Monday, October 19, 2009

Track 6- Justified

by Joshua Huff

Verse 1
To gain a people, a holy bride,
Christ was humbled and left His Father's side.
He lived and died to honor God alone
And now He sits beside Him at His throne.
From every nation, from every tongue,
Soon all before Him will bow down to the Son;
For He is King over earth and heav'n,
And to the Kingdom there will be no end.

The wrath of God is satisfied for us,
Christ's sacrifice has proven He is just.
The death He died has given us new life.
Christ paid the price, now we can be justified.

Verse 2:
Though we were fallen and dead in sin
He called a people that could not choose Him.
And if he calls, we cannot reject
For with His blood He saved our souls from death.
This gift of grace that paid the price for me
Has cleansed my heart and set me free.
In bondage I was chained a slave to sin,
But now my will is captive, owed to Him.

This song has gone through more changes than any other song I've written. I began working on it in 2003 while I was in college. As a part of the band that led chapel I was exposed to a wide variety of music, some good and some not so good. While our little group was picking music for the upcoming semester we talked in length about the song Above All and how it was a pretty good song, but could use a second verse. I took on the challenge and came up with a pretty in-your-face verse 2 that clearly outlined the 5 points of Calvinism, or the Doctrines of Grace (doctrines that aren't the most popular at my former college).

We did the song in chapel as a second verse to Above All and got some pretty negative responses, so it was shelved for a time. After I graduated from college, I began writing a bit more. In 2006 I was working on a song and came up with the chorus for what is now Justified. I added a modified version of the verse I wrote for Above All with a few more lines added in and Justified was born.

I have to say, this is one of my favorite songs. I think it clearly outlines the beauty of the Doctrines of Grace which are near and dear to my heart. I love singing about how lost I am without Christ and how much Christ has done to enable me to be a part of His family. The chorus says it all: "The wrath of God is satisfied for us..." This is the theme of one of the most important paragraphs in all of scripture, Romans 3:21-26. Because of Christ, God's demand for justice was satisfied and God also made his children right. In one fell swoop our sin was paid for and our relationship with God was healed. This truth should constantly bring joy to our hearts and make us want to exalt God for all He has done for us, an undeserving people.

The style of this song is very different from your typical worship song. I love the sound of major seven chords, so this song has a lot of them. They give the feeling of a comfortable tension in that they aren't your typical chord, yet they still sound complete and leave you wanting some more resolution. This is the same with the Doctrines of Grace. They satisfy us for now and we have to be content that there is a little tension mixed in there what we won't fully understand.

This is also the heaviest song on the album. If we can't use electric guitars and drums to praise God for His wrath being satisfied then we are in a sorry state. I praise God for the diversity of this band and how we can praise God for the whole range of emotions (affections) that are stirred because of the truths of the gospel.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Track 5- Do Your Will

"Do Your Will"
by Josh Huff (2005)

Verse 1:
As I walk along this path of life, I tend to lose my way.
I lack the strength to stay the course, to hear God and obey.
My prideful heart will drive me on, thinking it knows best,
But God has said He'll lead me through,
and in that my soul can rest.
O Lord, I need Your help today
Your Spirit needs to guide me as I pray
And though I don't know where to go
Your Word will light the way
O God, give me the strength to do Your will
Verse 2:
Though I don't know all the answers yet,
I serve the one who does;
He's guiding me through tests and trials,
and in Him I place my trust.
My sovereign God will faithfully
direct my willful plans,
Because He promised to complete the work
He fashioned with His hands.

This song was written during a very turbulent period in my life. Moriah and I had been serving at Community Baptist Church for about 4 months and were really feeling the pull to move into some other kind of ministry and perhaps even leave that church. We didn’t know what to do. There were pros and cons for staying and going. We had our own thoughts, but we really wanted to do what God wanted, not just what was comfortable or easy. In this midst of this several scriptures came to mind. One was Romans 8:26-28 which speaks of our weakness in prayer. “…we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us…” is what Paul writes in verse 26.

