Tag Archives: Newsboys

Healthy Repentance

I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.
Acts 20:21, NLT*

These days, if people say “that’s a sin” they either mean “what a shame; that’s unfortunate” or they mean “you’re disqualified; that’s offensive.”

But it makes sense that in the eyes of a holy God, we often do, think, or say things that fall short of His perfect standards. All of us, so there’s no ground for pointing fingers. We do sin. Sometimes even on purpose. It’s natural, but that doesn’t make it right.

The point is, for a healthy spiritual life, we have to repent of our sin. We acknowledge it as wrong and choose to change. We turn to God.

Anywhere but to God is pointing away from Him. We can only grow in wholeness if we’re moving in the right direction.

To do that that, faith in Jesus is essential:

  • for receiving salvation: cleansing from what’s offensive and damaged in us
  • for daily life: ongoing salvation and cleansing, also leading, power, growth, comfort, wisdom, courage, and the list goes on
  • for the future: He is our hope of heaven

God our Father, thank You for sending Your Son to be our Saviour. Thank You this gift is for everyone who will accept it. Thank You for the faith to believe. Please help us to grow in You and to share Your message with those who still need to hear.

Here’s the original Newsboys’ medley of “Where You Belong/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” (there’s a newer version on their Hallelujah for the Cross album, but this is the one I bonded with).

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Without Proof: the Playlist

Each of the Redemption’s Edge novels has an associated soundtrack in my head. For Secrets and Lies, it may have leaked into readers’ heads, too, because the novel is full of references to songs. For Heaven’s Prey and Without Proof, the music isn’t mentioned by name, but my imagination links certain songs with certain characters or situations.

Here’s my playlist for Without Proof: music that complements the characters and theme. Below the YouTube screen, I’ve listed each title and artist. Most connect with Amy’s identity struggles, but there’s also Michael’s song for Amy and what I think of as Michael’s and Gilles’ song from back in the day. Scroll down and have a look 🙂

Without Proof playlist:
Come as You Are” by Crowder
Always” by the Newsboys
Say You Need Love” by the Newsboys
What Are You Waiting For?” by Nickelback
Let it All Come Out” by the Newsboys
The Letter” by the Newsboys
I Belong” by Kathryn Scott
“My New Name” by Todd Agnew (not in the YouTube mix… I couldn’t find it there)
Child of God” by Kathryn Scott
Yours to Hold” by Skillet (Michael’s song for Amy)
A Friend Like You” by Geoff Moore and The Distance (Michael’s and Gilles’ song)

Called to Share

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favour on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.
1 Corinthians 15:10, NLT*

“Whatever I am now” – Paul said his actions in persecuting the early Christians made him unworthy to be called an apostle.

Clearly, he was an apostle, or as William Barclay described him, an ambassador for Christ. Yes, he came late to the party, and with a terrible history. But when Jesus got Paul’s attention, Paul surrendered and threw his whole heart into spreading the news that the promised Saviour had come.

Paul didn’t dare let his past disqualify him – not when Jesus had personally commissioned him. He didn’t let the unusual circumstances of his calling inflate his opinion of himself or of those who’d served the Lord from the beginning. Nor did he allow his “thorn in the flesh” hold him back – instead he learned to rely on God’s strength. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

He never claimed to have deserved God’s special favour – anything but. Yet he seized what God gave him, and poured out his own life in service to his new Master.

If we look around us, we’ll see many who appear better equipped to spread the good news about Jesus. But the God who called Paul, and whose grace was enough for him, wants to use us too. He seems to like to work through the unlikely… perhaps because we’re more aware of how much we need to rely on Him?

God our Saviour… our King. Thank You for the privilege of belonging to You. Rekindle our wonder that You saved us, and open our eyes to see the opportunities You give to share You with others. Help us not to think less – or more – of ourselves than we should, but instead to think most about You. Show us how to live for You so others can come to know You as well.

