March 31st, 2021   //   "Defender"  // Laura Gribble, Jaron Micah, Ben Vete, Jordan Seah, Jon Steinmeier

Psalm 48:14
For God, our God, is our defender forever!

March 10th, 2021   //   "Beautiful Things" (acoustic)  // Joshua Kauffman, Shannon Burch, Larry Myers, Ivan Kauffman, Jordan Seah

Isaiah 43:19
See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Revelation 21:5
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”
And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 

February 24th, 2021   //   "Great is Thy Faithfulness" (guitar & cello) with Joshua Kauffman & Larry Myers

The chorus of this song is taken from the Old Testament book of Lamentations. The writer of Lamentations, in chapter 3, describes the anguish of a devastating situation in his life and the life of his people, and then he shocks us, suddenly saying this:

"Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:
The Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue,
Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.
The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope."

Thomas Chisholm, the author of the text of the hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness," must have resonated with this Old Testament passage, because the chorus of his hymn rings with these words affirming the faithfulness of God's love and mercy: "Great is thy faithfulness!  Great is thy faithfulness!  Morning by morning new mercies I see..."

And yet these words celebrating the faithfulness of God are not born from a life of ease or worldly pleasure. They are born in the context of struggle, gratitude in the face of grievance, praise in the midst of poverty. Chisholm's life-story carries an echo of the story of Lamentations.

Thomas Chisholm wrote the lyrics to this hymn in his 50s after serving as a Methodist pastor, a position he was only briefly able to hold due to poor health. He reflected on his own life, writing in a letter, "My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness."  His song enumerates these displays of God's care not as fortune, fame, or bodily health, but as "pardon for sin, and a peace that endureth, thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide, strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with ten thousand beside."

Chisholm after a life-time of poor health, died not knowing the coming international impact of his song. But in the years to come, his hymn of "astonishing gratefulness" would take flight around the world, sung as it was by George Beverly Shea at the Billy Graham Crusades, and now as it is, in every Christian church the world over.

February 3rd, 2021   //   "Lean on Me" a Bill Withers song performed by Ben Vete & Joshua Kauffman

This was a really fun virtual musical collaboration between Ben Vete and myself!  I played keys and Ben played everything else!  We layered separate video recordings done in our own homes via an iphone app called Acapella and mixed them together into what you hear and see in this video!  

The song, "Lean on Me" was chosen to connect with one of pastor Andy's Sunday sermons, but also because February is Black History month. "Lean on Me" was written and performed by Bill Withers, an amazing African American singer songwriter whose songs you've probably enjoyed even if you don't recognize his name. He released this song in the 70s right here in Los Angeles, saying that the sound of the chords reminded him of hymns he had heard growing up.  Bill passed away here in L.A. in 2020, but his songs live on with us, including gems like "Ain't No Sunshine," and "Just the Two of Us."

So how does Lean on Me qualify for a "Worship Wednesday" post?  Well, Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit..." And I believe the message of this song very effectively teaches a message Christ shared so many times (see John 13:35): we need to love one another. Or as Bill Withers said it, "We all need somebody to lean on!"

January 13th, 2021   //   "Promises" performed by Joshua Kauffman, Laura Gribble, Ben Vete, Jaron Micah, Jon Steinemeier, Larry Myers

This is our MPC worship team's live cover of the Maverick City Music song "Promises" which we aired in our Virtual Worship service on January 12th.  The slowly building musical energy over the course of the song mirrors what happens for me when I listen to it: that is, my belief that God will be faithful to his promises begins to build and strengthen!
May the same thing happen for you as you listen and worship with us!
Note: for this Worship Wednesday post, rather than a visual focus on the band members playing, I'm using this video to show you the original chord chart used by our worship team to learn the song.  If you have a guitar and a capo and would like to play along, go for it!  
The sunset picture is one I took of our Malibu Pacific coastline at the turn of the year and I've included it here because of the beautiful chorus lyric which resonates with me: "from the rising sun to the setting same I will praise your name."  

January 6th, 2021   //   "The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Ceases" performed by Joshua Kauffman & Andy Egger

This video is from several years ago during Communion in one of our church services... you can hear the hushed voices and sounds of the congregation as they walk forward to receive God's love through the bread and the cup.  Please read the scripture below and listen to it sung in this song.  I pray it builds faith in your heart to wait with hope and expectation on the Lord.

