Monthly Archives: January 2009
Watch this video. Listen to how many times Penn Gilette, of Penn & Teller, an outspoken atheist, uses the words “kind” and “he looked me in the eyes” as he talks about this Christian man who interacted with him after a show.
Ah, finally! A way better layout for the blog! Thanks to David Burke for the help in creating this. Hope you enjoy!
I started watching the HBO series, “John Adams” this weekend. It’s very well done. Paul Giamatti does a phenomenal job, as does David Morse as George Washington. I think it’s always interesting to watch historical, “true story” movies because I find myself wondering just how much is true. This particular film is based off of David McCullough’s book but I don’t know how much is fact and how much is fiction.
I did, though, find myself gaining a much deeper appreciation for the founding fathers as I watched the movie. The leadership, courage, and wisdom they show is spectacular. To picture men like Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington all in the same room is mind-blowing to me. Then, late last night, I read this from Oswald Chambers:
“If we obey God, it will mean that other people’s plans are upset. They will ridicule us as if to say, “You call this Christianity?” We could prevent the suffering, but not if we are obedient to God. We must let the cost be paid.”
This sums up the courage I’m seeing in this film. I think one of my greatest personal struggles in ministry and leadership is this challenge of wanting to keep the waters calm, not wanting to upset the people if at all possible. The problem, as Chambers states so clearly, is that this act of appeasement can often mean we are NOT following God’s call to us. For if we follow, we may very well begin to upset others. He goes on to offer this reassurance:
“If, however, we obey God, He will care for those who have suffered the consequences of our obedience. We must simply obey and leave all the consequences with Him.”
In “John Adams,” the personal struggles of these courageous leaders are evident throughout. I don’t know where each of them fell in terms of their own spirituality, but I do know that they were each faced with a moment or moments where they had to stand against what was accepted because they believed it was the course of right action, and in so doing they realized the cost that would have on the lives of so many others. And yet, they acted. I think we’re all faced with the same challenge.
Just watched this movie again tonight. If you get a chance you should watch it. Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito are amazing and it always causes me to think more deeply about how we “share” our faith.
I don’t know if any of you have ever read or used Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for his Highest” as a devotional, but it’s a great work. I struggle pretty regularly with a devotional life. Part of me struggles because when I was young I lived day to day with guilt if I didn’t read my little Campus Journal devotionals. As I grew a little bit older I became convinced that I truly was saved by grace and it didn’t matter how much time I spent with God… and even further, if I was doing it out of guilt I should just not do it at all because that was better than reading with a wrong heart. And who said reading was the only way? And on and on and on. So… I overthink things. At least that’s what Carrie says.
Anyway, I’m slowly reconnecting with Chambers here and am loving his writings. Yesterday’s was especially good. He talked about Peter’s relationship with Christ and how when Jesus first called him it was almost irresistible:
“The irresistible attraction of Jesus was upon him and he did not need the Holy Spirit to help him do it.”
Chambers then recounts how Peter later denies Jesus and basically rejects him altogether. This leads to a second following:
“And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ’Follow Me’ ” John 21:19.
Chambers believes that this following was completely different, that Peter was no longer acting on his own, but on the power of the Holy Spirit. I love the way he writes it:
“But then he came completely to the end of himself and all of his self-sufficiency. There was no part of himself he would ever rely on again. In his state of destitution, he was finally ready to receive all that the risen Lord had for him. “. . . He breathed on them, and said to them, ’Receive the Holy Spirit’.”
I wonder sometimes if it’s better for us to be lying in a heap of our own messiness than to have it all put together. I wonder if realizing my own unwillingness to have a “quiet time” should lead me to the place where Peter was–a total reliance on God and his presence. I wonder if the wretch that I am is the condition God constantly wants me to understand in order to become the saint he has recreated me to be.
Just started another round of seminary classes. I’m reading a great book called “To Have or to Be?” It’s written by a guy named Erich Fromm who died the year I was born. I’ve only read one chapter, but I was pretty blown away by it as he dealt with the differences between active and passive people… and what it means to be in the “being mode” as he calls it.
Tracing the likes of Aristotle and other key philosophers he gets pretty thick. But I was struck by this statement:
“THE WAY TO BEING IS PENETRATION THROUGH THE SURFACE AND INSIGHT INTO REALITY.”
For Fromm, we all wear our masks and what this does is repress what he believes to be our natural tendency–what he would say is human nature to share, to give, and to serve, all while seeking “union” — or healthy community. This raises a number of theological questions–the largest of which deals with the human desire to sin (see the first three chapters of Romans).
While I do believe we are born with a sinful nature, I would go so far with Fromm to say that we are all also created with a great potential for good that reaches its maximum potential when we live from the “being mode” as he calls it. I am not merely a “sinner saved by grace” (though I am that!). I am also a beautiful child of God with the God-given power to impact the world around me!
Fromm’s point, then, becomes key. If we are to reach our full potential we must go towards reality. He believes we drift away from “being” into “doing” (the negative way of living) when we allow the masks we wear to cover this desire for good. The dominant culture (i.e. American culture) that preaches consumerism and busy-ness all for the sake of more, more, more, becomes the idol we go after. Perhaps this statement will be my mantra for the coming weeks:
“THE WAY TO BEING IS PENETRATION THROUGH THE SURFACE AND INSIGHT INTO REALITY.”
Okay, dumb run #2. Much less serious than the last, and in fact quite fun, but dumb nonetheless.
This past week, while in West Virginia, I had a 7 mile run to do on Tuesday morning. I took off from my parents house, quite a ways in the country, and found a back road to go down. This back road kept going and going, and I enjoyed the beautiful country even though it was quite hilly. A creek ran along most of the road and I was having a great day. It wasn’t too cold and I felt good.
About 4 miles into the run I realized I wasn’t really sure where I was, but I figured I would take one of the forks in the road and pick up the main road before long. Problem was, none of the dirt roads looked like they led to main road and I found myself going deeper and deeper into the “holler”. About seven miles in, I figured it was time to figure out where I was. Almost immediately after that I saw a hawk fly up off a dead deer carcass just a few feet from me. I knew it was time to figure out where I was.
I flagged a work truck down and asked a guy how far the main road was. He told me about 3-4 miles and I asked him for a ride. When we reached the main road I realized I had ended up a great deal further from my parents’ house than I wanted to be and this great guy gave me a ride all the way back home (about 12 miles in all).
Lessons learned from these runs?
1 – Always carry a cell phone.
2 – Check the weather report.
3 – Take food.
4 – Sometimes it’s safer to hitch hike.