About This Blog

Monday, December 2, 2013

"Start Here" (David Dwight and Nicole Unice)

TITLE: Start Here: Beginning a Relationship with Jesus
AUTHOR: David Dwight and Nicole Unice
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2013, (208 pages).

This book begins with an invitation to embrace Jesus Christ through the words of the prophet Jeremiah 29:13: "You will seek Me and find Me and search for Me with all your heart." For Christianity is not about remembering a set of rules or rituals. Neither is it a series of do's and don'ts. Christianity is a relationship that is centered on Christ. How do we actually begin our journey in this relationship? What does it take to go to where God has called us to go? How do we know where to start? Enters this book which keeps it simple and practical.

David Dwight, senior pastor of Hope Church, one of the fastest growing churches in Richmond, Virginia, shares about his early years trying to understand where to start with Bible reading. Is it on Page 1 Genesis? Can a new Christian simply begin with the first verse of the New Testament? After some help, he was asked to read the gospel of John. His co-author, Nicole Unice also grew up not knowing what being a Christian means. Unice goes on to describe her early years trying to control her life, even thinking erroneously that Christianity can be something she can control. Beginning Christianity is about beginning a relationship.

Such a confused beginning is common. Like Pete Woods, who confesses that his family are church CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) attendees, Woods only begins a stirring in his heart when he is more aware of Jesus rather than mere theories. Likewise, Josh tells of his encounter with the living Christ that sets his whole life apart. The authors then affirm the reality of Christianity being one that is personal and relational. One of the things that will affect new Christians is how they deal with obstacles along the way. Obstacles such as boredom, doubt, confusion, unresolved questions about God, and the ups and downs of relationships. Such obstacles can be farther strengthened when even Christians start to live as if the Christian faith is about rules and regulations. Relationships however is about being open, be in a posture of receiving and acknowledging the mystery of faith. Beginning a relationship is about receiving Jesus Christ into our lives. It is about having a new identity in Christ. It is about desiring to know more of God, that God is Perfect, Relational, and Sovereign. The five things about what happens when we know God are most helpful. Knowing God:

  1. Changes our view of people, not to see them as temporal but eternal beings
  2. Helps us face challenges differently
  3. Helps us never to feel out of control, and to know God is in control
  4. Helps us to remain humble and purposeful;
  5. Helps us make sense of life.

Beginning our relationship with Christ also has an external outlook. It means involvement in a Church community, serving and caring for one another. It means learning to grow in the knowledge of the Bible. It means praying and praising God. This is one of the simplest books about introducing Christianity for new Christians. It does not carry a laundry lists of things to do or not do. Instead, it contains real life stories of people and parishioners that the authors have personally encountered. At the same time, the Bible references they use are there to show us how relational God is to us.

The key idea in this book is Christianity is a relationship. When we read the Bible, we are learning not just about God, but we are learning to see God more. When we pray, we are not simply just uttering a set of prayer requests. We are seeking to commune with God more. When we share the gospel, we are not simply spouting off a prepared list of things to say. We are reaching out to people, caring for them, and sharing the love of God in our words and actions. In our devotional lives, we are seeking to learn more of God and to grow to be more like God. If this book can lead you to begin a relationship with God, even though you feel far away right now, it would have worth every penny.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of David C. Cook and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment