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Like he did with A Praying Life, Paul Miller once again has given us a book that doesn’t fit the mold. This is not just any old book on Christian love. This book turns love inside out and gives hope and help to readers at all stages of their Christian life. A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships describes the perils and pitfalls, as well as the promise and pleasure of love.
Miller begins with a personal story from a man he has counseled. The man was a former elder at a conservative evangelical church who walked away from his wife and dove headlong into immorality. Stories like this, and the counseling insights Miller shares illuminate this book. Miller’s insights into love and the human heart, stem from Scripture and ring true. His application is always poignant and helpful. ANd the stories of real one-on-one ministry flesh out the theory of his approach with real tangible spiritual fruit in the here and now.
But Miller’s book is not about his own experiences. He anchors it all on a careful exegetical look at the book of Ruth. Ruth’s story, of course, may very well be the greatest love story ever told. And it has much to teach us about what it means to love unconditionally, and to live in Christian hope. Miller’s account is shaped and ruled by the gospel, and he brings us back over and over again to the importance of gospel-centered living.
Having been incredibly blessed by Miller’s previous book, A Praying Life, the format of A Loving Life took me by some surprise. But as the book developed, I found myself enjoying the account of Ruth more and more, and seeing how it truly dovetailed with Miller’s thoughts on love and his counsel for dealing with broken relationships and living out our faith in this broken world. This book may be a slower and harder read than the earlier volume, but it repays any effort spent to mine its riches. Miller’s wisdom and insight into the struggles of human suffering shine through its pages. His personal experience of ministry (including to his own autistic daughter) give a depth to his thoughts. You feel like you are sitting down over a cup of coffee with an incredibly open and helpful friend as you read this book. And this friend repeatedly points you to a greater walk with Christ and a deeper understanding of yourself and the glory of the gospel.
I listened to the Christianaudio.com version of this title, and found it a blessing to tune into Ruth’s exciting story on my drive each day to work and back. The reader of the audiobook was easy to understand and hear, and his voice was warm and encouraging. I didn’t miss endnotes (if there were any) and it was easy to follow along even though the book was broken up into smaller pieces than it may have been if reading the book in another format.
If you haven’t read anything by Paul Miller before, I encourage you to give this title a try. His approach is similar in spirit to what you may get from Timothy Keller or some of the authors connected with the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF). This is biblical counseling at its gospel-centered best. I highly recommend it.
About the author
Paul E. Miller is executive director of seeJesus as well as the best-selling author of A Praying Life, among other works. With the help of his ministry staff, Miller creates and conducts interactive discipleship seminars throughout the world. He and his wife, Jill, live in the Philadelphia area and have six children as well as a growing number of grandchildren.
Bob Hayton has a BA in Pastoral Theology with a Greek emphasis and a MA in Bible from Fairhaven Baptist College and Seminary in Chesterton, IN. He is a happily married father of seven who resides in St. Paul, MN. Since 2005, he has been blogging theology at FundamentallyReformed.com, where he has also published over 190 book reviews. He can also be found occasionally at KJVOnlyDebate.com.