Saturday, January 18, 2014

May It Be So Among Us...

“The church represents the presence of the reign of God in the life of the world, not in the triumphalist sense (as the “successful” cause) and not in the moralistic sense (as the "righteous" cause), but in the sense that it is the place where the mystery of the kingdom present in the dying and rising of Jesus is made present here and now so that all people, righteous and unrighteous, are enabled to taste and share the love of God before whom all are unrighteous and all are accepted as righteous. It is the place where the glory of God (“glory as of an only son”) actually abides among us so that the love of God is available to sin-burdened men and women. It is the place where the power of God is manifested in a community of sinners. It is the place where the reign of God is present as love shared among the unlovely.” – Lesslie Newbigin

May it be so among us... 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 13 books of 2013

These are my top 13 books in 2013. A collaboration and mix of theology, apologetics, sociology, biography, writing, philosophy, satire, essays, and (unfortunately) only one novel.

1. A Brief History of Thought
Luc Ferry

2. Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt & Certainty in Christian Discipleship
Lesslie Newbigin

3. Several Short Sentences about Writing
Verlyn Klinkenborg

4. Mere-Christianity (reread)
C.S Lewis

5. Creation Regained
Albert Wolters

6. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

7. Shot of Faith to the Head
Mitch Stokes

8. Jonathan Edwards on Beauty
Owen Strachan,  Douglas Allen Sweeney

9. Evangellyfish
Douglas Wilson

10. Rumor of Angels
Peter Berger    

11. A Dash of Style
Noah Lukeman

12. Art for God's Sake
Philip Graham Ryken

13. Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale
Frederick Buechner

The following are my "honorable mentions". These books could have easily gone in the list above- perhaps they should have. They just didn't have the 'umph' in bringing some of the undergirding, scaffolding, challenges and  re-bar for praxis and life the others did. One regret I do have is not having more fiction in my diet. Hopefully that changes in 2014.

Honorable mentions:
Mere-Apologetics by Alistair McGrath
The Great Tradition of Christian Thinkers by David Dockery & Timothy George
Wordsmithy by Douglas Wilson
Gospel Deeps by Jared C. Wilson
You Can Change by Tim Chester
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser
Tremendous Trifles by G.K Chesterton

Reading goals for 2014: More fiction, word economy and biographies.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Loving the City- Dayton's Story

If you think differently after a museum visit, it was a visit well spent.

Driving home last Friday from Carillon Historical Park, I thought differently- beginning with the turn of my car key.

I turned the ignition, and encountered the influence of Charles F. Kettering, inventor of the electric self-starter. Without this, I'd have to hand crank the car to a start. OK, I could be overstating it, but the fact still stands: it was invented in Dayton. Consider thinking differently about drinking a can of pop. Open one and you've come across Ermal Fraze, who invented the pop tab right here. Grab one from your fridge and you'll encounter Charles Kettering again. He was part of discovering Freon. Rewind the tape to when you purchased it at the checkout; there's John H. Patterson and his cash register. Not to mention the Wright Brothers' finger prints everywhere you see a cloudy white stream crisscrossing through overhead. I could go on. To consider all the marks Dayton has left throughout a day seems insurmountable. The connections from NCR, the Wright Brothers, Davis Motorcycle Co., the 1913 flood, Paul Laurence Dunbar, the "barn gang", movie theater projectors, Joseph Desch (crucial in breaking the German Enigma code in WW2), and the many more that run between each other and into today boggles me.

Being a museum guy, I enjoyed Carillon Historical Park. As a Dayton resident (for 2 years), the visit was invaluable. I know the facts of car starters, pop tabs and German code analysis intrigue some. Not everyone wants to engorge on information at each pit stop throughout a museum. Invaluable though was learning the narrative all these facts unfold in- Dayton's story. To understand Dayton we need to know its story.

Dayton today isn't quarantined from Dayton yesterday. Dayton today carries the dents from Dayton's past. Dayton's history isn't a semblance of facts about inventions. It's a story- dominated by the plot of idea-smithing, innovation, creativity and invention. The best part about it: the story isn't over. It doesn't stop at the museum's exit. It's unfolding today. It'll be either a story of flourishing or, as many others are experiencing in different cities, decay. I want to see Dayton flourish. To see that happen, I have to learn to love it.

