Category Archives: Story

Walking Sign Posts

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In a way, whether we wander from haven to haven or blaze trails in search of treasure, we’re all walking sign posts. Some of us wear our signs proudly. Some ashamedly. Most of us cover some signs with our more famous ones, and then we paint some of them bigger than others. We’ve all got our signs telling who we are and where we’ve been. They tell a story of how we think, act, and speak. For me, my prayer is for the Spirit to lead me to daily repentance and faith so that the gospel story of Jesus Christ explains all of my signs, which in turn amplify the Beauty and Power of God. I want my story to look more and more like Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Over the last several years, the story of the gospel has reinforced much of my approach to being on mission with my family, meaning, I am committed to a gospel intentionality with all my existing and potential relationships. I feel strongly more than ever that learning a person’s story and sharing my story overrun by the gospel is world’s better than any scripted evangelism methodology. And more than that, I believe Scripture is saturated with instruction and examples of gospel word and deed. Helping someone spiritually goes hand in hand with helping them physically, as well. Really leaning in to understand someone’s story and how God’s kingdom, Jesus’ cross and grace are missing from their signs is so very crucial to knowing how best to relate Jesus’ love and grace to them. People don’t realize that their story could get better, or that the real story is so good. Without the gospel, it hurts to tell our story. Our Spirit-led, grace-filled listening begins to soothe their soul. They want to know our story – made by Jesus. And then, Jesus’ good news cracks cold, stony hearts. Removes the mess. Slam-dunks a fleshy, vibrant heart with a thump and Ghost Pepper stuffed with transformation. Breathes Holy Spirit God into our sagging lungs and makes us new. We’re signposts for the glory of God, for his mercy and faithfulness.

Learn people’s stories, where they come from, where they’ve been, where they are, where they’re going. Then and all along, it’s show and tell time. The story goes like this: Jesus’ lead and your part in God’s grand story of life that really is and always will be.


Grace to American Nomads

Posts have been quite sporadic, nearly non-existent to say the least, over the last few months. Well, our life has gone through some big changes, so I haven’t made the blog a priority. Seeking a jump-start and more than happy to introduce to you my wife and her pen, I asked Meg if I could use something she wrote recently to give you a little window into our lives. Below are her thoughts about our life in 2012 so far:
There are so many things that I have hoped and prayed for our family and were answered just in this last month. So I have many, many ways that I see God at work in our life but just wanted to share a few. Also, I praise God for what He is doing in our church. Josh and I have experienced firsthand the beautiful expression of the body of Christ from strangers coming to help us move in, provide furniture, meals, plug our tire, bring us Gatorade on a hot day, gift cards, window units, and lovingly welcome us into our new community. This is all to God’s glory.
The last year for the 6 of us has been a crazy journey. Despite all the tears and hardships, I wouldn’t change it because it has refined us in ways that probably never would’ve happened. I have learned to let go (daily struggle of course) of this ideal of what our life should look like and trust in God’s providential hand upon our life. The 6 of us have lived with other families in 4 different spaces (not counting our current house) for the last year in 4 different cities (Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Texas). It has been crazy but all the while we have earnestly sought God and seen His graciousness upon us. We have experienced the body of Christ reaching out to us in these different places and we have been humbled by our overwhelming need for God and for brothers and sisters. Our kids have seen the need for prayer and seen God answer our prayers. We have all lived without our things for the last year and yet our needs were provided for as others shared their home with us. I have always had an open door policy in our home but after this last year of experiencing other’s hospitality it has a whole new meaning for me.
There are many more things I could share but lastly, Josh and I have learned the value of prayer and laughter. Laughter truly does bring relief from stress. I know it is only by God’s grace that the 6 of us can laugh and let loose in the midst of difficult circumstances.
So I hope as we continue on this path God has laid out for us that we journey together with eyes wide open for the work God has set before us.
Meghan Baylor
BTW, the transitions are not over either. Sometime in the next year we will be on our way to Germany via Virginia and Vancouver, so please continue to pray with us and for us.
Also, the routes on the map above actually happened within one year’s time with six people in one car… really.

Dusty, Gunky, Connected Keyboards

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Some of my keys stick or are just plain sticky. Dust, grime, gunk, and funk are all around me. I look gross and disgusting from careless and improper use and incompetent users. One time I was nearly shorted out from Big Coffee spilling all over me. Crusty, junky crumbs are all up in my grill. I’ve been slammed, yanked, and beat down by noisy typists (oh you know them, alright, you can hear them type from 20 yards away). I’ve been screamed at and forced to type in languages I don’t even know.

One thing I know, and this I know without a doubt. It’s that I have no control over my connection and no control over which keys are pressed in whatever order. There is some order to it, too. I’ve noticed a recurring theme, as well. As long as I’m connected, I keep getting used. My typist keeps cleaning me up and air dusting me, which doesn’t always feel good but always makes me work my best. But my best is only in connection to the power source and the meticulous typing of my typist, who knows exactly what to type, when and how long.

