Tag Archives: Todd Agnew

In Awe of God’s Goodness

But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the Lord their God and to David’s descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the Lord and of his goodness.
Hosea 3:5, NLT*

We’re a pretty unfaithful bunch, aren’t we, as humans?

It’s worth noting that the people whose return to the Lord is anticipated in this verse only come back after a serious intervention on God’s part. Their choices lead to consequences.

The Book of Hosea is a beautiful picture of how much God loves His people and desires a relationship with us – and how easily we’ll turn away from Him.

Even those of us who know and love Him need to be careful not to drift away. Those who don’t know Him yet don’t want to get closer in the first place.

But God…

Read Hosea and see God’s love, mercy and grace – and the impact of human unfaithfulness. See how God takes it upon Himself to bring us back, because He knows we won’t come on our own.

And see the promise of how it will be when we “finally know Him as the LORD (Hosea 2:20)”

God our determined and loving Rescuer, thank You. May we who know You devote ourselves to You. Overwhelm us with Your goodness. Keep us close. Please draw those who don’t yet know You, even through the many struggles in the world today. Open their eyes and hearts to who You are, so that they will tremble in awe of Your goodness.

Todd Agnew’s song, “You are Good,” points to how we see God’s goodness in Jesus’ willing sacrifice to save us.

*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.

When the Times Scare Us

How great are [God’s] signs,
how powerful his wonders!
His kingdom will last forever,
his rule through all generations.
Daniel 4:3, NLT*

Current political trends in Canada and the US frighten me, and they’re mild compared to some of what’s happening around the world. Because they’re closer to home, I have a greater sense of impending doom – my loved ones and I will have to live in the middle of what comes.

Humanly speaking, it’s going downhill fast. And not in the fun “sledding in the snow” way.

But God is bigger. Stronger. Wiser than our foolishness and sin. What He sees likely offends and saddens Him, but it’s not unique. Nor is it a surprise.

The great and merciful God who spoke the universe into being, who devised a miraculous way to rescue people from our destructive path, will not be defeated by human leaders or the people who exalt them. His plans will come to fruition.

When His chosen people wouldn’t stop turning away from Him, He did finally give them over to captivity in Babylon for 50 years, as He had warned. This does not comfort me.

But read the whole Book of Daniel. Look at how God shook up these heathen kings. Look at how He revealed His glory. And read on in the Bible to see how He faithfully brought His people back to the promised land… as promised.

God is faithful. We, as a planet full of people, are not. When we turn (or drift) away, He needs to bring us back or we’ll miss everything He wants to give us. Today, every day, let’s pray for spiritual renewal and revival: for ourselves, our loved ones, our leaders, and our enemies.

God our Creator, our Judge, and our Rescuer, we confess our fear and our helplessness. We look to Your mercy and grace. Because of Your love, draw men, women and children to Yourself. Reveal Your glory, Your relevance, and our need. Forgive our faithlessness and grant us the faith to fully believe. Raise up leaders who will be wise, and give those in power wisdom in their decisions. Open blind eyes, unstop deaf ears, and intervene in ways that will show Your power and Your glory.

Let Todd Agnew’s rendition of “God Undefeatable” reassure our spirits today.

*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.

God Wants Us Back

The Lord gave [King Nebuchadnezzar] victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia and placed them in the treasure-house of his god.
Daniel 1:2, NLT*

And so began Israel’s bleak captivity. I’m sure Nebuchadnezzar credited his own god (or himself) for this triumph. After all, it was his army that achieved it.

But did you notice the key words in the verse? “The Lord gave him victory… and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects…”

Not that God had abandoned His chosen people. This was part of His plan to draw them back to Himself after they’d repeatedly rejected Him. The prophets had warned them again and again, but they refused to listen.

I’m sad about how often our own blindness and self-will makes us insist on our way instead of following God’s way. We think we can have both, but we can’t.

What an amazing, loving God and Shepherd we have. Instead of immediately giving us over to the things we’re so quick to chase, He continues to call us back to Himself. The more we resist, the more painful the process may become. I’d rather be quick to hear when I get off-track.

God of love and righteousness, grant us hearts that are quick to hear and to respond to Your leading – hearts that love being in close relationship with You and that don’t want to let anything come between us. Help us to love You more than we love those things that would lead us away. Thank You that when we turn back to You, You forgive, restore, and embrace us.

