The past few years have seen the rise of Christian books written for the purpose of helping Christians think through how they can reject the materialistic trajectory of contemporary pop culture. While I appreciate many of these types of books they often in my opinion portray the Christian life in the wrong way. They overemphasize one aspect of the Christian life namely that they are to “abandon all” and to “sacrifice everything”. Now Christians do need to wrestle through how they deal with money. American Christians are among the wealthiest people in the world. While many Christians struggle in poverty many Christians hardly ever tithe to their local churches. Yet from my perspective what Christians also need to hear is about how God desires to use ordinary people in extraordinary ways. Many Christians think that they must be “radical” or “sold out”. I grew up in the Church. I became a Christian at the age of four. I’ve hear those calls my entire life. I’ve seen many people burned out on church because of these calls. Such calls tend to focus more on what you have to do for God which is not the impetus for Christian living at all—the Christian life is to be centered on the Word of God which declares the Gospel. The Christian has been giving a new heart, new affections and a new identity because of Jesus. It is precisely for this reason I’m thankful for Michael Kelley’s new book Boring: Finding An Extraordinary God In An Ordinary Life.
Mike’s book looks at the Christian life through the fear of the ordinary, understanding God’s active role in our lives, God’s constant presence in His people lives, evangelism, discipleship, church and much more. He explains this book is “for the person who has never looked at the seemingly mundane details of life and wondered if they are really doing anything that’s worthwhile. It’s for all of us ordinary people who are following an extraordinary God” (6). That may not sound very helpful but I would contend as the author takes up topic after topic—he does so to point out that in the rough and tumble of life—there is a God who is not disinterested in His people but deeply interested and invested in His people. To put it another way, the author provides a great deal of help to the Christian and the Church by emphasizing that the normal Christian life is not something radical—it is a steady plotting along hour by hour, day by day, month after month, year by year and decade by decade by growing in the Word of God and the grace of God.
I’m writing this review the day after Thanksgiving 2013. The other day my wife and I went out to eat for breakfast where we talked about what we were thankful for. I asked her, “What are the top five things you are thankful for this year?” I then proceeded to answer the same question after my wife was done with her answers. What emerged from that conversation is we both had a lot to be thankful for. At the heart of that conversation was our thankfulness for God’s work of grace in our lives. We both noted how we saw God’s sanctifying grace in our lives.
I remarked that this past year has been one of the hardest in my Christian life but I’ve also grown more this year in my walk with God than in any other year. God has a way of using affliction and hardship to sharpen His people and humble them. This is what God has done in my life. In my opinion, what I just described is practical theology which at the heart is taking what God teaches in His Word, and applying it to our lives. This is what Michael Kelley does so well—he takes the seemingly ordinary events of our lives, like I shared above, all with a view to help people see that at the heart of the Christian life is something very radical—a God who is not disinterested but deeply interested and invested in His people. I don’t know about you but that is comforting and even assuring—that God uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways because He is extraordinary God.
Maybe you are like me and are tired and worn out by all the calls for the “radical” and “sold out” Christian life, because you are already sold out to Jesus and have committed your whole life for His service. What you want is a message that calls for a steady plotting along and seeing God’s sanctifying grace year after year in your life. That message is truly revolutionary and even needed in the Church today. Reading Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an ordinary life by Michael Kelley will help readers understand that at the heart of Christianity is a God who truly cares, who is really interested and who loves to transform His people from the inside-out in the midst of daily life.
Boring would be good to use for small group leaders, sermon series or individual use. Whether you use Boring in this way or in another way—what you’ll find in this book is far from Boring but rather a book that is very well-written, deeply engaging and personally applicable because it seeks to take the big truths of Christianity and apply them to the nitty-gritty of your daily life. I highly recommend this book. In reading this book you’ll learn that there is no such thing as an ordinary Christian life but only an extraordinary Christian life.
Author: Michael Kelley
Publisher: B&H (2013)
I received this for free from B&H book review program for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”