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  • 3 Reminders of “All is Gift” that Just Might Blow Your Mind

    Hopefully by now you’ve gotten your hands on Episode One: Exile and you saw the part where I was plunking at my ukulele trying to figure out God’s Song for all of creation. If you haven’t seen it, well—SPOILER ALERT!—there was a cymbal crash, some far off whispers, and then suddenly God’s song for all of creation hit me:

    All is Gift All is gift. These three words, this simple phrase, not only holds the foundation of our existence, but the very nature of God and our life in him. It comes from a Russian Orthodox priest, Alexander Schmemann, and his book “For the Life of the World.” It’s a catchy title, I know. Schmemann writes,

    “All that exists is God’s gift to man, and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God…God blesses everything He creates, and, in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation…”

    Here are three ways I know all creation sings of God’s presence, wisdom, and love. Here are three ways I know “All is gift.”

    ————

    1. We are God’s Poetry.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEphesians 2:10 tells us that “we are God’s workmanship,” but there’s way more to it than that. If you look up the greek translation of “workmanship,” it’s poiēma. Does that word look familiar? It should. It’s where we get our word “poem.” Reading Ephesians 2:10 in this light, we are God’s poem, his poetry. We are the spellbinding words of God’s very own heart.  Imagine that. And if we dig deeper into what poetry actually is, we come to the stunning realization that it ultimately is useless. That is, it is without utility. It solely exists to reflect. It is utterly gratuitous. In fact, poetry is just about as marvelously gratuitous as life gets. It is a gift, an outpouring of love from its creator. We, then, are God’s marvelous reflection. Every single one of us is a gift born of love, to reflect God’s love to the world. This makes me wonder: when I say “poetry,” what comes to mind? How much room does poetry have in our lives? Especially when, at the end of the day, it doesn’t feed the kids or do the dishes or pay the bills. How much space do we make in our lives for gratuitous beauty? How much time do we spend getting lost in the wonder of the people around us, in God’s poetry? For a good poem, start here. (ps – thanks for the nugget, Pastor Len!)

    2. The Horse Jesus Rode in on.

    medium_8585648486 How did Jesus enter Jerusalem the week before he gave up his life? He didn’t pass the city gates high atop some shimmering, snarling steed. He rode a lowly, land-tilling donkey. And why? Consider the war horse; it conquers and kills. A war horse comes to destroy and take. A donkey, on the other hand, works the field. It makes a way for new life. A donkey gives back to its master. It gives back to the land. A donkey’s life is one of obedience and offering, of gift. There’s a reason Jesus chose a donkey, it’s “All is gift.” (Thanks, Pastor Ruth!)

    3. These People Doing Their Jobs

    “All is gift” reminds us that we are gift-givers, image-bearers, and creative beyond measure in everything we do. As we pursue our callings, not just in our work (where we traditionally feel ‘called’), but in our families and civic responsibilities, in our ideas and artistic endeavors, we exist to reveal God’s beauty and life. We exist to offer our talents and serve, to make all of our work a gift to others. Martin Luther King’s words come to mind:

    “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

    Or consider CS Lewis from “Learning in Wartime,”

    “The work of a Beethoven, and the work of a charwoman, become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly “as to the Lord”. This does not, of course, mean that it is for anyone a mere toss-up whether he should sweep rooms or compose symphonies. A mole must dig to the glory of God and a cock must crow. We are members of one body, but differentiated members, each with his own vocation.”

    All is gift. What gifts are you offering to the places you are being called – in your family, at your work, in your communities? How are you bringing life? (Thanks, Internet!)

    ————

    Keeping in the spirit of “all is gift,” let’s throw in one more! Now you have FOUR reminders of “All is Gift.”

    4. My “bootstraps” are not my own

    To make something out of our lives, to find purpose and meaning, we’re often told we must “pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and get to work.” When I put on my “All is Gift” glasses, I can’t help but realize that even my proverbial “bootstraps” are a gift. Bootstraps And what are those proverbial bootstraps, you may be asking? They are the gifts of my pulse, my parents, my geographic place. My bootstraps are the gifts of teachers and friends who encourage my growth. My bootstraps are the gifts of God and of the strangers he places in my life. These gift-givers had faith that God would use the talents implanted in my life. They gave me a chance to live out those talents. Thank you, Bob, Matt, and Cort. A life of “All is Gift” has no room for the “self-made” man or woman. We are all edified by the gifts of God and by his gifts reflected in others. To paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, we are standing on the shoulders of giants. “All is gift” recognizes and radiates this truth. Know it or not, we are always fashioning bootstraps for someone else. photo credit: contemplicity via photopin cc photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc photo credit: DanMad via Daily Whiteboard

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    • Jerome Ellard

      Just ran across your blog after getting an email from Flannel about the video series. Love it. You reminded me in your blog post of James 1:17 that tells us where every “good and perfect gift” comes from – our Father in heaven! So, even the bootstraps we are fashioning for others ultimately come from the Great Poem composer in the sky! Thanks, Evan! (and when I saw you in the trailer, I recognized you as the guy in the Coffee With Jesus, etc. videos I’ve played at church – yippee!)

      • admin

        Our “bootstaps”, their “bootstraps,” it’s all a gift! Thank for reading! More Coffee’s with Jesus coming up, too! Stay tuned! :)

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    • Theo Entrepreneur

      I am very excited to include this new video series in the classroom. I teach at a university (Christian), where we can openly discuss a topic like this. As I teach in the business school, I encourage a distinctive that we are here as servants and as stewards. Our creativity and innovation course will benefit from your effort.

      • FLOW_Evan

        Just finding this comment, thank you for finding us and putting our stuff to work in your life and work. I’d be happy to help you any way I can. :)

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    • Gabe Kish

      Hello Evan. Our pastor thought it would be a great idea to have your video series be the topic(s) of discussion for our Faithbuilders (read adult bible study) class, and I am so very glad he did. We have only seen two episodes at this point, but I can say that I have been very impressed with the video production itself (love the “quirkiness”), but even moreso I think you do a wonderful job of presenting the questions you bring forth in a manner that provokes one to look deep inside oneself for the answers.
      I am looking forward fo having the opportunity to meet you here in Pittsburgh next month at the event with Jars of Clay. We have our tickets, can’t wait!

      • FLOW_Evan

        Hi Gabe! Thanks for your note! It truly means a lot. That’s awesome to hear about your church. Thanks for bring us into the fold! Please let us know about the conversations and, more importantly, the actions it leads to within your communities! Make sure you find me in Pittsburgh, I’d love to meet you face to face.

    • Score

      I thought the reason Jesus chose a donkey was because it was the steed of a king. I don’t disagree with your premise and thesis of “all is gift” – after all, Jesus is the greatest gift we ever received, whether he came on a donkey or a dragon – but I understand that the donkey was what the kings of Israel rode.

      • FLOW_Evan

        More knowledge! Thanks for the GIFT! Awesome!

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