Jason Dahlman
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Book discussion:


Believe it or not, it’s Friday again and that means it’s time to brew a cup of coffee or tea and sit down in your favorite chair and get ready for another…


Friday Book Discussion!


Welcome, everybody! Thanks for joining me. This week we read chapter 3: “Selfie Sticks, Spectacles, and Sepulchers” from Recapturing the Wonder by Mike Cosper.


Summary: I think I can best summarize the content of this chapter with a story from my own life. Years ago I was walking past the flower department of a grocery store during the Christmas season and a row of poinsettias caught my eye. I paused to have a closer look and noticed that they had been spray-painted blue and gold sparkles had been glued on. It struck me as ironic that someone decided that God hadn’t done a good enough job of making poinsettias beautiful so they decided to give him a hand and add paint, glue and sparkles.

Mike Cosper’s point in this chapter is that sometimes in our spiritual life we’re tempted to add sparkles and paint because ordinary spirituality just isn’t good enough. We seek the fireworks of an ecstatic spiritual experience instead of the “mundane” experience of daily Scripture reading, prayer, serving others, etc. 

If we train ourselves to expect spectacular things every time we engage God or his creation then we’ll either be disappointed a lot or we’ll have to keep raising the bar in order to artificially create spiritual experiences that elicit an emotional reaction from us.

This is no way to experience God. It’s artificial and unsustainable. God is present in his word by his Spirit and when we read it, he is there with us. That’s a fact and it doesn’t need to be accompanied by any special effects. God is present in his creation and when we pay attention to it, he speaks to us. In fact, the heavens declare his glory. And we don’t need to add any glitter to the stars in order to make them shine brighter. We just need to quietly look and listen with the eyes of faith.   


Commentary: I think the message of this chapter can protect us from spiritual disillusionment. It’s exhausting to try to experience an emotional high every time we sing a worship song or open our Bibles. And at a certain point it begins to feel artificial. You start to wonder, “Is this God speaking to me or is this just me trying to convince myself that God is speaking?” 

Rather than trying to turn the “mundane” into the “spectacular”, we should learn to recognize that the mundane is not really mundane at all. Stare at a dragonfly wing for long enough and you’ll start to see an amazing spiral pattern in the cells. Look at it from the right angle and you’ll see it glow iridescent. Suddenly you’ll find yourself in awe of the Creator of dragonflies…no paint, glue or sparkles needed. 

Likewise, take a slow walk through a passage of Scripture and don’t try to add anything at all. Don’t even try to add your own feelings. Just listen to words and see what happens. Nothing? That’s okay. You don’t have to force anything. But eventually, without having to manufacture anything on your own, I bet you’ll start to see the wonder and beauty and the majesty of the living and breathing Word of God.    


Application: This chapter gives us a good opportunity to examine our spiritual expectations. Emotions are a gift from God but we need to be careful not to get the cart before the horse. We need to be careful not to manipulate our emotions in order to have an experience of God. Rather, we need to learn to slow down and mindfully pay attention to God’s Word and his creation without bringing expectations or demands and then allow our experience of God to flow out of that. And remember, if you don’t have an emotional response it doesn’t mean that you didn’t encounter God. It just means that he’s not obligated to conform himself to our expectations.  


How about you? Did you like this chapter? Did you get the same things out of it that I did? What did you see that I missed?


Have a blessed weekend. 

I’ll see you on the Lord’s Day!

Pastor Jason