Tuesday, April 19, 2011

is this a book club?


I know this isn't a book club, but I've read some amazing books lately. I just can't help but share. One I finished a couple of months ago is called 'The Hole in Our Gospel' by Richard Stearns.


Clearly, God has JD and I in a new place in our lives. Our hearts are primed. Raw. Open. He is using people, books, movies, stories to continuously remind us of what He wants for us and of us.

God used 'The Hole in Our Gospel' to affirm, encourage, and remind me of why we're making the decisions we're making. Why we're stepping into unchartered lands. Why we're agreeing to 'go' when we don't know how we're going to get there. Or even at times where in the world we're going (literally).

Have you ever felt like you're not living with purpose. Omigosh, I've struggled with that. For years and years, I stirred with the question, 'Seriously, Lord, why? Why am I here? What kind of impact am I really making?' I've thought, 'Sure, I'm a Christian, but does the rubber meet the road for me?'

Do I really walk the walk or just talk the talk?

I know the answer -- no, I don't walk the walk well. Yes, I do just talk the talk sometimes. I hate to admit that. But it's true. Why? Because I'm a mess. I'll never know this side of Heaven what in the world God thinks of how I lived this life for Him.

There's a new (to me) song that I'm enjoying these days. It's called 'The One for Me' by Mandi Mapes. It says,

For the record, I'm a full-time failure,
You know me better than I know myself.
I'm a high-class screwed up mess,
but You love me just because.
I'm the creation,
You're the Creator.
I am imperfect,
You're the Redeemer.
I'm filled with questions,
but You are the Answer.
I am a sinner,
You are my Savior.

God's grace is mighty and He can use even a full-time failure like me to be His hands and feet.

That's what this book is about. Richard Stearns shares with great honesty how he begged God take this cup from him. He didn't want to give up his corporate job and very comfortable lifestyle. He truly begged God claiming that there are other much more qualified people to do what God was asking of him. I love it. He felt ill-equipped -- just like me!

Here are a few bits that really jumped out at me. Perhaps it will resonate with you, too.

Ya know how in Matthew 25 it talks about separating the sheep from the goats. The sheep on His right and the goats on His left (we are the sheep and goats). Stearns makes the point that they weren't separated based on their beliefs, but on their actions. The sheep acted in love. The goats did not. The passage goes on to talk about love done to 'the least of these' (orphans, widows, the imprisoned, the poor, the disabled, etc). Then Stearns does something that really caught my attention. He adjusts the verse and makes it his own version, if you will, so it's more easily digested for us today. This is his version:

For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved. (RESV -- Richard E. Stearns Version).

One paragraph down, Stearns says:

But I want to be clear that this does not mean we are saved by piling up enough good works to satisfy God. No, it means that any authentic and genuine commitment to Christ will be accompanied by demonstrable evidence of a transformed life.

You guys, this hits me square between the eyes. I want to be the sheep. I fail miserably. I so, so battle with the things of this world. It's ridiculous really. But I don't want to! I say it out loud for all to hear. I don't want to!

If you wonder sometimes why God has you here, I recommend this book. There are many, many purposes -- just like there are many, many of us. We're all different, but there are some things I think He calls all of us to. And that's loving each other -- including those who are different from us. Better yet, especially those who are different from us.

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