"Blue Like Jazz"
by Donald Miller
Published by Thomas Nelson
Chapter 2 - Problems
the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of
evil but rather have us wasting time.
a flaw in the human condition - we have to be taught to be good.
The problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a
thing that lives in my chest.
Nothing is going to happen in the Congo until you and I figure out
what is wrong with the person in the mirror.
Chapter 3 - Magic
The story of the SEALS trying to rescue hostages. The hostages were
not certain that the SEALS were authentic. The SEALS could be their
captors trying to trick the hostages. The SEAL sat next to a hostage
and put his arms around him.
The decision (to follow Jesus) was simple once I asked myself:
Is Jesus the Son of God, are we being held captive in a world run
by Satan, a world filled with brokenness, and do I believe Jesus can
rescue me from this condition?
Chapter 4 - Shifts
And I found Jesus very disturbing, very straightforward. He wasn't
diplomatic, and yet I felt like if I met Him, He would really like
I can't explain how freeing that was, to realize that if I met
Jesus, He would like me. I never felt like that about some of the
Christians on the radio. I always thought if I met those people they
would yell at me. But it wasn't like that with Jesus. There were
people He loved and people He got really mad at, and I kept
identifying with the people He loved, which was really good.
because they were all the broken people, you know, the kind of
people who are tired of life and want to be done with it.
Chapter 5 - Faith
she wanted God to make sense. He doesn't. He will make no more sense
to me than I will make sense to an ant.
I read through the book of Matthew this evening. This Jesus of yours
is either a madman or the Son of God. Somewhere in the middle of Mark
I realized He was the Son of God. I suppose that makes me a
Chapter 6 - Redemption
I tried to go one week without thinking a negative thought about
another human being, and I couldn't do it. Before I tried that
experiment, I thought I was a nice person, but after trying it, I
realized I thought bad things about people all day long, and that,
like Tony says, my desire was to love darkness.
Chapter 7 - Grace
Our behavior will not be changed long with self-discipline, but fall
in love and a human will accomplish what he never thought possible.
by accepting God's love for us, we fall in love with Him, and only
then do we have the fuel we need to obey.
Chapter 8 - Gods
I realized in an instant that I desired false Gods because Jesus
wouldn't jump through my hoops, and I realized...my faith was about
image and ego, not about practicing spirituality.
Chapter 9 - Change
what a great responsibility it is to be human. I am a human because
God made me. I experience suffering and temptation because mankind
chose to follow Satan. God is reaching out to me to rescue me. I am
learning to trust Him, learning to live by His precepts that I might
Chapter 10 - Belief
Mother Teresa believed Jesus when He said everybody was priceless.
Peter and Paul changed the world by starting small churches in
Satan wants us to believe meaningless things for meaningless
He (a friend) actually believes that when Jesus says feed the poor,
He means you should do this directly.
I should not live like a politician, but like a Christian.
A friend of mine, a young pastor who recently started a church,
talks to me from time to time about the new face of the church in
America - about the postmodern church. skip a few sentences here. I
don't think any church has ever been relevant to culture, to the
human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His
Chapter 11 - Confession
The correct place to share our faith was from a place of humility
and love, not from a desire for power.
The apology tent (on a college campus)
We will apologize for the Crusades, we will apologize for
neglecting the poor and the lonely, we will ask them to forgive us,
and we will tell them that in our selfishness, we have misrepresented
Jesus on this campus. We will tell people who come into the booth
that Jesus loves them.
Both Clinton and Bush claimed to be followers of Jesus. Anybody who
wants to get their way says that Jesus supports their view. But that
isn't the fault of Jesus.
The message is that man sinned against God and God gave the world
over to man, and that if somebody wanted to be rescued out of that,
if somebody for instance finds it all very empty, that Christ will
rescue them if they want; that if they ask forgiveness for being a
part of that rebellion then God will forgive them.
Chapter 12 - Church
These people never want to just talk; they always have an agenda.
Here are the things I didn't like about the churches I went to:
1. I felt like people were trying to sell me Jesus.
2. They seemed to be parrots of the Republican Party.
3. The War metaphor.
Love people just to love them. If the subject of church comes up,
converse about it.
What I love about Imago-Dei (a local church)
1. Spiritual - pray and fast. Don't know what to do about this or
that? Pray and let God tell you.
2. Art - there are a lot of artists at a lot of churches who don't
have an outlet.
4. Authenticity - I am comfortable saying anything I like. I don't
have to pretend to be godly in order for people to listen.
A step-by-step formula for how you, too, can go to church without
1. Pray that God will show you a church filled with people who
share your interests and values.
2. Go to the church God shows you.
3. Don't hold grudges against any other churches. God loves those
churches almost as much as He loves yours.
Chapter 13 - Romance
I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of
God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading
for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love.
