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Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Grace" (Max Lucado)

TITLE: Grace - More than we deserve, greater than we imagine
AUTHOR: Max Lucado
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2012, (239 pages).

Do we really need another book on "grace?" Haven't we exhausted this old subject years ago? Even Lucado has previously written on it before, so why another repetition of grace? The reason is simply this: "we've settled for wimpy grace," so says the author. The key purpose of this book is to challenge us with the question: "Have you been changed by grace?"

For many people, far too much attention has been put into the prepositions of life, especially on things outside. Far too little attention has been given to notice the grace that is happening inside us. What does it mean to have Christ abide in us? What does it mean to have grace happening in us? These are questions that Lucado aims to answer.  In a world where grace is much talked about, and paid lip service by the world, and even Christian leaders, Lucado argues that we need to go farther beyond the word, to the essence of what it means. In order to understand grace, one needs to begin with God. God is seen as a God who stoops, and demonstrates grace in the scene where people were threatening to stone the sinful woman in John 8. Staring condemnation at its face, Jesus defies conventional wisdom, and practices grace that silences the accusers. He allows himself to be used in the world's most unfair trade, a sinful Barabbas, in exchange for a sinless Jesus. On our own strengths and our own cleverness, we can never really comprehend what grace means. God is not in the business of helping good and deserving people. He is in the business of saving sinful and undeserving people. Our merits are nothing. God's merit is everything. This ought to free us from trying to earn God's favour. In grace, we can rest assured that God gives us favour freely and surely.

One of the most powerful parts of the book is "Wet Feet" where Lucado works through pains and hurts, and let grace shines its forgiveness and healing. Wimpy grace is self-limiting. True grace removes such limits. Wimpy grace is feeble. God's grace is mighty. Wimpy grace may speak well, but true grace lives well. True grace invites us to come clean with God fully and willingly, because God is fully willing to forgive us. Lucado spells out the other attributes of grace, like sustaining grace, saving grace, sufficient grace, and also surprising grace! True grace grows a heart of generosity. It grows a big heart. Grace cascades from one level of goodness to another. Perhaps, the most powerful description of God's grace is one that is linked to God's love to us, like a father to his children. God does not simply do the job of approving or disapproving. God loves. God gives. God initiates love. Grace will lead us home, through the promise of a guaranteed heaven. True grace is a verb that continues to be alive. This is because grace like love does not just happen. It is still happening.

Closing Thoughts

This book is another testimony of why Max Lucado's books are so well-loved. Though it is not Lucado's best, it is certainly reflective of his story-telling prowess and his knack for bringing out profound truth in simple words. A quarter of the book comprises the "Reader's Guide" and should be good material for a group discussion guide. The chapters are written in an easy to read manner, and most busy readers can finish each chapter without much difficulty. That said, I recommend that readers take time to pray and to think through what was written, and work on the questions in the guide. What I find most helpful are the powerful quotations printed at the beginning of each chapter. Not only do they give us a glimpse of what is to come in that chapter, they frame some profound truths in a very catchy manner. Perhaps, the biggest impact of the book comes from the need for us to wake up from any saddling in wimpy grace, toward a radical receiving and giving of grace. Let me close with this wonderful description of grace, that is is ultimately pointing us to a Person.

"He himself is the treasure. Grace is precious because he is. Grace changes lives because he does. Grace secures us because he will. The gift is the Giver. To discover grace is to discover God’s utter devotion to you, his stubborn resolve to give you a cleans-ing, healing, purging love that lifts the wounded back to their feet." (Max Lucado)

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Thomas-Nelson and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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