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

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“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.

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“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.

A Response to Donald Miller: Who is Teaching You?

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Dear Don,
Back in college, God used your book Blue Like Jazz to help me battle through the rampant hypocrisy and legalism I was experiencing on a daily basis. Other Christians were causing me to want to walk away from Christianity and Christ himself due to their actions. Your book showed me that a Christian can indeed smoke a pipe and drink without fear of condemnation. You showed me that a Christian can be human. I thank you for that.

Father Fiction

I don’t know if you know yet but good books for a young dad are hard to find. Your book Father Fiction could be the best book about being a dad I have ever read. By the time I finished reading it, my perspective on fatherhood was forever changed. I now look at my son as God looks at him. Thank you once more.

As you can see, you have been a big influence in my life. Which is why your blog post entitled “I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere.” surprised me. You see, I don’t have a problem with your learning style nor the fact that you do not connect with God by singing. I can understand that.

“It’s just that I don’t experience that intimacy in a traditional worship service. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of sermons I actually remember. So to be brutally honest, I don’t learn much about God hearing a sermon and I don’t connect with him by singing songs to him.”

“Interestingly, I learn a great deal by teaching, which is interesting to me.”

What troubles me is that you say that you learn through teaching. Don, if you only learn by teaching others, who is teaching you? Who are you allowing to influence you spiritually on a weekly basis?

I am not naive enough to say that I know you, even though you have been there for me when I have most needed someone to be authentic. But I am concerned, Don. No man is an island. I think it is great that you have a company and people who surround you. But again, if you are only teaching others, who is teaching you?

You have made yourself an island with full anti-aircraft weapons at ready.

Your concerned friend and brother in Christ,
Bryan

Edit: Jonathan Leeman wrote a very heartfelt response to you, Don. I especially liked the part where he talks about Tom and the body of Christ.

Surf Report – 10/23/09

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Surf ReportWelcome to a Friday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God :

While on a Spanish trip to Puebla, Mexico, during my college years, I happened to borrow Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz from a fellow traveler.  At the time, I remember being at a point in my life where Christianity felt stale to me. Too many many people claiming to have this revolutionary Jesus and yet no one living like Him. I felt alone in a sea of hypocrisy and blandness.  Blue Like Jazz, came along at a time when I needed a breath of fresh air. The book showed me a world in which being a Christian isn’t about legalism but about truly living for God in a real way. I suddenly didn’t feel as alone as I had before.

I am unsure if Miller’s new book will speak to me (or you, dear readers) in the same way. Below you will find the first thirty pages of Donald Miller’s new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

.: Life :


.: Gaming :

Like the ebb and flow of the tides, gaming seems to come and go in my life with regularity. Lately I’ve been playing the following:

World of Warcraft -I have recently hit level 52 with my druid Night Elf, Arclight (Stormscale server). I am also currently looking for a good casual guild. Any suggestions?

Dragon Quest IV – I am now in the final chapter of the game. This chapter is said to be the longest…and it is so far. No joke.

Dungeon Hunter – Currently on the last boss. Game has been pretty good thus far. Although I am questioning, now that I am at the end of the game, how one justifies spending $8 for a few short hours of gameplay. Gaming on the iDevice is like riding a roller coaster, short and expensive (admission ticket wise).

Wave SplinterThat is it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!