Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #45: Fabookulous November 26, 2010

The Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll

Book description:

“Bound and shackled by legalists’ lists of do’s and don’ts, intimidated and immobilized by others’ demands and expectations, far too many in God’s family merely exist in the tight radius of bondage, dictated by those who have appointed themselves our judge and jury.”-Chuck Swindoll [from the Introduction]

The Grace Awakening calls all Christians to wake up and reject living in such legalistic, performance-oriented bondage. The God of the universe has given us an amazing, revolutionary gift of grace and freedom. This freedom and grace set us apart from every other “religion” on the face of the earth.

In this best-selling classic, Charles Swindoll urges you not to miss living a grace-filled life. Freedom and joy-not lists and demands and duties-await all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

With his characteristic style and gentle authority, Swindoll disarms the counter-attack of all those who would not preach grace-filled living and who would claim that focusing on grace would fill our churches with wild, undisciplined people with no godliness in evidence. Yes, Swindoll says, teaching and preaching grace is risky. Some may push the limits and misuse their freedom. But grace is the message of the gospel…the good news of salvation. As Christians, we sing about God’s amazing grace. We understand that we are saved by grace. Let’s learn to live by grace! Discover how in The Grace Awakening.

While Christian non-fiction tends to be my favorite genre, an audiobook of that genre feels like a very long sermon. Which is okay, but just needs to be taken in a little at a time. Which is why I took almost a week to get through this audiobook. I love Charles Swindoll’s books and have been making my way through his Great Lives series. This is the first book of his I’ve read (er, listened to) out of that series; he certainly has a lot to offer in the way of Biblical teaching!

Swindoll shares some valuable insights regarding grace and our ability to abuse it or misuse it. While it is offered freely to us, we tend to abuse that privilege and view it as a right or as permission to keep doing what we want. But what I appreciated most from this book is the discussion on legalism in Christianity. So many Christians follow a list of rules or regulations and then stand in judgment of others who do not do the same. (This isn’t even necessarily restricted to Christians) I love a good discussion on legalism in the Christian faith because among the many denominations, folks really do get caught up in the rules of it all. Swindoll gently reminds us (in a nutshell) to do as we see fit and allow others the same freedom. Isn’t it all about freedom anyway? Why do we put ourselves in a box most of the time and limit our ability? Ah yes–because rules are restrictive.

Swindoll is a mature and seasoned Christian who offers wonderful insight and wisdom. I will probably want to read the rest of his books rather than listen to them and save my audiobook experiences for fiction. But I think I got enough take away from this one to make it worth it anyway!

4/5 stars

Fabookulous

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Book #16: Fabookulous May 4, 2010

Elijah: A Man of Heroism and Humility by Charles Swindoll

Book description:
Elijah the Tishbite. He stepped out of nowhere to become a significant prophet of God. The rugged, gaunt prophet from the obscure town of Tishbeh became God’s powerful instrument of confrontation.
Alone, Elijah faced off with over four hundred prophets of the false god Baal…and won. Yet, on another occasion, he became so terrified of a woman that he ran for his life. He was a man who God sent His ravens to feed. A man who God loved so much that He prepared a special chariot and horses of fire to transport him from earth to heaven. He was Elijah–the man in a whirlwind, the humble hero.
Like Elijah, we’re all subject to times of bravery and times of fear. One day we’re able to face life with a smile; the next, we feel crushed by its oppressive weight. We vacillate from courageous to cowardly, from hopeful to hopeless. Like Elijah, we are ordinary people with seemingly overwhelming problems. And the answer is in God alone as the name Elijah indicates: It means, The Lord is my God.
He lived courageously with his peers and walked humbly with his God.

Where are great leaders like Elijah today? Uncompromisingly strong, yet self-controlled. Disciplined, yet forgiving. Audaciously courageous, yet kind. Heroic in the heat of battle, yet humble in the aftermath.
We see a few such men and women, but the list is tragically short. Rarely does someone model these invaluable traits more obviously than God’s mighty prophet Elijah, whose calling was anything but calm and free from conflict. Nevertheless, as you are about to discover in this book. Elijah exemplified true heroism and genuine humility amid the relentless pressure of battle.

Elijah: A Man of Heroism and Humility is the fifth volume in the best-selling Great Lives from God’s Word series by Charles Swindoll. The series also includes such powerful biographies as Joseph, David, Esther, and Moses.
Exploring the depths of Elijah’s fascinating life as a prophet of God, Swindoll does not gloss over his human weaknesses; rather, he presents an honest picture of this ordinary man who God transformed into His personal spokesman to confront idolatry and evil in the ancient world. You will find that it’s a life worth emulating.
In a world that has lost its way, due in part to the lack of balanced, godly leadership, we are more than ever in need of a few Elijah-like men and women who are not afraid to live courageously among their peers as they walk humbly with their God.

May this book establish deep within you a desire to stand strong for what is right as you bow low before Him who is worthy of your trust and obedience.–Charles Swindoll

Yet another wonderful read by Charles Swindoll! Reading these books remind me of what my grandmother used to tell me. When I was in the 10-12 year old range, I read a lot of R.L. Stine novels (Fear Street series, anyone?) And my grandmother, a devout Christian with G rated thoughts, used to ask me, “Why don’t you read some nicer books like animal stories or biographies?” At the time that just sounded horrendous. But the older I get, the more I really do enjoy both! haha (Guess my Nana was on to something…)

And I can’t help but think she would have loved the Great Lives from God’s Word series by Charles Swindoll. Biographies dedicated to men and women of the Bible, this series teaches what we can learn and take away from their lives to better our own. I have previously read (and loved)  Volume 2: Esther, A Woman of Strength and Dignity and Volume 3: Joseph, A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness.

I was thrilled when I was able to get my hands on a copy of Volume 5 (which was hard to track down; thanks to a local used bookstore I snagged one!) These books not only offer a great study of the person’s life, but Charles Swindoll does a fantastic job of sharing life application principles. I especially felt that the take away messages of Elijah’s story were very powerful. I’ve been talking about some lessons I’ve learned from this volume to anyone who will listen.

I didn’t know much about Elijah before reading this book but I’m glad I read this. His life is a wonderful example of how we can put ourselves through “boot camp” for God, trust in the Lord without hesitation, and do it all with a humble attitude. Humility is a lost art in today’s world and this was a wonderful refresher on the topic.

I highly recommend this book (and series!) to those interested. Other characters featured in the series are David, Moses, Paul, Job, and the greatest life of all: Jesus. Hopefully you’ll see my reviews for the others sometime this year!

5/5 stars.


Happy Reading,

Fabookulous