“Lord Have Mercy” Live at Christ Church with Jenn Crider

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A powerful spontaneous moment from Christ Church Nashville’s Ash Wednesday service. Every year, Christians around the world burn the ashes from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service and place them on their foreheads as a sign of repentance (See Daniel 9:3-5). On this side of the cross, we can sing “Lord Have Mercy” with gratitude and confidence that He has already given it to us. We simply turn our faces towards Him and walk in the light of His glory and grace.

Come Thou Fount – Live on Ash Wednesday

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This past Ash Wednesday, I had the honor of leading worship with the Christ Church Choir in Nashville TN. These men and women truly worship God in spirit and in truth. Ash Wednesday is part of the traditional Church calendar and is observed by millions of Christians around the world as a day of repentance and reflection. It is the first day of Lent, a season of fasting before Easter.  The ashes that Christians wear on their heads is a sign of repentance and is traditionally made by burning the previous year’s Palm Sunday branches.

In Daniel 9 we read this:

So I directed my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and extends lovingkindness toward those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed wrong, and have behaved wickedly and have rebelled, turning away from Your commandments and ordinances. Further, we have not listened to and heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

I am thankful that we serve a God who is faithful and just to forgive sins.   Ash Wednesday provides a time for us to reflect on what is passing away and what is eternal.  To learn more about Ash Wednesday, you can watch the entire service on YouTube, which includes a special sermon from Pastor Dan Scott and a presentation of artwork by my wife Hannah.

Song by Song: Do You Hear What I Hear?

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Written during the peak of the Cold War, a time when many Americans feared for the future of their nation (and perhaps the world itself), Gloria Shayne and Noel Regney gave us this beautiful parable, using one of the Wise Men as the backdrop for a story about the Prince of Peace.  In this hour, once again, there are many who fear for the future, but take courage! Peace be with you!  “The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night—He will bring us goodness and light!”

Don’t forget to let your prayer be accompanied by worship! The Psalms do an excellent job of teaching us the model: praise to God is never far from David’s lips, even when he is on the brink of calamity. Regardless of your circumstances, “Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”  He is the Way Maker!

This song is from the album Glory: A Call to Worship at Christmas, available for purchase now.

Song by Song: Humble King

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People inherently love a good rags to riches story.  We like tales of humble beginnings that end with success and achievement.  Jesus managed to flip the concept on its head and inside out, voluntarily laying aside all the glory of being God in heaven and coming to earth as essentially a nobody.  No one regarded His parents enough to give them proper shelter on the night he was born, though He deserved a palace and a royal welcome.  No one regarded or respected his occupation—in Matthew 13, Jesus’ neighbor’s discredit him asking, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?”  Nobody regarded His hometown— In John 1 one of His own disciples first dismissed him saying, “Nazareth? Can anything good come from there?”

Jesus gave up any kind of earthly glory of His own volition and accomplished more than any other success story in history from the position of a servant.  He taught that the path to greatness is to humble ourselves serve the lowest of the low as if they were the highest of the high.  Jesus led by example, consistently forgoing human honor and instead thriving on the glory bestowed on Him by the Holy Spirit.  All the while, creation itself trumpets how majestic and wonderful He really is!

This song is from the album Glory: A Call to Worship at Christmas, available for purchase now.

Song by Song: O Come O Come Emmanuel

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God’s promises don’t expire.  Neither do your prayers.  Jesus birth came at the end of a 400 year period of silence from God between the Old and New Testaments, a mirror image of Israel’s 400 year time of captivity in Egypt.  What do you do when God promises things but they don’t seem to come to pass?  You hold on to the promise, because God always keeps His word!

The famous “Hall of Faith” passage in Hebrews 11 even highlights Biblical heroes who “died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them at a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.”  Yes! We remember the heroic faith of people like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob in part because they remained faithful even when God’s promises didn’t come to fruition during their lifetime. They lived for something bigger than themselves.

