Wednesday, September 19, 2012
TRACING GOD'S LOVE STORY
Nichole’s latest venture is her first book LOVE STORY-THE HAND THAT HOLDS US FROM THE GARDEN TO THE GATES (2012, Worthy Publishing). In it she brings to life the stories of various Bible characters including Adam and Eve, David, Mary, the thief on the cross, and Paul. Nordeman hesitates to call them heroes. She points out convincingly that they were human with fears and doubts like the rest of us. What I highly value about this book is that Nichole is very transparent about her doubts, questions, and insecurities when it comes to her own faith. She is so vulnerable that it is refreshing. Especially at a time when I am examining my own faith.
Nichole recounts how when she was early on a music minister at a United Methodist church, she was asked by her fellow pastoral staff to find some songs to lead that were gender neutral when it came to God being referenced: “I must not have done much to conceal the panic on my face because she quickly (and with great compassion) explained their reasoning. It was not because they had some wishy-washy lukewarm center from which their liturgy had sprung. It wasn’t because they had a liberal agenda and sought to undermine the whole of evangelical rhetoric, and it most especially wasn’t because they were women who hated men.” You will have to read the book to find out how this episode ended!
Nichole spends a good deal of time writing about our fear of being spiritually lukewarm. The Message has God saying of those who are neither hot or cold: “You make me want to vomit” in Revelation 3:16. She has some concerns however: “From this passage, and others like it, an ideology is born. A brand of ‘take no prisoners’ faith emerges. A battle cry goes up, uniting large numbers of people who, arms linked, move across the landscape of culture and politics and art. Putting stakes in the ground. Congratulating each other on our Sold Outness. Everything black or white. Hot or cold. No danger of lukewarm allegations. Nobody’s gonna make God vomit on our watch.” Nichole admits she has been guilty of: “Taking firm stands and hard lines on things that I don’t feel firmly in my heart of hearts, all out of the deep fear of sounding lukewarm.” This makes me not a ‘sold-out Christian’ but one who’s selling out. In a panic that somehow these many gray places in my faith will be sniffed out by the Wishy-Washy Patrol.” These are thoughts that I as a born-again believer can certainly relate to. There seems to be a group mentality in many of today’s evangelical Christian circles. No longer is it good enough to believe Jesus is the only Way to Heaven. We have now added all kinds of other moral stances that must be held on issues that I don’t think are going to matter greatly in the grand scheme of things. Being a clone is valued more than diversity of opinion on issues of our day now. And many are leaving or won’t enter our churches because of it.
Nichole daringly reflects on the fact that because Paul was a Pharisee while he was Saul, even after his conversion he may have had a tendency to be a stickler when it comes to laying down rules. She allows for some of his humanness to have crept into his Scriptural writings. Many evangelicals will take issue with this. I, find it to be, a refreshingly honest take on interpreting the Scriptures. Nichole’s writings on the Second Coming are also particularly well done. She admits when Christ returns: “I’ll probably be looking for the really bad guys to drag out of the bushes by their ankles, hoping to create a diversion. I will look left and right and left again. Hiding like a hippo behind a telephone pole. Wishing for an invisibility cloak.”
LOVE STORY is at the end of the day, really the story of God’s love for the entire human race. I recommend this book to those who have been Christians for some time and are finding their faith becoming stale and suffocated by doctrine and dogma to the point where God’s voice has become very distant, and to those people who are not believers but are interested in what God says about them, not what the church says about them. God loves you! You don’t have to jump through hoops to impress Him, and you most certainly are loved just the way you are. I’m rating LOVE STORY 90%. For more info visit www.lovestorybook.com and www.nicholenordeman.com.