Irresistible Revolution

I just finished a great book by a guy named Shane Claiborne. It’s called “The Irresistible Revolution”. I thoroughly enjoyed it. For one, it combined the things I’ve been learning about all into one: peacemaking, being good stewards of the environment, loving people radically (whether they are rich or poor, young or old, similar or totally different from me), living in authentic community with others, and serving people like Jesus did.

Often times books like these get overlooked for their one-sidedness or lack of biblical foundation. This writing had neither one of these things. I was telling one of my roommates today that one thing I love about Shane’s writing is that he sees the darkness of both sides- and won’t participate in either. He encourages us not to get caught up in the “I’m way cooler/smarter/spiritual/relevant than _________ because ________.” He simply challenges the reader to look at the way Jesus lived, and to imitate Him.

I want to leave ya’ll with a few good morsels that I’ll be chewing on for the weeks to come (and hopefully living out as well, or it was a waste of time):

“Most good things have been said far too many times and just need to be lived.” p. 32

“I came to realize that preachers were telling me to lay my life at the foot of the cross and weren’t giving me anything to pick up.” p. 38

“I began to wonder if anybody still believed Jesus meant those things he said,” (referring to the things recorded in the Bible) p. 41.

“Poverty was created not by God but by you and me, because we have not learned to love our neighbors as ourselves,” p. 170.

“One of the things that became painfully clear to me in Iraq is that what’s at stake today is the reputation not just of America but of Christianity,” p. 218. (he went to iraq with christian peacemaker team, and met with lots of iraqi and kurdish christians, and boy did they have some surprising things to say…)

“Conservatives stand up and thank God that they are not like the homosexuals, the Muslims, the liberals. Liberals stand up and thank God that they are not like the war makers, the yuppies, the conservatives. It is similar self-righteousness, just with different definitions of evildoing. It can paralyze us in judgment and guild and rob us of life. Rather than separating ourselves from everyone we consider impure, maybe we are better off just beating our chests and praying that God would be merciful enough to save us from the present ugliness and to make our lives so beautiful that people cannot resist that mercy,” p. 252

Amen! My prayer now is that the Lord would show me how to live out what He’s been teaching me…because until I do, I know he’s going to continue pressing me with this dissonance inside my soul.

How To Read a Christian Book

Today I started … and then finished the book, “How to Read a Christian Book.” The author began by challenging Christians to be readers- of all genres and ideas. But, since the scope is just christian books, he gave us some good pointers on how to really read (choosing which books to spend time reading, reading different genres, spend time reading from different viewpoints, and really discern what the author is saying.

I am now aware of some “rules of etiquette” for reading:
1. Don’t criticize a book until you can fully understand the author’s argument. (criticize in the good way).
This point is important, in my opinion, because so often we go into books with an assumption that we won’t let go, especially if it’s an author we typically disagree with, or an idea that we have pre-calculated conclusions on. He talks about figuring out the definitions that the author is using for commonly used words so we don’t misunderstand what they are talking about. Examples that he uses in the book are: sin and holiness. I can add the two that I have experienced recently- justice and grace.

2. Don’t disagree contensiously. (yes, i had to look it up, and it means quarrelsomely)

3. Demonstrate the difference between understanding and personal opinion by presenting good reasons for any critical judgment you make.
I’ve realized that I need to think through why I don’t agree with something before I just start talking. haha, we all do really.

I think I’m going to try and start practicing!

The highlight of the book was “planning your personal library”. I took inventory and realized that, in regards to the christian books I have, we are lacking in only a couple categories.

So, what books would you highly recommend me (or someone else) reading? Give me top 5.

Beginning again

I’m going to start posting my reading reflections on here again. It’s been a while since i’ve written– about a year!

My goal this year is to read 27 books…I’m already well on my way! So far I’ve read Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne and How to Read a Christian Book. Currently I’m working on Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels, Faith of my Fathers by Chris Seay, and Planting Churches in a Post-modern World by Ed Stetzer.

Here’s to reading in 2007!

A War Within

Wow, who would have known that this is how things would turn out. I’m glad that i didnt know while jake was here in columbia. it would have ruined the last day he was here. it was a great week together though; perfect timing. our last hoorah before the bad news.

This is pretty hard. I feel a lot of things in my heart- some warring between flesh and Spirit going on.

How I should react….

