This week, I am giving away THREE copies of Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become More Like Jesus by Mary DeMuth. Mary DeMuth is an author and speaker who loves to help people live uncaged, freedom-infused lives. She’s the author of fourteen books, including six novels and her critically acclaimed memoir, Thin Places.

Margaret: What will readers find within the pages of Everything?

Mary: They’ll find authentic vulnerability about the Christian life and how to move from stagnation to exponential growth.

Why is this book timely?

Growing in Jesus isn’t a formula, it’s a lifestyle. There aren’t 7 easy steps to become an Everything Christian. The secret? Jesus—knowing, hearing, following, and imitating Him. Everything is written with this journey in mind, and it woos readers toward a deeper, more impacting Christianity.

You had a difficult life growing up, and this taught you who we should be seeking as our everything. How should our past inform the way we live for Jesus?

Our past is obviously what happened to us, and sometimes that past can be painful. But we don’t have to be entrapped by it. We can walk with healing from the past in such a way that others would never know we walked through devastation. That’s the power of the gospel to utterly change lives.

You mention in the book that we often flee the things that will bring us nearer to God. Can you elaborate?

No one should court trouble, but we also need to be realistic about the state of our fallen world. Trouble will come. The problem comes when we try to insulate our lives against it and protect our hearts at any cost. Most of our growth as believers comes from difficulties. Instead of running from them, we can do as James encouraged, to welcome trials as friends.

Some people struggle with control, yet you say that control is the very thing that undermines our relationship with Jesus. How?

I have been known to be a control freak (just ask my family), so I write from personal experience. Simply put, if I micromanage my life so that everything fits into neatly labeled boxes, Jesus can’t get a word in edgewise. God created us for adventure, and when we try to control every outcome, we shortchange the joy that comes in that journey. The truth: Either I’m in control or Jesus is.

Can we become Super Christians in our own strength?

No. We can never accomplish the Christian life if we bootstrap and buck up. That’s why the Holy Spirit lives inside us, to empower us to live for Jesus. If we could become like Jesus by our own prowess, we wouldn’t need the Spirit.

You tackle Jeremiah 29:11 in the book, about God knowing the plans He has for us, giving us a future and a hope. What is the central message of that verse?

Jeremiah wrote that to an exiled people. His point wasn’t that God would help us escape our frustrated lives, but that we’d learn to thrive in exile. Not everything will be peachy on this earth. What makes us stand out as believers is our ability to find joy in the midst of pain, to overcome difficulties, and to keep an other-centered perspective.

Overall, what do you most hope that readers will take away from this book?

That loving and following Jesus is a beautiful adventure. That He is worth following and laying down everything at His feet. That we’ll find more joy in that kind of relinquishment than if every single thing in our lives cooperated.

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EverythingTo win a copy, comment on this ORIGINAL blog post at margaretfeinberg.com. Winners will be selected and notified by Friday.

Congratulations to this weeks winners: Heidi, Gayle Manculich, tammy

What do you think keeps us from growing in Christ as we should?