Monthly Archives: December 2013

Seeing The Story in our stories

Through the Jesse Tree Reading guide, we are seeing numerous stories of how God is about pursuit and rescue.  From Adam & Eve to Moses to Samuel, God is continually moving to rescue and bring his children back into an intimate fellowship and communion with Himself.  These are beautiful stories of trial and triumph, tragedy and glorious victory.

But what do we do with the times that don’t “feel” like God is rescuing us?  What are we to make of the moments when devastation sets in and we grieve the loss of what was or will never be?  Where is God when things seem to be falling apart?  And what happens when we do the best we can and still miss the mark of the God’s heart and plan?

Where is God in the day-to-day affairs of life, love, loss and hope?

On Sunday night, we will engage a very familiar story in a surprisingly relevant way.  Matthew 1:18-25 briefly explains the back story of Joseph of Nazareth (Mary’s husband).  You may be well acquainted with the details of his story, but you may not see how similar Joseph’s experience may be to your own.  Sure you are not going to find out your spouse is pregnant by a miracle today, but you may wrestle with some similar emotional processes like Joseph.

Through Joseph’s story we may find elements of our own:

  • The Devastation over life circumstances that don’t turn out like we planned…
  • The Disbelief over the meaning and message of your current situations…
  • The Decision to do the best you know how with the current circumstances; to try and move on with your life…
  • Experiencing a clear and loving sense of exactly what God wants for you in a Dream…
  • Trusting beyond what your eyes can see in whole-hearted Devotion to Gods invitation…

By understanding Joseph’s story, we may very well find that we understand our own a bit better and see that in these little stories, God is weaving a much bigger, more beautiful tapestry of Grace, Pursuit and Rescue.  The best news is that He is doing this “with us.”  After all, He is Emmanuel.

So join us Sunday night as we peer into “The Stories behind The Story.”devestation


The Boy Who Dreamed

Have you ever had someone tell you a story that sounded like it was too good to be true? Maybe this is the case with your own story. Stories like these point towards a bigger Story and show evidence of God’s hand at work in our lives. This Sunday night at Portico you will get to hear one of those stories. You will hear about “The Boy Who Dreamed” and how even through hurt, pain, and calamity God is still in control.

As you prepare for the service this week, consider the pursuit and rescue of God and the amazing things He does in bringing redemption to lives of people all around us.

Remember that Your story is a part of His Story!

by Brandon McQuillin


Two Truths and a Lie (Portico Retreat)

Do you want the lowdown on the upcoming Portico retreat? Here’s what I can do for you. Below are three statements. Two of them are 100% true, the other is a total lie! You make the call.

1. The Rec Staff will be sporting full 80’s attire while leading a group workout.

2. Adults will compete with children in “So You Think You Can Dance?”

3. People will be running through the woods in the dark with glow necklaces screaming, “The Flag!”

by Brandon McQuillin


The stories behind The Story

ImageSo the classic Christmas tune claims, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

But often, it feels more like the most…hectic, stress-filled, over-booked time of the year!

I am afraid to tell you how many Christmases have come and gone leaving me reeling in the after-math of what was supposed to be enjoyable, holy and good. I get so caught up in the here and now:

The checklist.

The schedule of parties, obligations and events.

I get so caught up- so busy, that I miss the bigger picture. I am so focused upon my own story that I sometimes miss The Story:God’s Rescue Plan.

You see God is at work in our everyday, fast-paced lives. In fact, He lives in the midst of dirty diapers, day-planners and stress. Right there in the places where we need Him the most – there He is. Fittingly, upon His Arrival, the Great Rescuer is dubbed, “EMMANUEL” (God with Us). But often times, we miss Him because we are so focused on the story (lower case “s”) and not The Story.

The good news is we are not alone in this. Throughout the Bible, ordinary people just like you and I found themselves caught up in the day-to-day experience of life: bogged down by the details, busyness, and the stress of the here and now:

Abraham and Sara cope with not being able to have a baby.

Ruth loses a husband and then struggles in poverty and finding her next meal.

There is the Old Testament Joseph dealing with family betrayal and a national crisis.

How about New Testament Joseph trying to make wedding plans with a bride who turns up pregnant?

Each of these people was living a story that full of pressing circumstances, drama and adversity. If they were anything like me, I imagine that they had trouble seeing how their current situations were a part of a bigger story. But their stories were being woven into The Bigger Story of God’s Rescue Plan. In fact, every story whispers His Name. By reading these stories we see how God works in the past and that He just might be up to something bigger in our lives too.

Throughout the month of December you will hear some of the stories from The Scriptures discussed on Sunday nights in our weekly gathering. You will also be invited to join a community who is exploring a story each day of the month through a focused reading plan and church tradition called, “The Jesse Tree.”

