KitLong 11-01-004


Long Story Short

God, Eternity, History and You


John Kitchen

CLC Publications, 2010, 216 pp.  ISBN 978-1-936143-08-5


Kitchen is senior pastor of the Stow Alliance Fellowship in Stow, Ohio.  In this book, John explores what God is doing in all of history and encourages you to find your role in His plans.  "Nothing is more life altering than to see your life in the light of God's purpose." (10) Rich with spiritual principles.



"I believe the story will grip your heart and will soon begin to direct your steps.  As the wonder of His story begins to envelop you, a fresh understanding of your own story will also begin to emerge."  (12)  Live your story in light of the unfolding, eternal story of God.


Part I - History

The Master Plan

"What if you and I lived our entire lives thinking we were in a different conversation than the one that is really going on?  What if we lived out our lives in a drama that appears to be unfolding--only to discover that the part we thought we played was never really written into the actual story in fact being written?  What if our assumptions about what is really going on in this world are all wrong and we live our lives off-purpose?  Could there by anything more important than knowing we've got the real story straight in our understanding?  Is there anything more essential than knowing what purposes are being worked out in the unfolding of history?"  (18)


Two fixed points: "The goal of everything is the glory of God, and the means of everything is the grace of God." (22)  "These are two threads of gold and silver woven into the tapestry of all history." (27)


"The Gospel is about 'the glory of Christ, not about me (John 17:24).  Its final aim is that we would see and savor and show the glory of Christ…."  (24)  "…the goal of God is to have people filled with the glory of God and living for the glory of God." (24)  "The purpose of everything is related to God's pleasure. …God brings glory to Himself by extending grace to you.  Your purpose, then, is to employ the grace God extends to you to bring glory to Him." (29-30)


Part 2 - His Story

The Stage Set - A Spurned Grace (Genesis 1-11)

"Many North Americans have tried to 'accept Christ' as their Savior and, at the same time, to retain their non-Christian worldview.  This creates great conflict within.  It is a bit like how we enjoy Chinese food.  We Americans love to go out for Chinese, but most of us have never been to China and have no intention of going there, let alone adopting a Chinese worldview.  Christ and the salvation He offers are not selections from a menu which you can piece together according to your whims and tastes and personal desires.  Christ's salvation means utter abandonment to the God of all things…."  (40)


"He spoke the word and created (for His glory), and He speaks and sustains (by His grace) all things by that word."  "The nature of reality in the earth as we know it--the reality in which we now live--is framed for us through four key words."  [Creation, Coup, Consequences, Covenant]


If the opening four words of Scripture are true, then the philosophies of pantheism, polytheism, materialism, dualism, humanism, and naturalism are all clearly in error. (44)


The world all about us was spoken into being!  There is a Voice speaking, telling us of God's purpose.  God is not silent.  Our entire universe arose out of His will and by His voice (the Word). (46) 


The consequences of the Coup were personal alienation, personal violence, and collective wickedness.  But the stage is set for God's unfolding drama.  "He has gone from dealing with all of humanity, narrowing it down to just one man through whom He will pour out His grace in order that His grace might come once again to all people."  The goal is clearly in sight in Numbers 14:21: "Truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord."  God is drawing a line from Genesis 11 to Matthew 1:1.  (54)


Act I, Scene I - A Pursuing Grace (Genesis 12 - I Kings 10)

"God's plan is to use one man (Abraham) to build one great nation (Israel) through whom He will provide the one Savior (Jesus) who will reveal God's glory and extend God's grace to ALL people!" (60)


Step #1: A man - Abraham. (Genesis 12:1-3)  God promised Abraham his own land and a great nation.  Watch for these two themes throughout the Old Testament. 

Principle: "When God wants to do a great thing, He graces one person that He might grace many more people." (62)


Step #2: A family (Genesis 12-50)

Principle: "God never loses track of His promises, and He works even in our darkest hours to redeem them and to fulfill His good purpose through us." (63)


Step #3: A People (Exodus 1)    

Principle: "No amount of evil can destroy the people God chooses to bless." (65)


Step #4: A Leader (Exodus 2-19)

Principle: "When God wants to make a great people, He forges for Himself a great leader." (67)


Step #5: A Culture (Exodus 20 - Deuteronomy)

Principle: "God's commands and prohibitions are gracious expressions of His desire that we live in fellowship with Him and for His glory." (70)


Step #6: A Land (Joshua, Judges, Ruth)

Principle: "God's work will be done.  Your disobedience won't stop Him; it only determines your participation in His grace and glory." (72)


Step #7: A King (1 Samuel - 1 Kings 10)


Step #8: A Temple (I Kings 5-8)


Act I, Scene 2 - A Weeping Grace (I Kings 11 - 2 Chronicles, the Prophets)

"God feels your pain.  He has lived in it for years." (85)  This long section describes divine tears, heavenly weeping - a weeping grace for nearly 400 years.  The Kings failed the Lord.  Solomon went after many gods.  God called it adultery.  Idolatry is threat to us as well, in the form of materialism and immorality. 


