I wonder if Jesus... - Just A Thought #51

Spring is in the air and I am feeling a bit...restless. Not in a, dissatisfied with life, type of way. More like an, I need a new challenge, type of thing.

I have been wondering and praying about what might be next. Is this God stirring my pot in order to prepare me for something new or is God just stirring me to be ready for what He is doing right now? I don't feel like it's time to change jobs, towns, etc.

I feel like it is a time of new challenges. I do have some exciting stuff happening this summer and most of it is new opportunities. Maybe that is all it is.

All of this has me asking some other questions as well. Ones that have been stirring my thoughts. I don't have a lot of answers, the ones I have I don't want to share. Occasionally I just like to brainstorm, reflect and contemplate....

Things like....

I wonder if Jesus ever took a "mental health" day?

How disappointed is God by our church dis-unity?

Why do we want grace for ourselves and yet judge the sins of others so harshly?

What part of "loving our enemies" is so hard to get?

Why do we rank sin?

Should we not focus on the log in our own eyes first?

If Jesus loved the world enough to die for it, why are we afraid to love the "neighbor" that He died for?

What would happen if we as Christians focus as much on evangelism as we did on protests, legal actions and petitions?

These and other questions rattle through my mind.

Mark 12:30–31 says, "'And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

I am coming to the realization that if I am passionate about obeying these two commandments my worldview will be blown wide open. If I love the Lord with all of my being and love my neighbor (the sinner I judge so harshly) as much as I love myself, I can look forward to Spring as time of new beginnings. A new depth in my relationship with God and a new heart for the lost.

Going back to the new challenges, maybe it's not so new after all. Maybe the challenge is to obey what He has already said we should do!


Your Church is Too Safe - A Book Review

Mark Buchanan has released his newest book, Your Church is Too Safe, and I been truly challenged. 

When a books introduction leaves an impact, you know you are in for something fresh.  Mark's introduction had me stopping, setting the book down and considering the implications.

Your Church is Too Safe is not for the faint of heart.  'These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.' -- Acts 17:6  With that Scripture in mind, Mark takes the reader on a journey through the book of Acts with a side helping of Jonah.  He speaks from a place of boredom.  Boredom with church as it currently exists today.  I can honestly say he is not alone.

I like this quote from his book:
What happened? When did we start making it our priority to be safe instead of dangerous, nice instead of holy, cautious instead of bold, self-absorbed instead of counting everything loss in order to be found in Christ?
We get Mark Buchanan at his best here as he shares his heart and discusses many aspects of church life.  He talks about belief vs conviction, grace and truth and challenges the reader to be bold in their faith.

Anyone who reads this book will not be able to comfortably sit on their backside anymore.

I was especially challenged by the talks on grace and truth.  Mark's stories about his own churches experiences in this area were insightful and thought provoking.

If you want to be ruined for the ordinary, this is a book for you!


Glorious Mess

Glorious Mess by Mike Howerton is one of the funniest non-fiction books I have ever read. In fact, I have never laughed so hard while reading a book about grace.

Wait, let me try this again.

According to the description from Baker Books, Glorious Mess clearly reveals God's perfect love for imperfect people. The book shows you how to hear God's voice, how to embrace God's calling, how to make the most of your messes, and how to see God working through them. The book includes insightful discussion questions for group or personal use.

Mike Howerton weaves the story of Jonah throughout the book and he uses both Biblical and personal stories of God's amazing grace. Each chapter ends by Mining the Mess, making each chapter personal.

I found the book to be quite good. Mike Howerton accomplished what he set out to do, to show God's love for imperfect people. I found the book held my attention to the very end. His frequent use of humor had me laughing out loud. As much as I loved the humor though, and I did, I found that near the end of the book it was just a bit too much. Most of his humor worked and there was nothing offensive. However, in the end I felt like he could have cut it back just a bit and still made the book an enjoyable read.

How's that for criticism...the book was too funny at times.

