Monthly Archives: April 2011

Faith

The other day I posted a question to parents with regards to how we raise our children. Today I want to ask the same question but with regards to how we personally live our lives in faith.

Question: Should we as Christians count the cost of a step of faith before taking it? Or do we trust that God is leading us and take the step?


Review of Unleashed: Release the Untamed Faith Within by Erwin McManus

To start off, this book was previously released as The Barbarian Way. You can basically summarize this book with saying that it is all about getting back to the adventure of the Christian walk. Erwin says it this way, “The reason this metaphor (of the barbarian way of faith) so resonated with me is because I saw how faith had become too civilized and its application too sanitized.” (XIV) According to Erwin, this book is truly about unleashing that barbarian within you that seems to be saying that there must be more to life than just routine and mundane activities.

This was the second book by Erwin McManus I have read but I also subscribe to his Podcast from Mosaic, the church he pastors in Los Angeles. I am familiar with his style and I am able to both enjoy it and disagree with it at times. The message behind this book is solid. He shares plenty of stories from his personal life and also gives plenty of Scripture to back up what He is saying. One reason I feel he might have re-released this book with this title is because that is probably what many Christians struggle to do, unleash their faith. We have “faith” but many of us have gotten comfortable with where we are in life and do not take regular opportunities to unleash it and allow God to move how He desires within us who supposedly bear His name. This book challenges you to allow God to do just that, take a different look at your life, a look through God’s eyes. Are you truly living a life of faith? Or have you allowed your faith to be tamed? The other part of this book that stands out to me is how often he mentions his own children and how he attempted to raise them in ways that constantly taught them to live out their faith and allow God to move them as He desires. This resonated with me because that is how I desire to raise my daughter and any other children that God gives my wife and I. We attempt too often to tame our children from the child-like faith that they have in God and try to calm them down. In many ways, we are doing a huge disservice both to them and to ourselves. We need to allow their faith to be unleashed. The only way to do that is by unleashing our own.

One story that really stands out is one where his son asks him a pretty straight-forward question. His son asked, “Dad, would you purposefully put us in danger?”

“Yes,” I answered, “Of course.”

Without blinking an eye his response was simply, “That’s what I thought. I was just making sure.” (p. 107)

Erwin McManus then goes on to relate this story to how we interact with God sometimes, or should I say, fail to interact with God. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us would not want to ask God this question because if we read the Bible, we see more often than not, those who followed Jesus wound up in pretty dangerous and life-threatening situations. It seems we try to ignore that though and try to live as civilized as we can and try to keep our families out of harm’s way. But is that truly unleashing faith?

That is what Unleashed is all about. It is an easy book to read and can be read within a week and yet you will put it down challenged and inspired.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Question:

To all parents out there,

This morning as I was reading a book, a question came to my mind and I decided I want to pose it to all of you. I would like to ask each of you who read this though to pass it on to other parents that you know as I would enjoy seeing the many different responses that come from this.

Question: Should we as parents teach our children to count the cost of every step of faith before taking that step? Or should we teach them that sometimes you just have to jump without knowing where you will land?

I look forward to seeing the responses.


Who has Control?

Who has Control?

This blog is not a typical “Good Friday” blog but it is what was challenging me today. I started reading a book by Erwin McManus earlier this week called Unleashed: Release the Untamed Faith Within which was previously released as The Barbarian Way. But anyways, today I was thinking about some events that have been going on in my life and I was thinking about Unleashed. God has been helping me relearn how to trust Him with everything. So often, I feel like I know what is best for my life and what direction God should take me so I can bring Him the most glory. Unfortunately, life never seems to work out that way. No matter how often I try to put God on a leash and bring Him along with me where I decide to go, things do not work out as planned. But when I actually “unleash” Him and allow Him to take control and guide me, I always wind up with more than I could have imagined. The way is always hard, but it is also more rewarding. God wants us to unleash Him and allow Him to be God instead of us trying to be god. When we try to be God, things get messy though they may be “safe”, but when we allow God to be God, life gets crazy and adventurous. When we hand over control, we have no idea what to expect, but that is how God likes it to be. He does not want to be figured out. He wants people to worship Him and trust Him because He is far beyond our wildest imagination. If God was a safe God, we would not be here. He would have never allowed for sin to enter the world. He would never allow Satan to roam free on this earth. No, God is not safe in the way that we would see safe. Following God is not something you do if you want a safe, easy life. If you want a safe and easy life, do not come to church. Do not read the Bible. Do not pray. If God were safe, He would never have sent His Son to live a perfect life and then die as the ultimate sacrifice for OUR sins. That is not the safe way to act.