Several promises from God’s Word also came to mind. Philippians 1:6 says, “…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” There is also the promise from God’s Word that the Bible will be a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). God brought all of these ideas to mind as a comfort in the midst of this trial.

As I sought a way to pray to God and express what I was going through, I wandered over to the piano and began playing. The words just came out and this song began to take shape. A study through James and reading some of Augustine shaped parts of the song as well as I thought about future plans and how we don’t know what tomorrow may bring (James 4:13-15) and how the only place we can really find rest from worry is when we rest in Christ. That is how this song came into existence. You’ll see other ideas woven throughout the text, but those are the main thoughts I wanted to express.

The style is a bit reminiscent of Keith Green, one of my musical and spiritual models. I always appreciated his passion for God and the way He expressed theology with his music. As my family and I move into yet another season of testing and trial, the words of this song speak to me louder than ever. Our souls can only find rest when they rest in Christ. We are trusting that God’s Word will always light the way and that whatever God asks of us, He will enable us to do.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Track 4- Taste and See

"Taste and See"
Verses adapted from Isaac Watts
Chorus and Music by Josh Huff

Verse 1
Lord, I will bless Thee all my days,
Thy praise is on my tongue;
My soul shall glory in Thy grace,
while saints rejoice to hear Your song.

Verse 2
Come, magnify the Lord with me,
come let us praise His name;
I sought the eternal God and He
has not exposed my hope to shame.

Verse 3
I told Him all my secret grief,
my groaning reaches His ears;
He gave my inward pains relief;
and calmed the tumult of my fears.

Verse 4
To Him the poor lift up their eyes,
their faces feel His grace;
A beam of mercy from the skies
fills them with light and joy-filled praise.

Verse 5
O sinners come and taste His love,
come learn His pleasant ways;
And let your own experience prove
the sweetness of His matchless grace.

O taste and see that the Lord is good;
blest is he who takes rest in Him.
Fear the Lord, seek Him for His grace;
be satisfied in all His ways.
This song was put together as the theme song for our Summer Camp from FVBC two years ago. The theme was Taste and See God's Goodness with the primary text coming from Psalm 34, the Psalm on which this song is based. As I was hunting around for lyrics, I came across a Metrical Psalter written by Isaac Watts. A Metrical Psalter is basically the Psalms rewritten in a poetic way so that they can be recited to a certain meter. They are also rewritten to rhyme. There are dozens of these psalters available, and perhaps even more than that. Isaac Watts has produced on of the more famous ones and you can see those online. I found his words to be particularly reflective of what the Psalmist had originally written. They also fit well into the melody that I had been crafting.
Verses 1-5 of the song are almost word for word Isaac Watts' rewrite of verses 1-5 of Psalm 34. The chorus was my attempt at a metrical Psalter from Psalm 34:8-9. I felt that these two verses really incapsulated the meaning of the Psalm and it was my hope to encourage others with these verses. It was a bit difficult to not plagiarize from other song versions of this Psalm. There is another version written by my friend Gabe Zepeda which has similar language in the chorus. But I think all of the versions represent well what the Psalmist was trying to say.
Of all the verses, I think verse 5 is my favorite. It has a note of Future Grace about it as we are called to find proof of God's grace through our own past experiences. I have certainly seen that in my own life as, time after time, I am forced to rely on God's grace and sovereignty. Time after time He has proven Himself good and faithful, laying a strong foundation for me to rest on during future trials. Truly His grace is sweet and matchless.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Track 3- Psalm 23

"Psalm 23"
by Josh Huff

Verse 1
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He makes me lie down in green fields of warmth,
He guideth my soul for His honor.
And though I walk though the valley, the shadow of death,
I fear no evil for You guide me with Your rod and staff.
You prepare a table before me
In the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy
All of my life will follow me.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord,
And I will dwell in the house of my Lord, forever.
Verse 2
Christ is the Shepherd, He tends my soul.
His righteousness is my armor.
He leads me through trials with gentle love.
He'll satisfy for His honor.
Because You walked through the valley, the shadow of death,
I fear no evil for You saved me from the Father's wrath.
You pour out Your grace upon me,
Even though I was Your enemy.
You've blessed my life with joy.
My heart overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy
All of my life will follow me.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord,
And I will dwell in the house of my Lord, forever.

