to make me new

a life, like fading flowers came

helpless in my sin and shame

no part of me that hoped for truth

my eyes and ears I shut to you

but there like lighting, thunder rolled

your holiness consumed my soul

and darkness broke and all was light-

I saw because you gave me sight

behold this sin inside of me

had marked me as your enemy

in fear and guilt I hung my head

and waited for the coming dread

a payment I could not afford

against my God and holy Lord

exposed and stripped of all my pride

there in my heart I tried to hide

“what have I done with fleeting days?

I’ve squandered all my life away.

while I was singing worldly songs

the kingdom was there all along.”

tears flowed fast with deep remorse

“God please take my life and change my course!”

and before I spoke another word

deep in my soul a change occurred

though nothing good inside of me

it’s by your grace my heart believes

there on a cross you sent your Son

my sin and death, now overcome

and now my heart, it longs for you

all that I am belongs to you!

for Christ alone removed my sin

I’m reconciled to God through him

my life is hidden in your life

forever I will live in Christ

and while I wait to see your face

here on the earth I’ll run this race

in word and deed I’ll spread your light

’cause you are the way, the truth and the life

and on that day before the throne

all glory yours and yours alone

from every nation, tribe and tongue

we’ll sing because the battle’s won

and voices will roar as the Lamb receives

the sweet reward of his suffering

behold, with the radiance of God, she comes

the Bride of Christ, his chosen love

and on that day my heart will sing

because my God did ransom me

and my finite mind cannot construe

why he saw fit to make me new

yes.. a mystery of grace.. i cannot contrue

why he saw fit to make me new..

1 corinthians 1:26-31

behind the words: always on my mind

This is the last song on the album and will be my last ‘behind the words’ song bio.. for now.

Throughout the scriptures and throughout the last four years that I have been a Christian, it is evident to me that the most fascinating, humbling, mind blowing, wonderful thing to have & behold in all the universe is G O D.

Always On My Mind is a quirky tune about how He is always, in some way, somehow on my mind.

Special thanks to Josh for making an official music video for this song, ha :)

behind the words: where you are

This song was written to a specific someone who I love very dearly. However, in a broader sense, this song, quite vulnerably, expresses my feelings towards everyone who knew me before I trusted in Christ some four years ago.

Before God opened my eyes to see I was a sinner and drew me to himself, I had no love for God in my heart. All of my affections were for me and all of my desires were set on the most temporary of things. I had faith in a god, the only problem was that the god I had faith in, at the end of the day, was me.. or some boy, or something even more trivial than that.

But now, like a wandering traveler who stumbled upon treasure hidden in a field and then sold all he had to buy that field, I have found myself in the mercies of Christ. And the short-lived, fleeting pleasures I once had in the world would now tremble and hide from the great, immeasurable pleasures and joys that overflow from this redeemed heart of mine. Because.. I have Jesus.

This joy, however, does not mean that there is not pain along the path of following Christ. And lying awake some nights as I pray for those I love with tearful pleas to God, my heart is very familiar with such pain. I long for the lost sinner, to see his or her sin and to trust in the sweet promises of the Gospel.

This song is a plea to those who do not trust in Christ, but rather ‘put their faith in a man-made god’. Jesus died for sinners and three days later rose from the grave and whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you grew up in, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done.. ‘only one thing matters in this life’, namely God. So the question is. Are you going to trust in Jesus to reconcile you to God, or will you die in your sins? Are you going  to step into the light of Christ and allow His Spirit to expose the ugliness in your heart and wash you white as snow, or will you hide in darkness and try to cover up the stink of your sins with self-righteous, self-exalting good deeds? Are you going to make your life count for something greater than yourself, namely God’s name being exalted in every corner of this world, or will you squander away your life trying to gain the world and lose your soul?

In verse two of this song the lyrics are..

have you ever seen true love? / and do you know what it’s made of? / or where it came from?

could it be the world has left you blind? / and everyday you pass it by? / you don’t even recognize it?

The reality is, every man is a sinner, (Rom 3:10) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). If you are reading this and have never put your faith in Christ, but desire to be reconciled to God, there’s no better time than now to fall on your knees and seek him while he may be found and confess your sins to him and turn to him to forgive you of your sins and be reconciled to him, now and forevermore. But if you’ve read this and cringe at the thought of trusting in Christ.. I will say.. I know where you are. There was once a time when I felt that very same feeling, but coming from someone who knows that feeling of rebellion, I beg you to at least pray to God about what you’ve just read, because life is too short and God is too good, to just waste your life and pass off God as someone’s opinion. God is a not an opinion. He is holy and just. He made the heavens and the earth. And though you may reject his very existence, you carry the  evidence that he exists in the very prints of your fingers, in the vibrant colors of your eyes and in every beat of your heart.. And the implications of rejecting this great God.. are eternal. So seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

behind the words: hollywood

The song Hollywood is an ironically happy tune about how a life spent chasing after glamour, fame, money, sex, drugs and beauty is a wasted life.

