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Saying Yes to His Extravagant Proposal

Gary Moon
Shaw Books
Christian Living/Spiritual Life
ISBN: 087788076X

"This book is about life lived in constant, close contact with God," writes Dallas Willard in his foreword to FALLING FOR GOD. He then lists qualities a Christian needs to maintain a life of "grow[th] in grace and knowledge of" Jesus (2 Peter 3:18): information, imagination, persistence, patience, and realism. And these are the faithful qualities that Gary Moon directly or indirectly addresses in this gently provoking guidebook for Christians desiring intimacy with God.

The overriding image of the book is love --- as in "falling in." What does it entail? How does it work? How is intimacy maintained over time? The first chapter, "The Three Cs of Lasting Love," sets up the three-part outline for the book and the elements of the "romantic relationship with God": conversation, communion, and consummation.

Moon --- a well-connected and well-positioned Christian counselor whose academic history is never clearly laid out --- is well versed in classical Christian spirituality and spiritual formation that may be "standard fare" to Catholics attuned to Ignatian or Benedictine spirituality and people committed to 12-step recovery programs but new material for conservative evangelicals.

For starters, the definitions of and exercises regarding prayer center on listening to God as much as or more than on talking at or to God. "Silence is the most foundational of all Christian disciplines." The chapter titled "Learning to Listen" ends with a helpful list of "indications of the voice of God."

Part 2 of the book, "Communion," focuses on fidelity (willingness versus willfulness), transparency before God (overcoming a fear of total commitment), and the meaning and reality of surrender. "Many of us are like the rich young man, unwilling to place our idols in the dumpster. We cannot do it on our own. We need God's help, and often that help comes in the form of pain." We also need the help and accountability of a community of believers.

As I said, this book is written gently --- replete with personal anecdotes and humorous quips; it's clear that Moon is with his readers on this journey --- but Moon, as the saints before him, notes that the intimate relationship with God involves becoming more and more like Christ, who ultimately surrendered his life.

Part 3, "Consummation," first addresses the issue of relational forgiveness, including a powerful example of the salvation of a devastated marriage, with Hugo's "Les Miserables" being the facilitating counseling tool. Moon then turns to spiritual reconciliation before ending with a discussion of "Union with God" and what it means.

Each of 10 chapters ends with more-than-cursory study and prayer "helps": a biblical passage, followed by a short commentary and reflection questions, a meditation exercise, and a spiritual (prayer) exercise. Each of the three book parts ends with a short bio and sample writings of classic spiritual writers: Frank Laubach, a Protestant (conversing with God), Thomas Kelly, a Quaker (communion with God), and Teresa of Avila, a Catholic (union with God).

Moon ends his book with a challenge: "Don't settle for brief encounters instead of intimate dialogue; don't become content with a salvation contract instead of enjoying communion; and don't withhold parts of your heart. Instead, pursue union. Say yes to God's extravagant proposal."

   --- Reviewed by Evelyn Bence

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