Friday Flashback: Lord Of The Dance

Lord of the Dance by Steven Curtis Chapman

On the bank of the Tennessee River
In a small Kentucky town
I drew my first breath one cold November morning
And before my feet even touched the ground
With the doctors and the nurses gathered ’round
I started to dance, I started to dance

A little boy full of wide-eyed wonder
Footloose and fancy free
But it would happen, as it does for every dancer
That I’d stumble on a truth I couldn’t see
And find a longing deep inside of me, it said 

I am the heart, I need the heartbeat
I am the eyes, I need the sight
I realize that I am just a body
I need the life
I move my feet, I go through the motions
But who’ll give purpose to chance
I am the dancer
I need the Lord of the dance

The world beneath us spins in circles
And this life makes us twist and turn and sway
But we were made for more than rhythm with no reason
By the one who moves with passion and with grace
As He dances over all that He has made

I am the heart . . .

And while the music of His love and mercy plays
I will fall down on my knees and I will pray

I am the heart, You are the heartbeat
I am the eyes, You are the sight
And I see clearly, I am just a body
You are the life
I move my feet, I go through the motions
But You give purpose to chance
I am the dancer
You are the Lord of the dance
I am the dancer
You are the Lord of the dance

Lost in worshipping the created

I have some friends who are totally in lonature-man-in-tree-on-waterve with the beauty of the natural world. They ravenously consume nature documentaries and scientific discoveries, and relish the fascinating and amazing laws which exist in the universe. I must say I do share and rejoice in such a fascination! Yet it is possible to be lost, from God’s perspective, even with such an attitude. Linked to this love of creation is the exaltation of mankind, as the crown of creation. As mankind exalts, expresses, captures, ponders, reproduces, learns from and preserves all the wonder of creation, the wonder of the Creator (who in fact made, entered and sustains this creation!) can be, sadly, pushed aside.

Consider these words from John Piper:

“The tragedy of the world is that the echo is mistaken for the Original Shout. When our back is to the breathtaking beauty of God, we cast a shadow on the earth and fall in love with it. But it does not satisfy. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them. . . For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of the flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited.”
(from The Dangerous Duty of Delight)

His words remind me of those penned by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, chapter 1:  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. . . They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator

Piper comments further on this ‘exchange’:  How could I put my eye to some great telescope, designed to make me glad with visions of the galaxies, and notice in the glass a dim reflection of my face and say:”Now I am happy, I am loved?” How could I stand before the setting sun, between the mountain range and the vastness of the sea, and think that everlasting joy should come from making much of me? . . . “
(Don’t Waste your Life, John Piper, 2003, p.186.)

What this really boils down to is love of humanity, humanity exalting itself in bold denial of the Creator, saying ‘all this can exist and be sustained simply by the ingenuity of mankind’ – or by the evolutionary process, which apparently needs no initial designer (?!).

How sad to be so in love with the shadow of the Creator, that a relationship with the Creator is fortfeited, the Creator in whose image we are made, the Creator whose love and sense of right and justice and compassion lives in us as a testimony to his character – even if we deny him.

If this is a struggle for you, please check out my older post on a similar topic: https://sevennotesofgrace.com/2013/07/01/an-unwasted-life-makes-much-of-jesus/

I trust and pray you can see the God who created and sustains this universe, by His living and eternal Word, Jesus Christ. Faith in him will never disappoint!

Free Indeed!

After posting the clip about the prison ministry of Timothy’s Gift my mind turned to this song from Steven Curtis Chapman, “Free”. Listen below or check out the lyrics. I think the most beautiful lyric comes in the last chorus: “God’s grace has broken every chain and given us these wings.” If the Son has set you free you will be free indeed!

“Free” by Steven Curtis Chapman

The sun was beating down inside the walls of stone and razor wire
As we made our way across the prison yard
I felt my heart begin to race as we drew nearer to the place
Where they say that death is waiting in the dark
The slamming doors of iron echoed through the halls
Where despair holds life within its cruel claws
But then I met a man whose face seemed so strangely out of place
A blinding light of hope was shining in his eyes
And with repentance in his voice he told me of his tragic choice
That led him to this place where he must pay the price
But then his voice grew strong as he began to tell
About the One he said had rescued him from hell, he said . . .

I’m free, yeah, oh, I have been forgiven
God’s love has taken off my chains and given me these wings
And I’m free, yeah, yeah, and the freedom I’ve been given
Is something that not even death can take away from me
Because I’m free, Jesus set me free

We said a prayer and said goodbye and tears began to fill my eyes
As I stepped back out into the blinding sun
And even as I drove away I found that I could not escape
The way he spoke of what the grace of God had done
I thought about how sin had sentenced us to die
And how God gave His only Son so you and I could say . . .

