Snippet – A New Way To Engage Meaningful Content

4screens_AnEverydayOrdinary_withSnippetLooking for a new way to engage important content in a meaningful way? If you are an iPhone or iPad use, let me recommend Snippet to you. I have been using the new app for a couple of months now and discovering that it is fresh way to not only engage meaningful content, but create it as well.

The people behind Snippet had three core motivations that drove them to create this app:

1) Reading will never be ugly or boring again.

Snippets are beautifully designed and built for reading on your mobile device. We’ve packed them with rich media—like photos, videos, audio and more—all in a clutter-free way. So, read it when you want, and hide it when you don’t.

2) Reading should be inexpensive.

We think great content is valuable, but we also think reading should be inexpensive. That’s why we made Snippets only $.99 to $4.99. Get the best content in a rich and beautiful package, for a fraction of the price.

3) Reading Should be Short and Sweet.

No more endless reading or finishing only half of an expensive book. We help readers get through the content quickly by making every chapter 1,000 words or less.

Right now, I am working through Snippets from Jeff Goins (The In-Between Share Experience), Seth Godin (Pushing Through the Dip) and Stephan Hay (The Design Funnel). You can find these and many others in the Snippet Writing Family.

I am thrilled to be part of the Snippet family and my first Snippet is now available. “An Everyday, Ordinary Liturgy.” Designed to help people make a deeper connection between their Sunday worship and their Monday-Saturday life, the Snippet draws upon elements found in a typical corporate worship context and provides ideas and practices designed to extend worship beyond the walls of the sanctuary and into the places we live, learn, work, serve and play. Right now you can download a copy for $1.99. Check it and provide some feedback to me.

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The Whole of It

This week I started reading Brennan Manning’s book, The Furious Long of God with one of my friends and brothers in Christ. Brennan has written a ton of books over the years and one of the things I most appreciate about Brennan’s work is that he stays on message – and his message is all about God’s love and grace for us in Jesus Christ, something I desperately need to be reminded.

Manning begins the book with a brief personal intro:

I’m Brennan. I’m an alcoholic.
How I got there, why I left there, why I went back, is the story of my life.
But it is not the whole story.

I’m Brennan. I’m a Catholic.
How I got there, why I left there, why I went back, is also the story of my life.
But it is not the whole story.

I’m Brennan. I was a priest, but am no longer a priest. I was a married man but am no longer a married man.
How I got to those places, why I left those places, is the story of my life too.
But it is not the whole story.

I’m Brennan. I’m a sinner, saved by grace.
That is the larger and more important story.
Only God, in His fury, knows the whole of it.

Manning’s intro got me thinking, “what’s my story?” I’m a man, a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a musician, a pastor, a writer, a friend. I’ve had my share of success and failures in every dimension of life, but those success and failures are not the whole story.They do not define me. And so today, with Brennan Manning I declare:

I’m Terry. I’m a sinner, saved by grace.
That is the larger and more important story.
Only God, in His fury, knows the whole of it.

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Some of My Favorite Things

As this year draws to a close, I thought I would take a few moments and share some of my favorite things from the past twelve months. This is by no means a complete list but is intended more as a stream of consciousness kind of thing. How about you? What good things have flowed into your life over the past year. I would love to hear about your favorite things from 2011. Make sure you take a moment and leave a comment or two.

Books

Musical Projects

Concerts

Movies

  • Moneyball
  • The Ides of March
  • Midnight in Paris

Meals

  • Roasted Fish and Cornbread in Hilton Head, SC
  • Fresh Tilapia (from Lake Victoria) on a rooftop terrace in Kampala, Uganda
  • BRGR (East End of Pittsburgh)

Experiences

What were some of your favorite things from 2011?

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Love Wins: What About Hell?

“There are individual hells,
and communal, society-wide hells,
and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously.
there is hell now,
and there is hell later
and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously.” (Love Wins, 79)

Let me set the record straight – Rob Bell believes in hell. “Do I believe in a literal hell. Of course” (71). Bell believes that hell is real and ought to be taken seriously. And I suspect he takes it more seriously than many of us because Bell believes there is a not only a hell to come but hell in the here and now as well.

In this chapter, Bell points his readers to the hellish history of murder and genocide in Rwanda. I happen to be writing this in light of a horrific story in own region in which a 17 year old male shot an innocent and helpless 16 year old girl and then burned her body in an attempt to cover his tracks. We are all too familiar with this reality – hell is real. We experience it and the tragic truth is we create it.  We need to be praying and living “on earth as it is in heaven” because right now it sure seems more like  “on earth as it is in hell.” Which leads Rob to state: “often the people most concerned about others going to hell when they die seem less concerned with the hells on earth right now, while the people most concerned with the hells on earth right now seem the least concerned about hell after death.” (78-79)

One of the strengths of this chapter is that in it Rob covers the complete Old Testament and New Testament teaching on hell. This is also one of the big downsides as he does so in five brief pages (64-69). While I haven’t yet reviewed all the texts, I have a bit of a concern that Rob has done some broad brush exegesis here 0 not necessarily wrong, but incomplete. That said this is one of my favorite quotes from Love Wins: “Jesus used the word hell with insiders, the religious people to warn them about the trajectory of their lives and to reorient them back to living in God’s world God’s way” (81-83).

