Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chapter 4

Hi all! We don't have a video for this week so we're going to shake it up a little. Jess is running a fever so we're taking the day off.... :)

I don't want to miss any rich discussion with you all, though, because this chapter is POWERFUL. I felt really convicted about my own life as I read, but also really curious how you all were processing it. Because we think some really important questions are buried in the text, here's what we're going to do. I'm going to chat a little with you about what I got out of it and then I'm going to ask you to go to the ning site and look under Forums/Crazy Love Discussion/Chapter 4 Thoughts & Questions. Here, I want you to ask questions that you have about the things Francis wrote about.

Jess and I spoke briefly this afternoon and felt like there was a lot of room for personal interpretation in this chapter.

We are planning on doing a combined video for this chapter and chapter 5 next week, and we would like to incorporate your thoughts into it.

What stood out? What did you struggle the most with? Was there anything that confused you or brought up more questions?

For me, I realized that in a lot of areas of life, I am a lukewarm Christian. Specifically, the ones that struck me the most were:

1. I spend a lot more time thinking about this world than the next. That has changed somewhat since Audrey died, but I would still say I think about this life more. I want to long for eternity, and feel so securely that this is what awaits me. To be honest, this is one of the hardest things for me to believe. I find that it's really hard to put your full weight into something that seems so intangible. And of course, eternity isn't really able to be grasped. I love to ask other Christians what they struggle with the most about their faith, because it makes me realize that I'm not alone. People are often afraid to say "I struggle in believing this the way I want to..." because they think it will make them seem less spiritual. I long to believe it more, and I tell the Lord so. But for me, thinking about my eternity does not take the place it should in my life.

2. Another phrase that stuck with me was, "Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the God of control."


Yes, I know that a few of you are picturing me conquering some of my fears in these past few years, and I do think I have had moments where I have done this. It is not, however, the predominant stance I take with my faith. I am one to balance. Weigh it out. Make sure I think the end result is worth it. And many times (many, many times), I choose the option that makes me feel safe.

And that is the option that glorifies the Lord the most, right? The one where I'm snuggled under the covers with a candle burning while reading about refugees? Yikes.

I do want to live my life purposefully, with God as my driving motivation, and not fear.

But I'm not there.

There were others that resonated with me, as I'm sure they did with you as well, but I want to make a statement about the chapter as a whole.

We will never achieve perfection as Christians in this life.


Can you breathe a little better now?

It's a lot to swallow. A lot to read and find failure in. It's a heck of a measuring stick he's laying out, and while I am ALL FOR personal inventory, we need to do it in a spirit of earnest desire and seeking. We do not need to come away from reading this kind of thing and spend the next several hours (days, weeks, years...) in a funk because we are so far from the mark. That isn't what it's about.

So if you are one of those people (*hand raised*) that felt like you needed to jump the next plane to Africa or sell every possession you had in order to feel better about your faith walk, this is for you. And it is the most beautiful, powerful word ever. Take some time to bathe in it...


Aahhhh. That's better.

Friends, we can't do it perfectly, and we all know it. What I think Francis wants us to gain from this chapter is the ability and desire to ruthlessly assess ourselves and be honest about our shortcomings. The Lord wants us to be living fully in Him, and wherever there are gaps (Do you struggle with tithing? Do you feel like you're a good person because you're not as rotten as your neighbors? Do you think about the poor at all?), we need to pray and seek His will.

We need to be on our faces, asking God to help us long for what He longs for. I love the bridge in the song Hosanna...

Heal my heart and make it clean.
Open up my eyes to the things unseen,
and show me how to love like you
have loved me.
Break my heart for what breaks yours,
everything I am for your kingdom's cause
as I pass from earth into eternity

That's what I desire-to have my heart broken for the things that break the Lord's heart. I want to be stirred by what stirs Him. I know it isn't humanly possible to do it perfectly, but I want to do it the best I can.

I am going to say this because I think it's important for you to understand, and as you get into chapter 5, you may wonder about it.

It is our personal belief that you will not be kept out of heaven because you failed to do all of these things. If you have accepted the Lord as your personal Savior, your eternity with Him is secure. Do works matter? Yes, they do. Scripture says that our works will be examined. But your works do not get you into heaven. Through the grace of a merciful God, our faith alone ensures our salvation.

You can't work your way there.

What is important to note, however, is whether or not the fruit of your life is showing the world that you are a believer. After you find areas of your life that aren't glorifying, work on them. Offer them to the Lord. Make conscious decisions to do things differently, whether it's giving to the poor, sharing your faith with others, or just DOING something instead of reading about doing it.

That's what makes us "radical" Christians, and truth be told, we should want nothing less.

So, hear this as an encouragement more than judgment. Let's spur each other on and help make Him famous together :)

It's your turn...what do YOU think? Let us know on Ning.

We're so glad you're here...

Ang and Jess