God's Outrageous Claims: Discover What They Mean for You

God's Outrageous Claims: Discover What They Mean for You

by Lee Strobel


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310266129
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 10/01/2005
Edition description: Updated
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.71(w) x 8.81(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Lee Strobel was the award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune and is the bestselling author of The Case for Christ, The Case for Christ Devotional, The Case for Christianity Answer book, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Grace. With a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale, Lee has won four Gold Medallions for publishing excellence and coauthored the Christian Book of the Year. He serves as Professor of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University. Visit Lee’s website at: leestrobel.com

Read an Excerpt

God's Outrageous Claims

Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson was held hostage in Lebanon for nearly seven years. He was chained to a wall in a filthy, spider-infested cell. He suffered through sickness. He endured mental torture. He longed for his family. He was ground down by the dull ache of incessant boredom.
Through it all, he was given one book --- the Bible --- and as he devoured it in a search for words of hope, he came across what appeared to be outrageous words of hopeless naivete: 'You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy,' ' Jesus told a crowd. 'But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.'
Can you imagine how outlandish that command must have seemed to Anderson after spending 2,455 mind-numbing days in cruel captivity? Love whom? Pray for whom? Show kindness toward those who brutalized me? Exhibit compassion toward those who callously extended none to me? Is Jesus a cosmic comedian or merely a starry-eyed idealist?
Finally Anderson was released on December 4, 1991. Journalists clustered around and peppered him with questions. They wanted to know what his ordeal had been like. They wanted to know his plans for the future. But then one reporter called out the question that stopped Anderson in his tracks: 'Can you forgive your captors?' What an easy question to pose in the abstract; what a profound issue to ponder honestly amid the grim reality of harsh injustice.
Anderson paused. Before the words of his response could come out of his mouth, the Lord's Prayer coursed through his mind: 'Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.'2
Then this victim of undeserved suffering spoke. 'Yes,' he replied,
'as a Christian, I am required to forgive --- no matter how hard it may be.'3
Often it is hard. So hard, in fact, that Jesus' decree to love and pray for our opponents is regarded as one of the most breathtaking and gut-wrenching challenges of his entire Sermon on the Mount, a speech renowned for its outrageous claims. There was no record of any other spiritual leader ever having articulated such a clear-cut, unambiguous command for people to express compassion to those who are actively working against their best interests.
Jesus has done it again!
But wait. Hold on a moment. Maybe this command isn't so outlandish after all. Perhaps it's actually a prescription that benefits both those who forgive and those who are forgiven. Maybe there are a host of benefits that come with fostering an atmosphere of grace rather than an environment of maliciousness.
The truth is, God's wisdom works. Choosing to forgive instead of hate can turn out to be one of our greatest blessings in disguise ---
if we understand how this extraordinary principle works.
Love my enemies? I don't have any enemies --- do you? Nobody has ever shoved a machine gun under my chin and herded me into a dank cell for seven years. Nobody has ever brutalized me the way Terry Anderson was abused.
But even in the civilized United States, we do have enemies. To one degree or another we all have adversaries or opponents toward whom we feel animosity.
He may be the owner of a competing business who's stealing your best customers, and if you're honest, you'll admit that you hate him for putting your livelihood in jeopardy. She may be a colleague who's fighting against you --- all too successfully --- for bonuses and advancement. He may be the midlevel executive who's firmly entrenched above you in the corporate structure, and you resent him because he's blocking your way to the top.
If you're management, your adversary may be the union, or vice versa. Your enemy might be the people who hold opposing views on abortion or homosexuality, and you've gone beyond disagreeing with their opinions to despising them as people. It might be a teacher who refuses to cut you any slack. Or the girlfriend who broke your heart. Or the father who stunted your self-esteem. Or a former friend who broke your confidence and spilled your secrets to the world. Or the ex-spouse who trashed your marriage. Or the recalcitrant employee who just won't get on board with your policies. Or the classmate whose popularity eclipses yours. Or the colleague who is reaping all the recognition that you deserve.
When I was a journalist at the Chicago Tribune, I had plenty of enemies. They were reporters at the Sun-Times, the Daily News, and the various broadcast stations who would strive to beat me to stories. I felt intense malice toward them because in order for them to succeed, they had to cause me to fail. Even now that I'm a Christian author and speaker --- although I'm terribly embarrassed to admit this --- I sometimes jealously view others as opponents if they turn a better phrase or score higher with audiences. Such can be the depth of my own sinful pettiness.
We all have rivals. In fact, let me press the issue further by asking you to get specific: Who are the adversaries in your life?
What are their names? Actually bring one of their faces into your mind, because I don't want us to stay merely in the realm of the hypothetical. Let's talk about real people, real relationships, real conflict --- and the road toward real healing.
Exactly what do you need to do about that person you've brought into your mind? It's too general just to say that you're supposed to love him or her. Should you stop competing with this individual? Should you become best buddies or golfing partners? Should you go on Caribbean cruises together? Should you treat him or her like a son or daughter?
Jesus was very precise in choosing a word for 'love' that doesn't imply emotion as much as it suggests attitude and action. As difficult as it sounds, he's urging us to have a humble, servant demeanor toward people who are our adversaries. To look for the best in them and offer help as they need it. To have a sense of goodwill and benevolence toward them in spite of their lack of the same toward us. To pray for their welfare and the well-being of their families. Even though we may continue to compete with them, we are to do so fairly and respectfully, not maliciously as if we're trying to destroy them.
Technically, we aren't being asked to like the other person, because that would require an emotion that we sometimes can't conjure up, despite our best intentions. But in effect we are to treat them as though we like them --- because that's a decision of our will. We don't have to approve of what they are, what they've done, or how they conduct their affairs, but we are to love who they are --- people who matter to God, just like you and me. People who have failed but who are eligible for God's forgiving grace.
In fact, the Bible says, 'But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.'

Table of Contents

An Introduction to God’s Surprises 7
There’s Freedom in Forgiving Your Enemies 9
You Can Even Learn to Forgive Yourself 30
You Can Survive the Rat Race Without Becoming a Rat 51
You Can Make a Difference That Will Last for Eternity 70
God Can Give You Power as Power Is Needed 88
You Gain When You Give Yourself Away 106
A Dose of Doubt May Strengthen Your Faith 122
God Has a Cure for Your Secret Loneliness 141
God’s Rules on Sex Can Liberate Us 162
Random Acts of Kindness Aren’t Enough 182
Heaven Is More Than Wishful Thinking 199
Jesus Is the Only Path to God 221
Playing It Safe Is the Most Dangerous Way to Live 237
Notes 259

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God's Outrageous Claims: Discover What They Mean for You 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
justaservant More than 1 year ago
The claims are outrageous and they have merit. This can be one of the "plows" to soften the heart to let the claims take root in your life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
***** For the last few years now, Lee Strobel has been at the forefront of apologetics, presenting the case for the truths contained in the Bible with flawless logic. He's still doing it, however, this time, he argument does appeal more to the emotional practicality of life, showing how to apply that wisdom in your day to day existence, and why it will make your life work better. Forgive others, have a few good, deep relationships, make God a priority, be ethical, your life matters, are just a few of the highlights of this intriguing book. This is as intriguing to read as any work of fiction. Whether you are Christian or not, Mr. Strobel has again penned something that is very useful and can help you change your life. Though it does have much in common with the bestselling Purpose Driven Life, God's Outrageous Claims surpasses that book. ***** Reviewed by Amanda Killgore, Freelance Reviewer.