“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space…” Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Let’s just go ahead and grant that space, the universe and everything is a wee bit difficult to wrap our infinitesimally finite–dare I say small?– brains around. Many of you have probably seen Cary and Michael Huang’s clever website illustrating the scale of the universe. Today I stumbled upon a website which visualizes the seven billion plus people who life on this planet: www.7billionworld.com.

Seven billion people. Each with their own stories, awkwardnesses, fears, hopes, dreams, plans, families, desires. Each loved, loving, hating, hated, at war, at peace, in need and provided for. It is staggering to think about and draws my mind to places I would not have imagined a picture of seven billion stick figures could have.

Been thinking about the Gospel of late (surprise!). Some thoughts…

Has anyone ever asked you why you shouldn’t do something you both know is wrong? If anyone ever asked me this type of question–and I can’t recall anyone ever doing so–they certainly didn’t disagree with my answers. And those answers of course were things like, “God says so”, “It is wrong”, “God doesn’t like it and I’m supposed to try to please him.” etc, etc. As I look back I cringe at the foundation being laid in my young heart.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, I want to share a little secret with you: “should” doesn’t matter any more and neither does “shouldn’t”. You know what this secret is called? The Gospel. This is Good News. Your value, your worth is no longer based upon your adherence to shoulds and shouldn’ts. Freedom in Christ means freedom from performance because Jesus has performed on your behalf. Often times our “gospel” just isn’t good news to people because it still leaves them enslaved and unsatisfied.

If your gospel is not identifiably good news that is freeing and satisfying, then it may not be THE Gospel and is at best only a partial Gospel.

A great blog post on the subject, and the occasion for today’s post can be found here: Gospel Motivation: Gratitude Fueled Obedience (Shouldn’t or Needn’t).

 

A little while back I shared about stories and how much I’ve been loving them of late. Well, this time around it is time to share some stories from up here in Olympia.

The past two weeks have been a little out of the norm for us as we have been sharing and processing together some of the sweet stuff the Spirit has been doing among us. March 10th the elders told the story of the Spirit’s work among us these past six months.

Part of our time this week was spent listening to how God has been using one of the guys in the body up here in some cool ways as well. That recording should be up later in the week (the stories start about halfway into the recording), but in the meantime let me leave you with some quotes that I loved coming out of Sunday:

“If your life with God is mostly in this [church] building, God wants to turn that upside down”

“Obedience kicks comfort’s ass”

Thanks for sharing Scott. I hope you all are encouraged.

UPDATE: Here are the links for the two recordings I mentioned above in the post:

Reality Family Meeting – Paul Jones and Elders

Statement of Faith – Paul Jones (Scott’s introduction starts around 18:10)

UPDATE PART II:

Stephen and Wendy share God’s work in their marraige

Ephesians 2:11-22

February 28, 2013

Ephesians 2:1-10 is a heavy hitter among Christians. And it makes sense. Between Paul’s death-to-life language, the divine “But God”, the favorite “by grace you are saved” and the impact of being God’s poiema, the second half of Ephesians 2 can easily get swallowed up in the grandeur of the first half. This is especially the case for Western Christians. Whether Paul intended it or not, the first 10 verses of Ephesians 2 sound like they’ll play very nicely with our American individualist conceptions of salvation don’t they?

A couple weeks back I had the opportunity to teach through the second half of Ephesians 2, verses 11-22 at Reality’s Sunday gatherings. The more I prayed and studied for this message, the more convinced I became that these halves must be taken together to create a whole.  There’s something here that Paul wants us to remember that we easily forget in spite of all our common habits, habitations, salvation, song and God.

You can find the audio called “Remembering” in iTunes or here where it was released 2/19/13.

Sucker for stories…

February 19, 2013

Sunday afternoons have turned me into a sucker for stories.

Just about every Sunday afternoon when I get in the car and drive home from gathering with the church, I turn on the radio to NPR. At first it was fairly mechanical. I get in the car, I turn on the radio. This week, as I sat in my driveway, listening to a comedian tell a story about the best of times and the worst of times, I realized its become something different.

More and more I’m finding stories serve to translate something, almost like a language I wasn’t aware someone was speaking. They’re full of ideas, yet more than ideas. Full of events, but more than timelines. Story transcends where diatribe and its cousins balk. As I heard today, “Sometimes a memory fits where a new idea won’t.”

The last long time–possibly forever–I’ve been reading Les Miserable. While there are times when I’ve found myself reading 20 pages on Paris’ sewers, or 60 pages describing a convent and ALL of its history, I’m finding that I love Hugo’s style. The story is so massive and the plot so grand (Hugo spends quite some time delving in to philosophy and speaking in terms that envelope the entirety of  humanity) that the reader must either revolt or submit to wherever the storyteller takes him.

The stories I hear ever Sunday invite me on a journey with them, to connect with their humanity by whatever road they take me on. Here are a couple of my favorite story telling radio shows:

The Tobolowsky Files – Yes, these stories are told by Stephen Tobolowsky (Remember “Ned” from Groundhog’s Day?)
The Moth – This is what I was listening to Sunday (if you can handle it, this one in particular pushed me over the edge)
Snap Judgement – Stories around a topic or theme

If you know me, you may not be surprised to know that my favorite story is a compilation of works communicating the one overarching story. But, of course, the seeing our story merely as humanity’s story is to inhabit understated, shortchanged story. Our story, so long as we view it as solely “our story”, is a ghetto of cul-de-sacs. For me, I find in the stories I hear a longing for the eternal to justify the mountaintops and rectify the valleys.

December 18, 2012

God, I can identify with a church whose major message is, “We’re not them!” I’m challenging you to read this and see if you don’t identify in some part–even a small part–with the struggling leader of this band of people from Westboro Baptist Church.

Zack Hensley

For years I’ve heard of the terrible and notorious antics of the folks just up the highway at Westboro Baptist church.  I have on many occasions been left with my head in my hands in disbelief whenever the stories of Westboro Baptist’s protests are told. Disbelief was usually followed by anger as I’d hear about them protesting a soldier’s funeral, or a gay kid who was beaten to death by his hateful peers. Anger would then lead to sorrow as I began thinking about the poor families being screamed at in their time of great grief. Sorrow also when I thought about the level of deception the people from Westborro must be under to justify screaming hatred. Following the progression of emotions, I began to grow bitter toward Westboro Baptist. Eventually that bitterness turned to hate. Hate turned into slandering them whenever I saw them on the news or heard about the legitimately horrible things they…

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Your reasons for not initiating are legion. You do not want to be that intrusive person who invites himself into someone elses life. You do not want to be rejected. You want things to happen naturally, and “initiating” sounds like a sales pitch. Yet, the assumption is that as a disciple you are already going–taking the first steps to reach out to those around you.”

-Joe Thorn, Note to Self (p 80)

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