Wednesday, February 11, 2015

City Notes 20 | Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity Part 1 of 3

Emmaus City Worcester MA Rest Serving the Poor Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

City Notes 20: Books in 30 minutes or less

City Notes are more than a book review. They are meant to provide you with direct quotes from some books I've read in the last year, so you can get a taste of the overall theme of the book and then begin to chew on what your life might look like if you applied what you read. 

Here are links to the previous City Notes books:

2015 | The Rest of God

Emmaus City Worcester MA Serving the Poor Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Multi-ethnic Network of Missional CommunitiesJen Hatmaker's Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity could have been the very first Sully Notes I posted in relationship to Emmaus City. When my wife and I were praying for how God would lead us to be part of His Church in Worcester, this book along with Tim Chester's A Meal with Jesus were two of the most influential resources He first provided. God used the Hatmakers' experiences and wisdom to help shape and move us to more clearly understand Jesus' call to follow Him as a church that loves Him in every area of our lives.

Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker Review of Quotes | City Notes 20: Part 1 of 3  

Foreword | Brandon Hatmaker

“Change is a reality, and we’re living right in the middle of it. The good news is that God can be found right in the middle of it as well. God does not change, but He uses change – to change us. He sends us on journeys that bring us to the end of ourselves. We often feel out of control, yet if we embrace His leading, we may find ourselves on the ride of our lives.” – pg. 10 

Missiologist Rick Meigs described missional as ‘a life where ‘the way of Jesus’ informs and radically transforms our existence…where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture…to fully appreciate what the missional church is, we must look outside of our traditional understanding of how we do church and realign ourselves with the biblical narrative.’ Living on mission goes far beyond the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of being sent; it hinges on the ‘who’ of other people. It’s about intentionally living the gospel wherever you are. This comes at great cost, but we’ve seen this posture become a catalyst for genuine life change. – pg. 10


" … if you’re navigating the tension between your Bible and your life, or Jesus’ ancient ideas and the modern wayward church, or God’s kingdom on earth and reality, then welcome. Sometimes it’s better to wade through murky waters with a fellow explorer rather than an authority. Questions can still be investigated with another learner rather than one who has only answers. There is much value in the struggle.” – pg. 15

Austin New Church (Founded March 30, 2008) Vision

  • We see a church that equips believers and values biblical teaching. We believe that the truth of Scripture is relevant and transcends time and culture.

  • We see a church that inspires people to learn and live the example of Christ. We believe that true inspiration will come when people see an honest image of Jesus’ life and teaching.

  • We see a church that cares passionately for the oppressed, the abandoned, the helpless, and those in spiritual, relational, emotional, and physical need. We believe it is the church’s responsibility to lead this movement both in our community and throughout the world. 

  • We see a church that is driven by God’s vision for unity to be bold and innovative in partnering across denominations with other churches, ministries, and organizations. We believe that together we can share the good news of Jesus Christ with a hurting world regardless of social status, ethnicity, or faith background. 

  • We see a church where people can find biblical community. We believe that the church should be the best place to build honest and encouraging relationships that speak, share, and seek to live out God’s truth.

Winter 2007 | Value: Growing in Understanding of God's Word (John 21:15-23)

Winter 2007 | Reader, Beware: Life-Altering Prayer Ahead

I prayed a one-line prayer (and I strongly advise against this prayer unless you are quite ready for God to take you seriously and wreck your life): ‘God, raise up in me a holy passion.’ – pg. 23

Winter 2007
| Holy Passion Meets Remedial Shepherd

Emmaus City Worcester MA Serving the Poor Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities … I saw my exact reflection in Peter: devoted but selfish, committed but misguided. And that is not going to be enough. It won’t suffice to claim good intentions. Saying, ‘I meant well’ is not going to cut it. Not with God screaming, begging, pleading, urging us to love mercy and justice, to feed the poor and the orphaned, to care for the last and least in nearly every book of the Bible. It will not be enough one day to stand before Jesus and say, ‘Oh? Were You serious about all that?’” – pgs. 27-28

Winter 2007 | James, Jesus, Amos, and Them

“In humble confession, I’ve since discovered there are more than two thousand verses involving poverty, physical oppression and justice, and the redistribution of resources … Jesus’ brother got in on the action, too: ‘Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor … If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. …What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?’ (James 2:5-6, 8, 14-16).” – pg. 29

