A Man Called Bart (by Bartley Sawatsky)

Bs-going-away

Cleaning up my office this morning and I ran across the lyrics of what could possibly be the best song ever written about me. Actually, it's the only song ever written about me!

Back in December, Grace Community Church held a going-away tribute for my family. Bartley Sawatsky, Grace's lead pastor and my great pal and ministry partner of the last dozen years, blessed us with a singing performance of a song he'd written. Unfortunately, I do not have a video of the moment, but I do have a copy of the lyrics.  Here they are:

A Man Called Bart

First name Bart. Last name Blair
A boatload of heart. A thimble full of hair
Came to Ontario, had the world on its knees
Traded it all for a microphone and nineteen G's

[Chorus]
Bart, not so smart. But you took the part
You took the part 
Bart, not so smart. But you took the part

Bart, he could play, and Bart, he could sing
Tell you the truth, he could do most everything
Bartley had to smile, his choice looked so shrewd
A perfect cover for his own ineptitude

Bart made some friends, like the Wheelers and the Stanleys
He knew he was loved, but felt none the more manly
He started chasing girls in the manliest way-
A 10-day free trial on the Christian Cafe

Met a gal named Lisa and Bart was on the take
She sang like and angel, bit better still - she could bake!
They hardly hear the wedding bells before the ultrasound
Lisa, she was pregnant, but Bart gained 25 pounds!

[Chorus]
Bart, drop that tart. You're headed off the chart
Off the chart
Bart, drop that tart. You're headed off the chart

Bart and Lisa loved their daughter...sweet Sarah-lynn
But Bart's dream of a baseball start wasn't happenin'
Had a son named Silas, and then E-pha-rum
Gotta come form Texas to think of names that dumb :)

But Bart's brains were fine, in fact, way above par-
When he came to Grace, couldn't even play the guitar
He learned it fast and soon amassed some fans that were keen
But the love went up in smoke with the fog machine

Bart's karma at mens' retreats, well it wasn't so good
Started back when he lost all of the men in the woods
But the men of Grace take the goods with the bads
Took advantage of a paintball game to shoot Bart in the [nads]

[Chorus]
Bart,ooh that smarts. But please don't lose heart
Please don't lose heart
Bart,ooh that smarts. But please don't lose heart

So soon Bart decides that he wants to lose some weight
Forever Fit is the answer, and soon he's feeling great
Could have been the poster child, applauded and cheered
But by the time of the photo shoot, he had done disappeared

Just a popsicle stick with a beard...

And now Bart is taking his last at bat
Uprooting the family and moving to Medicine Hat
Mississauga's loss will be Alberta's gain
Tradin' in a Bartley for an Oliver-Shane

[Chorus]
Bart, have a heart, please don't go away
Don't go away
Bart, have a heart, please don't go away
Don't go away 
Bart, have a heart, please don't go away
Don't go away 
Bart, have a heart, please don't go away 


Make Us Strong

The church where I serve (Grace Community) has been going through some growing pains over the last few years. God has blessed us richly in many areas, but we have sometimes had challenges in keeping up with the speed of church and the speed of life. The end result has been that we feel like we've been treading water for some time and are looking to God for a resurgence of the Holy Spirit's visible activity and leadership to move us into the next phase of our existence as a church community. 

As I have meditated and prayed over these things the last few days, I have written a song which I will teach to the church this upcoming weekend.  Here are the lyrics:

Make Us Strong

Make us strong. Bring Your church to the brink
Power from living water, we drink
Age to age for the victory we pray
Love has led us from dark into day

Make us strong, firm foundation of stone
We will follow to places unknown
Gathered here at the feet of the King
Hear our voices, together we sing

Hallelujah! Holy! Holy!
Hallelujah! Holy! Holy!

Pour out Your power and pour out Your grace
Let us swim in the presence of Christ in this place
Lift up our heads, now. And lift up our hearts
Bind us together and use all our parts
Make us strong in You, Lord
Make us strong
Make us strong in You, Lord
Make us strong

Make us strong as we speak of our faith
Make us sure of our words when we pray
Never doubting the truth that we know
Bearing fruit from the seeds that we sow

Make us strong, Holy Spirit of Fire
To honour You now is our only desire
Giving praises to Jesus, the King
Hear our voices, together we sing

Hallelujah! Holy! Holy!
Hallelujah! Holy! Holy!

Pour out Your power and pour out Your grace
Let us swim in the presence of Christ in this place
Lift up our heads, now. And lift up our hearts
Bid us together and use all our parts
Make us strong in You, Lord
Make us strong
Make us strong in You, Lord
Make us strong


A Great 28: Tips For Songwriters

This is a list of tips written by Terry and Randy Butler, "some of the Vineyard movement's most effective worship trainers and songwriters." 

...as originally posted at insideworship.com.

 1. Let God be your promoter.

2. Floss every day!

3. Don’t obsess over a song that seems hard to finish - move on - you can always come back to it.

4. Take the long way home. Take in the trees, flowers, and green grass. Roll down your windows and feel the breeze.

5. Learn the meaning of three new words every week.

6. Buy a new CD once a month, and explore new styles/artists.

7. Remember that God writes the best worship songs!

8. Be on the lookout for that co-writer that’s a match for you.

9. Read these books…

û The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer

û Lyric Writing by Sheila DavisTo Know You More by Andy Park

û Dangerous Wonder by  Mike Yaconelli

û Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

û Raggamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

û Leap Over A Wall by Eugene Peterson

û The Message by Eugene Peterson

û Desiring God by John Piper

û What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancy

10. Hang out and play guitar/piano  with someone better than you.

11. Say over and over again, to yourself, “I’m a lifelong learner!”

12. You need solitude to write songs.

13. Shoot the TV!

14. Remember: 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration.

15. Get honest feedback about your new song. Be selective. Find people who will nudge you towards growth.

16. Schedule time to write and edit. Even if you never pick up your instrument, read and think.

17. Remember, some songs come seemingly in an instant. Others come in installments.

18. Writing a song can involve all these feelings… exhilaration, frustration, desperation, exhaustion, euphoria, and fragility.

19. Give at least seven hugs a day.

20. Stop the comparison trap. No, you’re not Matt Redman.

21. Caution! Don’t over analyze your song. Don’t throw stuff away too quickly.

22. Read a children’s book.

23. Don’t “should” on yourself.


Song Story: 'Praise You Lord'

Generally speaking, when I write worship songs, I very seldom start with a plan. I will often find myself mentally processing some truth about God that I know or that I am trying to figure out. Sometimes it is a thought or decision that I want to express to Him. Whatever the case, the words and melody often come for me at the same time. I enjoy expressing myself to God in song, so I will often sing to Him – sometimes a capella, sometimes at the piano or with guitar in hand.

From these moments of musical expression, there will occasionally be the emergence of a phrase and melody that begins to resonate for me. It will be around that motif that I will begin to shape the rest of the song.

When I wrote the song Praise You Lord I was driving to a park near my office to have some reading and meditation time. I had been in a bit of a dry spell spiritually and was feeling a bit of guilt for my lack of perfection. As I drove I began singing to God and praising Him for His perfection. In my 10 minute drive, the main melody and thought idea had emerged. When I got to the park I began singing some Psalms while playing my guitar and alternately inserting the chorus phrase. By the end of my time in the park that day this musical prayer had emerged and has been a staple in our Sunday worship repertoire since that time.

[Download an mp3 of Praise You Lord]
[Download the lyrics and chords]