Since Steph’s grandma knows that I’m in ministry, she likes to buy me Christian books. Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Boxing Day, she just might have a book for me. She’s incredibly sweet. There have been so many, I’ve had trouble getting through them. Well, let’s be honest. Most of them are still sitting on our bookshelf. Most of them are also written by guys long since gone.
Instead of letting them just collect dust, I decided to start going through some of them, hopefully absorbing some nugget of wisdom from ages past. This brings me to D. L. Moody’s classic, The Overcoming Life.
If you’re unfamiliar with D. L. Moody, he was a preacher in the mid-late 19th century. He’s well known for founding the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and was one of the most famous revivalist preachers. The whole of this little book feels like a compilation of his sermons. So, in that respect, there are pros and cons.
Here are a few gems I found in this book: D. L. Moody is full of practicality. I would argue that the best preachers are. Christianity has to go beyond the theoretical and affect our day to day nature. He hammers on the Christian’s fear of discussing Jesus (no surprise for those who are familiar with Moody).
One reason Moody seems to have no fear in reaching others is his dead-on view of persecution. ”I don’t think we have enough persecution nowadays… The most glorious triumphs of the church have been won in times of persecution” [50-51]. He goes on to say that the church loses its effectiveness and its spirituality once it’s wed to the state.
The point of this book is to guide us in overcoming the world’s snares and further reflect the nature of Christ. A lofty goal, of course. But Moody echoed John the Baptist’s call, “He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).” This came right after the crowds began to leave John for Jesus.
So the question is, how do our lives concretely direct people to the one we serve?
Cons: This book was written in the 19th century. While there’s a part of me that doesn’t want that to be a factor, it is. Some of Moody’s examples are universal, but some of definitely dated. We simply live in a different world, a more hurried and complicated world. People don’t just gather together for tea to discuss the day’s events anymore. Now we just tweet them onto our facebook’s pinterest, right? Social interaction is just different.
Also, some of Moody’s examples just seem… naive. He told a story of a recent convert who felt the need to discuss Jesus with his buddy. He dreaded that conversation for weeks only to find out that his friend had also recently converted. Similar stories of obedience to the call of God always seem to turn out rosy in the end. My experiences in life show me a much different picture. Indeed, Christ even assures us that we will have trouble, we will be hated (John 15:18, 16:33). The path of discipleship will not give you the picture perfect life you always wanted.
Discipleship leads to the cross.
Overall, I found this to be an easy read. At times, Moody felt like a punch in the gut for sure. Most of the time, though, it just felt like I was listening to an old-school preacher. I found it generally encouraging and am glad I went through it. Now, would I pay money for it? No! But mostly that’s because it’s Public Domain. That means free.
Free Book Alert!
So, if you’re interested in checking it out, you can download an electronic form of the book here! Yay! Free book! Now go put it on your kindle, enjoy a nice cup of coffee, and tell me what you think.