Skin in the Game: Living an Epic Jesus-Centered Life by Rick Lawrence
Give a little, take a little, this is a phrase we often live by in American culture. Risk, however, is not an everyday kind of thing that we take into consideration. In his new book, Skin in the Game, Rick Lawrene, Executive Editor of Group Magazine, and active in the youth ministry blogosphere, takes on the notion that a halfway relationship with Jesus is ok and counters this with a book on risking it all for the Savior. What turns it in the book is a story of true grace and grit, a story that digs deep into the wellspring of the false talk tapes we speak about ourselves and offers us more, how the God of the Universe acts toward us.
Is it possible for our lives to be realigned? Is it possible that our shame has led us to many narcissistic behaviors that trap us from really being free? Rick answers these questions by writing, “…and that is because our basic shame, compounded by the thousands of trigger experiences of shame we encounter in our life, clouds our soul’s lens and taints everything we see. A rebirth is our only hope – but simply a rebirth into the same world of sin and shame we’ve already experienced. We need a rebirth into a new world – a world called the kingdom of God (25).” Rick then goes onto to lay out the themes of shame and hope of John 4.3-42 with the Samaritan woman. There is a degree to which psychology, self-determination, and discipline can go, but the healing that is needed to reorient our identity, our lives is done only by the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The beautiful challenge that Rick brings out in considering the new birth is that the way through to Jesus doesn’t short-circuit the fears and pain we have been through, but cuts right through the heart of them to healing.
In the chapter on embracing your true identity, Rick makes a distinction about identity formation that is worth repeating. He writes, “Identity formation doesn’t happen when our circumstances tell us a new and better narrative, which we then embrace, it happens when we change how we respond to the same narrative that has always been destructive to us (62).” Rather, naming the destructive narrative, renouncing it, proclaiming the truth about God, and proclaiming the truth about ourselves, there is way forward for us. This series of truths and actions is greatly encouraging to me as I struggle with responding the same to new circumstances. Yet, there is the responsibility for us to put our skin in the game, to name the past and embrace the truth of God as we he sees us.
I really enjoyed this book and know that it will be a great encouragement to those who read it, even a challenge to get up off the couch and put some skin in the game.
Thanks to Kregel Publications for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.