This book has received so much coverage in the blogosphere - probably since Crazy Love. I picked up this book as soon as it came out - and just finished it. I got to be friends with Greg and his wife, Moriah, while attending the same church in Louisville, KY a few years ago. They both lived out much of this book in their friendship with me: whether it was attending their son's soccer game, eating at the Homemade Pie and Ice Cream Kitchen, or just chilling in their home, or serving hot dogs to the 3rd avenue neighbors.
Greg, at the very beginning, explains his goals for writing this book (I like that, I don't need to wonder what they are). Here is my paraphrase of them:
1. Bring more joy to Christians. "An emaciated gospel leads to emaciated worship." (20) As one of the guys I serve with said this morning, us knowing our sin more (being made more aware of how sinful we are), we will indeed know the gospel - how good and amazing God is - more.
2. Evangelistic. Greg does not suppose that everyone reading this book is a believer. This would be a great book to read in a new believers/interested in Christianity class at a church. 8 chapters - that 2 months, or over the summer, its not overwhelming!
3. Community. "Also, Christian, the gospel should drive you to a deeper and livelier love for God's people, the church." (117) Very clearly we see the need for this in our local body. There are many factions within most local churches. So many do not know those they serve with - or sit next to Sunday after Sunday. This means more than just shaking their hand during the very awkward "greet" time. This means pouring into the lives of those you "do church" with. Get to know them - hear their heartbeat, know what drives them.
4. Clarity. A few months ago there was this "competition" on Twitter to post the gospel in less than 140 characters. how difficult is that? That even paved the way for this goal of Greg's - we need to KNOW what the gospel is and be able to articulate it to a lost and dying world - or confused church attenders.
5. Apologetics. Wow, what a great tool this would be on a college campus - for use in a small group, dorm Bible study. Just having it out on your nightstand or coffee table, or in your car (to read at traffic lights or coffee shops) would definitely open up the door wide for conversations.
These 5 goals of Greg's are clearly met in every chapter of this book. I highly recommend it. Below are some more personal thoughts I have had while reading it:
There is a post-it note on my vanity mirror right now at home - its been up there 10 days, and as I was reminded of it by someone this morning - I think it will stay up there: Jonah 2:8-9: paraphrased: if I cling to worthless idols, I forfeit my hope of steadfast love - by the Savior of the world. Greg puts it like this: "For human beings to consider their Creator and then decide that a wood or metal image of a frog or a bird or even themselves is more valuable is that height of insult and rebellion against God." (29)
Almost immediately after starting my new ministry here in Raleigh, I heard this verse from one of the pastors - Greg writes it here - from 1 Corinthians 15: paraphrased: Christ died for our sins is of UTMOST importance - but He is not still dead - He lives - so we can live too!
As we think about goals and life dreams (not just at New Years or Birthdays): "They had goals and desires that were categorically opposed to what God desired for them, and so they sinned." (50). Do you ever stop to wonder and pray and seek God's face to ask him if the goals you have and the goals He has for you are the same? One of those things that would be good to know!
Thanks Greg for writing this!