Er. . .Great: (a book review).

Greater by Steven Furtick

Fact: you were created more than just the daily grind. You don’t need to sit in dream about ‘greatness’ someday, but can start living a ‘greater’ life now. Steven Furtick, who is the pastor of a great big church, has written a book to urge you to trust God (and take steps) towards living into your God-given greatness. It’s just great.

Furtick uses the story of Elisha, Elijah’s prophetic successor, to guide us into the great-er life and away from a life which is less. Like Elisha, we are called to something greater, and need to burn the plow of our mundane existence and hang on for the double portion God has for us. We can get to work ‘digging ditches’ for the rain that God is going to bring! We can trust that like the widow in debt who has ‘only a little oil,’ God will take what we have (our gifts, passions and shape) and use it for his glory. But lest you think the ‘Greater life’ is all about getting all the amazing stuff you ask for, Furtick also uses the story of the Shunammite woman and her dead son, to talk about how God sometimes uses our faith to enact miracles we wouldn’t expect (or even want). And being ‘Greater’ doesn’t mean acting like you are above the fray. Naaaman was healed, only when he humbled himself and washed in the Jordan river. And like Elisha’s servant, if our eyes were open we would know how much our great God is at work on her behalf (and see ourselves through his eyes).

So Furtick’s exploration of the Elisha story is fruitful and inspiring. Elisha is an exemplar and there is a lot in the narratives of his life that are worth mining for personal edification. However, occasionally Elisha does not carry the freight that Furtick places on him. For example, he uses the story of the lost axe head to talk about how God will help us when we lose our way and get spiritually dull. Great point, but I’m not exactly sure that the Bible is making it in this passage. Furtick also does not discuss the difficult Elisha passages (i.e. when he curses the children for making fun of his bald head and two bears come and maul forty-two of them). I applaud Furtick’s engagement with the Elisha narratives, I just wish it was a little more detailed in its exegesis. I grant that a book like this is not likely to explore the ambiguities of the Elijah/Elisha narratives or offer a Christological/typological reading of Elisha. I just wanted more detail and depth.

Furtick is an affable guy and I liked this book. I felt challenged and inspired, especially because I feel I’m at an ‘in-between-time’ in my life. Occasionally I felt it was a little formulaic in presentation (burn your plows and at some point you will get your double portion), but for the most part it was an encouraging read.

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for this review. I was asked for an honest review and you ask for it, you got it.

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I am a pastor, husband, father, instigator, pray-er, hoper, writer, trouble-maker, peacemaker, and friend. Who are you?

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