0 Big Enough

I’ve been busy lately getting the house ready for our new baby and haven’t had much time for songwriting but here is a new song finally! This song was inspired mostly by a quote that Bryan Duncan shared on twitter by Oswald Chambers which lead me to look up the full devotional the quote came from. Which in turn lead me to look up several scriptures and start writing this new song! Ha!

“Our misgivings begin within ourselves when we tell Jesus that our circumstances are just a little too difficult for Him.”
—Oswald Chambers

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0 Without Love

Inspiration & Overview

I wrote this song on February 18, 2002 after being inspired by a recent Lindy Hop performance I had witnessed done to the swing classic It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), a 1931 composition by Duke Ellington, with lyrics by Irving Mills. I spent a lot of time dancing and performing swing music as I was part of the OSU Ballroom Dance Troupe known as Cool Shoes for many years, as well as an all around avid ballroom dancer. The general theme of the song that nothing else matters if it doesn’t have that swing beat struck me as a parallel to what Paul is trying to express in 1 Corinthians 13 when he says the same thing about love. That it “don’t mean a thing if you ain’t loving” to put it colloquially on a part with the swing classic.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
—1 Corinthians 13:3 NIV

Not just some things. Everything. Because without love it truly doesn’t matter how successful we are or even what sacrifices or gifts we give to the poor and needy.

Do everything in love.
—1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV

Stop and really think about that for a minute. It doesn’t matter how long your list of good deeds is; without love they are meaningless. We shouldn’t be doing good deeds out of any motivation other than love compelling us to act. After all we are saved by grace, not by our works or any good deeds. Indeed, everything revolves around love, because God himself is love!

After all, we wouldn’t even know what love is or love God if he hadn’t first loved us!

We love because he first loved us.
—1 John 4:19 NIV

As John clearly lays out, God is love and he demonstrated that love by dying on a cross for us!

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
—1 John 4:8-11 NIV

What greater call to love could there be after that selfless example of Christ? Surely God has demonstrated his great love for us by showering us with his undeserved grace!

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
—Ephesians 2:4, 5 NIV

It all comes down to God demonstrating his great love for us by lavishing us with his grace. We can’t do anything to trump that. It is the most gihugenous act of hubris and pride to somehow think that our works or good deeds could somehow be of more worth than Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, that they could somehow earn us more favor or even be required at all!

Thinking that our works and good deeds can somehow earn us a seat in heaven diminishes God’s grace and Christ’s blood and seeks to elevate ourselves to a place where we are gods and have greater power than God to secure our own fate. God forbid! That is why Paul goes on to reiterate the fact that it is by grace alone we are saved—not by any work or deed on our part.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
—Ephesians 2:8, 9 NIV

That is the most freeing good news to ever be told when you finally grasp it. It’s not about us! The burden an onus is not on our shoulders to somehow be good enough—which we can never be anyway—or to somehow perform enough good deeds to achieve salvation. No! It is a gift that we could never earn, given in love—God’s grace!

As a result of being freed by his grace we should want to respond with acts of worship, and by doing good works—not out of any obligation or because we mistakenly think they are needed to earn us favor, but simply out of love, following Christ’s example!

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
—Ephesians 2:10 NIV

The first verse of this song goes back and pulls from the verse in 1 Corinthians 13:3 along with a similar corollary in Mark’s gospel that begs the question of the purpose of gaining all that this world has to offer, yet as a result losing everything in the end by not having the ultimate love—Jesus!

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
—Mark 8:36 NIV

Verse 1

Though I gain the whole world
All the riches it contains
And though I feed the poor
Do good deeds in your name
Even if I gave my body to the flames
Without love, it just wouldn’t be the same

(I’m still finishing part of this entry here…)

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
—James 1:22 NIV

But if that word isn’t spoken in love it will just be like a clanging gong as Paul declares.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
—1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV

Without love it’s not enough to carry my words along
It’s in one ear and out the next it’s gone
Cause without love, I’m a clanging gong

Even when spoken in love with a right spirit of grace, rather than self-righteous judgement, our words can fall on stony soil or be choked by weeds. (Matthew 13:3-23) But that isn’t our job! God softens hearts and prepares the soil. Our job is just to be faithful in speaking truth in love when we are called to do so.

