Catching Up With Steven Curtis Chapman
More than a decade ago, Steven Curtis Chapman first joined us in the studio to share his heart for the orphan. His organization, Show Hope, has now helped more than 5,000 orphans. Chapman tells how they now have six care centers in China, and at least 500 of those kids have been adopted. Chapman talks about his 30-year musical career and gives an update on his family.
About the Guest
Show Hope - We exist to provide orphans with loving families and life-giving care by mobilizing a movement of individuals and communities to love children in need. Our mission is to care for orphans by engaging the church and reducing the barriers to adoption.
Steven Curtis Chapman talks about Show Hope, an organization with care centers in China that have helped more than 5,000 orphans, at least 500 of whom have been adopted.
Catching Up With Steven Curtis Chapman
Bob: Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. In that journey, they have known that God was with them—His rod and His staff did, indeed, comfort them. Here’s Steven.
Steven: In this world you will have trouble, because it’s not as it should be. This world is not as it should be. Your pain is real and your grief is real and true; but in this moment, don’t believe the lie that the enemy would tell us: “This is all that’s true,” because what’s most true / what’s most real is that God is for us, and God is good.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, October 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Steven Curtis Chapman joins us today and shares some of the life lessons he’s learned on his journey of faith.
Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. So, I saw you pulling in the parking lot this morning. Your windows were down and the CD was blaring out of your speakers. You were singing Saddle up Your Horses. I thought, “Okay; I know where we’re headed today.”
Dennis: You know, it’s not often that I come to the studio having spent the night before looking through my closet; but today’s guest on FamilyLife Today—[Laughter]
Bob: I know where we are going to go here; alright. [Laughter]
Dennis: —I actually brought Barbara into my—not my closet / it’s ours—we don’t have two closets—brought her in and I said: “I know he’s going to be wearing something— [Laughter]— I know it’s going to be absolutely off-the-wall.
“I just haven’t been to Salvation Army recently, or Goodwill, to pick out something that could even be in the league!” So I looked over everything, and this is as good as / this is as edgy—[Laughter]
Steven: You’re styling.
Dennis: I’m styling—I have a grey T-shirt.
Steven: You got it—a grey T-shirt.
Dennis: I’ll tell you what I’m going to do—but here’s the thing / here’s what I want the listening audience to know—Steven looks like a normal person. [Laughter] I’m going to take a picture—they’re going to see it. He’s actually dressed in street clothes. He does have a chain around his neck and a ball cap, but I just—hold on one second.
Steven: What’s really sad is this—alright; we’re doing it / we’re doing a picture. [Laughter] What’s really sad about this is that I literally thought this morning, as I—and I’m on a tour bus—and I’m thinking—
Dennis: You were actually thinking about—
Steven: — “I don’t have anything nearly cool enough to wear to see Dennis Rainey out here with me today. [Laughter]I just have plain, normal stuff here.”
And then, that’s the first thing you mention when I see you; and you look sharp. You look very good.
Dennis: Well, I’m glad—
Steven: I’m taking notes from you today.
Dennis: Yes, I know you are.
Steven: You’re looking great—the grey T-shirt underneath the purple plaid shirt—[Laughter] it’s good. Good, brother—it’s good! [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, you’ve probably recognized that voice by now. That’s Steven Curtis Chapman.
Steven and I—you can either say fortunately or unfortunately—go back aways together. In fact, think back to over 12 years ago, Steven, when you decided to join arms with FamilyLife—and I think Focus on the Family® was there at the beginning—as we talked about bringing together orphan care, adoption, foster care leaders from all over the world, who believers and followers of Christ—now, what it’s become.
Dennis: I mean, is that cool or not?
Steven: It’s really amazing. It really is.
And you’re absolutely right—it was here in this very building that Mary Beth and I came, talked to you and Barbara about our heart for getting the church kind of awake to
James 1:27 and what true religion really is all about—caring for orphans. The CAFO, Christian Alliance for Orphans, came out of that—and Orphan Summit and all of those great things that have come from that—and obviously our work with Show Hope. At the time, it was Shaohannah’s Hope we were talking about—Shaohannah’s Hope. Nobody could spell it, or pronounce it, or say it, so we decided—
Dennis: I was one of them! [Laughter]
Steven: Yes; I know: “So, it is Sannah’s Hope?” / “Is it Shaniah’s Hope?—what is that?” [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, it is interesting—Christian Alliance for Orphans does host an annual summit. This past year, we had 2,500 people attend from over three dozen countries; and it did start right here.
Dennis: There were 39 people here / 39 different organizations. We said, “We have to check our egos and our logos at the door and figure out how to collaborate together to do something on behalf of the fatherless, globally.”
