Book Thoughts

Philip Yancey has written a new book, “Vanishing Grace.” One of his faithful followers writes, “…provocative, thoughtful book exploring thorny issues within our faith and church.” Philip, “tackles the diminishing popularity of Christianity in postmodern America over the past several decades and suggest ways believers can cut through today’s rampant cynicism to proclaim the gospel in word-much more important deed.”

I am reading very slowly with heart wide open as I am on a journey to follow St. Frances’s advice, “preach at all times and when necessary use words.” As I read, search and pray I find that I am not alone in looking to understand church. I am bicycling in tandem with Yancey that we are experiencing an awakening grace. I am thinking grace will awaken when our deeds are seen and people begin to rejoice in glorifying Our Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16) I can just hear chorus of voice in unison singing a prayer, “Our Father Which art in Heaven…”

I do so desire Heavenly Father’s will be done on earth as in heaven.  I would like to hear your thoughts on the new today’s church that you are walking out daily.

19 thoughts on “Book Thoughts

  1. The Daily Lily’s new webpage look and format is very beautiful and inviting!

    One thought ‘on the new today’s church that you are walking out daily’: I am seeking God’s direction for how to walk and connect with others. As part of this I am attempting to participate in deeds with others so that the recipients of those deeds will “rejoice in glorifying Our Father which is in heaven.”
    In order to do this, I am attempting to stay within the local sphere of those that God has placed me in and be accountable to those within it.

    1. Debi, thanks! I’m glad you like the updates!

      In thinking on your newness of deeds and being seen and accepted by the recipient, I believe it’s more rubber band proof. I think it stretches far beyond the recipient. I’ve learned some very valuable lessons recently from my brother, a true gardener. As he gardens he leaves beauty in places that his eyes may not see often since he has no direct view. His idea is many, many will drive, bike and walk by his back garden and pause to enjoy the beauty of a blooming rose, smell the sweet fragrance of an olive tree. It’s those that will stand and give voice to his deeds in proclaiming the wonder of God’s creation. As others join him in tandem of giving of a secret hidden garden from his view I found my view was in direct contrast to his. I had eyes of greed while he had eyes of love. I wanted to see the garden for myself when I sat down to tea. He wanted a weary soul, a parent teaching a child, a tired cyclist and a car leisuring beach cruising to enjoy the view.

      His teachings have shown me the meaning of let your light shine so that others will see and glorify God as well as don’t do your deeds and blow a trumpet for yourself. The trumpet is being blown by the passerbyers with no reward to him until God the Father releases his reward. Matthew 6. Yes, the rubber band stretches and holds the rewards!

  2. How is the church working, in these times? Or better still, WHERE is the church working? The horrendous neediness and spiritual poverty of mankind all around us and even in the Body of Christ globally, sends up a cry of frustration and utter dismay among God’s people. DEAD works are NOT working!!
    Where is the joy and spiritual and physical delight among us? Where is the anointing and the inspiration? Where are God’s people filled with zeal and where is the fire we once knew when we were first born again and that victory that Christ afforded us as He rescued us from the world, the flesh and the devil?
    Yes, Sara, I agree! GREATER Grace, grace God’s grace, I feel, is what the Lord is doing now. A new graciousness, a new venue. For where sin abounds Grace abounds even more and God says He is always doing something NEW!
    I believe we need a NEW VISIBLE Body of Christ in the earth. I read in 2Cor.9:6-16, that he/she who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. That means sowing the Word and sowing our MONEY. Paul tell us [paraphrased] to give as we purpose in our hearts and be cheerful about it. Don’t begrudge what we give to God. If we watch our attitude He is able to make all GRACE abound toward the giver so that the giver will always have all sufficiency in all things….GET THIS…So that the giver may abound to every GOOD WORK. Do we believe that? Or do we just give lip service to it? We are to do good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do. He had them all ready for each of us even before we were born and that is our destiny to do them.
    Our good deeds in the earth, to the poor, the needful, the sick, the saints, the church…reflects a viable and a visible Body of Christ in the earth. Paul instructs us to abound in every good deed that we do…as members of Christ Jesus’ Body. But individual members make up the church and we have to purpose in our hearts, as believers in Jesus Christ that what HE says in His Word about giving and doing
    are our marching orders and the great promises that come with it. He will fulfill them if we Believe and Know that He is faithful to do it. He hasn’t lied to us, ever!!!
    If we the church can rise up do the deeds and works that are outlined for God’s people in the Bible then, the Church will truly WORK. Then “the earth shall be filled with the KNOW-ledge of the Glory of God as the waters cover the sea:. [Hab 2:14.] “A new wave of glory is entering the earth [even now], the manifest Presence, Power and Goodness of God!” [j.Savelle]