And if the Son has set you free,
Oh, if the Son has set you free
Then you are free indeed,
Oh, you are really free
If the Son has set you free,
Oh, if the Son has set you free
Then you are free, really, really, free

Oh, we’re free, yeah, oh, we have been forgiven
God’s grace has broken every chain and given us these wings
And we’re free, yeah, yeah, and the freedom we’ve been given
Is something that not even death can take from you and me
Because we’re free, yeah, the freedom we’ve been given
Is something that not even death can take from you and me
Because we’re free, oh, we’re free
We are free, we are free
The Son has set us free

If the Son has set you free
You are free indeed

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Wake up and See the Glory

Recently I posted my thoughts on the problem I see with people so addicted to the small screen that they almost miss the wonder of living in a wonderful world full of amazing 3D people! (Is your Smart phone making you dumb?) Steven Curtis Chapman wrote in a similar vein in the song “See the Glory” except that he speaks of the tragedy of missing God’s amazing grace: “The wonder of his grace should take my breath away, I miss so many things when I’m content with playing gameboy sitting in the middle of the grandcanyon. . . “

steven-curtis-chapman-declaration-lyrics-4a1cNow while it would seem ridiculous to literally play your gameboy in the grand canyon, I’m sure it has been reality for some parents with bored kids on holiday. But figuratively speaking we all have plenty of distractions and thoughts and habits that prevent us from being truly in awe at the grace of a loving God who would lay down His life for us!  Sometimes I have ‘awoken’ with a start as I realised that I was treating the grace of God so lightly! Though I have the privilege of reading the bible in my language, of sharing with Christ’s Body and witnessing the work of the Spirit transforming the lives of people around me – I sometimes forget the AMAZING nature of what I see. I almost forget the wonder of my own salvation, that I am a citizen of heaven, a co-heir with Christ. Only by the renewing of my mind in His word can I come back to that point of wonder once more. (Romans 12:2) Oh, that we would let God’s word wake us up, daily, to see the glory of His work in the world, and in us.

SEE THE GLORY

I never did like the word mediocre, I never wanted it to be said of me, oh, no
Just point me to the job and I’d go over, over, Looking for the very best that could be

So what is this thing I see going on inside of me?
When it comes to the grace of God sometimes it’s like

I’m playing Gameboy standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon
I’m eating candy sittin’ at a gourmet feast
I’m wading in a puddle when I could be swimming in the ocean
Tell me what’s the deal with me, wake up and see the glory

Ever star in the sky tells his story, And every breeze is singing his song
All of creation is imploring: Hey, come see this grand phenomenon
The wonder of his grace should take my breath away
I miss so many things when I’m content with playing

Gameboy standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon
Or eating candy sittin’ at a gourmet feast
Or wading in a puddle when I could be swimming in the ocean
I know the time has come for me to, wake up and see the glory
Wake up and see the glory

How could I trivialize it
This awesome gift of Gods grace?
Once I have come to realize it
I should be speechless and amazed

Wake up and see the glory
Open your eyes and take it in
Wake up and be amazed
Over and over again

Songwriters Caleb Chapman;Steven Curtis Chapman [Ephesians 1: 18; 2 Corinthians 4: 6, 6: 1]
Album: “Declaration” (2001)

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An unwasted life makes much of Jesus

In 2004 I read John Piper’s Don’t Waste your Life. In the book he calls us not to get caught up in living for things that count for nothing! Piper says you can ensure you don’t waste your life by seeking to live and die boasting in the cross of Christ – by making the glory of God your singular passion. Instantly this became a book that I recommended to everyone, since it takes ‘faith in Christ’ straight from your head to your heart and hands. The section I found most beautiful to read (and most re-orienting) was towards the end in chapter 10:
“How could I, Lord, have ever been so blind to think that being loved by you means making much of me and not yourself? How could I put my eye to some great telescope, designed to make me glad with visions of the galaxies, and notice in the glass a dim reflection of my face and say:”Now I am happy, I am loved?” How could I stand before the setting sun, between the mountain range and the vastness of the sea, and think that everlasting joy should come from making much of me? . . . “
(Don’t Waste your Life, John Piper, 2003, p.186.)

I then recalled that these very words had challenged me before. In Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Much of You” he cleverly crafts Piper’s lyrical prose into a song that really could change your life – and ensure you don’t waste it! Have a listen above/read below and be encouraged!
Even if you can only “make much of Jesus” in what you think are small ways your life is not wasted. And what a privilege if your words (spoken, written, blogged or sung) help even one person to see Jesus for who He is. I love being part of a community of bloggers who do their best to make much of Jesus! Blessings.

