Category Archives: Larger Story

Attraction of Jesus

Maybe you’ve been searching for a close friend your whole life. Can I offer to you Christ? He was touchable, approachable, reachable. Parents would place children at his feet. Nonreligious and materialistic minded people had him in for dinner. Women cared for Him, yet He was never accused of lustful thoughts (Luke 8:1-3). He routinely stopped and responded to the shattered lives of people. The broken couldn’t resist Him. The hands that shaped the stars, touched eyes, embraced lepers, and massaged the dirty toes of his disciples. Says Max Lucado: He was the kind of fellow who would “wrestle on the floor with your kids, doze off on your couch, cook steaks on your grill, laugh at your jokes and tell a few of his own. And when you spoke, he’d listen to you as if he had all the time in eternity. And one thing’s for sure, you’d invite him back.”

All we needed was a Savior who was willing to come down here, die quickly, and hurry back to heaven. Instead, we got Jesus. He was born, lived for at least 33 years on our planet. He went to our weddings, ate at our tables, built our homes, held our babies, and walked with us in grace. He could have embarrassed the adulteress; He could have laughed at the demon-possessed; He could have ignored the cripple; He could have belittled the widow. Instead, he gazed into their eyes, touched their lives, and set them free. I love the human-packaging of Jesus. Jesus didn’t have to be as loving as he was. Jesus is God’s grace given in an unexpected way to get our attention, to say “I really do love you” in a way that we would all understand.

When God took on human form, He did so in the frailty of a baby. He grew and did the hard daily work of a carpenter under oppressive Roman rule. He went through the apparent death of his earthly father, Joseph. Jesus then cared for his mother, a poor, single woman with a family. He hungered in the desert. He wept over the death of a close friend. He suffered fatigue even while teaching, healing, and serving. He was deserted by His best friends. He was then mocked, abused, and killed by those He loved. Yet even in that death, He loved us and He prayed for us “Father, forgive them for they no not what they do.” In Jesus, we’re known in our weaknesses and loved for who we are and empowered to become our true self made in God’s image (Kelly Monroe).



Filed under Christianity, Jesus Christ, Larger Story

Allow Yourself to be Grasped by Love

C. S. Lewis, the British intellect who had all these intellectual problems with believing in God, was almost wrestled into a relationship with God. God would not stop pursuing him. Lewis said, “Picture me alone in my room night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet…The Prodigal son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?” Lewis’s testimony is like so many others; He could not escape God. John Stott, who borrows a phrase from Francis Thompson, refers to Jesus as “The Hound of Heaven” in his book Why I Am a Christian

Jesus pursued him relentlessly even when Stott was running away from Him. At least, you think that Jesus would get the hint and leave you alone. But He doesn’t; He pursues us relentlessly. Stott finally surrendered to the embrace of the Tremendous Lover. And Stott shares if it were not for the gracious pursuit of the Hound of Heaven, “I would today be on the scrapheap of wasted and discarded lives.” God is not a passive deity hiding in His throne room; He is on your trail. No, He does not wait impatiently for you to say “Yes” to his invitation to a place at His table and then turn to abandon you in favor of other sport. The truth is that the grand chase never ends until you are all He meant you to be. You will be amazed at what extent He will go to reach you. God is wild in His pursuit, and will even become a baby to reach you or die a criminal’s death. He loves so recklessly with the torn, broken, lacerated, spit-covered, blood-drenched body of Jesus as just a hint of His love. There’s no refuge from the love of God. You can’t escape it – see Psalm 139. He’s wild about you! Novelist Reynolds Price said there is one sentence all humankind craves to hear: ‘The Maker of all things loves and wants me’ (Yancey, The Bible Jesus Read 206.)” I share a Brennan Manning quote: “Some things are understood not by grasping but by allowing oneself to be grasped.” Allow yourself to be grasped by love.

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Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, Conversion, God, Jesus Christ, Larger Story, Love

What is my life purpose?

I remember hearing of a young lady from Fremont, California who scored a perfect score on an SAT exam, a test often required of those who are planning on going to college. She never missed a question. And she also scored a perfect score on the rigorous University of California acceptance index. Some time later, they asked this intelligent, bright young lady, “What is the meaning of life?” She replied: “I have no idea.” With no disrespect intended for this gifted young lady, she is characteristic of her generation. Millions of young Americans have grown up in America and have been given material blessings, educational opportunities, fantastic medical care, entertainment visual affects, and yet we have failed to teach them who they are and what they’re put here to do.

