Wednesday, February 25, 2009
This marks the end of the book, Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I hope you enjoyed the book and the chance to talk through it with everyone. I had a blast and really appreciate the insight you have all shared. I can honestly say that I read it with different eyes because of the comments that everyone contributed. Here are my thoughts on the last two chapters:
1. Page 150. The guy getting his teeth all taken out so that he would never be distracted from the mission field was pretty intense.
2. Page 154 -155. I had no idea Rich Mullins was like this. I was a huge Christian music snob growing up and missed a lot of the great stories behind the music. I love that Mullins constantly fought against people trying to put him on a pedestal.
3. Page 159. How do you feel when you bump into stories about miracles like the one with Brother Yun’s broken legs?
4. Page 166. I like that Chan lays out that the solution or opportunity is not the same for everyone. For some people, they’ll quit their job and head to the mission field and for some others, they’ll work harder at the job they already have. It’s frustrating to me when people propose a one size fits all solution.
5. Page 166. If there were two camps in the Stuff Christians Like Book Club, I was clearly on the “pro-Crazy Love” side, but I can understand the push back people are having with statements like page 166, “The stories in chapter 9 are brief snapshots of how a few people have lived out true Christianity in America …” The challenge is who decides what “true Christianity” is?
6. Page 167. “Have you ever said: “I was made for this moment?” I have and it’s usually not the moment I would have expected it to be. How about you?
7. Page 168. “We try to set our lives up so everything will be fine even if God doesn’t come through.” Ouch, that one hit home.
8. Page 169. “I’ve made a commitment to consistently put myself in situations that scare me and require God to come through.” I love that and that’s something my wife and I are actively praying about right now with a few things that are coming up.
9. Page 172. “The world needs Christians who don’t tolerate the complacency of their own lives.” I agree with this 100%.
10. Overall, what did you think of the book? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Would you tell friends to read it?
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
This marks the second to last section of Crazy Love we'll be talking about for the Stuff Christians Like Book Club. We'll discuss chapters 9 and 10 on Wednesday, February 25. Here are some things that struck me about chapters 6-8.
1. Page 100. "When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love." I think that’s true. Would anyone that watched my life see me going to great lengths to be with God?
2. Page 102. "We don't have to worry about a burdensome load of commands, because when we are loving, we can't sin. Do you feel free in your Christian life?" I've seen this in my own life with how I approach lust. When I tried to focus on cutting lust from my life it felt impossible. When I focused instead on God's love, my desire to lust diminished.
3. Page 104. "The fact is, I need God to help me love God." I really liked this idea. Sometimes I feel so bent out of shape trying to "get love right." I essentially say, "God I am so sorry I keep failing at loving you. No, no, I don't want your help with loving you, let me figure this out on my own and then come to you." The idea of being able to pray, "God, help me love you" is really freeing to me.
4. Page 108. "We are always the recipients of His great and manifold gifts. Not the givers. Never the givers." Again, this statement removes the pressure for me to feel like God is waiting on my gift and I keep blowing it. He is already complete.
5. Page 110. The section on Malachi 3:10 about giving God your whole tithe and not robbing Him was one I wrote "wow" beside in the margin. Time is the tithe I don't give very well and the idea of writing Him a blank check with my time was really challenging. And I liked the idea of "Give God more than you can manage"
6. Page 115. "Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers." How sensible is your life right now?
7. Page 119. "How would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came into contact with as Christ…" This is stupid, but I actually tried this while driving to church the other day. I usually get really mad at people that cut me off on the way into the church parking lot. And I honestly tried to see them as Christ instead of an enemy preventing me from getting a good parking spot.
8. Page 123. "Do we really believe that "it ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our final day?" I rarely think about the final day and all too often live life firmly planted in the right now.
9. Page 127. "What matters is that we spend ourselves." I like that phrase, "spend ourselves." For me, part of that means writing as much as I can and trying to pour out for others what I feel like God is pouring into me. What does spending yourself look like to you?
10. Page 130. “True faith is loving a person after he has hurt you.” What was your reaction to the last person that hurt you?
