Archive for the ‘religion’ category

Wild Goose Chase

August 13, 2008

What has to count as one of the best recent examples of things coinciding has to be my wife handing me my copy of Wild Goose Chase  at around 8pm last night. I had come home and had thought about the book, but had let the thought go.

I had promised myself that I would read the book when it came in, so when I was handed the package I knew that my current reading would stop and Wild Goose would begin. Little did I know that by 1:30am I would have devoured the book and had some major epiphanies of my own.

Now to the actual review:

I had previously held up In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day as one of my favorite books – especially books to give to people. In a Pit has been eclipsed by Wild Goose Chase, Mark Batterson’s second book. The greatest theme of the book is the paradox between a caged and wild animal. The caged animal is safe, fed, well taken care of; the wild animal is in danger, has to find food and is out in the elements. The question is – “Which one is really living?”

Then Mark states one simple wonder, “I wonder if churches do to people what zoos do to animals.” From then on we are catapulted into a no-holds-barred quest for the life that Christ has really offered us. His thoughts on the story of Peter’s denial and restoration in Chapter Five are worth the price of the book alone. His emphasis on playing offense instead of defense with your life has made my own mind reel and re-examine some of my routine “plays”.

The book as a whole wields a blow to the modern constructed “inverted christianity” we are familiar with and breaks through to a “responsible irresponsibility” that needs to define more people who present themselves as Christ followers. If a fraction of the people who read the book actually do what is presented, we will see a major shift in both the practice and possibility of the Church.

The book is out in stores on August 19th. Check out www.chasethegoose.com and get Mark’s 10 Steps to Setting Life Goals. You can purchase the book by going to www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.borders.com, and www.cbd.com. This is one book you’ll want to buy 2 copies.

SIDENOTE: A major theme in the book is having big, huge, audacious goals and changing the world. I have a copy of Wild Goose Chase to give away and would like you to tell me what your big, huge, audacious goals for changing the world are. We’ll have a drawing and send the book to the winner, but we’ll also come together and do some open source global aid work and make some of our goals a reality – how ’bout that!

Pillars

August 2, 2008

This Sunday we begin a new series based on some of the foundational ideas/doctrines/disciplines of the church. We will be looking at prayer, serving, fasting and all kinds of subjects that you may have heard about, but were unsure of their existence/relevance in today’s spiritual culture.

This is going to be a great change of pace and I’m certain it will bothrefresh and revive many people. Don’t miss this important new look at something old in the church.

Box Top or Puzzle Piece?

July 27, 2008

Today’s message was spot on about the need to look closely at where we are positioning ourselves in our spiritual walk. Some of the questions that were brought up were – “Are we to follow the picture we’ve been given in putting the pieces together?” or should we “let the pieces come together and follow where they are leading us?”

In the church world there is so much static in the airwaves, that to gain some understanding of what to do and where to go is virtually impossible. Everyone considers themselves an expert and wants you to follow “their way”.

When we stop and speak to God and listen and allow Him to work in us – however that may look or feel – we gain the authentic knowing that can only come from God. When we’ve heard what we should do, there is always a degree of question, but when we engage the spiritual and receive a response, our steadfastness becomes far more secure. Jesus was very truthful when He said, “Seek and you will find.” Our path will only reveal itself when we begin to walk it out…one step at a time.

The Joy of Silence

July 23, 2008

Silence is a subject that causes us to run. Some run toward it while others run away. In my younger years I would have ran from the silence. I would have needed noise to fill in gaps and keep me from gazing inside at my soul. Now, a little older, I’m finding that more and more I tend to run toward the quiet.

The soul is an amazing part of being human. The soul constantly shows us things and gives us insight, but most of the time we are to loud to hear it. We need television, radio, CD’s and podcasts to buffer us from ourselves. The astounding thing is that if we were to listen we would gain more direction in our lives without having to ask for it.

“The Kingdom of God is within”, is a phrase that haunts me because I think we leave untapped a great resource for living the life Christ told us we could live.

Take time, if only for a few minutes, and sit quietly. Become connected to your surroundings and yourself. In those few moments, a lot can be done in your life and in the world around you.

