How do you define truth?

Truth is reality as it actually exists. Ultimately, truth is the Triune God in which all creation lives, moves and has being. I believe that the clearest written depiction of truth is in the entirety of the Bible, which includes the story of God’s work and God’s people across time. Scripture contains the clearest picture that we have of Jesus Christ in the four Gospel narratives of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus Christ is the best picture that we have of God. Jesus recognizes himself as the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).

I recently met with a congregant who shared some deep questions with me. I asked for permission to share them on this blog to more broadly share my response.

In what way would you define truth?

The Good and Beautiful God

I have been blessed by experiencing The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love With the God Jesus Knows by James Bryan Smith. This is the first book in The Apprentice Series from Renovare. I first heard about this book from my friends Jimmy Taylor and Ben Simpson who are both involved with the Apprentice team in conferences and development of the series.

This book is designed to help the reader come to love the God whom Jesus knows. Each of the chapters addresses a false narrative about God and fills in the narrative of Jesus’ experience with God. Accompanying these narratives are what Smith refers to as “soul training exercises.” These are simple practices which are designed to undergird the narrative that is discussed in the chapter.

I found the writing to be refreshing and accessible. The small group study guide included in the back of the book was effective for our small group interaction. Most importantly, I found the soul training exercises to be effective in bringing about change in my life. This book was not just one which I read and managed to absorb some content. It was an experience that lead me to practices of the Christian life that continue to be part of my daily and weekly life almost a month after we completed the study.

I am am looking forward to The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ and The Good and Beautiful Community. I recommend this book to pastors, local church leaders and all those seeking to experience life change and “fall in love with the God Jesus knows.”

How do you measure life change?

Just over a year ago, I considered the difference between worship attendance and discipleship. Today I am thinking about a related question.

How do you measure life change?

I know, trust and hope that lives are changed through my ministry at Resurrection and the collected life and ministry of this local faith community. But how do you know?

This nagging question keeps coming back to me. It is important that people show up to worship. It is important that people make a decision to join the church. These are measurable and quantifiable. It is much more difficult to measure life change.

The best way that I know how to accomplish this is through story. One person that has experienced life change that is able to tell that story to another person can make it certain that change has happened and continues to take place. I am sometimes blessed to be able to hear these stories. More often I am left wondering about how or if lives are being changed.

I continue to struggle with this question. Maybe I need to trust the life change to God…

What I do know is that life change and sharing that change with others is crucial to the continued vitality of the church of Jesus Christ.

Tweeting the Parables: Soils (2 of 4)

I enjoy using Twitter, and wanted to try to state the essence of several parables in the length that would be acceptable as a tweet – 140 characters or less. After reading Luke 8:1-15, I came up with the following tweet:

Like when planting seed, sharing God is received in different ways. Be okay with that and seek to produce fruit.

What do you feel is lacking from this distillation? What is captured well?

By the way, if you want to follow me on Twitter you can do so at http://www.twitter.com/andrewconard

Transformational Architecture: Reshaping Our Lives as Narrative

I found Transformational Architecture: Reshaping Our Lives as Narrative by Ron Martoia to be an excellent book that reaffirms the importance of telling the whole story in scripture when having spiritual conversations with non or nominally religious people. Martoia asserts that a focus on the brokenness of people without telling of the creation of humanity in God’s image is inadequate.  Martoia addresses the various aspects of a spiritual conversation including: context, biblical text and human text. He suggests that structuring spiritual conversations based on these three texts will prove more fruitful than focusing on just one of these aspects.
I particularly resonated with Martoia’s understanding that a spiritual journey is best done in a narrative format and that this is the format that we see in scripture. I have not yet read other texts which address this theme as explicitly.
Transformational Archtecture is generally well written, although there are a few tangents that make their way into the text. I will keep this book on my shelf and refer to it again in the future. I suggest it as reading for someone who is interested in spiritual formation and narrative as a way of understanding a spiritual journey.

Scripture: Flexible and Resilient

Back in December, I started thinking about what would be the opposite of the scriptures being fragile. (See the comment conversation at – Were there really wise men?) I believe that the word of God as contained in the Old and New Testaments is both resilient and flexible.

Let me be clear that I do not advocate for using scripture to prove whatever point one may be interested in making, i.e. prooftexting. However, I do think that the story of God’s work in the world and the narrative of God’s people is not a fragile one that can be broken down by pointing to small inconsistencies. I believe that in scripture we see the best portrait of Jesus, who in turn is perhaps the clearest picture that we have of God.

What do you think?