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U Read, I Read: Book Review of “If You Want To Walk On Water”

John Ortberg’s "If You Want to Walk on Water" is a book that challenges believers in any season of life to be fearless and faith-filled.

Editor’s note: Our first book review challenges both parents and youth to step out in faith as Peter did. No matter what age we are, what occupation or cultural background we come from, God always calls us to live a life wholly trusting in Him. We hope as parents and youth read this book and discuss the reflection questions together, they can challenge and encourage one another to live more boldly for Christ. 

Book Review: If You Want To Walk On Water, You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat, by John Ortberg.

Reviewed and written by: Ed Lu

John Ortberg is the former senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. He is the best selling author of Who Is This Man; When the Game Is Over; It All Goes Back in the Box; and The Life You’ve Always Wanted.

Based on the miraculous feat of Jesus walking on water (Matt. 14:25-32), Pastor Ortberg challenges everyday believers to follow suit with Peter’s initial courage, be aware of factors that cause doubts, and discover our sure-security in Jesus Christ. The title of the book is fitting in reminding Christians to anchor unswervingly in faith to Him. Fear is inevitable but can be defeated by focusing on God’s leading. Water-walkers take baby steps by learning to wait on the Lord. Life can be exhilarating when we know the joy and freedom of experiencing God’s power after taking an enormous risk. It is contained in a single phrase: Peter … started walking on the water. And so can you!

Is there (a) gift/s that the Lord has put in your heart? Do you dream of making a difference in the lives of others? Have you ever visualized the possibilities of getting through boulders of obstacles? What is getting in the way of stepping out of your boat, caves, or even pews and taking that first step towards uncharted potential? 

As a 19-year-old immigrant from South East Asia, I had to restart my life all over. Stepping foot onto “the land of the free” was not without winds and waves to waver my confidence. We can choose to be the ten scouts whom Moses sent to survey the Promised Land and come back trembling. Or, like Joshua and Caleb, though seeing the same giants, knew their God was bigger and stronger. Take that first step. Turn your “me” into “we” as you walk with Christ for He is faithful to complete what He started in you (Phil. 1:6). 

If You Want To Walk On Water is a great book for any season of life to fuel courage, ignite passion and reach new heights. An exciting adventure awaits parents, coaches, and mentors with their youths when together they say “yes” to Jesus’ invitation to “Get Out Of The Boat.”

Reflection Questions:

  1. What can we learn from the prayer of Jabez (1 Chron. 4:10) to seek God’s providence in serving Him more courageously? (Chapter 3, pp. 53-73). 
  2. Life’s excursion is best endeavored on an expedition with Christ. Do you see your life as an adventure with your Savior? If so, in what way? (Chapter 4, pp. 75-94).
  3. How can we reverse our downfall from sin and begin a life with a new heart and spirit? (Chapter 7, pp. 135-152).
  4. Fear the Lord, not your foes. Trust in God, not in friends. For He goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave nor forsake you (Deut. 31:8). In what areas of your life is the Lord challenging you to trust Him? (Chapter 10, pp. 191-203).

About the writer:

Ed Lu is a native of Malaysia and came to the U.S. at the age of 19. He and his wife Margaret grew up and served at the same church in Malaysia. They have since called Riverside, CA home. Ed has a degree in Ministry Leadership with emphasis in Preaching and Master of Divinity, both from Moody Theological Seminary. He currently serves as intern at The Grove Community Church and English bi-vocational pastor at Monterey Park Chinese Baptist Church. 

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