Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Book Club: Week 2 - Chapters 3-5

Book Club: Week 2 - Chapters 3 - 5, Crazy Love

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?

Let's talk.

36 comments:

heartafire said...

I like the things you pointed out.

But even more than that, I like being the first commenter.

So I'm going to post this, super speedy-quick, before someone else beats me.

justlurkingthanks said...

I hate to be a downer but....

I was really put off by Chapter 4 and Chan's assertion that lukewarm Christians will not go to heaven. Did the Prodigal become less of his father's son because he fell into sin? Would he have gone straight to hell if he'd had a heart attack in the pig sty? (Armenians, please call your office)

He digs himself in even deeper with sloppy exegesis when he tries to apply Christ's words to the religious leaders to his (Chan's) readers. It seems to me those words were directed at Chan himself not to Christ's "little ones".

My idea is a "lukewarm" Christian isn't going to buy, read, or even consider Chan's book! It is exactly the kind of person who would read Crazy Love that would be most likely to (incorrectly) feel guilt over Chapters 4 and 5 and that is a shame.

All in all, I thought Chapters 4 and 5 offensive enough that I probably will not waste my time reading the rest of the book.

As long as we're cherry picking scripture to make points, here is my reply to Chan:

Luke 11:46 Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

[I apologize to Jon and the rest of you for being so negative, but I've been waiting several days to get this off my chest.]

Prodigal Jon said...

Just Lurking -
No apology necessary. Not even close. I'm really glad you posted your thoughts. I don't want you to ever feel like if you post something different than what I think that I am going to be bummed out about that. I'd much rather you share yourself honestly then feel like you need to edit yourself to be part of this conversation.
Jon

heartafire said...

HA! I did it.

OK, to your points:


#1. I don't think this is true. I too go to God much more honestly out of need than an outpouring of love. I wish this were different, but my motivations are frequently tainted. Further, I don't think the only 2 reasons we run to God are "guilt or love." There's lots of other morivation. Fortunately, I also realize that my own children run to me for many other reasons, but primarily, need----need for attention, time, love, comfort, help, etc. I don't judge the ways they run to me, I just try to give them whatever it is they need. And I am a sinful human parent. I thank God that He doesn't judge the "why or how" I run to him, and I thank Him that He is a much better parent than I could ever be.

2. I have never done a 4-day retreat, and wouldn't want to, unless God clearly called me to such. (AND IT'S NOT on PAGE 58 IN EVERYONE'S BOOK, JON---It's on 56 in mine) Sorry for yelling.
I also wonder why Chan included that in his book. He could have told us about the Jeremiah passage, without the mention of his holiness in getting away on a 4-day retreat. Also, if I were the wife at home with 4 kids while he goes and finds his inner-Jeremiah, I would certainly hope for more "fruit."

Also, I was disappointed that he wrote this: "Whether we admit it or not, every one of us has offended God at some point." Really? Gosh......wowie kazowie.
How about every *one* of us offends God *every day* in more ways than we could imagine. He is GOD, after all. But thanks to the blood of Jesus, we are forgiven. His stating this makes me wonder if he believes it about himself, to the extent that he should.
Chan frequently writes "grace" but he suffers under a heavy dose of "law," and this comes out in his book frequently.

3. Exactly. Which is why Chan should not exhort us to do the things HE(Chan) wants us to do, but the things to which we are called.

4. This is also true---"It is finished." Great last words.

5. I love God, AND I love his stuff, and I love all the cool things and people he has put in my life. As I have matured, I have also begun to realize that He really is enough. MY big things are: "Would He be enough, if he took away my husband and my girls? My best friend? My house and neighborhood? My health?" and like you, Jon, I am beginning to think, that, yes He would still be enough. (Like your thinking about your book---if it only grew *you* that would be enough)

6. I don't think Jesus' words need any updating or user-friendly-ing. I think His Word is complete and sufficient. I think Jesus spoke in parables to be able to convey very complex ideas and teachings in a way that people could "chew" on them for awhile. Also, there was not much there, for people who didn't want to know. Pearls before swine, and all...I think it was really cool how he made stories that would interact with our brains and our own experiences, so that we could take his word and truly make it our own, hide it in our heart, etc. I think to dumb it down is to rob the original of much of its power. IOW, "The Message" is a fine Bible, especially when we don't "get" something, but I feel sorry for the person for whom it is their ONLY Bible.

7. I take issue with the fact that Chan constantly berates "the lukewarm people"....
NEWSFLASH: We are all, including Chan, "lukewarm" people from time to time, based on our very humanity. We will not escape that, this side of heaven.
In heaven, I think we will be able to satisfy Chan's seeming need for absolute zeal in Christ and being able to please Him in word and deed. His use of this device "the lukewarm people" is quite tiresome, and is seemingly used as a goad to guilt people into thinking as he does. But he is mistaken and misguided. On pg 65 in my book, he constantly tells us *in italics* to not assume we are good soil. We.. the very fact that people even care about Christ and what is pleasing to Him, says that they are good soil. The fact that they are drawn to read and study about Christ presupposes that they are good soil. His repeating this "Don't assume you are good soil" is arrogant. As if he is the judge of it. I am a lukewarm person, you are a lukewarm person and Chan is a lukewarm person from time to time, by his very definition of what "lukewarm people" do. So, enough already.

8. Agree---it's a lifestyle and a mindset, and again, something that grows as we grow in Christ.

Another way of saying "Be willing." To me, it's sort of a measure of our faith (which can also vary day, to day, and is sometimes dependant on circumstances.) If I am on a mission in Africa, it is much easier for me to think of selling everything I have, to help starving people. BUT, If my brother asks me to borrow some money, and I know he's never going to pay it back I don't give it with quite the same zeal.

9. Yes, we did invent "the casual Christian" and every other definition of what a Chrsitian is or isn't. I think it's just spinning our wheels to judge another's state of holiness, and a trick of the devil.