This song is based on one of my favorite Psalms. As with many of my songs, this one began with the music. I was playing around with some major 7 chords, and I started to play the melody that would become the melody of the beginning and end of each verse. Once the melody came into play, I began thumbing through the Psalms to find one that fit the mood of the music and that also could be adapted to be sung in an instructive way. Soon, "Psalm 23" was born.

Almost a year after I wrote the first verse, Sovereign Grace Music came out with their Psalms CD, including a song based on Psalm 23. As I listened, I saw so much of the Christ focus in their songs. While I enjoyed my version of Psalm 23, I noticed that it lacked a pointer to the fulfillment of this Psalm. So, under conviction to be more Christocentric in my writing, I penned the second verse, trying to tie in the themes of the gospel with this Psalm. I was pleased with how it turned out.

Too often we stop with just a few Biblical ideas tied together without bringing in the truths of the gospel. Without the gospel, songs are just moral and we might as well be singing secular music. We can't have true morality without the Spirit, and we can't have the Spirit without the gospel, and we can't have the gospel without Christ. It is truly all about Him, our great Shepherd of the sheep.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Track 2- Mystery of Mercy

"Mystery of Mercy"
by Josh Huff (March 23, 2005)
Verse 1
In eternity past, before time was made
You started a plan to bring glory to Your Name.
You would create a world, both captive and free
Where creation would declare Your holy majesty.
Then sin entered in, enslaving mankind,
Making men blind to You, loving the night.
But You promised grace and mercy would come,
even though we, Your enemies, deserved none.
The mystery of mercy; it is Your sovereign plan.
The mystery of grace; we will never understand
How You could send Your own Son to die
For depraved enemies of Your name, such as I,
To adopt us as children of life, Oh myster of mercy...
Mystery of mercy.
Verse 2
As time wandered on Your plan was revealed
You would send us a Savior who's wounded hands would heal
He would live in our world, as a babe enter in.
The man fully God who would free us from sin.
But He was despised, rejected by men.
He suffered Your wrath as the payment for sin.
As a dead lamb He lay 'til the third morning came
When He conquered death as He rose from the grave.
So now that I know that I will never know
Why Your Son would die just to save my dead soul
I'll give You my life and all that I have
And praise You for giving us Christ!

This is one of the first songs I ever wrote. I came about just before Easter in 2005 when I was on staff at Community Baptist Church in Elgin, IL. I was planning the Easter service and was thinking about a few different ideas for a song when Mystery of Mercy started to form. I worked on it for a few hours, then a few hours more, and soon this song came together. I'm sure you'll recognize the Easter theme at the end of the second verse with our conquering Lamb rising from the dead.

As I thought through the mystery of God's mercy, I really wanted to tell the whole story of our salvation. It is truly a mystery why such a great and powerful God would choose to save his creatures that had openly rebelled against Him. I often wonder about my own life as I continue to struggle with sin why God continues to love and care for me. But that is the definition of grace: getting something we don't deserve. We have received so much from God; adoption into His family, eternal life, not to mention the mercy of God to keep us from suffering His wrath for all eternity.

I hope this song is a great reminder of how much God has done for a people that didn't even want the blessings God offered.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Track 1- "Jesus, Lover of My Soul"

Jesus, Lover of My Soul-
Verses 1-3 by Charles Wesley / Verse 4 and music by Josh Huff

Verse 1:
Jesus, Lover of My Soul, let me to Your bosom fly.
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high;
Hide me, O my Savior hide, 'till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last
Verse 2:
You, O Christ, are all I want; more than all in You I find;
Raise the fallen, chear the faint, heal the sick and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am, Thou are full of truth and grace.
Verse 3:
Endless grace with You is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within:
You, the fount of life do flow, freely let me drink of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart, rise to all eternity.
Verse 4:
Heav'nward I life up my eyes, Christ is on the mercy seat;
There I may receive the prize for He intercedes for me.
Sin's dark curse of death has died; Christ the Lamb is all I see;
Joys eternal from my soul; satisfied at last in Thee.