At Show Hope—you’ve now helped over 5,000 orphans in 53 countries. That data is probably outdated now.
Steven: Yes. Well, it’s—
Dennis: What’s the number now?
Steven: Well, it’s over 5,000. I don’t know what the actual number is; because every month it changes by a few hundred—hopefully, Lord willing. The interesting thing is—those who are right at the front of all that’s going on in the world of adoption and orphans—is that the number of international adoptions and, really, adoptions globally—is decreasing.
Dennis: That’s correct.
Steven: What’s interesting for us is—at Show Hope, we have not seen a decrease at all in families coming and saying, “We would adopt if we had the resources to do it.”
Christian families that say: “God’s called us to this. We’re still showing up, because we know this is God’s heart for our family and for children who need families.” So it’s not declining at all as far as the work that we’re doing through Show Hope, assisting families in that.
There’s just many great things going on with that, within Show Hope, but—you’re right; I mean, when I think about in the 12/13 years since we had those conversations—and we used to kind of say things like, “Man, if we could just get the nose of the Titanic just barely turned and going in this new direction of God’s heart for orphans,”—and we’ve seen it happen—not that we’ve done it—but God’s done it through us.
Dennis: He has. There is actually a movement now—and I want you to speak to a group of people, who are listening to us, who have a heart for orphan—maybe it’s foster care / maybe it’s adoption—Show Hope has actually created resources for people to start an orphan care ministry in their church; right?
Steven: Yes; yes.
Advocates went right within their church. We have all the material and all of the kind of information to help get that started within your own church—to begin to come alongside families that have a heart for adoption or just to even make them aware of what God’s doing in the hearts of people—around the world, within the country, in churches—around this caring for the fatherless.
Bob: We have a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. If people want to go to our website, they can link up and find out about all that God is doing through the ministry of Show Hope.
Dennis: Steven, you’ve been in music now—what?—30 years?
Steven: Next year—1987, my first record came out.
Steven: So 2017 will be 30 years.
Dennis: You have just released—I would say, for you, it’s a little bit of a shift—but in some ways it isn’t, because your music has always moved people to worship.
Steven: Well, that’s—yes; it’s interesting, because we’ve been—the record label, and publicist, and all that—we’ve been referencing this new Worship and Believe project as my first worship album. I always feel like I have to correct that and say, “Well, I feel like every song I’ve written / every album I’ve made is a worship album.”
But in the sense of corporate singing these songs together—declaring the Word of God set to music / what the Psalms have been for me—just dropping anchor, as I call it, in the promises of God—this new project really has been written from that place. Nobody knows this any better than you; because we’ve sat here, across from the table with microphones in front of us, and talked about this quite a bit over the last few years.
It was eight years ago when we lost Maria, our youngest daughter, in a tragic accident.
It was in those darkest moments—in the moments of just absolute, deepest places of grief and the deepest valleys that—when I couldn’t even complete a thought / when I didn’t know how I was going to survive and how I was going to lead my family through this darkness—and really, literally, the earliest moments even—still right there, at the hospital, knowing that Maria had gone on to be with Jesus—that I just had nothing else that I could say, or speak, or whisper, or think. It all came down to one thing. I just had to say: “Blessed be the name of the Lord. I’m going to worship You, God. I’m going to trust You—I don’t know how I’m going to take my next step or my next breath.”
The only clear thought I could have in the midst of that was—out of absolute desperation—was just: “I’m going to declare, God, that You are good and that You are faithful. I’m going to worship You.”
That is literally what kept me alive and has all of these last eight years. That’s really where these—when I say a worship album—these songs that came from that place of just, “I’m going to drop anchor in the promises of God, declaring these things to be true.”
Dennis: I want to talk with you about this; because we’re now eight years, as you mentioned, since the death of your daughter. Tonight, I got a phone call with a friend who lost a child; and I’ve just been praying and thinking about how I could comfort him. I know a good bit of it is just listening.
Dennis: But if someone’s listening right now, who is in a dark place—and maybe it’s not the loss of a child / maybe it’s the loss of health, maybe it’s the loss of a job, loss of a parent—how would you put your arm around them and—again, you’ve already said it in many ways: “Go to the Psalms,” “Believe the truth about God / don’t believe a lie.
“There is a devil who will lie to you / he’s a deceiver—he’ll whisper in your ear and say, ‘God’s not in charge / He’s not in control—blame God / charge God.’”
Dennis: Job didn’t.
Dennis: Sounds like you ultimately got there as well.
