Tag Archives: Christian living

What is a Living God? (part 2: 8 Qualities)

How easy it is to forget that there is (exists) a Living God. Maybe this is so because we are surrounded by dead ones. Since the things we need and “serve” are not consistently life-giving, I think we lump everything to together and get along with that sort of paradigm. A “less-than Living” take on life.

The originator, Creator God, is never-ending, and a not relegated to some notion of goodness, or idea we get to keep in the back of our minds.

Here are 8 attributes to this Living God:

1. A Living God embodies Love not Apathy (the opposite of love).

2. A Living God makes a worshiper like him/her (God transcends gender).

It should be noted that dead gods, in their way, do the same thing. Nevertheless, a Living God refines and purifies, and dead gods foster forms of decay/destruction, and of course selfishness–which cannot lead to life. (Examples: the (dead) god of career, of drugs, of overeating, of anger, of popularity, and so on.)

3. A Living God has a personality (is a being), and relates to others (has the true quality for connecting in relationship) as a primary undertaking and desire.

4. A Living God is interactive in human history, and perpetually involved in common life with regards to people, events, and circumstances.

5. A Living God is wise and forbearing.

6. A Living God is everywhere, unconquered, and vigorous (spirited).

7. A Living God may display displeasure or delight.

8. A Living God has no pride, (because pride is delusional and also leads to deadened life).

In light of this, what is your response to God?

I’m asking for you to take a minute, and comment on your response, one (or more) of these 8 mentioned traits, or bring up something I didn’t mentioned.

Thank you very much.

Hipster Pundit, Brett McCracken Responds to 5 cool questions

Here is the much-anticipated interview with Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide. Thank you, Brett! This was fun.

Brett's face in the City

5 Questions for
Brett McCracken


1. Does the hipster Christian phenomenon pivot on the “Be in the world, but not of the World” Scriptural directive?
I think the hipster Christianity phenomenon is absolutely about this notion of how to be in the world but not of the world (with emphasis, perhaps, on the “being IN the world” part). Christian hipsters want, above all, to engage with the culture at large. They want to have a meaningful dialogue and cooperation with the wider world, rather than being cut-off or segregated from it. Rather than having a Christian music industry, a Christian movie industry, Christian this-that-and-the-other, these Christian hipsters long for a faith that is relevant in and among the culture. They don’t want to be set in opposition to the culture, but rather they want to be productively engaged with it. Their instincts tell them that if Christianity is true, it is not something meant to be separatist, overly legalistic, and anti-everything. Rather, it should be something that speaks into every aspect of life and illuminates the beauty and wonder of existence. They resonate with the famous C.S. Lewis quote that says, I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

2. If you could communicate one thing to your readers that they would remember forever (and in so doing, change them forever), what would it be?

Wow, that’s a big question! I guess I would want to communicate the notion that the “coolest” thing about Christianity has little to do with how trendy, cutting-edge, and “of the moment” it appears to the culture, but has everything to do with the transcendent truth of a Gospel that changes lives.

3. Every writer has “haters”, what do yours complain about? (Mine complain about nipples, but that’s a rather long story, and this interview is about YOU.)
A lot of the critics of the book suggest that I’m not giving enough due to the cultural context and “mode-of-delivery” through which the Gospel is communicated. They maintain, rightly, that the Gospel always has to be presented in ways that are embodied, formed, packaged, and specific to the context/audience in which it is being presented. I totally agree. I’m not suggesting that the Gospel is just some nebulous cloud of ideas or concepts that we can communicate apart from form. Of course we have to consider the medium, the context, etc. All I am saying is that form influences content, and we have to be careful that the various new strategies we are undertaking (placing tons of emphasis on looking cool, cutting-edge technology, etc) are not negatively impacting the content of the message or distracting us from making sure we are communicating a deep, rich, transformative message. At it’s core, my caution in the book is that we not get so preoccupied with hip/cool/attractive packaging that we forget what is actually rich and powerful about the message itself.

