Looking for help from YOU! – A Guest Post by Rev. Peter Benedict

Pete Benedict is a friend of the blog. He’s commented numerous times, I’ve used silly pictures of him on more than one occasion, and he home brews incredibly good beer. He’s also my pastor, although I’d like to point out that he became my pastor because he was my friend, and not the other way around. Pete’s got an exciting new project in the works, and he’d like your feedback on it. Let’s give him our attention, children, and there will be ice cream after the test.

The world has too many books. When I consider all the amazing writing I don’t have time to read, my heart is saddened… I hope that the afterlife gives us an eternity to catch up, because if not I’m never going to get a chance to take it all in.

 And yet I’m planning to write a book with a friend. On the face of it (and deeper!) this seems dumb. Self-published books are now being given away by the boatload, and I’m under no illusions about how many books I can sell. If I work hard, efficiently, and get lucky, I might come up with minimum wage, yay! As a pastor who works too many hours, as a father with three kids, as a guy who loves his free time spent home-brewing and disc golf and running and reading and video games… why would I want another job?

I guess the answer is: I don’t. But I want to do what’s right, and when I’m not sure what’s right, I want to do what seems good and fun and exciting. I’m a Christian hedonist… I love my life, I have a fairly ridiculous amount of joy in my life (I describe myself as “stupid happy” regularly), and it’s been my experience that joy comes when I follow God.

For the last four or five years I’ve been leading a group of random folks who get together monthly to discuss a theologically related book over beer. Theology Pub has been one of the sources of joy in my life. We get to interact with diverse authors, disagree with each other (or agree with each other) about Big Ideas, enjoy great beer, and return again the next month. When I’m there I can speak freely and have a blast, and I also learn a ton. We ask the same questions of every book (What was most compelling? What did you like best, and least? What does this book have to do with how we live as individuals and as a community today?).

When one of my friends from Theology Pub recently wrote a book (on public relations, his field) I was impressed. When he suggested we write one together, I thought the idea sounded like a good one for the alternate universe where I have time for that kind of thing. When he brought it up again and my heart kind of leapt in my chest, I realized… this could actually happen.

So, having learned the value of doing things well vs. doing things now, I suggested we each pray for 30 days about whether this is a good idea. During that 30 days I had an experience that felt like it was from God. I asked a friend, older and wiser and very focused in his work, what he thought of this crazy book-writing idea. I knew he’d shoot it down, because he’s always challenging me to focus my work and family life. Instead, he thought, looked me in the eye, and said: “You should do it.” As he did so, I felt like God put his hand down and spoke with him.

So now we’re figuring things out. Questions like: How do we want to do this together? What will the book be about (I could write more on that one… and will, some day soon)? How do we get started?

That last question is the reason you’re reading this post. We decided to get started by launching a blog, one where I’ll write weekly and invite anyone willing to write as well. We decided to start writing blog posts weekly, and while eventually they’ll be on our own site, for now they’ll be wherever anyone will publish them.

Our plan for the book is to call it something like “Reflections on Blue Ocean Faith,” and to center the book on how pointing our lives toward Jesus affects everything about how we interact with our culture and with one another. I’d like to have guest writers (like Dave Schmelzer, or Ryan Bauers, or Lauren Catlin, or Charles Park, or any other sucker willing to dive in!) contribute chapters, because there are a million people with great things to say.

Our plan for the blog is to call it “Blue Ocean Reflections,” pending confirmation that the Blue Ocean Faith movement isn’t changing their name any time soon. We’d like it to be a faith blog that fosters discussion and not only allows disagreement, but looks for it. I’d like to see posts from atheists, agnostics, young dudes, old ladies, pastors, and anyone else interested in having a discussion in a context that’s centered in a community that’s asking the question: How can we head toward Jesus?

Toward that end, I have a few questions for you, and I’ll follow up with anyone who wants to reply to any of them.

 1. Does the world need another book?

2. Is there anything worth saying any more?

3. What do you think of the idea that God speaks directly to us, as I’m assuming happened during my 30 days of prayer?

4. What’s important to you about how people of faith relate to our culture?+
5. Is there ANYTHING AT ALL UNDER THE SUN you’d like to say, or hear more about?

 Peace, WTFers. God is with you.

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About Daniel Mitchell

50% of "What the Faith?!?!", a blog about two skeptics who turned to God for no apparent reason. View all posts by Daniel Mitchell

14 responses to “Looking for help from YOU! – A Guest Post by Rev. Peter Benedict

  • Darren Beem

    Dear Peter:

    I love the ideas and the dialogue and how God seems to be taking part in it.

    1. Does the world need another book?
    Good question. My answer: Maybe. How do you like that for a lawyerly answer?! I think that world needs different kinds of books. I would like to see a book on Blue Ocean that isn’t just for pastors or pastors or training. I would like to see a Christian book that doesn’t just speak from the mountain top, but which also speaks from the valley. I would like to see a book that doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, because of course we Christians “need” to have all the answers.

