Archive for the ‘literary review’ Category

A reading from a Colorado Christian University leadership course has moved my mind to flow rapidly, and the results are as follows:
For the most part, Dr. Tim Elmore spoke as if he had just written the chapter, “Iceburg” from his Habitudes. However, he did include one startling side note about whistlers.  Whistlers being the icebergs that drift and have nothing below the surface.  In recognizing his perspective of Hitler as a leader, it seems as if a whistler is the image we can hold onto of a leader who gives up all integrity and character.  Although, technically it was Hitler’s home background that created the man who became the monster.  So is it possible to be completely exterior?  Meaning, is it possible to ignore who God intended us to be?
 In considering college life at CCU apart from the normal perceptions, my sophomore year (2010-2011), I began questioning the phoniness of our hallway talk.  Instead of just smiling at each other on the cement paths between housing and academic sides of the campus, we would stop for a quick moment and ask, “How are you and Jesus doing?” Or at least my friends and I did at that stage in our academic life.  Although the question sounds sincere, I began to question the authenticity of the heart asking, even my own at times.  We have all acknowledged that the leaders of CCU burnout FAST. In response, can we be real with our fellow comrades and finally rest? Or is that supposed to happen after college when we enter the hectic real world?  If this is our time of preparation, to me Luke 6:45 is saying stop living to the standards of CCU, Grad schools, peers, and the world,  and start spending more time with the One who sent you there to be pruned before the next step of ministry.
Jesus spent 30 years in preparation, we spend 4.
A little cliche and overbearing I know, but for me, this year is about dedicating my mind to the Lord.  I desire to seek the balance between debate and loving each other in our differences.  My roommate last night said, “As long as you don’t become a snobby genius.”  Although it is a far-cry, I appreciated hearing that I will be challenged in the classroom and in the apartment, but through it all, this year I have heard His praises most within the classroom context, and appreciate that dearly.  I believe that alone with strengthen the balance within me.
In Christ’s Image, I am identified…
In considering my identity in Christ, I must first recognize what brought me to the church.  It was the loving family, the Body of Christ.  Freshman year I wrote, ” People get to know Christ through my actions and words.  He is moving others through me and moving me through others. When things get tough, get fighting, for the Lord fought for me! He loves me for all He is through me, so allow the Spirit to overwhelm all that I am! Allow me to be nothing but love for everyone! Allow me not to be stomped on, but to love others, no matter their doings. For I sin as well, and it would be hypocritical for me to see evil through them, I must not judge, for He loves them the same as he cares for me!”For me, freshman year was a year of service.  Working as an ambassador, serving on the Pastor Search Committee, mentoring seniors in high school through Klife, babysitting and caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, etc.  In all the good work, I was loosing myself one bit at a time.  Not to mention all the emotional, physical, and relational battles of the year.  It took my identity away from Christ, and was replaced by the absence I felt inside–it was too much to control.  For I was not in control, yet was given the authority as if I were.Sophomore year, I took a step back. I quit EVERYTHING, lived with strangers, and dated God.  It was my year of listening, seeking what He intends and dismissing all my perceptions through the world’s eyes.In my past year abroad, I spent much time alone.  To the point where the sky in Cyprus was what got me through the day. No matter the storm, no matter what my roommates said, no matter the class discussion we had in Greek (which I do not know), I could look up to an open sky filled with masterful strokes of pinks, blue, orange, etc.  but always filled with puffy white clouds.  God was pure.  He was in me, and through Him, I was made pure.  It is also what I see most in the snow covered filthy grounds, and in a rain fall.  God washes everything away and prepares us for His Glory.

Through my personal travels, I gained experiences and skills and now know that my talent is truly travel.  Yet, with all the cultures I have experienced, with all the friends I’ve made, with all the religions I have encountered, God is still and will always be my way.

However, it was the very same encounters that grew my heart for the Samaritans of the world.  God has made me to recognize His face in all of humankind, as we are made in His likeness, in His image.

Therefore, I am left here, with nothing more to say than, my identity is that I am in the image of God.  Due to the beginning I am not perfect, but through redemption, I have been given the opportunity to gain His attributes and discover His peace, love, and mission for His Creation.  I am God’s Creation, a perfect, rational design.


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12 May 2012

Being a student, I don’t often find the time to read for personal pleasure.  However, this weekend, my roommate gave me a book she hadn’t had the time to read.  Within the last 3 days–1 hour a day–I completed the 149 page devotional novel.  At times, I was puzzled, disgusted, grateful, inspired, and found myself questioning the state of my own heart for the Lord’s work.

This is my response to: The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Reverend Timothy Keller (2008):

The devotion-like novel is about Luke 15’s The Lost Son Parable, which Keller renames “The Two Lost Sons.”