4. To you, is “cool” more of a state of mind than anything? Why or why not?

Hmm, that’s an interesting question, because I think it is and it isn’t a state of mind. In the sense that the pursuit of “cool” is very self-conscious and a sort of existential endeavor to be “in the know,” I definitely think it is a state of mind. But then again I think that there are plenty of “naturally cool” people who never really think about or try to be cool. It’s not something they consciously strive for as much as it is just a side-effect of them truly liking certain bits of culture that happen to be fashionable or appear cool in a given cultural context.

These days, it’s hard to tell where “cool as a self-conscious state-of-mind” ends and “cool as a natural outgrowth of who one is” begins. The problem is complicated by the fact that cool today (as in, “hipster” cool) is largely defined on the superficial “how one dresses” level, so you have “true” hipsters who dress in a certain way but then you have the “I want to be cool” hipsters who can simply purchase the exact same look at American Apparel or Urban Outfitters. On a phenomenological level, there is no difference between the two. Both types signify “cool,” which we take to mean “elitist/snobby/annoying.” So whether one actually IS elitist/snobby/annoying doesn’t matter, because “the look” communicates this regardless.

5. Have you ever considered offering McDonalds a signature menu item? (For instance, like the McCracken Sandwich: 8 crispy strips of bacon, melted sharp cheddar cheese, and sweet horseradish sauce on crispy, lightly toasted Sourdough bread pocket.) [Seriously, that whole thing came to me in one package like that. It must be a God thing.] If you have not, this could plague your mind, and I’m sorry about that. I too am feeling hungry.

If I were to have a McDonalds signature item, it would probably include arugula, grass-fed beef and raw goat cheese, just to cover my hipster bases.

For a signed copy (For beginners, that means eXtra cool) of Brett McCracken’s book, Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide. You can link over, and leave YOUR comment. YOU might be the lucky winner.

Post here and share any questions, thoughts, comments, etc.

Thanks for reading.

My Utmost for His Highest

Mr. Oswald Chambers (the copyrights to the photo have expired)

Rarely do devotional classics of the caliber of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest disappoint.

I’ll have you know, this classic is like the Chuck Norris of devotions.

Each day you can be encouraged my the divine inspiration that came through his pen for these short devotions. (Oh, you know, calm down… I’m not saying it’s The Bible. It’s just, simply put, (in academic terms I learned in graduate school)…. “frickin’ awesome”.

Find it here. Just add it to you bookmarks and be done with the searching, already.

Time needed 3-6 min: Your spiritual challenge today is…

1. Link to MUfHH,

2. Read 1-3 days’ worth of entires, and

3. Comment here, with any sort of insight or thought you’d like.

Thank you and may you enjoy Chambers as much as I have.

Banqueting Table, Part 3: Factory Food and Slow Cookers

Mass produced factory food, simply re-heat.

I’m not a big fan of prepared foods, like the one you see above.

But, I have to admit, usually when food comes from a factory, it’s quick and simple.

It’s also sealed with cellophane and full of sodium to keep it “fresh”. How long could you keep this “meal” before heating it? …months for sure, maybe a year. It’s a bit of a one-size-fits-all cuisine approach, right?

A frozen meal typically comes tidy, in a divided plate. So, no mess, no worries. There’s no long prep time, no plate, just a piece of plastic flatware is needed-say a “spork”–to cover any food texture. One might not even need a napkin, if one eats it…calmly. But, I think, you’d have to be on the verge of starvation, have non working taste buds, or have little experience with eating delectable food if you wish to devour this quickly. Not too many salivate over or pine for pre-fab food, like only a mother a factory could manufacture.

When people want to “serve up” the love of God, or share the gospel can’t the same thing happen?

Serving up God. yum... ?

Sometimes not only are the workers few, but maybe what workers there are don’t know enough about the richness of the God’s banqueting table. Maybe they’ve been using the spiritual microwave too much. Or maybe they aren’t patient enough to let God into their kitchen and make the meal, and show ’em how it’s done.

