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Friday, July 31, 2015

"Your Sacred Yes" (Susie Larson)

TITLE: Your Sacred Yes: Trading Life-Draining Obligation for Freedom, Passion, and Joy
AUTHOR: Susie Larson
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2015, (224 pages).

Constantly busy but also consistently unfulfilled? Tired and always running? Seeking peace but never truly finding it? Faithfully serving but never experience fruitful living? These questions may strike a chord in those of us who have been Christians for a while but finding it hard to make a meaningful sense out of Christian living. Is Christianity just about speaking Christianese or doing stuff in Church? Many of us know that there is much more to the Christian Life than just Church work. We just need someone to show us the way. In this book, we have an exciting challenge to stop any forms of sloppy Christianity, unravel the chains of a shackled faith, and to liberate one toward sanctified living for Jesus. In a nutshell, the author shows us the way to move from obligation to conviction; from ought to would; from constrained to liberated; from seeking happiness to joyful living. With keen understanding on believers who are struggling to live out a meaningful faith, Larson gingerly draws out the honesty behind our spiritual sloppiness; the emotions behind shackled living; and the promises of sacred surrender. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the radio talk show host with KTIS is also a national speaker and popular author. Christianity is life-giving, not energy draining. It is exciting not mundane. It is also sacred, not burdensome. It is more than just a ticket to heaven or a get-out-of-hell pass. In three parts, Larson shows readers how to move from sloppy and shackled lifestyle to sacred living.

The author begins with Part One: "A Sloppy Yes" which is a wake up call for us not to put all our baskets into human achievements and to let self-accomplishments drive our energy for God. We need to do a commitment check with regards to what we are doing and why we are doing that. We cannot speed up and ignore the promptings of God, going too fast and missing out the timing of the Spirit. Some helpful questions to ask are:
  • Are you more reactive or responsive to circumstances?
  • Are you in a state of constant busyness or growing in spirit-led fruitfulness?
  • Are you racing with men or pacing with God?
  • Are you anxiety driven or living in confidence in God's abundance?
  • Are you weary or rested?
  • Is your schedule filled with "time-wasting" activities or life-giving works?

Part Two is "A Shackled Yes" to help us see the chains that lock us down, and to make a commitment to live free. A good beginning to live free is to acknowledge that we indeed are free. Free to trust God instead of human fears; free to change our attitudes; free to slow down and to distance ourselves from a clock-driven world where we become enslaved to time controls. Most importantly, we are free to be who we really are instead of putting on a facade of acceptability. We can remove our shackles of bowing down to peer pressure by wearing the clothes of humility. What have we got to gain by trying to peddle to human expectations? It will not be long before the old expectation would be replaced by a newer and more difficult one. Where then does it end in this cycle of non-stop pleasing of men? According to this world, we are only worth as much as our contributions. According to God, we are worth according to His love for us. True freedom lies in saying yes to God.

Part Three lifts us above the boundaries of human living toward sacred giving. Why is it "giving" rather than "living?" There are at least three reasons. The first is to give in to God's prompted changes in life's directions. It means learning to see from God's perspective, to reflect and to respond to changes that come our way. It could be an illness or an unexpected career change. It could be an opportunity to surrender our wills; to change our perspective; to give thanks and worship; and to live with expectancy on what God is going to do. The second reason goes beyond changing directions but to harness the divine momentum of change. This is evidenced by a spiritual consistency that includes regular attendance at community events; healthy diet and relationships; consistent pursuit of righteousness; and so on. Consistency is better than sporadic quantum leaps. With consistency comes depth of faith and general discipline. Third, we grow in "God-given Influence" where our actions will motivate others to do the same. There is the power of love in affection, goodwill, charity, and love. There is a sound mind and thinking that enables us to exercise self-control and moderation. There is also a boldness to stand up for what is right and to do whatever one can to stop evil at its tracks.

So What?

Many books written by female authors about women issues are more relevant for women. Not this book. I was initially thinking that this might be another of those books on Christian Living for women. Once I finished the Introduction, I changed my mind. It was a lot more and appealed to both genders. I was hooked and excited on how we could stop running the rat-race but embrace the sacred race. Larson gives us two spiritual thoughts to begin with at each chapter. They are either verses taken from the Bible or a relevant reflection to get ready our thoughts. She adds in a "wise word" toward the end and some exercises for readers to use. That is not all. The final chapter has a six-week "faith and fitness challenge" that gives us an impetus to put the teachings straight into practice. Both spiritual and physical exercises are laid out to help us to start a new phase; to improve our consistency; and to put what we read directly into practice.

The word "yes" has become a negative connotation in certain circles even in churches. "Yes-men" is a term to describe those who conform to human expectations, like a committee of "yes-men" where everybody say yes to everything the leader says. Another negative way in which "yes" is used are for those who agree to every request and are unable to say no, at the expense of one's health and spiritual vitality. Like the wisdom in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything, a time to say yes, and a time to say no. The "yes" here used by Larson is not about "yes-men" of conforming to human ideas, nor the "yes" in terms of becoming a victim of non-stop requests. It is about saying yes to God. Yes to God's offer to help us. Yes to God's prompting. Yes to the Spirit's change of direction for our lives. Yes to live free from the world of human expectations toward the kingdom of heavenly living. Yes to freedom according to God's will.

Perhaps, there is one more yes that you may consider. Say yes to this book and pick up a copy for yourself.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Bethany House Publishers and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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