Scary Close – Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller

Standard

“The strongest character in a story isn’t the hero, it’s the guide.” – p16

“Sometimes the story we’re telling the world isn’t half as endearing as the one that lives inside us.” – p22

I first discovered Donald Miller in college. I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t sure about my Christian faith anymore. There was a disconnect between the Christians I read about in the Bible and the Christians I met everyday. Tired of the hypocrisy, I found honesty in Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. Someone was finally writing from a perspective that felt authentic. God used Miller’s words to remind me of the freedom we have in Christ; He used Donald Miller to bring me back to Him.

_240_360_Book.1491.cover

“The problem is this: those of us who are never satisfied with our accomplishments secretly believe nobody will love us unless we’re perfect.” – p44

Throughout the years, Don and I have checked in, though he doesn’t know it. His book on growing up without a father, Father Fiction, helped me to heal wounds of the past. Father Fiction encouraged me to be a dad who is real with my son. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years taught me the importance of living the story God is writing with me. Don always seems to come along and speak into my life when I need it most.

“Love can’t be earned, it can only be given. And it can only be exchanged by people who are completely true with each other.”

Scary Close chronicles Don’s journey to define and live out relationships that are healthy. His relationships with family, career, and even his thought life began to change as he cast aside the masks that prevented him from finding true intimacy. The book is set against the backdrop of Don dating his now wife, Betsy. His courtship of her, witnessing positive relationship examples in her family, only served to spur his change. The season before marriage sheds light on things before held in darkness and forces one to deal with the past. Reading Scary Close is to watch Don transform into the man God has always called him to be. Not perfect, no, but healthy and more whole.

God used Scary Close to remind me of the importance of being honest and open with others, especially my wife. He also reminded me of why I love her so much, of all of the neat parts that make up who she is. As Don puts it, “Intimacy means we are independently together.” Relationships can easily become unhealthy. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective, such as reading a book like Scary Close, to make one see things for what they are.

I enjoyed my time with Scary Close. As Bob Goff said in the forward, “This book will help you sort the junk mail you’ve been bringing to your relationships.” Definitely pick up Scary Close if you have a chance.

Quotes to share:

“I’ll add this to the mix too: I believe God is a fan of people connecting and I think the enemy of God is a fan of people breaking off into paranoid tribes. And I think all the clanging pots and pans in the kitchen to scare people from the territory we feel compelled to defend is playing into the hands of dark forces. I think a lot of the shame-based religious and political methodology has more to do with keeping people contained than with setting them free. And I’m no fan of it.” – 124

“…kids with parents who are honest about their shortcomings seem to do better in life.” – p157

“I remember growing up in church hearing about how there was a hole in our hearts that could only be filled by Jesus, but later in life when I became a Jesus guy myself I continued to experience the longing. He simply wasn’t doing it. The experience was so frustrating I almost walked away from faith.

Later, though, I read in the Bible about how there will be a wedding in heaven and how, someday, we will be reunited with God. The Bible paints a beautiful picture of a lion laying down with a lamb, of all our tears being wiped away, of a mediator creating peace and a King ruling with wisdom and kindness. The language is scattered and often vague, but there’s no question something in the souls of men will be healed and perhaps even made complete once we are united with God and not a second before. What differentiates true Christianity from the pulp many people buy into is that Jesus never offers that completion here on earth. He only asks us to trust him and follow him to the metaphorical wedding we will experience in heaven.” – p214

I was given a copy of this book by BookLook Bloggers. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Off Campus – Theology Gaming Podcast #65: The Worst Games

Standard

Last week, I had the privilege of sitting down with Zach, Ted, and Elijah to talk about some of the worst games ever. Expectations, marketing, and questionable game design elements fueled our discussion. I encourage you to tune in if only to listen to Ted sing a small portion of a Paula Abdul song. Yes, really.

Listen to the podcast here

What are some of the worst games you’ve played?

Radiance Game Dev Podcast Review

Standard

podcast350-300x300

Back in the beginning of January, my friend Josh set out with fellow adventurers and created the Radiance Podcast. The format of the podcast is simple:

  • Life check-in + a brief discussion on what games everyone has been playing
  • A featured guest interview that explores faith, life, and game development.
  • Last but not least, an exploration of the featured game of the week. The guys dissect design elements and seek out lessons Christian game developers can learn/apply.

The Good

Perhaps I am partial because Josh is my friend, but I think he does a great job keeping things on track and offers a unique perspective. In a sea of developers, he provides the listener with a lifeline into the world of design.