We will never be called on to give our 2 cents to the Lord, as to who's in, and who's out. Chan hasn't realized this yet. He seems to think that a person's benavior is a black and white indicator of who's a Christian. Dangerous territory, for a mere human.
Also, viz the soils, Chan writes that he thinks that people didn't even consider these questions back in Jesus' day. Well, of course they did. That was the whole purpose of parables. They considered them then, and they're still considering them today.

10. Easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle. I believe it.

11. Excellent---I loved that too.

12. Yes, it was hard. (especially the "patient and kind" part. ) Also, the "not boastful and arrogant" part . Oh! and the "doesn't insist on its own way"? Guess I need to work on that one.
"Rejoice at wrongdoing?" Well, maybe sometimes.
OOOooooh, the "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things...." Guess I need me some more L-O-V-E.

13. It is impossible for us to disgust God. Period. All our disgusting things are put as far from him as East is from West.

heartafire said...

justlurkingthanks,
THANK YOU!

"Offensive" is the word that best decribes this book for me too.

Joanna said...

Chapter 3 was good.

Chapters 4-5 i was not so impressed by. It tended to read as though we were saved and loved by god because of our good works which is not the case. The book has so far been overloaded on works and has been lacking when it comes to grace and salvation by faith.

Tymm said...

Whew. Been waiting for this one with bated breath.

Ya had to know that darn chapter 4 was gonna bring the feelings out, right Jon? A youth pastor friend of mine that actually recommended the book to me was reading it again and he sent me this text message:

"I am on chapter 4 again - I am getting out the noose."

Man - I could sit and discuss this all day and night for a fortnight or two but I think since Jon is the leader of our virtual small group, I will stick to his points and touch on those.

But for the record - I loved this read - yep - even chapter 4. It has opened my eyes WIDE and really put some perspective on why the road is so narrow.

1. RUNNING TO GOD
We all run to God because we need Him to do things, fix things, intervene in our lives. It bothers me about myself but I do it too... I mean how many "Praise Chains" or "Love Chains" do you see in comparison to the amount of "Prayer Chains" you see requesting intercessory prayer on the behalf of someone?

I run to God in prayer because I am supposed to - and over time I have felt myself wanting to commune with Him in this fashion - I try really hard not to just dump all my icky on Him - but to bring some of my happiness for what He has done for me as well.

2. Spiritual Retreats
Never been on one - probably could learn a lot about myself on one. I don't think it's as big a deal as some seem to think that Chan shared his with us - a lot of churchy bloggers I read announce theirs all the time.

3. Ephesians 2:10
Dig it.

4. God doesn't need us
Truth right there. And how true that we desperately need Him but spend our lives not wanting Him that much - I know I do.

5. God? Or His Stuff?
What a great question that everybody should ponder - probably almost daily. It's an interesting trend for me that I see - the closer I am to God, the more time I spend focusing on Him - the less I care about things. But the exact opposite is true though too - the more I let my focus slip on to things the less I seem to care about Him.

6. Parables and Seekers
The church (in America) has become that way 100% - I mean seriously - what sermon have you been to lately that you basically couldn't sleep through 99% of it - wake up at the very tale end and walk out with a nicely packed "catch phrase" for the week?

There is zero need to pay attention in the overwhelmingly seeker friendly churches we mostly attend. And I love that Jesus was like "I'll talk in riddles - then you won't really be able to sit around at work tomorrow and just drop one thing ya heard me say - because you won't understand it."

He wanted them to REALLY care. And like Chan said (and I love this) "He just wasn't interested in those who fake it." Boo ya.

7. Lukewarm
Wow - if ever there was a sh@t storm chapter - this was it. Why do people get so bent out of shape and angry over this stuff? It can only be because it touches a nerve, right? I loved it. Man - it convicted the snot out of me - made me feel downright icky - but also opened my eyes to just how narrow the road is.

I don't think he overly focused on deeds but Matthew 25 does make it pretty darn clear - ya didn't DO these things - ya ain't coming in. Have fun in Hell - hope ya brought a fan.

My wife and I actually got in to a heated "discussion" after this chapter. She didn't like him suggesting we not plan for the future - I didn't see it that way - I saw Him saying plan, but plan with God as your focus. It's still hard to debate with your wife when she says things like "What's God gonna think of me if I don't save money to send our daughter to college?"

Ouch. But on some underlying level - I get what Chan is saying about planning and leaving it in God's hands. How many of my friends are just so upset and bent out of shape by the current economic situation? And what does that say about where their focus is?

Okay - 8-13 will come in a bit cuz my hands are tired and I got a 14 month old monster wanting to go have a birthday lunch with her mom...

Ben said...

Hmmm. Loving the discusssion. I think it's important to step back and not point the finger at our brother Francis. He is just the lukewarm messenger right? It's so easy to slate this guy and find fault, forgetting that he too is living in the same sinful world.

Anyways, passing round the English Tea and Crumpets I shall commence...

Pg 54- "The reasons we don't receive, trust, or see His love vary from one person to the next, but we all miss out because of it" This almost sounds as though personality is an influential factor to 'getting' God's love. So "missing out" because of who we are completely undermines His unconditional Love.

A big let down for me was Francis' line on pg 60.
"God will ensure my success in accordance with His plan, not mine." True(ish). Do we really need to use the word 'success', I mean really? "ensure my success", isn't the American dream to be successful? Now I know he does highlight that is is His will not Francis'. But oh how we need to be careful.
I'm just the pen and paper HE uses for HIS success. My success should be so irrelavent. Nothing in fact!

I too like the idea that "Jesus doesn't have to love us." Which does get me thinking. God has the choice to Love us, despite the fact that God IS Love. I once heard someone tell me that it was impossible for Him to hate us and yet Francis suggests God has the choice. Confuses me.

Chapter 4 was a little disjoint. Immediately Mr Chan surprises me by saying that "The only way" he knows how to respond is that of the parable by selling 'everything' (pg65-66). He really feels that is the only way to respond, monetary surrender? What about my time, the meditations of my heart, my actions? Jesus had money, he even had one of his disciples be his accountant. To sell everything is not the be all and end all.

I chuckle at how he makes the point of not bashing the American church and then just comes out with "I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed..." pg67. I agree that he is very negative on this issue. I'm not asking him to be friendly, I want brutal honesty, a call to examine myself not Francis' opinion on American churchgoers.

