Tag Archives: For King & Country

Worship Wednesday – O God Forgive Us – For King & Country

Photo Credit: Vimeo

“You should pray like this:

‘Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts [our sins],
as we also have forgiven our debtors [those who have sinned against us].
And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.'” – Jesus (Matthew 6:9-13)

Some things we will never make sense of…this side of Heaven.

The news every day has its fallout in our lives. It injects numbness into our hearts and minds. We just can’t comprehend what is going on around us sometimes.

We want to bring sense to bear on senselessness. To be able to blame someone. Or some natural force. Or we want to blame God.

Earlier this week, an unbelievable massacre took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. One gunman in his 60s rained down terror on an open field where thousands watched a concert. In a matter of 10 or so minutes, 50+ persons were killed and over 500 persons were injured.

Motives may be uncovered in future days. For now, all we know is the perpetrator fired at will on individuals he had no way of knowing. Random. Premeditated. Thoughtless. Evil.

We can’t make sense of such a thing.

For now, we pray for those families of the victims. We pray for those still in critical condition and for those recovering from their wounds. We thank God for first responders and for all those concert-goers who reached out to help others get to safety or to medical care. We also pray for our country to heal after another hard thing.

Besides praying, we also give blood and give other resources to help those in need.

What we cannot do…what we must refuse to do is to grow more numb to the brokenness of our world.

Jesus’ followers were in close proximity to him. They watched him do life. They saw him pull away alone to pray – to fortify himself for what he faced each day…and for what he would face before it was all over.

They asked him about this prayer thing he did so often and so deeply. I can’t even imagine what life must have been like for Jesus spending those years here on earth. How God was able to be both God and man at once can’t even be answered for us; our minds can’t hold such understanding. Yet, Jesus stole away often to linger with the Father; to counsel with Him; to be nourished by Him.

When he taught us how to pray, he gave a model which included the directive: forgive us our debts [our sins], as we also have forgiven our debtors [those who have sinned against us].

Our world is rocked with evil…people choosing self over others, even to the point of neglect, betrayal, and violence.

Still…there is hope. God is not finished us yet. He has not forsaken us.

Nor are we meant to forsake each other.

The gunman above is dead. We can only speculate what happened to that man to plan out and execute such incomprehensible acts.

What we know is our own hearts…well, even our own hearts we can’t fully know (Jeremiah 17:9). Still we do know we are desperate to make sense of life and to pursue true community, real love and peace.

The band For King & Country (with the help of hip-hop artist KB) put out a single “O God Forgive Us“.Photo Credit: Flickr; Rapzilla

In the video interpretation of the song, we see the three principal singers with “younger versions of themselves”. Scenes are projected in front of the little ones – scenes of wrongs done in this world. A tear trickled down the cheek of one little boy. The message is that we all perpetrate wrongs against one another…and against God. We all need God’s forgiveness and to forgive ourselves and each other.

It may take us awhile to forgive this man who killed and injured so many. We may fall to fear and wonder is anywhere safe. However, what will probably happen is that we will forget. The screen of our memory will refresh to the news of the next day and the next. Numbness settles in, deeper and deeper.

In times like these, we are tempted to circle up and seek for safety and security within our own self-prescribed perimeter of comfort.

However…

We do not want to fall victim ourselves, as the songwriters warn, to doubt, uncertainty, unbelief…

No. Let us have the courage as Christ-followers to reach out, crossing whatever boundaries that separate us; to love each other as Jesus commanded us. It starts with the forgiveness God gives us which empowers us to forgive others.

Worship with me [music in link].

We’ve prayed the prayer with no reply
Words float off into the night
Couldn’t cut our doubt with the sharpest knife
O, O God forgive us
Silence isn’t comfortable
We want drive-through peace and instant hope
Our shallow faith it has left us broke
O, O God forgive us
O, O God forgive us

A slave to our uncertainty
Help us with our unbelief
O, O God forgive us

Young and old, black and white
Rich and poor, there’s no divide
Hear the mighty, hear the powerless, singing
O God forgive us
O God forgive us

A slave to our uncertainty
Help us with our unbelief
O, O God forgive us

[Spoken word – KB]Photo Credit: Rapzilla

Forgive us
Yes we have ignored you
So busy doing your work
That we forgot that this was
For
You

Arms wide to our homeless Savior
But arms crossed to our homeless neighbor
On bended knee
Unite us all
Set us free

With our white flag sailing in the night
Eyes pointed to the sky
Hands up and open wide, open wide
With our white flag sailing in the night
Eyes pointed to the sky
Hands up and open wide, open wide
With our white flag sailing in the night
Eyes pointed to the sky
Hands up and open wide, open wide
With our white flag sailing in the night
Eyes pointed to the sky
Hands up and open wide, open wide

O, O God forgive us
A slave to our uncertainty
Help us with our unbelief
O, O God forgive us.

