“I don’t write this book as a condemnation or as a sermon. The last thing I want to do is provide a ‘how to be the best Christian in ten easy steps’ guide. I pen these words as a fellow struggler who is learning that what we think about God matters, how we allow Him to reign in our hearts matters, and how we obey Him in the moment matters. It all matters. Everything.”
Author and speaker Mary DeMuth has been abused, foreclosed, abandoned, and betrayed. She has been pressed and drained till it was too much . . .
But it was just enough to bring her to a place of surrender, piece by precious piece. In that surrender, she found the freedom of giving everything to God. And through Scripture, community, and the work of the Holy Spirit, she gives it all over again, every day.
In this gentle and challenging book, DeMuth describes the process and the nuances that shape us to be more like Christ. Her words are clear, vulnerable, and thought provoking, and every chapter is infused with Scripture.
Most of all, DeMuth provides personal and practical evidence that there is no greater pursuit than Christ. We must surrender everything, but it does not compare to the Everything He is, the Everything He gives.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Mary DeMuth is the author of several southern novels, including A Slow Burn, Life in Defiance, and the Christy award finalists, Watching the Tree Limbs and Daisy Chain. She’s also written four parenting books and a memoir, Thin Places. She’s passionate about the written word, teaching, and mentoring writers. Mary lives in Texas with her husband, Patrick, and their three children.
Read an Excerpt
Everythingwhat you give and what you gain to become like Jesus
By MARY DEMUTH
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2012 Mary E. DeMuth
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCultivate the Discipline of Astonishment
This, after all, is the goal of the American dream: to make much of ourselves. But here the gospel and the American dream are clearly and ultimately antithetical to each other. While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God. —David Platt
When I sat beneath the evergreen at fifteen years old, the stars twinkled their brilliance above me. I felt the rough bark against my back while tears streaked my face. I heard the gospel in its entirety (if one can ever hear such magnificence in one perfect package), and I was stunned to silence. I was small, broken, haunted by swirling memories of the past. I lived as a fatherless daughter searching for the Daddy who would never leave me. Under the stars, the ground beneath me, God astonished me. His bigness. His sacrifice on the world's behalf. His ability to be everywhere, yet be concerned about me. His speaking things into existence from nothingness. I asked Him to please enter my life in the gentlest way. And He did.
When I think of Jesus-loving people, I venture back to this place of astonishment, this smallness of me compared to God's immensity. I run back to that place where my mind was overwhelmed by God's greatness. And I also think of others whose minds held big thoughts of God. I remember the people I met in Malaysia who couldn't bow low enough to worship God. I remember my friend Su, tears on her face becoming her petition. Oh, how she loved. I think of an unnamed man I met in Urbana, Illinois, who practically beamed Jesus, but who spoke of Him with reverence and awe. Paul in Ghana comes to mind, how his eyes dance when he tells the story of God providing for him in spectacular and mundane ways. Holly, dear Holly, who calls out of the blue because she hears a whisper from God and she must pass His encouragement on to me.
In a world bent on human glory, folks like these stand out. They're the bewildering kind who think much of Jesus, yet decrease into obscurity like John the Baptist. They understand the proverb, "It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory" (Prov. 25:27). They see beyond the veil of this world while they grasp the upside-down kingdom where meek inherit and strong fall, while God reigns supreme overall. I watch these people. I long to be like them, to think like them.
What does it mean to live in the discipline of astonishment? How can we deify God yet subvert our claim to deity? How can we embrace the cliché, God is God and I am not? The answer comes from theology, the way we think about God. When you read the word theology, you may yawn a bit, dismissing the term as boring, something relegated to banter in seminary halls. But theology is sexy; it's dynamic. And it's important if we want Jesus to be our everything. In light of that, let's build a campfire around five truths.
Truth One: God Creates
The triune God—Father, Son, Holy Spirit—created everything we see, touch, taste, perceive, and think. All things originate from Him. We see this clearly delineated in Scripture:
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:1–5 NLT)
When the world careens out of control, we can rest in the fact that God spun this world with a simple word. Matter from emptiness. Beauty from void. Community from chaos.
