The Well-Played Life

Every book Leonard Sweet writes is a fun book, even when it is intense and serious. But his latest, The Well-Played Life (Why Pleasing God Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work), is even more fun than usual.

It is the perfect marriage of author and topic. Sweet, the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at George Fox University, injects all of his books with wordplay and brainstorms and napkin scribbles. His creativity and productivity are dizzying. And he has a knack for expressing things in a way that boggles, delights, and expands the mind while touching and often changing the heart.

Sweet writes, "It's time to abolish work. It's time for a theology of play." He makes his case thoroughly and entertainingly in the first section of the book, entitled, "Playing Is Not Just for Children," and then proceeds to show us how to play well through three “ages”:
The First Age: “Novice Players” (ages 0-30)
The Second Age: “Real Players” (30-60)
The Third Age: “Master Player and Game Changer” (60-90+)
Like all of Leonard Sweet's books, it is brilliant and engaging (can you tell I'm a fan?). And also, like all of his books, its message is timely and sorely needed.

Some of my favorite "Sweet spots":
The universe is not God at work, but God at play (p. 6).

There are some divine purposes that can be achieved only through pleasure. That's why God created artists (p. 17).

Too many followers of Jesus are living a [gospel] that produces nice people rather than saints; that stands for convention rather than adventure; that is respectable rather than passionate; that calls for guarded, take-care living rather than heroic, take-risks living; that is more at home with the status quo than living on the fly (p. 52).

God didn't give us a plan, but a purpose; not a map, but a mission; not a blueprint for tracing, but a blue sky for exploring (p. 86).

The Bible is not the story of "great expectations," but "great unexpectations" (p. 89).

When we're too big to sit at the children's table, we're too big to sit at God's table (p. 112).

Holiness is not about getting better at keeping God's commandments. Holiness is about getting better at enjoying God (p. 150).

Jesus even gave his disciples a rite of failing: "Shake off the dust" (p. 166).

I worry about people who know why bad things happen or think they can treat hurt with words and pain with clich├ęs (p. 194).
The book includes a study guide, and like all of Sweet's books is heavily (and sometimes humorously) footnoted.

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