Steven: Yes; well, I mean, and you said it—I think it’s—I’ll sound like I’m contradicting myself a little bit, but it’s both. There are no words. I think the most comforting thing—I’ve said this to you before—that people said to Mary Beth and me on our journey—as crazy as it is—is when people would just say: “I don’t have any words. I’m just going to sit with you, and I’m going to listen to you, and I’m going to weep with you.”
But you just said it: “Don’t believe the lie that the enemy would tell us—is: “And this is all that’s true.”
Bob: Yes. This is where the father of lies comes along and says: “God’s not there for you. He doesn’t care about you. He does not want the best for you.”
Steven: Right; yes—or, “He’s just absent,” or “He doesn’t even exist,” or “It’s all just a myth / it’s just a fable to kind of…”—you know, it’s all of those things. For me, I’ve come to realize that the pain / the grief is very real and very true—and you may be in it—and you’re going to speak with your friend tonight who’s in that.
I think, for us, it was those who would acknowledge that alongside us—even if it was in their silence / to just sit with us. Then, in those right moments, to be able to hear God’s voice—maybe, it’s through a friend; it’s through the Psalms; for me, it was through that verse that a great friend and songwriter, who wrote, “Blessed be Your name. You give; You take away…”—you know, Matt Redman, who wrote the song, Blessed Be Your Name—who set that verse to music.
I would just sing it, and hold onto it, and listen to it over and over again; because, for me, it was coming to that place to say: “As real and true as all the pain, and the sadness, and the grief is right now, the greater truth—what’s most true / what’s most real—is that God is for us, and God is good. His heart is good—as much as, right now, everything is screaming at me: ‘It is not good / God’s not good. If He’s good, how is this happening?’” I have to drop anchor in the promises of God—that He is good, that He is for us, that He is with us, and hold onto that for dear life.
I discovered something—even as I was writing this album / putting these songs together—and it was a verse in the story that I kind of knew from Scripture, but it came screaming back to me in this process. It was about Nebuchadnezzar.
He had lost his mind, you know, and there’s this great verse—I think it’s in Daniel, if I’m right—where it’s talking about King Nebuchadnezzar and it says, “I lifted my eyes to heaven, and my sanity returned.”
It was literally like he worshipped—he just lifted his eyes / he looked to God—because, as he was looking at his circumstances and everything around him, he literally had gone insane / gone crazy—that’s the feeling of grief and, especially, just utter loss like that—you feel like you’re going crazy. Maybe, it’s not even, like you said, loss of a child—maybe it’s a job or your marriage falling apart—you just: “I’m losing my mind. I’m going crazy.” King Nebuchadnezzar just looked to heaven / he looked to God; and he said, “Alright; I’m going to turn my eyes to You, to trust and believe that You’re God, that You’re with me in this.” “His sanity returned,”—it says—“and he worshipped God.”
There’s a profound thing there—in just choosing, like Job, to say: “Blessed be the name of the Lord. I’m going to worship Him.”
Dennis: On the back of my business card is a quote that some of our listeners, who are regulars here on FamilyLife Today and tune us in quite frequently, hear me quote this statement by Tom Skinner. Tom Skinner grew up in Brooklyn—he was a gang member; his dad was a preacher; he came to faith, listening to the radio; then walked out of the gang, with his life being threatened, saying: “I’ve come to faith in Christ; I can no longer do this thing.” Went on to be the chaplain of the Washington Redskins, and he impacted a young man’s life—mine—back in 1969.
He started and ended five messages, Steven, with this quote at the beginning of the message and at the end of the message. It was exactly where I was living, because I think—not just me / I’m not the only one who struggles with doubt—I think all kinds of believers struggle with doubt. They’re wondering, “What do you do with doubt?”
Dennis: Well, here’s what he said—he said: “I spent a long time trying to come to grips with my doubts when, suddenly, I realized I had better come to grips with what I believe. I have since moved from the agony of questions that I cannot answer to the reality of answers that I cannot escape, and it’s a great relief.”
Steven: Wow; wow. That’s so good.
Dennis: Doesn’t that capture most of life?—because you’re going to have doubts—
Steven: Yes; absolutely.
Dennis: —“Is God there? Is He good?”
Dennis: And here’s what I’d want our listeners to know—and I just, personally—I don’t think God is threatened by our doubts. I don’t think He’s threatened by our anger. I don’t think—you know, I don’t think God is this weakling, who gets upset because we go through a period of forsaking Him.
I think He’s after us—He wants to love us / He wants us to experience that.
Dennis: So, the Psalms—that’s a great place to go, because the psalmist expressed it all; didn’t he?
Steven: Yes; absolutely.
