Max Lucado’s Newest Book

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“God’s Story, Your Story”

This is the title to one of Max Lucado’s newest books. I’m really excited about this book. As many of you know, all through 2011, I wrote articles on a book called “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel” by Mark Atteberry (click here to access this series). That book has had such a positive impact in my life seeing as I have been living with my muscle disease for four years now. Reading Atteberry’s book gave me the hope and encouragement I needed to be able to walk along this difficult path.

As we came to November last year, I could see that we were nearing the end of writing articles on that book. I wondered what new book I could start to write articles about that met me where I was at in life, plus would be an encouraging book for all of my readers. My wife was the first one to mention Max Lucado’s new book to me. I went online to check it out and immediately I felt a connection to it. Even by just reading the Introduction of the book, I felt certain that this would be an excellent book to read and to write about.

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Let me give you a little more background on my life journey. Then I will tell you why I am excited about exploring Lucado’s book with all of you here on my blog site. Very briefly, I have had the privilege to serve God in quite a variety of missionary and pastoral ministries for over thirty years now. By the time I was 47 years old, I had visited 27 countries and set foot on every continent except Antarctica. (And no, I don’t have a desire to go there.)

Then suddenly in 2008, my muscle disease hit me like a freight train that stopped me dead in my tracks. I had just returned from a very active translation consultant project in Papua New Guinea. Days after getting back to Canada, a few troubling aches and pains flared up over the following six weeks to the point that I was barely able to walk across my living room floor.

Needless to say, the following months, which turned into years, were filled with pain, fatigue, frustration, discouragement and even depression. The turning point came when I participated in a six-week small-group study on learning how to deal with chronic pain. It was at that group that I was introduced to Atteberry’s book. And those two things helped me so much to pull out of my deep despair.

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Lately, I really believe that I have learned how to manage myself well physically by adapting my environment and staying within good boundaries. And I’m also doing quite well emotionally and spiritually. I believe I have for the most part, come out of my wilderness experience and am much more ready to start figuring out how my life will look in the future. I am at the place where I want to see how my life and my illness fit into God’s grand scheme of things.

And that is where Max Lucado’s book comes in. I believe it is time to try once more to see what the bigger picture is, and to do my part that God has designed me for. Actually, I know there are many people who would like to explore this important question. Lucado points this out himself on page 22 in his introductory chapter. He says:

We need to know where we came from. Knowing connects us, links us, bonds us to something greater than we are. Knowing reminds us that we aren’t floating on isolated ponds but on a grand River.

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It is well-known that Lucado is one of today’s most popular Christian authors. In 25 years of writing, he has authored more than sixty books and other various print items. I think what makes him such a good author is how he can creatively weave the story in a simple and humorous manner. But within each story lies a deeper story. And so what makes us laugh and cry from what he writes often softens us and prepares us to hear the deeper spiritual truths he wants us to really hear.

And that is exactly the point of this new book. Lucado knows that as much as we often think our life story is the main story for each one of us, the truth is that our stories are all just a small part of a much bigger Story. And it is when we can get a good grasp on the bigger picture, God’s Story, that we can finally start to make sense of our own lives within the bigger picture. Thus the title, “God’s Story, Your Story.”

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Let me close this article with a quote from page 25 where Lucado briefly touches on the purpose of him writing this new book:

Can you find the plot of a book in one paragraph or hear the flow of a symphony in one measure? Can you uncover the plot of your life by examining your life? By no means. You are so much more than a few days between the womb and the tomb. Your story indwells God’s. This is the great promise of the Bible and the hope of this book.

My hope is that I will do a good job this year as I write an article every second Saturday. And I hope you will enjoy what I write, but also that my articles will help deepen your faith in God. I look forward to the year that lies ahead of us.

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

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Make Your Life A Testimony – Pt 2

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Impacting Others for Christ

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.            (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

It has been said that there is nothing more powerful that a personal testimony concerning something extraordinary that has happened to a very ordinary person.  This is the last article I will write on the book written by Mark Atteberry, “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“.

On page 176, Atteberry writes:

The great value of a true story is that it places a finger under the hard-road traveler’s chin and gently pushes up.  Unlike fiction, it forces the person to ask, “Could God do something like that for me?”

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We tend to put so many others up on pedestals, like sports heroes, movie stars, gifted speakers, etc.  So many of us feel like we have very little to offer to other people.  But the Scripture I quoted at the top of this article says otherwise.

I think it would be fair to say that every person who has ever lived has encountered difficulties and painful experiences.  That is simply part of being human.  What is also true for those who believe in God is that many of us can tell stories about how God came through for us and brought us through those difficult moments.

And it is these stories, these testimonies, that Atteberry says we all need to share with those who are around us.  Rephrasing the Scripture above, God is a God of great compassion who helps us in our times of greatest need, and that often, He allows these difficult times to come in order that we can then in turn help others who are now going through what we just came through.

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In his book, Atteberry anticipates that some people will shy away from the idea that God could ever use them and their situation to be of help to anyone else.  He expands on three possible objections that someone might give for  not sharing their life stories and experiences with others:

  • I’m not a great communicator.
  • I have no platform from which to share.
  • My story isn’t dramatic enough.