If we’ve drifted, when we finally turn around, as Todd Agnew sings, God is “Always There”.

*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.

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)

Renewing or Regressing?

For you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?
1 Corinthians 3:3, NLT*

Is it any wonder Christians often find ourselves “living like people of the world”?

We live among people who give no allegiance to God. Some are our family, friends, co-workers. Others produce most of the current entertainment and music. And we still have the seeds of our former sin nature lurking within.

If we’re not actively pursuing intimacy with God, it’s easy to fall back into (or remain in) thought and behaviour patterns that are much less than He desires of us.

Paul says that, in this state, we’re not ready for deeper teaching. We need spiritual “baby food” until we develop.

We’re a bit past New Year’s now, when so many people take stock and consider how they’d like to make changes in their lives. We’re probably at the point where a lot of those resolutions have started crumbling.

Maybe that’s where the Corinthians were, when Paul wrote this letter. They’d made a good start, but they’d kind of stalled. They weren’t thinking God’s way but their natural way. It was sabotaging their growth.

The Bible calls us to renew our minds (Romans 12:2). We have so far to grow in the faith, and so much to leave behind, that this needs to be an ongoing, daily practice. We don’t dare settle for a half-grown Christian life, or we’ll miss so much of what God has for us.

God our Good Father, grow us as Your children, into an intimate relationship with You. Teach us Your ways, develop our trust in You, and bring us into the abundant life Jesus promised. Let others see through us the difference You want to make in each one.

Todd Agnew‘s song, “Romans 12,” is a call to a life of worship.

*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.

Waiting as Worship

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14, NIV*

Waiting. It’s a challenge. We who hope in God wait for Him to act, to speak, to comfort.

There’s an element of strain in that. “When, Lord? How long?”

When we give in to that strain, we miss part of the waiting. We miss simply waiting for (or with) God. Being with Him, even when we can’t sense His presence. He’s with us – He promised, and we can depend on that, whatever we feel.

His timing won’t speed up if we’re peering at the horizon and begging, “Are we there yet?” I’m learning that when I do that, I miss what He has for me in the now. Maybe it’s rest. Maybe it’s a quiet word He wants to drop into my spirit. It could be an opportunity I’ll miss if I’m looking too far ahead.

Most of all, I miss His presence. Especially in the stressful times, His presence is subtle, easy to miss. And it’s what I most need.

Quieting ourselves before God, entrusting our needs to Him and abiding in Him, is trust. It’s an act of worship. It honours Him for who He is, not for what He can do for us.

Our God, You see our hurts, needs and fears. Yes, we need Your intervention, and we pray for Your help. Forgive us when we come clamouring to You with requests without taking time to appreciate You for who You are. Whisper into our spirits and teach us to worship You in trust and adoration. Help us set our hearts on You, no matter what goes on in and around us. You are our greatest treasure and our deepest need.

Here’s a simple prayer of longing for God’s company: “If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile,” sung here by Todd Agnew.

*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.

When God Does Something Good

“How kind the Lord is!” [Elizabeth] exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
Luke 1:25, NLT*

North American culture today doesn’t equate a woman’s worth with her fertility, but for women in Bible times, failure to produce a child – especially a male heir – was a source of shame.

What strikes me here is Elizabeth’s response. She’s old by this point, well past natural childbearing age. God surprises her with a miracle pregnancy as announced by an angel to her husband, Zechariah. (Luke 1:5-25)

Elizabeth is purely grateful. She alludes to the long disappointment in her life, but she’s not bitter. She sees how God’s gift is meeting that hurt.

She sees the power of God. And she accepts His timing. There’s no hint of asking why He took so long, let her be barren for so many years, waited until she’s old and feeble and has no stamina to chase a toddler all day.

“How kind the Lord is!”

If God chooses to meet our unmet longings – or if He chooses not to – He is still kind and good. He is still enough. He still does good things for us.

How do we respond?

First of all, let’s keep our eyes and hearts open to notice what He does. Let’s respond like Elizabeth, with gratitude and trust. Not with “well, it took You long enough!” Not with complaints to taint the thanks. Neither with mindless acceptance or casual indifference – nor a sense of entitlement.

