Here's a link to a short story I wrote for aLife, the denominational magazine of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  But now for the cool part -- come back after reading the article for "the rest of the story" that very few people have heard...


The Rest...
Here's what has happened since.  The 'young man,' who from now on I'll refer to as "M,"began attending our church, The Outpost.  Not only that, but within months of this story, "M's" brother was attending, and then another brother.  But it gets better.

"M" soon asked if he could get involved on a volunteer basis.  "What did you have in mind?" I asked, forgetting to prod the runty hamster asleep on the wheel in my brain.  "M" looked like he wanted to perhaps biff me upside the head but, instead, only rolled his eyes. "Helping with worship of course!" he said cheerily. The lights went on in my head, startling the hamster so badly it tripped in mid gallop, which translated into a look of shocked surprise on my face.  Call me slow, but I never saw "M's" story turning out this way. "What a God," is all I kept thinking, "What a God." Yesterday (Sunday), "M" played guitar during worship for the second time at one of our services.  

On a personal note -- I find myself, once again, the proud owner of an acoustic guitar. A couple weeks ago, "M" came into my office with a mischevious look on his face, unzipped a case and produced another very fine-looking musical instrument.  "I got this at a pawn shop and fixed it up for you" he said with a grin, handing me the 'replacement' guitar. I couldn't believe it.  When I started to joke, wondering about how long it would be before God got rid of this one for me too, "M" turned serious.  "No way man," he said, pointing to the before unnoticed custom artwork adorning the front of the guitar.  I had thought it was part of the original design -- it's that good -- but it was his own work. "Wow... 'M'... I'll treasure it forever," I said, and I meant it. 

The crowning artistic touch on the replacement guitar is "M's" signature, bold and confident, so unlike the "M" I remember from that first day. Now whenever I strum, briefly reliving my guitar hero fantasies, I see that signature and muse that it might as well be God's, as if to signal "I was here," or "A work of grace, by God." But that's just silly -- because He's not done yet. Instead, I'm left to wait, along with everyone else, knowing that only from the vantage point of heaven will we really be able to look back and see 'the rest of the story.' And He will complete it.

Surrounded By Grace,


  1. Ernie says..

    It is such a blessing when we are able to see God working in our lives and in the lives of the people around us.

  2. That's just beautiful. What an awesome God we have, showing His grace over and over again in ways that we aren't expecting and haven't asked for... leaving us richer than we ever imagined.

  3. Its a true story.

    I like it, I'm working on my own short novel.. fantasy of course, but with life persisting as is, I'm sure God will turn up under a malicious problem one day and I'll be well again, emotional wise.

    (But I can't help but wonder.. What god is the true god when there are so many? What if ones beliefs detures us into seeing a false god as the true one therefor sinning and bringing us into damnation?)

  4. Ernie, Leila ~ yes, it is a blessing! I think it's a tragedy when people don't share stories (testimonies) of what God has done or is doing in their lives and in the lives of their friends. I think it's a tragedy when answers to prayer go unannounced, unshared. But I suppose the biggest tragedy is not even noticing that God is working.

    Candice ~ "...showing His grace over and over again in ways that we aren't expecting and haven't asked for... leaving us richer than we ever imagined." It's so true. We have a "Prodigal (extravagantly wasteful) Jesus" when it comes to grace! And for my sake, I'm so glad.

    Meh is Me ~ Thank you, I'm so glad you liked the story! I'd be interested in reading your novel... but I suppose I'll have to wait with everyone else until it shows up at Barnes And Noble. Still, if you need a chapter proofed... :)

    Also - very good question you asked. I like deep questions, questions that show deep thought. It's true, our minds can play tricks on us - and yet, truth is universal enough that two groups of strangers, one in America and one in China, can do the same math problem and consistently agree on the same answer. This proves that there are things that can be known without faith.

    So here's my suggestion: start with what you can prove. Start with what you can study, see, touch. Start there. What in the world do I mean? I mean this - all religions (and their gods, too) require faith from you at some point, but that "jumping off point" is always built on something tangible.

