Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Beautiful Fight by Gary Thomas

I've been reading this book rather slowly for just a few days but I feel compelled to stop and recommend it. I was actually looking on for another book that was recommended by a friend but found this one to have higher ratings and I had heard good things about another book this author wrote, Sacred Marriage, which I also purchased. I am only 6 chapters in but have been inspired by the stories of two early Christians who boldly followed Christ despite immediate and severe consequences. The first example was Francis of Assisi who was born into wealth but purposed to see life differently and love the things that God loved. He gave up everything of material value to serve the Lord practically with everything he had. The second example was Vibia Perpetua who was among the many early Christians that were martyred for their faith in God. She knew who her battle was against (Satan) and that she would lose the battle (her earthly life) but win the war (eternal life). The author challenges us as Christians that we will be better known for what we do rather than what we don't do. He also reminds us of God's power. God doesn't sit idly by waiting for the time to come for his return, he is active and alive. Even though we don't live in a time or place where we will be killed for proclaiming our faith in Jesus Christ, we should still proclaim it. And, even if we have little monetarily to lose, we can live without selfish strings attached to our stuff.

I've read in this book about the importance of seeing people the way that God does; in need of a Savior, longing for hope, searching for answers. Sometimes these conditions lead people down dangerous, destructive paths; ones that might even be repulsive or scary to me. From God's perspective I am allowed to see the root of the problem. From my own vantage point I only see the the destruction. When I concentrate on the root of the problem I am filled with compassion, just as God is. He looks at people with love, even in the depths of dark sin.

I was also reminded that we should allow God to use our words to warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak and be patient with everyone (from 1 Thessalonians 5:14). The tongue is a hard beast to tame, this author encourages us to focus on using it for the blessing of others and to proclaim truth. We should allow God to use our words and be willing to risk speaking up.

As I said, I've only just begun this book. The next few chapters focus on "Ears That Hear", "Minds That Think", "Hands and Feet Used by God", and "Hearts That Feel What God Feels", all of which I'm anxious to start reading. Part 3 is the part I'm most excited for though; Embracing the High Call and Duty of Personal Transformation. Intriguing isn't it?

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Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff