Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fall Into Reading Challenge: Following Jesus

I am one chapter away from being done with my first Fall Into Reading book, but thought I would post on it real quick while I had a little time (I was supposed to be catching up on some scrapbooking, but am not feeling very creative at the moment :)).

I started reading Following Jesus actually before the reading challenge, so it was an easy selection to try to finish first. I got the book during my Beth Moore Esther study because Beth had read a section during one of the video portions that was jaw-dropping (for me). Well, I finally got to that section and WOW!! The entire chapter was sovereignly planned for when I read it. I mean it was good when Beth read it but it was life-changing when the Lord finally brought me there myself!

But, I'll get to all that in a second. First, I want to give you a little bit more about the book. The first half of the book Wright breaks down 6 different books of the New Testament (Hebrews, Colossians, Matthew, John, Mark, Revelation) explaining specifcally how that book portrays Jesus. The second half of the book he takes six key New Testament themes (Resurrection, rebirth, temptation, hell, heaven and new life) and reflects on these topics in relation to Christians/Christianity.

Parts of the book are a little scholarly for me, but that was the nature of the book from the beginning and expected, overall the message was good, but I easily lost my motivation to pick up the book (until I got to chapter 7, the chapter I am about to discuss in more detail). If I were to rate the book I would give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

So on to my favorite part of the book.

The Chapter was on the Resurrection (called: The God Who Raises the Dead) and most of the chapter was spent relating how it is through the resurrection that God shatters the image of being an over-bearing, rule driven, angry God. He explains.

(from this point on I am going to give you the main points that I got from the chapter)

#1. The most common command in the Bible is "Do not fear" which is great because it's waht we all want to hear, but not so great in the fact that we have no idea how to obey this command, which brings me to the second point.

#2. We are living in a world that is not only consumed with fear, but motivated by fear (swine flu vaccine... ever heard of it!! LOL... okay not funny, but seriously, a great example). N.T. Wright says it this way
"This command bursts in upon a world in which we eat, sleep and breath fear.... we contemplate jobs, and we're afraid both that we mightn't get the one we really want and that if we get it we mightn't be able to do it properly; and that double fear lasts for many people all through their lives."
Double Fear --- How true is that?!?!

#3. Can you image (even for a moment) a life without fear? Stop seriously and consider this, because if I were being honest, which I'm trying to do here, I would have to tell you that I couldn't.

#4. Fear is why we imagine God as a rule-giving, legalistic, disappointed ruler -
"We project our own fears, yes, and our hatred, up on to the creator of the universe; we call this object, this idol, "God"; and we are afraid of, and resent, the God we have thus made in our mirror-image"
#5. It's a life-long process allowing the power of the resurrection to permeate (reach) all the areas of "our thinking, feeling and worrying lives". He used a great example of Paul writing the the Corinthians and how he describes how he was severely depressed at one point 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (now I don't know all the details of this point in Paul's life... I'm taking Wright's word for it) regardless of whether Paul was severely depressed or not, he was certainly severely distraught. Paul says the reason he experienced this was so that he would rely deeper on God. Using the great example of Paul, we can see that the process of reaching the fears that run so deep in us can take years to receive/surrender those fears to the good news of the gospel. The exciting part is that the gospel can and does reach that far!!

#6. It is a learning process - to live by faith rather than fear. The process often starts with a crisis/rock-bottom (of sorts) to begin, a place where we have none of our own strength left.
* Even confronting our fears can by scary and often painful

#7 Many of our sins and issues stem from 1 fear or another:
Lying (fear of embarrassment)
Lusts (fear of rejection or loneliness)
Insecurity (fear of rejection, embarrassment, abandonment, etc.)

#8 As our fears are met with true love (from God) our wrong image of God begins to be transformed as well.

I hope that you have gotten something out of this post, because for me, this week, this stuff was... powerful. I cannot really even describe it to you (well) how much this chapter affected me this week. You see, I have been dealing with mucho grande issues in this season of my life.... in fact at one point I literally threw my hands up to the Lord and said
"Lord, I don't get it, I cannot possibly deal with ALL of these issues at once. Is it supposed to feel this overwhelming?"
I was dealing with insecurity, feelings of not being good enough, anger issues, sin issues, pride, avoidance issues and the list goes on. Through reading this chapter, and several other confirmations in my life, the Lord so lovingly pointed out to me The real issue, the underlying issue that you are dealing with is fear, and a lack of trust in Me. I cannot tell you the weight that was lifted off my shoulders, instantly. It was so freeing.

Now don't get me wrong, I still have a long road of process ahead of me, and these are still some pretty big issues but now it doesn't seem as impossible, because I know with God, and the close friends and family he's placed in my path, I can and will get through this.


Deborah Ann said...

Great post, Amber. Your blog is beautiful! I love that picture of you by the trees. I grabbed your button, and I'll be back to visit again. Feel free to join me as a follower at Heavenly Humor!

Anonymous said...

I found your blog because I just finished that DVD in the Esther study. That was life changing for me. My you continue to be set free from fear. No more what if(I fear). Glad to hear that I am not the only one.

GA Peach