Who is this for?
When thinking about who this book is for I would have to say most definitely for the Americans. Granted others from around the globe will appreciate this book, I think the topics and examples used in the book relate to Americans.
Going a little deeper, I think this book is suited for those who are not sure about the background, beginnings, God’s heart, or purpose of our humanity. Basically if you are seeking identity this book is definitely for you.
Another target audience this hits are the ones who want to find balance in this very busy, consumer minded culture who is engulfed with information and technology.
Brief overview -
It’s Not What You Think in a nutshell takes various subjects and defines the subject by what God intended, not what society says per se’.
Chapter 1. Your Story Is Not What You Think:
Loved Defined You Before Anyone Else Did
Chapter 2. The Temple Is Not What You Think:
It’s God Pitching His Tent In Your Backyard
Chapter 3. People Are Not Who You Think:
They Are Neighbors To Love; Not Commodities To Use
Chapter 4. You Are Not Who You Think:
You’re A Person From The Future
Chapter 5. The Sabbath’s Not What You Think:
You Rest As You Play
Chapter 6. Worship’s Not What You Think:
You Become What You Behold
Chapter 7. The Kingdom’s Not Where You Think:
It’s Not in the Sky; It’s Here Now
Chapter 8. Brokenness Is Not What You Think:
You Must Embrace Your Scars
Chapter 9. The Table’s Not What You Think:
It’s Not Just a Mean; It’s a Sacred Space
How this made a difference to me -
This book is full of quotes that you could color your copy with a highlighter! Jeff is one of the most quotable authors/speakers around. Many times I am pretty much saying, “preach” or “that’s worth a Facebook status!” as I read the book.
Being that one of my passions is mobile technology this book hit home on a number of ways. Three of those ways include fear of silence, addiction to phones, and my disfunction of finding rest. Unfortunately, the three play hand in hand with each other and has caused me to think more about my life and how I manage it.
Fear of silence - I can’t remember the last time I was in a place where I was in silence in a state of true rest. Rest being defined as no distractions, freedom, and peace of mind.
Ever since my Dad died back in 2011, I still get the urge to pick up the phone and talk to him on the way home from work. I’d give anything to have another conversation like we used to have. To be honest with you, even though I want to talk to someone, mostly him, I have not called anyone on the way back home since he died (at least not on a regular basis). Seems as though it’s an irreplaceable time that was only for my Dad and I. With that said, it has raised a question within me about how I don’t have rest in those moments. Instead I will throw on some music, a favorite podcast, or check social media while at a stop light. In other words, I can’t just be. I have to distract my mind.
“People couldn’t be alone with their thoughts for the same amount of time it usually takes to take a shower (maybe that’s also why most creative ideas come in the shower, because it’s the only truly idle time left.”
There are more moments in my life where I find myself in place where I can’t stand the silence. For crying out loud I can’t even take a dump without having my phone out! Although I have a small belief that phones have simply replaced other types of reading material such as magazines or if you’re a good Christian, a devotional. Back on track...It’s frustrating that I have to come to the diagnosis that I am afraid of the silence.
It’s in the silence that it’s just me, nobody else, just me alone with my thoughts, cares, and concerns. And that alone adds to the problem. Those are the moments where I could invite my Lord to spend time with me, invest in me, and teach me. Instead the only times where my mind is available to listen is in the shower or while dreaming.
“When we are finally alone with our thoughts, they scare us and force us to confront difficulties.”
Addiction to phones - I say phones because it’s the main device I use for communications and more. I love smartphones and anything that goes along with it. I’ve got a knack for tech. The problem comes into play because it feeds my fear of silence. It is the tool that distracts me from taking care of what I need to do or manage my life.
Jeff does a great job directing the reader in how while phones are not the devil, but they are a way to either be productive or destructive. But the point is that people, including myself are addicted to phones.
“We look at our phones first thing when we wake up and they’re the last thing we look at when we go to sleep.”
I might need to invest in tighter home security because I think Jeff might be stalking me! Seriously though, I literally wake up to check all my notifications and before I go to sleep I am in bed making sure all my notifications are taken care of. All while I could be giving that time to my wife, my rest, or God. My mind is not even at rest when I close my eyes because I am thinking about what I was viewing on a screen.
Can I admit as well that if I am OCD about anything, it is I HAVE to make sure the little LED light or notifications aren’t appearing. They must be cleared. In the spirit of being open here, I have had to cover up my Note 5 so I don’t see any lights flashing, turned my phone to silent to avoid a buzz, and took off my smartwatch so my wrist isn’t telling me there is a message of some kind; all while typing out this review!
Dis-function of finding rest - Adding up the last two points leads to my dis-function of finding rest. Rest doesn’t mean laying around not doing anything. Jeff dedicates one whole chapter on the subject of defining what the Sabbath is.
“It’s almost as if busyness is the new badge of honor. If you don’t answer “busy” when someone asks how you’re doing, you immediately feel judged. You don’t want people to think you’re lazy or unimportant.”
“When we are resting or not doing any work, especially in the Western world, we feel as if we lose our identities.”
The sad part about this mess is that it is totally a choice. I choose to stack up too many reviews to be done when I really don’t have the time to accomplish them on a respectable timeframe. I choose to take on too many tasks. Recently, I graduated with my BS degree in Crisis Counseling and it was such a odd feeling like I still had assignments to do, when in fact I did not. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Even in the times where I didn’t have as much of a load I couldn’t bare the thought of feeling like something was due or hanging over my head.
The last time I felt as though I had rest was about a month after graduating. Those moments came when I didn’t have to tell my little girl that I was too busy to go to her teeball game, play around the house, or just sit with her.
“The family we were staying with, however, had a beautiful rhythm, and the entire family seemed to partake in the preparations. Then to begin Sabbath there would be a reminder that this day was about ceasing, about resting, about enjoying. There was something sacred about it. Something mysterious. Something beautiful. No electronics. No looking down at our phones or scarfing down food so we could go play video games or watch TV.”
Jeff hits a home-run talking about the status of where at least America and the Western church is at. He speaks to us on a real level. It’s as if he is walking through this struggle with us and guiding us. At no point did I sense him just trying to stir up trouble or shame us in any way. But he did bring a relevant message that is needed to be spread. Now I have the choice to ignore or accept the challenge to overcome these issues in my life and in return lead others around me. Others being my family, co-workers, youth group, and friends.
While I think this book is directed at existing Christians, the points made are just as relevant to Americans as to Christians. The issues at hand relate to today’s society. God created us for relationship and the way we are as a whole living life is far from relating to anyone. We are so connected that we are so disconnected.
I am challenged, convicted, and encouraged. I promise you will walk away with value after reading this book. Jesus Is Greater Than Religion is awesome, but I feel these words cut to the core!