Tag Archives: Books

Messy Stories

Faith is a never ending messy story of how we live out our relationship with God.

Tonight, I taught a class on how to live your life on mission, as part of our joining our church. Last week was part one. Tonight, was part two and we talked a lot about our faith story.

I shared with the class my faith story and how my story hasn’t ended. I told them that I still don’t have it all together. I still don’t have all the answers.

One of things I look forward to most is hearing everyone that’s in the class share their story with each other. They share in small groups where God has brought them from and what God is doing in their lives right now.

It’s amazing to hear God at work in people’s lives. At work in families. At work in messy situations.

I was reminded last night of how messy our journey is. I was reminded of a few quotes from “Messy Spirituality” by Mike Yaconelli

“Spirituality isn’t about being finished and perfect; spirituality is about trusting God in our unfinishedness.”

“…it turns out that what disqualifies you and me from “spirituality” – the mess of our lives and our crippledness – is what most qualifies us to be chosen by Jesus… Some of us actually believe that until we choose the correct way to live, we aren’t chooseable, that until we clean up the mess, Jesus won’t have anything to do with us. The opposite is true.Until we admit we are a mess, Jesus won’t have anything to do with us.”

The power of our story is that our story is a beautiful mess. A mess that is filled with real people, real situations, and real questions. A mess that is beautiful because it is filled with real people, real situations, and real faith.

As we talked tonight, I was reminded of how messy my faith journey has been…and of how it’s not missed yet.

I’m so thankful for my journey and where God has led me too.

I’m so thankful for the church I am in that allows people to lead a beautifully messy journey as they discover how to follow Jesus.

From My Eyes

Have you ever wondered what my desk looks like? Be honest. You probably haven’t.

If you never did, I will excuses you to go look somewhere else. But if you have ever wondered what my desk looks like on a normal day…here you go. =)

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My view on a Friday…preparing for the weekend

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The Books I’m studying from for this weekend…

Your turn. Share with me you pictures of your desk/work area.

Surprised By Hope (pt. 3)…The Ascension

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I am in the midst of reading “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” by N.T. Wright. This is the 2nd part of 5, that looks into the book and it’s challenge to help us rethink Heaven, Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. You can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

“We can glimpse it in the book of Acts: the method of the kingdom will match the message of the kingdom. The kingdom will come as the church, energized by the Spirit, goes out into the world vulnerable, suffering, praising, praying, misunderstood, misjudged, vindicated, celebrating: always-as Paul puts it in one of his letters-bearing in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed.”-NT Wright

In the second part of “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” looks to the ascension of Christ and to the second coming of Christ. Wright writes about two of the modern interpretation of the second coming of Christ (which he points out correctly can be seen through the ascension). Many of us have spent time and effort exploring deeply the birth and death of Christ. But the great truth is that the story, of our redemption, doesn’t stop there. For “Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again.” After spending time with his disciples Jesus ascends to be with the Father. But what does this ascension mean for you and for me? Does it matter for your daily faith and daily life? Does it effect the church?

“To embrace the ascension is to heave a sigh of relief, to give up the struggle to be God (and with it the inevitable despair at our constant failures), and to enjoy our status as creatures: image-bearing creatures, but creatures nonetheless.”

The Ascension gives me:

(a) Hope– I have great hope for two things: 1) He is the first of many–I have hope because I too can ascend to the Father 2) He is in charge–Jesus is Lord of the universe.

(b) Action– I must take action in two way: 1) I will make him my Lord 2) I will live out this hope and give this hope to others.

Surprised By Hope (pt.2): New Creation

wright_hopeI am in the midst of reading “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” by N.T. Wright. This is the 2nd part of 5, that looks into the book and it’s challenge to help us rethink Heaven, Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. You can find part 1 here.

“The challenge is in fact the challenge of new creation. To put it at its most basic: the resurrection of Jesus offers itself, to the student of history or science no less than the Christians or theologian, not as an odd event within the world as it is but as the utterly characteristic, prototypical, and foundational event within the world as it has begun to be.  It is not an absurd event within the old world but the symbol and starting point of the new world. The claim advanced in Christianity is of that magnitude: Jesus of Nazareth ushers in not simply a new religious possibility, not simply a new ethic or new way of salvation, but a new creation.”

It is the new creation, this new world, that Jesus has ushered in that we are invited to live in. To be citizens of the new creation, of the new world. What if this new creation really is on the loose? What if Jesus really did beat death…what if he really ushered in a new world?

A new world that began at Easter is a world of hope. Not a world where we escape from ours but a resurrection of our world-a  new world of beating of death, sin, and all thing things that are associated with it. A new world of life, sinless living, and all of the things associated with God.

“And this is the point where believing in the resurrection of Jesus suddenly ceases to be a matter of inquiring about an odd event in the first century and becomes a matter of rediscovering hope in the twenty-first century. Hope is what you get when you suddenly realize that a different worldview is possible, a worldview in which the rich, the powerful, and the unscrupulous do not after all have the last word. The same worldview that is demanded by the resurrection of Jesus is the shift that will enable us to transform the world.”

It leaves these question to be asked:

  • Are you living in the new world or the old world?
  • How are you transforming our world, from the old world (of sin and death) to the new world of (love and hope)?

