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.

Neighbors and Wise Men – Sacred Encounters in a Portland Pub and Other Unexpected Places by Tony Kriz

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The Book of Matthew opens with the genealogy of Jesus. Jesus’ lineage included a prostitute, Rahab, and even an adulterer/murderer, David. The lineage of Christ was in no way full of perfect human beings and yet God was able to use each and every person to fulfill His purpose.

The core thought found throughout Tony Kritz’s Neighbors and Wise Men is that God often uses people of other faiths, cultures, and locations to speak to us; That God can use an old Albanian Muslim woman or even patrons of a pub to help heal and restore the soul. Tony constantly contrasts the church teachings he grew up with (sinners were only to be evangelized not socialized with) versus the truths God revealed to him.

Tony Kritz writes in the same appealing style that Donald Miller uses. Throughout Neighbors and Wise Men, I felt like I was on a personal journey with Tony. From the truth of Reed College not being anti-Christian all the way to the thoughts of how ingrained nationalism is in the American church, I was there with him. From Chapter 19 on, I felt like the tone of the book shifted. What had been a literary road trip with Tony suddenly became a series of random personal and political thoughts. In short, I felt like I was now being preached to. I did not like this change of tone.

The overarching truth that God uses people of different faiths, cultures, and in different locations resonated with me. I love that God is not confined to the walls of a church and that He can exist even in a pub.

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