Some of these statements may actually have some truth in them.  Moses was someone who stuttered.  The widow who gave her last pennies at the Temple as Jesus watched probably never thought she would be important.  I was never a drug user who “saw the light” and came to believe in Jesus.  (Why do we always use the example of drug users.)

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But all of these objections (and more) have missed the point.  It is not the quantity of what we do in life that is most important, but the quality of whatever we do, no matter how small that might look to us.  I like Atteberry’s comment on page 177:

The big thing to remember is that your testimony is simply your story.  It doesn’t have to be a sermon.  It doesn’t have to be theological.  It doesn’t have to answer all the difficult questions people might feel inclined to ask.  All it has to do is show how the Lord helped you as you walked with Him along your hard road.

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It has been just a little more than a year ago when I started writing articles on this blog site.  I had the choice at the beginning to use my site as a venue by which I could whine and complain about all the pain I suffer with my muscle disease, and how hard life is for me.  I could view my world as having shrunk down to sitting in my sofa recliner day after day within the confines of my living room and apartment.

But God challenged me to view my struggles as an opportunity to reach out to other hurting people.  Very quickly I saw that by means of my internet connection, I could potentially reach thousands of people with my stories of what God has done in my life in the past, and is still doing through me today as I take one day at a time by faith.

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In fact, as you look at the visitor counter, you can see that there really have been thousands of people who find it worthwhile to visit and read the articles that I write.  But as soon as I say that, I have to figuratively knock myself on the side of the head and remind myself that I am not writing for the thousands, I am writing for the one person who really needed to hear the word of encouragement that I offer in a given article.

Atteberry goes on to say:

The best way to measure the value of a testimony is not by the size of its audience, but by the impact it has on the people who hear it. If your story helps even one person stay faithful to the Lord — or perhaps return to the Lord — then it has had an eternal impact.

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And this is where we conclude our study of this book.  I really hope though that these “Hard-Road Journey” articles have been more than just a book study.  I pray that we have been able to walk along side of each other and be encouraged in our faith and walk with the Lord because we’ve gone on this journey together.

I am amazed and thrilled that God has used me in this last year to impact others.  All I’ve done though is to be open and honest and share “my story”.  Even if you never go public like I have, I’m going to promise you that if you are open and honest with others around you, then God will use “your story” to also be a blessing to someone else who really needed to hear what you have to say.  May God bless you as you do this for Him.

A Hard Road Journey

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Part One

Life is tough, there is no doubt about it.  Ask anybody, and they will be able to tell you stories of heartaches and difficulties of life that they have had to go through.  And how about you?  Has there been a death, or a divorce in your family recently?  Has the downturn in the economy hit you square in the face and knocked you down?  How is your health?  Are you fighting a battle against a disease like I am, or have had a serious accident or injury?  Is there relational turmoil and war going on between you and a loved one?  Have you been betrayed by a friend or a colleague?

Any one of these areas that may be hitting you negatively can cause you to feel like God is not listening to your prayers, that He has abandoned you, and you are left alone in a wilderness from which it seems that you can find no way out.  Well, believe me, I can empathize with you as I too have been through, and am still going through my own desert experiences in life.

In today’s article though, I do not want to focus in on these difficulties.  Often, that can be counter productive as it can make a person more depressed than before, rather than be of any great help.  And I also do not want to talk for any length of time about the “why” that many people ask as to how we got into this terrible place.  No, I want to explore much more about the “how”, or what can we do, to get through this wilderness experience.

Mark Atteberry, author of “Walking with God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel”, has done an excellent job of providing a road map to help guide us through and out of our difficult experiences of life.  He shares in his Introduction of the book about a time when he didn’t know what to say to someone whose wife had just died.  And much later he realized what he could have done differently.  He says:

I now realize that I was making a simple but common mistake.  I was looking for a way to explain why such terrible things were happening to him, when I should have simply offered a few ideas on how he could face the future.  You see, the whys of life are often out of our reach.  I’m convinced that only eternity will unlock all of their mysteries.  But the hows are a different story.  The Bible is chock-full of hows.    (pg. xiii)

I just recently finished reading this book and it has been a tremendous blessing to me.  I would recommend to any person who is going through a difficult time to get a copy of this book and see how the strategies that Atteberry lays out in his thirteen chapters could very well unlock the answers that person has been seeking for as to how to deal with the current crisis he or she is experiencing.

In fact, I have been so impressed by this book, that I am planning to write a short article every second week here in The Listening Post to summarize a few key points from each chapter.  Mr. Atteberry has been so kind to grant me permission to quote from his book, and in his own words he said to me, “I am happy for you to use the book in whatever way you think might be helpful to people.  I would never want to put any limitations on what God might be trying to do.”

So thank you Mark, for being used by God to write encouraging words to all of us who are walking a hard-road journey.  And thank you for allowing me to share your insights with my audience of readers.  I hope to weave part of my life story around the principles you lay out for us in your book.  Perhaps my readers will take these articles and pass them on to others who need encouragement, and so together, your words and mine will be just what someone needed to hear for that day.

So folks, be watching for new articles every second Saturday that I pray will give you hope as you walk along on your road of difficult times.  But please know this, you are never, ever really alone.  God is there, whether you can see Him or not.  And now, with these articles, you have a fellow hard-road traveler with whom you can identify and share your experiences with.  (Please do feel free to reply back to me on the bottom of this or any other article.)

May God bless you richly through Christ Jesus our Lord.