God really loves you. He does. What if he loved you so much that he was pursuing you. What if he gave all that he had just to buy you from the grip of another. What if his love was larger than you could ever imagine or even return to him.
God’s love for us is amazing. It is beyond anything we can imagine. Jim McNeely III, author and pastor, explores God’s love and grace in his new book, The Romance of Grace. The concept for this book all began when McNeely was meeting with a men’s group in Everson, Washington. McNeely and the men he met with dug deep into Scripture. What they noticed was God’s abundant, undeserving and amazing grace. He began to share these concepts and themes on his blog ThereforeNow.com. From there, he compiled these into his newly released book The Romance of Grace. McNeely describes grace as an undeserving love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give (p 54). Everyone needs grace, and understanding God’s grace is essential in our spiritual walk.
The Romance of Grace is not a lengthy book, but it explores God’s grace thoroughly and with depth. Through ten chapters, McNeely explores how we cannot be coerced into loving God through the law and that we may see ourselves and/or others as undeserving of God’s grace. He also focuses on how we need to live in God’s grace. Each of these areas are covered completely along with other themes of grace.
McNeely uses parables, Scripture and illustrations to bring home his thoughts on grace. I am certain McNeely, like me, is a movie lover. He uses popular movies such as The Princess Bride, Groundhog’s Day, Office Space and others to illustrate points in his chapter. These movie plots are effective illustrations in the chapter’s points. For example, love for God cannot be demanded or forced like Princess Buttercup was forced to marry Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Bride. We must make a decision to love. “Love does not live, breathe, or thrive under fear and control; rather it completely and effortlessly resists these things. So it is with law and grace; we are to love as we have been loved, because love is a response to grace. p 61
The most meaningful part of The Romance of Grace for me was understanding how many Christians view grace. McNeely contends that many Christians do not believe they deserve God’s grace; instead they wish to prove their worth. Through Scripture, McNeely asserts that God’s one way grace makes us worthy. We cannot do anything to come close to earning it. He illustrates this through 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. In these verses, Paul explains that he has pleaded with God to remove the thorn in his flesh. God’s response to Paul was:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ( Verse 9)
Like Paul, we too may boast in Christ’s continued grace in our weakness. I know I have read and thought I understand this before, but McNeelly lays this out in a manner that is rich and cuts to the heart of true grace. He also describes the only true response to this amazing grace is gratitude. He invites his readers to join with Christ in what He has done for us through death on the cross. McNeely asserts that we can join Christ, even as sinners who have been extended grace through our Redeemer.
McNeely has written a book with humble candor and as only someone could if he has truly devoted himself to the study of God’s grace. He has a passion for God’s grace and conveys this eloquently without misrepresentation of Scripture. With that being said, some may find this a steeper read and with more theology than they bargain for; while others will welcome the depth of these concepts. All will also benefit from the questions that make the reader dig deeper in quiet reflection or in a discussion with other readers. I do recommend this book and believe the truths covered will bless all who read it. I give The Romance of Grace four of five stars.
What if God sees us the way a man sees a woman he is infatuated with, and His main question is not how to make us moral but rather how to get us to fall in love with Him?
In The Romance of Grace, Jim McNeely explores Bible passages that tell us what God really wants for us and what His love means. This is the love of a God who chose to give His life for ours, even carefully retaining His scars into the throne room of heaven and telling us in His very body, “I have gone to great lengths and great costs to say that I forsook all comforts for the love of you.”
Join Jim in his exploration of life in God’s unconditional, redeeming, amazing grace.
Paperback: 148 pages
Publisher: Libertary Company (February 5, 2013)
Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
Retail for Paperback: $11.95
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If you have an e-reader you can get Jim’s book for $3.99!
Listen to an audio of an author interview with Jim McNeely III or check out the same interview by video below.
“It is time, as Robert Farrar Capon put it, to get drunk on grace. Two hundred-proof, defiant grace. That’s what you get here in Jim’s book. You won’t see a list of qualifications, and you’ll get no “footnotes.” What you’ll encounter is grace unmeasured, vast and free. It will frighten you and free you at the same time.” —Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and author of Jesus + Nothing = Everything
“So often we turn our faith in Christ into a forcing mechanism, which doesn’t work in any event; and if anything, produces disillusionment or hypocrisy. The Romance of Grace is a prophetic book. I believe that unless we heed its call, to put grace absolutely without condition and frontally as the be-all and end-all of the Good News, we will lose completely, and not just in “the eyes of the world” but in the failure of well-intentioned religious lives that tried to love and never knew how.” —Paul F. M. Zahl, author of Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life
“In The Romance of Grace we are confronted with a truth that we may have previously rejected. It seemed too easy to embrace. It lacked obligation on our part and contradicted accusations we have given credence to for the majority of our lives on earth. Yet herein lies the truth—“Not that we loved God, but that God loved us.” This book will help to right the plumb line in your life.” —David Collins, author of Out of the Box, founder of Canadian Food for the Hungry International.
Jim McNeely is a teaching pastor, worship leader, and elder at Dakota Creek Christian Center in Blaine WA. He has been married for over 25 years to Betty McNeely and is the father of 4 handsome and talented sons. Formerly president of New Century Data, a custom enterprise software development firm with clients such as Lockheed Martin and American Airlines, he now works by day as a programmer and database administrator in the health care industry in Bellingham WA. When not ministering or working, he loves to hike and explore the beautiful mountain/forest/shoreline paths around western Washington.
You can follow Jim at:
Note: We were provided with a complimentary copy of the book through Shaun Tabatt at Cross-Focused Reviews for an honest review of this title.