Spirit: trusting God, taking each day at a time, toughening up and facing this with courage; not losing hope, but persevering in joy; not giving into despair that is crouching at the door of my heart; staying the Word and praying when i don’t feel like it; relying on my friends instead of isolating myself

Flesh: feeling sorry for myself; stop fighting for my joy, but give in to despair; whine, complain, question God’s presence and love; sleep all day; mope; allow myself to think of all the “what ifs”

Making sense of everything…

Spirit: 2 corinthians 1:7-11; getting others to pray, being open and eager to see the good God brings out of it; knowing that this is preparing us for the future; developing a habit of pray, trust, and emotional strength in the face of persecution, despair, etc.

Flesh: It doesn’t make sense; God doesn’t care or isn’t really there; i did something wrong- not enough faith or i didnt pray enough

Serving others…

Spirit: continue to live a life of sacrifice, compassion, and modeling Christ to a lost and dying world

Flesh: isolate myself, expect people to minister to me, not do anything because my heart hurts.

I think tonight the Spirit is winning.

New words learned today

Forgiving: giving graciously…freely giving
tenderhearted: compassionate
malice: ill will; desire to injure
slander: blasphemy; speaking evil of; injurious speech
clamor: a crying, outcry
anger: agitation of the soul, temper
wrath: passion, anger, anger boiling up and soon subsiding
bitterness: a bitter root of hatred producing a bitter fruit

grieving the HS: making sorrowful/sad, offending, making one uneasy, causing one to scruple
scruple: (n) an uneasy feeling arising from conscience or principle that tends to hinder action; (v) to hesitate as a result of conscience or principle

George Muller

What, what a great book to increase one’s faith. Sometimes I can hardly believe that all that he writes is true. Provision after provision. Asking no one for money but God. And the believers are moved to give, not even knowing there is need. Muller exhorts the believer to trust in God, believing that His love for us is deep and rich and real, and He is our friend and provider. We must trust in Him, and not in ourselves.

Talked about having a career…and if we’re in a career or working just to make money and support ourselves and our family, Muller says we need to find a different job. oh that is so different from the way the world works and teaches us! But to find a place to which God is calling us, whether this be in the business world, in a classroom, on the stock exchange, in the newsroom, or in a daycare.

Crazy. Awesome. Cool. God’s challenging me a lot to trust Him alone.

Is God more Holy than anything else?

Ken talked about it on Sunday …. my mind is still wrapped up in it. God, are you more holy than anything else? I try to look at my own life, and I am more than something else, at least i should be. I need to be more loving than anything else. I am to do all things out of love, love for God and love for other people. Not fake love, but real, deep, emotional love. Love that will lay my life down for them. Love that will take a bullet for them. Love that will give up my time and energy to serve them. Of the 3 greatest virtues- faith, hope, love….LOVE is the greatest. wow, love triumphs faith! love triumphs hope! Is it the same with God? Does Holy triumph all? Does the theme of scripture support that? God IS Holy. No Doubt. He is perfect and completely sanctified and set apart from us. However, I also know that we are all created in His image (saved and nonsaved alike)…that we (christians) are holy priesthood now. God is no longer this being that is separated from us. No, we are now in Him and He in us. He desires unity with us — the SAME unity that He has with Jesus (john 17). Holy is being set apart, different from. Love draws near….unity is result and product of love. Love and Holiness seem to be at battle with one another.

I also don’t see how the cross doesn’t make sense in the light of God being more loving. Instead, it’s supposed to make more sense in the light of God’s holiness??! Whatever, I were God, I would have not gone to the cross because it was going to be horrid- I would send my Son and have broken fellowship with Him so that I can make a way for mankind to be united to me. I dont buy that He was looking out for only Himself. Love, TENDER MERCY (luke 1:78) is the reason for Jesus coming. tender being an emotional word (in the greek). mercy being compassion, active pity. Wow, God is in LOVE with us! And some are afraid that communicating God’s love will make us irreverent. When we fiercly love someone, do we just treat him/her as a cuddly teddy bear? No. We respect them and honor them. Even moreso we are with the Father, the Sovereign King. I dont know about ya’ll, but God’s Father heart and love for me is what draws me to Him, not some cold, holiness. I am now speaking out of experience, and know that i can be misinterpretting my own feelings and experiences. But this is a huge thing that many say that I simply cannot get past and feel no peace about.

