© 2012 John Casimir O'Keefe


(Romans 1, from the Romans Rewrite Project)

Knowing God’s Story

Ever wonder how you can become part of the Story of God? As I write this to you, I want you to think about that, how can we become part of the Story of God. I have been in dialog with many of the other First Followers of The Way and our desire is to share with you all God is doing, and will continue to do, with those who follow The Way; those who are willing to connect to the Story of God. I am writing this letter to all of you who seek to journey a deeper walk with our God, and to all who desire to journey on The Way.

As I look back at the writings of our ancestors I am drawn to how the Story of God was shared with us; we find that story in the words of the prophets, in the story of God’s Son and in the story of God’s love for us. This Story of God is a story of how Joshua, a descendant of David, was brought into this world to be our teacher, our salvation and as a way of connecting us to that Story. It is a Story of how a child born to a single teenaged mother and raised by her and a day laborer stepfather changed our world forever. A Story that burst upon the sense with the conception of Joshua, his birth and his life, a Story that continues to develop in each of us as we journey our path together with the power of the Spirit of God.

As we think about the Story of God, we see that the Spirit of God added an exciting chapter to that Story when Joshua was raised from the dead. This chapter showed us that Joshua was the Christ and our one true Master. By adding this chapter to the Story we received a wonderfully real gift from God, we receive the fantastic gift of life, a gift of a new life, a life that changes us at our core and made us new people. Because I know the Story, and how it changed me, my desire is to share this amazing Story with others and how this story affected my lives, and how it changed me. I want you all to understand that this new chapter in the Story of God changed my life forever, and it can change your life too. Now, I am pretty sure you are asking yourself, ‘How can this chapter to the Story change my life?’

As the Story of God moved from Law to Grace, we found the love of God in this new chapter. You see, the ‘how’ is found in that we are forgiven all our wrongs, not matter how bad they are, and that this new chapter shares with us the Story of God in a new way that gives eternal life. When we see this new chapter in the Story, we are truly transformed in a way that makes us something new, and not what we were yesterday. So, it is with that Story I greet you with all the love of my heart and the gift from God and Joshua our Salvation, the one I follow.

Many of you already know this, you know the Story of God and you seek to be part of that Story  So many people are telling me about you and your strong desire to live the Story and the new chapter found in Joshua; and I have to tell you that it excites me greatly. Our God who we love by give loving honor too, and serve each and every day of our lives, knows that I pray each and every day for all of you. What do I talk to God about?  That’s simple, the first thing I ask for a clear understanding of this new chapter, and the second thing I ask for the ability to visit you all again. It seems the longer I am away from you, the deeper my pain because I know this new chapter in the Story of God speaks of community. I desire to experience that community with you because I see this as a great learning: you learning from me, and yes, me learning from you. I would never claim to have all the answers, but I know I can trust that God will guide us in our journey.

It never seems to fail, every time I pack and get ready for a road trip, something happens and I am unable to get on the road. To be honest, it’s enough to drive a person crazy.  I know that it would be an incredible experience to get connected with all of you on a personal level and share community with each other.  I know this because it has been like that with every other community I have had the opportunity to visit and share his exciting new chapter in the Story of God. As I mentioned before, something always comes up to stop it from happening.   Something always seems to pop-up and prevented me from getting on the road.  Yet, what I find most exciting about this faith journey I am on is that no matter whom I meet, those who like me and those who, well, don’t like me, those who are much smarter than me and those who are not so much, each of them add too and deepen my understanding of the Story of God – each and everyone adds to my faith, each and every one of them adds to my understanding of the Story of God.

Some add to my connection to the Story by being filled with grace, forgiveness, kindness and love; so much so that I wish I could be more like them. While others I met add to my faith by me wanting to be less like them. You see, that is one of the main reasons I strongly desire to hook up with you as soon s I can; so I can share and grow in this incredible Story. This amazing Story of God’s interacting with us through Joshua, and in turn our interacting with each other along the journey.

I have to admit that nothing makes me happier than to share the Story of God, and this new chapter in that Story that shares a new life for everyone. This Story that says, embrace life and love each other. It’s a Story that says, trust in God. It is a Story that rescues us from all the garbage in our life by tossing it to the side and giving us a new life. I hope you can see that the Story of God has this incredible way of getting people on the right with God. The Story helps us get right with life, and right with each other. The Story hooks people up squarely in the reality of this simple teaching: “The Story of God changes lives.”

