You're Only Human
How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News
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Work. Family. Church. Exercise. Sleep.
The list of demands on our time seems to be never ending. It can leave you feeling a little guilty--like you should always be doing one more thing.
Rather than sharing better time-management tips to squeeze more hours out of the day, Kelly Kapic takes a different approach in You're Only Human. He offers a better way to make peace with the fact that God didn't create us to do it all.
Kapic explores the theology behind seeing our human limitations as a gift rather than a deficiency. He lays out a path to holistic living with healthy self-understanding, life-giving relationships, and meaningful contributions to the world. He frees us from confusing our limitations with sin and instead invites us to rest in the joy and relief of knowing that God can use our limitations to foster freedom, joy, growth, and community.
Readers will emerge better equipped to cultivate a life that fosters gratitude, rest, and faithful service to God.
Part 1: Particularity and Limits
1. Have I Done Enough? Facing Our Finitude
2. Does God Love . . . Me? Crucified . . . but I Still Live
3. Are the Limits of My Body Bad? Praise God for Mary
4. Why Does Physical Touch Matter? Images, Trauma, and Embodied Worship
5. Is Identity Purely Self-Generated? Understanding the Self in Context
Part 2: Healthy Dependence
6. Have We Misunderstood Humility? Joyful Realism
7. Do I Have Enough Time? Clocks, Anxiety, and Presence
8. Why Doesn't God Just Instantly Change Me? Process, Humanity, and the Spirit's Work
9. Do I Need to Be Part of the Church? Loving the Whole Body
10. How Do We Faithfully Live within Our Finitude? Rhythm, Vulnerability, Gratitude, and Rest
"Written with beauty and clarity, You're Only Human is a library of wisdom and virtue, drawing from the best sources, both human and divine, and applying these with grace and skill. This book isn't just about the limits of being human--it's a celebration of being human."
Karen Swallow Prior, research professor of English and Christianity and culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books
"Two things have been in my thinking lately. First, at the end of his work of creation, the only being without limits is the Creator himself. And second, God's grace moves us not from dependence to independence but from independence to dependence. Spiritual maturity always includes a humble recognition of limits and a willing and joyful life of dependency. So I love this book on limits. Kapic has given us biblical wisdom that is not only profoundly deep and rich but easily consumable and practical. It is humbling to admit your limits, but to do so moves you toward who God designed you to be and the good life he created you to enjoy. With enthusiasm, I will recommend this book to all the pastors and ministry leaders I mentor."
Paul David Tripp, author of New Morning Mercies and Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church
"In today's fast-paced culture, concepts like human limitation and Sabbath rest have fallen out of style. The constant pressure to do more and be better--while considered noble by some--has broken the spirits of many. In this most necessary book, Kelly helps us understand and find relief in the truth that God is God and we are not. Especially for those who have forgotten this and grown tired, I can't recommend You're Only Human highly enough."
Scott Sauls, senior pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church; author of Jesus outside the Lines and A Gentle Answer
"For those like me who experience the double pressure of not meeting expectations and then feeling guilty about it, reading this book is like taking that first breath of fresh air after being underwater for too long. Kelly Kapic makes a paradigm-shifting case regarding God's gift of finitude, or having limitations, that reveals the best of what our Creator God designed us to be. Who knew that recognizing and relishing our God-given limits could lead to more beautiful rhythms of contentment and rest, gratitude and peace?"
Julius J. Kim, president, The Gospel Coalition
"To receive our human limitations as a gift rather than a liability is indeed a great blessing! Kelly Kapic shows us why and how in this uplifting work."
Ruth Haley Barton, founder, Transforming Center; author of Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
"Kelly's book is good news for restless achievers like me who try to float a few feet off the ground in an attempt to get everything done. It's the good news that we are dust and to dust we shall return--a reminder that we are beloved image-bearers who need not waste energy trying to transcend our vulnerability or hide our weakness. The incarnate Jesus, who became fully human, meets us right where we are. I'm already breathing a bit easier after reading this exceptionally honest and hopeful book."
Chuck DeGroat, professor of pastoral care and Christian spirituality, Western Theological Seminary; senior fellow, Newbigin House of Studies
"It is more than a little counterintuitive to suggest that the limits of our human abilities are a blessing. In a culture where the general desire seems to be to overcome one's limits, Kapic slows us down and asks, Could there be benefits in living into our limitations? In so doing, he opens up space for a truly inclusive theological anthropology that is not driven by power, competitiveness, or the desire to overcome our limits. Rather, it emerges from a vision that to be human is to be limited. Recognizing the power of limits is the first step toward realizing that we are who we are, not by our own power, but through the blessing of Jesus. When we realize that, we discover the blessing of being truly human. This book is a hopeful gift."
