Why I Wrote ‘Redeem the Story’

This article was first published on Medium in the publication Koinonia.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

My wife and I were in the kitchen standing next to the counter. The kitchen, for us, is the place where many of our deepest, personal, and life-changing conversations tend to happen. And it’s usually with a cup of coffee in hand.

On this particular day, we were talking about some of the things we were seeing in the youth group where I serve as the youth pastor. We were talking about how some of the students were coming forward to get saved weekly and the need for salvation, but not weekly.

After salvation, we don’t need to get saved at every altar call. We need to repent regularly (for me it is daily)!

That got me thinking about God’s grand plan of redemption and how He desires to redeem every story (life). Our conversation turned into how God creates — He never “recreates”! When we come to Jesus we become “new creations” not “recreated” creations. We are brand new!

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. — (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB)

Redeem the Story opens with this:

“Everyone has a story.

From Genesis to Revelation you see a story of redemption unfolding. Isaiah 47:4 (ESV) says that God is “our Redeemer — the Lord of hosts is his name — is the Holy One of Israel.” Since the fall happened in Genesis chapter 3 God has been writing redemption in the lives of countless people. In this book, we will zoom in on a few people in the story of Scripture where God redeemed their story despite their mistakes, guilt, and shame. We will also look at how, even today, God wants to redeem your story too.” — taken from the Introduction on page 5.

Right up front, I wanted readers to know God wants to redeem their story. As the conversation with my wife unfolded in the kitchen that day this idea grew into more than just a thought. It became a concept for a book to call people to let God rewrite their story.

I wrote this first for my students because I wanted them to know God longs to redeem their stories — no matter who they are or what they have done!

I wanted them to know salvation isn’t about getting saved regularly or running on our emotions. We have to learn to let go of the pen and let God write our story. Whether for salvation or simply repentance of any sin.

But beyond that, I wanted whoever reads the book to know how much Jesus loves them and wants to redeem their life story. A short conversation with my wife sparked all this in my heart.

So I wrote.

And I wrote some more.

Until Redeem the Story was finished and finally released to the world through self-publishing on January 12, 2020, after a nearly two-year process of writing, editing, and learning how to self-publish.

Self-publishing wasn’t my first choice. I originally signed with a literary agent in hopes of landing a book deal with one of the major Christian publishers. But all I faced was rejection. Every publisher was a “no”. If you want to read more about that I wrote an article all about rejection.

A conversation with my wife in the kitchen was what inspired me to write Redeem the Story. What I believe was a God-ordained conversation about our youth group became the catalyst for what I would eventually write and self-publish! I think it’s amazing how some conversations literally change our trajectory!

Remember this: Everyone has a story. And every story matters because everyone matters to God. That includes you! Yes, you.

Redeem the Story (SIGNED COPY)

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We Need to Be Vocal About Injustice

Our country is in trouble if things don’t begin to change. As a pastor I believe Christians need to be more vocal about injustice than anyone else. God’s people must be the voice for change. Silence is warranted sometimes and other times it speaks louder than we might realize. No more silence. Our culture is on a path of great pain. Some thoughts:

Why should Christians be more vocal about injustice than anyone else? The Church should be the place the world looks to for wisdom, to set the example, to give solutions to the cultural and social issues that are plaguing our world. What happened to George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery was injustice. It was wrong. And it breaks my heart things like this continue to happen.

How can we, as followers of Christ, be more vocal? Use the platform, the sphere of influence, the social media accounts, the places where you have a voice to speak out in love and truth against all forms of injustice. Speaking out in hate or condemnation or blame will not resolve anything.

God’s Word is clear of what the Lord requires of us:

…And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8 NASB

To do justice we must speak out against injustice.

To love kindness (or mercy) we must show it to others.

To walk in humility before God we must ask God to remove every bit of our pride. The Bible is clear that God opposes the proud (see James 4:6)!

The words of George Floyd haunt me: “I can’t breathe!”

The video of Ahmaud Arbery being murdered breaks me.

And the injustice of so many others brings tears to my eyes. Why? Because they are people made in the image of God just like anyone else. It’s sad that some parents have to teach their kids where to go and not to go because the color of their skin might invite trouble for no reason. Church, we must use our collective voice for change! We must speak out. We must set the example of how to love diverse people, because the God we serve is a God of diversity!

We must stand united that all forms of injustice, regardless of race, must end!

Church, we are all different. But we serve the same God (see Romans 10:12). God loves diversity. Just look at creation at all the different animal life, plant life, and the different people all across the planet. I’ll say it again and as many times as needed: God loves diversity! His creation screams it but yet so many of us hate it. This is a serious problem!

Let’s make a declaration that we will no longer be silent but vocal about injustice. That we, the Church, will not allow culture to influence but rather the Church will influence the culture.

Use your voice right where you are.

To love people.

To do justice.

To love kindness (or mercy).

To walk humbly with God.

When we do that, I believe the Church can actually be the catalyst for change. We must begin on our knees repenting of any prejudice and racism, ask the Lord to reveal the true condition of our hearts about these issues, seek the Lord’s forgiveness, and allow Him to use us to influence our culture!

Together, our voices will be heard. After all, as followers of Jesus, we are all part of the same family. Begin today using your voice right where you are to tell others about the only solution to end all forms of injustice: the love of Christ, the Gospel!

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