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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 8, 2006
There may be no greater honor for a minister of the Word than this: his ministry has become nearly synonymous with the cross of Jesus Christ. His ministry has led people to the cross not just once, but time and again as they have come to reflect on the deeper meaning of Jesus' death. They have been led to see that "the cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough for its sparks to fall on us." Such has been the case with C.J. Mahaney. When I post a reflection on the cross it is not unusual for people to tell me or to comment on this site that they are now going to go and re-read <em>The Cross Centered Life</em> or listen to some of the cross-focused songs on the album <em>Songs for the Cross Centered Life</em>. His ministry is marked by a passion for leading people near enough to the cross that its sparks can fall on us.

I recently received an email from a person claiming to be a Christian, yet one who does not believe in Jesus. I was shocked. How could a person call himself by the name of Christ, yet not believe in Him? This person wanted to help me experience the power of God in my life, yet without Jesus Christ. That is impossible! Without the cross there is no Christianity. Without the cross we have no hope, no salvation. The cross stands at the very center of our faith and even at the very center of human history. We would be nothing without it.

The focus of those who love the Lord should be constantly upon the cross. <em>Living the Cross Centered Life</em> combines two of Mahaney's books (<em>The Cross Centered Life</em> and <em>Christ Our Mediator</em>) with new material. This book provides a passionate, biblical reflection upon the cross and encouragement for living a life that will be centered upon the gospel, for this is what we all need to regard as the main thing.

Mahaney delights in the cross. The reader will only be able to conclude that the cross is what motivates his life and his ministry. His enthusiasm, his desire, his love for the gospel message in infectious. Always focused on the truths of Scripture, Mahaney draws the reader back to the very center and focus of the Christian faith. The reader will be given much grounds for rejoicing and much grounds for deeper, prayerful reflection. The reader will be led near to the cross where he can experience the power of the Son of God. He will learn the need for the cross, the power of the cross and the wonderful benefits that have been extended to us because of the cross. He will learn why this cross stands at the center of our faith and why we must always hold it there.

And so I commend this book to you. If you have not yet read <em>The Cross Centered Life</em> this is your opportunity to read it blended with <em>Christ Our Mediator</em>. Mahaney recommends that each Christian read at least one book about the cross each year. This is your opportunity to read that book while the year is still young. Read it, learn the message and worship at the foot of the cross. Your life may never be the same.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2007
This book is truly a great one as C.J. Mahaney brings it all back to the cross. A lot of this book includes previous works, "The Cross Centered Life" and "Christ Our Mediator." I also had just listened to C.J.'s sermon from the 2005 Resolved Conference called "Interrogating the Legalist Within" so most of this was review. But if you have yet to read or listen to these, please pick this little book up, you will not be disappointed.

C.J. continues to bring out the cross in everything in this dissertation of the cross centered life. C.J. goes into understanding the cross in defining our lives, feelings (experience), God's love, Gethsemane, our part in the cross (sin), our suffering, legalism, condemnation (with much more) and then just the practical application.

C.J. gives five practical ways to live a cross centered life:

1. Memorize the Gospel: Memorize those scriptures that remind us of the gospel (2 Cor 5:21; Romans 8:31-34; Isaiah 53:3-6)

2. Pray the Gospel: Since the Gospel is the reason we can approach such a holy God, continue to pray the Gospel as a reminder of why you can speak to such an awesome God.

3. Sing the Gospel: Find songs and CD's whose focus in on the great and glorious Gospel and not on man. Those songs that concentrate on what He has done for us.

4. Review How the Gospel Has Changed You: Looking to your past, not for condemnation's sake, but for the reminder of mercy and grace

5. Study the Gospel: Don't only study books on the Gospel or only on the New Testament, but study the Old Testament and see Christ's fulfillment of It. Making sure that our studies don't leave the Gospel behind but builds itself upon It.

I would really recommend this to any and all Christians. Great reminders of how the Cross should impact our lives and how it has freed us from condemnation and the errors of legalism.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2006
Knowing that I am given to over-statement I hesitate to say this, but I think "Living the Cross Centered Life" is one of the best books I have ever read. No piece of writing I can recollect has presented the Cross and its place in life to me in such a clear and profound way. I would not be surprised if this is a book I continue to go back to again and again for renewed passion for my Savior. In classic Mahaney style the book is engaging, biblically-based, and never stops short of spelling out the seriousness of the issue at hand. He spends the majority of the book looking closely at the Cross and what Christ accomplished for us and also includes some pratical steps at the end for developing habits that build a Cross-centered life.

