Saturday, July 24, 2010

‘The Faith Dare: 30 Days to Live Your Life to the Fullest’ by Debbie Alsdorf – Book Review

Buzz this

I don’t know about you, but for me, the summer is zooming by. After summer comes fall – and the resumption of Women’s Ministries at many churches. I just discovered a terrific book for just that purpose – ‘The Faith Dare: 30 Days to Live Your Life to the Fullest’ by Debbie Alsdorf.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

What Would Happen If You Lived Out Your Faith Every Day, In Every Situation?
Jesus came to give us abundant life. So why are so many of us living with worn-out faith, struggling just to get by? What if there was something more? What if we could be set free from worry, fear, and the constant cycle of searching for significance?
The Faith Dare is a 30-day challenge for women who want to develop a new habit of focusing on God’s ways and daily awareness of his presence. It is for women who are tired of ho-hum living and want to break the pattern of self-reliance and people pleasing by putting their trust in God alone and living to please him. This personalized study guide, including daily readings, affirmations, and challenges, will help you live in the power of God’s Word.
Whether you do this with a group of girlfriends or by yourself, the next 30 days can change your life. If you’re ready to discover what it looks like to live out real faith, every day, open this book and take the challenge.
I dare you.

Here is the biography of this author:

Debbie Alsdorf is the author of Deeper and A Different Kind of Wild. She is founder of Design4Living Ministries and Design4Living conferences. A popular conference speaker and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, Debbie is on the ministry staff at Cornerstone Fellowship as the director of women’s ministries. She lives in California.

In the Introduction, Debbie tells us what her book is about:

This book is not about faith in ourselves. It is about faith in a God who is bigger than us, more powerful than us, and filled with more love for us than we could possibly begin to imagine. It is this God, the one who created us on purpose – for his purpose – whom we can trust with every aspect of our lives.
The problem is that trusting a God we do not see does not come naturally to us. Trusting God is a spiritual lifestyle to be learned. Walking out that faith takes a lifetime of baby steps in the direction of spiritual trust. As we grow, we learn how to trust God. We develop new habits of looking to him, new habits of processing and digesting the Word of God, new habits of living our faith, and new habits of relating to other people in our lives. New habits don’t happen overnight; they happen over time. (p. 10)

Debbie explains what her life has been like for the past twenty years:

The past twenty years of my life have been a journey into something deeper, a ride of wild faith that has taken me places I have never dreamed of, has tested me with one thought: God is true, mighty, and loving. This thought is what guides me on the path of faith today.
I describe this new path as wild because it is wildly different from anything I have ever known. It is uncharted territory for me. It is not conventional, not understandable, but radical. I also like to think of wild as being the acronym: Women In Lifelong Development. When I focus on God’s process of developing me and shaping me in faith, I get excited. When I focus on the process, I am okay letting go of the perfection. When I focus on the process of development, my life falls into a new groove. (p. 11)

Debbie defines what she means by wild faith:

Wild faith is surrendered, passionate, and courageous. It humbly seeks and fearlessly follows. Most of us only dream about wild faith. We live a repressed, suppressed, depressed type of faith. It’s time to live in all that God has for us. It’s time to live our fullest, richest, most abundant life – a life of walking, breathing, eating, sleeping faith.
Here’s to thirty days of challenging our beliefs and daring to follow the dare! (p. 13)

Debbie explains how this Faith Dare should be taken:

You are encouraged to set aside a time daily, preferably at the beginning of the day, to read that day’s truth and dare. It is helpful if you can find a time when you are not distracted, can focus for a short time, and can process what you are reading. After you read and process the truth, you will have the opportunity to jot down your immediate thoughts. After you are done, take the dare into your day and intentionally apply that truth and your own personal dare to your life. Make a mental note of how this made that day different, or journal during the thirty days about how God is changing your life through this fasting of self and intentional focus on him and his Word. (p. 16)

I love how she concludes the Introduction:

          Let’s Begin Our Reboot!
·         Power down from self – come to Christ daily.
·         Restart in the power of the Spirit – follow him daily.
·         Open up to new possibilities – experience the difference he makes in a surrendered 
       life. (p. 20)

We really need to build our faith; that usually involves overcoming deeply ingrained wrong habits and beliefs:

Each of us has developed habits concerning whom or what we put our faith in. Many of us, even well-meaning Christians, have learned to put our faith in human wisdom and human understanding. We have developed ingrained habits of thinking, reasoning, and living that have become part of us through repetition and practice. When it comes to our spiritual lives, we have habits of thinking, reacting, believing, and living that often keep us from God’s intended best for us.
If you want more – the fullest life possible – you must learn to focus on what is true according to God’s Word: the claims of Christ, the promises of Christ, and the character of Christ. This focus is not natural for us because we grow up learning to focus on ourselves. But this upward focus can become our new normal and change us in ways we never thought possible. (p. 24)

Tests and trials show us what we really believe:

Every test and trial raises two important questions: What do you believe about God? How strongly do you believe it? In our trials our belief in God can override our feelings if we learn to focus on God and his track record of faithfulness rather than on our feelings of hopelessness in the current situation. If you haven’t yet had a lot of personal experience with God’s faithfulness, read stories of God’s faithfulness to his people in Scripture.
Hard times humble us. This humbling tests what we really believe. When we endure, testing causes our faith to grow stronger and more mature. Strong and maturing faith fills us up to the fullest measure of joy – as our lives are not as dependent on feelings, people, or circumstances. We begin to transcend this world with a newfound faith in a God who is above all things. (p. 35)

