Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: Grace is Greater: God’s Plan to Overcome Your Past, Redeem Your Pain and Rewrite Your Story by Kyle Idleman

Review: Grace is Greater: God’s Plan to Overcome Your Past, Redeem Your Pain and Rewrite Your Story
Kyle Idleman
Baker Books

What’s not to like about this book?  Not much in my opinion.  Idleman has a way of talking about grace that hits home in very practical ways.  Ways that we all live every day.  He tackles the hard stuff and tempers it with the grace of God.  A peak at the table of contents says as much.  Grace is Greater…Than Your Mistakes,  …Than  Your Hurts…Than Your Circumstance.  Within those
I found his discussions that touched on forgiveness some of the best I’ve read anywhere.  But, I thought this book was about grace. It is.  Grace and forgiveness are closely linked.  We know that, most of us anyway.  Just like we know that grace is greater.  Grace is something that just reading about it isn’t going to be enough. Idleman covers that ground, too, with some very good examples. 
Toward the end of the book I found a small paragraph or two that were particularly helpful to me.  He’s been discussing pain and how many people respond with “Everything happens for a reason”.  Idleman says, “Here’s how I’ve tried to encourage people to reframe that question.  Instead of asking ‘What’s the reason?’ we should ask ‘What is the purpose?’  Because I don’t know if there is always a reason, but I know God in his grace always has a purpose.”  Then he continues. “What’s the difference between ‘reason’ and ‘purpose’?  Reason looks for a because, but purpose focuses on the for.  Reason wants a logical explanation that will make sense out of something that has happened.  Purpose offers us a hope that whatever has happened God can work for good.” (181) He follows up on this distinction from Scripture passage from John 9 and Luke 13.  

Yes, I recommend this book to you.   In my opinion this is probably the best book on grace that I have read.  

I received this book from the publisher in return for a review.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: No Easy Jesus: How the Toughest Choices Lead to the Greatest Life by Jason Mitchell

Review: No Easy Jesus: How the Toughest Choices Lead to the Greatest Life
Jason Mitchell

Mitchell approaches one of the saddest parts of church life---boredom, disappointment, disillusionment and although he doesn’t use the word, dechurching.  He traces this situation that describes many more than will admit it aloud to accepting a belief in Jesus that had no relationship with life.  The here and now stuff we experience every day.  He says of his own life that he realized he had “settled for an ‘easy Jesus’…. a Jesus who didn’t ask to much of me…the promise of eternal life in heaven but conveniently left me alone in this life.”  (23-24).  After struggling with that revelation, he concluded that, “Yes, we need to believe in order to have faith.  But at some point our faith in Jesus must blossom into faithfulness to Jesus if we are interested in growing as followers of Jesus.” (25)  There’s the premise of this book.  The rest is the how-to stuff that leads to a life anything but boring, disappointing or disillusioned.  

I found the book engaging and easy to follow.  His illustrations are not fluff situations.  They are the hard stuff that will challenge and require more than a few platitudes.  So, if you’re ready to move from the bored, etc. group into something that is real this book might be one to read through.  Mitchell leads gently but firmly through his writing.  No guilt trip stuff here.  Simple, straightforward narrative that allows the reader to decide what if anything he desires to include in his own life.

There have been many books lately that approach this subject, but this one is just different enough to deserve some consideration.  Check it out and see what you think.  

I received this book from the publishers in return for a review.