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Book Review: Found in Him

I confess I’m not a great book reviewer. My reviews are far more subjective than objective, and I struggle to point out negative aspects. So normally I just review books I agree with and love.

And…today is no exception. While writing A Christ-Centered Wedding, I did a lot of research into and thinking about what our marriage union with Christ really means. When I heard that Elyse Fitzpatrick was writing a book on this very topic, I was anxious to read it, only to discover it wouldn’t be out until well past the due date for our book. This was probably a gift from the Lord so that I wouldn’t be tempted to plagiarize all of Fitzpatrick’s book.

I had the honor of hearing the author speak last year at the True Woman conference in Indianapolis. When we go to conferences, there is a tendency for us to make mental to-do lists of what we need to do and change when we return home. We hear a convicting message, determine to change things, and go home with renewed resolve. Or maybe it’s just me. But then Elyse Fitzpatrick spoke on our identity in Christ and talked about her desire to give women “No fluff, no bricks, just Good News.” I walked away refreshed, encouraged, and knowing how dearly I was loved in Christ.

This is the same feeling I had after reading Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with ChristThe entire book is about Christ. We’re so used to the “now that you know this, go do this” section of books that I kept waiting for it. But it wasn’t there. The book is divided into two parts: Part 1 deals with the incarnation of the God-man, Jesus Christ; Part 2 with our union in and with Christ.

This is a book that needs to be slowly chewed and reflected on. I received a digital copy from the publisher in exchange for a review (which is not required to be positive), but I will be ordering a hard copy just so I can write all over it and come back to it, a bit at a time, to really think it through. Fitzpatrick’s writing is accessible and understandable, but not watered down or overly sentimental. It’s like someone walking you through Scripture and constantly reflecting–“Can you believe this? This is the Christ who has loved you. This is what He did and is still doing.”

My eyes were opened and my heart rejoiced as I read about the deep significance of Jesus’ faithfulness and the purpose of His perfect life. I better understood the resurrection through the lens of childbirth. In fact, here’s just a small quote–I highlighted half of the book on my Kindle, so I’m really restraining myself not to share quote after quote:

When we read that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isa. 55:9), we really don’t have much of a clue what that means, do we? Think of it: a virgin shall conceive. A desolate unmarried man sings because he gives birth and sees his children. A new humanity is born in a new garden, but this time it is not from the dust of the earth but from the flesh of God, once dead but now alive, that they come. God labors! The Son cries out in pain, and we are born again! He thought nothing of the shame of the cross because of the joy of our birth in him (Heb. 12:2).

There is some great stuff in the second part of the book, as well. The author discusses what it means for us to be the bride of Christ and spends some time reflecting on the fact that in Christ we are all (male and female) in a way feminine in comparison to the masculinity of God. This might be a somewhat controversial concept, but in context it points us to rejoice in the loving Bridegroom and our union with Him:

Whenever anyone got around Jesus they felt both welcomed and in need of protection and provision, and they all came to know that he had initiated the relationship and was completely in charge.

The final chapter is as close to a “to-do list” as it gets, but in fact it’s much more like a “to-think-on” list. It’s an application in a way, as if to say, “If all the preceding thoughts are true, what implication does this have for my daily life?” But, unlike many other books and teachings, it’s not focused primarily on change. As Fitzpatrick writes:

For many people the entire point of Christianity is found here in the topic of change. No matter how one might define that word, many of us are primarily interested in how to get better, to be better, and to do more. Rather than spending most of our time reflecting on the incarnation and our union with Christ, the majority of messages and books in the Christian marketplace are about what we’re supposed to be doing. The deep and life-transforming message of the incarnation and our union with Jesus is trampled under the stampede of believers trying to find the secret to being a better you.

So this final chapter shows how doing just that–reflecting on the incarnation and our union with Christ–powers and inspires us in daily faithfulness.

I love that this book came out in time to meditate on it before and during the Christmas season. I highly recommend it. It’s not just a “woman’s book,” but Fitzpatrick’s writing style is such that I think anyone would greatly benefit from a thorough reading. Maybe an early Christmas gift for a friend or family member (or yourself?).

Book Review – Glimpses of Grace

glimpses-of-grace

When I started writing my book, I emailed another writer for advice and encouragement. I had never met Gloria Furman, but so appreciated her blog and the grace with which she conducts herself online. She kindly wrote back and shared some wisdom and advice with me, then went out of her way to help me get started with blogging by featuring me on her own blog. Because of Gloria, I have met many other women who also write with grace and love. I am so thankful for her willingness to help a new writer and I was thrilled to have the chance to review her book, Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home.

I’m a stay-at-home-mom of two young children. The world has two main messages for me: 1) You are wasting your time and doing women a disservice by neglecting other ambitions; or 2) What you are doing is so valuable–be the best stay-at-home-mom ever and relish every moment!

I used to agree with idea #2. I was going to be the best mom, taking my kids all over the place and doing craft projects and teaching them to read by age 2. But then reality set in and I would go to bed crying about my failures day after day, determined to do better the following day.

Gloria’s message in this book is a message of freedom, not pressure. She writes:

This book is about how we experience the grace of the gospel as we go about our daily lives in the home. It’s not about how to transcend to “a happy place” above the reality of life in the home. It’s not about how to relish our mundane existence and cherish it like it were an all-satisfying fountain if we would only soak it in for its own sake.

Glimpses of Grace is about how God’s power in the gospel can tran

sform us for his glory as we live by faith–right where we are in the mundane of our homes. It’s about how God has made us new in his likeness of true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24). The grace of God in Christ radically changes us. But how does he change the way we wash the same dishes every day? How does the gospel change the way our heart responds when we hear the doorbell ring during supper?

Reading this book, for me, was like sitting down with a kind sister in the faith and letting her pour into me from her experience of God’s love and grace during her own days of mundane. As a mom of three (almost four) and a pastor’s wife living in the Middle East, Gloria’s life is neither easy nor glamorous. She confesses her weaknesses readily. And that is the beauty, because we see the surpassing power of God is not from Gloria, but from her Father.

I commend this book to moms, wives, single women, and even to men. While many of the examples are from a mom’s point of view, the truths are universal and applicable to all.

Special Offer from Crossway

In honor of the book’s release, Crossway is excited to offer something special. Purchase a copy of Glimpses of Gracefrom your favorite local or online retailer from June 3-7 and receive a free Glimpses of Grace ebook as well as one of Gloria’s favorite resources—the ESV Study Bible Online (available on ESVBible.org)!

To redeem your free extras, simply scan and email your receipt to glimpses@crossway.org before 11:59am on Friday, June 7.*

Finally, you can watch the book trailer here:

Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home from Crossway on Vimeo.