Why I Choose to Not Burn The Shack Up or Down ~ Tonya Brown

Why I Choose to Not Burn The Shack Up or Down ~ Tonya Brown




As a writer, I know how difficult it is to write from my Christian worldview—from a faith that is ever growing in truth and grace.

As a Christian, I know how hard we can be on one another.

As a Caring for the Heart coach, I know how damaging emotional pain is to our ability to give and receive love, even the perfect love of our Triune God. When someone touches our pain, we react.

Those three perspectives motivate my thoughts.

In deciding whether to enter the fray over the merits/demerits of William Paul Young’s novel The Shack and the recently released movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CL0yUbSS5Eg, I wondered if anything I had to say could enhance the discussion. I don’t like controversy, but I do enjoy an amicable debate. Most of what I’ve seen written surrounding the movie’s release qualifies as highly contentious in my book—though I admit my meter tends to run on the sensitive side.

I almost kept silent on this one. The ruckus is just too loud for my liking. I don’t like name calling. I don’t want to be called names. So can we agree to not do that here?

I’ve read Young’s book more than once and went to see the movie on opening weekend. I’ve read many of the reviews written by the pros and my Facebook friends. I’d say if I took a poll, it’s about a 50/50 split. Both sides adamant they are right.

But then I heard Paul Young tell his own story. Those who know me know I love to hear personal stories and love them even more if the storyteller includes God’s activity in the story. I don’t ordinarily watch TBN, but tuned in when I saw that Paul Young would be telling the story behind The Shack. https://www.tbn.org/programs/restoring-shack/episodes

As Mr. Young spoke, I tried to understand his heart. I listened to him relate his story of childhood sexual abuse and spiritual abuse as a son of missionaries. My Caring for the Heart training and experience heightens my awareness of how what happened to us as children influences our relationships as adults—with our spouse, our children, and especially our God.

Young acknowledged being the victim as a child; I can respect that. But he didn’t stop there. He continued by confessing his own sinful behavior as an adult and the explanation of his process of repentance and reconciliation. He was clear to point out that he had been the perpetrator; I respect that. I listened to his heart yearning for redemption of the pain from his past.

I will not condemn this man, his work of fiction, or the resulting movie. What I see is a man who is trying to explore difficult topics, sharing with others how God met him where he was and loved him through the hard places. I can’t cast the first stone, because I walk this same path.

Sometimes failing. Other times succeeding. Nonetheless, walking with my God who is forever faithful in helping His children unlearn the lies we have believed and teaching us His truth.

It is my prayer that the LORD will use the message of The Shack to start dialogues with Him in the midst. He is perfectly capable of correcting any misconceptions. Mine. Yours. We don’t have to defend God, but we do need to allow space for Him to speak. And for us to listen.

I want to be a part of the healing conversations. How about you? Can we agree to not use words as weapons?

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Created to be Counter Cultural ~ Tonya Brown

Created to be Counter Cultural ~ Tonya Brown

My mother taught me there is a place for everything and everything belongs in its place—something she picked up along the way from Benjamin Franklin. My mother is an organizer, and I’ve learned to follow her example since nothing annoys me more than wasting time looking for something that wasn’t returned to where it belongs.

But then I read Jesus’ prayer in John’s gospel:

Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. John 17:15-16 CEV

If my loving mother taught me to put things in their place, how could a loving God put us where we don’t belong? It doesn’t make sense.

I decided to go back to Genesis and look at His original plan.

The Lord made a garden in a place called Eden, which was in the east, and he put the man there. Genesis 2:8 CEV

Four words intrigued me, so I went to www.blueletterbible.org and looked up the original Hebrew.

  1. garden (H1588) protected enclosure
  2. Eden (H5731) equals pleasure
  3. east (H6924) that which is before
  4. put (H7760) decided to appoint

If you read the verse with these inserted, it would read something like this:

The lord made a protected enclosure in a place called pleasure, which was before, and he decided to appoint the man there.

Now let’s look at Jesus’ prayer in that context. What exactly is the world? The original Greek (G2889) is kosmos which means the whole circle of earthly goods. It gets interesting when you look at its root word. The noun kosmos is thought to originate from the base verb komizo. The definition is fascinating: to recover what was previously yours. An action verb.

Math isn’t my thing, but if I add these together, the picture I start to see is God never intended for us to be in this circle of earthly goods. He placed mankind in an enclosed place of pleasure. When we left that enclosure, He activated a plan to recover us from that world. We don’t belong to this world, we belong to Him.

Jesus didn’t belong here either, but He came to our current dwelling place to recover what belongs to Him. He leaves us here—asking for our protection—because our purpose is the same as His. He leaves us here for an appointed time to help recover those who are lost—return them to where they belong.

