Worshipful Wednesday: Can’t Get Enough of You

For much of my life, I was paralyzed by fear. Fear of failure. Fear of loss. Fear of the walls that I’d so carefully constructed falling down around me.

Fear of trusting God and having Him disappoint me, too.

Though I had worked through some of this, I carried much of this fear into my marriage. I would at times ask my husband not to go out without me, such as an occassion where he was going to hear music with friends. I was totally gripped by a fear that something would happen to him while he was gone. This, thankfully, happened very infrequently, but when it did, it was as real and oppressive as anything I could remember experiencing.

In 2004, my husband and I were involved in an amazing church plant. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It really felt like this was how the church was supposed to be: real, welcoming, warm, convicting – just full of Jesus. I was the worship leader, and personally, I felt as if I was finally walking in the fullness of my calling: to use my songs to glorify God and to lead people to Him. I signed up to attend a local worship conference with Andy Park, Rita Springer, and some other well-known leaders.

Just weeks before I was scheduled to attend this conference, the church plant closed when the pastor chose sinful behavior (a sin that he had struggled with for years but had had several years of victory over) above his calling.

I went forward with my plan to attend the conference, though I had no idea why. It felt as if all my dreams had come crashing down, once again.

The conference was amazing, but on the morning of the last day, that dark voice began to beckon: You need to leave. Something awful is going to happen. You need to go home NOW or something will happen to Roy.

I called Roy, sobbing in my car, telling him I needed to come home RIGHT NOW. It didn’t matter that there were only a few hours left in the conference (something Roy pointed out). I replied, “Right! There’s only a few hours left! I might as well just leave, so nothing horrible happens! It won’t hurt to miss a few hours!”

Thank God for my patient husband. He talked me down, and we hung up. And as I remember the story, I sat in my car, crying out to God, weeping, so desperate for Him to show up.

And at that moment, this song, Can’t Get Enough of You, flowed out of me. It begins:

I come to You in desperation

On our last Sunday at our beloved church in Virginia, I was asked to lead worship, as our regular worship leader was out of town. I lead the congregation in this song, Can’t Get Enough of You, for many reasons. For one, I have lead worship numerous times at the church, and it is a team and a congregational favorite. And I sang it for myself because of the special place it holds in my heart: in times of desperation, in places where I am stepping out in faith, the song reminds me of God’s faithfulness. I needed to be continually reminded, is times of ease and trials, of Jesus’ wordsApart from Me, you can do nothing.

My husband captured this video on his iPhone. The lyrics are below, as well as a link to the chords.

Can’t Get Enough of You
By Brenna Kate

I come to You in desperation
I wait for You with expectation

I wouldn’t want to take even one single breath without You
I don’t want to make even one little step without You

Without Your touch, without Your breath, My life is meaningless
I need Your power, I need Your love, I just can’t get enough

I just can’t get enough of You, more of You
Lord, You’re the one thing I desire
I can’t get enough of You, more of You
I need Your passion and Your fire

God, take me in Your arms and fill me with Your love
My heart wants more and more, I just can’t get enough

© 2005 Unveiled Faces Music

Here’s the chord sheet: Can’t Get Enough of You in C#m. I wrote the song in B minor, but it seems to be easier for the congregation to sing in C#m.

I also want to mention that this was the last time I had one of those dark episodes. God is able.

Monday Morning Meditation: His Treasured Possession

What is your most treasured possession?

We are in the process of moving (again). In fact, shortly after this posts, the movers will be here. As we pack, we have been setting aside things that we will drive to our new home in Massachusetts. Fragile things, awkward but important items, expensive or irreplaceable keepsakes – they will travel in the cars, rather than risk them being damaged or broken in the moving truck.

Some of them won’t even look like much to others. Some boxes of Freedom Book will be in there. We have an airplane propeller that my dad gave to my oldest son (his first grandchild), a couple pieces of driftwood, a box of old cameras. These things have value simply because we decided they have value.

