Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Review for Changed by Faith by Luis Palau

Changed by Faith: Dare to Trust God with Your Broken Pieces . . . and Watch What Happens

A woman is left alone for two weeks with her husband's best friend. He flirts, she makes the wrong choice. She regrets, her husband doesn't forgive. She's finds herself divorced, alone, broken....

A man grows up in the slums of a Costa Rican city. He's abused by his father and drinks to forget ....

A wealthy business man has it all, drive for success, status, big house, every material possession he could ever desire, neglected family.....

An angry, bitter woman in Bolivia, decides she's going to change the social injustices and rampant inequality of educational and job opportunities in her country. She runs to Cuba and becomes one of Che Guevara's henchmen, committing murder and acts of terrorism...

A Marxist leader enjoys the power and privileges of belonging to the upper echelons of a totalitarian regime in another South American country...

What do all these people have in common?

I once read a Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schultz, the creator of Charlie Brown. In it Sally, Charlie Brown's sister, is jumping rope. Suddenly she stops and bursts into heart rending sobs. Linus comes running up to her and asks what's wrong, what happened? Sally looks at him and replies, “I don't know. Suddenly it all seemed so futile.”

And that's the answer to the question. Each of these people came to a point in their lives where they lost their raison d'etre. They could no longer see the point of what they were doing. Something was missing from their lives. It all seemed so futile.

In Changed by Faith, Luis Palau introduces us to several such people and also includes many personal stories about his own family. He describes being raised in Argentina by a workaholic father who finally came to faith only to die when Palau was ten. Even though Palau was raised in a Christian home, it took many years of grinding poverty as his mother attempted to singlehandedly raise seven children and some Bible teachers that didn't pull any punches for Palau to finally come to true Christian commitment and faith.

And that is the second group of people he addresses in the book. People who have grown up in church, consider themselves Christians but have arrived at the same sense of meaninglessness that the above-mentioned people had come to.  Palau tells us how sterile Christians can come to the joy-filled life of victory, purpose and meaning when they truly surrender their lives to Jesus Christ.

Much of the problem, Palau asserts, is that even many Christians don't read the Bible. Either they don't truly study the scriptures, or they pick and choose what they will believe and obey. This can only lead to the same hollow living that unbelievers endure.

The most interesting part of the book for me as a believer, is the personal stories of the people I described at the beginning of this essay and how each of them turned from a life ignoring God, rejecting God, or even raging against God- to a life devoted to Him.

For people who are in the same boat, this book contains solid scriptural teaching that can lead each “dry and thirsty” soul to the “Streams of water” that never run dry and eternally satisfy.

One negative:  At the end of the book Palau tags on, almost as an afterthought, constructive ways Christians can live victoriously by helping their community.  Of course that is a good thing, but when he went on to describe strategies to do so he started sounding like he was preaching the social gospel. When he sited good examples from the books, "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller and "The Shack" by William P. Young I had to scratch my head.  Both of these books deviate from scripture in defining Christianity and even the Trinity.  Since Palau spends a good part of the middle section of his book discussing the need to become biblically literate and testing everything with scripture, I think he needs to practice what he preaches.
    However, it's possible that he didn't actually read either book but simply heard about them because the rest of his book is quite orthodox.

In conclusion,I recommend this book for people who are not Christians but are searching for “the thing” that is missing in their lives; for people who consider themselves Christians but suffer from a sense of emptiness; for new Christians; and finally, for believers who would like to understand how to counsel the aforementioned groups.

I received this complementary copy from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

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  1. Sounds like a great book! I love to read about how God touches hearts and changes lives. I'm visiting with the Weekend Bloggy Reading hop from Doorkeeper. Blessings!

  2. Sounds like a great book... futility can sure creep into life pretty easily if you let it. :)

  3. Nice review! Makes me so glad to know where I came from and where I'm going. ;) I was sorry to read that Donald Miller's work deviates from scripture. I've heard him speak and he is a brilliant and entertaining speaker.

    Thanks so much for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. :) Have fun finding some new blog friends, and I hope you'll visit Serenity Now again soon! :)

  4. Ladies, thanks for visiting. I've visited some of you today and I'll be visiting the rest of you before the day is out. Blessings!

  5. Hey there, I just followed you and I hope you take the time to stop by my brand new blog and follow me too!

    I really appreciate any new followers! (^_^)

  6. excellent review. Any time that God is glorified, is a Good time and is refreshing, and some of that living water inevitabley spills out on the reader. This was a great way to start the morning.
    Thank you.

  7. I really enjoyed this book review, Sharon. This sounds like a book that could inspire and motivate.

  8. Phyllis: Glad I was able to help you off to a great start!!
    Janette: Thanks!

  9. Thanks for the review--I might have to get this book. I love books that examine how we relate to God and the spiritual. Even though I'm not Christian, I find the allegories usually transcend the boundaries of specific religion. I appreciate this!

  10. My parents were in language school with Luis Palau. Being from Mexico his name is well known. I love people stories so I would probably enjoy those too. The negatives don't surprise me though. ;)

  11. Kidlit: I think you would find the book interesting but I think that, as a non believer, and obviously an intellectual thinker that you would probably enjoy "Surprised by Joy" or "Mere Christianity" both by CS Lewis.

    Esther: Ok. now that's called a teaser. Why does the negatives not surprise you?

  12. Newest follower via the Friday blog hop. I am a new contemporary romance writer and a reader of almost anything! Hope you stop by and check out my blog.

  13. This looks like an interesting book! Thanks for sharing it with us on NOBH!

  14. This sounds like a good book!

    Thank you for your comments on my review of Sing You Home. I think you're spot-on with why it was done that way!

    As for Gently Mad - love it, and I'm right there with you! ;-) I am following you now. :-)


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.