, and I loved the musical portion of it…but I could not get into the lyrics.  About 6 months ago I picked up this song while picking out music for a Sunday morning service.  I sang through it for the first time by myself and just really enjoyed singing it, but it was still awkward for me.  I put the song down in my stack of music sheet.   I continued to pick up the song and sing it through, enjoying various styles of A, B, and E chords that I could make up while singing the beautiful melody over the top of it.  But every time I set it back down into the pile and refused to use it while leading musical worship on a Sunday.  Finally about a month ago I was at a loss of what songs God wanted me to use.  I had been through my stack of music about ten times, had pulled out songs each time, and had put almost all of them back. Every time however, Better is One Day kept sticking in the back of my mind.  So I sang it through again…”wow, I love this song…but man, it’s so awkward…”  I searched and searched that week, trying to find music that would fit the theme, music that would push the congregation to continue to seek God further.  But I could not nail down a song list.  I actually do this quite often.  I am always adding a song the night before, taking a song away the day of, or even adding a song in the middle of the set. It just happens. God will lay something on my heart that he wants and I try to adjust.  This week however, was so much worse.  I had nothing at all.  I knew God would give me the songs in time for Sunday…but I had others depending on me. The PowerPoint needed to be done and the musicians needed to practice prior to Sunday as well. 

I went over and over music, prayed, asked God what he wanted…and finally it hit me.  God wants my sincere, honest heart.  But during that week I did not desire God.  I did not want to be in front of a church leading people in musical worship when I did not feel like I could even worship God myself.  I feel that to be a worship leader, I need to first and foremost be a worshiper.  I was not in a place of worship that week. I was in a place of stressful helplessness.  But God still wanted to use me. 

I think it is such an amazing thing that the God of this universe, the almighty creator, who can basically do whatever he wants with just one word…desires to make me a part of it.  I learn so much about God every time I lead.  I always feel so helpless in knowing what he desires, and through that I depend on him to guide me.  It is amazing.

But I feel that the thing God desired out of me more than anything that week was honesty.   I was not in a place where worshiping God was my utmost desire, and even when I truly am desiring and pursuing God, he is not always the most prominent thing on my mind, completely forsaking all other things because God is better than them.  There are so many things that I can think of that are better than spending time with God!  That is my utmost honesty.  That is why I figured out, Better is One Day has been so awkward for me.  As I am singing the words I am constantly thinking about going to the concert on Friday night, or how I would much rather have a drink from the cold fountain in the lobby then have the Spirit water my soul.  God desires honesty and he was telling me that.  I picked up Better is One day and I added it to the set for Sunday. 

I shared on that Sunday morning how God was messing with my heart and teaching me about worship.  One huge thing I realized with this song is that the courts or house of God does not always refer to me going to church.  Paul writes that we are all temples of God and his spirit lives in us.  As a result, we can worship God wherever we are.  We can use our daily experiences to draw us closer to God. So even when there are things we desire to do rather than sit down and do a devotional, we can use those times to continue to worship God during.  If we are going fishing, we can celebrate God’s creation and thank him for what he has made for us.  Through this we are entering into the courts of God and it is better than anything else! 

Still, there are many times in our lives that we are not able to sing words like “Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere”.  There are days we just do not desire God!  We need to cry out to him through those times.  If we are not able to sing those words, instead tell the Lord through this song that this is where we want to be.  Tell him that you want to look upon the heavens and long for him and be completely satisfied with him.   And some day we will be!  On that day when we enter his heavenly courts for the first time, we will no longer be distracted by the things of this world reaching to us, telling us that a taste of the world can take the place of God every now and then…instead we will be focused on God, our savior and redeemer.

Worshiping God cannot be done unless we are honest and allow God to work through us, especially when we are going through times of drought.  God desires an honest heart.

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 10:50 am  Comments (2)