From the beginning of time God has been reaching out in love to show us the truth about who He is. Again and again He seeks to confirm His amazing love for us, but time and again we struggle to believe it is really true. We receive messages from so many sources that can persuade us to question and doubt it is true for us. And sometimes it can be easier to believe it for someone else than for ourselves.
Those messages meant to keep us from the truth are often so powerful that we still hear them after we have first come to know Jesus as our Savior. We are saved by grace, but can quickly fall into believing and living as though now we must add performance to that in order to still be loved by the Lord. That belief can come from things we heard in our home growing up and even from some well-meaning brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
In J. Kevin Butcher’s book, Choose and Choose Again, we hear the stories of many who struggle with believing the Lord loves them because they have not attained the standard they believe the Lord desires of them to be worthy of His love and attention. Many of the stories come from people who have discovered Hope Community Church in Detroit where the author is the lead pastor.
Hope Community is located in a tough neighborhood in Detroit that includes persons from every kind of racial, economic, and educational background. They have been drawn into this unique body of Christ out of their emptiness to pursue healing through the love of Jesus by way of a pastor and pastoral team who are vessels of that love and openly acknowledge they are still in the process of healing and embracing His love also.
The stories from this non-traditional body of believers are powerful and emotionally impactful. The author shares some of his own struggles and provokes the readers to look at whether they know the Lord’s love or have experienced it. There is a difference.
The reader is reminded of the spiritual battle that we find ourselves in the midst of, but often fail to recognize or remember:
“Remember, we really do have a spiritual enemy, and he is really trying to kill us. And his main strategy is simply to convince us that we’re dirt, that we’re not enough, that we’re losers—that we’re unloved.”
Choose and Choose Again also includes glimpses of the theological study of the author that help to adjust some of our erroneous beliefs about what scripture tells us about God’s love for us, even after we have failed Him. The parable of the Prodigal Son speaks into our hopeless view of our situations as the author’s words urge us to know our Father is waiting for us as well and has never stopped loving us.
Over and over again the book urges us to choose the Lord and His love again and again until it has produced deeper healing in our hearts and turned us away from the things we looked to for love or relief from pain that never satisfied us. The author also charges the body of Christ and our churches to account for whether or not we reflect Jesus or are only mouthing empty words.
“God didn’t send Jesus to create religious clubs where it’s all about a nice worship experience or well-spoken sermons or even cultural comfort. He sent Jesus to miraculously reconcile us first to God and then to one another so that we could live in miraculously reconciled communities demonstrating to the world that miraculous, healed, restored relationships are possible in him!”
This book will both encourage and challenge you in your walk with the Lord as you look more closely at what is active and alive in your life with Christ. It will also look honestly at what makes “good church” and how too often our churches wound or add to the wounds of those who enter its doors.
The theme that resonates page by page from Choose and Choose Again is this:
“Only love heals hate. Only love heals apathy. Only love heals the pain that divides. And there’s only one love strong enough to heal like that: the love of God in Jesus Christ.”
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.