I was going to put a link to Ken’s sermon from sunday on here, but i just visited the website and found they had technical problems so there was no audio recording. Oh the irony.

Renovation of the Heart (chapter 2)

Chapter Two: The Heart in the System of Human Life

Six basic aspects of human life are:
1. thought
2. feeling
3. choice
4. body
5. social context
6. soul

We must confront the fact that our society is very feelings driven. People nearly always act on their feelings, and think it only right. Christians must confront this lie in spiriutal formation.

Western culture is a culture of rejection. That’s part of what comes with modernity. This has seeped into the church and it is dangerous, dangerous. We are created to be in relationship with other people, and when we are not in right relationship with others, it kills the soul. In 1 John, John talks about the fact that if we say we love God but hate our brother, we are a liar. Being in a right relationship with God and others are both sooo important. This really make sme want to love on people, recognizing them and trying to show them that they have value.

Renovation of the Heart (chapter 1)

Chapter One: Introducing Spiritual Formation

“We live from our heart”. p. 13

Spiritual Formation (in general) is “the process by which the human spirit or will is given a definite ‘form’ or character.” Everyone’s spirit has been formed by the environment, experiences, etc. around them. The goal is not spiritual formation as we know it, but spiritual transformation. If a soul can be formed, it can be transformed as well.

“The spiritual transformation for the Christian basically refers to the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself..” p. 22 Often times we focus on the external ways to change ourselves (like reading more, praying more, memorizing scripture, following lots of rules) in hopes of being inwardly transformed. However, this is often what leads to legalism, what we call “externalism.” But it is “that Christ be formed within you” (galatians 4:19) that is what matters. However, obedience is an essential outcome of Christian spiritual formation.

“The ‘outward’ interpretation of spiritual formation, emphasizing specific acts as it does, will merely increase ‘the righteousness of the scribe and Pharisee.’ It will not, as we must, ‘go beyond it’ (Mt 5:20) to achieve genuine transformation of who I am through and through- Christ’s man or woman, living richly in his kingdom.” p. 23

Willard says that this book, he hopes, will be useful for those seeking first the kingdom of God and His rightousness, AND for the leaders of groups who are taking seriously the commission to train people to do all the things that Christ taught. I hope that it does both. I think it’ll be good to read this and learn about spiritual transformation and not get caught up in spiritual disciplines and the sort. But focus more on the heart.

Daughters of Hope

I picked this book up to read while I worked out simply because it was a gift that I hadn’t read yet, and it was a paperback so I could read it while doing the elliptical at the gym (i love to read while exercising, the time flys by much faster). God, however, has used this book to open my eyes even more about the persecuted church. This book is an accompolation of stories from women around the world- their daily lives. These women blow me away with their trust in God and willingness to lose family, friends, and “safety” for the sake of the gospel. When I say “for the sake of the gospel”, I mean to testify to Jesus in their lifes, and by doing this, showing the gospel to be Truth and Life.

I read these stories and long to sit with the women who tell them. What is their prayer life like? What keeps them going when they feel alone and abandoned? How has God worked in showing His Character to them? What do they think about during a day? How has being persecuted affected their relationship with God?

Many of our sisters around the world addressed those in America and in other western countries that can live freely in regards to what they choose to follow. They encouraged us to live rightly, to be modest and kind and generous, because the world is watching us. Many Muslim men in Egypt see the stereotype of Christians in America and are not wanting their wives to become Christians because of what we do and don’t do here. Oh, if we could better understand the fact that our lives have an impact on people other than ourselves. That we are not an individual who can make their own decisions, but we are part of a whole, whose collective identity is shaped by each person, and each person influences others.

Many over in other countries who are struggling to stay alive because they have been kicked out of their homes and disowned by their Muslim families, are looking around for help, and find none. I have always been an advocate of letting them take care of themselves so they don’t rely on the western church. but after reading this, i just realize that that attitude is a lie from the enemy. we are one body, and they are our sisters and brothers. We have a responsibility to them. I can’t think up a good enough reason not to help. sure, when churches are at places where they can support themselves, that’s awesome. but in some of these places where the little house churches are all with nothing, we need to help them to develop skills to support themselves. we are God’s hand and feet.

What a perspective-altering book. I really want to encourage people to read stories out of here, even if just a few