Thursday, May 12, 2016

Wednesday Review: Christian Excellence

I've read some excellent books recently, including C. S. Lewis' Perelandra. Right now I'm reading Life Together, my first Deitrich Bonhoeffer text.* In between, I read my pastor's book, A Life Worth Dying For. Pretty heady company, but this book holds its own.

Introduction: A Life Worth Dying For was written by Pastor Jim Andrews of Lake Bible Church in Lake Oswego, Oregon. It is a compact book about Christian excellence meant for the average Christian - this is not a heavy theological text, although there's plenty of theology in it. Andrews divides the book into ten chapters. The first couple lay the groundwork for a discussion of the concept of Christian excellence; the rest address the issues involved, ranging from the problem of mediocrity,** to a caution against unchecked perfectionism.

My Review: I read this book very quickly. It started as a commuter book - reading for the bus ride to and from school. This worked for a few days. Then I just sat down and charged through what was left, which should be your second indication that this was an excellent book (the first being the fact that I've chosen to review it on my blog).

Because it's difficult to highlight on a bumpy bus ride, I dog-eared pages that had particularly good bits. There are quite a lot of dog-eared pages.^ Because there are quite a lot of particularly good bits.

Now, I may be biased, since the topic of the book speaks to a lot of things I've been dealing with (hence my decision to read it), but let me tell you - there is a lot of good stuff in this book. Written in the same intelligent, plain-spoken style in which he preaches, Andrews has a lot to say about excellence and the lack of it in our lives as Christians. Lest you think the book is about working harder or what-not, it really isn't; it's about drawing nearer to God, and being faithful. "Traditional excellence," he says, "is nothing more than Christians excelling at things they do; the signature of Christian excellence, however, is excelling at what we are" (pg 64). Exploring what that looks like is the focus of the text.

There are a lot of things I like about this book. I like that it's directed toward the average Christian. I like how Andrews breaks down the elements of Christian excellence in chapter nine.*^ I like the difference he draws between what he calls 'traditional excellence' and 'Christian excellence'. I like his choice of examples and quotes. I like how everything is connected to the Bible and our relationship with God. Etc.

Good stuff.

I need to read it again, because there's a lot there, but I can tell you that the first reading was engaging and inspiring, and that I highly recommend it.

Copyright: 2013
Publisher: Self-Published
Length: 166 pages

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

(Yes, I know I'm technically posting this on Thursday... We're none of us perfect.)

*I thought I'd start with something small.

**Particularly in the Church.

^Like, a lot. And the last couple chapters are very highlighted.

*^Give me a how-to any time.