Random Notes From What I’m Reading

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

Archive for the ‘Donald Miller’ Category

Accepting Grace

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“I love to give to charity, but I don’t want to be charity. This is why I have so much trouble with grace.”

Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz


Written by Ryan

January 1, 2008 at 8:24 pm

Loving Either Darkness Or Loving Light

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And that’s the tricky thing about life, really, that the things we want most will kill us. Tony the Beat Poet read me this ancient scripture recently that talked about loving either darkness or loving light, and how hard it is to love light and how easy it is to love darkness. I think that is true. Ultimately, we do what we love to do. I like to think that I do things for the right reasons, but I don’t, I do things because I do or don’t love doing them. Because of sin, because I am self-addicted, living in the wreckage of the fall, my body, my heart and my affections are prone to love things that kill me. Tony says Jesus gives us the ability to love the things we should love, the things of Heaven. Tony says that when people who follow Jesus love the right things, they help create God’s kingdom on earth, and that is something beautiful.

I found myself trying to love the right things without God’s help, and it was impossible. I tried to go one week without thinking a negative thought about another human being, and I couldn’t do it. Before I tried that experiment, I thought I was a nice person, but after trying it, I realized I thought bad things about people all day long, and that, like Tony says, my natural desire was to love darkness.

My answer to this dilemma was self-discipline. I figured I could just make myself do good things, think good thoughts about other people, but that was no easier than walking up to a complete stranger and falling in love with them. I could go through the motions for awhile, but sooner or later my heart would testify to it’s true love: darkness. Then I would get up and try again. The cycle was dehumanizing.

Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz

Written by Ryan

December 31, 2007 at 2:14 am

The Goofy Thing About Christian Faith…

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This month I’ve been struggling with some aspects of the bible like “the immaculate conception” and “Noah’s arc.” While I believe in God and I trust the Bible I’m finding myself struggling with just how these events could have been possible. Throw into the mix that the Bible was written during an era known for creative story tellers and I can’t help but question whether a lot of thoese stories are exagerations.

While re-reading Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” I had a huge “ah hah!” moment when I read:

“The goofy thing about the Christian faith is that you believe it and you don’t at the same time. It isn’t unlike having an imaginary friend. I believe in Jesus; I believe He is the Son of God, but every time I sit down to explain this to someone I feel like a palm reader, like somebody who works at the circus or a kid who is always making things up at a Star Trek convention who hasn’t figured out the show isn’t real.”

Written by Ryan

December 30, 2007 at 11:48 am

Trying To Explain God

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This excerpt from Blue Like Jazz is something I’ll refer to whenever a friend asks me to try and explain why I believe in God:

I had no explanation for Laura. I don’t think there is an explanation. My belief in Jesus did not seem rational or scientific and yet there was nothing I could do to seperate myself from this belief. I think Laura was looking for something rational, because she believed that all things that were true were rational. But that isn’t the case. Love, for example, is a true emotion but it is not rational. What I mean is, people actually feel it. I have been in love, plenty of people have been in love, yet love cannot be proved scientifically. Neither can beauty. Light cannot be proved scientifically, and yet we all believe in light and by light see things. There are plenty of things that are true that don’t make any sense. I think one of the problems Laura was having was that she wanted God to make sense. He doesn’t. He will make no more sense to me than I will make sense to an ant.”

Written by Ryan

December 29, 2007 at 11:17 am

“Blue Like Jazz” Quote

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“I think the things we want most in life, the things we think will set us free, are not the things we need.”

Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz

Written by Ryan

December 28, 2007 at 4:25 pm

Chocolate and the Bible

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With two weeks off of work and a couple of days before Christmas I decided to dig through some of my favourite books and I fell in love with Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” all over again. I’m going through a stretch where the church bubble is driving me nuts so I’m incredibly thankful that I picked up Donald’s book again and was reminded that other Christians go through similar struggles. Get ready for a lot of posts the next few days involving some of my favourite paragraphs and quotes from his book.

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read the following anecdote:

“Don, the Bible is so good with chocolate. I always thought the Bible was more of a salad thing, you know, but it isn’t. It is a chocolate thing.”

While this section was meant to be humorous I couldn’t help but smile and think about how that quote is reflective of my life. I’ve grown up thinking the Bible is this stale, boring, judgmental thing telling me what I can’t do. In many ways it is like a salad in that I read the bible to stay healthy much like I eat salad to keep healthy despite the fact I dislike it and make excuses for having it part of my daily routine. I know that reading my bible and eating salad are good for me, it’s just that I dislike both so I tend to avoid both things.  I need to switch my mindset around so that reading my bible is something I compare to eating chocolate and not something that’s a bore or a chore.

Later in the book Donald talked about how much he loved reading through James and I’m going to attempt to dig in this week and read through that Chapter – perhaps while eating through some of the chocolates my students gave me last week.

Written by Ryan

December 27, 2007 at 3:48 pm

We Are Not God

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One of the hardest things for us to get through our heads is that we are not God. We don’t get to make the decisions. We don’t get to decide what is and what isn’t. We have some power, but not complete power over nature. Every time we start to push the limits of God, He gives us a little reminder. Does the phrase “even God couldn’t sink this ship” ring any bells?We get mad at God because grandma died. We get mad at God because we didn’t get the girl we were after. We get mad at God because we lost a job. We get mad at God because He didn’t answer our prayer for that new car.

In order to fully experience the presence of God, we have to get over the fact that God is God and we are not.

When we get down life’s road a little more, we often find out what God had in mind. We didn’t get that job we wanted and then found a better one six months down the road. We finally realized how much pain grandma was in, and it wasn’t God who made her suffer – it was God who let her suffering end. And if we really want to stand on the mountaintop and scream at God because of the car, we might want to sit down an-evaluate our priorities.

By Steve Case in “God Is Here”

Written by Ryan

September 17, 2007 at 12:36 pm