Book Reviews

SideNotes

  • Christmas Grace

I was slated this month to present a review on Mick Mooney’s new book, “An Outsider’s View to the Gospel”. It is an excellent book I can tell you. But, to give it full meaning and justice, it has been postponed to January due to a setback.Mick Mooney

Setbacks are part of life. Sometimes manmade, sometimes unavoidable, but something we always have to deal with and find a way to work around. I hate very few things in life but setbacks are tough for me. Are they for you? It is discouraging to have to wait for something to get back on track. Jamming too many things in a day over a period of time can create your own impediment in progress. And when you perform that way too often, it becomes clear you have to make some changes. That is a good thing though, just hard to get to. You realize it is progress when you begin making personal adjustments each time that stay with you for future plans and projects. But my setback today is different.

I am not too discouraged with this one. This setback brings forth the kind of heart-filled, God-knows-what-he’s-doing kind of grace period. This interruption was his merciful, powerful hand in delivering my son back to life last week – stepping in and interrupting life to save it. And if you will be so kind, I will linger in the hollow of his hand a while longer in thanks for what he has done. I will sit back and enjoy my family as you will too and enjoy their laughter, stories, busyness and joy while the wrapping paper is flying on Christmas morning. May God bless you with his profound Christmas Grace this season!


  • The Gospel

An excerpt from Mick Mooney’s book An Outsider’s Guide To The Gospel  – one of ten modern parables that start each chapter. Mick’s writings can also be found at Huffington Post. @CarmelsNotes’ review of Mick’s book scheduled for December. Stop back for it. But first, a parable of our times:

     “Once upon a time, a man became a father of a beautiful baby boy. He was overjoyed. He loved his child more than his own life.

When the boy became a teenager, the father encouraged him to take his studies seriously, for they would help him greatly in the future. But the son did not listen to his father; instead, he wasted his time on foolish activities with his friends. But his father did not force him to study, he allowed him to make his own choices, both good and bad.
The son ended up dropping out of school and slowly he began to experiment with drugs. The father again talked to him openly about this. He told him it was dangerous, that he could become addicted, and he should not continue experimenting with drugs. Again, the son did not listen. The father again did not force him to stop, respecting his son’s choices. The experimenting with drugs did indeed become an addiction, and the father offered to pay for his son to go to rehab, but his son refused. He did not want his father’s help, and the father, though heartbroken, respected his son’s wishes.  The son then got involved with a woman who physically and emotionally abused him. His father tried to explain to his son he did not have to live in such a destructive relationship, but his son again did not listen. Again, the father respected his son’s choice, though he knew it to be the wrong choice.
     One night, the father received a phone call. It was his son. He was standing on the city bridge, and informed his father that he was about to jump. That he had enough of this world, and was about to kill himself. The father pleaded for the son to wait until he came to the bridge so that he could at least speak to him one last time, face to face. The son agreed.
     A few minutes later the father arrived. His son was standing on the edge, with tears in his eyes. The father also began to weep. He walked slowly to his son, and the son said to him, “I’ve decided, I’m going to jump. This is my choice. I want to die.”
     While the son was still saying these words, the father, who was now within reaching distance, suddenly lunged at his son and grabbed him tightly. The son, realizing what the father was doing, began to scream, “Leave me alone. I have decided! I have decided to do this!”
     But the father held him tightly and with force began to drag his son away from the edge of the bridge.
     Again, his son screamed at him, “What are you doing? This is my choice! This is my choice, and I choose to jump!” But the father screamed back, “And this is where I refuse to let you choose! I love you. I love you more than my own life, and I cannot stand here and let you choose this. If I must overpower your will now, then so be it, but I swear, I love you too much to let you jump because that is what you choose.
     Listen to me, my son―I choose now, do you understand? I choose now to save you, even if you choose to jump. I love you, and I’m not letting you do this! I’ll hold you from here to eternity, for I am your father, your father who loves you more than my own life, and I will never let you go!” †

  • The Edge

“They seek the edges, because it is the edges that ultimately lead us. A wise person does not fear the edges and fringes, but studies them. Indeed, he or she is often in them, working to make change happen.”
~ Laurie Beth Jones, Jesus in Blue Jeans: A Practical Guide to Everyday Spirituality

I recently re-read this wonderful book, Jesus in Blue Jeans by Laurie Beth Jones and I am currently reading her book Jesus, CEO.  Laurie’s quote above points to the very heart of change; a glimpse into how God does the kind of shaping and transforming in His people for a purpose. I love that we work together with God on this. While it would be great to have life go our way all the time the truth is without the tough stuff of life we don’t learn to lean on God and trust Him all the way. Seeking God at the edge helps us develop a closer relationship with Him, increases our faith and greater still magnifies the glory of God.

Call it the edge, fringe, margin or the chasm you meet in a crisis… either way, that’s ultimately the sweet spot for change. Sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it? Do you naturally seek “the edge” or run from it when life throws a curve ball?

It takes trust and faith to get to the other side of the edge of the crisis.

Trust the promise of Jesus:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1  Notice He doesn’t say how much trust or faith here. But the gospels remind us “faith as little as a mustard seed… (Matthew 17:20)”  is enough for God to do so much in the midst of the muck!

 How have you met the challenges in your life? Better yet, how were you changed afterwards? Let me know and bless others in the process! ♥†

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