11. Page 133. “We’ve elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God’s best is …” This was challenging to me because right now I am wrestling with whether I should be doing “this blog writing” more. And I want God to say, “Sure and here’s why it is perfectly safe to do that.” But He won’t. How are you living safe?
12. Page 136. The description of wasting the day by “spending hours connecting with God” was a good push point for me. I once heard another minister say that in the age of busyness we are called to do something that seems wasteful, pray. I also liked the question why “do we assume we could never do anything so radical or intense?”
13. The humble section on page 137 was well timed as I get the opportunity to speak more. God has been planting that idea on my heart a lot lately, that He wants me to get smaller and quieter in His hand while the things around me get louder and pick up the pace.
14. Page 145 kind of asks the question, “What is your thing?” If you did an audit of the way you spent your time last week, what would your thing be?
15. Page 146. “Joy is something that we have to choose and then work for.” I completely agree with that.
Those are my thoughts, what did you make of chapters 6-8?
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Wow, I feel like we had some great back and forth discussion about some of the points Chan raised in the first two chapters of Crazy Love. We explored issues like God's punishment of sin, the definition of discipline and how our own experiences can often impact how we view faith.
For this second session of Crazy Love, we're going to go through chapters 3-5. I found them as challenging as the first round of chapters and look forward to hearing what you thought. Here are my ideas from chapters 3-5.
1. "Over time I realized that when we love God, we naturally run to Him—frequently and zealously… Our motivation changes from guilt to love." Pg. 57. I really want that and sometimes, more now then ever before, I experience it. But sometimes, I don't go to the Lord out of an overflow of love and joy, I go to Him because I think that's the right thing to do. The challenge for me is that I often will say, "Well, I need to wait until I feel an overwhelming sense of joy and love before I do my quiet time." I think that's dangerous, because in some ways, love is a choice and our feelings lie. There are a lot of things in life that I don’t “feel” like doing but I still do them out of discipline. Do you ever struggle with that thought process?
2. On page 58, Chan talks about taking a four day spiritual retreat by himself. Have you ever done something like that? What did you do? What do you feel like happened during that time? If you were going to recommend that to another Stuff Christians Like Book Club member, what would you suggest?
3. I love Ephesians 2:10 about us doing works that God prepared in advance for us. That's such a great reminder that it's not about me and my mission, it's about me being obedient to God's mission.
4. "His being is utterly complete and perfect, apart from humanity. He doesn't need me or you." Pg. 61. I love this and actually spoke on this idea at the Dave Ramsey organization back in October. I need to write about this at some point on SCL, but God doesn't need us, He loves us. There's a huge difference between those two mindsets.
5. Chapter 3 concludes with some questions I've been writing about a lot lately: "Are we in love with God or just His stuff?" "Do you love this God who is everything, or do you just love everything He gives you?" Those are great questions to ask yourself. How would you answer? For me, writing this book has forced me to answer those types of questions constantly. From the beginning, God has been asking me, "If the only life that changed from this book you're writing is your own, would that be enough? If all you get out of this experience is a closer relationship with me, is that enough?" Honestly, for a long time, the answer was no. I wanted money or admiration or approval or popularity or a bunch of other stuff. But in the last few months, I've started to realize how temporary and shallow all that stuff is when held up against the all consuming love God offers us.
6. "According to the account in Luke chapter 8, when a crowd started following Him, Jesus began speaking in parables –'so that' those who weren't genuinely listening wouldn't get it. When crowds gather today, speakers are extra conscious of communicating in a way that is accessible to everyone. Speakers don't use Jesus' tactic to eliminate people who are not sincere speakers." Page 66. How do we reconcile this paragraph with the seeker friendly approach to church? Is that even a helpful exercise?
7. Most of chapter 4 focuses on the list of what lukewarm people do. There are 18 different descriptions. Which descriptions could be applied to how you live? For me, I would say that I struggle most with the following:
"Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict." Pg. 69
"Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act." Pg. 70
"Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven." Pg. 75
"Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control." Pg. 77
"Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to." Pg. 78
8. "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:33. What does giving up everything look like on a daily basis? Because I don't think it's a single act so much as it is a lifestyle.
