Reading Posts

Boxes

I was moved by a great poem in Brian McLaren’s book, The Last Word and the Word After That.

Boxes

We like things boxed. Cereal,

Candy, soap, gifts, and corpses.

They seem safe when boxed, as are

We. As is God and other

Potential dangers. So we

Sleep in a box, awake in

A box, shower in a box,

Refrigerate food, store knives,

Drive to work, work for hours, where

We stare each day at boxes,

In boxed lives. Boxed-in we live.

Through boxed windows we look out, in.

God, once boxed, broke out, broke free.

But we keep pushing God back,

Our Jack, popping out on cue,

To music, though it’s not fair.

Nests have birds. Dens have foxes.

God will have none of our small

Boxes. God is free, and we

Are too.

The Enemies of the Church

Although I have had to resist from blogging most of the things that I have been challenged with from one of the books I’m currently reading, I found something that is not only appropriate for this platform but also relevant to what many of us as Christians need to hear. Wright talks about spiritual warfare and clarifies who the enemies of Christians really are.

“People are not our enemies, and we should not treat them so. To do so drives out the possibility of responding to them with the love and compassion of Christ. The true enemies are the spiritual powers that are beyond people, and we too are prone to adopt satanic attitudes. This is why Jesus rebuked Peter moments after he confessed him as Messiah (Mk. 8:33). Satan is equally willing to ‘suit up for either team.’ He is equally willing to stir up opposition to the church or to stir up wrong attitudes within it. Simplistic black and white scenarios that see the church on one side as the faultless community and others as the corrupt enemy lead to the demonizing of opponents and the failure to love our enemies. The history of the church proves the case” (173).

This strikes me as timely considering the many things and people that “the church” takes on. Wright shifts our focus to where it should be.

Busy Times

So my wife and I have been in the processing of moving out of our apartment and into a house. Needless to say it’s been a bit chaotic. I’ve still been reading some great books and I’m about to start another interesting one. I’ve been tempted to blog on what I’m reading right now but the parts that interest me are too edgy or controversial to start an online conversation. If you’re interested in some new theological ideas then I would encourage you to read it too. The book is called The Theology of the Dark Side by Nigel Goring Wright.

I just bought a new book that should make for some intriguing conversations. I didn’t buy it new though for as my friend told me, “you never pay full price for heresy.” It should be interesting, stay tuned…

Cloudy Discernment

After taking the time recently to analyze my top three spiritual gifts I determined that discernment was number three. That’s why I was pretty rattled when I read this quote from Donald Miller,

“In my own life, I notice I validate people who like or validate me. When I say so-and-so is a nice person, what I really mean is so-and-so thinks I am a nice person. And if I sense a person doesn’t like me, or thinks he is better than me, my mind will find all sorts of criticism” (pg. 117).

The quote comes from the book Searching for God Knows What and is among scores of other ideas about how we think of other people. I would love to say that the quote isn’t a good representation of how I am but I find myself understanding exactly what he is saying. If we are ever going to love others like God intends us to then we have to realize that our worth comes from Christ and not from what they think of us. Can we truly love those who do not love us? I see what Matthew 5:43-47 is talking about and why it is so hard to do.

The Relationship of Power

I’ve been thinking through an idea that keeps getting bigger as I read more and think more about it. It was triggered by something that I read in the book Spiritual Leadership by the Blackaby brothers. It says that

If Jesus provides the model for spiritual leadership, then the key is not for leaders to develop visions and to set the direction for their organizations. The key is to obey and to preserve everything the Father reveals to them of his will. Ultimately, the Father is the leader. God has the vision of what He wants to do. God does not ask leaders to dream big dreams for him or to solve the problems that confront them. He asks leaders to walk with him so intimately that, when he reveals what is on his agenda, they will immediately adjust their lives to his will and the results will bring glory to God. (pg. 29)

What this quote is alluding to and the bigger idea that has been brewing in my mind is that maybe a lot of Jesus’ power came from His intimate relationship with the Father. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that Jesus was God in flesh but maybe we attribute too much of what He did to His divine nature as opposed to His relationship with the Father. I think it’s safe to assume that Jesus was closer with the Father than any person has ever been.

The really intriguing idea that comes from this is: what could God do through us if we were more in tune with Him? I’m starting to believe that we could have almost “supernatural” abilities because of how close we would be to what God is doing. The reason I started thinking of this idea in this way is that I heard a person that I really respect tell me about an opportunity that he recently missed. He said that he could have noticed something that was going on with a person if he would have been closer in his walk with Christ.

How would I act differently if I were closer in tune with God’s heart, with God’s purpose, and with God’s values? Could I discern things that would be otherwise impossible? Could I know about things that God would do but hasn’t yet? Maybe we are our greatest limitation to living a powerful Christian life.

Clarity vs. Intrigue

I started reading Brian McLaren’s third book in his trilogy, The Last Word and the Word After That, and have already read some comment-worthy ideas. He explains about our desire to know all the facts as we learn and grow in our relationship with Jesus:

Clarity is good, but sometimes intrigue may be even more precious; clarity tends to put an end to further thinking, whereas intrigue makes one think more intensely, broadly, and deeply. Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of God is a case in point; his parables don’t score too well on clarity, but they excel in intrigue.

This is a very encouraging thought. Often we get frustrated when we can’t put all the pieces together but as McLaren points out, that can cause us to be very productive with our faith. If we have everything “figured out,” then we lose our drive to learn more and get closer to Him. It sounds like we should be grateful that God is far too big for us to fully understand.