Official Review: Why Am I Here by Melvin Bell

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Kat Berg
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Official Review: Why Am I Here by Melvin Bell

Post by Kat Berg » 25 Sep 2018, 20:20

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Why Am I Here" by Melvin Bell.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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“What are you going to do when you grow up?”

“I have no idea what I am doing. Why was I even born? What do I do now? What is my purpose?”

Do any of these statements or questions sound familiar? There is no doubt that it is not always easy to know what you are on this planet to do or be. Melvin Bell believes that our existence is not just some cosmic accident but, instead, has a godly purpose. Based on this assertion he has written Why Am I Here? as a guide to help us understand what that purpose is.

This short book (79 pages) is broken into five simple chapters which are liberally sprinkled with Christian Bible passages as supportive text. In chapter one Bell starts with the life of Saint Paul and what can be learned from Paul's journey toward understanding his purpose. In chapter two we learn that the “Birthplace of Purpose” begins by understanding that our purpose will always relate to the “furtherance of the Kingdom of God.” In chapter three we discover that our godly purpose cannot be understood outside of an intimate relationship with God, while chapter four elaborates further on how our relationship with God impacts our discovery of purpose. It is dependent on living into our calling, which is only discoverable as we mature in our relationship with God. In chapter five Bell wraps things up nicely by presenting us with eight questions to reflect on as we apply all the previous chapters of the book.

This book is a beautifully presented, virtually flawlessly edited book. It has instant curb appeal and is made more accessible by the fact that it is quite short, so even those who are not avid readers will not feel daunted. The chapters are well thought out, and have a logical progression of thoughts. The questions at the end are quite practical. If you only read the titles, there might seem an initial overlap of ideas, but Bell does a decent job of explaining the differences between each question. I am thinking specifically of the questions focused on “What gives me joy?” and “What am I passionate about?” He gives detailed definitions to help you understand how these questions diverge from each other.

This book is likely to be most appealing to those who have a Christian worldview. The idea that we all have a God-given purpose is a primary assumption of the book. Those who are curious about this viewpoint will also find that this is an interesting read. Those who are Christian, but hold a more progressive Christian stance may find this book a little challenging and not as practical. The use of the King James Version (KJV) throughout is one example of why. The KJV tends to be loved by the more traditional, and perhaps more conservative, minded, whereas Progressives tend to gravitate toward a more gender-inclusive translation. I also prefer a more readable translation of the Bible. Although I love the KJV, that is mostly for nostalgic reasons. Much has happened in the world of scholarship since the KJV was penned, the discovery of the Rosetta Stone to name just one thing, that makes more modern versions desirable. Most other translations also tend to be more easily understood, an important detail when you are trying to communicate well.

I would have liked to see some variance in Bell’s gendered language. He exclusively uses male-gendered pronouns. In today’s world this seems like something of a mistake, and for me, it felt a bit alienating. However, many people may feel differently about this, even though we are culturally moving towards more gender-inclusive language.

I also would have liked to see a little more emphasis on grace and the power of God, particularly when it comes to the transformational process. Bell spends a lot of time talking about our character being essential in finding God’s purpose, yet God also meets us where we are at, hot mess and all. We are not dependent only on our own power to be transformed. This idea is addressed, at least as an aside, but other aspects of the book could muddy that idea and leave some people feeling like they could never be “good enough.”

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Any critiques I raised are because of personal preference and a different theological stance, and I would not feel justified in dropping a star based on them. For those who are its intended audience, they will find a well-written book that does what it sets out to do, which is to give a simple roadmap toward finding God’s purpose based on their biblical understanding.

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Why Am I Here
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Post by kandscreeley » 28 Sep 2018, 07:48

This sounds like a good book for those that are struggling with their purpose. I don't think it's going to work for me at the moment, but I do appreciate the informational review. Sounds like the author went to a lot of trouble to add Bible verses as well.
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Post by Georgia Lyonhyde » 28 Sep 2018, 20:54

A great and honest review for which I appreciate the criticisms you share. Having a Christian worldview, I believe this book could be an interesting read for me.
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Post by Caylie_Cat » 28 Sep 2018, 22:44

It seems that the vast majority of people from all walks of life and situations struggle with the idea of personal purpose. I know I do. One can have a lot of roles and jobs, talents and skills, but finding the crux of why you were born, and if you are fulfilling that purpose is the question. I have always been a Christian, and agree that some teachings make the listener feel inadequate and not quite good enough, which is a shame because I don't think God feels that way about us. Great review, Kat, you've made me think.

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Post by Philloh » 29 Sep 2018, 01:01

The book sounds amazing. I will consider reading it. Thanks for the review.

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Post by FictionLover » 29 Sep 2018, 08:38

This book is likely to be most appealing to those who have a Christian worldview. The idea that we all have a God-given purpose is a primary assumption of the book. Those who are curious about this viewpoint will also find that this is an interesting read. Those who are Christian, but hold a more progressive Christian stance may find this book a little challenging and not as practical. The use of the King James Version (KJV) throughout is one example of why. The KJV tends to be loved by the more traditional, and perhaps more conservative, minded, whereas Progressives tend to gravitate toward a more gender-inclusive translation. I also prefer a more readable translation of the Bible. Although I love the KJV, that is mostly for nostalgic reasons. Much has happened in the world of scholarship since the KJV was penned, the discovery of the Rosetta Stone to name just one thing, that makes more modern versions desirable. Most other translations also tend to be more easily understood, an important detail when you are trying to communicate well.

