Posts Tagged 'Kingdom'

An open letter to my friends unsure about God

I recently wrote this open letter to my spiritually unsure/seeking/agnostic friends who follow my primary blog at After writing it, I realized that many of the themes embedded in Between Two Kingdoms resonated throughout. Here is the entire original post below:

I have lots of friends all over the world who read this blog. Many are self-identified Christians, but some are not. I often wonder what my I-have-more-questions-about-God-than-answers friends think about my more God-centered posts. I thought I would write a post tonight for them. (I’m talking about my actual real-life friends who read this – not cyber eavesdroppers. You all know who you are. We’ve talked about this stuff at 2 a.m. in bars across America over the last decade. For whatever reason you are all on my mind tonight.)

First of all, I want you guys to know that I didn’t become your friend to try to convert you. I know you all know that, but it is true. I respect you and your spiritual journey. Nothing is gonna ever change that.

Second, I would want you to know that my faith – though rooted in Jesus and the Christian tradition – likely has some substantial differences to cultural Christianity. If you know me, you have likely sensed that already. This is intentional on my part. I am not trying to be the Christian who shocks people or anything like that. I’m trying to follow Jesus as I understand him. Jesus himself came off as anti-religious a lot, and I sometimes do the same.
Continue reading ‘An open letter to my friends unsure about God’

Release Day.

Between Two Kingdoms officially releases today. I worry a lot about being too self-promotional. At some level, the whole idea of having a blog is self-promotion…or at least self-exposure. I tend to hold back when I get excited about things. I find it annoying when all people talk about our their personal projects and ideas.

The problem is that I do things like make movies and write books. I pour countless hours – years – into these things and then suddenly they are “finished.” Today is an exciting day for me, so I’m going to write about it. Not because I want you to buy my book, but because I know people will be reading it soon. It feels somewhat like sending a kid to college. (I assume. I still have eight years before that dreaded day.) I’ve done all I can for her and now she is on her own…off to become whatever she will be – to meet whomever she will meet.

Here are my hopes for this book:

1. That it lands in the hands of people who are ready to receive the Kingdom like a child.
2. That it can be used as a new canvas on which to paint the gospel.
3. That it will give useful metaphors to people to talk about the Trinitarian God and his work in the world.
4. That those who read it would become more courageous.
5. That parents and kids would read it together.

If you pray, I’d ask that you would pray for those things as you think about me and the book. Though it may look from the outside like I do many different things, all I really do is tell stories about Jesus and the Kingdom in different ways. A storyteller just wants his stories to fall like seeds on fertile soil ready to receive them. Today just happens to be the first day that this particular seed is scattered.

Jesus’ Main Thing

Jesus had a central message. There was one single reality that prompted all of his teachings. Many have reduced Jesus’ life and words to a message other than his primary one. Some have taken some of his peripheral statements and made them primary.

At the beginning of Matthew’s gospel there is a simple, straight-forward statement that is crucial to observe:

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” – Matthew 4:17 (NIV)

Matthew is about to reveal the single greatest oration humanity has ever heard – The Sermon on the Mount. Before revealing the words of Jesus’ great Kingdom Manifesto, Matthew lets his readers in on the main thesis of the life story of his subject: that from the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry until the end, he will have one central action step spurred by one simple statement of reality:  Repent (the action) because the Kingdom is near (the reality).

It is from this reality that Jesus’ life, ministry, words and miracles are contextualized. It is in the action step of repentance that we are able to receive the reality of the Kingdom coming.

Last year at this time I prepared an online Lenten Bible Study through the Sermon on the Mount. If you would like to work through the study this Lent, it is archived at this link: Sermon on the Mount study.

Tell an Alternative Story

Ivan Illich was once asked, ‘What is the most revolutionary way to change society: Is it violent revolution or is it gradual reform?’ He gave a careful answer: ‘Neither. If you want to change society, then you must tell an alternative story.’

To be a Christian is to tell an alternative story…a story that started long ago and continues to this very moment and into the future.

In a world where every thought of every person was only evil all the time, Noah told an alternative story and built a wooden freighter in his back yard in the middle of a drought. His story saved the world. Continue reading ‘Tell an Alternative Story’

Think About It.

Between Two Kingdoms is my attempt to condense some rather heady theological learnings into a world that people can explore and play within. My normal pathway to God goes through my brain. Others seem to come to Him through their heart or gut or hands. I don’t know if one way is better than the other. All are important to each of us…and there is nothing worse than a purely academic Christian without passion or action.

At about the same time I finished the first section of BTK I also wrote an essay expressing my emerging beliefs in a more clinical way. In some ways this short essay is the nerdy sister of the more free-spirited novel, but I’d like to present her to you now. Continue reading ‘Think About It.’

The Brick Wall: A Kingdom Parable

Then Jesus started preaching, “Turn back to God! The kingdom of heaven will soon be here.” – Matthew 4:17 (CEV)

Imagine a brick wall.

What you are imagining is not nearly big enough. Imagine yourself standing in front of a massive brick wall. Now, look to the right. The brick wall continues as far as you can see. Now look to the left. It has no end. Look up. As far as you can see – past the clouds and into outer space. The brick wall never ends.

Now imagine that this brick wall is real. And that it exists in the future. This is the wall that separates the past and the present from the future. Behind the wall exists Heaven. Heaven is a good place and you’d like to be there. What little we know of Heaven is mysterious, but we know that it is a good place – no death, no mourning, no crying, no pain. God reigns in Heaven with a loving rule. Heaven has the power to heal. Continue reading ‘The Brick Wall: A Kingdom Parable’

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