“Grace” by Max Lucado

Can you name any author who is equally appreciated by old folks and young folks, men and women, short, fat, tall, or thin people? I can only think of one person and that is Max Lucado.

Lucado is probably the most successful Christian writer on the planet. With a hundred million books and related products you know that what Max says gets heard by a wide audience. Which is why I am delighted to recommend his latest book, Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine.

What’s it about?

In this book Max argues that “grace is God’s best idea.” Yet it is an idea barely appreciated by a worn-out society. In the church we hear, “Serve more, pray more, attend more” and we comply because we want to be good Christians and do our bit for the Lord. The problem is, there’s no end in sight. No matter how much we do, more remains to be done.

Don’t you find it strange that we are driven to do good and be good yet no one can answer the fundamental question, How good is good enough? Lucado finds this…

Bizarre. At stake is our eternal destination, yet we are more confident about lasagna recipes than the entrance requirements for heaven. God has a better idea: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). We contribute nothing. Zilch… Our merits merit nothing. God’s work merits everything. (p.47)

In this book Lucado takes a word that has been ruined by religion and brings it to life. What is grace?

Grace is simply another word for God’s tumbling, rumbling reservoir of strength and protection. It comes at us not occasionally or miserly but constantly and aggressively, wave upon wave. We’ve barely regained our balance from one breaker, and then, bam, here comes another. “Grace upon grace” (John 1:16)… We never exhaust his supply. “Stop asking so much! My grace reservoir is running dry.” Heaven knows no such words. God has enough grace to solve every dilemma you face, wipe every tear you cry, and answer every question you ask. (p.99)

This is a book I would recommend for all who are in need of grace, saint and sinner alike. It is a crystal clear proclamation of the good news of God’s grace. Its message will fill the sails of your soul with the fresh breezes of heaven.

However, one could argue that for those of us in the grace community, the message of this book is nothing new. It’s just one of many good books on grace. Even so, I recommend this book for another reason.

As a grace preacher, what I valued most about this book is Lucado himself. No one writes like Max. He is a master of economical writing, a virtuoso of prose. What Yo-Yo Ma is to cellos, Max is to words. He tells stories that resonate and fire the imagination.

As I was reading this book, my daughter recognized the author’s name and said “Punchinello.” She was referring to the lead character of one of the best stories of grace ever written, namely, Lucado’s children’s book You Are Special. (Parents, want to know how to reveal grace to your kids? Get this book!)

Why is this significant? Why does it matter that Max is good with words? Because we who dare to preach the gospel need to rediscover the lost art of story-telling.

The story-teller’s gospel

Jesus was a story-teller who told stories to prepare hearts for the gospel. “There was a man who had two sons…” “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king…” Do you see? People love stories. Stories prepare the soil of the soul for the seed of God’s word. The best stories reveal the true nature of God and his redemptive purposes for humanity.

Max is a gifted story-teller and his gift is evident in this book. For instance, you’ve probably heard the story of the women caught in adultery many times, but you’ve never heard it the way Max tells it. There’s Jesus, stooping and running his fingers through the dirt, the same dirt he used to make man, as if he is reminding himself from whence we came. “I made them out of dirt. Earthly people do earthly things.”

Then there’s story of the Red Sea which God opened “like a curtain” and closed “like a shark’s jaws” turning “Pharaoh’s army into fish bait.”

5-star badge_medI love these word pictures. Here’s another: “If hurts were hairs, we’d all look like grizzlies.” Classic!

You may have the best gospel in the word but if no one’s listening to you, your gospel won’t change a thing. People listened to Jesus and they are most definitely listening to Max Lucado.

Comments

  1. max is also running a series based on his book called “Grace with Max Lucado” that can be viewed through his website through iTBN: http://maxlucado.com/tv/
    :)

  2. Tom NeSmith says:

    I’ve been totally immersed in this (what I’ve come to describe as) grace thing for nearly 3 years. It started one morning when I woke up and found I’d been healed of physical and psychological issues. I hadn’t prayed or asked for healing. In fact, the previous night I told God I would no longer follow Him. If He was going to send me to Hell… well… I couldn’t change that.

    So I wake up a different person than I was the night before… and slowly realize what happened… and realize this was somehow payment for dumping God. Peace, joy, a sense of being completely whole… I realized not only was God not angry with me… He was in love (regardless of whatever I thought or felt or acted). Not only was He in love… He was downright love-crazed. So, I accepted that… and continually accept that.

    Every day is overflowing with a sense of His presence and downright romantic love. I guess He didn’t want to wait for the wedding. ;-)

  3. Thanks Paul for the review. You have a way with words too and a great story teller. I always enjoyed your writing too.

