Have you ever contemplated the following words of Jesus in Luke 22:31-32, where Jesus says to Peter -
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
“Sifted: God’s Scandalous Response to Satan’s Outrageous Demand” is a book by Group Magazine editor Rick Lawrence that takes a look at those stunning words. It examines what they meant to Peter and how he was sifted by denying Jesus 3 times, and what they mean for us today when Satan asks for permission to sift us.
This is a hard book to review. Its hard because much of the message resonated with me on a very personal and deep level. See, I got this book in the mail on the very day that an intense period of “Sifting” started. So I open the book, and from the very first page I see the curtain peeled back and the light shone on what is going on “behind the scenes.”
One of the unfortunate truths in life is that we have trials, tribulations, or in more simple terms bad crap that happens in our lives. Sometimes we can feel like we’re on top of the world, serving Christ with all of our heart, and suddenly our world is yanked out beneath us. We lose a job, a loved one falls ill, a marriage is on the rocks, or whatever. It can feel like God has turned His back, or God is punishing us, or that we’ve been abandoned. Rick works through all these issues and much more as he looks at the story of Jesus promising Peter will be sifted. He looks at Peter’s denial of Jesus, and his eventual restoration.
This is a weighty issue for anyone to deal with. The “problem of pain” has been around probably since the very beginning. “Why?” is a common refrain. Rick addresses that very question in a heartfelt, biblical, and encouraging manner. While he weaves in examples from jazz music, the Lord of the Rings, nature, church fathers, and his own life experiences, we get to see that we all are being sifted. And rather than despair, we can be encouraged knowing that we are always in the Father’s hand.
Read this book. I don’t care how great or horrible your life is right now. I don’t care if you don’t like to read. I don’t even care if you don’t have the money to buy the book. I’ll loan you my copy if need be. But you need to read this book. Its that good, and its that important. If you’ve read it already, I’d love to hear your impressions in the comments below.
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Bill Nance is a 15 year veteran of youth ministry, having served in churches across the midwest. He currently works at a non-profit organization that works with churches and other agencies that serve hungry people. He also spends time writing, training, and speaking to help youth ministries across the country. If you are looking for a talented speaker for your next youth ministry event, consider booking him today!
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