Two Movies…Two Vastly Different Messages…Unconditional Love and Knowledge

Tonight, I actually watched two movies.  I took a break from my usual routine with my wife and girls out of town to go out.  I watched two movies that made one think about their purpose here on earth.  What are we supposed to do with our time.  For the record, I watched “Lucy” and “God’s Not Dead”.  While, I am obviously a believer in the Lord above and Christ, this is not my attempt to say one movie was better than the other.  It is not my attempt to even say that both movies were not interesting.  There were good points to both.

I would even say that “God’s Not Dead” does not touch on what the first stirred in my from a belief standpoint.  The truth of the matter is that after watching the first, I felt that I was pulled into the world of trying to figure out what it would look like for us to live up to our full potential.  This is not to say what would life would look like if we used 100% of our brain, but about recognizing what our highest calling is.  As I watched the first movie, I saw what one person would do in order to serve themselves and serve the world at large.  It was based on knowledge and understanding how things work.  There were some great things touched on about our interconnectedness with each other and the world around us.  But ultimately terrible things were done in the name of protecting this gift of knowledge and ultimately power.

For me though, I struggled with this as I am a firm believer that to reach our true potential we must learn to live and love unconditionally.  This is just my opinion and I am always willing to be proven wrong.  But in my life, the greatest piece of growth that I have had comes through giving of myself.  I have had people tell me that I need to take care of myself and not everyone else, but the truth of the matter is that by serving, I recharge.  I do struggle, I do find it hard to give some days.  I get angry, I want to quit, I want to run from the people that I think might take advantage of me.  But I also recognize that the people that push my buttons, probably need someone to not have conditions on helping them.

I would say that if we truly want to advance to our highest self, then we must always be willing to give.  We must be willing to let go of all the things that we hold so tightly and give those away.  That is the way that we pass on the power of who we are to others.  This world is crazy right now; wars all over and economic scares.  But we get over all of that through finding ways to love and sometimes that means loving someone who seems unlovable.  For me that is what it means to be Christ-like.  For me personally, to withhold love is to judge.  To withhold love is to fail to acknowledge that we are fallen and that I am undeserving of love.

What a lot of things boil down to for me, is ultimately what do I value?  What has the higher price in my opinion?  You see, to me…love has the higher value.  And I say that simply because knowledge is rather easily attainable and cannot truly be lost.  Other people can acquire the same knowledge and we can always be pushed to gain more knowledge.  Love on the other hand, and more importantly unconditional love, is something that cannot be attained through our desire to have it.  We cannot be loved by someone because we want it…they must give it.  Someone has to give a piece of themselves to you and they trust you with that.  We do it as parents, spouses, brothers and sisters  (although that can feel forced at times).  We do it in our friendships and we do it as the sons and daughters of our parents as we mature.  We choose to love them and give of ourselves for them and instead of dealing out pain for the acquisition of knowledge, when we love we take on most of the pain for the sake of those we love.

We are willing to accept someone else’s burden and take ownership of it when we love them.  Love seems to be the ultimate calling for us as it is to accept that we will hurt and be okay with it.  It is to accept the truth that when we love someone without conditions, then we are living out this thing we call faith.  Genuine unconditional love, is the message of the cross.  It is an amazing message that we often miss in our daily lives.  And other times, we say that we know that is the message of the cross with our mouths, but we do not believe it.

I have learned in my life that it is not about proving how much one knows.  I have learned that there are people smarter than me with more knowledge than me.  I used to get into arguments to prove my faith was strong.  I would debate and study and acquired vast amounts of knowledge about my faith and other faiths.  I had this arsenal of knowledge and no matter how many arguments or debates I entered, I was doing little good or furthering the kingdom in any way.

But what happens when one chooses love?

From the Garden to the City Blog Tour: Reflection (Snippet)

I am the featured blogger this week for the From the Garden to the City Blog Tour.  Below is a snippet from my post.

I recently completed the reading and re-reading of Chapter four of “From the Garden to the City”.  For me the book is starting to get interesting and I think that it will be harder and harder to stick to only reading the one chapter at a time.  I will try.  This particular chapter played to my interests from the beginning.  With my history in web development and programming, seeing the code snippets were a welcome mat to information to come.  Before we get into a discussion about  technology in Genesis, John Dyer, lays a groundwork that we must understand.