Interesting
Jesus talks more about
hell
to the religious
than the non-religious

Here are three things from this chapter that cause me some consternation:

  • Bell explores the Sodom and Gomorrah narrative in Genesis (a city most certainly doomed to hell by many). Rob rightly reminds us that this is not the last reference to this city in the Scriptures. Sodom and Gomorrah appear in Ezekiel 16 (“God will restore the fortune of Sodom and her daughters”) and also in Matthew 10 where Jesus warns the people of Capernaum  that “it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for you.” Rob than raises the question, “If there’s still hope for Sodom and Gomorrah, what does this say about all of the other Sodom and Gomorrah’s?”(85).
  • Bell has an interesting take on Paul’s words in 1st Timothy regarding Hymenaeus and Alexander being “handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20). Bell’s assumption is that this “handing over of people to Satan” and allowing them to experience the full consequences of their actions will result in their ultimate good as they turn from their hellish ways and return to God. Rob has an optimistic viewpoint of humanity and this framework will come into play later in the book when Rob discusses the possibility of postmortem choices for God.
  • Bell argues that “eternal punishment” should not be viewed from a chronological perspective – as in forever (92).  This is hinge piece for Rob and serves as a foundation for his understanding of what happens after we die – much more to come in future posts on this.

So what are your thoughts on hell – go ahead stir up the pot.

Just in case I haven’t convinced that Rob believes hell is real, let me give him the last word in this post:

“To summarize then, we need a loaded, volatile, adequately violent, dramatic, serious word to describe the very real consequences we experience when we reject the good and true and beautiful life that God has for us. We need a word that refers to the big, wide, terrible evil that comes from the secrets hidden deep within our hearts all the way to the massive, society-wide collapse and chaos that comes when we fail to live in God’s world God’s way. And for that, the word “hell” works quite well. Let’s keep it.” (93)

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Next Thoughts on Love Wins: Here is the New There

This post will begin to move us into into the heart of Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins.” (If you haven’t read my introductory thoughts I encourage you to read my post, First Thoughts on Love Wins).

Have you ever experienced this approach to evangelism and the sharing of the Gospel: “If you died today do you know with certainty that you would be in heaven with God? If God asked you why he should let you into His heaven, what would you say?” Providing the “right answers” to these two questions brings the assurance that hell will be avoided and heaven awaits.

A fundamental premise behind this is that belief that heaven and hell are experiences that await us after our last heartbeat here on planet Earth.  In chapter 3, “Here is the New There” Rob challenges this premise. He writes:

“When we talk about heaven, then, or eternal life, or the afterlife – any of that – it’s important that we begin with the categories and claim that people were familiar with in Jesus’ first-century Jewish world. They did not talk about a future life somewhere else, because they anticipated a coming day when the world would be restored, renewed and redeemed and there would be peace on earth” (40).

Rob argues that the first century Jewish  perspective of eternal life was founded upon the prophetic vision of the age to come and he cites Isaiah 2 and 25, Ezekiel 36 and Amos 9 as representative pictures of this vision of eternal life. Rob provides three general observations about the prophetic promises regarding life in the age to come:

  • it’s multiethnic, multisensory, multieverything (it’s about “all the nations”)
  • it’s earthy (it’s filled with earthy things like good wine, crops, grain, people, bountiful feasts, buildings and homes)
  • it’s familiar (their vision of life in the age to come was deeply connected to the Genesis creation story and God’s invitation to Adam and Eve. to partner and participate with God in the flourishing of the world) (34-35).

Rob uses an image that iPad users will easily identify with  – Jesus dragging the future into the present. I love that picture. Have you ever stopped to consider what might happen when you drag the future into the present?

“Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.”

Rob believes that our eschatology shapes our ethics:

“How we think about heaven, then, directly affects how we understand what we do with our days and energies now, in this age. Jesus teaches us how to live now in such a way that what we create, who we give our efforts to, and how we spend our time will endure in the new world.” (44-45)

And in classic Bell style and form, the chapter with these words:

“There’s heaven now, somewhere else.
There’s heaven here, sometime else.
And then there’s Jesus invitation to heaven
here
and
now
in this moment,
in this place” (62)

At the heart of Rob’s understanding of heaven is the sense that “eternal life is less about a kind of time that starts when we die and more about a quality and vitality of life lived now in connection with God.” (59) This statement provides some clues to what Rob believes hell looks like and I will take up that topic in my next post.

In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on heaven. What resonates with you? In what ways does Rob’s vision of heaven reflect your understanding of what the Scriptures teach and proclaim? What what might it look like for you to join with Jesus in dragging the future into the present?

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