As I write this...it's late, I can't sleep, I've probably taken too much Nyquil, and have been stuck inside in my jammies with a "flu bug" for one too many days.
There's my disclaimer. :)
My e-mail, voice mail, and FB messages have been filled the past few days with messages wondering what my thoughts are about Rob Bell's latest book, "Love Wins".
Have you heard of this new book?? :)
Perhaps you are wondering..."Why would they ask you, Cindy?"
Good question. I wonder too. :)
Although, if you know my story, you know that Rob, his family, and Mars Hill have played very significant roles in my journey.
Rob's dear grandma Eileen was my mentor for many years. I would visit Eileen at her apartment and share tea with her on Tuesday's. Eileen would give me books to read, pray over me, and allow me to ask any question that was on my mind. And boy did I have some "real doosies" back then ~ I'd only been a Christian for less than 2 years! :)
Eileen was also the first one I called when I heard my fiance David had been in an accident.
Eileen shared later "she just knew", and quickly called her grandson "Robby" (my pastor, Rob Bell Jr.) ~ and Rob and his dear wife Kristen arrived at my parents home immediately after I received the devestating, life-shattering news that David had been killed. It was an excruciating night I will never, ever, ever forget.
Rob delievered such Truth and hope to David's loved ones (including me and Jake) at David's funeral, just three sorrow-filled days later. Rob also shared the Gospel at David's funeral, where my dad (a former atheist/agnostic) accepted Christ as his Savior and Lord. (Woo Hoo!)
And it was Rob who encouraged me to step out in faith and share my testimony with others. Who knew how God would use my story for His Kingdom purposes?! :)
I was also blessed with the amazing opportunity to serve on the lead staff at Mars Hill Bible Church for almost 6 years. I sat in many a meeting with Rob and others as we "wrestled" with Truth, prayed like crazy, and sought God wholeheartedly. My "Mars Hill years" are filled with rich memories, God sized tasks & challenges, wonderful life-long friendships, and awesome "answered prayer" stories.
Not too mention, Mars Hill is where I met my handsome husband John and later celebrated our marriage, officiated by Rob, with the wedding of a lifetime! Yippee! :)
When I left my full-time staff role at Mars Hill (after the birth of our baby #4), John and I would often have people ask really "digging" questions to figure out "what really happened".
For example, one time I remember our family being invited over to anothers for hamburgers. As soon as the dinner began, as I am mid-bite, the dad begins, "So why did you really leave Mars Hill? What does Rob really think about so and so....? Give us the inside scoop."
It was so disappointing. There was no inside scoop. No dirt. I had a young family. I resigned. I thank God for the years I served there, and continue to bless Mars Hill and the work they are doing.
No dirt, sorry.
Fast forward a few years, and Rob writes a new book. All of a sudden, it feels like old days. "Cindy, what do you really think? Does Rob really believe so and so.... What's the inside scoop?"
Sorry, friends. No dirt. No inside scoop. I haven't even read the book.
In the mean time, as I read all of these articles/tweets/blogs/bashing, I can't help but think of the words of the Apostle John...
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has even seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. ~1 John 4:7, 11-12
Regardless of my thoughts when I read the book ~ my prayer is that I would respond like Jesus. May I stand for love and Truth, pray about what to say/how to say it/where to say it/when to keep quiet, and may others see Jesus through me!
There's a lost and hurting world out there (as we all well know). My hope is that the world would be drawn to Jesus through this whole "Love Wins debate", rather than repulsed at Christianity based on how Christ followers respond when they agree/disagree with a brother/sister in Christ.
May they see the love of Christ through us....
....and may it begin with me.
Keeping my eyes focused Up, my mind fixed on Truth, and my mouth zipped until I read the book ~
P.S. I'm linking up today with Jen and friends at Soli Deo Gloria. Be sure to check out this amazing sisterhood of women! :)