    1. MG, I am hopeful that my new church experience is reaching beyond the words of Matthew as recorded in chaper 6:30…”…0 you of little faith.” I reach a few verses back to get my marching orders by making sure my eyes are healthy. I understand the lamp and eye represents my intentions and choices. If I have a good eye then I will focus on God alone and be loyal to His Kingdon. But, if I have a bad eye then I will make other things the goal of my life. Therefore, referring to your last paragraph of the earth being filled with glory/light if I am a part of light and not darkness then I need to make sure my treasures are being used effectively. I am understanding a little more after putting a dust swifter to my mind that I am a big part of the church when I am small enough in thought and action to be salt in food and yeast in the dough.

      In summary, my new church experience is decrease to salt in food and yeast in dough and watch as God bakes a loaf and salts the fish and feeds the crowds and then gives me daily orders….“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ ”(John 6:12, NIV) Those words thrill me, let nothing be wasted! As we know the story twelve baskets were left from five loaves and two fish. How many more ways can I say that I am a tiny candle and not the sunlight? I hope and pray that I am being a light in the church in the earth for today!

  3. A beautiful story of God’s church shining a brilliant light by Evelyn Bence. “THREE YEARS AGO a young neighbor with special needs and disadvantages insinuated herself into my life. At my front door looking for daily attention, she would flip open the mail slot, align her eyes with the narrow slit, and scope out my living area. Harboring wild-eyed fear of my cat, she stayed outside, sometimes silent, sometimes stammering.

    And there she was, [one Sunday] afternoon, a pair of brown eyes spying on my guests as they ate cheese and crackers. Half an hour later, craning her neck, she watched me, sitting at the end of the dining table directing the flow of bowls and platters. Back in the living room eating pie, we all were aware of the metallic click as she’d run off, distracted, before returning to her eagle-eye perch.

    I knew I was not powerless in the situation. I could have latched the screen door. Or asked her mother to call her home. But with a brief apology and explanation to my guests, I followed my heart: Let her stay. She’s unaccustomed to place settings and sitting in place. Let her see this ordered gathering. Let her observe how I host a meal.

    Three years older now, she walks around the cat in the living room. She grates cabbage for slaw and fills the pepper grinder in the kitchen. She sets the table when I’m expecting company. “Knife on the right.” She looks puzzled. “You write with your right,” I whisper.

    God, give me a vision for passing along to a younger generation what I’ve observed in and absorbed from older mentors.”

    – Evelyn Bence
    Room at My Table

  4. Evelyn Bence’s story really shows a depth of love and care. Very wonderful to read that she did not miss this opportunity placed before her to think of another’s welfare and growth. It sure would have seemed easier to stay focused on her own comfort circle, which was probably fairly predictable, rather than upset the norm. She sure looks like she is living her prayer.

    1. I, image most, if not all, would be able to share stories much like Bence if we thought through our actions and motives. THE JEWISH PHILOSOPHER Philo of Alexandria is credited with saying, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” That wisdom is also wrapped tight in a fruit named ‘of the Spirit’. Galatians 5, kindness. I have noticed at times how many kindnesses I give a day as well as kindnesses given to me yet failed to be kind to myself. Why would I evaluate Bence’s motives and behavior without going inward and seeing if I have kindness wrapped in 8 other characteristics from The Fruit of The Spirit?

      From my reading of Debi’s comments I guess she is saying she has no kindness because she loves her comfort zone!

      1. “Why would I evaluate Bence’s motives and behavior without going inward and seeing if I have kindness wrapped in 8 other characteristics from The Fruit of The Spirit? ”
        From my reading of Debi’s comments I guess she is saying she has no kindness because she loves her comfort zone!”

        Sara, your question is something I did not think about but need to. I should not evaluate anyone else without putting a searchlight on my own motives and behavior.
        When I read my own comment again and thought about loving my comfort zone which cancels out any kindness, I can see that is often very true.

