Oct 11 2011
Blessed are the Spiritually Bankrupt

You know that feeling, when God is right there, thisclose, and you can just feel His loving arms around you, and you can literally hear His voice, whispering in your ear, telling you how much He loves you? 

I don't. 

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Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."  I'm not sure what that means.  But I think Dallas Willard was the one writing about how "Blessed are the poor in spirit" really means, "Good news!  In MY Kingdom, even the spiritually bankrupt get invites!" 

Oh, man, I hope he's right.  That would be great news for me.  Because I'm not very spiritual.  Never have been.  I've tried.  And I'll keep trying.  But I'm just not.  I don't feel much of anything a lot of the time.  I'm sorry. 

I know;  I probably won't be writing old-school hymns:  "And He walks with me, I'm pretty sure, and He talks with me, in some ways, and He tells me I am His own, but generally not through an audible voice that I hear, at least in a non-metaphorical sense, and none other has ever known just how awkward it even is for me to talk about my faith, personally, and I know I should feel bad about that, too, but I keep trying."

Not a very good hymn.

Maybe I'm still doing something wrong.  I've never come by faith easily.  I don't get swept up in swirling "powerful worship".  Shoot, I'm not even comfy in it.  I don't take easily to praying out loud, even among friends.  I keep trying.

Could Jesus have been talking to people like me, the spiritually dry, when He was talking about how great the Kingdom is?  Maybe Jesus was saying, "Guess what?  When I'm in charge, it's good news even for the people who aren't all spiritual-y."

It means even I can participate!  I can get on this Gospel ride, even if I'm not as spiritually tall as this cut-out stand-up of Third Day.

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I'm thankful for my brothers and sisters who are so different from me, who've had profound, undeniable experiences.  A woman called yesterday, a woman whose husband committed suicide and left her with her kids.  And she was lonely, and helpless, and despairing... and God showed up.  And He put His arms around her, and she felt it, and knew she was not alone. 

I don't doubt God is like that.  In fact, it's why I love Him.  I know He's a father to the fatherless, and a champion of widows, and a lover for the scorned.  But...

...there is no "but".  He's just good.  So good that people like me, maybe like you, are invited to the party, too.  Oh, we might limp in, but we're totally there.

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The truth of Jesus is a two-edged sword, of course.  "Happy are the spiritually bankrupt" -- if that's the correct interpretation -- would sure bug some religious people, some people who really think they're spiritually rich.   But, hey, everything Jesus said bothers them.

And that, alone, makes me suspect Willard is on to something.

Oct 06 2011
The Totally Not Safe for the Family Christian Radio Podcast

Jesus isn't safe.

Yeah, I know: Duh.

Oh, we've tried to make him safe, but he remains the most dangerous man who ever lived.  People who reject Christianity still say they approve of Jesus... but he's a tamer Jesus, who doesn't go around saying remarkable things that would rock their world, if they believed it.  And people, like me, who embrace Christianity say they approve of Jesus... but he's a tamer Jesus, who doesn't go around saying remarkable things that would rock their world, if they believed it.

Hence the title of what will likely be a weekly podcast.  I understand the "safe for the family" positioning statement of many Christian radio stations.  They're saying, "You can listen to this station with your kids in the car, and we'll show respect for how you're trying to raise your kids."  That's something few radio stations deliver, and it's admirable, and it's smart programming.  As a dad, I even appreciate it.

...but here's another means to talk about stuff, if you're interested.  As always, just like on the blog, the views expressed aren't everyone's at Air1, and may not even be mine by next week.  I'm learning.  These conversations aren't meant to be sermons, they are just that -- conversations, which, by way of comment on this blog, you are invited to join!

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Podcast 1

Click Here to listen to the podcast

Guest:  Recording artist "Plumb"

Subject: A mom, from a conservative background, grapples with what it means to love people who are homosexual

Some other stuff on the blog you might want to read, about this sort of thing:  "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin?", and "Breakfast and Honesty"

 

Oct 04 2011
A Brief Reading List to Make You a Raging Nutball Like Brant

Believe it or not, people ask for this.  Some, because they're genuinely wanting something to read, and others, likely, because they want to know how one human's brain can be so fouled.  Who's to blame for this?
 
Well, here you go.  Just a starter list.  Blame these books, and these authors.  More to come, if you want.
 
A Scandalous Freedom -- Steve Brown
Steve Brown is a good, solid, Reformed, theologically-sound, upstanding, pastoring, college-teaching, doctorate-holding, mild-mannered, wise, older gentleman.... who completely ticks off all the “Good Christians” with this book.
 
He tries to get Christians to believe the Gospel, and, my friends, let me tell you... that ain’t easy.
 
In other words:  Hero.
 
 
Orthodoxy -- G.K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton is one of my favorite people ever.  He’s absent-minded, he’s self-deprecating, he’s happily fat, he loves life, and he disagrees with just about everybody, all the time.  And he’s also so right, so often.
 
Plus, he’s hilarious.  And he skewers modernity, just so. 
 
He shows how beauty, art, and life are found within the bounds of lasting, Biblical faith in Jesus, not in the avant-garde.  Faith in Jesus “fits the lock” for life’s troubling questions.
 
 
Pagan Christianity and From Eternity to Here -- Frank Viola
They won’t stock Pagan Christianity in many church bookstores, even though it sold mega-copies.  I can understand why.  Frank Viola (and George Barna) show that a lot of what we think of as making up Biblical “church” life actually has no basis in scripture. 
 
Hold on to your churchgoin' hat.
 
-- and then read Viola’s follow-up, From Eternity to Here, to see just how beautiful God’s vision for the church really is.   It’s an incredibly romantic book.  Read them both.  Healthy deconstruction, then reconstruction, and it’s a beautiful thing.
 
 
Prodigal God -- Timothy Keller
I wish I could buy this one for everyone who’s been in a church more than two years.  Tim Keller captures the story, and how it re-defines, for its listeners, God, sin, and forgiveness.
 
The mis-named “Prodigal Son” is the best story I’ve ever heard.  Read this book, and then thank God. 
 
 
Messy Christianity -- Mike Yaconelli
Mike Yaconelli died in a car accident after writing this.  I always admired him for his youth ministry, and for his leadership of “America’s slowest-growing church”. 
 
Funny, and easy to read, and so true.  We’re all messed-up, and stuff happens, and thank God for all of it.
 
 
The Last of the Mohicans -- James Fenimore Cooper
Just kidding.  I actually hate this book.  "The Coop" was, I’m sure, an awesome guy, but... zzzzz.
 
 
The Great Divorce -- C.S. Lewis
I could pick practically anything by Lewis.  But Heaven and Hell are big right now.
 
In Love Wins, a book of the moment, Rob Bell recommends this book “for further reading”, along with Keller’s Prodigal God.  On this, I agree with Bell wholeheartedly.
 
 
What’s So Amazing About Grace -- Philip Yancey
The world pines for grace.  It aches for it.  Yancey is a fair-minded, thoughtful, journalist-type who grew up in legalism.  He tells stories, and helps us all breathe the fresh air of Amazing Grace.
 
 
The Ragamuffin Gospel -- Brennan Manning
This book confirms what I thought:  If a single book is loved by both Rich Mullins and Bono, I’ll love it, too.
 
Here's the upshot:  Losers, misfits, and benchwarmers... welcome to the table of God.  Let's dance.

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