Who Are You Following?

Now, let me shift this letter a bit and talk a bit about who you follow. Let’s be honest with each other. We all know that the world is filled with people who lie, cheat, and steal and we are always willing to follow them. We know this because we have met them, and sometimes we are them. We lie, cheat, and steal, and most of the time when we do, we do it because we either ignore the Story, or we think we do not fit into the story. We might be able to fool others, but honestly, do you really think you are pulling one over on God? I mean really, do you? When we do not see our story in connection to the Story of God we honestly think we can. We somehow think our story is more important than the Story of God. When that happens we think we can live life outside the Story of God, but we can’t. That is why this new chapter of Joshua is so important; it gives us a way to reconnect to the Story of God at any time by opening our eyes and seeing what the Story has for our lives.

Sometimes we can hide the garbage of our lives from each other and live a life that seems happy. But, when we see how our story connects with the Story of God, our lives are truly happy; our lives become a thousand times easier. The most amazing thing about the Story is that when we see how our story connects with the Story of God we can see the divines work in our lives and in the lives of all others. When we see how the Story of God connects us all together, regardless of our starting points or life issues, we are able to experience an eternal life starting now, while we are alive and connected with each other. Because we see how the Story works in our lives, and in the lives of others, we find that any reason we have to hate or judge others empty.

But, being human we always strive to find reasons to cut deals, and bargain our way in life misses the point of knowing the Story and sharing the love with everyone. But we know this, we know – deep in our DNA – that the love of this new chapter in the Story is to guide us and keep us focused not only on God, but also on each other. Yet, there are those who still think they know best, and in that they ignore the desires of the Story to reach everyone. So they teach only “special people” can truly know the Story of God, and I have to say that they are so wrong. Some do this for limited gain, while others do it for power. Either way, they do it against what the Story of God is teaching us. Many pump-up their voice as if they are the true religious authority and the protector of the “one true god.’ They misquote scripture, pretending that they know what they are saying and who God loves and does not love. They live their lives in Christian Bookstores; buying “Jesus Junk” filled with smiley faces, cheap slogans and special fish decals. Too many of them think that the best way to understand the Story of God is by bumper sticker theology and cheap tricks.

While that may seem weird, but God says, “If that is what you want to do – go at it.” Yet we need to remember that is was those actions that caused us to lose sight of the love, grace and forgiveness the Story of God desired for our lives. We moved from living in the Story to living in the advertising garbage dump. We traded in our connection to the Story for a few pennies worth of “Jesus Junk.” Basically, we kicked away the good, hard stuff for the cheap, easy stuff. We took the Story of God and traded it for some bumper stickers and key chains. We traded our story in the Story of God for a god called “profit.”

Here is how I see the core of our problem; by disconnecting from the Story, we disconnected from our humanity. You got it, when we disconnected from the Story of God we forgot who we were as humans and we lost our ability to develop loving, lasting relationships with each other; so we judge others, we condemn others, we violate others. We got confused about who we are and how we are to act towards each other. Our desire for power, control and our lust for them, has caused us to become disconnected from the Story, disconnected from love, which lead us to a point in life where we found ourselves shells of what God intended.

What was the most interesting thing that came from this is that because we didn’t connect with the Story of God, God didn’t connect to our stories. If you think about it, with that disconnection life is not worth living. Because when we are disconnected from the Story of God it hit the fan big time; people killing each other, evil running all over the place, stealing what we could get and killing for what we wanted. Gossip and vicious backstabbing comes natural to us when we are disconnected from the Story of God. We become vicious, cruel, mean-spirited, self-destructive, lying, backstabbing, envious creeps who cared for no one but ourselves. We find that we are digging our own grave, one shovel at a time. We tell one lie, which leads to another, and another until the hole is deep enough to house our bodies. We would get rid of our parents if they got in the way – many of us are even worse, slimy, bloodsucking creeps with no redeeming qualities. Look at the greed that controls our finical system, or our housing market. Think of all those who have been destroyed by those who are not connected to the Story of God. They abuse others and take what they can for themselves. The funny thing is, they knew acting this way was wrong, but they did not care. They find ‘legal’ reasons to get away with what they have done, and are doing. They claimed that God was not real and they spit in God’s face. What’s even more amazing is we honored the people who were best at spitting in the face of God.

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