Remembering God as Creator reminds us that God is in the growth business. He not only created trees, sky, air, and dirt, but He also matures them: "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (1 Cor. 3:7). I've spent a great deal of my Christian life trying to manufacture what only God can flourish. Although I have a choice to submit myself before the Creator of the world, to be humbly repentant, adopting a posture of learning, I cannot cause growth. I must depend on His ability to bring sprouts, limbs, flowers, and fruit.
Truth Two: God Is Other
In college, as friends prayed for me to heal from the brokenness of the past, my heart bent toward revival. I read Leonard Ravenhill and listened to the late Keith Green. I prayed up a storm and read about great college prayer movements. And I discovered the book The School of Christ by T. Austin Sparks. In the first chapter he writes about the otherness of Christ.
I'd often thought about what those head-scratching disciples must've made of Jesus. He rarely responded the way they anticipated. His line of thinking confounded and confused them. Why? Because they tried to measure Christ by human standards. Christ was fully human, but paradoxically was also fully God, which made Him wildly unpredictable and downright strange.
Consider Sparks's words:
The first thing [the disciples] learned was how other He was from themselves. They had to learn it. I do not think it came to them at the first moment. It was as they went on that they found themselves again and again clashing with His thoughts, His mind, His ways. They would urge Him to take a certain course, to do certain things, to go to certain places; they would seek to bring to bear upon Him their own judgments and their own feelings and their own ideas. But He would have none of it.
How other Jesus is. How other God the Father is. How other the Holy Spirit is. Our triune, mysterious God is far above what we can think or perceive or categorize. Remember Isaiah's oft-quoted words:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa. 55:8–9)
And yet we falsely believe that we can manage just fine without Him. We cherish our uniqueness, our clever thoughts, forgetting that Wisdom and Power and Holiness personified empowers us. God as other is untamable, unmanageable, unpredictable. Which is why growth can be a frightening prospect.
Does your thinking fall far short of the otherness of God? I know mine does. I spend hours pondering issues, forgetting to consult God. I try to be the answer to my own prayers. I insulate myself, minimizing risk so I don't have to fling myself into the arms of this wild God.
I remember the funny song "Please Don't Send Me to Africa" from decades ago. I remember thinking, This song resonates with me. And yet, decades later, I found myself in Ghana, West Africa, with my then twelve-year-old son, Aidan, who dared to believe in God's otherness. He heard God tell him to dig wells, so he upheaved his comfortable sixth-grade life and followed Jesus' footsteps to Africa. There we met others who follow this strange, amazing God, and we were forever changed. As I type this, Aidan again stands on Ghanaian soil, following the beckoning of God that woos a now fifteen-year-old to that same continent.
God is other. We cannot explain Him. We cannot have perfect theology (though we value theology). We cannot attempt to know the mind of God fully. But as believers, we have an eternal resource, the Holy Spirit, who makes known to us God's intentions. When we consider the otherness of God, the overwhelming beauty and audacity of God to dwell within us can bring nothing but astonishment. The God who created, this otherly God, dares to stoop to such a place as our hearts.
Truth Three: God Redeems
My friend pushed against God, against me, against anyone who would dare speak truth in her life. She seemed to relish rebellion, yet all the while saying she believed in Jesus. For several years I puzzled over her words and her behavior, so much so that I had to place a boundary on our friendship. Years passed. One day I received a call from her. "I've met Jesus!" she said.
"What? I thought you were a Christian."
"No, I only thought I was," she said. I could hear the joy in her voice.
"But I finally met Jesus, and I'll never be the same."
In that moment and in the subsequent years, I've seen radical redemption in my friend's life. Her words challenge me. Her life shouts Jesus. Her heart, oh, her heart, is so very beautiful. And when she e-mails or calls, instead of dreading her as I once did, I stop my day and hang on to her words.
