Thinking Out Loud

March 8, 2016

Steven Furtick: Unabashedly Unqualified

Un(Qualified) - Steven Furtick - Waterbrook PressThe title of Steven Furtick’s 4th major book release (Un)Qualified is taken from a YouTube clip he watched where the person being interviewed was tersely dismissive of Steven’s ministry. One word. Unqualified. I would have been hurt. Insulted. Devastated. But instead, he decided to own it. Apart from Christ’s help, none of us is qualified. The book is an invitation to embrace our weaknesses instead of denying them.

In 2010 I reviewed his first bookSun Stand Still and in 2012 I reviewed his second book, Greater. Those two form a set, dealing with Elijah and Elisha respectively. In the intervening years, I had forgotten how engaging Furtick can be when he confronts such narratives. I was only planning on reading a couple of chapters — I hadn’t specifically requested the book — but his unique take and quirky sense of humor soon won me over. Consider:

The Bible takes time to point out that, despite being twins Esau and Jacob were polar opposites. When Esau was born, he was red and hairy. I’ll withhold my comments about how his parents must have felt when one of their long-awaited sons came out looking like a baby Chewbacca.  Esau grew up to be an outdoorsman and a hunter. He was tough. He was rough.  He could skin a buck and run a trotline. The star of the original Duck Dynasty.

But Jacob?  The Bible says he was a smooth-skinned, quiet man who liked to stay among the tents. Translated, he may have been a mama’s boy. He may have been more into HGTV than ESPN.  (p. 140)

The book — full title (Un)Qualified: How God Uses Broken People To Do Big Things — is so much more than Steven Furtick’s quirky sense of humor. This is a voyage into self discovery. How God uses broken people.

Often our greatest influence is birthed in our deepest suffering and brokenness. Our education, our eloquence and our intelligence are helpful, but they aren’t nearly as relatable as our weaknesses. We touch people around us because of the pain and humanity we share.

I realize that not everyone can or should be trusted with the details of our weaknesses. The goal isn’t to parade our problems, wearing our weakness for the world to see. But as we learn to be vulnerable with God and the right, trusted people we discover that every weakness, properly processed, contains secret strength.

Think about the last time you broke down and cried in front of a friend. It might have felt uncomfortable. It might have embarrassed you. But I bet that moment of vulnerability did more to win the person’s heart and cement your friendship than any other experience you’ve shared.

There is something about weakness that opens hearts. It disarms the defensive.  It softens the suspicious. It endears the indifferent. (p. 112)

Another complication of brokenness is that we often create an alternative edition of ourselves; a false persona that we carry with us into the world that is totally fake. Among other cautions, Furtick offers: “God can’t bless who you pretend to be.”

In this his 4th book, Jacob, Moses, Gideon and others (and more of Jacob) come under the microscope. Bible narratives are brought to life as never before, and there is practical advice on every page. My recommendation is that Furtick’s readership probably skews young. This would be a great gift to someone in his under-40 demographic. But I enjoyed it, also.

February 16, 2011

Wednesday Link List

This is undoubtedly the best link list anywhere published on a Wednesday by a blog called Thinking Out Loud.

  • David Murrow, the author with a passion for making church more male-friendly, suggests there’s a reason why the guys on the weekend were standing with their hands in the pockets letting the women do all the singing.
  • Consider this church: “A 911 call in the middle of a service is not abnormal…We want to meaningfully bring worship into the mess of our lives. There is a place for ordered worship, where everything is well orchestrated and predictable. However that is not necessarily the world in which many people find themselves today. Life is messy. We need Christ in the midst of the messiness.”  Read more about Toronto’s All Saints Church.
  • If you find yourself suddenly the recipient of a large number of theological books, or if you’re a pastor who is about to retire, perhaps you’d consider helping this guy out.
  • Steven Furtick says his church is more focused on the “people we’re trying to reach than on the people we’re trying to keep.”  He says we should be “fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium.”  He goes on to suggest that perhaps it should not be the ‘saved’ who are setting the agenda.
  • Resorting to tabloid-styled language, John MacArthur announces a Bible translation catastrophe to a captive audience at Liberty University.
  • Provoke not your children to anger.  Who me?  I could never do that.  Or could I?  Mark Altrogge suggests numerous ways in which we can and do provoke our kids.
  • Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk has a rather interesting review about a rather interesting book which follows the lives of two pastors.  The book is titled, This Odd and Wondrous Calling by Lillian Daniel and Martin Copenhaver.
  • Name Dropping (1): Rob Bell guests at CNN Religion blog on the topic of suffering.
  • Name Dropping (2):Meanwhile over at USAToday Religion, Justin Bieber is labeled a ‘Tween Evangelist,’ even as a pastor quoted in the article says the faith element is not all that overt.
  • Name Dropping (3): At age 102, George Beverly Shea picks up a Grammy Award on Saturday for lifetime achievement.  (Background story)
  • That Soulful Ragamuffin, Carols Whitaker, gets interviewed by the 30-minute weekly Canadian Christian program, Listen Up, and defends the position that you can have real relationships with people online that you’ve never met in person.
  • Michael Horton jumps into the “What is the Gospel?” discussion, albeit by video.  He likens it to a “victory report.”  (Via Brian at Near Emmaus blog.)
  • Here is another testimony that captures quite well the struggle with pornography which is common to so many people.  This was submitted in response to something that appeared here a few weeks ago, and I encouraged the author to set up a separate home for the article where more people can read it.  Check out How God Broke Me To Fix Me.
  • Pete Wilson preaches at a church in India that their church in Nashville helped to start.  Check out Cross Point India part one, and also part two.
  • I get into some strange discussions during the course of a week, and in that process have learned all sorts of information about various faith groups, not to mention the times my wife and I have visited mosques, a mandir and a Buddhist temple.  But I had never actually heard of Mormon Underwear.   Or, as they prefer, “garments.”  Honestly, I had to look this up online.
  • When a business like Ashley-Madison advertizes promoting the value of having an affair, it’s no wonder that Albert Mohler sees it as a kind of adultery industry.
  • That’s it for this week; if you missed them, check out posts at this blog for the last few days; there’s always something happening here.   Our cartoon is from Jon Birch’s popular ASBO Jesus blog.

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