Tag Archives: Steven Curtis Chapman

Opportunity and Adventure

As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
Acts 8:26, NLT*

The Book of Acts reads like a series of adventures. Here, Philip had been preaching in Samaria (Acts 8:5-25). Many people had come to know the Lord, so Peter and John came from Jerusalem to see what was happening. Their involvement continued God’s work, and that seems to be the end of Philip’s role there, although looking on, we could assume there was plenty more for him to do.

Instead, the angel gave him a new assignment. Philip obeyed, and found a new opportunity prepared by God.

It’s not easy to be redirected when we’re in the middle of something, especially in ministry or service. Our focus is engaged. We want to finish the task, whatever it is.

Personally, I also want a bit of down time before taking on the next thing. A chance to relax, to feel “off duty”. And the next thing doesn’t feel like an adventure – more like the next round of responsibility. (Except for beginning to write a new novel. That energizes me.)

What if we could be open to see each new thing from God as an adventure? An opportunity to watch Him work in and through us? What might He do with enthusiastic workers instead of weary ones?

God our Shepherd and our Leader, You are always at work, and Your plans are always good. Forgive us for allowing ourselves to grow weary in Your service and for losing the wonder of the privilege of serving You. Please give us open eyes, eager hearts, and a willingness to work for Your Kingdom.

A song that refreshes my perspective is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Great Adventure.”

*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.

Darkness has Limits

Then I heard two holy ones talking to each other. One of them asked, “How long will the events of this vision last? How long will the rebellion that causes desecration stop the daily sacrifices? How long will the Temple and heaven’s army be trampled on?”
Daniel 8:13, NLT*

This is from one of Daniel’s visions, and in it, everything looked disastrous. Verse 12 says “The army of heaven was restrained from responding to this rebellion.”

Daniel saw evil winning – permitted to win – but even then the heavenly beings knew this was only for a time. God had allowed it for a purpose.

When things seem out of control, when God seems absent or not working… He still has the ultimate authority and He will work even this into His redemptive plan.

There are things God allows as a consequence of our sin-soaked world, things that should never happen and that we wouldn’t allow if we had His power. The people living in these circumstances are suffering greatly.

Knowing His goodness and the other aspects of His character helps us choose to trust Him even in the worst of times.

At the Lord Jesus’ return, when everything is made new, when His glory is fully revealed and all tears cease, somehow He will make everything right.

God our Creator and our Saviour, Your ways are beyond our understanding, and You are good. Help us trust You when we can’t see. Strengthen our faith to hold onto You. And we thank You that You will work everything out according to Your plan, and that it is a good plan, involving our salvation and our rescue. Thank You that Your glory will ultimately be revealed and Your people comforted, and that the enemy of our souls will be forever overcome.

A song of comfort for me when I don’t understand is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “God is God.”

*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.

Heaven’s Prey: the Playlist

First in the Redemption’s Edge series, last to get its own playlist…

There’s only one song mentioned in Heaven’s Prey. Quick, can you name it? Without scanning the rest of this post?

Didn’t think so 🙂

Here’s the Heaven’s Prey playlist: music that complements the characters and theme. (Song list below the video, if you just want to see what’s there without listening to it all.)

Heaven’s Prey Playlist:
Come Into His Kingdom” by Sheila Walsh (I think of this as the Heaven’s Prey theme song)
Here and Someday” by Jonny Diaz (Ruth’s song for Susan)
With Hope” by Steven Curtis Chapman (Ruth’s sister Lorna’s song for Susan)
Surrendering” by Sheila Walsh (Ruth’s song for Tony)
In Christ Alone” by Adrienne Liesching and Geoff Moore (an anchoring song for Ruth)
Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman (an anchoring song for Ruth)
Don’t Turn Your Back on Jesus” by Sheila Walsh
Amazing Grace” by Susan Boyle
To God Be the Glory” by the Royal Albert Hall audience and stage choirs (also a good theme song)


Expectant Life

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation…
1 Peter 1:3, NLT*

Peter’s talking about new life in Christ, and along with this “great expectation” we’re to live with, he speaks of our future hope of Heaven. Since he mentions these separately, I think the expectation is for the daily here-and-now.

