What do I stand for?

I’m struck by a message I just finished listening to by Paul Manwaring. He asked this question – “What do you stand for? What are you willing to pay a price for?”

Honestly, I’m not quite sure yet.

As I look back, I have paid a price for certain convictions, but at the same time I’m not aware of clearly defined life messages in me or people knowing what I stand for. It seems that this is still developing in me – at the tender young age of 53!

At one point in the message I heard, Paul asks people who DO know what they stand for, to stand up and make declarations. Declare what they want to see; what they’re pulling for.

Well, I’m going to start to declare (write):

  • what matters to me
  • what I want to see

By writing it down, it gets it out of me and puts words onto sometimes shifting feelings/experiences. By posting it, I’m just starting to stand – to be public – preparing to pay the price for my convictions.

Here goes (in no particular order):

  • Europe matters to me – both the land and its people.  I wasn’t born here, but I most certainly trace my ancestry here.  It certainly began before I could say it was “God” but I know now that it was God who put it in my heart and brought our family here to live.
  • Reconciliation – ever since being awakened to reconciliation as a “thing” by Nadine Roure and Elvire Dieny, seeing reconciliation happen – at ALL levels – has been deeply satisfying and I increasingly see where it’s vital.  After all Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 5 that we’ve all been given the ministry of reconciliation.
  • Family matters to me – I’m certainly NOT the poster child for how to do family (in ANY of my family roles thus far in life), but the theology of family continues to grow for me on a regular basis.  God’s design for family; God’s government is family; The enemy’s incessant targeting of family; etc.
  • Identity/Son (and daughter) ship – WHO we are is so incredibly important.  When we understand the glory that God put in each one of us and His design for us and how being His son or daughter literally unlocks eternity TODAY for us – Wow!  It’s just the key to everything.  If I can (and increasingly as an older man, I CAN) help someone to find their identity – call out who and what God has made them to be – that is TRULY  satisfying and has eternal value.
  • Marriage matters to me – Why?  Because Jesus is coming for a Bride.  There’s going to be a wedding!  The power of this eternal union is echoed by what we experience right now between a man and a woman who commit before God to each other for their whole lives.  The power of that covenant is amazing and it’s only a shadow of the covenant that Jesus has with His Bride.  The depths of this are amazing.
  • Worship and God’s Presence matter to me – Not simply because I’m a musician, and one who is named David to boot, but I was made to be in His Presence and to focus on Him.  We all were, in fact, but because God has given me this gift and desire, I believe that He’s also given me a mandate to facilitate the experience of His Presence to others.  I also believe that we are changed by His Presence and we are fundamentally designed, as creatures, to become what we behold – to become like what we worship.  Hence if I worship God, I become like God.  If I help others worship God, I help them become like God.  This is my principle tool of discipleship that I have to offer.
  • The Kingdom of God matters to me.  It is so important to me that my citizenship is primarily with Heaven and that my understanding of “progress” in society is linked to the advancing of the Kingdom where Jesus is King and not necessarily a particular earthly government. My love of a country must be motivated by Jesus’ love for that country (and He loves them ALL) and what Jesus wants for that country.  This may or may not be my country of birth or my passport country(s).
  • Erasing Dualism and Living in Tension matter to me – So I’ve just finished stating “where I stand” but actually because of the things I stand for, I refuse (in principle) to let these stances hinder love or put God in a box.  Jesus was “box buster” in so many ways.  Our detachement from the cultural context of His earthly sojourn makes it easy for us to miss just how many boxes He exploded in His time.  We probably will never discover fully how He made people feel and react in in 1st century Palestine, but the willingness to understand that Jesus does do that – not just to 1st century Palestinian residents but to us as well – is the first important step to letting our own boxes disintegrate and letting Jesus out of the box that we so-easily stuff Him into. When we let typical “either/or” thinking dominate our reality, we immediately begin to de-humanize those who think differently.  In so doing we declare where Jesus is not welcome to challenge us to love that which we don’t understand or with which we don’t agree.  If, for example, reconciliation matters to me, then I can’t afford those walls to stand in my reality.  Not easy at all this wall-dismantling-process, but essential as members of God’s family.

