Further thoughts on "Radical"

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Luke 13:24

Some statements Jesus made trouble me. I always find myself asking, “Am I one of those people He was talking about?”  I think it is healthy to evaluate our Christian walk, in fact the Bible says that we are to watch our life and doctrine closely. It is easy to get off track, to believe something you have heard all your life from the pulpit, especially when it makes you rest a little easier in the pew, so to speak. Now that I am halfway through David Platt’s book Radical, I can say that this book has challenged me in a very personal way. I have found myself sitting in silence at odd moments more than a few times ever since I started it.

Beyond just taking an uncompromising look at some areas where the American church has fallen short, he gently points the way back to his own shortcomings as a Pastor and church leader. Ultimately, and more importantly, he invites us to take another look at the words of Jesus. It is not a book that has made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and yet it has made me feel, in a deeper way, just how radically God loves the world and to what length He is willing to go to reach it. Not only that, He wants every follower of Christ to have that same love and be willing to take some personal risks in reaching that world, whether it be across the street or across the globe.

I have questioned anew some things that I have heard in church that don’t match up with Jesus last command just before He ascended back to Heaven…….”Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19,20

We can say that we are not called to do this thing or that thing, but isn’t that really our way of saying we don’t feel comfortable doing it? These are the questions I have been asking myself. I believe there are people anointed to teach and preach and who are gifted in certain areas as the Bible says, but not one of the disciples was exempt from spreading the Gospel and making more disciples. In Jesus great commission to us all, He doesn’t say “If you are called you are to do these things, if we belong to Him, then we have already been called.

That challenge still stands, and in this book David Platt echoes it as he invites himself and his church as well as you and I to go forth in a new adventure with God, no holds barred. I am looking forward to what the next half brings…..

Where do you buy books?

Tom’s Used Books, Lodi California

Over at Internet Monk there was an interesting post about Christian Bookstores and this got me to thinking about bookstores in general, which is one of my favorite topics anyway. Bookstores are my all time favorite  hangouts. Recently I have re-discovered used bookstores. I love them! Some of them are musty, dusty, and cramped, and they sometimes have books piled on the floor. The reason I like them is that their inventory is always changing, you never really know what you are going to find, it’s a bit like a treasure hunt. When I go back home I go to Tom’s Used Books. He has been on School Street for about 25 years. There are usually a couple of cats roaming or laying around by the cash register, and the aisles are very narrow, and part of the floor feels like it’s sinking. I love it.

I can disappear for hours in the aisles of a bookstore. It is my happy place. I frequent the big guys, Barnes and Noble and Borders, but I love the independant bookstores that I feel are such an important part of our community. Many of  these are going away, regrettably, although there are a few still around if you look hard enough. One of my favorite movie bookstores is the one from “You’ve Got Mail.” If I had a fantasy job I would own that bookstore!

I have a dream of owning my own used bookstore. Everyone tells me this is a bad idea….not in this economy they say,  it would never work, what with Amazon and online sales, not to mention Kindle and Nook.(Of course I would have online sales in my store, too!) Anyway, it’s a dream I can’t escape. I frequently go there in my mind.
 It would be a little storefront building downtown within walking distance to everything. A little cottage would do nicely also. I already have a name picked out which I will not disclose here in case I actually do this someday…..I would sell used books with a Christian bent and also the classics, poetry, nature books, books on animals, children’s books and mysteries. It would be my store and I would market and sell what I want, not what someone else tells me I must sell. I would also sell coffees, teas, and have comfy chairs and little tables by the window for reading, sipping and dreaming. And lamps that cast warm light.
I would host a weekly Bible study that people could sign up for…..I might sell a few trinkets along with the coffee and tea but not many, and of course homemade cookies, muffins and scones. I would link up with local food banks and churches to let people know how they could help out in their community. I would sell books that instruct, edify, uplift, inspire and encourage. I do like happy endings, and I don’t apologize for it. I realize that in life many times there are no happy endings, that is why I like books that make me feel good at the end. 
I would have music, maybe some jazz or classical quietly in the background. At Christmas I would play the songs you don’t hear too often anymore…..”It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” It would be a peaceful place, a quiet escape from the noisy world around us that never ceases to clamor for our attention. A small stopping point in your day, a little cozy corner where you could come visit with your neighbor and pet a cat….yes, cats are a must have for my shop.
What do you think, would you come to my shop?
I am a bit afraid for the future of bookstores. I have shopped Amazon, I know it’s convenient and fast and easy, but it will never take the place of the little bookstore downtown where you can browse your Saturday away thinking of things you should be doing but putting off for just a while longer…….
What about you? Where do you buy books? What is your favorite bookstore hangout?
****Lolita disclaimer: I know this is primarily a Christian blog, but I noticed the copy of Lolita too late and didn’t have time to photoshop a Bible in place of it. It is the only picture of Tom’s I could find on the web! Thank you for having a sense of humor……

Selection from "Lost Mission"

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither. C. S. Lewis

I felt like sharing a quote from one of my favorite fiction authors, Athol Dickson. Every book he writes is brilliant and unique. This particular selection is about a woman named Lupe who has come from her friendly but impoverished village in Mexico, and the cultural shock she encounters when she enters the U.S. A devout Christian, she believes she has recieved a call from God to save “the Anglos” and lead them to Jesus. It is a very interesting theme. He does a very good job of presenting the contrasting cultures through the eyes of Lupe and others. The small community she is from has very little in resources but is rich in many other ways, in contrast the United States in her view is impoverished in spite of all their material wealth……..

When Lupe greets several people on the street and they don’t respond, she is devastated. It is something she has never experienced before….Also she has just been observing a “laughing yoga” where people are faking laughter as part of therapy.

“What evil place was this, where people languished deaf to greetings, blind to neighbors, isolated in the middle of a crowd? What wicked mesmerism numbed them to the undulating glory of the sparkling sea? What devil drove them to attempt this imitation happiness, this counterfeit laughter, when the true delight of God’s creation lay in all directions? Athol Dickson, Lost Mission

I recommend every one of his books……

“Holy Father,” cried Lupe. “Your works are glorious, and you are beautiful beyond description!” She said it very loudly, with her face and palms raised up toward heaven. Arm in arm, a passing man and woman looked away.  Lupe, on seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4

Jesus, the original people person

 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5: 15,16
Crowds followed Jesus everywhere He went. He was the original people person. He wasn’t a people pleaser though. He wasn’t afraid to say what was unpopular, but He didn’t grandstand. He didn’t bring up controversial subjects to draw attention to Himself, although controversy followed Him because He spoke the truth, and the truth wasn’t always what they wanted to hear. But He always spoke the truth in perfect love. 
Jesus always had time for people. Maybe you feel as if you are in demand now, from your work, your friends, your family? Just try producing a few miracles and see how in demand you would feel then….remember the Calgon commercial? Take me away……..I think Jesus must have felt like that because the Bible says He went often to lonely places to pray. 
People like people who are people persons, not people who are people pleasers. With people pleasers you never really know if they are just giving you lip service. If they are really going to follow through. Do they mean what they say or are they just saying what you want to hear? This is just my humble opinion, mind you. I can say this because I have been a people pleaser at times, and I don’t like that about myself. I want to be more like Jesus and be a people person.
Ever been to a funeral and everyone gets up to speak and says how so and so “always had time for me.” We all know those special people who, no matter what is going on in their lives, they always treat you as if you are the most important person at that moment. They don’t look away, distracted by every little thing when you are pouring your heart out to them. I once knew a very special Pastor like that. People would line up out the door just to hug him. He always had time. He looked in your eyes and made you feel like you mattered….like he was so glad you waited so he could see you!
That is how Jesus was. I want to be more like that. It doesn’t come naturally for me. I think I would have been well suited to the cloister with a stack of books. But God wants us to invest in the lives of people. When I go to Heaven He will not ask me how many books I read. Darn.
When I look at Jesus, I see how far I have to go…….but He is happy when I try. He is happy when He nudges me and I pay attention.
Okay I am closing my book now……
 “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,  with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.” Luke 5:1-3

Tuning in to what’s real

“Here and there among men, there are those who pause in the hurried rush to listen to the call of a life that is more real. How often have we seen them, David, jostled and ridiculed by their fellows, pushed aside and forgotten. He who sees and hears too much is cursed for a dreamer, a fanatic, or a fool by the mad mob who, having eyes, see not, ears and hear not, and refuse to understand.

Only when we can no longer strive in the battle for earthly honors or material wealth do we turn to the unseen and more enduring things of life and hear and see the things we have so long refused to consider.” The Shepherd of the Hills, Harold Bell Wright.

I recently found a little treasure of a book published in 1907 about a worldly traveler who longs to escape his sophisticated city life and retreats to the Ozarks where he meets some people who teach him how to truly live. Leaving behind a successful church in the city, he ends up finding his faith and God in the mountains.

While there he meets Pete, the child who claims to speak with God, who wanders at night under the stars and hears the voices that whisper in the wind. When I look at this picture I can just see little Pete standing there in the sun. We can all learn something from the Petes of this world.

I talk to God all the time and though I have never yet heard an audible voice, I know He answers. The main way He answers me is though His word, but He uses other creative ways as well. I think I am going to listen to the wind more, and tune in to the song of the stars that sing. I am going to try to be more like Pete and tune into the Eternal world where God lives. I might be surprised what I hear!

“When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.” Ephesians 3:14-18

God loves happy endings

Growing up we spent a couple Thanksgivings at the home of my cousin’s cousins. The home of my Uncle Bruce’s brother and his family. It was an older home in Berkeley California, and I was charmed by it at first sight. It had a Hollywood driveway, the kind with the strip of lawn going up the middle and a big screened in porch just made for curling up with a good book. One of the most enchanting things about it though was the little bookshelf at the top of the narrow staircase. It was magic to me and I couldn’t wait to go up and explore the titles. Jackie was a librarian so she must have recognized a kindred spirit in me, a fellow book lover. I was invited to take any book I wanted. I knelt in front of it while everyone else was out playing, lost in my own universe.

In school I always gave a sigh of relief when they asked us to write a book report instead of solving a math problem. I love long books and I hate for a good book to end. But the great thing about reading is there is always another on the horizon. I am so glad there are those who just can’t stop writing! That, and reading is free.

God loves books too. He wrote a best seller. It is still selling like hotcakes. He is waiting for a happy ending. God is the eternal optimist! “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

The Bible is the one book with no ending, and we are all part of the story. God must not like for things to end either. He never meant for endings at all, only life ever after with Him. Open God’s book today. It will speak to you in the silence.

Everywhere I have sought rest and not found it,
except sitting in a corner by myself with a little book.
~ Thomas ã Kempis