Living Close to God (When You're Not Good at It): A Spiritual Life That Takes You Deeper Than Daily Devotions [NOOK Book]

Overview

Have you tried harder to have a consistent time with the Lord—but failed?
Does your mind wander during prayer, and do you run out of things to say?
Do you question why it is so
hard to fellowship with the Lord?

Stop feeling like a ...

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Living Close to God (When You're Not Good at It): A Spiritual Life That Takes You Deeper Than Daily Devotions

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Overview

Have you tried harder to have a consistent time with the Lord—but failed?
Does your mind wander during prayer, and do you run out of things to say?
Do you question why it is so
hard to fellowship with the Lord?

Stop feeling like a failure at daily devotions and start walking every day with the Lord who loves you.

Gene Edwards faced these same questions and struggles. And he found a better way to walk with the Lord than merely trying harder to pray and read the Bible.

In Living Close to God (When You're Not Good at It) you will discover that loving God means much more than doing your best to serve Him. You will find ways to start your day with Christ, beginning with your first conscious thought in the morning. You will learn how to fellowship with Him during even the most demanding days. And when you go to the Scriptures, you will talk with Him in a two-way conversation—just as His first followers did.

Includes a small-group discussion guide and a guide
for your own relationship with God.

 

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307730206
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 834,271
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Gene Edwards is one of the most influential Christian authors of our time. Three of his books are considered modern classics: A Tale of Three Kings, The Divine Romance, and The Prisoner in the Third Cell. His books have been published in more than seventy foreign editions and in twenty-two languages. He and his wife, Helen, live in Florida.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Spiritually Handicapped

      I consider myself to be spiritually handicapped.
      Christians who know the Lord well seem to have a natural spiritual bent. I am not so endowed. As to things spiritual, I have always thought of myself as being some kind of rare case because of my nonspiritual nature. If you happen to fall into this same “rare case,” then join me in this journey in search of a spiritual life for Christians who are not naturally spiritually inclined.
      I did not grow up in a devout family. I was raised in the home of a laboring man—a “doer” by nature. So was his father before him: like father, like son. I am a natural doer.
      I broke horses, played football, and began working in the oil fields as a roughneck at age fourteen. Roughnecks are plain-spoken, practical, tough, down-to-earth men. That was my world. Being a doer was, and is, my nature.
      No, I am not a spiritual person. The only thing I had in my favor, spiritually, was a spectacular conversion to Christ. I was converted while in college. I graduated from college, was called to the ministry, and entered seminary all in the same week.
      What was instilled in me by my denomination was the imperative of winning others to Christ. That fit the doer in me perfectly. Evangelism was my consuming passion. Further, I was still an oilfield roughneck at heart. A public display of piety was beyond me. It still is. I also found that I was a most unlikely candidate for being a pastor. (My parishioners soon made the same discovery!) My sole interest was to turn the world upside down and win everyone on earth to the Lord Jesus Christ.
      Then came…

A Rise Too Soon

      No young believer should ever rise quickly in the ministry. I became a pastor at age twenty-one, a seminary graduate at twenty-two, and by age twenty-four, I had written a book on personal evangelism. That book became a bestseller, and not only was the book well received, but so was its author. In a skyrocketing ascent, I was soon conducting citywide campaigns sending Christians out to knock on every door in the city, in an effort to lead people to Christ. This much notoriety, this much leadership, this furious pace could have easily been a stew for disaster. 
      My zeal for Christ never faltered, but I gradually came face to face with the reality of emptiness. In the midst of a national, many-layered ministry, my spiritual desperation grew. I reached the point where I had to choose between two paths: either continue in my ministry or come to know Christ better. I could not do both.
      One day I wrote myself a note: “It is far more important to me that I come to know my Lord in living reality than it is to be in ministry without it.” Finally, I sat with my family and shared my desperation. I then cancelled all my campaigns. I had become a pilgrim traveling in uncharted lands. But just where would I begin this pilgrimage? I began by searching for books that might help provide answers, something that would show me how to have some kind of a spiritual life. I could find no such helps. Nor did I find any Christian who could help this desperate beggar. As noted already, I was convinced that I was a special case.
      I know the evangelical world. (I have spoken in hundreds of churches and worked with thousands of ministers while conducting citywide campaigns.) In the evangelical world I knew I would find much being said about prayer. I knew a few men who spent an hour or more in prayer every day. Some of them evidenced some spiritual touch; in others, no such evidence was apparent. Few of them testified of a practical relationship with the Lord Jesus. As for me, I could not see myself praying for an hour every day.

