Category Archives: books

Forfeiting Grace

Celebrate Recovery teaches that SIN is a symptom of a character defect. When we allow God to remove the character defect the sin will naturally go away. For example, a man may cheat on his wife and this is the sin, but it is due to lack of self esteem which is a character defect.

I am currently on step 6 of 12 which is “We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”. I have felt pretty intimidated by this. I find myself naming sins when I am looking for “defects of character”. All my life I have only seen my sin, obsessively so. I have never really allowed myself to see the root causes of my behavior. I feel like it is justifying my sin, a cop-out, for me to say, “I do this because of this.” Now that I have been traveling and processing steps 1-6 I am starting to see how necessary it is to identify these defects of character and how it is not a cop-out but actually the only real way to escape the insanity of sin.

I was reading in Jonah a little while back. It’s one of those books that I read as a child but have not given a whole lot of time to as an adult. There is a part where Jonah, the probable author, is singing a song of praise to God for rescuing him from drowning in the sea and setting him back on the right path-his calling-to Nineveh. There is a verse that practically yelled at me from that passage:

“Those who cling to worthless idols Forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Jonah 2:8

I realize how clinging to my sin, practically worshipping it by allowing it to reign, has meant forfeiting the grace that the Lord has for me. Forfeiting the freedom, peace and acceptance that grace brings. God is saying it’s time to look at the roots (the defects of my character), no matter how painful, embarrassing, or shameful, and start dealing with them. Honestly, it is so much easier to just deal with the sin. It’s hard work, this step 6. They say it’s the step that separates the men from the boys, and I see why.

celebraterecovery1

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Filed under aiming at heaven, books, currently reading/listening to, in my opionation, Life and Marriage, more like Him

Personal Favorites from 2008

Great Music:

Kanye West //808s and Heartbreak

Apples in Stereo //New Magnetic Wonder

Brooke Fraser //Albertine

Coldplay//Viva La Vida

Kings of Leon //Only by the Night

Black Kids //Wizards of Ahhhs

Bell X1 //Flock

Kyte //Kyte

Duffy //Rockferry

Books

Atonement //Ian McEwan

The Great Gatsby //F Scott Fitzgerald

Boy and Going Solo //Roald Dahl

Nine Stories //J.D. Salinger

Celebrate Recovery Bible

Movies:

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Atonement

There Will Be Blood

Quantum of Solace

Cloverfield

Juno

Iron Man

No Country For Old Men

Australia

Ghost Town

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Filed under books, currently reading/listening to, in my opionation, music, Nerd Alert!, rad shizzz, right?, rockin' out

looking for some feedback. please help.

I recently read the article below on RelevantMagazine.com and had some mixed feelings. I deeply respect my friends and readers opinions and wanted to share the article with you in hopes of hearing your heart on Rob Bell’s views. Please read and let me know what you think.
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Rob Bell On Saving Christians

Rob Bell is no stranger to new ideas. In his new book, Jesus Wants To Save Christians, he and Don Golden examine the disparities between the message of Christ and the message of the modern, Western Church. RELEVANT talked to Rob Bell about the ideas he and Golden explored.

In the intro of your new book, Jesus Wants To Save Christians, you describe the specific theology you are trying to articulate as a New Exodus perspective. How is this approach to reading the Bible different from a systematic or biblical theology?

Systematic theology dissects the story, cutting the body of the text into separate pieces for the purposes of study. Biblical theology puts the pieces back together into a living narrative. Both do so from a particular perspective influenced by the reader’s history, culture, politics and economic status. The New Exodus is one perspective, taken from the side of the weak and marginal and the God who cares about them. We’re interested in the big story because that’s what the Bible is—a story that unfolds across history. Who are the major characters, what’s the plot, how do we take part in it? Perhaps this is why Jesus can be hard to understand. It’s hard to understand the later parts if you haven’t been brought up to speed on where the story has been so far.

The literal and metaphorical idea of Exodus is a key part of the story God is telling—why don’t we hear more about the connection of Exodus in our churches today?

The Exodus is about the oppressed-slaves-being rescued. Less than two hundred years ago in our country, people in churches owned slaves. Exodus would have been an awkward story to tell in those settings, because after all, the Pharoah character is the bad guy. Needy people talk about Exodus. Jesus said it. It’s hard to enter the kingdom of heaven when you’re content with the kingdom you already have. If we aren’t talking about Exodus it’s because we aren’t looking for one. That’s when we know we need the needs of others. Their Exodus can become our own.

In your book you say, “To preserve prosperity at the expense of the powerless is to miss the heart of God.” In what ways do you believe the church in America has “preserved prosperity” at others’ expense?

I think it’s wise to avoid generalities such as “the church” because whenever I hear people make sweeping generalizations about “the church” I always think “yes, but I know lots of churches where they are compassionate, where they are intellectually honest, etc…”Perhaps one obvious question a church can ask herself is “What percentage of our budget is spent on us and what is spent on others?

The Church has missed the heart of God by speaking out against abortion while keeping silent about war. Both are forms of violence used to preserve prosperity. Abortion is prenatal war against the powerless child. War is postnatal abortion that destroys innocent life. The kingdom is life for the fetus and life for the civilian. The church embodies this life in a world of expedient and preemptive killing.

