Monday, December 31, 2012

Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being Book Review

I had the privilege of reading Zach Eswine's book, Sensing Jesus, through Net Galley, this winter. What a privilege it was.

Not only does Eswine help you understand the emotions behind what it means to be a ministry leader and a follower of Jesus, but he builds a solid foundational base on scripture by which to stand as one. The author talks you through all the feelings of being broken and beaten-down in ministry and reminds you that Jesus is where you hope lies.

I felt like, as I got further and further into the book, that I was getting to know Zach as a friend and brother in Christ. His writing style is personal, poetic, and reads much like a memoir (my favorite genre of books).

I truly felt that not only was I not alone in experiencing what I had in ministry (the ups and downs) but also felt as if I had a true friend in the author. A book that gives me a sense of who the author truly is, rather than how they want me to see them, is the best kind of book. His authenticity and transparency is remarkable.

Zach is a great writer, who writes with deep feeling and honesty. He writes with a poetic soul, the words more like a symphony than a sentence, reminding us that we are highly creative beings, made by a wonderfully creative God.

This is a must-read for another going into the ministry and a wonderful balm for the soul for those who've been in it for a while. Zach truly has an understanding of the human heart, and isn't afraid to be open and honest about the struggles we all go through as we seek to serve God in the local church.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Values vs. Inanimate Objects: How We Shouldn't View the Newtown Tragedy

Do we really need one more voice out there about this?

Probably not, but I’m going to say it anyway. Because one thing I will not stand for is when the people of America make a three-dimensional issue a one-dimension issue.

This is not about guns... primarily.

This is not about values... primarily.

You cannot say today’s culture is void of values and that’s why a massacre happened. People were killing each other long before the culture was where it's at now.

You cannot blame the use of guns on it either. Adam Lanza didn’t have a gun. He stole the guns he used in this massacre. A criminal will find a way. I don’t believe we should make it easier, but by remove the right to bear arms from our constitution is a one-dimensional way of solving the problem.We have to take a long and serious look at our gun control laws. We have to. But that's not the end of the story.

Because if we were to take away the right to bear arms in this country, it would not change the human heart.  
This is an issue of idols.

When I was a kid, my mom used to make me pull the weeds out in the flower beds around the house. When she taught me to do it, she made it clear that if I didn’t grab and pull up the roots too, the weeds would come back.  It’s the exact same thing with idols. By removing the things that tempt us in the first place we are only taking care of the surface issue, not the root.

I have a surface sin of criticizing others. I can stop doing it out loud, and I still keep doing it in my head. All that really does is make myself look better in front of others (by not voicing my judgments) and not hurting others’ feelings. These are all good things to aspire to, but it’s not making me less critical of others, it’s just allowing my critique to fester inside. It’s not changing my heart and attitude toward people – the people which need love and grace and someone to come alongside them to care for them in the midst of their brokenness. This is how I should deal with people – not critique them. But I cannot change my feelings towards them by simply stopping my criticism. I have to learn to love people in order to truly change from the inside out. (This also doesn’t mean I should keep on being critical – the answer is never to just “Go on being a terrible person because it doesn’t matter anyway.” That is definitely not what I am saying.)
To quote a very wise man, RC Sproul, “the problem of evil is the problem of us”. We are born evil and Christ is in the process of redeeming us. Without recognition that we are bad people who do bad things to other bad people, then we can’t figure out just how we could solve this tremendous issue facing our nation.  If we simply change the law, it will not change our hearts. We must start with the human heart. It is broken and in need of repair. Only the one who created it can repair it.

The question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” can only be answered this way. “That only happened once. And he volunteered for it.”

That man was Jesus. It’s because of his self-sacrificing love that I can be changed. We all can.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

From Grief to Blame

It’s hard not to seek answers during a time like this in our country. It’s hard not to keep your eyes glued to the TV as the news coverage uncovers all the details of a national tragedy.

It’s also hard to simply let yourself heal.

My therapist in seminary told me I move on too fast. I hadn’t thought about that before, but I realized she was true, especially once I had the experience of grieving through a loss before then seeking answers. I thought seeking answers would help me heal.

It didn’t.

Moving on is the natural instinct in a situation like this, because we just want to the pain to be over. But by not feeling the pain, we are stunting our emotional health and most importantly, our hearts become hard.

The news is making me very angry tonight. Investigative reporters are pushing, pushing, pushing to blame, blame, blame. Blaming the mother, blaming the school’s lack of security. They are even analyzing the statements made by parents of those who lost children and asking physiologists to tell the world how the parents should be reacting. WE GET IT.

But stop. Seriously, stop it.

Let us grieve. Let us process the nature of this evil and the children who died senselessly. It will not help us to hear about why this killer’s mother had so many guns. It will not help us to hear that the killer was mentally ill. It will help us to hear about the children who died. It will help us to hear about the heroic acts of the teachers inside that classroom.

Let us cry. Let us grieve. Stop giving us answers, stop assigning blame and start giving us hope.