Saturday, November 12, 2016

Book Review: 'Listen, Love, Repeat' by Karen Ehan

A few years ago, I sat across from a smiling man who shared a revolutionary idea with me: the whole purpose of our existence is to share God’s love with everyone around us.  Doing so may come in physical expression, in quiet prayer for another, in serving our neighbor, or sharing the gospel with a coworker.  Yet, whatever we do, we must do it in love.  For in doing so, we combat the evil that is present in the world.  That smiling man was Bob Goff, author of the hugely successful devotional book Love Does.  Bob is an internationally known and respected attorney and human rights advocate who advises world leaders, yet he is as friendly as your favorite uncle.  And in the short time that I spent with him, I was humbled and challenged (generally what we called “blessed”) to practice the simple yet profound discipline of love.  Love Does is not groundbreaking in its conceptual framework, yet it is paradigm-shifting in its radical call to practical expression.  Love does the will of God in a broken and hurting world.

Now, this is not a review of Love Does.  However, Goff’s book helps set the context for the book that is the focus of this review—Karen Ehman’s newest volume Listen, Love, Repeat.  It may seem strange for a male writer to review this volume.  To be honest, it is strange.  The included publicity material is from all female reviewers.  And, yet, why is it strange?  I spent one evening reading through several chapters at my local Starbucks while I was waiting on my daughter to finish up her nightly theatre practice.  Before I left, I ordered my daughter a drink for the ride home.  The barrister show the book in my hand and asked me about.  I explained that the focus of the book was about practicing kindness and compassion in the midst of a selfish world.  He thanked me for sharing about the book, stating that he would likely get it and read it himself.

In the same way as Love Does (and Devoted by my friend Arron Chambers), Ehman’s book assumes a couple of things.  First, it assumes (naturally) that you are a follower of Jesus.  Secondly, it assumes that you want to follow Jesus’ command of sharing God’s love and God’s truth with those around you.  And lastly, it assumes that you are not simply going to read this book and then stick it on a shelf; it assumes that you will do what the author recommends. 

In fact, these books—Devoted, Love Does and Listen, Love, Repeat—could serve as a trinity introduction to the basics of practical Christianity.  Devoted could serve as your introduction, giving you the what of the Christian tradition.  Then, you could move on to Love Does and trek along with Goff as he explains why Christians demonstrate love to the world (and don’t we need this right now!).  Then, you could conclude your orientation reading with Listen, Love, Repeat, where you would discover a whole lot of how.  This book is crammed full of practical advice, ranging from recipes to share with your friends to devotional plans to practical challenges for the reader to engage in.  I read Listen, Love, Repeat in two days, really just a few hours.  Yet, what Ehman offers will require a lot of processing, planning and implementing.  However, the lives that can be impacted through her advice and challenges are limitless.

And that is why I liked and highly recommend this book.  I am already thinking back to that conversation that I had with the Starbucks barrister.  It was just a few moments, and we just talked about a book.  Yet, what kind of impact did it have?  What kind of impact will we have if we listen, love and repeat?  That is the challenge presented by Listen, Love, Repeat, a challenge that I hope you will join me in accepting.