Part of the Five on Fifteen book reviews that will be posted on the 15th of each month will be from other guest-bloggers. Here is another Five on Fifteen entry from my friend Jim Gregg, from Charlotte, NC. He is reviewing the book called Families Where Grace Is In Place by Jeff VanVonderen. Give it a read!
Jeff VanVonderen is an International Speaker, Christian Counselor, Pastor, & interventionist on A&E’s show Intervention. This book is not a how-to type book, it is more of a reflection of Jeff’s experiences as a husband, father, friend, and counselor. Jeff does a great job using scripture to point everything towards Jesus Christ & unpacking cyclical brokenness in each one of us and our relationships. I would recommend this book to Wives, Husbands, Fathers, Mothers, Small Groups, Home Groups, Teenagers, & new Christ Followers.
1. We are all broken without Jesus Christ
In chapters 1-6 Jeff starts breaking down living in the curse. The curse of course is the fall of man. This book does a great job for visual learners like myself of breaking down a “curse-full” person & relationships. I personally have never categorized my relationships as curse-full or grace-full.
Regardless I think it is a great way to start seeing Christ in everything. Personally speaking, seeing Christ in everything and seeking him in everything is anti-curse and it takes time walking in the Grace of God to see this truth. These first six chapters did an excellent job opening my mind and provoking more thought to all of my relationships & how I deal with people.
2. Recycling the ”Curse”
Behavior modification is NOT a replacement for knowing Christ and His Grace. I grew up in a behavior modification home as did most of my friends. I have realized that my wife and I bounce back and forth with our own children in this curse.
After reading this section of the book, Gretchen and I began praying for more patience and understanding about the grace we have been given and how we can articulate it to our children and connections with believers and non-believers. Living in the “curse” is ultimately a choice not a reality.
3. Our Families (communities) need us…and you
I consider my Family a community as much as I consider community a family. Part two of this book dives into family by the book. I challenged myself to read it from the view that community is family. I’ve been in traditional church communities and non-traditional communities, home-groups, house churches, organic churches, and Sunday schools.
When we look beyond everything in those groups/gatherings and focus on God’s Grace and Love…..all of those communities grown stronger in Christ. People need Grace-Filled people; I need Grace-Filled people. When grace is near, fear and doubt and anger tend to move on.
This seems very simple, but it takes time. The more time I take to know people in grace, I realized reading this book, that is where life change truly happens. Life change done correctly through Jesus Christ alone. Community is best practiced in a face-to-face local manner, but it can be done via phone, video chats, and conference calls. I have learned, living the way we live, that all have helped our family grow in Christ.
4. We never stop growing and we never stop needing God’s Grace
I am 36 years old. I still feel like a very young person. I have more to learn and more growing in me.
In part two, chapters 8-10 focus on children and parenting. I loved Jeff’s practical experiences with his children. I would challenge a reader of this book without children to read closely. This sections unpacks the idea of equipping our children.
If you are in a community with other believers then this section is very practical in how beliefs can help equip one another too. I was deeply reminded that we all need each other and we are all continually being modified to handle every situation that life throws our way by using the Holy Spirit.
5. My conclusion………in 5 sentences
- Jeff VanVonderen is an excellent writer that comes across humble and Christ centered.
- This book helped provoke many thoughts for my wife and I to discuss and implement with ourselves, our children, and our community of friends about living in God’s Grace.
- This book is for everyone (husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, believers, non-believers, skeptics, & non-skeptics) who believe there is more to life than what they currently live in and see around them.
- If you feel like you are lost or broken in any relationship, this book will give you hope in Jesus Christ.
- Last point……………Read this book.
If you enjoyed Jim’s post, you can read more from him at jimgregg.org. If you want to check out this book for yourself, click on Families Where Grace Is in Place: Building a Home Free of Manipulation, Legalism, and Shame.