This song is a hymn most of you can find in your hymnal. It was put to a melody that I didn't think quite fit the text. The original tune sounded a bit like the tune for "O, the Deep Deep Love of Jesus"; very minor and sad sounding. I wanted to write something a bit more upbeat and in a major key. Also, I was hoping to make it a bit more accesible by having a bit more repetition in the melody line. So, after noodling around with the melody, I came up with what you will hear on the album. It's a bit of a folk sound, reminiscient of Indellible Grace.

When I finished writing the music for this, I couldn't help but think that the song felt incomplete, and that's not just because I thought it should have 4 verses. The text covered a ton of Biblical topics, including sin, depravity, justification, adoption, protection, and a great focus on what Christ accomplished and still does in the life of the believer. But I wanted some focus on the finish line, on the final prize of actually being with Christ in heaven. That is where the last verse came from.

I actually wrote it right before a Sunday evening service as my dad and I were discussing this very issue. I had some time before the service, so I thought about what we had talked about and God was gracious enough to help me get it together in just a few minutes. Before the service I showed it to my dad (our Pastor of Worship), and he said we should sing it, and that's how verse 4 came to be.

I especially like the imagery of that last line, because that is really what I am looking forward to. We do get a taste of heaven now by enjoying the joys of pleasing God and worshipping God in this life. You could even say that those joys are eternal joys because they spring from what will be an eternal relationship with God. But those joys won't be realized until heaven. In heaven is where those joys will find their satisfaction, their rest, in their creator, Jesus Christ. That will be an incredible day, when we no longer see pain, destruction, or sin, but see Christ and find satisfaction for all our joys.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Enriched Affections- A Purposeful Album

Over the years I have had a lot of time to think about worship. I was raised a pastor’s kid, with my dad being a full-time worship pastor. In college I even developed a personal philosophy of worship. Throughout all that time, I fell in love with God and worshiped Him through music. But it is so easy to fall in love with the music we worship God with, to get caught up in the emotion of it all, and to not really know the object of our worship. Sure, what we sing may be true, but is there enough truth in it to eliminate all other objects of worship so that the only possible being we are worshipping is God?

As plans for this album began almost two years ago, I began kicking around the title of Enriched Affections. If you notice the first post on this blog, you’ll see that the idea for this phrase came out of Together for the Gospel and also a few trips to New Attitude. C.J. Mahaney had a phrase he mentioned… “If you want to feel deeply, you need to think deeply.” All of this made me think about the affections.

All of us have affections, or emotions, desires, wants, things that make us want to do what we do. In worship, often those affections are lifted up with an upbeat tune, or an intricate harmony. Too often however, there is no substance to go with the emotional lift. Thankfully we have had a number of artists step up over the past few years to help with that problem. Sovereign Grace Music has produced a number of albums that accomplish what I am trying to also do with this album.

In a proper worship song, there is a beautiful marriage, an intricate harmony if you will, of text and tune. There is theology that acts like fertilizer in a nutrient deprived soil. When this theology enters into our hearts, our affections become enriched with God’s Word and we can truly worship the God of the Bible. That is my goal with this album, to properly fertilize our hearts so we can worship God joyfully in spirit and in truth.

I don’t know where it will lead in the future. My hope is that it will become a tool that many churches can use to help their congregations worship God more effectively. But that is up to God. I’m content with whatever He decides.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting the lyrics to the songs on the album and explaining a bit about the doctrine and the history of each song. I hope you enjoy.

Grace and Peace- Josh Huff