Compassion

I recently read through the book of Matthew and something stood out to me that I hadn’t noticed before. There are 4 times when Jesus looks at people and feels compassion for them (9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34). I was extremely challenged by this as I thought about it. Is that my natural response when I see people? Rarely. So I started praying that God would change my heart so that this would be true of me as well. And I haven’t had much luck with it being changed lately. So God gave me another opportunity on Friday night.

I was in my police chaplain role on a ride-along with an officer and it was a pretty slow night. The last call we had was catching two guys who had been caught trying to break into a car. As we debriefed them and searched through their things, I had a weird experience as I watched them sit on the curb. One guy was homeless and the other lived in a halfway house. I felt something that I didn’t expect…compassion. I felt sorry for these guys in a way that kind of shocked me. Here were two guys, who were living lives that none of us would ever want and they had just made another mistake that would make things even worse for them.

It felt great. I knew none of the officers I was with had any sense of anything for these guys and thought they were lost causes. So my feelings were kind of odd. But I savored the moment knowing that God had answered a prayer. So maybe there is hope at last that God will make me more like Him. Here’s to feeling more compassionate.

God on the Road

I heard someone say a provacative line yesterday that has got me thinking.

“All roads do not lead to God; but God can be found walking on all roads.” Dr. Wilbur Stone

While I know this may sound a little universalistic at first and your knee-jerk reaction may be to classify this as blasphemy, it actually is a beautiful testament to the sovereignty of God. While I obviously believe that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6), I do not think that God cannot be found elsewhere and that there are no other things that at least “point” to Him. We need to help people see where God is already in their midst and direct them to Jesus.

I know that the idea is a bit edgy but it taps into my thinking lately as I have been expanding my worldview a bit. God wants to be found and indeed there are glimpses of Him everywhere.

2007 Reading List

Here are the books I read this year and my rating for each (5 being the best).

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It’s a Small World After All

I had the weekend off so Michelle and I came up to Flagstaff to get away. It’s been fantastic. We did some Christmas shopping while it snowed today (it wasn’t impressive snow by Flag measures, but when you’re from Mesa). We have been enjoying having nothing to do and being in a much colder environment. Alone time with your wife + partial snow + a good book = RELAXATION.

After some shopping and dinner we decided to spend some quality time at the local Starbucks. A few hours into it Michelle nudges me and is looking at someone who just walked in. And sure enough, there was someone from 3F grabbing a seat. Needless to say we were a bit surprised to see him. Always the extrovert, my wife said his name and a friendly greeting and he looked over at us like we had just asked him to speak Russian. It took him a few moments to place us and then he sheepishly said hi. A bit awkward maybe.

I walked past him a bit later and he invited us to go to church with him in the morning. Much to his surprise, I politely declined. I was even downright honest with him and told him that I wanted to sleep in in the morning. I did feel a bit guilty for it for some reason, and I bet he may be rethinking his view of me from this point on.

But more importantly, this weekend has reminded how much I like wearing a scarf. I’m even wearing it in my room as I type this. How could I have ever forgot about this?

A Night with Rob Bell

Last night I went with the 3F team to see Rob Bell’s tour “The Gods Aren’t Angry.” I was pretty impressed. He talked for almost 2 hours (which was pushing it a bit even for Rob) but I really enjoyed what he had to say and I was encouraged and motivated by his presentation. I would sum it up with a phrase he often says, “well done.”

Afterward, we were mingling with people that we knew at the show when one of my friends introduced me to Shane Hipps. He said that we had a mutual friend in common and assumed that we could base a conversation off it as he moved into another circle of people. Little did he know that Jared and I had recently read Shane’s book called “The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture.” I was quite excited to meet him. We were able to pick his brain for a bit and hear some of his perspective. I told him what had stood out to me the most in his book and he told me that no one had ever said that part of the book to him before. Well done to me.

Under the Banner of Heaven

I liked Into the Wild so much that I decided to read another of Jon Krakauer’s books called Under the Banner of Heaven. I’m glad I did. I appreciate his journalistic writing style that brings history to life like you are reading fiction. In addition, I have a vested interest in the topic of Mormonism that this book addresses due to where I live.

The subtitle of the book is called “A Story of Violent Faith,” referring to the Ron and Dan Lafferty murders. So I expected to read about this Mormon family that went a little crazy. But the book is so much more. Not only does Krakauer go into detail about the differences of mainline Mormondom and its fundamentalist sects, but he gives a history of the church starting with Joseph Smith and recounting the “highlights” up to the present day.

I have learned enough to be generally acquainted with Mormonism and it’s history yet this book went into greater detail on the things I was familiar with and put many things into perspective in a way that I never thought of. Not to mention a whole lot of events that I never knew ever took place. Krakauer doesn’t believe in God himself but his father is Mormon and he has a non-biased curiosity that drives the book. The book speaks volumes into the dark side of the doctrine of Mormonism and the effects it has on its followers. Seems an appropriate conversation to have especially when there is now a Mormon trying for the White House.

As he quotes the Salt Lake Tribune from over a century ago,

“The essential principle of Mormonism is not polygamy at all, but the ambition of an ecclesiastical hierarchy to wield sovereignty; to rule the souls and lives of its subjects with absolute authority, unrestrained by any civil power.” – Salt Lake Tribune, February 15, 1885