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When Grace is Disturbing January 8, 2011

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible, Christianity, grace, sin.
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Much has been written about grace and I am not one worthy to add to what’s already been written about it in anyway shape or form. I can’t imagine I can add to what people like Brennan Manning, Andy Stanley, or Mike Foster have written about it in their wonderful books. But, a recent conversation I have become involved in on Facebook (gotta love social media) has prompted me to write this blog. I ask a simple question:

What should our response be when grace disturbs us?

No one has a problem when they are offered grace. It is eagerly accepted and appreciated. To a certain extent, to a certain people, we can even happily give grace to others with as much excitement. But, what happens when grace is offered to people who disturb or disgust us? You know the people that I’m referring to. Those who repulse you enough that you would endure a few seconds of Hell if it meant getting to see them burn. Rapists. Murderers. Child molesters. Terrorists. Homosexuals. Abortionists. Muslims. Liberals. Conservatives. Fundamentalists. Lawyers. Politicians. Telemarketers. Whoever.

The conversation I am involved in began with a friend who posted a link to an article about men who were on the run from police for raping disabled women. Evil and disgusting to be sure. Along with the article, he made the comment, “Sadistic absolutely worthless animals like this do not deserve rights. Bullet in the head.” A few people commented and agreed and even added what they would like to be seen done to these men. While I agreed that they need to be brought to justice, I also stated that as Christians, I believe we should pray for them to be set free from the sin and evil that obviously has them in bondage and hope that God saves them. I believe that our attitude toward them should be one of grace and love, and not a desire for death. I argued this because when it comes down to it, we are (or at the best, were) sick, sadistic animals that need to be put down. The Bible is clear on this, just see Isaiah 64:6 or Romans 3:10-12. The only way we are any better is through the grace of God by the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus died for those men just as much has he died for their victims. He weeps over both. While our heart rightly breaks for the victims, our hearts burn with hate over  the perpetrators while they should be breaking over them as well. This is not saying that there is not a place for righteous anger, but it is misplaced. The anger should be targeted at the “powers and principalities” behind them, namely Satan and his demons.

While it is a perfectly natural human response to see those people that repulse us punished in horrible, horrible ways, Christians are not merely natural humans. We are supernatural. And the grace and love we show to people, even people that disgust us, should be in supernatural amounts.

Books Every Christian Should Read (Part 2) October 15, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in apologetics, Bible, books, Brennan Manning, Christianity, Francis Chan, grace, Holy Spirit, John Eldredge, Rob Bell, spiritual authority, theology, Timothy Keller, Watchman Nee.
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Yesterday I started listing some books that I think every Christian should read at least once in their lifetime. This list will continue today, but allow me to say this because I know someone will eventually call me out on it. I am not listing the Bible in this list, because I am assuming (hoping?) that if you are a Christian you read the Bible often, so it goes without saying that Christians should read the Bible. Now that we have covered that, on with the list!

                                                                                                                     Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell

Most people come down on either side of the fence on Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They either love him or hate him. I’m in the former category. I don’t agree with everything he says, but the vast majority is brilliant. He gets a bad rap from “heresy hunters” who take some things out of context, or just hear some things and don’t bother to even read the book. But, there’s a lot of good stuff that deserves some serious thought in Velvet Elvis. I especially like the section on what Bell calls, “Brickianity.” You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Velvet-Elvis-Repainting-Christian-Faith/dp/0310273080/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1287160820&sr=8-1

Forgotten God by Francis Chan

Chan is known more by his first book, Crazy Love (a great book in it’s own right), but the lesser known Forgotten God has the more important message for today’s Christians. In it, Chan examines the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and gives a very balanced view of the Spirit’s work in our lives. Not overly Charismatic, and not too traditional, Chan explains how the extremist views of the Holy Spirit have scared many Christians and churches away from even discussing the Holy Spirit and that this should not be. The Holy Spirit is needed in our lives, and Chan does a wonderful job of placing him on the throne that he deserves to be on. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-God-Reversing-Tragic-Neglect/dp/1434767957/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287161524&sr=1-1

 Spiritual Authority by Watchman Nee

Nee’s story is amazing. He spent the last twenty years of his life in a Chinese prison. Through the face of extreme persecution and torture, Nee maintained a Christlike attitude. In Spiritual Authority, Nee explains how to have this Christlike attitude when it comes to those in authority over us. This is extremely important in today’s Church where our leaders are constantly called into question. Nee even explains how to submit to our authority when they are wrong. He states, “Submission has to do with attitude. Obedience has to do with conduct.” Nee’s message is badly needed today. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Authority-Watchman-Nee/dp/0935008357/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287162169&sr=1-1

 Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

While written toward men, I think Wild at Heart should be written by Christians of both sexes. It will help men understand why they are like they are, as well as women. There are some things in it that will initially cause you to disagree with Eldredge, but continue to press through it and you will begin to understand what he is saying. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Heart-Discovering-Secret-Mans/dp/1400202817/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287163161&sr=1-1

 The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

While some would consider Mere Christianity and Simply Christian “apologetics” books, The Reason for God is really the only true apologetics book on my list. While there are plenty of other great books on the defense of Christianity out there, this is my favorite just because of Keller’s intellectual, but conversational, writing style. Most of these kinds of books tend to be scholarly to the point of reading like a textbook. Keller’s, on the other hand, really feels like your sitting in his office and he’s explaining to you why belief in the God of the Bible makes sense. You can buy this at http://www.amazon.com/Reason-God-Belief-Age-Skepticism/dp/1594483493/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287163582&sr=1-1

 

                                                                                                     The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Of the hundreds of books written on grace, Manning’s is in a class by itself. Manning delivers a beuatiful picture of how God’s grace is power for what he calls “ragamuffins,” people who are beat up, bedraggled, and burnt out. By that definition, I think all Christians could be considered ragamuffins from time to time. You can buy this at http://www.christianbook.com/the-ragamuffin-gospel-brennan-manning/9781590525029/pd/525020

That’s my current list of books every Christian should read. I’m sure it will grow and expand the more I read, however. This list is by no means exhaustive. So what did I miss? What other books do you think every Christian should read? I look forward to hearing your suggestions and your reviews of the books in my list!

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