Prayer, or Fellowship with the Lord?

      I knew by instinct there was a great distinction between praying and fellowship with the Lord. The difference is vast. (It is entirely possible to be fully devoted to prayer and never actually fellowship with the Lord.) As to the many books I read, virtually every one was centered on the subject of prayer. Sadly, those teachings did nothing to address my desperation to know the Lord better. Their advice led to the very thing I was trying to escape. (Remember, I am naturally a doer.)
      Some people reading this may think I lack some kind of special experience—one that would cure my spiritual longings. My response is this: I have had the Pentecostal experience, the Easter experience, the Christmas experience, the Passover experience, and the “exchanged life” experience. I have even had the Fourth of July experience and many other such experiences.
      Herein lies the problem. I was not looking for an experience; I was seeking a walk. Here was a Christian who had spent ten years in the ministry, yet who had become a desperate, hungry, rapacious seeker—seeking to know his Lord better. I was a beggar looking for bread. I also was beginning to wonder if I was such a rare case that I might never be able to have a meaningful walk with Christ.
      Was there hope for this woefully ill-equipped believer? Knowing Christ in living reality and in simplicity had become the first pursuit of my life. I was desperate, yet not even remotely qualified for such a spiritual quest.
      So it was, the search began.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 6, 2011

    Good Advice to Ponder, but repetitive!

    I have to admit, it took me a little while to get through this book, just because a lot of the things he shares with us, is repetitive. I was almost a little bored with it. After the initial ah hah, interesting moments in the book, it is looked at in very close detail. He mentions over and over again that he was writing this book so that very simple people could understand how to meditate on the word of God and use it as your own prayer. I do believe he has accomplished this.

    I never realized before just how in-depth you could meditate on the written word. He shares with you how to simply slow down¿ how to empty your mind¿ memorize and mediate on each word you say as you pray. This information will stay with me for years to come, and I¿m sure I will put this into practice.

    I do have a strong relationship with my Lord and Savior, and I don¿t think this book necessarily applied to me, but the information was still useful all the same. Even if I never have to practice his principles, I¿m sure I will run across someone who I can share this with¿ who will benefit from it.

    I am from Louisiana, as is the author, and I really had a lot in common with things he wrote about culturally. I enjoyed that.

    I gave this book a rating of 2.5 out of 5.

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. The opinions are my own and I was not obligated to write a positive review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Realizing the truth of where you stand within your spiritual sel

    Realizing the truth of where you stand within your spiritual self is no small matter. Coming to the place where you are willing to admit that you lack true authenticity in your relationship with God is even more profound. This book was a testament about a man who was willing to be honest with himself regarding his beliefs, his struggles, and his deficiencies associated with God. The book afforded readers with a glimpse into the mind and heart of a “learned” man who had walked with the LORD but who had also come to the point of understanding that there was something more to be experienced when it came to living close to God. The author revealed hard truths, but he also provided functional ideas on how to begin having a more intimate spiritual walk with the LORD.

    I would recommend this book to anyone looking for unique ways to grow upward toward God.

    Phone Tree Rating: 4/5 Stars ****

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

    Repetetive, Poorly Developed

    While I believe the author has good intentions, his suggestions of how to live close to God are too repetetive and underdeveloped to be truly beneficial. Afterall, what if his methods--the ones that worked for him--don't inspire the reader or end up falling flat after a time? This book is based on the author's own spiritual journey of what worked for him rather than on principles by which to base your own journey toward God.

    The book does have some good little nuggets such as finding a song to sing and starting small, but it's kind of in the middle of a lot of rambling so reader beware.

    The major redeeming quality of the book was separate guides for groups and individuals. While not actually taking advantage of these portions, I did look over the questions and suggestions and found them to adequate for thought-provokation and personal reflection and introspection.