I am aware that this particular work is a combination of some of his earlier writings with new material. Having not read those books I cannot tell you how unique this offering is. However, let me only say that this offering is unique. Among all the Christian-living and issues books out there, few that I know of inspire such a focus on Christ and the Cross as "Living the Cross Centered Life."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2007
When was the last time you saw a professional ball game lost because of missed free throws, penalties, or an untimely error? Even professionals are capable of making elementary mistakes. And so it is in the Christian life. Those who have been Christians for many years and even those in Christian leadership can forget the most fundamental teaching in all of Scripture - the message of the cross (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

In Living the Cross-Centered Life, veteran Pastor and leader of Sovereign Grace Ministries, C.J. Mahaney seeks to focus his readers' attention on the cross of Christ. Far too often, believers get caught up in the latest fads or believe that they need to `move on' from the message of the cross. Mahaney argues quite persuasively for the centrality of the cross in living the Christian life.

Do you want to grow in your prayer life? Then realize that all effective prayer is ultimately rooted in the cross. Without Christ's death on your behalf, you could not even enter into God's presence.

Do you want to overcome temptation? Only grace sustains lasting change. Through the cross we overcome not only the guilt of sin, but also the power of sin (Rom. 6:18). The gospel empowers and motivates us in our ongoing pursuit of holiness.

This book helps one to grasp the need for the cross and develop a God-centered theology. We also enter into Gethsemane and appreciate the Savior's final agonizing moments on the cross.

Chapters 11 and 12 are two of the most significant chapters in this little book. Reading these chapters would deliver many from the chains of legalism and condemnation that threaten to rob believers of their joy.

Chapter 13 is filled with helpful suggestions to help readers live a cross-centered day. Among them are: memorize the gospel, pray the gospel, study the gospel and sing the gospel

This brief and enjoyable book can help prevent believers from " fumbling the ball" by keeping the gospel the main thing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2008
This book challenged me in so many areas of my life that I was simply floored. I expected just an exploration of Christ dying for our sins, and found myself pouring over new realizations about God's love for me, my fears of losing His love, my pride in trying to earn His love, my tendency to listen to what I feel rather than tell myself truth, and so many other things. I think this will be a book I will make a point to read repeatedly to remind myself of these truths. I've realized that the cross isn't just the foundation of Christian life that I grasp and then "move on to deeper things," but rather the center of every deep truth I'll ever learn about the Christian faith and walk. As Mahaney quotes: "The Spirit does not take his pupils beyond the cross, but ever more deeply into it."--J. Knox Chamblin. I HIGHLY recommend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This book has had a profound impact on my life. After reading this, whenever I open the scriptures I see the gospel in all its glory. It has not only changed the way I look at myself, but also at others. Most importantly, it has deepened my relationship with my Saviour. I am in the process of ordering a number of gift copies for those in ministry. At twice the price, this would be a bargin. There is a nugget of truth on almost every page. I am reading it through the second time savouring and reflecting each nugget as it relates to scripture. This deserves 10 stars!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2007
As a guy whose denomination tends to be very doctrinally oriented, this book is a tremendous breath of gospel fresh air. It's one thing to give a textbook definition for "justification", etc. It's another thing entirely to have one's heart opened to the implications of Christ's finished work on the Cross. This book will help you to appreciate and love Christ more. Please read it; cry occasionally; repent; and rise to embrace the Cross of Christ each day of your life. This book will transform you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2007
Fourteen tight chapters that extol the power, grace, and love of the cross ... Mahaney's book wants nothing less than the cross of Christ at the core of our beings. In theology and in practice, in faith and in works, in putting on Christ and putting off sin, the gospel must take center stage. "If there's anything in life we should be passionate about, it's the gospel...passionate in thinking about the gospel, reflecting upon it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world and all of life" (15). The book exudes with Mahaney's characteristic vigor. It is exuberant without being mindless. It's passion is rooted in a deep, biblical understanding of the gospel. It's only right then that begins the book (chapter 2 to be exact) with a meditation on investing Scripture with final authority rather than one's emotions. He proceeds with characteristic wisdom when he writes, "But if you trust your feelings first and foremost, if you exalt your feelings, if you invest your feelings with final authority--they'll deposit you on the emotional roller coaster which so often characterizes our lives" (36).

The majority of the book resonates with various subthemes of the major theme. He moves from a moving exposition of the Suffering Servant in Isa 53 all the way to the unfathomable loneliness of the Savior hanging on the cross at the end of His earthly life. Along the path, he explicates the wrath of a holy God against sin, the utter depravity of mankind, the necessity of blood-sacrifice by the God-man, and the soul-shattering obedience and love of Christ in drinking fully the cup of His Father's fierce wrath. I can honestly say that I was moved at each turn. Mahaney captivates our attention through well-placed quotes from other authors, concisely packaged dense theology, and frequent reminders of the love of God in the gospel. The last feature really balances the argument of the book.

When Mahaney gets to the cross and our lives, he doesn't disappoint. The "me" element of the cross is sin. He writes of who he identifies with the most on Golgotha: "I identify most with the angry mob screaming, 'Crucify Him!' That's who we should all identify with. Because apart from God's grace, this is where we would all be standing, and we're only flattering ourselves to think otherwise" (87). He strongly applies the cross to our sufferings with the result that assurance and joy overflow in our lives no matter what the circumstance. He also manages to tackle legalism and self-condemnation, two joy-robbing, cross-undermining sins that are quickly dispatched (but not with any sense of ease or casualness) with reminders as to the objective realities of the cross and our basic need to believe in what Christ has done. The simplicity of these chapters only elevates our responsibility to indulge ourselves in every aspect of Christ's death.

The penultimate chapter is the most practical. In it, he shares five simple ways that he's used to draw near to the cross each day. The five ways are:
(1) Memorize the Gospel
(2) Pray the Gospel
(3) Sing the Gospel
(4) Review How the Gospel Has Changed You
(5) Study the Gospel
Even here, in a chapter about our practice of the gospel, he ends with the reminder that apart from the empowering grace of the Holy Spirit, these five ways would be merely human deeds.

C.J. Mahaney, as always, is frank. He tells it like it is, especially about himself. The last chapter begins with the Christian equivalent of a smack: "I was smoking pot the first time I heard the gospel." His forthrightness about himself and his own sins don't detract from the message. They serve to enhance it. Such humility puts flesh and blood on what could otherwise be a very dry tome on the centrality of the cross to the Christian life. Instead, we are treated to a rich feast of devotional warmth, practical wisdom, and impassionateed urgency. May we never move on from the cross. May we move only deeper into its glories.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2010
This was a good but not great book on a cross-centered life. The author does an outstanding job of articulating the truth of the gospel and what the significance of the cross is. He exhorts the reader to live all of life in light of the cross. And this is where the book is not so outstanding. I found it very weak on practical examples of how "keeping the Gospel the main thing" (the subtitle) is actually played out in day-to-day-life. Yes, he tells us how to keep thinking of the Gospel, but not much of how it will change the way we live. There's a couple paragraphs for instance about how it will affect our relationships with others, and that's it.

In short, this is an outstanding book for meditating on Christ did for us on the cross and its importance. But, it falls short of the stated goal of showing how this focus on the cross changes our everyday life. Perhaps this might be less of an issue in the full-scale book "The Cross Centered Life," but I don't know. Still, this was a worthwhile read for any for whom the full weight of what Christ suffered and accomplished has diminished (which happens to us all at times). It is also a short book, which makes it a quick read: 150 pages and not full-size ones at that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2009
This book is extremely helpful in several different ways. First, it highlights the importance of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Second, it helps you to actually meditate on those truths--not to just gloss over them. And third--and this is the biggie--is that it poses a direct challenge that I have never heard anywhere else but is literally changing the way I live my life: Do I think about the grace of God for me in the cross more than anything else in my life? And I should--in fact to put other things first may invite a form of idolatry! wow--what a perspective! Just to discover this gem is more than worth the price of the book--and then you can take that awesome truth and build your life upon it.
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