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“God is Love” Song Story 

I am inspired to write songs for many reasons.  One way I catch a vision for a new song begins with seeing a need.  I sometimes do music for a dinner outreach to needy people.  It’s one expression of Nightshift, near where l live in Surrey (nightshiftministries.org). 

As we play and sing, looking out over the crowd, you see a lot of abused folks who came from broken homes and have struggled to survive on every level – emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually.  Many of them did not have a safe family of origin.  Home wasn’t a place they wanted to be. 

Seeing this group—a mix of the working poor, wandering teenagers, addicts, sex-trade workers and homeless—inspired me to write, “God is Love.” 

God is Love 

Have you been struck down, have you been bruised 

In danger and so afraid? 

Have you been slandered, hurt and abused 

And you barely have the strength to pray? 

There is a home, there is a shelter, 

There is a hiding place 

Jesus is here, his healing is near you today 

Chorus 

God is love, pouring like a waterfall over you 

Taking all your pain, taking all your bitterness away 

God is love, crashing like a breaker over you 

Darkness and death can no longer hold on to you 

Verse 2 

He’s your defender, he’s your protector, 

Run to the shadow of his wings 

Rest like a baby, in his tender mercy, 

There is healing in his wings 

He is your home, he is your shelter, 

He is your hiding place 

Jesus is here, his healing is near you today 

Bridge 

This is the kingdom, this is the life, 

It’s what you’ve been waiting for 

This is the freedom, this is the love, 

It’s what he has made you for

Bring Your Healing Love - New EP Available Now! 

It is with great joy that I introduce my new 4-song EP called Bring Your Healing Love.  And it is available right here at andypark.ca/store.  Sometime in early December it will also be available on itunes and many other music sites. 

I enjoyed working on this project last summer and I am happy with the end result.  Some wonderful musical contributions were made by a variety of friends.  The song featured on the above video is called Glory be to the Father.   

The lyrics of this tune are taken partly from the Episcopal (Anglican) liturgy that I grew up with in Los Angeles. 

There’s an interesting variety of Celtic rock, reggae, world music and folk rock on this short project.  Hope you like it!

The Joy of a Songwriting Circle 

Mallory Gliko was one of eight participants in our Spring 2017 songwriting circle.   Her lovely song, “In Your Presence is just one example of all the good songs that were shared in our meetings.  (See video of this song on right of this page).  Our circle members were from five different Vineyard churches in the greater Vancouver area, plus our friend from Kelowna, Mark Stokes (via facetime). 

We had a great time, sharing our songs, encouraging one another, critiquing songs, laughing and eating popcorn! 

It was fun to see the songs evolve through our 7 sessions.  It’s a very practical way to learn about songwriting – you hear input on the strong and weak points of your song, and how your song could be improved.   Songwriting “rules” and theory become more clear as you listen to feedback from all the group members.   People really progressed in their songwriting ability through these few months.   By the end of the course, several good songs were revised, re-revised and completed. 

It has been said, “most songs are not written, they are re-written.”  Songwriting circles are a great tool for improving your songwriting skills!

I Love to Write Songs 

I have been enjoying writing songs for over forty years.  I started when I was seventeen years old, right after I met the Lord.  Never dreamed that I’d write so many songs and sing them in so many places. 
  
I write songs for many reasons:  for my own “musical journaling,” for congregational worship, to bring encouraging messages through song both to the church and the pre-Christian audience. 
  
In my upcoming video tutorials, I’ll share a lot of my experience and pass along wisdom from many other songwriters and authors. 
Series 2 (coming out in Spring 2017) will include live video interviews with many other songwriters. 
  
Series 1 of my Songwriting Workshops includes these topics: 
  
Seven Reasons to Write Songs 
The Gift of Songwriting 
Ten Inspiration Situations 
The Discipline of Songwriting 
Flee Perfectionism 
Dodging the Fame Game 
The Anatomy of a Song Review 
  
I hope you can take away some helpful thoughts from this series!

Hats Off to Music Teachers 

Today I’d like to give credit and thanks to the music teachers of his world.  In particular, I want to recognize and thank Tim Olsen, an accomplished and versatile guitarist who has given guitar lessons to all eight of my children.  Next month is the first September in around 18 years that Tim won't be teaching at least one of the members of the Park family.  We are getting to the end of the line!  (Well, not really.  Our youngest is only 14). 
  
Because of Tim's skill as an instructor and mentor, he has helped launch thousands of people into the joy of guitar playing.  All eight of my kids have played in worship teams with me. Tim’s hard work is a big reason my kids have done well.   Most of them are above average guitar players and have done a lot of performing.  Five of my boys have also transferred their guitar experience to the bass guitar, which has given them another way of serving on worship teams. 
  
Behind the scenes of any stage or platform, the week-by-week, year-by-year work of their music teachers is a big reason we can play music publicly and skillfully.  A local piano teacher named Dennis Enns is another example of a high quality music teacher - Dennis has taught piano to at least three of our kids. 
  