    Yours truly | Clifford Nathan • 克里夫 • 纳丹

    Sent from cellphone. Excuse me for any typo errors. Either spell corrector or Siri being silly again.

  4. Hi Paul, I hope I can be honest. After reading this review I was on Amazon quicker than you can imagine; but after reading the book I was really disappointed.
    I definitely got excited by the fact that you said ‘It is a crystal clear proclamation of the good news of God’s grace’. Yet I don’t think it is.
    One of the reasons I don’t think it is, is that on page 85 he talks about unconfessed sin being a knife blade in the soul (I wouldn’t mind him saying that so much if he saw confession the way you do), then at the bottom of the same page he writes that God remind us of our misbehaviour. For me what topped it off was his description of a christian prayer on page 87 that ended with the words ‘Please forgive me’!
    All of that seems to stand in complete contradiction to so much of what you’ve wrote on forgiveness & how God remembers our sin no more. I apologise if I’ve sounded blunt…I was hoping you might have picked up on it on your review so people can spend their money on more worthwhile books, like yours.

    • Hi John, I gotta be honest with you, if I only reviewed books where I agreed with the author 100% there would be virtually zero books on my review page. We all have our blind spots and quirks. For my money, Lucado’s pendulum is way more on the radical grace side of the spectrum than any confess-to-be-forgiven works theology. Didn’t you catch his heart? I find abundant, over-flowing grace in the man and I love it.

      For the record, I’m not against asking God to forgive us. Yes – God has already forgiven us 2000 years ago through the finished work of the cross. The gift has been given. But sometimes we have trouble receiving his forgiveness. If saying “God forgive me” helps you to receive his grace, then do it. Just as there’s no bad healing, there’s no bad forgiveness.

      For others reading this who are now wondering about Lucado’s views on grace, I encourage you to check out his page over on GraceQuotes.com.

      BTW, John, I’m glad you think my book is worthwhile!

  5. Haha fair enough. Im glad its not just your book on the review page.
    I think that’s something I struggle with…I can catch the heart of a person, or a book/film that isn’t Christian very easily. But when it comes to certain Christian books, I go into them with the mindset that I will put it down if it seems to compromise on the Gospel. I can’t seem to relax with some Christian books as much anymore until I’ve read through it once.

    Do you think that’s not slightly a crutch though? A friend once told me that confession in the catholic church is not so much about God forgiving the believer over and over again, but rather to assure the believer that they are already forgiven. I realise comparing what you’ve just said with Catholic confession is weak, but at the core in both situations, the persons heart is in the right place. My worry is that asking God to forgive us, would effect our relationship with Him negatively.
    It feels good after sinning to ask God to forgive us. But it doesn’t always feel good (or make us feel righteous) to just thank God after we’ve sinned for already forgiving us. Yet I think the latter is the faith response. What do you think?
    Apologising to God, or asking him to forgive us seems to makes one’s relationship with him almost too human if that makes sense…..if we upset a friend or colleague it is right and good to make amends and say sorry. Yet with God, as you wrote in your book, that ‘Thing’ between us has been completely removed already. Would it not be slightly insulting to say to God, ‘You know that thing you promised to forget, well, I was just wondering if you fancied forgiving me for it?’. Its natural to feel bad after doing something wrong, but “If the people worshipping God had really been purified from their sins, they would not feel guilty of sin any more, and all sacrifices would stop” [Hebrews 10:2 GNB]

    I actually really like a couple of Max Lucado’s kids books, they’re great. The Oak inside the Acorn is a personal fave. Id have to read ‘Grace’ again to know whether Max see’s himself primarily as a saint or a sinner. I think that would help. Do you know off hand? In the hands of a saint maybe asking God to forgive us is ok & helpful in their walk with Christ; otherwise though I do think it becomes like the little piece of bellybutton fluff that I loved reading about in your book. The tiny insignificant price tag on the big gift of grace.

  6. John; With all due respect, lets not get too legalistiic even on the side of grace, but rather rejoice and celebrate our common love of Jesus and his unfailing love for us. We need to be United in our faith rather than divided over small differences in our interpretations. By faith may we rest in His grace and rejoice in His promises!
    In brotherly love,

    • Thank you so much for the reply Bob.
      I actually completely agree with you :-) When i wrote this over a year ago i was definitely a bit too legalistic. I was essentially trying to spread the Gospel by correcting & engaging other Christians in debate, which was just crazy :-D
      Looking back, sharing in their joy of knowing Jesus would have been 10 times better.
      To paraphrase you: Its all about Jesus 😊
      Hope you have a good rest of your day man. Thanks again for replying.

  7. thank you for all your doing to uplift peoples souls but would like to ask, why should christians suffer and be persecuted by even the fellow christians?

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