I’ve been impacted by the invitation to become more aware of the presence of God, exemplified by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach. It’s a slow progress for me, with more forgetting than remembering. The key, says Brother Lawrence, is to simply turn back to God in prayer, acknowledging the lapse, and start afresh with Him.

This is the sort of prayer we can expect God to answer. Of course He wants to draw us closer to Himself. That’s the Gospel. And He has great patience in the drawing.

I think part of this great expectation Peter mentions is expecting God to be with us. This isn’t excited anticipation of a specific event, but a security, a calm trust.

What else might we expect, thinking of His presence?

  • Wisdom and guidance, not usually via angelic messenger, but as we quiet our spirits in submission to Him, He will communicate His leading.
  • Protection, of our souls, even if He allows our hearts and bodies to experience hurt.
  • Comfort, because He is with us and loves us.
  • Opportunities to serve Him through the people around us… and the strength to do so.
  • Insights and spiritual growth, as we rely on His grace and learn to see as He sees.

God of all grace and mercy, thank You for bringing us into relationship with Yourself and for Your promise to never leave or abandon us. Your patience and love are beyond any limits we could imagine. Help us to grow in faith, and teach us to rely more and more on Your presence.

With the phrasing the NLT gives our focus verse, what better song could I leave us with than Steven Curtis Chapman‘s “Great Expectations“?

*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.

Squandering the Inheritance

All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!
Luke 15:29-30, NLT*

Can’t you hear the bitterness in the older brother’s voice as he accuses his father? (If you’re unfamiliar with the story of the prodigal son, you can read it here: Luke 15:11-32)

Squandering… that’s exactly what the younger brother did with his share of the inheritance, advanced to him by his still-living father.

But the father had divided his estate between the two sons, and I think the older one was squandering his share too. Just in a different way. Because he didn’t realize it was his.

He hadn’t received it.

Have we, as Christians, fully received the inheritance that God gave us when He saved us? I’m not talking about the treasures we’re called to be storing up in Heaven, but those things we forget to notice, or don’t fully believe are ours.

The promises that are already ours: forgiveness, abundant life, the fruit of the Spirit that will grow as we work out our salvation: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT*)

The little gifts in each day: sunbeams (or fat, gorgeous snowflakes), a loved one’s smile, the perfect parking spot when late, a cup of tea steeped just right?

The wealth of God’s presence with us in the now.

Squandering our inheritance… it’s the same thing whether we misuse it or fail to receive it.

I haven’t run away like the younger son, but in some ways I’m like the elder one, “in the house, but not home.” I want to be home – engaged with God’s presence, relying on Him and receiving all He has for me.

It’s a simple matter of turning to God – returning to Him even if we’re not far away – repenting, in a sense. And it’s a lifetime to master the constant turning that keeps us close to Him when our natural bent is to slip away. For encouraging insights, I recommend Janice Dick’s first-Tuesday-of-the-month series of conversations about Brother Lawrence’s book, The Practice of the Presence of God. (Here’s the link to the first post: Satisfied by God)

Lord Jesus, You know how many days I just push through, head down, missing the tangible gifts You’ve strewn across my path and the more valuable spiritual gifts I need only stop and receive. I’m helpless to live the abundant life on my own, and that’s how You designed it. Teach me to be mindful of Your presence and my need, whether I’m quiet before You or attending daily duties. Open my eyes to see, ears to hear, and heart to receive all that You have for me.

Take four minutes and let this song from Steven Curtis Chapman bless you: “Be Still and 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.

Because You Belong to the Lord

Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.
Philippians 4:2, NLT*

Because you belong to the Lord.

