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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway: All In: You Are One Decision Away From a Totally Different Life

This is an inspiring and challenging book to help reshape and refocus the path of followers of Christ.
All In: You Are One Decision Away From a Totally Different Life
by Mark Batterson


Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Zondervan; Reprint edition (January 20, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0310341825
Genre:Spiritual Growth, Spirituality
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0


From the blurb:
The Gospel costs nothing. You can’t earn it or buy it. It can only be received as a free gift which is compliments of God’s grace. It doesn’t cost anything, but it demands everything. It demands that we go “all in,” putting all that we have into God’s hands. And that’s where we get stuck―in spiritual no man's land. We’re afraid that if we go all in that we might miss out on what this life has to offer. It’s not true.

The only thing you’ll miss out on is everything God has to offer. And the good news is this: if you don't hold out on God, God won't hold out on you. Readers will find Batterson’s writing filled with his customary vivid, contemporary illustrations as well as biblical characters like Shamgar and Elisha and Jonathan and . . . Judas.

No one has ever sacrificed anything for God. If you always get back more than you gave up, have you sacrificed anything at all? The eternal reward always outweighs the temporal sacrifice. At the end of the day, our greatest regret will be whatever we didn’t give back to God. What we didn’t push back across the table to Him. Eternity will reveal that holding out is losing out.

The message of All In is simple: if Jesus is not Lord of all then Jesus is not Lord at all. It’s all or nothing. It’s now or never. Kneeling at the foot of cross of Christ and surrendering to His Lordship is a radical act of dethroning yourself and enthroning Christ as King. It’s also an act of disowning yourself. Nothing belongs to you. Not even you.

Batterson writes, “For many years, I thought I was following Jesus. I wasn’t. I had invited Jesus to follow me. I call it inverted Christianity. And it’s a subtle form of selfishness that masquerades as spirituality. That’s when I sold out and bought in. When did we start believing that the gospel is an insurance plan? It’s a daring plan. Jesus did not die just to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous.”


Review:
I suspected this would be an inspiring book to start the year and I was right. The author challenges the followers of Christ to go “all in”; to take a leap of faith; to make a decision to surrender everything and trust in God’s will and direction. In the very first section the author raises the question “Who’s Following Who”? The author observes that many Christians make their plans and expect God to follow when we should be seeking God’s plan so we can follow Him.

I think this challenge would be awesome and wonderful if put into practice at a young age; certainly before we choose a course of study, a career path, a mate for life. Sadly, that doesn’t happen so much. We have all made mistakes, seeking our own selfish desires, rather than waiting for God to lead, open doors or deliver the right mate. As Batterson notes, we are taught a fierce individual independence which is inconsistent with surrendering to our God. Fortunately, Batterson reminds the reader at the end that “God wants to do amazing things” and He can do them through us if we allow Him to.

It is not simple though to always know God’s Will. I fear that some people might read this book and be discouraged or feel guilty, although I am sure that Mr. Batterson does not intend that reaction. Rather he hopes to elicit a conviction… as he says, a decision.

If all believers truly commit to the complete message of Mr. Batterson’s book then we all might become like Mother Teresa. Even the author doesn’t live such a live and I don’t see that as the calling for each of us. However I do agree that we need to commit our lives to God and trust Him in ALL things. To me it means living a life of integrity and doing the very best job where I have been planted and sharing His love and the good news of His salvation. This determination has grown stronger in my life as I have grown in my understanding of God’s Word. It has been strengthened by the personal times I have experienced God’s hand in my life -- protecting me, blessing me (and my family) and delivering us from troubles, financially, physically and emotionally.

From beginning to end I made notes in this book; I underlined and highlighted. It is a book that I will look at often to remind me of where I need to be; who I need to trust; who is in control. I know that I have failed to respond to God’s nudging at times and I think the challenge and encouragement from this book will help me to focus and respond more readily.

Some people reading this book might make a major change in their lives. Others, myself included, see in it a recognition that we can do better in our daily lives. It is not always about doing a big thing, but it is always about doing even small things well and for the right reason – all to the glory of God. All of the ladies in book club agreed that this book motivates us to think differently and change, even if in small ways.

This was our Ladies Book Club choice to start the year and my pick for First Book. When I started reading I knew I could not just speed through it like I do with fiction. 
This qualifies for my TBR challenge and “A” in Alphabet Challenge.

I always try to buy an extra copy of my Ladies' Book Club books so I'll have one for giveaway. This time I had given all of the books out but one person gave it back after reading so I have a gently read copy for giveaway plus I will add an eBook copy for international giveaway!

GIVEAWAY:
One (gently read) PRINT COPY - US Only
Kindle ebook - International Only


(Don't forget to fill in the form for entry!)
For 3 Extra Bonus entries
(a) comment on the review, OR
(b) Visit the Author's website and tell me something you learned or like there.

* This contest is open to US for Print Copy; all others for Kindle eBook.
* This contest will close 5 PM (Central) February 25, 2017. Winner will be announced in the Sunday Post on 2/26/17.
Winners are asked to respond on the winners form linked in the announcement or by email.

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