Monday, July 13, 2015

BookPastor >> "The Ultimate Gift" (Jim Stovall)

TITLE: The Ultimate Gift (The Ultimate Series #1)
AUTHOR: Jim Stovall
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2007, (156 pages).

Red Stevens had died. He had also left a will that determines how his riches would be distributed. Eagerly, his family members gather around to hear what they would be getting from their rich relative through a lawyer friend, Theodore J. Hamilton. The will executioner holds a document that would decide how the $1billion inheritance would be discharged. Alas! The initial excitement for the family members became a disappointment when they did not get what they hoped to get. The last to depart from the disappointing meeting was Jason Stevens, the grand-nephew of Red Stevens. Just when he was about to leave, he was given a video tape. Inside this video contains instructions that essentially offers Jason a stark choice. He can either follow the instructions strictly to the letter or simply walk away. The condition is that over a period of a year, he would have to pass a test every month. He would need to pass each test before proceeding to the next. If any test had been either incomplete or unsatisfactorily done, Jason would receive nothing more. The rest of the book details how Jason character was changed at the completion of each assignment. Most remarkable was the lessons the came with each test. Below are snippets of lasting lessons that Jason had learnt in the process of completing the assignments.
  • Work: He who loves his work never labors.
  • Money: Money is nothing more than a tool. It can be a force of good, a force of evil, or simply be idle.
  • Friends: It is a wealthy person, indeed, who calculates riches not in gold but in friends.
  • Learning: Education is a lifelong journey whose destination expands as you travel.
  • Problems: Problems can only be avoided by exercising good judgment. Good judgment can only be gained by experiencing life’s problems
  • Family: Some people are born into wonderful families. Others have to find or create them. Being a member of a family is a priceless privilege which costs nothing but love.
  • Laughter: Laughter is a good medicine for the soul. Our world is desperately in need of more such medicine. Dreams: Faith is all that dreamers need to see the future.
  • Giving: The only way you can truly get more out of life for yourself is to give part of yourself away.
  • Gratitude: In those times when we yearn to have more in our lives we should dwell on the things we already have. In doing so, we will often find that our lives are already full to overflowing.
  • A Day: Life at its essence boils down to one day at a time. Today is the day!
  • Love: Love is a treasure for which we can never pay. The only way to keep it is to give it away.
Like the conditioning of the soul, and the blossoming of a person's character, Jason overcame each assignment with increasing determination. As his perspective changes from arrogance to humility, unappreciative to gratefulness, his wisdom to deal with wealth and riches also increases. This is exactly what the wise Red Stevens had in mind. The late billionaire had learnt how free handouts have often brought about the worst in people who never truly learn the more important things in life. This reminds me of the wisdom in Proverbs 28:6, "Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse."

We all need to be wise with what we have. For those of us who have been working and have accumulated a sizable amount of assets and wealth, one of the biggest concerns is how to go about distributing them. Do we give all of them to our children? How do we decide who gets what? What about grace in giving? How do we give away our wealth wisely? Not many books can offer brilliant advice with simplicity and with such powerful narrative. Though this novel is fictional, the things and virtues talked about in the book is very real. Pick up this book and read away. Then, buy a couple to give away, especially for those of us who know of wealthy people in their last phases of life.


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