    2. Is there anything worth saying any more?
    What does it mean to live out a Stage 4 faith? What does it mean to live out a centered set faith? What does it mean to share about Jesus in our post modern secular world? How can we talk about meaning with our friends and family in a way that points them to Jesus? What does a centered set devotional life look like? One of the great things about Stage 4 faith is it’s willingness to carry on a dialogue with people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. We are willing to listen. We don’t always agree, but we listen, we try to understand and we have empathy, in part because this is what Jesus did for us.

    While I loved Not Religious and have sorely missed it. (I keep bugging Dave to bring it back) One of my criticisms is also that sometimes the tone (more of the comments than the actual posts), offered a tone of smugness, as if to say, that we’ve figured this thing out, what is wrong with everyone else.

    3. What do you think of the idea that God speaks directly to us, as I’m assuming happened during my 30 days of prayer?
    I love it. With regards to the idea that God speaks directly to us, I believe that we should expect more. Too often, I am guilty of not expecting enough from my God.

    4. What’s important to you about how people of faith relate to our culture? We should be people who interact with our culture, who are unafraid of our culture, who freely discuss it and don’t ignore it, who can be blessed by it, who can redeem it, who can love it and who can occasionally call it out.

    I’m reminded by those people who see the picture of Jesus in a piece of toast. Yeah, I am really cynical and doubtful. Yet, part me also thinks we should be people who see Jesus in the world around us, including in our culture.

    5. Is there ANYTHING AT ALL UNDER THE SUN you’d like to say, or hear more about?

    I am someone who believes in that our faith should inform our choices. I think that environmentalism and sustainability are often ignored by people of faith. These topics are often ignored by people of faith, and yet I feel that these topics are profoundly linked to what it means for us to love our neighbors.

    I wish you all the best Peter and look forward to the new blog and to the book. You might not necessarily sell a ton of these, but if you could speak God’s voice to even just a few people, I think this would be wonderful. In any case, sign me up to buy one copy of your book.

    Blessings,
    Darren

    Blessings,

    Darren

    • Peter Benedict

      Thanks for the substantive reply, Darren, I am gladdened.

      Regarding #1, my future blog-mate noted you didn’t want folks with all the answers, and I said “yay” and high fived him… because that’s us! I’m clueless 20% of the time, give or take. Questions are better than answers most of the time in my world. If I’m stage 4, I’m a slow-learning, generally lucky to be here stage 4, not a wiser than other folks stage 4.

      The questions in #2 will come back again as blog posts. Thank you!

      I will go contemplate the next toast I make…

      At our church we opened the year with six weeks on God’s love of the environment, looking through the great stories of the Bible at how God loves the world He made and plans to redeem it. It was a freakin’ awesome series to be a part of, and the fresh look at the Bible showed me all kinds of new stuff that I never heard in texts I’ve read a ton of times. Like Adam is lonely in Genesis 2 so God makes all the animals. Why didn’t I see that? Animals, according to the Bible, are God’s first answer to our loneliness… that’s amazing!

      So I guess I’m saying the environment and sustainability have been freshly re-imagined and raised in priority in my life.

      Someday I’ll ask you to write on the topic for a post on some blog somewhere… for now it’ll have to be in comments.

      Peace to you & yours, Darren. Where do you live?

      • Darren Beem

        Dear Peter:

        Thank you for the awesome reply. I’m looking forward to see this project unfold itself and will pray for you guys.

        We’re in Boston. Please consider us supporters and fans!

        Darren

  • Psalm Terry

    Hi Pete! It’s me Psalm.

    1. Does the world need another book? PT: That’s like asking my son if he needs to draw another picture of Darth Vader.

    2. Is there anything worth saying any more? PT: Yes. Untold beauties to reveal and ways of expressing them.

    3. What do you think of the idea that God speaks directly to us, as I’m assuming happened during my 30 days of prayer? PT: This question is – for me – still a mystery. I’m both hopeful and skeptical.

    4. What’s important to you about how people of faith relate to our culture? PT: The most important questions are these – is the story true and is the person of faith being authentic and present?
    5. Is there ANYTHING AT ALL UNDER THE SUN you’d like to say, or hear more about? PT: Can just anyone be “stupid happy” or that the unique way joy presents itself in you?

    • Peter Benedict

      Psalm, dude it’s been so long! I hope life is treating you well.

      #5 is a big deal. I am tired of Christians who take their experience of God, find passages to explain it, and then tell everyone else that their experience of God should/could/must be the same. I don’t want to do that to anyone.

      So my answer is: Perhaps anyone can find happiness, but no one’s will look exactly like mine. I believe joy grows out of a life of following God’s leading int he moment, but I’m not blind or dumb… many people I love have been following God for a long time, with joy happening much less often than in my life.

