Monthly Archives: January 2013

Dirty God by Johnnie Moore

 

Dirty God

 

Johnnie Moore is an acquaintance of mine from my time at Liberty University so when I noticed this book was available, I went for it. Having heard Johnnie speak as well as travel with him to Israel in 2005 or 2006, I knew it would not be a waste of my time. I was able to watch Johnnie from a distance and admire his heart and passion for the gospel and for the world. If you follow him on Twitter or read his blog, you are constantly noticing his passion for God and his love for the students at Liberty. At only 29, he has traveled more and probably accomplished more than I might in my lifetime. But that is what God has called him to do and how he is gifted. I mean, there are not many 29 year old university VP’s. After reading this book, you are able to understand more of what drives Johnnie Moore.

With that said, let’s take a brief look at Johnnie Moore’s sophomore release, Dirty God. From the time you pick up the book and see the picture on the front, to the time you finish the book, you are introduced to the idea that God, Jesus, is all about “getting dirty.” The main thread woven through this whole book is that of grace. As you read each page you are left challenged and encouraged to look at Jesus in a different way. Every Christian will tell you that Jesus did come to earth to die for us to reconcile us to God, as well as adopt, justify and sanctify us. It is what we believe. However, how many of us would ever really think about Jesus coming to get “dirty?” Our lives are messy and anyone who works with people or is around people for a long time, we can see just how messy life can be. And the beautiful thing that we see about Jesus while reading through Dirty God, is that Jesus did not care. Jesus came to save us and bring us back to Him and because of this, the mess never bothered him.

Grace is one of those words in Christianity that we throw around so very often and yet just as often, miss what it is all about. The last couple of weeks, I have been teaching the youth at Journey Church about grace and even while I have been studying it and learning about it, there is still so much to learn about the topic of grace. Jesus never let anything stand in his way of extending grace to everyone, beginning at what we would say the bottom of the totem pole. Jesus did not head straight for the rulers. No, instead he went to the poverty stricken areas; He went to the poor people, to the lepers, drunks, sinners, etc. That is why the religious leaders of His time were so infuriated, because Jesus spent so much time with the people they tried to avoid. And that is the beautiful thing about grace; it does not allow anything to stand in its way. Grace goes after those society looks over. Grace goes after those who have been hurt by others. Grace goes after…everyone. Johnnie Moore’s book will introduce you and remind you what that grace looks like. Many of the stories he shares are inspiring and yet he is also so transparent as to share times when he has fallen short of showing grace to others. That is one thing to admire about him, he does not write this book from a perspective of “come see what I have done” but “come experience what grace really is.”

Where and how can we experience this grace that Jesus has so lovingly bestowed on us? By rolling our sleeves up, getting our hands and feet dirty and join Him in the trenches.” If we really want to show grace as God has shown it to us, we cannot do it from a distance. Jesus stepped out of heaven, was born as a baby and lived a life right where we are to show us how much He loved us and to show us what grace is all about. He could have done it from heaven but that was not enough for Him, He wanted to come down and walk among us and live among us and show us that He is not just some distant God, but He is the God who has come near. After reading Johnnie Moore’s book, you will be challenged to inspect your life and inspired to extend grace. There really is no other way to live the Christian life. Here are a couple quotes from the book:

“Jesus’ love and Jesus’ grace are so great it’s scandalous – too much to bear, and too easy to get, and that’s why it’s always been so controversial…Grace accepts us as we are but is too powerful and too transformative to leave us as we are.”

“Christians should never blend in. Our lives should preach our loudest sermon.”

“Grace treats people precisely not as they deserve.”

I highly recommend this book as it will refresh, encourage and maybe breathe some new life into you. If you have a chance, pick it up and read it. Allow yourself to be reintroduced to the God who came to “get dirty.”

 

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.”

 

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Waiting on the World to Change?

 

Am I waiting on the world to change or am I actively trying to make a difference? Am I so focused on my own life (my job, my bills, my family, etc.) that it is possible for me to live a day without having any meaningful contact with other people? If I were to just keep on waiting for the world to change, would it happen? Or will the world only change when we get involved and get our hands and feet a little dirty?

This morning I noticed a Tweet by Justin Holcomb with a title that just hooked me in to reading the story. If you do not know much about Justin Holcomb, you can check out his website: http://justinholcomb.com/.  Justin is a pastor at Mars Hill Church and serves as Executive Director of The Resurgence (you can Google those names if you are interested in finding out more) and has written a couple books and I have just recently been exposed to his work. I thank the Lord that I was. This morning, he tweeted a link to the following story: http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/03/justice/ohio-rape-online-video/index.html?c=homepage-t. As I said, the title of the tweet just pulled me in and even at 3:30 AM, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief and wondering how humanity has come to this point where taking advantage of someone is actually ok.