      2. Debi, not sure I am getting your points or you mine! Let me ask a question? If you looked at your fruit tree and evaluated your 9 fruit characteristics would you not have a positive answer like stories to share giving details such as when, where, and how you saw or experienced God’s involvement either personally or in the life of someone else. When did you last see a God sighting?

        Bence told a nice story and you recognized and praised her story. But, it seems to me you made a judgement call she lives a Christ like life……??? That’s good but our point here is to? Well, what do you see as the point?

  5. Sara, when I open Lily, I see a little piece of the Heavenly! It is delightful!

    Ms. Bence’s story touched me. I thought of the verse, “so whatever you do, whether eating or drinking or such, do it for and to the Glory of God.” In her kindness [fruit] and patience [fruit] and gentleness [fruit] in the situation, she allowed the child to remain and observe and now she has a soul [fruit] being fitted for the Kingdom. Who would have thought!
    Most interesting approach! God is always full of surprises….lovely surprises.
    Now, this opens up a new avenue of thinking, new experiences, for me, anyway.

    1. MG, so happy you are enjoying the newness of the Lily! Thank you for the op words!
      Also, refreshing to know you are driving on a new thinking road! I have come to believe new thoughts are detox to the spiritual mind.

  6. When I steadily gaze into my narrow-minded self I become only more narrow. When, I gaze and see hope and put it on the road as a well maintained car I see views as splendid as gored mountainous views. I listen to my wife with a mind to her way of thinking and find out she heard me when the narrow said she is not listening. We go from single lane to expressway in giving and receiving.

    1. “I would like to hear your thoughts on the new today’s church that you are walking out daily.” Yay, Jeepgary, I hear you loud and clear.

  7. You asked me in a comment above, Sara, “Well, what do you see as the point?”
    From you explanation, I think the point is to respond to E. Bence’s story with gratefulness, appreciation or thanks but not to make ‘judgement calls’ on the author. Rather, I should be prompted to share a story…maybe about another fruit of the Spirit displayed in a life.

  8. “Now, why did it take so long?”
    I think because I spend too much time analyzing and critiquing and I miss the point and the essence of what is being said.Thank you for helping me see more clearly.

  9. Sara, you have encouraged us to share our stories here on The Daily Lily, and just today reminded me of some personal ones I could share.
    This particular one is about my husband and I. We had a struggling relationship for years with very little positive communication. Four years ago we got an American bulldog puppy, Cloud; and approx 2 1/2years ago Sky, an olde english bulldog puppy, came to join our home. They brought much joy and healing with them. We now had happy things to talk and share about and walking them has given us a mutual activity to participate in. This has improved our lines of communication.
    Just a few weeks ago my husband set out to change the exterior light bulbs in the fixtures (not an easy task because of the fixture design, etc). I was resting upstairs when he decided to go get the ladder and get to work. I felt to get up from my rest and go ask him if he needed any help but he said he could manage, A few minutes later, watching him struggle a bit with the ladder near the front door, I opened it, peeked out and gently (which is unusual for me) asked if I could lend a hand or hold the ladder. This time he said yes. So, the two of us worked together to get the four new bulbs in. Toward the end of the job, he couldn’t find his screw driver and was getting upset looking for it. I noticed a lump in his shirt pocket and said, I think it’s right here, touching the spot. That made him burst into laughter (and me, too) and give me a big and say, “After all these years we are finally a team.”
    I am very thankful for this mending in this relationship.

  10. Debi, I love your story(ies). They made me giggle….at the wonder of a new-found or maybe a renewed joyfulness of re-discovering one another’s value.
    Praise God for the lessons learned from the doggies in your lives; those great communicators in themselves and how we can learn from our pets. It reminds me of David Teems work in a book that I so enjoyed, subtitled…’What I Really Know About The Devoted Life I Learned From My Dogs.’

    1. I’m with you, MG, doggies are the grandest of teachers! Debi, I think you are tiptoeing through the tulips….Ooops, I mean through Yancey’s words with your life growing garden family stories…. “tackles the diminishing popularity of Christianity in postmodern America over the past several decades and suggest ways believers can cut through today’s rampant cynicism to proclaim the gospel in word-much more important deed.”

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