Monday, August 31, 2009

"Them" or Him?

The real glorious thing about The Transforming Friendship is that Weatherhead's idea that Christianity is essentially the acceptance of the friendship of Jesus is anything but fluffy. So often we hear it said or read somewhere that Jesus is our "Friend." But what follows is a soft description of friendship that doesn't at all add up to the Jesus of the gospels and what He asks of us.

Weatherhead warns against this kind of interpretation over and over again. He even strongly suggests, "Religion has become a soft and flabby and aesthetic thing...We are all attracted by Christ, but we are held back by a thousand things." For some, this might simply be the appearance of things. We know that communion with God would afford us the freedom and peace we so desire. But we find ourselves so consumed with worry about what other people think "until in the end we care more for what they all think than what the eternal Christ thinks.

And who are "they"? I ask myself this question all the time. When someone tells me, "They say" this-or-that or I find myself worried about what people will think if I do this-or-that, I am faced with this question. Who are "they" and why do I care about what "they" think. I know who Jesus is...and what He thinks counts more than the opinions of "them," whoever "they" are.

I think deep down inside of us we know why we listen to "them" instead of Him. We have this fear that God might ask of us and do more than we could ever imagine. So, we listen to "them," limit ourselves, and settle for far less than our potential. All in the name of fitting in to the status quo.

But friendship with Jesus - the real, transformative kind - offers us so much more. It demands all...and gives all. Accepting the friendship of Jesus will make you more yourself than you will ever be listening to "them" instead of Him.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"A Friend Alive Forevermore..."

I am still soaking everything in that I read in The Transforming Friendship by Leslie D. Weatherhead. I have been thinking a lot about the points he raised in this incredible book. Mostly, the concept of God in Jesus as Friend. This is a huge concept. It is one we speak of often, but scarcely understand. We call Jesus our friend, but we have no real idea what that entails. For many, the concept of friend in general is all but antiseptic. To call Jesus a friend is to really call him an "acquaintance" or someone we sometimes spend time with or speak to from time-to-time. This is not the kind of friendship God offers to us in Jesus. It is so much more...

Weatherhead talks a lot in the beginning of the book about the friendship between Jesus and his disciples, most especially between the Resurrection and the Ascension. He speaks of the "strange appearings" of Jesus after the resurrection.

"What do these strange appearings and disappearings mean? They are His perfect way of making [the Disciples] feel that He is never far away. He does not seem to be there. Then He breaks in upon them, always knows what has happened, always takes charge of the situation, until they never know when they may become aware of Him...The experience becomes richer. They feel that He is never absent. Communion now will mean as much as it did when they could Hear His voice, see His face, and touch Him."

What did this do for them? Everything. These indescribable experiences of true community with Christ gave them the strength, power and confidence to spread hope to the world. These moments were life-changing enough to those who experienced them that they were willing to die for the chance just to tell others about it. That is the kind of friendship Jesus offered while He was on earth and, perhaps all the more between his Resurrection and Ascension.

To truly walk through life with the Friendship of Jesus is to be transformed like the Disciples in those final days between the Resurrection and Ascension. For, "Christianity is meaningless unless this friendship can do as much for us. What Jesus once was, He is eternally." What a beautiful, blessed thought! Isn't this what we all long for in this life? And it is available to

I know this post is heavy in quotes, but Weatherhead says it all so well! Let me leave you with one more for the road. Let this one sink in...

"I want to say to all who are worshiping a picture of Jesus in a frame called History - to people who are beaten in their lonely toilsome effort to be like the Hero of that picture - that there is a richer experience than they have yet known. If they will sit down quietly He will come out of the picture into their life. A little faith - that kind of effortless prayer which is the leaving of the heart's door upon the latch - and the Guest will come as often as you want Him, and you will be carried further than a whole year of fussy striving would take you; for He is not a ghost of the dead past, but a friend alive forevermore."

Monday, August 17, 2009

A "Transforming" Book

"[W]e may try to alter our lives by good resolutions and intentions, but imitations and effort, but how fruitless it all is until we open our lives to His friendship and are transformed...not from without, but from within...

God may not want to make us poets or painters or pianists, but He does want to make us saints. So He offers to all this gift - the gift of a new life. You can use your willpower, and that will take you part of the way. You can use your brains, and they will take you a little way. You can imitate, and that may take you a little way. But all these things together in music and art and poetry, and in life, will never take you as far as a gift will take you." - Leslie D. Weatherhead

Of late I have been reading a real gem of a book called The Transforming Friendship by Leslie D. Weatherhead. The above quote is from that remarkable book. The subtitle itself is inviting: "A Book About Jesus and Ourselves." Such a simple description from a book that is beautifully simple itself. This was one of those books I have had on my shelf for ages and just never took the time to read. I picked it up to thumb through it a few weeks ago and feel in love with it. It was an incredible, insightful read(just 120 pages!). One of those books you are a slightly sad to finish because you just want more.

The book gets to the heart of what it means to enter into a friendship with God. Not the fluffy, life-is-perfect-and-so-am-I kind of friendship, but the real kind. The kind where we bring our real selves to Jesus and just receive the gift of His friendship. No ceaseless striving, no dancing for men's eyes (or God's, for that matter...), no false-selves. Just us and Jesus.

I cannot begin to do this book justice in a blog. However, I would like to share/reflect on some of the great things Weatherhead had to say in the next couple of blogs. It is all just too good not to share. If you can find a copy of it somewhere, grab it. I think it may be out-of-print, but there are copies out there being sold and given away and this book is invaluable! I am pretty sure I obtained mine because my mom grabbed it when the library at my home church was closing. I am so glad she did. I feel sure it is a book I will return to again and again.

I promise to share more excerpts and thoughts in the next few blogs...

Friday, August 07, 2009

A Few More Thoughts on Prayer

Here are a few more prayers that I love...

"Lord, send me anywhere, Only go with me;
Lay any burden on me, Only sustain me.
Sever any tie, Save the tie that binds me to Thy heart—
Lord Jesus, my King, I consecrate my life, Lord, to Thee." - David Livingstone

"Lord, Thou knowest what I want if it be Thy will that I should have it. If it be not Thy will, do not be displeased. For I want nothing which Thou doest not want for me." - Julian of Norwich

"Take my lips and speak through them, take my mind and think through it..." - Francis Havergal (He is also the man who wrote "Take My Life and Let It Be"...also a good prayer in and of itself!)

And some thoughts on prayer that have informed my own...

“Everybody prays whether [you think] of it as praying or not. The odd silence you fall into when something very beautiful is happening or something very good or very bad. The 'Ah-h-h-h!' that sometimes floats up out of you as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the sky-rocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else's pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else's joy. Whatever words or sounds you use for sighing with over your own life. These are all prayers in their way. These are all spoken not just to yourself but to God.” - Buechner

"Prayer is first of all listening to God. It's openness. God is always speaking; he's always doing something. Prayer is to enter into that activity. ... Convert your thoughts into prayer. As we are involved in unceasing thinking, so we are called to unceasing prayer. The difference is not that prayer is thinking about other things, but that prayer is thinking in dialogue... a conversation with God." - Henri Nouwen

"To pray is to let Jesus into our lives." - O Hallesby

I long for constant conversation with God on the things of life. I long to learn the "unforced rhythms of grace" (Matthew 11:28-30, "The Message"). This is the stuff of life, where true transformation and beauty begins. I am sure of it. Days when I and my thoughts are in connection with God, all goes better. I feel free...beautiful...content. These days are not without their glitches and problems, they are just checkered with grace and mercies ever new. I want a life where everyday is like that. And on those that aren't, I want to release it to God and move on. Want to join me?