Tag Archives: Steven Curtis Chapman

Writers and Musicians

Fans of Canadian suspense writer Linda Hall will be happy to know some of her stories are available in various ebook formats through Smashwords. Currently there are two free short stories, one 99-cent short story and the novel, Steal Away, for $2.99. The short stories may not be suspense, but Steal Away is the first in a series featuring private investigator Teri Blake-Addison. I highly recommend it, and you can read my review of the paper version here.

A Better Way is a new blog from Canadian writer Jan Cox, reflecting on the “better way” Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen… and discovering how we can choose that way as well.

Part of living the better way–God’s way–is gratitude and praise. Check out Marcia Laycock’s excellent post, “Maybe it’s Time we Pay Attention,” on Grace Fox’s Growing with Grace blog.

The Barn Door Book Loft spotlights and interviews 3-6 Christian authors each week and hosts book giveaways.

I’ve been captured recently by the music of Geoff Moore, specifically his new album, “Saying Grace,” which is not yet widely available (you can get it at any of the stops on his cross-Canada tour with Steven Curtis Chapman). I wish I could share my favourite tracks with you: “I Believe,” “Saying Grace” and “The Long Way.” You can hear some of his other music on the Geoff Moore facebook page. Or searching YouTube will bring up older material including a duet with the legendary Larry Norman: “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?

Not We Ourselves

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3, NIV

When life gets busy, responsibilities crowd, do you feel pressure to keep pace, to meet every demand on your own? Like Moses, when the people in the desert complained again about thirst and he cried, “Must we bring you water out of this rock?

God told him to speak to the rock, but Moses was so angry he struck it—twice—and although the water came, Moses lost his chance to enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 20:1-13 tells the whole story.)

After all Moses’ obedience, this seems a trifling thing, yet it was clearly a big deal to God. I think it’s because of the “Must we” that took responsibility—and therefore credit—for the miracle.

Moses hardly intended it that way, but that’s how it came out. And sometimes that’s how I feel when the pressure’s on and there’s not enough of me to go around. I forget there’s enough of God.

Somehow today’s one verse from a short psalm puts it all back in perspective for me. I’m not the real authority. Everything does not rest on me, no matter how it feels. (A footnote in the NIV says and we are his can be translated and not we ourselves. “It is he who made us, and not we ourselves” – that makes it even clearer.)

I can trust in God, because He is good. His love endures forever. (Click that link and you’ll see the NIV declares this phrase 41 times.)

Renewed perspective gives me a quietness and a confidence—from a psalm that tells us to shout to God.

Father, forgive me for getting distracted and relying on myself. You are God, and greatly to be praised. Help me trust You not to overload me with more than You want to accomplish through me. Help me stick with what You give and not to ignore it and try to do my own thing—or to cram my own interests in there with what You say is enough. You’re the Shepherd, I’m the sheep. And You are the Good Shepherd. Keep me close to Your side.

Here’s a good, soul-quieting song from Steven Curtis Chapman: “Be Still and Know.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

I Do Believe

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not … if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9:17,18, 22b-24, NIV*

We’ve been talking about Philippians 4 and thanksgiving vs. anxiety for a few weeks now, and the irony is not lost on me: Today started with a sense of restless urgency, and my prayers kept circling back to someone for whom I care deeply.

I reminded myself to pray with petition and thanksgiving, to trust God’s care. Several times. Somewhere in the cloud of nervous energy He helped me realize something: today’s issue isn’t about my loved one, it’s about me.

Is there an immediate problem or danger? No, although I sense trouble in the offing. Does God need to do anything about it this second? No, although I believe He has a plan and a timetable for action, and has been calling people to pray.

So where’s the trouble? It’s me, fretting. Not letting go as I pray. Not being confident in God’s ability to work all things to His glory and His children’s good.

This always brings me back to Mark’s story of the man and his son, as I echo the man’s words: “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Jesus, help me believe You. You haven’t given me any specific word about this particular need, but I have plenty of truth in Your Word to cling to. You have already won the battle, and all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to You. Thank You for the peace You give when I finally stop long enough to remember Who You are. Thank You for what You will do, in the Father’s perfect timing and wisdom. Thank You for caring about me and my loved ones today.

I’m so thankful for Scripture, and for music which reminds me of God’s truth. A song that spoke peace to my spirit just now is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Yours.” Take time to let the words sink in….

