Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Review - 66 Love Letters

A wonderful work of literature. The story of creation, fall and redemption. The Word of God. Life's Handbook. The Bible has been called many things by many people. In his latest book Dr. Larry Crabb paints a powerful picture of the Bible as "66 Love Letters." I received a review copy from Thomas Nelson Publishers and have been working my way slowly through this book. It's not a short read, but it's a good one!

In "66 Love Letters: A Conversation with God that Invites You into His Story" Crabb takes the approach of a dialogue, a very honest and open conversation, between himself and God, in which they discuss each of the 66 books of the Bible. Larry Crabb shares a number of questions, and sometimes frustrations about each book, and insights are presented from God's perspective. At times I couldn't believe how frank Dr. Crabb was with his questions and doubts. The book itself had its origins in a nearly sleepless night that began with whining at 2:00 a.m. Soon feeling an unexpected sense God was trying to speak to him, whining was replaced by pious demanding, then wonder, and a flood of questions in which the author kept asking "What are you trying to tell me in this book?" Crabb wanted more than a verse, or a single answer, he wanted to understand God's story to us. His prayer became "God, will You tell me what You want me to hear in each of these chapters? I want to know Your story." Don't get freaked out - he's not hearing audibly from God, and Crabb does not claim to have any kind of unique or mystical new revelation from God, but he does share in a fascinating way the insights he did get in this fresh adventure in reading through the Bible.

The best way to describe it might be by an example. A common theme throughout the book is that God is far more concerned with building our character than in increasing our comfort, with our holiness more than our happiness. In the chapter on I Kings, the author tells God that he's getting bogged down and losing interest in reading the love letters. He is trying to face huge challenges in live and is seeing friends go through horrible ordeals, only to find the Bible feeding him large doses of what seem to be history lessons.
"God, I need to know how to manage my life better so I can deal with headaches and hurting friends and disappointing pastors in ways that please You and keep me sane." 
"That was Solomon's mistake." 
"What?! You just lost me." 
"Your desire to be effective, to depend on biblical principles for success in your family, church, career, and friendships is legitimately strong. But when that desire is stronger than your desire to be holy and to depend on My power for becoming more like My Son, whether you succeed or fail in other ways, then you will not advance My plan, no matter how carefully you follow my principles or how much apparent success you enjoy."
66 Love Letters is a gem of book. It's not something to read through in one sitting (or even a dozen, at nearly 400 pages). It's not a set of commentaries, or expository preaching. You probably won't agree with everything he says. But it will help you marvel again at God's word, understand better what His love letters are saying to you, and show you that you're not alone in your doubts and confusion in your walk with the Lord.

There's a preview available at Thomas Nelson, and the book may be ordered from Amazon or other retailers.Check it out!

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