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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Landmarks" (Bill Delvaux)

TITLE: Landmarks: Turning Points on Your Journey Toward God
AUTHOR: Bill Delvaux
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: B and H Publishing, 2014, (208 pages).

What are the landmarks in our lives? Can they be seen as a path toward greater spiritual growth? What does God's calling mean when one's life seems to be falling apart? These questions swamped the author when his ministry crumbled and when he resigned. In the abyss of despair and depression, wondering what had hit him, someone recommended to Delvaux to look at the circumstances as "landmarks" of faith. It is not what happened to us but our response to them that matters. For if God is in control and sovereign over all, surely God will be guiding his loved ones too. He plants nine landmarks in this book, using his life as a way to tell the story of how these landmarks become turning points in his faith journey. In turn, these landmarks are classified under three categories:

  1. Descending into Death
  2. Turning
  3. Ascending to Life

In Part One, Delvaux tells the painful story of his own descent. The first landmark is that we all need a good story to identify with. Without story, facts are just isolated information without much meaning. As one learns to read the Bible as a big story in itself, one learns to piece together the discrete parts of one's life, using the Bible as a guide. He learns the importance of tracing one's life and to recognize the plots in God's ultimate story. Failure is often a defining moment for many. For frequently, failures pull us into the Bible narrative. The second landmark is about idols and how they threaten to unravel our following of God's will. Whether it is hoarding stuff or addiction to something, idolatry is that something that comes between God and us. For idols are like mirages, enchanting us with things that appear real but are ultimately false. This chapter is also full of the author's confession of his personal idols. The third landmark touches on wounds after a fall. Owning the wound is a necessary first step in recovery. Delvaux tells of how the wounds drew him closer to God. The fourth landmark appears to be something weird initially, Sex. Delvaux describes how being down and nearly out can render one vulnerable to various temptations of the flesh. Sex is such a wonderful gift that it can also be easily perverted by sinful beings.

Part Two of the book arrests the emotional decline with a major landmark: An Identity Crisis, the fifth landmark. In any crisis, one can either fall deeper into sin or to climb out of darkness into the light. Delvaux shares about his need for a makeover into something new. The important point about this landmark is that the search for one's identity has begun. The solution may not be found yet, but the search has started with the notion that w will live according to what we think we are. Do we listen to the voice of the shamer, the false affirmer, or an aimless silence? Or are we ready to listen to the truth, God's voice?

Part Three shows that the road to recovery means overcoming various barriers (sixth landmark) such as the deceptions of the fallen self, the deceitfulness of the world, and the cunning and subversive tactics of the devil. Deceptions, temptations, and assaults are the ways the enemy tries to get us down. We need to embrace servanthood so that we can serve others and obscurity so that we can repel pride. We need to form bonds (seventh landmark) with a community (horizontal dimension) and to be centered on God (vertical dimension).   Marriage is that eighth landmark where husbands and wives become extraordinary men and women because of an extraordinary marriage. It is about walking together in God's love. The final landmark is that of quest, which is essentially about a continuing journey through more landmarks of our lives. He shares about his salmon expedition and the art of storytelling. As long as we are able to wisely recognize and respond to landmarks of our lives, we will be on a journey of growth toward maturity. Without a quest in place, we will not discover more landmarks.

Faith is about establishing our trust in God through each landmark of life. Crises either make or break a person. There is very little neutral ground in this. It requires us to take a leap of faith to jump even when the road ahead is uncertain and unknown. The more important thing is that whatever we do, trust that God is walking with us. Whether we make mistakes or not, trust that God understands our predicaments. Whether we are successful with our endeavours, trust God to provide the results. We all need to exercise personal discernment about the spiritual landmarks of our lives. God will provide them. We just need eyes to see, ears to hear, and a passion to follow through the path, no matter how difficult it seems. After all, if we allow errors and deceptoins to deceive us from making the journey in the first place, we would have flown the white flag of surrender without even trying.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


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

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