Sunday, July 22, 2007

Grace Beyond Borders

Sorry about the down week--between a wedding/vacation in Colorado and team teaching my first grad class here in Nashville, we've been out of sorts. Here's a word on our series to end the summer: Grace Beyond Borders: Life in the Global Village. This completes a summer that has gradually looked further and further "out" in our vision for God's work in the world. We began focusing on God's work in the home and family. Then we streched to look at how God reveals his message in and not just to contemporary (American) culture and now we're ending with a look at how the grace of God is not just something to be received, but something that compels us to bring that hope to the farthest reaches of our world. As I heard John preach powerfully today about different places we might locate ourselves in Jonah chapter three, I can't help asking myself again and again, where is the surprising place "beyond borders" that God wants to send us to reveal his hope? Where is our Nineveh today?

Let me end by sharing from Mark Buchanan's challenging book, Your God is too Safe: "What is God mostly interested in? Strangely, anticlimatically, it has to do with concerns--with what our hearts fix on, with what stirs us in the depths and makes us rise to the heights. What are we concerned about? Is it what God is concerned about?. . . The last thing Jonah wants is for God's concrens to be his own. . . Jonah just wants to dwell on borderland, undisturbed and safe."

May God call us beyond safety, beyond our expectations, and beyond the borders to display his global grace in our world.


You can find the latest series at

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Hear the Remix

Well, we've finished our Conversations with Culture series, but certainly not the conversations themselves. I was amazed watching and hearing Randy Gill masterfully bring out techniques and themes in music that we need to give some Gospel consideration. I guess what strikes me most after all of the reflection is the incredible artistry of God. He reveals that artistry in creation itself, as I'm reminded every week when I hike alone with God or with my kids. He reveals that in the Gospel narratives, which the more I study them, the more I am staggered by the depth of literary wonder there. And I've seen through my collegues here and my spiritual family the artistry God has placed in our everyday lives through the gifts of his people and the creativity of humanity.

So, a concluding thought and a question to ponder. The thought: we serve a breathtaking God who has not ceased his creative work. The question: some have legitimately asked, where do we draw the line between finding God in the common and profaning the name of God by connecting conversations about him with aspects of the world? I tend to lean toward Augustine's take, that whatever good that is found in the world comes from God, so like Israel of old, we should feel free to "plunder the Egyptians" and find God anywhere he chooses to reveal himself. In fact, like Paul discovering attributes of God in pagan poetry (Acts 17:28), I find it incredibly honoring of God to find him at work in surprising places. But, I don't want to dishonor him by falling into the trap of trying to water down the Story of God and reduce it to what those in a pop culture would find attractive. Any thoughts on keeping the balance in our conversations and lives? Or, you might feel free to share your own encounters with God and his creative artistry.


Here's thge Final message on Gospel & Music: