LifeOversby Gracie Malone
If you've spent any time studying Jesus's teachings, you may have noticed that they seem a little . . . backward. The last will be first, in giving we receive, there is strength in weakness, the way to life is through death. But what does it all really mean?
With a healthy dose of wisdom and wit, Gracie Malone shows you just what walking with God looks like. As she takes you through the upside-down teachings of Jesus, Gracie uncovers the path to a fresh faith in living out the ChristLife. Arranged in twelve thought-provoking chapters complete with study questions, LifeOvers is perfect for small groups or your own personal growth.
Jesus lived upside-down. He stood out within his society, pressing against the norms and teaching the opposite of what the world said. In LifeOvers: Upside-Down Ways to Become More Like Jesus, Gracie Malone shows the reader how to follow the upside-down teachings of Jesus. She labels this lifestyle the Christlife: Jesus abiding in our hearts, doing his work from the inside out, rather than us working from the outside in. (p. 19) Malone covers topics such as self-confidence, rest and work, suffering, salvation, and spiritual growth.
One of the upside-down truths says that God exalts the humble, but He humbles those who exalt themselves. (James 4:6) Malone says that in order to make your way up, you must step down and allow God to lift you up. Pride keeps us from admitting that we are not perfect and that we need God’s help. We should admit we are nothing without God and use the gifts He gives us for His glory. Malone uses the story of Nebuchadnezzar to support this premise. (Daniel 4:28-37) Nebuchadnezzar thought too high of himself, forgetting that blessings come from God. God intervened. He brought Nebuchadnezzar to a state of madness. The king wandered for seven years before he declared God’s glory and came back to his senses.
Christ came as a humble servant to others. We should follow Christ’s example and become servants as well. Malone says this means living for others, not for self. Our glory lies not here on earth, but in heaven. “We are all destined to reign with God in heaven… but before we can take our first-place position in God’s future kingdom, we must do our second place here on planet earth.” (p. 49) To live as servants, we must show love to everyone, even our enemies. Malone says Christ respected people simply because they were creations of God. We should give to others through our loving actions and through telling the truth of Christ’s sacrifice.
These adjustments will not always come easy. Malone says that God sometimes puts difficulties in our lives to remind us of our dependence on Him. If we allow Jesus to become the leader in our lives, He will help us along the right path and pick us up when we fall. Ironically, the weaker we are, the stronger we become in Christ’s sufficiency. We will not always understand what God does in our lives, but we must give everything up to God and remember that He’s in control.
The book includes sidebars with short, upside-down truths such as “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called,” (p. 44) “Reason says, ‘Seeing is believing.’ Faith says, ‘Believing is seeing,’” (p. 149) “In God’s eyes, little children are the big thing,” (p. 190) and “I live to die, I die to live; the more I die, the more I live.” (p. 209)
The author brings readers into a profound interaction with God’s Word. She starts each chapter with a Scripture verse, uses Scripture to support her points, and includes discussion questions at the end of every chapter that require readers to look up several passages in the Bible. Her frequent use of The Message may offend those who do not accept paraphrases of the Bible.
Malone writes specifically to women. She illustrates her points in ways women 30-years-old and up especially will relate. LifeOvers takes simple biblical principles and discusses them in depth. Malone uses well-written stories and easy-to-understand explanations to show how to follow the upside-down life of Jesus Christ. – Harmony Wheeler, Christian Book Previews.com