I have arrived at a simplified point in my life. No longer a youth, and not yet “mature”, I’ve seen enough to know a little, and the little that I know is quite nice. I’ve grown up in and around ministry; the lives of both my parents have been etched with an unmistakable passion for God. The force of their lives, mixed with an unmasked reality of the relationship between God and humanity, became the stabilizing center of my life a long time ago. I never saw the hypocrisy that has often been revealed in the midweek’s of parents in ministry. My parents’ giftings and passions, as well as their flaws and failures, were equally visible from the pulpit and the couch. This is a transparency and a reality that I respect and am deeply grateful for. Even when I was unsure of myself, I was sure of them. This surety has enabled me to wander far from home, sometimes figuratively and often literally, knowing that I had, and to this day have, an anchor, and that I am secure in all the ways that matter. The fact that through my parents, and their various accomplices, I was exposed to a high level of practical, active, and relational theology is something that I appreciate very much. The impact of the Holy Spirit hasn’t hurt much either.
The simplicity that is in my life is found in a singular desire and a simple passion. For all of my exposure to the world, broken politics, church politics, the excesses and successes of some communities, the failures and depravities of others, as well as my ever present list of needs and desires, I have arrived at a place where I can honestly say that all I really care about is knowing and being known by God and experiencing and sharing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. My list of accomplishments and hardships is not nearly as impressive or comprehensive as Paul’s, but it has been enough to enable me to realize that everything completely useless without God. That said, as a general rule, I’m not opposed to comfort and freedom.
I’ve sat through enough “good advice” sermons to know that no one really listens to them and enough “high scholarship” lessons to know that if it isn’t practical it may as well be in Swahili for all the good it does. At the same time, when the gospel comes out, whether it is from an ex-addict or an active one, from a country pulpit or a mud hut without a pulpit, in a lecture hall with an English accent or around a campfire aided by some single malt, it leaves an indelible footprint in the soul. I’ve seen it bring joy, set people free, stimulate greater and lesser intellects alike, and fundamentally change lives. Regardless of whatever else is going on, the gospel matters.
I am a current sinner who is in the process of being reformed by the active presence of the Holy Spirit. I like things that I shouldn’t like and I make mistakes I shouldn’t make, but I love Jesus, and step by awkward and slow step I’m coming closer to him. I’ve been without guilt for a little while now, shame is a distant memory (yet still a memory), and regret is rarely seen. I am more aware of the depth of my brokenness and sinful nature, while at the same time being less concerned with them than ever before; both of these realities are connected in every way to a growing understanding of, and a dependence on, the gospel of God.
This book is not meant to be comprehensive from a scholarly perspective or universally applicable from a practical perspective. It is simply a collaboration of accounts and presentations of the gospel in various forms and from different perspectives. The unifying thread is that, in some form or fashion, they have each impacted me. In the shadow of each of these presentations, resides a moment from my life that in some way, small or large, altered the way that I see and relate to God. Regardless of how these stories and presentations impact you, they have already done work in me. That said, I hope and pray that the Spirit continues to reveal God through them.