Category Archives: quote

My King

A classic.

The Call

The Call, by Os Guinness.

Overview

One of the chief problems with contemporary Western Christianity is a misunderstanding of their calling.  God calls each of us in two distinct ways.  We are called by, to and for God, following him.  And second, we are called to live in a way that conforms with his sovereignty.  Our calling is as complex as our identity, and can be found only be looking at the various facets of how God exerts his loving influence over the world, and over us.  We should live our lives so that he is pleased with us, even if that means that no one else is.  To do so means we take responsibility for our thoughts, words, feelings and actions.  A proper sense of calling will combat the seven deadly sins and provide the motivation and vision for leaders to emerge to lead the church (and the world) in God’s mission of grace, truth and love.

Critique

Guinness has a natural way of expressing complex ideas in simple terms through the use of story and illustration.  He inspires even as he teaches.  Guinness states in the book that his call includes translating the gospel for the culture and translating culture for the church.  He has certainly done that here.  His chapters on the seven deadly sins are masterful, though, at times, it seems he is stretching a bit to connect the discussion to a sense of “calling” particularly.  At some point, one wonders if Guinness’s idea of “calling” is just a guise for “everything about life.”  While each chapter is helpful, they don’t flow well together, and it is hard to identify a cohesive structure to the book.  Nonetheless, this is a great book, worth keeping on the low shelf for future reference.

“The problem with Western Christians is not that they aren’t where they should be but that they aren’t what they should be where they are.”  p.166

Public Faith, Bringing Personal Faith to Public Issues

“We often make the mistake of running to God for answers before we have allowed him to teach us how best to frame our questions. We come with our wrongheaded agenda when what we need is a radical transformation of perspective. As a protection against this tendency, I have written (for the most part) expositionally rather than topically. We want to be patient rather than impatient children — gathering quietly in the Father’s study to hear him out, rather than dragging him by the hand to and from the rooms of our choosing.” From the introduction.

Excellent primer on how to think about faith and politics. Thanks, Charles Drew. Second and third readings will be beneficial.

I don’t want to be charity

I love to give charity, but I don’t want to be charity.  This is why I have so much trouble with grace.

A few years ago I was listing prayer requests to a friend.  As I listed my requests, I mentioned many of my friends and family but never spoke about my personal problems.  My friend candidly asked me to reveal my own struggles, but I told him no, that my problems weren’t that bad.  My friend answered quickly, in the voice of a confident teacher, “Don, you are not above the charity of God.”  In that instant he revealed my motives were not noble, they were prideful.  It wasn’t that I cared about my friends more than myself, it was that I believed I was above the grace of God.

…It isn’t that I want to earn my own way to to give something to God, it’s that I want to earn my own way so I won’t be charity.

Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

The Goofy thing about the Christian faith

The goofy thing about the Christian faith is that you believe it and don’t believe it at the same time.  It isn’t unlike having an imaginary friend.  I believe in Jesus; I believe He is the Son of God, but every time I sit down to explain this to somebody I feel like a palm reader, like somebody who works at a circus or a kid who is always making things up or somebody at a Star Trek convention who hasn’t figured out the show isn’t real.

Until.

When one of my friends becomes a Christian, which happens about every ten years because I am such a sheep about sharing my faith, the experience is euphoric.  I see in their eyes the trueness of the story.

From Donald Miller‘s Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. page 51.

Breathe Deep

Politicians, morticians, Philistines, homophobes
Skinheads, Dead heads, tax evaders, street kids
Alcoholics, workaholics, wise guys, dim wits
Blue collars, white collars, war mongers, peace nicks

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Suicidals, rock idols, shut-ins, drop outs
Friendless, homeless, penniless and depressed
Presidents, residents, foreigners and aliens
Dissidents, feminists, xenophobes and chauvinists

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Evolutionists, creationists, perverts, slum lords
Dead-beats, athletes, Protestants and Catholics
Housewives, neophytes, pro-choice, pro-life
Misogynists, monogamists, philanthropists, blacks and whites

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Police, obese, lawyers, and government
Sex offenders, tax collectors, war vets, rejects
Atheists, Scientists, racists, sadists
Photographers, biographers, artists, pornographers

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Gays and lesbians, demagogues and thespians
The disabled, preachers, doctors and teachers
Meat eaters, wife beaters, judges and juries
Long hair, no hair, everybody everywhere!

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

–1992, Terry Taylor, on an album of the Lost Dogs, called Scenic Routes

Jesus Storybook Bible

The Jesus Story Book Bible is the best Christian educational material I’ve ever seen!  No doubt at all.  My wife and I have enjoyed reading it together before we fall asleep at night.  We’ve given it away to lots of people now.  This should be required reading for every Christian, I think.  And I’m in good company.  Tim Keller recommended the book to his congregation a few weeks ago (for young and old alike), which is something he rarely does.

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I’m very curious about the author, Sally Lloyd-Jones.  She lives in New York City, but is British.  She attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church where Tim Keller is the pastor.  I wonder if and how she is related to the Doctor, Martin Lloyd-Jones, hugely influencial in many of my heroes, including Keller.

This book is in sharp contrast with most everything available for children (and adults, for that matter) for Christian education.  For example, Veggie Tales commonly (if not usually) interprets Bible stories in a decidedly non-Christian way.  Usually, Jewish scholars would be very happy with the Veggie Tales lessons, and Buddhists would be very happy to show them to their children, for sure.  Why?  Because Jesus is not the hero of the stories.  In the story of David and Goliath, for example, Veggie Tales tells us that we are to learn (and teach to our children) self-confidence because David was little, but he did a “big thing.”  Basically, David trusted in God (who is bigger than Goliath), and so you should trust God just like David did.  Be like David.  Don’t be afraid.  Trust God.

That’s a nice message, except that the focus is completly centered on me (or my child) rather than Jesus.  If I have a problem, the answer is . . . I need to trust, or I need to have self-confidence, or I need to be like David, or whatever.  Sally Lloyd-Jones has a completely different take.  Hers is redemptive.  It shows us Jesus in a way so that we instinctively trust him, we don’t need to be told.

 C.S. Lewis advises young writers, “Don’t tell us that the fat lady went to the stage and sang.  Instead, bring her on.  Let’s hear her sing!”  Keller tells young preachers, “Don’t tell me that God is beautiful.  Describe God to me so that when I see him in your words, I will say with a hushed voice, ‘He’s so beautiful.'”  [These are both paraphrases, not direct quotes]  Sally Lloyd-Jones does it.  I’m looking for a second volume to cover many great biblical stories missed in this first one.

Anyway, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

1.  Have you read it yet?

2.  If so, which story is best written?

3.  Were there any surprises?

4.  Why is this book so unique among Christian education materials?  Or, Why are we so f%$# moralistic in our understanding of the Bible stories?