Tag Archives: Christians

Building a playlist: “My Chains Are Gone” and “I Will Rise”

Days 7 and 8 – “Shackles: The Playlist”

On account of real life getting in the way, I managed to fall a few days behind in my compilation of a playlist for “Shackles,” my historical fiction novel that tells the story of Paul the apostle’s earth-shaking encounter with a jailer in the Roman colony of Philippi, circa 50 A.D. The story is two-fold and simultaneously follows separate paths: Paul’s story when he was Saul the great persecutor of Christians and later then converted evangelist, and the story of the jailer, a man I named Faustus (he’s unnamed in Acts 16). I’ll admit that Faustus became my friend as “Shackles” unfolded and is one of my favorite fictional creations. I suppose it’s not too late to have imaginary friends, right?

The separate paths of Paul and Faustus eventually collide – literally – and then the story follows the outline already detailed in Acts 16. A few of my 18 beta readers have finished the story and their comments and feedback are trickling in.

For the next two entries to “Shackles: The Playlist,” I’m offering a double dose of Chris Tomlin. “I Will Rise” and “My Chains Are Gone.”

One of my all-time favorite sacred hymns is “It Is Well With My Soul,” and there a line in the last verse that yearns: “And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight.” That the answer for that yearning is foretold in Tomlin’s “I Will Rise” with the phrase, “And my faith shall be my eyes …”

Whew. Goose-bumpy stuff.

And “My Chains Are Gone” incorporates the timeless standard “Amazing Grace.” The concepts of chains breaking, shackles falling off, and liberation from the oppression of sin and spiritual darkness are absolutely fitting for “Shackles.” Allow yourself to also consider other ways that we become shackled. Our religious institutions often put us in chains with lists and expectations, which is the very thing that Paul fought until his death. We do a pretty good job of shackling others, too, with our finger-wagging and self-righteousness.

Enjoy.

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Filed under Amazing Grace, Book of Acts, Christianity, Inspiration, National Novel Writing Month, Shackles, The Bible

“Break Every Chain”

“Shackles: The Playlist,” Song No. 5 …

“A Roman family man, cheated by a lifelong enemy, descends into darkness and despair. A transformed persecutor of Christians avoids a vicious stoning and multiple murder plots. Shackles tells the story of two men, separated by hundreds of miles, destined for an earth-shaking encounter.”

“Shackles,” my historical fiction novel-in-editing that tells the simultaneous stories of Paul the apostle and a jailer in Philippi, is set in the year 50 A.D. As I was searching for Roman/Latin names to decide what to name the jailer, I came across “Faustus.” When I learned the name means “Lucky,” I had what I was looking for, because Faustus is anything but lucky. Unlike the stereotypical first century Roman man, whom I usually think of as rough, domineering, even cold, Faustus is incredibly kind, gentle, compassionate, affectionate … Yeah, the traits we don’t commonly associate with men of that culture and that generation.

By any standard, he’s a “good guy.” And not unlike a lot of good guys, he is tormented by secrets and the ever-present fear that his world could come crashing down at any moment.

And then it does.

When that happens, where does a man or woman turn? What good was “being good?”

That’s from the story of Faustus, but no one had more to say about the futility of “being good” than Paul, who at one point genuinely thought that he was doing good by killing Christians. Expectations, rules, guilt and shame are powerful chains. What are the “chains” in your life? Self-sabotage? (See me raising my hand?) Guilt? Overwhelming feelings of inadequacy? Unrealistic expectations of yourself? Of others?

Time to break every chain.

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Filed under Inspiration, National Novel Writing Month