Shake the Dust

April 27, 2011

Scripture: Matthew 7:21-29

Poet, Anis Mogjani, in this video, calls his listeners to action after they hear his words:

This is for you…
Just like the days I burn at both ends,
and every time I write, every time I open my eyes,
I’m cutting up parts of myself simply to hand them over to you.

So, shake the dust and take me with you when you do
because none of this has ever been for me.
All the pushes and pulls, pushes and pulls, pushes and pulls,
It pushes for you…

For this is yours. This is yours.
Make my words worth it.
Make this not some poem I write…
Walk into it, breathe it in.

Now, Jesus . . .

Calling those who hear what he says in the Sermon on the Mount to be people who not only “say” (Matthew 7:21-23) and “hear” (Matthew 7:24-29) what he preaches, but to construct their metaphorical houses on the rock these words impart.

Build your foundation on the pieces cut from Jesus found in his brilliant sermon meant to inspire you and ordain you to be flava and gleam in a world that is tasteless and dark.

Build your foundation on the rock of these words of Christ, for when the storms of life come, they will give you strength to stand.

Work in his words.  Breathe his words.  Live his words so well that dust does not have a chance to settle.  Or, as Mogjani states:

Let it crash into the halls of your arms…
Making you live, so that when the world knocks at your front door,
Clutch the knob tightly and open on up and run forward and far into its widespread greeting arms with your hands outstretched before you,
Fingertips trembling though they may be.

Thanks to Aaron Monts who turned me onto this video on his blog and for being an all around good man.  Check him out here.

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I recently read Rob Bell’s, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, a book which, before it was released had Christian leaders rejoicing at the demise of a preacher who was preaching heresy (which I think is ridiculous; not only because I can point to some of their teachings and call them heresy, but because, why is it okay to rejoice in anyone’s demise, ever?).

Now to the book. . .

Rob Bell, in this book, does what Rob Bell does well; namely, he asks questions (in this case about God, heaven, hell, the afterlife, etc.).  He does not claim any of his theories to be absolute truth or that he owns the topic of God.  Rather, he asks questions for people to wrestle with in community because as he says in the introduction, “I believe the discussion itself is divine.”

A few thoughts to spark questions (in Rob Bell’s words) . . .

  1. “Eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts now.  It’s not about a life that begins at death; it’s about experiencing the kind of life now that can endure and survive even death” (Pg. 58).
  2. “There is hell now, and there is hell later, and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously” (Pg. 78).
  3. “To be clear an untold number of serious disciples of Jesus across hundreds of years have assumed, affirmed, and trusted that no one can resist God’s pursuit forever, because God’s love will eventually melt even the hardest of hearts”  (Pg. 108).
  4. “Whatever objections a person might have to this story, and there are many, one has to admit that it is fitting, proper, and Christian to long for it” (Pg.111).
  5. “While we may get other opportunities, we won’t get the one in front of us again.  That specific moment will pass and we will not see it again.  It comes, it’s here, it goes, and then it’s gone.  Jesus reminds us in a number of ways that it is vitally important we take our choices here and now as seriously as we possibly can because they matter more than we can begin to imagine.  Whatever you’ve been told about the end – the end of your life, the end of time, the end of the world- Jesus passionately urges us to live like the end is here, now, today” (Pg. 197).

This book came highly recommended to me and I have to admit that after I read it, I was disappointed.  The plot centers around David Ponder, a man who possesses a gift which enables him to speak with people from history.  He is charged to have a “summit” with several great leaders from history to save humanity.  They only have seven chances to meet and come up with an idea of what humanity can do to go on.

The good: The book had some interesting stories and some good quotes from history.  Also, the final answer which ended up saving humanity is not the predictable phrase one would expect in reading a book like this.  I liked how those answers were all given in the previous chapters and ended up being the wrong ones.

The bad: Each chapter, which you knew would end with the summit giving the wrong answer, seemed to drag on with much dialog and I found myself always wanting to skip all of it so I could get to the answer they gave, which, again, I knew would be wrong.

Bottom line: The story line was not that interesting; it was predictable and, at times, tedious.  But at the same time,  it offered some good thoughts from history and the final answer, I felt was a good one.

Thank you to Book Sneeze for giving me a chance to review this book.  These opinons are my own.

Vending Machine

April 2, 2011

So often we treat God as if he is our personal vending machine.  We pray that he will bless us, give to us, do ____ for us, etc.  And, we offer up our 50 cents.

When we are “happy,” we are content with this god and we find it simple to sing songs and preach sermons about the goodness of this god.  We read verses like, “Ask and it will be given to you…,” and we shout, “Amen!”

Then it happens.  They kick you out, he leaves, it does not solve your problems, you were diagnosed with thatshe says those words.  Not only does the vending machine break, it is as if it has vaporized.

At this point, those words of Christ ring hollow; doubt creeps in.  To people here, Christ urges to keep seeking and knocking and then points to us, who love to give good gifts to our children—if we act in this way, how much more will God give good gifts to his children?

When your vending machine god breaks, remember:

  1. You are unable to count the number of good gifts from God you take for granted everyday.
  2. Perhaps you have asked for a stone or a snake and God wants to give you bread or a fish (v.9-11).
  3. Jesus is always asking, seeking and knocking for you (Revelation 3:20), he is asking you to do the same (v.12).