IMG_8714

The book of Deuteronomy is one long admonition from Moses to the Israelites. They will soon be entering the Promises Land, and, since he cannot go with them, there are some things he wants them to remember. In the midst of warnings not to intermarry, cautions not to bring detestable things into their new homes, reminders to not forget God, we find this gem:

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” Deuteronomy 7:6

It would be easy for the reader to become overly focused on Moses’ numerous warnings of “Don’t do this, don’t do this, and don’t do this.” Sometimes I know I get overly focused to those things myself. But we must not lose sight of the why.

God had chosen the Israelites. He called them by name and set them apart. He absolutely treasured them and did not want to see them harmed.

As I put a piece of driftwood that my dad saved because it reminded him of a dancer in my car, I carefully wrap it in a blanket. I pad the sides to insure nothing bumps into it or damages it. If someone else were to move it, I would call out, “Be careful!”

Because it is just that important to me.

How much more so does God treasure us! He encourages us and admonishes us to grasp the “Life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:19), an abundant life that will satisfy us so much more fully than anything else (John 10:10). Because He doesn’t want to see harm come to us (Jeremiah 29:11). Because His love is better than life (Psalm 63:3). Because He delights in us (Psalm 18:19).

Because we too are His treasured possession.

Monday Morning Meditation: And All That is Within Me

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name. 103:1” Psalm

I have just finished 30 days of concentrated prayer, something that Mark Batterson suggests in The Circle Maker. I asked a few of my closest friends what they would like me to pray about for them, and prayed for those things most days. Somewhere in that process I was reminded of Psalm 103, and read that psalm out loud many of those days.

This psalm has special meaning to me. Long before I knew much about Jesus, I loved using the gifts He gave me. One gift He has given me is music. When I was a tormented high schooler, ostracized among my peers because of my sexuality, I auditioned for the musical, Godspell. I was given the part in the production that sang, “O Bless the Lord, My Soul,” a song based on Psalm 103.

During a time of turmoil, God gave me moments of peace among my musical peers and even my non-musical ones. We performed pieces of the musical in front of the whole school. From that moment on, I may not have been liked by some, but in my small town, they respected me because of my talent.

Godspell

Oh bless the Lord my soul!
His praise to thee proclaim!
And all that is within me join,
To bless His holy name!

God’s truth is still truth, no matter what its source or circumstance. Despite the fact that I didn’t know much about God, at this early age, God began to allow His truth to take root in my heart.

I auditioned again for another production of Godspell 5 years later at a theater company where my girlfriend worked. I was once again given the same role and sang the same song.

He will not always chide
He will with patience wait
His wrath is ever slow to rise
And ready to abate
Oh bless the Lord

Psalm 103 begins with self-directives. David sings (as psalms were sung) that he is to bless and praise the Lord with all that is within him.

As I have repeated this psalm many times in recent past, I recall the truth God began to weave into my soul decades ago. I am reminded of His faithfulness and sovereignty in a time when I did not recognize Him as Lord.

I also plainly see that there is much within me that does not bless Him at all: my complaining, my procrastination, my fear that paralyzes at times, my unloving and prideful attitude.

Oh bless the Lord my soul!
His mercies bear in mind!
Forget not all His benefits,
The Lord, to thee, is kind.

How would my life change if I were to choose to allow “all that is within me” to bless His holy name? No allowing the negative thoughts to take over my mind but instead, pressing my fears into God’s heart and choose to praise Him?

Take this thought with you for the week. Ask yourself: are my words, whether spoken or thought, allowing all that is within me to bless His holy name?

*Words in italics are from the song, O Bless The Lord My Soul, by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak.

Monday Morning Meditation: God’s Character (end of Psalm 25 series)

Here is today’s passage in the Psalm 25 series (v. 19-22):

See how my enemies have increased
and how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope is in you.
Redeem Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!

