Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Donald Miller on Church and Christian Agency

Last month Donald Miller stirred up the blogosphere when he wrote about his church attendance habits. I wasn't offended -- I can relate, actually -- but many Christians expressed concern and disapproval. A few weeks later, RELEVANT posted an interview with Miller, in which he clarified his earlier statements. Miller also explained his personal vision for Christian community:

I think one of the problems with the current model of evangelical traditional whatever-you-call-it that we’re doing is a lot of people walk into a church and they feel the agency to be an apostle, to be a disciple of Jesus is given to one person in the room, or maybe five or six—and that’s the pastoral staff. And I would love to see a model of church where the pastor stands up and says “you are all pastors.” Just buy a box of sheriff badges and give it out and read Hebrews and say, “you are a pastor, and this Sunday meeting is time to equip the thousands of little churches that will leave here and take place in your homes around your dinner table.”

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Praying for Diamond

I read a story this morning that pulled tears toward my eyes:

Her name is Diamond.
By the time she was 21 she’d had three children with three different baby-daddies and been around a lion’s share of city blocks. Her eyes are as deep brown as the dirt on the earth, but not as dark as her heart or as heavy as her shoulders feel under the weight of ongoing drug abuse, failed relationships and the guilt of neglecting her children. She’s chosen her addiction over kissing her kids goodnight, goddamned habit she can’t kick for the love of anything – even though she kicks herself to sleep every evening when she lays her head down on a different street corner, or at the local bus stop depending on the weather. Diamond would give thanks to the powers that be – if she believed in them – for the pretty looks that make her so successful at panhandling for money as well as selling the poems she writes on her wrist on the rare occasion when she’s hit with inspiration. Maybe in five years or never, Diamond will have just enough ounces of willpower to get straight and finish high school. Maybe in five years or never she’ll be alive and clean enough to raise her own kids. Maybe in five years or never she’ll have a job and live in her own home, like she always dreamed.
It will either be in five years…or never.

Read more at A Deeper Story.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Book Review: ‘Pulling Back the Shades’

You don’t have to choose between being sexual or spiritual.
The words are a bold white-on-black, printed across the top of the book’s back cover. The front is even more provocative, designed to be reminiscent of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades series. However, the similarities end there — Pulling Back the Shades, which hits shelves today, has nothing to do with bondage.

It’s all about freedom.

Christian authors Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery have joined forces to address “Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart” (according to the subtitle). And the book delivers what the cover promises; its 150 pages explore an incredible range of topics related to both sexuality and spirituality, all in the conversational style you’d expect from Dannah and Juli. [...]

The authors also spend some time unpacking the spiritual overtones woven throughout theFifty Shades books. While neither woman had read the trilogy, Juli chose to do so in preparation for writing Pulling Back the Shades. Her review is quite alarming.

Visit Marry Well to read more.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Christian Response to Mental Illness

I recently discussed the issue of mental illness among Christians with a friend who almost lost someone to suicide last week. Thinking about the topic led me to do a little research, and in the process I came across an old blog post by Ann Voskamp titled "What Christians Need to Know about Mental Health." Voskamp begins:

Dear Church,
Cancer can be deadly and so can depression.
So can the dark and the shame and the crush of a thousand skeletons, a thousand millstones, a thousand internal infernos.

Her words are heart-wrenching, lovely, and true. She continues, weaving her own story into a cry for Christ's heart in us towards the wounded. 

We won’t give you some cliche – but something to cling to — and that will mean our hands.
We won’t give you some platitudes — but someplace for your pain — and that will mean our time.
We won’t give you some excuses — but we’ll be some example — and that will mean bending down and washing your wounds. Wounds that we don’t understand, wounds that keep festering, that don’t heal, that down right stink — wounds that can never make us turn away.
Because we are the Body of the Wounded Healer and we are the people who believe the impossible — that wounds can be openings to the beauty in us.

If we love like Jesus does, how can we have any other response?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Come and Make All Things New

I find my hand too quickly reaches to change the station when Christian music comes on the radio.

It's not that I don't like music that focuses on its Creator. I do. I may even say that it is the most true sort of music, as it expresses the most True of realities.

It's just that most Christian music isn't really about God. Sure, God is a character in the song, but the protagonist is almost always the omnipresent me. Or, if God is central, it's his relationship to me that is most praised.