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Wounded by God’s People, ch2: Life is Hard

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Wounded By God's People, by Anne Graham Lotz

Wounded by God’s People, by Anne Graham Lotz

I’m blogging through Anne Graham Lotz’s book, Wounded by God’s People, chapter by chapter. If you’d like to join me, get the book from your favourite retailer or church library, and read along. Please share your thoughts on the book as well, either in the comments below, or in your own blog post. If you do blog about it elsewhere, remember to post your link below!

Anne begins chapter two with the questions, “When do wounds begin? Who can remember the first one? And who can claim a life without them?”

She tells several horrific stories from her childhood and early adulthood, each involving a memorable wound she suffered from individuals such as a stern Sunday school teacher, a cruel headmistress at a Christian boarding school, and “a distinguished elderly lady [at church who] rose from her seat, walked stiffly over to my mother, and with a stern look pronounced judgment on me…”

As she describes this series of wounds, each carried out by Christians in authority, I’m reminded just how deeply familiar she is with the kind of pain and injustice believers are capable of. Her pain makes her relatable to those of us who’ve suffered similar injuries.

Throughout the book, in addition to telling her own story, Anne takes a close look at the life of Abram’s Egyptian servant, Hagar. In this chapter, she introduces a story from Genesis 13 about Lot’s conflict with Abram, interpreting these events through Hagar’s eyes. After seeing the positive difference God made in Abram’s life, Anne focuses on the way Hagar must have felt afterwards, when Abram treated her so unjustly. For anyone who’s been in Hagar’s shoes, there’s a temptation to let our wounds turn us into wounders. This is Anne’s transition to the next chapter, where she takes a closer look at this cycle of being wounded and wounding others in return.

Probably one of the chapter’s highlights, for me, is the decision Anne made years ago that she wouldn’t let rotten ‘Christian’ behavior interfere in her relationship with God. This point resonated with me because it reflected my experience, thanks to the example my parents set during a number of deeply painful encounters with fellow Christians. As a pastor’s kid, I had seen several church leaders manipulate and take advantage of my parents, and yet their relationship with God never changed. As they modelled for my brother and me, once they recognized a situation to be toxic, when people resisted healing and growth, then it was time to find a healthier community. After a couple difficult experiences, we did find a healthier church which had recently come through its own heartache. As their pastor, Dad’s first task was to lead the congregation’s healing process, and in turn, they were a balm to our wounds as well. We found healing together. Meanwhile, my parents’ relationship with God didn’t change. If anything, it was only made stronger.

It was in this church that I became baptized as a teenager. I had been attending a Christian high school with great teachers, great programs, and a good student body. Except, unfortunately, for my class, it seemed. Over the span of four years I languished at the bottom of a very unforgiving social food chain. So when I got baptized, one of the main points in my testimony was that I had made my commitment to God in spite of the un-Christlike witness of many of my Christian peers at school.

I’m reminded of the ‘sinners’ Jesus befriended during His time on earth, and how much they loved Him in spite of the hateful treatment they experienced from the Pharisees. And remember the woman caught in adultery? How different could their reactions have been: The Pharisees wanted to stone her, whereas Jesus gave her another chance at life. It was the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees that drove people to Jesus. In a way, I can say that happened to me as well.

It would be an honour if you chose to join me in reading through Anne Graham Lotz’s book, Wounded by God’s People. I’ll be reflecting on each chapter here on my blog, and I’d love to hear your reflections too.

Thanks for joining me today!

Marie

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“Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” should be required reading for Christians

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"Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A devout Muslim encounters Christianity" by Nabeel Qureshi Amazon U.S. | Amazon Canada

“Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A devout Muslim encounters Christianity” by Nabeel Qureshi
Amazon U.S. | Amazon Canada


I first discovered Nabeel Qureshi through Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, especially RZIM’s YouTube channel. Hearing several talks and Q&A’s with Dr. Qureshi, I couldn’t help but be moved by his testimony, not to mention his rather contagious passion for the defense of the Christian message. Given that I found myself listening to some of his talks more than once, I figured I should get more acquainted with his story through his spiritual memoir, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

I found this book insightful, gripping, and inspiring, and I believe it should be required reading for Christians for a number of reasons… Western Christians and Muslims don’t understand one another very well. Qureshi begins to bridge the gap by drawing western Christians’ attention to our reputation in the Muslim community and translates the latter’s culture, behaviors, and assumptions to help believers better understand and relate to our Muslim neighbors.

Secondly, his story highlights the embarrassing consequences of encounters between unbelievers who are surprisingly well-informed and Christians who are depressingly uneducated about our own faith and, therefore, unable to answer questions and critiques. The author’s experience should be a lesson to us about the far-reaching impact of our decision whether or not to educate ourselves about our beliefs.

Thirdly, Qureshi’s journey is an example to Christians of what it means to love God with all our mind. I’ve heard people say that working through foundational questions of faith is a waste of time…”no point in reinventing the wheel.” But then I think about Qureshi and other authors like him, and it makes sense. If faith is supposed to be personal, then it has to make sense on a personal level… “All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There’s more to love about this book as well… I’ve shared a similar emotional struggle while examining my Christian beliefs, so I was on the edge of my seat with each question the author set out to answer. I was also moved by the tender memories he shared about his childhood and relationships with his parents. I laughed along with him and his college friend through their hilarious exchanges. And (*spoiler alert*) I was admittedly rather jealous, but ultimately delighted that he had incredible opportunity to dialogue face-to-face with Gary Habermas!

These are just a few reasons I recommend Qureshi’s book. Read more reviews or pick up your own copy of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

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The Truth About Love

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If truth is not undergirded by love, it makes the
possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive.
— Ravi Zacharias

As an Eric Metaxas fan, I enjoyed his recent speech at Liberty University (see below). As I listened, though, one problem became clear:

We know the importance of speaking the truth “in love,” as Eric reminds us, but we rarely know how this is meant to look.

Not unlike the first lesson in writing 101, namely ‘show, don’t tell,’ I realized how badly we in the Christian community need this shown to us.

In my years as a missionary kid and pastor’s kid, I’ve seen so many kinds of unloving Christians over the years that I realized we’ve turned loveless, hollow, self-righteous, ‘whitewashed tomb’ Christianity into a sophisticated art.

We’re all familiar with the ‘speak the truth in love’ phrase from Ephesians 4:15, but when so many of us define angry protests, scathing commentaries, heated arguments, and condescending speech as ‘loving,’ the meaning of the word is clearly lost.

What we need aren’t Christians who are more bold to speak the truth, because too many of us already out in the world are causing overwhelming damage by our method.

What we need is an intensive lesson on how to speak the truth IN LOVE. We need humble mentors, clear teaching, practical examples, and inspiring stories, and we need them made an overt and ever-present part of our sermons, speeches, conversations, and community life.

Meanwhile, Eric is troubled by the rest of us, those who’ve remained quiet about our faith, suggesting it’s secular pressure or the need to apologize for our faith that keeps us silent.

I’d like to suggest another possibility: Perhaps, to borrow from Ravi Zacharias, we’re discouraged by the countless obnoxious Christians making the truth repulsive.

Maybe we know that the prevailing antagonism doesn’t square with the loving God we know from Scripture and from our personal relationship with Him.

Maybe we want to speak up more, but we’re uncertain because don’t have the skills and tools we need. Maybe we need leaders and mentors speaking the truth in a way that resonates with what we know to be loving–in the truest sense of the word.

Maybe we’ll have the confidence to speak the truth in love when we understand the truth about love.

What does ‘speaking the truth in love’ mean to you?

How have you seen this in action?

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