9. "Is this idea of the non-fruit-bearing Christian something that we have concocted in order to make Christianity 'easier'?” Pg. 85. Good question. I wonder if we did invent the concept of a "casual Christian?"
10. "The reality is that, whether we acknowledge our wealth or not, being rich is a serious disadvantage spiritually." Pg. 90. I don’t know if I ever thought about it this way. I think it's really interesting that he follows this line up with the two stories of the rich man and the camel/needle and then Zacchaeus. I always knew he was a wee little man, but I never really thought about the situation the way he described it "The impossible happened that day –a rich man received his salvation!"
11. I'm not sure who Tim Kizziar is but he dropped a bomb when he said, "Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter." Pg. 93
12. Did you do the challenge Chan presented on page 94 where you take 1:Corinthians 13:4-8 and substitute your name where love was? "Jon is patient, Jon does not envy or boast." It would be hard for me to say that last one given how prone I am to arrogance.
13. "We disgust God when we weigh and compare Him against the things of this world." Pg. 97. Do we disgust God? If you're saved and covered in the blood of Christ, does God ever look upon you, and see your actions and say, "You disgust me?" I don't think Chan was saying that exactly, but that's how I read it and I think in my brokenness I could easily interpret that as a call to perform for God and earn His love by doing things that do not disgust Him. Again, not saying that Chan said that, just how the condemnation inside me wanted to take it.
Those are my thoughts. What did you think? What did you like? What did you dislike?
Monday, January 26, 2009
Don't forget, on Wednesday, January 28 we're discussing chapters 3-5 of Francis Chan's book "Crazy Love." I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the "Lukewarm Christian" section.
See you on Wednesday.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
When I'm afraid of certain situations, I often try to pretend that I don’t care about the outcome. I insulate myself in a quilt of apathy, and tell everyone that will listen that I'm not really concerned about the future. Worse than that, I try to disguise my apathy with an air of holiness. Take the Stuff Christians Like book that I'm writing for instance. The other night I told my wife something like, "I don’t really care if it sells a ton of copies as long as God's will is done." She immediately called me on that lie, because she's great like that, but that thought is so deceptive. It's true, God's will is infinitely more important than the sales figures. I believe that, but because I'm afraid the book won't sell well I'm trying to avoid the hurt of that possibility by pretending I don't care now. And I've used the truth of God's will as a way to mask that fear in fake holiness. But in praying about that, in wrestling with the idea that I use apathy as an escape method, I realized something:
Apathy is easy, but expensive.
It costs you vulnerability.
It costs you honesty.
Above all it costs you hope.
And regardless of my fear, that's a price I am not willing to pay.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Great discussion so far. It's been fun to see people with different ideas about the book "Crazy Love" checking in.
On Wednesday, January 28th, we'll be discussing chapters 3-5.
In the meantime, Katdish sent me an article that Catalyst did with Chan called "A Gathering Force."
Here is the intro paragraph. Check out the rest if you get a chance:
Is there any logic in believing that God started His Church as a Spirit-filled, loving body with the intention that it would evolve into entertaining, hour-long services? Was he hoping that one day people would be attracted to the Church not because they care for one another, not because they are devoted to Him, not because the supernatural occurs in their midst, but because of good music and entertainment?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Today, we're going to talk about the first two chapters of Francis Chan's book, "Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God." If you read it, great. If you didn't, there's still time to join the SCLBC because we won't discuss the next section (chapters 3-5) until Wednesday, January 28th. You can buy the book here at Amazon.com or get it at your local library.
My hope is that this won't be me writing a book review and folks then responding to that book review. I'd rather treat this like a discussion, as if we all got together in someone's living room and just started talking about the book. So let's throw out some questions for each other, be honest about the things we liked, the things we were challenged by, the sections we would challenge etc.