I decided to group all these verses together rather than split them up, so this will be the final installment of the Psalm 25 series.

What have been some of the themes of the Psalm so far? Let’s take a look at the blog post titles.

Safe with the Lord
Dealing with Shame
All Day Long (HOPE!)
How Does God See Me?
Need Help? Ask For It
Embrace Grace Again
Friendship with God
Off the Snare and On the Lord (your eyes)
Turn to Me

God’s character is revealed throughout this psalm, as well as the promises that are available to us because of who He is.

Safety. Help. Hope. Protection. Friendship. Grace. Hope. Focus. Perspective. Unashamed. Help. More hope.

In today’s passage, we find David surrounded by enemies. He continues to put his hope in the Lord, trusting in God’s character as well as his friendship with the Lord and his own obedience.

Yesterday in church, we sang “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies).” So many of the themes of this Psalm are highlighted in the lyrics, but I will simply highlight the chorus.

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

Enemies will rise up. We will grow weak at times from battle. As the song says, “though troubles linger still,” God was won the battle. He is a friend who is also Protector and Savior.

Hope in Him – all day long.

Monday Morning Meditation: Turn to Me (Psalm 25 Series)

Here is today’s passage in the Psalm 25 series (v. 16-18):

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
free me from my anguish.
Look upon my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.

Do you ever feel as if the troubles of your heart have multiplied? Like you already had enough troubles, and suddenly, you find yourself with exponentially more?

Turn to me, O God.

Have you ever found yourself lonely and afflicted (the NLT says “deep distress”)? Drowning in anguish?

As I write this, I have just completed the Yakima (WA) Relay for Life. I chose this location to support my friend Eva. I chose this event to honor my father, who I lost to cancer 7 months ago.

It was a beautiful and emotional time. I am now facing flying home with 2 sick kids. It’s a long plane ride and a 2 1/2 hour drive to get to the airport.

“Drowning in anguish” is a bit extreme for how I feel, but distressed is sufficient.

Turn to me, O God.

I am reminded that God is near. One of the themes of this psalm is hope. “No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame.”

I rest in that promise. God is able.

Feeling overwhelmed? Pray with David (and me):

Turn to me, O God.

Monday Morning Meditation: Off the Snare and On the Lord (Psalm 25 Series)

Here is today’s passage in the Psalm 25 series (v. 15):

My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

In times of trials or problems, what do you tend to look at? On what do you focus?

This is easy for me to answer. I tend to focus on my problems. In the past, this was my typical pattern:

First, I would stare at the trap or potential trap.

Second, I would try to think up a solution I could do myself.

Third, I may begin to think about how the God of the impossible could probably help me out with this situation.

Fourth, I generally end up talking myself out of God being able to really do anything because isn’t this problem just too big for God?

When I say it out loud, it sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

But this is what we do all the time.

Today at church, my pastor said, “What is impossible for God?”

And all of us good Christians answered, “Nothing.”

If only we acted as if we truly believed this.

We say it, but we don’t live and act as if we believe it.

We limit God.

As I read this passage a few months ago, I realized how often I fix my eyes on the snare. I analyze it. I imagine all possible outcomes and how I can avoid it or fix it. I lament at the difficulty of the situation.

And often I end up expending so much emotional energy evaluating the snare that I practically fall into it.

“My eyes are ever on the Lord….”

What would happen if we instead fixed our eyes on the One who is able to release us from the snare?

God does not tell us to evaluate the snare. God calls us to look on Him. I’ve included some past blog posts at the end to encourage you in looking to God.

Pray this with me:
Lord God, forgive me for trying to fix things all the time, as if that is within my power. You call me friend, and yet I am slow to ask for help. Your Word says, “You have not because you ask not,” and so, I ask. Help, Lord. May my eyes ever be on You, the Rescuer, and not on the snare. I pray this in the mighty, powerful name of Jesus. Amen.