There's a difference between liking Dayton and loving Dayton. To like this city means we'll insist on it being creative in what it can offer us. We can enjoy (or exploit) what it offers, then complain when it can't ante up. To love a city means we'll be creative in what we offer it. In areas where we see weakness, vulnerability and decay, we ante up. Part of this creative process is knowing Dayton's story.

I'm learning whether I like Dayton, or if I'm willing to love it. Learning more of its story has helped. If you live in Dayton, visit Carillon. If you've been there before, go again. Get to know the beginning of the story that's unfolding around you. Only then can you ask yourself what character you play. For the love of Dayton.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy, Happy, Happy Pt 1 (of 3)

Does the Bible say anything compelling about happiness?

It's an important question. Happiness is a preoccupation for many. We consider it central to our lives. The Declaration of Independence observed happiness intrinsic to being human, “
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our lives surround the pursuit of happiness.

Many think Christianity's only relevance to happiness is the image of a straight-jacket. It makes happiness as lively as a napping Puritan. I've never known this to be true. Though, I never gave Christianity and happiness much focused thought. Two things happened this summer changing that: I screwed up and read the Beatitudes.


I'm a people-pleaser . My confidence rides the wave of people's approval. When people remove their approval or, and typically the case, I assume that's what's happened- I'm a wreck. This summer, I beached
myself.

I made a decision- based on what people might think of me- that backfired. The next two weeks dragged by, in a hurried sort of way. My mind raced. Hypothetical scenarios multiplied, never coming to fruition. Sleeping and eating (my version) became a luxury. My heart pounded. This all seems dramatic, but my adherence to people's approval is at dramatic levels. I went from riding the wave of approval to scooping watery residue, the kind left behind by the the tide. No water, just wet sand and sandpaper for hands.

I reached for the usual suspects. I preached the gospel to myself, let brothers know and prayed. I was still scooping sand. In the midst of all this I found Matthew 5:1- 11, the Beatitudes. 

Reading was painful. Here I was, desperate for happiness, scooping residue of confidence and reading “Blessed, are you when you hunger and thirst for righteousness...” It was a tall order. As I looked, Jesus' words became a place of comfort. It came when I saw the phrase initiating each statement: “Blessed.”

Happy, Happy, Happy...
We say blessed to show gratitude, or a facade of it. Here in it means “happy". Not the Western romanticist, loose cannon, can't get a grip on it, Hallmark channel happy. The means, “someone free of daily cares and anxieties.” I on the other hand was in bondage to my anxieties. Ever felt that before? At the very bottom of these statements, I saw that Jesus was for happiness. He's pro-happiness. Jesus affirms happiness, but without the same preoccupation. He knows something I didn't, go figure.

What makes this interesting is how Jesus never speaks of blessedness directly. It's never the main topic. Jesus never says, “Blessed are the blessed.” He doesn't say, “Happy are you when you pursue happiness.” Blessedness is an outcome, a derivative of something else. It's spoken of indirectly. Here in lies the provocative news: Happiness isn't the main point. It's a by-product. Happiness is a by-product of pursuing something greater than happiness. What could be greater than happiness?

Know the problem
The Bible says our problem isn't that we're unhappy. It isn't that happiness is a bad thing we like.
Our problem is how we've made being happy ultimate.

Christianity offers an assessment of what's wrong with the world. What's wrong with the world is sin. It's true. Many think though this assessment begins and ends with our actions. We like to do bad things, so we should stop doing bad things. Our actions aren't thrown out of court, but there's a distinction Christianity offers that get's missed.  There's a difference between a biblical approach vs. a traditional values values approach to what's wrong. Many Christians have what's closer to a latent traditional values approach. This looks at things we do as bad and says, “That's wrong, don't do that or avoid it.” This isn't all wrong. There are very real things that are bad and it's better not to do them. At the same time, it isn't all there is. If this was, the solution would be modifying behavior. Anyone who's tried a New Year's resolution knows this fails reality's test. Christianity says the issue runs deeper and moves faster than doing bad things. The problem is sin, but not first at the behavioral level. It begins in our hearts, the core center of who we are (Prov 4:23). The issue isn't even the heart, per se. God created it, it's a good thing. It's what has happened to it. Where it's momentum is. Where it's pointed. 