It takes a while, it seems he likes slow-cooker and long roasting recipes. (Ask Moses or Joseph about that one.) Sometimes the longer process of becoming a lot better in the kitchen, and letting God be the Chef de Cuisine, doesn’t seem like the smartest or most efficient move for a ministry. “What, spend long hours in the hot kitchen? Chop vegetables, mince, simmer, sauté, reduce…that could take, well, heck, years! We’re trying to help people, here!”

Well, we might give them something to eat, “really quick,” but how edible is it? Is it healthy or good for them? Will it cause stomach cramps and diarrhea? Will they only be able to serve up the same sort of thing? Will we get to the point of creating and serving the kind of spiritual food that God specializes in–the kind we created with him at his side, just like Abba used to make?

Can we reflect God properly by serving up convenient, ready-made, spiritual fast-food?

I’m doubtful.

What if we tried a sumptuous slow roast?

What if we could mentor (disciple) willing helpers (pilgrims/Jesus followers) and give them a solid, theological, narrative framework (God’s Story) from which to see their reality: God’s present Kingdom, and his Kingdom to come.

What if things marinated, and the juices got savory and settled down deep into the meat, rather than inviting others to dig into some version of pre-fab nosh because, the slow cooker style just won’t suit our time frame and ambitions?

Would we be able to offer something closer to the nature and heart of God the slow cook way?

(For our good and theirs.)

Would we be changed to be more to his likeness in the process of that?

Oh, yes, it’s far messier to prepare, serve, and eat! It takes prep time, long hours of cooking, setting the table nicely. We’ll need plenty of napkins and perhaps a wet washcloth or two. Plus, don’t forget we’re talking about REAL people. There are spills, squirts, and stains. Life is MESSY. Even good relationships are fraught with various difficulties. What about the clean up? A sticky, gooey mess for sure. And maybe dental floss will be handy to keep around. Real meat gets stuck in one’s teeth.

Oh, but there’s this: it’s really satisfying, and tastes fantastic.

Messy, and slow cooked

Add some veggies or a large salad to the slow-cooked entrée you see above, and you have an excellent, tasty, and messy meal many will really enjoy. If the company is good, they might even come back for more.

What do you think about it?

Have you ever been in a situation where it seemed like you had to choose one way or the other?

What happened?

Does the slow-cooker way seem out of reach? (Does this post need a follow up with specifics? Let me know.)

Comments, ideas, responses…

thanks for reading.

Broken Pots Shine Beautiful Light

We not made out of such strong stuff, are we? Dust to dust.

Though at times we feel confident or even invincible, reminders of imperfection, mortality, weakness, and helplessness spring up everywhere.

Suppose you placed a lit candle in a jar–a solid jar, what would happen? A bit of light would come out through the top, yes?

Now suppose that jar was punctured, shattered and pieced back together, or cracked in places. Some could think the piece was ruined. Others would admire it even more, once a lit candle was placed inside, because the spaces would fill with beautiful light. The weaknesses of the jar would shine as the most beautiful parts, making a unique and dazzling spectacle of shapes and illumination for others to see. The specialness would be the combination of once-perceived flaws co-mingled with the luminosity and brilliance of something added to it, working through it for something altogether appreciable and precious.

Be encouraged, you broken pots out there! Never over-worry that you have made mistakes, or that you have flaws, weaknesses, gaps, and broken spots. We all do. The grace and radiance of Christ will shine that much more through you because of them, if you allow it, and let the Light work in you. Each space that you give over to the Light will be made beautiful. Christ, and his love and grace is the light that gives new hope, and a new purpose for the scars we carry, and broken parts we’ve sustained.

Light from within a beautiful fixed jar

Verses to ponder:

2 Corinthians 4:7 – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show us that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Each time [God] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What broken space has the light shined through in your life?

Will you let all your broken places be a light for others?

What area might this be in, and how will you move forward in this process?

(all comments, thoughts, ideas welcome)

“Stuff Christians Like” -Jon Acuff (Receives coveted Liger Endorsement)

I just love this book!

