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The Whole Gospel in One Testimony

40 minutes Through the Bible


In this presentation Steven take a trip through the Bible that illuminates his own journey from the anger and confusion and rebellion of the post-divorce world to a redemptive discovery that God does indeed have a plan for our lives. It’s a search for home again, a way back to Eden. Israel falling for idols proves an uncomfortable description of his own way of acting out in the compulsive dating scene. He finds himself running away from the “big stick” of God’s law, from the throne of God’s sovereignty and from the fire of the prophets. But a moment-of-truth encounter with the One who loved unconditionally opens up the epistles in a new way. Steven discovers that the throne turns into a sofa, the fire turns into a fireplace, and the law turns letters. And all that, quite unexpectedly, can give you a home; yes home is the place where you’ve got mail.


Steven’s earliest memories with a Mexican nanny named Adela take him back to the world’s original Cozy Time in Eden. Adam and Even could chat in the evening with the Almighty:

“How do days end up there in heaven? Is there a quietness in your might? Do angels fluff the pillows, and a Spirit turn down the light?”

You start out finding your home in the Promised Land, building a family. But then you end up, somehow, in Egypt. How could God have let that happen? That’s what you ask after a marriage falls apart.

“You’re racing away from “Pharaoh” and then run smack against Sinai! I just wanna be free. But there’s this big mountain. Lots of fire and smoke. And then, hot off the gridle: the Ten Commandments. You’ve won the Exodus Sweepstakes. First prize: A week at Mount Sinai. Second prize: Two weeks.”

God’s Law is just a big stick. You don’t get it. And you don’t get this idea that keeps popping up through Kings and Chronicles, of who’s really on the throne.

“Do you wave a golden scepter? Do you sit firmly on a throne? Do you find yourself presiding over tidy castle quite alone? There is another Sovereign Keeping watch in the sky Who touches down on Earth in temple, prayer and praise Yet unconfined by all the holy houses we may piously raise.”

Avoiding woundedness, Steven ends up trying to construct a sense of self through the Dating Mania Game. You try to prop yourself up after a big loss. He meets a fascinating woman at a banquet on the Queen Mary who seems perfectly in sync with his deepest longings. And then a couple of weeks later he’s looking at a blank stare.

“As we’re waiting for a table at a nice restaurant in Universal City Walk, I look across and see Lori stroking her daughter’s arm. It’s a lovely mother-daughter scene. But slowly it dawns on me. Lori is really checking the girl’s arm for needle marks. She’s trying to find out how long it’s been since the girl last used heroin. Because when we picked up these kids, from a flop-house in the worst part of Hollywood, they were pale and shaking and incredibly thin. But you know, all this still wasn’t a deal breaker. It’s easy for men to think they can rescue women---as long as they’re gorgeous. It wasn’t until after we’d dropped the kids off at the flop house and I tried to engage Lori in conversation. I tried to tell her that I could be there for her. But all I got back was a blank stare. She wasn’t really there. This person was looking right through me.”

Steven keeps running into broken people, astounded that everyone has so much baggage---except him! But that doesn’t slow down his chase. It’s one woman after another. One idol after another.

“Baal didn’t really give us rain when our crops needed it. OK let’s try Chemosh. Chemosh didn’t really protect us from the marauding Philistines. Ok let’s try Ashtoreth.”

Prophets tell Steven that idols don’t talk back; idols give you a blank stare. But still, in his rebellion, he resents these blazing doomsayers. It’s only after visiting his mother’s grave, seeing all the couples lying side by side, and finally feeling the loss, that Steven starts to listen.

“Dark prophets? They hear the fracture of a covenant, smell the incense never sent. And slowly in their vivid senses, we grow a capacity to lament. Yes sometimes sackcloth and ashes are a language we must speak Lest we never feel the parting, sense the tear, the tearful cheek.”

In the resulting quiet, Steven is finally able to appreciate the One who loved without conditions. After fighting with his ex over the kid’s photo albums, he is stunned by Jesus’ surgical skill in blessing the children.

“Gather round Me august elders, experts in what to forbid, Your professor of the kingdom is this runny-nosed kid. What’s faith about? How does bread become a sacrament, atonement for all of sin? You just reach for it like a child; open mouth; stick it in.”

Steven decides he wants love to be at the center of his life, not anger. And where do you find out how to love? In the epistles of the New Testament. You read about the great convert to Christianity, Paul. But that presents a problem. Zealous converts have left a bad taste in Steven’s mouth.

“You meet some Flo Schmo who keeps bragging about how born-again she is. And her friends tell you, “She’s an even bigger pain the second time around.” People who keep saying, “God told me this,” or “the Spirit is leading me there,” every day. And their lives are total chaos. Can’t get it together. What? Did the Holy Spirit tell you to put your pants on backwards? People who love to argue so much they can’t wait for the next knock on the door from the---Jehovah’s Witnesses! When are they coming back!? In my condition, any zealously religious person was like krypton.”

Paul’s skill in the art of encouragement finally overcomes Steven’s prejudices, and he begins to take in the essentials of a place to belong.

“I discovered that this throne turns into a sofa. God actually invites you to take a seat beside him, raised up with Christ and co-seated with Him at the right hand. Yes, you belong. And I realize that the fire of the prophets turns into a fireplace. Their passion for justice and righteousness that seemed so forbidding now, through Paul, gives a strange comfort. I’m not trying to hide my woundedness anymore. I stretch out my hands and am warmed. Pursue the high calling. Shine like stars in a dark world. Yes that’s what the deepest part of me longs for. I realize that the Law has turned into letters. Moral principles carved in stone are now words of advice you might whisper to a friend. Grow in love. Develop the gift that is in you. Yes aren’t these letters anyone would want to get?”

But it’s a letter from his Mexican nanny, now living in an isolated mountain village, that brings home the power of an epistle. She reveals that she’s become a Christian. The gospel has become more compelling than idols. The prayer that he never let go of, even in his most rebellious days, has finally been answered.

Lines drift my way, trailing a fine Pauline grace across the page Seeping into my fears unspoken, caressing away stubborn rage. They come from nowhere deserved, nowhere I have planned And yet leave me sitting comfortably at the Almighty’s right hand. Accepted through some other Beloved face The Consuming Fire now a warm and safe place. Phrases of deep theology begin to echo like a lullaby of peace They rock my restless soul to rest, yes there is a release Of idols, of conquests; I can say good-by to them all Because the arms of a Heavenly Father make other comforts small. After all my wandering, after all the ways I allowed love to fail I’ve got a fireplace; I’ve got a sofa, and I’ve got mail. Isn’t that home?”

Where's the Plan? - a journey through the Bible that takes people from a life turned upside down to a dramatic discovery that God has created a nurturing home for us----right here and right now.