Brotherly Trio Consumed By Fire Re-Examines Priorities on “First Things First”
By Lindsay Williams
Consumed By Fire discovered life on the road at an early age. As children, the three Ward brothers followed their evangelist parents around the world as they preached the Gospel, did medical missions and planted churches. As teens, Caleb (vocals), Josh (guitar) and Jordan (drums) formed Consumed By Fire and hit the road on their own, taking up the mantle of their father’s heart for ministry. Now, after years making music and touring the globe, the band is finding renewed motivation for their lifelong dedication to sharing God’s grace far and wide.
“As kids, we were young and passionate, full of fire,” says Jordan. “Now that we’re adults, we’ve seen a little bit. Road years are like dog years and it’s easy to become jaded and cynical. But working on this new project, it’s like the Lord was waking us up. We’re living out ‘consumed by fire’ in a brand new way.”
A major factor in the band’s renewed focus came from losing their beloved father in the spring of 2022. A lifelong visionary and source of inspiration, he’d always been a guiding light for the band, encouraging them in songwriting and musicianship as well as instilling in them a deeply rooted love for the Gospel. “For us,” Jordan says, “this new music is our chance to carry on Dad’s legacy in a personal way. We’re able to take the things he taught us from scripture and everyday life and share it with others through our music and our shows. This is our opportunity to carry that torch for him.”
Working on songs for their latest EP while also wading through a pandemic and the grief of losing their father, the brothers found themselves writing from a deeper well. The songs came out more personal and honest than ever before, a true testimony to how the guys are trying to take each day one step at a time. Lead track “First Things First,” an impassioned, piano-driven ballad with soaring vocals and heart-changing lyrics, echoes the band’s newly rooted commitment to put God first, despite what’s happening around them.
“Writing ‘First Things First’ spearheaded the creation of a new direction for us,” Jordan shares. “Every record you make is sort of a chapter of your life. In this chapter, everything we thought we wanted, everything we were geared up for, we’re saying we surrender all those things. We’re saying, Lord, we want what You want. It’s a prayer of surrender, especially after losing our dad. We just want to surrender our dreams and our hopes to the Lord.”
The band’s sound, heavily influenced by the music they grew up on, is thanks in part to their father’s eclectic taste. They cut their musical teeth on everyone from James Taylor, The Eagles and Kenny Rogers to Second Chapter of Acts, Amy Grant and Russ Taff. “People would think because we grew up in such a ministry-focused home we wouldn’t have heard some of these artists,” Caleb says, “but Dad was never worried about that. He believed love songs had their place and life songs had their place.”
“Being exposed to all types of music made us a melting pot,” Jordan says. “That’s how we describe our sound. We’re a melting pot of all these artists we grew up listening to as well as modern influences like Ryan Tedder and Adele and Bruno Mars.”
Produced by longtime musical partner Scotty Wilbanks, the band’s family harmony, both vocal and heart, translates to an emotionally rich, lyrically driven EP that’s as entertaining as it is poignant. “Goodbye Old Me,” a song the band describes as the party version of “First Things First,” showcases the joy the band has found while trusting in God’s faithfulness. “This song is about saying I only want what God wants,” Jordan says. “The things I used to be, I’m not that anymore. Dad would always say it’s time the salvation of your spirit affects your mind. We feel like that’s happened for us. Just like it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 – we’re new creations.”
Toe-tapping groove “Hope Says” holds a special place in the band’s heart. “As we were going through songs for this EP, we kept getting great feedback on this one,” Caleb says. “I was on the fence and Mom said, ‘just play the songs.’ Dad had been bedridden for a while due to a stroke and his bed was set up in the living room. I was sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee, going through the songs, and when ‘Hope Says’ came on, I saw Dad lifting his good hand and singing the words. Tears just poured down my face in that moment. This process has been the first time in my life I’ve been impacted so much from the songs we’ve been a part of.”
Filled with honest truths and the band’s honed musicality, First Things First is evidence of Consumed By Fire’s family bond and the unconditional love of both their earthly and heavenly fathers. While the brothers feel like they’ve turned a corner in their faith and their songwriting, they’re also staying true to the path they’ve been on since they were kids. “This is what we’re called to do,” Caleb shares. “If it wasn’t this form of ministry, if it wasn’t music, it would just be something else. Ministry is what we were born to do.”