Book Review of Our Last Great Hope by Ronnie Floyd

This book is a reminder of our purpose here on earth, if we call ourselves Christians. Our commission is to spread the news of God’s mercy and forgiveness, and his ability to rescue us. Yet we are distracted by our busy lives, entertainment, our fears, and by our many church-related activities.

Ronnie Floyd’s passion for people drives him to remove whatever roadblocks are in the way of their knowing God’s love for them. He steers us back to our highest priority; chapter-by-chapter he challenges our reasons for not sharing the gospel, then gives us tools to carry out that task.

I was excited to read this book because I was anxious to learn good attitudes and practices for sharing this good news of the gospel. I have met very few people who seem hungry for spiritual things. Yet I want to give them a taste of what a joy this life on earth can be when they walk with the Lord, and know the promise of eternal life after physical death.

I tend to get overwhelmed by the concept of how much the world tends to naturally move away from God. But I am encouraged by Floyd’s reminder that we don’t work alone to bring light, and that the best remedy for spiritual dryness is action. An important part of our action is prayer, and we are given nine actions we can take to talk to Jesus daily.

I would have appreciated some more examples of how this pastor and others have helped people with crises and struggles. When our friends try to manage their lives apart from God, we can encourage them to find spiritual answers to their troubles. I like hearing about these accounts. I want to know what the turning point is when someone changes their mindset and finds new hope and faith.

I love how the author constantly challenges the reader. “Think of the ways we allot our time and energy—our causes, our quests, our dreams, our hobbies and our pursuits,” he writes in Chapter 1. “How much eternal importance is in each one?” This reminds me of something I heard many years ago about taking a look at how you spend your time and money, and that will show you what you value most in life. A whole chapter in Our Last Great Hope covers the topic of evaluating everything financially.

I like the “Signs of Awakening” at the end of most chapters, gleanings from other authors and voices. For example, I am encouraged by a concept that the world is flat: no longer influenced only by a select few governments and businesses on the top, but also by all cultures and peoples, especially via the internet. I’m intrigued by the comment that as Christians we’ve been fleeing to the suburbs, leaving our inner cities to decline, and inspired to know about the Moravians in the 1700’s who prayed for a century.

I recommend this book. It will help you focus on what matters the most, and on being intentional about sharing your faith.

[Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.]

Fasting by Scot McKnight

The spiritual activity of fasting is important throughout scripture, yet the fact that it is really a simple physical activity has confused me. What is the point of fasting? When should we fast? And what good does it do? I’ve always wondered if it was supposed to accomplish something good in the world, or in me, or both. I’ve fasted in order to hear the Lord speak to my heart, and to build myself up for a spiritual trial, and frankly have never been quite sure I understood fasting.

So when Thomas Nelson offered Fasting as one of its books in the Ancient Practices Series, I jumped at the chance to get some of my questions answered. Thank you, Scot McKnight, for sensing the confusion in the church community and offering us a way out of it.

The author’s position is that “fasting is a person’s whole-body natural response to life’s sacred moments.” By that I assume he means that we lose our appetite because of intensely upsetting events or emotions. I agree that in a severe enough crisis, people are unable to eat, but possibly he means for us sometimes to go a step further than a natural response, to a willful fast.

I appreciate the discussion of how we in the Western world have divided our selves into the spiritual part (mind, emotions) and the non-spiritual part (body). I have noticed in scripture how a person’s devotion and faith were demonstrated physically in those times and places so much more than we do here (North America) and now. In times of grieving or crisis—spiritual or not—we read of some wearing sackcloth, tearing their garments, tithing living animals, and traveling many miles to join in a national religious holy day. In a way I have envied them for their culture which brought a person’s religious faith from the inside to the outside.

In reading this book, I did struggle a bit with the “body” terminology: body turning, body plea, body calendar, body hope. I think the text would have flowed a little more easily if I wasn’t interrupting my train of thought to wrap my head around what those terms really meant, and trying to chase away society’s current connotations of body image and body contact.

The idea of fasting as a response to a situation, versus fasting for a result, appeals to me as a purer motive, yet there seems to be no way of getting around the scriptural and traditional practices of fasting for certain outcome. In fact, one of the latter chapters, “Fasting and its Benefits”, seemed to conflict with the earlier chapters in the book. So I’m still gathering information and wisdom on my personal attempts to understand the practice, and this book is an important launch for that journey.

I would recommend Fasting to all who desire to follow completely the Lord’s multi-faceted plans for transforming us to be more like Him. I enjoyed some of the fringe benefits of reading this work, such as learning more about devoted Christians from the time of Christ to today, and about ancient and modern religious practices. I even learned a bit about myself, some of it disappointing. But I am grateful for the way Scot McKnight’s book very gently and subtly suggests that we take a close look at what makes us grieve, and what we truly yearn for. Any book that does that is of immense value to a believer.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”