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Thursday, February 7, 2013

"Everything" (Mary DeMuth)

TITLE: Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus
AUTHOR: Mary DeMuth
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2012, (206 pages).

When we agree to follow Jesus, we are actually agreeing to give all we have, in order to gain all we can, to be like Jesus. There is nothing less important than to hold on to earthly possessions that do not last. There is nothing more precious than to hang on to Christ, who promises us things that will last throughout eternity. More importantly, when we give to God our everything, amazingly, God supplies us our needs beyond what we can ever imagine. In fact, at the end of it all, we will realize that there is nothing more important than Christ.

In eighteen chapters, Mary DeMuth distills her learnings through her very personal trials, and provides a spiritual perspective of it all, guided by a very able theological grasp of biblical principles. Beginning with the head, of what we think, readers are urged to cultivate a "Discipline of Astonishment," to be less sensitive to what we or the world make of ourselves, but how the gospel enables us to see what God makes of us. We are urged to surrender our destructive personal vows to justify ourselves, and to let God transform those through the eyes of love. We need to let God be bigger than our problems, bigger than our relationships with people, and allow a high view of God, to guide our love for people. She makes a strong case against worry, and I like this particular description.

"Worry involves both omission and commission. Omission because we forget God's faithfulness. Commission because we actively believe our abilities supercede His." (46)

In order to be resilient through the trials and elements of life, DeMuth suggests ways in which we can build rhythms into our lives, and to believe that God can lift us out of the deepest pits.

If the head is about what we think, the next part of the book moves to the heart, which is about who we are. The key idea is that an authentic life flows from the inside out. Healing needs to happen from the inside out. Forgiveness, recovery, and renewal flows richly from a negative past to a positive future. "CONTROL" is the seven-letter word that destroys, discourages growth, and depresses our spirituality. Just look at the way she warns us about this word.

"Control satiates me. It calms me. Nursing it helps me make sense of my world. When trials inevitably knock on my door, my response is to clean my house, align the cans in my pantry, create order from chaos. When God asks me to risk for His sake, I create lists in my head about why it's not logical to do so. I'd rather live a controlled life than let Jesus take me on unfamiliar roads." (76)
From the need to relinquish control, DeMuth moves toward unleashing our heart to the workings of the Holy Spirit in eight ways. We are urged to exercise our choice for healing instead of swimming in self-pity and self-destruction. There is beauty even in brokenness. There is grace we can share with others. There is forgiveness we can extend to ourselves. All because we can give Christ everything.

The final part is about hands, and how we live. We learn to say no to money's control over us. We get tips on how to embrace the learning from failures. We see the importance of connecting well with a community. In living for God, we learn to serve God through loving people, respecting differences, following disciplines, and many more.

My Thoughts

This is perhaps one book that appears to be DeMuth giving her everything, to make sense of her own brokenness in the light of God's grace. I love the way DeMuth describes her pains, details her struggles, and in Christ, determines to let go, and let God take over. Having said that, the book looks more to me like an orientation toward the direction of God. It does not mean that DeMuth has rocketed out of the gravitational pull of earthly living and daily struggles. It does not even mean that she has it all wrapped up in nice packaging. She has given us a roadmap with regards to what we think, finding out who we are, and learning to live for God beyond mere rhetoric. This beautiful book needs to be read over and over again by people who are down and out, and for people who are caught in the rat race of doing things for themselves. Spirituality is learning to keep the head, the heart, and the hands working as one. More importantly, it is being sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit on us as a whole person, so that we can be wholly sensitive to a holy God, who has told us time and again that we are to be holy, just as God Himself is holy. God has given us the finest roadmap, the greatest model, and the Person who deserves our everything: Jesus.

Thanks to DeMuth for gifting us with such an important reminder, that has breathed new life to the words of this popular chorus.

"He is my everything He is my all 
He is my everything both great and small 
He gave His life for me made everything new 
He is my everything Now how about you 
Like honey in the rock 
Like honey in the rock 
for he tastes like honey in the rock 
Oh taste and see that the Lord is good 
For he tastes like honey in the rock. "

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


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

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