221B Baker Street

One of the most famous addresses in the world isn't a real one. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character who lived in London at 221B Baker Street. It's a place people went to for help and the address still looms large.
What address comes to mind when you are at your wit's end? In recent current events, we will have heard now of Syria and we understand that we have a history with Russia. We know that refugees seeking help are seeking also an address--a place where one can either call home or visit to feel at home. I can tell you that I grew up on Henry Rd and later moved to Portland Avenue and Heaton Street. Most people could care less, but I knew where I received mail and I knew a place that was called mine.
It's what we want leaders to protect when they go to war.
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Transcending Mysteries: The Interview with Andrew Greer and Ginny Owens

Andrew Greer and Ginny Owens are long-time recording artists who tour the country using their gift of song to point people to the Transcendent. As songwriters, they are well versed in crafting melodies that help us connect to a powerful, loving, and all-too mysterious God. Their work with words has led them to write a book together: Transcending Mysteries: Who is God and What Does He Want From Us?   

The book, published by Thomas Nelson, is a deeply personal discovery of God through the pages of the Old Testament. Many of us – Greer and Owens included – struggle with the Old Testament text and the God we find (or think we find) in it. In the earliest pages they confess, “We fell in love with Jesus then had to figure out what to do with God.” And as you will see in the interview below, the authors discovered that when we embrace the struggle and venture into the unknown we will discover beautiful things about God and ourselves.  

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Trying To Avoid That Rob Bell Thing.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the evangelical theological constructs that surround me.  I’ve had some really great conversations lately with a number of deep-thinking people, so I end up floating around these things.  Without going into many details, I have begun to recognize more and more the differences between what I believe and experience, and the conceptual models that attempt to explain what it is I believe and experience.

For example, what do I really believe about me, in contrast to what do I see as the conceptual models that attempt to explain me?

The “Four Spiritual Laws” tries to explain me this way: God loves me, but because of my sin, I had separated myself from that love.  I am fundamentally a sinner, separating me from Him with an unfathomable gulf which cannot be bridged by my own efforts.

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When Christians are Wrong

Many of the problems in Christianity are rooted in assumptions.

We assume that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. (Have you looked for yourself?) We assume God is good. (Have you read Joshua?) We assume that anyone who even questions those beliefs is a heretic. (Are you thinking that about me?) Some of our assumptions are correct, but the fact that we make assumptions is not.

I used to fail in my attempts to tell people about Jesus for one simple reason: I worked from my assumptions about the Bible. It wasn’t until I really examined where the Bible came from that I was able to effectively communicate what I believed about Jesus with other people.

An entrepreneur’s book recently reminded me of this lesson. Seth Godin, in Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, says:

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Mystery: The Orthodox Taboo of Christianity

And then she told me, ‘Your father, your girlfriend, and your brother were run off the road. They didn’t make it. They’re dead.’ I didn’t know what to say. How do you respond to hearing those words over the phone?”

As he told me this story, my friend began to subtly cry—one small tear at a time. I didn’t know what to say either. But I quickly realized, there’s nothing to say—just listen. In listening, I learned something profound.

The art of listening alone is profound. But I learned something else from my friend on Tuesday night. After telling me his story, he began to talk about something that is shockingly taboo: Christ is mystery.

The words of Paul suddenly rang in my head. Paul says to the Ephesians:

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The Red Elephant (Part Two)

What was your Red Elephant?

What first summoned you into concentration, and inspired in you a desire to create, to build, to lose yourself in impassioned work?

Something led you to pursue, say, medical science: the desire to understand a disease; the elaborate name of a virus; the feeling of your hand on the shoulder of an ailing parent. Something summoned you.

What is it about architecture? Editing? Law? Poetry? Beachcombing? Cross-country skiing? Sculpture? Violin repair? Beekeeping?

There is something in this.

Adam sees animals in the garden — look how they crawl, slither, strut, and swagger! — and their wild beauty and variety compels him to make something of the situation. He is driven to name them. He awakens and sees the woman, and he feels an even more particular drive — not merely to observe, but to engage. Jacob has a dream about a ladder that touches heaven. Revelation. Moses walks around a corner on an ordinary mountainside on an ordinary day and suddenly a shrub is blazing without a puff of smoke, and he perceives the presence of God.

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Learning to Live in Awe

One of the Christmastime traditions my wife and I established with our children when they were young was looking at the Christmas lights around our community. Bundled up under blankets in our minivan (the twenty-first century version of the horse-drawn sleigh), the entire family would drive down one street and up another, seeing all the decorated houses in our neighborhood.

And people would go all out. Life-sized reindeer. Nativity scenes. Santas coming down chimneys. Snowmen with top hats and pipes. Candy canes lining people’s driveways. And lights. Lots and lots of lights. The more the lights, the more we’d “ooh” and “aah.”  Then we’d drive back to our house and have hot cocoa.

It was in their third Christmas that my twins, Rachel and Paige, were old enough to really appreciate the event. And that they did. Through their little three year old eyes, our neighborhood was a magical and amazing place. Every house glowed like fresh baked gingerbread. Trees glistened like the moonlight on fresh-fallen snow. And everywhere there were lights, Rachel and Paige announced excitedly, “Ommagosh, it’s bootiful.”

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