Crazy Love - chapter 6

How deep is my own love for God? Would I be happy in a heaven where everything was “pleasant”, yet I didn’t have God? Do I love the gifts of life more than the One who gives them? These are some questions that I was asking myself as I read this week's chapter of Crazy Love. More than that, these are questions that I have been asking myself for the past couple of weeks, as I have been placing my own desires and needs on the throne of my life. In the midst of focusing solely on my relationships, grades, and career goals, I would offer God half-hearted offerings of prayer and worship out of guilt and fear. As Francis Chan calls it, I was trying to buy and prove my love to God, as opposed to truly loving him the way I ought (p 102).

But how can we genuinely love someone, if our wicked hearts are not naturally inclined to do so? Chan offers the answer towards the end of the chapter. We tell God honestly how we feel. We confess what we have been idolizing. We repent. We tell God that we want to desire Him above all things, and ask Him to take control of our lives (p 110-111).

The prayer that the author ends the chapter with reminds me of a promise God gives us in 1 John:

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15

Praise God for His love for us, His goodness, and His faithfulness!


1. What are some things that you have been choosing lately over God? What supposed “needs” are you trying to satisfy with these pursuits and how would these needs be properly resolved through loving God?

2. In what ways have you been trying to buy (pay God back for what He’s done) or prove (make up for past failures) your love for God? Take some time to re-evalulate your spiritual life and church service and make sure you are doing things out of a true love for God and others.

3. What is an example in your life when you realized that you are more satisfied by giving and sacrificing for others than by having your own needs met?


Crazy Love - chapter 5

Perhaps most of us, after reading chapter 4, sat rather uncomfortably for the past few days. The first time I encountered the "profile of the lukewarm," I even wished it had never confronted me, precisely because I saw so much of myself described in that profile. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Not when it comes to matters of eternal significance.
In this chapter, Pastor Francis digs even deeper into what it means to be a "lukewarm Christian," and presents a relatively shocking truth -- no such person exists.

On one hand, it is shocking, because ... well, we are accustomed (it is our custom, it is our culture) to lean on "easy-believism" = Jesus is a great addition to your life, pretty wallpaper; but to let God tear down your house and replace the main structure with Jesus?! No thanks... that's for the super-holy.

On the other hand, it is not shocking when you consider that the myth-buster is within reach of every single one of us -- crack open your Bible & see for yourself the kind of radical commitment Christ requires of His followers.

This chapter came as a much-needed splash of cold water for me. God taught me this week, using some very painful lessons, that I had started to let the wrong motivations drive my studies. Yes, even the study of Him & His Word! My heart is an idol factory.

When I left Taiwan to come here, the Lord spurred me on with the very same verses quoted throughout this chapter --

Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. -- Luke 14:33

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. -- Matthew 16:24-25

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? -- Luke 9:25

My answer about a year ago was, "Got it, God - I will follow you anywhere and do anything you ask of me." I was fired up. nahm sayn??
(a year ago I also would NOT have used those last two sentences :P)

And then over the months, other things crept in, and other idols were set up. I didn't even realize my bondage until God smashed them last week, and I felt crushed as many of my self-concocted dreams shattered. But through the idol-smashing & through this chapter, my Father showed me that I had turned away from a full commitment to Him, that I needed to repent and let those verses sink into my life again. So for that, I am very grateful.

2 questions (the first more for personal reflection) -
  • What is your goal when you consider your relationship with God? If your goal is not God Himself, consider seriously the high possibility that you are not in a right relationship with Him at all.... and if that concerns you, address it before God himself, on your knees...
  • Fill in the blank with your own words or with words you hear quite often from others: Can I ____________________ and still go to heaven? What does this question reveal about our attitude towards following Jesus?


Crazy Love - chapter 4

Upon reading this chapter, I realize that the previous chapters were mere warm-ups to the real beat-downs Crazy Love has in store for us.

In this chapter, Francis Chan challenges us with descriptions of a "lukewarm" Christian. After reading each example, I found myself saying "Yup, that's me" every time. It's one thing when I know that I'm unworthy, and it's another when someone tells me that, as a lukewarm Christian, I am not even fit for manure. This revealed to me a glimpse of the life that God requires of me and how much I fall short.

One of the biggest things that stuck out at me while reading was the verse Matthew 7:21 which states, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

It's a pretty simple verse, but I think what it made me realize about myself was that I thought my salvation was assured and the Christian life I was living was sufficient just because I did and said what other "good" Christians were doing and saying. As Pastor Francis wrote, as a lukewarm Christian, I live my life comparing it to others' and not what is required of me in the Bible. As Philippians 3:10 states, knowing Christ is not just knowing about his death and resurrection but it's also partaking in his sufferings and becoming like him in his death.

On those rare occasions I do something extra-Christiany like donating to the poor or giving up a day to serve the homeless, I do feel pretty satisfied with myself and believe that God is satisfied, but in reality, it's not even close. God requires us not to just give up more of ourselves, but to give up ALL of ourselves.

I am NOT good soil. I am soil filled with thorns. I agree with Crazy Love in that as American Christians, we do want God, but we also want so many other things in life like money, careers, respect, relationships, etc. I have to admit that no matter how much I say I prioritize God in my life, I cannot honestly declare that I love Him so much that I am willing to give up food or comfort or my career or my family. Of course, these things may not be inherently evil in themselves, but when they take up our time and attention from God, are we able to cut them our of our lives?

In what ways are you a lukewarm Christian?
What verse jumped out the most at you in this chapter?
What changes will you make in your life based off of your reaction to this chapter?

-- written by Jon


Crazy Love - chapter 3

I remember a conversation I had years ago with a friend in high school. He asked, "Didn't Jesus know that He would conquer death and reign forever anyway, so wasn't His 'suffering' kind of ... contrived?"

That question stuck with me for a long time. How much was Christ's agony, crucifixion, and death "worth" if, because of His omniscience, He knew things would end up fine in the end?

One day, by God's grace my eyes were opened and I saw the twisted nature of that question. Because the answer is, it doesn't matter that He knew anyway -- the bottom line is, He didn't have to do it.

As many faithful believers before us have testified, a man will never in his own short lifetime understand the crazy depths of God's love for His people.
BUT we CAN start to taste some of its flavours, and find joy & security in His love.

From what I have observed, especially in Asian churches, the concept of "having quiet time" or "doing devotions" with God every day can become a job responsibility. The way everyone talks about it gives the impression that if you do it regularly, you are a good Christian; if not, you feel the burden of guilt and shame. Have you experienced this? I have struggled a lot in this area.

But when set against the background of God's love for me, how wrong that attitude is! My spending time in prayer and the Word should spring effortlessly out of a deep desire to just be with my Father. My view of God is the true measure of my responsive love for Him, not the regularity or length of my QTs.

I think that is why this book started with a reflection on the majesty of God, and why we sometimes need to carve out time for mini-retreats (by ourselves, in our room or in the woods or somewhere quiet) .... too often, we get dulled and forget the intensity of who the Lord is, and how much He wants us to walk closely with Him. We always need to get pulled back and start again with who God is, and then who He wants us to be in light of that.

Do you believe that the Good News is not merely the forgiveness of your sins, the guarantee that you won't go to hell, or the promise of life in heaven?

Do you love this God who is everything, or do you just love everything He gives you?

Questions for reflection & discussion (modified from the CL study guide) --
  • How is your relationship with your earthly father? In it, do you see any overlap with the way you relate to God?
  • Pick one word to describe your relationship with your heavenly Father. Does your “one word” reflect a reality you’re pleased with or one you’re disappointed in? If you’re pleased, then great. But if not, what one word would describe the way you’d like it to be?
  • Consider using that one word as a prayer for a while, repeating it throughout the day when God’s Spirit prompts you. It could be a significant first step to praying without ceasing.


Crazy Love - chapter 2

I like how this chapter comes right after the one about God's awesome & eternal otherness. From that, we turn to the brevity & mortality of ourselves, and get a sense of how small we are in comparison to Him. Not in a degrading "you are worth nothing" sense, but in an enlightening "wow, i am not actually the center of the universe" sense.

As we move onto the next chunk of James in our peacemaking series (!), how clearly these themes are beginning to echo all around us!

On the average day, we live caught up in ourselves. That is just so, SO true...sadly. All the suggestions in the chapter 1 post are great ways to get beyond this; to remember to stop belly-button-gazing and keep our eyes looking outwards.

Anxiety. Worry. Stress.
Many of us are so defined by these words. Have you ever considered that these "emotions" are direct violations of a command from God? I think we push these words around so much that it is almost expected that we are experiencing one or all of these at any given moment. Next time, instead of simply asking God to help your _______ (presentation, assignment, meeting, exam...) go well, maybe we can try asking instead for a deeper understanding of His sovereignty/power/love/holiness...and for His peace to wash out those fears.

mini-revelation/reminder while reading this chapter --
My life is not mine, but God's.

Doesn't that go against so much that is ingrained in us? It's my time, I do what I want, no one can or should tell me otherwise.

"Why are we so quick to forget about God? who do we think we are?"

Like the Jesus Storybook Bible (^^) so wonderfully illustrates...it's all about Christ. Not Moses! Not Isaiah! Not Paul! Not me! Not you!

What is your "2/5ths of a second" going to be about? making much of God? or yourself?

How can you bring glory to God while eating a sandwich during lunch break or studying at 12:04am?

Are you ready to die well?

Death has circled around me peripherally a lot this past week. 3 of my good friends had good friends suddenly taken away (climbing accident, illness, and one unknown cause but his body was found in the Mississippi River). All were in their 20s.

Death was not meant to be... but here it is, in this broken world, and it is an alarm clock to us who are still living.

Discussion Qs:
  • Those who do not believe in God also sense that it's important to live every day to the fullest. How does the Bible's teaching about this differ from the popular sayings, "Follow your dreams! Be all that you want to be; after all, you only live once."
  • Can you think of anyone you know personally who lives as if each day is his/her last? What is this person’s effect on people around him/her? Does this person stand out because of his/her lifestyle?