Archive for Books

Youth Of A Nation

My brother-in-law James has been reading the book The Present Future by Reggie McNeal. One quote he posted on his blog really stood out to me.        

“Church activity is a poor substitute for genuine spiritual vitality.”        

He is commenting on the statistic that “90 percent of kids active in high school youth groups do not attend church by the time they are sophomores in college. One-third of these will never return. They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They contend that the church no longer contributes to their spiritual development. In fact, they say, quite the opposite is true.”

I couldn’t agree more with Reggie on this. It is because we (the modern church) have reduced our concept of salvation down to mere forgiveness of sins. This sort of shallow thinking leads to shallow theology which is a shallow understanding of who God is and how we relate to him. As a product of his kind of thinking our young people grow up with a weak and shallow view of what it means to be a Christian, a “little Christ”. It’s no wonder we have such trouble retaining these young minds when they go off to college. To them their faith is little more than a free ticket to heaven and sitting through a boring sermon on Sunday morning. Their college professors are brilliant thinkers that are opening their minds up to a whole new world of ideas and possibilities. Now, because it is rooted in such shallow, sandy soil, their faith is rocked by every new idea that comes along. Eventually it is easier to just abandon it all together than continually fight to defend it. We tend to blame institutions of higher learning, especially the secular and liberal ones, for “corrupting” the minds of our youth but I think we are missing the point in a huge way. We are shifting the blame to anyone but ourselves.         

To the apostles and early Christians salvation was SO much more than a ticket to heaven and church on Sundays. It was the life that Christ modeled for us and demanded that we follow. Of course we are saved by grace when we believe, that is the foundation of our faith, but Jesus clearly says “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). It’s not that he won’t let you be his disciple if you don’t, you just can’t. You can’t not do the things he commands and expect to be His disciple, the two are mutually exclusive. It’s like trying to paint a wall black using orange paint… it just won’t work.

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The “Easy Yoke”

So I have been reading a lot of Dallas WillardDallas Willard lately and there is this concept in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines about the “easy yoke” that Jesus describes in Matthew 11 that is just blowing my mind. The idea that following The Way of Christ, the narrow path, is somehow easy. It’s a nice thought but it frankly bewilders most of us to hear Him say that. How can it be easy?   We rarely experience the ease, lightness, and power of His Way. Instead we make our best attempts at leading a godly life patterned after Christ’s example yet all the while we struggle with ourselves to meet the incredibly high standards he sets for us along the way. 

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