Here’s the question I would like to ask John, and Barak, and CEO’s, and celebrities, and political figures, and religious leaders…

What do you think the purpose of life is?

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Filed under Christian Worldview, Larger Story, Life Purpose

Why do we have a Bible?

The Bible is an anthology – it is a collection of 66 books into one book. The Bible is given to us for three primary reasons: to record the facts of history, to help us re-experience story, and to teach us theology.

First, the Bible records the facts of history. What we read in the Bible really happened. It’s not a book of fiction. It is not an attempt to fabricate the truth. Its purpose is not to deceive. When the Bible talks about places and peoples, these are confirmed from extra-biblical sources through archeology and other discoveries. There are ancient manuscripts that have survived the centuries and they are consistent with what we have in our Bibles today. There really was a guy named Jesus who lived, died, and rose again. It is an accurate representation of what happened and of what happens over and over again in human history. We don’t just read the Bible; it reads us. It tells us who we are and what we do.

Second, the Bible helps us to re-experience story. It is full of settings, and characters, and actions. Some characters, we want to be like. Others we want to avoid. But all of them speak to our stories and the Bible never airbrushes out the flaws of its characters (you read about King David’s adultery and the flaws of the apostles; this lends to its credibility). By the way, you are writing a story with your life; Someone out there is bringing the pieces of that story together. And you can bet, if there is a larger story in our lives, there is a Story-Teller. God is writing a story and it hangs together. All of these 66 books move the story along a bit, pushing the plot toward its final completion. For all its peculiarities and unevenness, the Bible has a simple story, among what appears to be several disconnected stories. It was written over a 1500 year period by forty people in three different languages and yet there is a consistency to the overarching story. God made man. Man rejected God at Satan’s prompting. God won’t give up until He wins man back through Jesus. God returns man to his original plan. That is the larger story. “The dogma is the drama,” said Dorothy Sayers. The Gospel has all the elements of a great story. The Bible begins with the creation of all things, it takes a plunge into evil (Genesis 3), it meanders through fallen human history, and tells of one who disguised himself (Jesus) in order to win the love of a girl (the Church). By the time we get to the end, we have a king on a white horse who rides in to rescue the girl just in the nick of time. He conquers all evil, gets the bride (the Bride of Christ) and lives happily ever after in a new city with a new garden in a palace decorated with jewels. What is there that is boring about this story! If we lose the dogma of solid biblical teaching, we lose the drama. Instead of being confronted and changed by the truth, we wallow in therapy with no larger story to live for. Salvation is essentially a story of restoration. You’re invited up into it. It answers our deepest God-Questions: where we came from, what went wrong in the world, what God is doing to fix it, and how we factor into that plan. The Bible reveals a sacred story. In the beginning, God created us good. Something went drastically wrong and we sinned. But God has sent a Rescuer to deliver us from ourselves. The Bible is a love story, a sacred romance, where Jesus gets the girl.

Third, the Bible teaches us theology; it teaches us about God and truth. When we say that God is personal, we mean that He communicates with us. He has spoken to us, revealing Himself and how He wants us to live. There are two things that stand out about God. He is a self-concealer as well as a self-revealer. God is a self-concealer. He hides – and seems at times – shy to intervene in our world. God must hide in order for a free-will world to be possible. The direct presence of God would inevitably overwhelm our freedom. God gives everyone the room to either choose or reject. He’s a hidden God and He will not force love. Those who want to find Him or be found by Him can, and those who want to reject Him can do that as well. But God wants you to see Him and know him. That’s why we can say that God is not only a self-concealer… God is also a self-revealer God communicates who He is and how He wants us to live. There are two primary books that God uses to communicate and self-disclose or reveal Himself. One is the book of nature. God reveals Himself through His world and what He has made. The other is the book of His Word – the Bible. Looking at God’s world is like looking at a painting that the Artist has painted. Looking into the Bible is like an actual conversation with the Artist Himself. God loves to communicate. He talks through burning bushes and braying donkeys. He sends messages through storms and rainbows and earthquakes and dreams. He whispers in a still small voice. And he also speaks to human authors who then under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote God’s message to us. The Bible is a book of ancient, proven, trustworthy words. Jesus quoted from the Old Testament and endorsed the writers of the New Testament. Prophets predicted things years before they happened and they came to pass. Archeological discoveries have confirmed its accuracy. There are ancient manuscripts to verify their reliability. More than anything else, the Bible is about a Person. In the Old Testament – someone is coming. In the Gospels – He is here. In the Epistles – He is coming again! The Bible is held together by a Person. God creates the world, the world gets lost, and God seeks to restore it in Jesus. That means the Bible is about you and me, whom God also made and lost and seeks. We are not alone on this planet. Someone is out there and He reveals what kind of story we’ve fallen into. And he graciously seeks us out. I guess you could also say that this story holds us together – this Person holds us together. You must have two things in life: a person and a story, and even the story must be about a Person, said one author. God packages theology in story, rather than just raw facts. Don’t make theology into a religion of facts and miss the romance. Stop reducing the text to formulas for personal growth and how I can get rich.


