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A Beautiful Defeat



Author: Kevin Malarkey (with Matt Jacobson)
Publisher: Nelson Books
Street Date: July 8, 2014

Posted July 29, 2014 by

Beautiful Defeat. The title itself is counterintuitive unless you’ve been in the devastating and liberating place of admitting failure and falling headlong into God’s grace. As humans, our first instinct is to deny our shortcomings and defend our good standing before God and others. Kevin Malarkey reminds us there is a better way.

With courageous self-disclosure, poignant story-telling, and hard-hitting metaphors, Malarkey writes as one who is “on a pilgrimage that involves a real life lived in the real world, full of real mistakes and a merciful God who doesn’t give me a pass on sin but does give me grace to take the next step.”

From this viewpoint, he lays out “Ten Steps to a Surrendered Life.” Things like:

  • Acknowledging that the process of surrender is messy
  • Choosing unmitigated honesty before the Lord
  • Recognizing the sources of our struggles (the devil, the world, our flesh)
  • Taking up our cross daily
  • Putting on the armor of God
  • Living life in community with others

For each step, Malarkey includes specific Action Steps (“Identify at least three things that compete with God for the top spot in your life”) and a Prayer (“Help me to have deep, messy relationships…”).

Throughout the book, there is an implied paradox every Christian faces. As new creations, we do not work ourselves into a righteous life; Christ has done that work in us already. But as humans living in a fallen world where Satan is active and our sinful nature continues to rear its ugly head, we have work to do.

So Malarkey invites us to gladly lay down our swords in grateful resignation, leaving behind us the struggle to maintain an unsustainable facade of perfection. At the same time, we are charged to resolutely take up our swords, facing head-on the very real battle we must wage as we persevere toward glorious victory.

This book speaks of conviction and capitulation; remorse and restoration; devotion and determination. For readers who take these concepts to heart, the result will be nothing short of beautiful.


– Jeanelle Reider


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