God created humans to long for where we belong. Those who follow Christ know our way home. Not of this culture, but counter to this culture. Not following the pleasures of this world, but yearning for the pleasure that is promised when we return to the God who appointed us.

Recommended Reading: Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller

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The Challenges of Being Counter-Cultural

The Challenges of Being Counter-Cultural

The Challenges of Being Counter-Cultural


5 Ways to Engage While Being Different by Diana Asaad


Over 2 billion people world-wide label themselves Christians. Yet, conventional Christianity is a concept that is becoming transformed into an unrecognizable hybrid.


Would the early church identify themselves along with the Christians of today? I don’t believe so.


Modern Christianity is getting a bad rap. Hypocrisy. Judgmental. Intolerant. But where did that reputation come from? Are we as a group of believers responsible for at least some of that reputation?


So, how did we get here? And more importantly, what is being a Christian supposed to look like?


Jesus’ words are the best starting point. John 17:16 ESV states “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” Just as Jesus was in the world but not of it, we are called to be also. And while not being of this world, we (as Jesus is) are called into the world, to be the light the world is so desperate for.


5 Ways to Effectively Engage as Christians


  1. Transparency


It is OK not to have all the answers. The searching world is looking for relatable witnesses of love, who are not afraid to be wrong or not have all the answers. Showing that you are human yet covered by grace is a magnetic force for those in pursuit of truth.


  1. Truth


Stand on truth even if it is not popular. Know the truth. Dig into God’s word deeper and find that truth for yourself through the pages of the Bible. Jesus never compromised the truth. He was, however, a master at communicating truth. Let’s follow His example.



  1. Tact


Jesus always knew how to reach people wherever they fell on the spectrum of seeking. To the Pharisee know-it-all, he spoke sternly, and to the hurting adulterous gently. Knowing those we wish to engage with shows that they matter to you, because they matter to God. There is no one-size-fits-all way in the form of communicating truth. Be civil. Be sensitive. Be empathetic.


  1. Tenacity


Jesus did not give up on people. He has patience and we should too. Crowds followed him for hours and days and many of them still didn’t understand His divinity. Understand that the process takes time. For many you are only a small part of the faith journey. Have courage and don’t give up. God didn’t give up on you.


  1. Thirst


Do your encounters with others cause them to crave more? The crowds could not get enough of Jesus. Do we leave the same impression on those we engage with? Do they thirst for the next time they can meet with you?



Would you describe yourself as counter-cultural? Why or why not?

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counterculture- (noun) 1.an alternative culture, deliberately at variance with the social norm



I have been a rule follower all of my life. The years of trying to hide the secret of my childhood victimization made me a pro at blending in. Years after I had experienced deep healing from this experience, I still find myself fading back into anonymity, and not because of my shame but because of pride and laziness. It’s so much easier to go with the flow of societal current rather than swim against it.


I’ve remained silent while another was gossiped about and I’ve looked away from the homeless person begging at the intersection. I have chosen my own wants over someone else’s need too many times to count. I am selfish and I do not consistently love well…I love when it’s convenient and suits me. I tell myself that I do better than many, but really, I love a whole lot like every other person on the planet… Poorly.



And yet scripture tells me I am Christ’s ambassador. It says others will know that I belong to Jesus by my love and speaks of love being the greatest commandment. I know the verses that tell of loves virtues…


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.     1 Corinthians 13:4-8


1 Corinthians 13 love is COUNTERCULTURAL! If we are to love well, our love must reflect these qualities. But how? I have a hunch it begins with getting a grip on the Lord’s great love for US!


We Love Because He First Loved Us. 1 John 4:19


When we aren’t feeling loved it is impossible to love others. We will fall into the trap of “loving” only when we feel like it, when all is well with our lives, families and schedules. But, this type of loving is the world’s flavor…Conditional.


Counter Cultural love stands out in a crowd it is unconditional.


I need to make the choice daily to receive Christ’s love for me – even in my imperfect state. Will you let Jesus love you?


Will you surrender the lies and the sin and the secrets that have kept you from believing that YOU, dear one, are now and have always been infinitely loved by a very good and loving heavenly Father? This counter cultural love is for you too!


Caring For The Woman’s Heart is here to help you uncover the things that may be blocking you from accepting and living in this great love. If you, like me, want to love well, it starts with embracing God’s love for YOU first.


If you do, you will find that the love that Jesus wants us to share with the world is totally within your reach…because this counter cultural love resides within YOU.



Tap in and Love Well!





PS: Check out this song by Chris Tomlin…Good Good Father




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