Monday, November 25, 2013

Have You Blessed Someone Today?

"Blessed to be a blessing" is a phrase oft repeated in Christian circles. While meant as an encouragement, too often the idea of blessing others becomes another chore to check off a to-do list. In the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas, when we often spend more time considering our blessing and how much we have to be thankful, many feel encouraged to bless others, particularly those we term "less-fortunate" in a variety of ways. While always appreciated, the idea of blessing others is not limited to specific times of the year. Gerrit Dawson, in his book The Blessing Life: A Journey to Unexpected Joy published by InterVarsity Press, changes the idea of blessing from something to check off our list or another things to do during the busy Christmas season into a joyful response to God for every day no matter the season.

Dawson's book is divided into three parts which are titled Receiving Blessing from God, Returning Blessing to God, and Reflecting God's Blessing to Others. However, before delving into part one, begin by reading the introduction where Dawson sets the stage for his book. From the first page, Dawson makes it clear that the Blessing Life does not mean "a peachy, everything is all right" existence but "a vibrant relationship with the triune God who loves us utterly" (13). With the relational view in place, Dawson begins to discuss the variety of ways we receive blessing from God. He spends an entire chapter addressing the topic of blessing in the midst of suffering and emphasizes that these concepts are not exclusive of each other.

Part 2 Returning Blessing to God takes a slightly different format. Chapter 5 introduces the concept of blessing God emphasizing that blessing God can be practiced and learned. The subsequent chapters in this section each focuses on a picture of God and leads readers through meditating on that picture. These chapters deserve a slow and careful reading. Turning to part 3 Reflecting God's Blessing to Others, Dawson emphasizes a variety of ways Christians can bless others including those who persecute you and the importance of blessing through forgiveness.

Throughout the book, Dawson provides multiple examples from the lives of Christians showing that The Blessing Life is possible. The book also contains numerous scripture references and other citations. Dawson expertly combines stories of blessing, scripture, artwork, and music references into a book which inspires readers to not only go and bless others but to realize the ability to bless others is rooted in receiving a blessing from God. While reading the book, the children's chorus "the blessings come down as the prayers go up" frequently came to mind.

While a wonderful book by itself, Dawson also has a forty-day companion book titled A Guide to the Blessing Life which contains scripture reading and prayer corresponding to the book. I have not personally seen or used the companion guide to comment on its content yet although I plan to do so. The Blessing Life, with or without the companion guide, would make a wonderful resource for personal or group study. With the companion guide, it is well-suited for a church-wide study.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from InterVarsity Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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