A true story of the horrors endured by a country preacher and his family at the hands of a greedy, controlling, evil and power-hungry man, the events that transpired during the author's (Rebecca Nichols Alonzo, co-written with Bob DeMoss) early and formative years will leave you wondering at the evil man inflicts upon his fellow man. The story itself is incredible and carefully documented, although the writing style seemed overly melodramatic and I often found it annoying. Thus it was a difficult book to wade through. God's grace exhibited through the perserverence, gentleness and forgiveness of this family, however, is unmistakeably imprinted on almost every page; therefore I am glad I read the book, continuing to the end.
Hands down, my favorite part of the book was the last chapter, "No Apologies in Heaven," as Mrs. Alonzo shares important biblical truths that she has learned, lived and continues living, all about forgiveness. These few pages were delightfully written, beautifully and simply expressed, and are probably pages to which I will return again and again. Thus, while I give the book as a whole a 3 out of 5 star rating, I do highly recommend it - especially for anyone dealing with the issues of forgiveness, mercy and the gift of God's grace.
- "Forgiveness is the language of heaven....Jesus wants us to be fluent in speaking forgiveness to one another. He wants forgiveness to be on the tip of our tongue, rather than something we begrudginly offer after weeks, months, or even years of rubbing the offense in the face of the culprit before doling out a reluctant, 'I forgive you.'" (p. 246)
- "Peter, a follower of Jesus, once tried to pin down Jesus on this 'requirement' of forgiving someone who has wronged him. Peter asked, 'Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?' I'm a lot like Peter. I like specifics. you tell me I've got to forgive others, then I'd like to know what a reasonable number is. Surely there's a limit, right? Seven sounds reasonable; it's much more generous than the 'three strikes and you're out' rule."
"Watch how Jesus answers Peter: 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven' (Matthew 18:22, NASB). I'm tempted to do the math. I've got my pen and notepad out with a series of little marks grouped in units of five so I can easily keep track of my progress. Let's see, over the last three decades I've forgiven Mr. Watts 475 times... 480... 485..."
"I'm pretty sure that's not what Jesus had in mind."
"I think Jesus was saying that you and I should forgive so many times that it becomes second nature to us. If forgiveness is the language of heaven, then forgiveness should be a way of life for me. Notice, I didn't say it should be easy. It's not. I won't sugarcoat it for you. In my case, I'm tempted to protest and say, 'But, Lord, I'm on number 489. Will I still have to forgive Harris in my heart after forgiving him 490 times?"
"Frankly, I've missed His heart if that's my thinking."
"It's not about counting; it's about grace."
"God will never say it's okay not to forgive."
"Personally, I want forgiveness to become my heavenly habit, not an obligation. There's a big difference. The first approach reflects a lifestyle that flows from God's kingdom and changes my way of operating in all my earthly relationships...." (pp.247-248)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”