The Newsboys’ song, “Go Glow,” encourages us to share what we’ve received.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Too High a Price

God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.
1 Corinthians 7:23, NLT*

How is it possible to forget the Cross… and the full cost of Jesus’ sacrifice?

Yet over time as believers, we get caught up in life and responsibilities, and it’s not foremost in our minds.

If God had simply found us at the side of the road while He was out for a stroll, just handed us spare change for a coffee or enough cash for bus fare home, it wouldn’t matter so much if we didn’t reach our potential.

Instead, His investment was huge. He came looking for us, in the person of His Son. He gave up His life to pay our ransom and to erase our sins.

That’s much too high a price to squander.

But if we’re not vigilant about our choices and attitudes, our focus can slip. We can find our lives diluted – even dominated – by things that don’t have eternal value. Sometimes that’s from buying into society’s mindset, but sometimes it’s from listening to our own selfish natures.

God may have given us many blessings to enjoy, and if so, let’s enjoy them. But let’s be careful to keep Him first in our hearts and to put His priorities above our own.

God our Rescuer and Redeemer, You know how often we need to be rescued again. Forgive our blindness, selfishness and inattention. Draw us closer to You, and teach us to delight in Your presence. Change and grow us, so we’ll forget our wandering ways and thrive in Your kingdom.

I didn’t realise how many artists had recorded “Lead Me to the Cross.” Here it is from the Newsboys:

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

A Slave of God

This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
James 1:1a, NLT*

I think the word “slave” meant something different to James than it does in a North American context. In identifying himself this way, he’s not saying he’s dehumanized, abused, a victim, or in any way to be pitied or rescued.

He’s a willing slave. There existed in Bible times men or women who could have been freed but who chose to commit to a lifetime’s service to their master. Imagine how good a person this type of master would be, and how futile the slave might otherwise see his or her options to be.

If we look at this in the context of service to a good master, and with the slave being like a servant, worker or employee, what does it imply for our faith walk?

  • serve out of love, wholeheartedly
  • remember we’re under authority
  • we’re also under protection
  • we’re provided for, both our physical needs and the material we need to do our assigned tasks
  • obedience is expected, without whining or attitude
  • thinking is expected, with questions as needed; arguing and back-talk are not
  • work is also expected, so our service isn’t doing God a favour
  • it’s not about us

Plenty to think about, isn’t it? What are some other benefits I’ve missed?

Our God, we are Your servants and ambassadors, but You also call us your children and heirs. Help us grow in relationship with You so we can conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of Your great Name, serving in such a way that others will discover how good You are.

We give ourselves to God in response to who He is. Here’s the Newsboys‘ song “Give Me to You.” (Apologies for the extraneous commas in this video. It was the only one I could find with lyrics.)

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Our Point of View and God’s

“You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.
John 7:4-5, NLT*

Jesus’ brothers were urging Him to go to Jerusalem, where more people could see His miracles. They clearly believed in His power, but didn’t “believe” in the sense of recognizing Him as the promised Messiah.

Without that crucial piece of understanding, the future they saw for Jesus wasn’t in line with the Father’s actual plan. Jesus, who always listened to the Father and did what He said, knew the path ahead of Him and chose His actions accordingly.

Jesus’ brothers’ advice was aimed at reaching a different goal. So was Peter’s, when he rebuked Jesus for saying He had to die. Jesus’ strongly-worded response included this assessment: “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Matthew 16:23b, NLT. In context: Matthew 16:21-23.)

Today, Christians know Jesus is our Saviour, who gave His life and rose again to restore us to relationship with Him. But don’t we still ask or expect things that aren’t in His plan?

In our limited perspective, we ask for what we see as right, not knowing we don’t have the full picture. We ask for what we want, what we think is best. Sometimes that’s selfish and near-sighted, but sometimes it’s clearly the best – at least from our limited, human perspective.

