My daughter has a lot of things on her Christmas list. She’s almost 5 and it seems like several times a week, she comes up with something new to add to her wish list. She’ll say something like, “Daddy, I want to add this to my Christmas list, I want it sooooo bad. I hope I get it.” I, of course, know exactly what she’s getting from us. Occasionally, she is actually going to get the thing she is wishing for, but many times we have opted not to buy that specific toy. Most of us can remember what this was like. We had things that we were wishing for and hoping for, but never got.
One of the words that is often reflected on during the time of Advent is Hope. It’s a word that we use frequently to describe our wishes. Like my daughter who is hoping for specific presents or when I am hoping that the Colts will be able to win enough games to make the playoffs, we are desiring a favorable outcome that we are unsure of. In terms of Advent, however, the idea of hope is much different when viewed through the lens of scripture.
What does it mean to go deeper in our spiritual lives?
My family has probably logged hundreds of hours watching fish on our TV. This primarily stems from our girls’ love of fish. Both of them have been mesmerized by the brightly colored fish swimming around and since we don’t have an aquarium, we watch one on TV. You might think this is strange that we would use our TV as an aquarium, but many you’ve probably logged a multitude of hours watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Whether it’s the aquarium, shark week, or some other show like Blue Planet or Finding Dory, many of us have viewed the depths of the ocean through our TV, but never swam in the depths or in shark infested waters. Why? Because it’s scary. I for one like air and not being eaten by sharks.
This translates into our spiritual lives as well. We desire depth in our relationship with God and have hopefully have made some attempts to go deeper, but have yet to truly venture out into the deep waters. Instead, we choose not to travel very far from where we started. We are like beachgoers who only venture only several yards into the ocean instead of several miles. We are exchanging a perceived depth for a truly profound relationship with God.We read another book about God instead of getting to know God. Instead of letting a passage take us deep into the heart and mind of God, we are simply reading bigger commentaries. Instead of sitting with God in the silence, we are seeking elaborate practices that make us feel like we are going deeper. Instead of truly addressing the emotional and spiritual problems deep within us, we hope that simply changing behaviors will help us be better Christians.Continue reading →
I’ve been on a journey this year through a chronological Bible reading plan. The plan takes you through Genesis and then into Job. There are a lot of things about the book of Job that are very striking, but this time through Job what really struck me was his “friends” and how easy it is to be just like them.
Job is inexplicably stuck with disaster and disease. From the human point of view, there seems to be no rhyme or reason for all this devastation after having lived such a good life. Job begins to lament and question why God would do such a thing to him and his friends are ready with an answer that goes like this, “Obviously, Job, you have done something wrong and you have earned punishment from God. Everyone knows that God punishes people for their sin.” Continue reading →
This is the last part of my review, the first part is here and the second is here.
Rob Bell wraps up What We Talk About When We Talk About God with a chapter called “so” (there’s also an epilogue that’s about 2.5 pages long). The final chapter brings all of the points together and puts it in the context of life. We often live our lives in a very mechanical way especially in the western world. We’ve been told that this is all there is and we’re only a collection of atoms that form the human machine. We also tend live our lives in a divided world where there is sacred time and secular time. Instead, we should see that God is here, present and active in our lives. He is trying to help us and pull us along in the right direction. We should not let our life become ordinary and routine. Bell argues that we need open our eyes that life is much deeper than we realize and that God is at work all around us. Continue reading →
This is the second part of my review, the first part is here.
The second section of What We Talk About When We Talk About God is the heart of Rob Bell’s message. Chapters 4-6 (with, for, and ahead) present his way of “talking about God.” While the first few chapters of What We Talk About is about the “talking” itself, these chapters focus on the content of what is being talked about. They address what we are or should be saying about God. Continue reading →
Rob Bell is at it again. Right around 2 years ago, Bell released his book Love Wins (which I reviewed here). This caused quite a stir in the evangelical Christian community. Now, Bell has written What We Talk About When We Talk About God (the video here sums most of it up). This book has not caused as much of a stir, but is certainly worth discussion. Once I was able to get my hands on the book, I read it and enjoyed it, and I’m going to give it a couple of posts here on the blog. There are essentially three parts of this book and to discuss them all would be too long for just one post. In this post, I’ll looking at the first 3 chapters. The next posts will explore chapters 4-6 (with, for, and ahead) and then the last chapters (so and epilogue). In the last post, I’ll also give my general review.