Filed under Atheism, Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Hidden God, Jesus Christ, Larger Story, Restoration, The Fall, Uncategorized

Existentialism – Overcome the “Nothingness”

There’s a worldview out there that suggests that we are basically alone in this universe. And if this is true, this dramatically impacts how we answer these questions. The fancy philosophical name for the belief that life is pointless and filled with meaninglessness is “existentialism” and it asserts that our existence cannot be explained. This world isn’t going anywhere. There is no larger story that hangs together. The material universe is all there is. Life really isn’t all that worth-while; in fact, it’s absurd. If we are the result of a chance collision of atoms in an indifferent universe, what meaning is there to life then? Your body and your world is just a machine. What is there to be passionate about?

Existentialism fuels the culture of cynicism and rebellion and indifference – existential despair. We have to make the best of life now because when you die, it’s all over. You cease to exist. There is no God or afterlife. This makes the human experience a very lonely experience, especially when you see those Hubble telescope photographs that show earth suspended in the vastness of outer space and to think that there is no one holding it all together. We live to overcome the nothingness, to create our own reasons to be alive. So much pessimism and so little hope, gives way to a life of despair. We do drugs, pursue pleasure, acquire wealth in an attempt to numb the ache of a true life purpose without God. Some call this “existential angst.” There’s no real meaning to all this and we despair as we do our own thing. As atheistic existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre put it, “On a shattered and deserted stage, without script, director, prompter, or audience, the actor is free to improvise his own part.” We become our own gods and write our own story without any larger story to be concerned about or overarching purpose to live for.

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Dramatic Scenes of the Larger Story

Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson

For all its peculiarities and unevenness, the Bible has a simple story. God made man. Man rejected God. God won’t give up until He wins man back. God returns man to his original plan. Here is the larger story in four words – Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. Colson, Walters, and others argue this point so well and the Bible demonstrates it. When you encompass the mass of biblical material, even though there are several smaller stories, the larger story line that emerges is Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration – four dramatic scenes.

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The Larger Story – A Metanarrative

John Eldredge

John Eldredge

John Eldredge has done a masterful job in his book Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul He shares how for ten years of his life, he was as an actor and director for the theater. “They were, for the most part, joyful years. I was young and energetic and pretty good at what I did. My wife was part of the theater company I managed, and we had many close friends there… In spite of the fact that my memories of theater are nearly all happy ones, I keep having this recurring nightmare. This is how it goes: I suddenly find myself in a theater – a large, Broadway-style playhouse, the kind every actor aspires to play. The house lights are low and the stage lights full, so from my position onstage I can barely make out the audience, but I sense it is a full house. But I am not loving the moment at all. I am paralyzed with fear. A play is under way, and I’ve got a crucial part. But I have no idea what play it is. I don’t know what part I’m supposed to be playing; I don’t know my lines; I don’t even know my cues.” While Eldredge goes on to make a slightly different application with that story, I see in his story all of our stories. We’re born into this world. We’re thrown out onto the stage. And unless we know the larger story, we have no idea what part we are to play. We don’t know our lines, our cues. This is one of the primary problems in our world. The world has lost the larger story. “Our lives are caught up in what has been called “a tournament of narratives” (Greenslade). We settle for lesser stories to star in – little stories to live for – an affair, a corner office, a better seat, a few more dollars, a little more control and power, a quick buzz, a little more fame. I’m arguing that God has given to us a larger story to live for. All of our smaller stories tie to a larger story – a metanarrative. We have fallen into a story, a sacred story. And if there is a story, there is a Story-Teller (G. K. Chesterton). And if God is the Story-Teller, He must love surprise endings because mankind was created with free will. Create some unexpected and surprise endings of your own!

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