Sunday, February 19, 2006

Donald Miller's words on the The Second Chance.
Very well worth the read.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Over on Steve McCoy's site, there's a discussion over the recent 9 Marks review of Blue Like Jazz. I read the review by Shane Walker and the subsequent response by the iMonk, Michael Spencer.

Here is my take since 1. I've met Donald Miller and 2. I've been through the spiritual desert of Christianity.

First of all, Shane Walker has his right to critique "Blue Like Jazz". Heck, anyone with access to an internet site or blog can write a critique. However, in Walker's review, he forgets the premise: Miller's faith journey and learning to be a relational Christian, not a superficial one. Miller covers his own faults (which most of us would be unwilling to do), redemption, and being a witness for Christ.

Walker examines BLJ through scholarly-Biblical eyes, while pointing out spikes of post modernism. Walker continues with his belief that Miller's Jesus is a happy-go-lucky guy, who hangs out with Miller, and drinks beer. Walker then contends, rightly, that Jesus is really the ultimate judge and wrath bearer.

Yet Walker entirely misses the scene of Miller, and fellow Christians, speaking to students at Reed College. While at Reed, Miller shows the face and voice of Jesus. He reaches them much differently than the Bible waving Southern Baptist, spewing threats of damnation (no, not all Southern Baptists do this). Miller explains forgiveness and redemption worthy of reaching the hard-hearted and hard-minded.

I could go into berating Walker on the use of alcohol, Biblical interpretation, or reaching the lost for Christ through love, grace, and mercy, but I won't. Walker needs to experience this for himself.

In closing, Walker needs to remember that there are people who would simply listen to God's Word and find salvation in Christ. However, there are also people who need to see the face and character of Christ in order to believe. I'm by no means an intellectual person, but I am one who is relational and shows the face of Christ to those I meet. Much like Donald Miller.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Donald Miller's Christmas letter is outstanding.

I keep up with his activities expressly from his website. He's a busy person and I am grateful that he publishes a letter to let us avid readers know what's going on in his life. Not too many writers or singers do this.

Please keep Donald in your prayers as he finishes his latest book and has a wonderful and blessed new year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Meeting Chris Seay

Note: I met Chris back in October and since then I’ve read his book, “Faith of My Fathers” along with mourning the death of Kyle Lake. After meeting Chris and Donald Miller, I have a special place in my heart for these men who are brave in their honesty about today’s Christianity. Writers and pastors such as Donald Miller, Chris Seay, and Rick McKinley, just to name a few, love Christ and love people – no matter their sin. We need to remember that Christ loved everyone from the prostitute to the tax collector.

More and more I find Christians repulsed by sinful people and refuse to genuinely reach out to them.

How can you love others if you can’t love yourself?

Ponder that question as you read my encounter with pastor and author, Chris Seay.

On Tuesday, October 11th, I had the great fortune of meeting Chris Seay, author of, “Faith of My Fathers” and “The Gospel According to Tony Soprano”. Chris is also pastor of the emergent church, Ecclesia, in Houston, Texas. I became interested in meeting Chris after seeing his church, Ecclesia, offer immediate help to the victims of hurricane Katrina. Ecclesia, located in the Montrose district in Houston, reached out beyond their church borders to serve those in need.

Chris had been invited to speak at the McAfee Institute for Healthy Congregations conference at the McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Larry McSwain, a faculty leader at McAfee, invited leaders of traditional, contemporary, and emergent churches to speak.

As being one of the first few people to check-in at the conference, Chris walked in with Dr. McSwain. I was introduced to him and recognized his face from his books. I assisted Chris with setting up his presentation. He was quiet and pensive. I could tell he was preparing for his talk.

Chris is tall and of sinewy build. Dressed in a long sleeve white dress shirt and dress slacks, he has a soft, humbled look about him and his voice is mellow. He walks slowly while taking in the surroundings. From what I understand about Chris, he is every bit the family man who deeply cherishes his wife and children.