God is a God who redeems. He beautifies even the most haggard. He rescues us from pits far too deep to scale. We, the helpless creation, must look to the only One who is able to free us. Consider how the following verses aptly sum up these first three aspects of God—the God who creates, who is other, who redeems:
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. [creates] He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. [other] For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross. [redeems] (Col. 1:15–20 NLT)
We cannot fully satisfy a holy God. Our redemption is an outrageous, initiating act accomplished by God alone. He pursued humanity to such an extent that His feet landed on earth, and He chased after us until He rescued us at the cross. We did not climb onto those wooden beams. We could not receive the nails that pierced those holy hands. We who are not kingly wore no thorn crown. We could not drink the cup of God's wrath. "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6 NASB). God did what we could not. He sent His beautifully sinless Son to take our place, to satisfy for all time God's wrath upon sin: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).
God transforms. He who creates, He who thinks otherworldly thoughts, dares to redeem an obstinate world. If we camp in that place, remembering the gift we could never, ever pay back, we will live astonished lives, and our growth will be the best kind—the kind that emerges from gratitude, from thinking rightly about God.
Truth Four: God Sees
When I traveled to Ghana, my son Aidan and I were part of a team that had already been assembled from another local church. Though I'm sure none of the members meant to exclude me, the nature of the trip and our addition later made it hard for me to fit in. As I stepped onto Ghanaian soil, I prayed, "Lord, help me know that You see me here." I made a determination to be small, unnoticed. No longer an author or a speaker, I spent my time behind the scenes. But loneliness settled inside me like untreated malaria. I cried out to God from this small, small place.
God's answer came late one night during a van ride over rough roads where sleeping sheep and goats served as living obstacles. I sat next to my new Ghanaian friend Paul and asked for his story. He shared his heart, how he walked with Jesus, how he met his wife, how he struggled to know whether he'd have another meal. I felt privileged to hear his words. I shared my heart in exchange. Then he said something that helped me know God sees. He told me my empathy encouraged him to share his story. I realized then that I had played a role in my trek to Ghana. To listen. And to hear an amazing story—proof that God saw me and would reward my smallness.
Hagar, maidservant of Sarai, had an encounter with God when she despaired of life, when her smallness bordered on despair. After Sarai mistreated her, she fled to the wilderness and sat down by a spring. An angel of the Lord appeared to her and encouraged her. She would have a son, and she was to name him Ishmael. He'd be "a wild donkey of a man," and she would live to see him grow up. After that encounter, she named God El Roi, the God who sees: "She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me.' That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered" (Gen. 16:7–14 NIV). Beer Lahai Roi means "the well of the living one who sees me" (NASB).
We forget, don't we? We place God in our small boxes, limiting Him to humanness, forgetting His omnipresence. He is everywhere. He is everything. Of course He sees. He not only sees the entire world and universe, but His vision becomes myopic too. He can focus on one of us at a time, even if we travel far away from home and comfort. He can encourage in us-shaped ways and sends folks our way to prove He is good and He sees our needs.
Psalm 8:3–5 reminds us of our seeing God. The first few verses of the Davidic psalm speak of God's greatness and majesty, His power over creation. Then we read this glorious insertion:
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. (NLT)
We are small. He is big. And yet He sees. That should spur us toward crazy growth, rugged trust, and reverential awe.
Truth Five: God Inhabits
Our daughter Julia heard demonic voices when we lived in France. For several months we puzzled over her behavior, thinking she simply had a hard time adjusting to the culture and language. But eventually she broke down and told us she heard awful voices telling her to be disobedient to us and mean to her siblings. At night the voices tormented her, woke her up. We prayed for her. We told her about Jesus, but she couldn't seem to grasp Him or even reach for Him. A few weeks later some friends from the States came to watch our kids while we went to a leadership summit in Lisbon, Portugal. We pulled them aside and told them about Julia and the voices. They promised to pray for her and be extra sensitive to her while we were away.
During the conference we received a voice message. Julia's little voice piped through saying, "Mommy and Daddy? I just want to let you know that I asked Jesus to come into my heart." I could hear the joy in her voice, but inwardly I feared. Would she still be tormented?
When we came home, I asked her how she was doing: "Are you hearing those voices?"
"Well," she said. "I do hear a voice, but it tells me to make right choices."
"That's the Holy Spirit," I told her. In the moment she met Jesus, He replaced the demonic voices with His Spirit. He truly lived inside our daughter. A few weeks later she asked to be baptized in the Mediterranean Sea. The pictures are framed above her bed.
God is present. And if we have given our lives to Him, He, as Holy Spirit, resides in us. He makes His home inside our lives. Seeing His brilliance and power, understanding His ability to create, realizing His might, contrast wildly with the truth that this God, this amazing God, inhabits us. Because of this, we who want to grow need to remind ourselves of His constant, abiding presence. Like Brother Lawrence, the monk who joyfully washed dishes with Jesus beside Him, we can practice His presence every single moment.
In my frenetic pace of life, I've forgotten His presence. It's a choice in those times to cry out to the God who lives within me, asking Him to lift my head. This beautiful, inhabiting God breathes encouragement into me, reminding me that I am His child, worthy of His sacrifice. I don't need to wallow in a place of stress because He understands. He is Emmanuel, God with us, and He sees us—an astonishing fact. Simply meditating there will change our growth patterns forever.
Excerpted from Everything by MARY DEMUTH Copyright © 2012 by Mary E. DeMuth. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Preface: The Everything Journey ix
Section 1 Head-What We Think
1 Cultivate the Discipline of Astonishment 3
2 Live the Six-Letter Word That Changes Everything 15
3 Discern the Vow Factor 23
4 Let Go of the Giants 33
5 Set Aside Worry 45
6 Practice Resilience 55
Section 2 Heart-Who We Are
7 Be an Am 65
8 Forsake the Seven-Letter Word That Demolishes Everything 75
9 Embrace Holy Inebriation 85
10 Choose to Heal 95
11 Lean into Brokenness 107
12 Be Kind to Yourself 115
Section 3 Hands-How We Live
13 Relinquish Money 127
14 Reconcile the Paradox of Failure 135
15 Grow Better Together 143
16 Follow the Leader 155
17 Become Irresistible 165
18 Walk Out Surprising Disciplines 175
Epilogue: The Everything Life 195
About the Author 205
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mary challenged me throughout the book to focus my head, heart and hands on letting Jesus be my Everything. She doesn't shrink back from the difficult things. This book isn't about making you feel good about your great Christian life. It's convicting without shaming. Everything helped me see the dusty corners of my soul left hidden that Jesus wants to invade and heal. So He can be by Everything.
Everything by Mary DeMuth For everyone that has lived on half a tank of faith, Mary DeMuth explores the concept of giving everything to live for Jesus, letting Him take control of your deepest, untouched parts of your heart. Her book, Everything, which I received through Booksneeze®, discusses the stages we go through in struggle and despair, until we ultimately lay broken at the feet of Jesus and He begins to piece us back together. Written in a fresh voice peppered with description and warmth, DeMuth admits to her darker hours, where she struggled with many obstacles and hurts throughout the course of her life, most recently, moving to France with her family for mission work. Her honesty resonated with me, because when I started the book, I was coming out of a time of confusion and discouragement, as well. She helped me realize that I was not in my struggles alone, and that underneath all my heartache is the necessary abandonment to lose myself in Jesus. The end of each chapter had reflection questions to further let His truth sink in. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who is hungry to be healed from their hurt, and who longs to give their everything to Jesus.
Are You An Everyday Christian or an Everything Christian? When I first saw Mary DeMuth's book, I was immediately intrigued by the title, and my initial thoughts were: "What is "everything"? How do I give "everything"? What does that look like in my life? DeMuth demystifies her title and answers all three of my questions in the Preface, where she explains the difference between regular Christians, who have known and followed Christ in their own way all their lives, and "Everything Christians," who may have only given their lives to Christ for a short time but have "learned the secret of giving Him every part of their lives" (emphasis mine, xiv). Drawing on her own personal experiences of loss and crises, Demuth explores why some people mature quickly in their faith while others will spend an entire lifetime maturing and still never truly grow. The solution is Everything. Those who give up everything--surrendering complete control of their lives to Christ--gain everything. Those who hold tightly to comfort and ease, trusting in themselves instead of God, lose everything because they never experience the life-changing growth that comes from complete obedience in God. "When we give up everything, we gain Jesus, who is our everything" (xvi). Everything is structured into 3 parts: "Head--What We Think" "Heart--Who We Are" "Hands--How We Live" Each part looks at ways to transform our lives from "the everyday" to "everything" so that we are changed, surrendering every aspect of our being to Him. Reading Everything has challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and truly experience the awe of God (chapter 1). It's only when I step out in faith--setting aside worry (chapter 5), practicing resilience (chapter 6) and optimism (chapter 7), and surrendering control (chapter 8)--that I will truly grow. And the beauty of this book, aside from the practical applications for my own life, is feeling like you have a friend right there with you. I don't know Mary DeMuth, but I do. Her book reveals so much of her self that I feel like I'm experiencing it with a close friend. Warm, inviting, deeply personal, she's like an old friend I've known for years. Unlike most books I have read on spiritual growth, Everything resonates with this feeling of cameraderie so I don't feel like I'm doing it alone. If you're looking for a book to take you beyond being an everyday Christian and becoming an Everything Christian, I would highly recommend Mary DeMuth's Everything. It's one that I will pull out and read over and over again.
Having grown up in church, I have been handed many a “How to be a better Christian” type books. I’ve read a few. However, this is not a step-by-step book. DeMuth does not try to be THE expert. She writes from her personal experience—what has worked for her and what hasn’t. She writes from observations of Christians she has admired through her life. It is a relatively short book, yet even as a voracious reader, DeMuth’s words made me read slowly and think. I wouldn’t say this book completely transformed my life, but it was definitely worth the time to read and gave me some things to noodle.
Everything by Mary DeMuth is an incredible book. It is truly a one-stop shop of inspiration and enlightenment. Written in a testimony-teaching style, this book shines a light on the power, presence and influence of the LORD on lives that are in pursuit of Him. To say I loved this book would be an understatement. It’s very special.
This was one of those amazing books that you can't put down. It was easy to read and, for me, so life changing! Each chapter was so amazing and I hated for it to end.This is truly one of the best written books I've read. This is a book that will make you look at your relationship to Jesus differently and better. Mary takes us inside her life (she doesn't sugar coat anything, which is a relief to those of us who don't lead a sugar-coated life) and shares what she has learned in her walk with the Lord. More exciting is that she shares what she has learned in this amazing book. The book is filled with Scriptures and at the end of each chapter, are "Questions For Reflections and Discussion". These are in-depth questions that you can really get into for yourself or in a group situation. They really made me think about how I look at myself and the Lord. Honestly, I felt like Mary wrote this book just for me. I have no doubt you will feel the same way when you read it - and read it, you should!! I highly recommend this book. It's a great way to start out the new year! *This book was provided to me for my honest review by the BookSneeze Program
I received an advanced copy of "Everything" to review. I also had the privilege of endorsing this beautiful book. I read this book on my week off from vacation back in July. God spoke to me that week through "Everything". I was beyond blessed. While I was reading about Mary DeMuth's life and experiences. I was able to put myself in her shoes. At times, I even felt we lived parallel lives. I laughed and cried throughout this book. "Everything" made me think; it convicted me as well as challenged my walk with Jesus. I had to ask myself the same question many times while reading this book, is Jesus my everything? If I say He is my everything, do I live as though He is? I loved "Everything". I believe in the message and believe every Christian should read this book.
If you long to know and love Him more, seek HIM with your whole heart!
It's easy to say "I will give God everything I have" ... It's much harder to live that life. With sensitivity, short personal stories, and a slice of humor, Mary DeMuth's book, Everything, took me on a journey to discover what the term "everything" entails. I especially liked the short chapters that gave me time to process her points before moving on to the next topic. It's a worthy read... several times over.
Occasionally, a book comes along that touches your heart, mind, and soul in an incredible way. Everything by Mary DeMuth is just such a book. She writes with skill and authenticity as she powerfully describes for us what it looks like to love Jesus with all that you are. If you long to know and love Him more, this book is for you!