John Swinton, professor of practical theology and pastoral care, University of Aberdeen
"Kapic weds rock-solid theology to wise guidance for Christian living. He addresses our most deeply felt needs and teaches us what it means to live well as creatures in relationship to the Creator. This is a book we desperately need in our frenetic age."
Beth Felker Jones, professor of theology, Northern Seminary; author of Practicing Christian Doctrine
"What is the original sin but the denial of creatureliness, the attempt to become more than the finite humans God made us to be in order to live joyfully in communion with him, one another, and the rest of creation? Such a denial is literally killing us, burning us out--and destroying families and ministries along the way! But rather than simply telling us what's wrong with this picture, which he does quite aptly, Kelly Kapic offers us something much more compelling and refreshing. He graces us with a mature, winsome, theologically steady, and pastorally gentle invitation to receive with gratitude and rejoice once again in the triune God's good gift of finite creatureliness. This book not only teaches us about our creaturely identity in God's design but also takes us on a journey of transformative healing and restoration in, with, and under the Spirit of Christ."
Leopoldo A. Sánchez M., professor of systematic theology, director of the Center for Hispanic Studies, and Werner R. H. Krause Professor of Hispanic Ministries, Concordia Seminary
"Kapic has written a daring book, teaching us to embrace our God-given limitations in a culture that screams for more of everything. It's a rigorous yet personal exploration of a startling, liberating truth."
Mindy Belz, international journalist and author of They Say We Are Infidels
"The infinite God took pleasure in making finite creatures. In fact, he assumed our finite nature 'for us and for our salvation.' But we're bombarded with 'There are no limits!' and 'You can be or do anything you want!' With winsome art and deep scriptural wisdom, Kelly Kapic guides us through the beauty of limits, God's slow and steady process, and the anticipation of perfected glory at the end. It's a page-turner! Just have a pen handy--there's a lot to underline in You're Only Human."
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author of Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World
"Kelly Kapic's You're Only Human is medicine that provides an antidote to some of the worst effects of the ill-conceived modern project of the self. It has been developed in the company of masters of the theological and pastoral sciences. But it is also the fruit of many personal conversations and shrewd observations, all bearing the hallmarks of Professor Kapic's evident appreciation of, and love for, others. No hastily prepared, cheap-fix antidote, You're Only Human is the product of years of reflection and concern, the work of a mature Christian theologian and a fine teacher. It belongs among the books Francis Bacon famously said should 'be chewed and digested; . . . read wholly, and with diligence and attention.' It is a love gift to the church. Those who take Dr. Kapic's prescription, and finish the course, will surely begin to experience soul cure."
Sinclair Ferguson, Chancellor's Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
"Centered in the unchangeable and unshakable truth that our identity is in Christ alone, Kelly Kapic presents a timely word that articulately describes the unique relationship between God the Creator and every human being. In You're Only Human, Kapic once again shares from his own personal journey and at times confronts his own questions in order to reveal the beauty of God's intended rhythm for life in a world that is driven by deadlines, goals, and extremes. He asks hard and searching questions in order to reveal the beauty of God's created order and Christ's peace that passes all understanding."
Bishop Julian M. Dobbs, Anglican Diocese of the Living Word
"With characteristic wisdom rooted deeply in Scripture and experience, Kelly Kapic addresses a vital yet neglected topic. As this book helped me to see the manifold ways in which we live in denial about the goodness of limits, I made fresh commitments to seek new, healthier habits. I cannot value and recommend a book more highly than that."
Daniel J. Treier, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Theology, Wheaton College; author of Introducing Evangelical Theology
"A timely and prophetic word to our culture today. I pray it will sink deep within the church. In an age that is so anxious and overspent, God's people have something marvelously different to offer. As we understand our finiteness and live within God's gracious provision for it, we experience more than just greater health and wholeness for ourselves. We can offer to a storm-whipped world places of true refuge and to our weary neighbors a calm and care that reflect the presence of Jesus Christ himself."
Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans
"I would submit that few books published in the last decade are as relevant for nearly every modern Western Christian as You're Only Human, and fewer still are as pastorally sensitive or gracious. The book provides a much-needed reorientation of our self-understanding and calls us to be more truly who we were made to be. Any human would do well to take a week out of their allotted four thousand (give or take) and digest it."
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