Over the last four months I’ve been living in a small apartment in Asia. Just a couple of days ago, at a college university, a young, bright-eyed boy stood up to ask , “Is America really like the movies depict it to be?” Hmmm.. Is it? Is America truly a place where really young girls hook up with really good looking guys and somehow never get pregnant?! A place where people stay pretty and all of their problems are solved after an hour and forty-five minutes? A place where everyone has money and dances and drinks and drives awesome cars and get by just fine without God?

Maybe in some parts of town.. but not where I grew up. The America that I know looks more like this.. The girl gets pregnant and drops out of high school as she struggles to make ends meet for perhaps the rest of her life. The good looking boys who squandered away all their weekends on Bourbon Street are now still living at home with their parents and pushing 24. The pretty girls are still pretty, but that doesn’t spare them from being insecure and ugly on the inside. Problems and consequences of sin are more likely to be passed on to the next few generations rather than solved in a few hours. And year after year, tearful phone calls will be made that some one else has over dosed on heroine and somas or a classmate has been killed in a car accident while leaving the bar. And though some would refuse to believe it, the stark reality is that no one is getting by just fine without God.

I think the bridge of this song says it best..

everyday you put on a show/ so maybe no one will know

that your heart has failed you

you spent your life on a lie / perhaps your money can’t buy

the love that God could show you

behind the words: story of love

Though it may sound at first that this song is entirely about two people in love who want for their relationship to glorify God; there also lies, behind the lyrics, a story with a rich history that points to a glorious happily ever after for people from every tribe. A story about providence and prophesy. A story about people of the past and promises for the nations.

A story about a woman named Ruth.

The book of Ruth, as told in the Bible, puts God’s sweet, redemptive providence on display as the story of Ruth’s life unfolds. Reading through the pages we can know that God works all things together for the good of His people and for the glory of His name. Familiar with suffering, Ruth was a foreigner and a widow. However, after the loss of her husband, Ruth clung to her mother-in-law, Naomi and to the God of her mother-in-law’s people, namely Yahweh, the God of Israel. Ruth followed Naomi back to Bethlehem promising, “Where you go I will go.. Your people shall be my people and your God shall be my God.” And from there God led Ruth to a man who she would soon discover was related to her late husband. Boaz, her kinsman redeemer and Ruth were married and became the parents of Jesse who would later become the father of David who would later become King of Israel. And from this lineage would come the Messiah and THE King of Israel and of all Nations, namely Jesus Christ.

And so, from this beautiful story that foreshadowed the day of my beautiful Savior coming to redeem not only Israel, but all people (even foreigners like you and me and Ruth) came the song Story of Love. <3

behind the words: in Your arms

I was in a van, riding through the middle of nowhere, Africa last January when I had gotten word of the earthquake that hit Haiti. My heart sank as the number of casualties rose.

My co-worker and friend, Andrea and her husband Paul, had been trying to adopt from Haiti for sometime. As they went through the process of adoption this led me to pray for Haiti and research this little country. The main spoken language is Haitian Creole and while Roman Catholicism is the major religion, some folks still practice Voodoo. I was quite fascinated by the culture especially because of the similarities Haiti shares with the city I grew up in, New Orleans.

Just like Haiti, New Orleans is predominantly Catholic, but they also practice Voodoo. Voodoo is more of a tourist attraction in New Orleans, but I’ve met people there who are pretty serious about it. Also, it appears that Haitian Creole is very similar to Louisiana Creole which is not commonly spoken in the city, but if you were to take a drive out to the bayou you’d likely run into someone who could speak Creole.

All of these events stirred my heart just a bit for Haiti, which then led me to sponsor a seventeen year old girl named Ancie through Compassion International who I had been keeping up with through letters for some time. Ancie just happens to be a singer and love music, by the way. :)

I say all that to say, it was a terrible shock to me to hear about the devastation that this earthquake brought and would continue to bring to so many people.

