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A Love Worth Giving

With more than 25 million books in print, 12 years atop the Christian booksellers list and a New York Times best-selling title under his belt, one might assume that Max Lucado is far removed from the day-to-day reality of most people’s lives. After all, this pastor-teacher-author has spoken before government leaders, including the President of the United States, and has comforted thousands in times of national tragedy. Many high-profile leaders look to him for insight and wisdom; they keep his books on their nightstands. Yet Max Lucado is the first to admit he doesn’t have all the answers to life mysteries—including the mystery of raising adolescent daughters. What Max does have is a solid grip on one true thing: the fact that God loves us without condition. His mission in life is to help people contemplate the depth, breadth and wonder of God’s love—and to consider the meaning this divine love holds for everyday living. The Man Max Lucado grew up in a small West Texas town, son of an oil-field mechanic and a nurse, the youngest of four children. Although his parents were devoted Christians and very active in church, Max took the all too familiar path of the prodigal son, drinking and partying and chasing girls. But his high school days over, the reality of the path he was on hit hard, and Max turned a real corner, the kind that changes the trajectory of one's life. "I remember saying that night, 'there's got to be more to life than this.'” He determined that night, prompted by God, he realizes in retrospect, to find real meaning he could build a life upon. Several years later, while working toward a master's degree in theology and his goal of doing mission work in Brazil, Lucado landed a job at a small church in Miami, where he discovered not only his passion for people but also a passion for writing. What began there as short stories published in a church newsletter has become nothing short of a publishing phenomenon. The Medium For this father of three daughters and minister to 3,000 at Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, Texas, storytelling is a more than a hobby, a gift he tinkers with in his spare time. For Max Lucado, the power of words is his life. Lucado doesn't just write warm, inspiring stories for Christians. He has an uncanny way of taking spiritual truths and making them accessible to readers from all walks of life. He shakes the dust off those Bible stories without pretense, preaching or judgment. He speaks hope into people's lives without soft-peddling the misunderstanding and choices that lead to hopelessness. And he doesn't write about controversial topics or political opinions, because, as he puts it, life is complex enough. He writes about what people are looking for: encouragement for surviving this crazy life. "People are just trying to do what's right, to be happy, to build strong marriages, and they need to be encouraged, to know God loves them and forgives unconditionally," Lucado says. The Message "As civilizations have developed and tried to envision God," Lucado explains, "they see him as powerful, but never loving. However, we have a God who loves us and accepts us. His love doesn’t depend upon my success or my abilities. And I think that is the most misunderstood aspect of God’s character—the fact that he loves unconditionally. We have the assumption that ‘if I do well, God is going to love me more.’ We assume that ‘if I work harder, God will accept me.’ His love is mind shattering. We tend to impose our own love level on God, trying to measure God’s love. It is a human element. We want to know how much is available—keep everything in a box, manageable and tight. His love goes way beyond what we can measure." The mystery of God’s great love for his children forms the core of Lucado’s latest book, A Love Worth Giving. In it, he unpacks the often-quoted Scripture passage on love, 1 Corinthians 13, and reveals the little known truth that before we can truly love, we must first receive love. “Too many people have been left behind. Left at the hospital, left at the altar, left with an empty bed, left with a broken heart, left with the question, ‘Does anybody love me?’” Lucado says. “They’ve never grasped the reality of God’s passionate, unconditional love. The kind of love that turns your world upside-down, that changes the way you see yourself and your capacity and ability to love others” The Mission If it's true that the best advice—spiritual or otherwise—is the kind that doesn't sound like advice, then Max Lucado is a sage, indeed. A common, everyday man with uncommon wisdom. A storyteller of enormous proportion who isn't impressed with himself. And even though millions of copies of his books have sold, more importantly to Lucado, his stories have made readers think, even weep, and often close the book somehow stronger. "I guess that is my strong suit now, telling people about the immensity of God’s grace, the depth of his love" he says of his prolific writing career. If you ask him why his books sell so well, he adds, "Maybe God said, 'I’m gonna use you, Lucado, just don’t blow it.' I don’t know. But I do know I recognize the thirsty people when I see them."