THE CALEB QUEST: What You Can Learn from the Boldest Dreamer in the Bible
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Author Mark Atteberry knows firsthand from his day job as a minister that countless Christians are discouraged by the way their lives are turning out. "Their dreams have fizzled, and in some cases, turned to nightmares," writes Atteberry. "The dream job was never offered, the dream marriage lost its fire, the dream kids went astray, and the dream house was never built." In THE CALEB QUEST he promises, "Hope could be resurrected in your heart…Your faith in God could be renewed…Suddenly, your life could have meaning and purpose again."
Big promises, and they come from Atteberry's own personal quest. He writes that he was troubled that so many scripture verses in the Bible promised so much, yet so many Christians were mourning the death of their dreams. "Has God been unfaithful to His promises?" asks Atteberry. "Do dreams really come true? And if so, what does it take to make them happen?"
Atteberry went looking for answers. He found them, he believes, when he studied the life of Caleb, whom he calls "The boldest dreamer and achiever in all of God's word." Writes Atteberry, "I'm convinced that the main reason his story was included in Scripture is to show us that dreams really do come true, not just in Disney movies, but in real life."
When we look at the life of Caleb, we discover that fulfilled dreams are the result of clear thinking, strong faith, patience and lots of hard work, Atteberry writes. The key is taking a hard look at your dream and making sure it fits with God's will. "Nothing…will help you if you've already committed to a course of action that puts you in opposition to God." He also cautions readers, with some humor, that God's blessings always harmonize with His gifts ("If you're tone-deaf, you'll never be an opera singer. Rap maybe, but not opera.").
Atteberry is the minister of Poinciana Christian Church in Kissimmee, Florida, and the author of THE SAMSON SYNDROME. His passion for his topic in THE CALEB QUEST is contagious, and his first person writing is reminiscent of and is as well thought-out as a good sermon series. He mixes biblical narrative and interesting anecdotes, from art to baseball to crabbing. He also alludes to his own dream fulfillment, from his first attempts to write a novel eighteen years ago to becoming a published author. "Don't ever tell me dreams don't come true," writes Atteberry, who then cautions, "…they don't always come true when you want them to." Our timing for our dreams isn't always God's timing, he reminds us. Patience is called for. "Our job is simply to be faithful in the meantime," he writes.
Atteberry devotes a chapter to the "dream killers," pointing out that they are often our family members and our friends, and challenging readers to defeat them with courage and trust in the Lord. Of course our own worst enemy, he cautions, may be ourselves. "Have you grown lazy? Are you hanging around with negative people?"
There's a bit of THE PRAYER OF JABEZ tone to this book, and occasionally some of the sentences feel over-hyped: "…you could be only a few pages away from finally understanding how to get from where you are to where you've always wanted to be"). But readers will appreciate Atteberry's plea for them to be "humble and teachable." "The Caleb Quest is no pie-in-the sky prescription for wealth and happiness," he warns readers. "It rejects the 'name it and claim it' theology that has left so many confused and discouraged. Instead, it offers a down-to-earth, biblical, workable plan for making your lifelong dream come true."
The jacket copy promises quite a bit ("…this book will dramatically change your life…you'll finally discover what God wants you to know" ) --- maybe too much. But the book ends on a lovely note: "My dreaming friend, as you close this book and lay it down, I pray that you'll take up the Caleb Quest, and that someday, at the time of God's choosing, you'll see the fulfillment of your lifelong dream. But just as fervently, I pray that when it happens, you'll use it to bless others. If you do, I predict you'll make a startling discovery: that the giving away of your dream will bring you more joy than its fulfillment ever did."
Readers should find this an intriguing book, and questions for personal or group study should offer opportunity for additional perspective on what it means to dream big for God.
--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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