Living Story

Join Me In Offering A Community Blessing Over Janny For Her 30th!

JannyOne of the beautiful things about arriving at one of life’s significant markers is the opportunity it creates for loved ones to gather around and share a blessing over the life that has been lived and the life they see unfolding into the future.  

My wife, Jan (or Janny), turns 30 years old today and I want to create a space to offer her blessings, encouragement and/or prayers over her past, present and/or future.  

Will you join me?!?!

Post your note in the comments section below and I will be gathering them all to include in a physical book (thank you, Shutterfly!) to give her as a reminder of who she is and what she means to those who love her most.  

Thanks so much for jumping in!  I’ll start…

Janny, you turn 30 years old today and I’ve had the honor of walking alongside of you for almost half of it! Having been given a birds eye view of your remarkable life, I have been gifted with the honor of learning from your selflessness, guided by your wisdom and entertained by you humor.  You have taught me what it looks like to live fully into the person God has created me to be free of concerns around building reputation, appearance or success on any scale other than that of faithfulness, selfless love and Kingdom calling.  You teach me how the heck to be a decent parent and have grace on me as I learn to love you better.  It will be an honor to share the next 30 years of life walking hand in hand with you into whatever kind of crazy adventurous lay in front of us.  

Raising Children to be Global Citizens

It’s not often that Janny (my wife!) and I write a blog together, so it was especially fun writing this post for Allison Buzard’s current series asking how to live out the radical way of Jesus while raising kids. 

Our Daughter Ruby w/Afghan Family

Our Daughter Ruby w/Afghan Family

Before we had kids, we loved to travel, had worldview stretching experiences and were all together creative in how we lived the lives we had been given.  For us, having the right kind of experiences meant far more than have the right kind of house, car or other possession that could be associated with “success.”  As we reflect on our development individually and as a couple in the context of marriage, it is clear that these experiences (and resulting relationships) have shaped us more significantly than any classroom or lecture series.  It has been the classroom of real life relationships that have formed us into global citizens who follow a Jesus with a global reign.  

And then we had kids…

Having heard that we would finally have to “slow down” or change our unorthodox way of life with the wee ones around, we were feeling a bit anxious about this new stage of life.  Would the most life giving elements of our life quickly be swept away in exchange for dirty diapers and trips to the laundry mat?

Well, they could have been, but we quickly realized that the very best gift we could give our children is to live the kind of life we would desire them to live as faithful followers of Jesus.  In other words, if we are to be role models to our children, we need to live the kind of life we’d hope they’ll live someday.  

So, we figured we’d just keep on living the unorthodox way of life and bring ’em along with us.  That’s why God made front packs and folding strollers for crying out loud!!

We are far from having things figured out, but here are a few key learnings we aspire to embody…

Read the complete post on Allison’s blog here.


What Ruth Tells Us About Living the Jesus’ Story Today

I was recently reading the book of Ruth and was struck by the insight it offers into our vocation as followers of Jesus today.  There is something sacred about an ancient narrative informing our modern narrative in ways that impact the way we live, love and lead.  I will highlight three themes in Ruth that paralleled the life of Jesus and the story he has called his people to live out and into.

The first theme is that of identity as is found in bloodline versus voluntary submission.  In versus 16 & 17 of chapter 1, Ruth gives up her identity as was found in her familial bloodline and exchanges it for a new familial identity in Naomi and the people of Israel.  Ruth embraces her new identity as her true identity and it is her faithfulness in that that has direct implications for the advance of God’s Story in Israel (see genealogy of David in 4:18-22).  In the same way that Ruth submitted herself to a new family and identity in Israel, followers of Jesus are to submit their identity found in family of origin to their identity as part of the Kingdom family.  Mark 3:31-35 tells of Jesus radical redefinition of family in light of Kingdom he inaugurated.  For followers of Jesus, identity can no longer be primarily found in bloodline, but in a voluntary submission to the Kingdom Family shaped around Jesus.

The second theme can be found in Ruth freely choosing the way of self-sacrifice and obedience for the sake of her family and neighbors.  Throughout the narrative, Ruth is consistently making decisions that are intended to support, encourage and advance the good of Naomi and her family line over her personal good.  From voluntarily remaining with Naomi when it wasn’t required of her (1:16/17), to heeding Naomi’s request for her to pursue a relationship with Boaz (3:2-4) to giving birth to a son that would carry on the family line (4:13), Ruth consistently put the good of others ahead of herself.   Similarly, Jesus calls his followers to embrace the cruciform life and freely choose to live in Christ for the sake of others.  Jesus argues that our primary vocation is to love God and to love others (Matt. 22:37-39).  In Mark 1, Jesus comes announcing the arrival of a new Kingdom that we later find out is marked by service of and selfless sacrifice to the point of death on a cross.

The final theme is that of Ruth’s faithfulness, which leads to the redemption of a whole family line.  It is important to note that Ruth’s individual actions don’t just impact her immediate surroundings, but influence the good of her adopted family and the people of Israel (4:13-17).  In other words, there is redemption and restoration of many that comes as a direct result of her faithfulness.  Similarly, it is our faithfulness to an identity and vocation rooted in Jesus that will be the means through which a watching world is invited into the redemption Story of God.  Jesus not only acted decisively as the redeemer of Israel and all the cosmos, but he extents this vocation to his followers in John 20:21 when he says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you!”  Like Ruth, the way we live, love and lead has direct implications for the redemption and restoration of those around us.  God has chosen to tell his Story and advance his restoration project through his people.


Book Giveaway Trifecta

Ok, so we’ve heard it over and over and over…”tis” the season for giving.  Welp, with that in mind, I’m giving away one of each of my books: Thin Places (I’ll be giving the book & 6 session DVD edition!), Teaching Through the Art of Storytelling and Good News in the Neighborhood.  Click on the BOOKS links above to watch video trailers, read descriptions and endorsements for each.  