Restoration

July 20, 2008

A key word in today’s message was the word “restoration”. In relation to the typical meaning of the Gospel, I love the way that “restoration” completes a largely incomplete thought which for years,the establishment church has asked us to accept.

Many people have gone to church this Sunday thinking that they have a “ticket to heaven” or a “get out of hell free card”. The problem with this mentality is that it negates the vastness of the purpose of Christ’s coming to Earth in the first place. To buy in to a quick fix religion may make you feel better, but it hardly exemplifies anything that would require giving my life for.

Let’s face it, most of what is served up as Christianity today is a mixture of some three or four word phrase taken out of context to drive home a point that is at best a diluted truth and at worst a man-made, man-created, man-centered doctrine. What are you willing to die for?

That is a question that ought to bring up family and proven core ideals. If your church or belief system isn’t among the list of “to die for” items, you need to reevaluate the substance of your beliefs. Only then will you be able to “know” what you believe.

 

Restoration is not just a onetime process either, if a home has survived hundreds of years, it has gone through many restorations. Time and use wear away and restoration lets us bring back the feeling of new while preserving the past. The same is true with the church and ourselves. Restoration continually brings back the “new” in our lives. Our appreciation and value of Christ increases and we again reconnect to the Source with renewed vigor, excitement and confidence.

This cycle of wear, restore, wear and restore brings us closer and closer to an unwavering realness in our journey with God. With each cycle His reality overtakes our notion of reality and He is made anew in our eyes.

Instead of struggling against this process, embrace it as a way to be drawn closer to a heart that is affectionate and fond of you.

Uncertain certainty

July 13, 2008

For most of my life I sought after control over the various aspects of my life – job, finances, friends, vocation, etc. In each of these and many more I attained a certain amount of what I perceived to be control. The truth is, I have never had control and neither have you, but I can’t argue that there is comfort in the delusion that we have acquired control.

Lately I have found myself in a remarkable place – mentally and spiritually. In seeking to find “the answer” to a number of things, I have come to the realization that the end result of “the answer” is not near as important as the journey I take in seeking. This is counterintuitive to the nth degree, but the investment of time and emotion spent “in search of” something is vastly more valuable than any found answer.

We have a need to seek, find and move on to something new – a form of spiritual ADD – but taking in the moment by moment events in the journey toward an answer reveal themselves as divine stepping stones, not toward The answer, but inward toward the realm of The Kingdom Within.

In the end, I have found that the only thing I can be certain of is the constancy of uncertainty. If I refuse to act unless I have certainty, I will remain immobile and ineffective. The greatest joy is that the pull of Spirit to spirit is stronger than my need for certainty. So on I go in the journey.

The real revelation is that if we are eternal beings, the journey can’t possibly have an end.

Anxiety

July 12, 2008

I’m a quote fiend, and Thomas Merton is a good victim for me. “Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity.” You may need to read and re-read those words. In general terms, anxiety of any kind stems from two forms of fear. One is the fear of losing control and the other is mistrust of the One to whom you are losing your control.

A repetitive topic here is that of Ego and its negative influence over our inner essence. Ego desires to remain in total control of your life indefinitely. Any fluctuation that may mean a renouncing or relinquishing of any control by your Ego will result in many different reactions. Frustration, guilt, shame, hate, anger and jealousy are just a few.

Specifically when related to spiritual, or as some would call “religious” issues, anxiety is the major symptom of intense insecurity. Another term this could be known as is “I believe it because ‘they’ told me and I haven’t really bothered to check it out myself, but I’m willing to cut friendships, offend family and ostracize myself from other people anyway” syndrome.

Never in all of scripture, both Christian and otherwise, is a follower told to “take someones word for it” in regard to spiritual teaching. Instead most spiritual documents call for a follower to look inside themselves and find the Truth. If the Kingdom was not “within” Christ would have never said so, especially if it was 180 degrees in the “out”. The difficulty is that “within” is a place few of us are willing to enter.

Last week I suggested that we look inside ourselves to begin the process of becoming Aware. The one thing I know is that the first step of peering deep in the crevices of our spirit is the most important. At the portal to our inner self He waits to guide us down and ultimately back up. It has been said that “the journey of a thousand steps begins with just one.” Take that first step within and prepare for the journey of a lifetime!