Book Review: Not God Enough

“The incredible news of the gospel is that while God’s holiness demands perfection, his love was gracious enough to supply it for us through a substitute. If we cover our sin, God will expose it in judgment. If we rely on our strength, God will abandon us to weakness. If we boast in our wisdom, God will leave us in darkness. But if we expose our sin to Jesus—in all its inglorious ugliness—he will cover it with his extravagant grace. If we confess our weakness, he will fill us with his strength. If we admit our foolishness, he will bestow his wisdom upon us. If we allow ourselves to be undone in his presence, he will piece us back together in love.” Greear, J.D.. Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems (p. 82). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

I’m so grateful for the leadership of Pastor J.D. Greear and his willingness to put the time and effort into writing in addition to raising a family, pastoring a church, leading the Southern Baptist Convention, and living out the Great Commission.  His latest book, Not God Enough, was a powerful remind of the truth of God’s word and what it looks like to put Jesus in his rightful place as Lord of my life.  I could say many things about this book, but I’ll keep it simple…read it and be encouraged.

True worship is intimacy grounded in awe. Awe, which Solomon says must come first, stands silent before the awesomeness of God’s majesty. Only then can worship move to intimacy, which grows out of embracing how close this infinite God has brought himself to us in the cross. Only the two together, in the right order, lead to biblical faith. Only the two together will yield the emotion that fulfills the Great Commandment and fuel the passion that pursues the Great Commission. Location: 439

Scripture tells us that a day is coming when God will undo every injustice and heal every hurt and that his end “product” will be stronger and better for having gone through the process. On that day God will wipe away every tear, says the apostle John, and make all things new (Rev 21:4–5). To use the words of J. R. R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, he will “make every sad thing come untrue.” God doesn’t erase our memory of them; he shows us how they were all part of a beautiful plan. The truth of their destructiveness is overwritten by the truth of his redemption. Location: 1,016

