Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Review: Bonhoeffer...pastor, martyr, prophet, spy

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a young pastor during the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany. He led a movement called the Confessing Church which encouraged German Lutheran churches to break away from the state church because of its support of Hitler. He joined the conspiracy to kill Hitler and eventually paid for it with his life.

I’ve read a bit about Dietrich Bonhoeffer as well as two of his books (Cost of Discipleship and Life Together) but this book was very illuminating. It goes into great depth about Bonhoeffer’s life as well as his theology, which I found very interesting (although the average reader may find that the theology and the discussion of the Confessing Church is more than they want to know). The author drew extensively from letters that Bonhoeffer, friends and family wrote as well as his writings and journal entries which gave the book a high level of credibility.

If you’ve seen the movie Valkrie then this book will fill in a lot of the back story behind the failed assassination attempt on Hitler. It reveals that the conspiracy ran much deeper than the movie implied. And the fallout was deeper too…with about 1000 people being implicated, tried and killed.

The book gives interesting detail of Bonhoeffer’s last days even though we have no writings from him at that time. One of his fellow prisoners wrote about it extensively.

Bonhoeffer is an inspiration. He was a man of great conviction and as the subtitle suggests, a prophet. He knew where Hitler was taking Germany long before most people has any clue. While the nation was embracing Hitler, Bonhoeffer was warning the nation and the church of where things were headed. Though cumbersome in some parts I think this is an excellent read.

Disclaimer: I review books for Thomas Nelson in exchange for free books. But I’m free to write anything I want about the book, good or bad.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Confessing my poverty mentality...

I had a strange feeling as I sat in our conference room with our staff yesterday. We were in an adequately sized room with furniture that wasn't cast off from someone's tired living room. The air conditioning was keeping us cool on a hot day. The room was well lit and...I felt guilty. What was that all about????

I thought...oh no, I'm not going to be able to function here. It's too nice. We've always been "lean and mean" when it came to purchasing. Scrimp, scrimp, scrimp. How can I justify anything this nice? But then I realized what I was doing. I was revealing the poverty mentality that pioneers often have. It's this weird blend of pride and self righteousness that says... if you really love Jesus you won't buy anything new. You'll just get by with what you can.

This attitude appeals to pioneers. We are wired to get by on very little and we tend to think that because WE feel this way everyone else should too. But not everyone is wired that way. They see the worn out furniture and wonder if we take ourselves seriously. They wonder if we really believe in our vision. They wonder if we care about others and not just your spiritual pride. They look at something like meeting in a mall and wonder if we have any sense of permanence and tradition. I think these are fair questions that pioneers need to answer.

You see, pioneers are not more spiritual than settlers. Even pioneers have to settle down at some point. And when they do...they need to deal with their pride. I know I do.

I would have loved to have had our new building for Brian Hartz's funeral...a place to welcome his family and friends...a lobby where they could all gather in couches and tables to talk and reflect. With our new building we can offer funerals, weddings, baptisms and every Sunday morning.

Nice is not the enemy of spirituality. Nice can bring welcome and comfort. I mention this because I know many of us at Cedarbrook are pioneers and we will struggle with having a quality building with nice furnishings. But's not about's about our guests. I really believe that our new building will send a strong message to our community that we value them and have done our best to create a welcoming environment for them to encounter the living God.

Join me in shedding pioneer guilt and being thankful for all that God has given us...for HIS glory.

Monday, May 24, 2010

One week to go...

We closed out our time at the mall yesterday. Transitions are so odd. There comes a time when there is a break from the past. You see it coming, coming, feels like you will always be in that in-between state...and then there is a break...a final act...and the past drops away like fuel tanks on a rocket ship as it goes to Stage Two.

Yesterday was that break. We packed up the stage, sound equipment and final kids equipment. We stacked the chairs one last time and now our mall days and mobile days are over. So final.

Some of us will miss the's casualness and accessibility. I personally tend to live in the future a few months. I've been holding services in my mind at our new building for so long that it will feel fairly normal to be there! But I'll always remember the mall. The theater days were days of new beginnings. We were cutting our teeth and just trying to pull off a Sunday service. But the mall is the place where I believe we became a community. That's where a lot of us got to know each other. That's also the timeframe that we added a number of staff. So I'll always carry memories of those years with me.

We did a good job of celebrating the past service...good food and great stories. But now it's time to move on. God has called us to become rooted to reach more people and offer them the same Life that we've been given. I'm ready. I hope you are too.