Easter was when Hope in person surprised the whole world by coming forward from the future into the present.” (N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, 29)

Surprised By Hope (pt. 1)

I am in the midst of reading “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” by N.T. Wright. Wright is a beautiful writer (that’s right beautiful-ha!) who I first learned of when reading his book “Simply Christian” which is like a modern day “Mere Christianity” .

Wright writes in “Surprised by Hope”, “From Plato to Hegel and beyond, some of the greatest philosophers declared that what you think about death, and life beyond it, is the key to thinking seriously about everything else-and indeed, that is provides one of the main reasons for thinking seriously about anything at all.”

I tend not think of death very often. I don’t think about things like hell or heaven nearly as much as I think about places like Butler,PA or California (not that either of these is hell or heaven). But I tend to skim over the parts about heaven, resurrection, and death in the Bible. It’s not that I don’t believe in them…I do. I strongly believe the resurrection (Easter) holds the most key place in our faith (that it is more important than Christmas, despite modern churches lack of pointing this out).

The resurrection is central to our understanding of life today and our hope (our strong confidence) for tomorrow. We don’t die simply to go to a better place (heaven), but we beat death…we aren’t reincarnated but death loses its victory.

Do you live like your going to beat out death?

Do you live like heaven is real? Like that if everything else in life failed, would you keep living for God because of heaven?

Do you live like Jesus beat death?

Because this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ had risen, and Christ will come again.

A Government of Love…

Last night, I was watching T.V. like I do most nights mostly as background noise. I usually have on CNN or some news channel. With the politically season we have been engulfed in for the last 18 months or so, it’s hard not to hear some sort of election news each night. As I was doing some reading through Isaiah, I read this verse…

When this is all over,” Judah answers, “the tyrant toppled, The killing at an end, all signs of these cruelties long gone, A new government of love will be established in the venerable David tradition. A Ruler you can depend upon will head this government, A Ruler passionate for justice, a Ruler quick to set things right.“-Isaiah 16:4-5

I don’t need to tell you that government, both Republican and Democrat (or whatever other party you subscribe to), has failed miserably to solve our moral, physical, spiritual, and social problems (note: this isn’t just an American problem). Sadly, we have placed our hope in people, politics, and parties to fix our moral code, feed the poor, establish strong families, and all the while making sure we are all financially strong.

But what if:

  • We stopped waiting for government and starting feeding the poor.
  • We stopped blaming media, culture, and politics for our poor morals and bad families and taught people to truly love one another and to be good dads and good moms.
  • We stopped hoping for our government to be just, and starting fighting for justice in America and in the world.
  • We stopped believing Obama or McCain can fix America…but started believing fixing America begins when we starting doing God’s work -justice, peace, equality, fairness, mercy, and love.
  • We stopped trusting power, money, and sex and starting practicing prayer, fasting, and generosity (ht: “The Secret Message of Jesus”-Brian McLaren)
  • The church starting acting like the church and stopped courting power, stopped paying government to do what we are supposed to be engaging in, and stopped believing in a partial gospel where abortion is wrong but war is right.

What if…

Life on 8-25…

Allergies…

I am allergic to Cats. This usually doesn’t present a problem since I do not have a cat, nor do I really like cats (sorry Mom). However, last night for our weekly Student Leadership Meeting we headed over to one of the student’s house for some Pizza and to meet. Well, they have a cat, so we asked the student’s parents if they had any Claritin but they only had some over-the-counter stuff. Since we (Jenn and I) didn’t know how well it would work we told me to take a little extra…so I took 3 pills. About an hour later, I found myself falling a sleep everywhere (a rare accomplishment for me) and slurring my words. It seems that will the dosage says 2 pills every 24 hours…it means 2 pills every 24 hours. It’s the first time I can remember in a really long time falling a sleep at 9:45pm.

Books…

Last week I read Jesus For President-by Shane Claiborne. In the sea of books that are currently trying to address the cutlural divide between the church and the world I found Jesus For President refreshing and beautifully written. It is evident both in Shane’s writing and his life that Jesus truly has called him to live out the gospel, and Shane invites us to live it out with him. Well many books written in the past several years prescibe us to figure out how to import more popular culture into church (to save it from losing it’s effectiveness) Shane calls us to be counterculture, to establish a new culture- a new way of living. It’s a great read for any one intersted in Politics or Religion, and also for those interested in the church of today. If you need one, you can borrow mine.

I am about half-way through Wild Goose Chase-by Mark Batterson

Ministry…

With school starting over the next few days, our youth ministry is gearing up for some exciting stuff this school year. We are starting a Bible Study before school @ the High School and looking to starting one @ the Junior High shortly. We are also starting something with our local coffee house, Kairos, called 5th Quarter-we will be hosting a after-football hangout, with cheap food and coffee. The hope is that this will provide a safe and friendly environment that allows us to connect with students we normally don’t see. Kairos is already the local student hangout, so we figure why not leverage it for the good.

Life

We are moving to a new house! We were totally hooked up by some friends from church and have found a house that has everything we need, plus we are saving money. We are excited to move somewhere new, but nobody likes packing (if you do, call me-I will pay you to pack for me)!

You…

  1. What book are you reading? Or what are you reading in the Bible?
  2. What allergies do you have?
  3. When can I expect you at my house to start packing? (jk…sort of)