      I was depressed from age 9-23ish. I didn’t believe anyone could be happy (for a long time I thought Lara, who had been servant team leader of IVCF, had to be a fake because she smiled so much). When I got baptised in a swimming pool in Flagstaff I came out of the water, laughed, and I’ve been happy since. So basically that’s a miracle. Does everyone get the same kind of miracles? I don’t think so.

      I’ll pray you get some added joy in your life today.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • KimberlyH

    1. Does the world need another book?
    I like Psalm’s answer about asking his son about drawing another picture.

    2. Is there anything worth saying any more?
    Is anyone experiencing anything that someone else might find interesting to read about?

    3. What do you think of the idea that God speaks directly to us, as I’m assuming happened during my 30 days of prayer?
    I’ve experienced what has seemed like God speaking to me when I’ve asked for guidance. Sometimes it’s felt very ordinary, like it could have been me, not God, but I’ve also had some more extraordinary experiences that seem very much not myself, like they could be insight from God.

    4. What’s important to you about how people of faith relate to our culture?That’s probably a longer discussion than I would have time to write in the comment field, but thinking about it briefly, the word connectedness, comes to mind.

    5. Is there ANYTHING AT ALL UNDER THE SUN you’d like to say, or hear more about?
    Every human experience is unique. I find myself very drawn to hear peoples’ stories of what has happened in their lives. Personal stories often more readily capture my attention, speak to my heart, help me relate to others, and give me insight into the spectrum of human experience. That’s what I would like to read more about.

    • Peter Benedict

      Thank you for responding, Kimberly. Regarding #4 and your answer to it, I’ll share a story.

      I attended a friend’s father’s funeral. One of his brothers eulogized thusly: “John (the deceased) always felt we should embrace the secular, reject the profane, and strive for the divine.” The key there for me is “embrace the secular.” I love the culture around me. I love life in this world. I look forward to an afterlife of whatever God sees fit, but I’d happily delay that afterlife for a thousand years or so because life here is pretty great.

      I reflected on the eulogy for some time. I’m a member of a church movement known as the Vineyard, and it’s my contention that the denomination most similar to us theologically is the Assemblies of God. The two denominations feel ASTOUNDINGLY different however… their movement tends to reject the secular as well as the profane. The difference is tremendous, even though we have similar lenses for God.

      Since that funeral I’ve been pretty passionate about embracing the culture around us.

      What do you mean when you say connectedness? Would you be willing to explain more?

  • murmurr

    Hey Pete. Good start. I’ll be following.

  • Veronica M. Surges (@jurisdoctorette)

    Awww, F it. I was all set to reply but then I found myself agreeing with everything that “Darren Beem” said up there – literally everything.

    Addendum: I’d really like to read, say, and hear more about forgiveness of unforgiveable sins in our community. There’s an underbelly of society that nobody talks about, but is the silent spectre that haunts us all – the criminals, the sex offenders, the drug addicts, the high recidivism rates, and how Christian forgiveness implicates that.

    Maybe that’s something more for me to write about, being that not many people find that field too sexy :p

    Xoxo!

  • Peter Benedict

    Happy Tuesday, Veronica. I hope life is treating you & yours exceptionally well.

    I find what you’re writing about incredibly… well, sexy isn’t the right word, but you’ve met me, so you know sexy isn’t what I’m after. I look forward to hearing more, to having you write for a blog some day, and to learning & interacting around these issues.

    I care deeply for my friends who’ve done the exact stuff I’ve done, but got caught… and whose lives are crippled as a result. Let’s figure out ways to bring greater freedom to our structures. God can do amazing stuff, well beyond our hopes. How cool would it be if we could see some change in the world around these issues?

  • Gay Narron

    I was just saying how I need another way to hear about what you think since I have such limited opportunity to know what you’re thinking 🙂

    1. There can never be too many books.

    2. I don’t know if there any truly new thoughts to be spoken, but there are certainly new ways to say things, interpret things, add our own life experience to explain things.

    3. I definitely think God speaks to us directly…if I make the space to listen.

    4. Faith and culture…I’d like for people of faith to relate to our culture with a lot less fear. I think in the absence of fear there’d be less judgement and more opportunity for understanding and relationship.

    5. I like Veronica’s topics a lot.

    Happy blogging, Pete.

    • Peter Benedict

      Happy blogging indeed… I thought I might be getting the much-loved Ambien post out of this one, but apparently I’m not so lucky this time 🙂 Thanks for replying, and you too will be writing for a blog some day…

  • Lauren Catlin

    Wow, I like being on that list of writers.

    There were many people, great writers included, who believed there was no point in writing any more books after Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” Just imagine how much poorer the world would be if they’d really all stopped writing.

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