Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

“The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus” by Brennan Manning – Introduction

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I recently picked up a copy of “The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus” by Brennan Manning. I have never read anything by Brennan, but have been thoroughly impressed by some of his sermons.

I’m going to blog through the book. Now, some people go through a book because the published sends them an early copy if they agree to blog about it. This is obviously not the case. However, after reading the introduction, i thought that this book might warrant some serious reflection and the occasion outsiders perspective. I think this blog will serve those functions greatly.

In forward is written by Larry Crabb. Crabb gives us a guide to wrestling with the ideas in the book:

“Concepts create idols,” wrote Greogry of Nyssa. “Only wonder understands anything.” The eminent German theologian Karl Rahner, who died in 1985, wrote: “Some thing are understood not by grasping but by allowing oneself to be grasped.” As you read these pages, I pray that you allow yourself to be grasped, and that you “pause awhile” and let yourself be broken.

A Book You Must Read

I was given Mike Yaconelli’s Getting Fired for the Glory of God by a pastor who used to work in youth ministry. I’m reading it. Blowing me away. You should read it to. Or maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe it is just awesome because God is using it to speak to me right now. Either way, I’ll recommend it.d_1200

Faith in Student Ministry

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. ~Hebrews 11:1~

In student ministry, we have the difficult blessing of striving to teach adolescents – who are develoing (but haven’t mastered) the ability to think abstractly – to act upon something which they cannot see.

If you figure out how to do this, let me know. Actually, let everyone know because it is pretty obvious that we’re not getting it. There are a million different theories, methods, values, and ideas about how to make that happen.

What Acts 2:42-47 means today

Acts 2:42-47:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Here is what I think this passage means for me/the Church today:

We ought to be “devoted to the apostles‘ teaching and to fellowship and to breaking of bread and to prayer.” I don’t think we ought to do this simply because it’s in the Bible, but I think, when looking at how we ought to follow Christ, we ought to observe those who literally “followed” christ. They probalby had a pretty accurate view on how to apply Christ’s teachings. So, does that mean that we need a church service with communion every day? I don’t think so. I do however, think we would do well to move in this direction.

We ought to be “filled with awe and wonder.” In our western culture, beauty is a bit lost. Miracles are less evident and much less publicized. Amazing transformations are happening in our midst. I know high school students who have seen there situations dramatically change. There aren’t too many times when a church will stop and simply marvel at God’s creation (unless you count using a nature scene as the backdrop of a powerpoint slide). Does this mean that if we’re not performing miracles on a regular basis, we ought to give up? Nope. But the Western church would do good to move in this direction.

We ought to be united as believers and have everything in common. Does this mean that we all live in a commune and share are produce, cars, and clothes? It doesn’t have to, but I think churches definitely need to move in this direction. We (me included) are doing a freaking horrible job at this in America (though there are some who aren’t doing such a horrible job).

We ought to sell our possessions and goods and provide for those in need. Does that mean that we have to be homeless? Nope. I do think we’d do well tois at a  sell things that we have and give the money to those in need. I write this thinking of two friends. One friend has a summer car (an expensive car that they joy ride around in the summer) and the other friend doesn’t have a job. So, if we apply this passage (or – frankly – many many other passages) what would the result be? You decide….

We ought to meet regularly. We do this in church services, however, many of our church serves aren’t condusive to community (if they were, why would we sit in rows?).

We ought to “eat together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God.” I think this one is obvious.

I think the last part of the passage – “enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – is more descriptive of the results of this Jesus community.

the way I’m created…

About a year and a half ago, an introverted friend told me that they can be around me and still be refreshed. This was a big deal coming from this friend because I continually heard them talk about their need to get away from everyone and simply be alone. I felt so complimented. Allowing a person the freedom and acceptance to truly be themselves without having to act or put on a mask is an incredibly difficult thing. It takes great intention, communication, and honesty by both sides.

In a sense, this is how I’m starting to feel around Jesus. When I’m with God, I feel most myself. I feel loved and accepted. I feel like my flaws aren’t that big of a deal. I feel like my strenghts are important. I feel like the way I’m created is the way I should be.

The way I’m created is the way I ought to be.

Think about that. We don’t feel like that very often in life. In fact, we work very very hard at trying to be something other than what we’re created to be. We try to wear so many different hats, that we begin to lose focus on how our Father designed us.

So take a brief second right now. Close your eyes. And simply say to God: “The way you created me, is the way I ought to be.”

eager to offer the gift of Jesus

Adam Walker-Cleveland has been running a series called “Plurality 2.0.” The whole  series has been wrestling with the multiple religions we have in our society and the faith of Christianity. The intersection of those two places has led to some pretty interesting dialogue. On Friday, Brian McLaren was the guest blogger and wrote some pretty compelling stuff. Here’s a couple sentences that I won’t soon forget:

I am eager to offer the gift of Jesus and his good news to all people, whatever their religion. I am eager to help all people, whatever their religious identity, to “taste and see” how good God is, and to take on Jesus’ yoke so we will experience together his meekness and gentleness of heart.

… until God reveals something better to me …

“…if I say something that is not confirmed by a greater authority, even if I appear to prove it by reason, it should be accepted with confidence only as what seems true to me for the time being, until God in some way reveals something better to me. If I prove to be able to give a satisfactory answer to your question to any extent at all, it ought to be quite clear that someone wiser than I am could do this much more completely. Indeed, it is important to recognize that no matter what someone might be able to say on this topic, there are still loftier reasons for so great a matter that remain hidden.” – St. Anselm-

thanks Gideon