Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Reviews and Gay Uncles

Nope, life's never dull around here.

Got your attention too, didn't I!

So I've been reading books lately.

Okay, that's not really a news flash coming from me because I read all the time, but now with all the kids leaving the house at regular intervals, I'm getting to read in a more collected, coherent way. Meaning I can read some books that have a little more weight, require a little more thought and concentration and can read in segments bigger than a single sentence.

That alone makes me extraordinarily happy.

Plus, I have some time and space to collect up a thought or two. And, on top of all that, a little gap in life to put pen to paper.

And sanity comes creeping in.

I've just finished reading The Shack. Yeah, I know, you have issues with it. So I've heard. Controversy and all that noise. Whatever. I'm not going to say a lot about it right now because I'm working on a review of it for another outlet, but after I'm done, I'm sure I'll hit this one again. In short, I'd say it's well worth the read, just keep in mind it's a novel. It's not meant to be about theology or to be the ultimate in Biblical accuracy. You're not meant to agree with everything in the book. Realistically, it wasn't written for you. It was written for the author. His need to tell his story of working through his stuff.

The more important part of the book is how it pushes you to examine what you think and believe about forgiveness and relationships. To see mercy and grace in new lights.

There are few books that I read more than once. This is one I'm looking forward to going through a few more times so I can articulate more clearly exactly how this story makes it's mark on a person.

The next book making me nod my head is The Prodigal God. I can't say strongly enough to get your hands on this tiny book and crack it open. The author clearly puts into words something I've often felt but lacked the skill to express concisely. It's this. There's more than one brand of wrong in this Christian life.


Well, it's like this. We all look at the story of the prodigal son and easily see the wrongs of the younger brother, but we overlook the wrongs of the elder brother. Why is that?

Are you sitting back and thinking elder brother? Wrong? What?

I've often tried to explain it as being too Christian. Someone that is so obsessed with their Christian life, trying to be all things Biblical all the time, completely and utterly over consumed with their own failings and sins.


Not at all is it.

Let me try again.

It's almost the same as being a Pharisee. We are often so caught up in the work of living a life that is obedient to all that is written in the Bible that we miss the point. You know that saying about missing the forest for the trees? Yeah, well, this is it.

It's pretty easy and comfortable, in fact, to get all caught up in all the rules. The Bible after all, offers no shortage of them. They are given with good reason. This is not an argument to ignore the Bible.

Not at all.

It's much more of an argument to see the spirit in the words and not overlook the obvious. Get refocused on the most important command, love one another.

Not judge one another. Not convict one another. Not be smug about our personal ability to live up to the most amount of commands and the least amount of sins.

I'm sure I'm still not being clear and I'm pretty sure that a bunch of you will be real up in arms over this.

Life's a balance kids. It is really. You can't be all rules and no relationships. Well, I'm sure I'm still not being clear here. Sorry.

Maybe a few bites from the book will help.

"Elder brothers obey God to get things. They don't obey God to get God himself--in order to resemble him, love him, know him, and delight him." pg(42-3)

"...sin is not just breaking the rules, it is putting yourself in the place of God as Savior, Lord, and Judge just as each son sought to displace the authority of the father in his own life." pg (43)

"...elder brothers live good lives out of fear, not out of joy and love." pg(58) To this I would add, they may also live this way out of a sense of responsibility or obligation. Some sort of sense of needing to do or be something worthy of the gift given by Jesus. But friends, it was a gift, not a trade. A gift. A gift without expectation.

"The last sign of the elder-brother spirit is a lack of assurance of the father's love. The older son says, "You never threw me a party." There is no dancing or festiveness about the elder brother's relationship with his father. As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough for him. You simply aren't sure God loves and delights in you." pg(63)

Yes, controlling God.


Big, big stuff in this little book.

I've given you just a taste, but pick it up, read it through, then put down all your baggage and read it again with your heart and your fears and your brokenness.

Okay, now here's another part of the rub of this book.

"There is a big difference between an elder brother and a real, gospel-believing Christian. But there are also many genuine Christians who are elder brotherish." pg(70)

That elder brother-ish thing is part of the thing that interferes with us really sharing the Gospel, the hope of a relationship with God because we're failing in our abilities to be in real relationships.

That brings me right around to the next possibility in my quiet little life.

A lot of you tune in here to keep up on our daily life and so I'll catch you up. Lately we're getting some new twists to Little One's case. One of the twists is that Little One and his sisters will most likely be handled as two cases instead of one.


Well, Little One is tightly bonded with us and only loosely bonded with his sisters. Now, we're going to begin working on that soon. We're looking at the same sort of arrangement as a divorce would have. Something on the order of us having the girls here every weekend or every other weekend or whatever.

The next bit is that Little One has an Uncle willing and very interested in adopting the girls, so us adopting them is not a said and done sort of thing.

This is the complicated part of foster care. We are willing to adopt the whole sibling group. The Uncle is family. In the eyes of the court, both are good.

The process for the girls will be delayed a bit while The Uncle and most likely his partner go through the background checks and training and licensing process.

Now, I know for a lot of you, this couple of men could never be deemed a "best for the child" placement option. But it isn't up to you. It's up to the court.

I, for one, will not be playing judge here. If they, as family, are chosen to be the safe and loving home for the girls, I will be happy in that for all of them. I will not judge as these men will in turn become my family too. If I am the parent of their nephew and they are they parents of my son's sisters, then we are family. All of us together.


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