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Confidence in God

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7, NIV*

This is all about confidence in God, trusting Him. The little word “but” highlights the contrast between two ways of life: on the one side, anxiety, on the other, the peace of God.

As I’ve been concentrating on Paul’s instructions to rejoice in the Lord, trusting in His nearness, and to bring my needs to Him in prayer, petition and thanksgiving for His goodness, my inner turmoil is less.

And as the turmoil decreases, I find myself more thankful. God is so good, in so many ways. He does all things well.

Let’s think about that this week. Our God is good. We can depend on Him. He won’t necessarily do what we think He should, or on our time, but He knows best and we can trust His heart.

With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can practice confidence in God and experience His peace.

Father, thank You for being a God we can trust and worship with joy. There is no malice or instability in You, only righteous, holy goodness. You invite us to bring our cares to You, and You promise us so many good things if we’ll come under Your authority where we belong. Help us grow in confidence in You, so that others will see the difference You make.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s “God is God” is a good song to keep life in perspective.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Speak to One Another

Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. … Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:15, 19-20, NIV*

I can’t stand sales team pep rallies. You know, the impassioned speaker who gets listeners “all fired up,” leads in a group cheer, and works them into such a frenzy of eagerness that they practically trip over each other on their way out the door to convince the world to buy what they’re offering.

We do need encouragement and motivation, especially in those occupations which encounter a lot of negativity or opposition, but I don’t know if hype is really the best way to provide it.

We also need encouragement and motivation in living the Christian life, whether we’re experiencing outright opposition or just the general wearing-down of daily stress. Again, spare me the theatrics.

St. Paul told us to be alert and intentional about how we live. He knew how easily we can miss opportunities or be distracted from the underlying battle, or even be distracted from God.

With all our busyness, it seems like we rush into and out of church or Bible study groups and never have time to encourage one another. Our pastors and leaders can only pack so much into a message or worship service.

Technology changes things. You’ll often find me listening to a worship CD or to K-LOVE to let the songs keep me focused, and I’m trying to share encouragement through this blog. But the first and best way involves actual human contact.

When we take time to hear one another, we can share a word, a prayer, a song. Nobody wants a pat, trite answer, but a Spirit-inspired bit of encouragement from one Christian to another can really help.

Father, thank You for Scripture, and for the way You speak through fellow believers. Please help us encourage one another with words from You. And help us keep silent when all we have is words from ourselves.

I’m thankful for so many strong Christian music artists who share encouragement. Here’s a song to keep us on track today, by Steven Curtis Chapman: “Not Home Yet“.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Healing for the Soul

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits –
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1-5, NIV*

King David is reminding his soul of all these benefits – not speaking to a group of people but to a single soul. Look at verse 4a: “redeems your life” is singular, not plural.

It’s safe to apply these verses to any and all souls belonging to God, not just David’s own. What strikes me today is how the context implies David isn’t listing the God’s benefits for all believers but for all believing souls.

I’d never seen this distinction between soul and body. Knowing the passage isn’t promising to reverse physical aging in verse 5 nor necessarily promising to satisfy all fleshly desires, I didn’t know how strongly to take verse 3’s promise of healing all diseases. But if this is all specifically promised for the soul, there’s a huge difference.

Forgiveness of all the soul’s sins – that’s fairly straightforward. Isn’t the soul the part sin kills? Some sins, such as inward rebellion, may even be specifically soul sins. Redemption language talks of our souls, once dead in sin, being made alive again.

Crowning a soul with love and compassion sounds like tender restoration. Renewal of youth sounds like rejuvenation of energy and wonder, maybe even of innocence. Reversal of the damage of sin.

Healing all diseases… what would be a disease of the soul, and how many might one soul have? Shame, self-deprecation, pride, fear…? God promises to heal them all in the same breath as promising to forgive all sins. Past, present, and future.

Shame and company are harder to get rid of at times than physical diseases. Praise God, He promises healing!

In this light, how can I pray for the people on my heart? How can I pray for myself? Father, lead and show me how to pray in faith for the souls of those You lay on my heart. Help me walk in faith that You are healing my own soul and finishing what You have begun. Thank You so much for the forgiveness, healing and renewal You give.

Today’s song is “By His Wounds,” sung by Mac Powell, Steven Curtis Chapman, Brian Littrell and Mark Hall on the Glory Revealed CD. This is an amazing video of Christian performance artist and speaker Mike Lewis painting as the song plays. 

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.