It can be difficult to understand the plight of the powerless when we have so much, what can church leaders do to help connect their communities with the heart of God for those suffering right now?

The most powerful thing we’ve seen is when people make a friend from outside their bubble—through a tutoring program, a job skills training class, a Habitat for Humanity build project-when “the poor” has a name and a face and personality for you, everything changes. And check out http://www.thecommon.org. An eminently practical tool to help churches share needs and resources within the community.

The traditional mold for doing church has been to invite people to our churches and to build bigger programs and add more staff as we grow. As you describe, this inward focus is a luxury many international churches can’t afford. In what ways should we rethink our strategy for church success?

There are organizations (Look out, here comes a plug for coauthor, Don Golden’s work at World Relief) who connect western first world resourced churches with churches in the third world. When an entire church sees how just a little generosity on their part can seriously help another church, it’s intoxicating. They want to do more and it helps put their own blessing in perspective. We shouldn’t resist the tendency in our churches to launch building campaigns. Good things take place when Americans are unleashed in this sort of way. It rallies churches and gives them focus. People are energized, resources are shared and communities are served. We could, however, reconsider the kind of buildings we build. Ezekiel imagined a New Exodus people building a temple for the true worship of God. Only, the building he pictured was actually the people themselves. Imagine a church launching a million campaign to build up the poor, to house the homeless and to care for the sick? Peter saw Christians “like living stones, being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.” We should embrace the American gift of the grand and the great. Celebrate it and inspire it toward a more compelling vision of what it could be.

How can churches aid in subverting the myth of redemptive violence?

At a personal level, gossip and slander and divisive language is evil to the core. It causes stress fractures in us, our churches, and our culture that destroy any sort of common good. On the larger, national level, “question war.” The Roman Empire had this phrase “peace through victory” that is simply not true. Yet people still use it today. Jesus taught a third way—not passive acceptance because “that’s just how things are,” and not violent revenge, but a third way. Where are the experts in third way? Where are those Christians so thoroughly versed in third way that world leaders call them in when things get dodgy to give courageous, innovative, creative, freedom-loving (!) counsel on how not to resort to the same old guns and bombs.

As the title of the book suggests, Jesus Wants To Save Christians. In your opinion, what are the biggest things we need saving from?

Boredom. Which is really despair in its non-caffeinated form. And boxes. Where we live in fear and where we put those who unsettle us.

You describe the plan of God for the church to be a gift to the world. Many people today would say that the church is anything but. What are some crucial changes that our churches need to make to become a Eucharist that is broken and poured out for the world?

1. Master the art of doubt. Faith needs it to survive.

2. Surrender the compulsive need to constantly remind people that according to your worldview you’re going to heaven forever when you die and they’re going to burn in hell forever.

3. Celebrate the good and the true and the beautiful wherever and whenever you find it regardless of the label it wears or the person it comes from or the place you found it. All things are yours.

4. Remember that the tax collectors and prostitutes loved to feast with Jesus and the religious establishment gossiped about him and dissected his teachings and questioned his commitment to orthodoxy and eventually had him killed. There’s a lesson for us there.

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Donald Miller’s closing prayer at DNC

“Donald Miller to me is like an indie band that I loved and was loyal to, that was signed to a major record label and is now everywhere.”

Donald Miller the author of popular “postmodern” books like Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, he is also a speaker, blogger, music connoisseur-fan of The Smiths…and Morrisey!, smoker, beer lover, hopeless romantic, Christian and Democrat. For some this may be disappointing. Even disappointing enough to cancel a Blue Like Jazz church book club. Whatever your reaction to knowing this, here is the prayer he prayed:

Father God,

This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.

We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.

We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.

Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.

Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.

Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.

Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.

Hep us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.

Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.

We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.

Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world.

A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.

Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world.

Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.

Lastly, father, unify us.

Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.

And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.

God we know that you are good.

Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.

I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.

Let Him be our example.

Amen.

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Her Voice is Full of Money

Here are some things I am currently listening/reading:

I just finished The Great Gatsby,

a perfect “reading-at-night-in-the-summer-with-the-windows-open” book. I am a little embarrassed to admit that this was my first time reading The Great Gatsby. Does it count if I have planning on reading it for about 4 years now?

 

Ladytron has a new album: Velocifero. There are a few good songs, if you like Ladytron, it is no “Destroy Everything You Touch, but “Runaway” is great.

There is a song that I can not get enough of right now called “Breathe Me” by Sia. I know it is a little old but I love it as if it was brand spankin new. If you haven’t heard it before it is worth your $.99 to buy it on Itunes. Trust me.

Dustin found a great post-rock band called “Kyte” and I am in love (with Kyte and Dustin).

In keeping with the F. Scott Fitzgerald theme I just re-read a little treasure called “The Mysterious Case of Benjamin Button”. Interesting, funny, and sad all in a few short pages. Must read before the movie version with Brad Pitt comes out at Christmas and ruins the classic forever…all right maybe I am excited for the movie. Is that so bad?

 

 

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