A Book Review
Daniel Fusco’s new book, Honestly, gets straight to the heart of the matter when he writes at the outset, “But life’s messiness isn’t just the negative headlines—it’s everything that keeps us unbalanced. Life is extraordinarily unpredictable. Things happen that we can’t fathom—some of which we choose, and some of which are chosen for us.”
With this premise as a backdrop, Honestly, looks at the book of Ephesians to the rhythm of John Coltrane’s legendary album, “A Love Supreme”.
Daniel Fusco’s musical background as a bass player and lover of all things Coltrane sets the content of the book in the four movements of Coltrane’s album: Acknowledgement, Resolution, Pursuance, and Psalm.
If you are a musician, you’ll love the upbeat language and the structure of each section. Questions at the end of each section of the four parts are labeled “riffing” and each of the parts’ summaries is entitled “coda”.
Even if you have never been a musician or a lover of Coltrane, you will discover a no nonsense journey of walking through the messiness of life with Jesus minus easy religious platitudes as Fusco makes it clear that life will always be messy.
Acknowledgment looks at the need to face the reality of the mess both outside of us and within us. It looks at the straight hard truth that when the messiness of life collides with the God who reigns over the mess, we have questions. The author gives great scriptural examples such as what Mary and Martha experience when Jesus doesn’t show up when their brother, Lazarus, is sick.
“Life is messy, and sometimes it feels like Jesus is the one doing the messing.”
Fusco doesn’t shy away from acknowledging that the Lord’s purposes and plans sometimes don’t run in the same direction as our desires. He also offers the remedy for such mess as grace and peace from Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:2. I especially loved how he broadened my understanding of the word peace.
Fusco shares that peace is a more complicated than thinking it is just the absence of conflict. He states, “The best way to understand biblical peace is with the Hebrew word shalom, which means both “peace” and “to join.” The implication is that when something is separated, or broken, it needs to be fixed.” So really shalom is putting things back together and isn’t that what we need when we are broken by the messiness of life?
Acknowledgment ends with some of these words by the author:
“So instead of using a magic wand to wave away all our external trouble, God’s after something deeper. It’s something we’re all deeply familiar with: a journey. Journeys have ups and downs, highs and lows. But we take them for a reason: to get somewhere we want to be.”
Entering Part ll, Resolution, Fusco brings us the good news of the resurrection and the truth that Jesus makes dead people (those lost to sin) alive. He also reminds us that some of the messiness of life is pure evil and that is when Jesus, the warrior, brings all authority in heaven and earth to confront it.
Nevertheless, in this life, the mess will never go away. Life means walking through the mess with Jesus at our side.
When we arrive at Part lll, Pursuance, Fusco brings us the reminder and hope that Jesus rules over the mess. Jesus also works in and through the mess outside of us as well as within us. As Fusco says,
“We can’t go around the mess because the mess is everywhere: relationships, jobs, hobbies, churches, governments, nature, school”
Even as Ephesians talks about our walk with the Lord, Fusco uses his musician’s background when he says, “As we walk the bass line of our lives, we either create a context in which others around us can flourish, or we detract from their opportunity to do that.”
Part IV, Psalm, the author takes us to the foundation of it all: love. Near the end he quotes John Coltrane:
“May we never forget that in the sunshine of our lives, through the storm and after the rain—it is all with God—in all ways and forever.”
This book can appeal to many, but would uniquely speak to musicians!
The author, Daniel Fusco, is lead pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, Washington.
Tyndale through the BlogNetwork, in exchange for my review, provided this book, published by Navpress. 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.”