We forget this perspective, forget that belonging to the Lord is supposed to make a difference in our behaviours and our motivations. Not so we can earn more love (or more salvation) – we can’t —  but because we love this God who loved us first.

We want to please Him. And we want the people around us to see the difference He makes in our lives. In cases like this, to see that we value loving Him more than we cherish our very real hurts and disagreements.

Euodia and Syntyche have had a serious falling out. They’ve worked as a team before, likely been close, so this is more painful than if they’d never been friends. Or perhaps they never really got along but were able to overcome it until now.

The friction is hurting the local body of believers. It’s also giving ammunition to the scoffers who think all this love-and-unity stuff is too good to be true.

And it does the same today. In every group of believers, there will be differences of opinion. Even conflicts. And our enemy loves to get us focused on anything that can divide us. The good news is, God wants to use these opportunities as ways to demonstrate His kingdom living. If we’ll rely on Him.

Because you belong to the Lord.

It’s not about us. It’s about God – the news of what He’s done for us and His power to save us from ourselves. We don’t have the luxury of indulging in hurt feelings and splits. Even if Euodia and Syntyche can’t work together anymore, like Paul and Barnabas, they need to reconcile in the common ground of Christ.

If we can make reconciliation more important than restitution or revenge, the world will recognize something – Someone – holy at work.

Our God, You ask us to do what’s impossible, but all things are possible with You if we’ll choose to believe. Conflict is part of living. Please help us to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel. Give us willingness and power to forgive, and remind us that forgiving doesn’t mean the “other side” is right. Help us to love those who have hurt us, and to pray for their good. Intervene in disputes among Your children. Help each to understand the other, and to see where confession, change and courage are needed. We ask this for the sake of Your Kingdom and Your reputation in this world.

Let Steven Curtis Chapman‘s “For the Sake of the Call” remind us of our greater purpose.

*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.

Songs of Home

Before Canadian East Coast music hit the national/international scene, we locals had been enjoying it for years. I remember sitting in a small auditorium, feeling the power of the audience singing along to “We Are an Island.”

The song is Cape Breton Island’s unofficial anthem. Cape Breton is a large, beautiful island on the north-eastern tip of Nova Scotia, and many of its sons and daughters have “gone down the road” to find employment. Like the other Atlantic Canadians, they’ve taken their music with them.

Singing along, caught up in the longing for home even though I was home, I found myself wishing for my own musical links. Yes, Nova Scotia has its own unofficial anthems but lovely as they are, they don’t resonate that way with me. And I’m blessed to be still living in my native province.

Songs of home implies the love and longing for a place we can’t yet be. Like the East Coast music to a displaced Maritimer or Newfoundlander. Like the songs the Israelites sang in the Babylonian captivity.

Not that I ever wanted to be exiled or homesick! But when you listen to the songs, there’s a sense of unity, of belonging. A sense of something bigger than the individual.

Years later, I know I’ve found my songs of home, and they’re everything I thought they’d be.

I’ve stood in crowds of concertgoers, united in our longing for God, singing worship songs led by the Newsboys, Robin Mark, Steven Curtis Chapman, David Crowder. I’ve stood in smaller congregations on Sunday mornings, singing songs of home led by worship teams or solo musicians. And I’ve sung along to my mp3 player when only God was listening.

What are some of your songs of home?

Sheltered in God

Whoever lives under the shelter of the Most High
will remain in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1, GW*

When you were little, did you like making blanket forts and nestling into small spaces? I used to love the airy, green “rooms” made by the trailing branches of giant willows.

Still do, actually. And I’ve turned a corner of my bedroom into a cosy “nest” for reading and writing.

The last few weeks have been extra hectic, but when I stopped to rest I kept getting thoughts of shelter. I drifted into some delightful naps while imagining myself tucked into a cosy nook in the overhang of a flowering shrub (on ground as soft as my bed, and without any insects).

When I read this week’s verse, “under the shelter” jumped out at me.

Under the shelter.

