Book Reviews, faith, Family, God's love, grace, love

Book Review: Between Heaven and the Real World

“Oh taste and SEE that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8)

This is the theme verse of Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman. 

In all my years of reading, whether for pleasure, for school, or for work, I’ve never read a book written with such raw vulnerability, painful hurts, deep faith, total surrender and intense trust. That is, until I read this book.

Between Heaven and the Real World begins when Steven was a young boy and brings the reader through his life up until 2013. He shares of the struggles he had as a young boy, a teenager. He writes of meeting his bride, Mary Beth, of the struggles she experienced, and the struggles they experienced together. He tells the reader of the unwavering commitment he and Mary Beth had to one another and how, through the darkest, bleakest times, that commitment held them together. 

He shares stories of all of his children – biological and adopted. Maria, adopted from China, brought an effervescent joy to the Chapman home. Her happiness, her love of life brightened up the lives of everyone around her. Steven is at his most vulnerable as he writes of life after Maria. All of the family suffered greatly, and yet, through their suffering, the roots of their faith grew deeper and today, around the world, Maria’s legacy can be found everywhere. “Oh, taste and SEE that the Lord is good!”

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the many times Steven shared how he got the inspiration for the various hit singles he’s had through the years, many of them becoming part of the “48 career number one radio singles.” After reading this book, you will hear one of those songs and remember just where Steven was, who he was with, and how God revealed to him the lyrics to the song. Knowing the background of the song gives the song a deeper meaning and makes the song even more special than when you heard it before.

This is a book that will minister to everyone who reads it. But for those who are in the midst of a crisis of faith, it is a “must” read. Your faith will grow stronger, your heart will be encouraged and your life changed. 

                                                                                 

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God, grace, kindness

Day Seven: The Gift of Grace

THE GIFT OF GRACE

When I unwrapped today’s gift, it was almost like coming home…or sitting by a peaceful stream.  Even the vowel “a” has a long, soothing sound to it. But grace is much more than sounds and feelings.

God’s grace refers to the kindness of God toward the undeserving. His mercy focuses on our helplessness or our suffering, but His grace focuses on our unworthiness.

God’s grace is completely opposite to works.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8-9) We cannot “earn” our way into heaven by doing good works. We cannot “earn” blessings by doing good works. Salvation is given to us freely because of the grace of God.

As with the other wonderful characteristics of God, His grace is boundless and never ends. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and super abounded, (Romans 5:20, Amplified). The amount of God’s grace far exceeds the depth of our sin.

God’s grace works in us to help us grow to spiritual completeness and maturity. “The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. (I Peter 5:10)

My grandfather, Papa Evans, set the bar high for his children when it came to living a Christian life. Even though he died when I was ten years old, he was a great influence on my young life. His favorite hymn talked about the “marvelous grace…that exceeds our sin.” Below are the lyrics. May you be blessed with God’s grace as you read these lyrics and may you pay His grace forward to everyone you meet.

Grace Greater Than Sin

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Refrain

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Refrain

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Refrain

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Refrain

*Words: Julia H. Johnston, in Hymns Tried and True (Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois: The Bi­ble In­sti­tute Col­port­age As­so­ci­a­tion, 1911), num­ber 2.

Abba Father, Today, I thank you for my Papa Evans who, because of the way he lived his life and the example he set, raised all of his children to live for you. And because of that, his grandchildren know you, too. Thank You for Your grace. Thank you Father that You give us Your grace so that we may have grace towards others. AMEN.