Category Archives: Living A Better Story

Chapter 6: New Creation

The story of Scripture culminates with a vision of God’s dream. In this dream all that has gone wrong throughout history has been made right. All that has been broken has been made whole. All is as it should be. God is with humanity and humanity is with God. It’s a beautiful vision.

And yet we find ourselves stuck in the in-between. We’re waiting on that dream to become reality, for that vision to become sight. Often this waiting is hard, excruciating even, as we continue to deal with all that goes wrong in the world, as we continue to leave brokenness in our wake because of our choice and actions.

But if we have eyes to see, we can catch glimpses of the new creation breaking into the world around us. The following video offers us one example of the new creation breaking in. What’s particularly significant about this story is that it reveals how God’s new creation work has an impact on both a personal level and a communal level. In other words, when an individual experiences new creation, that experience overflows from their own life into the lives of others. Take a few minutes to see how that happened in one particular person’s life.

Questions for Reflection

1. In what ways have you experienced God’s new creation breaking into your own life?

2. How has God’s new creation work in your own life impacted others around you?

3. What is one way you think God might be calling your church to be an agent of new creation in your community?


Living A Better Story Playlist

If stories form the script of our lives, music provides the soundtrack. This playlist–comprised of songs that explore the themes of the various chapters of the story of Scripture–is intended to help saturate our hearts and minds with lyrics and music that will help us with Living A Better Story.

Chapter 5: Church

When Jesus took on flesh and became human in order to fulfill the calling God had given God’s people centuries earlier, he gathered around him a group of followers. His goal was to bring them along with him in carrying out God’s mission in the world. While many of these people deserted him in his moment of greatest trial, it wasn’t long before most of them returned to the rest, ready to carry on the way of life Jesus had modeled for them.

From that point on, as the community of Jesus-followers grows, things don’t always play out the way Jesus would have hoped. Both individuals and groups of people get distracted and fail to imitate the example they’d been given. In fact at times the behavior of some of these followers of Jesus is indistinguishable from the behavior of those who had no interest in Jesus. And yet at every turn there are those who keep reminding these Jesus-followers what it truly means to follow Jesus. Paul and Peter and John and so many others refuse to let the church forget their calling to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

This pattern continues on to this day. History between the days of the early church and today is filled with both beautiful and brutal stories of the church sometimes living up to its calling and other times failing miserably. Yet it is still God’s dream that followers of Jesus, called into community as the church, would be sharers of God’s blessings with the world God loves so much.

Consider the following thoughts from Mark Labberton as he calls the church to renewed faithfulness to the way of Jesus in the world.

Questions for Reflection

1. In what ways have you witnessed the church struggle to be faithful to the way of Jesus?

2. In what ways have you witnessed the church embody faithfulness to the way of Jesus?

3. What is one way you think the church can take action to be more faithful to the way of Jesus in the days ahead?


Living A Better Story Playlist

If stories form the script of our lives, music provides the soundtrack. This playlist–comprised of songs that explore the themes of the various chapters of the story of Scripture–is intended to help saturate our hearts and minds with lyrics and music that will help us with Living A Better Story.

Chapter 4: Christ

As we follow the story of Scripture, we find that God’s people struggle to fulfill their part of the covenant God made with them. On their own, they’re never quite able to escape their past. The natural consequences of the fall–conflict with God, conflict with humanity, conflict with all creation–continue to affect not just God’s people, but all humankind.

It is into this darkness that God the Son does something entirely unexpected: Jesus takes on flesh and becomes a human being, becomes a member of God’s people. Not only was his coming unexpected; everything about him was unpredictable. Who would have thought the Son of God would be born to parents who were relative nobodies in a place not known for producing anybody remarkable? Who would have thought the Messiah would decline multiple chances to rally the troops to regain power and would instead make a choice to live among and for the least of these? Who would have thought the one through whom all things were made would submit to death, even death on a cross?

Jesus is not just part of the story. In many ways he is the story in microcosm. Listen to how N.T. Wright captures this sentiment in the following video.

Now take a few moments to pause and allow this video to lead you into a time of meditating on the gift of Jesus, the Lamb of God.

Questions for Reflection

1. When you think about Jesus, what is it that draws you most to him?

2. In what ways have you been surprised anew by Jesus in the last week? In the last year or the last few years?

3. What about imitating Jesus comes easily for you?

4. What in Jesus’s life is hardest for you to imitate?


Living A Better Story Playlist

If stories form the script of our lives, music provides the soundtrack. This playlist–comprised of songs that explore the themes of the various chapters of the story of Scripture–is intended to help saturate our hearts and minds with lyrics and music that will help us with Living A Better Story.

Chapter 3: Covenant

The story of Scripture begins with the overwhelmingly beautiful story of creation. Before long, though, that beauty is marred by the sinfulness and selfishness of humanity, by betrayal of the deepest possible degree. What’s incredible is that God’s primary response to this betrayal is different than anyone could ever have anticipated. Not only does God refuse to enforce the death penalty initially mentioned as the punishment if Adam and Eve were to eat of the forbidden fruit. God responds to their failure with forgiveness and greets their fall with amazing grace. Even more than that though, God dares to pick up the pieces and try again. God risks another encounter with heartbreak, another experience with disappointment.