Chapter 14 - Alone
When you live on your own for a long time, however, your personality
changes because you go so much into yourself you lose the ability to
be social, to understand what is and isn't normal behavior. Other
people keep our souls alive, just like food and water does with our
Jesus wants us interacting.
Loneliness is something that came with the fall.
If loving people is a bit of heaven then certainly isolation is a
bit of hell.
Chapter 15 - Community
When I walked into the Christian section of a bookstore, the message
was clear: Faith is something you do alone. (wrong)
believes that life is a play about himself, that all other
characters are only acting minor roles in a story that centers around
him. I was in every scene. I was everywhere.
Living in community made me realize one of my faults: I was addicted
I couldn't have conversations that lasted more than ten minutes.
The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this:
Live is a story about me.
the great danger of a harsh word, the power of unlove to deteriorate
a person's heart and spirit...and how as representatives of the grace
and love of God, our communication should be seasoned with love and
If we are not willing to wake up in the morning and die to
ourselves, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether or not we are
really following Jesus.
Chapter 16 - Money
You should be tithing. That is not your money. That is God's money.
God does not want us to be sloppy with our finances.
The fruit of obedience... When we do what God wants us to do, we are
blessed, we are spiritually healthy. God wants us to give a portion
of our money to His work on earth. By setting aside money from every
check, you are trusting God to provide. He wants you to get over that
fear - that fear of trusting Him. It is a scary place, but that is
where you have to go as a follower of Christ. There are times when my
wife and I don't have enough money to cover our bills, but we know
the first bill, the first payment we make, is to the church. That is
most important. If the other bills get neglected, then we need to
watch how we are spending money. And there are times when we have
found ourselves in that situation. But it works out.
We are getting good at trusting God, and we are getting good at
The best part of tithing is what it has done to my relationship with
Chapter 17 - Worship
Too much of our time is spent trying to chart God on a grid, and too
little time is spent allowing our hearts to feel awe.
There are things you cannot understand, and you must learn to live
with this. Not only must you learn to live with this, you must learn
to enjoy this.
At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed and I know the chances
of any of our theology being exactly right are a million to one, I
need to know that God has things figured out, that if my math is
wrong we are still going to be okay. And wonder is that feeling we
get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we
want God to follow.
I don't think there is any better worship than wonder.
Chapter 18 - Love
MANY LITTLE NOTES IN THIS CHAPTER ABOUT HOW UN-LOVE THE CHURCH AND
Because I gre up in the safe cocoon of big-Christianity, I came to
believe that anything outside the church was filled with darkness and
Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that there were,
outside the church, people so purely lovely as the ones I met in the
My Christian communities had always had little unwritten social
ethics like don't cuss and don't support Democrats and don't ask
tough questions about the Bible.
The community of hippies was more forgiving.
(in the church) you were loved in word, but there was, without
question, a social commodity that was being withheld from you until
you shaped up.
1. If they were bad and rich, they were evil.
2. If they were bad and poor, they were charity.
3. Christianity was always right.
4. we were always looking down on everybody else.
The problem with Christian culture is we think of love as a
commodity. We use it like money.
With love, we withheld affirmation from the people who did not
agree with us, but we lavishly financed the ones who did.
I was guilty of using love like money, withholding it to get
somebody to be who I wanted them to be.
God had never withheld love to teach me a lesson.
Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them.
If a person senses that you do not like them, that you do not
approve of their existence, then your religion and your political
ideas will all seem wrong to them. If they sense that you like them,
then they are open to what you have to say.
After I repented...the difference was with me. I was happy.
We are supposed to speak truth in love.
If both conversations are not true, God is not involved in the
exchange, we are on our own, and on our own we will lead people
The Bible says that if you talk to somebody with your mouth, and
your heart does not love them...you are smashing two cymbals
together. You are only annoying everybody around you.
now when I go to meet somebody, I pray that God will help me feel
His love for them. I ask God to make it so both conversations, the
one from the mouth and the one from the heart, are true.
Chapter 19 - Love
And so I have come to understand that strength, inner strength,
comes from receiving love as much as it comes from giving it. I think
apart from the idea that I am a sinner and God forgives me, this is
the greatest lesson I have ever learned. When you get it, it changes
you. My friend Julie from Seattle told me that the main prayer she
prays for her husband is that he will be able to receive love. And
this is the prayer I pray for all my friends because it is the key to
happiness. God's love will never change us if we don't accept it.
Chapter 20 - Jesus
I think Christian spirituality is like jazz music. I think loving
Jesus is something you feel. I think it is something very difficult
to get on paper. But it is no less real, no less meaningful, no less
The first generation out of slavery invented jazz music. It is a
music birthed out of freedom. And that is the closest thing I know to
Christian spirituality. A music birthed out of freedom. Everybody
sings their song the way they feel it, everybody closes their eyes
and lifts up their hands.