Having said all that, I think the general message of these chapters is one that needs to be said and I do think he makes known some beautiful truths- Praise God!

I think a spiritual retreat sounds like bliss, but 4 days might be pushing it and worries me that his sabbath is not being used as the day of rest.

wv: pacrump
To pass around (clockwise) the toasty warm crumpets in the SLC virtual book club

werms said...

the section on p. 61 about the irony of our desparate need but non-want, and God's desparate want but non-need summed up the whole book for me. i thougth it was so characteristic of many Christians today.

chapter 4: i'm somewhere in the middle on this discussion. it brought me to tears multiple times while sitting in a deer stand last fall (probably not the best choice of reading material when i am supposed to be uber-aware of my surroundings). however, not once did i believe that maybe i wasn't a child of God. we do put too little stock in discipleship and active following of Jesus. that's why the Great Commission doesn't say "go into the world, preach the Gospel, and get people to say a prayer."

if you read it with the perspective that he is pointing out our inconsistency, not that he is questioning people's salvation (which he may or may not be doing), he makes excellent points.

heartafire said...

Ben,
Thanks for talking me down off the virtual ledge.
You are right that Francis is our brother.
I think the main reason I am so disappointed in this book, is that I ordered it months ago, immediately after Jon said it was his latest favortie. I am hugely let down.

Thanks for the tea, and I think your British accent lends a lot to the SCLBC. In fact, I would even go so far as to say, it adds much flavour and colour to the discussion.

And werms, your points are valid, and sound ones. However, I wouldn't bother reading a book whose intent is to teach me about my own inconsistency.

The Gospel According to Chan does constantly bring up the notion that one's salvation is not secure, and that we are to judge it through his (faulty) lens and (faulty) checklists.

daphne said...

Yay Bookclub! Thanks again Jon!!

1. In 08 for the first time I actually suceeded in reading through the bible in a year after about 10 years of being a Christian. Why this year? It was the first time I wanted to. In the past I tried because I thought I needed to. To me, I am showing growth. Now to eliminate the eff word from my vocab...
On occasion I struggle with wanting a pretty, trouble free life but usually after I throw a nice & embarassing fit I determin that if salvation is all I get, then that is enough. If eternal salvation were not promised and I was gonna get what I deserved? Then I would do my best to split hell wide open with my vile evilness. I do love that He loves me. I love Him for loving me but I am pretty sure without salvation (which is just eternity with Him, right?) I would be out like New Kids on the Block.

2. Retreat. Loved how heartafire mentions the wife & 4 kids at home. I have only been on one 2 day retreat and while it was awesome and great, I paid a price for leaving my husband and 3 daughters home that was too much to pay a 2nd time. My husband says he is a Christian but he is not into loving, giving or serving. I told him to pack a fan. But because of that, I found I can not even give or serve or go on retreats because my mission field is at home. Chan did not write this book with daphne in mind but I can still find ways to apply it to me once I get over myself.

3. Yeah. Again. My husband has forbidden me to give money away (I used to give to the homeless and every other cause that I came across), & while he did not forbid me to serve, he shows his disapproval when I do. My mission does not matter really. What I want to do is void (give, serve, go on a RETREAT). If I show my husband and daughters Christ daily like God asked me to do, then I am in His will. It is not about me.

4. God does not need me, He WANTS me. Awesome. He wants me even with my flaws and even when I fall into a lukewarm catagory. Great concept. And while I see it here & there in Chan's writing, I do not feel he balanced grace & law enough in the book but since I am full of grace (giggle!!) I will not throw the baby out with the bath water.

5. see #3 again. I love God. I do, and I also believe Romans 8:1. Gotta find balance or go nuts.

6. JON. We may need to break this down some. Like a chapter at a time because dang. Just your questions printed out in small font took 3 pages. Back to the question. The Word does not return void. My church welcomes hookers, drug users, pimps, ex-cons, etc. Those people need to hear a message they can understand. A TRUE message, but maybe not fire and brimstone every day either. Jesus did not come for the healthy, why should the church only be for the healthy? BALANCE is the word of the day.

7. Where I am lukewarm;
I want to be saved from the penalty of my sin. If I hated it, wouldnt I stop doing it?
I do not share the salvation plan much. I am surounded by Catholics that believe they are going to heaven and I am going to hell. I try to love, give and serve them but do not try to convert them. I am scared of Catholics. ; )
I do not often love my enemies. I want to stab them and I hate and judge and I want that to change. I feel controlled by emotions when people hurt me and while I say 'Lord bless them' it is through clenched teeth and I can not look them in the face without saying the eff word.
I do have control issues that I am working through with a counseler. Sometimes I trust God, other times I try to control out of self preservation. Working on that. I do not have a savings though if that helps. ; )
I drink & cuss so maybe I am not that lukewarm. HA!

8. To me it looks like giving up what I want to do what God asks of me. Putting others before myself. That will look different for every single person. My giving up will never look anything like Chan's. It is very much a lifestyle. Here is an example from my yesterday. My love did not speak to me for about 24 hours. When he did I asked what I had done wrong so I can work on not doing it again. He said he was mad at me because he was wrong in how he handeled a situation with our daughter. I asked if next time I could do something different so he would not be mad at me. He said no, I just get mad at you when I do something wrong. I did not point out what an effing ass he was, just asked how I could change for him. That is God people. That is giving up being right to do God's Word.

9. Did we invent the casual christian? I dunno. I am running out of coffee.

10. I would say I am not rich but I am. My children will never know what it is like to truely feel hunger. Will that keep me out of heaven? Nothing will keep me from doing my best to get to heaven.

11. Good quote. I need to do what matters, not what I want.

12. Yes, I did it and no it was not true. I am working on it. I am teaching it to my children and trying to show it to my love. I will say it and fake it till I make it.

