Friday, March 20, 2009

Christian Book Expo

I've just come back from the Christian Book Expo, and WOW what an event!

I read, a lot, sometimes 2-3 books at a time in addition to - of course my regular Bible study. Lately I've really been drawn to writers who do not "pussy-foot" around what they want to say. Not that I always believe what they have to say, but I do like the experience of relating to people who probably have many of the same questions I've experienced in my own journey.
Blue Like Jazz, for example, is a book I found interesting, not so much for the content as it was for the recognizeable path that his Christian journey took (with regard to what his book said). It does seem, to me, like there is a natural progression that is pretty similar in most people who come to Christ. I'm no scholar, (that's something else I want to touch on in a minute) but it seems like most people have an initial view of God; Who He is and how He relates to us. This view is shaped by many factors like our family, our culture, our experences. And then God changes as we learn more through His word, and about His character.
For most of us, the God we first know, is very different from the God we know now, assuming you didn't begin to know Him just before you started to read this blog. The Christian journey is just that-a journey, one marked by growth, increasing wisdom, and change to be like Christ (obedience). The more we learn and submit to the will of God, the more obedience should naturally flow out from within us as Christ's love transforms us. But again, this work is not overnight. Bippity, Boppity, Boo. No- it's a journey, a progression and it seems like we all naturally take a similar course, b/c we are being changed by the same redeeming God.

So we shouldn't be ashamed to openly discuss Christianity with each other. Talking about Jesus shouldn't be a lesson in Political Correctness. It's about bringing light into darkness, about exposing truth, and as Christians- I feel we should
1. Feel comfortable asking real questions about what it means to be a Christian, and 2. We shouldn't feel ashamed, in turn, to answer them based on our own trials, pitfalls, and failures. That is the good that comes from our failures! God works all things for His glory, including our past defeats and bad choices. It brings unity to the body of the church when one can realize a similar struggle is ensuing between them. The Bible is clear in it's feelings about relationships-their vital.

But- that being said, that I have a real interest in books that are not conventional Christian writings, I also believe- that if you are given a platform to captivate an audience for any amount of time, and you make claims that you are speaking/writing on behalf of the truths of God- You better be ready to be held accountable by God Himself, on where you lead that audience. Teachers, writers, parents, anyone responsible for guiding another, is held to a great responsibility and we cannot be trivial when dealing with that responsibility either. (especially if it's just for the sake of entertaining a random "new idea")

So I liked hearing from the young authors, and I like hearing from "way out there" radical preachers who are trying to reach an audience of unchurched. It's almost more what it might have been to see Jesus sit among the prostitues or sinners, and shepherd them.

So that part was really cool. I got some neat autograps of people I really admire. A book for my daughter called Do Hard Things, A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations I got an signed copy of Dr. JI Packer's Knowing God. And I shook the hand of Nicole C. Mullen, one of my favorite singers. I regret that I stuttered on about my new hair straightener with a big goofy grin across my face, fighting tears of exhuberance...rather than sincerely thanking her for my most favorite song "I am" which brings me to tears even today, when I speak the line "Im the rose they crucified and burried, I'm risen from the dead, I'm the Lion from the tribe of Judah, I'm the lamb" ....O well.

But as I sat in most of the panel discussions, I realized that I...know... so... very little. These theologeans discussed topics that were often really deep. Dr. Packer spoke about things that I struggled to comprehend a bit. Randy Alcorne and Tullian (I cannot spell his last name right now) were so educated in seminary with an understanding of what the Emergent Church is and versed in the 5 points of Calvinism, and I sat feeling so- un-wise.
I like to think that I study a lot, I have a great hunger for meaty subjects, but even so I realize, I know so much less about God and the true depth and breadth of what Christ did for me...such a scratch on the surface.

One great point made by one of these speakers was this though, It is ironically, LIBERATING to realize that you know nothing compared to God. That as He increases, and we decrease, only then can we appreciate the enormity of Who He really is. And that is humbling, awe inspiring stuff.

So while it's tempting to be amazed by famous writers and the education of men who spend their life devoted to learning, teaching, and serving God. They are...just men, similar to you or I. No one to be worshipped or even admired even in the way
that Jesus Christ deserves. And that thought settled on me with great peace today.

I was convicted today that I've not given Christ the absolute place of importance in my life that He deserves. And that the desire to learn more about him should be driven more by the urgency to build greater intimacy with Him, more so than impressing others. Thank you for this revelation, Holy Spirit.

Soloman said in Ecclesiastes that wisdom gained under the sun, is like chasing the wind- it's meaningless (paraphrased) for "What is twisted cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted." (meaning, no matter how much I learn, there are some things I still cannot change.) How revealing it is to me, that the wisest man in the Bible considered his vast knowledge to be meaningless.

How kind of discouraging that is as well, unless the truth about Solomon's words, point us only to fullness of Christ's sufficiency.


bristowmom said...

Excellent post. It leaves me with so many thoughts, I'm afraid I won't remember them all!

I believe the book Blue Like Jazz is something a niece of mine is reading. She is a relatively new Christian being raised in a decidedly un-Christian environment. She and I recently spent some time together and she quoted the author extensively. I was worried that he might be some wacko that is going to lead her far down a not-good path. Sorry to admit I hadn't thought of getting the book and checking it out for myself! Your blog reminds me that it won't hurt me to read it.

I am impressed that you read so much! And comforted by your comments regarding the scholarly being just men. I am surrounded by people who are very well read and well versed in doctrines - Christianity and others. I often feel like such an idiot. I tell myself that it is more important and more beneficial to read God's Word and, while I know that is true, I worry that I use it as a crutch to excuse my lack of knowledge-seeking.

Don't feel bad about getting tongue-tied around the singer. Beth Moore in one of her videos told about having the same experience around one of her favorite singers. And Beth Moore speaks regularly to huge crowds!

KC said...

Thanks! It was pretty wordy, I'll admit. But I had a lot to ponder after it.

I think that Blue Like Jazz, is an interesting book if you are already a Christian. It may or may not "lead" your niece toward a greater relationship with Christ. I would just suggest a follow up conversation with her about it. Ask her leading questions on "Why do you think Donald came to that conclusion?" or "Did you expect Christianity to look the way Mr. Miller portrayed it? Why"

I don't doubt that God can use any source to plant a seed for someone to seek Christ. My own husband was moved by the "Left Behind" series, which has recieved it's fair share of criticism. But he gave Christ a chance at changing his life 6 years ago b/c the portrayal of what the end times might look like, was sobering for him.

I am REALLY comforted to hear that Beth was also tounge-tied when she met her favorite singer. So weird, I actually felt comfortable (somewhat) asking questions to the theologeans, but when I saw her...I was like a wiggly blog. Maybe because I can understand how theologeans think...but I cant sing at all. haha!!