So those are the things that I can say that I stand for and that I want to see – in me, through me, and around me.

Renovatus Church – Teddy Hart – The Economy of Mercy

Hey look!  It’s the "once-a-year-blogger" at it again!

Seriously, I wanted to pop this post out before it got stale…which is the problem I have with most of my posts.  Good ideas, but no time/energy/mojo to fully develop them and get them posted.  Then they get stale and I’m like, "meh…"

So, this morning I listened to this teaching while doing the dishes (duh…)  Empty house and no pressure to be somewhere or rush through anything.  Voila a post!

For two days now, I’ve been sitting on what I’ll call a "minor but strategic conflict" with someone.  God has been slowly revealing things about this conflict (and me, of course), but things still feel so confusing.  So this teaching comes along this morning and speaks even more into the situation.  Consequently, I really felt God on it and got a lot of revelation from it.

Will you?  Hard to say.  It might just be me and/or this situation.  But I will say that I felt that Teddy Hart, the young-adult pastor at Renovatus Church, really does have some revelation on:

  • The Mercy of God
  • The Kingdom
  • Forgiveness
  • The parable of the King forgiving the debt of His servant

There are some conceptual connections here that I’ve not heard before and which add depth to this parable, bringing it alive for me.  I imagine that if you’re in a conflict and that you really are wrestling with God about it (and not just stewing) then I think there’s likely sustenance in here for you as well.

I don’t even remember if this is the first time I’ve blogged about Renovatus Church or not as a source for teachings. I think it might be.  At any rate, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  99% of the messages are from Jonathan Martin, the founding and current pastor, and he’s largely the public personality of what Renovatus Church is.  So I’m really recommending him and his messages to you.  The occasional guest speakers that he has are almost always good too.  This is, for example, the 2nd Teddy Hart message I’ve heard and while his speaking style has some rough spots for me, I feel like he has some real deep insights that resonate (at least in the 2 times I’ve heard him).

So, without further ado:

http://mediastorage.cloversites.com/renovatuschurch/media_player/the%20economy%20of%20mercy.mp3

Renovatus podcasts

Jonathan Martin blog

Renovatus Church site

The Power of the Backstory

My 18-year-old son is an avid gamer and at this point in his life, aspires to make some aspect of game design into a career.  Whether he does or not, who knows, but I’ve no doubt about his excellent chances for success.  One reason is his ability to bring the paradigms of epic gaming into epic reality and vice versa.  One of those paradigms is that of the "backstory".  My own history with gaming revolves almost solely around one racing game and I only got a charge out of the competition and sense of speed and skill that one can draw from it.  First person shooters or RPGs, etc. have never held my interest and I suppose one of the reasons is that I’ve not "had the time" to really engage with the "backstory."

What’s a "backstory?"

Most of you probably already  know, but I remember that the first context I heard that term mentioned in was in gaming (though wikipedia gives it a broader definition).  It refers to the over-arching narrative that has been crafted around the action of the game that can give the player more understanding of what’s going on strategy-wise (the "practical" value of the backstory), but it’s also a tool that facilitates a more immersive experience in the game.  Depending on how alive the imagination is of the gamer, they can really enter into what they are doing and what they are experiencing in the game. It enhances the experience.

The backstory to the Gospel of Luke

Imagine my surprise, having only a gaming context in mind for this word, to hear it come out of the mouth of "learned British theologian" NT Wright. In the this talk that he gave in 2010 as part of the British "The Big Read" project (various churches in Britain all reading through the same portions of scripture during the season of Lent), Wright gives the "backstory" to the Gospel of Luke.  It is vintage NT Wright – especially since he’s all about "narrative."  It brings together many of his best themes and lays a rich foundation for approaching the reading of the Gospels (and indeed the Bible) but with a focus especially on the Gospel of Luke.  When he used the term backstory it really made me think of what a backstory does in gaming and how that applies to how we engage with God and His Kingdom and this incredible vehicle of communication that He’s given us called the Bible.  My impression is that we are all too often stuck in the posture that I had with games.  I didn’t bother with the backstory or anything else that is really necessary to engage with a game and plumb its depths as an immersive experience…and so it wasn’t. 

Knowing and appreciating the backstory is a complete game-changer!