My friend, Lance Ford, wrote a note on my Facebook wall today reminding me that I haven’t blogged since March 21.
I opened up Dragon Dictate and discovered a number of half-written posts that I thought I’d finish. But I didn’t.
Instead, as my first post back after far too long way, let me point you at three books I’m reading that I have found particularly helpful.
A couple of years ago I started writing a weekly column on Fridays I cleverly called “TGIF”
What actually happened was that I woke up one Friday morning and had no idea what the hell to write and something fell out of my head and onto the keyboard. It had to have a title…and it was Friday, after all.
After some hits and misses, I found my voice writing about what was going on in my daily life and drawing scriptural applications from the same.
I wrote about my son and the skateboard park, I wrote about my doubts, I wrote about my faith…and I wrote about my cats. Miss Kitty and Squeak became regular guests of my readers as I chronicled how God speaks through critters.
This book is a collection of those writings.
Let me just say with all the crap that I see happening in the church — crap that I need to admit is having a significantly negative impact on my faith, Michael’s book is fresh water in a dry and thirsty land. My recommendation is you buy the book. You won’t regret it.
The second book is one that Michael recommended, Steve Brown’s Three Free Sins—God’s Not Mad at You. Steve and Michael are both Reformed in their theology. I won’t hold that against either of them.
Three Free Sins had me laughing out loud in many places — which scared the dog.
I received this from a friend: “You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I’ve ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They’re slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of love . . . no, wait! I was thinking of Labrador retrievers!”
It also often hit me where I needed to be hit, which I greatly appreciate.
Forgiveness was the focal point in Christ’s teaching because he knew that without profound “to the bone” forgiveness, there is no freedom, no real joy, no peace, and no release from the pain and the root of bitterness that destroys nations, families, and individuals. He understood that the key to everything important in life is forgiveness.
And the final book of the three, equally as good as the other two, is Kathy Escobar’s Down We Go: Living Into the wild Ways of Jesus.
Like me, Kathy spent too much time inside the “much sound and fury signifying nothing” world of the North American mega-church, before finding herself on the outside of it.
This book is her story of experiencing Jesus in the midst of people most middle-class Christian folk would attempt to avoid. It is a story of full bandwidth Christianity—a combination of incredible highs and painful lows along with everything in between.
When we put relationship with people above everything, we will cultivate authentic transformational community—little pockets of love—instead of spending our energy, building ministries or lifestyles that don’t reflect the humble spirit of the Beatitudes. These pockets of love help teach us interdependence, a critical characteristic of Kingdom living.
Another critical element we can’t forget as we engage a life of downward mobility is dreaming. Big or small, dreams are part of Kingdom living. They inspire us to try scary things, meet new people, jump into the deep end, or put our toes in the water. Without dreams we can’t make “what could be,” a reality. At the same time, I continue to learn that dreams are often much prettier when they are just dreams.
Life down here doesn’t always turn out the way we think it should be, that’s for sure. But that’s the beauty of downward mobility. “Pretty” and “easy” aren’t the goals. Transformation is. And one thing is clear: Down here, there’s a lot of room for transformation.
It is a must read book for those of us tired of consumer Christianity — who have that sense, as Bruce Cockburn would say in More Not More, that “there must be more…”
If, like me, you find yourself in a thin space when it comes to your faith, I would highly recommend any or all of these three books.