Just in time for graduation season, J. Countryman is releasing STAND AGAINST THE WIND, a gift book from inspirational speaker and writer Erwin Raphael McManus. It is a combination of colorful images and photos along with portions from UPRISING: A Revolution of the Soul.
This 120-page gift book is littered with inspirational scriptures and thoughts. McManus is convinced that life is more than just the practice of living but rather an adventure and a journey filled with all kinds of excitement and risk. Everyone is created with a passion to live, and that's more than just fulfilling a list of religious rules. Rather, when we unleash our passion and desires, particularly those that were placed within us by God, then we can more fully live the ultimate life, the Christian life.
McManus writes: "When you make God your primary passion, He transforms all the passions of your heart. The result of this transformation is that it will be God's pleasure to fulfill those passions. When God is your desire, you can trust the passions of your heart. In this state you can most fully live a uniquely passionate life. It is not incidental that the death of Jesus is called The Passion."
In addition, he takes stabs at things that stand in the way of God, including selfish ambition and pride. He points out that people who have an attitude problem more often than not have an arrogance problem. This explains why two different people can have such varied responses to the same issue. The cure for such arrogance is honest humility --- the kind that requires repentance and controlled strength. He asks readers to replace the temptation of greed with the act of generosity. Such giving breeds forgiveness and, thus, healthy relationships with others.
He observes, "Gratitude and forgiveness are inseparable, as are ungratefulness and bitterness. When we are grateful, we see and experience life with a healthy optimism. When we lack gratitude, we move toward pessimism. An ungrateful heart always sees what's wrong with life. The longer we live without gratitude, the more embittered we become."
That's why gratitude naturally spurs optimism. As our hearts become more whole through Christ, they increase in their capacity to both give and receive love. But McManus doesn't stop with just these virtues. He presses on to raise issues of perseverance, courage and integrity. He argues that it's through our integrity that a context is formed for true courage. In other words, integrity comes with integration and becomes what we truly are, and it requires a bit of bravery not just to hide behind masks. In fact, integrity makes it possible for us to live in a heroic way with sincere love for others.
Overall, STAND AGAINST THE WIND is a well-written and well-designed gift book. The writing is truly inspiring, thought-provoking and challenging. And the colorful design adds rather than detracts from McManus's insights and wisdom. Recommend this book to friends who haven't discovered McManus as an author yet or pick up a few copies for the upcoming graduation season. You won't be disappointed.
Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg on February 14, 2006