    Like the story about what they believe. Does it make sense? Not, 'is it absent of crazy claims,' but does it flow, is it consistent in it's overall message, or does it constantly contradict itself? Has it changed over time?

    Or another tangible element - does the story of the religion, if it seems to make sense and have a point, is the story or at least many of its elements verifiable historically? Or are the characters fictional, and the geography full of errors? What do historians say about it? How long after the story took place were the accounts of it written down?

    Those are just a couple of examples. Start there - but by no means end there! And feel free to challenge me, or ask me questions any time you like. I'll do my best to answer. But here's my point - there are real tools available to narrow down what is true.

    Thanks again!

  5. Feel Free to just call me Brat.. or better yet Brit ^^
    And thank you kindly for your comment on my blog, and to respond, 'what doesn't kill me makes me stronger,' I find that true, until my mom comes in! (one my blog, I will comment back on yours. I love the engagements of others)

    As for your posting: It doesn't help so much that I'm so easily swayed in one direction or another. In another way of saying, I'm a little 'to open minded.'
    I have a difficult time grasping that out of space and time (if it even existed then) that one divine being (God) Created all that is. But yes, its faith, like you said, that needs to start you off in the belief stage.
    Its an easier concept for me to grasp the 'big bang theory,' I'm guessing because its taught in schools unlike the bible, it just makes more sense.

    I'm not sure if this is a rude question to ask, but what are you scientific/biblical views in the case of creation?

  6. Thanks Paul Harvey!! Loved "the rest of the story" too. he hee

  7. Hi Brit ~

    Being 'open minded' is only a bad thing if you never make up your mind. But if you're goal is to try and decide what you believe about something, an initial 'open mindedness' is a good thing.

    For example: Today I sat in a courtroom for 6 hours as a prospective member of a Jury. The judge and the attorneys and everyone in-between repeated the same question for 6 hours in 100 different ways: 'Will you be fair and impartial during this trial?' 'Can you afford the defendant the benefit of the doubt until all testimony has been heard?' 'Are you able to suspend judgment until all of the evidence has been presented?' Basically - 'can you be open-minded about the verdict until what evidence there is has been presented?'

    And that is where I'd start with you - if I take the time to go over some of the facts of the "case for God" with you (which I'm more than happy to do), are you willing/ able to give what I have to say a fair hearing? I'm only asking, not to be rude, but because for many people I've talked to in the past, they say they want evidence, but no matter how much 'evidence' I present, it's never "enough." Which leaves me to think they never really wanted to hear any of the evidence, they just were spoiling for a fight or liked to debate (so do I) and never intended on considering what I had to say. But that's okay... my skin's getting thicker. ;)

    Hey, good news - you're not alone in struggling to understand the Bible's claims that God began creation out of nothing! I don't get it either. And who can? Since humans never have been able to create or destroy matter, this idea will always be a mystery. Yes, that's one of those 'faith' things, and yes, every religion requires some degree of faith, but faith is not as mystical as we make it out to be - normal people live by 'faith' everyday! So do you, and most of the time it has nothing to do with religion.

    Take the moon landing. Do you believe it happened? How do you know? Were you there? Did you touch the moon with your own feet, leaving your own footprints behind? Did you plant the flag on its cratered surface? 'But there's evidence they were there!' you might say. You should hear the conspiracy theorists go wild about this! Bottom line: if you believe it happened, it's based on what someone else said or did, not something you can personally verify. That's a form of faith.

    Or how about E=MC squared? Do you understand how that works? Have you worked out the math and physics yourself, personally, so that you can say you believe that is a 'true' equation because you've tested it and proved it personally? No. You 'believe' it to be true because lots of smart people - the ones who did the math - say it's true. That's faith. My point is that normal, everyday people use faith as part of normal living everyday. Don't be intimidated by the word 'faith.'

