A Book to be Lived Out
According to the author this is his 21st book (p126), of which 18 are currently available. It is also the ninth to be reviewed on Prophecy Today UK. But this not just another shelf-filling addition to a growing list. Rather, it is the superb culmination of a nine-year exploration into the Hebraic and how it can and should impact the Church today.
As Maltz explains, it is an “attempt to summarise the journey so far and to provide us all with the tools to make a real difference in the way we understand and exercise our faith” (p223).
But this is no mere ‘attempt’. It is extremely successful in recalling familiar themes from previous books and developing the ideas they contain, as well as in pointing the way forward, providing what the author calls “a route to the higher peaks” (p17).
Later in the book, we discover practical and well-proven ways of experiencing all that the author has been expressing. This is not an academic treatise but a book to be lived out, in ways available to all who are prepared to accept that something needs to change, and that ‘thinking differently’ is the key starting point.
The book is expertly conceived and well-written in Maltz’s own, highly readable style. We are treated to his usual touches of humour and adroit comments - though perhaps slightly less so than in earlier books, as Maltz realises the significance of his message. This is not an academic treatise, but a book to be lived out. The title, however, is typical Maltz, the apostrophe creating a neat double-edged meaning through aural ambiguity. Are we truly ‘living the life’? Do we honestly ‘live in The Life’ that is Jesus himself and which he offers to all his followers?
The introduction sets the scene by outlining something of the author’s own journey of discovery since his first book in 2009, How the Church Lost the Way . From time to time in this new book he quotes from earlier ones, and in particular he explains he is building on his previous book Hebraic Church (2016) and completing the story Introduced by To Life! (2011). But if you are new to Maltz, don’t worry! Start with this latest book and you’ll soon catch up.
Livin’ The Life is in three parts, Being, Living, Doing, housing an overall total of 25 short chapters. The heart of the book and the largest section by far is, not surprisingly, Living, whose chapters have titles such as Glory, Spirit, Worship, Evangelism, Giving, Leadership, Kingdom and Blessings.
In this section we are treated to a wealth of wisdom, comment, analysis and thoughtful challenges as to whether we really are living life as God intended.
Inevitably there is a certain element of criticism of where the Church has fallen short, for instance where it interprets ‘success’ in worldly terms, settling for compromise and being “tolerated as something that is doing its best but is mostly harmless” (p51). In this respect the chapter on leadership is very thought-provoking - but then the same could be said of many other chapters! Not so much food for thought as “a whole banquet for hearty discussion” (p91) to pinch the author’s own description of the chapter on Glory.
Being and Doing
The opening section (Being) is also highly significant. Here Maltz stresses a trinity of principles that will permeate the rest of the book. The first is to honour God, the second is to reflect Jesus and the third is to engage with the Holy Spirit.
With a chapter devoted to each of these plus a fourth to summarise them all, the author emphasises that these are the overriding objectives that should inform Godly decision-making and determine how we are to fulfil the book’s title of Livin’ the Life. We are constantly reminded of these principles in the chapters that follow. We are treated to a wealth of wisdom, comment, analysis and thoughtful challenges as to whether we really are living life as God intended.
The third section (Doing) is where we learn how to put this into practice, something that Maltz himself has been experiencing and making available to others in his Foundations conferences, which operate under the generic title of ‘Freedom in the Spirit’. In the closing chapters of the book he gives details of how the Lord has led him to develop not so much a model for a new style of conference but a set of ideas - ways of releasing people into freedom. As he says repeatedly in his books, it is about function, not form.
The aim is to “provide an environment where God can speak to us and where we can discover our true purpose, through the giftings He has given us” (p198).
This part of the book contains examples of how this has worked in larger conferences, and how it can work in other, usually smaller, settings and time frames. There are also testimonies and observations from those who have been to such events and had their lives changed through the ‘God moments’ that these occasions allow and encourage.
Maltz himself gives a personal testimony of such an unexpected ‘God moment’: an incident when, to his great surprise, he found himself ministering healing and seeing God at work. “’Wait a minute’, I thought. ‘This is me!’ Like many of you reading this book, this is not my world, this is what other people do” (p106). But not this time! Here was a fresh experience gained by being prepared to put his own theory into practice!