MUCH OF YOU (Steven Curtis Chapman)all things new

How could I stand here and watch the sun rise
Follow the mountains where they touch the sky
Ponder the vastness and the depths of the sea
And think for a moment the point of it all was to make much of me
‘Cause I’m just a whisper and you are the thunder and

I want to make much of you Jesus
I want to make much of your love
I want to live today to give you the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of your mercy
I want to make much of your cross
I give you my life, Take it and let it be used
To make much of you

And how can I kneel here and think of the cross
The thorns and the whip and the nails and the spear
The infinite cost
To purchase my pardon and bear all my shame
To think I have anything worth boasting in except for your name
‘Cause I am a sinner and you are the Savior

Bridge:
This is your love, oh God
Not to make much of me
But to send your own son
So that we could make much of you
For all eternity

Written by Steven Curtis Chapman ©2004 Sparrow Song – CD: All things new

Behind the Song:
‘A lot of times as I’m writing an album I’ll read books, and certain books will come along and at the right time, will impress, affect and inspire me. One book I read was by John Piper called Don’t Waste Your Life, and by the time I finished reading it, I think I had eight or nine songs started and several that ended up on this album. I felt as I finished this book my understanding of just who God is and why I’m here, what the whole point and purpose of my life is, is ultimately to glorify God and to really make much of Him. I feel like He created us for this purpose. He’s the point, not me. This book helped put that in such great perspective for me – to get a new deeper understanding of that.’Steven Curtis Chapman

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Angels long to understand the story of Grace

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:10-12)

Whenever I’m feeling a little confused by God’s mysterious ways I find it comforting to remember that even angelic beings do not fully understand the mind of God. We imagine that since angels are in God’s presence, they would know why God is doing what He is doing. But they don’t. Peter spoke of this in his letter above. He says angels long to look into ‘these things’, to fully comprehend God’s mysterious plan of redemption, in which they SERVE us! What an amazing thought! They obey God, they follow the plan, without fully understanding why.

We humans are so privileged. Not only have we have been told the story of God’s grace, shown in his Son coming to redeem us and restore us to relationship with God, we also benefit from this grace! We have eternal life. Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, ANGELS WISH, develops these thoughts in a beautiful way. He looks forward to the time when he will sit down with his angel friends and explain to them the “story of grace”. I know things angels only wish they knew!
How privileged am I?

ANGELS WISH:

Was God smiling when He spoke the words and made the world?
And did he cry about the flood?
And what does God’s voice sound like when He sings, or when He’s angry?
These are just a few things that the angels have on me

Well, I can’t fly, at least not yet
I’ve got no halo on my head
And I can’t even start to picture Heaven’s beauty
But I’ve been shown the Savior’s love
The grace of God has raised me up
To show me things the angels long to look into
And I know things the Angels only wish they knew

I have seen the dark and desperate place where sin will take you
I’ve felt loneliness and shame
And I have watched the blinding light of grace
Come breaking through with a sweetness
Only tasted by the forgiven and redeemed

And someday I’ll sit down with my angel friends
Up in Heaven
They’ll tell me about creation
And I’ll tell them a story of grace
 

It’s all Yours!

Feeling desperately tired and somewhat overwhelmed by all the demands on my being, I found a refreshing perspective in a song by Steven Curtis Chapman the other day, “Yours”. Here is a little of the perspective he shared:

It’s all Yours, God
My life is Yours, my heart is Yours
My hands and my feet are Yours
Every song that I sing
It’s all Yours, all is Yours
All belongs to You
Our gifts are Yours, God
All our dreams are Yours, God
All our plans are Yours, God
The whole earth is Yours, God
Everything is Yours

For me this song brought a “Peter moment”. I was able to get my eyes off the waves and stresses of my situation, and look instead to the God who created and calms the waves.

Despite all the strivings of mankind,striving to appear competent, achieve worthwhile things, be responsible and get a slice of glory in this world, it really all belongs to God! We are a vapour. He is the only rightful recipient of praise. He made everything and everyone. He owns everything! All the glory goes to Him.

We are most satisfied in this life when we recognise that God is the one who deserves praise and glory. We are most satisfied when He gets the glory He deserves. Everything is yours, God! The pressures of our day to day living are relieved and we are refreshed when we grasp this reality.


IT’S ALL YOURS

I walk the streets of London
And notice in the faces passing by
Somthing that makes me stop and listen
My heart grows heavy with the cry
Where is the hope for London?
You whisper and my heart begins to soar
As I’m reminded that every street in London in Yours

I walk the dirt roads of Uganda
I see the scars that war has left behind
Hope like the sun is fading
They’re waiting for a cure no one can find
And I hear children’s voices singing
Of a God who heals and rescues and restores
And I’m reminded that every child in Africa is Yours

And its all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours
From the stars in the sky to the depths of the ocean floor
And its all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours
You’re the Maker and Keeper, Father and Ruler of everything
It’s all Yours

And I walk the sidewalks of Nashville
Like Singapore, Manila and Shanghai
I rush by the beggar’s hand and the wealthy man
And everywhere I look I realize
That just like the streets of London
For every man and woman, boy and girl
All of creation, This is our Father’s world

It’s all Yours, God
It’s all Yours, God
It’s all Yours, God
It’s all Yours, God
The glory is Yours, God
All the honor is Yours, God
The power is Yours, God
The glory is Yours, God
You’re the King of Kings
And Lord of Lords

It’s all Yours, God
My life is Yours, my heart is Yours
My hands and my feet are Yours
Every song that I sing
It’s all Yours, all is Yours
All belongs to You
Our gifts are Yours, God
All our dreams are Yours, God
All our plans are Yours, God
The whole earth is Yours, God
Everything is Yours

Steven Curtis Chapman (2007) Album: This Moment