Monday, September 3, 2012

Greater by Steven Furtick

I just finished reading a pre-release copy of Greater by Steven Furtick which hits bookshelves tomorrow, September 4. I learned of the book when my name was selected out of 650 women at the Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks Conference in July. I was not familiar with Pastor Steven Furtick, lead Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The following is a description of the book from the publisher's website:

Are you ready to open your imagination to the possibility that God has a vision for your life that is greater?

We all have honest moments when we’re gripped by a desire to feel that what we’re doing matters more. That who we are matters more. 

And according to one of the most shocking verses in the Bible, Jesus wants the very same thing for every one of us:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” -John 14:12

That single promise—“even greater things than these”—should be enough to shatter our acceptance of spiritual mediocrity. Unfortunately, most believers have only tried and given up on vague notions of greatness…then settled into a life that’s just good enough.

Good enough = Baseline living that is marked by mediocrity, stuck in spiritual survival mode, and controlled by complacency.

Greatness = Vague, unrealistic aspirations of doing better that don’t work in real life and lead to endless frustration.

But there is a third way.

Greater = The life-altering understanding that God is ready to accomplish a greatness in your life that is entirely out of human reach—beyond anything you see in yourself on your best day, but exactly what God has seen in you all along. 

In Greater, Pastor Steven Furtick draws on the biblical story of Elisha to empower you to:
   • Take a God-given dream from idea to reality 
   • Stretch your limited resources and abilities in ways you never thought possible 
   • Replace the images of yourself that keep you feeling stuck in the past 
   • Make a significant impact with your life starting today, rather than making endless plans for tomorrow that you never get around to 

If you’re tired of being ordinary, it’s time to dream bigger. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to begin, it’s time start smaller. It’s time to ignite God’s Greater vision for your life.

❧          ❧          ❧

I couldn't quite figure out how I was going to read it amidst what I was currently already reading—but I tried a new thing. The treadmill. I'm not the most athletic woman on the planet, but it worked (I admitI'm the only person I have seen who actually wears that clip thing to turn the treadmill off if you accidentally stumble or fall off—except my youngest who's is blind whose clip I fasten right before mine!).

So as Mary listened to Adventures in Odyssey with earphones and my phone, I read away at Greater. 

At first, I got a little concerned that maybe Steven's zeal could scare people into thinking that changing diapers, going to soccer games, cleaning toilets, and working day-in-and-day-out at a fairly simple, mindless job was for the birds (remember, I didn't know him). My readers know that I cut my teeth under Elisabeth Elliot's teaching and was blessed that she called me her friend. She challenged me time after time that the mundane when offered to God could become a gateway to joy—which was the name of her radio program (and one of the good and right things I like to teach younger women). 

So you might say, I began reading with a slightly skeptical point of view. Thankfully, Steven did touch on that doing greater things didn't mean you had to leave your family and move to Tanzania, or leave the kids you got for ones that needed you on the other side of the globe.

Then, another little problem so-to-speak popped up. (sorry Steven if you are reading, I know most people don't start of telling you what they think with a few issues that they personally were coming from! there's a happy ending!) Perhaps because Steven is a young pastor, I became preoccupied thinking I wanted my kids to read this book. That's one of the enemy's oldest tricks! Get the reader thinking about someone elseand above alldon't apply it to your own heart!

I couldn't help but really think of young people though as I read it. (Not that an older person cannot benefit anytime they read a scripture, of course, as I told you I did!) Like the reading below (hope it's OK on internet to show a page of a book!) where Steven says exactly what he told some friends of his when his lifestyle was changing as a result of getting serious with God. He took them to Taco Bell to talk. Can you see it below?

He says he loves them but he can't hang out with them anymore, because they're not heading in the same direction. I think when a young person reads something like that, it could hit them between the eyes to examine just who are they hanging out with and is the direction they are heading bringing glory to God?

Greater did challenge me to apply God's truth to my own life. 

Before long, because of some other truths God had put in my heart from His Word that He had reminded me of this summer before I got the bookmixed with the story of Elijah and Elisha that Steven uses in the bookI could sense God was saying, "You continue in the way I have shown you, Juana. Yes, it's good and right for you to want your children to read a book, but I want you to internalize my Word into your life—and keep praying for them, too."

My favorite part in Greater was literally my part in Greaterthe prayer at the end. I tweeted that I had just finished Greater, and it was a holy moment at the gym.

For more on Greater or to order the book, click here.

Below, meeting Lysa Terkeurst at She Speaks, where I won Greater.

Walk by faith,

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