Showing posts from February, 2009

The Shack and the postmodern world

I have found The Shack, by William Young, to be a springboard for many lessons in theology, especially as it pertains to a postmodern interpretation of God. I am not advocating for or against a postmodern interpretation of God, although I find that much of what is being stirred up in our cultural transition to postmodernism is very good for the church. At any rate, The Shack draws us into that discussion in an engaging way, and for that reason, I am going to make quite a few posts about it. The smaller discussion is about The Shack. The larger discussion is about what it represents theologically in our particular time and place.

Whether you are postmodern, anti-postmodern, or somewhere in between, you need to be fluent in this discussion. Our culture is headed in a particular direction; it is not turning back. And the church is here to bring the gospel to whatever culture it lives in. That means, among other thing, understanding the terrain that shapes both non-Christians and Christian…

A note on intimate prayer

Recently God has given me additional gifts in prayer -- ways of relating to him that are more intimate and personal than what I have known before. They center around being quiet and receiving from God in a place of trust and peace.

Being quiet with God takes time, and for the last week or two, I have not been devoting myself to it with any consistency. However, this morning I set aside a chunk of time just for meeting with God. In these prayer times, sometimes God speaks to me and some times he doesn't. This morning he did. As soon as I settled in, God communicated to my soul is that when we experience gifts in prayer, they are personal invitations given in love. My neglect of being quiet with God was a neglect of God himself, not a neglect of using a particular form of prayer.

The problem is that I had started viewing these prayer gifts as tools that I now possess. I thought, "I can pray like this now. But if I don't have time, it's okay. I'll come back to it later…

Reading The Shack

I will probably finish The Shack tonight. It's an interesting and entertaining read. I can see why many people have heartburn with the book, for it presents a theological picture that will rattle your cage. However, having our cages rattled isn't always a bad thing. Jesus rattled a lot of cages. He is the "stone over which many will stumble," isn't he? I am not saying The Shack is a revelation of God on par with Jesus, but it does contain some points that are edifying. I'll reserve further comments until I'm finished with the book.

Had a great Valentine's dinner last night with two other couples, the Hockers and the Wrights. What a blast! Speaking of Valentine's day, I have to share this poem written by our 7-year-old Nathaniel. It might be as profound as The Shack!

Love feels like a warm blanket.
Love tastes like a hot fudge sunday.
Love smells like food.
Love sounds like a breeze of the soft wind.
Love looks like kisses.

God's love and the incarnation

I was reading a book on the incarnation of Christ last night. It's a subject I return to frequently. I was amazed to discover all over again that the incarnation is such a radical expression of God's love and compassion.

The thought that the God of the universe would become human, make himself a slave to other humans, and die a shameful death for them (Phil 2:5-11) is a ridiculous idea to many people. Granted, it does sound ridiculous. But then God's love is ridiculous. It has no limits. God is utterly free of self-interest. He doesn't pull back. Therefore, I find the incarnation believable because it expresses the greatness of God's love. It would have taken less love to leave us humans to our own self-destruction. That's how I know God didn't do that. He overcame our self-destruction for us by personally entering into it. Entering into our plight rather than just yelling at us from afar demonstrates the incredible compassion of God. Love and compassion -- …

Psalm 81 and the importance of listening to God

This morning I was struck by something I read in Psalm 81. What caught my eye was a play on words. In this Psalm, there is a great difference between "hearing" God and "listening" to God.

Ps 81 contains one of the great secrets of living well: listening to God. In v. 8 and v. 13, God says, "If you would only listen to me..." As the Psalm conveys, listening to God really means taking in his Word and being obedient. Not listening means disregarding his Word and being disobedient.

Unfortunately, in v. 8, God says that because his people have not listened to him, now they have to "hear" him as he corrects them and lets them know the good things they are missing out on.

I don't think we want to get to that place where God says, "Hear me..." When God says "Hear me," the gentle whispering is over; now the louder sounds of correction are coming.

The Psalm also tells us that God has a preference. He loves his people. He would rather g…

Celebrating a friend's new book

Today I am celebrating the release of a new book by my friend and old seminary buddy, Scott Daniels. Scott is presently the pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena. His book is now listed on Amazon, and it is entitled Seven Deadly Spirits: The Message of Revelation's Letters for Today's Church. The book mines the letters to the churches in Revelation, uncovering seven types of collective mindset that can affect a church, either positively or negatively. I plan to get the book as soon as possible. I'll write about it when I read it.

Way to go, Scott!

Facebook and friendship

I signed up on Facebook today. It's weird. I want to connect with people, but the whole idea of requesting that someone be my "friend" makes me feel awkward. I guess it's the idealist in me.

I have resisted the Facebook phenomenon for a long time, partly because I am afraid of having another thing that demands time. But maybe this is worth it. After all, Facebook is all about connecting people. It's just that the medium of the internet makes human-to-human relationship slightly artificial. That's what I am trying to get used to.