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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Spiritual Formation Resource, December 19, 2011
This review is from: Invitations from God: Accepting God's Offer to Rest, Weep, Forgive, Wait, Remember and More (Paperback)
Adele Calhoun is right in observing that "The things we say yes to and the things we say no to determine the terrain of our future", and is most certainly correct in saying of God, "As the first and great Inviter, God devotes himself to sending out invitations to come join his divine community." There is a God who desires fellowship with his creatures and close communion with human beings, who are created in the divine image. That God knows that we exist within a fallen world, but loves us enough to be at work to bring about our redemption, our restoration, and our healing so that we might be commissioned in turn to be his agents of redemption, restoration, and healing. God desires to equip us so that we might be heralds of Jesus Christ, announcing his life, death, and resurrection, and inviting all people to know, love, and serve him. Calhoun's book, Invitations From God, gives us a foundation from which to work as we open ourselves to God and respond to those divine invitations that can bring about progress in our spiritual journey.

For those familiar with much of the current literature on spiritual formation, Calhoun is typical in her emphasis on participating in the work of God in our own lives. Thus, for those coming from strongly Calvinistic or Reformed traditions, the synergism that underlies Calhoun's approach may be disconcerting. Calhoun's opening chapter is titled, "An Invitation to Participate In Your Own Healing", stressing our part and God's part in our restoration. She is certain to stress that this invitation "does not mean we earn our salvation; it simply means we taste the fruit of it through participation." This restorative or healing dynamic is illustrated through an appeal to John 5, where Jesus asks the sick man by the pool of Bethesda, "Do you want to get well?" After expanding on the sick man's qualifications, she states, "Transformation and healing always begin in a deep place of desire. There needs to be some deep inner willingness to take a risk on Jesus and begin again and again."

In principle I am in agreement with Calhoun. But I wish she spent more energy and effort delving in to the source of that desire to be healed, to be transformed, to experience rest in God's presence. In other words, I wish she would've spent more time explaining how that desire is itself a witness to God's grace at work in our lives, a preemptive movement by the Spirit of God to place within us a will and a want to be made new. While embracing a notion of participation, or synergism, we must continually stress grace, and God's movement toward us that precedes any movement we make toward him.

The other chapters in Calhoun's work flow from the first. Once one has accepted the invitation to be healed, specific avenues through which that healing comes are expounded. She writes soundly concerning the biblical invitations to follow Jesus, trusting him for divine guidance and leadership above and before all other competing masters. She writes of the invitation to be present with community, learning to love other people. She provides sound wisdom concerning our need for rest, for mourning, for admitting the limits of our own knowledge (or the possibility we might be wrong), how to forgive, how to patiently wait, pray, remember who we are and who God is, and finally an invitation to "the most excellent way", discovered in Christ, witnessed to by the church, and captured within the stories of the Bible.

This book is a good spiritual formation resource. Calhoun touches on a number of subjects that are critical for our growth in Christlikeness, and does so with biblical wisdom and easily grasped pastoral illustrations. I'd recommend this book for use with small groups who can discuss its contents, applying what they find to their context. I'd also recommend it for individuals who are seeking a guide to help them learn to rest in God's presence, to forgive, to grow in humility, to pray, and to grow in love for God and neighbor.
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