And we need to beware lest we become puffed up in pride or put focus on ourselves and what we are accomplishing, rather than recognizing there is no good in us but only God working through us. This verse is spoken a bit tongue in cheek and rhetorically, but rather God forbid that we try to minister out of selfish reasons.

What hidden motives do I hold here in my hand
To receive recognition from my fellow man
If selfish ambition drives me at all costs
You might as well just write me off
Cause I’m already lost

My hope and prayer is that this should always be a rhetorical question filled with sarcasm and scorn as Paul does in Galatians:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
—Galatians 1:10 NIV

Are we trying to please people or God? Are we looking for our name in lights and recognition from men or from God? I love YWAM’s adopted slogan “To know God and make him known.” That is what we should be seeking and striving; seeking his kingdom first! As it states in Matthew:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
—Matthew 6:33 NIV

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use the gifts that God has given us to share his grace and truth and love. It means we need—myself included—to check our hearts and motivations and make sure we are always acting out of love and not selfish motives. We need to make sure that any word that is spread about our actions always points to God and his glory—not our own. Not to toot his horn, because I know that is not what he is about, but I love the title of one of Ross King’s albums: “To Make God Famous”.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
—Matthew 6:1 NIV

It all comes down to this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
—Galatians 5:13, 14 NIV

And we need look no further than Jesus for how we are to carry out this kind of love.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
—John 15:12, 13 NIV

Jesus was our perfect example of this when he loved us so much that he laid down his life on the cross to take our place!

When Jesus Christ, well he became a man
He showed us all his father’s great command
Acted out for all to see
When he hung upon that tree
Where he bled, he died, and he rose for you and me

For truly we are called to live and love as Christ’s example shows us; with compassion and grace, forgiveness and kindness.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
—Colossians 3:12-14 NIV

I hope this song is a reminder to daily check our motivations and actions, and to ensure they come from a place of love for our neighbor as Jesus commanded us. But not only our neighbors and friends, we are called to the even higher standard of extending love and forgiveness to our enemies and those who have mistreated, persecuted or wronged us.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
—Matthew 5:43-47 NIV

For if the world is to truly know us by our love we need to do more than love those who are good to us—even the world finds it easy to love that far. No, we need to show love and compassion even to those who persecute us and extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us just as Jesus did for us!

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
—John 13:35 NIV

And it all comes back to love which binds everything together and perfectly sums up the Law and the Prophets.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
—1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV

Truly “Without love it’s not enough!”


Without Love #183

Though I gain the whole world
All the riches it contains
And though I feed the poor
Do good deeds in your name
Even if I gave my body to the flames
Without love, it just wouldn’t be the same

Cause without love, (do-wap) it’s not enough
No, without love, it’s not enough
Without love it’s not enough to carry my words along
It’s in one ear and out the next it’s gone
Cause without love, I’m a clanging gong

What hidden motives do I hold here in my hand
To receive recognition from my fellow man
If selfish ambition drives me at all costs
You might as well just write me off
Cause I’m already lost

Cause without love, (do-wap) it’s not enough
No without love, it’s not enough
No without love, can’t buy me no l-o-v-e selfless givin’ love
Cause without love it’s not enough

It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t lovin’
Shoo-wap a-dap…

When Jesus Christ, well he became a man
He showed us all his father’s great command
Acted out for all to see
When he hung upon that tree
Where he bled, he died, and he rose for you and me

Now that’s love, that kind of love
That’s what we need, that kind of love
Can’t buy me no l-o-v-e selfless givin’ love
That’s what we need more of, that kind of love

No it don’t mean a thing or two, not three not four
Better walk out the door, if you ain’t got no love no more
Cause you ain’t got nothin’ at all
Without love

Copyright © 2002 Dawson Cowals.

