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He Chose You

His first book was published in 1986. He currently has 45 titles in 25 million copies in print. He's spoken before government leaders, including the President of the United States, at the 1999 National Prayer Breakfast. He has comforted thousands in times of national tragedy, most recently after the 9-11 New York City/Washington, DC attacks and during the Oklahoma City bombing. His work has been lauded in countless publications, including USA Today and Publishers Weekly. One of his books has appeared on the Christian Bookseller Association's Bestseller lists each month for more than 11 years. At 46, he's spent the better part of his life encouraging everyday people with spiritual truth packaged in compelling, life-changing stories. But Max Lucado-pastor, teacher, author, and storyteller-is just a regular guy. A man who wrestles with the same things that most of us do: fear and uncertainty, self-doubt, balancing work and family, keeping faith alive in a crazy world. This self-described non-scholar doesn't claim to have all the answers to life's mysteries. But he's got a solid grip on one true thing-the truth that God believes in us-and his life mission is to help people find their place in God's grip of grace. Where did this guy come from? 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, one summer night, after a six-pack of beer with a friend, 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, he says in retrospect, by God, to find 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 and all things pastoral 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. What does he have to say? 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. He 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. "As civilizations have developed and tried to envision God," he continues, "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 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." Why does it matter? God's grace has been the running theme of all his written work, the truth that fuels his passion. 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," 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." And while most of his stories grow out of the sermons he prepares for his congregation, he's not your average preacher. The Jesus he believes in, if roaming the earth today, would show up at the family barbecue and join in a scratch game of football. His stories greet everyday people where they live. Just call him Max 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. "My books are not written for the scholarly or even for the person who buys every book on the book club page. I write for the average person, the one who may not typically take the time to read. I get letters from people who say 'I'm not a reader, but I like your books.' Others begin their letters to me with 'Can I call you Max?'" The answer is always, 'Of course.' "My writing is so personal," he continues. "We build a kind of relationship in these pages, a friendship that is built on the truth as we discover it, something of lasting value. That means the world to me."