I’m just a keyboard, but my typist is brilliant!


Shedding the Old Man

“So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

Then the lion said–but I don’t know if it spoke–‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff pulled off. You know–if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“Well, he peeled the the beastly stuff right off–just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt–and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me–I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on–and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again.”

-from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

 


Valor

From The Silmarillion, Tolkien writes:

Last of all Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed; and it is sung that the axe smoked in the black blood of the troll-guard of Gothmog until it withered, and each time that he slew Húrin cried: ‘Aurë entuluva! Day shall come again!’ Seventy times he uttered that cry; but they took him at last alive, by the command of Morgoth, for the Orcs grappled him with their hands, which clung to him still though he hewed off their arms; and ever their numbers were renewed, until at last he fell buried beneath them. Then Gothmog bound him and dragged him to Angband with mockery.

And more is said of Hurin’s courage and steadfastness in the face of pure evil. Never did he relent, but he became even more resilient for the sake of what is noble and good, even under excruciating torment and unto death.

Are you inspired?

For what cause, would you endure this much pain and suffering?

How would you continue to fight though defeat seems imminent?


The Truest and Grittiest of All

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The story of True Grit is beautiful, whether you read it (Charles Portis) or watch it (1969 or 2010). The Coen brothers’ 2010 version includes a rich, underlying theme based upon Jesus as the Good Shepherd. They did it by incorporating a diverse medley of variations of the classic hymn, “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms”, throughout the film and by developing the character of Rooster Cogwright, played by Jeff Bridges. Of course, the story intrinsically lends itself to this idea, as well.

The hymn is based upon Deuteronomy 33:27, which is one line from Moses’ blessing over Israel (Moses was God’s first shepherd for his people to lead them to the Promised Land). Here, in greater context (Deuteronomy 33:26-29, ESV), the meaning becomes even more vivid:

“There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty.
The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, Destroy.
So Israel lived in safety, Jacob lived alone, in a land of grain and wine, whose heavens drop down dew.
Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.”

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“Leaning On the Everlasting Arms” (1887)
Words by Elijah A. Hoffman
Music by Anthony J. Showalter

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain:
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

All this to say that the story really inspires me to have “true grit” through the ebb and flow of life. This idea relates closely to a previous post on patience and passion. My heart breaks for the people of earthquake victims of Japan and Haiti, tornado victims in Alabama and Missouri, flood victims in many parts of the world, victims of violence and aggression, of extreme poverty, disease, malnutrition, lack of pure water and inadequate medical relief. I have friends with cancer, with no job, depression, experiencing the demise of their parents’ marriage and ultimately are confused about where they belong. I don’t have the answer, but I want so much for them to make it to the other side.

I do know that those who endure will have all the more “true grit” for it in the end. And this “true grit” truly is something special. It’s not some simple character trait that’s nice to possess if you can but dispensable otherwise. Not at all! It’s absolutely necessary in order to live for something bigger than you. How can this be? Just look at the one person who is the truest and grittiest of all. He’s endured the very wrath of God for the justice of God because of the love of God for all people. The true grit we may gain and display in this life is the likeness we share with our Creator God. He endured much to send his Son to take our place and rescue us. True grit, indeed! Now that inspires me and frees me to endure it all for his sake. “What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms…” See, that’s just it, our true grit really comes from True Grit himself, Jesus. So “stay calm and carry on”, leaning on the everlasting arms of our great God. Look to the sky, it’s Jesus, the Good Shepherd of our souls. He rides to our help and saves us.


“True Myth”

In his book, Church Planter, Darrin Patrick ruminates on “the most beautiful story:”

The gospel is the most beautiful story in the history of the world. In fact, the reason that other stories are beautiful – the reason we love movies, novels, and biographies that are saturated with redemption themes – is that they are an echo of the story. All good stories follow the same basic plotline of the gospel: the struggle between good and evil before and eventual triumph of good over evil. Tension, then harmony. Redemption. Sacrifice. Betrayal. Love. Suffering. Victory. Screenwriters have co-opted the gospel story to literally make billions of dollars. Pause for a moment and think about how many story lines from how many movies rip off the gospel story. There is a reason for this. The story of redemption captures the human heart, inviting and challenging us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. This story is movie-ready and myth-like. C. S. Lewis was converted out of atheism as he was enraptured by the beautiful story of the gospel, calling it a “true myth.”


The Origin of Story

“What is eternal must always be complete, if my understanding is correct. So it is possible to imagine that time was created in order that there might be narrative – event, sequence and causation, ignorance and error, retribution, atonement. A word, a phrase, a story falls on rich or stony ground and flourishes as it can, possibility in a sleeve of limitation. Certainly time is the occasion for our strangely mixed nature, in every moment differently compounded, so that often we surprise ourselves, and always scarcely know ourselves, and exist in relation to experience, if we attend to it and if its plainness does not disguise it from us, as if we were visited by revelation.” -Marilynne Robinson