Thank You, CCM!

1 06 2011

Isn’t it fun when people say nice things about you?

As a musician it’s particularly encouraging, especially when you take what’s in your heart, put it in a song, and then tentatively stretch it out for everyone to hear and have an opinion about.

I’ve had bad reviews – and good as well – with previous musical projects, and those are always particularly difficult to take.  Personally, I think it’s God reminding you that He wants you to be humble more than He wants you to be critically acclaimed.  But good reviews always make your soul fly a bit higher, and in another way they can be a kind of affirmation that you’re on the right track.

Enter CCM magazine.

They didn’t say much – obviously they had to reserve space for people much more important than us – but they said it nicely.  Take a look for yourself.  You can find our review on page 36 as well as a “Story Behind the Song” segment on page 52.  You can also view the “Story Behind the Song” segment here.

Now I’ve always been taught that when someone says something nice about you, you should say, “Thank you.”  And so we say, “Thank you, CCM!”


The Story Behind Music for the Radio

6 04 2011

Free Music for Father’s Day

19 06 2010

Here’s a Father’s Day gift that everyone will enjoy: free music!  With the help of some friends in Nashville and Houston I recently recorded a song that I wrote for Jess celebrating the birth of our son Evan.  Yesterday we celebrated our fifth anniversary, and the song was my gift to her.  (She approved!)

After Evan was born, a friend told me, “The best thing you can do for your son is to love his mother.”  What a profound thought!  I’ve heard people say that when your child is born it’s like your heart grows.  Now I know that it’s true.  Somehow loving your child makes you love your spouse more, and loving your spouse makes you love your child more.  That’s the beautiful thing about love: it’s self-replicating!

So on this Father’s Day weekend this is our gift for you.  Follow the link below to listen or download “Second Best Day.”  And just for good measure, the lyrics are printed as well.  Hope you enjoy!

Download “Second Best Day.”

Second Best Day
David Ray

Verse 1:
It was early in the month of May
When I had my second favorite day
You were gazing at his newborn eyes
And he was sleeping by his mother’s side
And oh, I felt it in the core of me
Something calling out for more of me
I see what love’s supposed to be
And that just might be my favorite thing

‘Cause my heart is yours
But I feel it growing for two somehow
And I love you more
Because of the life that you’re holding now
And my favorite day
Was the day that I made you my wife
But this is the second best day of my life

Verse 2:
I love the way he looks at you
Like he’ll never get a better view
And the way his tiny-fisted hands
Wrap around your fingers on command
And oh, I love the man you’ve made of me
Love the way that God created me
To a husband and a father be
And that just might be my favorite thing

And I’ve been thinking
That if love’s the measure of a person’s way
Then call me crazy
But I must be twice the man that I was yesterday

Christ Arose

5 04 2010

Have you ever wondered what are the two best words in the English language?  Right now sports fans might say “March Madness,”  children might think of “Christmas presents,” and moms everywhere long for “afternoon naps.”  But this Easter season I’m reminded that for believers those two best words are simply “Christ arose.”  I was thinking about that two years ago as we prepared for Easter and decided to write a song about it.  This year we thought it would be fun to arrange that song for choir, orchestra, and rhythm section and have virtually every musician in the Tallowood Music Ministry onstage as we celebrated the resurrection of our Savior.  I hope these words remind you that this is a truly a time for celebration.  And if this Easter season finds you in a place where celebration seems like the last thing you want to do, remember that no victory was ever so complete as the victory Christ won over sin and death on that first Easter Sunday morning.  What a joy to know that Christ arose!

Christ Arose
David Ray

Verse 1:
Behold the man bent and bruised beneath the cross
The wicked stripes the bitter price of perfect love
Behold him cry, It is finished, to the growing night
Behold the light of men as His eyes grow dim

Channel 1:
Behold the grave where they laid him
Where death was so certain
The stone has been rolled away

Christ arose, Christ arose
No sweeter words could any hand of man compose
Christ arose, Christ arose
And in His hands He bore the scars that cleansed my soul
To bring the dead to life Christ arose

Verse 2:
Behold the man bent and burdened by his sin
He bears the weight never meant for human arms

Channel 2:
Behold the face of your Savior
For death has no power
The stone has been rolled away

No victory was ever so complete
No enemy so vanquished in defeat
For just when all was lost or so it seemed
When hope was gone for wayward ones like me
Christ arose

When I See You

3 03 2010

Two weeks ago, as we prepared for our revival, Jess and I introduced a song called “When I See You.”  The song echoed the themes of Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God, which we read as a church body in the preceding weeks.  Keller uses the story of the Prodigal Son, or as he renames it, the Two Lost Sons, to illustrate two forms of lostness that afflict humanity.  The first kind of lostness, that of the younger son, is immoral, rebellious, and wayward.  The second, more subtle form of lostness, is displayed by the older son, who has followed the rules to the letter yet becomes bitter and  angry, failing to grasp the love of the father.

Truth be told, most of us find ourselves in the shoes of both sons at some point in our lives.  Whether we openly rebel against God or follow His rules simply because of what we hope to gain from him, both forms of lostness fail to understand the true nature of the Father.  Our greatest need is to see the Father for who He truly is, to receive His freely offered, unmerited grace, and to display the Father’s love to all we encounter, “younger brother” and “elder brother” alike.  But first we simply need to see Him, not the image we have constructed in our minds, but who He truly is.