Let’s respond with mindful worship and gratitude, acknowledging God’s goodness and mercy, and knowing that while He doesn’t owe us anything, He loves us enough to give His own Son to rescue and redeem us.

Our Father God, how good You are! How kind indeed. Grow in us an awareness of Your care and a humble gratitude for Your many gifts. Teach us, like Elizabeth, to respond with praise, adoration and trust.

I don’t have an “Elizabeth” song, but here’s Christy Nockels singing a “Mary” song of praise: “Magnificat” (from one of my favourite Christmas albums, Do You See What I See? by Todd Agnew & Friends).

*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.

Encouragement for the Struggle

For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.
Philippians 1:19, NLT*

Paul trusts Jesus. He’s already been “saved” in the sense of being rescued from the penalty of sin. In context here, Paul is in prison and some of his enemies are trying to make that even harder for him. Likely the “deliverance” he’s thinking of is release from his chains.

If we belong to Jesus, we’re free from the power of sin and death, but there are still “chains” in our lives, binding us in ways that keep us from growing into all God intends us to be.

Attitudes, fears, memories… maybe we struggle with them and get discouraged. This can be our verse of hope. We can ask at least one trusted friend to pray, and we can remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit is at work in us. No matter what we feel.

Holy Spirit, please help us believe that You are at work in us. Help us cooperate with that work, and persevere without giving up. Protect us from discouragement. Thank You for the promise of deliverance. And thank You for Your grace.

Here’s a song that encourages me when the struggle seems endless: “There is Coming a Day,” by Todd Agnew

*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.

Come Clean. Quick.

When you are guilty, immediately confess the sin that you’ve committed.
Leviticus 5:5, MSG*

We’re human. For all the good things that means, it also means we’re not perfect. Despite our best intentions, sometimes we mess up. We don’t live up to the righteous living God intends for us.

The early chapters of Leviticus are all about sacrifices to atone for the people’s sin, and God spends a lot of time—and detail—explaining to the people what not to do. Some of it should be pretty obvious, but there you have it.

What interests me about chapters 4 and 5 is that they deal with what happens when someone unintentionally sins. They’ve done something wrong with no malice aforethought.

We do that too. And sometimes we do the premeditated wrongs.

In either case, the remedy is clear: immediately confess it to God. He knows anyway. It’s already put a rift between us. If it’s an ongoing situation, ask for His wisdom in how to get back on target. And remember that He’s faithful to His promises. He will forgive us, clean us up, and restore us.

Immediately. Things won’t get better—won’t go away—if we stall. We’ll just make ourselves increasingly miserable as we widen the gulf between our spirits and the God who wants to hold us close.

God who saves us, Your forgiveness and grace are more than we can comprehend, and they’re beyond our capacity to earn. Thank You for extending mercy again and again. Please grow us to maturity in our faith, into righteousness and holiness, so we can please You. Please forgive us when we fail, and help us cry out to You quickly for restoration.

I love this confession song from Todd Agnew, how it reminds us that despite it all, God loves us: “The One You Want.”

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

Glory, Not Shame

Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations.
Ezekiel 36:22, NLT*

Israel’s ungodly behaviour caused the Babylonian exile in the first place. Set apart to be a holy people, living in fellowship with God as a light to the people around them, they copied their neighbours instead. They abandoned the Living God for idols of stone and wood.

God stated His case through the prophets—repeatedly—and then followed through on the exile as He’d said. He promised it would end, and the people could come home after 70 years. (Jeremiah 29:10)

Reading that, I assumed they’d be coming home because they learned their lesson and turned back to God. Today’s verse makes me not so sure.

They were still bringing shame on His name in exile. Still living by their own understanding and desires instead of wholeheartedly following His ways. And don’t we do the same, to a lesser extent?

We need what God promises His people later in this chapter: clean, responsive hearts, and His Spirit within us.

Then we need to listen to and rely on His Spirit. More and more, I see life coming back to this: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5, NLT*)

Holy and mighty God, You save us when we don’t deserve it, and You change our hearts. You give us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our salvation. Forgive our waywardness, and draw us to love You more. Help us spend time with You to discover more of who You are. Forgive us for when we’ve brought shame on Your name. Help us live in confident trust in Your character and in Your love for us, so that others will see that You are our Good Shepherd.

I love this worship song from Todd Agnew: “Your Great Name“.

*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.