Risky Writing

adventureI think writing/blogging is a bit risky. Exposing your thoughts and commenting on the world around you opens yourself up to all kinds of criticism and other ideas. It’s like driving through uncharted territory with your friends/readers as backseat drivers trying to tell you which way to go or what to think or how you should react or. . . whatever. And yet. . .as the driver of your own thoughts and actions, you still get to drive. You’re the one in charge. You’re the one who is breaking new ground and going places – venturing off into new territories. Anyway, it’s a bit adventurous to charge the hill of opinion with nothing but another opinion and a dream that yours will somehow make a difference.

rabbisI’ve been reading the book “Meet the Rabbis” by Brad H. Young lately, and I’m learning a lot, but I just had to share one of the thoughts I had today as I read. He quotes Elie Wiesel as saying,

“To comment is to reclaim from exile a word or notion that has been patiently waiting outside the realm of time and inside the gates of memory. When you pray, said the late Louis Finkelstein, you speak to God; when you study, God speaks to you. If study is discovery, commentary is adventure.”

I had to read it a couple of times but I love it! Commentary is adventure!!!! I love the idea that study is discovery and as we comment or respond, we step into adventure! With blogging and the web, there have become more and more commentators – more and more critics – more and more voices – more and more words just to wade through in order to discover the things that move us and call us into deeper ways of living. But I’m one of those people who needs someone to bounce things off of – I need a sounding board. Blogging and writing helps me to work through the things I believe myself. It helps me to understand my own thoughts – to make sense out of life. It’s my way of venturing out into uncharted territory and exploring the ideas before making the mistakes that come to people who act without assessing the situation.

Louis Finkelstein agrees. My blogging/commenting on life is an adventure. Maybe that’s why I love doing it so much. There is a bit of that explorer in me. I really think it’s the adventurer entrepreneurial risk-taking voice inside of me that really enjoys writing. It allows me to stake my claim on an idea – to stand up and say “Here’s where I draw the line and I will defend it.” It also allows me to test the waters of those ideas that I’m a bit sketchy on.

Anyway, I guess these were just some random thoughts today. I probably haven’t organized them very well, but . . .well, I’ve stepped into the adventure.

Prayer & Groans

mikeA friend of mine, Michael Chapman is going through a tough time right now – watching his mother die. She’s been whispering to someone while she’s in a out of consciousness over the past few days. Mike wrote a blog describing it and shared this quote:

In his book, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, Frederick Buechner says this about prayer: “Everybody prays whether we think of it as praying or not. The odd silence you fall into when something very beautiful is happening or something very good or very bad. The ah-h-h-h! that sometimes floats up out of you as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the sky-rocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else’s pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else’s joy. Whatever words or sounds you use for sighing with over your own life. These are all prayers in their way.”

What a beautiful way to describe prayer. It reminds me of Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” He knows our hearts and hears our prayers even when they’re not spoken, but the even better news is that He “groans” for us too!! I also love the imagery of the phrase in the quote saying the . . . . . “that floats up out of you.” Could that be the Spirit at work within us? I hope so.

Sometimes I close my posts with a prayer. Today, I’ll just say that something seems to be “floating up out of me” as I think about Mike’s mom, Jan. Maybe that’s the best prayer I can offer.

Harvest

I read a blog by Alan Danielson this morning that brings home a concept that’s been rolling around in my head for a while.

stickychurchHere’s a quote: “Often we think that a great harvest is when masses make a decision for Christ, but Osborne (in his book, Sticky Church) challenges that mindset. Farmers don’t celebrate and call it ‘harvest’ when seeds sprout tiny green buds for the first time. It’s not ‘harvest’ until the plants have grown to maturity and produce fruit.”

Yes!! That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. The church has grown to be obsessed with hype and big events that engage people in first-time decisions. No, I’m not knocking first-time decisions. I’m just saying that all too often that’s also the end of our efforts. The farmer image captures it very well – the larger celebration should be at the end of the harvest and our efforts should be consistent throughout the growth process!

PS – If this one concept is this powerful, I need to read this book.

Little Shovel

ShovelOn his blog, Seth Godin writes “If you want to dig a big hole, you need to stay in one place.”

I wonder how this applies to evangelism? He explains that if you take your little shovel all over town, you’ll end up with a bunch of little holes – little impact. As a marketing guru, he applies this to sales: If you make 1000 sales calls, you’re likely to get 1000 rejections. On the other hand, if you work on one person and call him ten times, you might make a sale.

Back to evangelism: I think Jesus understood the “Law of the Little Shovel” pretty well. Think about it. He spent lots of time with the same 12 people (the disciples). He used his shovel digging into the lives of the same folks every day for three years of ministry. Those guys ended up changing the world and bringing Jesus’ message to the world as we know it – big impact.

I think it’s important to realize that when we truly invest our lives in people, (the same people year after year) we will dig much deeper in transforming both them and ultimately, the world around us. We should think in terms of changing a few people greatly rather than changing a great number of people in small ways.

ER and real Faith

Hey guys – here’s a really good article I read on Ed Stetzer’s blog talking about the kind of faith people are really longing for. Check out the video clip from ER first.

Terry Mattingly writes:

Non-attendees (to church) want to ignore a generic God, but when/if they follow a faith, they want one that has robust beliefs and is worth following… Since growing churches tend to have more defined belief systems, when people start a journey to faith, they want something they see as worth believing and giving their life to. A generic god is hardly one worth committing to… As best I can tell, those who are not a regular part of a faith community still want to be “spiritual” people, but without a clear faith… Many fashion a tame God in their own image– a generic god for a generic spirituality, not a God who actually intervened in the world through the death of Christ and calls us to follow and live differently… For many, they want to get all the benefits of spirituality without any of the truth claims of a rigorous faith… I think the Oprah-ization of American spirituality has glorified “searching” for spiritual meaning but de-emphasized “finding.” In other words, it is good to be looking for spirituality, but it is intolerant to actually believe you have found a right faith and want to invite others to such. In “I’m O.K., You’re O.K. Spirituality,” the only sin is intolerance… and intolerance is defined to mean actually believing your faith is the correct one. 

Behold: even NBC knows that a generic faith in a generic God does little good
when it really matters.


My Questions: What is the Godly way to express this appropriate intolerance for a false gospel? Why aren’t we (leaders in the church) telling those who are espousing this kind of “faith” to “Get out?” What kinds of precautions can we take to make sure the true “Gospel” is what we’re all about? What are the “answers” that people are looking/longing for?