Thursday, November 29, 2012

Caring Enough to Confront

I just re-read Caring Enough to Confront by David Augsburger in preparation for a discussion group on this book with some of our ministry leaders. There are very few books that I would recommend everyone read and this is one. Because no one is an island unto them self, this book is helpful for everyone.

Its success is found in the practical way the author rolls out Biblical relational truth and health. While there are lots of folks teaching general principles, very few are able to understand the principle so well that they can break it down in such helpful ways. He literally gives the reader the words to say and the reason for each word.

The basic premise of the book is that confronting those we love doesn’t have to be difficult or destructive. Augsburger teaches that healthy confrontation is critical to the health and growth of all relationships. When done correctly, the net result is that both parties love each other more and are better for the exchange.

I underlined about one-third of the book, but here are a few of my favourite short excerpts [there’s way more stuff that you will find more helpful than the following quotes… these are more for my own filing]:

“Avoiding honest statements of real feelings and viewpoints is often considered kindness, thoughtfulness or generosity. More often it is the most cruel thing I can do to others. It is benevolent lying. Selective honesty is not honesty at all. I find myself using it (1) to avoid real relationships with others … (2) to avoid clear confrontation with others; (3) to manipulate situations or facts to protect myself or others.” (p.31)

“In speaking truthfully, I welcome you to the sacred room of my soul.” (p.32)

“Closed questions have one obvious response. Often they are a strategy for directing, dominating, or controlling the other.  … [Examples] ‘Don’t you feel that…?’ ‘Wouldn’t you rather…?’" (p.34-35)

“’… to demand by angry words or pouting that others recognize the preciousness of the self I am … Such demands fail because in making my demand I reject and ignore the very persons I want to love me’” (p.48 – quoting Frank Kimper)

“When unchallenged, human beings often become self-centered, individualistic, self-absorbed. When unchallenged, human groups tend to drift, wander or stagnate. When unchallenged, relationships tend to repent, become routine, become stale or stuck. Life without challenge and confrontation is directionless, aimless, passive; or selfish, self-serving, empty.” (p. 61)

“A context of caring can be created when a person is truly for another; genuinely concerned about another, authentically related to another.” (p.62)

I underlined Chapter 7 from beginning to end. Everyone needs to read it.

“Which is it? ‘Insanity is inherited – you get it from your children’ or ‘True parents delight as their kids surpass them’?”

“’When I kill my enemy, do I destroy my way to God – do I, in fact, kill God?’" (p.164)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Heaven / Daniel A. Brown

In preparation for this Sunday’s message I read, What the Bible Reveals About Heaven by Daniel A. Brown. Overall I found it to be an accurate and balanced summary. Weaknesses of the book included wordiness, disjointed development of the topic, and no pictures (c’mon… it’s given a visual description in the Bible).

He does a good job of clearly explaining spirit, soul, and flesh (all of which are a critical part to understanding eternity). He also explains what happens to people when they die and how Christ’s death and resurrection changes this and what Christ’s return will look like.  He also answers popular questions and addresses popular myths.

Below are some excerpts I highlighted:

“Heaven is not made of the same stuff of this world. None of our natural senses can perceive it. Lots of people have their own images of what it will be like – in the same way I pictured Disneyland and the big with gate. But Heaven cannot be imagined from our end of things.” (p.11)

“Heaven is wonderful … wonderful means miraculous and other-worldly – something that causes us to feel awe. It describes things for which we have no earthly context, no way with which to understand them within the physical laws that govern our world.” (p.13)

“Heaven is not just about what God has in store for us after this life; it is about what God has been arranging for us from before the time when the foundations of earth were set.” (p.15)

“The same proclamation God made through a star in the first heaven, and by an angel from the second heaven, He declared through Himself out of the third heaven.” (p.66)

“The soul has the power of will, reason, and emotion, and it reveals its life in the choices we make, the thoughts we think, the desires we have, and the virtues/vices we possess.”  …  “…spirit is best understood as what ‘moves’ the soul.” (pp.68-69)

“My body exists in the earthly realm of the cosmos, but it cannot function in that realm without my soul animating it. In the same way, my soul exists in the spiritual real of the second heaven, but it cannot function in that realm without my spirit quickening it.” (p.71)

“Every one of us has asked ourselves the cosmic question ‘Why do weeds seem to grow so easily, when plants have to struggle to survive?’ The answer is the curse of Adam.” (p.136)

“Not a single confusing, taxing or troubling circumstance will exist in the new heavens and earth. Everything there will be for our sakes – like in the Garden of Eden – to bless us and to do us good forever.” (p.144)

“Our uniqueness will not be lost in Heaven, but accentuated. We will not get lost in the crowd in Heaven.” (p.162)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ordering Your Private World

Just re-read Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. It's a classic and needs to be read every few years as it serves to push me back to biblical priorities.