Run wild. To risk everything. To hold nothing back.
To lay it all on the line: your reputation, your success, your comfort.
It’s that moment when fear is overcome by faith. Live free.
It’s not the liberty to do whatever you want whenever and wherever you want,
But rather it’s living in accordance with the author of humanity
And finding freedom by connecting with the creator who conceived you.
Let the light flood into your eyes for the first time.
Feeling the blood course through your veins, finding the truest version of yourself
By knowing the one who knows you even better than you know yourself.
Love strong. Because you were first loved. Because without love we all perish.
Because the earth and the stars can and will pass away, but love, love will always remain*

*Lyrics & Quote – Behind the Song: for KING & COUNTRY Shares the Heart Behind Their Single “O God Forgive Us (feat. KB)

Forgiveness – The Lord’s Prayer – an Eight-part Series Exploring Its Meaning Line by Line – Bill Kolb

Worship Wednesday – Only God’s Shoulders Are Big Enough – Shoulders – for King & Country

Blog - Shoulders - 2Photo Credit: YouTube

[Adapted from the Archives]

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills–From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”Psalm 121

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”Matthew 11:28-29

[After several days of grieving over a series of events meant to divide our country right now and a natural disaster and national catastrophe across the ocean, I needed the reminder that our shoulders are not strong enough to bear these burdens…only God’s shoulders can carry us through all our days.]

There are wonderful and terrible things in this life I do not understand. The cycles of seasons. The next breath. The birth of a baby. The death of a young mother. A world crumbling under the weight of its own sin. At the same time, a world still sustaining life in exquisite beauty in the face of centuries of war. How is all this possible?

We are carried. By a God who loves us, comes alongside us, and lifts us up out of the muck and mire of our troubles. He shoulders our burdens. I am daily grateful to Him for that, because our shoulders are too small and weak for the task. Even when I don’t see God in a situation, I know, by faith and by experience, that He is present. How would we bear the wonders without Someone to praise for them? How would we bear the deep wrongs of this world without knowing, deep in our hearts, that He carries us?

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Some of you go forth to your daily labors and you find the place of your service to be a real wilderness, full of trial and everything that is unpleasant to you. Yet look again, with eyes touched with Heaven’s eye-salve and, instead of seeing the bitter poverty, and the grinding toil, and the daily trial, you will begin to see that God is in it all and, ‘underneath are the everlasting arms!’ You shall go cheerfully home to Heaven, borne up by God. He who made you will carry you! He who loves you will bear you all the days of old till you shall come unto the Mountain of God and stand in your lot at the end of the days!”*

Luke and Joel Smallbone, of the group for King & Country, write so honestly about the Shoulders of God. The writing comes out of their personal experience of both a life-threatening illness and the birth of a child. It’s no longer a new song, but it draws me back to the truth of what is most real in our lives. Watch their video linked below which visually tells stories some of which we have also experienced. Thankful for these guys who help me to worship God as He is. Strong and true.

Worship with me:

When confusion’s my companion
And despair holds me for ransom
I will feel no fear
I know that You are near
When I’m caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I’ll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near

CHORUS
My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders

You mend what once was shattered
And You turn my tears to laughter
Your forgiveness is my fortress
Oh Your mercy is relentless

My help is from You
Don’t have to see it to believe it
My help is from you
Don’t have to see it, ‘cause I know, ‘cause I know it’s true.**

Blog - Shoulders - for King & CountryPhoto Credit: www.forkingandcountry.com

A Kingdom Agenda Strategy for Community Transformation – Tony Evans

Baptist Global Response

*The Everlasting Arms by Charles Spurgeon

YouTube Video (Lyrics) – Shoulders – for King & Country

YouTube Video – Shoulders – for King & Country – Official Video

YouTube Video – Shoulders Live on K-Love with For King & Country

See It First: Go Behind the Scenes of For King & Country’s Powerful Video, ‘Shoulders

**K-Love – Lyrics to Shoulders by songwriters Luke Smallbone, Joel Smallbone, Ben Glover, Tedd Tjornhom

Story Behind the Song – Shoulders – NewReleaseTuesday.com Interview with Luke Smallbone