    Now if I were you (don't let that offend you), I would be thinking, 'but that is a reasonable kind of faith; these people are professionals, they're trustworthy people, and they have a consistent track record of telling the truth. Well sure - that makes perfect logical sense. We are much more likely to believe something by faith if we feel confidently about the things we can prove - like the character and reputation of the people telling us about the moon landing or that "energy equals mass multiplied by the speed of light squared." But if someone wearing a surgical glove as a hat tells you he's been to the moon or if I try to convince you of some bizarre-sounding math equation (I almost failed algebra), you would be completely right to doubt the truth of what I was saying compared to the experts.

    Here's my point on that - like I said in my last comment, faith is always built on something. And it's a good, valid approach to check out the trustworthiness and consistency of what/ who that faith is built on. That's what I was getting at when I said last time that there are ways to narrow down truth and compare the 'believability' of religions using real, practical tools before ever getting to the place where you are required to decide what you believe (faith).

    Unfortunately, the same thing applies to the Big Bang theory. You are very wise to recognize that it's easier to believe because that's what you were taught in school. It's easier to take it as true by faith because a government institution with credibility teaches it as fact (it's a theory... but when no other alternative options are permitted to be taught, it tends to be understood by students as fact.). And then there are the Christians, who are portrayed as the guys with the surgical gloves for hats (Sigh). It's really no wonder people are willing to have faith in evolution and look at Creationism or Intelligent Design with raised eye-brows!

    Brit, I'm sorry for totally rabbit-trailing. You asked about what the Scientific/Biblical views are on creation, and if, after all of this gobbledegook you still want me to go into that, I'll gladly do so. Let me know if you want to continue that here, or in some other way. Thanks again!


  8. I love reading your points of views, and yes, I would enjoy hearing (reading) more of your beliefs and realizations.

    I find it fascinating how people are so much different than others, and when I have the opportunity to learn about others I like to seize it because I like to know how others (aside from myself) think in everyday conversations. I suppose its the creative side of me thats not helping me so much in school. I want to learn what I want to learn, whether thats personal interests of individuals or math (I hate math, and don't feel bad, I DID fail algebra..)

    Thank you for pointing out my wisdom in acknowledging that what students see in school is considered factual, and is passed on.
    For an example, my english teacher said that the three second rule does apply for when one "drops food" on the ground because it takes germs a few seconds to "grasp onto" the object it is presented with. I passed this onto my brother unsure if It was true, considering it was being told by an adult. His exact words: "Your teacher is an idiot. If you take a piece of bread, and dip it into spaghetti, assuming the spaghetti is the 'germ,' does it take it three seconds to get on the bread when dipped?"

    It makes me wonder:
    1) Is there really a three second rule for one.. but more importantly 2) Is the material taught in everyday classes valid for everyday life when things like E=MC squared is based on faith, because the average teacher in my school is guaranteed to not be able to solve that one. How do I know that what the teachers are teaching is really true (I know, Faith) when they only teach from a book pre-written with answers and are unable to prove it?

    So yes! Tell me your beliefs, tell me what your thinking, because I want to know.

  9. Sorry! I was so eager to get my comment posted, I failed to mention that I have replied to your comment on my personal blog. For future reference, I'll always be checking my blog for replies, and yours as well, this way were not constantly letting each other know that we have replied!

    Brit Brat

  10. Josh,

    I enjoyed reading your rabbit-trailing here. I'm always impressed when someone can cohesively explain the intricacies of faith, as I so often can't! I'm laughing a little right now because of one of your points, the moon landing. I find having faith in Creation so much simpler than believing that man ever walked on the moon - which I really doubt. :) But that's just me.

  11. hella ~ That's right, gotta represent Paul Harvey!

    Candice ~ Wait, you find having faith in Creation so much simpler than believing that man ever walked... ... you're too funny. I'm glad we know you.

    Sorry Brit, crazy couple days... I haven't forgotten to answer you. Hold tight and I'll get right back at it.


  12. Brit asked -- "I'm not sure if this is a rude question to ask, but what are you scientific/biblical views in the case of creation?"