It's a book that speaks most specifically to those in leadership capacities, but can translate to any life/context. Here are some excerpts I found insightful and inspiring:

“Now, there is a busyness that reflects a plan of activity, a pattern of priorities, and a sense of purposefulness. It is a good and satisfying busyness through which one grows and increases competence. But there is also a busyness … that reflects a chaotic way of life – a way doing in which one is simply responding to the next thing in the day.” (p.1)

“Sadly, we do not have a Christian culture today that easily discriminates between a person of spiritual depth and a person of raw talent.” (pp.5-6)

“’Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.’ (Prov. 4:23)” (p.23)

“How did we get to a day when stress and fatigue are almost a badge of success?” (p.30)

“What I had to learn was that my drivenness needed to be consecrated on a daily basis.”

“If my private world is in order, it will be because, having faced up to what drives me, I listen quietly for the call of Christ.”

“An audience with Jesus over a period of time exposes all the roots and expression of drivenness.” (p.54)

“When driven people lose things, it is a major crisis. When called people lose them, nothing of substance has changed.” (p.62)

“[John the Baptist’s] parents were marked with an extraordinary depth of integrity, godliness, and perseverance.” (p.68).

“If my private world is in order, it will be because I have made a daily determination to see time as God’s gift and worthy of careful investment.” (p.73)

“… Jesus clearly understood His mission. He had an overarching task to perform, and He measured His use of time against that sense of mission.” (p.82)

“To be in front at the first turn is meaningless without the endurance to finish strongly.” (p.105)

“If we are ever to develop a spiritual life that gives contentment, it will be because we approach spiritual living as a discipline, much as the athlete trains his body for competition.” (p.140)

“Moses brought with him uncompromised standards of heaven; Aaron caved in to the whims of men. It was all in the listening.”

“’Blessed be to God for the day of rest and religious occupation wherein earthly things assume their true size. Ambition is stunted.’ [quoting from Wilberforce’s journal]” (p.191)

“Sabbath rest penetrates to the deepest levels of fatigue in the inner, private world. This fatigue is rarely touched by any of the modern amusements.” (p.194)

“… the rest God instituted was meant first and foremost to cause us to interpret our work, to press meaning into it, to make sure we know to whom it is properly dedicated.” (p.195)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November Update

It's been over a month since my last post so I figured an update is needed. Thank you to all those who continue to pray for us! The last four weeks have been filled with transitioning back to "normal". With each week Angela is growing in strength and capacity. I've been transitioning out of superdad mode and Angela is transitioning back to supermom mode. We're about 75% there.

Ruby is in soccer twice a week and is learning to enjoy it. Charlie's skating has wrapped up and we were excited to see some progress in his skating. Angela was able to get out to the last couple skating lessons and came to her first soccer practice today!

We had another consultation with a GI cancer specialist in Vancouver this week. Nothing new to report. Angela goes in for some blood work and another CT scan in a week. Angela found the meeting encouraging as she was frustrated at the speed of her recovery from surgery, but was assured that her timeline is normal.

Need to thank all those who have been helping us so much over the past month. A bunch of ladies from our Church have been helping us with cleaning, meals, and laundry. We've enjoyed two of Calvin's meals as well! Pastor Dave helped hold down the fort at the Church for October and did a fantastic job. Many friends and family have helped with loving on our kids too!

Our Church family continues to increase in health and fruit. It's encouraging to see more ministry taking place through small groups, Hope Central, our youth ministry and new preteen ministry! There also seems to be an increase in organic ministry (folks simply loving on those in that cross their path). God has been so good to us!

I hope this post finds you and yours enjoying the hope we have in Christ. Have a great weekend.