For Hope: Luke Smallbone Finds Grace in the Darkness

Worship Wednesday – Fight Through, Then Rest, & Remember – It’s Not Over Yet – For King & Country

Blog - It's Not Over Yet - youtubePhoto Credit: YouTube

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” – Psalm 23:4

We really never know what another person is going through. Just last night, I was attending a concert where my musician son‘s 7th and 8th grade students were playing their guitar pieces. During a different group’s performance, my attention was drawn to my cell phone. Exchanging texts with my sister-in-law about my dad. He’s not doing well, and she was updating me on how he was last night. This unfortunately might have been a distraction to parents around me, wondering why I couldn’t just leave my cell phone in my purse. I have thought the same myself at other times. If these only knew…

It’s tricky for me to try to give a blast of encouragement through this written word…to you. I don’t know the depth of your situation…some of you I don’t know at all. Forgive me for anything that comes across to you as judging what you’re going through, without knowing really. Judging is not where I am at all…I want to somehow join you in your battle. God strengthens us in our own battles as we stand alongside each other.

It’s clear that battles rage in our lives. For me, there is my dad who suffers from Alzheimer’s and a smoldering cancer, and I live states away. Fortunately, he is under the watchful eye of family very nearby – family who loves him and intervenes for him. There are other circumstances that darken my thoughts and disturb sleep…like you, it’s probably never just one thing, is it?

What keeps me taking the next step, and staying engaged, and pressing into life is God and his love for and presence with us. As much as some, even friends of mine, may think, He is not a fairy tale or an imaginary friend. Every breath…every single breath…I owe to Him. He is as real to me as anything in this life…both the wonderful and the wretched stuff of this life…He pierces through all of that, especially when I’m embattled by some terrible burden. Even in His silence, I know He is near…because He says He is, and His grace in that moment gives evidence.

I would not trivialize those terrifying moments when we have seemingly lost the battle…when we feel we can’t go on…or don’t even know where to go if we pressed forward. All I know is that when those times have been my experience, across this lengthening life of mine…He is there with us, and He will fight our battles for us if we cling to Him.

Visual art helps me sometimes when a volume of words is beyond my grasping, especially in low times. A print of the painting (below left) hung in my older brother’s room, during some dark nights of soul for him. He was the sort who would toss such a thing in the back of his closet if it didn’t help…the truth that God doesn’t forget us may have been the last thing he gripped in those times of depression. The image on the right (below) is a strong reminder that God has promised us in many passages in His Word, that He will not let go of His children. Never!

Blog - God will not forget usBlog - God will never let go - Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest, Pinterest

That “not letting go” is something I know intimately about being a child of God. In my 20’s especially, I pretty much let go of God. Trying to pursue relationships and dreams that had little to do with Him and much to do with my own destruction. He never let go of me through all of that.BLog - God will hold us - Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

For King & Country, a band of Christians, understands this God who gives us hope. They’ve recently released a song It’s Not Over Yet, which encourages me. They wrote this song out of their own experiences of hardship and illness in their personal lives. It’s so real, and it’s so true.

Worship with me…and remember that God holds both our present and our future in strong and capable hands. He holds us. There is an evil in this world that tries to beat us down and whispers in our thoughts (sometimes using our own voice, really) to quit, give up, don’t keep fighting. This is where we must fight through – for ourselves and each other – and rest in God who loves us completely.

They are inside your head
You got a voice that says
You won’t get past this one
You won’t win your freedom

It’s like a constant war
And you wanna settle a score
But you’re bruised and beaten
And you feel defeated

This goes out to the heaviest hearts

(Chorus)
Oh, to everyone who’s hit their limit
It’s not over yet, it’s not over yet
And even when you think you’re finished
It’s not over yet, it’s not over yet
Keep on fighting
Out of the dark, into the light, it’s not over
Hope is rising
Never give in, never give up, it’s not over
Yet, whoa, yet, whoa

Game, set, match
Time to put it in your past
Feel the winter leaving
It’s redemption season
Long live the young at heart
Cheers to a brand new start
We’re revived and breathing
To live a life of freedom

Until the kingdom comes
We’ll run till the race is won
Don’t you ever give up
No, no never give up
Until the kingdom comes
We’ll run till the race is won
Don’t you ever give up
We will never give up*

YouTube Video – Story Behind the Song It’s Not Over Yet

*Lyrics to It’s Not Over Yet – Written by Luke Smallbone, Joel Smallbone, Ben Glover/, Tedd Tjornhom and Kyle Rictor