Wikipedia defines a trifecta as “a parimutuel bet in which the bettor must predict which horses will finish first, second, and third in exact order.”

Er, umm, that really has nothing to do with this give away, so I’m redefining!

A trifecta “is the opportunity to win one of three LIFE CHANGING (ok, maybe an exaggeration) books with THREE different ways to win.”

Choose one of these three ways to throw your hat in the ring:

1. Follow the link to any of these three book pages and click “like”(right next to the reviews under the title). Thin Places OR Teaching Through the Art of Storytelling OR  Good News in the Neighborhood. Then paste a link to your facebook page in the comments (so I know who to give the book to if you win!).  

2. “Like” my Jon Huckins Writing Facebook page (and post link of your facebook page in Comments below) OR follow me on Twitter and Tweet, “Jump in to win one of @jonhuckins books! #BookGiveawayTrifecta”  

3. Write a TRIFECTA Haiku (a Haiku is three phrases -- 5, 7, 5 syllable pattern) in the comments describing your love of egg nog.

I’ll be randomly picking winners on Monday!  Three, Two, One…TRIFECTA!!

10 Things I Learned While in the Middle East

Hearing the story of Daoud at the Tent of Nations in West Bank

Over the past four years I have had the opportunity to spend a significant amount time in the Middle East.  I no longer approach the time as a tourist, but instead seek out relationships and experiences as a listener who has much to learn about the way God is at work in contexts much different than my own.  In that posture, it has been remarkable how much I have learned and begun to integrate into the way I live, love and lead back in my neighborhood.  Theologian Paul Knitter describes it well when he refers to ones inherited worldview as a telescope.  No matter how objective we may think we are or desire to be, we all see the world through a specific telescope/worldview.  When we choose to look through the telescope of people who are “different” than us, we begin to get a more comprehensive picture of the world and the way God is at work within it.  

Leading our first Learning Community to the Middle East apart of The Global Immersion Project I recently co-founded, I was invited to take a look through the lens of friends’ telescopes who live amid conflict in Israel and Palestine. Here are some of my key learnings:  

1. Stories Over Facts -- No matter how many stats we present or information disseminate, there is nothing more powerful than being invited into and experiencing ones story.  Especially a story that shatters our stereotypes, prejudices and understanding of justice. 

2. Learning Happens Best Through Exposure -- Those of us in the West have unprecedented access to information for learning.  One step of exposure into lived (experienced) history brings about far more learning than read/heard history.   
3. Stereotypes Aren’t Broken Unless We Are Willing to Listen -- The posture of a learner makes ALL the difference in what they learn.  If we choose not to be transformed by the reality around us, we won’t.  Two people can actually listen to the same story and come out with two different responses based on their willingness to set aside their own presuppositions for the sake of humbly listening and learning from those of different persuasion. 
4. Being a Presence of Reconciliation is Only as Real as Your Weakest Link -- When walking the streets and into the homes of those living in conflict zones, you are not viewed as individuals, but as one community.  It only takes the words/actions/disposition of one within a community to compromise the presence of reconciliation we are committed to representing.  
5. Being Present And Returning Matters -- People who experience daily injustice often have people come see and experience their story.  These people often “feel sorry” for them and say their going to go home, bring attention to their situation and some even say they’ll come back to help their cause.  This rarely happens and does more harm that good.  Having advocated, stayed in constant contact and returned multiple times to my friends experiencing injustice in Israel/Palestine I can see in their eyes a building sense of partnership, care and belief in us and our work.  
6. Living, Loving and Leading Differently is Contagious -- Rather than pull into parking lots, our Learning Communities pull into driveways.  Rather than isolate ourselves from the areas of conflict and tension, we fully expose and immerse ourselves in it.  We wander far off the beaten path of Holy Land tourism.  People both in the States and inhabitants of the Middle East notice the difference and want to know more of why we’re doing what we’re doing.  Rather than follow in the footsteps of Jesus in the Holy Land, we seek to encounter the people with whom Jesus footsteps led him towards.  That’s Good News and that’s contagious.  

Rabbi Eliyahu catching up with Muslim friend

7. Art of Peacemaking Requires Living in Radical Tension -- To be a peacemaker requires holding conflicting narratives in tension so we can be a presence of reconciliation in the middle of it all.  We compromise our ability to be peacemakers in the way of Jesus when we lose our ability to stand with people despite our differences.  

8. Sharing Tables is the Beginning of Sharing Humanity -- There is something sacred about sharing a meal with people who we have been taught to hate or disagree with because of the portrait we have been offered by the media, leaders or information in the West. It is in the conversation and shared life that exists around a table that we are exposed to the humanity of “the Other.”
9. How I Act in My Neighborhood Informs How I Act Abroad (and Visa Versa) --
I don’t know how many times we heard from locals in Israel and Palestine that our life, theology and politics in America have direct implications for their everyday life.  Some went as far as saying, “Until your theology and corresponding policies change, there will be no change here.” As a Learning Community, we have also been radically formed by our exposure and experience in the Middle East.  We see people, conflict and social realities differently so as to allow us to better live, love and lead like Jesus back in our neighborhoods.  
10. This Generation is Hungry to Live Differently -- Both the difference makers who participated in our Learning Community and the vast majority of the Israeli’s and Palestinians with whom we interacted with are committed to live out a new reality.  A reality that transcends blind prejudice, false assumptions and conflict that is based more on the fear of the past than in the reality of the present and future.  Amid the pain, violence and injustice there are individuals and communities that are offering a grassroots movement that is stirring up great hope and a new future.  
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