"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Current Reads

My current reading list (book descriptions from amazon):

The Beautiful Outlaw (John Eldredge)
Reading the Gospels without knowing the personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off. The result is a dry, two dimensional person doing strange, undecipherable things. 

In BEAUTIFUL OUTLAW, John Eldredge removes the religious varnish to help readers discover stunning new insights into the humanity of Jesus. He was accused of breaking the law, keeping bad company, heavy drinking. Of being the devil himself. He was so compelling and dangerous they had to kill him. But others loved him passionately. He had a sense of humor. His generosity was scandalous. His anger made enemies tremble. He'd say the most outrageous things. He was definitely not the Jesus of the stained glass. 
In the author's winsome, narrative approach, he breaks Jesus out of the typical stereotypes, just as he set masculinity free in his book, Wild at Heart. By uncovering the real Jesus, readers are welcomed into the rich emotional life of Christ. All of the remarkable qualities of Jesus burst like fireworks with color and brilliance because of his humanity.
Eldredge goes on to show readers how they can experience this Jesus in their lives every day. This book will quicken readers' worship, and deepen their intimacy with Jesus.

Kisses from Katie (Katie Davis)

What would cause an eighteen-year-old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because they think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person and didn’t even speak the language?
A passion to follow Jesus.
Katie Davis left over Christmas break of her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved by the people of Uganda and the needs she saw that she knew her calling was to return and care for them. Katie, a charismatic and articulate young woman, is in the process of adopting thirteen children in Uganda and has established a ministry, Amazima, that feeds and sends hundreds more to school while teaching them the Word of Jesus Christ.
Kisses from Katie invites readers on a journey of radical love down the red dirt roads of Uganda. You’ll laugh and cry with Katie as she follows Jesus into the impossible and finds joy and beauty beneath the dust. Katie and her children delight in saying yes to the people God places in front of them and challenge readers to do the same, changing the world one person at a time.

narrow and wide

I always thought I was pretty good at change. Growing up, my family moved around several times across different states, until finally landing in Sugar Land, Texas during the fall of my third grade year. I stayed in Sugar Land until the summer I turned eighteen, when I made the move to the heart of Texas,  sweet Waco. While moving to college was admittedly a big step and I wouldn't say it was totally easy, none of those moves and transitions shook me to the core like the one I'm in right now is. Right now, I am shaken. To be honest, I am scared out of my mind about what comes next. My whole life, I've known that I would graduate high school, that I would one day move out of my parents' house, and that I would go to college. Then, I would magically be an adult and everything would just fall perfectly into place. I would be married and set for life. I would live a fun, carefree, comfortable life livin' the dream. The American dream, that is.

Then I realized two things.

1. The American Dream is no longer my dream, because it is not God's dream and it is not biblical. Let's just go ahead and get the elephant in the room out in the open and admit to ourselves that a life based on independence, comfort, and safety does not line up with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's a different gospel, but I choose to live my life based on the gospel of Jesus, the One who died to ransom my life from the clutches of hell. So I have a new dream; I want to whole-heartedly follow Jesus into whatever His plans are for me. Sure, some days I try to fool myself into thinking that maybe the American Dream isn't so bad, because its a heck of a lot more comfortable than living God's Dream. But then I remember that because I've met Jesus, the American Dream is forever ruined for me. So there's that.

2. Then there's the fact that I've graduated college and I still usually feel like a little girl who someone just let in the room to see what the "grown ups" are doing. But now I'm the grown up. I have to make decisions about my life. I'm not married, or dating, or anywhere on the relationship map. I realized that life is not what I expected it to be at age 22. I am not as mature as I thought I would be, I don't have it all figured out, and decisions are hard.

I talk big about changing the world and sticking it to the American Dream (as we just saw above), but when push comes to shove, will I give in to the pressures of the world and the tendencies of my flesh and live a normal life? To live a normal, nominally Christian life is to not live at all. I was not made for normal; I know that. But when it really comes down to it, will I make the hard choices? The narrow road/ wide road analogy is just so accurate. I feel the pull of the wide road. The draw of the wide road isn't blatantly sinful things. The draw of the wide road, I think, is its wideness. If one chooses the wide road, there is little resistance. The hard questions and painstaking sacrifices of Kingdom life are swept under the rug, and the tension is released, the friction is eased. But, the wide road leads to destruction. It seems that the narrowness-- the refining pressure, the hard choices-- of the Narrow Road are what brings life, and the ease of the Wide Road bring its destruction. The narrow road leads to life because of its narrowness. I HAVE to be refined by fire and choose Jesus in the hard places to experience life. It is part of the Kingdom. If I live a wide life, always avoiding anything that is going to challenge me or make me choose, I will never find life. I can only experience fullness of life when I relinquish my broken life in exchange for His perfect one.

This reminds me of something C.S. Lewis said about truth and comort. Seeking after truth is a narrow road choice. When we find truth, it is abrasive to our brokenness, it is uncomfortable.

"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."
CS Lewis