The final Appendix provides an overall practical guide with suggestions for the various activities, such as teaching, music, dance, drama, prayer, study, crafts and creative arts, all of which provide the life-blood of these gatherings, whether for a whole week or just a weekend.
What was first expressed in Hebraic Church has become more clearly defined, or in Maltz’s words “the landscape is a little clearer” (p207), in Livin’ the Life. However, he also acknowledges that the practical outworking remains a fluid situation, which is exciting in itself. The encouragement to others is to try it and see. Feedback is always welcome!
The final Appendix provides a practical guide with activity suggestions including music, dance, drama, prayer, study and creative arts.
The book is subtitled ‘Christianity Rediscovered’, illustrating that the aim and challenge is one of “bottling up the atmosphere generated by the Church of the first disciples and those who shared their mindset and presenting it to the Church of today in a relevant manner” (p12). Maltz is honest enough to realise this is not always easy. Modern alternative worldviews owe so much to the ancient Greek philosophers and are now firmly entrenched, pushing the Hebraic to one side. He admits “This is our world, it’s not going to change overnight. Neither are we. But we can make a start…” (p15).
And making a start is what this book can achieve. Here is a writer on top form whose vision is bearing fruit. If you plan to buy just one book this week or this month, buy this one. To miss this book may mean missing the life that God intends for you. (Paul Luckraft, Prophecy Today)
“I know you are really onto something here – something that the 21st century Church desperately needs, and I am very keen to see it develop! This book needs to be widely circulated, especially among Church leaders of whatever ilk” (David Serle, missionary)
“Doctrine should never be dead right; it should be alive - right? The apostolic command requires that we contend for the faith "once for all entrusted...", not innumerable variations on an original theme stretching across rebellious centuries. Jesus deals only in absolute truth - God's boundary that sets disciples apart from the world's multiple versions of reality. Within this perfect fence there is protection from unreality and freedom to live life to the full as God intends. Steve Maltz has the refreshing gift of describing the truly free life. Steve's fresh, but scriptural thinking is the cobweb's nemesis. This is creative submission to the Bible. He's always thinking outside of the box, but never outside of God's Word - the fence is always in view...” (David Andrew, Bible teacher and editor of Sword magazine)
“Once in a while a ‘Christian’ book appears that blesses the socks off me! I have to admit that it does not happen a lot! More often than not I find myself thinking, “Why did I bother to spend hours reading this stuff?” However, every so often a book lands on my desk that makes me (literally) get to my feet and shout, “Praise the Lord!” This volume by Steve Maltz achieved that when I was privileged to review the manuscript.
I am a preacher (and some even say, a Bible teacher) and I believe preaching is God’s primary means for communicating His written Word. But it’s not sufficient to achieve the Lord’s purpose unless those who hear are determined to 'live the life' of discipleship. When the Holy Spirit anoints the preacher, it is a moment of genuine prophetic inspiration, but even then, “livin’ the life” MUST follow. Being “doers of the Word and not hearers only” catches it exactly.
This book will make you think. But it’s value is that it emphasises the need for living in the power of Word and Spirit. To this end, Steve encourages us to think and act biblically with due attention to the Hebraic context in which the Word of God is set. Some of his chapters had me cheering! Chapter 8 (Youth) and 9 (Family) relate the Hebrew pattern of life to these great subjects and are quite brilliant! Chapter 12 (Spirit) likewise had me enraptured (well, almost!). Chapter 17 (Law) introduces some vital correctives to some of the trends towards legalism and religion among believers who have particular sympathies with Jewish thinking. Chapter 20 (Pride) had me running for cover! I could go on …, but I won’t!
Suffice it to say that Steve’s appeal for a Yeshivah-type approach to responding to the proclaimed Word resonates with me: creating opportunity for preacher and disciple to sit together in a Berean style, not toscore points off the preacher but to create a constructive dialogue in all humility where biblical truth can be hammered out and made powerfully relevant to all those present. “LIVIN’ THE LIFE” is not only Steve’s goal, it is the goal of the Holy Spirit! Let’s get on with it!” (Chris Hill, Bible teacher & writer)