I think most translations say “in the shelter,” but this made me stop and think about the shelter images I’d been having. How good is our God, to prompt restful thoughts when I needed them, and then to remind me that He is our ultimate shelter, security and source of rest?

God Most High, Your shelter is perfectly secure because of Your strength. Even when bad things happen, You sustain us and can bring good if we trust You. Strengthen our faith, and help us to keep our trust in You. Open our eyes to the tender, personal ways You remind us of Your love, and help us to live and remain under Your sheltering shadow.

Our song is “Hiding Place,” written by Steven Curtis Chapman and Jerry Salley.

*GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) Copyright © 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group

Not-Reviews: Two CDs I Can’t Stop Listening To

I had a wonderful, wonder-filled stretch of days last week but not a lot of reading time. Instead of speeding through the next book I’ll review, I thought I’d share two CDs from 2011 that mean a lot to me.

Saying Grace, by Geoff Moore

Geoff Moore sang “I Believe” and “Saying Grace” at the Nova Scotia stop on the “Evening with Steven Curtis Chapman and Friends” tour this spring. Buying a CD when you’ve just experienced a live performance is risky, as a couple of dusty cases in my stack will prove. But those two songs fit into my soul at first hearing like they’d been there all along.

This album is about love: God’s love for us and our love in response to Him. It’s about gratitude. And it celebrates living a full and simpler life. It’s one of the most soul-encouraging albums I own.

The music is light-to-moderate rock, or perhaps country-crossover. Every song on the album means a lot to me and if I tried to pick a favourite I’d list at least half of them. For a limited time, you can listen to the album on Geoff Moore’s website. Just click the player on the lower left of the screen.

Anyone who didn’t get a copy of the CD at one of the concerts is finally able to pre-order it now through Geoff Moore’s online store. Pre-orders get you an immediate digital download of the entire album, and an autographed CD when it releases at the end of August.


On Fire, by Peter Furler

Okay, anyone who’s a newsboys fan from the Peter Furler days has to get this album. The band is different, so don’t expect classic newsboys sound, but the sound is great.

The CD is filled with Peter Furler’s trademark energy and it’s a lot of fun. And among the clever lyrics, driving vocals and instrumentation are some deeper-meaning moments that encourage my spirit.

A lot of the songs are loud rock, best played with the windows open and the sound cranked, and I’m sure I hear Super Mario-esque music in one of them. There are quieter, worshipful songs too. I love what he does with “Psalm 23”.

Every song on the album makes me smile and sing along, and again it’s too hard to pick an overall favourite. “I’m Alive” is my faith anthem, “Faster and Louder” has my vote for most fun, and “All in Your Head” called me back to writing fiction.

You can read a proper review of On Fire [p. 26] and an interview with Peter Furler [p. 20] in the July/August issue of Christian Musician Magazine. His closing thoughts on gratitude and perseverance encouraged me. The album is available through iTunes or from your preferred music store or provider.

[CDs from my personal library. If you buy On Fire through the above iTunes link, it benefits Peter Furler, not me. So go for it!]

Dependence on God

Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud.
Psalm 138:6, NLT*

This reminds me of the psalm where the writer would rather be a gatekeeper in the Lord’s house than to dwell (presumably in luxury) in the tents of the wicked.

Why do we get so caught up in wanting it both ways? We long for closeness with God, but at the same time we want to be powerful enough to handle things on our own.

We’re not God, we can’t do it all, and in the grand scheme of things we’re pretty insignificant. But He loves us. And He cares for us. And He works His strength through us for far greater impact than if it came from us.

Dependence on Him doesn’t diminish us. It completes us and lets us live in close relationship with the One who embraces us as His sons and daughters.

Father God, help me quiet myself in Your care. Help me remember to live in confidence in You instead of wanting to put confidence in myself. Help me delight in what You’re doing.

Our song this week is from Steven Curtis Chapman: “God is God,” from the album Declaration.

*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.