Those are the hard times, when God doesn’t answer as we expect because He sees and knows more. He sees the future, and the ripple effects from the need we’ve been praying about. He sees how to better use this time of struggle.

When we don’t understand, it has to come back to trusting the God who does understand. The better we know His character, the easier it is to trust Him and to surrender to His will and His way.

God our Creator, Saviour and Sustainer, help us to surrender every aspect of our lives into Your capable hands. Give us open eyes and hearts to see more of what You see, and give us the faith to trust You even when we can’t see.

A song I come back to when I’m troubled or confused about the future is the Newsboys‘ “Lord (I Don’t Know).”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Expectations and Limitations – And Freedom

But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him.
Daniel 11:32b, NLT*

The context of this verse is a prophecy about a future king who will “flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant.” (Daniel 11:32a, NLT*)

What protects God’s people? They know Him, and they act on that knowledge. They rely on Him.

The last two weekends I’ve been blessed to attend worship conferences. Both highlighted the importance of knowing who we are in Christ – defining our identity and measuring ourselves by what God says instead of what people say.

Knowing God sets us free.

My notes from the most recent event include this: “Because I don’t feel like I’m what I’m supposed to be, I limit what God can do through me.”

That’s not a direct quote from our speaker, Jo Saxton (ALIVE Conference simulcast) but she said something close to that.

The main point I took from her message was that we often accept limitations from individuals, society, or ourselves, when we need to live by the truth of who God says we are. When we hold back, God respects our choice and we miss the chance to bless and to be blessed.

What limitations or expectations have you and I accepted? From whom? Or what are we measuring ourselves against? How does this impact what God might want to do through us?

If we know Him – and choose to believe what we know about Him – we can live by His grace and strength instead of holding back in fear of what others might say.

Here’s where I think today’s verse applies. We know who the Liar is, who wants to get our eyes off of God. Those lies include things like “you’re not good/ smart/ old/ young/ gifted (etc.) enough.”

If we know and believe our God, we can resist the lies with truth – “For I can do everything [that God asks me to do] through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT*)

Gracious Father, draw us closer to Your heart and deeper into Your Word. Give us faith and courage to choose to believe You and to resist the lies that diminish us. Show us where we’ve accepted limitations instead of stepping out for You. Forgive us, and give us new chances to live for Your glory.

Our song is the Newsboys‘ “The Upside.” Notice the questions about what’s holding us down.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Keep Listening

So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.
Luke 8:18, NLT*

Jesus’ warning here is why we need to read the Bible – daily – and to ask God to open our ears and teach us. It’s why we need to spend time with other Christians, not just socializing but also sharing what we’ve seen God do and what we’re learning.

It’s what I’m afraid of for so many people who know God but don’t spend any time with Him. I don’t want to venture into the debate over whether a person can lose his/her salvation. Different denominations have different understandings on that one. But we can definitely lose our closeness with God, lose the ability to hear Him and to please Him. Lose the chance to lay up treasure in Heaven through loving service on earth.

Reading the Bible doesn’t have to be hard. Pick an understandable translation, and begin your reading time with a prayer that God will teach you. He loves to answer that kind of prayer! A physical copy of the Bible isn’t a must. Sites like Biblegateway.com offer various devotions that can come directly to your email.

Prayer isn’t hard either. It’s being quiet with God, listening as well as speaking. It’s spending time with Him – with a willing spirit, ready to adore and obey. It’s relationship time, just like with our loved ones. I have some other posts on prayer here.

We dare not risk losing what we have just because we haven’t taken time or have been too busy for God. Oddly enough, a few minutes with Him at the beginning of the day can make the rest of it fall into place better than expected. After all, He is our Shepherd and does give us strength and wisdom when we ask.

God our loving Father, our strong and caring Shepherd, what a privilege to be in relationship with You. Forgive us for the times we allow ourselves to drift away, and please restore us to intimacy with You. Help us to be intentional in spending time with You, and to listen and obey.

