Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Encounter

I recently had an opportunity to read a book entitled "The Encounter" by Stephen Arterburn. This is a story of dealing with anger, abandonment, and ultimately forgiveness. It was an easy read (I read it in one day), and the way the plot developed kept it interesting.

The book begins with the main character making a trip to his hometown in Alaska. He is on a search for his biological mother who abandoned him at age four. He has had numerous problems with his anger that have made the news and tabloids many times, being that he is the owner of a Fortune 500 company. He was involved in many bad relationships and had the tendency to become violent with his employees. He even came to the point of attempting suicide. After that incident, one of his friend's invited him to church, where he met the pastor. The pastor counseled him to help him with his issues, and suggested that he find his true mother and make peace with her. While on his search, he begins to unveil much about his birth mother. There was a lot of evidence gathered that his mother really did love him, and did not want to be apart from him. The manner in which he meets his true mother is not as he expected, and the outcome tragic. Yet in the end, he does forgive and make peace with his mother, and makes plans to spend time with her to get to know her better.

My Thoughts on the Book:
I really enjoyed the message of this book on forgiveness. It teaches us that we should forgive those who do us wrong. The main character was so angry that he did not want to forgive her, but eventually learned the value of grace and forgiveness. It reminds me a lot of a set of verses in Luke.

Luke 6:27-36
"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

It is easy to forgive and treat kindly the people we know and love. But it is so much harder to do that than to someone who has hurt us. Even the lost understand the meaning of how to treat someone who loves you. But we as Christians, are set apart for the Gospel. We are in the world, but we have been called out by the one that is greater than the world, which is Christ Jesus. This means that we are going to be different, and this is one of the ways that we stand out. And it provides us with a great witness of the love of God.

The only thing about this book that I did not like, is that there is no indication of the main character getting saved anywhere. It does say that he went to a church, and that he learned to sing his mothers favorite hymn, yet no profession of salvation. I personally think that would have been a better ending.

About the author:
Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries—the nation’s largest faith-based broadcast, counseling and treatment ministry—and is the host of the nationally syndicated “New Life Live!” daily radio program heard on over 180 radio stations nationwide. Steve is also the founder of the Women of Faith conferences attended by over 3,000,000 women. As a best-selling author, Steve has written over 60 books, including the best selling Every Man’s series and his most recent book, "Reframe Your Life." He has been nominated for numerous writing awards and won three Gold Medallion awards for writing excellence. Steve has degrees from Baylor University and The University of North Texas as well as having obtained two honorary doctorate degrees.

This book was provided me free from the publisher by blog book reviewers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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