The Jesse Tree is a way of tracing the story of Jesus throughout the Old Testament leading up to His Birth in the New Testament. It utilizes short readings from the Bible and symbols hung in your home as reminders of the stories behind The Story. For more information, check this out:

This December, I am planning to not miss what God may be up to in my busy life by tuning into The Story: God’s Rescue Plan carried out in my ordinary life.

by Chris Ramsey

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The Thanksgiving Chainsaw Massacre

It was horrible. Wretched, actually. The family had buzzed into Monroe for Thanksgiving this year. Wait a sec: that wasn’t the horrible part. The terror came after lunch when we, all stuffed from the more-than-plenty lunch table, eased into recliners, slumped onto sofas or collapsed into beds for that wonderful ritual, The Thanksgiving Nap. 

Just as I nodded off–no really– JUST, as I stepped into sleep, the most heinous, awful, nightmarish sound ripped clean through by gravy-muddled head.

Some guy next door had decided Thanksgiving Day was a perfect day to enjoy God’s great outdoors and to heighten his outdoor adventure, to chainsaw a Luzianna Live Oak tree. 

I tossed and turned for five minutes. But there was no letting up with this guy. I tried burrowing my head into my pillow. No relief. I waited, certain that a well meaning neighbor would rise to defend his family’s American right to holiday peace and quiet. No one moved. 

Finally, just as I’d dismissed the idea of wedging myself between the bed’s two mattresses to reduce the painful buzzing of the irreverent lumberjack, I decided I would be the man who made a stand. If no one else would stand up for the Honor of Thanksgiving tradition; if no one else would rise to defend his family’s need for an afternoon of silent reflection; if none other would man up to preach the truth that the Day was worth more than the Dollar…I would stand up to be that Crusader.

And I did. As I walked next door, he was sitting in the back of his utility van, half sitting actually between the van floor and the bumper. A younger man was the one wielding the deafening chain saw. As I approached to give this older guy a piece of my mind, to deliver a fiery sermon, I felt frustration flushing through my face. 

As I walked closer, he stared at me. I stared back. The younger man looked toward me, and continued chain sawing. I wondered how to best rip into this irreverent sort, and, realizing I was actually ill-prepared… I froze.

He stared for another minute and then walked toward me, measuring me with his mean eyes. Dressed in an old jacket and looking pretty tattered himself, he stepped up to me and…He stepped up…and offered his hand. He introduced himself, but showed no smile. I half heartedly introduced myself as well. He exclaimed that it was a pleasure to meet me and came close to smiling. 

Suddenly I felt sick. I felt tired, burdened. I asked him if he were about done, and he nodded. I inquired, “Why are you working on Thanksgiving Day?” He quickly erupted into apology: “Oh, sir, I’m so sorry. I bet we’ve interrupted your dinner, or maybe your nap. What was I thinking?”

“Oh heavens no,” I lied, and asked him again, this time more kindly, “How is it you and your son are doing tree cutting on a holiday?” If the migraine caused from his loud, obnoxious afternoon endeavor hadn’t quite killed me, his reply to my repeated question finished me off. 

“Well, I lost my wife this year. It’s been real rough, so my boy and me are doing anything we can today to keep our mind off … Family.” And there it was! The haggard old Tree Cutter teaching the Doctor of Family Therapy that all behavior makes sense, if you know the whole story! Quoting friend, Charlie Brown: “Arrrrrrrrgh! How could I be such a blockhead!”

I felt foolish. I felt ashamed. I felt so…un-Christian. I offered him some platitudes, I don’t really know what. And I walked away…back to my place…where everyone inside had somehow managed to sleep through the massacre next door.

Then Portico came to mind. I remembered this nice young guy and his lovely wife, Michael and Rosemary, telling us at Portico small group that they were hosting a Thanksgiving meal for the community, college kids, mostly, I think. I raced over to the Wesley Foundation on ULM’s campus, only half-expecting anyone to still be there, since it was now near mid afternoon. To my surprise though, I spotted good old Michael’s car in the parking lot. I walked in, hoping to fetch a couple of plates for the poor guys who’d lost wife and mother.

Portico should really get to know this couple, Michael and Rosemary. They both grinned and greeted me with great enthusiasm. I described the story and they quickly began putting plates together: and I do mean, plates! Turkey and dressing and vegetables. Rolls and another handful of turkey. And, ready? An entire homemade apple pie. Oh my!

I made haste, back to my house. And unloaded the goods. To say the gents were overwhelmed would hardly be an exaggeration. The older man began to soften. He told me more about the wife and the loss and the pain. His son said his dad really needed to see…ready?…yes, a therapist. As I identified myself as such, the younger spoke, “Daddy, see this today was all meant to be.” the two men began to sob. But..not me.

No, I waited until I walked back inside my home, and in the quiet of the holiday afternoon, I began to sob and to praise, and to truly, really, without abandon, offer up… genuine thanksgiving.

by Bill Riddle

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