I wrote In Your Arms the minute I got back from Africa. I wanted to write it from the perspective of a believer in Haiti who was in standing in the midst of this hardship and trusting Christ through it all. God tells us and shows us all over the Bible that we are to hope in him when trials come. He is our strength and our refuge. He will never abandon us or forsake us. And the most beautiful thing is how God actually uses these hardships for His glory and leaves us all in wonder of how he makes beauty from the ashes..

in Your arms is where I want to be
when my world comes crashing down on me
so hold me close keep me Yours always
bid me break me be my rock
for now and all my days

whom have I when my heart begins to fail
and sorrows fill the street and sounds of death prevail
Jesus is my hope I know He stills the wind
so take my very life away as long as I get Him

my soul longs for the day I’ll see Your face
when sin and death shall pass
and tears are wiped away
so let the sky fall down and earth and city quake
and i’ll say of my God and king
Lord blessed be Your name

behind the words: sunset, sunrise

Sunset, Sunrise is a song about heaven. Most of the language in this song comes from Ecclesiastes and the book of Revelation.

Ecclesiastes observes the cycle of life in hindsight. The author was looking back on all he had accomplished and came to the conclusion that apart from knowing God and having a fear and a love for him, everything in life is all vanity because it doesn’t last. What does it matter how much money I have at the end of my life? I can’t take it with me. What does it matter how honorable I became in life? I will die just like the fool who had no honor ( Ecclesiastes 2).

The book of Revelation, however, was not written in hindsight, but God, through the writer is ‘revealing’ what is to come. Revelation 21 lets us peer into the days ahead saying,

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride, adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, no crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away’.”Rev 21:1-4

You know, it’s interesting how time works. You can’t slow it down. You can’t turn it back. Every second that passes is gone as fast as it came.

But for Christians, we have God’s Word and with it we have the ability to see God’s faithfulness to His people from ages passed and we are able to see God’s faithfulness to His people for the days to come.

This song is about longing for those days that are to come. :)

behind the words: stranger

Leading up to me putting my faith in Christ, I would occasionally get the feeling that I was wasting my life away. On one particular evening I sat on the edge of my bed and began to write a song to God about my convictions. Take into account the fact that I did not have a relationship with Christ and had not, at this time, felt any need for him. None the less, he was stirring my heart and about to work in ways I wouldn’t have in all my life imagined.

The original lyrics went something like…

just another day in a beautiful town / where money makes the world go round / caught in a place / where no matter what I do I feel let down / cause I keep chasin’ all these funny things / that don’t even matter in the end / and I don’t know if You’re proud of what you see or if You look down on me / just promise that You’ll never let me go..

I can’t remember the rest of the lyrics, but I do remember singing this song at a party one night to some of my friends, not realizing that God was not far from opening my eyes to the truth of the Gospel.

About a year or so later, I was saved. And the things I had once longed for and searched to find in this world I now found in the Lord.

I had been following Christ for less than a year when I began leading worship on Wednesday nights at Vintage, a local church that was just getting started in uptown New Orleans. One evening, we had some folks from Birmingham, Alabama, who were helping rebuild from Hurricane Katrina, stop in to visit us. A Pastor named David Platt preached about taking the Gospel to the nations. Afterwards, I met their worship leader, Jim Watkins, who told me about an internship the worship staff was offering at Brook Hills and encouraged me to think about coming to BHam for the summer. It was a difficult decision, but I really liked the idea of learning about the Biblical foundations of worship and felt strongly that I needed to be discipled, lest I become like the man who built his house on the sand and when the storm came, he was washed away.

So, I packed my bags and moved to Birmingham.

Soon after, Jim discovered I could write music and began challenging me to write songs that fit with David’s messages. If you’ve ever listened to one of David’s sermons, you know they’re all about taking the Gospel to the nations. One week David was going to be teaching about making the Gospel known in every corner of the earth no matter the cost, not setting our minds on earthly things because our citizenship is in heaven. Jim asked me to write a song about this particular subject and so as I began to write, I remembered that old song I had written long ago. Took the first verse and rewrote the rest. And that’s how Stranger became a song.

behind the words: maybe if i sing

I became a Christian towards the very end of my senior year of high school and I wrote Maybe If I Sing about a year later. After becoming a Christian, I began experiencing a joy in the Lord that surpassed any other short lived happiness I had ever experienced. I had never felt this way about anything before. I would wake up and feel like life had started over and I could see the world in a whole new, beautiful way. I was reading the Bible and for the first time ever and I could actually feel the weight of the words and be encouraged by them and on top of that God gave me friends who were Christians who I got to share life with and learn from. I would get overwhelmed with joy just thinking about the fact that though there was nothing good in me, God set His affections on me before the foundation of the world and despite my sin He chose to display His mercy to me and reconcile me to Himself. On this side of heaven, life can’t get any better than that!