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed, ‘Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones, and whenever injustice is around he must tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, who said, ‘When God speaks, who can but prophesy?’ Again with Amos, ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me, and He’s anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor.’ – pg. 30

“Jeffrey Sachs explained in The End of Poverty,’…there are roughly one billion people around the world, one sixth of humanity, who (are)…too ill, hungry, or destitute even to get a foot on the first rung of the developmental ladder. These people are the ‘poorest of the poor,’ or the ‘extreme poor’ of the planet…(‘the poor’) live above mere subsistence. Although daily survival is pretty much assured, they struggle in the cities and countryside to make ends meet. Death is not at their door, but chronic financial hardship and a lack of basic amenities such as safe water and functioning latrines are part of their daily lives. Together, the extreme poor (around 1 billion) and the poor (another 1.5 billion) make up roughly 40 percent of humanity.’” – pg. 31

“If you make $50,000 annually, (you are in) the top 1 percent…More slaves exist today than ever before in human history. More than 143 million children in the world have been orphaned or abandoned (equivalent to more than half of the population of the United States)…We spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on all goods combined. 4 out of 5 children worldwide work every day instead of go to school…Roughly 40 million people (the equivalent of about 7 Jewish holocausts) die annually from starvation, disease, and malnutrition. 65 percent of U.S. adults and 15 percent of children and adolescents are overweight or obese…20 percent of our imported oil comes from the Persian Gulf. We put military bases on 2 of their 3 Islamic holy sites, and when criticized, one U.S. official replied, ‘Well, the United States must have free access to the region’s resources.’ When a group of leaders from 172 developed nations begged U.S. government leaders to explore intervention options for environmental standards via the Earth Summit, President George H.W. Bush said, ‘The American way of life is not up for negotiation.’ Brand America is in trouble. Humbly, can you see why when Americans say democracy, the world hears greed? What seems like basic freedom to us sounds like vast consumption to everyone else. Their perception doesn’t involve the millions of good, hardworking Americans who give and care; it is largely based on the two disturbing ambassadors that represent our country globally: war and Hollywood.” – pgs. 32-34

When God shook Israel awake from her violent slumber, He said, ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy’ (Ezekiel 16:49). I humbly propose that God is calling rich believers in America (which is all of us) to the same reform. – pg. 33

Winter 2007 | "Name It and Claim It" (and I'll Shame It)

“The world knows about our Jesus. They know about His poverty and love of the underdog. They know He told His followers to care for the poor and to share. They’ve heard about His radical economic theories and revolutionary redistribution concepts. They might not understand the nuances of His divinity or the various shades of His theology, but they know He was a friend of the oppressed. So Americans living in excess beyond imagination while the world cries out for intervention is an unbearable tension and utterly misrepresents God’s kingdom. While the richest people in the world pray to get richer, the rest of the world endures unimaginable suffering with their faces pressed to the window of our prosperity, and we carry on oblivious. As Gandhi famously said, ‘I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.’” – pgs. 36

Winter 2007 | Giving the Good Stats Some Play

“American philanthropy is legendary, and private giving makes up the brunt of it. The Giving USA Foundation reported that charitable giving in 2006 reached nearly $300 billion, with $229 billion given by individuals (as opposed to corporate giving). Much of that charity was domestic, but certainly billions of American dollars reach around the globe annually…Of the $295 billion given to charity in 2006, almost 33 percent of that went to churches, and many use a large portion of these tithes not just for costly overhead and salaries but for poverty alleviation.” – pg. 38

A couple recently left our new church, citing our vision to be missional and socially active: ‘We believe what you’re doing is right, but we’re just not motivated by it. I need my pastor to deal with me.’ I had a good friend send an e-mail saying, ‘You’re being so unfair. America gives and gives and gives, and you’re making us feel guilty for what we have.’ I gently asked her to set aside what America is or is not giving and answer for herself: What was she doing? Silence. And that’s really where we are. We stand at the intersection of extreme privilege and extreme poverty, and we have a question to answer: Do I care? Am I moved by the suffering of all nations? Am I even concerned about the homeless guy on the corner? Am I willing to take the Bible at face value and concur that God is obsessed with social justice? I won’t answer one day for how the U.S. government spent billions of dollars on the war in Iraq ( $601 billion and counting when $9 billion would solve the planet’s water crisis), nor will I get the credit for the general philanthropy of others. It will come down to what I did. What you did.” – pg. 39

