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Friday, November 19, 2010

Month of Thanksgiving: Day 19 - Costly Grace

One of the things for which I am thankful today is the blogging for books program sponsored by many publishing companies.  Here at Mother of Three, I review books for several publishers:  Thomas Nelson, Tyndale, Bethany House, NavPress, Banner of Truth, B & B Media Group, and Waterbrook.  I am really thankful for this program, because books are expensive.  Trying to live very frugally, I don't have the extra money to buy books.  That poses a huge problem for a book lover like myself.  However, with the blogging for books program, I am able to read to my heart's content and not spend a dime.  The publisher sends me the book and I agree to read the book and provide them with an honest review.

One of the recent books sent to me by the B & B Media Group (Thank you Audra!) for review was Costly Grace:  A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship by Jon Walker.

Rick Warren in his foreword to the book says this:
"We speak too often of winning, succeeding, overcoming, and conquering and too little of yielding, submitting, obeying, and surrendering.  Yet, we can only follow Jesus when we obey Jesus and his commands.  To say 'No Lord' is to speak a contradiction."
In the book, Walker does an excellent job of relaying Bonhoeffer's idea of "cheap grace" in contrast to "costly grace" by showing how we can become "like" Jesus in several areas:
  • Becoming like Jesus through His call
  • Becoming like Jesus in Obedience
  • Becoming like Jesus in Suffering
  • Becoming like Jesus in Our Loyalty
  • Becoming like Jesus by Developing His Character
  • Becoming like Jesus in Influence
  • Becoming like Jesus in Righteiousness
  • Becoming like Jesus in Authenticity
  • Becoming like Jesus in Purity
  • Becoming like Jesus in Transparency
  • Becoming like Jesus through Redemption
  • Becoming like Jesus in Loving Enemies
  • Becoming like Jesus in Quiet Service
  • Becoming like Jesus in Prayer
  • Becoming like Jesus in Spiritual Disciplines
  • Becoming like Jesus in Trusting the Father
  • Becoming like Jesus in Our Acceptance of Non-Believers
  • Becoming like Jesus in Abandonment
  • Becoming like Jesus in Wisdom
  • Becoming like Jesus in His Compassion
  • Becoming like Jesus Together
  • Becoming like Jesus in Our Work
  • Becoming like Jesus through Persecution
  • Becoming like Jesus in Our Faith
  • Becoming like Jesus to Others
These thought provoking insights are divided up into short chapters, giving the reader a chance to meditate on and digest a small portion of rich material at a time.  At the end of each chapter, Walker gives a short synopsis of the cost of discipleship in relationship to the material covered in that chapter along with statements that would be considered "fallen thinking" and statements considered to be "kingdom thinking".  Finally, he offers a section called "Your Choice", where the reader is challenged to work through the truth shared and evaluate where they are in their own life.

Walker does a good job of breaking down amazing truth in an easy to read format.  I would consider his writing to be conversational.  I liked the way the chapters are organized:  At the beginning you get a quote from Bonhoeffer, scripture to consider, and then Walker gives you "Jesus' Objective".  Each chapter is 8 to 10 pages long and then the section at the end (given in the paragraph above) allows you to apply what you've read.

My only criticism of the book has nothing to do with content.  The editing was rather sloppy.  There were numerous places in the book where words were either left out of sentences or the wrong word was given in a sentence.  In reading and having the context, the reader would be able to figure out what was meant, but the mistakes happened often enough that it became a little annoying.  For example this sentence on page 211:
"Only be will he blessed who remains loyal to Jesus and His word until the end".

I would recommend this book.  It is one I'm sure I'll read again and refer to often.  I'll leave you with this portion from the introduction:
"Why instead of the abundant life, do so many of us end up living lives of quiet desperation?  We go to church; we read the Bible; we pray; we try to be good people and to serve other people; yet, for many of us, our life with Jesus doesn't seem to be much more than an add-on to our increasingly complex lives, where we are over-stretched and now seem to be facing a tsunami of uncertainty in many areas that for so long have seemed relatively secure - our finances, our jobs, our homes, and even our fundamental safety.  So, we try harder, work harder, pray harder, study harder, and try to figure out what we're doing wrong because that's what we think Jesus wants us to do.  And, all the while, he keeps asking, in a sense, 'Are you tired of this yet?  Worn out?  Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you'll recover your life.  I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace' (Matthew 11:28b-29 MSG).    Jesus calls us away from the hows and whys and whats into the rhythms of his grace, standing before us as the Son of God Incarnate, Jesus, God's Word in the flesh.  The answer to our frustrations is 'who' not 'what' or 'how'.  The Word of God who stands before us is not a problem to be solved, but a person to know...Instead of trying harder, we need to trust more."
This book can be purchased at