All In Review

Book Review: 

As both an Eagle Scout and as a writer, I could better appreciate Mike Guzzardo's reworking of "mountain top experience" into a parable of hiking, of overcoming difficulties and truly having what God wants for the Christian. He really gets down to the nitty-gritty of WHY anyone has difficulties really following through with their godly commitments.

The author has that friendly conversational tone that we've come to expect in our Christian living books. He doesn't come across either as a know-it-all priest or as a faltering seeker who has no authority, but as someone who'd learned from the Master through his own journeys on the mountain, relating personal victories and failures in the context of surrender.

This mountain trail image is much more robust than the normal "mountain-valley" cycle we often associate with the picture that equates following Jesus with travel. In Guzzardo's view, all the believer's life is the mountain. Once we start out, we can set up and live at the base camp our entire time, or we set out and hike up the mountain, experiencing all that God has in store for us, eventually greeting the view at the top.

And Guzzardo starts out by claiming that the reason any Christian never ventures far from camp is what he calls the "original deception." This part of his advice is actually something that I'd learned years ago during my first forays into Reformed Theology: God loves you and all he does, commands and allows is reflects his love, his wisdom and his affection towards you. Guzzardo sums it up towards the end when he says that "God loves you and has a beautiful plan for your life." Given that the book is clear that beauty doesn't always been "happy all the time," or "without pain" this is quite unlike the "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life"

The usage of the "mountain top" word picture is so easy to recognize that his unique treatment thereof can be completely overlooked. The more unforgiving reader may simply put down the rest of the book since superficially Guzzardo seems to have a philosophy like a prosperity preacher since our goal is the mountain top. While I did say it before, it's worth repeating: Guzzardo has reworked the word picture into something more robust and unexpected. Don't let the common perspective of the mountain top prevent you from absorbing what this book has to say.

Even so, the terminology and pictures used are soft enough where anyone with a prosperity gospel bias could easily claim that this book supports them. However the author relates time after time that the "original deception" is at work when one makes excuses in following God. A minor qualm that I do have is that once he reveals the term "original deception" he never stops using it. So where a passage is better off with a pronoun or with a restatement, the author resorts to calling it by name over and over. It's distracting.

In the end though, I would definitely recommend this book to any Christian who's having a difficult time of following through with their promises to God, or who want to go deeper in their love and union with Christ.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.