God created us to know Him- with our whole being. We were made, as Martin Luther said, "pointed at God." Knowing Him, we knew His creation and gifts as the good things they are, but lesser things than Him. That's the modus operandi of creation. God is known and enjoyed as God; creation is known and enjoyed as creation. No mix ups. Like a parent giving you a gift. You enjoy it, but don't turn to thank the gift. Why? The gift is a lesser thing than your parent. What began in Genesis 3 and continues in our hearts is we've become "bent inward." We're pointed at ourselves. God tells us our heart's modus operandi is now deceit, we go against the grain of creation. God says this is because they're unhealthy, sick and dying. They've become so deceitful, we can't understand them without God's help (Jer 17:9-10). We've gone from flourishing to unraveling. We want what comes from God and turn to it as a god, what the Bible calls idolatry. We want what comes from God and sought to make it the secure place for our identity, meaning, purpose, value and happiness. At the bottom of sin is how we take a good thing and made it a god thing, which is a bad thing. 

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said sin is exchanging our identity with anything else that isn't God. The scholar John Stott said, "The essence of sin is substituting ourselves with God.” Theologian John Calvin said about us, "The human heart is an idol factory." The Rolling Stones said, "I can't get no satisfaction, cause I try and I try and I try and I try." Anytime John Calvin and the Rolling Stones agree on something, it's worth listening.

In a “reap what you sow” world, when we sow this kind of dysfunction, we reap the implications of it. If life flourishes when we know God as God, life unravels when we make something else god.

With regard to happiness, we've gone from God being the source of our happiness to happiness being the source of our god. This offends God and we exploit creation now for selfish gain. When everything is about being happy, we make everything a servant to getting that end- God included. God won't be our butler, so we're up a creek. The built in irony is what happens when we do this: 1. We're constantly anxious. 2. We never enjoy the thing we have.

For example, if relationships support the quest for happiness, you're constantly running maintenance on them. At the slightest threat of a cog coming loose, you're anxious. If its a job or success, you'll be willing to volunteer as tribute and ax whoever gets in the way. Why- they're a treat to your success. For me, it's people pleasing. Selfishly, people support my quest for happiness. Deep down, I clamor for their approval. If a mistake or bonehead decision potentially rocks the boat, I'm devastated. This view of happiness is more like a straight-jacket than anything.

Jesus shows us God isn't against happiness. He's against taking it and making it ultimate, but happiness can't support happiness. Happiness can't undergird our identity. We've taken what was a by-product of fellowship with God and made it an end in of itself. In doing so, we've ruined happiness by ruining fellowship with God. We've alienated ourselves from Him by wanting more than Him what comes from Him. C.S Lewis summed this up well:
God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

During this season, I began to ask myself a few diagnostic questions.
  1. If I know this (or disagree), why I am not more happy?
  2. What is the one thing if I lost it today, I'd be devastated?
  3. Fill in the blank, “If only I had ______, I'd finally be happy.”
Ask yourself these questions.  Whatever goes in the blank is your god. When the god isn't God, it's an idol.

God says our idols are like broken cisterns of water (Jer 2:13b). They seem useful, but are faulty, useless and make that moldy smell that's in weird basements.

People's approval of me is my broken cistern. One of many no doubt. 

I began to consider whether if functionally God was my source for happiness. By the state of things: the lack of sleep, not being excited to eat (and I love food), throw in some irritability, and I had to conclude He wasn't.

If the problem is a dysfunctional pursuit of happiness, what makes if functional?

Pursuing God. And that, by way of being in fellowship with Him again. 

God must be God so that creation will be creation again in our lives.

Specifically with happiness, I began to see that I'll finally be happy if I saw being happy isn't about being happy.

How does one get there when the momentum of our pursuit is toward ourselves?
What's the posture, disposition and sort of person who knows God as God and subsequently, is happy?


Part 2 forthcoming. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Interview: Champion the City

I recently had the chance to correspond with Ted Rastatter and Joel Frame from Champion the City. It was great to hear these two musician's thoughts on their new project, new song and video "Come Down. " 
________________________________________________________________________________

BR: Hey guys, thanks for connecting to share your hearts, passions and interests. Especially as they're represented in your project Champion the City. Looking forward to this.

BR: In a few sentences, share who you are and what you do?

TR: Hi Ben, my name is Ted. I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to my wife, father to my daughter, elder at my church, musician/artist and worship leader.  I play/write/produce music for Champion the City.

