About Brad Gartman

Doing my best to live more like Jesus and see others through his eyes. Finding incredible freedom in his audacious love for all people. #allmeansall

Transformation…Really?

In the Interlude after chapter 11, Luther says, “I want payment now. I want to know that my life will be better today.” On first glance this might seem a little selfish, but isn’t that what we all want to know. For the first followers of Jesus, they were committing their current lives to following him, not their after-lives. Following him was about today, not about tomorrow. They didn’t think about escaping to some place better, but rather how following him would make their current life better.

The difference is not that they didn’t think about their today, but rather how they thought about their today. Jesus was clear that his kingdom was a different kingdom. It wasn’t about houses or gold or accumulation. His kingdom was about people, it was about bringing life to people who were dead as they were living. Jesus was inviting his followers into a new life, a life that was better…a life that was full…a life that was abundant.

For many today, being a Christian is about where we are going, not where we are now. Heaven is the destination and life is just what we do to fill the time until we get there. Eventually, we will be transformed and receive our new uniform and be allowed to enter heaven. That’s what it means to be a Christian, but…

Following Jesus has never been about tomorrow. It wasn’t understood that way by the first followers and it shouldn’t be understood that way for us today. Following Jesus affords us perspective when things are crazy, hope when circumstances seem hopeless, grace where judgment resides, forgiveness where bitterness has taken root. Following Jesus bridges the sin gap that we have between us and God. Following Jesus produces in us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Following Jesus gives us a plumb line for truth in a culture that is losing its bearings regarding right and wrong. Following Jesus produces within us a compassion for those who are hurting and struggling around us. These are benefits, not for tomorrow, but for today.

What do you think? Do you ever find yourself stagnant today because you think it will all be better when we get to heaven?

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Finished!

Okay, I’ve finished the book, but I’m wondering where all of you are in the reading. I know Brent has finished, but I’m not sure if anyone else has. Let me know where you are. I’ll probably post up through the Interlude: A Werewolf’s Thoughts on Transformation between Chapters 11 and 12 next, so if you aren’t there yet…get there! There is some great stuff to discuss and I hope you guys found it too. More to come.

Spoiler Alert :: Thoughts Up to Chapter 6

If you haven’t read through the Interlude between Chapter 5 and Chapter 6, you won’t want to read this post. Stop now. Don’t read further. Pick up your book and read then come back.

guilt |gilt| noun
• a feeling of having done wrong or failed in an obligation: he remembered with sudden guilt the letter from his mother that he had not yet read.
guilt |gilt| verb [ with obj. ] informal
• make (someone) feel guilty, esp. in order to induce them to do something: Celeste had been guilted into going by her parents.

The great Apostle Paul wrote these words, “What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.” Romans 7:15 (MSG). Haven’t we all felt that way at one time or another…or maybe right now. We just don’t seem to do what we know we should. We can’t trust ourselves. In this way, we are all werewolves like Luther, right? There is one side of us that wants to do right and another side that fights to do things we don’t want to do. This leads to all kinds of guilt.

Why do you think people experience guilt? Is it “cultural programming”? Some people might argue that guilt can be a positive thing, but more often than not, it appears that guilt paralyzes people and doesn’t allow them to grow and mature. If we all make mistakes, and we all struggle with this “do what I don’t want to do” then why would we ever place guilt on someone else? Coping with this guilt is sometimes what paralyzes us, though. Maybe be deny it. Maybe we try to drink it away. Maybe we try to “look like a Christian” until we don’t feel it anymore. What are other coping mechanisms? Luther says, “That I could be something more than this, if only i could find the right path, if only I could find the right fuel for that flickering flame to make it more than a whispered candle’s breath.” We all are looking for that one thing that will ease our guilt, transform our lives.

He goes on to say, “It is the nature of the werewolf to be both man and wolf, and for many years I was satisfied – no, pleased – to be both man and wolf.” Remember a time in your life when you actually liked doing the wrong and the right? Is that even possible? How can you like being both the wolf and the man?

Read on my friends…I’ll post at the next interlude on another day.

Werewolves Next Door

When I began my years at seminary, we lived in an apartment complex. We were on the first floor and there was one above us. Back then, we were not as committed to neighborhood life as we are today, so we didn’t know our neighbors. Plus, we were young and active, so we weren’t really there much, except to sleep and study.

One night, we heard some loud banging noises above us that sounded like someone was playing football. We could hear muffled screams. We called the police and then went outside. The yelling was louder and we were now afraid for someone’s safety. The couple that lived above us didn’t have kids and he was a music leader at a church in town. They were televangelist-types. Always dressed to the nines, she with big hair and he in suits and cuff-links (not sure why I remember the cuff-links).

The police arrived and went upstairs. We went back in and could hear the mumbling conversation through the ceiling. The police didn’t take anyone away that night, but apparently the verbal abuse had lead to physical confrontation. SHE was beating him up!

Reading through the first few chapters this week, I couldn’t help but remember this event. As Matt’s neighbors fight and he walks over to find her leaving with their child, the man stands in the doorway watching his family leave him. According to her, he was a monster. In our neighborhoods, we just never know for sure what is behind closed doors until we reach out and reach into their lives. We may have monsters living next to us.

When we discover that there might be a werewolf next door, do we plan to kill, like Borut, or do we plan to rescue and recover like Culbetron. Maybe you have felt the same sort of compassion that Matt felt as the wolf stood on top of him.

So, are you enjoying the book yet? I am not a huge fan of monster movies, so I have to admit that it took me a while to jump in. I even went back and reread chapter one after reading chapter five. I now have an affinity for Luther and am intrigued by Lara. Let’s see how it goes. Thoughts?

Who’s In?

Okay, now that the book has been selected and the reading has begun, who is in? Who can I expect to be reading along with us this month.

I finished chapter one, “Who Are the People In Your Neighborhood?” last night and one thing jumped out at me as I was reading. I see people everyday in my neighborhood. I may not see werewolves and zombies, but I do see people that may not be what they appear to be at first glance. Sometimes, getting to know people can be a bit like approaching a zombie…or running from a werewolf.

So, comment below and let me know who is in!