Scriptures referenced by this song:

Here is a version of the song we recorded and released on my 2008 CD Coffee Shop Songs.

0 I Am With You

I Am With You

Inspiration & Overview

I wrote this song on November 3, 2012 after being inspired by Cliff Graham‘s amazing book, “Day of War,” which is a fictional account of the battles and life of David and his mighty men. They are currently working on turning his book into an epic movie, and the action filled sequences from the pre-visualization work they have done helped inspire the tone and theme for this song. My dad turned me on to the books as he spent several weeks this past summer at the YWAM base in Kona working on the engineering plans and building of the new studio where the movie for “Day of War” will be produced. David L. Cunningham, who also directed the movie “To End All Wars,” will be producing and directing, along with screenwriter John Fusco, who penned the script for “Hidalgo.” You can check out more about the books and movie here:

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0 Stop the Sun

I wrote this song on December 2, 2009.

I wrote this song just before Christmas of 2009 to be a 1st wedding anniversary surprise for my wife, Jessica, as our anniversary was coming up in January of 2010. I kept it a secret from her and my good friend Nick Garrett-Powell and I got together down in Grants Pass a few days before Christmas to record it. We managed to record my guitar and vocals and Nick added a quick electric guitar, bass and programmed drum parts in less than a day, so that I could surprise Jessica with it on Christmas morning on her new iPod I had gotten for her.
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0 Precious Is The Blood

I wrote this song on April 24, 2005.

This song is slated to be on a few upcoming projects as it fits for both my Hymns project and Easter project. I’ve been inspired lately after hearing several recently “revived hymns” by artists like Owl City and Jadon Lavik. So I decided to put my hand to reworking some of the rich lyrical heritage found in so many hymns, and hopefully breathe some revival into these songs that, for many congregations, have been gathering dust. This is one that I had written awhile ago and fits along with some of the others like “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” that I have done.

Instead of being a complete revisiting of an existing hymn, this song is more of a tip of the hat to the classic hymn by Robert Lowry, “Nothing But The Blood”, which is included briefly in the bridge. The rest of the song was inspired mostly from this passage in 1 Peter 1 that reminds us that we were redeemed and bought by the “precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. —1 Peter 1:18-21

The song begins by painting the beautiful picture of Jesus being the sinless, perfect Lamb of God, who stepped down to become a man and pay the penalty for our sins.

In the image of a Lamb
Holy God stepped down
To become a man
But remain a spotless

It is hard for us to truly understand or imagine what it must have been like for God to step down and leave heaven to come and dwell among us, and yet He did so for wretched sinners like us!

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! —Philippians 2:6-8

The chorus then reinforces the main theme from the passage in 1 Peter 1 that we were redeemed and bought by the “precious blood of Christ”.

How precious is the blood
That washes me, that crimson flood
Now I’m as white as freshly fallen snow
I am clean and forgiven
This I know

It combines this with the beautiful imagery from Isaiah that compares how clean we become, after being washed by Jesus’ blood, to pure white snow.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. —Isaiah 1:18

The song goes on in the second verse to offer thanks for Jesus’ amazing sacrifice on the Cross. In light of this amazing gift we recognize that, though once we were lost and separated from God by our sin, now we are found and His! That is such fantastic good news that we should shout for joy and celebrate!

For the gift of the cross
I humbly bow and give you thanks
For without You I was lost
Now I am found, I am Yours
I’ll celebrate

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15) Truly how precious is the blood of our Savior that washes us clean!

The bridge neatly ties into the timeless lyrics of the traditional hymn, “Nothing But The Blood”, by Robert Lowry. It may have been penned in 1876, but is still just as relevant and true today! “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

So tell me what can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
And what can make me whole again?
Oh, I say, nothing but the blood of Jesus

I hope you are encouraged and blessed by this song!

Truly, how precious is the blood!

You can listen to the audio for the single and find out more on the discography page or listen to the player below: View Discography

We also recently added a lyric video for the song that you can watch here: Watch Video Now

Scriptures referenced by this song: