Well, I’m about to do something, more accurately–yet another thing I have never done. It seems this is happening a lot to me. At 62, I had thought maybe all the new stuff was over with. Boy, was I wrong. Fellow blogger, Brandon Andress, made an offer I couldn’t resist. Brandon is about to release his third book, Beauty In The Wreckage: Finding Peace In The Age Of Outrage, and he asked if any blogger or podcaster would like an advance copy to read and review. Normally, I do not jump at such offers, but this one drew me in–it was the title. So I asked for an advance copy to read and review. Lo, and behold, he actually agreed.
Over the coming days, I am going to give an honest review of each chapter. I’m not going to share quotes–because I want you to experience in context the powerful moments of experiencing an even more powerful truth. I am carefully going over each page, paragraph and sentence–not to find an error–but because it is so profoundly and powerfully speaking into my life. His book is scheduled for release October 9, and I will definitely be adding this to my Kindle Library. I would encourage you do to the same.
Chapter 1: Learning To See Beauty In The Wreckage
He opens the chapter (and book) with the hope of God’s faithful presence and the power of God’s Prevenient Grace. It comes to him personally, and unexpectedly. Here is the place that we long for–and the place God longs to give us. It is the life of peace. Brandon reaches back into the Old Testament times for a word I believe our culture urgently needs: Shalom.
But Brandon does not gloss over the realities of this our current culture, a culture motivated and characterized by such things as anger, hate and chaos. He shares more from his personal experiences, his personal brokenness rather than pointing the finger at others and the “powers that be”. There is no Polly Anna here. This chapter is not about, “Oh, just get over it. Pull up your big boy pants and move on.” There are no simple solutions offered nor trite feel good phrases. He is very clear that this is a process, even difficult process.
He brings the brokenness of our culture into a laser sharp focus. With a clarity rarely seen, he cuts through the arguments and excuses to pain a picture of life as it really is today. He labels the deeper issues that are at the root of our current cultural crisis. His “no-holds-barred, no-disqualifications” words confronts us with the truth we have avoided and never want to see: that we are all broken somewhere (my words, not his) and that denying this only adds to the chaos, and our personal pain.
Yet Brandon also manages to paint a hopeful–most hopeful future even in the midst of the wreckage of life as it really happens. It is not all doom and gloom, but the way he paints this picture reminds the reader that hope is more than possible–Hope is indeed real. Our future does not need to be defined by our past nor our present.
As you read this first chapter, prepare for what I call “The Mirror Experience.” What’s “The Mirror Experience”, you ask? It’s the moment of unabridged and unfiltered truth. You see, mirrors never lie. We lie. We lie about what we see in the mirror. But the mirror? It never lies. The mirror reveals what is good, but also what is not good. Remember the Queen in Snow White and her mirror. “Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?” And remember the Mirror’s reply, “It ain’t you!” Maybe The Mirror didn’t say it exactly like that–but that’s what he meant.
Brandon brings the balance our culture desperately needs. He paints the issues with clarity like a Michelangelo, not a Salvador Dali. Truth drips from the pages. When most writers write about the wreckage of our culture, they fail to give us hope. But Brandon Andress finds the way to share both the despairing truth of life as it is AND the even more powerful Hope of Shalom and how God brings it to us.
When I finish chapter 2, I’ll share some more. But for now, Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!