Raw, Real, Transparent, Rough Around the Edges, Genuine, Sincere, Humble, Without Masks; and a true Ragamuffin, Like Me, who God Loves as He is and Not as He should be. Karl Penn will be the first to tell you He is a wretch that was captured by the Power of God's Grace and it Radically Transformed both He and his family nearly four years ago. I was instantly drawn to the candid openness of his brokenness, as I identify with and respected that; and the beauty of the Grace that changed his heart forever. Its the stuff I look for; Hearts that were wrecked and leveled by God, like mine. And Karl has it. 

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If you are like me, as a Songwriter, I am not into submitting songs to all the different "Songwriting Contests" out there. THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT and its message and the ministry behind it are all about God making what was broken into something Beautiful in each one of us. Our Friends at Front Line Worship have asked us to share an amazing song contest they are conducting for the ministry "TRAGEDY INTO TRIUMPH." "Tragedy into Triumph's Ministry" states that The tragic circumstances of life are everywhere:  Loss, Adversity, Drug Addiction, Sexual Addiction, Depression, Adversity, Physical Struggles, and much more!  We gain reassurance from hearing someone else’s story of overcoming, that God can work in our lives too!  We seek to take on the real life problems of the world with the power of Jesus Christ, and we believe that God’s power can change our lives to live differently.  We believe that tragedy does not define us…God’s Triumph Does!"

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"We Receive," A Lesson in Acceptance by Chip Connor

WITHOUT QUESTION, one of the most powerful and intimate corporate experiences with God I have ever been humbled to be a part of has happened at the last two Kingdom Songs Writing Retreats in Franklin TN. I know, I talk a lot about Kingdom Songs. Well, God has done SO much in and through those two years of retreats that I can't contain it. As soon as it seems like the dust has settled and I've gotten all that God has for me from them, more is revealed. 

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"A Sweet Sweet Sound, or The Worship of Worship" by Chip Connor

Let me begin by making a confession as not to cast any stones with my thoughts. I have, and at times continue to worship Worship. What? Worshiping Worship? Right now you are thinking to yourself, “What is he talking about?” Simply put, I have cast self made idols of songs themselves, the artists that sing them, the melodies that have taken me to deeply emotional places, lyrics that stirred my soul, and even the “worship production” experience itself.

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"Beautiful Hands" Acoustic Demo, Story Behind the Song, & Lyrics by Chip Connor

Have you ever been a "Season of Sin?" I can be honest and say without question, I have. I wish it were different, but to be truthful there have been several times throughout my life where I became totally engrossed in my selfishness and wandered away from my home with God, much like the prodigal son, choosing to wallow with the pigs. The end of 2014 thru late this past spring was one of those times for me. After over a decade of freedom from several addictions I had struggled with for years, late last year I fell and allowed the door to be opened to these addictions once more. You would think I would learn. 

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"There is More" (Acoustic Demo) by Chip Connor

For years I have wanted and searched in my heart for more of God and known that there is so much more of him than I have known before and experienced. This has been sporadic at best to be truthful. As we all do however, I have gone through seasons of drought, valleys and obstacles, and to be completely truthful personal selfishness that have distracted and detered me from pursing Him with all my heart. Chris McClarney's New Album's title sums it up best, "Everything and Nothing Less." I have not given God my Everything and Nothing Less. That changed a week ago. Gods love played the old man I once was and created a completely new creature, sold out and desperate for the things of God. 

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Featured New Song: "First Love" by Drew Ley and Chris Olson by Chip Connor

