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ss nucleus - spring 2004,  If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat (Book Review)

If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat (Book Review)

If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat - John Ortberg - Zondervan 2001 - £6.99 Pb 212pp - ISBN 0310239273
Procrastination, avoidance and escapism; three things most medical students are often guilty of! They may have little obvious impact on your life but, if we look at the bigger picture, they probably stop a number of us from realising the potential God has for us. John Ortberg uses the account of Peter walking on water with Jesus to invite us all to step out in faith and experience the power and presence of God. He bids us to identify our calling, examine our fears, and challenge our tendency to 'stay in the boat'. Your 'boat' is whatever represents safety and keeps you from relying on God; for example a relationship, your work, or simply fear.

Ortberg is a pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, USA. He has a masters in divinity and a PhD in clinical psychology, so is well qualified to write about Christian growth from a well-grounded biblical perspective. The book expounds Matthew 14:25-32 to offer explanation and practical application: what happens if we don't get out of the boat; why don't we want to get out of the boat; what is it that stops us? At the end of each chapter there are questions to help the reader think about how this applies to them particularly, and tasks to help with taking those first steps towards water-walking. Ortberg draws on his own experience and that of others, on modern psychological theory and biblical teaching. He provides an insightful, useful and often challenging framework for discerning our call, dealing with fear, managing failure, trusting God and growing in faith.

I often find Christian self-help books difficult to read, and owned this for almost twelve months before reading it! However, I was pleasantly surprised by both the content and style: it provides reflection without indulgence and advice without being patronising or unrealistic. For anyone currently considering their elective, career or contemplating mission, the book will help you to crystallise your thoughts and motivate you to move forward in faith, but most importantly remind you that water-walking is 'doing with God's help what I could never do on my own'. Just remember though, as Ortberg is fond of saying: if you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat. Read it to find out how.

Reviewed by:
Juliet Brown
Third year student
St George's medical school, London

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