So, I write this because God has me at a place on this “Good Friday” in 2011 thinking about where God has me and in reality, I would not want to change it. I can look at my life and know that God is definitely working even though I do not SEE everything going on. It is a part of faith. We cannot see everything that happens but we have hope. I would rather allow God to remain unleashed in my life and be free to work in the ways that He sees best, than for me to allow my prideful, sinful and selfish self to try to figure out what is best for me. It never seemed to work out like I wanted it too before, so why would that change now?

You may not be at a place where this really speaks to you or challenges you, but I pray that you are not keeping God on a leash but that you are allowing Him to be God. I finish with this quote from C.S. Lewis:

“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion, the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, abd make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.” (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.)


Sun Stand Still: Inspirational, yes…; Must read, No.

“I’m out to activate your faith and inspire your imagination.” – Stephen Furtick, p. 79.

This is how Stephen Furtick states his purpose for writing Sun Stand Still. How does he do in accomplishing this purpose? I had only just begun hearing about this book before I signed up to review it and though this book did not teach me anything new in regards to living by faith, it was not a complete waste of time. Sun Stand Still is not hard to read and very easily could be read within a couple days. This book is like a good motivational/inspiration half-time speech to a basketball team. It is definitely written in an inspirational way that challenges every Christian to think if they are truly living the life that God has for them. He definitely does what he can to inspire your imagination. The back of the book has this to say:

“If you’re not DARING TO BELIEVE GOD for the impossible,

you may be SLEEPING THROUGH

some of the BEST PARTS of your Christian life.”

Stephen bases this book around the story in Joshua 10 where Joshua prays that God would have the sun stand still so Joshua could completely defeat an enemy of the Israelites. He uses the story throughout to challenge everyone who reads this book with the idea that they have the same potential within them if they are willing to step out and live with audacious faith. Stephen shares many stories from his own life as well as those from people who attend Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC and there is a fair amount of Scripture littered throughout the book as well. After reading this book, you will at least be challenged to look at your life from a different perspective and determine whether or not you are striving to live with great audacious faith. Stephen also has this to say in his book:

 “In short, I’m out to activate your audacious faith. To inspire you to ask God for the impossible. And in the process, to reconnect you with your God-sized purpose and potential.” – Back cover of the book

With Mr. Furtick not being much older than I am, I do believe that as he grows and matures in his relationship with the Lord, I feel he will in the future take a look back at this book and make a few changes but overall, it is not a waste of your time, especially if you are at a point where a little motivation or inspiration could help get you out of a funk. If anything, the personal stories of different individuals within the book itself will be enough to get you asking what you can do with where God has you in your life at this time. This book will definitely be for people who are new in their faith and in their relationship with God but can also help kick you out of a rut. It will not overwhelm you intellectually or put you to sleep with boring stories. Two books that are comparable to this one but ones that I enjoyed more are Francis Chan’s Crazy Love or David Platt’s Radical.