Several blog posts that might be helpful:
Seeing with God’s Eyes
Look Beyond Your Mountains
Watch for God

Freedom Friday: My Stone of Remembrance

“People come and people go; only You remain. Constant. Faithful. Loving. Kind. Good. Comforting. Patient. Wonderful.” I tweeted this on Monday.

To say I’ve been struggling in the past year, and even more so since my father died, is an understatement. Some days, weeks, months are more difficult than others. I find myself anxious, despairing, eating to numb the feelings.

I had been asking myself, if this were someone besides me, how would I be advising them? How would I be helping them? I would be telling them to give themselves grace, that God deeply deeply loves them, and that He doesn’t see them as the broken person that they see themselves to be.

So, I have just been telling myself those things. That I am God’s favorite. His beloved. Cherished. That He has so much more for me than I have allowed myself to experience.

Something happened almost 2 months ago to make these things feel even more real and true.

On April 9th, I was driving to work as I do many days. I was on the highway, going just under 60 miles per hour.   It was in the mid 70s, so I had the window open about 5-6 inches. There was a truck in the lane to the left of me, driving about 10 feet in front of me.

All of a sudden, several rocks flew out of the truck. The trajectory of each rock was different, so there was no way to swerve or try and get out of the path of the rocks.

Several of the rocks were large and coming straight at me, so I did what I thought to do: I ducked! My windshield already has a crack in it, which has been repaired, but I didn’t know if it’s still as strong as an intact windshield would be.

I heard a big clanking noise and looked up, expecting my windshield or window to be shattered. It wasn’t. I finally realized the rock must have come right in the crack in the window, not breaking anything, and narrowly missing my head. 

I felt God speaking to my heart, “See, Brenna? I am faithful.”

When I finally got a chance to stop, I looked for the rock. It was by the passenger side door, and it was the smallest one that had fallen off the truck. Some of the rocks looked as big as the palm of my hand.

The rock in my car

I’m keeping the rock. It is a stone of remembrance for me, like when Joshua and the Israelites crossed the Jordan River.

Look back on your life, on your stones of remembrance. Those hopeless situations where God allowed His hope to shine through. Those small lights in your life. Write them down. Reflect on them. Trust in the character of the God who parted the Jordan at flood stage.

God is faithful. And His faithfulness shines best in impossible-seeming, flood-stage situations. Choose to trust today in the God who can calm the storm and part the waters.

Monday Morning Meditation: Embrace Grace Again (Psalm 25 Series)

Welcome, friends. Here is today’s passage in the Psalm 25 series (v. 11):

For the sake of your name, O Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

I can’t get past this verse. I want to tack some of the following verses onto this blog post, but I just can’t.

My heart cries out with David.

For the sake of your name….

My sins, Lord – they overwhelm me.
They flood over me,
To the point where I feel as if I might drown.
Do you see how great my struggles are?
Do you see the foolishness, 
Not only of my youth, but of today?

David, in his humble state, wrestles with the questions that I imagine many of us do:

Will God forgive me?

Can He?

Read again verse 10:

All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
For those who keep the demands of his covenant.

David knows God’s character. He spends much of this psalm declaring that truth. And yet, he still seems to express almost a doubt here about those times he did not keep the demands of the covenant –

For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

David knew a Messiah would come. We know the Messiah has come.

We look at our sin, reminding God of how great it is. God shows us the cross, reminding us how sufficient He is.

I’m so thankful for the cross. Through it, we have the opportunity to experience his grace everyday, grace that seems to good to be true.

Grace declares all of our sins forgiven, even the one you committed yesterday that you’ve committed a million times before.

Grace also empowers us to resist sin through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Can you embrace grace today?

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

Approach the throne. Embrace the power of grace. Rather than beg for forgiveness, as David did, ask to be continually filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18) who is able to empower you to resist the lure of temptation. Look to the cross. It is sufficient.

Freedom Friday: Fourteen Years

It’s January 4th.

I saw the date several times today. I even wrote it on something and thought, That sounds important. 

