Song Lists

Battle Belongs Devotional

Ever faced a vast army? Have you walked alone down your driveway to see an angry mob glaring back at you waiting for you to cross the residential boundary line so they could attack? Would you turn around and run back inside? The story in 2 Chronicles describes a vignette like this and is the inspiration behind the song Battle Belongs. The people of God find themselves facing a war they cannot win without help.  In 2 Chronicles 20, one of my favorite stories in the Bible, a huge army has amassed to come against the people of God," Wickham explains. "Every time I sing Battle Belongs, it pumps me up because we know that in anything we might face, our God is bigger. I hope this song reminds people that He is with us and for us. If we stand firm and hold our position, we will see the salvation of the Lord on our behalf!"  - Phil Wickham We have been facing a pandemic for some time now, and it isn't the virus. The most common presenting issue in my counseling office is anxiety, along with the unbearable feeling of being alone. Unbearable aloneness is the current crisis we face. We may be a part of community groups, bible studies, ministry teams, surrounded by others, and yet, feel lonely. Surrounded by people and still feeling alone seems incongruent. But it is sadly common and very understandable. Aloneness is the vast army many of us face.  I will feel alone, not just in the absence of people around me, but when the people around me don't know who I am. Ask yourself: who knows me? Who knows me at my best along with the side of myself when I am compromised? Does my compromised self stay hidden? When you feel anxious, angry, or disappointed, are you alone in those moments?  At any given time, we can be our best selves or our worst selves. In my work, I notice that we often feel uncared for when we are showing up less than our best selves. When we are afraid that we won't be heard, accepted, or understood, we don't allow others to see behind the curtain of our one-dimensional "Instagram-worthy" personas. We hide from the potential for criticism or judgment. We present only the parts of ourselves that we decide are worthy of being known. We are often validated to keep offering only the good because we experience the same criticism and judgment we fear when we show up compromised.  In 2 Chronicles 20, it says "You will not have to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf". – Phil Wickham Do we hold to the distorted belief that we can only bring our best selves to worship? Isn't the better way to hope that our faith communities would be safe for us to show up no matter what? Sadly, many are not. People who have been hurt by church communities often end up in offices like mine. They have been minimized, victimized, and shamed because they risked showing more vulnerable parts of themselves and faced rejection or invalidation. They heard hollow, spiritually sounding phrases; vain attempts meant to offer hope but left them feeling broken and damaged. Hurting people are told to, "cast all their cares onto Jesus," "trust He has a plan," or that "God is using this season to grow you." There is truth in these words, but if we over-spiritualize distress, we serve to protect only ourselves from our discomfort witnessing someone else's pain. If I offer you some spiritual platitude when you bring me your pain, I only create distance between us, and you are left feeling alone with it.  For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. – 2 Chronicles 20:12 Unbearable aloneness is the crisis we face today.  Why are we not brave enough to be with another while they are in pain? Please resist the temptation to rush in to fix, to offer some empty spiritual words; instead, allow each other space to be in it. My Christian clients are often very relieved to hear that they can feel an emotion from beginning to end, and it doesn't mean they are not "trusting" in the Lord. I have witnessed the great misconception or belief that rewards and commends chasing after emotions like joy or peace but criticizes all negative emotional experiences.  What if we stopped being afraid of emotions…both the ones that reside in ourselves and the ones we witness in someone else? What if we humanized emotion? By our very design, God gives us the neurobiological mechanisms to have feelings and respond to His creation.  We can be in awe. We can feel joy. We know sadness.We feel anger … and we can be disappointed, hurt, and betrayed.  All of this is what it means to be human: we feel. Emotions show up in our bodies, wired into our physiology. When we pay attention or notice them, they do come and go like waves come and go. Pathologizing people as "too emotional" or labeling emotions as good or bad feeds loneliness. Emotions exist to help us experience the world God created.  But now, this is what the Lord says- he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze; For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. – Isaiah 43: 1-3 Unbearable aloneness is like a vast army standing against us. When faced with profound loneliness, our Father says: I will be with you! It is a battle cry, your war song. Wherever I am, in the middle of the storm, falling from the mountain top or dragging myself across the desert wasteland. My God is with me…undoing my aloneness. In the face of the loneliness experienced globally, knowing that He chooses to be close to me even when I am at my worst, is deeply encouraging.  Imagine the healing possibilities for us if we could be with one another in our pain, sorrow, and disappointment and undo the aloneness so prevalent in our world.    Tracey Dahl, M.A. is a writer and Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) at Shoreline Counselling in Langley, BC (Canada). She is married to Ryan Dahl (Founder of PraiseCharts) and the mother of four grown children. Battle Belongs © 2020 Phil Wickham Music, Simply Global Songs, Sing My Songs (Admin by Essential Music Publishing) Bethel Music Publishing CCLI Song No. 7148126. 