When I See You
David Ray

Verse 1:
I have not forgotten who I used to be
Taking the inheritance You gave to me
And trading it away for trinkets of the day
The keepsakes of a wandering way
Enslaved to all the things I thought would set me free
When momentary pleasure turned to misery
Afraid to lift my head, ashamed to show my face
And fall upon the Father’s grace

But when I see you it feels like
My heart has seen you for the first time clearly
And your eyes see inside my deepest secret scars

Verse 2:
Still I’m not exactly who I want to be
Calling on your name just when it’s good for me
Dotting every “i,” drawing every line
Yet still I feel so frail and blind
Living like you love me for the good I’ve done
Coveting your favor like it could be won
And carrying the weight of each of my mistakes
O Father still I need Your grace

‘Cause when I see you it feels like
My heart has seen you for the first time clearly
And your eyes see inside my deepest secret scars

My heart was made for You to love
For grace I’m not deserving of
My heart was made to love you, Lord

Chorus 2:
And when I see you it feels like
My heart is open for the first time, freely
And your love flows out of these tender, healing scars
My heart was made to love you, Lord

Do You Ever Despair?

1 02 2010

Is there room for despair in the Christian life?  What about doubt, depression, or even anger at God?  That’s the topic Duane tackled this week in his sermon, and it’s also the subject of the song “Restore Me,” off the album Dave & Jess Ray, which we played during the service.

The words of the song capture each of those emotions, words that echo the heart of the Psalmist in Psalms 42 and 43:

Restore Me
David Ray

Verse 1:
O God, my Father, return to me
Have You forgotten me Your servant?
Protect my life from the Enemy
Restore me to Your joy again

Verse 2:
O God, Deliverer, remember me
Have You forsaken me in bondage?
My will is broken my faith is weak
Restore me to Your joy again

God is my shield, God is my fortress
In loving-kindness You draw me in
I take my shelter under Your promise
Restore me to Your joy again

Verse 3:
O God, my Healer, return to me
Have you abandoned me in weakness?
My soul grows weary, my wounds are deep
Restore me to Your joy again

To some these words might feel uncomfortable.  Can you really ask God if He has forgotten you, forsaken you, or abandoned you?  Aren’t you risking a lightning bolt from the sky or some other kind of divine retribution?  I think the answer is an emphatic no.  In fact, when we avoid expressing our anger and frustration to God, what we’re really saying is that we don’t completely believe that He loves us unconditionally.  We’re saying that we somehow merit grace by how well we believe.  But that’s not the message of the Gospel.

Jesus himself cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” when He was on the cross.  And when others doubted He didn’t answer them by turning away.  Instead He used it as a teaching moment, a moment to demonstrate once again that He loves us and is working for our good.  In fact, I would even say that God loves disproving our doubts.  But He will never get the chance if are never honest enough with ourselves to express them.

So if you find yourself in a place of despair, depression, or doubt, tell your Father in heaven what’s going on.  Cling tightly to His promises.  And keep your eyes open as God proves Himself faithful.

Song Story: Heart Cry Holy

1 12 2009

Two weeks ago in our worship services we debuted a new song called “Heart Cry Holy.” I thought I’d take a moment to tell you a little about the inspiration behind the song. The text is rooted in Psalm 103 where David exhorts his heart, his “inmost being,” to praise the holy name of the Lord, and then begins listing all the “benefits,” that is, the reasons for his heart to cry out in praise. As we studied the passage with Pastor Brooks in our services over the course of several weeks I was reminded that our gratitude to God is rooted in two simple things: who He is, and what He has done. And what He has done, namely redeeming our lives from “the pit,” was made necessary by who we are: sinners in need of mercy.

Realizing these things should immediately fill us with gratitude!  It should make our hearts cry out in praise of God for saving us even when we were sinners, all because of His steadfast and compassionate love.  And it should make us run to Him!  It should make us eager to draw close to Him, knowing that He desires to give us good things.  Yet so often we choose our own way, saying in essence, “I know what is good for me better than God does.”  How wrong we are!  This song is a reminder of the story of our “uncovering” by the Finder of Souls, and an exhortation to leave everything behind for the sake of Christ, the giver of life, the one who makes our hearts cry holy.

Heart Cry Holy
David Ray

Verse 1:
Oh You, Finder of souls
You have uncovered me
Opened my heart, traced all my scars
Straight to the core of me
Oh and I, I’ve had enough
Of secrets and sympathy
So I’m leaving, leaving it behind

All for You, Giver of life
The One who makes my heart cry holy
Lover of the lost
The One who gives the sinner mercy
You keep renewing my life
And I keep remember why
You make my heart cry holy

Verse 2:
Oh I, I can be weak
Faithless and faltering
I can be swayed, tempted away
To chase after lesser things
Oh but You, steadfast and true
Patiently loving me
So I’m leaving, leaving it behind

And if I were left to myself
I would settle for less, settle for less
But You beckon my heart
And I cannot resist, I cannot resist
I’m leaving it all behind
I’m leaving it all behind
I’m leaving it all behind
I’m leaving it all, leaving it all for You