I would have liked to see some variance in Bell’s gendered language. He exclusively uses male-gendered pronouns. In today’s world this seems like something of a mistake, and for me, it felt a bit alienating. However, many people may feel differently about this, even though we are culturally moving towards more gender-inclusive language.

I also would have liked to see a little more emphasis on grace and the power of God, particularly when it comes to the transformational process. Bell spends a lot of time talking about our character being essential in finding God’s purpose, yet God also meets us where we are at, hot mess and all. We are not dependent only on our own power to be transformed. This idea is addressed, at least as an aside, but other aspects of the book could muddy that idea and leave some people feeling like they could never be “good enough.”

Thank you for your thoughtful and very personal review.

I tend to stay away from non-fiction and Christian literature because I prefer to stretch my imagination when reading. However, I have found a few little gems here, and this sounds like one of them.

I agree with your comments on the KJV and loved your take on the scholarship issues. Nice to see the Rosetta Stone discussed in a way that is not related to software. LOL! The Rosetta Stone, the original translation hardware!

Also, everyone has their 'hot mess' issues, anyone who claims they don't is lying.
I'm going to put this on my to be read list.

:lire4:
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Post by Kat Berg » 29 Sep 2018, 10:51

kandscreeley wrote:
28 Sep 2018, 07:48
This sounds like a good book for those that are struggling with their purpose. I don't think it's going to work for me at the moment, but I do appreciate the informational review. Sounds like the author went to a lot of trouble to add Bible verses as well.
Yes, Kandscreeley, I think I would have particularly loved this book when I was in my twenties and reading a lot of this type of book. The author does include a lot of bible verses in the text, which saves the reader from having to look them up. The way he uses them it is helpful, rather than simply a space filler. Thanks for commenting! :)

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Post by Kat Berg » 29 Sep 2018, 10:52

Georgia Lyonhyde wrote:
28 Sep 2018, 20:54
A great and honest review for which I appreciate the criticisms you share. Having a Christian worldview, I believe this book could be an interesting read for me.
Thanks, Georgia! I hope that if you have a chance to read it, you appreciate it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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Post by Kat Berg » 29 Sep 2018, 10:59

Caylie_Cat wrote:
28 Sep 2018, 22:44
It seems that the vast majority of people from all walks of life and situations struggle with the idea of personal purpose...

I have always been a Christian, and agree that some teachings make the listener feel inadequate and not quite good enough, which is a shame because I don't think God feels that way about us. Great review, Kat, you've made me think.
Hi Caylie-
I think that our world is suffering from hopeless now, as well as the feeling that nothing that we do can make any difference. It is one of the things that I appreciate about this book, because if we are fulfilling a purpose, then that implies what we are doing has meaning and actually matters. I think it can be a real challenge to talk about grace when you are trying to emphasize character, because the things that we do, negative and positive, matter a lot. Yet I think that we also need to know that when we make even really big missteps, God doesn't give up on us. We are not wrecked forever, and God doesn't stop the work of guiding and transforming.

Thanks for commenting and for the kind words.

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Post by Sunnyroyish » 29 Sep 2018, 23:49

I like the book. Though I don't agree with the author that there must be a reason for our presence on Earth. It could be accidental. Maybe life happened accidentally. Your review was good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Good luck.
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Post by NuelUkah » 30 Sep 2018, 01:03

Very nice review. I love this kind of books. Purpose crisis is the major problem of the world. And I think this issue could be addressed in institutions of learning. Talking about passion, this is where more people get confused. Passion is not just what you love doing, but the joy and satisfaction you derive from what you love doing. That is what I call 'the why' of 'the what'. I hope the author did justice to these things.
But one thing is certain, God never reveals the whole purpose, He reveals it in parts. So the more you follow His leading, the more parts of your purpose He reveals to you.
Thank you for your candid review.
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Post by Cotwani » 30 Sep 2018, 06:25

A purpose driven life spells fulfillment. Having a Christian worldview I like that the book sets out to give a simple roadmap toward finding God’s purpose based on one's biblical understanding. Great review!
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Post by Eva Darrington » 30 Sep 2018, 19:29

Kat Berg wrote:
25 Sep 2018, 20:20
This book is likely to be most appealing to those who have a Christian worldview. The idea that we all have a God-given purpose is a primary assumption of the book. Those who are curious about this viewpoint will also find that this is an interesting read. Those who are Christian, but hold a more progressive Christian stance may find this book a little challenging and not as practical.
This might be a little outside my enjoyment zone for reading. I do believe we all have a God-given purpose but am not a Christian. Still I can see how this would be a useful guide for traditionalists. I enjoyed your review, nonetheless. Thank you.
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Post by Kat Berg » 30 Sep 2018, 21:51

NuelUkah wrote:
30 Sep 2018, 01:03
Purpose crisis is the major problem of the world.
I agree. There are times that it is helpful to believe that your life has a purpose. When we think that nothing we do matters, that can lead to hopelessness. Given the brevity of the book, I am not sure that you would think that Bell has done justice to the topic of passion, but he does connect our passion to our purpose, and that can be helpful for those who are easily able to identify the things that they are passionate about. Thanks for the kind words Nuel, and for taking the time to comment!

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Post by stalliongirlke » 02 Oct 2018, 09:43

Learning why i am here from a biblical perspective always interests me. It is the only perspective that makes sense to me

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