Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review: Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain

This is one of those rare books that I just want to go out and purchase several copies of to give to people I know. The pages were overflowing with helpful and encouraging information. As I went about my days after reading portions from the book, I found myself, several times, recalling passages to apply them to different circumstances I would face or to share the ideas with friends. Practical information that’s easy to remember—signs of a well-written book.

The authors identify seven struggles all people face: injustice, rejection, loneliness, loss, discipline, failure, and death. They devote four chapters to each, defining the problem, giving examples (both modern and biblical) of people who have dealt with these, and showing how God can use the pain of the struggle to bring spiritual growth and blessing in His time. I especially enjoyed their interpretation of the Bible stories, showing God’s work for good behind the scenes in familiar characters’ lives.

Each four chapter section ends with a summary of the major points (for clarity and quick reference) and questions to help readers prayerfully seek the truth of their situations and apply the concepts to their lives. The authors help readers understand that when they trust God, knowing that there is a purpose to any pain He allows in their lives, they can continue on with anticipation and hope.

Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain is the collaborative effort of psychiatrists Paul Meier, MD (founder of the Meier Clinics) and David L. Henderson, MD. I had heard of Meier, but never read anything of his before. I wasn’t disappointed. I’m happy to recommend this book.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review: Green

I can’t say Green was a pleasant read—but it was worth my time. I think. (The non-ending still has me perplexed.)

Green is a story of fallen mankind, and God’s plan to restore, and Satan’s plan to destroy. It’s an allegory of the biggest spiritual battle of all time. And what’s spiritual, or unseen in the real world, becomes literal and seen in the world of the Circle. So it’s not pretty. In fact, it’s mostly dark and horrific and frightening and highly disturbing. You may have nightmares. Be warned.

But the story also includes the Great Romance—God’s love for His children, their love for Him, and the hope and help He provides to those who remain faithful to the end. One scene was so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes. That scene made the book worth my time. I think.

Green is an unusual book. Book Zero of the Circle series, you can read it first or last and it will still make sense—to a point. It’s also the sequel, of sorts, to Showdown and is related to the Lost Books series, too.

If you’ve never read a Ted Dekker novel before, I’d recommend starting with something tamer, yet equally enthralling, like Blink. If you’re eager to start the Circle series, I’d recommend starting with Green. Though Dekker has written it to work like a circle, the loop didn’t, to me, completely work—it did loop, but it didn’t seem faithful to the subject of the allegory. I’m not sure what Dekker was trying to communicate with that. If you start with Green, however, White will leave you as a reader, in the end, in a happier and more satisfying place.

And if you want the allegory without the violent, horror extreme, you can still just read Black, Red, and White without Green. It’s not essential to the storyline—just a thought-provoking extra if you care to give it a try.