I was really excited when I received an advance reading copy of O2 Breathing New Life into Faith by Richard Dahlstrom
I must admit, reading “heavy duty- extra spiritual books” (Yes, you can laugh at that), are hard for my mommy brain. I don’t get enough time to inhale most details, never mind read something that actually requires my attention! I often leave those books last on my list, skim them, or let Mr. C read them first and he gives me a brief overview of them.
I COULDN’T DO THAT WITH THIS BOOK. It really grabbed my attention.
Mr. Dalhstrom grabs my attention from the get-go of the forward with his words “Does our culture have a hard time with marriage? The church does too.” He goes onto to describe, or rather question why anyone would actually want to go to church and what differentiates “people of faith” from “the world”… and admits, not much these days. I was actually taken aback through the first few pages of the book… it was some hard stuff to swallow.. and honestly, Mr. C and I debated a lot of what the book was saying. But as you read further on the book you realize that Mr. Dalhstrom is giving you the information.. the sides… the vital information that helps mold us and teach us. He goes further to explain that if we really are the body of Christ we have to stop chewing off our arms and work together…. now this is where Mr. C and I really debated a lot on… after all we have to get down to the actualities of whose who, etc… So thank-you Mr. Dalhstrom for giving us a great conversation that night! *W*
The book is basically divided into 3 parts;
- inhaling – those who take in the word, and care about learning it,
- How to make sure we’re on the right page by knowing the “game plan”
- exhaling – those who do the work, but inhale the “Word” not much.
- and integration. – combining the two!
I loved this! It really helped me understand where I fit in, and what I was over-compensating on. What I over-look on occasions, as well how much I’m on track.
I wrote a lot on the margins in this book because it brought up a lot of questions for me, like whether our church is caught up in church membership for those who want to help, or if allowing people to help before they are ready, really increases their faith? Does it matter if they are representing our church, or Christ if they aren’t Christians and we’ve invited them to partake with us group projects? For those of us who were cast aside (because we had fallen at some point in our faith) not participating was like a slow death and frustration to no end. I know that from being part of that group. I love the words he uses here (pg 33) “Being asked to play rather than sit was just the wooing I needed. The rediscover of Christ as a source of hope and healing begin with exhaling for me..”
He breaks down the need to exhale, and the need to inhale in a lot of detail. How we must realize the real journey is continual instead of just reaching a destination; how we learn things on the way that will change us and encourage us in our walk. That through the disruptions and challenges we face may be “unpleasant in the moment but making us healthier for the long haul, better able to live the life for which we were created.” (pg 61). That really hit home for me — There are certain things in my life that were nasty, but because we have persevered through them, I am a better follower of Christ because of them. Does this mean I’m done? No, but I have a little more understanding.
Mr. Dalhstrom relates our relationship with Christ as a marriage and how we need that intimacy with Him to sustain and keep our relationship alive. At first when he was starting using the words for this, I was a little uncomfortable, but the truth of the matter is, is that is exactly what we need to hear –God love and wooing for us, the intimate wishes he has for our relationship with him, the covenant relationship that God requires of us and that he truly cares about our choices in life. I was awed and changed by the concept. I mean I’ve heard it before, but not put in such a way that I felt romanced by God, kwim?
Throughout the book Mr. Dalhstrom laces Jesus’ examples of his life and message. ie. How Jesus serves humanity and how he delighted serving people whom everyone else thought was not worth the time.
I think one of the best things I took away from this book was this quote. “There’s more than one way of living in this world, and the way you play the game will be determined by the rules you choose and by your definition of winning”. (pg 87)
This book really made me think of how much of Jesus is embodied in me, or am I more like a pharasiee and worried about the “rules”. Growing up in a mixure of rules and not so much of a physical role-model of Christ, it’s something I struggle with for years. I love the concept of exhaling — doing, but sometimes get so caught up on the details I never get anywhere. It was extremely refreshing to find this issue being addressed in this book and some ways of dealing with it.
Surprisingly I found a large section of this book devoted to hospitality, and it as an act of worship. Something I had never thought of a lot. I mean a little bit sure, but that there is more to it than passing out a few cookies here and there, and how I need an attitude adjustment on this subject.
Another interesting topic Mr. Dalhstrom covers is living generously! Whether it be from the “green” movement that’s going hard these days, or out of the will just to do good, it was interesting and very relevant to read how our economic choices have hidden costs and that we need to think about these. I think the big questions it covers is: How do I define my life? By what I consume? or what I give? and do we rely on the resources that God provides for us?
I could go on and on about the topics covered in this book. It really was helpful and I am feeling inspired and challenged in what I do with my life. It’s the intentional living that I need to learn to strive for regardless if I feel up to it, for that day or not.
So, I will say this is a MUST read of 2008. As someone who struggles with where I fit into the scheme of life and Christianity, it really did help breath new life into my faith! If you want to buy one book this year to improve your walk with God I strongly encourage you to pick this up and read ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT. Dont’ stop at the first part (because yes, it’s frustrating to read unless you see the whole picture…) ..
Now I’m handing my copy to Mr. C and we’re going to battle the rest of the discussion out!!
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