So God invites Abram into a covenant. God promises blessings for Abram and all his descendants. God envisions a hope and a dream for Abram and all his descendants: that they will be a blessing to all the people of the world. And at every turn, God keeps the promise. Even when Abram and his descendants fail to fulfill their calling, God never backs out, God never gives up, God always remains faithful. Again and again God chooses to take the risk of betrayal. Again and again God endures the hurt of infidelity. And again and again God remains steadfast and loyal.

Take a few moments to listen to this song that captures beautifully God’s unconditional love.

Now allow these words to become your own as a response to God’s unconditional love.

Questions for Reflection

1. In what ways have you experienced God’s faithful covenant love in response to your own betrayals?

2. How has God blessed you in the last week? In the last year? In your life?

3. In what ways are you sharing God’s blessings with others?

4. What is one new way you can intentionally be a blessing to someone else outside your closest circle of family and friends this week?


Living A Better Story Playlist

If stories form the script of our lives, music provides the soundtrack. This playlist–comprised of songs that explore the themes of the various chapters of the story of Scripture–is intended to help saturate our hearts and minds with lyrics and music that will help us with Living A Better Story.

Chapter 2: Conflict

The opening chapter of our story is as beautiful as can be. The beauty, the unity in the midst of diversity, and the wholeness that characterizes creation are a sight to behold. But in the blink of an eye, or the crunch of teeth biting into a piece of fruit, everything changes. In Chapter 2, the issue isn’t primarily about failing to keep a regulation, that’s just a part of it. The real issue is the fracturing of relationship that occurs when Adam and Eve do exactly what God told them not to do.

It’s quite clear what should happen next. It’s only a matter of time until the death penalty is enforced, after all God had been crystal clear with Adam and Eve that death would be the consequence if they disobeyed God’s command not to eat from the tree. But as it turns out, God goes against God’s own word. Though the facts undeniably warrant the death penalty, God is stubbornly and thoroughly pro-life. From the very beginning, God is a God of forgiveness and grace.

Yet even God’s forgiveness and grace do not nullify the natural consequences of Adam and Eve’s betrayal of God’s trust. Genesis 3 spells out the variety of ways in which their actions will cause all kinds of repercussions far beyond their own lives. But it’s vital to note that Genesis 3 is not prescriptive, in other words it is not portraying how things should be. Rather, Genesis 3 is descriptive, portraying how things are and how things will be because of the natural consequences of Adam and Eve’s bad choice. And almost immediately, God sets out to try to minimize the fallout and to try to bring about redemption in what otherwise seems like a hopeless situation.

The following video offers a chance to meditate on the ways in which sin fractures relationships and to focus on God’s desire for all creation to enjoy a sense of wholeness, both internally and communally.

Questions for Reflection

1. How have you experienced the fracturing of relationship that is sin?

2. In what ways have you caused the fracturing of relationship through bad choices you’ve made?

3. To whom can you extend forgiveness and grace this week, the way God extended Adam and Eve forgiveness and grace?

4. Who might you need to reach out to in order to begin trying to rebuild relationships that have fractured because of your choices?


Living A Better Story Playlist

If stories form the script of our lives, music provides the soundtrack. This playlist–comprised of songs that explore the themes of the various chapters of the story of Scripture–is intended to help saturate our hearts and minds with lyrics and music that will help us with Living A Better Story.

Chapter 1: Creation


Stories are one of the basic building blocks of the human experience. They help us to get a handle on the world around us. They give us a framework for making sense of our lives. They offer possibilities for the shape our future will take.

One of the great challenges of life, however, is that there are so many stories, too many stories. If we’re not careful, before we know it, we allow our lives to be defined by stories that are unhealthy or selfish or toxic. As followers of Jesus, we are invited to find our place in a story that stands out from all the other stories, a story that is life-giving and life-changing. We’re invited to find our place in the story of the Bible.


The story begins with creation. While there are many things that could be said about the meaning and significance of creation in Scripture, there is one that is more important than anything else. Creation is an expression of God’s great love that culminates in the creation of humanity as sharers in that love with God and sharers of that love with the rest of humanity and all creation.

The following videos offer an opportunity to reflect on the incredible opening chapter of the story. The first video invites us to respond to God’s loving creation with awe and wonder. The second video prompts us to reflect on what it means for us to be bearers of God’s image who are called to have dominion within creation. Both help us to have a sense of where our story begins.

Questions for Reflection

1. What does it mean to you that you’re made in the image of God? How does that make you feel?

2. In what ways do you recognize God’s image being visible in your life? What aspects of God’s image are still struggling to come to the surface of your life?

3. What is one way that you exercise compassionate dominion? What is one step you can take to be more compassionate in your exercise of the dominion God has given you?


Living A Better Story Playlist

If stories form the script of our lives, music provides the soundtrack. This playlist–comprised of songs that explore the themes of the various chapters of the story of Scripture–is intended to help saturate our hearts and minds with lyrics and music that will help us with Living A Better Story.