How does Stephen do in completing his own stated purpose to activate your faith and inspire your imagination? I believe he does a fair job with it. If you are looking to be inspired, then this book could be the one for you.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as a part of their Blogging for Books program


“Yet I…”

Yesterday I was reading in Joshua 14 and verse 8 really stood out to me. Joshua is recounting when Moses sent him along with 11 others into the Promised Land  and how only him and Caleb stood alongside the Lord’s promise to give them the land. The other 10 could not get past the size of the people and how in their perspective, there was no way they could go in and possess the land as God had promised. Verse 8 says the following:

“But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD my God.” (ESV, emphasis added)

When people make your heart want to melt, what is your response in light of God’s promises? Is your response like Joshua’s? Or is your response like the people of Israel? Do you forget about God’s promises or do you stand strong on His promises? We all know the result of the Israelite’s disobedience, yet what will be the result of our disobedience for not standing on God’s promises? Chances are we probably will not wander in a physical wilderness for 40 years but we could wind up wandering in another kind of wilderness.

In spite of all that the Israelites saw the Lord do and how He provided for them, protected them and lead them, they still could not get past the obstacles that seemingly stood in their way. And through all of this, Joshua stood firm. When others around you are beginning to doubt or question God’s goodness and promises, what is your response? Can you say like Joshua, “Yet I wholly followed the Lord?”

I see in this statement the biggest reason Joshua was able to stand strong in this area. The whole time that Moses was leading the ISraelites, Joshua was watching Moses and striving to live like Moses lived. He made that relationship with God his own. He did not allow his response and relationship with God to only come through Moses. He sought after the heart of God himself. The Israelites did not. They tried to leave the relationship with God to Moses. Trying to live your relationship with God through someone else never ever works. It has to be personal. That is what Joshua did. Read the end of verse 8. He calls God, “the LORD, MY God.” He made it personal. God was HIS God. He wasn’t only the God of Moses, or Abraham or Jacob. God was HIS God.

Is God YOUR God? Don’t wait to answer this question.


Surviving or Changing?

I am reading this book right now as part of a “Blogging for Books” program that Multnomah Publishing that encourages people who enjoy blogging and reading to read books they publish and then offer a review of the book. The book I am reading is calledSun Stand Still by Steven Furtick. The guy is an extremely dynamic speaker and if he ever had to leave the ministry, he could be an extremely successful salesman. The book is concerning audacious faith and is kind of going along the same lines as Crazy Love by Francis Chan and Radical by David Platt in trying to call people out to a more radical life for Christ. I am only in chapter 3 but I am already a little weary of the word audacious right now. But anyways, this is not the book review so I will save that for later.

However, what this post is about is something I read within the book. Steven has just finished sharing a story of what he prays over his boys each night after they have gone to sleep. Then he shares a quote of something he once heard a preacher say. It is worth sharing here:
“I’m not raising my kids to survive the world. I’m raising them to change it.” (Sun Stand Still, pg. 31-32)
The fact that I have a 7 month old daughter is what caused this quote to stand out. There is so much garbage going on in the world today that many parents are worried about what their kids will have to look forward to. This mindset is more born out of a spirit of fear than of a spirit that should be alive and well within Christians. If we are worried about how our kids will handle the world when they are older, are we really imparting to them the fact that “we are more than conquerors?” (Romans 8:37) Are we showing them with our lives that we believe what Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” This quote stood out to me as a challenge to raise my daughter Ellie in the fear of the Lord and not the fear of man. Matthew 10:28 tells us not to “fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”
What about me? Am I living that way? Am I living to survive the world or am I living to change the world? I have read in many books already that our kids will act like we act more than they will just do what we say. If that is so, am I living with a spirit of fear? Am I living to survive the world or to change it? “For God gave us a spirit NOT of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
I know what I want to do, and what I want my daughter to do. But what is she going to see in me as I live each day before her eyes?
What do others see in you?

>Leaving

>Hello everyone. So I wanted to inform everyone that I am moving to WordPress. I will leave this one up for a little while so those of you who happened to stumble on to this site know what is going on. The new address is: https://thetoddlynn.wordpress.com/

Thank you.


>First Blog Ever

>Hey everyone. I want to say thank you for taking the time to check out this blog. I just signed up for it so it will be a day or two before I make my first post. I am excited about sharing with everyone who chooses to read this what God is doing in my family’s life as well as my own. I look forward to hearing what you all have to say about what I share as well and hopefully we can encourage each other while on this journey of life.

Todd