13. I told myself when I became a Christian that no matter what, I was going to hold on to Jesus' love for me. The basics of John 3:16 if you will. No matter how I felt, no matter what I did, no matter how I failed, no matter how hard everything else in the bible was to believe, if I did not hold tight to the TRUTH that Jesus loves me, I will have no reason to continue. Is that making me a casual christian? I dunno. Does God hate sin? Yes because it keeps me away from Him and He WANTS me near. Jesus' Love for me gets me out of bed every morning. It is how I can face tomorrow. It is not something a book can take from me. Not saying Chan is trying to take Jesus' Love from us but dude, lets hate the sin, not the sinner.

Charlanne said...

I'm Charlanne from Maryland, new to the discussion. I should note that I'm a recovering legalist, which plays a role in this discussion regarding grace vs. works sparked by this book. Every time I hear Francis Chan speak, he never fails to harken back to God's ultimate glory and holiness (we don't get a lot of that these days), and like a modern-day prophet, it seems he wants to harken us back to God's ultimate glory and holiness having an impact on our daily lives. So with his thoughts on lukewarm Christians, he challenges me, not to works-based Christianity, but to a faith that changes how I live. Given my state of "recovery" as it were, it would be easy for me to read this book and make a list of all I "should" be doing to be a "better" Christian; however, what I need is the reminder Chan gives God desires my life to flow out of my response to Him, not my guilt and shame. I like that this book encourages us to think. Right now I feel I have more questions than answers, but I'm learning to be okay with that.

1. I definitely struggle with the idea that I need to come to God in a certain state of mind or feeling. Still a wrestling match I have a lot.

2. I think it's great he talks about personal retreats because not many people do talk about them. Again, not as a guilt trip, but more out of passing along ideas...it's like he's saying, "have you ever been silent with God for an extended period of time? Try it and see what happens." I don't think I've ever been silent that long, but perhaps that spiritual discipline of solitude has some merits. Not that we need to be monks or anything, but away from the clutter of noise to intentionally be with God. Ironically, my mom goes to this monastery once a year that does personal retreats, and I'm hoping to go with her for the first time this year.

3. I think being open to those works God has prepared for us (Eph 2:10) is a way to be thinking eternally...it's kinda cool when I think about it!

5. Loving God or His stuff is another wrestling match I'm beginning to have. I'd rather wrestle with it than just acquiesce to mediocrity, but it's hard. I guess another question is, if I no longer had all "His stuff," would I still believe in His goodness? I want to say yes to both questions...but can I yet?

6. I heard Chan speak on this concept of Jesus and the parables in Oct, and it was really challenging...I'm not sure what to make of its connection to seeker sensitive things...but what if we're saying that the Holy Spirit and Word of God aren't enough to reach people, but we have to dress it up (or down, as the case may be)? And I'm not too comfortable with that.

7. "Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control."
"Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to."
Those two kick my butt! I tried something new by really praying through the Lord's prayer the other day, and when I got to "daily bread," I seriously wondered what do I need day to day that I don't have, and am I really trusting God for it? How then do I live by faith?

8. I agree giving up everything is a lifestyle. And I do think it looks different for different people and what they are "called to" as someone mentioned earlier.

9. Yup, I think casual Christian is for ease. Are we the ones to identify them, though? Fortunately, Chan does not encourage us to find the lukewarm Christians and condemn them. He says, "don't assume you're the good soil." He only encourages us to honestly search our hearts, not to judge others.

11. Definitely a bomb; I say I don't want to succeed in things that don't matter...but deep down, I still do sometimes...we're all a work in process.

12. That was a challenging and fresh way to look at 1 Cor. 13...I did the exercise. Whoa.

13. I agree, not what Chan intended on the "disgust" note, but definitely what I can read into it as well.

Wow, reading stuff like this is a complicated process when we come at it with our own lenses and sets of experiences, eh?

jenn said...

1. I agree with Chan that I need to desire to spend time with God, but I also know that sometimes I have to discipline myself to take that time and THEN I start to desire more time with Him. We're human. Maybe that's a lukewarm excuse, but sometimes I need that time with Him before I desire Him. It's hard to take that time, but when I force myself to spend ten minutes in prayer, I suddenly realize that an hour has gone by. And the more I discipline myself to spend that time daily, the more I desire Him. So, yeah, sometimes I feel guilty for not always craving that time, but like you said, love is a choice and we can't always go with our feelings.

4. I love knowing that God doesn't need us. But He wants us. The Creator of the universe desires us! That's awesome.

5. This is something I've been thinking about alot lately. God or just His stuff? Again, as a flawed human, sometimes I do seek His blessings too much I think. But I also know that my mindset has been changing. I'm learning that when I desire God and seek Him, all the other stuff comes along with it.

7. Wow. The lukewarm Christian thing sure opened a can of worms! I can agree with both sides of this argument to an extent. I definitely felt some conviction while reading through the descriptions. And the Bible speaks very harshly about being lukewarm, so I don't want to brush it off as nothing.

At the same time, I am overwhelmed by God's grace. I don't want to make God a checklist. (Something I'm prone to do.) I'm good at looking at all my faults. I could tell you that, according to the list, depending on what day it is, I'm probably a lukewarm Christian. But I'm trying to look honestly at myself and I don't thing I'm lukewarm. Maybe it's because I'm looking at myself, but I don't think I am. I know I struggle with stuff, and we all do, but I think maybe the difference is that desire for God and to do His will. We're all going to make mistakes and have bad days. I wouldn't want this list to make someone give up altogether. I know that isn't Chan's objective, but for some people, I can see how this would be discouraging. I'm glad I read this chapter so I can look at the areas I need to improve, but I also want to remember that Christianity isn't a checklist. God looks at the heart. Man can't see what is in the heart. So I can see why some people are upset by this chapter, but I'm not. It's good to shine the light on the areas we need to improve (look how direct and offensive the Bible can be at times), but we need to take it in context. Chan could probably talk about grace a little bit more.

8. I agree. I think it's more of a lifestyle.

13. I also have trouble with the "disgust God" comment. Maybe it's my interpretation, but how can God love us unconditionally and desire us even though He doesn't need us, and yet be disgusted by us? My daughter doesn't disgust me. Maybe I'm taking this the wrong way, but I think he should have explained himself better.

