Sunday, August 29, 2010

Desert Song: Behind the Scenes

Yesterday in my blog I quoted from Hillsong's "Desert Song" and included a link to a performance of it by Brooke Fraser and Jill McCloghry, two of Hillsong's worship leaders. Today I stumbled across the story of what happened in Jill's life in the weeks prior to that recording. It is a powerful testimony of Jill's incredible faith and trust in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances and really adds even more depth to the song itself. I've posted two videos, first posting the interview with Jill and second reposting the song itself.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Desert Song

***This is my 75th post on Praises with a Skillful Song!***

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame

Lately I've been dwelling on the idea of wilderness. It's one thing to sing a song like "Blessed be Your Name" and belt lyrics like "Blessed be Your name / When I'm found in the desert place / Though I walk through the wilderness / ... / On the road marked with suffering / Though there's pain in the offering" in the midst of our very American-flavored Christianity without much in the way of suffering, persecution, or hardship.

For the first time in what I would term my maturing personal relationship with Christ I've walked through a (small in some regards, not so small in others) wilderness this summer. Sure I'd had hardship these past few years, but it was always in the midst of a season of blessing and growth. I'd known that I was going to be experiencing a change in seasons with graduation and transitioning into doing EDGE with The Navigators, I just wasn't exactly sure what that was going to look like. It's turned out to be much different than I expected.

At the beginning of the summer I felt like the theme verse for this coming season in my life was the first verse of II Samuel chapter 2. After a period of waiting on God, David asks God if he should go up to one of the cities of Judah. God's answer is "Go up." David asks where he should go and God provides a specific city/path for him to follow: Hebron.

Honestly, it's been much more difficult than I'd expected. David goes up and is crowned King of Judah within three verses. Not that I was expecting to come away with a five-figure check after just one face-to-face, but what I was expecting was closer to the idea of green pastures and quiet waters and not anything like the valley of the shadow of death.

I should have expected it to be more difficult and here's why: Jesus set the example for all of us with a perfect life, right? Well not that any of our lives will line up experience for experience with his, but Jesus had to go through the wilderness before beginning His ministry too. Matthew 4:1 reads, "Then Jesus [after His baptism] was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil." Now I could literally go on for paragraph after paragraph and keep sharing, but I'll curtail my thoughts into two main points: the Spirit's leading and Jesus sustenance in the desert.

The same God that led David with the words "Go up" led Jesus into the wilderness and that same God is leading me now. And before God led David up to be crowned king He had David endure years of living, you guessed it, in the desert and running for his life from Saul. I still feel that II Samuel 2:1 is my theme verse for the present, but what I'm supposed to learn from it is completely different than I expected. It's easy to follow God when He's leading us where we want to go. Do I still follow Him when things don't turn out how I thought they should?

Before Jesus could begin His ministry, God used the wilderness and the Devil's temptations to expose what Jesus' true priorities were and where His soul was rooted: the Word. When everything was stripped away from Him, including food to eat, what did Jesus cling to and rely on? It was the Scriptures that sustained Him in the desert and enabled Him to stand up to the Devil's schemes. Am I looking for life in my own efforts and the approval or support of others or in God's Word to me?

Do you trust God to lead you, even if it isn't in the direction you expected? Where are you rooted: the world, or the Word?

Here's a video of Hillsong's "Desert Song" (the lyrics from the beginning of this post)-I've gained a much deeper appreciation for it over these past few weeks.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Praise Instead of Grumbling

I'm beginning to empathize with the Israelites. Let me explain a bit.

For those of you that are unaware, I'm in the middle of fundraising as I go on staff with The Navigators at Cal State University, Long Beach. This is not an insignificant amount of funds to raise and has been my main focus these past seven weeks or so. The process has been slow as I've met with people (friends, family, pastors, businessmen, etc.), sent out letters to those I can't meet with, and cast my vision for my ministry this upcoming year. But although it's been slow overall, things have really started to pick up in the last week or so.

Before I get to campus I am required to be at 75% of my budget-currently God has provided 45% of my budget. Here's where the connection with the Israelites comes in. Less than two weeks ago I was under 20%! Then in a flurry money just started pouring in-there are lots of neat individual stories but the main point is that there was MAJOR provision in a very short amount of time.

When the Israelites wandered through the wilderness and had no food, God provided manna and quail for them to eat. This provision was miraculous and amazing-birds and bread literally falling from the sky for them. Just like God's financial provision for me over the past two weeks, this was a specific need that God acknowledged and provided an answer to.

What was the Israelites' response? Complaining about other unmet needs. In the very next chapter the Israelites are complaining about not having enough water and asking if Moses brought them out to the desert to die! In the past whenever I read through this or any other section where the Israelites complained immediately after God had done something miraculous like parting the Red Sea or providing manna I would roll my eyes-"Here we go again."

Right now I'm in a similar place-I recognize and remember that God has just provided me in some pretty amazing ways, but I still need 30% of my budget before I can get to campus! Honestly, it's much, MUCH easier to focus on the latter half of that sentence, especially since students move into the dorms on campus this weekend!

I figure that there are two types of people reading this update: those who have already committed to supporting my ministry at Long Beach (in prayer, financially, or both) and those that have not yet. I'd like to ask some very specific things from both groups. Not that you can't read what I ask the other group or anything, but know that one of the following two paragraphs is targeted more specifically at you :)

For those of you who have already committed to supporting me: First of all, thank you! It's an amazing blessing to have the support of others in an endeavor like this. For those of you that have already given financially, I'm not asking you to give any more. I know that you didn't arrive at your commitment accidentally or haphazardly and don't want to be a burden. But to EVERYONE who has already to committed to supporting me, please be praying! Specifically pray:

1) for a grant application that is currently being reviewed that has the potential to double the $5000 my church committed to giving me
2) that I would be able to meet with a big potential donor that I have been unable to connect with as of yet
3) that my attitude through all this would not be like the Israelites but instead always grateful and God-honoring
4) that God would bring me to campus in His timing and be glorified through the whole process

For those of you that have not yet committed, would you prayerfully consider if my ministry at Long Beach is something the Lord would have you support? There is never a time when I will need fewer people praying for me! And I still need people who will commit to supporting me financially. Each commitment of just $25 a month raises me a whole percent! You can give online by clicking on the banner on the right-hand side or email me at

I will be sure to update everyone on how things continue to develop and how God is moving!

Friday, August 6, 2010


My dad passed this quote along to me after he reread "Wooden," the book by Coach John Wooden (the legendary UCLA basketball coach).

In this quote he defines one of the components of his Pyramid of Success: Intentness.

"[Intentness] is the ability to resist temptation and stay the course, to concentrate on your objective with determination and resolve.

Impatience is wanting too much too soon. Intentness doesn't involve wanting something. It involves doing something.

The road to real achievement takes time, a long time, but you do not give up. You may have setbacks. You may have to start over. You may have to change your method. You may have to go around, or over, or under. You may have to back up and get another start. But you do not quit. You stay the course. To do that, you must have intentness."

This is exactly what I needed to hear. My prayer is that I will continue to be intent as I continue raising funds for my (fast approaching!) ministry at Long Beach with The Navigators.