Lamentations 3:22 - 26
"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

December 16th, 2020   //   "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" performed by Ben Vete, Bo Waltz, Joshua Kauffman & Larry Myers

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the 16th century expression "God rest you merry," actually means "may God grant you peace and happiness."  A tiding of comfort and joy indeed!  May this song bring a little peace and happiness to your heart today!

December 9th, 2020   //   "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" performed by Joshua Kauffman, Laura Gribble, Ben Vete, Jaron Micah Bundy, Jordan Seah, Jon Steinmeier & Larry Myers

This beloved hymn text is said to have developed some 1200 years ago from the "O Antiphons" in Latin, which included verses reading:
"O King of the nations and their desire / The Cornerstone making both one / Come and save the human race which you fashioned from clay / O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver / The hope of the nations and their Savior / Come and save us, O Lord our God." 

Such beautiful words!  Can you hear their echoes when we sing these words (from verse three)?:
"O come desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind. Bid Thou our sad divisions cease, and be Thyself our prince of peace." 

The beautiful melody with which we sing this song originated as a 15th century French tune now known as "Veni Emmanuel."  But the music and the text we know and love today were never married together until they were first published in an English hymnal in 1851.  And so the song echoes on through the years.  I hope that our arrangement of it today will rekindle your desire for Jesus the Savior, who alone is able to bring peace to the world!

December 2nd, 2020   //   "You Keep on Getting Better -- The Steadfast Love" an original mash-up of a song by Maverick City Music and a song by Edith McNeill, performed here by Laura Gribble, Joshua Kauffman, Ben Vete, Jaron Micah Bundy, Jordan Seah, Jon Steinmeier & Larry Myers

As I prepare this post, today it is Tuesday, December 1st, and today is known as #GivingTuesday.  It follows on the shopping-frenzied heels of #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday. And yet, rather than focusing us on discounts deals  #GivingTuesday calls us to a day for "a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world."  Wow! Generosity and Transformation - those are themes central to our Christian faith, central to worshiping Jesus, and central to the Christmas season!

So in this song when we sing "You are good to me" and we celebrate God's goodness and faithfulness to us,  it is radically important that we not forget to ask ourselves the question "who then am I being good to?" Scripture specifically exhorts us to not forget generosity in the context of worship:  Hebrews 13:15-16 "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. AND DO NOT FORGET to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." 

Worship becomes transformational when our praise for God's goodness causes emulation of His  goodness in our generosity to others.

November 18th, 2020   //   "Touch of Heaven" a song by Hillsong Worship, performed Joshua Kauffman, Shannon Burch, Ben Vete, Ivan Kauffman & Jaron Micah Bundy

But as for me, God's presence is all I need. I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.  - Psalm 73:28

November 11th, 2020   //   "Reign Above It All" a song by Paul and Hannah McClure, performed by Shannon Burch, Joshua Kauffman, Ben Vete, Ivan Kauffman & Jaron Micah Bundy

On this Veteran's Day Holiday, as we honor those who have and are serving in the United States Armed Forces, many of them laying down their lives, l can't help but also think of Jesus giving his life up on our behalf.  Because of his sacrifice, scripture says the Father has exalted him and given him the name that is above every name.  And that's why we sing:  "There is no higher name, JESUS, you reign above it all!"

Phillipians 2:5-11
"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

November 4th, 2020   //   "Lead Me to the Rock" a song by David Baloche, performed by Joshua Kauffman & Ben Vete

With all that is going on this week, let's not forget to fix our eyes on Jesus and ask the Spirit to, "Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I."

Inspired directly from Psalm 61:1-4, this song was written by David Baloche and appears on his album entitled Labyrinth. It is re-imagined and shared here by Joshua Kauffman & Ben Vete.

Psalm 61 - For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.
1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.
4 I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

October 28th, 2020   //   "I Arise Today (Christ Be With Me)"  written by Joshua Kauffman

It was really fun to record one of my songs live with my sister Andrea on vocals, and with my friends: Jon on drums, Ben on bass and vocals, Jaron on electric guitar, and Larry on mandolin!  I wanted to share some of the back story of this song with you, it's a paraphrase of a poem/prayer called "St. Patrick's Breastplate."

According to tradition, St. Patrick wrote the poem known as "St. Patrick's Breastplate" or "St. Patrick's Lorica" in 433 A.D. as he brought the gospel of Jesus to the nation of Ireland!  He traveled the country with his message and was physically attacked by those who counted his message a threat - his life was quite literally in mortal danger!