So, all in all, I'm enjoying this book. I have a tendency to see myself in the worst light and look at all the things I'm doing wrong. Part of me thinks that Chan talks about works a little too much, but I'm trying to keep it in perspective. I think we can use some of these things to see what we need to strive for. And then remember God's grace when we do mess up or fall short.

fb said...

Great discussion. I think where we are in life has a lot to do with how we look at things. I have only gotten as far as chapter 4 - and kind of got hung up there. I think I agree a bit with everyone. Very convicting - so much of this pertains to me a lot of the time. But also - very maddening - because even when I am seeking God in some areas - I am bound to "lukewarm"
by this definition in others. I don't know about the rest of you but I put enough of a guilt trip on myself without any help. However, I also have to weigh everything against the word of God. My Bible says NOTHING can pluck me out of HIS hand. That is really good enough for me. Could I do better in my pursuit of Godly things - most certainly. Do I have to take everything Chan says as gospel - no way... All said I think there is value in continuing this book. There is more value in knowing that I am secure in my salvation and trying to use things like this to spur me on, rather than smother me with guilt.

JasonS said...

I struggled a lot with these chapters, particularly 4 and 5. I had to reread them a few times in order to make sure I wasn't taking anything out of context.

Taking all three chapters together, it seems like his message boils down to two things: (1) Just doing "Christian-y" stuff doesn't result in salvation and doesn't in and of itself please God; and (2) WHY we do what we do as Christians matters more than specifically WHAT we're doing.

He's not saying lukewarm Christians are going to Hell because they're lukewarm; he's saying lukewarm "churchgoers" who are not Christians will. Big difference.

That said, I don't necessarily agree with Chan on everything. I don't agree with his statement that "being rich is a serious disadvantage spiritually." Again, it gets back to WHY you are giving back or not giving back that matters more. Plus, if you look at the topic of spiritual gifts, it's clear that God uses different people in different ways.

I would encourage the people who took offense to Chapters 4 and 5 to reread them to see if they come to a different conclusion.

justlurkingthanks said...

JasonS

I've read these chapters three times now. Every time, Chapter 5 says: "As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing. To put it plainly churchgoers who are 'lukewarm' are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven".

I do not fully meet several of the criteria Chan describes in Chapter 4. Ergo, I am hell-bound according to his argument.

That is an astounding assertion.

I grew up in a very legalistic church environment. What Chan is saying in Chapter 4 & 5 is what I was fed as a child all the way into my adulthood... until I experienced a true, grace-based relationship with Christ.

It maddens me to read the people on this blog responding that they are "lukewarm" (hell-bound according to Chan) because they do not meet his particular set of rules that he backs up with proof-texts -some don't even apply half the time!!

People!! The very fact that you are reading this book and examining yourselves is an indicator that you are not lukewarm.

This side of heaven there will always be room to grow. But for Chan to condemn people who aren't fully living out the Western Hemisphere, North American, white, suburban, evangelical, version of Christianity puts him at odds with Christ himself.

Am I the only one who is not buying this at face value?

Catherine said...

1. Totally struggle with not desiring God as much as I want to. I wish I wanted to talk with Him as much as I want to call my BFF to rant about life. Once upon a time, right after my former life, I went to work, ate dinner, read the Bible, and went to sleep. I was so content for those several months, and lately I have been praying that God would restore that level of desire in me again.

2. I have done a half-day retreat. I need people too much to be gone for four days. Plus, I don't like camping. But, I would caution my Christian brothers and sisters not to try to do four days full-on. Baby steps, Bob, baby steps... It is so easy to set a lofty spiritual goal, not meet it, and let satan use it to guilt us away from our Heavenly Father. Screw satan--God is happy with me fulfilling a commitment for an hour rather than promising four days and bagging it after six hours.

5. I am totally in love with God's stuff. I need to be weened off the crack. I think it is much easier to fall into this self-deception as wealthy Americans than in a third-world country. I think I am in love with God, but then He does not give me stuff and I throw a temper tantrum. This is something I want to chew on for awhile. I want to catch myself desiring God's stuff, and see how often that is.

7. I feel so convicted about being lukewarm. I am not afraid that I am not part of the elect. I am not packing a cooler for the trip. But as I was reading this chapter, God showed me how complacent I am. My friends are complacent, too. Some girls that were in my last small group would say, "Well, we don't know the Bible like yoooooouuuu, because we have not been Christians our whole lives." (Guess what? I did not come out of the womb reciting John 14.1-4.) I spend five minutes in prayer and pat myself on the back because some of the people I know don't pray everyday and I am better than them. What the heck?!? My Heavenly Father is delivering a smackdown that is almost as embarrassing as Job's, except that it will not be recorded in a book for centuries to come. I can do more, give more, serve more, and definitely love more. I have had a discontentment in my spirit for some time, and I think it is because I want to surround myself with brothers and sisters in Christ who are going to encourage me in growth, and not let me stay complacent. I am missing that big-time in my life.

8. I thought I was the rich man who wouldn't give up his stuff for salvation, but then I was burglarized at Christmas. It was already a hard-candy Christmas for my family, but I had a peace that it was all "just stuff." God can take the rest of it away, too. It is just stuff, and it is not what is making me...well, me. I agree, Jon, it is a lifestyle but I would also add it is an attitude.

9. The Bible says we will know a tree by the fruit it bears. I agree with this. It is easy for me to say, "I'll pray for you," than to actually spend time in prayer. Complacent Christians may not be bearing much fruit, because they are happy enough to be attached to the vine. God does promise pruning, which I can attest is painful. This is one of those things we do not like to hear about ourselves. Don't call me out on my arrogance, because I will just mention your struggle with lust and say, "Don't judge lest you be judged." Paul is pretty clear that there is no condemnation in Christ. I do not feel as though I have to book people on guilt trips, but I think the American church has an image problem. We focus on our image, and we like to look good. Who cares that we are rotten on the inside. It's the bling, baby! I think if we were to step away from our lives and truly see ourselves, we would be disgusted by what we have overlooked. This is a generalization, of course, so don't bother telling me about how you aren't like that.

