“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.

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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).

 

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.

I don’t trust you…

July 31, 2012

Thinking a bit today and I got to wondering, how often do I act out of distrust?

I’m not going to tell you…
I’m not going to let you do…
I’m not going to quit looking over your shoulder…
I’m going to make sure you know you made a mistake…

Because I don’t trust you, or because I don’t trust God to clean up or teach or lead–all things I’ve seen him do repeatedly.  But I don’t trust.

And, of course I’ve found much better ways of couching my unbelief.

It needs to be done right.
You’re not ready yet.
You’re still growing.
Things take time.
I’m responsible for that.

The reality is, I trust my own performance. And as long as I’m my own savior I’ll be doing my damnedest to show you and everyone else that your best isn’t good enough because if it is, I might be revealed as a fraud, as someone who doesn’t measure up.  Someone who can’t save themselves.  And then I’d be in real trouble. Then I’d really need saving! There’s no way I can have that!

There’s definitely no way I’m going to put you in a place where it becomes utterly clear that you need saving! Because then I would have failed to save you and we might have to look together for someone greater than us both who could carry our burdens and sickness. Someone who could emerge on the other side to call us through death of our conceived selves to a table set in wider pastures.

But, Lord knows I can’t have all that. Least, not so long as I don’t trust…

Can’t remember if I’ve pointed to this before but gospelcentereddiscipleship.com has an excellent post on Gospel-Centered Parenting that has been super impactful to me as a parent. There’s plenty here I have yet to really learn and put in to practice (And lots of grace and rest in the Spirit’s ability to overcome my brokenness in the lives of my children).

Check it out:

Gospel-Centered Parenting

 

Great Questions

July 3, 2012

Good questions are hard to find.  Sometimes harder than good answers.  Questions reveal what we value, what worth celebrating or mourning. In the context of discipleship questions are extremely important.

Hugh Halter shares a list of questions that I think is awesome.  Check it out here:

How I Coach People Into True Missional Leadership

Read Fiction!

June 7, 2012

The last little while I’ve been reading some classics and I’m loving the things I find it awakening.  Its a whole different world and I’m loving it.  Justin Buzzard shares a couple of thoughts today on why leaders should read fiction.  Check it out.  Or skip to the end and read his four reasons to read fiction and then go pick up some fiction and read it.

Leaders, Read Fiction!

 

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