Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Brennan Manning--Furious Longing of God

Brennan Manning is one of my favorite writers. The Ragamuffin Gospel had a profound impact on me. If you haven't read it, go get a copy NOW and start reading. It will change your life.

One of his recent books is called The Furious Longing of God. My father-in-law gave it to me a few years ago, but I never got around to reading it. I'm reading it now; I'll share some thoughts as I go through it.

The seldom-stated truth is that many of us have a longing for God and an aversion to God. Some of us seek Him and flee Him at the same time.

I'm doing some thinking about that. My first response is, "no; I don't run from God."

But what I think I do is run from the fullness of God. I keep God at a distance. I seek him occasionally, talk, vent, ask, listen...but more often I wave, glance, have a quick, passing conversation.

I don't slow down and just spend time with God the way I did, when I was young and single and didn't have any responsibility.

Now with work and kids and home and sports and a full calendar, it takes major effort to seek God and spend quality time.

But it is worth the effort. When I do put the energy into it, and listen, and share, and just be with God, I become more grounded, more centered, more peaceful.

And I know that God can handle me when I seek Him, and when I flee. And He's still there, either way.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I must read. I must write.

I have been far too absent here. Why? I sometimes struggle with what to write about.

I feel like I need to be careful. Why? Probably fear. Fear that I will say something that will get me into trouble.

Several years ago I was talking with a church about serving as their interim pastor. I preached there several times, met with the deacons, and answered all their questions.

I was scheduled to preach again one Sunday, and worship would be followed by a Q & A with the congregation. The church would then vote on calling me as their interim pastor.

On Thursday evening I got an email from the chairman of the deacons that they had changed their minds about hiring an interim pastor, and that I didn't need to come preach Sunday.

I called him to find out what was going on, and after some gentle pushing, got him to tell me that someone had found some past writings on my blog that concerned them, and that some folks had convinced the deacons not to consider me.

I never got details on what specifically I had written that bothered them, but I imagine it had something to do with posts I wrote before the 2008 election. I was pretty open about my views going into the election, and quoted writings from pastors and authors about the election.

I got into some good discussions/debates with friends over religion and politics. I probably said something that made some folks at that church think I was too liberal. And I lost the job. It was pretty bad timing--a time when I really needed the job.

Anyway, I realized that I needed to be careful about what I write. Guys like Brian McLaren and Mark Driscoll (see me being neutral here?) can get away with say what they think. They are secure enough in their roles as writers and pastors and have enough followers that they don't have to worry about offending anyone. (I mean, they both offend people, but it doesn't come back to bite them.)

I'm now working for a Bible software company. Not in ministry, but kind of close. I did once have a potential customer tell me they googled me before our phone meeting. And I do still think about going back into church ministry, so I feel I need to be careful.

But I have to write. I don't feel like myself if I'm not. And I'm so tired of all the fighting, I don't want to write about politics or religion in ways that invite debate.

So I'm going to write about what I'm thinking and reading, but try to do it in ways that are productive for both me and anyone who reads.

I'm starting Brennan Manning's The Furious Longing of God. More tomorrow...

Monday, September 24, 2012


Brady is a great soccer player--way above his years--and gets most of the sports attention between the boys these days. But tonight, Cash had a great moment to shine.

We were at Brady's soccer practice; I was playing with Cash while Brady was with his teammates.

We had a goal set up and we were taking turns shooting--one would shoot while the other played goalie.

Cash was in the goal, and I was taking some pretty hard shots at him. He missed a few, but stopped most of them.

At one point I shot toward his left, he ran to block it and kicked it back to me. I immediately took another shot, to the same side. He was moving back to his right when the ball came flying to his left. In an instant, he twisted his body and his left hand shot up and knocked the ball away.

It was amazing; I couldn't believe how quickly he moved.

I cheered him, then walked over and sat down with him.

"I want to talk about that Cash; that was a great save! Sometimes when we do something, we think about it first, right?"

I don't know if he got it, but he nodded.

"Just then, when I kicked the ball, you didn't think about what to do; you didn't have time to think. You just reached out and hit the ball.

"That's called instinct, Cash. That's when your mind and your body work together, and you do what you need to do without even thinking about it.

"That's what great athletes do, Cash. They act on instinct. They make a great play like that (I snapped my fingers) without even thinking. And that's what you do, Cash. You are a great athlete!"

He smiled ear-to-ear and gave me the biggest hug. 

It was a great moment. I am truly amazed at his talent, whatever sport we are playing. And I love cheering him on.