Ch.5- The True Elder Brother
“The forgiveness is free and unconditional to the perpetrator, but is costly to you.  Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer.  If the wrong-doer has to do something to merit it, then it isn’t mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness…The point of the parable is that forgiveness always involves a price–someone has to pay.  There was no way for the younger brother to return to the family unless the older brother bore the cost himself.  Our true elder brother paid our debt, on the cross, in our place” (93-95). Here we notice that the young, lost son has returned.  The father, who had already given away half his fortune to this son, immediately forgives his son, welcoming him home with his most valued robe and kisses.  However, at this time, the robe is technically the older son’s robe, since the remaining family fortune is his.  However, it was disrespectful of either brother to speak of the father’s inheritance until after his death.  But in the context of the parable, it is what both brothers value over their father’s life: wealth.  Jesus is telling the Pharisees that the older brother, in a complete selfishness, refused to join in recognizing his father’s son as his brother, and then also refused to join in celebrations.  Not only does he spit on his brother, but his father as well.  As the father is the lord of the house, and during a feast, shall not leave the party for any message.  The son’s refusal caused the father to leave the party, to beg for his older son to join.  Just as the father earlier left the house and ran after the young son.  The father brings us home. However, neither of these brothers help us recognize the path to his home, for they are wary of any importance exceeding immediate satisfaction.  Jesus then, in his time on earth, became a slave.  The same way the younger son thought he would return home.  Jesus became our elder brother, so that we are able to know the Father’s House.

Chapter 6- Redefining Hope
Throughout my life, I have dreamt of moving away from my parent’s house, perhaps to the East coast, since they lived on the west.  When it came time for college, I didn’t move to the opposite coast, but I did move east of the Rockies. Then, I decided that two years at the same school was too tiring and I needed change.  Now I am in my ninth month of European/Middle Eastern travels and studies.  Keller pinned me, when he said, “We are all exiles, always longing for home.  We are always traveling, never arriving.  The houses and families we actually inhabit are only inns along the way, but they aren’t home” (106).  For he considers that “the message of the Bible is that the human race is a band of exiles trying to come home (109).

Although I never considered this before, I didn’t hesitate one moment to accept this as a challenge.  Earlier in this book, Keller writes on how a person can be righteous and further from God than someone who has a long list of sins.  And in their righteousness, their pride blinds them, giving these older-brother types a false superiority over the people Jesus came to meet, save, and live eternity with. Jesus was an exile. “During his ministry he wandered, settling nowhere, and said: ‘ Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’ (Matthew 8:20).  He remained completely outside the social networks of political and economic power…Finally, at the end of his life, he was crucified outside the gate of the city, a powerful symbol of rejection by the community, of exile” (113).  Jesus too felt homeless.  But why? In Bethany, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus offered him a place to stay.  When it came time for the Last Supper, Jesus told his disciples to seek a man carrying a barrel of water, follow him to a house, and ask the owner of the house which room was prepared for Jesus’ last meal. He was invited into people’s homes. He was followed.  He had influence, as his followers gave him opportunity time and time again.  But when it came to the end, Jesus was more alone than ever. His friends, even His Father seemed so far away. Homelessness. Does it keep us or bring us Home to our Father in Heaven?

It is when we find ourselves asking friends and co-workers for approval that we diminish the authority of God in our lives.  For it is the Father who can rightfully cover a thick, white sheet of encouragement over all we have done and will do, but He forgives, loves, cherishes, and recreates.  We are born again in Him, not in the words of others, who also live in this place that was not made for human life.

God created the Garden of Eden.  He did not plan for us to suffer illnesses, it was because we turned our backs on Him that we live this life searching, falling, breaking.  But it is when we see the light that His Home is no longer the prize to be won, but being home with Him is the ultimate reality to be sought.

Keller also speaks of the cause of our good deeds.  And the evidence of a life lived apart from God’s Glory.  One of the clues he suggests is a dry prayer life.  Since September 11, 2001, I have prayed for the families of victims and all those who were and are suffering due to similar attacks.  I pray for those who feel displaced to find refuge in the Father’s House.  However, today, after listening and considering humility and passion for loving God, himself, I looked at the clock 1 minute late.  I cannot recall this occurrence in the full 11 years.  Today, God chose today to scream at me: “Melanie, I am not in your calendar. There is no schedule we must follow.  I am your Spouse, your Friend, your Lover, your Lord.  I care to speak and hear from you always. Please let me in.” Lord, I want you.  Instead of the routine thought at night, tonight, I pray to my own heart.  For it is in me that I do not fully confide in the everlasting love that God has continuously offered you and I.  May we reconcile with all He has provided and in return not offer deeds of good work, but deeds of love, joy, and humility.  For He is in us all, we must admit and adore His presence.

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