Chris began his talk to us with a humorous movie which showed Jesus saying phrases we often hear, but aren’t in the Holy Bible. His point is that we often offer the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a set propositions. It’s the ole case of, “If you’ll do this…then you’ll receive that.” Simply, that doesn’t work.

Chris went on to say that Christianity is about incarnation. Jesus draws close to us through the Gospels. We are all missionaries and therefore incarnation requires us to get our hands dirty.

“Consumerism is the enemy of the church.”, Chris declared. He explained this by saying we now have religious goods and services. We embellish feeding ‘wants’, instead of meeting our needs.

Chris then explained his preaching style at Ecclesia. “People left Jesus asking the right questions while not having all the answers. Hope brings incarnation; incarnation brings reconciliation.”

Chris added with a smile that he and his family took a sabbatical to the Bahamas this past summer. While there, he ate a fresh mango. “Go eat a mango and tell me you don’t believe in God.” All this to say that God’s presence is more than just words, He is in music, art, and nature.

For the next hour of the symposium, a church service was held with Chris giving the sermon. He chose the Gospel of John chapter 12 and began telling the story of Jesus preparing for the crucifixion. The first part of John 12 tells of Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointing Jesus with nard; an expensive perfume.

Chris had taken a small vial of dark green liquid and poured a tiny amount in three cups. He then passed them around the room asking everyone to dip their fingers in the nard, and those men with beards, rub the nard into their hair.

The aroma was pungent, yet sweet. I immediately symbolized the crucifixion with the resurrection. The bitterness of Jesus taking on God’s wrath as punishment for my sins. The sweetness of His resurrection, his conquering death, and giving our souls life through him.

Chris went on to examine Judas Iscariot’s reaction to the nard, Jesus’ response to Judas, and subsequent foretelling of his death. Next, Chris focused on the crowd chanting, “Hosanna!” to Jesus while on his journey to Jerusalem. “Hosanna” literally means, “save me”. He compared the crowd’s chants to Mary’s actions – words versus an action.

The sermon ended with Chris telling us how we need to be relational with all of God’s people and the impact we can have through Christ.

I spent a few hours with Chris in the afternoon. He is very much like Donald Miller: Both are relational, thoughtful, and provocative. Chris doesn’t view the bride of Christ as just a body of people filling pews. He views them as very special creations that God loves deeply.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Donald Miller Book Special!

The Burnside Writers Collective has Don's books, Through Painted Deserts, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality and Searching For God Knows What, for the amazing price of $33. (includes shipping)

These books would make great gifts for Christmas or any occasion!

Oh, and one more thing...they're autographed. :-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

As fall transitions to winter, one of my first thoughts are watching, "A Charlie Brown Christmas". After all these years, I can still picture Linus telling the story of the birth of Jesus. "That's what Christmas is about, Charlie Brown."

In addition to watching the Charlie Brown special, I listen to Vince Guaraldi's, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" CD. I listen to it over and over. Guaraldi has a way with jazz that can't seem to be replicated by anyone. Guaraldi was a master at crafting the piano to tell a story. His tunes have a definite beat to them and continously flow as if they could go on endlessly. If I'm having a particular stressful day, I listen to his CD and dream away.

To find out more about Vince Guaraldi, click here and take my advice: Purchase Guaraldi's, "A Charlie Brown Christmas", grab a hot cup of coffee, and let the music soothe you.

Monday, October 31, 2005

A Day of Sorrow

I read with tears in my eyes the tragic death of Reverend Kyle Lake, Pastor of University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. Kyle was only 33 years old. Kyle was married with three young children.

What pains me most about this news is the sadness his young family and friends are feeling. All the photos, I've seen of Kyle, portray him as youthful-looking, enthusiastic, and full of life. He seemed to exemplify John 10:10:

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Kyle lived his calling. To 'live' your calling takes courage no matter the circumstances, no matter the challenge. Kyle lived life to the full.

Please keep all of Kyle's family in your prayers. Please keep those who were close to him in your prayers. May God's peace and love embrace them forever.