To read the rest of this post please visit here.

To learn more about the book please go to: http://fromthegardentothecity.com/

From the Garden to the City Blog Tour: Perspective

Chapter 1 of From the Garden to the City was an enjoyable chapter.  While at times, it felt a little like an extended introduction, it served as a good reminder for what is to come.  It worked at laying a good foundation or a working definition to some degree for a simple way to define “technology”.  That is to say that when reduced to its most basic level technology is anything that is invented (or becomes readily available) during your lifetime.

I was able to relate quite well to the stories in this chapter.  From the story about a projector to the comparisons between texting, online chatting and telephone usage, I could see the author’s intent and point.  It is to some degree the very reason that I work with computers.  At the time, I was looking for my first job, they were becoming more and more prominent in homes and in the workplace.  They were something new and exciting and I wanted to know about this new “technology”.  My dad had worked from a terminal for a while, and it intrigued me.

I am hoping that starting in chapter 2 the author’s intent with Scripture will come into play a little more.  I am curious to see how the author is going to make the leap from the Bible to the uses of technology today.  After reading chapter one, I am slightly inclined to say that my interpretation of technology will have to be altered.  When I started reading the book or read the book summary, I saw technology as a finite idea.  It was defined by items (computers, ipods, smart phones, the web, etc.).   It appears that the working definition will be a little more fluid.

I am still curious on how the author is going to separate the technology though from the user.  That is to say how does technology have a purpose on its own, apart from how it is used?  I still see intent being a rather large factor and that is not determined by the technology but rather the end user.

I am looking forward to the upcoming chapters though and will hopefully get my next post up a little sooner.

 

To read this weeks featured blog on this chapter, please go to:  http://churchm.ag/from-the-garden-to-the-city-perspective/

 

Blogging Through the Book – From the Garden to the City – Introduction

Well, I just completed the introduction to From the Garden to the City.  As of this moment there is not a whole lot that I can dive into and discuss or share.  As with most books, the intro is simply setting up the rest of the book.  For me the central question that this book will be trying to address is whether or not technology is good or bad and attempts to address the idea of viewing all technological advances through the lens of Scripture.

At this point, the book has not addressed any of the issues, but simply posed the question.  Since I have not read the next chapter, I can offer my own unbiased opinion and admit that I am open to it being changed.  My answer to this question, more than likely will always be based around the “it depends” model.  How is the technology used?  If we are truly going to view things through the lens of Scripture, we must view it through the lens of Jesus Christ.  That is to say if the technology is being used with the same motivation that Christ had while he walked the planet, it will be good.  It will generally rest on the premise of will these advances bring glory to God the Father, or will they bring glory to me.  Am I utilizing these new tools to make the father known or to make myself known.  Who am I glorifying with the technology.

That is my stance now, but I am looking forward to actually being able to dive into the book soon.

Blogging Through the Book – From the Garden to the City

I have been given the opportunity to blog through a new book.  I love books.  I try to read books of every possible kind.  I try to read people with perspectives that are in line with my own as well as those that are not directly in line with them.  With this book, I do not know where it falls.  An twitter request for people willing to blog through the book came out and I jumped at the opportunity.  All that I gathered about the book was that it was about technology and Jesus.  Two things that are integrated into my life.  I work in IT all day and I am a proud follower of Christ.

Later this week, I will post my review of the introduction to the book.  This post was just to lay the groundwork for what is to come.  If you want to know more about this project you can follow all the fun at: http://fromthegardentothecity.com/

I will have the featured post on week 4, but the rest of the weeks, I will link to my posts in the comments.

This should be a fun journey.

Naked Spirituality by Brian McLaren Book Review

I recently completed the book Naked Spirituality by Brian McLaren for the Viral Bloggers web site.  I feel that it is best to admit that I generally do not consider myself as being in the emergent camp, but I do like to follow the conversation that they are involved in.  I am a believer in Organic Christianity and that is sometimes in contras,t in my opinion, to what I find in organized religion.  With that being said though, I do love all my brothers and sisters in the Lord despite our differing views and opinions on how one worships the Lord.