God continues to extend grace, only to be rebuffed.  The prophets allow us to hear God's heart, that of a Father weeping over a prodigal child.  A personal lesson is this: "You only find your place in God's plan as you own the grief you cause Him by your sin." (94)


God used the evil Babylonians to bring discipline to His people.  He withdrew from among them and thrust them from his presence.  But in the midst of the apparent demise of His nation, the prophet confirmed His purpose: "The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Hab 2:14)


Act I, Scene 3 - A Faithful Grace (Ezra - Esther, Haggai - Malachi)

Jerusalem is in ruins, the people are in exile, and through Ezekiel (7:2) God pronounced the end.  When God says it's over, it is devastating!  (105)  So what is left?  God.  His purpose is unchangeable (Heb. 6:17).  God used Nebuchadnezzar to discipline the people, but he employed Cyrus as His servant to restore the people!  (110)  God is faithful--not only to His purposes, but to His people.  (112)


"God is often behind the scenes, but He moves all the scenes He is behind." (113, quoting H. A. Ironside)  "No matter who seems to be in charge, God is sovereign!" (116)


The historical books set forth what God did.  The prophetic books set forth what God said. (118)


Interlude - A Silent Grace (Between the Testaments)

400 years.  Silence is scary.  "Silence is a text easy to misread." (127, quoting A. A. Attanasio)  "The fact that God has not been speaking does not mean that God has not been moving."  (127)  "Just because God has been silent does not mean He has not spoken."   Whatever God is doing in the silence, it is redemptive, purposeful, good, loving, gracious and kind, and it is about His glory.  (136-7)


Act II, Scene I - A Saving Grace (Matthew - John)

The last word from the prophets was to expect Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6).  And the angel told Zechariah to expect Elijah (Luke 1:17), (in the form of John the Baptist) to prepare the way for Jesus. 


John chose "Word" to describe Jesus.  In Greek "logos" connotes the reason or order behind the universe.  But John was probably referring to the power of God's word throughout history. (143) 


In Jesus, God was dwelling among us, working among us, obeying God for us, and redeeming us. He was victorious for us and He is ruling for us.  "The cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the joint events that create the hinge of all history.  Everything that came before looked forward to this, and everything from here on out will look back to this.  It stands to reason that if God's story turns on this hinge, then yours will too." (151)


Act II, Scene 2 - A Seeking Grace (Acts - Jude)

His story is not done.  He is completing the final step. The church is a new thing but it was in God's mind from the beginning, what Paul calls a "mystery." (Eph. 3:2-9)  God's glory and grace to the world is effected through a commission (a set of orders).  The commission of God to His new people is "Go and tell."  (159-161)  As the church, we are to be Christ's witnesses and His temple.  "We are to house the glory of the indwelling Christ Himself!" (163)


"The church itself is not the goal of all things, but the channel through which Christ will bring God's story to a grand culmination. … We are not a reservoir, but a river." (165)


"The story of the church and of the advance of God's glory and grace through the gospel of Jesus Christ…is written…across the pages of history…."  "One day it will circle the globe and eventually include living links from every 'tribe and language and people and nation' (Rev. 5:9)" (169)


The curtain is still up on Act II, Scene 2!  You and I are onstage.  Your story is being written even as God's story unfolds on the stage of human history."  "Your story is not about you--it's about the glory of God."   "You are not the central character in your story--God is." (172, 3)


Act III - A Realized Grace (Revelation)

How does the plan resolve?  Everything God has prophesied will come true and it will be more clear in retrospect than it is now.  Our hope is a hope of grace and glory.  "All these events [pictured in Revelation] are rushing toward a culminating confluence of triumph in which the wonder of God's grace and the universal demonstration of God's glory will thunder forth forever!" (192)


Part 3 - My Story

"Your story is intricately tied to God's story--and most people never make the connection between theirs and His." (199)  "Your story is always going to be about advancing God's story.  Ask yourself: How does God intend to use me to extend His grace and demonstrate His glory to all peoples?" (200)  "When you discover how God is uniquely committed to pouring His grace into your life, you will be well on your way to discovering how He intends to pour His grace through your life." (201)


So ask: "Am I unreservedly committed to God's glory?" (201)  Need some diagnostic questions?  See p. 202! 


"If God's glory has captured your vision and His grace now owns your heart, you are unreservedly committed to the same thing that God is utterly devoted to--magnifying His glory and extending His grace to the peoples of the world through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If this is true, God will make your story a part of His story, and whether seemingly large or small, prominent or obscure, powerful or weak, your story will matter.  Your life will make a contribution.  You will be a part of God's plan.  That is all any of us could ever ask, expect or hope.  God will make it true." (208)



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