Steven: Just the honesty—I mean, so much of the Psalms and so many Scriptures that I’d read a thousand times—“But until you’re in that place,”—like my pastor, Scotty Smith, says—“can we really cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ / can we really cry that cry: ‘Father! Daddy!’ / cry out to God—until we first cry, ‘Uncle!’—you know, until we’re in a place where we’re so desperate to say: ‘I give. I’m done. It’s over. Now, God, save me, / Father, help me,’—until we’re at that place of desperation.”
I think even going back and seeing so many places in the Psalms where David was saying: “God, You’ve left me.
Steven: “I feel alone.”
And then there’s that amazing encouragement to pour your heart out to God—not just the good, Christian stuff out to God / you know, “God, I love You,” and “You’re good,”—but: “God, I don’t get this. I don’t understand it. I’m confused. I’m angry. I’m hurting.” You know, “This isn’t right. This isn’t right—I’m going to pour all that out to You.”
But then, again—back to the Psalms—there was a point where, all of a sudden, for me, it was another light bulb that went off—when the psalmist says, “Soul, why are you so downcast in me?” He began to ask the right questions. Instead of, “God where are You?” it was: “Soul/heart, wait a minute. Why are you so downcast within me? Hope in God.” You know, that was the psalmist’s advice to himself.
He was talking to himself / saying to his own soul—I got this picture, and I had it many times in my own life, and still do—where I’m almost pounding on my own chest / kind of my heart, going: “Come on, heart. Come on! Why are you so downcast? Why are you giving in to this hopelessness?” because you’re beginning to believe all those other lesser truths that are still true: “Life’s confusing, “It’s a mess right now in our world,” “What’s going to happen in this country?” “What’s going to happen in this world?”
Dennis: No doubt.
Steven: You know, all those things are true; but then there’s this pounding on his own heart, going: “But wait a minute. Come on, heart. Come on, soul. Remember what’s most true. Why are you so downcast? Hope in God! Put your hope in God / in the truth of who God is.”
Dennis: What you’re talking about there is counseling your own soul.
Steven: Yes; absolutely.
Dennis: And there really is—it sounds selfish / it really isn’t—is giving yourself the right advice, because there are voices. I read a book recently—in fact, that was all about voices in your head—and you have to counsel your own soul.
Bob: Well, and I think it also helps for you to be thinking, and meditating on, and saying out loud things that are true about who God is and about His involvement in our lives. I’m just thinking about times when I have pulled out one of your CDs—like the worship CD that you’ve just recorded, Worship and Believe. You pop that in, and you listen, and you sing along, and it reorders your thinking—you’re renewing your mind / you’re telling yourself what’s true over and over again.
I think James 3—you know, where it talks about the tongue and the power of the tongue—I think one of the things it tells us there is that we can use our tongue like a bit in the mouth of a horse and direct our lives in the right direction by saying the right things about who God is and what life is all about.
Let me just encourage our listeners, if they’ve not heard your new CD: “Go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. We have a couple of links there, and you can see some of the videos or hear some of the music from Steven’s new CD. Of course, you can order the CD from us—it’s in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. It’s online at FamilyLifeToday.com. The CD is called Worship and Believe. It has 15 tracks.” I was listening to this, as I was traveling recently on the airplane—nice to put my headphones on and tune out the airplane noise and just listen to you directing my thinking in the right direction. Again, the CD is called Worship and Believe. You can order it online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
You mentioned the book that Mary Beth has written, called Choosing to See. We have that book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center as well. And I know you’re working on a book that’s not out yet; but coming up in 2017, Steven will have a book out called Between Heaven and the Real World—so keep your eyes open for that.
Again, our website is FamilyLife Today.com, or give us a call at 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And we’ve been encouraging listeners in this direction, Steven—in times like we’re in, where we can get anxious about the direction our country is headed, or who’s going to win the election, or any of those kinds of things—we need to be recalibrating our thinking by spending time in God’s Word. We’ve put together ten devotions for families to do during this season of the year. They’re available on the FamilyLife app on your smartphone, or you can download the devotions when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
We’ve got a lot of folks who are using this, and we’re getting great feedback. So let me just encourage you to get out your smartphone or download these devotions and start using them in your family, just to, again, point your heart and your mind in the right direction.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information, or go to your app store to download the FamilyLife app.
Finally, I want to say a quick word of thanks to those of you who make this broadcast possible. FamilyLife Today is listener-supported. It is folks, like you, who see the importance of building into the lives of couples and of families. You make that possible when you support FamilyLife Today. You’re helping tens of thousands of couples all around the world today as you support this radio program.
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Tomorrow, we’re going to continue our conversation with Steven Curtis Chapman—talk more about what’s going on with his family and how God is at work in his life and through his ministry. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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