13. This is the grace vs. truth battle in my heart. I know that doing good works is not what saves me, but I believe I should be doing good works because of my love for God. I am trying to reconcile grace AND truth, so that I am doing good works in the name of my Father, but not depending on those for my salvation. I judge others around me as too much grace or too much truth, too. My Heavenly Father has told me to stop, but sometimes I cannot catch myself before it is too late.

JasonS said...

@justlurkingthanks:

I had a hard time with the "we will not see them in heaven" quote you mentioned in Chapter 5. But read it again. He says "churchgoers", not "Christians."

As I read it, his point is that there are people who go to church, who go through all the motions, who do all the stuff that Christians are supposed to do, but are not saved and do not have a relationship with God.

Chan goes on to say on page 87: "I do not want true believers to doubt their salvation as they read this book. …Each of us has lukewarm elements and practices in our life…."

Yes, I think Chapters 4 and 5 were poorly worded, and no, I don't agree with all of his assertions. But at the same time, I don't think his *intent* was to condemn people, only to challenge us.

Kendra Golden said...

Please don't stop reading if you were offended by the lukewarm list. One of the most awesome Christiam women I know said she felt bummed by chapter four about her own salvation but ended up really loving the book and feeling changed and motivated by it. Also, if this book offends people into becoming closer to God then I call that conviction, not a guilt trip.

I would love to hear from some people with a more global perpective about this. It seems like our Christian norm in America probably is much closer to the kind of lukewarm that will result in not having a real relationship with Christ at all.

To me there's a HUGE difference between burdensome works-based legalism and the cavalier once-saved-always-saved arrogance of refusing to conform to His liekness, but counting on a get out of hell free card.

Putting God first is probably a lot more intrusive to our American way of life than we'd like to admit. So I appreciate Francis (he likes me to call him that) for bringing the thunder and forcing me to hash all this out.

Again, give the end a shot. If you felt pushed away by the lukewarm profile, you might feel pulled back in by the obsessed profile.

Nick the Geek said...

Personally I agree that this book is offensive, but not in the way that makes me disagree with it. I think that the "lukewarm" Christian isn't really a Christian. We are told that to be saved we must confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord.

This is more than just a basic statement but something that affects the way we live. I believe that a great many of us really miss the point because it doesn't cost us anything to become a Christian. Jesus tells us that we must count the cost. This is something that I try to make clear, that salvation may come free but it isn't cheap.

I find it quite sad that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. It is because we have this mentality that the church exists to serve us.

As to what the book actually said. Well I was personally challenged. I might tear apart the way he got there, but that is just me trying to dodge the point instead of letting it affect me. This offended my sense of self accomplishment and we need that. Jesus was offensive because people had not been doing the Father's work.

I do agree that the people that would generally pick this up and read it are the people that are already doing. these same people, though, should be encouraged by what Chan says here. Sure we may not be living up to the full standard but that is where grace comes in.

I think the one part that Chan should have focused on is in the closing remarks in the letter to Laodicia. I believe this letter captures perfectly what God is saying to America today and so the whole letter should be considered. In verse 21 it says, "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne." This is very important. Most of us are lukewarm. It is sad but true. The language "spew you out of my mouth" is pretty clear to me. I think of coffee that has grown lukewarm. It tastes good hot or cold but when you take a drink thinking it will be good and get vile lukewarm coffee you don't want to keep it in your mouth.

Despite all of this Christs gives us hope. Those who overcome this will be given a great honor. That is what Christ gives us as the goal that should drive us to move out of our laziness and I think that is the goal that Chan should have focused on more clearly.

JasonS said...

One more thing...

Reading over Revelation 3 again, I came across this commentary in my Bible (Life Application Study Bible), which I think is relevant to the discussion:

"God would discipline this lukewarm church unless it turned from its indifference toward him. God’s purpose in discipline is not to punish, but to bring people back to him. Are you lukewarm in your devotion to God? God may discipline you to help you out of your uncaring attitude, but he only uses loving discipline. You can avoid God’s discipline by drawing near to him again through confession, service, worship, and studying his Word. Just as the spark of love can be rekindled in marriage, so the Holy Spirit can reignite our zeal for God when we allow him to work in our hearts."

Nick the Geek said...

Jenn,

I was just reading your comment about "disgusting God." You said "my daughter doesn't disgust me."

Maybe I'm wired differently as a man but there are times my kids disgust me. I have 4 of them from 6 months to 5 years old. The other day my 5 year old did something that really disgusted me. I didn't stop loving her though.

God actually uses some pretty strong language in different parts of the Bible when describing how He feels towards His people. He tells Moses "Your people disgust me and I'm ready to destroy them all and start over with you." He compares Israel to a prostitute in Hosea and has some unbelievably harsh things to say in those passages. Despite it all he keeps on loving them and working to help them.

We shouldn't think we are better in any way.

tim m said...

(Are we still doing the “Hi, I’m Tim from Pittsburgh” thing?)

Since everyone who HASN’T taken a 4-day retreat is giving their opinions on its value, I’ll give my opinions since I do it a lot. The idea started when I heard about someone (Philip Yancey, I believe) going away for a night with just a Bible and no commentaries. He ended up stranded for a few days. Stranded with only a Bible and no commentaries. Mind you, this was before Blackberries too. It “forced” him into something that changed his life.

After my wife left me, I sought solitude with God. The next Christmas, I didn’t feel like being with anyone, so I went to a cabin in the woods for four days with a keyboard, some books, a journal and to make it official, a Bible. I figured that everyone else in America was getting hyped up about their presents and baking and decorating and stressful times with the relatives, followed by the post-Christmas letdown and returning all the things they didn’t want and undecorating, so I had God all to myself. (I let Him have an hour on Christmas Eve to make an appearance at their services.)

I completely agree that, for people with families, this kind of thing is a huge luxury, if not an impossibility. But for all the single losers like me who didn’t get blessed with a family, why not let us have some time to get away from the distractions of the world and focus on God and His creation, reading huge sections of scripture, reading some good books like “Stuff Christians Like: the Retreat Edition,” and praying for our friends with families who have greater responsibilities than we do. I like to think that at least a few of my friends have benefited from my retreating on their behalf.