JF: I am Joel Frame and I am the MC/Rapper/Poet. I work full-time at two elementary schools in Springfield, OH. I help families in poverty get connected to resources in the community. I also help certain kids with academic, behavioral, or emotional difficulties. I have a beautiful wife named Tracy and a two and a half year old daughter named Nellie. We also have another daughter coming in October!

BR: What is Champion the City and how did it get started?

TR: We are an indie/hip hop band. Joel and I were pursuing what it would sound like if we tried to truly reflect the community we come from. Essentially, if I was going to try to lead my whole city into worshiping Jesus, it would sound close to what we are writing. We wrote a song called "freedom" that incorporated some hip hop with a responsive/corporate worship chorus. We both really liked collaborating so we started going full steam ahead with what we were writing.

JF: Champion the City is a hip hop/indie rock group that formed out of an idea to just create a worship album for our church family at Soma. As we sat down to write it quickly became something more than just a one-time thing for a single album release. God showed us that what we had was special and He has since been leading us in a direction that is much more permanent in regards to our group.

BR: With respect to where things are now, what do you hope to accomplish?

TR: I'd like to write songs that make it hard to hear and then do nothing about. Joel and I both want to write music/make art that inspires missional living. Essentially, we'd like to share the gospel in a way our listeners can go forth and do the same.

JF: First and foremost, we want to speak the Gospel through our music. We want to bring glory to God by edifying the church speaking in practical terms to people who may not have a relationships with Christ. We really see Champion the City as the something that is relevant right now to our culture. We hope to be able to move into pursuing it full-time.  

BR: If Champion the City had 5 years and you guys went on to do other things, what are 5 things you hope to have accomplished and/or have people remember because of the project?

TR: I hope at the end of our time in this project (all things end) that we could say we were faithful to the Gospel.  I don't know if I have 5 things Ben:)  I'd love to do a developing country tour.

JF: Again, I hope that people receive a genuine Gospel message when they listen to our music. I hope that we push believers to know Christ more intimately. I hope people will be encouraged and emboldened to step out of the comfort zone and reach out to people they may have been ignoring before. I hope we write exactly what the Spirit leads us to write. I hope that I am regarded as the greatest rapper who ever lived…..just kidding.

BR: Let's talk a bit about the new single, “Come Down.”   
Check out the video here: Come Down.   

What spurred “Come Down” into existence? 

TR: Many worshiping church communities in our city have moved away from the city; out of the heart (which is our downtown) and into more affluent communities. "Come Down" is kind of a call for the church as a hole to get our hands dirty in the city.

JF: It’s really soft but hardcore at the same time, kind of like Ted. “Come Down” was written from a place of personal conviction regarding our own lack of action when it comes to reaching out to those in less than desirable circumstances. We feel like we could really do more to impact our community and we figured a lot of people probably feel that same way. It was an attempt to point out some things we see in our lives and the lives of other believers in a loving, encouraging, and poignant way.

BR: Some of these lyrics are...provocative. Great, but provocative. I'm not sure what the shared work load was like throughout creating them, so feel free to mention what you want. Would love to hear your interests and convictions on some of these.

BR: Joel, it seems like the “broken window pane” is the thing that grabs our shirt collars. You say it's broken, but can't be noticed from the outside. Can you tease that out?

JF: It's directed at what I feel is a very prevalent lens through which we view the world and people around us. we have a very damaged framework when it comes to understanding poverty. A lot of people, myself included, have a really good act in which we make people think we are doing great things to impact certain communities when in reality, we really aren't doing much of anything. 

BR: “We have to learn to live the gospel, even when it's inconvenient....”
Tough lyric. Care to share?

JF: The Gospel never tells us that things are going to be easy, in fact, it says the exact opposite. The Bible is full of incredible men and women being persecuted and killed simply because they were sharing Jesus with people. A lot of times, we only reach out to help people when it is convenient for us. But, that’s not the way in which we should be living. Following Christ and reaching out is hard, really hard, but we have to persevere.

BR: Ted, can you let us in on what brought the chorus to be the chorus?

TR:  I had been wrestling with how Jesus calls us "A city on a hill that cannot be hidden". We are indeed a city on a hill but sometimes its too steep for outsiders to come in. In Acts 15 the apostles agree to not make it difficult for gentiles who are trying to turn to Christ by putting the yoke of Jewish tradition on them. We shouldn't make it difficult for people to turn to Christ because of our traditions. The Gospel is that God sent Jesus even when we were sinners. He didn't ask us to go up to him (impossible); He came to us. So, in reflecting Him, we should come down from our high places. Hence"City on a Hill, light lit up to heal come down".