This prayer/song is most definitely NOT an exercise in flowery words.  It is the desperate prayer of a man who is invoking the protection of God over his life, for Christ to be with him, his front and his rear guard, as St. Patrick ventured forward on his mission. As such, it is very much like one of the Psalms of King David, whose life was often under threat, and yet his songs displayed great faith in the saving love of God.  It also calls to mind the words of the apostle Paul who exhorts Christians to put on the full armor of God so that we are able to "stand firm against the devil's schemes."  See the powerful words of Ephesians 6:10-17!   That scripture fits very well the embattled context of St. Patrick taking the gospel to Ireland, as well as the spiritually embattled context of our own lives today.  In Ephesians 6, Paul describes one piece of the armor as the "breastplate of righteousness."  St. Patrick's "Breastplate" indeed, for it is the righteousness of Jesus that ultimately saves and protects us!

Besides rephrasing many of the original lyrics of "St. Patrick's Breastplate" to work rhythmically with my own original tune here, I've also added an original lyrical bridge section which ties the concept of Christ "surrounding us" to the sacrament of baptism. The bridge says "I have been baptized into my Savior, I have been clothed by the righteousness of the Lord." My inspiration was what the apostle Paul says in Galations 3:27: "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."  I really like the connection of Christ surrounding us, with the notion of being clothed in Christ, with the image of putting on the full armor of God.  Anyway, I pray this song stirs up an Amen in your heart and builds up your faith in Jesus!

October 21st, 2020   //   "Simple Gospel" with Joshua Kauffman

In chapter 3 of the apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians he says that all of his religious credibility with regard to his immense knowledge and observance of the Mosaic law is basically not worth anything to him anymore -- what a shocking statement!  Instead, Paul says he wants to know Jesus, the living and risen Christ!  

The "simple gospel" we rejoice about in this song is the good news about a new kind of relationship with God!  Jesus describes it as a friendship!  He does this in John 15:15 where he says to his disciples, I no longer call you servants, instead I have called you friends.  And so we sing, "I want to know you Lord, like I know a friend.... I will rejoice in the simple gospel, I will rejoice in You Lord."

When the lyrics say "I'm laying down all my religion" we have something like Paul's situation from Philippians 3 in mind: laying down personal religious merits based on our own religious knowledge, achievements or status, and saying "I want to know YOU Lord."  What an incredible honor. Jesus himself is the good news and the simple gospel!

October 14th, 2020   //   "Amazing Grace" led by Misha Goetz, John Moessner, & Joshua Kauffman

It is likely that this simple song has resonated in more mouths, and more hearts, and more minds, and more ears, and more gatherings than any other song of worship in all of human history. . .  

September 30, 2020   //   "Graves Into Gardens"  led by Ben Vete, Joshua Kauffman, & Bo Waltz

A transformation! 
The bridge of this song contains the evocative word pictures from which we get the title of the song: You turn graves into gardens / You turn bones into armies.  And both of those images remind me that God is a God of resurrecting transformation!  
The "bones into armies" word picture is a reference to a resurrection story called the "Valley of Dry Bones" found in Ezekiel 37:1-14, which I recommend you read!
As for the "graves into gardens" word picture, Jesus, in John 12:24-25 said that a seed must die in order to produce more fruit (a "garden" reference even as he is speaking of his own impending death and burial in the "grave"). Jesus goes on to say that if we try to hold on to our lives we won't be able to, but if we give them up (for his sake) we will inherit eternal life.  And then, his actual resurrection from the grave proved this this very thing to his disciples as Mary first sees Jesus resurrected from the grave, in the garden, living and breathing again, and his disciples ultimately see him ascend into heaven where he is alive today!
Jesus' "graves into gardens" resurrection experience is the basis for the apostle Paul encouraging us about our own coming resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:42, where Paul says, "That's how it will be when our bodies are raised to life. These bodies will die, but the bodies that are raised will live forever."  
So be encouraged. We are in God's hands today and all of our tomorrows, and nothing is better than that!

September 23, 2020   //   "Holy, Holy, Holy"

Worshiping with American Sign Language
You are invited to take 3 minutes with this video and turn your heart to the Lord as Hadley Barber shares her own ASL interpretation of the beloved hymn - “Holy, Holy, Holy” - sung and played here by myself (Joshua Kauffman) and Paul Duncan. I hope it inspires you to worship!
It is also a great reminder that not everyone is able to worship with singing, or with hearing, or even with standing up.  We are all differently abled.  
1 Samuel 16:7 “…For the Lord does not look at things the way man does. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”