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Living Loved: Knowing Jesus As the Lover of Your Soul Paperback – July 1, 2007
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I first met Peter Wallace in the lobby of the First Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee. The occasion was the annual Festival of Homiletics, an event that is, in part, sponsored by Day1, the program for which Peter is Producer. He noticed the logo on my shirt, "Questing Parson", and immediately engaged me in conversation. During the course of that talk, he wrote down the address of this blog and promised he'd check it out. It was less than a week following I received an email from him commenting on The Questing Parson.
I relate this to simply reveal something about the author of this book. Peter Wallace is one who deeply cares about persons because he sees them as children of God. He is one who, when he engages you in conversation, actually listens. And he listens not just to hear the words but to discover who you are and to see the possibilities of the holy within.
Wallace is the Vice President of Production of the Alliance for Christian Media. In this responsibility he oversees the staff which produces the highly respected Day1 weekly radio program (formerly known as The Protestant Hour). It is heard over 150 stations throughout the United States, on the Armed Forces Radio Network, and on stations in Canada and overseas. One cannot help but think it is his exposure to the leading preachers of this land through this program that encouraged Peter to the publication of this work.
Living Loved is a delightful book. I read it in two sittings. Peter Wallace's unique talent for coining a phrase, weaving words, and giving flesh to the message of love from Jesus through stories from our contemporary life provide for an ease of reading that captures one's attention and forces the turning of page after page.
The work is divided into three sections: 1) Knowing His Love (Why can't we know Jesus' love more profoundly?); 2) Experiencing His Love (The experience of love brings both beauty and pain.); and 3) Sharing His Love (The love of Jesus is too big to keep bottled up in our own hearts.). Each chapter can be read as a daily devotional or the book can be read in sections as a whole. I have found this work to be both a devotional source (Following my initial two session reading of the entire book, I re-read it in more devotional settings.) or as a wonderful source for homiletic material.
I think it was Sam Keen who said, "Tell me your story and you'll tell me mine." In many of the personal narratives that populate this book, Peter Wallace has told us his and our story as children of a loving Savior. From Peter's revelation that it took him years "to open my clenched fist in major areas of my life ..." to his revelations of spiritual drought as seen in the tubing trip he took with his kids down a river where the tubes drab bottom, he opens his experience of God's love to us and offers us the opportunity to see it in our own living.
One can feel the joy as Peter's toddler grandchild runs to him. One can feel the consternation as that same grandchild runs away. This book vividly describes the ebbs and flows of life that are part of Living Loved.
Peter Wallace's experience of Living Loved obviously flows from the heart of one who knows himself loved by Christ, but it is also informed by the words of Henry Nouwen and others as well as the punctuations of being loved he has experienced along the pathways of living.
When we read this work we find ourselves listening to Peter's description of the one who was "sitting beside the well for thirty-eight years." And then we ask ourselves, or Peter asks for us, "How long have I been sitting beside my own little pool of unreached dreams?"
This book should be on every preacher's shelf as a source of devotion and a resource for preaching.
I am convinced that interwoven among the lines that comprise Living Loved is the story of a pilgrimage of one who had surprisingly and joyfully discovered himself to be loved and in that discovery loves and desires each of us to know we are loved. "There's light ahead," says Peter Wallace. "It is the light of freedom and truth, of love. I am heading toward it step by step. ... I know Jesus is."
I have studied the Bible (and other texts) for years - and have never been a fan of traditional "devotional" books. That is, until I encountered Wallace's. Of the five of his books I've read - this is the best.
"Living Loved" is based on the gospel of John. Each "lesson" contains a biblical text, Peter's insights and a prayer.
The biblical texts are quoted from "The Message" - a translation which is both accurate - and yet speaks to the reader in everyday terms that are difficult to ignore. Peter then shares stories - often his own experiences or those of his friends. He then suggests the practical implications of the text - what might happen if we were to take it seriously.
Peter then closes each lesson with a prayer. Often, it is a very different prayer than I would have chosen - because Peter doesn't let me get away with something "wishy-washy". Rather, his prayer speaks directly to the core message of the scriptures and their specific challenge and implications to my life.
What he has learned is that the most important spiritual messages are sincere, interwoven with compelling stories and directly address the daily lives of ordinary men and women -- folks like you and me.
Peter begins the book by admitting that this 90-day journey through lessons from the gospel of John -- with Peter's reflections on the nature of love -- were the direct result of an especially painful period in his own life. What was that painful period? It doesn't really matter. What matters is that most of us hit periods like this in our own lives.
I've read hundreds of spiritual books over the past couple of decades and have an eagle's eye for false assumptions and spiritual bravado that says more about the writer's pride than our needs as readers. And, so, it is high praise from me to say: There is not a single false note in this book.
The daily readings are short -- but there's great strength here that builds through the weeks we spend with Peter and his meditations on what it means to love -- and what it mean to let God love us. That may be the toughest section of his book for many of us. And, then, he carries us forward in the final third of the book to the calling we all have to share God's love with others.
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This was after my gifting him with the book.
One could link this book to Nouwen's "Life
of the Beloved."Read more