When best-selling Blue Like Jazz (by Donald Miller) came out, lots of Christians ooed and awed about how insightful, witty, and clever Don was. I liked the book, a lot actually. But still, I couldn’t help feeling like hmm, how did this happen? Don has a knack for writing a funny memoir–and lucky for him, it was slightly before he could be reprimanded for making it sound–basically–like a blog. That’s all well and good, but, is it the funny we all crave? Not exactly. Is he super funny? Will his wit make you pee your pants?

Well, I conducted test after test, on a full bladder, and found that, no, a hefty chortle was pretty much the maximum laugh for my buck (about $13.) Don’t get me wrong, I think Don’s great. He’s great in a lumpy, comfortable, wingman with baggage kind of way. That’s fine. We all need our projects. One of mine is pitying him, and I also like to see what he’s up to next, because it’s usually interesting. I just like the guy.

But then here comes Jon Acuff. He’s a whole different species. If you compare Robin Williams to former supreme court judge, Sandra Day O’Connor, you’ll start to get an idea of what I mean about just how incomparably fun, whacky, and talented Jon is. Sandra, you’re fine, but don’t try too hard, ok? Don, pace yourself, you’ll be just fine.

So, I pre-oreder Jon’s “Stuff Christians Like” book (for under 8$) assuming it couldn’t meet up with all the hype. But it TOTALLY did! I won’t go into the testing process with too much detail, but I’ll just say, sometimes I read it while using the bathroom. (It’s a two birds with one stone kind of thing.)

My mascot/partner and I have developed a new ratings system for all epically wonderful things, and Jon’s book (which includes his blog from whence it came) is now quality-tested, and officially approved.

Jon Acuff's "Stuff Christians Like" earns 95% + approval rating!

What could get 100% Liger Approval you might be thinking? I don’t mind the question, actually.

Maybe the Bible? Or the Book of Common Prayer? No, apparently they wouldn’t. I don’t exactly know what Liger’s like. They are strange creatures with hopes, dreams, and moods I have no way of understanding.

It’s a rather vague system. However I can tell you Blue Like Jazz got 88.4 %, so that should tell you something.

Hope you get to read Jon’s book soon. Tell us what you think. That will be what it’s truly like… when the doves cry.

(If you didn’t read the book, that last part won’t be hysterical, and you’re probably going to feel left out. I’m – Sorry. Though I care about how you feel, I don’t make the rules about how you may or may not react emotionally to this sort of thing. Don Miller used to say, “Buying something makes you feel new.” Yes, he may have meant “new” in a false sense. But you’ll never know until you buy Jon’s book, now will you?)

Cheers!

😉

Sneak peek at (your) Gifts in Feb

This is the 2nd year I’ll use my birthday month to shower readers with gifts. It was fun last year, and this year, with quadruple the readership here, it should be even better!

And yes, it is a “custom” in the tradition of hobbits. (hobbits -give away gifts on their birthday)

I have a photo below of just a few things that will be up for grabs. I’ll be popping up every few days in February  to offer you goodies, gadgets, books, surprises, and combo packs just for interacting here at this blog. (No strings, no money, I just enjoy mailing packages of gifts.)

Sometimes, word spreads fast when it comes to gifts, still, I thank you for passing this news along where you can.  Watch for more informative posts, especially in February. If you enjoy giving more than receiving, and  feel so moved, give your present away, and “pay it forward.”

Thanks, friends!

 

Just *some* of the gift items for blog readers in Feb.

Advent Season Resource

Right now, Christine Sine at Godspace has many insightful and creative posts, guest posts, and informative that revolve around the Season of Advent. I was delighted to dig around and read it today. I highly encourage you to check it out.

Holidays-Thanksgiving and Advent November 26 & 29

I wish all of you a very special holiday season. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. This has always been my favorite holiday.

The other holiday I will celebrate lasts four weeks. It is called Advent. I will be focusing on the features of expectancy, waiting, hope, and longing as a precursor to joy, which culminates in the Nativity of Jesus. I’ll be going reflecting on the passages in the bible with respect to these themes. I’ll be praying about these elements in my own life, and their meaning personally and spiritually, and societally. 

