Archive for the ‘Following Jesus’ Category
I owe a debt of gratitude to Brennan Manning.
A few years ago I started diving into a few of Brennan’s writings which started me on a journey that continues to challenge and transform my way of thinking and living today.
But my gratitude goes much deeper than that.
As most of you know, my dad was a pastor for more years than I’ve been alive. Over those years he preached and taught….I don’t know, probably hundreds of sermons on the love and grace of God. He knew the scriptures and concepts and communicated them well! But it wasn’t until the last couple years of his life, as he began reading a handful of books by Brennan Manning and a few others…..that my dad came to this life-altering realization: Believing in God’s unconditional love and grace is a far cry from actually trusting it, experiencing it, and allowing it to transform a person’s life.
And so my dad began a journey – a journey into grace, love, and acceptance. And that journey radically changed his life. I mean it deeply, deeply changed him. Everyone saw it! He was free. He even looked physically younger and his energy level and passion for God’s work reached a level beyond what any of us had ever seen in him before.
See, for the first time in his life (at the age of 57!) my dad began seeing himself through an entirely new set of lenses. He was being released from his constant efforts of trying to earn God’s approval and love. He was learning how to freely receive acceptance from a God who loved him just as he was – not as he should be. His days of emotional self-flagellation were over.
Brennan Manning played a huge role in the transformation my dad experienced. And for that….I’m so, so thankful.
Brennan has just released a new book. It’s likely his last (I hope not). The book is called All Is Grace. It’s his memoir. The story behind the stories.
It’s been quite a read. So honest and transparent, yet so freeing and beautiful.
You’ll catch the heart and spirit behind the book in this short snippet from Brennan’s introduction:
Over the tar of my life, I have usually been headed toward something along the lines of “professional commitments.” Or at least I thought they were. But those trips are over now. I am liv-ing in a different emotional direction. I am steering toward home, hardly a poster child for anything … anything, that is, but grace. And what exactly is grace? These pages are my final words on the matter. Grace is everything. I am Brennan the witness.
I have 10 free copies of Brennan’s new book (courtesy of David C Cook Publishing) that I will send out to the first 10 people who comment on this post. Be sure to leave your email so we can email you for your address.
PS – You can read more of my dad’s and The Orchard’s story here.
Ran across a gem of an article on my flight back from Portland last week. It’s from the Dec/Jan issue of Fast Company and it’s about the Italian designer, Brunello Cucinelli and the good he’s doing both locally and globally.
For example, Cucinelli employs the majority of his small Italian village of around 500 people, keeps local button manufacturers and leather and cashmere providers in business, and he gives 20% of his profits to humanitarian efforts. He’s also restored a medieval castle, built a community theater, and he’s renovating a children’s park on New York’s Bleecker Street.
And I love the reason why. Check out Cucinelli’s quote from the article:
“I want to embellish the world around me, and this way, my employees feel part of a project that won’t last just three or five years, but 500 or 1,000 years,” Cucinelli says. “I don’t feel like the owner of Solomeo; I am just the custodian.”
What a powerful statement:
“I don’t feel like the owner of Solomeo; I am just the custodian.”
I. am. just. the. custodian.
Isn’t that our calling? Isn’t that the job God tasked humanity with in the very beginning? It was only when we saw ourselves as owners that we got in trouble. There’s a reason for that.
May we embrace our calling as custodians of everything. Our money. Our jobs. Our businesses. Our art. Our words. Our families. Our neighborhoods. Our cities. Our planet.
This post is what I’d say to those showing up at our church from another church:
Do your best to leave your expectations at home. i.e. Don’t expect our church to be like your last church. Trust me, it won’t be! We’re different. Not better…but most definitely different. Approach your visit to a new church with an open heart and mind. If God is calling you to be a part of a new church, then chances are….He’s wanting to do something NEW in you.
Don’t have a “shopping” mentality. Don’t “shop” for a church like you would a new car or home. The problem with that approach is that it looks first at what’s best for ME. A church is not a health club. In fact, ultimately the “church” is not the building or the pastor – it’s the PEOPLE. It’s YOU. So ultimately, church should be seen as something we “are” much more than as a place we go to simply consume and have our needs met. So rather than first asking “What’s in it for ME?“ Instead, ask a different set of questions. Questions like:
What are some ways I could imagine God using me to serve and contribute in and through this church?
Does my heart resonate with the DNA and culture of this church?
“Does this place value children?” “Are there potential opportunities for my family to get to know other families who are at our same stage of life?” “Are there other singles people here?” (Depending on your stage of life.)
Is this the type of place I can invite my friends, neighbors, and loved ones without hesitation?
Is this place and are these people empowered to be real and authentic?
Stop looking for the perfect church. Churches are led and filled by men and women. Humans. This means that churches will always be a bit messy. People tend to think that the grass is always greener on the other side. Trust me, it’s not. There will be challenges and opportunities for offense everywhere you go! But listen… that’s one of the greatest values of community – learning to work through the tough challenges of human relationships.
Look beyond methods. If all you do is buy into methods, then what happens when those methods change? Go beyond the methods! Look at things like the church’s mission, DNA, culture, core beliefs, values, etc… Look beyond the preaching and “style” of music. Are those things important? Yes. But “style” and “methods” change! Or I should say…SHOULD change. Remember….the only thing that’s sacred is God’s mission. A healthy church will constantly be changing and tweaking the externals. Look beyond those.
Bottom line folks: I believe that starting well is heavily dependent upon ending well. And yes, sometimes it’s difficult to leave well. And I know there are even some pastors who really make it tough to leave well. But just remember…..you are only responsible for yourself. So at least do your part. And do it with a ton of integrity and Spirit leading. If you do that, I believe God can and will honor that.
Growing up, the idea of “God as Judge” always worried me…no…actually, it scared the daylights out of me. All I could ever picture was one day standing butt-naked and full of shame before The Creator of the Universe as he played video snippets of all of my life’s sins on a giant Sony JumboTron in front of everyone I knew (and a bunch of pretty girls I didn’t and definitely wouldn’t after that).
This did not excite me. For one, because of how expansive I knew the “Scott-Sin Video Library” would be, this “viewing” would undoubtedly take a very long time. Definitely longer than my mom’s or sister’s. Secondly, I couldn’t stand the idea of how ashamed and guilty I knew I would feel in that moment.
(Perhaps this would be a good place to pause and say a special thank-you to many of the church camp speakers who basically brainwashed me into believing all of this…. I hope you are now retired)
Thankfully, I’ve learned of God’s mercy and grace. I’ve learned that where there is sin….there is an even greater amount of grace.
I’ve learned that in a Biblical context, judgment is almost always a very good thing! Not so much for the unrepentant perpetrators, but most certainly good for those who have been deceived and oppressed….or for those who have been misjudged, wrongly accused, and forgotten.
When you get a chance, read Psalm 98. What you’ll find is that the coming of God’s judgment gives us great reason to sing a new song and to make a joyful noise. And that it’s enough to motivate the the seas to roar, the rivers to clap their hands, the hills to sing for joy…
“For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, And the peoples with equity.” Psalm 98:9