God’s Story, Your Story: When His Story Becomes Yours
Zondervan, 2011, 208 pp., $24.00
As always, I really enjoyed reading the latest book by Max Lucado. Max once again managers to make common Scripture verses and simple truths come alive in a way that is current and spurs the reader on toward action. This isn’t the most appropriate book to go through with students, but I can see many of my leaders being blessed by it.
Reading a Max Lucado book is a little like choosing a Janet Evanovich novel in that you pretty much know what you are going to be reading with a few variations here and there. In a Lucado book, the variety comes in Scripture and in which woven stories are chosen to illuminate the well chosen Bible passages while an Evanovich beach read changes up where one might meet Ranger or Lulu in the course of chasing the bad guys. I don’t believe either option is one I might recommend for use within a youth ministry setting primarily due to the expected and rote style, use of adult language (high muckety-mucked for Lucado and, well, other choices not for print in the Evanovich) and distinct missing of the coolness factor.
So I read the Lucado book again.
As long as students didn’t see the cover or recognize the author’s name from their parent’s nightstands, some of the stories do stand out as possibilities in a youth ministry teaching setting. Chapter 4, with some darker illusions to criminal and political names along with the pilot flying blind could be an opening to some great conversation or artwork. Students would love the question, “Does a decent fellow say things like this? No, but a demented fool does.” (p. 71) as they explore a fantastic few pages on how one might view Jesus. Although the passages about the tax collector and the woman at the well are completely familiar to students, those verses never stop being the most checked-out and questioned as youth groups relate to how beautifully Christ spent time with those unloved, public sinners.
Also, here in Columbus, Ohio, where the man who wore the sweater vest, Jim Tressel, was about as close to Jesus as humanly possible in the eyes of beyond rabid and crazed Ohio State football fans, Chapter 5 about taking off the vest could be turned into a four-week conversation. If you follow college sports, the still unbelievable fall and removal of Coach Tressel — and now the complete shut-out of key player Terrell Pryor — has caused every kind of finger pointing, along with many schools now having to remove “sweater vest” day from their typical homecoming festivities. Page 83 with the image of Christ being dressed in vests representing things such as “I CHEATED MY FRIENDS” or “I CURSED MY GOD” could be a wonderful retreat setting activity as students create their own vests and acknowledge places of sin while later changing clothes as they put on HIS vest. “When you make God’s story yours, He covers you in Christ” (p. 85).
Even back in the days of early Lucado, days when my youth groups still had some level of innocence as an expectation, I rarely could attempt to use one of his books in its entirety with a youth group. I admit to stealing stories and using the occasional chapter in a talk or as an addition to a Sunday morning curriculum, but never have thought of Lucado as a writer for youth. I would not use the term old-fashioned, and I believe he was certainly ahead of his time as far as use of narrative; but overall, his work is maybe too comforting for youth groups living on the edge. It was a nice, calm summer read for this youthworker who has been reading way too much non-fiction!
There are very few things as powerful as story, especially in the context of youth ministry. In youth ministry, we utilize the power of story all the time, recognizing that our youth (and others) connect with story — not to mention Jesus was a storyteller. God has, is and will continue to write a story in our world and in our lives. We must connect our youth to God and God’s story so they can begin to see the story God has for them. Max Lucado is a great storyteller. While the stories in the book are great and it’s an enjoyable book, its value in a youth ministry setting is limited to the possible use of some of the author’s stories. It’s neither a book that can be used as a curriculum or teaching series, nor is it a book I would recommend having youth read. This book contains some great stories that youth workers may find helpful in communicating God’s story to their youth, but I would not recommend using it for any other purpose in a youth ministry setting.
–Rev. Marcus J. Carlson
Max Lucado boldly declares to his readers that ordinary is a prerequisite to an extraordinary life in his book, God’s Story Your Story: When His Becomes Yours. This message offers profound hope to many teenagers who have looked in the mirror and discovered knocked knees, metallic teeth, red spots and a less-than-perfect figure staring back at them…even if only imagined. Lucado details the divine story of God’s struggle and ultimate victory over evil and death, declaring us ordinaries primed to be co-conquerors over the same in this life and the next…brace-face and all.
—Rebecca Wimmer is a best-selling author with the Skit Guys and former full-time Youth Director, who continues to volunteer in her husband’s Student Ministry in Ashburn, VA., just outside the nation’s capital.
Max Lucado’s God’s Story, Your Story is a book by which new believers and old warriors in the faith can be blessed. His words and the Word combine to create a book that is encouraging and illuminating. His message of understanding God’s story as the key to understanding our own is communicated with an ease that makes readers forget they’re actually absorbing strong biblical truths and teaching as they read. With this level of accessibility, this book would make an excellent resource for any new believers Bible study and could be adapted for use in many other types of settings. With an open heart, any believer can read this book and be blessed repeatedly.
-Danny Cruz, youth coordinator, Truth Exists Youth Group, Living Waters Fellowship in Brooklyn, New York. He is a Brooklyn native with a heart for urban ministry.
Every reader has had the experience of becoming so engrossed in a novel that we could imagine ourselves living out the plot, taking on characters and participating in the adventures that we read. In his latest book, God’s Story, Your Story: When His Becomes Yours, author Max Lucado reminds Christians this experience really happens: that we participate day by day in hearing and living out the story God is writing.
Lucado’s main take-home point in the book is that God’s story is different: different from the story we tell ourselves based on our own experiences, different from the story our culture tells about what makes us successful and happy. God’s Story, Your Story emphasizes that in order to be understood,God’s story has to be heard, understood and practiced.
God’s Story, Your Story is useful as a starting point for discussions about meaning-of-life questions for beginning Christians. Lucado’s blend of Scripture, news stories and personal anecdotes makes these questions approachable for people who are just beginning to ask them.
God’s Story, Your Story is sure to energize the reader to tell (again) how God has been made known in this world and in the life of the reader. Max Lucado does an exceptional job of presenting the good news of Jesus through exposition, illustration and application. God’s Story is a good, easy read that should be shared with those who need to be encouraged in the faith, as well as those who need to be matured in the faith. Through the sharing of personal stories, Lucado aims at the essence of who we are. He wants the reader to know God’s plan and how to make it our reality. With success, Lucado demonstrates how the manner in which we view life–even life eternal–should be shaped by God’s initial plan. God’s Story should be our story.
–Larrin R. Robertson, Associate Minister/Teen Ministry Lead, Metropolitan Baptist Church, Largo, Maryland
“Story is the language of the heart”–Eldridge/Manning
We are all a part of God’s grand archetype, and we need to be reminded of that when the chapter of our particular storyline seemingly goes awry. This is a brilliant book to share with and use with students who often cannot see past the line and verse they are living in the moment. Tactile applications abound, for example, in chapter 5, “You Won’t Be Forsaken,” Lucado speaks of how we tend to wear our failures or brokenness as we would an offender’s blaze orange vest. Hae your students don blaze orange vests with the generalized offenses of their choosing, and by the end of the session, have them exchange their vests of shame for a vest of grace and mercy. Indeed, we do relate to story at a heart level, and Max Lucado is a master at weaving our stories into God’s story.”