Sunday, January 21, 2007

First Book Review

One of my 2007 resolutions is to read more. Now granted, I will not be able to match Gretchen's record, and I'm not even going to try. I just want to budget my time better and to take advantage of those moments when both kids are sleeping and I don't know what to do with myself!

I asked for a couple of books for Christmas, and my sis-in-law, Jennifer, gave me both. I chose first to read "Humility, True Greatness" by C.J. Mahaney, because it looked like a quick read! Granted, it probably would have been if not for all the interruptions that we mothers routinely experience. It is only 170 (little) pages, but packed with great truths.

First, Mahaney makes the case for humility. Jumping off from the text of Isaiah 66:2, which says, "This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word", he makes the case that true humility gets God's attention.

He then gives practical advice on how to develop humility, focusing on the greatness of God and His work for us on the cross to show us how deeply dependant we are.
I don't want to take away from you reading the book yourself, so I will highlight two aspects that really stuck out to me and one small disagreement.

He gives specific ways that we can dwell upon our need for God. One he mentions is sleep. What a great picture of our dependence on God. He states it this way:

"Many of us have never considered our sleep from God's perspective, though we profess to love and serve Him; our practice and perspective regarding sleep are no different from that of non-Christians. This needs to change.

"A Christian, informed and inspired by Scripture, views the cessation of work each day, the limitation God places upon work each day, and the laying down to sleep each night, as altogether a gift from God. A gift so graciously provided in His lavish generosity. And those who neglect this gift will inevitably suffer consequences. . .

"The fact is, God could have created us without a need for sleep. But He chose to build this need within us, and there's a spiritual purpose for it. Each night, as I confront my need again for sleep, I'm reminded that I'm a dependent creature. I am not self-sufficient. I am not the Creator. There is only One who "will neither slumber or sleep" (Psalm 121:4), and I am not that One."

As I read that passage one night before turning off the light to sleep, I thanked God for His gift of sleep and cherished it's rejuvenating effects.

He also highlights the necessity of "identifying evidences of grace" in others. What an act of humility to stop looking at ourselves and to give God the glory for how He is working in others. Mahaney uses the example of Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, and how he could have blasted them from here to eternity for the sin in their midst. Now he did deal with it, but only after he says, "I give thanks to my God always for you . . . because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus." (I Corinthians 1:4) When I fail to see God's work in another believer's life, and I only consistently see what they need to change, then I fail to be humble. Plain and simple.

I needed that point. It hit a little too close to home.

As a caveat, I do want to point out one small disagreement that I have with a point he makes. While speaking about responding humbly to trials, the author uses Habakkuk as an illustration of one who questions God and then learns to trust Him, even during a major trial. He then states,

"What promise has gone unfulfilled in your life so far? Marriage? Pregnancy? Healing? A particular promotion or position? Salvation for a loved one? Will you, like Habakkuk, quietly and humbly wait for God's fulfillment of His promise?" (p.145)

The application he makes is great. We should wait quietly and humbly before God for everything, but God never promises to give us a marriage, a child, or a job promotion. I just don't agree with the comparison of God's promises to Habakkuk and our desires for those things. That's all I could find to disagree with, so take it with a grain of salt. The book is still great and humility is something we all could cultivate more.

On a side note, Mahaney's writing style is very simple and conversational. So if you've struggled through an intensely deep and difficult book and want to know if it will be the same with this one, rest assured that it is truly an easy, yet important read.


Hindto said...

This is an absolute favorite book of mine. Acutally anything by the Mahaney family has been great. But this was good;tough. I love it when I see/hear of others reading meaty, Christ-centered books!

Praise God!

mitchells2000 said...

Wow- the sleep thing really hit home for me (as I sit here commenting at 12:05AM). I struggle with a lot of problems either going to sleep, sleeping without strange dreams/nightmares, and with waking up several times a night. One of my favorite verses to quote when trying to sleep is (paraphrased) "I will lay me down and sleep, for the Lord alone maketh me to dwell in safety."

Thanks for the review... I'll have to check this one out one day.

Hindto said...

Hey! Heather informed me I got to you from her BLOG! She also said you visited our church recently, where Josh Waltz is youth pastor? He is our youth pastor? Im confused if you live in Wisconsin, that you visited our church? Do you live in Michigan? I'd love to hook up if you are? Let me know!

Gretchen said...

I'm so glad you liked it. Josh read it last year after he heard C.J Mahaney speak at "Together for the Gospel" here in Louisville. It is on the docket for February for me, but if I finish the 2 books I'm working on now, it will be earlier!

LOVE that perspective on sleep. I often wondered why God made things to need to rest. But that is true, it makes us stand more in awe of His Self-sufficiency.

I am working at the Lifeway Store on Campus (beginning tomorrow) and I am totally hoping we get some cool author events! C. J. Mahaney came last fall, so who knows?

mitchells2000 said...

no, no, no... Donette didn't visit YOUR church, Hindto! GRETCHEN was visiting a church here in KY, where Josh Waltz was also visiting the same night! Does that clear up the confusion?