Friday, January 15, 2016

Good Things, by Kevin Gerald

God is good.  He loves us.  He wants to bless us.  That and more is clear in the scripture.  Kevin Gerald, pastor of Champions Centre in the Seattle area, wants you to know the goodness of God and claim his favor in your life.  Good Things: Seeing Your Life Through the Lens of God's Favor starts out with an audacious promise: once we become more aware of "the extent of God's favor" we can "begin to experience immediate benefits and blessings" (emphsis added).

The strength of Gerald's book is his emphasis on God's goodness.  God is for us!  God loves us more than we can understand; that is a constant theme of scripture.  Jesus paved the way for us to receive not only God's mercy, but also God's unearned favor.  I like the way Gerald draws the distinction between favor and mercy: "God's mercy doesn't give us what we deserve [the consequences of our sins].  God's favor gives us what we don't deserve [God's abounding and endless goodness on our lives]." (There I go adding emphasis again.)

Good Things alone does not give sufficient evidence to conclude that Gerald is a health and wealth, name it and claim it pastor.  I had never heard of him before picking up this book, and have never heard him preach.  A few minutes on the internet will reveal that he is pastor of a large, thriving congregation, and he is associated with other megachurch pastors, several of whom have received negative publicity for their large salaries and luxurious lifestyles.  I hesitate to draw conclusions based on the pastors with whom he associates.

In practical terms, Good Things is equal parts "power of positive thinking" and "name it, claim it."  You see, it's all about changing your perspective and attitude.  The challenges in your life don't mean you aren't receiving God's favor.  It may be that favor is "not yet visible, hidden by a process that can be painful."  In light of trouble, problems, setbacks, "Turn your mind toward favor and watch how favor data starts to appear. . . . An avalanche of ongoing favor that comes by consistently thinking favor!"  You have to "think favor-oriented thoughts."  We need to "use our prophetic voice to predict God's goodness," speaking "words of confidence in God's goodness and favor."

None of this is to say that I am totally disagreeing with Gerald.  I agree, God is good!  He loves me!  He wants to bless me, he has, is and will bless me!  But Gerald seems to be implying that if we don't experience God's favor, it's because we're not claiming it or acknowledging it.  This leaves the experience up to us, to our own attitudes and actions.  What is the difference between that and completely humanistic, pop-psychology self-affirmation?  God is bigger than that.  I guess I might as well try it so I can get some of those "immediate benefits and blessings" Gerald talks about.

(I do have to say, props to Gerald for including Isaiah Austin as an example of someone who proclaimed God's goodness and faithfulness during what could have been the darkest days of his life.  Isaiah is a great representative of Christ, of Baylor, and of the sport of basketball.  Sic 'em, Isaiah!)

Thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher for the complimentary review copy!

2016 Reading Challenge: A book published in 2016

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