5 Comforting Verses for When You Feel Weak – Michelle Lindsey

Worship Wednesday – Shoulders – For King & Country

For King & Country

Worship Wednesday – Winter Jam – a Worship Fest

Blog - Winter Jam - the pncarenaPhoto Credit: PNC Arena

It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your loving kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night. Psalm 92:1-2

Concerts in large venues with thousands of people aren’t really my idea of a good time. Way too many people, music so loud I can feel it in my chest (that can’t be healthy), and expensive tickets. Just too many obstacles to a sweet musical experience. Then a few years ago, while our family lived in Morocco, we attended a weekend concert event called Friendship Fest. Blog - Friendship Fest 2

It was amazing to stand in this huge crowd of Moroccans and others (us being among the others), listening to bands we loved and bands we would love afterwards.

I haven’t been to such an event since then, but now I’m rethinking this…especially after seeing the concert film highlighting the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular.

Winter Jam is an enormous production of Christian bands and solo artists who tour together, providing a raucous, joyful evening of music and worship. Winter Jam has been around since 1995 when first started by NewSong with the goal of bringing Christian music (and the Gospel message) to a wider audience. They did this through using larger venues and dropping ticket/admission prices to a voluntary donation.Blog - Winter jam - NewSongPhoto Credit: Winter Jam Tour 2016

It worked.

Even today, thanks to a large host of national partners/sponsors, the Winter Jam Tour is still very affordable ($10 donation).

Some of my favorite artists were in this year’s Winter Jam Tour – David Crowder, Matthew West, and For King & Country. Blog - Winter jam - David CrowderBlog - Winter Jam - Matthew WestBlog - Winter Jam - For King & CountryPhoto Credit: Winter Jam Tour

Winter Jam is not just a concert…it’s a worship fest. Somehow I have missed being aware of this tour, but after seeing the film, I hope to go next time…clearly it’s not just an event to attend, but to experience God within.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Going Deeper with Jesus – Winter Jam

Worship Wednesday – Shoulders – for King & Country

Blog - Shoulders - 2

From the Archives – Don’t miss their Priceless/WinterJam tour Fall 2015I also wrote about For King & Country’s songs here and here.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills–From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” – Psalm 121

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:28-29

There are wonderful and terrible things in this life I do not understand. The cycles of seasons. The next breath. The birth of a baby. The death of a young mother. A world crumbling under the weight of its own sin. At the same time, a world still sustaining life in exquisite beauty in the face of centuries of war. How is all this possible?

We are carried. By a God who loves us, comes alongside us, and lifts us up out of the muck and mire of our troubles. He shoulders our burdens. I am daily grateful to Him for that, because my shoulders are too small and weak for the task. Even when I don’t see God in a situation, I know, by faith and by experience, that He is present. How would we bear the wonders without Someone to praise for them? How would we bear the wrongs of this world without knowing, deep in our hearts, that He carries us?

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Some of you go forth to your daily labors and you find the place of your service to be a real wilderness, full of trial and everything that is unpleasant to you. Yet look again, with eyes touched with Heaven’s eye-salve and, instead of seeing the bitter poverty, and the grinding toil, and the daily trial, you will begin to see that God is in it all and, “underneath are the everlasting arms!” You shall go cheerfully home to Heaven, borne up by God. He who made you will carry you! He who loves you will bear you all the days of old till you shall come unto the Mountain of God and stand in your lot at the end of the days!”*

Luke and Joel Smallbone, of the group for King & Country, write so honestly about the Shoulders of God. The writing comes out of their personal experience of both a life-threatening illness and the birth of a child. Watch their video linked below which visually tells stories some of which we have also experienced. Thankful for these guys who help me to worship God as He is. Strong and true.

Worship with me:

When confusion’s my companion
And despair holds me for ransom
I will feel no fear
I know that You are near
When I’m caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I’ll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near

CHORUS
My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders

You mend what once was shattered
And You turn my tears to laughter
Your forgiveness is my fortress
Oh Your mercy is relentless

My help is from You
Don’t have to see it to believe it
My help is from you
Don’t have to see it, ‘cause I know, ‘cause I know it’s true.**

Blog - Shoulders - for King & Country

*The Everlasting Arms by Charles Spurgeon

YouTube Video (Lyrics) – Shoulders – for King & Country

YouTube Video – Shoulders – for King & Country – Official Video

YouTube Video – Shoulders Live on K-Love with For King & Country

See It First: Go Behind the Scenes of For King & Country’s Powerful Video, ‘Shoulders

