Living Close to God (When You're Not Good at It): A Spiritual Life That Takes You Deeper
Like most books about Christianity
This book was kind of a slow read. It had some good content (how to stay close to God throughout the day) but kind of lacked at keeping my attention. My mind wandered a few times, and I was hoping that something would jump out and pull me back, but sadly it was just an average book. There was one of two things I picked up as reminders to talk to God, cover your ignition key slot, but other than that, I didn't get a lot out of it.
September 16, 2012
Learn How to Add Special Moments with God.
Living Close to God (When You're Not Good At It) is a good introductory book for those who want to get past religion and find God. The first part of the book describes the author's journey starting with his own lack of spiritually. Then it engages you to try what he did. Using Psalm 23 as his foundation, he simply asks that you pause, wait, and slow down as you say the words as God would say them to you and you back to Him. It was the beginning of his spiritual awakening. I felt it was powerfully moving also. He suggested taking 30 minutes to go through this exercise; I found I had taken an hour and most of it was in tears.
The author suggests not to spend quantity time with the Lord but highly quality time. This is not to replace prayer, devotions, or scripture reading if these are part of your routine, although I suspect it will enrich them. It is about connecting with God even if you do not have a devotional routine. It is also about giving God a loving hug without asking for anything for just a few moments at a time. Just saying "I love you" in a still and quieted mind a few times a day. It is a spiritual-life changing book.
That said, it was the last chapter, "Getting to Know Christ Can Be Dangerous," that grabbed me because it is both illogical and profoundly true:
"Many believers who have come to a deeper relationship with Christ get into trouble. There are reasons for this.
First, they get into trouble with other Christians, even friends, who no longer understand them.
Second, they get into trouble with the church, because a deeper relationship with Christ conflicts with church as it is practiced in their generation.
Third, they may cause trouble, which in turn means they get into trouble.
Most Christians do not want to accept that growing closer to Christ would put them at odds with the church....It is even possible you might lose friends and become a byword among believers."
In the last part of the book is a seven-session small group study guide and also a seven-week personal guide. Both basically question the reader and reiterate the information. Some may find these parts of the book redundant and some might find them very helpful in supporting the few and very simple principles presented. This book is definitely worthwhile to give you ideas about how and when to take special moments with the Lord and just love Him.
I received this book from WaterBrook Press in exchange for my honest review.
July 11, 2012
Almost Too Simplistic!
I feel close to God (most of the time); I'm aware of and thankful for His presence. I know some Christians don't feel that way. Some feel God has ignored them; others feel that God doesn't love them. (Both are not true, by the way, but they're still valid feelings.) The reason I chose to review this book was that I always want to know God more and want to help others feel close to God. I was somewhat disappointed at this book since I feel like I didn't really learn anything new. However, I think the book can still be helpful for others, especially new believers and/or those who are not daily/regularly praying and reading God's Word.
The message in the book seems redundant at times. The author probably did that on purpose to keep reminding readers. I appreciate the author's honesty and simple approach to developing a closer relationship with God. Almost too simplistic :)! But it's a good place to start. Any amount of time you spend with God is better than none! The author suggests that readers think of the Lord whenever they see certain things that could have spiritual meanings in the Bible such as bread, food, drink, etc. Neat idea!
I found it a little strange that the author tells readers to set aside time in the morning (before getting out of bed) with God but not to ask God for anything. I personally spend time talking to God before getting out of bed every morning and I do ask God for something :). For example, I ask Him to fill me with His Holy Spirit and guide me to do His will, I ask Him to bless and protect my family, I ask Him to heal those who I know need healing, etc. Of course, I don't just ask Him for this and that; I spend time thanking Him, too :). I admire the author's desire to pursue Christ more intimately and to encourage others to do the same. I also agree with the author about praying the Scriptures. You can never go wrong with that :). I have been doing it from time to time but I need to do it more often.
"One of the most important things I can do is to keep an awareness of Christ in my daily life." (p.100)
~I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.
