mgpcpastor's blog


Leave a comment

Becoming A Christian Is Not Tantamount To Becoming An Extrovert (via Sammy Rhodes)

Sometimes I feel the effective Christian life is confined to one personality type. Or, at the very least, that it’s not fair that one personality type seems ideally suited for reaching out.
Sammy Rhodes gives some relief with an observation that the Good News is embodied in a community of all types of people.

One line in particular has stayed with me. “Becoming a Christian is not tantamount [to] becoming an extrovert.” We could also add that being a Christian is not tantamount to being an extrovert, yet a casual visit to almost any Christian gathering could lead you to conclude the opposite. This varies from group to group, but the pressure is there. Typically this is because we’ve exalted a method (or methods) over the message.
+++
If you have a method or formula more than you have a message or truth, then you implicitly rule out all the person— ality types that can’t pull off your method or formula. If you have a message, however, then you invite all kinds of personality types to embody and reflect that message through a variety of different gifts and methods. This is exactly what Paul was getting at in 1 Corinthians when he compared the church to a body, with different members being like different parts of the body, all working together with none being more important than the other. How beautiful are the feet that bring good news, Isaiah tells us. But where would the mouth be if the feet couldn’t take it to places where it might be heard? Where would the feet be if the brain couldn’t tell them how and where to walk?

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pg 132, 133.


Leave a comment

The Art Of Friendship (via Sammy Rhodes)

Friendship as a trusted and faithful custodian of someone’s story, of being a friend to them through the accumulation of knowledge that might otherwise isolate us.
An interesting observation from Sammy Rhodes.

The hard work of friendship is entrusting your heart to another and risking your story while at the same time holding your friend’s story carefully. Friends cannot hold the weight of your identity, but you should be able to trust them with the weight of your story — your dreams and fears, your desires and struggles, the things that make you your — self past and present. This is the hard work of friendship, the art of friendship.

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pg 116.


2 Comments

Happiness Is Not A Goal In Itself, It Is The Product Of Seeking The Right Goals (via Sammy Rhodes)

The pursuit of happiness will be futile if it is happiness itself which is being sought. Happiness can only be experienced as a fruit of seeking after that which endures.
Sammy Rhodes writes about modern relationships and the reasons they founder:

Wanting happiness isn’t a bad thing. It’s a human thing. The problem is that happiness is less something we can directly seek than it is a by-product of seeking the right things in the right ways. Happiness is like the endorphins that flow after a good workout. They’re a result of hunting another goal, not something you can get your hands on directly. They only come by working out. Or so I hear. I’m less a work-out guy, more a work—in guy. And by that I mean most days I like to work on getting an entire bag of chips inside me.
Jesus told us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his’ righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Blessings, like happiness, come as we focus our eyes on something other than those blessings. Jesus is teaching us here to think less like consumers and more like himself a covenant—making and covenant—keeping God. If Jesus had let happiness determine his choices, the cross would have never happened. Jesus’ choices were driven by his covenant promises, first to God, then to us.

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pgs 93-94.


Leave a comment

The Never-Ending Faithful Love Of The God Who Hates Divorce (via Sammy Rhodes)

Sammy Rhodes is writing about the way in which effects of his parent’s divorce ripple through his life and perceptions. He recounts the combination of cynicism and romanticism about marriage that the children of divorced parents have. One couple for whom he performed a marriage vowed ‘never to divorce’ one another, a promise that Rhodes felt was both arrogant, yet admirable. It causes him to think of the only one who can truly make that promise:

I think the best metaphor we have for the kind of love God has for us is that he is a God who marries us with eyes wide open and promises to never divorce us regardless of how unfaithful we turn out to be.

When God says he hates divorce, he doesn’t mean he hates the divorced. He means that the kind of love he has for his people is best captured by a one-sided marriage that he promises will never end in divorce. That’s the kind of love he’s come to create in his people. For him. For the church. And for husbands and wives.

God’s love is the only love that can sustain a marriage because it is the only love that can promise it’s never going anywhere. Our love is too frail, too fragile, to possibly sustain our marriages. German Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that it is not our love that sustains our marriages; our marriage becomes the place to sustain our love.

The only way to “divorce-proof” your marriage is for God’s love to sustain your marriage so that, in turn, your marriage can sustain your love.

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pg 43.

In this observation I think Rhodes makes a very important point, when God talks about hating divorce, he’s not telling us something directly about our marriages (though there is something there); he is telling us something about himself and his faithfulness.


Leave a comment

The Gifts Parents Give Their Children That Break Our Hearts (via Sammy Rhodes)

Sammy Rhodes’ book This Is Awkward evokes a lot of familiar emotions as he writes about his own experiences with his father, and the impact those experiences have on his life and relationships with his own children.
Our first gifts to our children are the characteristics they’ve either inherited or learned from us.
And sometimes when we see in them what has come from us it breaks our hearts.
The beginning of our consolation and hope for change is based in a better Father whose love never scars.

A few years ago we were at a wedding in Augusta, Georgia. My daughter was six at the time, old enough to figure out that she loved to dance. As we walked through the doors of the reception, she made a beeline to the dance floor and was by far the first one out there. It’s funny how different your children can be from you. My happy place at a wedding is in the corner with a plate full of food and a beverage in my hand. Hers is the dance floor.
As she was dancing, a few older girls showed up, and they really knew how to dance. And as they started breaking it down, I watched my daughter crumple on the dance floor, eyes burning like lasers through these girls. I could tell she was angry, jealous, and insecure. Later as we climbed into the minivan (I could write a whole other chapter on the shame of owning a minivan) to head home, she was still upset. I asked her what was wrong, doing that thing parents do when they try not to laugh and cry at the same time.
Through gritted teeth, she said, “Those girls. I hate those girls. They’re better dancers than me.” And my heart broke. Not because those girls could dance, but because I saw the same perfectionism I’ve lived with for almost thirty-five years worming its way into the heart of my six- year-old daughter. That perfectionism robs all joy because it fixates you so desperately on your own performance, with the promise that if you can just be perfect everything will be okay. What perfectionism doesn’t tell you is that nothing will ever be perfect, you most of all.
Anne Lamott wrote, “Perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pgs 28-29.


Leave a comment

The First Awkward Moment Ever (via Sammy Rhodes)

The experience of awkwardness and shame is not to be minimised, denied, ignored or, worst of all, hidden. Owning shame is the precursor to experiencing grace.
From Sammy Rhodes:

If you look behind your awkward moments, you will almost always find shame. Shame is exactly what Adam and Eve experienced in the Bible in Genesis 3. After failing in a pretty spectacu— lar way, they were incredibly afraid to meet God, so they covered themselves with fig leaves and hid. It was the first awkward moment in the history of the universe; it was the first walk of shame, too, and it happened to be away from God. It’s hard to know exactly what Adam and Eve were thinking after they realized their sin. They seem to do a good bit of minimizing, blaming, and covering. Instead of going to God in their newly realized nakedness, they tried to handle it themselves. Why? Shame.
Shame, simply put, is the subjective experience of objective guilt. It’s that moment where we know and feel that we’ve done something wrong. It’s always easier to live in shame than in vulnerability, to try to hide and cover ourselves instead of going to God (and others) with our brokenness. Adam and Eve covered their nakedness and hid from God, rather than being vulnerable with him about what really happened. Shame is like the invisibility cloak in Harry Potter, except the reason you don’t want people to see you is that you’re afraid if they really did they would run.

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pgs 5-6.