Tag Archives: christian

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Every year I try to read a few books that I was supposed to read in high school but didn’t.  I just finished “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, and chapter 28 had a section that made me think of our horrible failure to be Christ-like in “Jerusalem” and “Samaria”.  I’ll type some of it below, and you see if you can read “missions” into it.

“But, suppose we [the South] should rise up tomorrow and emancipate, who would educate these millions, and teach them how to use their freedom? …The fact is, we [the South] are too lazy and unpractical, ourselves, ever to give them much of an idea of that industry and energy which is necessary to form them into men. …and tell me, now, is there enough Christians [in the North]…to bear with the process of their education and elevation?  You [Christians in the North] send thousands of dollars to foreign missions; but could you endure to have…your time, and thoughts, and money to raise [the freed slaves] to the Christian standard?  That’s what I want to know.  If we emancipate, are you willing to educate?  [Would you help them with housing, jobs, job training, education for children, etc.?]  We [the South] are the more obvious oppressors of the Negro; but the unchristian prejudice of the north is an oppressor almost equally severe.”

The book was published in 1852.  How much progress have we made in 163 years?

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Chosen By God

weekly theme #27*

week containing the Sixth Sunday of Easter

When I think of being chosen by God, I think of having some mission or purpose to accomplish.  Yet the first part of being chosen, the first part that never ends, is receiving.  I receive his guidance, care, protection, and discipline.  Until I receive from him, even the amount of my faith in him, I have no hope of accomplishing any mission.  God’s mission for me is unique from the missions of others because each of us is unique.  He uses a great variety of us to work in harmony for his fame and glory.

Paul says God reached out to me before I showed any interest in him.  In fact, Paul writes that God restored my relationship as his friend while I was still his behaving as his enemy.  (Romans 5:8-10)  He did this knowing beforehand what a rebellious, inconsistent, and dull follower I would be.  God chose me despite my qualities, not because of them.  What’s more, he invites me to join in carrying his cross, to suffer with him.  My willingness to do this is my expression of love to him.  It is an opportunity, not a punishment.

How involved is God in the details?  I have no doubt that he knew of me from the start of time, but was it by his design that I was born at this specific time and place.  I think so, and that makes the people and conditions in my path potentially divine appointments.  Why now?  Why here?  Why me?

The mind seeks to know and understand, and the heart seeks to be known and understood.  My mind seeks to know and understand God, but my heart’s longing is that he will know me and accept me as I offer myself to him.  The heart is content for he has called and chosen me as his own.  How I respond to being chosen has more to do with my actions than my feelings.  The question is whether I obey even when it’s painful.

I wondered what Psalm 126:6 meant, “They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.”   The Amplified Bible helped understand why they wept as they sowed.  They were in a famine.  This grain they were sowing could sustain them for the short-term, but they would starve in the long-term if they planted no crop.  And if there was no harvest, the sowing was for nothing.  Their act of sowing the seed was a total commitment in faith.  That is the proper response to being chosen – all-in obedience.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Fast Living

The secondary title to this book by Scott Todd is “How the Church will end extreme poverty.”

Basically the first half of the book does two things: it tells what causes extreme poverty and it gives us a pep talk.  I’m really glad for the pep talk because ending extreme poverty sounds impossible.  But he does a great job showing our progress in eliminating poverty and explaining our roles for the final leg of the journey.  I really think it’s worth the read, but pray before you read it.  It has the potential to end up like one of those “starving children” ads on TV that is just easier to turn off than face the reality.  So pray that God will give you the will and courage to read it with an open mind.

For much more on the book and movement, see www.live58.org.

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Love Wins

I read Love Wins by Rob Bell.  Actually, I listened to Rob read it to me.  It was a book on CD from the library.  Prior to reading the book, I heard a lot of chatter about it among “churchy” circles, and I had read Bell’s interview in Time magazine.  Those two things combined to create great anticipation for what I was about to read.  I was disappointed.

I repeatedly heard from friends, preachers, and forwarded e-mails (e-gossip) that Bell said there was no hell and that everyone goes to heaven.  So I expected to find clear, repeated statements from Bell to that effect.  Not so.  What I found instead were some questions that couldn’t be easily answered.  They made me think, and that thinking brought some ideas that didn’t fit my current beliefs.  Sometimes I held steady in my beliefs, and sometimes I adjusted my mindset.  So, rather than throw out everything in the book, I decided to let it be a tool for God to change me.  Let me share a couple mindset adjustments resulting from reading Bell’s book.

Being Good – The parable of the prodigal son is full of symbolism.  One of those symbols is the Father’s interest in reconciliation with his wayward children.  He looks for them, longing for them to come home.  He has no demands except a humble, freewill return to him.  And when the wayward child comes home, Father throws a party. But this parable also has a child who has remained consistently faithful to Father.  He has worked hard at being a “good” son, but Father has never thrown him a party.  In his anger, the “good” son refuses to join in the Father’s joy for the return of the wayward child.  This book helped me realize that I had an attitude similar to the “good” son.

 I liked movies where the bad guys lost, not when they changed their ways.  I wanted to see the guy who cut me off in traffic get a ticket rather than become a better driver.  I chose to complain about how I’d been wronged rather than pray for the offender.   I, the “good” son, believed mercy and forgiveness should bow to my idea of justice.  My priority was not the redemption of “those people”, but that all my good efforts and sacrifices would earn me VIP entrance into God’s “party”.  Admitting “those people” into the party was not fair.  What I failed to understand is that just being with Father can be a “party”, and all that he has is mine.  Welcoming wayward siblings home does not need to diminish my joy.  In fact, if I let it, my joy will increase.

Becoming Holy –I had anchored on getting to heaven, and it was hindering me from getting where God wanted me to be.  Getting me into the Kingdom of Heaven is not God’s goal.  He wants the Kingdom of God to get into me.  Right now I’m incompatible with God’s Kingdom.  My selfishness, complaining, judging, and an armload of other things can’t be admitted into Heaven.  They just won’t fit.  If all those things were in heaven, it wouldn’t be heaven.  I grew up believing that all those sins would be instantly cleansed forever, and I’d walk into Heaven perfected.  But some of Bell’s questions made me wonder why I’m waiting to shed those sins.  God doesn’t want me to wait to be holy – an intimate love for God that eclipses all other interests.  I can’t sit around waiting for heaven; there’s work to be done!

I really benefited from reading this book.  If you read it, give yourself permission to sift the wheat from the chaff.  Then plant the wheat.

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Filed under Be Like Jesus, Christianity

Crazy Love

by Francis Chan

I heard Chan a few times on the web compliments of Youtube.com, and I liked what I heard.  He was passionate, candid, and he made me think.  This book shows those same traits.  But honestly I was unprepared for how he challenged me.  He hit me right between the eyes several items.  

For example, he taught about the seed planted in soil that became choked with thorns.  The seed grew, but it bore no fruit.  I think that’s me.  Yes, I am surrounded by thorns – worries and cares and distractions.  And Chan opened my eyes to the fact that I do more than tolerate the thorns; I actually kind of like them.  The sports, TV, yard care, and hobbies have become important to me.  But are they more important than bearing fruit?  And that was just one of the topics that hit home.

I had just started this book when I told a friend about the first couple chapters.  She explained she had read already.  “Hang on.” she warned.  Now I understand.  This book made me see myself in an unflattering light, and I’m glad for it.  If you want a good kick in the spiritual pants, in a loving way, check out Crazy Love.

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” in the left side-bar of this blog.

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