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The Holy Wild: Trusting in the Character of God Paperback – January 4, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Can God be trusted? Canadian pastor and author Buchanan (Things Unseen; Your God Is Too Safe) argues yes in this hard-hitting evangelical book, which brandishes vivid imagery and biblical truth. Writing in colorful, expressive terms, Buchanan engages readers' hearts and attention as he challenges them to trust in three divine attributes: God's benevolent nature, his saving nature and his majestic nature. Opening with a discussion of soul weariness, which most Christians experience at various times, Buchanan emphasizes the importance of trusting in a faithful God. A common obstacle to this trust is that Christians desire a God of love, but want to forget his equally essential quality as a God of wrath. Does anyone really want a God who is devoid of anger, asks Buchanan-especially when that anger is a purifying fire that responds to godlessness and wickedness? Interestingly, Buchanan notes that God's wrath is played out most fully not when he delivers retribution but when he leaves his children to their own way-alone for all eternity. The author's passion convinces readers to dare enough to embrace the gift of rest from God. Though the reading generally moves along at a fast clip, the book's second section focuses on the foundations of salvation in lackluster fashion. The final sections, however, pick up momentum to finish in fine style.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
"A superb devotional...some of the finest inspirational writing to appear in a long time." -- Christian Retailing, October 6th, 2003 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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A leaf. Behold a single leaf. So fragile, it tears like paper, crushes in your hand to a moist stain, sharply fragrant. Dry, it burns swift and crackling as newsprint, pungent as gunpowder. Yet a leaf may withstand hurricanes, stubbornly clinging to its limb.
Hold it open in your palm. It is perfect as a newborn's smile. Pinch its stem between thumb and forefinger and hold it to the light. Eden bleeds through. Its veins are like bone work in silhouette. This single leaf, joined to the tree, drinks poison from the air, drinks it serenely as Socrates downing his cup of hemlock, and refuses to return in kind, instead spilling out life-giving oxygen. This leaf tilts to catch the sun, its warmth and radiance, to distill the heat and light down to the shadows, down to the roots, back up to limbs. To shade the earth. To feed you and me.
A leaf. God makes these season after season, one after the other, billions upon billions, from the Garden to the New Jerusalem, most for no eye but His own. He does it faithfully, or else I would not live to tell about it, or you to hear.
Perhaps of all my many sins against heaven, this ranks with the worst: Until this moment, I have never thanked God for a single leaf.
Which is the problem with faithfulness: We hardly notice it. Faithfulness is, by definition, the predictable, the habitual, the sturdy, the routine. It is the evidence of things seen, but seen so often we've grown blind to them. It is the substance of things expected, expected so unthinkingly that we now take them for granted.
It is the air we breathe, the ground we walk on, the skin we inhabit, the way our insides tick and pulse and spin on their own, in season and out, whether we sleep or work or play, without asking us or us having to ask. It is these myriad amazing things: toes and eyes, leaf veins and cloudbursts, bedrock and ozone, seed and sap that by their very constancy and durability have worn familiar or become invisible. The sheer steadfastness of things that surround and uphold us are dull with the caking of the ordinary. We live amidst the surpassing wonders, but most of it has become run-of-the-mill. We dwell among endless miracles that, repeated day after day, have grown tedious. We are lavished with gifts that we now expect or ignore or begrudge.
Faithfulness bores us.
Who among us leapt up this morning as the sun rose, exclaiming, "Look! Look, everybody, look! The sun! Here it comes! Hallelujah, it's here again!"? Or who ran through the house shouting, "Ha ha! Air! Behold! Air! Clean air, fresh air, air to fill my lungs, air to shape my words, air to move the clouds, air to lift the birds"?
Not me. I woke up groaning.
This chapter stopped me in my tracks and pointed me to my faithful, just, loving, gracious, fear- and honor-evoking God. As I continued to read, many other chapters did the same. Mark Buchanan is obviously an extremely talented writer. Each sentence has been meticulously crafted; his imagery is so vivid that the images, the sounds, the smells, and the emotions that are in his mind when he writes are almost certainly recreated perfectly in the mind of the reader. But this is not reason enough for me to recommend a book. The object of such picturesque and thought-provoking language is God, who give Mark an endless canvas of beauty, wonder, and intrigue from which to draw in his artistic writing.
I normally do not read books like this. I can't even define what "like this" is. But suffice it to say that I would be more likely to pick up a book by Spurgeon, Piper, Mahaney, or Martin Luther than Mark Buchanan or Max Lucado ("fluffy writers"). But this has been to my detriment. Although, I cannot give this book at 5 star rating because I think that many thoughts are left unfinished and some exegesis incomplete and possibly misleading (Good Samaritan text in particular), I can say that the writing has left me wanting more.
Small bits and pieces of God and his character were exposed. God is magnified and glorified by being shown to be who He is, a God who causes us to fear and tremble at the mere mention of His Name, and the God to whom we can run and give all of our cares, concerns, and hopes. Mark helps us discover more and more what he discovered and describes in the last chapter,
"I have discovered, as I hoped and feared in my younger days, that God is no drab pedant, meddling and puttering, but the Lion of Judah, the Lord of the Holy Wild. The God, who when He speaks or shows Himself, stirs in me two impulses at onece: to run FROM Him and to run TO Him."
How we see the world around us is largely shaped by how we view God. In an unexpected way, this book can literally alter how you view the world and the God who runs it!
If your picture of God is some ever-compromising impotent walker-bound grandfather, then you'll never be able to fully rest in His house. You will instead tire yourself to death keeping all night watches and fighting windmills. If that is you, you will have no energy left to embrace the intoxicating wilderness of His Kingdom. You will, in effect, lose the wilderness in the domestication.
Buchanan reinforces the perplexing wild God that we know from Scripture. This is a God who is good beyond our goodness, victorious through a cross, and wise beyond even the wildest of our imaginations. This is the God whom we can worship. This is the God in whose arms we can rest. This is a God who we can trust when He promises we will be safe if we shut our eyes for a nap.
If you haven't been risking for God, or if you have gotten tired of taking risks that you thought were God-led; if you haven't trusted God, or if you feel like the God you've been trusting isn't there --- this is a book for you.
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I want to read more by Mark Buchanan.