Publisher Thomas Nelson has announced a new program where bloggers are given the opportunity to receive free copies of select books in exchange for a 200+ word review. The review can be either good or bad, just honest. Full details of the program can be found at http://brb.thomasnelson.com.
Just finished Chuck Swindoll’s book on Elijah. This is book number five in his series “Great Lives from God’s Word”. I’m kind of a Swindoll fan as his radio program was a key part of forming my faith and beliefs in the early years of my Christian walk. Combine that with Elijah being a “kick butt, call fire down from heaven, Ultimate Fighter” kind of prophet and I was really looking forward to this one.
This particular book chronicles Elijah’s life from a slightly different perspective though. We may know about his strength through the Mt. Carmel Incident, we may know about his weakness from the Gentle Breeze Episode. However, what Swindoll does so well in this book is to take those episodes and the whole of Elijah’s life and look not at the heroism of Elijah, nor at his “human weakness”, but at the genuine humility of Elijah. He presents him in such a way that we see how easy it would be to get puffed up and full of pride at the mighty way God was using him – and the way others reacted to his very presence, and contrasts that to the way Elijah really responded. All the while tying in life applications.
From Elijah’s early years hiding out by a brook, waiting for God to provide him food via “crow delivery” as a boot camp in trusting God, to the very end when he was taken up in a fiery whirlwind, the process was a constant building and shaping. Each subsequent victory building on the faithfulness of the past. Many of the things that God called Elijah to do had less to do with the task at hand (rebuking pagan worshipping leaders for example) and more to do with forming the relationship between Lord and prophet. Which at the end of the day, is still the way it is now. God doesn’t “need” us to get something done. He uses us – if we are willing and obedient – and in that process shapes us to be who He really intends.
The book ends with a great summary of Elijah’s life and how, even though it was centuries ago, his responses and subsequent actions can be imitated today. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time to come.
Next stop: Max Lucado’s Fearless.
Finally, at long last, here is the review I have been promising? Or has it really been that long of wait? I suppose if your life depends on this article, it has been a long time, but if this article is just one of the many facets of your life, you’ve probably been a little more patient. I guess it all depends on your perspective.
Perspective. That is what the book The Noticer by Andy Andrews is about. It is interesting that when we look at a given situation, it appears completely different if it has happened to us than if we are looking at the same situation from the outside. Jones knows this. And he communicates that to a whole community. Starting with the protagonist in the story, Andy, who he found under a bridge crying about his lot in life, continuing all the way through grieving widows, couples about to divorce, you name it. In very simple straightforward terms, Jones is able to communicate – with love – some simple truths to help people view their circumstances differently and, most importantly of all, to use that new perspective to make new decisions.
To the successful-but twice divorced- sales person whose mind was filled with self-doubt and failure, always chasing the “hope of ever being happy”:
“I once saw a man’s hat get blown off his head. He chased it into the street and was run over and killed. Funny how a man can lose everything chasing nothing.”
From there Jones explained that for this salesman, worry is his enemy. However, he worries because he is smart. If he wasn’t intelligent, he would care-or worry. Worry is nothing more than misdirected creativity. Put that creative talent to use, and everything else will follow.
To the depressed widow who was just waiting, nothing more than that, just waiting to die:
“No matter your age, physical condition, financial situation, color gender, emotional state or belief…everything you do, every move you make, matters to all of us-and forever.” This after a long discussion on how one man rescued a poor child from some very despicable people, that then set up a chain of events that would later end in another person winning the Nobel Prize for saving the lives of over 2 Billion people.
That is what makes this such a good book. There is nothing earthshatteringly new. No “revolutionary secrets”. The main character is just able to take common sense wisdom, mixed with a dose of “lighten up, will ya?” and combine that with real world examples to give people actionable steps to improve their outlook and by nature, their actual situation. Ever spend a couple of hours on a porch with a WWII vet, staring at nothing, talking about nothing in particular, but somewhere he gave you a couple of “a-ha” moments of simple wisdom? This is like that.
It’s not a “polly-anna, feel-good, just think happy thoughts and good things will come” kind of book. Not at all. I hate those books. They are a lie.
This one is a “you are responsible for not only your actions, but your attitude. How you handle that responsibility WILL have tangible, real world effects on your life and the lives of those around you”.
I liked it. I recommend it. It manages to be encouraging without being condescending all in a short “one rainy Saturday” length of read.