Zach Williams, “Chain Breaker”

I cannot get Zach Williams’ Chain Breaker out of my head. This is the most irresistible ear candy I’ve run into this year.

If you like Needtobreathe, Third Day, Building 429, or The City Harmonic, methinks you’ll enjoy the music of Zach Williams, who signed up with Provident Label Group’s Essential Records to release his debut single, Chain Breaker, which is an enjoyable and encouraging Southern gospel-tinged blues jam not completely unlike Needtobreathe’s Washed in the Water or Ryan Stevenson’s Eye of the Storm. Thoroughly enjoying this one.

CHAIN BREAKER Lyrics
Zach Williams

If you’re been walking the same old road for miles and miles
If you’ve been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies
If you’re trying to fill the same old holes inside
There’s a better life, there’s a better life

If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost, He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you got chains, He’s a chain breaker

We’ve all searched for the light of day in the dead of night
We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight
We’ve all run to things we know just ain’t right
When there’s a better life, there’s a better life

If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost, He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you got chains, He’s a chain breaker

If you believe it, if you receive it
If you can feel it, somebody testify
If you believe it, if you receive it
If you can feel it, somebody testify, testiify
If you believe it, if you receive it
If you can feel it, somebody testify

If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost, He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you got chains, He’s a chain breaker

If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you got chains, He’s a chain breaker

New Project: Power of a Prayer Warrior

I am very excited for my latest project, a book titled “The Power Of A Prayer Warrior?.” I decided to write this book, what will be my first!, for people who want to take their prayer lives to the next level. Whether you’re the passionate Christian who readily prays for anyone at the drop of a hat, or simply someone who has a history of promising to pray for a friend but forgetting to do it, “The Power of a Prayer Warrior” will encourage and inspire you to pray for yourself and others like never before!

Using the example of 30 prayer warriors in the Bible, this book gives insight into the heart, the armor, and the support system of a prayer warrior. Written with heart and humor, peppered with stories and insight, and designed like a devotional, meant to be read for only a few minutes a day, this book also offers an easy-to-follow prayer plan to help you become the intercessor God has destined you to be!

I’m already in the writing process, and as I do it, I find that I’m really encouraged and excited about what God will birth through it. I would love it if you prayer warriors out there would intercede for me to finish it, for God’s anointing to flow through its pages, and that it would be a blessing to whoever reads it. Thank you, and let’s change this world through the power of prayer!

We Are Messengers, “Everything Comes Alive”

Contemporary Christian pop/rock band We Are Messengers has released its debut Word Entertainment single, Everything Comes Alive, a rollicking pop anthem with an irresistible “Whoo hoo!” singalong hook that will stick to your brain and refuse to let go. Originally from Ireland and now based in Nashville–isn’t everyone based in Nashville now? What am I doing in Manila??–We Are Messengers offers a compelling story to match its music, and lead vocalist & guitarist Darren Mulligan, his wife Heidi, and guitarists Dylan Craig and Steven Stringer are now knocking on the door of Contemporary Christian stardom, with Everything Comes Alive this week’s Most Added track at Christian AC. Still, the band shrugs off any hint of self-glorification and simply says, “we try to write simple songs for a very complicated world.”

With a powerful message of redemption and growth in Christ, as well as A-list producers and songwriters collaborating with We Are Messengers for their Word debut, including Dove Award-winning producer Ed Cash, we could be looking at one of the future players in Contemporary Christian music.

Victory Worship, “Reign Forever”

Philippine worship team Victory Worship has released another single to Christian AC. Reign Forever features Cathy Go, the vocalist behind the group’s massive debut single, Radical Love. Written by Elle Cabiling, Chino Celeste, AJ Jiao, and Ian Tumaliuan, Reign Forever is a soaring worship anthem with an unforgettable chorus and a powerful bridge. I think it’s a brilliant song.

REIGN FOREVER Lyrics
Victory Worship

In the midst of the battle
I put my trust in You
When darkness overwhelms me
I will look to You

When enemies surround me
and sorrow fills my heart
A gentle voice reminds me
We’ll never be apart

Now I worship
Now I declare

Jesus You’ve won it all
You reign forever
You reign forever
Holy and Glorious
You reign forever
You reign forever

In Your love everlasting
I find my victory
Every fear is defeated
I know You are with me

Now I worship
Now I declare

Jesus You’ve won it all
You reign forever
You reign forever
Holy and Glorious
You reign forever
You reign forever
Jesus You’ve won it all
You reign forever
You reign forever
Holy and Glorious
You reign forever
You reign forever

When I was so lost
You chose to love
Someone like me
So that I could live
You gave Your life
Upon that Cross

When I was so lost
You chose to love
Someone like me
So that I could live
You gave Your life
Upon that Cross

