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The Land Between

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The Advocate

The Land Between by Jeff Manion

Reviewed by Dale Lewis

"[Jeff's] pastoral heart is clearly evident as he passionately crafts each word to exhort and encourage his readers."

Difficult and undesirable transitions are the realities of life. Whether it is unemployment, illness, foreclosure, bankruptcy or another sudden crisis, suffering is no stranger to anyone.

During hard times, we can become lost without any glimmer of hope. Changes are happening all around us as we reluctantly adapt to what seems to be out of control. "It’s not fair,” and "It shouldn't be this way for believers!" are comments often whispered. Fear is the underlying emotion of choice.

In The Land Between, Pastor Jeff Manion (Ada Bible Church, Grand Rapids, MI) walks us through the familiar story of Israel's journey through the Sinai desert. He uses it as a contemporary metaphor for each of us being in places, we don't want to be and yet find ourselves. It is Manion's premise that these unwanted, uncomfortable transitions are there to remind us that God is always present throughout each and every moment of our lives.

Manion contrasts the reaction of Moses and the Israelites as they trudge through the sands of the Sinai. Using this as a backdrop, he provides insight and guidance on our response to God during our own difficult seasons.

In two of my favorite chapters, (towards the conclusion of the book), he shares the differences between incremental and transformational growth in our times of crisis.

Here are a few samples of his poignant biblical insight: “The very experience we wish to avoid can grow the very crop we most desperately need. The land we desire least may produce the fruit we most desire-if we let it, if we can turn toward God with open hearts as Moses did rather than turn away from God in bitterness as the Israelites did."

“Turn toward God and speak candidly about your pain and disappointment. He really wants to hear from you and absorb whatever it is you have to say. But turn to Him in trust and hope, believing that He is there, that He is wise and that He is at work. Trust that God will provide . . . He loves to provide. It is a reflection of his generous giving heart.”

Jeff’s personal illustrations as well as the stories from others clarify and solidify his biblical insight on the land between. His pastoral heart is clearly evident as he passionately crafts each word to exhort and encourage his readers.

Reading The Land Between at this moment of my life is nothing less than God’s providence and perfect timing. I’m sure I’ll be sharing many of the truths contained here with others in the coming days.

Dale Lewis now mans the front desk at the EFCA (The Evangelical Free Church of America) National Office in Minneapolis, MN. He was the graphic designer/pre-press production artist for over twelve years before being asked to step into this new role. Prior to that, he was the publications manager at his alma mater, Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in the public relations office as well as the adviser to the college’s yearbook. He's a director/actor/writer for the Hope Church (Oakdale, MN) adult drama worship team and was the senior editor of the church newsletter. He's also written two collections of poetry, “Whispers of Assurance” and “On Life: Constant Communion Without Ceasing” as well as a devotional entitled “Eternal Education.” He and his family live in Oakdale, Minnesota.