One of the great things about being at the Ecclesia Network last week was the challenging teaching from Dallas Willard.  He really pushed me on some of my thinking and caused me to think outside of my normal boxes.  This was refreshing!

One of the biggest critiques I have of many of the pastors conferences out there these days is that its just the same people saying the same things.  I guess this isn’t really mean to call out those who are on the speaking circuit.  I’m more critical of those who attend every conference on the circuit.

While I like to be critical of the speaking/conferences I realized again last week that my reading patterns can be accused of the same things. I can get into a rut where I am reading things that merely reinforce my already held beliefs rather than reading men and women who challenge me and stimulate me to think beyond my current framework.

So, I’m trying to read outside the normal “missional” context more.  With that in mind, I finally picked up Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison.  I’ve been meaning to read this for a while now and, while I am only 30 pages in, I am so glad I did.

One of my favorite quotes so far…

“We are certainly not Christ; we are not called to redeem the world by our own deeds and sufferings, and we need not try to assume such an impossible burden. We are not lords, but instruments in the hands of the Lord of history; and we can share in other people’s sufferings only to a very limited degree. We are not Christ, but if we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ’s large-heartedness by acting with responsibility and in freedom when the hour of danger comes, and by showing a real sympathy that springs, not from fear, but from the liberating and redeeming love of Christ for all who suffer.  Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. The Christian is called to sympathy and action, not in the first place by his own sufferings, but by the sufferings of his brethren, for whose sake Christ suffered.”  (14)

He also has some great stuff on trust and community,

“Nothing we despise in the other man is entirely absent from ourselves. We often expect from others more than we are willing to do ourselves… The only profitable relationship to others – and especially to our weaker brethren – is one of love, and that means the will to hold fellowship with them” (10)

“When we trust, we have learned to put our very lives in the hands of others…we now know that only such confidence, which is always a venture, though a glad and positive venture, enables us really to live and work…trust will always be one of the greatest, rarest, and happiest blessings of our life in community, though it can emerge only on the dark background of a necessary mistrust. We have never learned to trust a scoundrel an inch, but we give ourselves to the trustworthy without reserve.” (12)

Good stuff! Love the Hoff!