Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Review: "You Were Born for This" by Bruce Wilkinson

“What if I told you I'm certain you missed a miracle yesterday? And not just any miracle but one that Heaven wanted to do through you to significantly change someone's life for the better—maybe your own?”

So begins Bruce Wilkinson's (of The Prayer of Jabez fame) latest book, You Were Born for This: 7 Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles. Wilkinson sets out to teach the reader how to consistently perform miracles (aka “divine coincidences, miracle moments, supernatural provisions”) for other people. Frankly, I believe this book has several flaws, therefore, I do NOT recommend you read this book. Let me repeat that, I do NOT recommend this book.

Wilkinson's practical examples do not match his definition of a miracle. On page 16 he defines a miracle as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” That brings to my mind Jesus making the blind see, the lame walk, the sick healthy, and the dead alive. While I do not doubt the working of the Holy Spirit in Wilkinson's examples, I don't find them to be “extraordinary.”

For example, he tells the story of a man walking through a large airport praying for God to use him for a miracle. The man then feels led to talk to a young female store clerk that he just made a purchase from. The woman reveals that she's pregnant and going for medical tests soon to confirm if something is wrong with the baby. The two pray together and she feels comforted. On the man's return trip he finds the woman and the two rejoice that the baby is fine.

Divine intervention to provide comfort for the young woman? Absolutely. An extraordinary event? Not really.

Wilkinson's method of achieving a life filled with predictable miracles has little to do with a life filled with prayer, Bible study, Scripture memorization or spiritual disciplines. Instead you say a prayer making yourself available to God for his “assignment” and then you watch for it all day. When you see certain signs and feel the Spirit prompting you then you act.

Maybe I'm nitpicking but I think he has the cart before the horse. The “miracles” he describes should be the outcome of a live filled with spiritual disciplines, not the reverse. A Christian's focus should be on Jesus, not what amazing experience can I have today.

Wilkinson's analogy of Heaven as “Command Central” and Christians as God's “partner” paint a picture of a weak God. The presence of God is a dreadful (in the overwhelming, awe-inspiring sense) place to be. It is NOT an office where messages are sent out just as a courier or messenger service sends out people. Also, God chooses to use people to accomplish his will but we are not his partners. Partners imply equality. We are never on the same level as God. We are his creation, his children and his servants. But never his partners.

I'm sure that this book will become wildly popular and widely quoted. It utilizes that feel-good, experience based philosophy that is so common among Christian literature right now. And I'm sure many good deeds and “miracles” will be accomplish in the next few years, I'm just not sure that lives will significantly be changed.

This book was provided for review by Random House, Inc. You may purchase the book at their website through this link: You Were Born for This.


Amy said...

I appreciate your honesty! Thanks for the helpful review of a book we are sure to hear more about!

Shoot Son Dang Girl Alissa said...

Good call on this review. I truly hope that many read it. (Maybe when they are praying for predictable divine miracles, God will send a memo via heaven fax that will cause these people to sense that He wants them to check their RSS feeds... totally kidding)

But on a serious note, I think Wilkinson is over-spiritualizing how we should be living our everyday lives anyways. We should be regularly talking to strangers, we should be seeking to pray and build gospel centered relationships with others, we should be regularly looking ways to shows Gods love to people. It is a ridiculous concept to ask God to tell us to do things already clearly stated in the Bible.

Anyways, great review, thanks!

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Thanks, Alissa. I found myself very frustrated with this book, in large part because the actions he describes should come out of a life of devotion. This way seems more like a shortcut to the sensational and emotional.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

We are studying John in BSF this year, and as you probably know, John calls Jesus' miracles "signs." They all point to Who He is -- the divine Son of God.

I think that using that definition you could probably stretch the definition of "miracle" to include the many ways that God intervenes in our lives in order to show Himself to us or to others.

Hmmm--I just sort of convinced myself of that. I don't need to read this book, but I might be on the lookout for more "miracles."

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