I have a really difficult time reading fiction. Last Summer I did get into a few fiction books by Francine Rivers and they were great but I have not read one since. Instead I usually choose books that are about true things, real things. I like to read about real people, real places and things that I can apply to my own life. There is no doubt, i am girlie girl but I really struggle with books that most women enjoy. It's hard for me to read something for fun. Last Summer I read Charlotte's Web for that very reason. But I'd rather have read Anderson Cooper's memoir or even James Frey's FALSE memoir, Million Little Pieces.
Last August I was in a Barnes and Noble looking for Rob Bell's book, Velvet Elvis. I was unable to find it on the shelf so I asked a guy working in the religious section. When I told him I was looking for Velvet Elvis he said that they had just got a new shipment in but it was downstairs in receiving. He motioned for me to follow him. Down the escalator we went and he began to talk. "You know if you are going to read this book, I also suggest you read Donald Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz." I asked about the book and he said something that has stuck with me. "I know where you are at. I have been there." WOW! I could not believe this guy was reading my mind. The only thing he knew about me was that I came in looking for Velvet Elvis. We talked on the ride down the escalator, the ride back up and for several minutes while he looked for Donald Miller's book. He understood me and I understood him. We were tired of doing what every other Christian was doing. We wanted something more.
One of my best friends, Kelly Ann, is a part of something pretty amazing. Her husband is an avid wake boarder. Bless his heart! I wake boarded one Summer a few times and busted so bad I thought my eyeballs were GONE and I even suffered a minor concussion. Never again will anyone see me on a wake board! But Alf and Kelly Ann are in love with the sport. Alf has a trampoline in the backyard and when he gets home from work, he unwinds by practicing stunts on the trampoline. How cool is that? Alf and Kelly Ann have been in the ministry for seven or eight years and were even on staff at a church for a while. But they took a break and now they are both feeling the call to go back! Alf started a bible study out at the lake with all the guys out there that wake board. It's been a long process but Alf feels like it is time to start a church, WAKE BOARD CHURCH! I just got goosebumps typing that! Now that is just about the coolest church I have EVER heard of. A while back Kelly Ann was telling me a story about this guy that was at the Wake board bible study one night. It was time for prayer requests. He reaches into his ice chest, pulls out a cold beer and asks the group to pray for his wife. Every single time I think about this story, I can't help but get emotional. Folks, THIS IS WHAT JESUS WOULD BE DOING.
People are watching and waiting for Christ followers to mess up. But they would love for you to prove them wrong. They would love to know that you really are accepting and that you love them, filth and all. If we could stop trying so hard to get people to go to church or come to Bible Study and just be their friend. If we could look for ways to serve them, if we could see a need in their life and help them. Isn't that would Christ would do?
So back to Blue Like Jazz. I did not buy the book that day in Barnes and Noble but Kelly Ann bought it for me for Christmas and I have read it twice. I still go back and look at all of my highlighted sentences. The book speaks to me so much that I enjoy reading parts of it over and over again. Tonight I was thinking about this new journey we are on with a church plant. I was catching my husband up on a few of my blogs and reading them aloud when he said, "Babe, I'm so excited about this. I know this is what God has been preparing us for and I am excited to be serving with this group of people. It's gonna be awesome!" That got me in the mood to pull out Donald's book and read my favorite page. Page 135. You can read it below. Donald's talking about his pastor/friend.
"One night Rick showed up sort of beaten looking. He had been to some sort of Pastor's reception where a guy spoke about how the church has lost touch with the people who didn't know about Jesus. Rick said he was really convicted about this and asked is if we thought we needed to repent and start loving people who were very different from us. We all told him yes, we did, but I don't think any of us knew what that meant. Rick said he thought it meant we should live missional lives, that we should intentionally befriend people who are different from us. I didn't like the sound of that, to be honest. I didn't want to befriend someone just to trick them into going to my church. Rick said that was not what he was talking about. He said he was talking about loving people just because they exist- homeless people and Gothic people and gays and fruit nuts. And then I liked the sound of it. I liked the idea of loving people just to love them, not to get them to come to church. If the subject came up I could tell them about Imago, but until then who cared. So we started praying every week that God would teach us to live missional lives, to notice people who needed to be loved."
There's really nothing else to write. Page 135 says it all. But I will end with this. Today our Pastor/friend sent out an email to some of us letting us all know of a date we needed to put on the calendar. He ended the email with a pretty cool statement and he even used an exclamation point. It got me excited. He's not an exclamation mark user usually but what God is doing in his life and in the life of those that have committed to this awesome thing, gets him excited. What an honor to be a part of something that is going to encourage me to quit thinking about the comfortable pew and start really walking a walk that is going to reach our community!
One of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard is a song called God Be In My head by John Rutter. I have it in one of my iTune libraries and it is one of those songs that makes me close my eyes and worship very quietly, all to myself. I could listen to the Cambridge singers sing it over and over again and never grow tired of hearing it. It's classical, it's beautiful and as I wrote this blog I could not help myself. I had to listen to it several times. For it truly is my prayer.
God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and at my departing.
Labels: a missional life