Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crazy Love part 2

{Here’s the beginning thoughts I had as I read through Crazy Love. This will take you through about the first half…but you have to keep reading beyond that because it gets even better.}

Francis Chan’s purpose of the book is that you will be convinced that “by surrendering yourself totally to God’s purposes, He will bring you the most pleasure in this life and the next.” Yet he’s clear that his goal is to awaken the Christian Church to be more active and aware, to wake up from our comfortable and wealthy lives, willing to give God everything.  “In our world, where hundreds of things distract us from God, we have to intentionally and consistently remind ourselves of Him.”

He starts out, much like Paul’s letters, with theology. He reminds us of the basics, that God is holy, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing.  “It is ridiculous to think we have the right to limit God to something we are capable of comprehending.” 

“All things were created by Him and for Him…As much as we want God to explain Himself to us, His creation, we are in no place to demand that He give an account to us.”

God is fair and just, and must punish sin – our sin.  He talks about how Isaiah’s response to seeing the Lord (Isa. 6) is to say “Woe is me” because of his sin. And how often is that our response as we think about God?

Chan pulls no punches, which is what I’m loving about his style.  His honesty makes me realize how much we have in common…

“On an average day, we forget that our lives are but a vapor.”  He talks about how we often get so consumed in our circumstances that we disobey His command to “rejoice always.”  And how worry and stress are often signs of a lack of faith (if you’re saying “Ouch,” you’re not alone. I said it often through this book.)  He compares this to a movie, how everything that is happening is a movie about God, and He is the director. Yet we tend to think this movie is about us.  “So whatever you do, do it for the glory of the Lord.” 1 Cor. 10:31 “The point of your life is to point to Him.”  We don’t really have the control here. “I am thankful for the unknowns, and that I don’t have control, because it makes me run to God.”

“Stories of people who died after living godly lives are stories with happy endings. Sadly, many people die living selfishly.”

“…harsh words and loving truth often go hand-in-hand.”  He urges us, in view of the brevity of life, to no longer forget God.

“When we love God, we naturally run to Him – frequently and zealously. Jesus didn’t command that we have a regular time with Him each day. Rather, He tells us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” The results are intimate prayer and study of His Word.”

“Dear is no longer the word I use to describe how I feel about God. Now I use words like reverent intimacy.”

“…for a long time, I narrowly focused on His fearsomeness to the exclusion of His great and abounding love.”

“God knew who He was creating, and He designed me for a specific work…God will ensure my success in accordance with His plan, not mine.”

And if you needed the reminder: “Our good deeds can never outweigh our sins.”

“The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.”

“The very fact that a holy, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, fair and just God loves you and me is nothing short of astonishing.”

“The greatest good on this earth is God. Period. God’s one goal for us is Himself…Are we in love with God, or just His stuff?”

This he quoted: “It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the Gospel.  It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going hollow-hearted prosperity.” – Frederic D. Huntington, Forum Magazine, 1890.  That guy called it, didn’t he? Guess we haven’t changed much in the last 121 years…

Fran then addresses how we gauge success of events by numbers, wowed by big crowds. “Jesus questioned the authenticity of this kind of record keeping. According to Luke 8, when a crowd started following Him, Jesus began following Him, Jesus began speaking in parables – ‘so that’ those who weren’t genuinely listening wouldn’t get it. When crowds gather today, speakers are extraconscious of communicating in a way that is accessible to everyone. Speakers don’t use Jesus’ tactic to eliminate people who are not sincere seekers. In fact, He just wasn’t interested in those who fake it.”

Seriously, just let that sink in a minute.

Then he talks about the parable of the sower and the soils.  “My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil…When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then tht means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it.”

“Do you see evidence of God’s kingdom in your life? Or are you choking it out slowly by spending too much time, energy, money, and thought on the things of this world? Are you satisfied being ‘godly enough’ to get yourself to heaven, or to look good in comparison to others? Or can you say with Paul that you ‘want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death? (Phil 3:10)”

Ouch? Ouch.

“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” Luke 6:26

He begins to describe lukewarm Christians as being church-going, giving but not until it hurts, doing things for show. “Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin…they don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one.”

“Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act…Lukewarm people call ‘radical’ what Jesus expected of all of His followers.”

“Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, friends…Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn’t allowed to control their lives.”

“Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return…” (Matt 5:43-47)

“Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven.”

C.S.Lewis writes. “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they become so ineffective in this.”

“Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor.”

He often quotes Matthew 13:44-46:  “The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

“Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe…this focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God.” I Tim 6:17-18, Matt 10:28

“Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label Christian or because some people persist in calling us a “’Christian nation.’”

“Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don’t genuinely seek out what life God would have them live…The truth is, their lives wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God.”

Chan quantifies this incompletely description of lukewarm people with this: “We are all messed up people…however, there is a difference between a life that is characterized by these sorts of mentalities and habits, and a life that is in the process of being radically transformed.

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