Larry Shallenberger's Divine Intention has wonderfully challenged me in my personal journey. I believe that God works in a way similar to the proverb:"when the student is ready the teacher will appear."
I was the student and I was so ready for this book. In his introduction Larry says, "Christian character seems little more than a veneer of politeness used to lubricate the social exchanges that occur before and after services." He had caught my attention and interest, though I wondered if this would be another of "what's wrong with" books about the church. As Larry continued in his introduction relating his background, my heart was pricked. I too related as one who grew up in the church and still retained good memories and the hope that what I have experienced as an adult "full-time ministry" person was not all God had intended.
Further on I read, "This book you are holding is for those who love the church but have been deeply disappointed by it." I have not been disappointed by the practical insights presented in the historical context of the first century Larry brings from the Book of Acts. Each chapter, able to stand alone, built a renewed desire to hear from God anew and continue my journey.
The conversation tone allowed me to imagine that I was in a dialogue with Larry. Often the very question that arose in my mind was addressed in the following paragraphs. I appreciated the non-formulaic approach and the pointing out a path to progress on rather than pushing a particular agenda.
At the end of the introduction Larry wrote, "My prayer is that this book will be evaluated not on the number of interesting facts unearthed regarding the first century church, but on its ability to spark small personal reformation in the quality of our love for God and our love for others." Larry in my heart your prayer has been answered.