I know I am not alone in wondering that. If you read the news consistently, or watch TV, you are left wondering how have we come this far? The biggest story to recently get people thinking about how far humans have come is when the 20 children were killed in Newtown, CT. Mostly everyone agrees that it is just sad. Then, as I was reading the story this morning, my heart just hurt. As I was working, I could not get the story out of my head. I believe that since I am a father to a 2 year old daughter, every time I hear or read of something being done to a girl or boy, I find myself shaking my head in disbelief. How can this happen? Not only how can this happen, but how can enough people be ok with events like this that we just turn our heads in some ways? How can everyone not see the necessary changes we need?

But what is going to bring about the change that so many people agree needs to happen? Will stricter gun laws bring about change in this country and keep people from going into elementary schools, high schools, colleges, movie theaters and malls and murdering others? Will making abortion illegal keep them from happening? Will keeping schools from handing out condoms keep teens from getting in bed together? Will posting the Ten Commandments in school and public buildings make everything right? I would have to say no, and I feel many of you would agree with that. Why?  We are dealing with the wrong thing. We are trying to keep the end result from happening instead of targeting the real issue, the cause of all of this, the human heart. If the heart does not change, actions will not change. No matter how hard we make it for young people to have abortions, they will still have them unless the heart is dealt with. No matter how hard we make it to get your hands on a gun, people will still murder unless we first deal with the heart. (This alone is evidence by the fact that a city with what seem to be the strictest gun laws also has one of the highest murder rates.) If the heart is not addressed, then no law is going to bring about true and lasting change.

This post is not going to solve everything or even bring to light some earth-shattering evidence. I just want to make a couple statements and share my thoughts. First, the story that I have been mentioning comes from a small town in Ohio where one of the bright spots is the high school football team. The issue at hand in that area is the story that a couple players from the football team raped a younger girl, and then took to social media (twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) and made a joke out of it. The first part of what I just said is sad enough, but then for them to actually make a joke about it? In one video, a guy is laughing while he is being questioned by one of his friends concerning what happened. This individual is not alone as you can hear other people along, with the individual recording, in the room laughing at what happened. How did we get to this point where younger men have no respect for younger girls and women in general? Where did we get to the point where people just do not respect others at all? People have lost respect and interest for life in general.

Another question is why has this happened? Well, all we need to do is look at what our society has allowed to happen and look at examples being set for our children and young people. What seems to have more of an impact on our minds than anything? What we feed it of course. If we feed our mind large amounts of music, TV shows, video games or movies with offensive, crude or poor themes, it will become ingrained in our head and we will become less sensitive to it and less bothered by it. A quick look at TV shows today show people young and old who care less about anyone other than themselves and only care about getting what they want. People are taught that unfaithfulness, cheating, lying, and stealing, among other things, are ok, as long as they are not caught. What is sad is that many within the church have become calloused to this with what we allow in our homes. We justify it by saying it won’t be a big deal, it’s just a little harmless entertainment. However, what can seem harmless is quite capable of destroying lives as well as bringing us to the point we are at now left wondering what happened.

So once again, what will change it?

What is going to change the culture we live in? What is going to change the world? What is going to get people to actually treat others with respect? The simple answer is God. It will not change with the next vote. It will not change with enforcing certain laws. The only thing that can truly change the society we live in is for Christians to truly allow God to get a grip on their life and to truly take the Great Commission and the Great Commandment seriously, realizing it is not just a suggestion, but a requirement for those who profess Christ. We are called to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” Salt cannot be effective unless it comes in contact with what it is flavoring. Light cannot be seen if it is hidden. For us to have an impact on the world we cannot run from it, seclude ourselves from it, or avoid it, we have to come on contact with it. How are we showing young people to respect others? How are we showing love to our neighbors? How are we caring for those living on our block and right next door? Have we even tried reaching out to those next to us and tried getting to know them? How do we actively love others? I am currently reading the book Dirty God by Johnnie Moore and the chapter I just finished mentioned something that I want to quote here.

What if a billion Christians began to live a lifestyle of grace as wildly as Jesus did? What if we cared enough about others to say and do what needs to be said and done, whether it’s popular or not?

Jesus lived in such a way that people were drawn to Him. The disciples also lived to where people saw a difference in their lives and wanted to hear about Jesus because of what they saw in them. Christians in the early church lived differently from the world around them to the extent that they were easily picked out of society/culture. Jim Elliott, a famous missionary, is known for giving his life trying to reach a group of natives in South America. One of the quotes he is most known for is this: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” That quote has served as inspiration for me many times along with Jim Elliot’s life. Acts 4:13 ends with this statement: “And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” This statement is made in relation to Peter and John. They had just been arrested for testifying about what they had seen and heard with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

To close, I just want to ask: can that be said about you? Can people recognize that you have been with Jesus by spending time in His Word, in prayer, in fellowship with other believers? One thing is for sure, if we were to truly live out the grace that God has given us, the world couldn’t help but change. So what is holding us back? What is holding me back? This will not completely rid the world of evil in that it will always exist until Jesus returns but think of how many could be changed and how many lives could be rescued by Christians living as though we are in a real Spiritual battle.

God, please help me to live and share your grace with everyone I come in contact with. I pray that those who see me and talk to me recognize that I have been with Jesus. Help me to live in constant awareness of the Spiritual battle going on all around me right now.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Comments are welcome.