The first chunk of Crazy Love - Pages 1 -52
I'll go first in simple numerical fashion:
1. Did you read the preface and the foreword?
2. I loved that Chan says upfront on page 18, "Don't worry-this isn't another book written to bash churches." I'm pretty tired of the whole "church as a pinata" approach to things.
3. I liked that on page 20, he described his initial church teachings as "incomplete" and not "incorrect." I think about that a lot because I'm afraid that as I mature I'll look back on something I wrote on a blog or a book and say, "Wow, I was really wrong about that." But I think to some degree, the more time we spend with God, the more time we spend in the Bible, the more we mature and hopefully grow passed our initial thoughts.
4. Did you go watch the online videos when the book told you to? I did eventually, but not right away. Sometimes I wasn't near a computer when I was reading it.
5. "God will not be tolerated," a statement on page 28, was really challenging to me.
6. "We don't get to decide who God is," on page 31 rocked me a little. All too often I wake up in the morning and try to dress up God like Mister Potatohead, "OK God, today, you're going to be a super helpful generous God. Here's a wheelbarrow to carry all the gifts you're going to give me." But I don't get to decide who He is.
7. I wanted to side hug the sentence, "Isn’t it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?" (Page 31.)
8. I didn't love the soda can/ocean analogy on page 32. I felt like some of the other analogies in the book were a lot stronger.
9. "As much as we want God to explain himself to us, His creation, we are in no place to demand that He give an account to us." (Page 33) Do you ever do that? I do it all the time. "God, why hasn't this job come through yet, why is so and so being such a punk to me, why haven't you rescued me from this situation?" I think it's good to honestly and openly ask God questions, but demanding answers is a whole other thing. What answers do you demand from God?
10. I struggle with worry. I'm getting better at handling stress and worry, but anxiety is still a drug I sometimes try to get high on. Chan's section about worry starting on page 40 was great. From his excuse of "I couldn't really help it that I was the worrying kind" to his thought, "When I am consumed by my problems – stressed out about my life, my family, and my job – I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God's command to always rejoice," I was blown away. Am I the only one that missed that "rejoice" is a command?
11. I liked the movie extra analogy on page 42. I remember sitting on a train going through Italy once and looking out the window at all the villages and people speeding by and thinking, "None of these people know I exist or how important my silly problems and challenges are. Maybe I'm one small person in a much bigger story." Going to the beach always makes me feel like an extra because the grandness of God feels overwhelming there in a good way.
12. I wanted to clap when I read this section on page 45, "If life were stable, I'd never need God's help. Since it's not, I reach out for Him regularly. I am thankful for the unknowns and that I don’t have control, because it makes me run to God." I want to live that way and sometimes I do. But sometimes, I hate the unknowns, and think that if I was a "real Christian," I'd have a better plan for life and would have it all "figured out." Do you ever feel that way or do you embrace the unknowns like Chan?
13. The story of Stan Gerlach on page 46 made me cry, especially the line, "One second he was confessing Jesus; a second later, Jesus was confessing him!"
14. 1 Corinthians 3:15 is a tough verse to swallow: "If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." I've never thought about the idea that I could lead a quiet Christian life and end up "as one escaping through the flames." Have you?
Those are the things I would say if I were sitting on a flowered hand me down couch in my living room.
Did you like the first two chapters? Was there anything you loved or hated?
Introduce yourself if you don’t mind with your first comment. First name and city, state, country. (If you’re comfortable with that)
I’m Jon and I live in Alpharetta, Georgia which is in the United States.
Let's talk about the book.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
There are a few reasons I love what pastor Shaun King wrote about a car crash he was in:
1. The title of his post was "I experienced a miracle and I'm not a loon."
2. It contains these words:
"Knowing that I would not be able to talk once they started operating on my face (while I was awake), I began to beg nurses to write a note on my chest that said,
"I still believe in the Goodness of the Lord"
After begging two nurses to write the note and trying to tell them that I wasn't crazy, the third nurse wrote the note and placed it on my chest. I asked her to not let anyone remove the note and pointed to it every chance I got. It is on my chest with my blood on it in this photo.
3. It reminds me that God is big and wild and unexplainable.