**K-Love – Lyrics to Shoulders by songwriters Luke Smallbone, Joel Smallbone, Ben Glover, Tedd Tjornhom

Story Behind the Song – Shoulders – NewReleaseTuesday.com Interview with Luke Smallbone

For Hope: Luke Smallbone Finds Grace in the Darkness

Bio Page – for King & Country

Rebecca St. James – singer, songwriter, author, and sister to Joel and Luke Small bone

Photo Credits: YouTube and www.forkingandcountry.ccom website

Hello, Goodbye, Hello – This Time It’s Stella

2015 July Phone Pics - Flowers, Blog, Stella, Shyndigz, Christie 001 (242)

The packed, weighed-to-the-pound bags stand like soldiers in the pre-dawn morning. We have been the travelers or have sent off travelers more times than I can count. This time it’s Stella.2015 July Stella Going-Away Party 010 (2)

Hello. We met Stella, a Chinese student at Virginia Commonwealth University, three Novembers ago at the International Student Thanksgiving Dinner on the VCU campus. We were table hosts, among many other Americans sponsoring students for dinner that evening. She, her Japanese friend Junko, and another student from the Congo, Gloria, were our guests (and soon-to-be-friends).Football with Junko, Stella, GLoria

After that, we shared many other local (American and international) customs and events. A high school football game. Food at all sorts of Richmond restaurants. Tacky Lights Tour. Christmas. Birthdays. Sleep-Overs. Graduations.

Having lived overseas ourselves, we are so thankful for the deep friendships we’ve known in those places. We hoped to be that kind of friend to these precious girls. As always, we received back much more than we gave.

Goodbye. The three years since meeting Stella flew by, as time does. She graduated this May from VCU with an accounting degree. This summer she plowed through the exams for a CPA. I am so proud of her. This beautiful, smart girl. How hard she worked. What joy we shared over her successes! She waits now for the results on the last sections…and she says her goodbyes…for now.

2015 July Stella & Friends2015 July Stella Going-Away Party 014 (2)

When you leave one life and return to another, there are massive amounts of details to manage. This last day of her stay in the US was, of course, such a day. I was the driver, and she ticked stuff off her list, including all the last’s of closing down an apartment and distributing stuff to saying goodbye’s to friends. Including one who’s having a baby in the next few days. Those goodbyes are hard for all of us – the just-not-quite-long-enough stays for all the hellos we want to say.

2015 July Phone Pics - Flowers, Blog, Stella, Shyndigz, Christie 001 (194)2015 July Phone Pics - Flowers, Blog, Stella, Shyndigz, Christie 001 (217)

One of our favorite places to go (Stella, Junko, Gloria, and me) was Shyndigz – an unbelievably fun and yummy dessert restaurant in town. Shyndigz with Junko, Stella, & GLoria

Stella and I celebrated her finishing up closing down life here with a visit there. Stella’s favorite is the Nutella cake, but alas it wasn’t on the menu. We managed a close-second in the chocolate salted caramel cake (shown below – blogging on Shyndigz soon).

Shyndigz chocolated salted caramel cakeShyndigz Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake – Foodspotting.com

We grabbed that piece of cake at Shyndigz 2Go, to eat later, and made one last food memory at a restaurant where she’d never been before. Cracker Barrel.

2015 July Phone Pics - Flowers, Blog, Stella, Shyndigz, Christie 001 (221)2015 July Phone Pics - Flowers, Blog, Stella, Shyndigz, Christie 001 (226)

 We didn’t eat the whole time we spent time together these three years, but we tried! Food sure has its place in friendship. That’s what Stella is looking forward to most in returning to China – the food. I remember, myself, the amazing food-with-friends experiences we had living in North Africa. Such sweet and satisfying memories.

Hello. This morning, riding east toward the airport with Stella and her bags, was beautiful. The sky came alive with the sun’s rising in deep pinks and oranges. It’s going to be a good day…even as Stella leaves us for now, and says Hello again to her family, friends, and life in China.2015 July Phone Pics - Flowers, Blog, Stella, Shyndigz, Christie 001 (314)2015 July Phone Pics - Flowers, Blog, Stella, Shyndigz, Christie 001 (310)We will meet again, Dear Friend. The Hellos are worth the heartache in the Goodbyes. God be with you until we meet again – either here, or there…2015 July Phone Pics - Flowers, Blog, Stella, Shyndigz, Christie 001 (316)

Postscript: “I know that You are near” – the line of song that came on when I started my car, leaving Stella and feeling sad. God is kind.