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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Marcengill

When God Becomes Real - Book Review

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

In short, I couldn't put it down. You need this book! Especially men and men's groups!

For years now I've followed the Bethel movement because of the practice it has helped me build in my daily life. Bethel's culture of encounters rather than big egos is the reason this site is called "encounters", but it's truly amazing (and often misunderstood too, I know). I even worked at Bethel Atlanta church for three years as the Operations Guy/Financial Sozo guy, etc. (lots of hats while there). My wife and I went through the supernatural ministry school for 3 years and God used all that to call my wife and I to be revivalists in Selma, Alabama. That's where we live now and do full-time ministry. And it's been real, heaven is invading and so many things are moving through us.

Okay, yeah, sorry to make this about me so much here, but the book was so personal for me!! I mean I've been especially impacted by the worship from Bethel as a worshiper and even academically as a musician. So many seasons where I couldn't listen to anything else, not like a snob but because nothing could achieve the same connection to God that I felt as I worshiped with Bethel Music. I even remember listening to Brian's voice for the first time in 2009 and thinking, "there is something really different in this guys tone!" and this book is that journey that Bethel Music took, how it was birthed, how he got the majic depth in his voice, the pressure that formed all of that stoney thing into a diamond for all of us to see! But wait this book is so much more too... Brian's story is so relatable because I too struggled with anxiety and was delivered through an encounter with God! Reading the book was like an encounter because heaven comes through the pages... I felt myself filled with strength and courage, as well as resolve for excellence and purpose in worshiping with all my heart to see breakthrough and healing in the world.

This is the best book on worship I have ever read! Not because it's about worship, it's not. It's about why Brian worships, and it's authentic enough to where you can find that spirit life deeply in your own heart too.

"...each morning, God took me to the exact places in the Word that I needed for that day. I was different each time. Sometimes it was a verse; sometimes it was a theme; sometimes it was just a feeling. It wasn't about doing it a certain way, a formula. It was about the consistent, daily investment in time and relationship."

...that happened to me!! In a different way... but wow, apparently God is doing this with His Word for His kids (you and me)! And then there is the family dynamics that Brian shares so vulnerably (but he's a mans man too. I've never seen it done this well)...

“[My parents] taught me that when you’re fighting an ongoing spiritual attack, God is using those moments to train you for war, to learn how to gain authority in that area of life that’s under attack.”
"Over the years, through my dad's teaching, I've come to understand the four weapons he used to fight the attacks of the enemy--the name of Jesus, the Word of God, and worship. He never used those weapons randomly. Instead he discerned what was needed in the moment, and he used that tool."

Excerpts from: “When God Becomes Real” by Brian Johnson

True to everything Bethel there were some serious one-liner gems like these in this book that I know now I didn't want to live my life without reading. I'm being dramatic but yeah this book came at the exact right time. I am going through one of the worst family nightmares I've ever seen with several family members having COVID right now all at the same time. It's too long a story but I am in quarantine as I write this after taking my mom to the ER. She lost her husband only a year ago so I'm happy to be here with her but this is so overwhelming and emotionally taxing. The devil is pulling every thing he can, emptying out his limited bag of tricks it seems. I needed this book to help me through such a time of heavy fear attacks and hardship. Not just to weather them but to find purpose and meaning in it and of course to fight with excellence of heart that heaven should come on earth as it is. No sickness there, and I'm not going to give up... because why? This is that book. If you need to find the strength to keep the faith, spring up the wells of fight that need to be there, then seriously, look no further.

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