Somewhere around the first of the year I was made aware of a very unique contemporary praise and worship songwriting retreat in Nashville hosted by After looking at the list of professionals who will be conducting the breakouts and sessions over the three days, I knew I had to apply. The problem was they were only accepting 40 people for the retreat so I felt my chances were slim to none, but applied anyway. Needless to say, and All Glory to God I was accepted and received and invitation. Furthermore, two of A Thousand Hills' Collaborators, Chris Banks, and David Ward were also accepted and received invitations. Humbled is the only word appropriately to describe our elation. Fast forward into February. Once the list of attendees was selected, KingdomSongs put up a group page on FB so people could get to know each other beforehand. Well for me the cyber stalking began immediately. LOL Seriously, I began to take a look at each attendee and try and gain a feel for who they were and take a listen to some of their recent works to gain a feel for what God was entrusting to each of them. Let me use the word Humbled once again. Man, to be aligned with such an awesome array of God's instruments within His body is beyond words. These cats are all ridiculously sick writers, artists, musicians, and worship leaders and what God has poured into them is simply amazing. As I was listening to some of the songs from the attendees one song hit me like a brick with both its lyrical content and the elegance of its production. "First Love" is the title and it was penned by Drew Ley and Chris Olson (who had attended the first KingdomSongs Retreat several years ago.) To be truthful I was unfamiliar with either of them but decided to reach out to both of them on FB and let them know how much I really loved this song. Over the past two months I have had the chance to talk to them both on several occasions and find them both to be the real deal. Authentic, genuine worshipers. Men after the heart of God and it is portrayed in the song they wrote together. 

Drew Ley
Chris Olson

I asked Drew to detail the story of the song and how it came to fruition. He stated that "We got the idea for this song in May, 2014 at the All About Worship Conference in Kansas City.  It's actually the first time Chris and I had met in person. We had a lot of common songwriting friends before then.  Revelation 2:4 was the Bible verse that inspired this song.  The church of Ephesus had forgotten their first love which is Jesus or the love of Jesus.  It really hit home with me. I had felt the same way in my personal life at that time.  So I wanted to write a song that captured this concept. A longing to have the love for God that I had when I first made the decision to follow Christ.  Chris really liked the idea and we actually stayed up late after the conference one night and began to write "First Love"

In listening to the song, and this may show my age but I was taken back to Michael W. Smith's song "Missing Person" which carries the same theme. Drew and Chris truly captured and translate the message of returning back to that place of intimacy where we first fell in Love with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How quickly work, family, errands, hobbies, and the busyness of life distract us from our first love and the importance of the heart of this song is paramount in every believer. 

Drew has been writing classical and instrumental music most of his life, but recently has been writing Contemporary Christian songs that could be sung anywhere, especially in church congregations across the world.  His instrumental music has been featured on the Delilah Radio Show and The Weather Channel’s “Overnight Outlook.” Drew has recently released several worship albums of all original music. His latest EP, “Anchor” was just released in January of 2015. It features 5 new songs that he wrote over the last few years. Drew is passionate about writing new worship songs for the church and hopes that many people will come to faith in Christ through listening to his music. He is currently the Worship Ministry Leader at Bellaire Baptist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana and has served there for over 7 years.

I have been blessed to have the opportunity over the past month to begin the process of collaborating with both Drew and Chris on a few songs. With the talents God has given them, I am anxious to hear what comes out of these writing sessions and collaborations. We will all be meeting together at the end of this month for the KingdomSongs writing retreat and I truly cannot wait to meet and work with these men of God in person! I hope you enjoy "First Love" as I have and more importantly that its message speaks to your heart and your relationship with Christ. No matter where we are in our relationships with Jesus, returning to the place of that "First Love" should be a daily occurrence. Be Blessed My Friends.....

New Release "BattleCry" By: Aaron Lee by Chip Connor

I wish I had the words to tell you how excited I am to share this new song release from my worship pastor, friend, and writing partner Aaron Lee. I have been blessed to know and call Aaron a friend for over four years now and his talent has grown exponentially in that very short time. Aaron has always been a highly gifted vocalist, and had the heart of worship leader, but what I have seen grow steadily id the depth and quality of the songs God is entrusting to him. "BattleCry" is by far the best song he has written to date and when I first heard it, I was truthfully blown away, as this is definitely a next level for him as a song receiver. Once I heard it for the first time, I texted him and told him that the next time he gets a song like this, he better give me a call for a cowrite, because I want in on that. Man he landed a whale of a truly great worship song that is from his heart. Anyone who has the pleasure of knowing Aaron knows that he wears his heart on his sleeve and His love for Christ is evident just by being around him for just a few minutes. Aaron is as genuine as they come and this song is a genuine prayer from His heart to His God.

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