This book was a challenging read for me, as I am a huge fan of the premise.  There is a need in our current culture to strip back everything that has been piled on top of Christ into this entity that we call religion.  It is for this reason that I selected The Naked Gospel previously from the Viral Bloggers to read.  This review is not a compare and contrast though but rather a look into what motivates me in selecting the books that I review.  It was hard for me to read this book and put some of the rumors that I had heard about Brian McLaren on the back burner.  Since I have not read his previous books, including his A New Kind of Christianity, I did not want to let the review be tainted.  As I read the book, I found that there were many chapters that I enjoyed.  I also enjoyed the attempts of the author to put much of his life and his journey into the pages of this book.

With the 12 words for his book established (here, thanks, O, sorry, help, please, when, no, why, behold, yes, and silence) Brian takes us along a journey with him to how he ended up where he is today.  And I loved this.  I enjoy the journey, but I must be honest with everyone and say that I felt like many of the chapters were broken down into two sections.  One section dealing with Brian’s journey and another that dealt with the word.  I freely admit that could be my reading of it and even been influenced by some early perceptions.  The problem that I had with this dynamic was that much of the time, I felt that they were set up in such a way that they words were not meant to be unique to the Christian faith or the Christian reader, but rather the book was structured to have universal truths with Brian’s underlying story being one that included Christ.  I felt that the words were to anybody reading the book.  The non-personal narrative seemed to reference “God” but not necessarily Christ.  Christ was a part of Brian’s story, but Christ’s story was not central to this book as a whole.

For me reading this through my Christian eyes made things very difficult because I do believe that Christ needs to be intertwined into each and every of the twelve words and not a footnote in the examples of each word.

With that being said, I was able to push beyond that and complete the book.  I actually enjoyed the insight that the book provided and I would even walk away from the book and recommend it.  If you will struggle with the same things that I did, most of the time Brian would refer to “God”, I would replace it with Christ and push along.  While, I might have violated the author’s intent with the book by doing so, it allowed me to complete the book and gain some valuable insite into my own personal story and walk with the Lord.

If the author’s intent was for this book to reach many of those that fall into the “unchurched” category or those seeking, then I can commend him for that attempt and hope that many of them will pick up the book with an open mind.  Brian does a good job of peeling away many layers and starts one on a journey to get back to something more basic and far more enriching than what many find today in organized religion.

Nudge by Leonard Sweet

I am currently working my way through the book Nudge by Leonard Sweet.  Overall, I am enjoying the book.  It is a book that addresses evangelism from the perspective that I have come to believe is more in line with the New Testament than what I have found in the west.  The book focuses not on going to the nations and being centered on finding the lost and converting them, but it desires for believers to find Jesus in everyone.  Overall I would recommend this book to a believer, but the manner in which a few topics are written, it’s target audience would appear to be somewhat on the intellectual or mature side.

For me this is the only deterrent from recommending this book emphatically.  I found that at times, it addressed the ideas behind evangelism beautifully, but at other times, the topic would be lost in it its own cerebral descriptions.  If someone is apprehensive or looking to find out what true evangelism looks like, to have to wade through heavy concepts and ideas that lack exposition, it would cause one to put the book down. As I have read the book, I have found myself engrossed and encouraged by the words on the page, only to find that moment broken by having to google a term or look it up in reference materials.

That though is a minor fault, when I look at all that book has to offer the believer looking to break away from the systems and ideologies that exist to describe how to save the lost.  At many instances, I found that this book was fantastic because it reminds the believer, that they must be evanagelizing themselves.  That is to say they must be looking for Jesus and not looking at people as projects.  Evangelism is something that takes place daily in every interaction that a believer has.  They are sharing Christ by how they live their lives.

For me, while this book has a few minor shortcomings, this is the best book on evangelism that I have read.  I would recommend this to any individual, but would really encourage groups to pick it up and read it together.  This book will not simply help in evangelism to the world at large, but to each other within our own faith communities.