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Promises (Maverick City) Devotional

We've been on stand-by for the birth of our first grandchild for what feels like forever. As her due date came and went, the waiting game began. She received her eviction notice but seemed particularly content in her womb. Anticipation of her arrival intensified every day that first week in April. Pondering and praying one morning, I heard myself whisper, "I love her already." We do love her already. We have seen more ultrasound photos of her sweet little hands, feet and pouty little lips than all her aunt and uncles' in utero pictures combined! We love her already.  Finally, on the evening of April 12, with one text, we learned she arrived! Listening to our firstborn son describe the birth of his first while hearing her precious newborn cries in the background is a moment we won't soon forget.  Our son and daughter-in-law planned for a home water birth with the support and expertise of midwives. They had a plan! As newly-minted grandparents, we know all too well that we can't plan for everything. The baby came fast and furious, opting to forego the midwife's arrival, and instead make her appearance in the privacy of her mom and dad's capable hands. Our granddaughter made her grand entrance on the bathroom floor, with Daddy's hands ready and waiting. With two parents already in love with her, she was welcomed into her new family.  So much is happening in our hearts. We are delighted that the baby arrived safely, shocked that they delivered her on their own, and awe-struck by the love and affection moving through our hearts and minds. We loved her already.  That word "already" implies a great deal: before a specified or implied past, present, or future time. "Already" happens before she masters anything. Before she shows that unique achievement. Before she meets any goals or reaches any milestones. We loved her before any past, present, or future accomplishments. Our granddaughter doesn't know how "to do" anything to earn our affection. We love her already. Babies intuitively know how to take in our love. No one teaches them to reach for and cry for affection. They respond to our gaze, and they are calmed by our hummed hushes. Responsive, loving caregivers provide comfort to babies when they are in distress, and children learn to trust their parent's safety and love. Holding my granddaughter, watching her eyes move towards her daddy's voice, my heart bursts. She knows her daddy's tone and affection. She is already drawn to his expressions of love for her. As I sit, feeling the depth of this love billowing up inside me, a steadying hush settles me.  I have this thought: His love is greater.  We gathered, admiring our little one. She showed no discomfort with our adoration. She wriggled, startled when we shifted her from one family member to the other, but she was deeply content held in our affection. Someone whispers, "I love her already." We all smile in agreement. We do. We love her already. We loved her before, but now the love is immeasurably magnified with a "presence" we can see, touch and kiss.  Again, this thought: His love is greater.  Yes, greater, deeper, more profound, more enduring, His love is greater. Can you take it in? Can you linger and receive this enduring love that God has for you? Our life experiences distort our receptive capacities. Our attachment systems, hardwired in at birth, are disrupted by disappointment, unmet needs, losses, grief -- the hard stuff of relationships. Over time some may close off their receptive capacities, staying protected and hidden. Closing our hearts from others creates a false sense of safety, but we remain distant and disconnected from others. We might find it challenging to receive human affection or love, dismiss our need for it, or shift toward people-pleasing to earn love and affection. These distortions in our receptive capacity to take in love and affection show up in our human connections and will undoubtedly appear in our relationship with God.  Check your receptive affective capacity to take in human affection. When someone says "You sang beautifully this morning," or "this meal is delicious," do you bat that compliment back so quickly that you startle the giver? We mumble things like, "It was ok, I don't know, it was a bit overcooked." How uncomfortable do you feel? Imagine sitting for a moment in the discomfort of someone's affection for you when you have heard heartfelt messages of appreciation like these:  You are admired.You are respected.You are gifted.You bring such joy into my life.I love spending time with you.You are funny.I love you. Shake off the false humility that wants to pass back these words and allow yourself time to take them in and notice what happens inside. Allow yourself to be touched, moved, and loved. Then, you can take it a step further. His love for you is greater. His love for you is passed, present and future -- it is already. Without you doing a thing. Nothing right, nothing wrong, nothing outstanding. His love is "already" for you. We are invited to experience His love. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3: 19-21, NLT) His love. His love is greater than the billowing up, indescribable warmth spreading through my chest as I hold my granddaughter. His love is greater than the joy escaping through my breath mixed into the tears streaming down my face when I heard her first cries over the phone. His love is greater. Don't miss it. The totality of God's love for us has already matured. It won't grow or deepen. We don't have to be alarmed by this. His affections won't become more evident, deepen or shift because His love for us is at the greatest depth we could ever hope or imagine. He loves us already. His love isn't dependent on "getting to know us." He isn't the grandparent waiting to hold a newborn grandchild. He knows us. He fully knows us. Our past, present, and future selves are known. And He loves with more depth, breadth, and presence than our minds can comprehend.  Be held in the Father's love for you. Close your eyes and drink that in. You are fully known. God knows all the places and parts of you, the ones you share and the ones you hide, and He loves you.  Go deeper into Christ's love. "This song has honestly been a reminder for me that God is everything we'll ever need. My prayer is that everyone who listens to this is reminded of the Father's heart toward us and that He loves to take care of us." (Naomi Raine, Maverick City, JFH) Tracey Dahl, M.A. is a writer and Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) at Shoreline Counselling in Langley, BC (Canada). She is married to Ryan Dahl (Founder of PraiseCharts) and the mother of four grown children. Promises was written by Dante Bowe, Aaron Moses, Joe L. Barnes, Keila Marin, Lemuel Marin, and Phillip Carrington Gaines, and recorded by Maverick City.

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