    Okay Brit, here we go!

    According to the book of Genesis in the Bible, God always existed. But at some point, He decided the time was right to make stuff. And the Bible says that the first step was making everything out of nothing. He didn't take what was lying around like humans do and make it into something. He actually created matter from nothing.

    So He made 'heavenly stuff' first. Angels, etc. Then He made light and dark, water, land, plants, the sun, moon and stars and then animals. Then comes man, who was "formed out of the dust of the ground" (Gen. 2:7) and treated as the pinnacle, the masterpiece of God's creation. It even says why we are the masterpiece -because we, out of all creation, were created " his (God's) own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Gen.1:27). The Bible records all of this taking place in 7 days.

    Observation #1: The Bible is not a text book on science. It is not written in such a way (with a ton of specifics) as to 'prove' how our world began.

    A Christian guy named Josh McDowell says it this way: "It's purpose (the Bible) is not to explain in technical terms the technical data of the natural world, but to explain God's purpose and relation to man, to deal with spiritual things. It is definitely not a technical textbook for scientists.

    The descriptions which the Bible gives concerning nature are neither scientific nor unscientific, but phrased by words that are non-technical and often general, so that even the common reader can follow the thought. This does not at all mean the statements are incorrect; it means that they were written from the viewpoint and in the language of a non-technical observer for readers in general."

    My son likes watching Curious George. I was watching an episode with him where George observes his friend the chef make hamburger patties from a secret recipe. When the chef loses all the patties right before a big BBQ, he panics. George, trying to help, picks up the list that he thinks is the secret recipe list and tries to make new hamburger patties. They turn out awful. Later it is discovered that George used the wrong list - he tried cooking off of a shopping list for gardening supplies.

    If we try to use the Bible as a scientific textbook to 'prove' how the world was made, we are using the 'wrong list' and will be frustrated with the results. "Science and Scriptures do not cancel each other out," says Josh McDowell - "They simply look at the world from different perspectives, but are not finally contradictory."

    Observation #2: Neither can the scientific process we both learned in school 'prove' the 'Big Bang theory' or evolution (complex elements developing from simpler elements, living organisms springing from non-living organisms, one species changing into a completely different species) as the way our world began.

    Again, Josh McDowell writes that "Neither the theory of evolution nor the theory of special creation can be proven scientifically; that is, they cannot be repeated in a laboratory environment. Special creation happened once in the past, and evolution (see definition above) is too slow to observe...Both theories are faith assumptions, and on the basis of the evidence one must chose one or the other."

    So how do people like you and me make such a decision? What 'evidence' are we supposed to make a decision based on? Well, this is where we CAN check out observable facts or well-documented laws of physics.

    "For example," says Josh McDowell, "the second law of thermodynamics implies that left to itself, everything tends to become less ordered, not more ordered or "complex." This rule is an observation of the obvious: things grow old, run down and eventually die or decay. They lose their structure. The theory of evolution says that things develop their complexity and structure. This is not the case."

    Accounts from the Bible, on the other hand,support this scientific law. For instance, the closer people lived to the creation of the world, according to the Bible, the longer they lived. According to the Bible, life-spans were as long as 900+ years! But as time goes on, the characters in the Bible stories live shorter and shorter lives, and look at us today! This follows the 2nd law of thermodynamics perfectly - the genetic structure of a new creation is going to have less flaws and problems and last longer than later versions of the same model. That to me just makes good sense, the same way my TV just gets more and more out of date and doesn't turn into a 60 in. flat-screen (I wish) while I'm sleeping (or even over 100 million years).

    I can keep talking about this if you have questions... but I'm not sure if I'm answering you in the direction you were thinking... Let me know, or give me some clarifying questions, and I'll go from there. Thanks Brit!


  13. Hey every one this is "M" and josh I love your detail in the story. your Obedience in Crist has saved my life. I love you man!!!


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*Grace induces faith & Grace is obligated to faith ~