Likewise, our prayers before God don’t expire.  A great example of this is a story closely connected to the Christmas story: Zechariah the priest and his wife Elizabeth.  It seems the elderly couple had almost forgotten that they had once prayed for a son.  Look at Zechariah’s exchange with the angel Gabriel from Luke 2:

But the angel said to him:
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you will name him John.
There will be joy and delight for you,
and many will rejoice at his birth.
For he will be great in the sight of the Lord
and will never drink wine or beer.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit
while still in his mother’s womb.
He will turn many of the sons of Israel
to the Lord their God.
And he will go before Him
in the spirit and power of Elijah,
to turn the hearts of fathers
to their children,
and the disobedient
to the understanding of the righteous,
to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

“How can I know this? ” Zechariah asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.”

Zechariah didn’t even believe the word from God until Gabriel took away his ability to speak until his son John was born.  This story has a lot to teach us about endurance and long-term faith.  Very often, our timing isn’t the same as God’s timing, but that doesn’t mean that God has forgotten about us or ignored our prayers.

We must cling to the promises of God’s Word, never letting go of what God says about us.  By faith, we must worship Emmanuel, “God with us,” and rejoice in every circumstance, knowing that God is always true to what He says.

This song is from the album Glory: A Call to Worship at Christmas, available for purchase now.

Song By Song: The Savior’s Here

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Christmas can be a rollercoaster season in today’s culture. There are plenty of things to do, events to attend, things to buy.  But since the very beginning, creation’s proper response to the birth of Jesus has been to worship.  The angels, the shepherds, the Magi, Mary, Joseph, Anna in the temple, Simeon in the temple: all of them responded in worship at the arrival of the Messiah.  On this side of the cross, our response should be no less enthusiastic than theirs! After all, we now know how this story ends: with victory over the grave and eternity in the presence of the Father!  How can we not celebrate?  How can we not “go tell it on the mountain”?  How can we not dance like David danced as the Ark of the Covenant made its way into Jerusalem?  The news is that good!

This song is from the album Glory: A Call to Worship at Christmas, available for purchase now.

Song By Song: Little Heart Beats

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Earlier this year, I was asked by a pregnancy resource center to be a part of their annual fundraising banquet. I was, at the time, writing for Glory: A Call to Worship at Christmas, and the Christmas story was at the forefront of my mind. I realized that the Christmas story is the most profound pro-life story there is. 

By choosing to come as a helpless baby in the womb, Jesus gave tremendous affirmation of the value of our littlest ones. His cousin John leapt in the womb when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, walked into the room. God is glorified by the life that no one yet sees. He is glorified by the miracle of conception. He is glorified by the tiny person who has not yet taken a breath. He is glorified by the little heart beat that no one has yet heard.

He could have come any other way, but He chose to be glorified by humbling himself as child. Later in the Gospels, he calls us to approach Him as a child, following in His amazing example.

This song is from the album Glory: A Call to Worship at Christmas, available for pre-order now.  Album releases November 1, 2016.

Song by Song: Do Not Be Afraid

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I knew when I started writing for this Christmas album, I wanted to have a song that connected Jesus’s birth to His death and resurrection.  The audacity of God’s choice to redeem the world in this way and knowing that He is now with us through the Holy Spirit should give us courage to tackle any obstacle that comes our way!

 

This song is from the album Glory: A Call to Worship at Christmas, available for pre-order now.  Album releases November 1, 2016.

 

 

 

Pre-order for Glory: A Call to Worship at Christmas starts today!

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Hi friends!

I’m beyond excited to announce a new project that has been nearly a year in the making: Glory: A Call to Worship at Christmas! Pre-orders begin today, and the album will release November 1st.  The album will release on CD, Digital, and a very special premium package that includes hand-painted artwork by my wife Hannah Pickering.

