Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Review: The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

How could twelve disciples change the world two thousahd years ago when two billion Christians can't today? If we are proclaimers of the Good News, why does our message bring so little joy? If we cary the Light, why do so many wander in darkness? We are missing something. There is a hole in our Gospel.

This isn't a bedtime story. This book will make you uncomfortable. It will make you see things differently. In fact, you will see things you never saw before. It may make you angry. At yourself. It may leave you asking more questions than it answered. It seems like an extended World Vision commercial at times, but I think this is understandable and acceptable.

The Hole in Our Gospel feels like an autobiography at first. Rich gives us an idea of where he has been and how God worked in his life to move him into his position as President of World Vision. As I read the first few chapters, I kept asking God to work so powerfully in my life.

As the story continues, the mood changes as Rich presents a myriad of facts and statistics regarding the poor around the world. This is, by far, the most difficult portion of the book. I felt guilty, angry and hopeless as I read. This is where my eyes were opened to things I had not seen before. Things I did not want to see before. As I read, I asked God to forgive my ignorance and apathy. I asked to see the World through His eyes.

Rich concludes with a call to action. I knew it was coming as I read the book. The problem was I felt overwhelmed by everything that is wrong with the world and felt hopeless to make a difference. Rich expects this and provides a great amount of encouragement in just a few pages. As I finished the book I was inspired to do even small things with great love.

I have already recommended this book to several of my friends and have asked for a copy to be placed in our church library. There is so much work that needs to be done and we can achieve so much more if we all work together.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

God Isn't Fair

God isn't fair.

I’ve been thinking about that for about a year now. My friend, Clarence, and I were driving along discussing God’s grace. I was – and still am – trying to wrap my mind around concepts like election, free will, grace and justice. We were talking (actually arguing) about the concept of limited atonement. I just couldn’t understand why God would choose to save just certain people and not others. I remember telling Clarence it wasn’t fair…

I’m not writing this to defend or criticize Calvin’s views of grace. People much smarter than me have been debating this for centuries and I can’t add anything new. Like I said before, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around all of the concepts. And God just doesn’t make sense sometimes.

I will say Clarence’s response has echoed in my soul over and over for the last year.

He said it wasn’t fair that God saved me.

Just typing that phrase makes me shudder. God really had no reason for reaching into my life and rescuing me from my sin. Why was I born to parents who loved Jesus? Why did I want to follow Him from an early age? Why did He place such Godly people in my life over the years to keep me on track when I could have so easily gone my own way?

I am humbled when I think about what Jesus did for me…

Philippians 2:6-8 says, “(Jesus), being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

I don’t deserve God’s grace. None of us do. But I’m so thankful He is merciful beyond what I can imagine. I’m so glad God isn’t always fair.

How about you? Have you experienced the great grace of God? What’s holding you back? Will you depend on Jesus to save you or are you waiting for what you deserve?

Friday, May 29, 2009

My Life on the Highlight Reel

This is something I have been pondering since last football season, but never sat down to put it into words.

My favorite part of Monday Night Football is watching Chris Berman count down the best plays from the previous Sunday. It's really the same for any sport I'm watching. I love the highlight reel. My favorite athlete of all time is Michael Jordan just because he was so consistently amazing.

So, I was thinking about my life and wondering how much of it would ever end up on anyone's highlight reel. I'm a pretty normal guy. There's not much to my day-to-day existence that would amaze anyone. I began feeling a little discouraged about not making a greater impact on the world around me. There is so much of me that wants to make a difference. Not really for the notoriety or fame, but mainly for the satisfaction of knowing I mattered.

Then, as often happens, my thoughts drifted towards GOD and the kinds of things he would put on His highlight reel. Faith. Love. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Self Control.

I have attempted to practice these things more often throughout my daily life. Not to impress the world around me, but to honor the GOD who saved me.  It's not always easy and I often fail - just ask anyone who knows me.  But it's a start and I hope to get better at it every day.  When I stand before GOD to be judged for this life, my prayer is that the video playback is more like a highlight reel than the nightly news.  I hope to win the race He set before me.

Why don't you join me?