Cleanup on aisle one! Now who hasn't been there? Messes are everywhere and most of all, right smack in our own lives. As soon as I opened this book and read the Preface I knew I was going to travel on a journey. A messy one, but one that was going to be filled with grace.
This is my first book to read penned by Vicki Courtney. When I seen the cover and that red umbrella I was intrigued. Barefoot and running. Been there. Trying to run through the rain without getting wet is like trying to make it through the mess without getting dirty.
Vicki had my attention quickly. When she started off with a personal story, she not only shared a mess, but she gave the perfect picture of God's grace.
She is transparent and real. I love that she doesn't just give us scripture and say, do this and don't do that. Which you will find in chapter 6, "Law and Order". But she shares God through her own life. This is how we reach the world for Christ. She isn't afraid of being honest and sharing the ugly truths of life. We cover up and pretend. Yes, that's our plastic world. Pretend doesn't make for a joyful life. Grin and bear it, but for heaven's sake, don't share it.
Ever feel the need to be approved? Has Christian snobbery touched your life? Have you entered a church that was subscribed to the stained glass masquerade? Vicki touches on the subject that our churches have stopped being hospitals for the sick and have opted instead to become showrooms for polished pretenders.
"Most of us are hesitant to examine our hearts for fear of what we might find there. We have nothing to fear when we keep the steadfast love of the Lord as our faithful guide. His unfailing love gives us the courage to admit our struggles, open our wounds, expose our shame, and confess our sin. Living an authentic, vibrant, real faith requires us to admit we are under construction but deeply loved by God in the restoration process."
Vicki reminds us to keep God's grace in the spotlight. She speaks about transforming moments and the road to becoming the women and men God has created us to be. She shares turning points in her life where grace met the mess in the middle.
Here are a few questions Vicki gives us to ponder the chapters we have read:
- Can you think of a time when you went along with an expressed opinion, even though you disagreed, in order to conform and not make waves (that is, you "lost your voice")?
- When it comes to the shoulds and should nots, in what ways are you guilty of believing others should abide by your self-imposed rules?
- Would you say your core group of Christian friends is more likely to engage in the pretender game or come clean about struggles they are experiencing? And are there levels of disclosure? How deep do you go?
- How would you characterize your church? Is it a hospital for broken people or a showroom for polished pretenders?
- Can you think of a time when someone else's idol was exposed and you expressed a holier-than-thou attitude of disgust? What was the situation?
- What is your most recent encounter with shame? What were some of the messages or "shame tapes" that played in your head?"
I absolutely LOVE this book! I want to make my way through it again, slowly taking in the precious words of wisdom that Vicki shares. This is one of those books that has the power to set the reader on a course to releasing what this world expects from us and gives us the courage to let it all go and be real in Jesus! As you can see Vicki goes deep. She goes beyond finger pointing and gets straight to the heart of the matter. This is a book I highly recommend for every heart ready to explore all God has for us and living a life of abundant grace.
This book was a gift by Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.
Vicki Courtney is a national speaker to women of all ages and the best-selling author of many books and Bible studies, including 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter and Ever After. Vicki and her husband have three grown children, a son-in-law, daughter-in-love, and grandson.