Winter 2007 | Brandon's Take

… ten years ago I began to pray, ‘God, don’t move in me unless You move in Jen. In fact, for the big things, move in her heart first.’ I believe that God wants us to see Him clearly, so I literally asked Him to affirm His hand through Jen in all things big, that we might be in unity. I begged Him, ‘God, don’t call me if You don’t call my wife, too. If You don’t, I’m not going. I’m just going to read that as if I’m missing it.’ It’s a biblical concept, really. Sound familiar? ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one’ (Mark 10:7-8). If we are to be anything, it’s to be one. – pgs. 42-43
Early Spring 2007 | Value: The Greatest Commandment is to Love God and Love Others (Luke 22:14-27)

Early Spring 2007 | The Trouble with Bananas

“Troubled with fresh conviction and shocking ignorance, the racket in my head grew much worse before it got better. It’s one thing to acknowledge a different worldview; it’s another thing to absorb it. The next season was marked by me thrashing around, ranting and raving, and generally freaking out as the spiritual tension caught up with me and exposed the true condition of my heart.” – pg. 49

Early Spring 2007 | Desiring, Doing, and Remembering

“Not only does Jesus’ statement (‘Do this in remembrance of Me’) require a constant response but remembrance is from anamnesis, meaning ‘to make real’… Not only was communion a symbolic ritual, it was a new prototype of discipleship. ‘Continuously make My sacrifice real by doing this very thing.’ Become broken and poured out for the hopeless people. Become a living offering, denying yourself for the salvation and restoration of humanity. Obedience to Jesus’ command is more than looking backward; it’s a present and continuous replication of His sacrifice. We don’t simply remember the meal; we become the meal. Doesn’t this concept of being broken for others ring true? It’s a spiritual dynamic that bears out physically. Why is it so exhausting to uphold someone’s heavy, inconvenient burden? Why are we spent from shouldering someone’s grief or being and armor bearer? Why is it that lifting someone out of his or her rubble leaves us breathless? Because we are the body of Christ, broken and poured out, just as He was.” – pg. 54-55

Mercy has a cost: Someone must be broken for someone else to be fed. The sermon that changed your life? The messenger was poured out so you could hear it. The friends who stood in the gap during your crisis? They embraced some sacrifice of brokenness for your healing. Anytime you say, ‘That fed me, that nourished me,‘ someone was the broken bread for your fulfillment. Carrying on the life of Christ is somehow integrated with the concept of death. There is a death/life rhythm that sustains creation. Much like a seed is destroyed to produce a living tree or a vegetable is plucked from its vine to nourish a living body, self-sacrifice is hardwired into the mission of a believer. – pg. 55

Early Spring 2007 | Tough Crowd

We don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We’re not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can’t withhold social relief because we’re not convinced it will be perfectly managed. Must we be wise? Absolutely. But doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission. Turning a blind eye to the bottom on the grounds of ‘unworthiness’ is the antithesis to Jesus’ entire mission. Jesus came to the foulest, filthiest place possible (Earth), full of ungrateful, self-destructive people who would betray Him far more than they’d love Him (a whole planet of Judases). He broke His body for rich people who would curse Him the second their prosperity was endangered. He poured His blood out for those who would take His Word and use it as a bludgeoning tool. He became the offering for people who would slander His name with ferocity, yet His grace was theirs for the asking until they drew their last breaths, even if all they could offer Him was a lifetime of hatred and one moment of repentance. – pg. 58

“When Jesus’ followers asked what to do about the weeds in the harvest field, He said to treat them the same as the wheat, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them’ (Matthew 13:29). I assure you, for every weed who will take advantage of your mercy, there are fifty stalks of wheat who’ll shed tears of gratitude for it. There was one Judas, but eleven disciples who were forever transformed by Jesus’ broken body. The risk of encountering a few weeds is not sufficient reason to avoid the whole field of human suffering.” – pg. 58

Early Spring 2007 | Becoming a Low Life

“(from Richard Rohr in Simplicity) ‘Jesus’ harshest words are aimed at hypocrites, and the second harshest at the people who are primarily concerned with possessions. He says that power, prestige, and possessions are the three things that prevent us from recognizing and receiving the Reign of God. … The only ones who can accept the proclamation of the Reign are those who have nothing to protect, not their own self-image or their reputation, their possessions, their theology, their principles, or their certitudes. And these are called ‘the poor,’ anawim in Hebrew.’ Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God (see Luke 6:20). – pg. 63

