Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review & Giveaway! Clutter-Free Christianity

UPDATE 4/1/09: I got so excited about my article, I forgot to draw a winner before I took my kids to youth group!
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Timestamp: 2009-04-02 02:36:13 UTC

Congrats to A Stone Gatherer! Email me your address, Kim, and I'll send the book your way!

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I have a not-to-be-missed book for you.

I have been reading Clutter-Free Christianity by Robert Jeffress, and it is absolutely incredible. I haven't quite made it all the way through yet, but what I've read hits the nail on the head.

Some of you are going to laugh or roll your eyes and think I'm the pickiest person there is! But I am very cautious - hopefully, a positive way to phrase that would be discerning! - about non-fiction religious books. Having seen too many "name it and claim it" and "foolproof formula for fantastic faith" books written by smooth-talking evangelists and wealthy megachurch CEO's who seem to have forgotten the definition of authenticity and servanthood, I am a bit wary of endorsing an author just based on his string of theological degrees or the size of his congregation.

But right from the beginning, I could tell this book was unique in its approach. Robert Jeffress immediately cuts to the core of the issue we must all wrestle with: What must I do to please God? And while he is clear that salvation is by faith alone in Christ, he also asserts tht "the essence of a right relationship with God [is] a heart fully devoted to Him and a heart that loves other people as much as we love ourselves." (p. 4)

That doesn't sound particularly earth-shattering, but he continues to take it deeper. Dr. Jeffress wonders if we are preaching a "gospel that teaches you can be forgiven by Jesus without ever following Jesus? . . . The essence of the gospel is a changed life that comes from a transformed heart. . . Unfortunately, too many of us come to the cross of Jesus Christ 'just as I am', we receive our pardon from hell, and we leave just as we were. Although the statement sounds almost trite, it's still true that no measurable differences exist between the lifestyles of believers and unbelievers." (p. 5-6)

Part of our problem, he says, is that we get side-tracked with secondary concerns. For one thing, we squabble over theological issues. "At the judgment seat of Christ, will the Lord distribute blue books to each of us and ask us to diagram the end times?" And then there are the myriads of worthy cultual causes. But reading the New Testament "written during one of the most morally decadent periods in human history -- can you honestly surmise that what God wants most from us is to become cultural warriors?" (p. 7)

And then this paragraph needs to be proclaimed in every church there is, at least in America:
Christians tend to get it backward when it comes to our relationship with God. We try to modify our behavior without ever doing anything to transform our hearts, where our behavior originates. We join accountability groups to break our addictions. We cut up our charge cards in an attempt to control our spending. And we medicate ourselves to relieve our anxiety. But we still find it impossible to experience victory over pornorgraphy, greed, or fear. Why? Because we haven't dealt with the heart of the issue---our heart. (p. 10)
Amen. And that's just chapter 1! He continues throughout the book to talk about the heart of the matter, and the importance of heart surgery and making our hearts forgiving, obeying, trusting, content, serving, praying, transformed!

I highly recommend this book! You may purchase it here or here.

SUMMARY
When did the Christian life become so complicated?

Your greatest desire is to please God, but with each passing week, your spiritual to-do list grows longer. As you strive to fulfill a never-ending inventory of requirements for being a godly parent, spouse, voter, employee, and more, you feel increasingly disconnected from the God you’re trying to serve.

It’s time to cut through the clutter and get to the heart of what it means to please God. In this liberating look at the core principles of faith, Dr. Robert Jeffress reveals the truth about what God really wants from you–and what He wants to do for you.

Through solid biblical teaching and practical insights, Dr. Jeffress points you toward a revitalized faith centered on becoming more like Jesus in action, attitude, and affection. You’ll learn how to partner with God in the process of spiritual transformation as you choose to follow Christ in forgiveness, obedience, trust, contentment, service, and prayer.

Through a renewed focus on experiencing the kingdom of God right now, you’ll find your to-do list shrinking and your spiritual life deepening. It all comes with embracing Clutter-Free Christianity.
Includes a Bible study guide for personal growth and group discussion.

AUTHOR BIO:
Dr. Robert Jeffress is the senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, one of the most historic churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. The author of sixteen books, he is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition, live broadcasts of Dr. Jeffress’ weekly messages reach millions of listeners and viewers each week, while his daily sermon series airs on 1,100 television stations and cable systems nationwide. Dr. Jeffress and his wife, Amy, are the parents of two adult daughters.

GIVEAWAY!
The publisher, Waterbrook Press, has graciously provided an additional copy for me to give away to one of you. To enter, please leave a comment on this post no later than 6:00 p.m. CDT tomorrow (April 1) and I will draw a name. (No foolin'!) Continental US residents only, please.

Happy, transformed reading!

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10 comments:

bp said...

Sounds like a great book.

Mel said...

i love the quote from the book about our hearts!!!

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

Oh yes MA'AM I want to read this book!

Xandra

♪♪Melody♪♪ and Puddin said...

Sounds like a book I need. Thanks
for the chance to win it.

A Stone Gatherer said...

Sounds like a great book! I was just talking to someone the other day about the type of changed behavior or just doing all the things we think we should be doing! Hey happy pre-april fools day!

skoots1mom said...

i'm going to add this to our reading list for my accountability group...hopefully. will bring it up at our next meeting. thx for sharing!

Liz said...

I try to be discerning about the books I read, too. Sound doctrine is so important. This sounds like good material, and you've piqued my interest. I offer a hearty "amen" about changing the mind and heart in order to produce right behavior, as opposed to just changing the outward to try to get the desired results.

Letters From Midlife said...

Sounds like a great book so count me in the drawing. Thank you!

Chatty Kelly said...

Do you have rules about winning more than one book? If not, sign me up to win!

mez said...

Please include me, this sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks!
worthy2bpraised{at}gmail{dot}com