My advice is to stick with what you know and already do, but do it with limited interruption for a day or two. Not a fan of having some kind of “spiritual guide” leading a person through a retreat, unless it’s a group you trust. If getting alone with God isn’t for you, it’s probably because your relationship with Him is fine without it. But you might have some weaker brothers and sisters who could stand a couple of days alone without the distractions of the world.

daphne said...

I think my def. of retreat was different. The one I went on was not silent or just me. It had organized teaching and spiritual object lessons but hours of time to spend after the exercises with God. I liked it. Prolly the first time ever I could pray or read or worship uninterrupted for as long as I wanted.

Charlanne said...

Nick the Geek, great comment about the book being "offensive" in a good way...Jesus' message was quite offensive...truth can be that way, I'm learning.

And Jason S, I appreciate that distinction between discipline and punish. Discipline is important and needed...it results from love. Yay for God drawing us back to Himself.

Overall, I suppose I have a hard time imagining that Chan's theological view involves the concept of losing one's salvation. So, I don't think that is his point in this book.

Tim, I appreciate your input on the retreat. I don't think everyone needs to go for four days (it can be hard on those with families), but seriously, it's pretty amazing to try being silent for one hour with God!

jenn said...

Nick the Geek: I agree that we shouldn't think we are better than anyone else. Like I said in my first comment, maybe I'm interpreting this differently.

To me disgust seems like hate. If someone said I disgusted them, I would think think that they looked at me like I was just the worst thing ever. Like they just couldn't stand to even look at me or be around me.

I suppose my daughter can do things that disgust me, but SHE doesn't disgust me, just the things she does. Again, I may be interpreting that word differently than I should. That's just what comes to my mind.

I understand that God can't stand and hates sin. I understand that the Bible uses harsh words to describe sin. Sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that God is merciful and loving and yet does things like send a flood to wipe out all humans except for Noah's family, or swallow people up in the earth or whatever. I accept that about God and believe every word of the Bible is true, but I still don't understand it at times.

I don't want to serve a permissive, wimpy God, and I hope that's not the image I've given. I certainly don't want to change the Bible around to fit my image of God either. I guess to my mind, disgust is close to hate. As in the opposite of love. But maybe Chan was thinking more the way you do when he used the words. I don't know. You definitely made me think harder on my comment. Sometimes realizing how much I don't understand about God overwhelms me.

Monica said...

Wow! You guys are amazing! I really like all of the discussion both for and against what Chan has to say. I have definitely gotten a lot more from that than reading the book itself. All of the uproar about chapter 4; I admit that I was simply bored by it.

I know that there are areas that he spoke of that I need to work on(e.g., the times that I think I'm doing good, because at least I'm better than THAT person) but I really felt that he was challenging those who defined their Christianity by going to church or giving comfortably or doing the minimum, rather than those defining their Christianity by their relationship with Christ and whether they were growing closer to Him. Therefore, I didn't feel that it really applied to me, even though there are areas mentioned that I need to work on. So I was bored with it.

1. I think that our motivation being love rather than guilt does not mean that we run to Him merely from the "overwhelming sense of love and joy". I think that it means that I want to spend my quiet time with Him more than I want to sleep the extra few minutes. It means that I want Him and I want that time with Him, even if I don't feel one single thing.

3. Ahh, Eph 2:10. I love knowing that we have specific works that God has prepared for us. Ways that we can be obedient to Him. For those that are concerned about "works saving us", in the verses 8 and 9, Paul reminds us that it is grace alone that saves us, through faith. But our obedience to God is a sign of the life of faith within us (James 2:14-18). We can't live that obedience without grace, so any works we do are still because of grace, and not because of us.

5. I love this point! One of the things that God has been showing me recently is that I also want those feelings of closeness with Him when I pray. Those feelings are great, but if I want Him more than I want His gifts, I keep praying whether I feel anything or not.

6. I think that we should communicate clearly, but I think that it gives a lot of insight. How can some people go to church and grow in God, while others go to the same place and "get nothing out of it"? Those that aren't genuinely listening won't get it regardless.

12. I did the challenge and was overwhelmed by how far I have to go. Then I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I clearly can't do it myself and I have to rely on God to get me there, so no worries as long as I persevere with Him!:)

Monica said...

Jenn- I agree. I think that He may be disgusted by some of the things I do, but He loves me always; too much to leave me in my grossness.

jenn said...

Monica: That's a good way to explain it. He loves us too much to leave us in our grossness. It reminds me that we are disgusting in many ways, but God loves us in spite of it.

Beth said...

Wow, at this point I'm kind of overwhelmed. There are some great comments and thoughts here. I'm no theologian, and thankfully God is the only judge of a person's salvation, but it seems to me that there ARE many defeated/consumeristic/comfort driven Christians I've met. That is obviously NOT the model the Bible gives us, and I appreciate Francis Chan painting a very specific picture for us of what his ideas of lukewarm look like. They were challenging to me, not condemning. Faith in God, loving God, and obeying His commands are so interwoven to me, I wouldn't want to separate them.

Also, I love what Charlanne said about number 6:
"but what if we're saying that the Holy Spirit and Word of God aren't enough to reach people, but we have to dress it up (or down, as the case may be)? And I'm not too comfortable with that."
That's an awesome way to put it. As a part of a church plant, I sometimes worry about scaring new people away, and that's stupid. The Word of God and His Spirit are all we need to reach people. Thanks for that reminder!

Tymm said...

I had every intention of coming back in for the last 6 points Jon made - but I watched this video today and it wrecked me...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3v7ZQUzr0yo

I think every American needs to see it.

Whether it's Francis Chan's "Crazy Love" or Tom Davis' "Red Letters" - everything I read as of lately has me feeling less compelled to dissect dogma and more compelled to serve the least.

This video pushed me even further...

Abby said...

Definitely getting better.

I feel a tad bit guilty that I liked these chapters more than I liked the ones about God being so grand. On the other hand, I think seeing how insignificant I am because of my sins and how he loves me in spite of that is enough to throw me into a state of awe. Maybe I should read this backwards.

The part about God forcing us to love him got me thinking. I think the student may have been a little...off. I don't think that he forces love because in essence isn't love completely a choice, it can never be pushed or created.

Chapter 4

"Don't assume you are on good soil."
Whoa, it took me a second to regain composure and I thought to myself, "Um, Francis, I've been in church since before I was born, I was baptized before I was in kindergarten." Then there is that sudden understanding that my puny 20 years of being a Christian is incomparable to some men and women who have been christians their entire lives and then because of some tragedy late in life they walk away from their faith. It was enough to make me recheck my soil.

Lukewarm. Made. Me. Uncomfortable.
Awesome.

Prodigal Jon said...

Again, I am blown away at the honesty and ideas everyone is sharing. I'm torn on this one because of the two camps that war in my head, "you are lukewarm and need to work harder" and "God loves you, dirty and filthy and coming home from a pig pen" the one it is easy for me to run to is the first. So a lot of these comments are challenging how I think about the book and I might need to go reread those chapters. (I added the "and you need to work harder" in my own head, that was not Chan's intent)
Jon

Leanne said...

Hey, JustLurking, keep reading. I've found a lot I don't like about this book, but the last few chapters made it worthwhile.

I plan to re-read it, but there'll be chapters and sections I'll be skipping. I just don't agree with some of his theology or his exegesis or the way he planned out this book! However, I find myself recommending it to people which is just weird.

To respond to Jon's thoughts:

#1. Sometimes I think you do have to have the discipline. People go through dry times and feel isolated from God, it's only that discipline that keeps the door open. (Well, it's not only that, but that's kinda how it feels like).

#2 I've done two days, but it was a group retreat with a lot of alone time. It was transformative. Unfortunately, the place burned down in the last fires in California.

#4. Yes. Yes.

#5. Is the reason why I want to re-read this book. To really stop and think and journal on Chan's questions.

#6. See, I don't buy this at all.

#7 My book isn't handy, but yeah, I definitely recognized myself in a few of the lukewarm descriptions. Really did not like how he handled this chapter at all.

#9. It's just too judgemental... I mean, I understand what he's doing. It's traditional fiery prophet stuff, but I'm not sure it worked.

#12. Yep, took the challenge. Might be an interesting way to pray in the morning. Recite it the three ways "Love is...", "Leanne is...", "God is..." (because I think we need to be reminded that it's not all about me).

#13. Disgust God? No. I mean, if that was really the case, then humanity wouldn't have made it through the Old Testament! They wouldn't have completed Exodus! No, God is too complicated to simplify this way.

My other thoughts:

Chapter 3 gave insight into what makes the author's theology tick, so I really had no complaints until page 60: "would He be loving us if He didn't draw us toward what is best for us...? Doesn't His courting, luring, pushing, calling, and even 'threatening' demonstrate His love?"

To me, that sounds like God is asking for a restraining order. Just sayin'.

After all the judgement in Chapter 4, we get a bit of good news in Chapter 5 about God's grace, but I'm kinda disappointed he didn't discuss the tension that exists between doing what Jesus commanded, and the fact that we do have his forgiving grace for when we fail to meet those commands (which is, like, practically all the time).

Off to read everybody else's thoughts.

Sara said...

I have a feeling my comments might be a little redundant, but oh well.

Chapter 3:
pg. 52 I also have trouble internalizing Gods love. I think maybe because it is so unlike any love found on earth. Love has been cheapened and abused. Many have been hurt by people who should have loved them. I have a poor relationship with my dad. He works a lot and was never really available. I can really relate to him saying he equated the heavenly fathers love with his earthly fathers. It always seemed to me God wasn't very tangible. He seemed far away and I have trouble grasping that he wants a relationship with me and is always with me.

pg 54 the very top sentence
This could have come straight from my journal. It is exactly how I feel at times...doubtful.

pg. 58
When he is asking why God loves us and doesn't have an answer for that. It reminds me of something I heard at church. So often people need to explain or qualify why they love someone (ex: I love him because he is kind and makes me laugh.) but when it comes to God loving us...there is no good reason. We don't deserve it, he loves us just because. There is no explaining it or justifying it and that just ...... overwhelms me.

pg. 64
Do I see the kingdon of heaven that way? Would I sell everything to keep it? Would I take risks or move outside my comfort zone to keep it?

Pretty much all of chapter 4 made me feel nauseated. Maybe because is seemed familiar and I'm broken.
I know sometimes my heart just isn't in it. I love God and i want to want him more, but I'm just kind of blah.
I don't feel like I should go to God out of guilt because his grace has freed me from that. It should come from my desire to be with him. I don't think that desire just arrives one day and then never fades. I have to intentionally choose to get with God. I believe that even if my heart isn't in the right place, then getting in his word and spending time with him is a step in that direction. Then its my hope that in that place God refines my heart and aligns it with his, over time. I want less of me and more of him.

Chapter 5
pg. 85
I noticed how often I want to make aspects of God grey. He is very clear though. He wants all of me. Obviously I fail, because I doubt or try to make my own way or whatever and I choose other things or put other things before God. Thats when I am so thankful that his mercy is new every morning.

pg. 90
I'm ashamed. Sometimes I go to God and put on a worshipful exterior, go through the motions, but inside I'm blah. Why do I do this? It does nothing for him, I'm not fooling him.
Why? Maybe because it makes me feel better. I can check worship God off my list and then go through my day with a clear conscience. It is just so false though. I'm lying/pretending and hoping no one notices. Yuck!

Tim Kizziar's quote was awesome. It reminded me of Chan talking about using your 6 1/2 seonds well. It is such a privilege to even have a small part in God's epic story and I want to do my best to make those seconds about him and not me.

pg.92
I am guilty of cheapening the word love. I have used it to describe the way I feel about totally ridiculous things. Chan using 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 was such a great way to check myself and I realized how far I am from showing love the way God intended.

I'm really enjoying this book and the book club. Thanks Jon!

Jacob Lewis said...

From the DVD study guide we shot a few months ago:
Chapter 3


...thought you might enjoy :)