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This week’s video is dedicated to my friends in “the land down under” for the summer. I’m not sure if they’re even checking my blog, although it appears that someone from Australia is checking in according to the visitor locations map. I guess we’ll find out for sure via the comments. Let us know if you’re out there. You know who you are. Enjoy the video…

The recent heat wave here in the northeast is making for a cruel summer. With that in mind, here’s this week’s video, which by the way is just plain goofy. The song appears on a great 80s movie, however. Can you guess the movie? Go…

Can you believe I almost forgot it was 80’s Friday Flashback? That would have been a real tragedy had I forgotten. Okay, here’s your hint – “I want my MTV.” Can you guess the song? Time’s up. Here it is…

Be honest now. You know you want to rule the world…

God’s Story by David Arms

The post below appeared on my blog back in December in an abbreviated form. I’m re-posting it here with changes in order to introduce a series of posts I’ll be doing on what storied spirituality looks like from the biblical perspective. These posts will coincide with a series I’m teaching at the college and career midweek gathering of Faith Presbyterian Church where I pastor.

People crave story – so much so that it’s impossible to imagine life apart from story. Storytelling has always held a prominent place among humans. Our compulsion to write and tell stories, to read and hear them, points to the ongoing fascination we have with them. What is it about story that captivates us? What draws us into story? If we think about it, stories have this way of inviting us in, don’t they? They grab our attention by making us feel at home. Good stories open the world to us. They evoke powerful emotions within us, giving us new insight into what it means to be human and what it means to live in the world. They also aid us in seeing the common ground we share with others. Good storytelling is really an expression of good hospitality. It’s a vital way we make ourselves at home, and help others do the same. But even more profoundly, we respond to story because story is our common language. We relate to the language of story because, well, life is story.

Each of our lives is marked by a storied structure – a distinct beginning, middle, and end. There’s a story behind every person you encounter, a story behind you and me. As storied beings we’re always looking (often unknowingly) for some larger narrative to live by. These larger narratives help us answer the common questions of life: Who am I? Where am I? What do I do? What is wrong? What makes it right? In other words, the stories we live by provide us with an understanding of ourselves, the world, and how we’re supposed to live in the uworld. They help orient us to our surroundings and inform us in what skillful living looks like.

The advertising world is fully aware of our need to live in some kind of story. Think of how commercials feed our hunger to live in story. They offer us what seems like an unlimited number of stories, promising to fulfill us (yes, even save us) whenever we enter these stories to live by them. What they offer is usually a variation of the Amerian dream story: buy this or that, and you’ll have the security, comfort, and fulfillment you’ve always wanted. “This is abundant life” they tell us. Consider how the political process confronts us. We’re invited to step into the Democrat or Republican Story, with the assumption being that our dreams will be realized if only we enable the right story to be written. It’s inescapable; wherever we look we’re bombarded with invitations to live in a particular story. These stories promise to provide us with meaning, define what is good, and offer deliverance from what’s wrong in life.

The Bible also invites us into a story. At its most basic level, the Bible is not a book of ethical instruction, but rather a coherent, unified story. The biblical story claims to be the grand or ultimate story, the meta-narrative that makes sense of all other stories. This story claims to be both true (it matches with our experience) and comprehensive (it speaks to every dimension of life). In fact, this story puts our fascination with story into context. We’re captivated by story because each of us is actually part of a big story whose author is God. In other words, life is story. The biblical narrative comes to us in four main acts: creation (introduction), fall (conflict), redemption (resolution), and renewed creation (conclusion). God’s story opens the world to us and helps us to feel at home in this place he has made. We’re invited to participate in this story, joining God in His mission to make all things new. This story invites us into something much larger than our own personal drama’s, the American dream, or whatever small story some political party holds out to us. God’s story offers us something worth throwing ourselves into with full abandonment.

We can’t miss the authoritative claim this story makes. It insists that it is the best story to live by because it is the true story. The ancient people of God were called to live in step with God’s story in order to show the watching world that this story was true and worthwhile. Likewise, the early church lived out God’s story in provocative ways, demonstrating that competing stories (like the story told by the Roman Empire) weren’t nearly as compelling. The Bible claims that to settle for another story is to settle for something less – for something that dimimishes us. All other stories will shatter our dreams and leave us empty. Are we willing to give up these dead-end stories in order to get caught up in the story God is writing in the world. Is the story of God intersecting with the story of your life? What story are you living by anyway?

In the next post we’ll go back to the beginning of the biblical story and consider the landmarks of the story: God-people-place.

The conversation continues…

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