On a serious note, I found myself re-reading Jonah and coming away with a fresh understanding of the grace of God. I would recommend this book to anyone who has struggled with accepting the fact that God loves us just as we are.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group"


3-Way Calling

I have been thinking about calls lately.

Not the telephone kind.

No, I was thinking about what happens when the Lord calls us. The call might be into (or out of) ministry, to move or not to move, etc. It might be a call to move in a radical direction or a call to pull back and spend some quiet time with Him.

Whatever the call, its the response to that call that I was chewing on this week.

I did some digging and found 3 ways people responded to the call of God in the Bible.

1. Confusion
2. Eagerness
3. Flight

First up is Samuel. In 1 Samuel 3 we read of the Lord calling young Samuel in the night. Three times Samuel gets up and goes to see Eli, the Priest he was working with. Each time he asked if Eli was calling him. It was the third time around (1 Samuel 3:8) when Eli finally understood it was the Lord calling Samuel and told him how to respond. Sin led Eli to be confused and Samuel was not trained in hearing the voice of God.

In Isaiah 6:8 we see the prophet's response to the call of the Lord. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Isaiah was ready to go where God was calling Him.

Then we have Jonah. Yeah, the guy who ran... the opposite direction.

(He did repent and answer the call later.)

Obviously we need wisdom when the call of the Lord comes. James 1:25 tells us to ask for it.

I don't always seek the Lord when I feel He is nudging me to do the uncomfortable. Sometimes, like Jonah, I run.

My desire is to know Him more, to seek His face and the wisdom only He can provide. I want to move with God in eager anticipation. The next time the Lord calls, I want to answer like Isaiah.


Where Am I?

No, I am not playing the Rick version of Where's Waldo.

I am just in a different place right now.

It started with the word I felt the Lord gave me for 2012. Prayer.

I started talking to the Father a bit more and the more I prayed, the more relaxed I felt. 2011 was a year of stress but 2012 has definitely been a year of refreshing. In fact I have had people stop me and tell me that I look more relaxed and at peace.

I've also had people ask what was wrong with me...because I have been a bit more quiet and contemplative as well. I am a talker and when a talker doesn't talk, people get uncomfortable and ask if the talker is ok.

Mark 6:30-32 says, "The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place."

I have felt the call to come away to a solitary place and get some rest. I couldn't leave my job but I have pulled back and just spent timer mentally refreshing with the Lord.

As Psalm 23 puts it: He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul;

I have to say, it has been nice.

Part of my refreshing meant I was also away from my blog even more than last year. Besides the occasional book review, compassion post or interview I have been largely silent. (no loss I know)

I expect I will post a bit more now.

When was the last time you felt refreshed?


Just A Minute - A Book Review

I know I have mentioned this book a few times already but if you haven't picked it up yet, you are truly missing out.

Just A Minute, by Wess Stafford (with Dean Merrill), is filled with amazing stories of people whose lives were impacted by a few minutes given by another adult. Many of the stories are hopeful, joyful and heart tugging. Think Chicken Soup for the Soul for Christians and you get the jest of many of these stories.

It's the sad, awful and downright horrible moments that are shared that really impacted me though. Did you know Alfred Hitchcock's dad had him locked up in a jail at the age of 5 as a scared straight moment? Or how about a communist dictator (Yugoslavia's Tito) kicked out of church for dropping the wine in a church service?

The book also shares the stories of kids whose whole life was altered by the sometimes casual and insensitive remarks of the adults in their lives.

This book is a good reminder to guard our tongues and to look for ways to bless the children we come in contact with. I found myself wiping away tears one moment and laughing out loud the next.

Why not check out the website for Just a Minute and pick up a copy of the book while you are at it. Wess Stafford has asked that all of the author proceeds be given to Compassion International.

Being honest, I received a copy of this book free as it contains one of my "just a minute" stories. It doesn't change the review, the book truly is good.