23 October 2007

Book Review: TrueFaced


I'm going to do something that I've never done before in a book review. Actually, I'm going to to do a couple of things I've never done, but the first thing I'm going to do is say:

Whatever you're reading right now, put it down. Get yourself a copy of TrueFaced and make it the very next book you read. Dallas Willard says, "TrueFaced is one of the best books on practical theology I have ever seen."

TrueFaced, by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John Lynch, addresses the most basic motives faced by every follower of Jesus: the distinction between our determination to please God or to trust Him. Thrall and Co. draw on the metaphor of two rooms in our pursuit of God.

The first, at the end of a well-traveled road, is the Room of Good Intentions, entered by turning the knob of Effort. This room is filled to capacity with tired, cynical, well-intended Christians sporting various masks, who are determined to work on their sin to achieve an intimate relationship with God. These folks are sincerely determined to be godly. No one in this room is interested in hearing about your struggles, trials or failures. To be welcome here, one must hold their cards pretty close to their chest and give the appearance of sufficiency and that everything is fine. I'm fine, you're fine, we're all fine, fine, fine all the time, time, time.

The second room lies at the end of life's path with the motive of Trusting God. The path to this room is definitely less worn than the other. In this room, inhabitants have embraced the concept of Living Out of Who God Says I Am. To enter the Room of Grace, one only needs turn the doorknob of Humility. In this room, people have cried out, "Alright, listen! I'm not fine! I haven't been fine for a long time. I feel guilty, lonely and depressed. I'm sad most of the time and I can't make my life work. And if any of you knew half of my daily thoughts, you'd want me out of your little club. So there, I'm doing not fine! Thanks for asking!"
Instead of working on one's own sin to achieve intamacy with God, in this room, people stand with God, with their sin in front of them, working on it together with Him.

The goal of TrueFaced is to help us discover the freedom that lies in allowing ourselves to be authentic before God and others, trusting them with who we really are. A prayer one might pray before entering the Room of Grace might go something like this:
God, if anything good is to come out of this whole deal, you will have to do it. I can't. I'm so tired. Please God, you will have to give me the life I am dreaming of. I can't keep doing this anymore. I'm losing confidence that this life in you is even possible. Help me. You must make it happen or I am doomed.

We've all been part of a community, a church, or a small group where we've felt the pressure of presenting a strong, fine front. One where we don't have the freedom to share sin or failures; where we have to put on appearances and pretend we've got it all together. Sadly, these groups are far more common than the alternative. The effect is subtle, but grossly counterproductive to introducing people to the Kingdom of God. For reasons too numerous to count, Christians have fallen prey to the lie that we must appear fine, strong, good and often, productive. We don't want people to know we're flawed. I've said this before, however, that in my experience, my flaws and imperfections serve only to draw attention to the fact that I NEED a perfect father. Those that appear flawless, often draw perceptions that something's not entirely right, and make genuine, authentic connection near impossible.

One of the primary postures you must take when reading TrueFaced is to understand that this book is for YOU. Don't read it with others in mind. God can do precious little in establishing an intimate relationship with you if you're thinking of others while reading this book... that I can almost guarantee will, at times, feel like it's reading directly to you.

I mentioned that I was going to do a couple of things that I've not done before in a book review. The second is that I am going to follow my own suggestion and pick it up... again. I'm going to re-read TrueFaced with you. Do you have any of those books where you've worn a highlighter out reading it? This is one for me. This is the kind of book that I could read over and over again. I want to so thoroughly grasp the concept of a truly trusting, grace-filled relationship with the Father, that I will read, read and re-read this one for years to come. I hope you get the same from it that I do.

3 comments:

Arthur said...

Chris-

would love to read this book with you. Can't get it here - can you send me a copy?

Ben said...

Chris,

Thanks for the review, a group of us men down in Austin Texas just picked up the book for a men's group. So far, I've been moved in ways I haven't in a long time, and only 40 pages into the book! The topic of authenticity is something I'm seeking and this book makes sense of these goals in a practical sense.

Hope you are well, God bless!

Ben

Ron Whitney said...

Grandma has family lessons based on the book True Faced by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John Lynch. You’ll find them here:
http://www.mygrandmatime.com/3019-2/visit-with-grandma/bible-fun-with-grandma/family-bible-activities/true-faced/