The new Tyndale publication called Holy Bible: Mosaic, is a New Living Translation Bible with weekly reflections, and verses for the whole Christian calendar year, starting this Sunday, November 29th. To follow the community moving through these reflections together, and encountering God and this season of Advent, return here again to read more, and check out the Tyndale Mosaic site.

It was great to read the new rave review today at Mary’s World.

1st Ethics Paper covers, so to speak, Nipple-gate

I am taking Christian Ethics with Dr. Miller at ETS

Our first assignment due this coming Monday was detailed thus: “Write a brief essay explaining his/her understanding of the relationship between the study of Ethics and ministry. ” 

I’ll include an excerpt of my paper, and how I kept my ethics class abreast of what has come to be known around here as “Nipple-gate”:

 

The entire episode (now termed “Nipplegate,” by some) reflects the ethical dilemma of my vocation. I have a role to play as a writer with a Christian worldview, and I am attempting to minister to Christians and non-Christians. Not everyone will be happy all of the time with what is authored and portrayed at my blog. This is an obvious impossibility. Predilections, doctrines, and convictions vary a great deal within my viewing audience. However, I have an undeniable ethical responsibility to my readership to well-reflect the standards of the God I love and serve. The questions become–what is truly suitable to allow at my site; and where and how must I draw the line that distinguishes personal preferences from God’s standards?

Thus far, I have come to a resolution to make all reasonable efforts to conduct the affairs of my site in excellence, with the hopes that in so doing, it will not make others stumble. (This has always been my philosophy, but in this case, it was botched as I let an aspect of the site remain out of exceptionally close oversight.) My overall method is not foolproof for avoiding every glitch, but it is a deliberate vision for my work.

A bit of perspective is in order too. Not just for the way I think about my work, and the way I offer it up to readers, but for promoting the worldview I believe–in, and of, itself. Yes, each decision we make counts in the big picture, but how much better to see the big picture first, and then zoom in from a bigger view, down, into ordinary life. God, perfect and holy, is our guiding Light. God’s laws and rules do not just give us a guide; they mirror the character of God himself. His perfection is the standard and starting point for our choices. Seen this way, we are better able to make wise and ethical decisions.

That being said, it is the overarching decisions that carry the most import. So when Jesus sums up all the law and the prophets into the Great Commandment2, this is not an annulment of the law, but an encompassing of it. Sometimes in and among the nitpicking decisions and details of our conduct choices– even during our attempts to be righteous–we miss the Great Command altogether. God is marginalized by the rules themselves, and neighbors are trampled more than anything. It seems if the Spirit of the command is upheld, much of the rest can sorted out more easily.

When we attempt to deal in microcosms of various everyday ethical situations, we must not miss the point of the greater good, as God defines it. God defines it in the essence of who he truly is. His nature and character are the basis for our decisions that we must work out in practical and contextual ways. As we bump up against perfection, with our solutions, we come up as less-than-perfect. We inevitably do not meet the standard. Thus, we prove our need for God’s grace and forgiveness, and the grace and forgiveness of those around us. It is failed ethics balanced by applied grace that sustains, and saves us from the ethical ideals we can never attain, but must continually aim for, as they are reflections of Reality itself.

It will be my approach to apply the Great Commandment as the ethical plan in my ministry. As a foundation for my will, thoughts, motives, and deeds, my hope is to strive to keep these things fully loyal to God, the author and finisher of my faith; and to keep his human creation honored. This loyalty will mean laying aside self, and selfish ambition, but not just for the greater good. In reality, I will be attempting to set my life toward the world as is truly is, with God as the source of good, and goodness. This way will also be a light, enacted with those to whom I minister, as it reveals my core beliefs, Christian worldview, and the truth of God as revealed in Scripture.

 



2 Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

 

 

 

 

 I’d love to hear your reflections on the topic of ethics in ministry, or any related topic I’ve discussed here. Thank you for reading.

-Lisa