Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some thoughts from Daniel Taylor

I have been reading a book by Daniel Taylor called Tell Me A Story: The Life-Shaping Power of Our Stories. It has been very "eye opening".

He wrote a couple of paragraphs that have made me think a ton and helped me immensely. Here they are:

Since its inception, psychotherapy has overwhelmingly focused on what is wrong with our stories rather than what is right with them. It has replaced the puritanical nose for sin with the psychiatric nose for abuse and discord.

Everyone looking back on the beginnings of his or her story is expected to find pain, distortion, and abuse or be accused of repression or dishonesty. As old-time religion encouraged us to ferret out sin everywhere, so we could confess and be absolved of it, so modern social science encourages us everywhere to find oppression, deformity, perversion, and misused power. This narrowness encourages us to undermine our own beginnings and to see ourselves as helpless victims with damaged personalities rather than as active characters with the power to shape our own plots.

I could create a story of my own childhood that focuses on trouble and pain. The many individual details would be true but the story would be a lie...

The point is not to tell only Pollyanna tales about one's beginnings. It is to see tales of pain in the context of a larger whole. We should marvel as much that pain coexists with and even stimulates good as we lament pain's destructive consequences. WE OUGHT NOT TO ALLOW OUR CURRENT OBSESSION WITH FINDING SOMETHING TO BLAME FOR OUR DISCONTENT BLIND US TO THE LIFE-ENHANCING POSSIBILITIES THAT FLICKER IN EVEN THE DARKEST STORIES.

I have not heard such a balanced view of personal story, not being defined by tragedies, and also to not have an "everything is great all the time" mentality, before in my life.

What do you think about his comments.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hajj: One of the "Pillars of Islam"

Hey Everyone,

Muslims have 5 "Pillars". One of the pillars is going on the hajj. This is a journey to Mecca, and some surrounding areas, that each able bodied Muslim is required to take in their life. Here is a link to a virtual hajj. It gives a great and concise rundown of each step that must be taken.

Although I am not a Muslim, I believe it is important to understand the beliefs of others and take them seriously. If we think about it logically (and I believe from a biblical view), if someone does not agree with what we believe, it should not cause us to be intimidated, but should propel us towards conversations with those whom we do not agree. After all, if what we are saying is right, we have nothing to be fearful about. Also, if someone is not thinking properly, this should cause us to have a burden, not a spirit of ostracizing.

I am an evangelical Christian (just to clarify for those who do not know me). I want to say this because I believe the model given in Scripture is to lovingly engage unbelievers (one example would be Paul in Acts 17), instead of the opposite. I pray that we will be people who, with a bold gentleness, testify to the Gospel of Jesus. I also pray we will be people who, with great compassion, give a fair hearing to people who do not believe the same way. This should not produce a "spirit of compromise", but should empower us to study Scripture (and the way other people think) with fresh vigor. I have found that the more I talk with unbelievers, the more I realize the need for each of us (Christians) to be astute theologians. After all, we are all theologians, it is a matter of being a good or bad one.

Any Thoughts?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Random thoughts on Boredom

I was driving today with Amber and Justus. We were coming home from getting some lunch and I started to think about boredom, after a car almost pulled out in front of us. I will let you in the “madness called my mind” ☺ by giving you the thoughts on how I got to thinking about boredom.

As the car almost pulled out I had a thought that many of us have fairly often. “What if I would have died in a head on accident from this incident? Did I really think this was a routine drive?" Is there a such thing as 'just a routine drive'?" For some reason I started to think about how easy it is to profess boredom. The perceived monotony of the day can breed desperation from thinking that we are insignificant, that God has forsaken us, or maybe He never “took us in” in the first place, etc.

I thought of monotony and boredom because we were doing what seems to be a very routine thing of driving a car. What came to my mind as I thought about boredom has been encouraging and is also allowing me to do some evaluations in my life.

First of all, boredom comes from the sin of entitlement. We believe that we not only deserve the day which the Lord has given (i.e. given means a gift), but we also have taken His gift for granted. I know this might not sound to hope filled, but if we view rebuke through the lens of a gracious God calling us to change so that our joy is increased in Him, we will find great hope!

Next, we have not understood the uniqueness of history if we are "bored". We have a linear history, which means that we have a beginning and an end. Therefore, if each moment in history is infinitely unique, monotony is a fallacy. Therefore, boredom should be a fallacy also. Each moment is unique, yet as Christians, He has entrusted us with an unchanging message. This mentality will allow us to see that if He never changes, yet places us in an infinitely unique time in history, the attacks of boredom and monotony should be exploded. He has called us to proclaim and live out a message that never changes to an ever changing audience. Therefore, each interaction with people is always truly unique.

Finally, God is really inviting us to always be conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus. This does not leave room (thankfully!) for boredom. He is always graciously teaching us, encouraging us, rebuking us, and loving us. If the righteousness of Jesus has been counted as our righteousness (speaking of Christians), it would only follow that the loving pursuit of the Father would be to let us know (by any means necessary) of the perfect righteousness that He has counted as ours through the cross of Christ.

I know these may sound like fairly random thoughts, but I wanted to share some of the things I have been thinking through in the last couple of hours. Be encouraged that monotony is a fallacy. Be encouraged in His love for you.