July 8, 2012
Frustrating for Bible Study Lovers
I'm a "Bible Study girl." My great joy is sitting at my kitchen table with my Bible, my prayer journal and a hot cup of tea. So, right away I had a disconnect with Gene Edwards in this book. He describes himself repeatedly as a "doer" and a non-Spiritual Christian, someone who never could connect with God through Bible reading and prayer and could go all day without thinking about God once---despite seminary degrees and being in ministry. It's little surprise then that at the end of this book I felt dissatisfied, even troubled by the confusing mishmash of arguments that he makes basically downplaying the foundation of my walk with Christ.
For starters, I question one of Edwards' key premises---that the vast majority of Jesus' audience were illiterate and therefore reading Scriptures can't be a foundational part of our relationship with God. He makes these statements in the strangest ways---managing to sound cocky and prideful while making me feel "less-than" for enjoying Bible study. Edwards declares he has more degrees than a thermometer and he wears out a New Testament every few years, but then assures the reader that he has more in common with his illiterate grandfather. He then asserts that most people are illiterate laborers, as were Jesus' followers, so a close spiritual walk cannot depend on Bible study.
But for all his education and confident assertions about Jewish culture, is what Edwards saying true? Was the majority of Jesus' audience illiterate? It seems utterly unlikely. Jewish culture placed enormous emphasis on young boys being taught to read, study and memorize Scripture for themselves. Even fishermen like Peter and John read and wrote articulately and clearly with a Biblical education. Jesus himself, a carpenter, was educated, literate and able to read from the Torah as well as teach from it in the synagogue----and it wasn't like he knew how to read just because He was God in human flesh. He was taught to read just as most Jewish boys were taught to read. They committed vast portions of the Torah to memory. They were probably more literate and educated in Scriptures than today's seminary graduates.
It irked me that a man so proud of his pursuit of knowledge, who declares he's read pretty much anything written by Pentecostals to Catholic mystics about growing close to God, would get something so basic so wrong.
What he does come up with and present as great revelations are frustratingly basic and unimpressive. He personalizes Scripture and prays through it slowly (I'm sorry, how is this different than praying? He seems to define praying as sitting for hours asking things from God. Never mind that pretty much everyone defines prayer as being in conversation with God).
He even goes so far as to disdainfully refer to people who pray for others we encounter every day and assert that he can't find any biblical argument for this practice. Yikes! Has he missed out on verses encouraging us to pray without ceasing, to present everything to the Lord in prayer, to pray for one another?
He creatively comes up with some physical prompts to remind him to turn to God throughout his day until it becomes second nature. This is fine, except he basically asserts he's the only person who has ever thought of Jesus as being food, bread, and the air we breathe. Did he miss out on the massively popular song "Breathe," continually sung by Michael W. Smith on Christian music stations and also offered up Sunday after Sunday by churches across the nation? That's the entire point of this song!!! And besides that, I can think of numerous writers (including myself) who have discussed the physical nature of our need for Christ. It's just not amazing or revolutionary and his discussion of this topic seemed shallow compared to others I have read.
Last year, someone at church gave me a book to read that he was totally excited about. I read it, but unfortunately had to hand it back to him and say, "The two Scriptures he bases his entire argument on are taken out of context and added to in order to say what he wants them to say." He shrugged it off and basically said, "I guess you just didn't understand it"---as if he were more spiritual than me for agreeing with a book that teaches extra-biblical ideas.
If I handed Gene Edwards's book back to a devotee, I'd probably say, "I don't think what he said was accurate and certainly not revolutionary. He continually downplays reading the Bible and prayer as the foundation of our faith, but ultimately just finds another way to describe reading your Bible and prayer." My guess is that a fan of Edwards would shrug me off and say, "You just didn't get it." Maybe I didn't. But that's okay. Because I love studying God's Word, and talking with God throughout my day is my everyday mode of life. I don't need signs by my bed to remind me to turn to God and I don't need to clear my mind of everything and spend 30 minutes reworking the words of Psalm 23 to grow close to God.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
June 25, 2012