Saturday, May 14, 2016

Book Review: The Dream Giver

I've been contemplating a new option for volunteer ministry. Several weeks back, I noticed a newspaper article about a new chapter of the Threshold Singers. This is an organization of individuals who come together in small groups to provide the gift of song to the dying. In my eagerness, I arrived a good fifteen minutes before their rehearsal was set to begin. To kill time, I stood in the hall of the church where the rehearsal took place and happened upon a cart of books and videos being cleared from the church library and offered up for free. "Free books" is all I need to hear to draw my attention. I selected only one book to take home and that was this book, The Dream Giver, by Bruce Wilkinson (author of The Prayer of Jabez and founder of the Walk Through the Bible ministries).

I have fond memories of experiencing the Walk Through the Bible curriculum as a teen at our well-loved CBLI Bible camp years ago. It is an audience-participatory lesson designed to aid in memorizing the progression of action in and throughout the Bible. You memorize phrases together with accompanying hand motions. I believe I still remember the first four phrases: "Creation, Fall, Flood, Nations," although I could be wrong on the fourth word, ha! It has been ages since I thought of that activity and fun time of learning.

I've never been drawn to read Wilkinson's book, The Prayer of Jabez. I suppose it sounds too much like treating God like a magic genie in a lamp that you rub. Then again, as I said, I've never really read it. I even found myself taking this book rather loosely. The ideas presented within its pages lean toward a belief that every individual on earth was created to be somebody special and do something outstanding. While I don't doubt that there are people who need encouragement to follow hard after a dream they envision, I always fear that the focus will be placed on the self and the internal desire to achieve celebrity or significance. For the most part, the book remained focused on the Dream Giver.

The book is broken into two parts. The first part tells a parable of Ordinary's journey to achieve his dream. (This was a bit smarmy at times - full of insights and lessons). The second part provides further application for the lessons and examples of people who have raced after their dream. The final pages provide a glimpse of the author's own dreams, but I was rather sad to discover that those dreams of caring for the orphans in South Africa ended with his withdrawal from the dream only a few years after this book was published.

Perhaps I'm wrong, and God does want every single person to pursue greatness, but I tend to believe that God holds just as much favor for those who quietly do the little tasks God places in their pathway. Still, the book was motivational and did spur me on to continue pursuing my goals for my writing. I'm not destined for greatness, but if even one piece of my writing draws an individual closer to God or gives them a glimpse of something they need to learn, then I will count myself fortunate to have been a vessel used for His glory.

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