Speaking of Hannah, she painted the cover art for the album, a large 1ft by 3ft panorama called Bethlehem Night. She began working in August and just finished this month!  The finished product is absolutely stunning! Here’s the big reveal:

bethlehem-night

All of the album artwork in the packaging is taken from details of Hannah’s painting.  Here’s the album cover:

glory-cover-800

More exciting news! This December, Hannah and I will be leading Christmas worship gatherings around the country with a full band!  We are very excited to partner with churches and lead congregations in a time of worship and reflection on the miraculous Christmas story.  Worship has always been creation’s response to the Good News of Jesus’ birth, from the shepherds to the wise men, from Anna and Simeon in the temple to the angels in the heavens.  We want to join in with the angels and sing praises to Jesus, giving thanks for His life!  These events will be an opportunity to pause during the busy Christmas season and worship the Humble King who so deserves our praise.

We are still currently booking these events.  Here are the tour dates thus far:

Date City Venue Country
12/13/17 Shallowater, TX First Baptist Church Shallowater US
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: FREE. Address: 1008 8th St.
12/14/17 San Antonio, TX Communion Chapel US
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: FREE. Address: 5719 Mobud St.
12/17/17 Edinburg, TX Abundant Grace Community Church US
Time: 10:00am. Admission: FREE. Address: 2110 S. McColl Rd.. Wes and Hannah and their band will be leading worship for the morning service at AGCC.
12/17/17 Edinburg, TX Abundant Grace Community Church US
Time: 6:00pm. Admission: FREE. Address: 2110 S. McColl Rd..
12/20/17 Jonesboro, LA Grace Community Church US
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: FREE. Address: 814 Pershing Highway.

If you are interested in hosting one of these Christmas worship gatherings, please contact us via the Booking page.  In particular, here are a few specific dates and where we are actively looking for a church to host us:

  • December 22 – Dallas area (somewhere within a 2 hour radius)
  • December 14 – West Tennessee, Arkansas, or Louisiana
  • December 15 – West Tennessee, Arkansas, or Louisiana
  • December 17 – Houston area (somewhere within a 2 hour radius)
  • December 10 – West Tennessee or Arkansas

If you or someone you know could connect with with a host church, please contact us via the Booking page.

My hope is for this album to become a resource for your devotional time during the Advent season as well as a resource for churches and their worship teams. In the coming days, I will be posting free chord charts for the entire album on the Worship Leader Resources page.  Feel free to use them in your churches worship times (all songs are covered by your church’s CCLI license).

I’m so excited to share Glory: A Call to Worship at Christmas with you!  Right now, you can stream the entire album and pre-order it here.  This will be the only place to stream the album as we will not be delivering to streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music this year. On November 1, the album will release on CD and direct downloads from this website as well as  iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play.

I appreciate your support so much!  Please spread the word! Buy the album! Sing the songs with your church! Come join us at a worship gathering this December!

much love,

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New lyric video for “Come Find Rest”

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I’m really excited to share this new lyric video for “Come Find Rest.”  It features the painting The Good Shepherd by turn of the century American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner, who was the first African American painter to gain international acclaim.  The son of an AME Church bishop, he frequently painted Biblical themes, and his work here is so beautiful that I wanted to highlight even the more abstract details of the painting.  The painting provides a perfect backdrop for “Come Find Rest” which is a reflection on Psalm 23.

For further reflection on this familiar passage of Scripture, check out Brian Simmon’s Passion Translation of the 23rd Psalm:

The Good Shepherd

David’s poetic praise to God.

1The Lord is my Best Friend and my Shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
2He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
3That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure,
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name.
4Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
5You become my delicious feast
even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;
you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
6So why would I fear the future?
For I’m being pursued only by your goodness and unfailing love.
Then afterwards—when my life is through,
I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!

Today, know that goodness and mercy are pursuing you though Jesus’s unfailing love! Set your hope on Christ, and you can confidently say, “Follow me, follow me, goodness and mercy! My home is in the house of God.

Buy “Come Find Rest” on the album Recreated here.