Monday, April 21, 2014

Seeing Myself As a Recovering Pharisee

As I've gotten older and seen that life -- our family in particular -- didn't quite turn out like I thought it would -- our family is actually better than I could have ever imagined --, I begin to realize what a Pharisee I have been. This was made crystal clear to me as I read Os Guinness' book, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. In it he says,

...[C]alling reminds us that, recognizing all the different stages people are at, there are many more who are followers of Jesus and on the Way than we realize. To forget this and insist that everyone be as we are, at the same stage and with the same stories as ours, is to be a Christian Pharisee. For the Gospels tell us it was the Pharisees who were shocked at those following Jesus...Exclusiveness and exclusion always result from making a false idol of purity. Pharisaism, in fact, is the result of a perverted passion for theological purity just as ethnic cleansing is for racial purity.[1]

You can interpret this any way you want for yourself, but for me, it harks back to the days when we were searching for a "safe" church in which to raise our children.

Yes, there were bad influences in some churches we visited. Yes, there were some differences in standards of modesty, music, and entertainment. Yes, there were some who used other Bible versions than we did.

But, was it really a godly spirit for us to push some away and keep ourselves away because they didn't line up perfectly with what we wanted to teach our children?

Looking back on it all, I see we were so wrong about so many things.

I hope to share more as I am led.

[1] Os Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life  (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 108. He refers to Mark 2:15 to give an illustration of the types of people who followed Christ; namely, publicans (tax collectors) and sinners.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Like Giving - Book Review

Thinking about doing a review for this book brings one word to mind: disappointment.

When I browsed the books available for bloggers on the WaterBrook Multnomah website, I was instantly drawn to Brad Formsma's I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life. It resounded with where I am now in finding joy in finally being financially able to be a blessing to others for a change. I looked forward to some ideas for growing in the grace of giving.

However, for a book which I would expect to be from a Christian perspective, Mr. Formsma was, in my opinion, entirely too scant with his nods toward God and His Word. Yes, he mentions God once in awhile, but it's quotes like this which unnerved me:

I heard it said that a person with a good heart cares for widows and orphans.[1]
This would have been a perfect opportunity for a reference to Christ or Paul and their teachings in the Scriptures on this subject. And, "a person with a good heart?" What does that mean? It's all so vague and general without sharing the good news of the transforming power of Christ who alone makes hearts good and giving.

If you are not particularly religious, this book would definitely appeal to your moral senses and might even spur you to give more generously if for no other reason than for how good it makes you feel to do so.

Nevertheless, once I got past my disappointment in this regard, I eventually gained important insights into how I might expand my giving beyond monetary means and to whom. For instance, I have often balked at giving to people who hold signs on street corners. Brad offers a balanced view of this situation leaving those who refuse to give in this manner out of conscience and those who must give in this manner out of conscience both with their consciences firmly intact.

Also, the real-life personal stories Brad shares in I Like Giving, many which originated from his website, are an inspiration in themselves, both those which turned out well and those which did not. And, I definitely appreciate his encouragement in how to be a good receiver.

Consequently, I cannot say that this book has no redeeming value. Just don't read it, as I did, expecting it to come from an overtly biblical perspective. There is much encouragement and inspiration here.

[1] Brad Formsma, I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life (Grand Rapids: WaterBrook Multnomah, 2014), 165.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Announcing the Engagement of Our Daughter

Jake Schwartz & Lydia Wilwerding
 ♥ To Be Wed 
It is my pleasure to announce the engagement of our daughter, Lydia, to Jake Schwartz of Dallas, Texas. Lydia and Jake first met online at about a year ago and were engaged when he came up for a visit for New Year's.

Her father and I are so blessed to see how God provided for our dear daughter in answer to prayer. They will be wed in May of this year.

Be sure to stop by their website and read their courtship story.