In The Case for Grace, bestselling author Lee Strobel crafts a compelling and highly personal case for God, focusing on God's transforming work in the lives of men and women today.
In this book, you'll encounter racists, addicts, and even murderers who have found new hope and purpose. You'll meet once-bitter people who have received God's power to forgive those who have harmed them - and, equally amazing, people mired in guilt who have discovered that they can even forgive themselves.
Writing with unusual candor, Lee draws upon his own journey from atheism to Christianity to explore the depth and breadth of God's redeeming love for spiritually wayward people. He travels thousands of miles to capture the inspiring stories of everyday people whose values have been radically changed and who have discovered the "how" and "why" behind God’s amazing grace.
Through it all, you will be encouraged as you see how God’s grace can revolutionize your eternity and relationships . . . starting today.
Also available: The Case for Grace Spanish edition, kids' edition, and student edition. Plus, be sure to check out Lee Strobel's entire collection of Case for... books:
- The Case for Christ investigates the historical evidence for Jesus
- The Case for a Creator explores the scientific evidence for God
- The Case for Faith responds to eight major objections about Christianity
- . . . and more!
About the Author
Lee Strobel tiene una licenciatura en periodismo de la Universidad de Missouri y una maestria en estudio de leyes de la Universidad Yale. Fue el galardonado editor legal del periodico Chicago Tribune y esceptico espiritual hasta el ano 1981. Es autor de exitos de ventas del New York Times de casi veinte libros y ha sido entrevistado por numerosos programas nacionales de television, incluyendo 20/20 de la cadena ABC, Fox News y CNN. Cuatro de sus libros han ganado el premio Medalla de oro y uno de ellos fue el ganador del premio Libro cristiano del ano 2005 (el cual escribio junto a Garry Poole). Lee sirvio como pastor de ensenanza en las Iglesias Willow Creek y Saddleback. Ademas, contribuye como editor y columnista de la revista 'Outreach'. el y su esposa, Leslie, residen en Colorado. Para mas informacion, visite: www.leestrobel.com
Read an Excerpt
The Case for Grace
Case for ... Series
By Lee Strobel
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2015 Lee Strobel
All rights reserved.
Someday You'll Understand
Psychoanalysis ... daily demonstrates to us how youthful persons lose their religious belief as soon as the authority of the father breaks down.
It wasn't until my mother was on her deathbed that she confirmed what years of therapy had only suggested to me: I was a mistake, at least in the eyes of my father.
My parents started with three children—first a girl, then two boys —and my dad threw himself into fatherhood. He coached his sons in Little League, led a Cub Scout troop, headed the high school boosters club, went on family vacations, and attended gymnastics meets and graduations.
Then after a lengthy time gap came the unexpected news that my mother was pregnant with me.
"Your dad was ... well, let's just say he was surprised," my mom told me in the waning weeks of her life, when we would chat for hours as she was bedridden with cancer. We had never broached this topic before, but we were in the midst of wonderfully candid conversations about our family's history, and I wanted to seize the opportunity to get some answers.
She paused. "Not in a good way," she said, her eyes empathic.
"He was—what? Angry?"
"I don't want to say angry. Frustrated, yes. Upset by the circumstances. This just wasn't in his plans. And then I talked him into having another baby so you'd have a playmate." That was my younger sister.
This made sense to me. Years earlier, when I told my therapist about my relationship with my father—the emotional distance, the lack of engagement, the ongoing strife and flares of anger—he speculated that my inconvenient arrival in the family had interrupted my dad's plans for his future.
I could imagine my dad feeling that he had earned a respite after raising three kids. He was doing well financially, and I'm sure he wanted to travel and enjoy more freedom. Now at last was confirmation from my mother.
Our family lived in an upper-middle-class neighborhood northwest of Chicago. My dad worked hard to build his business, and he provided everything we needed—and more—materially. He was a faithful husband, well regarded in the community, and a committed friend to others.
Still, my relationship with him was always frosty. Maybe I needed more affirmation than the other kids, I don't know. But by the time I came along, there would be no Cub Scouts, no cheering at my Little League games, no watching my speech tournaments or attending my graduations. I can't think of a single in-depth conversation we ever had. I never heard the words I needed most.
Over time, I learned that the only way to gain his attention was through achievement. So I strived for good grades, was elected president of my junior high school, served as editor of the high school newspaper, and even wrote a column for the community paper. Still, none of the accolades satisfied. I don't remember any words of affection coming from my dad. Not one.
My parents were members of a Lutheran church; as a lawyer, my dad sat on the board of directors to offer free legal advice, although he was generally on the golf course on Sunday mornings.
I remember once when I was a youngster the entire family went to church together. After the service, my dad drove everyone home—but he forgot to bring me. I can still remember my panic as I searched frantically around the church, looking in vain for my father, my heart pounding.
It was an inadvertent mistake on his part, of course—but it was difficult for me not to see it as symbolic of how our relationship was developing.
Fathers and Faith
One evening when I was about twelve, my father and I clashed over something. I walked away feeling shame and guilt, and I went to bed vowing to try to behave better, to be more obedient, to somehow make myself more acceptable to my dad. I can't recall the details of what caused our conflict that evening, but what happened next is still vivid in my mind fifty years later.
I dreamed I was making myself a sandwich in the kitchen when a luminous angel suddenly appeared and started telling me about how wonderful and glorious heaven is. I listened for a while, then said matter-of-factly, "I'm going there"—meaning, of course, at the end of my life.
The angel's reply stunned me. "How do you know?"
How do I know? What kind of question is that? "Well, uh, I've tried to be a good kid," I stammered. "I've tried to do what my parents say. I've tried to behave. I've been to church."
Said the angel, "That doesn't matter."
Now I was staggered. How could it not matter—all my efforts to be compliant, to be dutiful, to live up to the demands of my parents and teachers. Panic rose in me. Words wouldn't come out of my mouth.
The angel let me stew for a few moments. Then he said, "Someday you'll understand." Instantly, he was gone—and I woke up in a sweat. It's the only dream I remember from my childhood. Periodically through the years it would come to mind, and yet I would always shake it off. It was just a dream.
As I got older, I found myself getting more confused about spiritual matters. When I became a teenager, my parents insisted that I attend confirmation classes at the church. "But I'm not sure I even believe that stuff," I told my dad. His response was stern: "Go. You can ask questions there."
The classes were built around rote memorization of the catechism; questions were only reluctantly tolerated and dealt with in a perfunctory way. I actually emerged with more doubts than when I started. I endured the process because when I was finally confirmed, the decision about whether to continue going to church would be mine—and I knew what the answer would be.
At the time I was oblivious to the fact that a young person's relationship with his father can greatly color his attitude toward God. I wasn't aware that many well-known atheists through history—including Friedrich Nietzsche, David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Arthur Schopenhauer, Ludwig Feuerbach, Baron d'Holbach, Voltaire, H. G. Wells, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, and others—had felt abandoned or deeply disappointed with their fathers, making it less likely they would want to know a heavenly Father.
I saw this illustrated later in life when I became friends with Josh McDowell, whose father was a violent alcoholic. "I grew up believing fathers hurt," Josh said." People would tell me there's a heavenly Father who loves you. That didn't bring joy. It brought pain because I could not discern the difference between a heavenly Father and an earthly father." Josh became a self-described "ornery agnostic" until his investigation of Christianity convinced him it was true.
Growing up, I just knew that as doubts festered inside and as my teachers insisted that science has eclipsed the need for God, I was being increasingly pulled toward skepticism. Something was missing —in my family and in my soul—that created a gnawing need I couldn't even describe at the time.
Years later I was driving down Northwest Highway in Palatine, Illinois—I can still recall the exact location, the time of day, the sunny weather—when I flipped the radio dial and heard something that flooded my eyes with tears.
I didn't catch it all, but it was about fathers and faith and God and hope. The voice belonged to someone who was born about the same time I was and yet whose life, in its astonishing horror and brutality, was the polar opposite of my own. Still, there was an instant connection, a bridge between us.
I had to track her down. I had to sit down and hear her story, one on one. I had to ask her my questions. Somehow I knew she held a piece to the puzzle of grace.CHAPTER 2
God's Grace Goes Far beyond Forgiveness
Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.... Of all the gifts of grace, adoption is the highest. J. I. Packer
Stephanie Fast has never known her father. She suspects he was an American soldier—possibly an officer—who fought in the Korean conflict that started in 1950. There's even a chance he's still alive somewhere. There's no way to tell.
I managed to track down Stephanie, that fleeting voice from the radio, and flew from Denver to meet her in her tidy townhouse in a wooded neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest. She's petite at five-foot-three, her black hair falling in soft waves past her shoulders, her almond eyes animated. Her husband, Darryl, a good-natured former missionary, brought us some coffee but left us alone to chat in the living room.
Stephanie is thoughtful as she begins to answer my questions, a gentle Asian cadence in her voice. At times she looks off to the side, as if reliving the experience she's struggling to describe. Other times she leans forward to gesture with her hands, as if soliciting understanding.
I settled into a chair opposite her. Looking for a place to start, I said, "We were both born around the same time."
"I don't know exactly when or where I was born," she replied with a shrug. "Possibly, it was in Pusan, since I was told I had an accent from that region. But when? I don't know, although it was definitely in the same era as you."
"My earliest memory," I said, "was my third birthday. My grandparents in Florida gave me a wooden sailboat as a gift. But when we went back to Chicago, I accidently left it there. I was crushed." I chuckled at the thought. "Such are the traumas of a middle-class white kid growing up in suburban America in the fifties. I'm sure your earliest memory is much different. What's the first thing you recall?"
She thought for a moment and smiled. "I was about the same age —three or four," she replied. "It was the harvest festival in Korea, when family members come to the ancestral home. I remember all the fun—the sweets and games and wearing a beautiful dress—but I vividly recall my mom being so sad and sorrowful."
"Do you know why?"
"Well, that night I heard arguing between family members about the choice that she had to make for her future."
"What kind of choice?"
"After the Korean War there wasn't a place for biracial children in that country. That night, my mom was being given the option of a marriage—and I was not part of that option. Family members were saying that they had found a man who was willing to take her, but she couldn't bring me along. For her, the choice was, 'Do I want a future? If I do, then I can't have this child with me.' There was a lot of arguing and shame and guilt. I remember my mom crying and holding me all night."
"Was this because of discrimination against children born out of wedlock?"
"Yes, especially biracial ones. We were a reminder of an ugly war. I don't know the English word, but Koreans have a strong conviction of purity, and when I was younger I looked different from the other children. My hair and skin color were lighter, I had a crease in my eyes that most Koreans don't have, and I had wild, curly hair, which was quite unusual for Koreans. So people knew I was a half-breed."
"How did the family drama end?"
"At some point my mother reached her decision—she would entrust me to someone else. She told me I was going to my uncle's home. Within a few days, I remember walking down a dirt road to the city with her. It was the first time I ever heard a train. I asked her about it, and she said to me, 'That's where we're going.'
"When the train came, she got on board with me. Asians didn't have paper bags back then, so they would take a cloth about the size of a scarf and tie it together as a satchel. Inside I had a lunch and a couple of extra sets of clothing. She put it on a shelf above the seat, got on her knees, and told me, 'Don't be afraid.' She said I should get off the train with the other people, and my uncle would meet me. Then she left."
"What happened when you eventually got off the train?"
For a moment she didn't answer. She slowly shook her head.
"No one came for me."
"Garbage, Dust, Bastard, Alien Devil"
Here was a child not much older than a toddler, cast adrift in a frightening and dangerous place that was predisposed to reject her—a world without grace. "You must have been panic-stricken," I said.
"Not at first. I thought, I'll stand here on the platform, and my uncle will come for me. But when evening came, the trains stopped. The trainmaster came out and asked me what I was doing there. I told him I was waiting for my uncle—and that was the first time someone called me a toogee," she said, almost spitting out the epithet.
"What does that mean?"
"It's a very nasty word, like using the n-word today. It basically means half-breed or child of two bloods, and yet it's more than that. It sort of means garbage, dust, bastard, alien devil—it has all those connotations. It's odd—I'm sure my mom must have given me a name, but I can't remember it."
"And so that became your name, in a sense."
"Yes, it was like my identity began that day with toogee—garbage, bastard. That was what people called me."
"What happened next?"
"The trainmaster shooed me away, so I left and found an ox cart that was leaning up against a wall. I crawled in there the first night. I gathered some straw around me and opened the parcel and ate some food my mom had given me. I tried to sleep, but I remember hearing the dogs, the strange noises, the rustling sounds. I was scared, and yet I wasn't overly panicked."
"Even at that young age?"
"I trusted my mom, and somewhere in my mind I thought my uncle would come."
I hesitated before broaching the next question. Finally, I said, "Today, as you look back, do you think there ever really was an uncle?"
She didn't flinch. "Honestly I have no idea. It could be that she really was entrusting me to someone and I simply ade a mistake by getting off at the wrong station. But in those days in Korea, it wasn't uncommon for mothers to abandon their children, especially if they were biracial. Sometimes they couldn't take the harassment, the social stigma, and being cruelly ostracized by others. They often left the children in train stations or other public areas."
"So to this day you don't really know your mother's intentions?"
Her eyes were downcast. "No, I don't," she said. Her eyes met mine again. "But I want to think the best of her. I have to, don't you see? I guess all orphans think of their mother as a princess. Still, she was under a lot of pressure, there's no question about that. Her whole future depended on it."
"I understand," I said. All of us, it seems, want to believe our parents have the best intentions. "That day at the train station started an odyssey for you. How long did it last?"
"I was basically on my own for at least two to three years. If I had stayed in the city, organizations were starting to rescue biracial children, but I was always in the mountainsides and villages."
A small child wandering aimlessly for years—what had she faced? My thoughts went to little Penelope, my cute granddaughter with the quick smile and spontaneous love for life. She's so protected, so innocent, so tenderhearted—and so dependent on her family for everything.
"I've got a granddaughter who's four years old—," I began.
"Oh, I do too!" she exclaimed.
"Then you know what I'm going to ask. You probably look at her and think, How in the world did I survive at age four? How did you manage to survive?"
"Only the Lord, I think. One thing about Third World children is that they don't have the pampering that our grandchildren do. Sometimes they don't have the degree of nurturing that our children do. Often, from the time they're little, they're sort of raising themselves. My mother had been busy in the rice fields, so she wasn't there to take care of me all the time. So that in itself was a blessing. I was already a bit self-sufficient."
Locusts and Field Mice
I imagined the bounty of food that's put before Penelope three times a day—and which, like more preschoolers, she routinely picks at with casual disinterest. "How did you manage to eat?" I asked Stephanie.
"Actually, food was plentiful in the country, except in the winter," she said. "I could steal whatever I wanted. There were fruit fields, vegetable fields, and rice fields. As long as I didn't get caught, I could eat.
"I remember following a group of homeless children. At night they would crawl on their bellies into the fields and get some of what we called sweet melons. I thought, I could do that. So there was a season where every night I would wait for the watchman of the field to fall asleep, and I would crawl on my belly and get what I wanted.
"Plus, the rice fields were full of grasshoppers and locusts. I would catch them and poke a rice straw through their head until I had a whole string of them, which I'd tie to my belt. By the end of the day they were pretty much dried and I'd eat them. And I killed field mice. They would come out of the same hole at the same time every day. I learned to be really, really patient. When they stuck out their head, I would grab them quicker than they could go back down the hole. I pretty much ate everything—the skin, the ears, the tail."
Excerpted from The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel. Copyright © 2015 Lee Strobel. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION: The Search for Grace, 11,
CHAPTER 1: The Mistake, 15,
CHAPTER 2: The Orphan, 21,
CHAPTER 3: The Addict, 45,
CHAPTER 4: The Professor, 63,
CHAPTER 5: The Executioner 89,
CHAPTER 6: The Homeless, 107,
CHAPTER 7: The Pastor, 123,
CHAPTER 8: The Prodigal, 143,
CHAPTER 9: Empty Hands, 163,
EPILOGUE: Grace Withheld, Grace Extended, 171,
Discussion Guide, 175,
APPENDIX: What the Bible Says About Grace, 207,
Helpful Books on Grace, 217,
Meet Lee Strobel, 219,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
GRACE: Experience it again ... for the first time! Former spiritual skeptic and atheist, Lee Strobel, has been providing life-giving information in his books for many years. They answered the intellectual questions about faith that our generation is asking. I, and countless others, have benefited greatly. This newest addition to Strobel's New York Times bestselling "THE CASE FOR ..." series, however, is different and exciting -- and it speaks to a deeper need. This one touches the HEART. With disarming vulnerability and, at times, jolting detail, Strobel describes his own long journey toward grace, and he weaves it around a variety of jaw-dropping stories of God's supernatural intervention in the lives of other people, some of whom could have lived next door, and some who lived on the other side of the world. Just when we thought we knew what to expect from Lee Strobel, he surprises us with this fresh and incredibly encouraging new volume, The Case for Grace. You'll want to read it again and again -- and to share it with others who also need a touch of grace.
God's grace is truly amazing. The author shows grace in a very biblical way. Inspiring book!