In his new book, Divine Applause, Jeff Anderson asks, “How can we have a relationship with a God we can’t see?” It’s a fair question. We know God sees us. We know He loves everyone. But it can sometimes feel impersonal, like a blank stare from a cold deity on a lofty throne. So, how can we connect with God?
With storytelling and a relaxed, conversational style, Jeff suggests that even though God loves everyone, there are people in Scripture who we are told had God’s favor. What drew God’s attention to them? What made them stand out in His eyes? He suggests a couple of answers, including their giving, their risk-taking, the fact that they sought God with boldness, and even that they kept secrets with God (and didn’t blab about their every quiet time experience on Facebook).
Any book that steps into this territory performs a balancing act. God is gracious. We do not earn His love. He loves each of us passionately. Jeff Anderson doesn’t negate any of that. I think there are readers who will balk at the idea of “favor” and yet surely a story like Cain and Abel teaches us that our right hearts and right offerings garner His attention and our mixed motives and lack of devotion receive discipline. There’s a tension here that this book tries to keep in balance: Works don’t earn us salvation. But they are a way we express our faith, and faith is ultimately what gets God’s attention. Taken to the extreme, almost any book on this topic could end up theologically askew, but that doesn’t make this book itself problematic.
Jeff brings a unique perspective in his writing. Because he is hearing impaired, he has a fresh way of describing how to listen and hear God and how we need to be active participants in that process. He also has a background in finance, so a good part of the book emphasizes giving generously and in faith. Another of his passions is fasting, so he spends another section of the book talking about fasting as a spiritual discipline.
The book certainly doesn’t offer step-by-step actions you can take for God to delight in you. It’s more of his own faith memoir with tips and spiritual lessons along the way. So, it wouldn’t make, for instance, for a good Bible study. It is a generally enjoyable and sometimes fresh look at growing in God’s presence.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”