Monday, July 21, 2008

The Shack

I finished this book over a week ago but I've been putting off commenting on it partly because I don't really know where to start and I don't want to do the book an injustice but also because I'm not sure how to respond. This is not a review just some thoughts:
I enjoyed the book.
I loved the theology.
I found parts deeply profound and moving.
I found some of the conversations too "trite" and "easy" (here's where I start to struggle).
Having been through some really difficult times myself I though that Mac accepted things too easily - but I realise that is a little unfair - I just wanted him to fight a little more. At times it reminded me a little of the "Touched by and Angel" TV series - a little too soppy.
Having said that I know that it was originally written for Paul's children to introduce them to some deep themes - and Paul obviously has a strong personal faith and has worked through the issues he grapples with in the story personally. That's why I'm hesitant to "criticise". I know that it's not a theological treatise on Theodicy. I just know that people I've dealt with struggle more deeply with these issues than Mac seems to have.
It was very personal for me too as my greatest fear in life is to lose one of my children and I don't think I'd let God off so easily if it happened to me.
But that is the strength of the book - it allows us to grapple a little with some very real issues. It gives us a launch-pad to work through those issues ourselves.
I think the key is to remember that it is a STORY - stories can be powerful tools of healing but they are tools - they can never provide all the answers.
I think everyone should read this book but don't expect too much from it - it can change you and your thinking or it can just be a good story.
(Hopefully the fact that I've rambled a bit will show you how I struggled to write this - READ THE BOOK FOR YOURSELF!)

Friday, July 18, 2008

God’s Love

This morning a chain of thought began as I watched my daughter going off to school. It’s difficult to explain but a wave of love suddenly welled up within me and I actually felt a physical pain within me. This started me thinking of God’s love for us. I have always said that I have begun to understand God’s love far more since having children. One of the images that God uses to illustrate God’s love for us is that of Parent-Child.

I love my children in a way that is different from the way I love my wife – not less, just different. The love I have for them is different from the love I felt in the early days of my relationship with my wife – that young love of infatuation that also caused a physical pain within me (you know what I mean). And I thought, “Wow! God loves me like that too. I wonder if it also causes that kind of pain for him?”

My children irritate me at times, they frustrate me, they even make me really angry at times – but I still love them with a love that is so deeply entrenched within me. One of my greatest fears is of something bad happening to them – it would . . . I don’t know really – but it would hurt – BIG TIME!!! It would even destroy a part of me. That’s how God loves us.

But then I thought, God also uses images of loving us like a spouse and even like a lover (just read Song of Songs). Then I thought of Hosea and how God used Hosea’s life to illustrate God’s love for us. God asked Hosea to marry a prostitute – an outcast, one who is un-loved and God asked Hosea to buy her back even after she had betrayed Hosea and ended up being sold into slavery – and God used Hosea to show how God loves us.

That’s how God loves us. Are you getting it? God’s love is BIG – VERY BEEEG!!!! And, nothing can separate us from that love.

In view of all this, what can we say? If God is for us, who can be against us? Certainly not God, who did not even keep back his own Son, but offered him for us all! He gave us his Son---will he not also freely give us all things? Who will accuse God's chosen people? God himself declares them not guilty! Who, then, will condemn them? Not Christ Jesus, who died, or rather, who was raised to life and is at the right side of God, pleading with him for us! Who, then, can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death? As the scripture says, "For your sake we are in danger of death at all times; we are treated like sheep that are going to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below---there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:31-39)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Spirituality I define as becoming conscious of and intentional about our relationship to God. I say conscious of because I firmly maintain that we are all already in a relationship with God and we have been so since our very beginning, whether we know that or not, believe that or not. Spirituality is about becoming conscious of that relationship. I say intentional because I see spirituality as being about paying attention to that relationship, being intentional about deepening that relationship and letting that relationship grow. Just as human relationships grow and deepen through spending time in them and paying attention to them, so also our relationship with God grows in this same way."

~From the sermon "Jesus and the Christian Life" by Dr. Marcus J. Borg

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Morgan (7) & Tyla (4) (my daugther's) are playing:

Tyla: I kill you!
Me (from the background): No killing allowed (trying to instill pacifist leanings into children)
Morgan: But Dad, there's always bad guys
Me: Yes, but no killing allowed!
Morgan: So, what do we do with the bad guys?
Me: Put them in jail - no killing allowed
Morgan: What if they get sick in jail and die?
Me: Well, that's different . . . just so long as you're not killing . . .
Morgan: OK! So, you go to jail, get sick and die!

Monday, July 14, 2008

"Somewhere someone"

The kingdom of love is coming because:
somewhere someone is kind when others are unkind,
somewhere someone shares with another in need,
somewhere someone refuses to hate, while others hate,
somewhere someone is patient - and waits in love,
somewhere someone returns good for evil,
somewhere someone serves another, in love,
somewhere someone is calm in a storm,
somewhere someone is loving everybody.
Is that someone you?

This morning I did something that seemed very small and insignificant to me - just being polite and friendly really - but the response was, "Are you from heaven?".

This got me thinking - isn't this what it's all about? Wouldn't it be great if we all lived as if we were from heaven?

When I say "heaven" I don't mean some place up in the clouds where angels play harps, I mean God's Kin-dom - the universe the way it's designed by God to work - the kind of world God dreams of for all people.

If everyone just treated one another with respect and dignity (dare I say love) we might experience heaven on earth - God's Kin-dom come on earth as it is in heaven.

I hope more people think I'm from "heaven" - I would love everyone I interact with to think I'm from "heaven" because then I might be a part of God's dream to mend the universe (and all universes beyond).