Here’s an unusual song that matches our verse: “Lost the Plot,” by the Newsboys. I like the extra Scripture verses included in the video among the lyrics.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Belief and Trust

“Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
Luke 5:12b-13, NLT*

Imagine the fervent, desperate hope in the leper’s voice – in his heart.

There was no cure for the disease at the time, and Luke calls it an “advanced case.” He might have been missing fingers, toes… part of his nose.

He believes – he knows – Jesus can heal him.

So he asks. Luke says he begs. There’s no sense of entitlement here. He’s lost all that a long time ago.

Jesus touches him – touches a potentially contagious untouchable. And Jesus heals him. Instantly.

The man is now whole. Clean, as opposed to unclean. Once the priests confirm it, he can go back to his home, his family. He’ll even be happy to go back to work.

Two things stand out to me in this man’s example: his belief and his trust.

He has no doubt that Jesus has the power and authority to heal and cleanse him.

If You are willing” suggests that he knows not everyone who asks gets healed. Even if he doesn’t know that, we do.

Unbelief can cripple our prayers. Remember the father of the demon-possessed boy? “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief”? (Mark 9:24, NLT*) But even believing prayers may be answered with a “no.” Remember how the Apostle Paul’s believing pleas for relief from his “thorn” were denied because it better served God’s Kingdom purposes for the thorn to remain. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

We need to pray “if You are willing, You can…” but we can’t let the “if” become doubt of God’s goodness.

In one sense, of course He’s willing – as in, He doesn’t want to see us hurting, and He loves us. But because He loves us so much, loves the whole planetful of us, sometimes His wisdom chooses to allow an unpleasant situation to continue, for the ultimate good – for us or for others.

“If You’re willing” must never become “If You’re good” or “If You love me” … or even “If I deserve it.” It simply means “You can, so I’m asking, but I don’t know Your full plan.” And we need to trust His heart, however He answers.

Almighty and all-wise God, Your plans and purposes are beyond our understanding, but You have clearly revealed Your heart in Jesus’ life and death. You’ve revealed Your power in His resurrection. If You are willing – if You choose – You can do anything. Forgive us for the times we doubt Your power, and for the times we doubt Your love. Help our unbelief. Teach us to trust You and to live and pray with confidence in Your care.

Trusting the God we know when we don’t know the details or the future… Here’s the Newsboys with “Lord (I Don’t Know)“. I’ve used this one as a prayer before.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Living Free or Tyrannized

Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.
1 Peter 4:1-2, MSG*

These are good verses to take into the new year, and to memorize for perspective.

Whether we’re suffering or simply living amid the day-to-day opportunities for self-indulgence, may we be alert to notice the choices. And may we choose growth.

“That old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way” – Peter says it plainly, and it’s deeply ingrained in each of us. Especially in a North American culture that assumes it’s our right to have what we want.

Free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want” – and the better we know God, the more sure we can be that what He wants is better and more healthy than what we want, as well as it being for our ultimate good.

Perhaps the key is in the first part of this passage: learning to think like Jesus. Renewing our minds, as Paul says in Romans 12. And diligently cooperating in the “weaning” from self-focus.

The Christian life is a process. We’re not just saved and instantly complete. We need to mature. The New Testament letters emphasize growth and our responsibility to grow.

Peter gives an example later in his letters: in 2 Peter 1:5-9 he challenges believers to build their faith daily. I’ve heard it explained as “God saved us, He is saving us, and He will save us.” There’s a lot of work to do, and we have to do our part in it. God won’t force us to change.

Holy and gracious God, thank You for rescuing us from the penalty of sin and for rescuing us from ourselves. We could never earn Your grace, and You give it freely. Help us to be diligent in working with you to break the sinful habits that linger in our lives, so we can grow in spiritual maturity and in intimacy with You.

This week’s song by the Newsboys asks what if we decided to live like “My Friend Jesus.”

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson