Random Notes From What I’m Reading

The story of my life is the story of my faith…

Archive for January 2008

One Of The Miracles Of Love

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“This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.”

C. S. Lewis

Written by Ryan

January 31, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Posted in Books, Christian

There Is No Formula To Relationships

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“There is no formula to relationships. They have to be negotiated in loving ways, with room for both parties, what they want and what they need, what they can do and what their life is like. In business, people negotiate to win. They negotiate to get what they want. Maybe you’re too used to that. Love is different. Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own.”

Morrie Schwartz

Written by Ryan

January 30, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Posted in Books

Deep Thoughts With Donald Miller

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“I think if you like somebody you have to tell them. It might be embarrassing to say it, but you will never regret stepping up. I know from personal experience, however, that you should not keep telling a girl that you like her after she tells you she isn’t into it. You should not keep riding your bike by her house either.”

Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz

Written by Ryan

January 29, 2008 at 8:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Faith or Manipulation?

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By Summer Lee Carlson for Relevant Magazine

I once heard a report about an explorer who advertised for his trip through a poster listing several reasons why people shouldn’t want to join him. Among them was the key point that they would most likely die. His method of advertising was rooted in a belief that at the very core of humanity is the desire to be challenged to live beyond mediocrity and comfort. And he was right. He was overwhelmed with people wanting to join his team.

I look at the Church in America in general and wonder if we have adopted the opposite of the stance this explorer took. I worry that we have swallowed the mindset of this culture, telling us to live as securely and comfortably, to never sacrifice and to live above our means. I have heard discussions on reaching a “postmodern” generation numerous times, and I have watched many of the methods designed with a cringing alarm.

I would love nothing more than to sit down with a few church leaders and have a heartfelt discussion concerning these methods. I don’t want to convey hatred for church, or even for structure. I realize the hearts of many of these individuals are genuine and I have no desire to overthrow the system like a rabid youth.

What I would like to say is that I wish they made it harder for me to claim the title, “follower of Christ”. I wish I heard more about sacrifice and saw less video clips and power point presentations. I wish I heard more sermons with actual scripture as the basis for the message, rather than a book, sitcom, cartoon or idea that has spawned from the latest movie trilogy. I wish we sang more songs that require my brain to become engaged in viewpoints of God and faith that go beyond the general concepts of passive acceptance.

I have spent the majority of my life accosted by society’s attempts to manipulate me. I can see through light shows, flashy presentations and sales pitches with ease, and my cynicism abounds. Which is why cheesy graphics on a screen create an automatic distaste and the immediate reaction to shut off whatever is about to be presented to me. I am desperate to hear those who tell me that to live out the faith of Christ will require my death. Those who will say “many are called but few are chosen,” unaccompanied by lights and laser shows. Those who believe that the clear and concise truth of a gospel, that was and still is offensive to many, can stand on its own.

I believe I am part of a generation that is becoming increasingly aware of what we are inheriting and that we are destined to play a larger part than we have in the past. I see a generation slowly beginning to respond to the call of social justice. We are noticing the articles calling our attention to places as far as the Sudan, or the struggle of the AIDS crisis and are also becoming increasingly aware of the poverty and debt that has laced its way across our own nation.

And I believe I am a part of a generation that experiences great confusion over why a church would decide to spend 10,000 dollars on a new spotlight for the sanctuary, when there are hundreds of needs that seem more important right outside the door. I am desperate to be a part of body that will hardly notice if we meet in a shack as long as we are challenged with the words of Christ urging us to “gain what we cannot lose” and to look after the poor, the orphaned and the widowed. I am desperate to engage in tangible warfare as much as spiritual warfare against the evil that is crippling this world, by acknowledging that the truth of Christ and a cup of cold water are stronger tools than any methods I can devise.

I am not declaring methods to be wrong, nor am I attacking the leaders who utilize them. I am simply wondering if we believe our faith can stand without the use of these methods. I am intrigued, astounded and inspired by the life of a man who only had to say two words, “follow me,” with the result of twelve men giving up everything to do so. And they dropped it all without being given an explanation, promise, or security.

His power went deeper than presentation or even words, and I have to ponder the idea that truth without fanfare is the only thing capable of commanding the attention of a world saturated in manipulation and commercialism. And with that I realize the explorer I heard about wasn’t the first to understand the depth of man’s cry to truly live, even at the risk of death and the loss of all security. It was and is the message of Christ, and it is still commanding the attention of men today.

Written by Ryan

January 27, 2008 at 12:07 pm

The Fracture In our Soul

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During the Alexandrian plague (third centuary), Christians risked their lives in caring for the sick, taking a posture of grace that said, “I am here for you. I may die, but you will not be alone.” The church embodied the gospel and the message was not forgotten.In the 1980’s, the AIDS epidemic hit the gay community. Otherwise healthy men were dying and nobody knew why. The only link seemed to be their sexuality. The church had an opportunity to again speak grace and instead spewed venom. Rather than showing compassion, we self-righteously proclaimed God’s judgment. The message came through loud and clear.

It was the wrong message.

And it has not been forgotten.

When Greg, who is gay, discovered I was a pastor, his demeanor changed. His wounds had history. After a few minutes of hyperbolic inventive, I stopped him. “Tell you what, you don’t assume I’m a gay-hating bigot, and I won’t assume your a pedophile. Deal? If we buy into stereotypes, we’ll never be able to love one another.”

Tears streamed down his face. He asked, “Are you sure you’re a Christian?”

Now there were tears of my own.

Christians may say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” but Greg and many other homosexuals hear, “God hates gays.” It’s unfortunate. It’s wrong. And it’s our fault.

It may look different from person to person, but sin has fractured every human soul (see Rom 3:23, 5:11 and 1 John 1:10). Alexsander Solzhenitsyn said, “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” It is time we lived and loved as though we really believed that.

At our church we regularly say, “As Christians, none of us have the freedom to live how we want. Man or woman, young or old, gay or straight – we are all under God’s authority and called to conform our lives to Christ.”

The bible is clear: homosexual practice is inconsistent with Christian discipleship. But there is not a special judgment for homosexuals. For all of us, our only hope for the fracture in our soul is the cross of Christ.

Shayne Wheeler in unChristian

Written by Ryan

January 26, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Posted in Books, Christian, Religion

Ted Dekker’s “Three”

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Sorry for the lack of posts lately but I took a break from reading books on Christian theology and instead dug into a good non-fiction book. The past two weeks I’ve been absorbed in Ted Dekker’s book “Three” and I have to admit it’s creeped me out (but in a good way if that makes any sense). The story was amazing and I made the mistake of trying to read this book in bed. Oops! I don’t want to admit how many times I tried to get out of bed to make sure my door was locked only to find my heart beating through my chest and my legs not wanting to cooperate.

If your looking for a great suspense/thriller then check out Three…just don’t blame me if it causes you to lose some sleep at night!

Written by Ryan

January 26, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Books, Christian

The Beautiful Mess That Is Church

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I look back at being a kid and I remember then how church, God and religion used to be this thing that was either black or white. It was something that you believed beause your parents believe. Now, I read books from authors like Donald Miller, subscribe to Relevant Magazine and read blogs like Becoming and realize that other people appreciate the “gray” in religion and that it’s okay.

Another thing that’s helped my faith in recent weeks is reading blogs from other Christians who mix pop culture into their faith. After reading through a post on Becoming today I was amazed that she was able to mix a quote from Grey’s Anatomy into a solid discussion about Christianity. How great would it be if someone who came out with a book of daily devotions that used quotes from tv shows, movies and music that non-Christians use? That would turn out to be a huge ministry tool and one that myself as a Christian would enjoy reading (to be honest I’d still complain about doing daily devotionals but I promise I wouldn’t complain as much).

My favourite part of her article came when she wrote:

The other night while watching Grey’s, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the brilliant narration. While scrolling through each character’s scenario at the end, this narration in Dr. Bailey’s voice was spoken:

“As doctors, we know more about the human body now than at any point in our history. But the miracle of life itself; why people live and die, why they hurt and get hurt is still a mystery. We want to know the reason, the secret, the answer at the back of the book… because the thought of our being all alone down here is just too much for us to bear. But at the end of the day, the fact that we show up for each other, in spite of our differences, no matter what we believe, is reason enough to keep believing.”

That last line depicted for me exactly what the Church is and always should be. The fact that we show up for each other, in spite of our differences and beliefs, is reason enough to keep believing. It’s reason enough to keep living. We’re not alone. And no one is perfect. Everybody hurts sometimes. (enter R.E.M.)

As I reflected on the church meeting that was held this weekend and how so many kinds of people are a part of the church and how different we all are, I realized that it’s all just a beautiful mess. It’s a tangled web of crazy people. It’s full of people who are liars, cheaters, alcoholics, gossips, and druggies. It’s full of the rich and the poor, the sick and the healthy, the broken and the joyful, the weary and the strong. And not one is better than the other. We all sit in the same pews at the same level, and we all kneel before the same throne.

If you have some time this weekend I’d highly recommend you check out her entire post by clicking here.

Written by Ryan

January 25, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Christian, Religion