This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute (www.desertbibleinstitute.com).
Jeff Goins does a good job of presenting an often overlooked issue in our society – living in the moment. So often people in general, and Americans especially, are concerned about what they are going to do once they finish college, after the kids leave home, or when they retire: Seldom are they concern about what God is doing in their lives right now as they sit at their computer reading a book review.
One of the strengths of Gions’s book is its clear, logical structure. At the beginning of each section, Goins makes a point that he wants address as most readers do. Then he gives a detailed analogy that ties this point together in several different ways. This adds to both the ability of the book to relate to the audience and the scope of the audience the book reaches. He then ends with a summation of his point followed by what I liked best- a brief testimony of someone detailing with the exact point Goins was just discussing. This last element proved a saving grace for the book.
Not only did this use of testimony break up the narrative and didactic writing of the book, but it also added credibility to what Goins was saying. Goins was 26-years-old at the end of writing this book (likely he still is since it was released 2 weeks prior to this review) and therefore many of his personal analogies were connected to his childhood and college experiences. While these are great, they limit the scope, depth, and reflection that are necessary for a book of this magnitude. Cleverly, he makes up for some of this by including testimony of people who have dealt with issues that only come along later in life. At the end of the book Goins tries to further close this gap talking about his experiences with death, but again it is a teenager (and then later young man) dealing with death causing it to lack real perspective. Probably my greatest criticism of this book is that there should have been not only more testimony but also that it should have gone into more depth.
While Goins chapter structure was excellent, his overall structure was a little shaky. This is a normal transition that one might expect from someone who goes from blog writing (Gions’s specialty) to full-fledged, non-fiction, book writing. This is most apparent in the middle of the book when Goins talks about his experiences as a writer, what it takes to be a writer, and what that meant in his life. Again, this was not surprising to find in his book since it is a topic he often talks about, but it was only vaguely on point to the crux of the book. It ultimately came off as either something he had pulled in from another writing project to beef this book up to 179 pages or his book didn’t have a good through-point: Either way it’s a weakness, but one that is later overcome.
Goins saves his book, and brings his points altogether, with his images of his newborn son. This allows him to explode out of the minimalistic issues of angst-ridden teen years and finding-myself college years. Here his book stops being for teens and starts being for a far wider audience. What makes this part of the book so compelling is that it captures how the hard, everyday challenges grow us into the person God wants us to be.
While Goins doesn’t out-and-out state this, I think he touches on the idea that by embracing the little moments of growth throughout our lives we endear not only ourselves but also Christ to the unbeliever. The unbeliever definitely sees how we, as Christians, deal with death, the loss of a job, and persecution, but these instances are few and far between. What they truly see is the little moments – the moments when God breaks us and remakes us, one act at a time, into the person He wants us to be. They see the struggle and they see the growth and in the end (with a little luck) they see the Lord.
This is a good book and if you have a hard time in the middle, hang in there, there are some big payoffs at the end. It is my firm hope that Goins comes back and re-releases this book in 20 years. If he does, I bet this book will shift from good to astounding.
Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.
Desert Bible Institute, President
Dr. Nicholson is a member of the christianaudio review program. To learn more, visit their website at: http://www.christianaudio.com.