Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review: A Million Ways To Die: The Only Way To Live

A Million Ways To Die: The Only Way to Live. Rick James. 2010. October 2010. David C. Cook. 336 pages.

As the story goes, in 1972, a young Egyptian businessman lost his wristwatch, valued at roughly $11,000. That's some wristwatch. It's amazing that anyone who found it in the rough-and-tumble city of Cairo would have attempted to return it, and it's shocking who did. 

I loved this one. I just LOVED it. You may have noticed--if you keep up with my reviews on the blog--that I love to share quotes from the books I read. I love to share the passages that mean something to me. Passages that reveal truth, that provoke me to think or re-think things, that challenge me, that provide encouragement and hope. In the case of A Million Ways to Die, it would prove nearly impossible. The book is just that good.

The premise of this one is simple, "In picking up our crosses and following Jesus, we walk a path of death, not a path to death. The path itself is one of death, but it leads to life--a life we care about and want" (26). In other words, "It certainly makes sense to me why an unbeliever would run from death. But for an unbeliever, to run from death is, in reality, to run from life. This is why we embrace death and consider it pure joy in whatever form we encounter it. Death is no longer a dead end or detour to life; it's a fuel stop. Death, like gasoline, is combusted and converted into mileage, enabling us to get to our destination--the light and life of the great city glowing over the horizon" (26). To experience--to fully experience Christ's resurrection power in our lives--in our daily lives--we need "little deaths", we need cross-bearing experiences. The book discusses trials, sorrows, and evangelism. It discusses humiliation, courage, faith, and love.

What did I love about this one? How it is Bible-based. How reliant it is on Scripture. The detailed focus on certain bible passages. James also effectively quotes others--preachers, teachers, theologians. Everything is relevant in this one. Whether the focus is on Lazarus, Jesus, Peter, Esther, or C.S. Lewis. James relates everything to how you and I should be living.

I also appreciated the honesty. James was honest in ways he didn't have to be honest. Revealing in ways he didn't have to be. Showing how human he is--how human all Christians are.

Though it's subject matter is death--it is all about LIVING. Living for Christ. I would definitely recommend this one!
As it would have been natural for the twelve disciples to think the cross was only for Jesus, it's natural for us to think the cross-bearing Jesus spoke of was only for the twelve disciples. But there's no I in team, and there's no "other guy" in discipleship. "That guy" with the speck in his eye, "that guy" carrying the cross--we are "that guy." (41)

There are a million ways for Christ's resurrected life to shine through us. (72)

Without the motivation of resurrection and the empowerment of the resurrected Christ, we are incapable of carrying the cross. We cannot submit to death without the power of the resurrection in us and the promise of resurrection before us. (73)

Lazarus is dead because some lessons can only be taught using a cadaver. (76)

The battle of faith is often fought while waiting for the battle to begin. (85)

It is during the waiting that the battle of faith is fought and won. If faith is victorious it does not simply survive the wait but emerges stronger. (86)

What we share in common as believers, we also share with Lazarus: We were all raised from the dead. The resurrection of our own salvation was no less staggering--indeed more so--than the physical raising of Lazarus. (99)

The growth of faith is not learning something new, but living out in the day-to-day what we have already experienced, and what we already know to be true, every day. Maturity in the Christian life is the wisdom of the aged coupled to the faith of a child. The Christian life is learning more and more about Christ while unlearning self-sufficiency.(99)

How does the church grow? A kernel of wheat falls to the ground. What is the secret of evangelism? A kernel of wheat must be willing to fall to the ground. What is the power of evangelism? When that kernel of wheat falls to the ground. What will keep the gospel from spreading? When the kernel of wheat refuses to fall to the ground. And here we find ourselves once again, in our willingness to die. In our little deaths, spiritual power and life is unleashed. (129)

Humility, brokenness, love, and grace are what God's spiritual in-crowd are wearing this year and every year. (137)

Pride is this journey from humanity to deity, and our mental narrative is the corruptible vehicle that transports us. Humility is the voyage back to the truth about who and what we really are. (231)

Jesus is truth, and He relates to us in truth. We do not relate to Him with any intimacy in our mental story, the one that pits us as the hero and sees the world orbiting around us. The "us" of our vain imaginings is fictional, and Jesus does not relate to fictional people. It is only when we humble ourselves that we experience Him and taste His presence. Jesus relates to us as we are, not as we imagine ourselves to be. (264)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

missross said...

I also enjoyed this book! Thank you for the excerpts from the book! I am going to use them for a talk I am giving this week on faith.