It's an amazing book. I think the best one word review I could give it is... timely.
Some will know the troubles, travails, and turmoils that best describe my walk with God of late (and allow me to define late rather broadly; to include, say, the last 4 years or so). Most won't know. Mike Yaconelli apparently did, though he knew me not at all. What he did know, it seems, is the condition. The condition of "being stuck."
Read Mike's words, from a chapter called 'Unspiritual Growth':
"I would like to add two words to our vocabulary of spiritual growth: stuck and unstuck. Most Christians consider being stuck a sign of failure or burnout, an indication that a person isn't working hard enough on their spiritual life...The hidden assumption is, 'If you are stuck in your spiritual life, you aren't doing something right, because dedicated Christians should never be stuck.' Nothing could be more untrue. Actually, getting stuck is the prerequisite to getting unstuck. Getting stuck is a great moment, a summons, a call from within, the glorious music of disaffection and dissatisfaction with our place in life."
This is... me. In a nutshell. Not yet hearing the "glorious" music, not quite convinced that this is a "a great moment." Not quite yet. But certainly feeling the disaffection, the dissatisfaction of being "stuck." I've experienced the "highs" of spiritual renewal, what I believed to have been a "call" on my life to service, finding what I had thought was my purpose in life. Only to crash and burn (if I may entertain some drama here, bear with me), surviving the wreck but being far too oblivious of the wounds suffered in my misadventures.
Yet, Mike, goes on:
""Getting stuck can be the best thing that could happen to us, because it forces us to stop. It halts the momentum of our lives. We have no choice but to notice what is around us, and we end up searching for Jesus. When we're stuck, we're much more likely to pay attention to our hunger for God and the longings and yearnings we have stifled…Getting stuck forces us to see the futility of our situation and to put life in perspective so that we can move on."
And I say:
Ok Mike. I think I can confidently say that I've stopped. I've halted. And beyond doubt, I'm searching for Jesus, I'm looking for that which can more steadfastly satisfy the hunger and yearning that now gnaws at my soul. Once, I thought I had found this. Then, it seems, it simply slipped through my fingers. But now, thanks to this timely book, I seemed to have re-discovered that which I think I should've known. We don't slip through the fingers of God.
We're looking to redo our floors in the foyer/kitchen/small dining areas. We began this trek 2 days ago. I'm past ready to actually get the project started.
The wife is still trying to decide what to lay down. We've made numerous trips out to the floor place, brought home a number of samples (and took them back, and brought more home), surfed the net for bargains on materials, made a number of phone calls, visited sisters, sister-in-laws, moms and nieces for input.
She's not quite ready yet to decide what to get. I've decided I'm ready to get whatever. Just to get this whole thing over with.
The difference in the sexes rears it's obviousness once again.
I'd just about rather go Christmas shopping (or have a root canal).
There is, however, a silver lining. Seeing the sparkle in Linda's eyes. She loves this kind of stuff. She's excited about what we're going to do, how the home will be "dressed up" by the new floor. Makes all this "pain" worthwhile.
Nothing like the contentment that comes from seeing someone you love dearly being content themselves. Something spiritual about that, I'm sure.
UPDATE: 2 months later, we have a new Pergo floor (American Red Oak) and I'm here to tell ya, it looks danged good. Well worth the wait, the hassle and the early indecision.
I need not remind anyone that tolerance is, to many, the highest virtue.
It's the war cry of today's progressive. If you're seen to be in any way intolerant, you're quickly marked for derision and ridicule, and if you happen to be a public figure, then your doom is predicted, if not sealed.
Yet, look what so many have tolerated/are tolerating in Michael Jackson, as evidenced by their continued adoration of this very strange man.
The freakish alteration of his face.
The changing of skin pigment.
The bearing of children with women he has not met.
Sleeping with children as a 40+ year old man.
Bathing in the blood of sacrificed cows.
Dangling his child over the rail of a hotel balcony.
And there's more, but you get the picture. I hope.
Only today, when social fear of being seen as judgmental reaches such heights, can someone like Michael Jackson continue to garner such widespread fan support and defense.
In what way are the alledged Jackson victims judged by those who refuse to judge Michael Jackson?
I've never really considered myself to be desperate. Until I came across these words in Yaconneli's book:
"Christianity is not for people who think religion is a pleasant distraction, a nice alternative, or a positive influence. Messy spirituality is a good term for the place where desperation meets Jesus."
He goes on to write:
"Desperate people don't do well in churches. They don't fit, and they don't cooperate... but when deperate people get a taste of God, they can't stay away from him, no matter what everyone around them thinks."
Then he hits me between the eyes. Ouch.
"Deperate is a strong word. That's why I like it. People who are deperate are rude, frantic and reckless. Desperate people are explosive, focused and uncompromising in their desire to get what they want. Someone who is desperate will crash through the veil of niceness. The New Testament is filled with desperate people, people who barged into private dinners, screamed at Jesus until they had his attention, or destroyed the roof of someone's house to get to him. People who are desperate for spirituality very seldom worry about the mess they make on their way to be with Jesus."
I, of course, am not rude. I am not uncompromising. I do not crash through the veil of niceness. I always worry about making a mess on my way to be with Christ.
And, he writes, less than convincingly, I am not desperate.
In an incredible display, a British reporter asked the Prime Minister of Britain, and then the President of the United States, the following question:
"What do you say to people who today conclude that British people have died and been maimed as a result of you appearing here today, shoulder-to-shoulder, with a controversial American president; and Mr. President, if I could ask you, with thousands on the street...marching today here in London, a free nation, what is your conclusion as to why apparently so many free citizens fear you and even hate you?"
Interesting times we live in wouldn't you say? Especially given the fact that this question was asked on the same day 26 people (mosly Muslims) were killed and nearly 500 injured as terrorists rocked Istanbul in Turkey.
I am, quite frankly, amazed at the gall put on display by today's left leaning media. Although I think Bush and Blair answered the questions adequately and articulately, I think someone ought to be asking some questions of today's anti-war (and really, if the truth be known, anti-Bush) radicals.
Here's a few I can think of:
Why can't you distinguish the man (Bush) from his policies?
Why do you hate Bush so? What motivates this hatred?
How would you solve the terrorist problem? And please, your answer cannot reference the UN... they've proven, over and over again, how incompetent they are at solving just about anything.
And finally, I'd ask these folks to react to Amir Taheri's recent column, that attempts to define who so many of these Bush haters really are, and I'd ask them to substantively rebut his opinions.
A certain "mouse" turned me on to something I think I'm going to have to thoroughly get into.
Now this "mouse" and I don't get along real well. To say we see things differently is a little like saying Michael Jackson sees kids differently. It's a bit understated. But that's not what I'm writing about tonight.
This "mouse" posted an excerpt of a new book by a fellow named Michael Yaconelli on a discussion forum I frequent and I found it... intriguing, to say the least.
Yaconelli, who strangely enough was killed in a car accident less than three weeks ago, is not someone I've heard anything about. He was a youth minister, and was apparently very well liked. An obituary I found described him as the publisher and senior editor of a magazine called The Door back in the late 70's, a rather irreverent publication whose mission statement explained that the magazine intended "to shoot down sacred cows in the church." It also attempted however to uphold conservative Christian teachings.
That pretty well describes me. And the excerpt pretty much describes my own experience. Odd, I think, that as I've struggled these last few days with my own alleged "shriveling" (see my postings below), I'd stumble across something that seems to nail what I'm going through.
So I've added the book to my already quite lengthy reading list. I'll let you know down the road what I think after reading the rest of Yaconelli's tome.