Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book Review: Fearless by Max Lucado

Simple Answers to Living Without Fear

By Lauren Yarger
“Fearless” by Max Lucado, a timely essay on the complicate process of overcoming life’s many fears, offers good advice, catchy turns of phrase and hope-filled stories and can be summarized in one easy lesson: trust God. That lesson, true and sound as it might be, could ring a little hollow for believers in the throes of severe struggle, or for non believers hoping to find solutions in the book (Thomas Nelson, 2009).

In typical Lucado style, the minister of writing and preaching for Oak Hill Church in San Antonio, TX offers lots of practical advice. There are action plans for controlling fears we encounter. I particularly liked the eight-step and easy-to-remember approach to dealing with worry (each step begins with letters that spell out the acronym PEACEFUL). In addition, Lucado gives good advice about praying for our children, focusing on what God has accomplished, trusting God to use evil for good and remembering that the Holy Spirit walks with us through any trial.

He gives many “Lucadoisms,” those “ah ha” moments that become fuel for status updates on social networking sites like:
• “Nothing can foster courage like a clear grasp of grace. And nothing fosters fear like an ignorance of mercy.”
• “Questions can make hermits of us, driving us into hiding.”
• “Fear feels dreadful. It sucks the life out of the soul, curls us into an embryonic state, and drains us dry of contentment.”
• “Whether or not storms come we cannot choose. But where we stare during a storm, that we can.” (incidentally, I felt that thought could have been edited into better structure)

He tells hopeful stories of faith born out of fear, like the conversion of Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Lucado’s own experiences as he faced heart surgery, but the bottom line always is the same: just have faith.

Arguably, he's right, but practically, this advice won't always bring the comfort intended. When struggling with the fears Lucado highlights like financial ruin, disappointing God, violence, death, insignificance and the unknown, sometimes knowing that we should just trust God is easier than doing it, even if that's what we want to do. Is it helpful to tell the parent sitting at the bedside of a dying child to just "trust God?" It’s like telling an atheist who struggles with the idea of God to “just believe.” Yes, that solution will fix the problem, but does that advice really meet him in the midst of fear and help him know how to do that?

Believers unable to apply the advice to their situations, or unable to view them “from an eternal perspective” might end up feeling like failures, like their inability to just fix everything with some simple theology or scripture means that their faith isn’t strong enough. I suspect also that some non-believers who pick up the book looking for solutions might discard it early on since most of its advice is based in faith or scripture. On page 18, assuming that nonbelievers must be among his readers, Lucado writes “Have you accepted the forgiveness of Christ? If not, do so.” Again, easier said than done.

The simple lessons don’t dismiss the helpful advice which can be found in the book, however, and readers who act on the advice will be able to find comfort and solutions. After all, as Lucado points out, we have only to turn on the television newscast to find something new to fear and actively putting it in perspective is proactive. Particularly helpful is a discussion guide at the end of the book with questions to help readers and small groups examine the fears detailed in each chapter and take practical steps to alleviate then

You can purchase the book here . You can share your own stories here and watch a trailer for the book here.

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Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

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Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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