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems by J.D. Greear

  • A god small enough to be understood is not big enough to be worshipped. EVELYN UNDERHILL Location: 340
  • These shallow glimpses of God are fine as long as our faith remains untested, but they are utterly insufficient in the midst of serious questioning or intense suffering. Location: 419
  • “A god small enough to be understood,” the British philosopher Evelyn Underhill observed, will never be “big enough to be worshipped.” Location: 425
  • True worship is intimacy grounded in awe. Awe, which Solomon says must come first, stands silent before the awesomeness of God’s majesty. Only then can worship move to intimacy, which grows out of embracing how close this infinite God has brought himself to us in the cross. Only the two together, in the right order, lead to biblical faith. Only the two together will yield the emotion that fulfills the Great Commandment and fuel the passion that pursues the Great Commission. Location: 439
  • Doubt happens when the superficialities of your faith meet the realities of this world. Location: 479
  • Decades ago, American pastor A. W. Tozer wrote about the importance of our personal “vision” of God: What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. . . . No religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. . . . We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. Tozer added, The most [determining] fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.4 Location: 492
  • What we think about God determines everything else in our lives: what we value, what we pursue, and how we pursue it. Location: 498
  • Spiritual life does not come from discipline or mastery of doctrine. It comes from divine vision. Location: 519
  • When God opens our eyes to see the beauty of Jesus, his glory bursts through the cloud of our questions. Location: 527
  • We want a God who will restore us to peaceful equilibrium, take away our stress, and promise us a blissful afterlife. Most Christians haven’t rejected God; they have just reduced him. Location: 656
  • Those who understand their forgiveness tremble more, not less, in God’s presence. They stand amazed at the magnitude of the God who holds them safely in his arms. So when they think about God, or pray, or ask questions of him, they do so with a sense of hushed awe. They recognize the size of the God they are speaking to. Location: 727
  • A God we can predict, instruct, and control is not a God who will captivate our affections or command our devotion. He’s not God enough. He’s a God we can never really trust because he is not wise or glorious enough to account for the glories and tragedies of our existence. Because we have made him small enough to be understood, he is no longer big enough to be worshiped. Location: 749
  • C. S. Lewis called pain God’s “megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” He said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.”5 Location: 843
  • Scripture tells us that a day is coming when God will undo every injustice and heal every hurt and that his end “product” will be stronger and better for having gone through the process. On that day God will wipe away every tear, says the apostle John, and make all things new (Rev 21:4–5). To use the words of J. R. R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, he will “make every sad thing come untrue.” God doesn’t erase our memory of them; he shows us how they were all part of a beautiful plan. The truth of their destructiveness is overwritten by the truth of his redemption. Location: 1,016
  • Do we dare flatter ourselves by believing that we could understand everything if God would just take a minute to explain it to us? Location: 1,092
  • The cross both reveals God’s intentions for the world and gives us insight into how he accomplishes them. He works in all things for his glory and our salvation. Location: 1,106
  • The writer of Hebrews tells us that one day every thought, word, and deed will be laid bare, naked, and exposed before God (Heb 4:13). Location: 1,168
  • “The incredible news of the gospel is that while God’s holiness demands perfection, his love was gracious enough to supply it for us through a substitute. If we cover our sin, God will expose it in judgment. If we rely on our strength, God will abandon us to weakness. If we boast in our wisdom, God will leave us in darkness. But if we expose our sin to Jesus—in all its inglorious ugliness—he will cover it with his extravagant grace. If we confess our weakness, he will fill us with his strength. If we admit our foolishness, he will bestow his wisdom upon us. If we allow ourselves to be undone in his presence, he will piece us back together in love.” (p. 82).
  • Confessing our inability to God gives us an incredible confidence before him. It does so because the source of our confidence shifts from our limited ability to his infinite willingness. Location: 1,364
  • The people who see and know God are those whose sense of smallness, unworthiness, and inability always causes them to look upward toward his holiness, trusting in his incredible promises of grace and not in their abilities to figure him out but his willingness to reveal himself. Location: 1,381
  • Can we imagine how offensive it must be to God when we attempt to reshape him according to our preferences? Location: 1,613
  • Our hearts yearn for the security and satisfaction that comes from knowing the all-sufficient, eternally wise, and all-powerful God. But the only way we can know him is to come to him on his terms—to receive him for who he is. And that means being willing to hear from him things that sometimes confuse you. As Tim Keller says, only the faith that believes God regarding things it doesn’t want to hear can believe God about the things it desperately does want to hear.4 Location: 1,731
  • If there is one [subject] which . . . makes me go back from this platform utterly ashamed of my poor feeble words, it is this subject. This love of Christ is the most amazing thing under heaven, if not in heaven itself. CHARLES SPURGEON Location: 1,743
  • Eighteenth-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal explained it this way: “There was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace. . . . This infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.” Location: 1,765
  • Maybe the reason nothing in this world satisfies you is that it wasn’t designed to satisfy you. The world is not God enough. If God is what we are missing, we won’t find satisfaction in a soul mate, a salary, or a syringe. As C. S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Location: 1,862
  • Knowing Jesus requires a total, unconditional surrender of your spirit. He becomes your identity, your goal, and your hope. Location: 1,922
  • Experiencing pain or humiliation because of your sin may feel like God’s wrath, but it is actually the tender outworking of his compassion. He is trying to wake you up, showing you that sin takes you somewhere you don’t want to go. As a friend of mine says, “He’s not trying to pay you back, but bring you back.” Location: 2,068
  • The beauty of the gospel is that the One who has the right to condemn us has also made provision for our forgiveness. Even though we stand condemned before God, he tells us not to fear because he has taken our judgment onto himself. As Martin Luther put it, the voice of condemnation declares to our hearts, You are guilty, but God speaks with a louder voice in the gospel, I have taken your sin. So, when condemnation whispers, You are finished, we need only look to the cross to hear Jesus’s triumphant answer: No! It is finished. Location: 2,114
  • Jesus didn’t die so we could play church. He didn’t die to be our source of serenity in a busy life. He didn’t endure the cross so we could huddle together in small groups and bemoan the deterioration of our culture. He died to turn us into white-hot worshipers and world-transformers. Location: 2,446
  • Do radical measures of mercy characterize your life? Do you give generously? Do you forgive quickly? Do you talk constantly about the grace you’ve found in Jesus? Location: 2,467
  • You will never understand your purpose in life until you see God’s glory as the center of it all and its centrality as the greatest thing possible for humanity. Location: 2,810
  • We simply cannot experience the magnitude of salvation and remain silent. Embracing the awesomeness of the gospel ignites a burning heart, and a burning heart leads to a flaming tongue. Every time. Location: 3,172
  • God only fills empty hands. He wants vessels, not tools. Tools are well-designed instruments. Vessels are merely conduits. God chose Moses because Moses was in a place where he would have to depend on God. God didn’t need Moses’s ability; he wanted his availability. Location: 3,306
  • Our weaknesses are places where we naturally lean into him. Our strengths are usually those places we forget him. Beware your strengths, not your weaknesses. Location: 3,394
  • This is not a time to hunker down and wait for the end. This is a day for bold, audacious, and hope-filled prayer to a glorious, awesome, and willing God. Location: 3,522

 

 

 

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