At the same time, that first year after coming to faith in Christ was a very difficult season. At times I felt like a little bird trying to fly for the first time. God was sanctifying me and molding my heart to be like Christ, like the fire refines gold. During this time, I had been really discouraged by my sinful heart particularly in the way I was relating to a specific person. I found Romans 7:15-20 to be such a reality in my life and I was deeply frustrated. Also, keep in mind that I didn’t grow up in Church so I had a million questions about Christianity. Everyday I had questions. For instance, what is the trinity and how does it work and how do I explain it to my mom who is a Jehovah’s witness and doesn’t believe in the trinity? How do I know the Bible is true? Why are there so many versions? If God will one day remove all sin from the world, why not just create a world that didn’t have sin in it in the first place? What about my friend from high school who over dosed? Did he ever hear about the Gospel? Why did God save me and others he doesn’t save? Just to name a few.

Maybe If I Sing was simply a reminder to myself that even when I’m feeling downcast and discouraged and defeated, the reality is that I have a relationship with a God who has already won the war- even if the battles of my emotions seem to be getting the best of me today. The lyrics, ‘Maybe if I sing to a crowd of strangers’ is sorta a way of saying, ‘Maybe if I keep on, keepin’ on’, somehow, I’ll eventually see that God is in control- even if it doesn’t seem to ‘feel’ that way at this moment.

The lyrics, ‘I want to go for the ride, shotgun on the passenger’s side, we could leave this whole world behind’ is just a picture of God sitting in the driver’s seat of my life and just trusting and resting in His sovereignty.

The lyrics, ‘What if I’m scared to let go? This world is all that I know. God please don’t let me wake up to find I’ve left you someday’ reveal a genuine fear I had after becoming a Christian. I worried that one day I might wake up and find I didn’t love God anymore and leave Him and go back to the person I used to be. Obviously, I wasn’t at a Theological Seminary when I wrote this song. It took time to learn all the promises of Scripture. Praise God though, that I can’t ever go back to the person I once was because by His grace I am a new creation. The old is gone and the new is here!! His Spirit is my seal ‘til the day Jesus comes for His Bride! And it’s not dependent on my faithfulness, but on the faithfulness of God. When He starts a good work He finishes it :) And even on the rough days, we can rest in the promises that, through Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave, Jesus has reconciled man and God. He has conquered sin and death and through faith in this Gospel, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ! The war is won!

behind the words: til i’m home

I wrote Til I’m Home after learning that there are many intellectual people who don’t believe in absolute truth, specifically when pertaining to the philosophies of religion.

Relativism, according to my extensive, thorough research on.. wikipedia, ;) is: the concept of points of view having no absolute validity, and have only relative, subjective values according to differences in perception and consideration.

Basically meaning: What works for you, doesn’t mean it has to be applied to the rest of the world. What’s true for you may be true.. for you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be true for me.

Relativism in a sentence: “I’ll decide what’s truth.”

What does that have to do with anything?

Well, as (Biblical) Christians we would be in disagreement with this theory because we believe that the Bible is not only absolutely true, but it’s also our authority and as Tim Keller would point out, the very statement, ‘There is no absolute truth’ is absurd because when one makes this statement the question then arises, “Is the statement ‘There is no absolute truth’  to be taken as an absolutely true statement?” You see? That very statement contradicts itself. If someone claims that there is no absolute truth, their very claim, by their own admission, is not an absolutely true statement!

And that’s a little chaotic when you think about it. What if  a girl is raped? What if at the court date, the man’s defense is that he didn’t think there was anything wrong with what he had done. What if he said to the girl, “What you think is evil is relative.”?

And so, while pondering all of these things, I wrote Til I’m Home, which is also the title of the album.

The first verse is about how beautiful the Gospel is and how there is nothing that can quite compare with the story of Christ coming to ransom sinners.

And the second verse about knowing and holding this beautiful truth in my heart, but living a place that rejects it. Like a light in the darkness, like the quiet calm of the eye in a storm. That’s how I feel sometimes as a Christian. And the saddest part, is that when people reject the truth of their sin, then they don’t see the beauty of Christ. When they look in the mirror they see themselves as righteous in their own eyes so, who needs a Savior?

But even if the whole world could not hear, that wouldn’t make music any less sweeter :)

So, we sing.

Even if they hate the words. We keep on singing..