Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Shack, Brennan Manning, and Me

Amidst a spiritual crisis in my life, my wife asked me to read William P. Young's book, "The Shack". At the same time, I was blessed to attend a conference led by Brennan Manning, author of such books as, "The Ragamuffin Gospel" and "Ruthless Trust".

To make a long story short, two years ago I believed God wanted me to become a youth pastor. I prayed. I researched. I spoke with family and friends. The journey was going my way. The lights were green. I knew God wanted me to...

But the path became more and more cloudy; cluttered with "what ifs" and "how tos". I stumbled and while feeling alone and abandoned, I resorted back to the same 'ol life. No one had an answer. I prayed. And with each prayer came silence. Soon, I gave up. Did God even care anymore? Why did His signs stop? Why did the path to ministry suddenly come to a halt?

Needless to say, church became mundane. The preaching, from different pastors, was dry. I tried reading the Bible, but I was disheartened. My prayers became stale.

Fast forward...
"The Shack" tells the fictional story of Mack, a person who suffers great loss and finds redemption through meeting the Trinity: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The story examines God's love through the pain and how He is always present. Eventually, Mack comes to terms with his loss, restores his faith in God, and comes to fully love his family.

Young does a good job portraying God as a loving, sovereign being who understands our pain, loss, and love. Young paints Jesus as God in the flesh and King, while he characterizes the Holy Spirit as a part of the triune God [a little difficult to explain, but worth the read].

Yes, there are parts of the book I didn't quite grasp. For instance, the book doesn't spend time on God's justice [Heaven vs. Hell] or Satan. Instead, it focusses more on love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. However, I wasn't disappointed that Young chose the aforementioned. I could definitely relate to Young's character, Mack: The feeling of loss, being alone, and disappointed with God.

Combined with Manning's message [a loving God] and Young's book, I finally broke down and spoke to God with a heart filled with grief and longing. I felt like the prodigal who went on his own way only to realize that I need God now more than ever.

As Young mentioned is his book, Mack is restored, but his life isn't perfect and he still has his down moments. Brennan says we are to love like Jesus, not as we should be, cause we will never be as we should be. He [Brennan] believes when we die, we will be asked by Christ one question, "Did you know that I truly loved you?"

I've stopped running after something I am not: A perfect role model for all to see and hear. God knows that and He still loves me.

Here are links to Brennan Manning's website and The Shack.

Peace be with you...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Items to Ponder

I mentioned some time ago that I was done with politics. The political machine, here in the United States, has become filled with folks who don't hold true to their party nor beliefs. So, I'll be brief:

What has happened to the Republican party? They're spending tax dollars without regard, losing their character [not practicing what they preach], and forget that people are paying over $4 a gallon of gas and milk. Heck, bread is almost $3!

But let's not forget our friends, the Democrats. They are eating their own like a black widow. They can't grasp national security, want to increase taxes, and they too forget that we are getting raked at the grocery store.

Here are a couple of items of concern:
1. Remember the oil embargo? Remember the long lines at the gas stations? Thirty years have passed and we've done very little regarding fuel alternatives. Does it make you wonder?

2. The Iraq war has cost this country in both dollars and common sense. I support our troops, but Congress is not giving the military the support they need to carry onward. We have concerns in Africa that are just as important, if not more than Iraq. Women and children are being slaughtered every day due to the violence there. What are we waiting for?

3. Obama vs. McCain. This country is in need of a huge overhaul not only at the top, but in other areas such as our federal agencies and Congress. We need people who will step up and do what is right, not for personal gain or glory, but the country as a whole. What does this mean for McCain and Obama? Both need to be firm in their beliefs and stand up for what is right. Change is good IF it is for the right reasons and not to appease a particular political party or special interest group.

May God help us...