For their first test season, the Radiance Podcast has featured a solid line up of guests. I have appreciated hearing their individual life stories and different expressions of faith.

The Bad

The podcast is edited in a way that does not sound natural. Laughs are cut off, potential dead air space does not exist, etc. There is a feeling of heavy production and a lack of organic sound.

Personal Preference Alert! I wish the music/interlude music sounded more game-like and less stuffy/church-like.

The End

The meat of this podcast, the interviews with the developers, are where this show shines. If it were me, I would take out the beginning “what are you playing” segment and just dive on in. For example: The GameChurch Podcast does a fantastic job of focusing on the interview portion and less on the small talk.

Bottom Line: I think Radiance Podcast needs a second season to get comfortable and find the podcast groove. The audience is out there, Radiance Podcast just needs more time to find and connect with them.

As of now, Radiance Podcast has completed it’s first season. You can check them out on their website or on iTunes. Make sure to give them feedback either way. The second season of the show hangs in the balance based on feedback received.

Cultivate Your Thoughts

Standard

Our reaction to change can either be positive or negative, depending on the mindset we choose to cultivate.

My church is in the midst of a building project that includes a brand new two-story children’s wing. Breaking ground this Spring, we have had to merge the nursery and children’s department together. This will allow us to demolish the current nursery and begin work on the new building. This is positive change.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to serve with the kids. During one of the lull periods, I found myself in a brief conversation with one of the volunteers.

“Those kids are so loud.” said the volunteer with disdain.

Now, I do not know this person at all, but I detected a consistent negative thread to our conversation. So, I changed the tone.

“Have you seen the new virtual tour video on the church website? I uploaded it yesterday.”

I went on to talk about how exciting it is that we are moving forward with the building project. I’m excited about where we are heading and I wanted to share that enthusiasm. Doing so ended our conversation on a positive note.

Funny how we get upset over temporary things and fail to look at the big picture. We can make the choice, with God’s strength, to view our current situations through a healthy lens. Yes, I’m preaching to myself.

Real Men Cry

Standard

My son is in kindergarten. Founts of almighty wisdom are usually dropped on the playground. I can’t imagine what he is learning, but last night he gave me a glimpse into what he is processing.

After a bit of wrestling on the couch, he looked at me and said, “crying means that you are weak.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“Oh, so-and-so at school says that.”

I quickly told my son that real men cry, that crying is not a weakness. Heck, I told him, even I cry.

Our conversation ended just about as quickly as it had began. I just wanted to make sure that my son knows that crying does not unmake a man.

**Just as a side note, on this blog, I am not going to refer to my son by his name. I would prefer to protect it.

Masks

Standard

I used to write with some frequency. The more people who came to read my blog, especially those who I am friends with in physical space, the more I felt like I couldn’t be myself. I became careful, almost cautious of what I was sharing. Part of me felt like I had to put up a front, a mask if you will, to project an image I thought people wanted to read and see. I began to write less and less. Dropping any personal vulnerability and focusing more on general items. This alarmed me. Writing is my outlet, a window to an inner world of thoughts rarely spoken.

“How can we be loved if we are always in hiding?” – Donald Miller, Scary Close (p140)

I have always been insecure with who God made me to be. Perhaps this is a fault. I have issues accepting God’s grace and forgiveness, even though I know that they are real. I find it easier to mentally beat myself up than accept something I cannot grasp. Wrestling with faith is not easy but necessary.

This is where I am today. I want to write. Be myself. Embrace who Christ has created and called me to be. Not worrying what others think, what their perception is of me. I am created with a purpose and a unique voice. I am tired of the negative thinking. I am tired of fear. Today I want to be free.

Blame the parents, if you can

Standard

Got up and went to the dentist this morning. Have had a tooth that has been bothering me that I wanted to get checked out. Turns out there was nothing wrong with the tooth in question. The dentist did tell me to quit clenching my teeth down, while at work, and that I should check into consulting an orthodontist. I then told the dentist that it was all my parents fault. That they should have paid for me to have braces. Of course I was joking, not sure the dentist took it that way. Had to explain myself. Oh well.

2.22.15weather

Sitting here listening to the rain hit the windows. Kind of a dreary day outside. Has rained non-stop. Wouldn’t surprise me if we have gotten 3-4 inches by the time this storm system has blown through.

Work has been slow lately. We currently have a bunch of projects on the horizon (April/May-ish) but a lot of prep work in the meantime. Trying to busy myself with lower tier office items that I neglect when we are running in full swing.

Not a bad day over all. How are things with you?