When I was so lost
You chose to love
Someone like me
So that I could live
You gave Your life
Upon that Cross

Jesus You’ve won it all
You reign forever
You reign forever
Holy and Glorious
You reign forever
You reign forever
Jesus You’ve won it all
You reign forever
You reign forever
Holy and Glorious
You reign forever
You reign forever

7eventh Time Down, “Promises”

Christian rock band 7eventh Time Down has released Promises off their latest album, Just Say Jesus. I LOVE THIS SONG. I think it’s absolutely fantastic! While I think that Just Say Jesus was great, and The One I’m Running To was even better, and the chart performance of these two songs is off the hook, I think Promises is a radio-friendly guitar-driven praise party anthem that should be making a household name of 7eventh Time down. This song of dependence on a God Who never fails will speak to pretty much anyone going through a desert season. Enjoy!

PROMISES Lyrics
7eventh Time Down

I got a suitcase full of empty promises
Don’t believe a thing that this world says
It’s kinds like wishin’ on a fallen star
A temporary fix for a broken heart
Everything here just falls apart
Cause nothing compares to the way You are

All I need is You
You’re the hope in this life that I can’t deny
All I need is You
I’ve seen it again and again
I can stand on Your promises

One thing I’ve found in all my weakness
Is that I find my strength in the name of Jesus
Oh you lift me up I feel ten feet tall
Standing with You I could never fall
I’m listening close to the Spirit’s call
My savior, my all

All I need is You
You’re the hope in this life that I can’t deny
All I need is You
I’ve seen it again and again
I can stand on Your promises

Standing, standing, standing on the promises
I’m standing, standing, standing on the promises
I’m standing, standing, standing on the promises
I’m standing, standing, standing on the promises of

God I need you
You’re the hope in this life I can’t deny
All I need is You
I’ve seen it again and again
I can stand on the promises of God

Glory in the highest I will sing
Standing on the promises of Christ my King

Victory Worship, “Dance in Freedom”

On this tattooed Christian

I have tattoos.

I was 16 when I got my first tattoo, one of 90s comic strip juggernaut Calvin and Hobbes. The spirit that the creative young boy and his sidekick imaginary tiger resonated with the collegiate me. To date, there has never been a comic strip that has communicated the many questions that life can bring up, and deal with the myriad answers with which one can come up to answer, than Calvin and Hobbes. It was a brilliant strip, and one that has played a significant role in my life. It would be the first of three Calvin and Hobbes tattoos I would go on to get.

Calvin and Hobbes tattooOn August 17, 2001, I welcomed Jesus Christ into my life. In the course of my Christian life, I’ve gotten flak for having these tattoos. “Christians shouldn’t have tattoos,” they say, then they bring up Leviticus 19:28, which says, “do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” (You can imagine their thoughts, specifically, about the ankh, which came after a dalliance with Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.)

Now, I am thankful to people who bring up Leviticus. I believe they are dedicated to and have a heart for God and His Word, the Bible. They are passionate about the Old Testament law because it gives them a great foundation from which to please God.

Which brings me to the New Testament. The author of Hebrews writes, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

This verse tells us that God speaks to us through Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment and embodiment of Old Testament prophecy and the only bridge to God. Without and apart from Christ, we literally have no connection to God. The Old Testament laws worked for a time when God spoke to His people through the prophets; I am more inclined, however, to follow what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, says.

Now, what does Christ–and Paul, whose letters comprise the majority of the books of the New Testament apart from the gospels, have to say about tattoos?

Surprisingly little. Actually, nothing. Here’s what I know Christ wants me to do.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus tells me that I am called to love. :) He also tells me in Matthew 28:19:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

He tells me to preach the gospel and to make disciples. With whom can I share the gospel? Anyone I encounter, of course. However, many of the Christians I know instinctively avoid people with skin art. And here, ladies and gents, is my opening.

People with tattoos are deserving of love, and deserve to hear the gospel. But, as Paul says in Romans 10:15, “And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? And how shall they preach if they have not been sent?” Paul also says so powerfully in 1 Corinthians 9:22, that he becomes “all things to all people, that by all means (we) might save some.” The line that follows is my favorite: “do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”

Tattoos, for all their earthly permanency, are temporary; eternal life is forever. My skin art is my bridge, my connection, my opening to reach out to other people with skin art who do not have a relationship with Jesus. It is also a great conversation starter that gives me a chance to share my story and my faith with strangers who always ask about my skin art, regardless of whether or not they have tattoos.

I am part of a small group–in my church, we call them Victory groups–that is comprised of people otherwise dubbed misfits in the eyes of the world. We are led by a man who has even more skin art than I do. In this group are artists with blue hair, indie musicians, writers, and people who, at first impression, one would never think were Christian. But we are. And we’re here for the long haul, walking this discipleship journey together.

