Readers of this blog will know how much I love books. I love collecting, I love reading, and I love learning, especially about the Word of God and the Christian life. I have been given the privilege of being a part of Crossway Books’ May Blog tour of Tullian Tchividjian’s Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels.
Tullian Tchividjian is pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and the author of Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different and Do I Know God? Finding Certainty in Life’s Most Important Relationship. He also blogs at On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Here’s the press release from Crossway,
Most Christians assume that the gospel is something non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, but after we believe it, we advance to deeper theological waters. In Surprised by Grace, Tullian Tchividjian shows how when God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to move them beyond the gospel, but to move them more deeply into it. The only antidote to sin is the gospel—and since Christians remain sinners even after they’re converted, the daily preaching of the gospel is essential for all Christians.
For Tchividjian, it was through the story of Jonah that he came face-to-face with the fact that the gospel is not only for non-Christians.
Surprised by Grace is a storied presentation of the gospel from the book of Jonah. It’s a story of sin and grace, of desperation and deliverance. It reveals that while we are great sinners, God is a great Savior. While our sin reaches far, his grace reaches farther. This story shows that God is in the business of relentlessly pursuing rebels—a label that ultimately applies to us all. He comes after us not to angrily strip away our freedom, but to affectionately strip away our slavery so we might become truly free.
This book is for anyone who is tempted, struggles, or continues to battle against sin. “I wrote Surprised by Grace (Crossway, May 2010) because we all need to be,” explains Tchividjian.
Over the next little while I will be reading and reviewing the book and including excerpts from the book for our enjoyment and edification. But here’s the exciting part.
YOU CAN WIN A COPY!
Here’s how you can win. Leave a comment below about how the sovereignty of God helped you make it through a calamitous situation in life. When the world seemed ready to end and everything was blowing up all around you, how was it that knowing that God was sovereign helped you make it through? I’ll randomly pick one of the answers to award a free copy of this book. And stick around as we interact with the book in the near future!
In 2007, I discovered two lumps on my neck. I was not sure what they were and I was scared thinking the worse. The irony is that I discovered the lumps on 9/11/07. I went for surgery two days after my sons birthday to remove of the lumps for a biopsy so they can determine what it was. I was diagonsed with Hodkins Lymphoma, which is the most curable of all the cancers. After I was told what I had, I had a sense of peace knowing God was in control. I did not understand why I went through it but I knew he was in control. I always knew God was sovereign but it was until that experience, which helped grow more mature in Christ than I have before and allow me to appreicate my family more than I did, but it was this experience that taught me God is absolute ruler over everything and He is still on His throne and the cosmos did not go into a frenzy because one of His kids got a disease. I have been cancer free for over two years now. I still have check-ups, but I am trusting in my Sovereign Lord who helped through that time.
Early on in our marriage, my wife began to experience some very strange physical symptoms that made normal, active living very difficult. After about a year of various tests, a diagnosis was given, and a specialist commented that “you will never have children.” Of course, this was heart-breaking to hear as a young couple. But we put our hope in God and believed that he was in control–if we wanted us to have kids, then we would; if it wasn’t in his plans for us, then that was OK; either way, we could trust him.
To make a long story short, God saw fit over the period of a number of years to restore my wife’s health, and to bless us first with twin girls and now a third daughter.
I am a pastor, and so on many occasions I have encouraged people to trust God and embrace his sovereign plans for their lives. But I myself had lived a pretty easy life, and this was the first major life situation where I personally needed to walk the talk, so to speak. No surprise, God was faithful to us (and not just because he blessed us with children), and he used those circumstances to build my trust in him and to make me more sensitive to those who struggle with issues of infertility.
Since that time, God has brought me through several other “am I going to trust you?” moments, each time reaffirming his sovereignty at all times and in all situations.
I’m still learning this…
Life seems to be going by too fast. The several jobs I have don’t seem to be great in the world’s eyes, but the Lord is sovereign and is working out all things for my good. His will– my sanctification.
[…] Allen Mickle: A featured excerpt on “Repentance” and a chance to win a copy of the book! […]
In the Summer of 1996, my father was diagnosed with a disease that would take his life that same Summer. The night before he went into the presence of the Lord, I was praying for God’s Will to be done in this situation and had a peace about whatever outcome might happen. As a result of all that happened, I was able to finish college (I was out for 2 years), get married, obtain my M.A. and I now have 2 daughters as well, with a son on the way. At the time my father passed away, I wasn’t exactly pursuing God, but God pursued me and brought me back to Him.
When I was evacuating New Orleans during Katrina, trust in God’s absolute ability to do whatever He pleases, gave me assurance that no matter what the following days brought I was safe in the arms of the Master.
I am unable to explain how I trusted God’s sovereignty initially. As a matter of fact, I have been asking that question for many, many years. To make a long story short, I lost both of my parents when I was 18 years old. I was raised in the Church and was devastated when my parents died. I didn’t understand how a God that “loved” me could “DO THIS TO ME.” I asked NUMEROUS individuals (Ministers included) to explain it and never got an answer that met with my satisfaction – until THIS YEAR (I’m in my mid/late 40’s). Being raised in the Catholic faith, every year as a child I would give up something for Lent. I would give up really hard things too (like ice cream and chocolate!); but this year, after connecting with an amazing small group leader from a Church in Washington DC, I decided to join their Church in reading through the Bible (which they started the beginning of Lent)! I have not observed lent since I was a child (before my parents died), but decided I would ask God to GIVE me something this year – rather than me give up something. (I wanted Him to grow my faith in unfathomable ways – I pray that constantly!) Well, little did I know that the Bible readings would start in the book of JOB, can you believe that? I became depressed immediately and realized I had unresolved grief from losing my parents (it turned out it was the loss of my sister – when she was 36 and I was 33 – that I never resolved). Through a Grief Share group, I was able to see that God IS sovereign and He does ALL THINGS for our good! It was such a comfort to watch the DVD presentations, share with a group and hear from others who had lost family members and felt the way I had! Praise God! (I returned to Church in 1992, but never resolved this issue of God’s sovereignty.) Thank you for asking this question and allowing me to express my feelings (one more time)! God is amazing!
When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I promptly lost my job and we had no way to pay our OB-GYN. The next couple of months were rather stressful. The day before we had to come up with our final payment, I got a call from a place I had worked for only one night (telemarketing, I couldn’t take more than one day.) saying they had a paycheck for me. The amount was $5 more than the final payment.
A few years ago the church I belonged to went through some very difficult times. There was much gossip, slander, discontent, and discord that ultimately broke the church in half. It pained me to see my beloved church family breaking apart. God made it very clear to my husband and I that we had to leave that church. As painful and difficult as that was I was reminded that God works all things for good to those who love Him and that He desires me to trust in Him and His faithfulness. As I look back I see how God used these circumstances to grow me and strengthen me as a believer. When I consider how much many of us learned and grew through this experience I’m so grateful that God walked us through this leaving all bitterness behind. What an amazing God we serve!