I’m learning to descend, which is so revolutionary it often leaves me gasping. I have been trying to ascend my entire life. Up, up, next level, a notch higher, the top is better, top of the food chain, all for God’s work and glory, of course. The pursuit of ascension is crippling and has stunted my faith more than any other evil I’ve battled. It has saddled me with so much to defend, it doesn’t deliver. I need more and more of what doesn’t work. I’m insatiable, and ironically, the more I accumulate, the less I enjoy any of it. Instead of satisfaction, it produces toxic fear in me; I’m always one slip away from losing it all. Consequently, my love for others is tainted because they unwittingly become articles for consumption. How is this person making me feel better? How is she making me stronger? How is he contributing to my agenda? What can this group do for me? I am an addict, addicted to the ascent and thus positioning myself above people who can propel my upward momentum and below those who are also longing for a higher rank and might pull me up with them. It feels desperate and frantic, and I’m so done being enslaved to the elusive top ring.” – pg. 64

When Jesus told us to ‘take the lowest place’ (Luke 14:10), it was more than a strategy for social justice. It was even more than wooing us to the bottom for communion, since that is where He is always found. The path of descent becomes our own liberation. We are freed from the exhausting stance of defense. We are no longer compelled to be right and are thus relieved from the burden of maintaining some reputation. We are released from the idols of greed, control, status. The pressure to protect the house of cards is alleviated when we take the lowest place. – pg. 64

Early Spring 2007 | "Get Off Your High Horse" – Jesus
Silver lining: Once you hit bottom and recover somewhat from the descent, it is shockingly peaceful down there. It’s much quieter. The chaos of ego and pride recedes. It’s, well, kind of still and beautiful. I find myself exhaling and thinking less about the race going on up higher. Releasing the compulsion to be right, to be respected, to be understood, to be winning – if not natural, it’s certainly a relief. It’s as if Jesus knew that the secret of life awaits us at the bottom. Oh wait, that is exactly what He said, all the time, in every possible way, through parable and story, by example and modeling, directly and indirectly, corporately and privately … The rest of the world struggles with hunger and sickness, but we have to conquer the disease of greed and ego, which are notoriously harder to cure. When Jesus said, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 19:24), I now understand that’s me. And you. The higher we are, the harder it is to adopt the heart of Christ. – pgs. 67-68

Early Spring 2007 | Great 

“(From Mother Theresa) We cannot do great things; only small things with great love.” – pg. 69
“(From Soren Kierkegaard, 19th century Danish philosopher) Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.” – pg. 69 

“(From Richard Rohr) There we learn that we can’t use Jesus to defend and maintain our position and wealth or to keep up for our own sake a positive self-image as polite and decent people. It could be that Jesus will lead us to a place where we ourselves don’t even know whether we’re holy, where all we know is that we have work to do, where we have to obey the word that we’ve heard in our heart.” – pgs. 69-70

Jesus had already made a strong case for the descent: Become broken and poured out for others, constantly make this real, desire with desire to sacrifice, resist the power politics of the Benefactors (a title assumed by rulers in Egypt, Syria, and Rome as a display of honor, thought it had no bearing on actual service rendered to the people; see Luke 22:25) … as His closing statement (‘But I am among you as one who serves;’ Luke 22:27), He called Himself a servant, making this worldview nearly impossible to spin or misconstrue. Is this not why the gospel is such good news for the broken? Jesus redefined the nature of greatness, which has always rung hollow for the least and last. He took its connotation away from power and possessions and bestowed it on the humility of a servant. The more you defer? The more grateful you are to be broken and poured out? The more you choose servant over Benefactor? The greater you are. So be it in my life, and so be it in the church. May intentional servanthood be the basis of all mission, all benevolence, all evangelism, all sacrifice. I dream of a church that is once again called great, even by our skeptics, because our works of mercy cannot be denied…I want the church to be great because we fed hungry mommas and their babies. I’d like to be great because we battled poverty with not just our money but our hands and hearts. I desire the greatness that comes from not just seeking mercy but justice for those caught in a system with trapdoors. I hope to be part of a great movement of the Holy Spirit, who injects supernatural wind and fire into His mission…’For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest’ (Luke 9:48). – pgs. 71-72 

Next post: Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity Part 2 of 3 


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