This particular tattoo on the right is my first–and only, so far–tattoo that addresses my faith. Deriving inspiration from Psalm 89:1–I sing of the Lord’s great love forever–it allows me to testify of God’s goodness in a very clear and open way, not like my other tattoos, which are not faith-based. But whether I use my Calvin and Hobbes tattoo, or my ankh tattoo, or my tiger tattoo on my torso, I use them for one very clear, specific purpose.

The glory and honor of God. The sharing of the gospel. The making of disciples. Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” What others think is evil, based on one Bible verse, the context of which most people aren’t even familiar with, I am going to use for good.

Being in the world, but not of it, I choose this particular avenue to reach out to people. I want nothing more for others than to experience the saving, transforming power of Christ. If people come through that, and enter a relationship with Jesus Christ through a conversation started because of my skin art, then I think God will be pleased, regardless of what Leviticus 17:28 says.

Three Reasons Why Worshipers Should Write Worship Songs

Songwriters are called to write songs, just as worshipers are called to worship.  But songwriters are also subject to songwriters’ block. What is a worship songwriter to do when it seems like there’s just nothing there?

Well, folks, I’d like to share my two cents on that, because I was on that sinking ship for several months. More than a year, to be frank.

A few days ago, a couple of days after writing my first worship song in months, I reviewed some of the songs I had written since attending the Every Nation Worship Writers’ Workshop last February 2014. As I reviewed them, I found myself overcome with gratitude for the season that He gave me to write worship music.

But after exercising a songwriting muscle that found me creating almost 10 songs in two months–songwriter/facilitator Mia Fieldes recommended regular songwriting time, which I was able to do until life sorta stepped in–I began a songwriting drought that lasted more than a year. During this time, I knew what I needed to do, but in my pride and flesh, I continued to resist God, and everything I’d learned during that workshop.

Well I sat down in my son’s room and decided to just worship. During this time, God gave me a new song–my first in over a year!–and God revealed to me what I’d been missing all this time. Here are three reasons why Christian songwriters should write worship songs:

1. Worship songs help people remember who God is and what He has done. Deuteronomy 31:21 says “…when many disasters and calamities come on them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants.” Worship songs remind people of God’s identity and attributes. They also help us remember certain phases on our personal faith journey. (We often remember with fondness what songs were playing in church when we first drew near to God, and what songs we listened to during times of difficulty or happiness.)

Worship songwriters take scripture, ideas, and Biblical concepts, and put them into lyrics and melodies that help believers remember God’s identity and attributes. They have the sacred role of translating His Word into something that people can identify with and remember, long after the message has been processed. Has it happened to you that you don’t remember what a preacher shared during a worship service, but end up leaving and singing a song from that service for the rest of that day? That’s the power of the worship song.

2. Worship songs invite people to focus on God and not their circumstances. Life is hard, and oftentimes, if someone’s going through a tough time, mere platitudes and well-meaning advice can wash off a person, despite our best intentions. Music, however, has the power to sink in deeper and more effectively than a person’s advice. Next to God’s Word itself, there are fewer more potent tools at a discipler’s disposal.

Take Psalm 89, for example. It’s a great song that invites people to praise God in the difficulty of life and in the midst of the storm. It starts with exuberant praise, but the joyful tone changes at some point during the psalm, and goes all dark and emo. However, at the end, despite the horrible situation the psalmist is in, he ends with the conclusion, “Praise the LORD forever! Amen and amen!”

What songs have you sung in the midst of your heartache, in the eye of your storm, at the most jarring moment of your pain? There is freedom in worship, and music ushers us into that place of total praise.

3. Worship songs are an effective evangelical tool. When I was dating my ex-girlfriend–she’s my ex-girlfriend because she’s now my wife–she would take me to church, where I would get freaked out by all these people raising their hands and clapping along to songs with titles like Touching Heaven, Changing Earth and Church on Fire. (Yeah, I’m giving you an idea of how old I am.) It weirded me out, but I liked this girl and I wasn’t going to let some hokey music get the better of me.

But it did. Two months into “going to church,” one Sunday, they sang a song titled Heart of Worship, and the lyrics just flooded into my heart and soul like a tsunami of emotion. I was overwhelmed by this sense of awe and love, and I found myself sobbing in my chair. (It got so bad I had to step out of the hall. It was really embarrassing.)

God met me in that place, and used a worship song to break down the walls and barriers that were stopping me from truly connecting to him in an authentic and genuine way. When worship songwriters write worship songs, they reach out to people who don’t even know God, and can use those songs to usher their hearts into a place where they can know Him and come to a saving knowledge of Christ.

I should know. I am one of those people. And today, I’m humbly doing my part to carry on that esteemed role. If you are too, delight in it as much as you reverently carry out what God has called you to do in your season, and I am in faith that He will use you to birth amazing songs that will speak to the church.