Where Did Place Come From?

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book everPresent Gospel. My hope is that the book will help us understand how to live on mission and maybe get us to think about how we do that in a unique way. To do that we have to start with the concept of place. --

Where are you right now? Take a moment and look around....

As I write I am sitting in a café on Bitting Ave. I can smell the dark aroma of roasted coffee. I hear the patrons of the shop discuss their lives, what they will see on T.V. this evening, the rise and fall of the economy and all sorts of other things. I feel the warmth of a heater turn on as it is an unusually cold day. Light streams in from the front windows and illuminates the orange walls to bring a warm, homey ambiance to the room. Latin American guitars and beats fill my ears as the music from the café stereo plays. The apple-carrot coffee cake I am eating has a sweet buttery flavor from fresh apples along with a sweet crunch from the sugar on top. The padded chair I sit in keeps me comfortable but awake. Right now I am in a place. There are specific and unique events happening in this space that are not occurring simultaneously anywhere else in the universe. This place is special. This place is one of a kind. This place is the only place I can be at in the world right now.

This is not true however of God. The Bible tells us that God fills heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24), that the highest heaven is not large enough to contain God (1 Kings 8:27), that there is not a single place in the entire universe that a human can go and God not be there (Psalm 139:7–10). The word “omnipresence” sums up for us this spacial reality of God. He is present everywhere all the time in every way. He is not limited by anything and is fully present everywhere that He is, which is everywhere. It’s at this point that we could venture down the path of comparison. See, God is big. God is so massively immense and infinite that he alone can be spacial present everywhere all the time.

Humanity however is not God. We can’t even exist in two places at once (although our efforts at this are endless). The comparison can be helpful to put us in our place but we need more than to be reminded of how much like an ant we are. We need to see the importance of our limitation, the uniqueness of our specific place. We need to see that although we are different from God by our inability to be everywhere-present our places, and specifically our presence in those places, have deep importance. Maybe we really do need to be put in our place. But maybe the “putting in our place” isn’t a painful humbling of our lives to insignificance and unimportance but a lifting of our lives to see the places that we inhabit and the presence we are to have is deeply valuable and important. We need to talk about God’s space and place.

You’re Writing A Book? What’s it About?

Several of you have asked me recently about my writing and what I’m doing with it. I should say that this gives me a moment to justify my lack of writing here on my personal site. I like to think of this, my personal website, as my “mind-dump” or public journal. I am the writer, publisher and editor. The only thing that holds me back is my conscience, my wife and my time spent elsewhere (which keeps me out of trouble with the former two). But not everything written is worth the ink that was spilled or the time it took to write and read it. That leads to the book. I’ve always wanted to write a book. I think that writing is gift of mine but also a skill that I can sharpen and develop. So I needed to test and develop my skills in this area. Back in August of last year I noticed an opportunity for writers to submit articles to an online publisher that shared some similar values and desires of my own. I wanted my writing to be thoughtful and helpful for making disciples and advancing the gospel. When I saw the open door for submissions I decided to think about some things I could write about and see where it went with them. I wrote an article, sent it in, and they published it. All that did was encourage me to write more. So I kept writing and they kept publishing.

On one my articles I received some helpful and gracious feedback from the editor regarding how the concept I was developing was practical. As I thought through the practicality issue and began to improve the article a similar thread began to develop in my mind. As quickly as I could I got out my Moleskine journal and began to chart out the framework for a book. I had a concept, I had a framework for unpacking the concept, now I needed someone to go along with me on it.

Again, the editors were helpful, but a bit reluctant to move forward. They were very gracious and told me, “show us what this looks like in an article.” So I attempted to shove the entire contents of my book into one fifteen-hundred word article as an attempt. They loved it, the lights came on and… they gave the green light for me to start writing on the book.

So, what is the book about? Well, I’ll let you read the concept article and then wait for the book to be finished, edited and published. As far as I know it will be exclusively an ebook at its launch, but if my mom buys enough copies (and if it is decent enough) it might see physical form. I’m grateful for both Ben’s encouragement and Brad’s editorial direction and the entire team at GCD Books for working with me. I’m also grateful to my friends who have been both sounding-boards and prayer partners with me in writing. If you have an opportunity to pray for me this week as I write I would be grateful.

If all goes as planned everPresent Gospel should be released sometime this summer.