Some years ago, I, Publius Jr, ran across a Christian TV show called H20: A Journey of Faith. It was on Trinity Broadcast Network which was on the low-power station broadcast from the IDS Tower in Mpls K25IA. It was a series of lessons on the subject of faith in Jesus taught by Kyle Idleman.
He was not wearing a robe, standing on a pulpit, frothing and saying Alleluia in a weird voice or pounding his fist, or singing with a fully choreographed dancing choir behind him. He was sitting on a city bench in some city with a generous amount of sun talking through the camera to me. He was wearing blue jeans and a light blue-gray cotton collared shirt that he might have bought at Wal-Mart.
This particular lesson was in a dramatized fashion about a woman who was in distress. Kyle Idleman narrated this story and occasionally the story would pop back to Kyle on the city bench. Later in the story the woman’s car plunged into a pond.
At the end of the episode it talked about how one could purchase the episodes and others in the series.
After this series ended a new series started called, Not a Fan. For some reason I wasn’t able to watch much of it so I went to the HarMar Barnes & Noble in Roseville, MN and purchased the book.
It was a tough read for me. It was introspective. There are 3 parts to it (with a must read prologue):
1. Fan or Follower? An Honest Diagnosis
2. An invitation to follow (the unedited version)
3. Following Jesus–wherever, whenever, whatever
The 2nd part was a tough slog for me but after I turned the page to part 3 I seemed more open to the message there.
The information is of a serious tone but it is easier to digest because it is as much a journey for Kyle as it is to the reader because he pokes fun at himself often in footnotes because he grew up in church as most of us have but he was more tortured in what is known as a PK (Preacher’s Kid). He talks about “sword drills”*, “quote offs”** and other things a young Baptist child might be exposed to.
*a challenge to see who can turn to a Scripture reference first
**”a quote off is similar to a dance off except you quote Bible verses” as it states on page 46.
[see Kyle I can do this too]
Starting at the end of chapter there are Not a Fan stories of real people. If you watch the series you’ll recognize these stories.
Sidebar: after a couple of chapters in part 1 you’ll start to question your commitment in just about every organization you belong to (even your politics). I couldn’t have written “Are you a B.I.G. R Voter,”^ before reading Not a Fan.
^ Publius Jr’s political timeline and the 3 political types of a party article (lost but will be updated soon).
Fans are enthusiastic admirers. On Page 24 Kyle says a fan is that guy at a football game that takes his shirt off paints his chest in team colors and cheers for his team. He knows everything about the players but not personally. He never breaks a sweat, never takes a hit on the field. There is no sacrifice he has to make. If the team starts to have losing seasons he might find a different team to cheer for.
On Page 25
“And I think Jesus has a lot of fans these days. Fans who cheer for him when things are going well, but who walk away when it’s a difficult season. Fans who sit in the stands cheering, but they know nothing of the sacrifice and pain of the field. Fans of Jesus who know all about him, but they don’t know him.”
Kyle Idleman has also written up to this point, Not a Fan, Gods at War, AHA!, and The End of Me. He was the executive producer for the independent movie “The Song.” Kyle wrote for the movie and presented the lessons in, “The Easter Experience,” and he presented the lessons in the movie, “The Christmas Experience.”
Gods at War looks at idolatry in our lives. He pokes fun at himself saying it’s odd that a person with a last name like his is talking about idolatry. This was an easier read for me than Not a Fan. Though I did look at the table of contents and jump to a topic that was on my mind at the time. I went back to read the whole book in order (with the must read introduction). Ancient Idolatry was about creating something out of wood or metal then worshipping it. Modern Idolatry happens to gifts that God has given us that we have elevated to an unnatural height to satisfy something missing in our lives.
The most moving Easter or Resurrection Day movies I’ve seen, puts you as a witness to Jesus’ death and later his resurrection on the First Day of the week (which proves Sunday is not the real sabbath). While moving the Passion of the Christ with Jim Caviziel as Jesus does not explain why Jesus’ death was necessary or other key points of the story–like how Peter’s and Judas’ denial of Christ were handled in divergent ways.
Gives a whole new perspective on the Nativity story. Kyle teaches as the story happens around him, or just out of focus in the background.