    In theory, the book was easy to read; however, it seemed to jump from one idea to another without much connection over and over and over which, in the end, made for a disappointing reading experience.

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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  • Posted February 13, 2012

    I Liked It, but I Think their are Better Books on the Subject

    As I read this book I personally thought of the Christian classic, “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. Though this book was a super simple read, it can be a little hard to follow if you have no room for untraditional approaches to a Christian’s devotional life. In my opinion Gene Edwards takes his lifelong experience and attempts to give the reader handles to grip the reality of knowing Christ deeper. Weird and seemingly off the wall at times, Edwards reintroduces the believer to ancient church practices as he learned to overcome his personal lack of spiritual confidence and intimacy in his personal relationship with Jesus.

    My suggestion would be to read the last chapter “Witness of the Ages” first and it will give you a better understanding on where the author is coming from. If not, you will be asking yourself a lot of questions throughout the book. I enjoyed the book because of it’s out of box approach, but also felt that the author was creating a formula and could have done a better job of referencing how these practices are rooted in church history, rather than the idea of “if you feel like a failure” in your devotional life try this…it worked for me.

    Edwards has written a few classics and he has also written some controversial books. This one will definitely give you something to talk about! **I wouldn’t buy this book, but I did get it for free through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my review!**

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Great Book! Just hard for me to personally connect

    Recently I received a copy of Living Close to God When You’re Not Good At It by Gene Edwards. Never having read anything by this author, I was curious to see what his book would be like. It ended up being a very well thought-out account of his experience of learning how to get closer to God—even when he did not consider himself to be a “spiritual man.” While it was well written and easy to read, it was harder for me to connect with him than I had wanted. However, it is still an excellent book that I’m sure many people can benefit from! One thing I especially appreciated from him is how Edwards wrote about how you can start out small. So many people, when they talk about reading the Bible or praying, talk about doing it for hours at a time. If you’re just starting out getting closer to God, though, hours spent reading God’s Word and praying are probably going to be very difficult hours. Why? It’s difficult because you haven’t yet learned how to get closer to God. If you consider yourself to not be a “spiritual person” but you want to be more spiritually minded, this book could help start a major turning point in your life! I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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  • Posted January 4, 2012

    Relationship Builder

    This book represents those who are searching for a relationship with God, but don¿t know how to go about it; or confused about what the theologians are saying. The book gives some interesting details about the authors¿ personal relationship being developed with God. It definitely redefines the issue regarding whether or not education plays a role and it doesn¿t. The only thing that God is looking in a relationship is the trueness of a person, which is what matters to God. The author used their experience to show how building a relationship with Christ is better for your life. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review¿.

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  • Posted December 24, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    What else is more satisfying than living close to God?

    Gene Edwards does a solid job in discussing ways not to get jaded in a relationship with God. Bible reading, devotionals, and prayer may all seem routine, yet Edwards gives great suggestions on how to make such practices not merely practices, but fresh, daily, and inspired personal meetings with God.

    I would recommend this book for individual Christians as well as small group leaders. It's practical in many ways. People these days do need deep, personal, and truth-based relationships with God.

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  • Posted October 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Living Close to God falls short...way short...of the mark

    Intended to be a guide to help those who are not spiritually inclined to have a closer walk with God this book, Living Closer to God, falls short of the mark.
    Living Close to God starts out by explaining that some people are not as spiritually inclined as others. The author then uses the example of his completely illiterate grandfather to prove his point that you do not need to be highly educated to have a deep personal relationship with God. While I do not disagree with this belief I still would have liked to have been given some examples of his grandfather's walk with the Lord instead of just being told that he had a good one.
    I also would like to know why Gene Edwards, the author of this book, believes he is spiritually inept. Gene Edwards seems to focus on how he feels about his spiritual aptitude instead of the reality of it. You cannot and should not gauge your spiritual success by how you feel at any given moment.
    As you read further into the book you are given steps to follow in order to have a deeper walk with Christ which would be good except for three problems:

    Christianity is not a one size fits all kinda thing.
    It is about a relationship and the neat thing about relationships is that each one is different because each person is unique.
    The author seems to only focus on the 23rd Psalm and believes that only some of the scriptures can be used by God to speak directly to a person. I am one of those strange people that believes "all scripture is given by inspiration of God." I also believe that God can use any of His scriptures to speak to a person including the genealogies if He chooses.
    The author rewrites the 23rd Psalm and instructs the reader to focus on his version of the scripture rather than actually focusing on the Word of God.

    Overall, I did not appreciate the tone of this book nor its methodology. Instead of breaking this book up onto nineteen chapters and six parts each one seeming to reiterate what was stated previously...over and over and over again. The author could have condensed the book's contents into a step by step pamphlet to hand out on Sunday mornings.
    While I do agree with the author that we should keep our speech plain so that all can understand, I do not believe in totally disrespecting your reader by treating them as though they were a complete dolt.
    So to sum up, I would not recommend this book on several factors. The authors tendency to rewrite scripture and encouraging his readers meditate on his version rather than on the actual word of God. His tendency to talk down to his readers. And the fact that the content of this book was seriously lacking.
    Look, we all from time to time can benefit from a little help with our spiritual walk but I do not believe that any of us is more spiritually inclined than another. None of us has the natural ability to stay close to God. It is God in us that enables us to do so. It is an even playing field. We are told in scripture that if we seek Him with our whole heart we will find Him, that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him and if any of us lack wisdom we can ask God and He will give it to us all equally.

    -Auntie M

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  • Posted October 21, 2011

    Not Biblical - Don't Recommend!

    When was the last time you came across a book whose premise held great promise, but whose approach left you cold. A book that captured your interest at the start, but caused you to struggle midway, and left you concerned and disappointed by book's end? Living Close To God by Gene Edwards is just such a book. This book caught my eye because of its noble goal - to help you develop "a spiritual life that takes you deeper than daily devotions". I found the book interesting at the start because I thought Edward's story of how he was "spiritually handicapped" would resonate with a lot of people. In Part 1, Edwards describes how he is not spiritual by nature - he is more doer than devout. He also discusses the challenges that hinder modern Christians from developing an active spiritual life. The problem lies in the remainder of the book, where Edwards shares how he deepened his spiritual life, and encourages you to do the same. Because of his credentials - the cover describes the author as "one of the most influential Christian authors of our time" - I anticipated an insightful book steeped in biblical truth. This was not the case. To the casual reader, Edwards's writings may appear authentic as he quotes Scripture and shares personal revelation he says came from the Lord. If you dig deeply, however, and compare Edward's teachings with the Bible, you will find many discrepancies. Much of what Edwards shares simply does not align with the Word of God. Instead, Edward's book is filled with confusing, esoteric, syncretistic interpretations of Scripture that sound, at times, like mystical mumbo jumbo. Here's a sample of some of the doctrines you will find in Edward's book: - Breath and Breathing are the most frequently mentioned topics in the New Testament (Chapter 9) - Singing to the Lord is the first instinct of a new convert to Christ (Chapter 11) - You can locate your spirit geographically (Chapter 12) These ideas - and Edward's interpretation of them - are not grounded in biblical truth. Rather, they stem from the mystical teachings of Madame Guyon and Miguel de Molinos - two mystics who were condemned as heretics centuries ago by the Catholic church. As a Christian leader, Edwards should be warning his readers against those who teach false doctrine. Instead, Edwards holds these heretics in high esteem, and encourages other Christians to follow them (Postscript). As anyone who has ever been spiritually deceived will tell you - the most important thing to consider when evaluating a Christian book isn't how well the book is written or how credentialed the author may appear to be. The most important question to ask is: Do the ideas contained within the book align with - or conflict with - the spiritual truths contained in Scripture? In 1 John 4:1, God gives us a principle to keep us from being spiritually deceived. It's called "test the spirits" and it goes like this: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. I wish that I could recommend this book, but I cannot - when put to the 1 John 4:1 test, it fails. Living Close To God does not accurately reflect the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith or align with the truths presented in the Bible. I strongly encourage you to research this author before purchasing this book. Disclosure: I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishin

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  • Posted October 12, 2011

    Beyond Prayer

    I enjoyed that Living Close to God When You're Not Good At It, by Gene Edwards got right to the heart of the matter: Getting closer to God. After a brief and honest bio, including a candid admission that as a pastor, he lacked a close spiritual relationship with God, I was drawn in because I too, lacked close fellowship with Christ. So that there would be no confusion, Edwards shared the reasons why he questioned his relationship with Christ. They were sincere and poignant and I was especially able to relate to more than a couple of them. He shared that he couldn't fathom praying for an hour, as he had heard some in the seminary claim to do. I share his sentiment and I'm sure many others do as well, whether they care to admit it or not! It isn't that I wouldn't like to spend an hour in prayer with God but I run out of things to say and my mind begins to wander after a couple minutes to mundane tasks like stopping for gas, what shoes to wear with what outfit, and other trivial matters. If I can't even pray to the most high for a couple minutes, how in the world am I going to offer up a good, long, church-worthy prayer? Edwards also noticed that he was unable to have a two-way conversation with God; he didn't hear or feel God responding to him. I, again, have often wondered if I was the only one who didn't feel as though God spoke directly to me. Edwards also rejected the oft repeated advice of "Pray and read your bible". These reasons, as well as others listed had me wanting more. The honesty that he offered assured me that it was okay to feel these things.
    Edwards also discussed the great distinction between prayer to God and fellowship with God and gave some helpful exercises to develop healthy fellowship with the Lord. I must admit that when I turned the paged an encountered the exercise, I was less than thrilled but I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I didn't expect much to happen but when I really focused my mind and did as Edwards instructed, I was shocked and pleased to find that I was fellowshipping with God! Me, a casual church-goer was having meaningful fellowship with God! The feeling I had is indescribable, much like Edwards recalled his first fellowship with Christ. I was excited to read on, even though I would have been thoroughly pleased if there wasn't another word to read because I was so fulfilled off of what I had read thus far. Edwards wasn't done though. He had more gems to share. He raised points that invoked deep thought about my relationship with God, like what does it mean to really love God? It has often been interpreted that loving God meant serving God, but Edwards argues that the two concepts are distinct from one another. He also discussed how someone who truly loved the Lord can remember Christ throughout the day, as they cope with less than holy issues. I assume this may be an area of interest for most people, as it is easy to behave like Christ in church, but in the real world people try your patience and tempers run hot easily. Learning how to have a portable relationship with God is key to dealing with those issues.
    Overall, Edwards seeks to help readers become closer to God by offering simple knowledge of Christ's word and commands. It is written simply for those not wanting to get caught up in religious innuendo but still want to strengthen their relationship with God. I think he served his purpose.


    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing G

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  • Posted September 29, 2011

    a story of personal growth

    Living Close to God: When You're Not Good At It by Gene Edwards is a Christian living book that gets beyond prayer at the surface level of simply saying or repeating devotions and delvesinto how to have fellowship with God even when you do not think you have the time.

    Edwards directs the reader on how to have a two way conversation with God and allow him to reveal the motives in your heart.

    This book has a conversational tone and includes prayers, songs and a small group discussion guide along with a personal guide for developing your relationship with God. It is more of a story of personal experience though and less of a teaching guide.

    I have never had an advance reader copy of a book before, and the last pages were stuck together at the top with some sort of notches and were shorter than the previous pages. I do not know if that is typical but it seemed a little strange to me.

    Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader copy / uncorrected proof of this book from Waterbrook Press in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion here is entirely my own.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2011

    More story than substance

    Edwards, I was really intrigued by the topic of the book, after all, who doesn't desire to live close to God? The book tells a personal story of fitting God into a busy life, and how it worked for one person. I liked the personal story that this book tells, and it does point out some important scriptural references, and give some solid advice on building a stronger, more personal relationship with Christ. However, I felt that the book tells more of what worked for one person with a certain set of obstacles, and wasn't really applicable to every person who will pick up the book. There are many general references to scripture, which are great. I liked the story the book followed, but when I finished the book, didn't feel that I had gained any significant insight into living closer to God.

    I would recommend this book if you are looking for a story about someone who has found a way to live close to God, and find an incredible connection with Christ. But if you are looking for inspiration to find a way for you to personally have that same relationship, I would take a pass on this book.

    FTC DISCLAIMER: "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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