Tim has a gift of lifting up and encouraging his students, so essential for succeeding as a teacher.  I think his kindness and affirmation is one main reasons that three of my kids are now teaching music, either part time or full time. 
  
Just yesterday, a young man named Mike was playing with me on the worship team in Chilliwack, BC.  I found out that my son, Zachary, gave him voice lessons.  Mike said that his Thursday afternoon voice lesson with Zac were the best part of his week!  In those lessons, Zac pulled out of Mike the latent potential that was ready to be developed.  Mike said he never envisioned himself as a lead vocalist.  Zac helped him to see that his voice was a unique gift.  According to Mike, MANY voice students at his school moved up a few skill levels because of Zac's influence.  As a result, Mike is now beginning to lead worship in his local church. 
  
Maybe you don't work as a music teacher, but you teach your kids.  My wife has championed our kids' education, not just in music, but in learning to worship the Lord.  All of us can influence others in some way.  It is done with simple words of encouragement and passing on our skills by playing music with people, chatting with them, answering their questions and passing along our skills.

The Discipline of Creativity 

On April 18 of this year, I was praying during the night about my work of recording and developing training courses for guitar and worship leading.  I felt God say to me, "bring in the summer harvest."   A very specific metaphor. 
  
A few hours later I read my daily online Bible devotional and came across this passage:  “A child who gathers crops in summer is wise. But a child who sleeps at harvest time brings shame.”  Proverbs 10:5. 
  
God was sending me a clear message.  But I didn’t really know the shape of it until a few months later, when I starting the hard work and discipline of creating.  To make a long story short, I’m recording a collection of Christmas worship songs, including some originals and some re-writes and instrumental versions of classic Christmas hymns. 
  
The initial burst of creative energy is the easy part.  It’s quite another thing to persevere in a day-by-day discipline of secluding myself to create, arrange, write, learn more about my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and work with other musicians in remote parts of North America.  If you’re like me, the technical side of recording doesn’t come easily. 
  
Probably the biggest hurdle is refusing to believe, “I could never do that.”  Don’t think that way.  Put in the time and you can learn it.  The digital tools available these days for music creation are amazing and you can get started for very little money invested.  But it will take time. 
  
John Wimber said, “songwriting is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.”  Sometimes it really does feel like that.  You have to dig deep and long to find the diamonds.  But it’s worth the sweat! 
  
The harvest is there, but you have to put in a lot of hours to bring it in.  I’ve heard enough stories about farmers to know this is true.  My wife comes from a family of farmers from Missouri.  They worked LONG hours to operate and maintain the farm.  They had a prosperous farm because they worked hard. 
  
I approach my creative tasks like a regular job.  I do it whether or not I feel like doing it.  Whether you have only a few hours per week or several hours per day for creative activity, I encourage you to work hard at it, don’t give up!  Most of the fruit won’t just drop in your lap (though sometimes it will).

Christmas in July 

For the past few months I’ve really been enjoying the process of writing, arranging and recording a collection of Christmas songs.  It all started with one song that I started in December 2014, a tune called Still Shining.  By the time December 2015 rolled around, I liked it enough that I wanted to record it.  So I started with that one and I like the results. 
  
Early this year I felt God was saying to me, “get ready to do a recording.”  I thought…”hmmm I wonder how that will happen since I have no budget to do a recording?” 
  
This is where a crisis became an opportunity.  Well, not really a crisis, but a problem.  You might say that life is a series of problems we face day by day.  We do our best, with God’s help, to solve these problems one at a time. 
  
The opportunity I’m talking about is becoming skilled in actually recording my own songs.  For decades I’ve done recordings in other people’s studios. I’ve paid experienced producers, arrangers and engineers to make my recordings happen.  But right now, I have almost no money in the budget to make a recording. 
  
I am not a techy kind of guy.  I learn how to use computer programs only when I’m forced into it.  That’s how I got started doing this Christmas recording.   As I’ve forced myself to learn how to use the digital tools for recording that are available for very little money, a whole new world of music is opening up to me.  In the past, my recording experiences have all been rushed.  “Time is money.”  But when you can arrange, and re-arrange a song and let it mature over many sessions and edits, you can get it where it needs to be. 
  
In the past week I have written and recorded a 4-part orchestral strings arrangement that sounds legitimate because the strings are sampled instruments, not a cheesy sounding substitute.  There are digital drumming tools (also real sampled drum sounds) available that sound great. 
  
So, I’m doing most of it myself, but I’m also getting some skilled friends to help me.  (In another post I’ll describe that process). 
  
The whole thing requires lots of learning, perseverance and patience.  But, guess what?  In this day and age, even a non-techy guy like me can do it.  Two main reasons:  (1) the digital recording tools available at low cost and (2) free instruction on youtube on just about every question you have about recording. 
  
Learning is fun.  Music is fun.  Learning to arrange and record music at your own pace in your own home is really fun.