30 October 2010

Captured, Captivated, Compelled, Charmed and Completely enChanted...

...by grace, God's amazing grace.

Pick whatever word you want to try and describe the effect grace has on a human heart... but because grace comes from God and reflects an important part of His character and personality, there is no "perfect" word. Dr. David Jeremiah chooses the word "captured" in the title of this book, and then proceeds to detail how God relentlessly pursued and then captured and forever changed two men: the apostle Paul and John Newton, the author of "Amazing Grace."

This is one of those books that I'll share with friends and family and then place on the shelf to revisit ever so often, because how can we ever get enough of God's grace? Dr. Jeremiah doesn't write about any startling new revelations - instead he reminds of so many things about grace, things that after awhile we begin to take for granted, to forget or start to consider as rights and entitlements - when all along, what we deserve is so far from what God feely offers to all who will receive.

His treatment of the parable of the prodigal son was beautiful, helping me to look at the well-known story told by the Lord from a different perspective. He examines several passages of the Scriptures that show just how integral grace is to both faith and following Christ. The book is divided into three sections, designed to show just who all sufficient is the grace of God: we have grace for the past, grace for the present and grace for the future... for all eternity.

This is such an important and relevant topic for today (and really, for every day) and the world in which we live that tends to trivialize sin to make it less horrifying than it is. "It" (i.e. sin) isn't really all that bad, it is just a wrong or different "choice," represents the mentality of this day and age, and includes, unfortunately, many who claim to follow Christ. Without firstrecognizing the depth and completeness of our own depravity, there is no way to begin to comprehend the amazing-ness, the captivating-ness of God's grace.

There were so many amazing quotes from this book. However, the following, I think, sums of much of what Dr. Jeremiah was hoping the Holy Spirit would impress upon our hearts in reading this book:
"If love is the attribute that describes God the best, grace is the one that makes that love obtainable for us. Grace is the most radical concept ever to be introduced into theis world. It is counterintuitive to human nature, challenging every human tendency and providing the solution for every human problem. Grace changes people as nothing else can do. It cleanses the sins of the past. It enables the righteousness in the present. And one thing it does for certain: it constantly surprises us. For the essence of grace is surprise. There is nothing shocking about giving people exactly what they deserve. Grace subverts the rules and gives people what they don't deserve. It is motivated by the warmth of love..." (p. 171)
I highly recommend this book.. a 10 out of 5 possible stars. It is well worth the time and investment. I know I can never be reminded too often of the wonderous God I serve, of His amazing grace so abundantly showered upon me and my need to rest and trust in that grace with a humble and grateful heart.

Some other favorite quotes:
"Can we allow ourselves to be such total captives of His grace that we trust Him completely with life's most terrible moments." (p. 159)
"There is only on Giver, of course. It all comes from Him. The problem is that we are so burdened with good gifts that when anything at all comes our way that isn't pleasant -- so much as a traffic delay or a trip to the dentist -- we throw our arms toward the sky and ask, 'Why me?' ...We take all... the good gifts right in stride, as if we fully deserve them... Given the way we live our lives and the extent of our obedience to God, how many of these good things are we really earning? How many of the bad things are really unfair?" (p. 155)
"Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts most, it is not he who gives alms most,...but it is he who is always thankful to God,... who receives everything as an instance of God's goodness and has aheart always ready to praise God for it." (quoting William Law, p. 189)
"Mercy withholds the knife from the heart of Isaac.
Grace provides a ram in the thicket.
Mercy runs to forgive the Prodigal Son.
Grace throws a party with every extravagance.
Mercy bandages the wounds of the man beaten by the robbers.
Grace covers the cost of his full recovery.
Mercy hears the cry of the thief on the cross.
Grace promises paradise that very day.
Mercy pays the penalty for our sin at the cross.
Grace substitutes the righteousness of Christ for our wickedness...
Mercy closes the door to hell.
Grace opens the door to heaven.
Mercy withholds what we have earned.
Grace provides blessings we have not earned." (p. 23)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Book Sneeze as a 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 244: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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