I almost didn’t volunteer to read Outlive Your Life for Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze.
But I should have known better. It’s Max. (Q & A with Max Lucado here.)
He won’t make you feel guilty;
he’ll make you feel inspired.
Inspired to “let God unshell” you.
To “not forget the bread.”
To “team up.”
And to “see the need; touch the hurt.”
“Max, I know he’s probably lying. But what if just one part of his story was true?”
We both saw the man. I saw right through him. Stanley saw deep into him.
There is something fundamentally good about taking time to see a person.
Typical Lucado, huh?
As he humbly points out his own sin (and you glimpse your own, if you’re looking), you’re encouraged, without a sermon, to do better yourself. Perhaps even to do simpler. Quietly do good. Pray more. Love Jesus by loving those in need. Pay attention.
Compassion, then, is a movement deep within—a kick in the gut.
Perhaps that is why we turn away. Who can bear such an emotion? Especially when we can do nothing about it. Why look suffering in the face if we can’t make a difference?
Yet what if we could? What if our attention could reduce someone’s pain? This is the promise of the encounter.
One of my favorite chapters among the 16 is chapter 15: “Pray First; Pray Most.”
Let’s pray, most. Did God call us to preach without ceasing? Or teach without ceasing? Or have committee meetings without ceasing? Or sing without ceasing? No, but he did call us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).
Did Jesus declare: My house shall be called a house of study? Fellowship? Music? A house of exposition? A house of activities? No, but he did say, “My house will be called a house of prayer” (Mark 11:17 NIV).
No other spiritual activity is guaranteed such results.
As also is typical among many Lucado books, the text is followed by a discussion and activity guide. What I particularly liked about this guide is the inclusion of “Ideas for Action.”
Some are simple:
Make a new rule for the next two months: No one sits alone. When you enter any room, resist the urge to sit where you always sit…Find someone who is sitting alone. Then choose to sit with the marginalized. After two months you might consider making the rule permanent.
And some are challenging:
Get involved in radical acts of kindness. Plan an intense, sacrificial, and strategic response to the needs of the world. Think big, get prepared, and enlist others to join you.
It’s hard to go wrong with a Max Lucado book. If you already read his books, keep going with this one. If you don’t, this is a good one to start with.
As you read, you’ll find yourself gently nudged closer to Jesus among the pages. And you’ll realize more and more that he made you to make a difference.
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