BR: For both of you to weigh in on: 


"...could your footprints be found on both sides of the track, or would they stop at the edge of the comfort zone and just go back." When i first heard that, it felt like a 2x4 of a lyric. What's the best way to digest this? 

TR: Its a hard lyric to listen to and ignore. I think a strong case can be made that God has a soft spot in his heart for the poor and forgotten. I love Bono's speech at the National prayer breakfast a couple years ago concerning the poor..."God is with us if we are with them."

JF: I would just encourage people to take an honest look at their lives. Are we really doing all we can to step out of our comfort zone and connect with people who nobody really notices? It’s kind of like that kid who sits alone at the lunch table in school. Would you be the one to go and sit with them and listen?

BR: The big one. At least, it was one my ears perked up on, “You see, there's a really strong smell to poverty. It's a beautiful aroma to God, but it's a stench to you and me.” 

TR: This lyric came straight from my childhood. My mom had become a christian and started a ministry in some rough spots of town. I remember her taking my brother and I to a meal served in the basement of this slum church. We walked down the stairs and the smell hit me and my brother like a ton of bricks. She told us "there is a smell to poverty." I remember not being able to eat because of the smell of body odor. My mom use to hug those kids and their families. She would bring the smell home with her and I always hesitated to hug her.  I realize now that was pleasing to God! That along with 2 Cor.2:15 "We are the aroma of Christ". God seems to love to defend people that can't defend themselves. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of God." Poverty in spirit (understanding our spiritual bankruptcy/not having anything in us we can declare righteous) is pleasing to God.

BR: Joel, at the end of the video you hold post board that reads, "Stop talking and say something." Other than possibly creating an existential dilemma for some folks, what do you mean by that?

JF: "An existential dilemma," haha! It really just means, stop filling the air with conversation that is directionless. We get so stuck on things that are secondary issues in regards to salvation. So much time is spend talking about things that have no eternal impact. I want to be actually speaking life and love into people. Stop arguing over the light show at church  or which C.S Lewis book was the best. Just accept people where they are at, love them, and try to point them to the cross.

 BR: How can folks learn more about Champion the City and your pursing with it? 

TR: We are small and have a small fan base so they can just ask us....or they can connect on Facebook. 

 JF: Like us on Facebook for updates and feel free to visit our website at www.championthecity.com. For those who are interested, our album will be available in October. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Review: Broken Vows: Divorce and the Goodness of God

Book Review: Broken Vows 

Broken Vows walks us through the story of John Greco's divorce. That word alone stirs up opinion, hurt, confusion and the like. Greco learned his wife committed adultery and had no interest in saving the marriage. Not too long after she left him, he lost his job and seemingly everything else you could build an identity and vision of life on. Greco's experiences, contemplation and applications provide more than just insight, but draw out how God's goodness gets involved in the deepest and broadest aspects of such a difficult time.

Most people immediately look for two things to affirm if someone is qualified to touch a topic: expertise and/or experience. More than ever, people want to see battle wounds rather than a PhD. 

What makes him qualified to write a book about divorce?
A few years ago my marriage came crashing down around me...”  
What makes his considerations worth a read?
...and I'm thankful.”
My face probably looked the same as yours right now. To some, this may sound bombastic. For others, it may sound like those who speak with such hostility toward their first marriage, you wonder what the heck happened. John Greco takes neither route. He explains why you might be interested in what he has to say...
I wasn't glad to see my marriage end....And I would never again want to experience the almost-unbearable pain of separation and divorce. But I'm thankful. I'm thankful because, after walking through everything that's happened, I now know- in a way I simply couldn't before- that God is good.”
Those last three words set this book apart from others that trend toward self-esteemism, finger-pointing, or burden heaping with truck loads of “You should have done better” and “It's all your fault.” It's a provocative way to begin. I commend him for his honesty. As he shows, the only thing more provocative than his statement is the goodness of God. 

John shows how the Gospel gives a "bigger picture" that doesn't rule out real pain, hurt, "this doesn't make sense" accusations and the like. Rather, it provides space for it all. John shows how his story (and yours) occurs in a larger story. This is important because of how hurt seems to bring blinders with it. A desperate focus begins as thoughts zero in on; "Who is the victim?; Whose fault was it?; "What could I have done different?", "What will my family think?"; "What will happen to me?" The focus, wherever it falls, makes the event so particular it's impossible to imagine it happened for any good reason. What this does is eject it from a bigger picture. It makes it go from sub-plot to a story in and of itself. Hurt and pain seem to come from no where and lead no where, but even there is an assumption of a "bigger picture."

What would it mean to consider the difficult story of a divorce occurring in the midst of a greater one? A story that God both wrote and wrote Himself into:
"The cross loudly declares that God is for us, not against us... When life grinds to a halt and it seems our worst fears have come true, we can begin to believe the lie that God is not really all that good or that he's not really in control of the universe. But the cross reminds us that God is, in fact, so good he has taken the full brunt of his own righteous anger in our place. And because of the decisive battle on at Calvary, we can have assurance that  the war has already been won, the end of the story written." 
Jesus' death shows us that pain, sin, questions and suffering are real. If we think these are abstract conceptions, we make the cross just as abstract. The cross brings to us the reality of pain's volume. Not only does the Gospel show us how real this brokenness and pain is, but also how real God's resolve is to mend and redeem what seems and is lost. By pointing us to the Gospel, we look ahead to what is happening:
"God wins. Good triumphs over evil. And it's the happiest-ever-after of endings. God is still on his throne, and our stories- no matter how difficult they may be to live through- are being woven with delicate grace into the tapestry of his larger story."
What Greco seems to belabor is to show how panning out does more than help you cope. It helps you understand. If a divorce is the only story, then it's on those involved to find ways to think through and cope. If a divorce (or any hurt) is one that occurs in a bigger story where God Himself has dealt with the tragedy of our sin and pain, then consider honestly how He can relate and comfort:
"When the pain of divorce is more than you can carry, he is able to carry it. He is able to  grieve with you as a brother-in-arms. He too was betrayed. He too was abandoned by those who were closest to him. He too was cast aside and rejected by those whom he loved. he is able to sympathize and console because, no matter how deep or personal the pain, he has experienced it. The passion of Jesus-- his suffering and the cross-- makes him a worthy comforter and a wonderful friend." 
This may seem like grandiose and unrealistic way to deal with the "in the weeds" issues. As you read the different layers of his story, Greco shows us again how finding the bigger picture God's written gives us understanding to think through specific, yet messy things.

God's will has been made clear regarding marriage, but drawing lines doesn't mean there aren't layers. Greco shows how God's will is both clear, but in the same breathe there are complexities, messiness and muddiness in divorce that don't make things easy to shove everything into the "sin" category:
"This oversimplification of a complicated issue like divorce is all too common. It's human nature to classify, organize, and move on. We want to know where to stand and then rest. It's uncomfortable to have tension, and we like to have neat lines drawn." 
 For the heresy hunters out there, he offers a helpful clarification:
"Even in writing this, I realize I run the risk of appearing soft on sin and morality  Some will read this chapter and conclude that I don't believe there are lines that can be crossed at all or that I believe in all truth is relative. (For the record in absolute truth, that sin is real and has consequences, and that there are indeed lines not to be crossed.) This very danger illustrates the point I'm trying to make: in our desire to understand and organize complex issues, we sum things up simply and neatly- but too often we clean things up the way a tsunami washes a beach clean, destroying people in our wake."  
One of the biggest difficulties in being hurt is welling up with bitterness. In divorce, it could be awhile (or indefinitely) to ever consider the former spouse in anything other than a negative light. The Gospel brings not just hope to cope, but a way to consider how both parties need Christ. Doing this doesn't soften or numb where someone was truly wronged or is feeling real guilt, but it does begin to show an honest view of both sides because neither one is the real problem or enemy, nor is either person the real Savior.

This book is worth sticking it out through. It's not very long. In areas where it feels like it repeats itself, consider for a moment whether it's because it was worth repeating. For those who feel old wounds are being re-opened, consider how it could be an opportunity for real healing with the Gospel. For those who can't relate, the reality is we all know someone who's walked through divorce or is. It's not pretty. It can get really dark. It's not what we want and it's not the way things ought to be.

The Gospel does it's best work though in the messiest and darkest corners of our hearts and lives and is the way God is getting things from the way things are to the way things ought to be.

You can find Broken Vows: Divorce and the Goodness of God at Amazon or Cruciform Press