Thinking Out Loud

September 30, 2011

Book Review: Close Enough To Hear God Breathe

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to hear Greg Paul speak at a conference west of Toronto.  Around the same time, my wife was part of a group that works with destitute and disadvantaged people who got to spend the day with Greg as he explained his ministry organization and answered questions.

Because I was familiar with what that organization, Sanctuary, does in downtown Toronto, I did not read God in the Alley or the Twenty Piece Shuffle, so I was unacquainted with Greg Paul the writer. I was more than pleasantly surprised, and I suppose it’s not too late to catch up on his backlist titles.

In Close Enough to Hear God Breathe (Thomas Nelson), Greg takes his own family story, and stories of the street people he has come to know and uses them as a motif for understanding God’s workings throughout history, and throughout our personal history as well.  Although the book is very autobiographical, I suspect there are elements of his family’s story which overlap on your own. 

The larger story, of which we are all a part, is looked at in four stages: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation and provides a structure for otherwise what might appear as random snapshots.

More than two-thirds of the way through, I began to ask, “Where have I seen this style before, where an author’s personal journey is so embedded in the presentation of a much larger picture?” Then I realized the answer: Philip Yancey.  There are great similarities between the two, and I believe, given my stated affection for the renown writer, that comparison can serve as my highest commendation for this book by Greg Paul.

~Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favorite bookseller from Thomas Nelson. 

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March 15, 2011

What Are Your Spiritual “Numbers?”

We don’t have a high “comments-to-readers” ratio here, and it would probably easier just to give up, but I want to take a run at this anyway, and if we only get a small handful of replies, that’s fine.

Since this is about numbers let’s number the question(s):

  1. C. S. Lewis, among others, advanced the idea of salvation more as a “process” experience more than a “crisis” experience, but for most Christians — especially Evangelicals — emphasis is placed on remembering specific cathartic moments when we “crossed the line of faith.”  So as you think to that time, what age were you when you, depending on the type of language used, “accepted” Christ or acknowledged him for the first time??
  2. Churches impose other spiritual “rites of passage.”  While we don’t have confirmation in the tradition that I grew up in, believers baptism by immersion was the norm.   What age were you when you really (a) went public with your faith, or (b) affirmed or confirmed a commitment you may have made at a younger age??
  3. Spiritual formation doesn’t always follow a straight graph line, and doesn’t always conform to the age at which we participated in certain church experiences.  Was there a later time where through circumstances or some other “ah ha!” moment things crystallized for you spiritually??  A time that Jesus went from being ‘savior’ to being ‘Lord’??
  4. It’s not about numbers.   What do you make of the numbers you responded with?? Perhaps your spiritual walk is more characterized by a “new every morning” kind of journey.  Are there things we can learn by looking back to see how far we’ve come, or by sharing our story with others??
  5. Are you moving closer to the cross??  Do you see yourself maturing spiritually, or do you long for the experiences or zeal or joy you had as you reflect on previous days?

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