Debbie reminds us that God is for us, not against us:

God has designed us to pass the tests that he allows to come our way. He wants us to succeed. But most of us think God allows hardships so he can zap us and hurt us. This thinking, though natural, is not biblical. We need to remember what God’s Word says about his love, life tests, discipline, endurance, and being conformed to his image. When we see the character of God always rooting for us, shaping us as seems best, we can applaud test, though hard, and actually rejoice in them. How we respond to life and tests will determine the outcome. As your faith grows stronger, you become more faithful. To be faithful is actually being more filled with faith! (pp. 37-38)

Debbie breaks the devotional part of the book into three sections of ten days each:

·         Live Up! In Relationship to God
·         Live In! In Surrender of Self
·         Live Out! In Relationship to Others

I will focus on one day in each section. Each day includes Today’s Praise/Prayer, Today’s Truth, Today’s Dare, a Journal section, Today’s Prayer, and Today I Believe.

Day 8 in the ‘Live Up! In Relationship to God’ section is ‘The Power Connection: Dare to Plug into the Power Source.’ Here is that day’s dare:

·        Stop right now and plug into the source of all power, Jesus Christ. Do this by   
      getting away from everything for a moment and coming to Jesus in prayer and   
      handing every part of you over to him.
·         Ask to be cleansed from your sin and filled anew with his Spirit.
·         Now read today’s Scripture passages again, this time out loud. Spend some time 
      thinking about what connection means in your everyday reality.
·        Dare to step out of your comfort zone today. Dare to try something you would not 
      ordinarily feel you could do. Experience the power of God enabling you to live 
      above yourself.

Day 15 in the ‘Live In! In Surrender of Self’ section is ‘He Completes Me: Dare to Believe You Are Complete in God.’ I loved this:

When Tom Cruise said, “You complete me,” to Renee Zellweger in the movie Jerry McGuire
every woman in the audience melted. Why? Because we all want to be loved like that. We long for it in friendship, in romance, and even in motherhood. We are searching for that person or those people who will complete us, making everything resembling half in us a beautiful whole.
But what if we believed it is Christ who completes us? Or that we actually are complete because of Christ in us and his work for us? Could it be that this kind of love is the only thing that makes us balanced, centered, secure, and yes…complete?
If we believed we are complete in Christ, we could stop our search for something more and could begin living life. Gone would be the five steps to success, the speedy plan for getting our acts together, or the fool-proof plan for a better life. We could stop feeling needy and move into a place of confidence. Realizing we are complete in Christ makes all that he is doing in us worth some of the pain – because in the end the maturity and wholeness will be the spiritual gain. (pp. 135-136)

Day 23 in the ‘Live Out! In Relationship to Others’ section is ‘Put Down the Stones: Dare to Quit Being Critical of Others.’  Debbie explains how Jesus was in comparison to how we can be when it comes to other people:

Jesus – compassionate, loving, always looking for the best in people. He was quick to love, kind in correction, strong in conviction, and humble in his dealings with people. I like to think of this as the Jesus style of life: loving others. But the problem with loving others, is that I am often critical of them, don’t understand their choices, and get frustrated to the point of pointing a finger in judgment. I wonder what would happen if I just laid down the stones. What if I could quit being so critical? What would life look like them? (p. 184)

Here is how Debbie opens the Conclusion:

You did it! It takes thirty days to form a new habit. During the past thirty days, you began the formation of a new habit of seeking God, processing truth, and finding ways to live out God’s Word. You also practiced dying to self by choosing the right things – ways of doing life that are biblical but might be uncomfortable.
Our best, fullest life becomes ours as we focus not on self but on Christ and his ways for us. It is amazing how making this change, even for a day, can make such a huge difference in attitude and action. But as you move forward, you can be certain of one thing: there is an enemy lurking about trying to rob you of your faith. You must purchase a security system and install it on your life. The security system is joy. To install it you must remove your previous system of fear, worry, and doubt. Once you change service providers, your life will be different, safer, more peaceful, and fuller. You have to make a decision to change. The offer is open to you, but you have to choose the new provider. (pp. 227-228)

She also shares with us this reminder:

Your life is no longer your own. Your life is not random. It is hidden in Christ. You are protected, shielded, care for, provided for…by Christ. You are covered by his faithfulness and power. To look up, focus your attention on what is biblically true rather than on what you are feeling. (p. 228)

I think this is a terrific study on Christian living! Although I have not taken the Faith Dare as yet (by working through each day), I think it is quite worthwhile. I would love to do it with a friend, so I will be praying in the coming weeks for God to show me the perfect person with whom to share this journey. I thank Debbie for pouring out her heart and writing this wonderful book!  

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group and provided for review purposes.

3 comments:

Jan Cline said...

What an awesome concept and a great challenge. I can't imaging what life will be like after those 30 days!
Blessings.

Josh Healy said...

Hi, hope it's OK to contact you here. We would love to include your blog on our giveaway search engine: Giveaway Scout (http://www.giveawayscout.com). Have a look and if interested, use our online form to add your blog (http://www.giveawayscout.com/addblog/ ). thanks, Josh

Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Jan -
I look forward to the same thing!

Hi Josh -
I will take a peek. Thanks for stopping by!

Blessings -

Andrea

 
Clicky Web Analytics