Beauty In The Wreckage–Chapter 2

(This is the next segment in a book I agreed to read and review, Beauty In The Wreckage: Finding Peace In The Age Of Outrage, by Brandon Andress, scheduled to be released October 9.  If you haven’t seen my review of Chapter 1, you can find it HERE)

Chapter 2:  The Unity Of All Things

Brandon describes what I consider to be the shame of many fellow evangelicals in ways that are sharp and clear.  Personally, I suspect that some conservative evangelicals may want to tar and feather him.  I would say “Amen” to his descriptions, but I am more compelled to hang my head in shame; for he describes the sad truth about much of what is done today in the name of Jesus.  And I suspect that Jesus might shake His head in disgust with the ways people throw His name around in political, social, and even religious circles.

He paints a painfully true picture of both American politics and the American church.  I do not sense any self-righteous smugness on Brandon’s part.  Instead he paints a picture of his own participating in the paradigm and parasite that is ripping the fabric apart in this thing called relationships and community.  He brings into focus that we have become guilty of something that God refuses to do and Jesus never did:  that of dividing people into…..well, you name it.  Much of the wreckage of our culture lies within the “us and them” mentality.  Brandon both describes and addresses this issue with a calm clarity that is nonjudgmental but truthful.

Brandon draws us a new paradigm of the causes of this brokenness that permeates our culture, and even our churches.  He sets aside typical and stereotypical causes and manages to dig deep to expose the real roots of this cultural clash and chaos.  If you can read this chapter and still put labels on any person, then you need to go back and read this chapter again; and keep reading it until you see the wisdom that he lays out for us.

He doesn’t cut himself any slack, and he doesn’t the reader when it comes to the first step in bringing beauty out of this wreckage.  It is in our own personal admission that we have contributed to this ugly wreckage.  We use politics, social issues, even the name of Jesus to divide people.  And a divided people are not a wreck waiting to happen; it’s the carnage from the wreck that has already occurred.

As with that first chapter, Brandon does not paint a doom and gloom picture for us.  I sense to do so would go against his heart, mind and spirit.  Once he gets to the root of the wreckage of relationships, families, politics, churches, culture–he leads us through the fog and haze to a solution, a solution that begins to truly create beauty out of this wreckage of life.  This God-Breathed solution is simple, but not simplistic.  It is both easy and it is difficult–thus the tension that he brings out near the beginning of this chapter.

Brandon is adamant with his firm conviction that only as we come back to the real Jesus, not the Jesus of politics, church or our fanciful imaginations.  He presents with a clarity unseen since the ancient writers put their experiences and understanding on those ancient scrolls have I seen a clearer image of the real Jesus.  Jesus is the answer but most will not understand that, because they’ve been asking the wrong questions.  Brandon asks the right questions and gives us the right answers.

Brandon is right that the chaos and the Shalom exists together, in a very real tension.  Our problem is that we focus on one OR the other.  Moving into God’s Shalom means we see both, but have the strong confidence that God’s Shalom is stronger, much stronger, that the wreckage.

And love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him.  Until I finish chapter 3…….

The Power Of A Name

Image result for names

Well, it happened again.  Last night Debbie (most definitely my better half) and I went out to eat supper.  We had chosen Cracker Barrel.  I thought that was a great ending to a great day.  I had spent the day at New Room Conference listening, learning about sowing the seeds of God’s Word for another Great Awakening.  The theme word this year is RISE.  I was overwhelmed by Damien Boyd’s sermon about the importance of connecting with people, especially the poor.  Damien pointed out that the poor isn’t limited to those without material substance–but especially those who are spiritually poor and those who have been broken by life.

Our server was Miles.  He was polite and attentive to us.  But this isn’t about Miles.  It’s about Marissa.  Many years ago The Spirit taught me the importance of acknowledging people at the Huddle House in Guntersville.  We had been out to eat, and I noticed her name tag, and thanked her and used her name.  She sat her coffee pot down, and thanked me for using her name.  She said that no one called her by her name.  It was always “Hey, you!”  Fighting back the tears, she was overwhelmed that someone noticed she had a name.  Ever since that evening I have made it a point to call servers, associates and cashiers by their name when I can see it.

Back to Marissa.  We had just left our customary 20% tip on the table and was getting up to leave when another server, Marissa, was walking by.  I said to her, “I hope you have a great evening, Marissa.”  She smiled and thanked me.  Then she turned back around, for a conversation.  She said, “I was wondering how did we know each other, but then I realized my name is on my apron.”  And I replied, “Well, you are a human being and you have a name, so I used that name.”

A bright smile came over her face and she said, “Oh, how sweet.  Give me a hug!”  We hugged and said our goodbyes.  I noticed as she walked away, there was a renewed joy in her steps.  Oh, it wasn’t me.  It was the Holy Spirit.  I just happened to be in the right place at the right time for Him to do what HE does best:  Remind people of God’s Presence, that He values them, and best of all, He loves them.

And early this morning I reflected on that simple but Holy Moment of God being with us.  I’m not bragging on myself–I have way too many faults to engage in such silliness.  But the Spirit impressed on me this truth.  All day I had been listening too and learning about the Kingdom of God.  And that night I put it into practice–doing what I have been doing since that night in Huddle House in Guntersville–what I heard and learned.  I thought I almost heard the 6 words I am striving to hear one day:  Well Done Good And Faithful Servant.

You see, learning about the Kingdom of God but doing nothing is like a sandwich without meat, mayo, lettuce, and tomato–you’re toast.  Jesus showed people that God values and loves them by connecting with them where they are.  A person’s name–using a person’s name is a profoundly simple way of acknowledging their value and worth–as a person and as someone who bears the Image of the Creator.

When you see people, acknowledge their worth and value, then if you pray the Lord’s Prayer, it has become real and true in you–Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  See people the way God sees them.  They have a name.  God knows their name.  Do you?

Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Hi!