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Life Surrendered

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Jessica Herberger experienced the painful joy of giving birth and the sweet sorrow of losing her mother almost simultaneously. If I remember correctly, she was at her mother's bedside at death, then went into labor, then was released from the hospital early so that she could go to the funeral. That is how close the events were stacked.

This short book uses the events of Good Friday as a template to structure her memoirs of this time. She walks through one small portion of that night, gives a very creative and loose exegesis of it, and then ties in her own reflections and experiences. The chapter will conclude with a "Via Dolorosa" section where she gives a paragraph explaining what it is we should let go or let die in our lives and then reflect, confess, and reconsider sections giving a few brief questions or talking points each.

This would be a decent book for a group to work through during Lent. But honestly, with all the truly great books out there covering this most beautiful of days, this one can easily be passed by. It was probably incredibly cathartic for Herberger to write this book. But it isn't all that beneficial for us to read it.
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This is a devotional focused upon the events of Good Friday, with an imaginative reflection to help us obtain a new understanding of the Cross.  Told in 16 chapters across four (4) parts, with each chapter devoted to a “little” death (detachment) that we should embrace.  Each chapter is a mix of imaginative exegesis of the relevant scripture along a few personal anecdotes.  For a devotional with the goal of reimagining the events of Good Friday, there really isn’t a lot that is new here (or even very controversial), but are a few that stand out … such as the observation that Simon (the man pressed into carrying the Cross of Jesus for a time), would have needed to completely reverse direction to do so (something I never really considered before).  As might be expected, the personal vignettes are hit or missing with my own experience, but they are all short and at least have something to which I can still connect.  The chapters conclude with the “Via Dolorosa Way of Grief” (similar to the Stations of the Cross where we follow Jesus from Gethsemane to Golgotha) that is organized into three (3) sections of questions to contemplate:  Reflect, Confess and Reconsider; to help the reader connect with the chapter topic.  This is probably the only part that is somewhat unique amongst similar devotionals … so if you are not into reflections questions, this book is probably not for you.  That said, for the rest of us, this book provides the reader with a wonderful place to start on their meditation on the Passion of Christ during Holy Week.  In addition, be sure to check out the link at the end for the online supplemental materials …

Introduction
Part One - Foundations of Freedom
- Chapter One: The Freedom of Releasing Control (Death of Self)
- Chapter Two: Letting Go of the Battles That Aren’t Yours (Death of the Fight)
- Chapter Three: You Don’t Need to Respond (Death of the Rebuttal)

Part Two - Not All Letting Go is Good 
- Chapter Four: When All Seems Lost (Death of Hope)
- Chapter Five: Crowd Control (Death of the Compassionate Crowd)
- Chapter Six: Seeking Truth (Death of Reason)

Part Three - Reimagining
- Chapter Seven: Who Am I? (Death of Entitlement)
- Chapter Eight: Care of Others (Death of Distress)
- Chapter Nine: Advocating Forgiveness (Death of Revenge)
- Chapter Ten: It’s Just a Name (Death of Earthly Titles)
- Chapter Eleven: Reinventing Relations (Death of the Ties That Bind)
- Chapter Twelve: Implausible Timing (Death of Presumptions)
- Chapter thirteen - Upending Traditions (Death of How It Was)

Part Four - Beaty for Ashes
- Chapter Fourteen: Certainty (Death of Doubt)
- Chapter Fifteen: Boldness (Death of Fear)
- Chapter Sixteen: Fearless (Death of the Fear of Death)

Postscript -  Beauty in Dying (Death of a Loved One)
Timeline of Good Friday Events

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
#LifeSurrendered #NetGalley.
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Review for: Life Surrendered: Finding Freedom at the Cross by Jessica Herberger

Jessica Herberger accomplishes more in sixteen chapters than many volumes written on the ministry of death. I chose the term “ministry of death” because that is what this book is about to me. Herberger takes readers on a journey of observations from Good Friday to the resurrection. While she alludes to the topic of death in her opening chapters, her story of Jesus’ service with the apostles, during his trials, his walk to the cross, his death, and his triumphant resurrection gives every Christian today hope and peace in living our best life for God. I have personally read many “Cross” books over the years in my faith journey, my undergraduate and graduate work, but this one will be revisited many times throughout my life. Herberger is a relatable, everyday person who deals with tough human struggles in a most transparent way.

I identify with many Christians who feel the urge to respond to every criticism aimed at Christianity or God, or both. This is why chapter three, “You Don’t Need To Respond,” brought me much to chew on intellectually. Our Lord and Master did not feel the need to respond to the politically and spiritually lacking accusers at his trial. Why do I, as his follower, feel compelled to jump into every fight along the way? Herberger gives us a fresh perspective and reinforces life as peacemakers for Christians.

Without giving away much of the strength of her work, Herberger excels in building each step of Jesus in his journey to the cross into a life lesson that is relatable and powerful when we are on our knees. Further, the last section of the book dealing with death and the rewards in death exceeded my expectations. In my humble opinion, this book is a must-read for new babes in Christ as well as those who may be dealing with taking care of an elderly or sick loved one, maybe a nurse or doctor or any healthcare professional who witnesses death every day, and especially every Christian who will face death unless our Lord comes back in our lifetime. Do yourself a favor and buy this book for yourself and a loved one. You will not regret it.
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Deeper Max Lucado. This book is one whose overall tone and structure fans of Max Lucado - a guy who has been writing books for decades and who is so popular he is on grocery store bookshelves - will easily recognize. But it is also quite a bit deeper than Lucado generally goes, and Herberger here brings up some great points about the various deaths she discusses as she looks at Easter Weekend. Ultimately a truly solid book of its type, but likely without a truly universal appeal. Should do *very* well within the Christian nonfiction market though, where in fact it could be a breakout book - it really is that good. And timed well, with publication roughly 6 weeks before Easter 2022. Very much recommended.
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Many of us are trying to shake off the bonds of our upbringing, learned and acquired prejudice, and the guilt and shame that stalks us. 

Herberger offers hope. Hope that you can be all God wants you to be. Hope that you can be shaped into all that God has designed you for. hope that the future can transcend the limits of your plans and ambitions.

But it means you have to die. You have to surrender control of your life to God who knows you best and has unimaginable resources and connections. You willing? 

Read about what it will take and what it will cost you. And then get ready for the journey of your life. Highly recommended for those in uncertainty and transition.
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The book only covers the final days of Christ's life, but Jessica's treatment of it leaves no stone unturned..
Like a surgeon wielding instruments of life saving surgery, she helps the reader see the layers of doubt, presumption and control that we are all guilty of, and  has led me to the point where I can humbly admit"

"I don't know the beauty that comes from dying. I don't know the joy that comes from serving. I don't know the freedom of not knowing God's timeline. And I surely don't know the abundance found in letting go of control." My prayer is that God will take me from where I am, and teach me these profound lessons, that I may present to Him, A Life Surrendered.
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