This fall I’m finishing up a book with BetterDays and Lucid Books! It has been a labor of love and taken longer than I had anticipated. I’m excited to get it out there and I’m praying that it will be an encouragement to everyone who takes the time to read it. Ahead of its release, I’m going to be posting passages from the book here at my blog.
Go Outside: The Adventure of Knowing and Being Known by God (Lucid Publishers).
In many ways, this book is made up of the content, vision, and words that have gone into the work at BetterDays. This ministry began in 2002 and has been dedicated to providing care and encouragement to all who needed it ever since. It is especially focused on helping pastors and ministry leaders in their unique roles. While I am no longer working for BetterDays full time, caring and supporting people in their journey is still my life’s work, which I now do through Porter’s Call. Whether its pastors or artists, the struggles we face tempt us to retreat to safer and more predictable spaces. God is calling and inviting us outside!
First, “go outside” is a simple phrase that is intended to be taken literally. Get up and walk out your front door, wherever it may lead, and look closely; take in the realty and beauty around you. For some of you, you may have to look harder and longer. For others of you, God’s creation is on dramatic display all around you. Wherever you are, it’s worth the effort!
Beauty calls to us; it’s an invitation. In that way, “go outside” is a directive in our spiritual journeys. Exit the cramped, man-made, self-referential spaces and engage God in the wide-open spaces of His grace and love -- this may be on a walk in the woods, making time for real friendship, or serving the needs of others. Thankfully, God comes near to us in our hiding and isolation. Jesus meets us where we are and makes a way for us join him outside of our worry, isolation, addictions, and whatever else trips us up and locks us up.
Go outside, then, is a simple phrase that may mean something different for everyone. The question that I hope comes into focus as you read the book and these posts: Where are you stuck inside that, by God’s grace, you could walk outside of and be freed from? In particular, I hope to direct your attention to three key areas that are essential features of our God-given humanity: worship, relationships, and stewardship. The book explores how these have been vandalized by sin and how they are redeemed by grace in Christ Jesus.
Having spent many hours talking with people, several years ago I came to realize that most of our conversations involved one or all of these 3 areas. We would talk about struggles and joy in each. We talked about getting lost in each and being set free to truly thrive in each. Eventually, I came across this passage from from N.T. Wright’s book about Jesus and how these areas are pertain our vocation as humans and God's love in our life:
“The key is that humans are made in the image of God. That is the equivalent, on a wider canvas, of Israel’s unique position and vocation. And bearing God’s image is not a fact, it is a vocation. It means being called to reflect into the world the creative and redemptive love of God. It means being made for relationship, for stewardship, for worship—or to put it more vividly, for sex, gardening and God. Human begins know in their bones that they are made for each other, made to look after and shape this world, made to worship one in who image they are made.” (The Challenge of Jesus, p. 183)
Then, he adds, “But like Israel with her vocation, we humans get it wrong.”
Yep, we sure do.
We get it really wrong. We get lost in getting it wrong! Then, God comes looking for us and calling out to us in Christ, “Where are you?”. And, with that, we see a doorway, a narrow path open before us through which we can enter into the wide open space of faith, hope, and love.