I then took my littlest out with me to run errands. I just put a couple of CD’s in my car 2 days ago, the only 2 I could find (still nowhere near unpacked): Keith Green and Sara Groves.

Soon it came on:

There is nothing new
I could give to You
Just a life that’s torn
Waiting to be born

I Can’t Believe It.* The song I was listening to that week of January 4th 14 years ago when Jesus invaded my life.

Rivers overflow

Friends may come and go
But You’ve been by my side
With every tear I’ve cried
I don’t actually know the day Jesus grabbed ahold of my heart. It happened several times during the week of January 4th as I wrestled with the truth of who God says He is.
 
Oh, I can’t believe that You’d give everything for me
I can’t believe it, no, I can’t believe it, no, no
I know You never lied, and so it’s just my foolish pride

That I just won’t receive it,
It’s so hard to receive it in my heart 

And make the start with you

I just could not believe that someone would die for me. Who would do that? It doesn’t even make sense! But I desperately needed a fresh start. I was failing miserably at life, at relationships, at – well, most everything. I longed to believe that Jesus is who He says He is.

Help me, help me now
I just don’t know how
You know, I’ve been so alone
Please melt this heart of stone

There was no longer any question on that day in January of 1999 that I desperately needed Jesus.

I have a serious gap in pictures during that time, but here’s a gem from about 6 months later:

I still do need Him. There is nothing magical that happens at the moment of salvation (if you have a “moment,” yet it’s often a process) that makes us less reliant on God. If anything, I believe we become even more keenly aware, through the power of the Holy Spirit and our spiritual eyes being opened, that apart from Him, we really can do nothing.

Especially recently, I’m intimately and painfully aware of my weaknesses and failures and continual dependence on Him. I know the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:10, that when I am weak, I am strong in Him, but I don’t know if the power of that truth has been fully recognized in my soul, or embraced in my heart.

Yet when I shared with my dear husband why January 4th is significant, I got choked up. I know that I know that I know that Jesus has deeply transformed my heart and my life.  He continues to change me and set me free, one breath at a time.

And I continue to choose to trust Him. Trust that He is good, that He is my only hope. That He cares about me so deeply and passionately that His perfect will was for His only begotten Son to suffer, be crushed, punished, condemned, and to die so that I would not be punished or condemned, but may have peace and life till it overflows.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)

Thank You, Jesus, for life. For breath. For a fresh start. For joy in my sadness, light in my darkness, truth in my confusion, peace in my anguish, sight in my blindness, hope in my desperation. For when I am weak, Your grace becomes sufficient, and then, I am strong.
 
Jesus, let’s go for at least 14 more!
*I much prefer this acoustic version of the song to the one that is typically played. It’s raw, it’s pure, it’s just Keith Green and his piano – how I like him best.

Some Non-Partisan Post-Election Day Perspective: Isaiah 40

My scheduled Bible Reading today is Isaiah 40 (NLT). It seemed very appropriate after Election Day.

Whether you are saddened by the results or encouraged, may these excerpts from Isaiah 40 be a timely reminder of God’s view of this world.

“The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.” 

Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? 

The earth as seen from Apollo 17

Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? 

Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice?
Does he need instruction about what is good?
Did someone teach him what is right
or show him the path of justice? 

No, for all the nations of the world
are but a drop in the bucket.
They are nothing more than dust on the scales.
He picks up the whole earth
as though it were a grain of sand.

To whom can you compare God?
What image can you find to resemble him?
Can he be compared to an idol formed in a mold,
overlaid with gold, and decorated with silver chains?
Or if people are too poor for that,
they might at least choose wood that won’t decay
and a skilled craftsman
to carve an image that won’t fall down! 

God sits above the circle of the earth.
The people below seem like grasshoppers to him!

“To whom will you compare me?
Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.
Look up into the heavens.
Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
not a single one is missing.
 

O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles?
O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
 

Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.