Yes He Does: a book review

I used to be part of a more expressive charismatic church, where Ché Ahn was a respected voice. I remember him preaching at our church one Sunday and enjoyed it. I read God Wants to Bless You! eager to see if I still appreciated Ahn’s message. I also am challenged by charismatic friends toward a more experiential and dynamic faith and the hunger for God’s blessing. God does want to bless us!

Ahn, who is a graduate from Fuller Theological Seminary, founder of the apostolic network Harvest International Ministry (HIM) and the founding pastor of HRock Church in Pasedena wants us to experience all God has for us in Christ. The impetus behind this book was a prophetic word given to him by Bob Hartley in 2013. Hartley told Ahn that he was to speak ten decrees–ten scriptural blessings–over his church  (12). Hartley wasn’t specific as to what these blessings ought to be, and after prayer Ahn compiled the list he shares here. These were decrees that Ahn declared over his church and had his members decree over their own lives.

God Wants to Bless You is presented in two parts. Part one describes the power (and purpose) of God’s blessing in our lives. Part two presents Ahn’s ten decrees. Each of the decree chapters begins with a prayerful ‘apostolic’ decree from Ahn, praying God’s blessing on a dimension of our life,  then some teaching from Ahn on the topic, and a closing decree for the reader to pray out loud, declaring God’s blessing on their lives.

All of these decrees are biblically rooted. Ahn leads us through prayers that we will grow in our knowledge of God’s love, grow in grace, be in empowered by the Spirit, know our identity in Christ, grow in Christlike character, see God’s Kingdom come, experience God’s healing, prosperity and fulfill our personal God-given destiny.

Ahn is a good teacher and I was generally impressed by his use of scripture. I also liked that this book isn’t a simple ‘name it and claim it’ book. When Ahn writes about growing in love, character, grace, etc, he imparts strategies for living in a more Christlike way.  This isn’t just about speaking God’s blessing in our life, Ahn shares vulnerably his sometimes difficult journey as a disciple. There is no dichotomy here between praying for something, and active spiritual discipline.

However I do have qualms with his understanding of Israel and prosperity. Ahn teaches about God’s continuing blessing on Israel and the Jewish people based on their covenant with God and his covenant faithfulness to them (41-46). He then teaches that all of the blessings of Israel are our inheritance in Christ because we have been grafted into  Abraham’s family (46). To me, this smacks of supersessionism and leads to the misreading of the Bible. Secondly, Ahn’s teaching of prosperity involves renouncing ‘the Spirit of Poverty; on our lives. Ahn shares the story of renouncing the spirit of Poverty and receiving his first five-thousand dollar honorarium (57). I can agree with Ahn that we shouldn’t seek poverty for poverty sake, or idealize it.  Yet I think what scripture commends is that  God’s care for us and our needs. It is not  a ‘pray and grow rich’ theology. I am nervous about the way the prosperity gospel penetrates Ahn’s description of God’s blessing.

But I am also appreciative that the Blessings that Ahn has us declare over our lives are so that we can be a blessing to our neighbors and the nations. The impact of the abundant life is that we share God’s love, grace, healing, and prosperity with others. Ahn teaches us that God blesses so that we can be a blessing. I can’t agree more. I am awed and inspired by God’s goodness to us and the way it is described here.

I give this book three stars and recommend it, albeit with reservations. I want to experience more of God’s unconditional goodness. I want that for you to.

Note: I recieved this book from Chosen books in exchange for my honest review.

Bless Your Blessed Socks Off!: a book review

“Watch Your Language!”

These are words we say when we hear  our kids swear or when we hear adults swear in front of our kids. Yet we shouldn’t just watch that the occasional curse doesn’t pass our lips. We should watch our words to make sure they are a blessing to others.

Joseph Cavanaugh has written The Language of Blessing to help  us realize our own gifts and talents and to teach us how to speak words of blessing to others.  As a sought after speaker, ministry leader, life coach and  he encourages readers to discover who God made them to be. The talents, strengths and passions that God gave us reveal what we are made for. As we begin to learn our shape, we also are freed to  bless those around us. Cavanaugh shares vulnerably of his own experience of growing up with an authoritarian father who did not know how to bless his children.  As an adult he works with New Life Ministries helping others discover God’s unique blessing for their life.

The Language of Blessing: Discover your own gifts and talents . . .Learn how to pour them out to bless others by Joseph Cavanaugh III

There are three parts to The Language of Blessing. In part one Cavanaugh describes what the language of blessing is.  A blessing is: words of affirmation which solidify identity and give purpose to a person, enabling us to become all that we are meant to be. Parents and friends may speak the language of blessing to us, but ultimately our blessing is a gift from God.

Part two describes the barriers to blessing in our life. These include seeing ourselves as average (because of one-size-fits-all approaches to education and development), the cycle of false identity,  self-centeredness, and parenting styles which are either too domineering or permissive.

Part three is where Cavanaugh puts it  all together and describes what it means to speak the language of blessing. Those who have received a blessing and live confidently in it are self-aware and non-anxious. This frees them up to affirm others, see their God-given-potential and respond with gratitude.

When I read books like this I have two questions: (1)What insights can I learn from this book? (2)  Is this just another positive thinking self-help book? I am happy to report that there was little said by Cavanaugh that I am wary of. He synthesizes much of the literature on leadership, strength building and parenting. He offers sound advice and aims at getting readers to understand where they have been personally blessed; yet his ultimate aim is that when we are secure in who we are in Christ, we will begin to speak blessing into those around us.

So this book is helpful for vocational discernment. There is sound advice  and good insight here. Cavanaugh draws generously on Smalley and Trent’s The Blessing, Tom Rath’s Strength Finders, Edwin Friedman’s Failure of Nerve, and even Malcom Gladwell’s The Outliers.  These are not ‘new insights’ but Cavanaugh says them sell and synthesizes them helpfully. Of course Cavanaugh’s convictions are also rooted in personal experience and his experience as a life coach and conference speaker.   What I appreciated about Cavanaugh’s approach was how careful he was to ground his approach biblically. This allows him to affirm the individual and their worth without succumbing to self-centered narcissism. I give this book three stars:★★★☆☆

Thank you to Tyndale Momentum for providing me a copy of this book through the Tyndale Blog Network. I was asked to write an honest review.